Diary of a Network Geek

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

7/23/2005

The New Virgins

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:41 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, this is not a joke.
My web wanderings occasionally take me to very strange places, like, for instance, this article in Rolling Stone Magazine about the “new” virgins. Yeah, that’s right. Virgins. And, not as in “virgin sacrifice”, either. Actual Christian young men and young women saving themselves for marriage. No, this is not a joke!
I know, the idea that Rolling Stone Magazine, of all things, would write an article about this blows my mind, too, but, there it is. And, I can’t help but wonder what it means. While I applaud the sentiment, the idea of this whole movement is really mind-boggling to me. I can’t help but wonder if this is just a slightly more serious version of that whole “born again virgin” thing from a couple years back. (Though, I know a few people who would like to think of themselves as one of those spurious “born again virgins”!) I see a return to this kind of conservative thought happening all over and among the generation just behind me. I try to see the cycle of history that’s causing the Great Wheel to turn all the way around to this, but, I have to admit, I’m having a hard time seeing all the forces driving this.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."
   --William James

7/22/2005

Virtual Model

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Care to model yourself?
No, I don’t mean “be a model” but rather “make a model”. Yeah, no kidding. Now you can make yourself in the digital, virtual world with Virtual Model. Well, at least if you’re patterned after dot-bomb webdesigners on the West Coast. In other words, you can’t have a full beard, like me. Just a faint, fuzzy, Gen-X goatee.
Anyway, I came pretty close to making me. And you can make yourself.

Aw, c’mon, it’s Friday and you haven’t been working all day anyway, right? Go ahead, click the link!

7/20/2005

Who’s the Third?

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:53 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

They say bad news always comes in “threes”.
First, James Doohan, the one and only “Scotty” from the original Star Trek series died today. Then, as if that weren’t enough, Gerry Thomas, “inventor” of the TV dinner died today, too! Talk about a pop-culture one-two-punch! Man, I really admired both these guys.
James Doohan was a great actor, his overdone Scottish accent not withstanding. According to rumor, he never liked Bill Shatner, but his character, Montgomery Scott, admired Captain Kirk terribly. To pull that off took a lot of really good acting.
And, as a Marketing student, the man who marketed the TV dinner, going against all traditional, home-cooking values and wisdom at the time, was a true inspiration to me. He sold America, and most of the Western world, on the idea that they needed quick, easy-to-prepare food that they could eat while watching that new television thingee. And, according to the linked article, he apparently got a lot of hatemail for it, too. But, now, you can get a dizzying array of “TV dinners”. That’s a guy who really understood his job and did it well. I can only hope to measure up to that standard one day.

So, if trouble comes in threes, I shudder to think who’s next.

Long Distance Courage

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

If I had a dime for every empty threat…
You know, I get all kinds of messages from all kinds of people on the internet. Some nice, some, well, not so nice. And, frankly, the not-so-nice ones always make me shake my head in wonder. People say things in e-mail or on websites that they’d never have the courage to say in person. I’ve been called all sorts of fun and inventive names by people that would wet themselves if they ever had to confront me face-to-face. Mind, I’m not an imposing guy, really. In fact, I’m a cream puff. But, as I learned from both my father and a former drill-sargent, it’s all attitude. Well, that and a little voice-training combined with some genetic benefits. (Thanks, Dad!) So, yeah, if it comes to a shouting match, I can pretty well deafen most loudmouths. But, that’s not what I mean, really. I mean most of these fine internet folks wouldn’t dare look me in the eye and call me any name for any reason. Normal people don’t like that kind of person-to-person confrontation. So, why would they say it on-line? Do they really think that I’ll be scared or something? Impressed maybe? Honestly, I can’t fathom it. And, lately, I’ve seen a bunch of it on e-mail lists that I participate in (on?). Of course, after the short tempers there are almost never apologies, either. Even when the loudmouth has been proved quite conclusively wrong.
I’ve had guys who were losing a debate with me on-line say that they’d trounce me in person. All I can say to that is, “Uh, Sparky, if you can’t think things through and reason out a good argument via e-mail, which moves at the pace you set and allows you to revise before you hit ‘send’, what makes you think you can keep up with me in person?” In fact, I’m fairly well known for my ability to reason quickly and well. A skill, incidentally, that I’ve paid attention to and worked on for years. The ability to present a clear and reasoned argument in support of a position is essential to survival in a business environment, not to mention a marriage. Sure, the rules are different, but the skill is no less important.
So, what is it about the long distance medium that makes every social reject with a keyboard think they’re Clarrence Darrow or Mike Tyson? I can’t imagine what special kind of inferiority complex makes these jokers tick. Personally, I do my best to only write things that I’d say in person. Why? Because, you never know what you’ll have to defend, in person or in court, later.
There’s a little something to think about, eh? So, here’s a little advice from your Uncle Jim. Think twice before you hit “send”. If you wouldn’t say what you’ve written in person to the recipient, don’t send it.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."
   --Ernest Hemingway

