Diary of a Network Geek

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

5/21/2013

Backups and Data Recovery – Home Edition – Part 2

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Geek Work,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:07 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, I’ve finally heard back from DataRetrieval.com!

(Actually, I heard back a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been a little busy and haven’t had a chance to write things up.)

After a couple days of trying to get a response from an actual human being as to what was going on with my drive, I finally got a quote.  Well, actually, two quotes, which was kind of confusing.  The first quote was for about $300 and the second quote was for $1800.  But, I got no explanation of what the two quotes meant!  After a whole lot of back and forth over the course of more than a week with what seemed like an email autoresponder, I finally got in touch with a customer service representative to find out what was going on.
As it turns out, the quote for $300 was the minimum price to just get started.  Let that sink in for a minute.  They wanted $300 up front before they even started working on this drive with no promise whatsoever of actually retrieving data.  The $1800 quote was an estimate of the entire cost for retrieving all my data.

DataRecoveryReturnDrive Obviously, that wasn’t going to work for me and I told the service rep that.  Then, apparently, we started negotiations.
He came back with a counter offer price, which was still way too high and I told him so.
A day later, he came back again with another, lower offer.
In the end, that $1800 got cut down to about $500, which made me wonder just what they were charging me for in that first outrageous quote!

Finally, I convinced them that I wasn’t going to use their service and that I just wanted my drive back.  They charged me $25 for shipping, which I thought was fair enough, and they sent my drive back to me.  And here’s where they really lost me as a customer ever.  To the left, you see the box they sent my drive back to me in.  In case you forgot from the first post about this incident, since it was so long ago, I sent the drive to them in a larger box that was specifically designed to ship drives in, to keep them as safe as possible.

At the right, you see how they packed things inside the box.DataRecoveryReturnDrive-3
After all the strongly worded warnings and disclaimers about making sure you ship your damaged drive to them well padded so they won’t be liable for any additional damage or data loss, they don’t return the drive with anything like that same consideration.  I suppose they don’t feel like they need to since they won’t be making money off the drive, but, damn, that kind of disrespect for potential customers really says something bad about them as a company, at least in my mind.  I mean, there wasn’t *any* padding whatsoever!  It was just wrapped in two plastic shipping bags and shoved into the box!
Thankfully, the drive doesn’t seem to be damaged at all, or any more than it was when it crashed, so I’m probably no worse off than I was before I sent it to them.  Still, it’s the idea that they’d show so little care with my data that makes me question their entire service.  I know that I, personally, won’t ever trust them to attempt a data retrieval again, that’s for sure!

Also, based on what I’ve read, the problem is most likely a bad board on the drive.  A board which I can get off eBay for about $40, replace myself, and quite likely retrieve all my old photos.  I haven’t actually decided if I’m going to try and run down the board that matches the BIOS on my particular drive, but I may.  Kind of a huge difference, though, between $1800 and $40, plus a little of my time, isn’t it?

In any case, if I decide to get the board and fix the drive myself, now that I finally have it in my possession again, I’ll post another follow up with how that went.  And, possibly, even a tutorial on changing out that board.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"
   --Frank Scully

4/4/2013

Backups and Data Recovery – Home Edition – Part 1

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Fun Work,Geek Work,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“Two is one and one is none”.

I’ve quoted that a lot over the years.  I’ve reminded people over and over again that just moving your data to an external drive is NOT a backup.  If you can’t afford to destroy it, then it’s not backed up.  I’ve said all those things.
And, yet, on Tuesday, I lost data because it wasn’t backed up.

As many long-time readers know, I’m an amateur photographer.  In the past five years, I have taken over 18,000 photographs.
On Tuesday evening, the network attached storage device, an IOMega two terabyte personal cloud edition NAS, to be exact, died.  Or, more specifically, the drive inside it died.  The sad thing was that I was preparing to copy it all to another device when it bit the dust.  Oh, sure, I still have a little over 4,000 of the best shots uploaded to my Flickr photostream, but, it’s not the same.  (I talked a little bit more about the backup portion and the loss over at my other site, JKHoffman.com)
So, here’s what I’ll be doing; First, I’m investigating the data recovery services of DataRetrieval.com and Second, I’ll be ordering two more large drives for my Pogoplug to store and backup my photos from here forward.

