Diary of a Network Geek

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


American Jobs

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:50 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I know this will sound nationalistic, and, as one UK ex-pat coworker termed it “jingoistic”, but I believe in American Jobs for American Workers.

That may not make me popular with some folks, even in IT, but, that’s okay.
Why am I on my teeny, tiny political soapbox today?  Why else?  An article on Slashdot about a US worker filing a lawsuit against Infosys, an Indian search firm, for ignoring her many, very relevant qualifications and submitting an Indian, who was less qualified, for the same job.  That’s discrimination.  And, it’s illegal.
I hope she takes them too the cleaners.

Look, I know it’s not always a popular position, but when I hear about how many people are unemployed and then I hear how we need to raise H1B1 caps and import more of our workforce, something doesn’t sound right to me.  Seriously, hire your out-of-work fellow citizens before hiring someone who’s been brought in from another country.  But, first, make sure that they’re qualified.  If, and only if, there really, truly isn’t someone from your own country who’s qualified, or who could be relatively easily trained to do that job, then, look at foreigners.
The fiscal blood-letting has got to stop sooner or later.
And, if you’re a “C”-level executive?  Maybe it’s time to think about smaller profit margins and a more reasonable salaries and bonuses.  How much is really enough?  How many have to starve just so you can have one more vacation that you spend on your cell phone anyway?

Something’s got to change.


Mother of Invention

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Ooo, shiny... — 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 Crescent

No, not a real mother.

Maybe, not even a real invention, either!
I think science-fiction has changed a lot.  I don’t mean that it’s different today than it was when I was a kid, though, I think that’s true, too.  No, what I mean is that the intrepid science-fiction authors who have entertained us for so many years have actually changed things with their stories.  One way I think they’ve changed things is via invention.  They’re constantly coming up with crazy, new, almost magical inventions for their stories.  Devices that do things we’d like to be able to do or at least do faster or easier.  Some of these are pretty Earth-shattering, like a personal communication device you can fit in your pocket, and are so incredible that they actually inspire someone to invent them, like the cell phone.  (Okay, yeah, there may not be a direct link between science-fiction and cell phones, but, you have to admit, it existed in sci-fi before we had it in our hand!)
Well, a little site called Technovelgy has put together a timeline of science-fiction inventions.

It’s fun and I think if you look at some of these things, you’ll recognize their modern equivalent.  But, maybe most interesting of all is the stuff that’s been talked about in science-fiction that doesn’t exist… Yet.  So, here’s your chance, you freshly graduated engineers and hopeful inventors, pick something from the list and make it come true!
But, for the rest of us, check out the list and day dream your Friday away.


No Cell Phone Zone

Filed under: Art,Fun,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Normally, I have trouble getting a good signal in my house!

But, I can imagine wanting to create a “cell-phone free zone” in my house to free me from that itch to answer incoming calls.  Imagine a writer trying to get some peace and quiet, for instance.  Or, even someone who entertains a lot of high-tech people making a “safe haven”, of sorts, where friends don’t have to worry about being interrupted by cell phones.

Well, now, with the Painting Cell Phone Jammer, which I found via Gizmodo, you can make that no-cell zone in your house.  It comes complete with a remote, so you can turn it on and off.  All you need to do is plug it into the wall.  Oh, you may want to actually change the art, too, because the stuff it comes with is sort of, well, sucky.  But, I could live with that, I think, to get some peace from those after-hour support calls on my cell!


Review: Yes Man

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Yes Man on Christmas Day.

