Diary of a Network Geek

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


Cheap Linux Laptop!

Filed under: Fun Work,Linux,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 Gibbous

Perhaps “reasonably priced” is more accurate.

Naturally, if you read Slashdot, you know this already, but many people don’t, so I thought I’d talk it up a bit. Fans of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Linux and, in fact, took an old laptop and loaded OpenSuSE Linux on it myself. Well, the folks at Medison have simplified this process by offering a decent enough laptop with Fedora RedHat Linux installed on it for $150. Yeah, that’s right, $150, plus shipping. When you think about it, that’s pretty incredible. For an independant writer, for instance, who doesn’t have a lot of cash to spare, or even a starving college student, that $150 laptop could make the difference between surviving and not.

Besides, it beats the “One Laptop Per Child” machine, which the manufacturers apparently plan to sell on the open market for $200. Of course, you can still use either one to browse pornography, so nothing’s perfect.

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Sysadmin Day!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Today is System Administrators Appreciation Day.

Today is a day set aside to give thanks that either: a) someone else manages your servers, or b) you have servers to manage. It’s not an official holiday, yet, but, much like “Administrative Professionals” Day (aka Secretaries Day), it’s a day to think about the “little people” that make your job possible. This is the seventh annual System Administrators Appreciation Day and, to date, no one has done a damn thing for me. I’m so unloved.
Actually, that pretty well sums up my life in IT. I’m the glue that holds the network together and virtually no one knows, notices, or understands what I do. Well, at least I have this small and hollow comfort that someone, somewhere cares enough to setup a webpage dedicated to guys like me.

Anyhow, it’s Friday and your sysadmin has kept the network running long enough for you to read this, so you might as well click on this link and get him something nice for next year! (If your wallet is feeling up to it and you want to show me how much you appreciate my work, you can get me something from my ThinkGeek Wishlist. Hey, a guy can dream!  But, in case you’re wondering, I already have an infamous red Swingline.)



Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:22 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, I’m not in the hospital yet.

Turns out having a fever over the weekend was a Bad Thing and the doctor didn’t want to start my chemotherapy if I were sick.  So, they sent me home with a perscription for antibiotics and I’ll be back on Thursday to try again.
I have to admit, I find it a little funny, frustrating and odd that they want me to be “healthy” before they start poisoning me again.  But, still, there is a certain amount of strange, medical logic there.  After all, if I’m already sick, and the chemo weakens me, what I’m already sick with might actually do me more harm than the chemo.  It’s just frustrating because I was looking forward to getting this all done and over with and now I’ve been delayed.  Ah, well, a few more days won’t kill me!

(Incidentally, for those of you not familiar with the term “hangfire“, it’s from gun/shooting culture.  Basically, it means “misfire, warning, danger, watch yourself on the range!”.  Lordy, the things you remember from Boy Scout camp!)

Noch einmal, mit Gefühl

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 Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

In just a few short minutes, my ride will be picking me up for what I hope will be my last session of in-patient chemotherapy.

This will be the sixth session I’ve had, which is the “normal” course of things for lymphoma. Before I check in, I’ll be getting a chest x-ray and blood work done, as well as having a chat with my doctor. After this round of chemo, I’ll have another PET scan and CT scan to determine for sure that Cletus has, in fact, left the building. Depending on how that goes, there may be more treatments, but I’m hoping that this will be the last of it.

It’s been quite an interesting experience, so far, this cancer thing. As one might expect, it’s led me to think a lot about my life and how I live it. I’m not sure that I’ve come to any real conclusions yet, but, then, I’m not quite done with my treatments, either. The one thing I do know for sure is how grateful I am to have so many people who have been so willing to offer their love and support to help me through this. I’m sure that the changes I need to make to my lifestyle as a result of this “little health issue” will continue to change me in ways I can’t yet see. I hope that all the changes, physical, mental and spiritual, will be constant improvements. Only time will tell.

(Incidentally, the title is German and translates, “Once more, with feeling”, just in case you were wondering, or couldn’t read the ulauted u.)


We Love WordPress

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Red Herrings — 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 Waxing Crescent

Hey, the site name says it all, so I’m just going to link to it: welovewp.com
For those of you who don’t know what WordPress (aka WP) is, it’s the software that runs this blog. It also kicks butt. The site I linked to is a collection of sites that also run and, well, love, WordPress. Check them out.


Personal Branding

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Personal,Red Herrings — 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 Crescent

Personal branding has always been interesting to me.