Let’s take these in reverse order.
I plan on adding a new feature to this blog called “Tools for Tuesday” which irregularly reviews various tools, software and hardware and even non-computer, that I’ve used and enjoyed over the years.  One of those early reviews will be of the fantastic Pogoplug.  In a nutshell, for those who aren’t familiar, this little beauty lets me attach up to four USB-based drives at a time to my network.  They can be any kind of USB drives I happen to have available.  Right now, I have two one-terabyte drives in generic enclosures hooked up to it.  They are set up as a master and a mirror drive.  In other words, one drive is where I put all my “stuff” and the Pogoplug automagically mirrors it to the second drive.
It’s really, really nice and when I have the right software installed on my various machines, I can map a drive to that device via the internet and upload to my own personal cloud in my server closet at home.  It’s very nice, albeit a little slow sometimes when I’m away from home.  Still, it’s private and reasonably secure and automatically backing itself up.  I’ve confirmed that two of these devices in separate locations can be used the same way, make a truly redundant mirror, if you really want to do that.  (I do, but I haven’t gotten around to getting the second Pogoplug and setting it up on another network somewhere.)
I really cannot convey how happy I have been with this setup.  I’m super, super impressed with this as a low-rent solution for the small or home business person, or, like me, the hardcore hobbyist.
So, by the time you all are reading this post, I’ll have ordered two three-terabyte USB drives of some kind.  And, clearly, I’ll be setting them up in a similar configuration as the ones I already have, so that one backs up the other.

I’m also sending my drive off to DataRetrieval.com to get an estimate on restoring the data.
I chose them because they had an office in Houston, and I like using local businesses.  Also, they sent me a free shipping label to send the drive to them to get an estimate, which I like.  And, yes, I did try several things to get the data back myself, including the ultimate hard drive “Hail Mary”; the “frozen drive” trick.  I only got as far as seeing the drive, but not being able to access any of the partitions.  And, based on the horrible clicking noise it was making, I’m pretty sure it’s going to take getting the platters out and mounted in their special recovery equipment to get the data off.
I’m choosing slow over expensive, so it may be a couple weeks before I hear back from them with an estimate.  And, depending on how pricey it gets, I may not even decide to follow through and have them recover it.  But, I have to admit, it really hurt to lose five years worth of my photography, even if I don’t really go back to the old stuff all that often.  Now, if I were a professional photographer, or a business owner, I’d pay through the nose to get that data back, but for me, it’s really not hugely important.  Still, I’ll be interested to see, and share, what the quote is and how it’s handled by the service techs at DataRetrieval.com

So, stay tuned!  I don’t know how long it will take, but I promise to do a Part 2 when I get the data recovery quote!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"I love deadlines. I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
   --Douglas Adams

2/6/2012

Knock it off!

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:02 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Hey, can the folks at 132.3.57.68 , which seems to be an Air Force network operations center, please stop hammering my blog?  Not sure what y’all are looking for or trying to do here, but if you would contact me directly, I’d be happy to help you out.  In the mean time, though, my web host would really appreciate it if you’d stop doing all the aggressive GETs on my site.  It’s playing havoc with their servers.
Thanks!

UPDATE: Hey, it seems like someone in 754th Electronic Systems Group is taking an extreme interest in this blog for some reason.  From public records, someone in either Montgomery, Alabama, or Henderson, Nevada, or Colorado Springs, Colorado.  But, I still have no idea why they’d be interested in this blog.  Anyone have any ideas?

11/10/2011

Hard Drive Prices

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:36 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Looks like they’re about to go up.

And, if what I’m reading in the media is any indication, by quite a lot.
I know I mentioned this a couple weeks ago, but the tech media seems to just be really catching on to this.  The folks over at ExtremeTech, who are really into their hardware, have a great article about what’s going on with drive prices.  And, perhaps more importantly, what they think is going to happen to drive prices.  In short, it’s not good.
Seagate is expecting shortages in their supply chain for “several quarters”, and that, of course, translates to a higher demand.  And, for all of  you who slept through your basic Economics course in school, higher demand on a limited supply results in higher prices.

