Diary of a Network Geek

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


AOL Mail Problems

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Not the best way to communicate this, but…

For those of you who contact me via e-mail with an AOL address, I’ve had trouble getting a reply through to you.  Apparently, my ISP, SBC/AT&T/Whatever they call themselves this week, is having some kind of communictation problem with AOL’s servers.
So, I got your e-mails, but I can’t get a reply back to you.

In essence, though, everyone just wrote “Um, hello?  Still there?  Couldn’t write a bit more to let us know you’re still alive?”.  So, let me go on record that there’s more coming, as soon as I have a bit of time to think the posts through and edit them and all that.

In short, more soon.

Tags: , ,


Red Herring Collection, Vol. 3

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Okay, there is no theme to this at all.

Well, I guess, links I saw this week that made me scratch my head could be a theme, but, whatever…
First, as many of us are thinking about our taxes and how to pay less of them to the government, this story from MSN about the 9 wierdest tax write-offs made me laugh. I especially liked the one about the pimped out Amish buggy.
Then, there was this story about RFID tattoos. My first thought was that it would be an interesting way to track your kids, but, apparently, they’re using it to track livestock. Which makes sense, since meat is the most shoplifted item in the stores. I mean, meat isn’t cheap, so it wouldn’t surprise me to find out how much gets stolen on the hoof, too. And, I’m sure it’d be easier for other kinds of record keeping, too.
The last wacky link is to a story about the iPod index. Well, to be more specific, an index to track currency values based on the cost of an iPod. Apparently, an Australian bank is using the iPod as a commodity on which to place relative values of world currency. I wonder if it’s occurred to them that shipping and manufacturing costs in various parts of the world might skew that index? Well, anyway, iPod fanataics already know ours are like gold.

So, now, I’ve hopefully given you something to read that ends your week with a chuckle.
Enjoy your Friday Fun links!



Walmart Linux Deal

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:27 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I haven’t written much about technology lately…

I know this blog started out as a very technical, very geeky blog, but since a lot of what I do these days has gotten so tied to things like company policy and some other proprietary information, I haven’t been talking a lot of tech. Well, today, I’ve got something I think all Novell and Linux guys, like me, have been watching. Sometime back Novell bought SuSE, a German Linux distribution and support company. They then proceeded to move their entire line of products away from a DOS-based, proprietary kernel and onto the SuSE Linux kernel. Really, I think, a pretty smart move.
Then, last year, Novell entered into an unholy alliance with the evil empire, Microsoft. Basically, Microsoft gave Novell a bunch of money so that they’d work on software “stuff” that made SuSE Linux interface more easily and seamlessly with Microsoft’s line of server software. Oh, the hue and cry about that! Well, now, I think I see why they did it.

According to this story on News.com, Walmart has contracted with Microsoft to expand their on-line business using Windows Server and SuSE.  Apparently, Walmart, who had been a Redhat customer, was hesitant about expanding because of concerns regarding the intellectual property rights of Linux, thanks to that old SCO lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court a long time ago.  But, part of the deal with Microsoft and Novell is that Walmart can get support from both companies for whatever might go wrong and get indemnification against any copyright infringement suits regarding Linux.
Suddenly, that Microsoft/Novell deal doesn’t seem so crazy to me.

I still wonder, though, what the hell I should study up on next.  Security maybe?  I mean, no matter what operating system people run, they’ll still be worried about security.  Besides, I already know Linux, Novell and Microsoft products fairly well.  In fact, I have certifications in two of the three, not to mention way too much experience in all three areas.  I just don’t know.  The IT landscape of the future is getting pretty crowded and bumpy, not to mention shrouded in heavy fog.  Any suggestions from the techies?


Chemistry 102

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Johnny was a chemist’s son,
But Johnny is no more.
What Johnny thought was H20
was H2SO4.