7/19/2005

It’s so easy that a…

Filed under: Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

ten year old can do it!
Get Microsoft certified, that is. At least, according to this story on SeattlePI.com, that’s all the life experience you’ll need to get certified. Arfa Karim Randhawa from Pakistan is the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional, so far, and she recently composed a poem honoring Bill Gates and his life achievements, which even I have to admit are admirable. Apparently, little Arfa is a very promising programmer, Microsoft certification not withstanding, and had some interesting ideas about self-navigating cars that some of the Microsoft top brass were interested in hearing. And, of course, all the nice publicity of Gates meeting the youngest member of the collective.
Anyway, I’m not sure if this is a statement about how easy it is to get Microsoft certified, just how smart 10-year-old girls are, or how slow the average Windows IT professional is, but it tickled my funny-bone. And, I would like to note that the youngest Novell Certified professional wass 12 when he got certified. Much more challenging.

7/16/2005

SCO Hoist on Own Petard?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Why does this not surprise me?
According to this article on Groklaw, SCO had statements from an expert indicating that there was no infringing use of SCO proprietary code in Linux. Is this really a revelation? No, not really, but it is a little surprising to me that they would go ahead on their plan to attack Linux anyway. Apparently, they had the documents in which this information was discussed sealed so they could go on with their pointless lawsuits. Well, I guess they’d have had more of a point if they’d been successful. Of course, SCO did scare enough people running Linux that they bought, essentially, insurance policies to “protect” themselves from litigation. In light of this information, that seems like wasted money. Which, incidentally, is what I said from the very begining. I was asked by several people about this issue, in both my professional and personal life, and my response was the same. SCO’s alleged license infringement looked totally bogus and unwarranted, not to mention unprovable, so it wasn’t worth spending any money to “legalize” anything with them until the lawsuits had played out.
Gee, it’s nice to know I actually knew what I was talking about, isn’t it?

7/15/2005

The Spiders

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,News and Current Events,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, this is not a bad acid trip.
Actually, it’s a pretty interesting web comic set in the not too distant future. What’s even more interesting is that it takes place in an Islamic-centric desert country torn by war and terrorism. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought it might. And, trust me, this is a very different look at how that dynamic works. Very thought provoking.
So, check out The Spiders and get ready to be blown away.

Have a fun freaky Friday!
(Yes, this first appeared on Fantasist.net)

7/13/2005

Something Fishy

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Well, more brackish than fishy, I suppose.
I’ve been having some pond problems. First, there were the leeches in the skimmer. No, not the little red worms that turn into some kind of tiny fly that the dragonflies love to eat, but actual leeches. How do I know what leeches look like? Well, let’s just say I was the only one smart enough not to swim in that “special” lake at Boy Scout Camp. So, I poured a bunch of salt into that filter to get rid of them. That seems to have worked so far.
Then, the waterfall started to leak. Well, to be fair, I’ve been expecting this. The waterfall is really not all that great. It’s not very good as a waterfall and had gotten clogged with the nasty papyrus the former owners seemed to have liked so well. I tore all that out, trying figure out a way to fix the leak. The problem is, the leak is caused by the fact that the rotting wood which makes up the sad, sagging framework has given way in one corner, pulling the pond liner down below the water-line there. So, I had to bypass the waterfall with PVC and redirect the water flow back directly from the filters into the pond. I have to replace the water fall with something more aesthetic than two, plain PVC pipes. It just does not work with the rest of the decor!
And, now, two of the three pumps that run the filtration system seem to have given out. So, I have to buy at least two pumps and, if I do what I’m contemplating for the waterfall, most likely, three pumps. No small amount of change, but, unfortunately, neccessary. And, again, not entirely unexpected, considering the age of the pumps. I knew I’d have to replace them eventually, but I’d hoped to do this all next Summer at least. Ah, well, it never rains but it pours. (Which is true here in the Gulf Coast, but the additional fresh water going into the ponds works to my advantage at the moment, so I don’t mind!)