Of course, this is all due to the terrible flooding in Thailand, where key components are made for a number of electronic systems.  I’d expect that shortly after Christmas, a number of things will go up in price.  Anything that relies on a drive for a key component, like PCs or laptops or network attached storage, will clearly cost more.  But, I expect a lot of different cameras and similar electronics to go up in price, too.
This is the downside of a global economy.  And, it’s also why we should be concerned with the welfare of our fellow humans on the far side of the globe.  We’re all interconnected, now more than ever.  I hate to equate such an enormous disaster with our creature comforts and the price of consumer goods, but, well, it’s the only way some people can get their mind around how important it all is.
The world is so interconnected now, what happens in any one country, no matter how small, has far reaching effects on the entire world.

3/16/2011

Japanese Tragedy

Filed under: Art,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:03 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wow, where to even begin…

Readers of my blog may not be aware of what level of Japanophile I really am, but, well, let’s just say I keep track of what’s going on over there better than the average American.  Many of art and movie trends, especially in animation and comics and science-fiction in general, end up being a pretty big influence over here.  Fashion, too, actually, and in ways most of us aren’t even aware of most of the time.
So, with that in mind, when I saw a couple of my contacts over there in Tokyo talking about the earthquake, tsunami and general devastation on Twitter and Facebook this past Friday morning, I was concerned.  As news media started to pick up the stories, detailing just how bad it was, I have to admit, I started to wonder about the damage done to the global economy and what it meant for our entire future.  Think about all the electronics and cars and, well, all kinds of things, that come out of Japan or through Japan and consider what will happen when those things aren’t manufactured for a while during this crisis.  The ripple from that will be felt all over the world for quite some time.

What’s worse, though, is what’s happening with those reactors.
Boing Boing has an article about how regular citizens are tracking the radiation with home-brew Geiger counters, which is cool, but, frankly, a little frightening.  I mean, I was concerned when one of my friends said she was going to spend the night in her office because the trains were out and she had a 20+ mile walk home, but this…  Well, when the government, any government, tells you not to worry about radiation, frankly, I’d worry.  You know it has to be pretty bad when the U.S. Navy moves its fleet because they were concerned about radiation levels 160k out into the ocean.  That just can’t be good.  From the stories, at least one reactor is most likely experiencing a melt down, and probably more than one really is.  They claim it won’t be another Chernobyl, but, somehow, I just don’t believe them.  And, with so many people in such a tight geographical area, I have to wonder what the long-term implications of this will be.  I haven’t heard many clear estimates on how many have already died in this tragedy, but I’m sure it’s going to get worse.
Thank God for the brave workers who stayed, at peril to their own lives, to try to contain the damage as much as possible.  They’re real heroes.

I don’t know how many people are without basic shelter and necessities, but there are a couple ways to help.
First, a company named Shelter Box is sending disaster kits there and needs funding.  They seem legit and their kit is a pretty good selection of things that people would be needing.  Remember, we’re hearing a lot about the reactors, but there are also thousands of people who have been hammered by tsunamis as well.  It’s just like the hurricanes have been here in the States.  They have the same kinds of problems and need the same kind of help.
Another great way to help is to donate to the Red Cross at this link.  They always help and get the maximum amount of your donation directly to the people who need it.  Also, a general donation to them will help the people in Christchurch, New Zealand who were hit with earthquakes recently and the people in Haiti who still need help, too.

And, if you can’t donate, pray for them.
If you don’t pray, then at least send whatever positive energy you can their way.

Finally, for those of you, like me, who live in hurricane country, now is the time to think about putting together a disaster survival kit.  Seriously.  I talk about this almost every year, but, really, we need to do it.  I know I’ve been putting things together for the past several years, just in case, but it never hurts to plan a little more.  Even under the best circumstances, authorities expect us to be able to fend for ourselves for at least 72 hours.
Think about that and ask yourself if you’re prepared.  If not, seriously consider getting prepared before it’s too late.

1/25/2011

Dealing With Death

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:14 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, not the idea, but the actual event.

Two stories ran recently about dealing with the parts of us left behind after death.
First a story about a “better” coffin that screws into the ground.  Okay, I’ll grant you, this is less serious than morbidly amusing to me.  Still, I do like the idea of having a low-cost disposal method for what I’ll leave behind once I “shuffle off this mortal coil”.  That it screws into the ground, just tickled me.
And, for anyone keeping track, I’d just as soon be cremated and scattered to the Four Winds where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan just outside the Loop.  Seriously.