Well, I guess this “chemistry” business might be more important than I was willing to believe.
In short, I got the brush-off via e-mail last night. S. liked me well enough, according to her e-mail, but just didn’t see us as a couple. It was actually a very polite, simple, straight to the point note. I know the modern relationship experts say you shouldn’t do that sort of thing via e-mail, but, considering that we met via Match.com and only went out twice, it seemed fine to me. At least she actually told me what was going on, gave an understandable reason for her decision and didn’t try to dance around with it. So often, especially with the on-line stuff, communication just stops with no reason or explanation or anything. And, yes, that goes both ways. Men do that to women as often as women do it to men.

In any case, it’s done and that’s fine.
Really, on the way home from work last night, I found myself thinking about the last chemistry post and the comments there and I started asking myself what I was doing. What was my goal in all this? I guess I knew it wasn’t working, too, but thought, or hoped, that another date or two would change things a bit. Ah, well, I’ve always been good at thinking myself into circles. I don’t trust my feelings when it comes to making decisions, especially about people. I don’t know, maybe I’ve been fooled so many times by people who present themselves as one thing only to turn out totally different. Appearances, truly can be deceiving.

Right now, though, going with that “feeling” stuff, the only people I’m interested in are off-limits for various reasons.
The two women I feel most drawn to, the most chemistry with, are a friend’s ex-fiance that he’s far from over, no matter what he says, and C., the receptionist at work with a Drama Quotient so high it’s practically off the scale.
See why I shy away from trusting my feelings or relying on chemistry?

(Incidentally, that little ditty at the start of the post is on a t-hsirt at Think Geek. And H2SO4 is sulfuric acid. Or, to steal a quote from the Naked Gun, “It’s like eating a spoonful of Drano, sure it’ll clean you out, but it’ll leave you hollow inside. “)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Nobody has ever expected me to be President."
   --Abraham Lincoln


Random Friday Linkage

Filed under: Art,Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 1:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Okay, so, once again, my thoughts are scattered, and my links are, too.

First, there’s a link to an article on Australian IT that makes me glad I don’t live in Singapre when I was teaching my parents about bandwidth theft. Apparently, a nosy neighbor turned a kid in and now, he’s been sentenced for stealing another neighbor’s wifi bandwidth. Kind of harsh, but, then it is Singapore, so he’s probably lucky he didn’t get caned!

Here’s two that are sort of related. At least, they both rot your brain.
First there’s the gross one. Did you all hear about the “brain worms” found in South Texas? Apparently, these nasty, little buggers, if you’ll pardon the pun, get into your brain via improperly stored and prepared food, then, they eat their way out.
The other brain-rot story was one that surprised even this jaded cynic: pot-laced snack products. Yeah, no joke. They’re illegal as all hell, but some guy was apparently selling these cannibis-infused “look-alike” snacks. Crazy stuff.

And, finally, since I finished paying the bills right before I typed this in, from the Get-Rich Slowly blog, Money Making Hobbies (from 1938). The dream is always to get that hobby that not only pays for itself, but makes a little extra, too. Sadly, based on the suggestions from this book, the only way to make money with a “hobby” is to write and sell this kind of book!

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got in me this week. It’s been another long, busy one, so, enjoy your Friday Fun Links!


Chemistry 101

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“Is there any chemistry?”

I was asked that question this weekend in reference to the nice, Chinese girl, S., from Match.com. I was telling J. and L. about my first date with her, and my second date Friday, which went well, by the way. I’ve graduated from handshakes to hugs. I also apparently rated her real name, which, it turns out, has nothing to do with the letter “S” at all! That was just a name she used on Match to stay safe. Smart girl.