Being away from family on Christmas, and being single so, therefore, not entangled with someone else’s family, I’m often and odds with what to do. Last year, and now, this year, too, I connected with a friend who’s also away from family and single to see a movie. This year, we went to a Thai buffet, which was one of the few things open on Christmas Day, before heading out to the theater.
This year, we were both in the mood for a comedy, so, after looking at the possibilities, we opted for the Jim Carrey vehicle, Yes Man. The premise is nothing new, really. A lonely, single man, who’s nursing a hurt over his divorce, four years prior, Jim Carrey’s character has withdrawn from the world. He’s shut his life down to the bare minimum of going to work, renting videos and ignoring his cell phone so that he can avoid going out and doing more with his friends. Also, he’s avoiding the possibility of running into his ex-wife. Naturally, when his best friend finally drags him out to a bar for a few drinks, and to announce his engagement, the first person he runs into is his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Naturally, he’s mortified and scuttles off back to his apartment. His friends check on him later and brow-beat him into promising to attend his best friend’s engagement party.
Unfortunately, after getting some bad news about being passed over for a promotion at work, his depression gets worse. Seeing an old acquaintance who’s somehow managed to change his life, for the better, via a self-help seminar that’s all about embracing the power of “yes”. Things reach a peak, or rather a bottom, when his depression leads him to miss his best friend’s party.
So, at his wit’s end, ready to try anything to change, he goes to the “yes” seminar that he heard about. The leader/guru focuses in on this poor soul who agrees to give into the power of “yes” and say “yes” to all of life’s opportunities.

Right, so about now you’re picturing Jim Carrey and all the comedic places that not being able to say “no” can take him. And, you’d probably be about right, too! The movie goes to all those socially uncomfortable places that you’d expect it to go. Saying yes to spam e-mail, the needy neighbor, the street person asking for a ride, the guy on the corner handing out fliers, and so on. And, yes, the movie is as funny as you would think Jim Carrey could be with this situation. In fact, this is the funniest Carrey has been for quite some time.
The other thing about this movie is that it’s actually romantic, too. The main character is the typical “lonely guy”, so it’s not a big surprise that he finds romance when he starts saying “yes” to everything life has to offer. And, yes, he gets into some trouble, too. Trouble enough that you’re not sure it’s going to be a happy ending. But, trust me, it is. I won’t say how it’s happy, because you should go see for yourself, but it is a happy ending.

In short, this is a funny movie that includes some romance, a good story, a moral lesson, and a happy ending. I loved this movie. It had me laughing all the way through. I’m not a huge Jim Carrey fan, but this is a great vehicle for him. It’s funny, crazy and unpredictable. Oh, and all the stuff that seems random and unconnected at first? It all ties together eventually, if you just stick with it. Uh, there is one slightly uncomfortable scene with dentures and oral sex off camera, but that’s how they got their PG-13 rating, I think. It’s in context and funny. Wrong, but funny.

It’s a good movie, so go see it.


NORAD Tracks Santa

Filed under: Fun,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 5:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

This ought to appeal to my geek and non-geek readers alike!

So, I bet you thought NORAD was just for the Cold War, right? Or that Cheyenne Mountain was just a set for Stargate? Well, no, it’s far more than that. In just a few short days, NORAD will become Santa Tracking Central. No, I’m not kidding. NORAD tracks Santa.

And, this year, you can track him via Google Maps, Twitter and updates to your cell phone. Thanks to NORAD Santa has gotten all Web 2.0 and high-tech, just in time for Christmas!


Card Sharp

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Or, what’s that in your pocket?

Do you like your business card? I have them, but I hardly use them. I am, after all, far more than my job.  Seriously, I’m the only person in my company who does what I do and I don’t have much reason to talk to customers, really, so the people I deal with already know me.  There’s not much call for me to pass out business cards.  And, in social settings, well, I really am more than my job, you know?  Besides, my personal information isn’t on those business cards adn, really, that is what I generally want to pass out to people in non-business settings.  My cell phone number, how to get to my website or my Flickr photostream, my personal e-mail address.  I always thought that having a “personal” business card was the way to go for that stuff, but, frankly, there weren’t a lot of options.

Well, the other day, I stumbled across The Gentleman’s Guide to the Calling Card at the Art of Manliness blog, and the idea reignighted my interest in such archaic devices.  And, of course, it occurred to me that with the modern calling card, I had something else, too.  A digital marketing tool on a one-by-two card.  So, I started poking around a bit and found BusinessCards24.com – Unique Business Cards. If you’re looking for inspiration, that’s the place to go.  The problem is, if you want to stand out, you’ve got to do something more than just the cheapie, microperf, inkjet business cards, you have to go somewhere like  Overnight Prints.
But, those are still just adapted business cards, aren’t they?  Well, you can try something more specifically designed for non-business use: Pleasure Cards.   I remember reading about them a couple of years ago.  They’ve got lots of styles to choose from and, if you’re a designer, they even let you do your own custom cards.  But, of course, I’m not a designer.  I am, however, a bit of a photographer.  For guys like me, there’s MOO.com.  They let you take pictures from your Flickr photostream and make them into cards, or mini-cards.  In fact, I’ve got some on order now for giving people when I take their picture, so when they arrive, I’ll probably post pictures.  I figure it’ll give them a way to get in touch with me and see any shots I might have taken of them, either by cell phone or by e-mail.  Also, it kind of identifies me as a photographer.  Somehow, having a business card, or something similar, legitimizes me to people, I think.  They look sharp, too. 


