Diary of a Network Geek

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


Perennial Server Naming Question

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fun Work,Geek Work,Novell,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Ox which is terribly early in the morning or 3:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

It seems like this comes around on a regular basis.

Server names and naming conventions are a constant source of argument and irritation in big IT departments.  Everyone has their own idea of just what naming schema should be used for the servers and workstations and such on the network.  And, since it hasn’t shown up recently on Slashdot, we were about due for an article on it.  There is; Why do we name servers the way we do?  The comments, if you can be bothered to dig down deep into them and wade past some of the worst attempts at humor, are quite telling.  It doesn’t take long before the relative merits of using quirky, easy to remember names is being quite hotly debated.

The original article  over at IT World, titled Would a server by any other name be as functional?, seems to weigh in on the side of the more creative names.
I’ve worked both kinds of places, actually.  In one job, we used a very precise naming convention that had been put in place after some, apparently, very intense debate.  There, we used the LocationFunctionOperatingSystemNumber kind of naming system.  So that the first Accounting server in Houston running Novell Netware would be HOUACTNW01.  Perfectly clear to me, actually, because of that job.  It’s a logical system and works well enough, though it does lack a certain “zing”.
At most other jobs, though, we tended toward the other way.  Once, I worked with a guy who named his servers after dead musicians and actors, but that was only so he could ping his favorite router and see “Hendrix is alive” come back to him.  Another place, we used various things and it was, well, far less themed and much more confusing.  I think it’s best to choose from a very, very large mythology or naming pool so that you don’t have to switch themes mid-stream.  We had some servers named for “gods of the underworld” and others that were named after space shuttles at the same company.  There was no rhyme or reason to it, really, just what the last guy felt like doing.

I’m not sure what naming convention I’ll finally use when I finally get around to redoing my network at home.  It’s hard to get motivated, you know?  When you do it at work all day?  Makes you feel sorry for sex workers and gynaecologists, not to mention urologists, doesn’t it?
(Yeah, this is what happens when I stay up way too late.  Or is it too early?)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The safe way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket."
   --Frank Hubbard


Flying Palace

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Remember those fancy custom campers from last week?  Small time.  What I really need is an airplane fit for a James Bond villian.

Over at the Guardian, they’re running an article about the “flying palace” that a Saudi prince bought for a cool £300 million.  That’d be something like $500 to $600 million dollars.  The only thing its missing is a shark tank!
Of course, I would need a pretty impressive crew for this.  And an endless supply of oil money.  Hmm, maybe those high-end RVs aren’t such a bad deal after all…


Network Troubleshooting for Non-Geeks

Filed under: Career Archive,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, okay, maybe not non-geeks, but non-network-geeks, at least.

As many of you well know, I am almost always pressed for time. That’s partly due to my work, which seems to include more and more front-line support and less and less networking coolness. It’s just the way things go. In any case, …

So, don’t be intimidated by this. You can diagnose most of your own network problems. Just head on over to the Linux Journal’s website, where Mike Diehl has written a pretty comprehensive article on Troubleshooting Network Problems. Oh, and don’t let the fact that it’s on a Linux website throw you, he has tips for Windows users, too.

Bear Wisdom

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 1:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve seen extreme bravery from the least likely of people. Life is about the moments when it has all gone wrong. That’s when we define ourselves.

-Bear Grylls, adventurer and start of the Discovery Channel series Man vs. Wild

I wish I had fewer opportunities to define myself.

I like to blame my melancholy on an existensial crisis brought on by a near brush with death served up thanks to a bit of cancer.  But, the truth is, every moment is an opportunity for everything to go wrong, for redefining ourselves.
I’ll be honest, ladies and gents, for the last loyal few of you who put up with the empty, impersonal posts, life does seem empty, void and without any real meaning.  I do my work well, mostly, and try to be a good friend, though I know I often fall far short of that humble mark.  But, the work is impersonal, and any schmuck could do my job.  The moment that I stop putting in that extra effort, I can and will be replaced.  I’m the kind of guy who you can call while he’s on vacation, who can’t say “no” when an acquaintance needs help with their computer.  But, what difference does that make?  I mean, outside of my utility, what difference do I make?  To anyone?