Maybe it’s my degree in Marketing that drives this strange interest in market segmentation and branding, or maybe it was the obsession, and being raised by a professional salesman and marketer, that led me to get a degree in Marketing. Either way, brands and how they’re created have always interested me. Toward furthering my knowledge and understanding of how brands work, I got a book sometime back that I’m just reading now, called Wordcraft. The book is all about the process of naming “stuff” in the business world. Naturally, this touches on brands.
One realtaively new idea in branding has been the “personal brand”. The idea that an individual can brand themselves. Naturally, the most common example is usually a Hollywood star who literally is their brand. But, consider also Oprah, Martha Stewart and Michael Jordan. Well, what got me thinking about this lately is the long conversations I’ve been having with an artist friend of mine, Mark Flood(link may not be safe for work, small children or my ex-wife), while I was in the hospital getting my chemo. In a way, he has branded himself, at least in the art world. His thinking, his creativity and his work is his brand, so to speak. I think this is true for every artist, even literary artists.
Right now, I censor myself quite heavily, though you might not always know it, because this blog and website are so closely associated with my corporate professional life. In a certain sense, I have branded this site and blog. Not in a truly conscious way, but in a somewhat organic way a personal brand has emerged. So, I started thinking about branding at this level in a more directed, concerted way. Naturally, that led me to start Googling the topic. I found a number of links, but the series of posts on Blog Branding that Chris Garrett has written looked like the best to me. I haven’t read them all yet, but I plan to before I launch my next project.

Which brings me to my next related thought in this post…
This site is what I think of as my “serious, computer professional site”, which regular readers will know is really not all that serious, professional or even always computer related. Still, it’s far from the wildly creative zany, wacky, perhaps even literary website I have in mind. And, that, dear readers, is my next super-secret project. In fact, this creative project is so secret it doesn’t even have a name yet. Well, okay, it doesn’t have a name yet because I haven’t finished Wordcraft yet and started the brainstorming process to create a new “brand name” for the site.  I tried doing this initially with Fantasist.net, but well, found the whole thing a bit too limiting.  I mean, not everything I write or create is fantasy, sometimes it’s science-fiction or even, gasp, modern or literary fiction.  So, I want something more, well, generically creative than that.  And, I’ve been considering consolidating or abandoning old, disused websites I’ve had and domain names I’ve controlled.  (Does anyone want to buy HavePalmWillTravel.com?)  So, moving content to the new site would bring some instant presence, without the baggage.  At least, in theory.

There are, of course, a lot of issues to work out still.
Not the least of which is a logo.  I used to rely on my ex-wife, the graphic designer, to generate most of my graphics.  Not that I ever actually got what I asked for, in spite of spending a fortune on graphics software for her.  There are several logo companies on the web that make logos cheap and, well, frankly, their work looks pretty good.  Better than what I eventually got from the ex-wife, in any case.  And, the bottom line is they produce in a timely fashion for a reasonable price.  In case you’re interested, I’m looking at using the firms listed in this old article on Wired Magazine about logo and brand creation.  The prices they list are out of date, since the article is several years old, but the information on the companies has been a great help.  I’m still thinking about it, but, I’ll probably end up doing it.  Logos are important to brands and, well, you get what you pay for.  At least, when you’re not paying in barter and to “family”.  I’ll keep you all updated on this process, either way.

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about since I got out of the hospital last, at least, in regards to branding and blogs and such.
Oh, to protect my creative brand, I probably won’t actually link to it from here or mention it by name, though I will talk about the process as I work on it.  For those who are truly interested, e-mail me when it’s done and I’ll send you the info.  Don’t worry, I’ll announce it again when I finally get it up and running.


No Wasted Moments

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 Hare which is in the early morning or 7:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin, ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack,’ June 1746

I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately.
Specifically, how much time I’ve wasted over the years and all the ways I’ve wasted it.  I think too much and do too little.  Hell, I channel surf too much and produce too little.  I’ve been making a concerted effort to do more lately.  It probably doesn’t show on my blog, as I’ve not been producing entries at my pre-cancer rate, but I have been reading a bit more.  And, I’ve been talking to people more.  That, in its own strange way, is productive for me.  Oh, I can list off excuses galore for why I haven’t done more, espeically lately, but, in the end, that’s all they are, excuses.  So, I’m trying to waste less time.  To have fewer wasted moments.  Obviously, I’m far from perfect on this, but, in the end, if I want to change my life then I have to make the change I want.

