Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/27/2014

SadEyedCat

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent



SadEyedCat

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

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SadEyedCat

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent



SadEyedCat

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

test

2/7/2014

Get Started!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,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 6:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

So, we’re a month into the New Year.  What have you done so far?

Last month, I posted my fun, hopefully funny, Random Resolution Generator, because, well, everyone seems to make those annual New Year’s Resolutions, but who ever follows through?  As it turns out, almost no one does.  In fact, most people don’t even start, much less follow though.  And, really, getting started is everything.

Go read that last article I just linked to, then come back.  It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Back…
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Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If someone keeps having things go wrong, try out the assumption that it's because that someone wants them to go wrong."
   --George Scithers

9/11/2013

IT Dreams

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

You know what I’d like to do?

I’d like to run a large-ish IT shop with a clear and well-defined budget.  I’d like to plan for rolling upgrades so that no one had a workstation or laptop that was older than five years old.  If the budget allowed for it, so that no one had equipment that was older than three years old.  And, I’d like to take that old, retired equipment and donate it to worth causes, like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America or the Red Cross or Goodwill or something like that.  Local charities, too, but all causes that would use that equipment to better someone’s actual life.

I’d like to have servers that were under-utilized for a change, instead of always headed toward being out of resources.  Servers with so much room to grow that they still were running smoothly even after a five or six year period, but that were upgraded before they were ten years old anyway, just because that’s the right way to do it.

I’d like to have staff that I could develop and grow and train to be the best IT personnel that techs could imagine being.  And, I mean that both through having a training budget to send them out for classes, but also on a personal level.  The one thing I really, really miss about being more than a department of one is that chance to teach someone how to do it the right way.  (And, yes, there are many ways to get IT stuff done, but, honestly, there are some ways that are more right than others.)

I long for a neat wiring closet again.  And an orderly server rack.  I miss having a dedicated server room with it’s own A/C and raised floors.  Can’t there be a way for even small companies to do that?  Shouldn’t we find a way for that to be a thing?

Okay, Universe, there it is.  I’ve said it.  Now, go make it happen!

9/10/2013

Against Digital Sharecropping

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Pressgram,Rotten Apples — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:16 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I like being free and independent.

I like the idea behind Instagram, but not the proprietary nature of it.
I don’t like giving up my rights to work I create.   Even when it’s just a little photo of a little moment captured with my iPhone.  I dislike, as Nicholas Carr called it on his blog, “digital sharecropping”. And, of course, now the ads have finally started on Instagram, solidifying my discomfort with it.  Why should I let them profit from even the smallest amount of my work without compensation?

Well, now, there’s a new program called Pressgram, that’s a free iPhone app, which allows an Instagram-like experience, but uploads the photos to my WordPress blog. You can upload them to your WordPress.com blog, or, as I do, to my self-hosted WordPress blog.  Word has it that there is an Android version in the works, too.  It’s a new app, so there are some on-going refinements, but it really is a great start, I think.

Obviously, I’ve been using it here and at my other site, JKHoffman.com, so I believe in it.  Yes, it took me a little fiddling to get the setting just the way I want and to sort out a couple other things, but, now that I have, I think this is going to work just fine.  I can already see the difference in my site stats!
Anyway, worth checking out if you’re leary of another ad-supported system that lets you share, but not much else.

8/29/2013

Moveable Type Changes License

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,PERL,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

And becomes completely irrelevant.

Apparently, I missed this last month, but Six Apart is changing their license so that Movable Type will no longer have a free version.  Now, when it was Ben and Mena Trott running Six Apart, when they made a mistake with licensing, which I think they did back in 2004, you can understand and forgive.
Ben and Mena were like us, just two fellow geeks out there coding and blogging.  They came up with a great idea and everyone loved it.  But, then, money got involved and things got complicated.  They did things to make money, and, honestly, I probably would have done the exact same things.  When they first changed things to make the license more restrictive back in 2004, I was, I admit, outraged.  How could they betray us like that?  They were like us!  How could they throw this all over to just make money!  In retrospect, the question is, how could they NOT?

But, then there was WordPress.  Many of us made the jump, including me.  WordPress was a new way of doing things.  This Open Source thing was new to many of us and it was exciting!  Software that was mostly free that the community built!  People who were just like us!  Code geeks and blog geeks and graphics geeks all coming together to make cool things happen.  What could be better?  And, from my perspective, WordPress was easier to extend and develop for in many, many ways.  Also, it seemed to have fewer resource issues than the Perl-based Movable Type.  Better still, as I understood the license, WordPress would always be free and if it stopped being free, we could fork the code and make it free again.

Somewhere back in there, after the 2004 license debacle, Movable Type added an Open Source version.  They tried to get us back, but, frankly, for most of us, it was too little, too late.  After one license change like that, how could we be sure that it wouldn’t happen again?  And what about charging money to be part of the developer’s group who had access to the documentation you really needed to understand Movable Type enough to develop for it?  I know I couldn’t afford that!  Besides, as Six Apart got more and more corporate, I just felt like something else bad was coming, if not soon, then eventually.