Review: Quantum of Solace

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,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 5:07 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Quantum of Solace Friday night, but I’m just getting to review it now.

I have to admit, when Daniel Craig was revealed as the newest James Bond, I wasn’t impressed. But, after seeing Casino Royale, my opinion on the subject changed. Dramatically.
Quantum of Solace, in spite of the goofy, contrived title, is, if anything, better than Casino Royale ever thought of being. In fact, unlike all previous Bond movies, this is the first movie that’s not based on a book or story from Ian Fleming.  UPDATE: I’ve been told by a pair of Bond fanatics at work that this is incorrect.  Goldeneye is the first Bond movie not based, at least in part, on an Ian Flemming story of some kind.  This is, however, the first movie that is an obvious and direct sequel that really doesn’t stand entirely on its own. This let the script writers do some things that they might not have been able to do otherwise. For instance, this movie continues from where the last one ended. In fact, it really sort of helps if you see Casino Royale right before going to see Quantum of Solace, because things will make more sense. Honest.

Quantum of Solace starts with Bond running from pursuit by both classic, unnamed “bad guys” and police. It turns out that he’s running because he has Mr. White, who’s responsible for killing Bond’s lady love in Casino Royale, in the trunk of the car.
Mr. White, in classic “War on Terror” fashion is tortured somewhere off UK soil to get information out of him. But, instead of cracking, with the help of a turned agent in MI6, White escapes. Bond, naturally, gives chase. And chases the whole organization through the rest of the movie. Though it’s not clearly identified, I think, Quantum is the name of the vast criminal organization to which Mr. White belongs. Of course, the chase runs through several exotic and beautiful locations, not to mention the two very exotic and beautiful women that Bond meets along the way.
I won’t ruin the movie by revealing the rest of the plot, but there are a few twists and turns that you won’t expect. Also, an homage to earlier Bond films, including Goldfinger. And, there are quite a few car chases and intense action scenes. The villain is a little weak, especially compared to Craig’s Bond. The only thing that wasn’t there were a lot of gadgets. Oh, sure, Bond had a super cell phone and there were some cool computer gadget things, but those are really almost here now, if they aren’t already.

I won’t say this is the best James Bond film ever, but it’s got to be in the top five, for certain. I’d definitely see this again if the opportunity presented itself. And, no matter what anyone says, Daniel Craig makes a great James Bond.
If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see Quantum of Solace!


Still No Power! – Hurricane Ike Part 6

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Dog and Pony Shows,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 Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, as of about 1:00pm today, I still had no power.

Of course, a lot of people still don’t have power, but most people out by me have for several days now. Hopefully, I’ll have power soon.
I have a lot of fence debris and tree debris in my backyard that I have to get cut up by next week Thursday. Not sure that I’ll be able to do that since the City of Jersey Village wants all the nails pulled from the fencing. I don’t think they truly understand how difficult that’s going to be to get done in a week. I have a friend coming to help this weekend. I’ll work on it some tonight and tomorrow, at least. So, so glad I did laundry and dishes before this hit. We’re still officially under orders to boil our water, but I’ve been taking quick, warm showers. Thank God I have natural gas in my house!

I’m getting a little tired of eating so much meat, frankly, but it’s what was thawing first and would go bad fastest. Thankfully, yesterday, a guy at work brought in a bunch of ice and Seatrax, my company, lent me a cooler to keep it all in, so I’ve managed to save a lot of my groceries. I used to be able to eat so much more! Ah, well, at least my dog, Hilda, has been enjoying eggs and sausage and more sausage for breakfast the past couple of days. Not to mention the teriyaki salmon “burgers” we had last night. She’s certainly been living well!

