Diary of a Network Geek

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

10/30/2020

Healthy Skepticism

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

People who call me pessimistic are just not being realistic.

If the past several election cycles and the attendant advertising and attempts to sway voters have shown anything, I think, it’s that having an extra healthy level of skepticism is just a good defense mechanism. For years, I’ve questioned all the quotes that are attributed to famous people, especially famous politicians. I really don’t think Abe Lincoln told people to “vote early and often”, though it’s possible that one or more Chicago mayors may have. A more direct example is this quote “Most of the Evil in This World Is Done by People with Good Intentions” which is often attributed to T. S. Elliot, but, is really a partial quote attributed to an anonymous contributor to a trade journal called “The Creamery and Milk Plant Monthly”, though Elliot said things that were quite similar. And, now, thanks to Quote Investigator you can do your own fact-checking when someone insists that George Washington said Firearms Stand Next in Importance to the Constitution Itself. They Are the American People’s Liberty Teeth and Keystone under Independence. (Spoiler alert! He most likely didn’t say that at all.)
And, while you’re being more actively skeptical, you may want to grab this Chrome extension that Lifehacker mentions, titled NoDiguisedAdsAnymore which does just what the title suggests; it reveals advertising disguised as news by marking it with an “Ad” icon. It may not catch all the sneaky political ads, but it’s not a bad place to start!

And, if you haven’t yet voted, make sure to do that this year. It’s never been more important in living memory to make your wishes known and vote your conscience.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

10/23/2020

Getting Away From It All

Filed under: Fun,Personal Care — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

My favorite daydream is more than a vacation.

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but when things get really bad, I’ve had the same recurring fantasy; sell everything, buy a tricked out motorhome-tiny-house and run away. Now, I know I would have a hard time actually doing that because not only do I love stuff that takes up a lot of room, like books, but we’d have a hard time fitting our two sixty-five-plus pound dogs into anything mobile on a permanent basis. But, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about it. Some people fantasize about running away on a sailboat, but my jam is more of a land yacht. Now, as in intellectual exercise, I’ve considered the various options and their attendant advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if one were to get a towable tiny house, getting a truck large enough to tow it becomes a necessity. On the other hand, that towed tiny house can be parked while the truck is used to run errands without bringing the entire house along. With a full motorhome, everything comes with, which actually could be fine for a lot of things, but, also, one person could theoretically be sleeping in bed while the other drives to another destination. Well, it turns out I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about this lately. I’ve looked into it for quite some time and have some hands-on experience from when I was a kid, but there are apparently a lot of first-time buyers. If you’ve been thinking about jumping on this trend, Lifehacker has an article titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Buying The Right RV”. It doesn’t include the tiny house options, but it does run you through all the other options for running away from your life without jumping on a sailboat. You can also scan through Tumblr’s “van life” or “vanlife” to see some of the nicer, cooler setups that people have. (You can also look at their “tiny house” selection to see some other options, though these aren’t all mobile houses.)
Anyway, it’s been that kind of week and that’s where my head has been at lately. So, show up again next week because you never know what I’ll share next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

10/16/2020

Questions for Job Hunters

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Or, things I’d want to know before I seriously applied for, or took a new job.

The other day, a recruiter emailed me a super vague job description and we had a brief exchange about it. It was a little interesting, but, mostly, it was a mystery, because they just didn’t have a lot of details. Frankly, it sounded like the client wasn’t quite sure what they really wanted, except that they wanted to move all their IT support in-house instead of continuing to pay a managed service provider to maintain their systems. I made a post on r/ITCareerQuestions asking the question “What do you want to know before considering a job?”. I shared in that post these questions that I’d want answers to before being submitted for an open opportunity:

