Diary of a Network Geek

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


Search Engine Optimization Rates

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:36 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Wow, I guess I undervalued my skills to my divorce lawyer.

According to this article on AustralianIT, SEO salaries are really out the roof! I mean, sure, I did search engine optimization as a bit of fun while I was working a banckruptcy back in 2000, but I am highly ranked on Google. And, my lawyer was very pleased with the results I got him by re-optimizing his pages then getting him hooked up with a submission mill. A reasonably priced search engine submission service, that is.
Hmm, maybe, just for the fun of it, I should start a website from scratch and build it up in the search engines.  It might be a fun project.  I mean, I’ve kind of been thinking about redoing some of my web presence.  You know, consolidating websites that are related and getting rid of old, dead sites that I don’t really maintain any more.  That kind of thing.  And, I’ve been thinking about ways to sharpen my IT skills, or at least ways to keep my current skills sharp, so building a site from scratch, including fresh content, then making it a “number one” site might be just the thing.

Well, either way, it surprises me how something I do for fun can be big business.  Who knew?


Real Estate Investing

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Anybody want to buy land in Costa Rica?

So, the other day, I was talking with this guy from church about his impending divorce. It’ll be his second, so there wasn’t much I could tell him that he didn’t already know. And, since he lives in the River Oaks area, there’s going to be a whole lot more money involved than I’ll probably ever see in my lifetime. Again, not much advice I could give him, except, of course, to remind him why one hires a lawyer for these things. I just reminded him that he didn’t need to roll over simply because he was the man and, traditionally, the woman got the lion’s share of the communal property. They’d earned that money together, each contributing their part and he was entitled to his fair share. Besides, at the moment, she actually makes more money than him, so it’s not like he’d be hurting her financially at all. Mainly, though, I “advised” him to let the lawyers haggle it out when things got ugly about the money. Again, that is why one pays for a personal shark in the first place, right?

Anyway, he was talking about investing in real estate in Central America. Specifically, in Costa Rica. Now, a lot of times when guys start in with this kind of thing, I figure it’s somebody trying to impress me, but not with him. Something about the matter-of-fact way he talks about some of this stuff and his plans for developing some of the land and making a resort just ring too true for me to feel like there’s a scam or an ulterior motive. I’ve been wrong before, of course, but, these days, I’m a fairly hardened, bitter cynic and I tend to trust my instincts when it comes to people. Sadly, when I suspect something untoward, I’m rarely wrong.
But, he knows what I do for a living and for fun. He knows, for instance, that I’ve done web design work for my divorce lawyer. And, as a check was on the way, I mentioned that again this weekend when I saw him. Also, it turns out that when you Google Houston Divorce Lawyer, my lawyer already shows up on the second page of hits. Considering that he didn’t show up in the first 20+ pages of hits before I revamped his website, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. A little more time and he’ll be on that Holy Grail of search engine optimization, the first page of Google results.
In any case, I was joking with him, the guy from church, not the lawyer, about how I was in that very unique position of actually making money back from my divorce lawyer. But, it wasn’t long before he was asking about domain names and websites and optimization. And, yes, I found myself volunteering to do a simple website for him and optimize it for the search engines. And, of course, advise him about how to find an URL submission service that would keep his ranking good and high.

And that’s when he jokingly offered to trade me a hectare of land in Costa Rica for doing a website from scratch and optimizing it for the search engines. At least, I think he was joking. I mean, he was sort of laughing about it, but… But, it would be a pretty damn good deal and I’m thinking about calling him to see if he was serious or not. Because, I’ve been looking around at it a little bit and $750 worth of land now could very quickly and easily be over $75,000 some time in the next five years.

And, I was getting ready to tell him I’d do it for nothing.

So, does anyone know about real estate investing in Costa Rica?


Self Searching

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I highly reccomend checking yourself on Google.
Why? Because your next employer may be Googling you, that’s why. At least, according to this article on the New York Times, that’s what’s been happening.  I certainly know that I’ve been found on Google on more than one occasion.  Not only by employers, but also by potential dates and, well, obviously, dates.  This blog did, after all, start as a marketing scheme, a way to get the search engines to find me and catalog me.  It worked.  Very well, in fact, as this page has a Googlerank of Five out of Ten.  And, if you Google Linux Resume, I’m the second hit.  If you Google CNE Resume, I’m the first two hits.  If you Google Jim Hoffman, I’m the sixth hit.  So, I think about what I say here, and how I say it, because I know people might actually read it.  People I might care about and people who’s opinion matters to me or can effect my life.  And, I’m told that in the dating world, it’s more and more common to Google potential dates to see what mischief they’ve been up to on the web.  Obviously, one never knows what might turn up.

