Diary of a Network Geek

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


Lone Ranger, Again

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Novell,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:41 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, it seems that I’m the “Lone Ranger” again.

So, trouble started brewing with my counterpart at work yesterday. Nothing personal, unfortunately, but rather something having to do with the company. Well, I say that the trouble started yesterday, but, really, that was when I became aware of the problem. See, he’s no longer with the company today. I’m not 100% sure what happened and I sure don’t have all the details from either side, so I’m keeping fairly mum about what I do know. Either way, I’m now the sad, sole captain of the S.S. “Let’s-Standardize-The-Remote-Sites”. It always happens, sooner or later.
The really sad thing is that the guy I knew who’d be perfect to take over is dead now. Parrish would have loved this gig and we would have gotten along famously. The whole company would have been talking about what a great job we did… Ah, well, nothing to be done about that now.

It’s a shame, really. This is just a nice job. For a big shop, they’re really low pressure and everyone is friendly. I mean everyone, too. People smile and say hello to me in the hall as I pass. People I’ve never met, mind! And, as a Novell guy, it’s a pretty sweet deal. I mean, I get to do all kinds of crazy things with Novell and Linux. Within certain fairly broad parameters, I can do pretty much whatever I want to get the job done, too. Just such a good thing. Well, I hope I don’t do anything to screw it up! I’ll have to put in some extra effort to make sure they have a good opinion of me. Just in case.
I’m sorry to be in this spot again, but I’m glad I’m still working.
Thank you, God, or Fate, or Whoever arranged this all for me. I appreciate the opportunity.



Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Now that I have your attention…

I was reading a blog over the weekend which suggested that “being sexy” was a “rule” for writing on the web. He lists nine other tips in his article, 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web, but that one stuck out. I disagree with that particular tip. I don’t really need to write about my sexlife online. Too many people know too much about it already! The last thing I need to do is open that up for public perusal. I mean, if the comments about Strom Thurman are any indication, my sex life would be roundly critisized by more mouth-breathing droolers than I care to imagine.
Granted, sex does sell. So, if I were selling this blog, I’d be wise to sell it with a side-order of sex. But, I am NOT selling this blog, so gratuitous references to Britney Spears, Carmen Electra, or whoever the flavor of the month is are really not neccessary. Neither is talking about Britney getting married or how Madonna is a kabbalist. I’m free from looking deep into the heart of reality tv, the presidential election, or the war in Iraq. I am by no means compelled to discuss any of it. In fact, based on the title of this blog, an ususpecting reader might actually expect that I would talk about networking. (They’d be sadly mistaken most of the time, but, still, they’d be right to expect it.)

So, I’ll leave the cheap, sleazy, tabloid come-ons for the other blog writers and agree to disagree with Mr. Bernstein regarding being “sexy” on the web. Thanks.


Review: The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society by Jasper Ridleylast week.

As a Freemason myself, I found the book quite interesting. First of all, it looks at masonic history from the perspective of a what is known and concrete, not with any real speculation at all. It’s a very, very scholarly work which included a significant bibliography.
Secondly, it was written by a non-Mason. While that, in itself, is not remarkable, what is special about that is that the author maintains an even-handed look at masonic history. He sticks to the facts and was actually quite enlightening in many areas, at least to me.
Thirdly, the book covers quite a bit of history, but it completely discounts the claims that some authors have made regarding Freemasonry being descended from the Knights Templar. This is, oddly enough, unusual these days. It seems like the majority of books lean the other way. Jasper Ridley, though, maintains that the simplest explanation is, in fact, correct. That the story we’re told from the Grand Lodge is right. Namely, that the Freemasons are an outgrowth and offshoot of the original working, or operative masons, who were essentially an early trade union.
Finally, as Mr. Ridley sums up at the end, he gives the Freemasons a fairly good endorsement, which we can surely use for a change!

If you have any interest at all in the history of Freemasonry, this is an excellent place to start. I wish I’d read it first, before all the others that I’ve gotten into this past year or so. But, if you’ve only a passing interest, there are other, easier books to read. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this is a rather scholarly work.
(Oh, yes, this also appeared on my other blog.)


Happy Birthday Science Fiction Channel!

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Today is not only the birthday of the Science Fiction Channel, but also Space: Above and Beyond! The SciFi Channel launched today in 1992 and started a revolution in television.
But, just as important my favorite science-fiction show of ALL time launched today in 1995. There wasn’t anything quite like Space: Above and Beyond, and there hasn’t been anything like it since, either. Imagine all the best things about Star Trek combined with the grit from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie!) and you start to get an idea. It was military science-fiction at its finest! The story, in a nutshell, is that Earth colonies get attacked by an unknown alien invasion force and we’re suddenly off to war. The series focused on a group of Marine pilots who fly off to space, each for their own reasons, to fight the enemy. And then it started to get really interesting. In my opinion, there hasn’t been writing this good in either science-fiction or television in years. I was really sorry to see it go. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the SciFi Channel will bring it back again! Or, maybe you would like to see it on DVD? Well, so would all the fans, but it’s not out yet. If you’d like to see this show released on DVD, why not sign the Space: Above and Beyond DVD Petition?

(This also appeared on my other weblog, The Fantasist’s Scroll, today.)


Review: Iron Council

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Fun,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished Iron Council by China Mi�ville last week.

It was good, but not quite as good as his last two.
This one dealt with an attempt to run a transcontinental railroad across Bas Lag, home of New Crobuzon. Something goes wrong and the people building the railroad rebel and become their own, moving, city. While the idea is interesting, and the descriptions of magic and struggle are compelling, the book focuses elsewhere. Specifically, it seems as if Mr. Mi�ville has a social message to impart to us. A rather anti-capitalist, socialist message.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, it does take away from the story in this case. The book seems less about exploring the world of Bas Lag than either Perdido Street Station or The Scar . It is not, by any means, his best effort.
However, it was a good book. I certainly enjoyed the previous two more, but I was not sorry that I bought Iron Council and read it.