The second two were a little more serious.  Two stories about social media applications dealing with the accounts of the dead and, more recently, one from the New York Times Magazine, online, of course.
Back before everyone was on the web all the time, I used to have an envelope that was labeled “Open upon my death or disappearance”.  Seriously!  I used to keep it tucked under my keyboard.  I had one at work, too, for those folks, though that was in a safe.  In each envelope was a series of usernames and passwords for people to use to get access to my accounts should I go missing, or should something happen to me that left me incapacitated or dead.  I’m honestly not sure if anyone knew about the one under my keyboard, but I figured it would have turned up when someone cleaned up after me.  So, basically, I was giving someone who survived me access to my e-mail and other, similar accounts.
I got rid of that sometime shortly before the divorce, for some obvious reasons.

Now, though, there are so many accounts and websites and blogs and such that I’m not sure I could easily list them all.  And, frankly, who would bother to pay for my website?  Who would care enough to maintain an archive of this blog, for instance?  I don’t have a huge readership, though you are a pretty loyal lot, so I don’t expect anyone to really want to preserve what I have here.
How many of you have though about what will happen to your blogs and websites and so on when you die?  What about if you were to die suddenly from, oh, say, cancer?  What then?  If I went missing for a month, would anyone notice here?
Well, for WordPress blogs, there’s a plugin called Next Of Kin that might help, a little.  You can set it to post some message to your blog if you fail to login to your blog for a set amount of time.  And, just to be sure, it will send you a reminder or warning e-mail to check and make sure that you haven’t just forgotten to visit your blog.  It’s far from enough to take care of all of your digital needs after death, but it is a pretty good start!

So, what have you all got setup in case of your untimely death?  Does anyone know your passwords?  Have you given anyone instructions on what to post to Facebook or Twitter after you’ve gone?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."

8/20/2010

Dystopian Futures

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Seems like I’ve been talking about increasingly grim things this month.

Well, I can promise you that I don’t feel as if the world was ending, even though that does seem to occupy my “fun” posts!  So, let’s see if we can lighten things up a bit this week with the Dystopian Future Quiz that helps you choose just which unbearable Dystopian future is for you!
Oh, I know it’s silly, but, what the heck, it’s Friday and you obviously don’t have anything better to do or you wouldn’t be reading this!  So, go ahead and take the quiz.  It’ll only take a few minutes and it really is sort of fun.

7/24/2010

Al Fresco

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

We take modern plumbing for granted.

No, seriously.
I’ve spent the better part of this past week without a sewer connection.  That means that I’ve been pestering my friends who live nearby, all three of them, for showers all week.  It also means I’ve been urinating “al fresco”, under the cover of darkness.  Let’s not ask too many questions about other bodily functions though, okay?  Let’s just say I’ve been going into work early most days this week.

My point is, plumbing is what makes civilization even more than farming.
In school, they always taught us that modern civilization, as we know it, started with farming.  They taught us that as people stayed to tend crops instead of follow the herds, they built permanent camps which became villages which, eventually, became cities.
I would argue, however, that real modern civilization was born when the Romans first got the idea to enclose their plumbing.  When that first, genius Roman city planner decided to put sewers underground and replace the foul stench of open trenches, which had been the norm until then, and replace that malodorous tradition with construction projects, civilization as we know it truly began.
And brought with it a host of modern problems.

In my case, the problem was one I initially tried to handle myself.
When the shower first backed up, thanks to several loads of laundry, I poured all kinds of hazardous and noxious chemicals down the drains.  I bought and used things that were so terrible, so dire that the warnings printed on the packaging sounded more like plans to deal with a spill in a chemical plant than something the average Home Depot shopper should be screwing around with in their bathroom.  In fact, these things were so bad at one point that leather gloves which had accidentally gotten soaked in water containing some of those chemicals actually started to melt away.  Seriously.  I have pictures!  And, I thought all was well.  For about two weeks.
That’s when the shower started to back up when I was, well, running the shower.
So, for three days, I took what we used to call “Navy showers“.  Basically, I got wet, then turned off the water and lathered up, then turned the water back on just long enough to rinse off.  I’m sure it helped the planet with all the water I conserved, but it was starting to get a little uncomfortable.  So, off I went to Home Depot to buy supplies.  I bought even more chemicals, a CO2-based plunger, and a plumber’s “snake”.  I used them in turn, spending the most time trying to get the snake working right.  It was one that you hooked up to a drill, to add extra power, and, though I hate to admit it, I screwed the first one up bad enough that I broke it.  Unfortunately, none of that worked.