In any case, we went out to dinner again last Friday. Interestingly enough, I think I’d eaten in that restaurant before. It’s a place called Thai Gourmet. (Notice a theme to our dining?) I got there just a few minutes before her and, gentleman that I am, rose to greet her when she came through the door. As last time, we had a good meal and better conversation. I did notice, though, that the more comfortable she seems with me, the thicker her accent gets. I found that sort of interesting. I also found it interesting that she volunteered to pay for half of dinner. I didn’t let her, mainly because she took me by surprise, but also, Thai restaurants are usually pretty inexpensive.
Then we went to a Starbucks off Westheimer where I let her buy me a chai latte. And we talked some more. She’s an interesting girl, that’s for sure. Turns out she’s probably less than a year away from getting her greencard. After that, she ought to be able to travel fairly easily so she can go back to Shanghai and see her family.
She asked me a funny sort of question, though. Again, since she caught me by surprise, I probably was a little more honest than I’d have been given some time to think about it. She asked me how important I thought looks were. Now, I probably should have hesitated and thought about it, but, being me, I didn’t.
“What’s more important to me,” I told her, “is how someone treats me. Don’t get me wrong, looks are important, but not as important as the way someone treats me.” And, after a moment’s pause, I added, “I suppose I think about that a bit more since the divorce, but being pretty on the outside doesn’t matter much or for long if someone is ugly on the inside.” From her reaction, I’d say she like that answer.

So, as we’re gathering everyone for dinner after church, I’m updating J. and L. about my two dates. I emphasized how nice S. is and how intelligent and easy to talk to. And, L. asks that question,”Is there any chemistry?”
Naturally, I ignored the question and just kept on talking about, well, anything but the answer to that question, frankly. She asked me twice more before catching on that I was just going to ignore the question. Though, I have to admit, I was mulling an answer over in my head. It went something like this…

Chemistry is over-rated. Chemistry led me to an unhappy marriage and a painful divorce. Chemistry had me chasing every “pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside” woman I ever ran into that gave me a second glance. Chemistry is what damn near ruined my life and draws me like a stupid moth to a white-hot chemical fire.
If I were to follow this chemistry business, I’d chase after the receptionist at work who’s Drama Quotient is off the scale. In the name of this chemistry nonsense, I’d batter what was left of myself against the giant monolith of a hopeless cause.
No thanks. This time, I’m going to ignore the damn chemistry and do the smart thing. The “chemistry” will follow, if everything else works, too.

I told J. as much Sunday afternoon. He agreed that it was the smarter thing to do, but then he tried to tell me how important chemistry was to a long-term relationship. I think I managed to keep a straight face.
The truth is, there is a bit of chemistry there with S. It’s not the white-hot, searing burn of an over-heated crucible that will burn my fingerprints off, but, it’s there enough to make it all work. If we work at it.
Only time will tell.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
   --Mark Twain


The “Best” in Houston

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — 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 a Third Quarter Moon

So, this is one of those posts that I started a long, long time ago and never finished.

Then, I sort of merged it with a couple of other ones until I have this mish-mash of thought and links that make almost no sense until I edit the bejeezus out of it. So, I started with this:

Looking for a watering hole in Houston?
Well, according to CitySearch, these are the best.

Then, I tried to link to the best coffeehouses in Houston, but that link went away, so instead, I’ll link to the CitySearch “Best Of Houston” page.

Okay, not my usual Friday Fun link, but I’ve been thinking about this, since I’m going out on a second date tonight.  Wish me luck and vote in the poll on the right~!



New Perl Scripts

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,PERL — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, I’ve been writing a bit of Perl again…

It’s kind of a long story that’s really rather boring, I think, but we’re changing e-mail providers at work again. They’ve got a new system to try and reduce spam that involves a challenge-response system and a whitelist.
For those not familiar, it works like this: The first time you send an e-mail to their servers, the anti-spam system fires back a verification e-mail to you. That e-mail verifies that you’re a human and not a spambot by asking you to click on a link. When you click the link, it adds you to the system’s whitelist and lets your e-mail through from then on. Pretty good system, actually. And, about the only way to assure virtually no spam gets through.

