Diary of a Network Geek

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


Preparations Are Made!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, NaNoWriMo is almost here!

Gee, why do I feel like Linus trumpeting about the Great Pumpkin?
Anyway, the votes are in and I’ll go ahead and write about magic as a blood-borne pathogen.  I think I even a have a plot idea or two that I can hammer into shape.  Eh, we’ll see, I guess.  To be honest, I’d be happy to get a couple of workable short stories out of this, but I’ll give it my best go anyhow.

Well, I’m off to set up my OpenOffice file and do some last minute research.  Good luck everyone!

One Last Chance

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You’ve got one last chance to vote on this year’s NaNoWriMo project.

A friend told me once, when I started with the surveys on the blog here, that I didn’t need to do market research on my readers.  Well, that’s true enough.  I can write whatever I want and not worry about anyone else’s opinion, but I like to encourage reader participation.
Tomorrow, I will start this year’s attempt at writing a 50,000 word, or better, novel in the space of a month.  Before then, I’ll change the survey to something else, though I’m not sure what.  Either way, you’ll only have until later this evening, sometime, to cast your vote.  If you’d like an explanation of the shortened ideas in the survey, check out the original post where I introduced the survey.
So, vote!  Vote!  Vote!
And, why not try NaNoWriMo yourself?


Decisions, Decisions…

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Ooo, shiny...,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, my television died yesterday.

I’ve had this old Panasonic 27-inch tv for somewhere over ten years and it’s finally died.  Saturday night, when I shut off the cable box, the tv, which I usually leave on, went to a blue, video-feed-like screen instead of just going dark.  So, naturally, I shut it off.  The next morning when I went to turn it on, all I got was a weird, high-pitched buzzing sound, but no picture.  I tried unplugging it and letting it “rest”, but that didn’t seem to make a difference, so I have no choice but to assume that it’s dead.

Now, I suppose, I could try to get it repaired, but, frankly, it’s so old that I doubt it’s worth the effort.  And, it’s not like I don’t have a smaller television in the bedroom that I don’t normally use which could replace the old one.  But, still, it’s not the big tv that I’ve gotten used to watching.
And, with the recent increases in Comcast’s pricing, I have been thinking about scaling back my cable bill.  I mean, what’s up with them reducing the number of channels then increasing the price, anyway?  Besides, I’ve been watching too much television anyway.  That damn glowing box lures me in and sucks all my productivity right out.  So, it costs me in two ways.

But, here’s my dilemma…  I’ve been saving the revenue from the ads on my websites toward a nice digital camera.  Now, I’m not talking a simple “point-and-click” here, but an actual digital SLR.  The kind that you can change lenses on and adjust all kinds of settings and so on.  I used to take regular film pictures with an old, old Nikon F3.  But, I never took a class on how to develop film, never taught myself, and got tired of taking my film to an expensive, busy camera shop to get the film developed.  I especially got tired of them always telling me that I’d over, or under, exposed the film.  I mean, I knew I wasn’t doing it right, which was the whole point of the experimentation.  I was trying to figure it all out, as usual, on my own using my own methods.  In fact, even though I gave up on that, I still have the camera.
In any case, I’ve been doing well on revenues and I’m getting close to the purchase price of either a decent Cannon or an even better Nikon.  I’ve been reading up and pricing them and have settled on either the Cannon Xti or the Nikon D80.  They’re fairly close in features, and not too far apart in price.  The kicker is, though, they’re both about the same cost as a replacement television.

So, do I make do with less so I can get the camera sooner?  Or, do I put off the camera again for months, so I can suckle at the glass teat now?  Or, do I get the camera now, cut back my cable bill and save that and the money from the web advertising toward a better television a little later?

Well, the one thing I do know, is that I shouldn’t make a decision when I’m agitated about it, so I’ll be sitting on that for a bit.  But, I should probably make a decision soon so I can cancel services on my cable account before they start charging me for a bunch of stuff I don’t use.


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 Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, not my house.

Though, that is a fair way to describe my house right now, I meant me. I’m the dating/relationship equivalent of a “fixer-upper”. Sometimes, I think that’s a good thing, but others… Well, let’s just say that, two years after my divorce, I’m about as open to change as a man can be. Personal change that is. I’m willing to accept that there are some fundamental things wrong with the way I approach relationships and dating and, yes, even sex, and I’m willing to consider alternatives. Oh, I’m sure I could spin that as an asset, but is it? Do you really want to date a “project”?