So, defeated, I called a plumber Sunday afternoon.
I called Mr. Rooter, because I’d used them before and I knew they didn’t charge extra for working on the weekend.  I also knew they did good work at what I think is a reasonable price.  Sadly, there wasn’t anyone available in my area by the time I called Sunday afternoon, which meant waiting until the next morning, but I figured what was one more night wallowing in my own filth?
Well, the plumbing technician showed up early Monday morning and got right to work.  He ran through at least three obstructions and at one point I could hear things gurgling in my bathroom, which seemed an encouraging sign.  Sadly, it was not.  The technician called me out into the yard where he found the only “clean-out” in my line.  A clean-out, incidentally, that was far, far further out than it should have been.  He’d run his camera down that line and found the problem, or, at least, the first problem.  I feared the worst, but my fears turned out to be child’s play compared to what was actually wrong.

The problem was roots.
Not roots that had grown through the pipes, as I had feared, but roots that had grown under the pipe and lifted a thirty foot section of it.  Lifted it so high, in fact, that it made my shower the lowest point in my personal sewer system.  So, yes, it was a big problem.
The other two problems were with the main sewer.  First, when they built the house, apparently, a builder took a short-cut and lifted my sewer connection to link it up with the city sewer main.  So, it was higher than it should have been in the first place!  But, to make matters worse, when the guys from Mr. Rooter went to make the connection, the found the city main choked with roots!  I love the live oaks in my backyard, and, in fact, they’re part of why I bought the house with my ex-wife, but they certainly seemed out to get me this week.  In the end, there was really only one thing to do: replace the whole sewer line to the city main.

Now, for those of you who aren’t homeowners, let me tell you how this feels.
Imagine being neck deep in a mucky, fetid swamp, trying not to make waves because you know it could drown you.  Got that?  Do you have a handle on the perilous and uncomfortable feeling of knowing you’re inches from sucking stagnant water up your nose and suffocating on swamp muck?  Great.  Now imagine that someone is throwing stones at you.  Stones big enough to knock you unconscious.  Imagine having to hold your breath while that water with God only knows what kind of diseases in it is lapping at your mouth and nose, trying to find its way into your lungs.  Can you feel the horrible panic?  Can you feel your chest tightening from the fear of drowning in a sloppy, green sea of homeowner’s debt?  Fantastic.  Now imagine looking up and seeing one of those stones on a collision-course with your head.  You know it’s coming and you can already feel the lump forming even as your gut tightens because you’re about to be fighting for consciousness so you don’t drown, alone, in this swamp.
That was pretty much how I felt when the tech told me what was wrong.

His estimate was not much more reassuring.
Let’s just say it started somewhere over $10K.  In the end, because the folks at Mr. Rooter are fantastic, caring, decent human beings who haven’t lost their humanity in this tight economy, I ended up owing less.  I won’t say how much less, but, less than the original $10K.  Still an impressive sum for which I needed a lot of help.
Sadly, the finance company was less caring and more cut-throat.  I won’t give them any free advertising by mentioning their name, but I will say that, until dealing with them, I thought loan-sharking was illegal.  Apparently, not if you do it right.  Thankfully, I had some benefactors who were willing to lend me the money I needed at lower rates.  They’ve asked to remain nameless, otherwise I’d sing their praises, too.

In any case, I got enough money together to get them started and WOW, did they!
The next afternoon, there was a crew of four guys digging up my backyard with a small backhoe.  They dug a trench easily 120 feet from the back of my house, around my ponds, between my trees and to the city sewer main at the back of my yard.  I took pictures of it because words leave the spectacle of the thing,well, in the dust.  This trench started out about three feet deep and got down to almost five feet deep near the sewer main.  It runs at least four feet deep for a significant portion of it’s length and was dug in less time than it’s taken to write this entry.  It was amazing!  If not for the roots in the city sewer main, I’d have had service restored that first night!  Unfortunately, the rest took longer.
The city did come out the next day to clear the roots and make the connection to the city sewer main, but, by then I’d had to make a nuisance of myself with friends to beg showers so I could get into work and not knock people out.  I didn’t shave, really, but used my beard trimmer to keep my stubble under control.  Still, I looked pretty rough by the end of the week.
And, yes, I really did get tired of “urination al fresco” and holding it until dark, or going in to work hours early for the same reason.