This is a special concern for bloggers, of course, who put themselves “out there” on a regular basis.  Do you want a potential employer reading that last rant?  Or about your after-hours antics?  Or about the slacking you do at work to post to your blog instead?  All things to think about.  So, what do you find when you Google yourself?  If you don’t know yet, maybe you should try it and see what turns up.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Hating people is like burning down your house to get rid of a rat."
   --Harry Emerson Fosdick


Interesting Opportunity

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:21 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hmm, another strange, twist of fate.
So, my lawyer’s office calls to update me on the status of my divorce yesterday, right? (We go to court to get everything signed and stamped by the judge on August 12, by the way.) And then the nice law clerk says that my attorney wants to talk to me about the “web stuff”. Right away, I’m confused. I’m thinking she means the potentially libelous and defamatory statements that my almost ex-wife has made and continues to make on her website, but, since she has an incestuous readership of about five, including herself and her new, er, whatever he is, I pretty well discount her tripe as anything I need to concern myself with at all. So, in my confusion, I simply ask “Web stuff”? And the law clerk tells me that my attorney wants to hire me to optimize his website for the search engines and submit him! Is that a hoot, or what? Not only is this guy about the least expensive divorce lawyer in Houston, but now he’s giving me the chance to earn some of that fee back by playing SEO with his website! I love this town!
Ironically, my attorney, Gary Hinchman, is from Indiana, which is one of the reasons I went with him. I knew that if I could trust anyone, it would be a Midwesterner. One damn Yankee carpet-bagger wouldn’t cheat another, right? Actually, all joking aside, his office has been pretty good taking care of me. Sure, they’ve been hard to reach on occasion, but, his flat fee structure has been real nice and easy to use. And, of course, economical, to boot! So, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do there, since I don’t really do consulting anymore, but the chance to make a little money back from my lawyer is almost too good to pass up!


Free Association

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Or, the interconnectedness of all blogs.
I did something sort of interesting the other day. I was checking on my Bloglines subscriptions and I checked the “Related Feeds” of several of my current subscriptions. The connections were interesting to say the least. On a couple of personal blogs of various people I know, I got a bunch of foregin language blogs in languages that they don’t speak. On my own, I was expecting to get a bunch of technical blogs, which I did get, but I also got several about survivors of abuse. How strange. To the best of my knowledge, I am not an abuse survivor, though I allow for the possibility of incredibly repressed memories, and I’ve only written about spousal abuse once, possibly twice. So, I started doing this for other feeds. The connections were both strange and thought provoking. And, I subscribed to several of them, for possible inclusion to my list of blog links on either of my active websites. (HavePalmWillTravel is so, so inactive, it hardly even shows up in search engines anymore.)
So, if you have any interest in the subliminal messages sent to you by God, or the Jungian Collective Unconscious, or whatever, sign up for a Bloglines account and subscribe to a couple of your favorite blogs. Then, check to see what other feeds are “related”. For even more fun, subscribe to your own blog and see what’s related. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, subscribe to the Network Geek via Bloglines and see what turns up as a “related feed” to my blog. If you’ve been reading me, you’ll be surprised.


Paranoia Runs Rampant on Internet

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, kidding! Who would’ve guessed?
Apparently, paranoid conspiracy-theorist type people seem to find that the Internet confirms their most paranoid fears. At least, according to this article on MindHacks, which references an article on Psychopathology, which is a professional Psychology journal, and was brought to you via Boing Boing. Apparently, now, instead of hearing J. Edgar Hoover transmitting via their fillings, the Internet and search engines now “reveal” to people suffering from paranoid dellusions just who and what is after them. It’s not clear if the “why” is revealed to them or not, but, I’m guessing that part comes before the obsessive viewing of the Internet. As I’m not paranoid, though, I can’t be sure.

Anyway, it’s Friday and the boss isn’t looking, trust me, so it’s safe to click the link.
(Am I paranoid if they really do end up being out to get me?)


Why blog?

Filed under: Art,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,PERL,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Hmm, that’s a good quesiton….
A friend asked me why I blog the other day and it really got me thinking. Why do I blog?