Think of the possibilities here, ladies. A man who’s willing to be molded, to a certain extent, into a “better” person. Who’s ready for a little “behavior modification”. Willing to listen, really listen, to you tell him what’s wrong with him and suggest solutions. Of course, just listing what’s wrong with me, or us, and not suggesting possible solutions is how I ended up divorced, so that’s something to bear in mind. I don’t do well with people crtisizeing me without adding suggestions. And, change takes time, so patience is a virtue.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"There is no substitute for hard work."
   --Thomas Edison



Filed under: Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:55 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You may be familiar with a metrosexual.
You may have met someone claiming to be an Ubersexual.
But, ladies and gents, I am here to tell you that I’m a retrosexual. (Okay, some folks might label me a technosexual, but, well, most of them are mean spirited, as well as wrong.)

That is all.
You may now resume your regular Interweb tube viewing/downloading.


Phucking Phisher

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,News and Current Events,Red Herrings,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:21 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Well, as you can see by the picture to the left, the phisher was at it again.

So, me being who I am, I checked on this nasty phisher again and, naturally, he’d cleared the content and put his own back up. Well, this time, I went a little more subtle on him.  Instead of renaming his old file and uploading my own, I just uploaded my own over his.  If you look, you can see that I left most of his work in place, but added my own warning to anyone who might click on the link this stupid phisher put in his spam message.  I might keep this up for a bit, since it’s so easy and will hopefully drive at least one scumbag out of business.

Now, you might ask yourself why I don’t just assault the phisher or his site directly.  Well, there’s two reasons.  First, I imagine that this is a compromised site and not the phisher’s own.  So, if I attacked the site itself, I’d be damaging his victim twice.  Secondly, this way, if anyone does click on the link, I might educate someone so that they don’t just click on any link they get via e-mail.  The best way to hit these scammers is by way of educating people enough so that they don’t fall prey to these tactics.

Oh, also, notice that I left the compromised site’s address visible in the graphic.  Since this has become an educational tool, I figure everyone who reads my blog might as well get educated!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"No matter what goes wrong, there is always someone who knew it would."

Google Text Ads

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I thought Google hated text ads?

Hmm, maybe there’s a reason that everyone thought Google has hated text ads for a while now. In fact, they seem to go so far as to devalue Page Rank of sites selling paid links.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they’re starting to offer their own text link ads, or, as they call them “pay per action” ads and they didn’t want the competition. Maybe. Honestly, though? I don’t care why.
The real question is, how can I make this work for me?


Road Warrior Links

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Wow, I wish I’d had these when I was on the road so much!

Sadly, that seems to be how life works. I never have the information I need, when I need it. Well, at least I can pass the information along and hope that it helps someone else who’s currently engaged in the road warrior “lifestyle”.

First, there’s RoadNews. This website has everything from reviews of laptops to advice on international travel. They’ve been around for a while now and have quite a bit of information on high-tech travel. This should be your first stop when looking for answers to questions about hitting the road with your mobile office.

Next is an article on FastCompany about road warrior packing under the new TSA rules. Not bad general advice, though not specific to those of us who go high-tech with our travel.

The next article, from StreetTech.com, however, is ALL about high-tech. In fact, it’s a little bit “do it yourself” and might not be for everyone. Still, for geeks like me, there are some usefull tips and great ideas about making your own adapters. Super cool.
Along with those adapters, you might check out this universal, retractable USB cell phone charger. I can’t count the times I wished I’d had something small like this for my cell phone.
Finally, the thing that we all forget about, until it’s an emergency: bathrooms. Yes, the Bathroom Diaries bills itself as the “World’s largest guide to public toilets, restrooms and loos”, and it lives up to the title. Finding a clean, safe bathroom while in a strange city or country is more important than finding a free Internet connection. Trust me! I’ve been in some really scary bathrooms in the rural South that made me fear for my life!

So, there you go, road warriors. Some helpful links from your Uncle Jim. Hope they make life on the road a little easier for you!
Also, if you haven’t voted in the current poll, read the post that explains it and vote!