I’m sure my friends and I would disagree greatly in regards to what my weak points, my character defects, are, but, I’ll tell you, there’s more wrong with me than a simple inferiority complex.  As a dear friend casually pointed out Sunday night, I look to all the wrong people for validation.  Yes, I’m talking about women.  No, not just one, but, well, virtually any woman.  I don’t know why, but it’s not even the few who do tell me that I’m worth more than my simple skills, that I have value beyond my utility.  As someone at work said, if I can’t be handsome at least I can be handy.  But, beyond a few very common skills with a computer, things that anyone with Google could manage, I don’t even have much use in the world.
No, what I hear are the other voices.  I hear the girl from Junior High who laughs at my first fumbling attempts at snickering socialization.  A lesson learned too well.  I hear my ex-wife’s bitter barbs, still working their poison into me.  Worse, I hear the silent voices.  I hear the women who don’t even say anything, who’s voices I imagine saying aloud all the worst things I’ve ever thought about myself.  They’re the worst.  When someone silently turns away, or glares, or doesn’t notice me at all.  The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.

So, there I am, an un-confident shell of a former self I don’t think I ever was, wanting to be different, but no knowing how to go about it.
I’ve a friend who’s a professional artist with whom I have lunch virtually every Monday.  We’ve been talking about art a lot, and photography.  My photography, actually.  His unfortunately accurate assessment of my work is that it lacks passion.  He quite rightly described me as being afraid, afraid of following that passion.  Also, he sussed out that I had in my head some notion of doing the photography “right”, that I was very concerned about doing it that mysterious “right” way.  And, those two things were what was holding me back.  If I could just let go of those things, then the crisis of my internal life would be freed.  Maybe.  And, yes, these two subjects, three subjects really, are all tied together.

So, there is the crux of things.
I know at some deep level that I am at a crisis point.  It would be hard for me to picture my life having gone much more wrong than it has.  Forty and divorced and, as much as I love kids, not a one to be found on Father’s Day.  Deeply in debt, with more on the way, thank you again, cancer, you bitch.  It may not be the way that Bear means in his sound bite, but life has gone wrong here, trust me.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think art could save me.  I think that getting through that semi-mythical block would free my entire life.  But, here’s the thing…  The passion that’s missing from my work, is women.  Complicated, confusing, confounding, captivating women.  Women who mean so much, too much, to the tattered, hollow shell of my ego.  To approach them for inclusion in the work, I have to be indifferent to their constant rejection, but, you know, I’m not.  And, would I have so much energy around these mysterious, magical creatures if I were entirely fearless around them?  Doubtful.

So, what to do, what to do.
Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps a few more therapeutic lunches with my artist friend.  Perhaps, cancer survival aside, this existential crisis point may be a turning point.  If I’m lucky, I’ll find a bit of courage and surprise myself.
If I’m lucky.

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


Review: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — 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 a New Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 on Friday.

I’ll be honest, I was hoping to talk some folks into going to see The Hangover again, but also, I wanted to get out with some folks I don’t normally get to hang out with. But, those folks were more interested in Pelham 1-2-3, so that was what we saw.

The premise of the movie is simple, a criminal, played by John Travolta, takes over a New York City subway train and holds it for ransom. Ten million dollars worth of ransom, in fact. He leads a team of three other guys, two gunmen and a former MTA motorman to drive the kidnapped train.
The MTA controller at the main headquarters who deals with the kidnappers or terrorists is played by Denzell Washington. He’s got a little secret in his recent past. Travolta’s character takes a perverse liking to him and insists that he be the one who brings the money down into the subway system when the time finally comes. Honestly, sitting here trying to describe the movie, it sounds a little boring, but it was surprisingly good. Travolta plays an apparently unstable and randomly dangerous violent criminal who seems to be out for a little revenge against the city that he feels “done him wrong”. Naturally, there is more to him than meets the eye.

So, in spite of the Scientology connection, with Travolta, it was a pretty good movie. Except for one thing where my suspension of disbelief got totally blown. So, they hook up some kind of wifi relay in the subway tunnel, right? No mention of what or how they tapped into some other line or other outside access, it just magically worked. Then, a computer on the train finds and attaches itself to the network without any intervention. You know, that would be nice and all, but, uh, that’s kind of what I do all day. Connect networks and computers and stuff. And, uh, they pay me pretty good money because, you know, it just doesn’t work that way.

Also, there was a kind of weak sub-plot that was all about manipulating the markets with a terrorist scare. And, of course, Travolta was guilty of a little over acting, but, then, that’s normal for him. Other than that, though, it was a pretty good movie.

Honestly, I still would have rather seen The Hangover a second time, but The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 was a pretty good movie and definitely worth seeing if you like simple action films.


Custom Campers

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I dream of running away from home in a custom recreational vehicle.

