Diary of a Network Geek

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


Conficker Worm

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,MicroSoft,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 5:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Are you worried about this?

So, this whole “the Internet is going to melt and your computer is going to explode on April 1” thing has really reached a fever pitch. Are you worried? Should you be? Look, I know that 60 Minutes did a thing about it, but, honestly, I think it’s mostly been blown out of proportion. For one thing, it takes advantage of an old, well-known flaw in Windows that was patched back in October, which was months before this worm got out into the wild. So, if you’ve been doing your updates like you should, chances are that you’ll be fine. And, if you haven’t, well, thanks to a couple of security researchers, there are some tools to take care of the problem.

So, if you haven’t done it yet, update your antivirus programs. And, then do your Windows updates. The rest should pretty well take care of itself.
Oh, also? Don’t open e-mail from strange people, especially if the name on the e-mail sounds a little off. Don’t go to shady or sleazy websites, either. Those warez sites all are just as likely to have infected programs as they are “legitimately” pirated ones. So, just don’t use them.

As usual, the press are making a really big deal about this, but most people probably won’t be effected. Just do your updates like you’re supposed to and don’t break the law, no matter how you feel about copyright and software prices.

So, uh, stay calm and carry on.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
   --Albert Einstein


Damned Illegal Aliens!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Garden of Unearthly Delights,hoosgot,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

No, this is not a post about migrant workers.

But, you have to admit, it caught your attention, didn’t it? And, I’ll be honest, I’ve ranted about illegal aliens and off-shoring and all that, especially in the IT industry, before. Interestingly enough, that had an Indian IT worker calling me a racist because I advocated American jobs for American workers. I think I’d be more accurately accused of being a Socialist, or even a Communist with that, but because there were non-Americans involved, somehow, that accuser made the illogical jump to making me a racist. Go figure.

In this case, though, I’m talking about a bird that doesn’t seem like a Texas native bird which showed up in my backyard Thursday. I saw it at lunch and grabbed my camera and zoom lens and snapped this from the back door. Go ahead and click on this picture and it will take you to a bigger version that will let you see the invader more clearly. Well, it may not be an actual alien, since I don’t recognize the bird, but I’m hoping one of my regular readers will be able to tell me what it is. Also, I figure that since we’re in the Gulf Coast, and in the middle of the migratory pattern for quite a few small birds, it’s quite likely this is one of those species that’s just “passing through”.

If no one can tell me what this is, I’ll send it to a friend of mine who works for the Houston Zoo who can probably tell me what it is. Or connect me with someone who can tell me what it is. But, I know that I have genius readers, so I thought I’d get you to tell me first. Besides, my buddy from the Zoo is out of the country at the moment.
So, uh, anyone?

(Also?  Don’t forget to vote in the poll!)


Web Design Sketchbook

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,GUI Center — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:37 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Oh, this is cool!

Now, you have got to understand that I am a total office supply junkie. I love interesting pens and notepads and all that junk. I have a bunch of Moleskine notebooks, for instance. And, I’ve been trying to sketch out a new WordPress theme in a sad sort of design notebook I’ve been keeping. Obviously that hasn’t been quite as well as I’d like, but this Web Design Sketchbook may inspire me a bit more.

It’s from a site called HuntingLodge.no, which is in Norway, and there is a store, but it was being upgraded when I wrote this. It maybe working now, though. Basically, it’s just a regular sketchbook, but with printed graphics on it that are like a browser window. So, when you’re sketching the design, whoever you’re sketching it for can sort of see how it would look in a browser window. How cool is that!? I know I’ll end up having to get one of these from them when their store is working again, but, until then, enjoy their “review” of it.


How Many? How Often?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Ah, the age old question!

So, I’ve been working on a blog in secret. No, dear readers, I haven’t been two-timing you like a cad, I promise. What I have been doing is working on a more professional blog that’s more focused than this one. And, therein lies the rub. I have a topic in mind and I originally had a goal of writing 52 posts before launching. That’d be one post a week already on the shelf just waiting for me to roll it live as the mood struck me. One whole year of weekly posts about this one, particular topic.

Now, I meant that as a base, a starting point. I was going at it like starting a business and gathering more than enough assets together before going live so as not to disappoint later. But, now, I’m thinking it may be too much.
You see, dear readers, I’m having bit of trouble writing all 52 of these little devils. It doesn’t seem like much of a task, at first, writing 52 short essays on a single, rather broad, topic. But, with a full-time gig and another blog and all that Lost to watch on DVD, well, it’s gotten far more difficult that I could have imagined. Also, I’m starting to think I may have been a little too ambitious. For example, I stumbled across Scott Berkun’s site, which has an Essay section, and he has 60 essays spread out over about ten years. Ten years! Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster! That’s far, far less than I thought I should have.