Well, to minimize hassle to our customers, we decided to pregenerate a whitelist of known, good e-mails. Naturally, that task fell to yours truly.
So, I turned to my old pal Perl. The mail is mostly stored in a UNIX mail format called “mbox”, which, luckily for me, is basically a flat file. It’s like a giant text file that has a lot of extra junk in it that no one but mail programs care about. So, the first thing I did was dig up code, and modifiy it, to pull all the e-mail addresses out of those mbox files. I called it “emailpull.pl“. That managed to pull all kinds of addresses. In fact, after I culled out the obviously bad address and eliminated the duplicates, I had a little over 4000 addresses.
Well, that was just a little too many for me to just dump into a whitelist without some kind of extra verification. So, I hunted around and found a handy CPAN module called “Mail::CheckUser” which is meant, you guessed it, to help check e-mail users. A little finagling with the code and I put together “emailverify.pl“. That little badboy takes a list of e-mail address, in text file form, and verifies them with the alleged e-mail host. Works like a charm!

Oh, and if you’re a Perl fan/addict/whatever, check the links to the code. They take you to a place called PerlMonks.org. They used to be the place to get code and help and, well, everything Perl related. But, you know, lately? Not so much. When I was there putting these two snippets of code up, there was a whole big bruhaha going on about membership to some internal, super-secret cabal group. And, there’s a lot of focus on getting levels and all sorts of junk like that. Which is ironic, to me, considering that Larry Wall, the guy who wrote Perl, did so in the hopes it would draw people together in harmony and spirit of helpfulness.
Ah, well, at least I got my task accomplished. Well, at least it will be by morning. That second script was still running when I left the office.

Update: That second script, when it was done running, reduced 4060 e-mail addresses down to 3255 validated e-mail addresses. Hopefully, it culled all the potential spam originators!


“I’m Glad You Called…”

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:06 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, I think I’ve driven off most my readers now.

Between my work schedule, the holidays and this damn crud that just won’t go away, I haven’t had a lot of time or energy for blogging. I do feel a little guilty, though. I know some of you do still read and my normally regular posts have been erratic at best and filled with little of my usual fare.
Well, get ready. Here comes an update…

Okay, my last excuse for not writing more is getting old, fast. I have been sick since before Christmas. It started as a head cold, or sinus infection, and moved South into my chest. Mainly, it just makes me unbearably tired all the time and gives me this terrible sounding death-rattle of a chest cough. My mother, naturally, is quite concerned. I told her that I would go to a doctor if things didn’t start improving, but I haven’t been to a doctor in years, so I don’t really have a regular doctor to get to down here. On the other hand, my mother is in Chicago, so what can she do besides scold me? Besides, at the moment, I have at least five women asking after my health.

First is L., J. the Groom With Cold Feet’s fiance. She was quite concerned Saturday night when she heard my cough. I honestly was waiting for her to cluck over me and tell me to get to a doctor. But, all I got was the worried look and an extra helping of concern.
Then, after dinner, the cute, red-headed Federal Probation Officer gave me a parting “Feel better” with a lot of direct eye contact and expanded pupils. That sort of caught me by surprise, really. I didn’t think she’d noticed me hardly at all, much less enough to exchange even that level of pleasantry.
Before that, when we were still at church, waiting in line for communion, K., J.’s former fiance, walks by. I’m standing behind J.’s brother, who’s developmentally challenged. Naturally, he sees K. and shouts her name, so she suddenly finds herself drawn into a conversation I think she was hoping to avoid. Turns out, he hasn’t seen her since she and J. broke up, so, naturally, having fewer social inhibitions than the rest of us, he asks her what happened. To her credit, she handled it with grace and said, simply, “Well, things just didn’t work out.” Then, of course, she has to stop and give me a hug hello before making a break for it. Sunday, I sent her an e-mail to check on her. My heart really goes out to her. She went from the failed relationship with J. to another engagement that also didn’t work out. Only with the second one, they’d set a date and started moving in to her house. Anyway, I asked her how she was doing and gave her some general cheering-on, but when I signed off, I apparently mentioned that I was going to take some Theraflu and crash. In her response, she asked after my health. (That’s three, in case you’ve been counting.)

