Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/17/2005

You’re so vain…

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,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 5:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I bet you think this post is about you.
Don’t you? (Hopefully everyone gets the reference!) Anyway, I know there are people reading this who think that I write posts targeted directly at them. No, I’m not being paranoid. I know that there are people who are so obsessed with what I write here that they check on it, just sure that I’m going to make a veiled reference about them or directly to them. No, I’m not being arrogant, either. I know that “they” are out there. The sad thing is, when they’re the most sure that I’m writing about them, I’m not. Of course, trying to convince these people of that is like trying to convince a conspiracy theorist that there’s no conspiracy. (“Ha, see, that’s what they want you to think!”)
Jeez, now I’m starting to sound paranoid! Well, anyway, I’m done making fun of the loonies. They don’t take too well to it. Besides, this little note will keep them going for months…

Okay, now, take a little Advice from your Uncle Jim and just let it go. You’re not always the center of the universe. Honest.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"They don't hold meetings about rainbows."

8/15/2005

D-Day

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:27 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Today is the Day.
By the time this posts, my divorce should be final. I’m queueing it to post while I’m in court or on my way back home. It’s an act of faith on my part, but, still, I’m fairly confident that it will happen, so I figured it was okay.
As I write this, I’m not really sad, though, I probably will have my moments of sadness and mourning for the death of my marriage. I contributed to it, of course, since it does take two to tango, but I was willing to stick it out until the bitter end. Which, unfortunately, is what it came to in the end. I was the one who filed for divorce, mainly because she left to be with her next victim, but also because I didn’t want this to drag on for years like her last one did. Oddly enough, I was accused of dragging things out for some reason, but she was the one fighting over all the “stuff”. Ironically, I ended up getting everything that I asked for, and then some, back in December when I filed. So, I can’t help but wonder if wasting this time and money was worth it to her. I hope so.
In the end, I know that I’m better off. We never would have lasted as long as we were focused on different goals and had the giant communication problem that we did. I find it sad that there were things she could complain to her new man about, but that she couldn’t talk to me about. Not even changing the way I make coffee in the morning. For some reason, that seemed to be a big issue for her. (Yes, I know because I read a bunch of the e-mail that she and he exchanged. Neither of them were quite as adept at hiding information as they thought.)
So, now, I just have to pack all her stuff and arrange a time and date to give it to her. I wonder what next year will be like?

8/13/2005

Review: Napoleon of Crime

Filed under: Fun,Review,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished The Napoleon of Crime : The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief this week.
This is some of the most interesting non-fiction I’ve read in recent memory. Adam Worth was, indeed, a true master criminal. The book traced his larcenous career from its early start as a serial enlister during the Civil War, wherein Worth “died” and reenlisted several times for the signing bonus through the years as a pickpocket in New York city and on into his larger scale crimes, both in the US and abroad. Interestingly enough, he never used a gun in the commission of a crime. Apparently, Worth found it somewhat declasse and “the last resort of the small-minded”. At his peak, he ran a ring of crooks of all kinds, but maintained such a discrete distance from the actual crime that Scotland Yard could never definitively link him to a crime. They knew he had planned them, but they could never pin one on him.
His “greatest” crime was the one that almost undid him, namely the theft of Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire. At the time, this was the most expensive painting ever sold and Worth stole it to use as leverage to get a compatriot out of jail. “Little Adam”, as Worth was known, was famously loyal to the theives he organized and went to great lengths to keep, or get, them out of jail. That “honor among theives”, which was so rarely seen in reality, was one of Adam Worth’s hallmarks. And another fatal flaw. He almost bankrupt himself at least twice getting crooks out of jail, and his efforts were rarely rewarded with anything more than additional betrayal.
Still, for all his flaws, Worth was an actual master criminal who planned fabulously. He always had theives ready to work for him because his reputation was so good. For most of his working life, if you can call it that, his “jobs” went so smoothly that no one was nabbed, with few exceptions. And, those exceptions were due mainly to the utter stupidity of the crooks in Worth’s employ, including his own brother.
This book tells the story so well, that I almost forgot I was reading actual history. The writing flowed like the finest fiction and, indeed, some of the events were so incredible that one could scarcely believe them. The author, Ben Macintyre, doesn’t focus on dates and highlights the physical locations just enough to get the story across. Instead, he concentrates on what matters in Adam Worth’s life: people. The amazing characters, on both sides of the law, are what drove both this book and Worth’s life in crime. Macintyre brings them to life brilliantly. Frankly, after reading this book, I long for an age when criminals could have been so genteel and not the modern, crude thugs they have become.