So, now here’s what I’ve been thinking about for the waterfall replacement… Imagine a boiler, or some other similar structure, with its top cut off and plants growing out of it with the final, center auxillary pipe emptying into the pond. Imagine a symetrical network of pipes feeding out of the structure, wrapping around the outside of it, being topped with three plumbing fixtures that have plants growing out of them and feeding into that final pipe before it drains into the pond. Of course, this entire monstrosity would have to be created out of PVC, so as to not poison the fish, but the exterior could be painted so that it would resemble old metal of some kind. It would be strange and surreal and, hopefully, fantastic, but I’m not sure that I’ll actually do it. It’s not the work or even the expense, but, rather, I’m not sure this is the artistic aesthetic that I really want for that portion of my backyard. If it works, it would be a great, cool, wonderous thing, but… But, if it doesn’t, it’ll be hideous. Thus my dillema.

And, yeah, this has been going on for weeks, but I’ve held off posting about it for fear of giving one of my regular readers more information about my life than they deserve to know. In fact, I may end up shelving the project for several months for that same reason. Or not. We’ll have to see.

7/12/2005

Review: Pale Fire

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I finished Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov over the weekend.
It was an interesting book, though not quite what I expected. The story, as such, is told via an introduction and a series of comments on a poem. The commentor is, or believes he is, the deposed king of an Eastern European country called Zembla. He reviews and annotates a poem, called “Pale Fire”, written by his neighbor and friend in a little, college town named New Wye, where the former king now lives in exile and teaches Zemblan and Zemblan literature to students at the local college. Frankly, it’s a little hard to tell if we are expected to believe that the view-point character is, in fact, a deposed monarch or if he’s just quietly stark, raving mad. There is plenty of evidence for either argument, but, I believe he’s living out some kind of delusion that seemed harmless and charming to his poetic neighbor, who took pity on him and befriended him.
In any case, it was an interesting book and a literary departure for me. It was also not quite what I expected from the author of Lolita. It was far more accessable than I would have thought and, though sex and homosexuality was a minor theme, not as focused on abberant behavior as I feared it might be. The insanity or delusions of the main character were quite subtle and presented in that strange, calm, almost reasonable way that only the truly insane can present their view of the world.
One of the reasons I got this book was for that ficticious kingdom and language. I was a little dissapointed that there wasn’t more Zemblan represented in the book. The few words and phrases were really just there to spice and flavor the created kingdom of Zembla. Still, it does serve as an excellent example of how a little foregin flavor can go a long way. Again, I was impressed with the subtlty with which Nabokov presented his work. He paints his word-pictures with a very fine brush. The tiny details highlight the over-sweeping whole.
So, while it was not exactly “light” reading, Pale Fire was a very pleasant read, especially for a piece of “classic literature”. I heartily reccomend it.
(Was that literary enough for you, Mark? ;))

7/11/2005

Naming Conventions

Filed under: Art,Fun Work,Geek Work,The Network Geek at Home — 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 Waxing Crescent

“Give a thing a name and it will somehow come to be.”
Names matter. Network device names matter a lot and, since it looks like I’ll be redoing my home network, I’ve been thinking about names and naming conventions. I’ve worked with just about any and all naming conventions that you might imagine. Everything from the very practical LocationFunctionSequencenumber scheme (ie. HouAcct01, ChiMIS13, etc. ) to servers named for NASA spacecraft (ie. Challenger, Discovery, etc. ) I’ve seen stuff named for fantasy fiction characters and Greek mythology and Milton’s angels or devils. I even knew a guy who named his routers after dead musicians just so he could send out pings and see the response “Elvis is alive”. No joke. I personally have also used titles of positions in the Yakuza gang structure, as well as various authors and artists. I’ve even heard of guys using their favorite cartoon characters.
Personally, I like to have something with an underlying meaning to it. So, for instance, when I used the Yakuza schema, the main NDS server was “Kumicho”, which is the “boss of bosses”. And, on a whim, I named the printer Hokusai, after the famous artist. The guy who used angels named them based on what each angel had providence over, such as naming his “alerter” Gabriel, who blew his horn to sound the end of the world, if memory serves.
I’ve thought about using both Norse and Voodoo god names, since they’re somewhat unusual, but their “function” is well documented. I’ve also thought about using the various sefiroth of the Kabbalistic “Tree of Life”, for similar reasons. Greek mythology is far too passé to use and, for home, the LocationFunctionSequence method just isn’t fun enough.
So, anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?

(BTW, the quote is from George R. R. Martin in Dying of the Light which is one of the greatest “soft” science-fiction books I’ve ever read. It’s perfect after a breakup.)

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