Now this.
Well, it actually happened in July, but I just read about it on Mark Jaquith’s blog.
So, finally, after nine years, that other shoe has finally dropped.  Of course, a lot has changed in those nine years.  For one thing, I’ve gotten both married and divorced and am getting ready to be married again.  Interestingly, to me, Ben and Mena who started Six Apart have gotten divorced, too.  Ben still seems to be involved in the day-to-day development of Movable Type and related stuff, but Mena seems less involved.  I can’t imagine the toll their meteoric rise took on their relationship.  It must have gotten truly unbearable after a while.
You know, I hope they made out well.  Sure, this latest license thing is, I think, a final nail in the coffin of Movable Type, but, damnit, Movable Type also launched the blogging era in many ways, and paved the way for WordPress.  And, it was two people who started it.  Just two.  Two good people.

So, it’s sad, to me, to see how things have gone.  I’m sad to have been right about Movable Type all those years ago.  I wish they had proven me wrong.
But, with this, I think they proved me right not to trust the Movable Type license any more.  And, honestly, they taught me something about how to treat my audience and my customers.
And, yes, it makes me sad.  It’s the end of an era, of sorts.
I’m sorry to see you go, old friend.

8/6/2013

American Jobs

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,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 5:50 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I know this will sound nationalistic, and, as one UK ex-pat coworker termed it “jingoistic”, but I believe in American Jobs for American Workers.

That may not make me popular with some folks, even in IT, but, that’s okay.
Why am I on my teeny, tiny political soapbox today?  Why else?  An article on Slashdot about a US worker filing a lawsuit against Infosys, an Indian search firm, for ignoring her many, very relevant qualifications and submitting an Indian, who was less qualified, for the same job.  That’s discrimination.  And, it’s illegal.
I hope she takes them too the cleaners.

Look, I know it’s not always a popular position, but when I hear about how many people are unemployed and then I hear how we need to raise H1B1 caps and import more of our workforce, something doesn’t sound right to me.  Seriously, hire your out-of-work fellow citizens before hiring someone who’s been brought in from another country.  But, first, make sure that they’re qualified.  If, and only if, there really, truly isn’t someone from your own country who’s qualified, or who could be relatively easily trained to do that job, then, look at foreigners.
The fiscal blood-letting has got to stop sooner or later.
And, if you’re a “C”-level executive?  Maybe it’s time to think about smaller profit margins and a more reasonable salaries and bonuses.  How much is really enough?  How many have to starve just so you can have one more vacation that you spend on your cell phone anyway?

Something’s got to change.

5/31/2013

Writerly Advice

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There is no shortage of advice for writers.

And, honestly, the advice you like least is probably the best for you.  Why do I say that?  Because the advice that rankles you the most is probably digging at the precise issue that you have as a writer and are trying to ignore.  Or, is that just my Freudian slip showing?
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the classic traps of wanna-be fiction writer all the time.  My biggest failing? …
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12/12/2012

Another Birthday

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, today marks another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, I don’t hang a lot on birthdays, especially my own.  I mean, for the most part, they’re just another day.  Another marker of many in my life and, frankly, a rather arbitrary one at that.  I’m more impressed with the fact that I’ve paid a third of my mortgage than that I’m turning 44 today.  Of course, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an…
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7/27/2012

Steal a BMW in 3 Minutes

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, I’m not advocating that you actually do this!

But, in Europe, it’s already been done.
Apparently, the special key that costs you $160 for your super-secure BMW isn’t really all that much of a deterrent after all.  According to a story that ran recently on ExtremeTech, hacker-thieves have found a way to bypass the BMW security system and, in a separate step, decode the information needed to actually start the car without having the special, expensive key.  It seems that the on-board diagnostic port on the cars gives them complete, unsecured access to the data in the car’s computer, which allows them to get the codes they need to program up a new key and drive away in your very high-end car.  Interestingly enough, they’re able to do this because BMW is required by law to keep the codes and on-board diagnostic information unencrypted to allow competing firms to service the vehicles and not get locked out by BMW to form a monopoly.
Although the article focuses on BMWs, likely this is happening to other cars that use a similar technology and for the same reasons.  It’s just that right now, the expensive, high-end BMWs are what the thieves are stealing, and in fact they’ve always been popular targets for thieves due to their general popularity, so they’re getting all the attention.

Frankly, when I first heard about these “special” keys and ignition systems, I wondered how long it would be before they were subverted.  I just generally distrust systems like that, which operate over easily accessible networks.  Too many points of failure.  Anyway, check out the video in the link.  It’s pretty scary how quickly they can accomplish their goal of stealing the car.
But, what an amazing, real-world test of that security system!

So, how is this “fun” for a Fun Friday link?
Okay, it’s not really, but it seemed appropriate to share while I was out at DEF*CON in Las Vegas.  But, all you criminal types, don’t get any ideas!  My house is being watched and I’ll be back by the time that most of you read this!

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