So, I put the question to you, faithful readers, how many and how often should a focused blog post long, brilliant, insightful essays on topic? Is once a week too often? Not often enough? Just right? Or, perhaps, is once every two weeks more reasonable, with smaller bits in between?
Vote in the poll and let me know! (Also, feel free to comment!)


Review: The International

Filed under: Art,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The International Friday night.

It was pretty good, but not great.
This movie has been out for a little bit now, but I’m sure it’s still in theaters because it’s a pretty decent movie and, of course, rather timely, considering it’s about a bank. Rumor has it that it was, in fact, based partly on a real story, but I can’t confirm that.
In any case, the basic premise is this; a former Scotland Yard detective who’s moved over to Interpol has been after a giant, huge corrupt, shadowy bank, the International Bank of Credit and Commerce, for many years and finally gets close, but at what cost? The movie stars Clive Owen as the Scotland Yard/Interpol investigator who’s become obsessed with the bank. The movie also stars a totally unconvincing Naomi Watts as a New York Assistant DA who’s going after the bank to try and shut down one way the Mob launders their money.

The movie opens with Owen’s character waiting for a fellow investigator to come back after making contact with one of the bank’s high-ranking officers who’s about to turn on his employers. Before this investigator can cross the street, he’s killed by a very slick professional hitman in the employ of the bank. Before the night is through, the bank official is dead as well. But, the former Scotland Yard man is obsessed and now he’s close enough to smell blood, so he pursues every lead, every possible opportunity to get at the bank, even when it leads him almost to his own destruction.

Again, this movie wasn’t bad, but, frankly, for an action flick it was very slow. It really never took off and barely kept going at all in several places. Oh, there were several assassinations, and chases, one across the rooftops in Turkey, but, outside of an incredible scene in the rotunda of the Guggenheim in New York, there wasn’t anything that really caught fire.
Now, that scene in the Guggenheim was something else. It was ultra realistic, which was actually a bit of a plotting misstep, to be honest. They catch up to the assassin, who they are sure is going to let them crack the bank, but the bank has sent a team of really sloppy hitmen that spray the museum with bullets. It was incredible! And, the exact opposite of everything the bank had been doing up until that point in the movie. A total betrayal of their previous sneaky, hidden moves and completely out of character. There was one point, however, when someone tumbles off the railing and bounces down several flights of the circular balconies, finally braking his back on the lowest rail, that is so realistic it made me and the guys I went to see the movie with all wince. Trust me on this, that is one realistic scene!

All in all, it was okay. Not too many surprises, honestly, and slow for an action movie, but not bad. If you need to see this one, though, try for a matinee and avoid paying full-price. It’s not quite worth that.


Photoshop Magnets

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I love strange, quirky design elements.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because I used to schtupp a web designer or maybe it’s just that Marketing degree. Whatever it is, I just really enjoy funky design in the real world. But, I am still a hardcore geek at heart, so when something combines the two, I just love it. Naturally, when I saw the Photoshop Magnets and Magnetic Board, I instantly loved it.

Basically, these are just magnets that look like menus and dialog boxes from Photoshop. You can use them on the magnetic board, or buy them separately for your own magnetic surfaces, to hold up your pictures or art. Again, there’s just something cool, and yes, geeky, about having magnets that make your fridge look like Photoshop that just appeals to me.
They’re not cheap, but they do look fun.


Dead Man’s Switch

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

“If you’re reading this, I must already be dead…”

No, I’m not actually dead, something which no doubt has disappointed a number of people, including my ex-wife. However, as a single man with few attachments, it does occur to me that I could go missing for several days before anyone thought to look for me. What’s more, I can think of several people who wouldn’t be too broken up over my untimely demise. Besides my ex-wife, I mean.

So, what to do? We live in a modern age filled with technology and wonder, but also, a few modern problems. If I were to die unexpectedly, there are certain bits of information that it might be nice to pass on to the right folks. Things like security passwords and bank access information and the like. You know, all those clever logins and sign ons and “super sekret” passwords that we all have accumulating like so much karmic sedimentary rock in our oh, so very modern lives. These aren’t things I want just anyone to have, nor do I necessarily want anyone to have them just yet. For that matter, there may be things I want gone, too. Files that would be better deleted than passed on to scar loved ones and that sort of thing. So, again, what to do?

