Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

6/13/2014

Superstitious Friday

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Yes, today is Friday the Thirteenth.

I’m not really a superstitious kind of guy.  Not really.  But, I’ve known a lot of people who are.  When I worked in the hotel industry, I once managed to “sell” room 666 to someone not from a Judeo-Christian background, until a co-worker saw it and made a face.  Then, I had to explain to the nice gentleman that some people found 666 to be an “unlucky” number.  But, man, if I had pulled that…
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6/6/2014

Free Summer School

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

As the kids get out of school for the Summer, why not “audit” a couple of culture classes for free?

No, seriously!
I know when I got out of school, I thought I’d never want to go back and learn anything new again.  But, times change and so do we.  I’ve done a whole lot of professional training, picking up some good certifications along the way, but there are times I wish I had paid more attention to the cultural courses I…
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5/30/2014

Create Ebooks from Webpages

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Okay, this isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s still worth sharing.

I got this from Lifehacker back in 2012, but I’ve been behind in my link sharing, so I’m just getting to it now.
The idea is simple.  Reading on-line is rarely the best, most comfortable, most convenient way to keep up with all the things we want to read, especially all the “long form” articles that really get in-depth on topics we care about.  That’s where Readlists comes into play.

This…
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5/27/2014

Keeping Windows XP Alive

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,MicroSoft,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:49 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

First, let me say that I don’t endorse this as a way to avoid upgrading.

Second, let me fully affirm that this is completely awesome!  And, as someone who maintains a Windows XP virtual machine to run some older software for my camera, I am thrilled to have this option, for as long as it lasts.
The hack is pretty simple, basically just adding a small entry to the Registry.  First published by Wayne Williams at BetaNews a day ago, it’s been all over the internet today.  I did it earlier on an old machine at work and it worked great.  Your results may vary.  The steps are simple and in that linked article, but I’ve included the 32-bit version of the registry file that you can just download and import to your machine or virtual machine.

Use at your own risk!
And upgrade as soon as possible!
(Here’s the link to the REG file.)


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When I'm working on a problem I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But, when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."
   --R. Buckminster Fuller

5/23/2014

Two Free Security Plugins

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:32 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

This week I’ve got two very serious freebies for you.

Security, as some of you may know, is near and dear to my heart.
In my day job, I’m a system administrator and constantly worried about security.  It’s a huge issue.  Lately, you all may have been hearing news stories about the “Heartbleed SSL vulnerability” which, in theory, could endanger your personal login information, as well as other account credentials or other things you’d want to keep private.  It’s not entirely clear…
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5/22/2014

Missed Posting Schedule

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:57 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hey, for those of you who follow this sad, old blog closely, I know I missed this past Tuesday’s post.  There’s a reason for that, or, possibly several , but I can’t talk about it right now.  Seriously.
But, it’s a boring secret anyway and you wouldn’t really want to know it.
(But, if you secretly do want to know, stay tuned and I’ll eventually share it!)

5/16/2014

How It’s Made – 500mm lens

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My wife calls the Discovery Science channel the “Lion King channel”, because when she needs me to be calm and entertained, this is what she puts this on, like a mother puts her toddler in front of the Lion King.

Sadly, she’s pretty much right.
How It’s Made is one of my favorite shows.  Whatever channel it’s on instantly becomes the “Lion King channel” for me.  Even boring stuff is fascinating when it’s being made by big, high-speed machinery.
So, today, while I’m…
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5/9/2014

LEGO In Space

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

These are two of my favorite things, but together in a unique way.

I don’t imagine that it’s any secret that I love science-fiction at this point.  I mean, if you’re anything like a regular or semi-regular reader of this blog, then you know that science-fiction is kind of my “thing”.  But, what may not be quite as apparent is how much I love LEGO.  When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, I could spend hours building things…
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5/6/2014

Altap Salamander

Filed under: Geek Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

AltapSalamander3.01 A file-manager that was originally forced on me, but which I’ve come to rely upon for my daily work.