I heartily reccomend this book to anyone interested in history or “true crime” or even biographies. Well worth finding and reading, even if you only have a passing interest in these topics.

8/12/2005

SPAM Steganography

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Well, it’s clever, I’ll give them that!
Spammimic is a web-based application for doing some really low-level e-mail encryption. In fact, they even tell you right off that they use old, weak encryption. So, why am I mentioning them on my website? Simple. It’s a clever idea. In their explanation of what Spammimic does and how it works, they tell us that, basically, the idea behind hiding e-mail in spam is that spam has become so ubiquitous that it’s virtually invisible. So, in essence, they’re hiding in plain sight. The perfect social engineering hack on an enourmas scale. Very clever, I think, though I wouldn’t want to use it on anything concerning national security, if you catch my drift.
This site has been around for quite some time, actually, but I somehow neglected to write about
them. Well, I have now. Go have fun!

8/11/2005

Free Mac Software

Filed under: Apple,Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, not here!
But, apparently, coming soon in the form of assorted free Office suite packages. According to this article on eWeek, all the happy-go-lucky Mac users out there who are looking for a free replacement for Microsoft Office will have alternatives shortly. Um, actually, I thought there was one already… (*cough* “OpenOffice” *cough*)
Okay, actually, the article admits that there is such an animal, but apparently the average Mac user doesn’t want to install XWindows to run a free office suite. Not sure why, since that should be free, too, but, then I’ve never gotten a good “picture to reality” chart for the Mac interface. Oh, and it won’t be quite “free” either. It’ll be $49, which is practically free compared to the cost of a full, non-upgrade copy of MS Office for Mac.
Or, you could just learn how to install XWindows and OpenOffice.

Well, I’m off to Louisiana! Be good while I’m gone!

8/10/2005

Windows Genuine Advantage?

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:26 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Hmm, I’m wondering who has the real advantage here…
Well, if you read Slashdot, you’ve already seen this story about a Linux guy using wine to update a WGA game successfully. Apparently, he’d been running this game on wine quite well for a while, but it needed some kind of update. So, he used the update feature from within the game, while on Linux running the wine Windows emulator, and he was prompted for his Windows Genuine Advantage code. He put it in and the Microsoft website proceeded to tell him he was running “Genuine Windows” and update his game. So, what was that advantage again?

Oh, and it looks like I’ll be on the road tomorrow, just for the day. Off to Bellechasse, Louisiana to install a couple of desktops. Three, actually, in one day and transfer data and settings on two. It’s going to be a long, long day. At least the boss will be flying me, so I won’t have to hassle with airports! (Don’t worry Diary of a Network Geek junkies! I’ll post something before I leave.)

8/9/2005

My Hilda’s Namesake

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,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 Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I named my dog after a saint.
Hildegard von Bingen, to be precise. The patron saint of conlangers and, it turns out, a rather remarkable woman. She was, among other things, a visionary and a bit of a seeress. She came from a wealthy background, but during a time when women were not often educated, so her personal secretary took down Hildegard’s dreams for her. Ironically, the Mother of Conlanging was somewhat embarassed by her Latin. (For those of you just joining the thoughts running through my head, conlanging is short of Constructed Language making. It was Tolkien’s “Secret Vice”.) She also composed music and encouraged everyone to sing praises to God’s glory at a time when such things were considered “unseemly”. She was also, of course, German.
Unfortunately, my Hilda has not been very saintly today. She found something dead and quite ripe to roll in today at lunchtime. I doused her with some babypower, but that didn’t help at all. So, I sprayed her with a little cologne, but, I’m afraid that didn’t do much either. Thankfully, I have a lot of V-8 to soak her in and get that nasty smell out. Well, I’m off to wash the dog and empty the bottle of Ozium throughout the house.
A little advice from your Uncle Jim… Always be suspicious if your dogs or children are too quiet for very long. It means they’re up to no good, whether they’re named after a saint, or not!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It's better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and resolve all doubt."
   --Abraham Lincoln