Well, someone has started a service called Death Switch. This is a service that gives you a login to an automated system which prompts you for a password on a regular schedule. If you don’t enter the password on schedule, it sends several addition, emergency-level queries to you and, if those go unanswered, fires off e-mail to the recipient of your choice. If you pay for an account, you can attach files and send the e-mail to multiple recipients.
Naturally, being the cheapskate that I am, I searched around a bit for other services. I mean, if I’m loose with what little money I have left, I won’t have much to leave behind, outside of a brilliant library and a fascinating personal journal. (Remember, kids, the juiciest bits of my life don’t really make it into this blog!) Well, what I found was another, free, service calling itself Dead Man’s Switch. Naturally, the service is somewhat more limited, but, again, it’s free. Oh, and I would assume that the level of security is somewhat less, too. Hey, you get what you pay for.

The only thing is, neither of these address the problem of files on a hard drive. Well, I have an answer for that, too. Now, this option is a little more “do-it-yourself” as it’s no longer supported by the author, but it does have the bonus of running right on your computer. Well, your Windows computer. Sorry, this is a Windows-only solution. The bit of freeware is called, not surprisingly, Dead Man’s Switch, though it was most often referred to as “DMS“. You can still download it for free from PC World, though and install it. I used it for quite some time when I was working someplace I didn’t trust. You see, this little doosie can be set to encrypt files, too. So, for instance, if you’re not dead, but you’ve been suddenly let go from a consulting gig, you can set this to run on your workstation and encrypt your files which you were forced to leave behind. Oh, sure, it may not be ethical, but, well, at least you know it can be done.

So, rest easy now, dear readers, and know that I can e-mail postings to this blog should the unthinkable happen. Hell, for all you know, it may have happened already and these posts are all just a sendmail shell script. With the Network Geek, almost anything is possible.
See you on the other side!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"I'm always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don't even take what I am seriously."
   --David Bowie


Does exercise really make you healthier?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Funny thing. Yes, as it turns out, it does.

And, now it’s been mostly proved by science.

That is all.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world."
   --John le Carre


Desktop Toys

Filed under: Art,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I love toys.

I never worked at one of those cool Internet startups in the Nineties, but I sure wanted to at the time. Not just for the cash, which would have been enough of a reason, but because, well, it was were all the geeks were cool. Seriously! And, they had money to blow so they kept places like Amazon flowing and that Internet food-delivery place running. And, they had the coolest toys on their desk…

So, now, when I see cool toys for a geek’s desktop, I have to make a note. That’s what I thought when I saw Tokyo Cube Desktop Toys. So, go re-live those days of yore and oogle the toys.

(And, we already had a Friday the Thirteenth post recently, so I’m not mentioning it again!)



Filed under: By Bread Alone,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 5:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I’ve started juicing.

This is probably not a big deal to anyone else but me, but, well, I’ve gotten a juicer and started juicing. Now, this does not mean that I’m using steroids, which is what I think of when I hear “juicing”. No, this is actual juice, made from fruits and vegetables. Mostly, though, vegetables.

I don’t eat very well. I admit it. I don’t get the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and I eat far, far too much meat. I know this. I know this is why I tend to be so heavy, why my blood pressure is as higher than it should be, why I feel older than I should. I know I should eat better and be healthier to help keep cancer from coming back. So, I’m making a compromise.

When I was near the end of chemo, it seemed like every cancer survivor I ran into asked me if I’d gotten my juicer yet. I’d meant to get one of those years ago, I would tell them. And, I’ll have to get around to that one of these days really soon, I’d add. But, more than a year after finishing chemo, I still hadn’t done it. No, it took my own vanity to push me to go get one, any one, to try. See, I need to keep my nutrition levels as high as possible, while keeping my calorie intake as low as possible and juice seems like the way to do it.
So, I bought a juicer.

It is, in fact, a Juiceman Junior brand juicer, named after the original juice advocate. Though, sadly, he can no longer call himself the “Juiceman” due to contractual obligations. Still, he was the one everyone remembers from the late night ads and the Jim Carrey skit on In Living Color. I thought it would make me all crazy, like everyone who was on those ads seemed to be, to me. But, it hasn’t made me any crazier than I already am. And, you know what? I’ve been enjoying the juice!
Yeah, who would have thought it? I like taking apples and carrots and celery and spinach and parsley and ginger and sweet peppers and juicing them all together. It’s pretty amazing. Oh, sure, at first glance it looks disturbingly green and I was sure it would taste terrible, but, really, it doesn’t. In fact, it tastes sort of good. And, now, I’m getting into a rhythm of making enough juice for two or three days at a time, so it’s actually getting easier to do! It’s sort of a pain to clean the machine, but, so far, I like the results, so it’s worth the work. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight yet, but I do feel better already.

So, yeah, as strange as it seems, I’ve become one of those crazy juice people. And I don’t even mind!

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