So, I’m trying.  Trying to lead a more productive life that makes me happy.
A friend asked me some time back what I did to have fun and I was stumped.  It’s been so long since I allowed myself to have fun, as opposed to just not work, that I didn’t have a good answer.  Freakishly, I think the last fun I had was coding some Perl or PHP for my writing and fantasy webpage, Fantasist.net.  I guess that really does make me a hard-core geek, but, well, getting the funky tools working on that site really did kind of flip my switch.  Not enough to make a career out of it, but enough to give me a sense of geeky glee.  Sadly, many of those tools have been disabled because my current webhost can’t deal with the traffic that they were generating.  So, maybe, when I have a little more mental snap, I’ll work at recoding them to work with different technology so that they don’t overload their servers anymore.

And, along with all the reading, I’m going to try to write more.
For me, actually writing is about letting go.  Letting go of all the crap that I know will come out before the gold does.  That’s always been the way of creating really good stuff, at least for me, knowing that 90% of it will be crap and that’s okay.  Also, it’s about discipline.  Now, there are people who know me that would tell you I’m the most disciplined man they know, but I know better.  It only takes a moment for that discipline to slip and, once it slips, it’s hard to get back.  Writing is like that.  I used to write all the time and the discipline was easy, but now…  Well, now it’s slipped and it’s proven very hard to get back.  Still, if I own that I want and need to work at getting it back in enoug places with enough people, then I hope that I’ll be able to do just that.
We’ll see.

So, I can’t promise that I’ll never have another wasted moment.
I know people tend to think that surviving cancer, which I haven’t even quite done yet, is supposed to change my life in some deep, meaningful way that leads me to “Live Strong” and do away with wasted moments, but it’s not quite so simple.  Changing a life is hard, but, I think it’ll be worth it, so I’m working at that.  Who knows, maybe one day, if I change enough, my former step-daughter will look past the lies her mother has told her and see someone worth getting to know again.  For that alone, it would be worth making some life changes.
In the end, all I can do is try.  And, so, I will.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is bone to the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."
   --Jack London


Worse than Cancer

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,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 7:45 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Yes, there are many things far worse than cancer.

Take, for instance, Peng Shulin, who was cut in half in an accident in 1995. Even though he managed to survive that, he’s been bedridden since then. I cannot imagine holding on through that ordeal and the life he’s had since. But, there’s hope even in that kind of tragic story, because he’s just gotten the ultimate prosthetic, a set of “bionic” legs.

Frankly, I don’t normally link to stuff like this, but when I saw that article, and the look on his face when he was taking his first steps since 1995, I just had to share it. Sure, going through cancer treatment has been tough and I’ve had some really down days, but things could always be worse.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects."
   --Arnold Glasgow


Drive Failure Argument

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:08 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, nothing’s changed.

I had this argument once, with a manager who essentially fired me for not knowing when a drive would fail, about how it was impossible to predict if, or when, a drive would, in fact, fail. Guess what? When I told him it was impossible to tell before it happened, I was actually right. At least, according to this blog entry on ZDNet, I was. Gee, I guess I really did know what I was talking about all those years ago and was, in fact, a subject-matter expert who was actually paid to know more about a technical subject than the guy who managed him. Now, if only he had figured that out then gotten out of my way to let me do what I do best…
Ah, well, water under the bridge now.

Besides, it taught me that being right isn’t always the most important thing.  Especially when I’m being loudly, stridently right with witnesses.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
   --Martin Luther King

Microsoft Advertising

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Red Herrings,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:11 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Microsoft has a new advertising campaign.

“People drive business” is their theme and they’re trying to get bloggers to include specific text in their blogs that include that “people ready business” message, along with links to the Microsoft marketing website, of course. Here’s the text they seem to have wanted people to include:

People drive business success. Human imagination creates the ideas that move business forward. Human conversations and human effort shape those ideas into products and services for the market. The unique ability of people to listen, respond, persuade, and think for themselves enables companies to sell effectively, serve their customers, and work together with their business partners in rich, satisfying ways that create lasting, high-value relationships.In an era where some see technology as a force that promises to make people subservient to highly structured or automated processes, Microsoft sees a better way to unlock the potential of every person. Systems can only create efficiency: It is people who create value. And the more people can do in their roles, the more value they can create. When Microsoft looks ahead, we see a world where organizations succeed by empowering people to harness information, expertise and the possibilities of complex networks with tools that give them insight, reach and opportunities.

Naturally, I’ve included all that just to screw with the search engines that will be spidering my website this week. Why? Well, I figure it’s got to make things worse for Microsoft and might actually boost my own rankings with all those highly-priced keywords that the marketing drones are no doubt shelling out for over in Redmond. I could be wrong, but, even if I am, it’s probably not going to do any damage to my Googlerank or my blog.

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