Well, the reasons have changed over the years. Originally, I started “blogging” to chronicle my search for a job here in Houston. Well, it was also a way to try and drive traffic to my website so that the search engines would find my resume. That was almost five years ago, back before there was such a thing as blogging software. In the early days, I hand-coded every page and uploaded it. As one might imagine, I tried to make every “post” count back then. It was a real hassle! But, I kept posting things about my work. Often, I found myself out on the road doing strange things or going odd places for my work and I wrote about it. I tried to focus on the technical side of things, but every so often, I would throw in something strange about my personal life, like getting married.
Then, back in September of 2002, I heard about Moveable Type, which was the first really good blogging application. It ran on PERL and MySQL, which were things I wanted to learn, so it seemed like a good choice. And, it was. I was able to post more often and more easily than ever before. And, I was out of work, again, so I moved from work war stories back to the seemingly endless search for work. It was the Summer after Enron and IT work was hard to come by, so I started posting more and more about my own personal thoughts, hopes and dreams. The blog started to become much more personal. It was a place to vent my frustrations, though I did so carefully as I was ever mindful that a future employer might read my postings.
Somewhere in there, I also started my other blog on Fantasist.net. There I posted things that were purely fun for me. Nothing but cool science and fantasy stuff, some of my fiction and poetry, and just plain cool or weird things. It was there that I originally started posting my “Fun Friday” links. That carried over here and I’ve done my best to maintain that to this day.
Now, I’ve upgraded to WordPress and blogging couldn’t be easier or more fun. I’m still carefull about what I post. I have a fairly varied audience, some of which include family that might be under the age of 18, so I do my best to be intelligent without being insulting to too many people. I do my best to keep the profanity and “adult material” to a minimum, too, for the same reasons.

So, why do I keep posting? Well, I can always use the traffic, even if I am the #1 hit for “CNE Resume” on Google. But, mainly, it gives me a place to think out loud when no one is around for me to talk to about things. Blogging let’s me share my thoughts and dreams and, sometimes, fears with a larger world. A larger world that often responds with surprising kindness and sympathy, I might add. It’s my way of reaching out to fellow geeks who are stuggling with their own careers or lives and offer a bit of hope that they’re not alone.
Also, it’s a way for me to create a bit of immortality. To feel like a part of me will go on beyond my own limited life. To get my words and thoughts out into a larger world so that I might be remembered and understood.
So, why do you all read my blog? And, if you keep one, why do you blog?


On Being Unemployed

Filed under: Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Being out of work sucks.

I could just about end this entry there, but that would be cheating. Thankfully, I am employed now, but I haven’t been for all that long, so I remember how bad it sucks to be out of work.
I remember when I first got into IT. I was sure that I’d never have to worry about being employed again. Wrong! But, then, at the time, I never would have expected to move to Houston. And, I never would have expected that a company like Enron would go bankrupt. Not to mention the fact that the mere concept of HP and Compaq “merging” was so far from being a possibility that it was inconcievable. But, the only constant is that things change. And change they did.
So, last year at this time, I was out of work and I didn’t know when I’d get hired. I figured that it would be no sooner than mid-January, because that’s when most everyone gets their new budget. Wrong again. It took almost an entire year for me to get a new job. Now, I’ll admit that part of that is my fault. I’ve got my Novell certification, but I never really wanted to get my Micro$oft certification. Guess what everyone was hiring this year? Yeah, primarily MCSEs (that’s MicroSoft Certified Systems Engineers, to you, buddy!). And that left me high and dry for most of the year. But, eventually, a Novell shop went looking and found me. Of course, even they are converting to Windows 2000, so I’m going to end up getting my MCSE after all. At least, the next time I’m out of work, I’ll be able to use that to my advantage.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not going to rely on either certification to get me a gig. No, sir, I’ve learned my lesson. Marketing is going to get me a job. Yep, that’s right. Marketing is the key. Marketing is the answer.
Marketing myself is what I mean, of course. Why else would I set up a blog like this? I get to use all the nice keywords and technical terms that keep me listed high in the search engines. Yep, I can write about being a CNE, then explain that CNE mean Certified NetWare Engineer. Buzzwords. Ah, I love the sound of buzzwords. Every MicroSoft and Windows reference cranks me up a notch. Each time I link to Novell’s website, I improve my search ranking. And, the last time I checked, it was working. If I do a search for CNE Resume on Google, I find myself as the number one hit. Sweet!
So, keep hitting those links, children. Keep Uncle Jim’s website ranked high. make sure the nice recruiters can see me, so that the next time I’m over loaded with free time and not enough paying work, they can fix that. Ah, the power of technology….

Now, back to work for me, before I’m unemployed again.

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