Okay, I see my cell phone and my laptop are charged now, so I can go home, but I did want to call your attention to the Twitter “thing” over in the right corner of my blog. Yes, being without blog access for several days got me to breakdown and setup a Twitter account. Now, as long as I have cell access, I can update my blog and let all my non-Texas friends and relatives know how I’m doing, even when hurricanes hit Houston.


A rough week

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,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 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

As if dreaming about my ex-wife weren’t enough!

So, I’m glad that it’s a new week, because last week was a little rough.
First, my car was in the shop, again, for mysterious electrical problems that the mechanic never could find. Sadly, even though he only charged me for the tow, I still paid almost five hundred dollars for a week’s rental on a car.
Then, Tuesday, my cell phone falls in the toilet and shorts out. So, I go get a cell phone “upgrade” that I’m due and end up spending yet another hundred seventy-five dollars I don’t have. Oh, and during that whole process, I discover that not only have I lost most of my saved data from the address book, but my old backup software won’t work with the new phone, so I can’t get the data back easily.
But, wait! There’s more!
It turns out that my new phone is defective and ninety percent of the keys don’t work, which means I have to go back and get my new phone replaced. But, before I can do that on Thursday, I discover that I’ve been fined one-hundred thirty dollars because my lawn trash was out a day early. Perfect!
I know, you’re asking yourself what else could go wrong, right? Well, Friday morning, my car won’t start. Again.

Well, I think the second mechanic has finally found the problem and sorted it out. And, just to keep things in perspective, at least I don’t have cancer.


Review: Time Management for System Administrators

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Life Goals,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wish I’d found this sooner.

No, really, I wish I’d found and read Time Management for System Administrators a long, long time ago. This book was great! Some of the techniques in the book I already do, but I had to learn them the hard way. But, there were many more things that I either had never thought of, or hadn’t thought of in the context of time management or improving my personal efficiency.

For instance, I’ve used ToDo lists in the past, in fact, I’d started using one again recently. But, I’ve never looked at using them the way the author, Thomas Limoncelli, suggests using them in Chapter Five: The Cycle. The idea, in short, is to manage everything on your ToDo list today by either doing it, delegating it, or moving it to tomorrow’s ToDo list. No matter what you do with it, it gets managed and everything on today’s ToDo list gets dealt with, one way or another.
Another theme that Limoncelli harped on was, whichever way you choose to keep track of tasks and ToDo lists, it has to be a way that you keep with you. Either you learn to carry your organizer with you everywhere, or you have to adapt something that you do carry with you to hold the information you need. In my case, I decided to use the organizer functions on my cell phone. So far, that’s been working well for me.
After reading this book, I was also inspired to document my workstation imaging system in much more detail. Now, I have the start of documentation that can, essentially, replace me. This particular document is now detailed enough that just about anyone with a little experience on computers can setup our standard workstation with all the programs installed already. This way, if I ever end up in the hospital again, someone else can keep making workstations. I’ll do some more documentation of this kind and write some policies, too. In a couple of weeks, or months, I’ll have a fairly complete set of IT documentation for this company and I can customize it for any place I might work again. (And, yes, I might post some of it here for you all to steal.)
As part of that documentation, I started a network diagram. I had started this before using an old copy of Visio, but that wasn’t working too well. I got all obsessed with making the autodiscovery function work just right, and it wasn’t, but until I read what Limoncelli had to say about the value of a quick, simple network diagram that isn’t obsessively correct. After that, I grabbed a copy of Network Notepad, a freeware network diagram tool, and all the extra libraries. Then I spent a quick couple of hours getting used to the way Network Notepad works and creating the simple diagram. After using it a bit, I decided I really like it. It has some nice features, so it’s worth checking out. And, I’m going to use it to diagram my home network, too.
I’m still working on formalizing my life goals and implementing the stuff from the stress fighting chapter, but I am getting there. It was very much the right book at the right time for me. But, I do have to admit, if I’d found it sooner in my career, I might be doing better today than I am. Well, maybe not, but I’m glad I read it now.

If you’re a system administrator, no matter if it’s on a Windows network or Unix, or whatever, or, if you work on an IT helpdesk of any kind, get this book, read it and put it to use. NOW.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It's better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and resolve all doubt."
   --Abraham Lincoln

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