Phisher Frustrator

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:36 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I probably shouldn’t have done this, but…

You know, sometimes, I just get so irritated with the scams I get via e-mail that I just can’t help myself. This morning I read one too many eBay phishing scams in my inbox and, well, I had to do something about it.

eBay Phishing e-Mail

So, this is the e-mail I got that sent me over the edge.
Notice how this looks like a legitimate e-mail from eBay. It has all the same things that the official notices from eBay would have, including links to what look like official notices and actual sign-in screens.
The only real problem with this is that it was sent to an account that’s not associated with my eBay account and I haven’t bought or sold anything on eBay in over a year. What bothered me, though, was that I know people who would click on this and get scammed.
For fun, I hovered over the links to see where they led. If you look at the bottom of the linked screen capture here, you’ll see what I saw, but with the IP address obscured for safety’s sake.

eBay Phishing Scam Page This is the page that the phisher wanted me to go to.
Again, notice how it looks like a legitimate page on eBay’s website. It looks so good because the phisher’s page actually links to the graphics on eBay’s site. But, if you look in the address bar in the browser in the linked screen capture, you’ll see what led me to mess with the scammer.
The link is to an FTP site and includes logon information, complete with password.
Naturally, this was just too good for me to resist.
So, I popped open a DOS prompt and loaded the default FTP client on my Windows machine. When I connected to the FTP address listed in the link, I was prompted for a userID and password. When I used the credentials in the link, the FTP server let me in!

Phishing Scam Warning Naturally, this was far too good an opportunity for me to pass up.
So, while keeping the connection open, I renamed the phisher’s scam page from “ne.html” to “nono.html”. Then, I created my own “ne.html” and uploaded it.
In the linked image to the left, you can see that it gives anyone who loads it a warning not to click on just any old link they get in e-mail. Hopefully, this will serve to not only frustrate the phisher, but also educate anyone who might click the link.

Naturally, I don’t expect this to be up for very long on the phisher’s site, but, I figure if I help anyone with this little stunt, it will have been worth it. Though, you will notice that I obscured the IP address in my graphics to protect anyone the phisher may have hacked to run his scam. Also, it’s entirely possible that I was technically breaking the law by doing this, but I don’t expect the phisher is going to actually try to prosecute. After all, just how would one explain this to a judge?

Oh, and when I checked on it just before posting this, the phisher had changed the files back.  So, I did it again.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."
   --Proverbs 27:22 (KJV)


Men’s Health Grocery List

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,By Bread Alone,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:55 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I ordered a subscription to Men’s Health.

So, yeah, in an effort to improve my general health and well-being, I thought I’d get a subscription to a magazine my friend K. referred to as “Cosmo for men”. Well, I’ve read Cosmopolitan magazine and Men’s Health is not quite as bad, though I won’t be taking their advice on women any time soon. Maybe when I look like the cover models, and have girls that look like the eye candy in the articles showing up for breakfast, I’ll start taking that advice, but not any time soon. Until then, I’ll just keep relating to women like actual people and stick to the health and cooking articles.
I used to have a subscription, back in the day, before I got married to the Queen of the Damned. But, when she took offense at the dating advice articles, and the aforementioned eye candy that accompanied them, I let the subscription lapse. Now, though, I want to live, so, I think I’ll start reading it more carefully than I did then.
Also, toward the goal of being healthier, when I go to the grocery store later this week, I will buy their recommended, “keep on hand” grocery list, as shown below…
The Men’s Health Grocery List
Frozen Shrimp 1 lb uncooked, medium size
Rotisserie Chicken 1 cooked
Pork Tenderloin 1 herb-flavored or lemon-garlic marinated (about 3/4 lb)
Bell Peppers 1 tray tricolor (or pick out 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
Yellow Onions 2 lb
Baby Mixed Greens 4 oz bag, washed
Portobello Mushrooms 2 large caps
Asparagus 1 bunch
Garlic 1 head
Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto 8 oz jar
Avocado 1 ripe
Mozzarella 8 oz bag, shredded
Instant Brown Rice 1 lb box (except that I have a rice cooker and don’t need instant)
Black Beans 12 oz can
100% Whole-Wheat Fettuccine 16 oz box
10″ 100% Whole-Wheat Tortillas 1 package
The Pantry List (or, staples to supplement the main list)
“Buy these crucial building blocks every couple of months and you’ll always have them on hand to construct meals around the clock.”
Reduced-Fat Mayonnaise
Dijon Mustard
Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
Peanut Butter
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Parmesan Cheese
Tabasco Or Other Hot Sauce

So, after I stock up, we’ll see how many things I can make from those. Oh, of course, I’ll add good, lean beef and assorted freshwater and deep sea fish to that list. As well as skim milk, coffee, red and white wine, better than average beer, eggs, turkey bacon, orange juice, whole-wheat bagels, and, naturally, breakfast cereal. I might get the Men’s Health cookbook, A Man, A Can, A Plan, too, since it’s one of my favorite columns.

And, to answer your questions before you ask them, I read Cosmo when I was in college working as a security guard at a women’s dorm. And, no, I don’t mind that Men’s Health is popular with gay men because of the cover models. I should be so lucky to look like that and have their attraction problems!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?"
   --Frank Scully

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