If you’re already a fan, Iron Council will be worth it. But, if you’re new to China Mi�ville, it would be better to start with either Perdido Street Station or The Scar .
(Oh, yes, this first appeared on my other blog.)


Third Option

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I may have another candidate after all….

Okay, this Libertarian guy, Michael Badnarik, just might be on to something. I don’t talk politics much in my blog, mainly because I think too many people already do, but this strikes me as important.
America has forgotten that we’re NOT a two-party system. We have more choices than just voting Democrat or Repbulican. Among others, there are also the Communists, the Socialists, the Family Values Party, the Reform Party, the Green Party (actually, two of them), the Labor Party, and even, yes, even the American Nazi Party. But, for some time now, the most reasonable “Third Party” has seemed like the Libertarians. (You can see all the parties here at Politics1.)
I’ve known about them for quite some time, and I’ve alwasy felt like they were closer to my personal ideal of government, but, it was this article at Slashdot that really got me thinking. I mean, this guy is really answering the questions like he’s thought about them himself and isn’t trying to give the “right” answer. When was the last time a politian did that!?

Well, I haven’t decided, yet, but the more I look, the more I like the Libertarian Party. No matter how you feel, though, get out and vote. Nothing you do as a United States Citizen is more important.


Hot Link

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Novell,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I love the smell of burnt circuits in the morning!

Actually, no, I don’t, but it was a good, catchy line. So, it turns out that, yes, my DSL router got kissed by lightning and cooked. Actually, just the DSL modem part got cooked, but that was enough to keep me from getting to the Internet. And, to add insult to injury, I also lost several network cards. So, I spent the better part of the week scrounging up network cards, testing them, findind drivers for them, and replacing dead cards at home. Saturday afternoon, I had a tech over who took all of about 10 seconds to confirm that it was, in fact, my DSL Router that had gone all crispy.
In fact, his whole visit lasted all of about 15 minutes. I wore my new Novell Cool Solutions Tip T-shirt, in lovely Hunter Green, which arrived Thursday night, just so he could see I was a real geek. He took one look at that, my Wall O’ Computer Books (most of which are terribly out of date), all the equipment laying about and basically got out of my way. He metered the line, then offered to sell me a router out of his truck. It cost at least twice what it was worth, but saved me the hassle of configuring it and let me test while he was still there. Another 10 minutes to change out the last bad network card and reconfigure my BorderManager firewall, then I was back up and running.

Actually, I did get a bit more reading done than I would have otherwise this past week. And, I was less obsessive about the new game I’m playing on-line (more about that on Friday). Still, it’s nice to have e-mail again. And, I think my wife likes having access to the ‘Net again, too. So, it’s back to wasting time as normal for us. Wee!


Annual Talk Like A Pirate Day

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Arr, matey, there’s still time.

Avast, ye scurvey scum! Ye still have time to learn how to talk like a pirate for International Talk Like A Pirate Day. In fact, ye’ve got two whole days. This year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day falls on the 19th, which is Sunday. So, drop yer grog ya’ son of a biscuit eater and get over thar so you can be learnin’ the sprogs in your squadron how to talk like a pirate.

Yarr, mateys, it’s Friday, so leave the landlubbers behind and go on the account! By the powers! No one minds a Jack who embarks on the sweet trade after getting loaded to the gunnels on a Friday! (An’, the lasses like a bit o’ the privateer, as well!)



Filed under: Geek Work,Linux,Novell,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, that was exciting!

I fried two power supplies last night. And, I think either my DSL router is toasted, or two of my three PCI network cards are. Apparently, we got hit with lightning yesterday. I say “apparently” because I wasn’t there, but my wife described at “big flash and a boom” that sounded like it was “right here”. And, of course, right after that, my DSL stopped working. (So, yes, I’m posting this from the office.)
Anyway, I was up until about 1:00am troubleshooting that, but with little effect. I’ll try and scrounge a new network card at the office, but I’m not holding out much hope. Oh, and I blew the two power supplies while trying to get everything into a new machine, just to elminate that as a possibility. I finally scrapped my poor wife’s Linux machine and made it the new firewall. Unfortunately, I still can’t get it to see both network cards! Ah, well, I guess I’ll work on that tonight…

So, I have one entry in the queue and that’ll be the last one for a bit. At least until I get the firewall working again. *sigh*


Independant Offshoring Study

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:28 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Gee, what a novel idea!

According to this article on the IEEE website, Today’s Engineer, an IEEE member has finally convinced the US Congress to take a somewhat more dispassionate look at the effects of outsourcing. Specifically, the House of Representatives approved a “mandatory” appropriations bill that coughs up $2 million for an “independent study of the effects of offshore outsourcing on the economy and employment” in the US. What’s frightening to me is that this hasn’t been done before. With all the hoopla on both sides, doesn’t it seem obvious to have an independant, unbiased agent of some kind look into what effects off-shoring is having? Um, DUH!?
Of course, I’m a little biased because I know a number of people who have been directly effected by the outsourcing/off-shoring trend of the past few years. Still, while I am willing to admit that it makes sense in some cases, no one has proven that it’s a “good thing”, as Martha Stewart used to say. I certainly don’t think that it’s the cure-all that so many executives seem to have thought it was for the past five years. And, they may be finally waking up to that fact, too. On the other hand, they don’t seem to have snapped to that at my old company. Yet, anyway. Well, at least some folks are starting to do something about it!
It’s an important subject, I think. Especially for our industry.

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