No, seriously, I actually day dream about having a life so simple that I can hook up a trailer, load the dog in a car or truck next to me and just take off.  Forever.
There are people who say that the “geographic cure” just won’t do, that your troubles will catch up to you where ever you go.  I think those people just get tired and stop, eventually.  I think that if I were to just keep moving I could stay ahead of all my problems, writing from the road and selling photographs via a satellite Internet connection when I needed some money.  I think it could work.

And, surely, one of these fine, custom campers or RVs from the slideshow at MSN would make a fine home.  Anyone want to run away with me?  We could join the circus!


A New Level

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Life Goals,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, I’m not talking about leveling up in some game.

I found out last night that my blog has reached a new level.  It’s self-supporting.
Do you see the ads over to the side there, on the right?  The rows of words and phrases that are linked?  Those are ads.  Last night I was checking something at the site where those are bought and sold and where I get the code to allow them to be sold on my website.  When I signed in, I saw that this month, I had finally, after nine years having a blog and four or five of having advertising, finally, I had made more in a month than my hosting fees.  Not much more, but enough that this little hobby, this obsession of words and pictures, this dance of code and graphics, pays for itself, and a little extra.  Enough to buy a latte and a piece of pastry.  Enough.

That may not seem like much for the people who are trying to make a living at this, but I’m not.  In fact, I’ve been hoping to find just what’s happened; that magic balance between effort and reward.  I’ve hit that perfect equilibrium where I post enough, rank enough, and pull enough traffic to pay for myself.
It’s not a big goal, perhaps, but it makes me happy.


Review: The Hangover

Filed under: Fun,Movies,News and Current Events,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Hangover Friday night.

I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie. Seriously.
l mean, yeah, on the surface, it seems like it’s going to be another dumb, “drunk-bachelor-party-in-Vegas” movie, and, well, it is, but it’s also hilarious.
So, as you should have guessed, the premise is simple, a guy who’s about to get married goes for one last, wild night in Las Vegas with two of his good friends and his future brother-in-law. The movie opens with the groom and his future brother-in-law getting fitted for tuxedos and it quickly becomes evident that either Alan, the brother-in-law, is developmentally challenged or has dropped one too many hits of acid. Now, mix these two with a married, but frustrated teacher who steals a bunch of money for a “field trip” from his private school kids to finance his end of the trip to Vegas and a mildly castrated dentist who’s in a loveless relationship with a real bitch. Can you see all the ways this can go wrong? No, trust me, no, you cannot.

Things go quickly from bad to worse when the guys wake up in the morning with no recollection of what happened the night before and short one groom. Oh, and mix in an abandoned baby, a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken and a stolen police car and you have a good idea of what this movie is all about.
It’s a whirlwind tour of what four drunks, accidentally drugged out of their minds, might get up to in Sin City. And, I don’t think it’s revealing too much to say that some of those things include a stripper/escort, a wedding, a naked Chinese gambler, a kidnapping, some amazing blackjack, and Mike Tyson. And, yes, Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself, does make a cameo. How could he not?

Seriously, there’s a bit of sex, a tiny bit of violence, and more great lines than you can shake a stick at in this movie. It was so popular, that the show we actually bought tickets for was full and we had to sneak into the next show, which was also over full. And, I’m planning on roping some more people into going to see this again Friday night. It was hilarious!
Obviously, quite adult, but, still, one of the funniest movies ever. I was laughing so hard I almost choked on my own tongue!
Truly, a “must see” comedy this season.


Creative Photoshopping

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You all know I love me some photography, but I love me some creative Photoshopping even more!

So, now, for the few of you who haven’t seen this, there’s a website, Worth1000.com, that has regular contests, some of which are pretty cool.  I particularly like the Celebrity Vampires contest and the Final Photo contest series.  But, there are plenty of others to fill your Friday afternoon.

Oh, and if that’s not enough?  Take a look at the brilliant work of Ian Pool on IO9.com.  He’s done a whole series of super-heroes in their non-hero lives.  But, what’s cool about that is that he’s used a lot of action figures in super creative ways and, of course, Photoshopped them.

In any case, these are two sites that should dull the pain of having to work a full week at your boring jobs where no one appreciates you.
Happy Friday!


Upgraded to 2.8

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Sorry there wasn’t a post yesterday, but I was pretty beat from a tough week at work. Also, I upgraded to WordPress version 2.8 on most of my sites last night.
Hopefully, you’ll be enjoying the extra speed it’s supposed to give me.

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