  • How many users? And how are they distributed at multiple locations? (IE. How many end users in what city and state?)
  • How many people are going to be hired, ultimately, to be in the IT Department? (I generally think one support person per seventy-five or fifty end users is a good ratio, if I can swing it. I always seem to support more than that, but it’s a goal!)
  • What servers are they running? What do they all do?
  • Where do those servers reside? (ie. On-prem or offsite data center or cloud)
  • Are they ALL virtual? On what? If VMware, what version? What OS are the virtual machines running?
  • What kind of physical host or hosts are the virtual machines on? Is it a cluster? Is there shared storage (ie a SAN)?
  • If there is more than one site, how are the sites connected?
  • How is email being handled now? On-prem Exchange? Hosted? Office 365?
  • What is the IT budget currently? How do they expect to see that expand?
  • Where is the main business headquarters? What’s the commute if I’m coming from [part of town where I live]?
  • How have they handled COVID-19?
  • What problem am I being hired to fix? Why are they looking for someone?
  • What does the compensation look like? What are the benefits? Is there a 401k and how much matching is there? What does the health insurance look like? Is there a bonus structure and how is that determined?

Hopefully, I wouldn’t have to ask them all of the recruiter, since the job description would normally include some of this information. Also, these questions assume that I wouldn’t be relocating across the country. So far, one Redditor came up with just one additional question that I’d want to know the answer to; How often are performance reviews done and what does that process look like?

So, dear readers, what about you? Anything you typically want to know about a job before applying?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
   --Buddha

10/9/2020

Office 365 Management via PowerShell

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Not quite DIY DevOps for Office 365, but a good start.

So, it’s been a while since I posted professional geek content on any of my blogs, so I figure I’m overdue. I’ve had a lot of titles over the years, but, at heart, I’ll always be a system administrator. Back in the olden days before any marketing genius came up with the idea of calling hosted services “the cloud” or calling system administration automated with scripts “DevOps”, guys like me were automating routine tasks. I’ve used everything from batch files to bash scripts to Perl, but, on Windows servers, I’ve learned to use PowerShell. It’s powerful and there are a lot of resources for the neophyte to learn, so I’ve applied myself to it to make my life easier.
For instance, I wrote a script that removes users that are disabled and haven’t logged on in more than 90 days, which I shared in a comment on r/PowerShell. Naturally, I started with someone else’s script and modified it for my own purposes, and added in the email feature from another script. Then, I added that to the scheduled processes to run once a month, just to keep Active Directory cleaner. The other day, I was on r/sysadmin and read about someone having a problem on Office 365 with stolen credentials. I hate to say it, but it’s becoming a more and more frequent issue with everyone working from home. The only way to fix it, really, is to get some kind of multi-factor authentication. But, in that thread, someone referenced a script from Microsoft’s GitHub repository for Office 365 scripts meant to quickly help remediate the breach and close the hole left by the compromised credentials. It’s pretty slick, though I think I’d modify it to accept a command-line variable with the username instead of coding that in, but it’s a pretty slick script that can mean the difference between a few spam emails and hundreds. Also, it automates a lot of the standard stuff we do by hand when a breach occurs.
If you’re a sysadmin, it’s definitely worth a look and the rest of that GitHub repository has scripts to do all kinds of things with Office 365 by way of PowerShell. It’s a great place to start building your own scripts and automating your workflow.

So, that’s my geeky PSA for the professional geeks among us.
Enjoy!

10/2/2020

Kinetic Sculptures

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Just a quick share this week.

I know I keep hinting that I’ll review that hot shoe splitting flash cable I got the other day, but I’ve been so busy, I have hardly had the chance to use it. So, I do still intend to review it, eventually.
Until then, though, I thought I’d share a fun link. This comes via Boing Boing and is just under ten minutes long. It’s a short video of Ten Kinetic Sculptures by Anne Lilly. It’s not very long and the sculptures are fascinating to watch. If you’re like me, you’ll watch the video several times just to see the beauty of their movement. The artist is quite talented.
(And, yes, there are reasons I’ve been so busy, but I’m not quite ready to share them yet.)

Anyway, have a great week and hopefully, I’ll have more to share next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


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