8/7/2005

Disk Crash

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, not at the house, thankfully.
I’ve already lost one drive at the house in recent months, but this was at my webhost. I wonder if they were using one of those crappy Maxtor 80 gig drives, too? Well, anyway, the crash wiped any changes made to the blog after about 9:00am Wednesday morning, so I lost Thursday’s post and comments. And, actually, I lost the comments from Wednesday and Friday, too, but I can recreate them from e-mail. So, I’ll be doing that, but they’ll have today’s date on them. Ah, well, better than nothing, I guess.
I have to admit, I was pretty annoyed when I figured that out last night after the server finally came back up. No warning, either, because it was a disk going bad and a sudden kind of “maintenance” More’s the pity, since I had a post queued for yesterday that was lost in the data burp. And, too, at least one module required by the plugin that generates the graphic text I use for my titles needs to be reinstalled. So, until that gets done, please excuse the less than spectacular titles.

Oh, what was that old post? Well, in short, it was an explanation of why I moderate comments. Honestly, I let most comments through, but I do block the gratuitous spam that my blogs get on a regular basis. And, I block comments from the frankly rude, inappropriate people who feel the need to try and force their views on me. Understandably, they are upset and confused as to why I don’t allow their comments through, but I try to make allowances for their little minds. Still, the communicator in me has the unnatural urge to explain, so, I’ll write it again, only this time, I’ll use small words so they understand. If these “people” want to play at being foul-mouthed, petty, whiners, they can pay to have their own forum to express their insignificant ideas, but I see no reason to pay for some chowder-head to express their nasty, negative delusions about me, or the world in general, on my own blog. Clear enough?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Everyone deserves to be happy, but not if that happiness is dependent on imprisoning or enslaving another human being."
   --Unintentionally ironic comment left on a blog

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8/5/2005

Free Computer Magazines

Filed under: Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

No, I’m not kidding.
The other day I was thinking to myself, “How can I kill a couple of minutes at the end of the day while still looking like I’m doing something productive at work?” Well, used to be that I’d reach for one of those handy trade magazines that always seem to find their way to my desk, but I don’t have any. Apparently, I’ve changed jobs once too often and too quickly for those freebie subscriptions to keep up! Well, there’s a quick rememdy for that: Information Technology Magazine Subscriptions at TradePub.com.
Yep, there’s something there for everyone in the computer industry, no matter what you do or at what level you do it. And, all for free.

C’mon, it’s Friday! You know you want to kill the last couple minutes of the day filling out subscription forms, so just click the link!

8/3/2005

Grey Flannel Hero

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,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 4:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I doubt most of my readers even understand that allusion.
I read an article on Beliefnet about male-female relations the other day and, as always, it got me thinking. One of the themes in the article was about what characteristics made a man. Interestingly enough, the opinion of the writer was that it was patience, kindness, gentleness and internal strength that were the most “manly” attributes. I find it interesting because these are not the attributes I always percieved that society appreciates. Things like “earning ability” and good looks and fearlessness were always what I thought women wanted. And, since I rarely possess any of those things in great measure, I always felt that I fell short in “Makes Good Husband/Life Partner” department. Something, incidentally, that was reinforced for me, one way or another, by various equally damaged ladies.
And, yet, the woman writing the article, who was an apparently loyal and faithful wife of many years, waxed poetic about her husband and sons who all had these traits in abundance. Traits which I have been told, espcially recently, by friends of both sexes that I do, in fact, possess. I have always sought to fulfill my responsibilites, as I saw them. Though I may have fallen short, I always did my best to act with patience and calm toward everyone in my life. Something which my own father, who I very much admire, also, occasionally, had trouble with as well. We’re both getting better at it, even today. Hollywood may not glamourize it very often, but men who simply do their duty to their families and communities, the guys who stick it out and stay for the long haul, those are the real heros. I’ve always tried to be that kind of hero. The same kind of hero that Gregory Peck was in The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit.
I may not have always succeeded, but, at least I always tried. I’d like to think that, one day, I’ll find a woman who appreciates those values and won’t be distracted by money and flash. Oh, I suspect that I’ll “lose” plenty of women to those kinds of men, but, then, what have I lost, really? I just need to remind myself, like that line from that Demi Moore/Robert Redford movie, they’re not better men than I am, they just have more money.

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