Diary of a Network Geek

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

4/8/2009

Conficker Eye Chart

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

This is a quick and clever idea!

Okay, so you remember a week ago the Internet was supposed to melt because of all the problems with this Conficker worm? Did you even notice anything amiss at all? Yeah, me neither.
But, still, if you’re like me, you stay awake at night worrying about all the potential worms and virii that might be sitting on your computer, waiting silently, hiding from the security software that you most certainly keep updated, waiting until your guard is down to pounce! Well, okay, maybe it’s just the full-time, professional geeks like me that worry about that. And, yeah, maybe I worry about it happening on my work network more than I do at home, but, still, you get my point. So, how can you know? Well, thanks to Lifehacker, I bring you the Conficker “Eye Chart”.

The principal is simple, really. Conficker blocks access to several security sites so you can’t download updates or removal tools that would clean it from your system. The Eye Chart simply links to graphics from those sites, and several others as a control set. So, if you can’t see images from the security sites, you know that you most likely have Conficker and have to get the removal tool from somewhere else to clean your system. Pretty neat idea, I think. So, go ahead and click the link to the Conficker “Eye Chart” and check for yourself.

Now, if you do have it, I suggest going to either the Microsoft page about Conficker and its removal, or download the Symantec removal tool from another PC and then take that to your infected PC via a USB drive and run it. Though, to be honest, I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion by a few alarmists in the media. (Though not Houston’s Dwight Silverman, I might note! Which is one of the reasons I follow his blog!)

4/6/2009

My First Geek Gathering

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,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 Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, Friday I went to my first geek networking event.

Okay, now, to be clear, I mean the first event I’ve ever been to that the point was to get to know other geeks, not work on computer networking. It was the first of what I think will be many. The event is a monthly “Geek Gathering” put on by Jay Lee and Dwight Silverman of TechBytes and the Houston Chronicle. I was convinced to come out this time by Kristie “Suburban Goddess” MacLaughlin. Though, I have to admit, I think she did it simply to get me active on Facebook, since the event was announced there. We’ve followed each other’s blogs for some time now, and exchanged a few e-mails, but never met. And, before any of my regular readers who are often eager for me to get involved with someone, mainly for the jokes that come out of my so-called love life, let me hasten to emphasize that this was not a date! She’s quite happy with her boyfriend and doesn’t need my uncivilized self mucking things up. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Still, she was quite eager to get me out to meet Jay and Dwight and “the gang”. Now, I did meet those folks, but I got caught in ugly traffic, so I got there a bit late and didn’t get to meet everyone I might have liked to know. For instance, I missed meeting the guys who run the Houston-based Japanese animation and manga convention known as ONI-CON. I did meet a couple of very nice journalists who got laid off from the Chronicle, however, who were there networking as well.
Funny thing about that, the networking thing. I’ve never really done it before, and I think it showed. Living alone, my conversational skills have atrophied so as to be almost non-existent! Thankfully, I was surrounded by people who were good at it and gracious. Donna, aka @Cottonwood2009, was very nice and kept my end of the conversation up as well as her own. And, of course, it seemed that everyone was on either Twitter or Facebook or both. I’m on Twitter for the tools I can add to this blog in case of losing my connection to the Internet again during a hurricane, so my family up North will know that I’m still alive. (They worry.) I was on Facebook, but hadn’t really done anything with the account. Since meeting a few folks, most notably Dwight and Jay, my Twitter followers have more than tripled in the space of two days and my Facebook friends have gone from one to eighteen.
And, I got to talk with several people about photography, too. In fact, it seemed like every third person there had a camera in hand. I didn’t take many pictures this time, but you can see the few I did at my Flickr page, under Geek Gatherings. There will be more eventually.

I remember when the on-line world and the “real” world were mostly separate. I’ve blogged for almost nine years now and never actually expected to meet most, if not all, of my readers. But, as the song goes, the times, they are a-changin’ and now, I fear, I’ll be meeting more and more of them. Perhaps I’ll have to start writing better and more relevant things! Good gravy, I may have to start writing technical posts again! What a strange turn of events that would be.
I have to be honest, and in all seriousness, meeting some of my readers makes me, well, a little uncomfortable. It’s bad enough that my readers often think that they know me based on what I write here, but now… Now, having met me in person, I’m afraid that the lines will become even more blurred. And, anyone who’s read my blog for a long time knows how I like my life neatly segmented and clearly defined. Still, what else is there to do? It’s either that or keep talking to the dog and, frankly, I think she’s getting a bit tired of hearing the same jokes over and over.