Now, I’m going to get even more out of chronological order.
Last week, I got a little tired of C., the receptionist, not returning phone calls or e-mails. Not at work, mind, but personal communication. I figure I’m worth at least the same consideration that a professional contact would be, but that’s not what’s been happening. So, I dropped her an e-mail asking if that’s what she was tryng to tell me, and if it was, just come out and say it. I understand her worrying about how I would react at the office, since I recognize that not everyone deals with that sort of thing well, but I assured her it would not effect our professional relationship at all. I didn’t get a response. So, I just stopped calling or e-mail or anything else.
For the past month or so, I could be counted on to call at least once over the weekend and leave a voice-mail. Probably in the same amount of time, I might have sent one or two e-mails. But, this weekend? Nothing. Then, Monday, I was my normal, cordial self, but I didn’t go out of my way to make conversation with her. When she asked me for help with the mp3 player her daughter got for Christmas, I helped her, but didn’t make any other small talk. She noticed.
Later in the day, she stopped at the copier outside my office and made copies, then asked me if everything was okay. I shrugged and told her that I guessed so. She told me I was quiet. I reminded her that it was because I was sick. She seemed surprised. I laughed at her a little because I can’t imagine anyone missing my hacking cough for the past three weeks. She gave me a little “get well” wish and slipped off back to the reception area.
We’ll see how things unfold there.

The last woman who’s concerned about my health, besides my mother, is S., the nice Chinese lady I met on Match.com
We had a good date Thursday.  A quiet, little Thai place called Thai Corner.  It’s right at the edge of Chinatown and right next to a big asian grocery.  So, naturally, I ended up getting there way early and waiting a bit.  I’m pretty sure I was the only non-asian for a couple miles in any direction.  But, that’s okay, I’m used to not quite fitting in.  It was a nice, quiet evening that started and ended with a handshake.  Which is just fine, considering the hair-raising pace my last relationship took!  She has her undergrad in Biology and her Masters in Computer Science, both from Rice.  And her conversation showed that she was on the ball.  After dinner, she asked if I would come with her while she did her shopping at the store next door.  Naturally, I went with her.  When I walked her badk to her car, I asked if I could call her on the weekend.  She told me yes, so I planned to call Saturday.
Well, Friday, I got an e-mail from her telling me what a good time she had and thanking me for dinner.  So I replied back and set my sights on calling Sunday, which was a better day timewise anyway.
When I got her on the phone, she said, “Oh, Jim, I’m glad you called.  I’m really glad you called.”  And, naturally, she asked if I was feeling any better.  Sadly, I’m still not.

But, that’s not going to keep me from going out with her again Friday.


My Kind of Wedding Planner

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Fun,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 5:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, the date last night didn’t go that well!

Even though things did go well last night, I was actually thinking of J., the Groom with Cold Feet, and his erstwhile bride. This really just seems right up their alley for some reason. Naturally, I’m talking about the Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Weddings.

No, seriously, it’s not a joke! Well, okay, it is a joke, sort of, but these things really can happen at a wedding. And, after what these two have already been through, I’m thinking anything that smooths the way is probably a good thing to have on hand.  Besides, when I read the adverstising copy, I just sort of pictured how this whole wedding might go wrong… “Wedding dress torn? Ring lost? Cake collapsed? Groom gone missing? Despite all the planning, the happy couple might not actually be prepared for The Big Day and all that can go awry.” See what I mean?  Of course, giving it to them as a wedding gift would be a little too late.  Well, maybe they’ll have a bridal shower I can sneak it into.

Anyway, in the mean time, why not check out what the Snopes Urban Legends Reference Page has to say about weddings?  It’s pretty funny, even if all the links aren’t quite safe for work.

Happy Friday everyone!

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