About ten years ago, I was hired by Oceaneering for a world-wide roll-out of an imaging and support project.  I won’t mention the name of the manager who hired me, because, well, we ended up having a problem.  As it turns out, he didn’t want to take on the project.  What’s more, he wasn’t big on hiring guys “like me”, who had certifications and so on, but he was forced to do just that by the same CIO who thrust the desktop imaging project on that manager.  The CIO, from what I understand from third-party sources, has since “retired”.  I don’t know if the ill-fated project ever was completed because both of the people originally assigned to it, including me, were encouraged to “find other opportunities to excel”.  Internal politics aside, I mostly blame my divorce for costing me that job.  It turned out okay, though, since I landed at Seatrax shortly thereafter and have been quite successful there.

The other good thing to come out of that mess was that manager forcing us all to use a program called, at the time, “Servant Salamander”.  As you can see from the thumbnail included on this post, it’s a file manager.  But, it’s more than just that.
There’s a lot of history with this utility.  Some of my readers may be familiar with the old Norton Commander, which inspired Petr Šolín to make the earliest version of Servant Salamander as freeware.  Or, they may be more familiar with the text-menu-based utility for Linux called “Midnight Commander” which is sometimes just referred to as “MC”, since the name of the actual command is “mc”.  This tool looks almost identical to Altap Salamander and if you’re used to Linux systems, running Salamander may make the transition a little easier.

Of course, the basics are there.  The side-by-side default view of two directories lets you easily copy or move files from one directory to the other via a quick series of clicks to select files and either hitting the F5 or F6 key respectively.  You can also use the context-sensitive menu to rename and delete files or directories, create directories, edit files or use the built-in viewer to preview files, all with the touch of a function key.  You can also connect a network drive, if you happen to have a local fileserver of some kind with available shared directories.
In fact, while there are menus, virtually every command can be accomplished via a series of keystrokes or a combination of keys.  For instance, while I usually use the mouse to navigate directories, a simple shift+F7 will bring up a dialog where I can type my desired destination directory.  Or, I can do  a search with a quick Alt+F7.  (And, the search function built into Salamander is quite good, if you need to find something.  At least as good as the built-in Windows search!)

But, what really makes this utility shine are all the extras.
For instance, sometimes, I have to deal with a lot of files in big directories that need to be synchronized between servers.  Salamander has a built-in function to compare directories.  It will even compare subdirectories, if it comes to that.  As someone who manages multiple websites, the FTP plugin for Salamander, which allows me to quickly connect to a remote server and then navigate it like any other directory, has been such a time saver and is so convenient for me, it may be the main reason I have continued to use Salamander!  I can even maintain a list of regular FTP sites so I can simply select them almost like I would change to any other drive on my system.  And, yes, once connected, I can transfer files back and forth with the same commands as I do on local drives.  (Though, I have to admit, every time I install Salamander on a new computer, I forget to set the default options for the FTP plugin to “Use passive transfer mode”, which seems to be the standard for all the FTP servers I connect to on a regular basis.)
Another plugin lets me view ISO CD or DVD disk images, which can be very helpful when you’re a system administrator and trying to retrieve a single file from an ISO downloaded from a vendor.  And still others do everything from opening compressed archives to comparing files to copying entire disks.  Further, if you managed both Windows and Linux servers, as I have, the WinSCP plugin makes it much easier to transfer files to a Linux host securely, though, at the moment, there’s not a 64-bit plugin, just a 32-bit version.  Again, all very handy things to be able to do, especially for an IT professional!

While there is a free, trial version of Altap Salamander, after having used the licensed version, I really prefer that and recommend that you spend the money on it.  As of this writing, if you get the latest version, along with all the plugins, only some of which cost extra, it will run €44.80, or about $63, for a single license.  And, that will give you access to a year’s worth of updates.  That may seem like a lot, but, trust me, the extras are all worth it and Petr updates it quite frequently.
Personally, I don’t know how I would make it through my day without using Altap Salamander!

5/2/2014

A Grim Game

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve had a rather grim and brutal week at work, so I’m going to share a rather grim and brutal, but oddly engaging game with you all today.

The game, called Drowning In Problems, is just a little too true to life to be “fun” exactly.  But, it is oddly compelling.  And, it only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to play a round, so it’s not too, too depressing.  It is, however, simple, text-based and created by Minecraft creator Markus…
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