But, it was good to be out of my comfort zone Friday. It was good to go to a new place and meet new people. And, it was even good to put some faces to names that I’d seen on-line in any number of venues. I may not be very good at this networking thing, as ironic as that seems considering the title of my blog, but I’m going to keep working at it. It’s the one thing that I should have been working at harder all these years. Who knows, maybe I would have had a better series of jobs than I did? Maybe even a better series of girlfriends? Well, maybe not, but a guy can dream! Certainly going forward, if anything happens to me at my current job, I’ll be better off if I have a good, strong, professional network. If you’re in Houston and a geek like me, it would be worth checking out next month.
And, who knows, maybe one of these times I’ll meet the future ex-Mrs. Hoffman?

4/3/2009

30 Tips for Bloggers

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

But, just two links.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating with this, but, still, if it gets some of this in front of people who can use it, I think it’s worth gaming the system a bit.
First, I have a link to the Search Engine Journal post on Link Baiting, or How to Build Links in ANY Niche. For those of you in a hurry, I’ll summarize: write really, really killer content, if possible with tie-ins to other major blogs. (But, to read the article anyway.)
Secondly, the other 29 tips and whatnot are all at ProBlogger. Sure, the post title is 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers, but there’s plenty there for old-timers, too. (I keep meaning to read the ProBlogger book, too, but, it’s hiding under an exercise book, so I haven’t gotten to it yet.)

Okay, and yes, I’m hoping that the search engines will find this post and jostle me up a bit in the rankings. I am Googlerank whore. There, I said it. Happy now?

4/1/2009

Review: Fool

Filed under: Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Sunday, I finished Fool: A Novel by Christopher Moore.

First of all, you should know that I pretty well love almost anything that Christoper Moore has written.  Granted, some are better than others, but I started with him back when Practical Demonkeeping was new and not even a best-seller yet.  It always struck me as funny when my parents told me about this “new” author who’d written a brilliant re-telling of the Gospel titled Lamb:The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal.  So, that enthusiasm for his work may effect the way I see his most current work.

But, I’ll say this, it is good.
Fool is a retelling of King Lear from the point of view of Lear’s jester, commonly known as a fool.  Naturally, that’s where the book gets its title.  Now, King Lear, if you’re not familiar, is a play by William Shakespeare about a king who, for foolish reasons, divides his kingdom amongst his three daughters, based on how much flattery they can heap on him.  The only problem is one of his daughters, the most faithful and true, in fact, won’t play the game, so he splits his kingdom between his two deceitful, unfaithful daughters.  They’re supposed to take care of Lear in his old age, but they really don’t want to take care of him so he’s sort of forced into the Medieval equivalent of homelessness.  It’s quite the tragedy.  But not in Christopher Moore’s hands.

No, Moore takes this tragedy and makes it into a damn fine comedy, thanks to his narrator.
Moore is mostly true to the story according to Shakespeare, but with a few additional anachronisms.  His writing is light and pithy and quite enjoyable, not to mention smooth and easy.  Really, considering the weight of the subject matter, it’s a testament to his writing that the book moves so easily and well.
The story follows a fellow named Pocket, who is born somewhat disadvantaged and orphaned.  He’s left on the doorstep of a nunnery and it’s the nuns who raise him.  He has some misadventures along the way to adulthood and a job working for Lear as a fool, though we see all that as various flashbacks.  The main story line starts with Pocket relating the tale of how he watched Lear foolishly divide his kingdom.  Then, the tragic results of that somewhat stupid decision.  But, as I mentioned, somehow, he manages to make it a comedy.

Oh, hell, you’ve probably read or seen King Lear at least once.  This is the same story only funnier and written in more modern language.  And, anything by Moore is pretty good, so, all in all, I’m saying, buy this book and read it.  You won’t be sorry.

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