So, the good news is, now, I have a working sewer line and I can flush my toilets!  Not to mention shower, shave, do laundry and dishes, all of which I was frantically doing Thursday night.  Friday afternoon, the main technician who was working on this project the entire time, got my second toilet hooked up, so everything in the house should be working now.  I still have the trench until the city inspects and approves the work according to the permit.  I’m not as worried about that, frankly, since I’m able to bathe and eliminate with the modern ease with which I have rather grown accustomed.
Other good things of come of it, too, though.  Some I won’t got into in detail except to say that I have a new appreciation for my friends and family who were all more than willing to come to my aid.  I was pleasantly surprised, to be honest, at how willing everyone I knew was to help.  Since my divorce, I have felt pretty alone down here in Texas, so it was nice to be reminded that I did have friends and, though they may be a little way away, family who really do care.

I also really was reminded about how well I live, really, and how comfortable I am.  That’s sort of a double-edged sword, though, as I’ve gotten, I think, a little too comfortable with things that really needed to change.  I’ve gotten a little stuck and a little complacent.  My financial situation, for instance, has been just good enough for me to not really feel the need to really grab hold and make some positive changes.  I’ve just gone “with the flow”, if you’ll pardon the metaphor in a post about sewers, for far too long.  I need to relearn to set my sails and make my way regardless of the current.

Of course, I do still have a huge bill to pay before I’m done, but that may turn out to be a good thing, too, since it’s finally motivated me to actually start selling my ex-wife’s abandoned jewelry.  Yes, I have finally listed my first item on eBay.  In this case, it’s my ex-wife’s gold and ruby ring.  If you’re interested, go bid on it and help me out!  Don’t worry, stalkers, there will be more items if you want to own a piece of the Network Geek’s history.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed."
   --Cavett Robert

4/28/2009

Rain Delay

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I wish I’d had my camera with me.

Not sure when, or if, I’ll be getting into work today.  I’m on the wrong side of a low point in Houston, apparently.  Normally, I go over F.M. 529 from the 290 feeder, but this morning, the underpass on 529 that goes under the railroad tracks was flooded to the point that pickup trucks were completely submerged and the Jersey Village Police Department actually had blocked traffic to keep idiots from making it worse.  I think I counted more than six cars and trucks floating, yes, you read that right, floating under the tracks there as I rolled by, looking for another way to work.
West Road was flooded on the far side of the railroad tracks there, too.  And, again, police were on hand to keep things from getting worse.  Though, at West Road on the far side of the water, there was quite a bit of traffic backed up and stuck.  I’m sure everyone rushed up to try and get through when 529 was blocked and were as surprised as I was when they weren’t able to get through.  So, I made a semi-U-turn back onto the feeder headed back toward home and slowly, gently made my way back to Jersey Village.  And, yes, as far as I could see, the big project they spent so much money on to deal with all the flooding back when tropical storm Allison hit has been worth it.  One of the reasons I was so surprised at how bad things were is that Jersey Village, formerly famous for flooding, was so high and dry that I didn’t think it’d be a problem anywhere else.  Surprise!

So, do like the nice folks on the radio are saying today, Houston.  If you don’t have to travel, stay home.  That’s what I’ll be doing, at least until the water goes down some and the crazy people get off the road.

2/10/2009

Five Geek Books for the Price of One

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:32 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I haven’t heard much in the US news about the fires in Victoria, but I know it’s bad.

I know people down there, though, thankfully, none of them seem to be effected by the bushfires.  Still, a lot of people are and the death toll has topped 200.  But, I won’t dwell on how bad it is.  Instead, I’d rather point out some folks trying to help.

This is mainly for the techies and comes to me via ProBlogger.  SitePoint, who publishes really interesting web design books, among other things, has their headquarters in Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria.  In their effort to help out their neighbors, they’ve got a special deal going on their eBooks.  Now, through Friday, Australian time, SitePoint is offering five books of your choice for the price of one, in PDF format.  The proceeds of this will all go to help the Australian Red Cross Victoria Brushfire Appeal.  It’s a worthy cause and you get some great books out of the deal, too.  So, if you’ve got the cash, it’d be a great way to help out.

Just thought I’d let folks know.

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