Diary of a Network Geek

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

12/21/2018

Global Santa Tracking System

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Have you been good this year?

As I have done more than once in the past at this time of year, I’m sharing some good, clean fun for the whole family, brought to you by the United States Government.
During the Cold War, NORAD stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia and China and North Korea, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago. The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy. Before long, it was fully sanction and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars. In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!
And, since the holiday is nearly upon us and I don’t plan on posting again this weekend, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

12/24/2017

The Coldest War of All

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Our nation’s finest tracking holiday spirit.

As I usually do at this time of year, I’m reminding you of where to find Santa and, more specifically, how to track his progress.
During the Cold War, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, more popularly known as “NORAD”, stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia, China, and North Korea, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago. The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy. Before long, it was fully sanctioned and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars. In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!  Besides, it’s about time for the Federal Government to bring us a little holiday cheer, don’t you think?
I’ll post again on Friday, but, until then, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

12/23/2016

Tracking The Fat Man

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Time to watch for the jolly old elf!

As I usually do at this time of year, I’m reminding you of where to find Santa and, more specifically, how to track his progress.
During the Cold War, NORAD stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia and China, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago.  The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy.  Before long, it was fully sanction and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars.  In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!
And, since the holiday is nearly upon us and I don’t plan on posting again this weekend, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/19/2016

Job Search Log

Filed under: Career Archive,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, I was laid off Tuesday.

I wasn’t surprised by it, for sure, since they’ve been laying off two and three people a week for the past six weeks or more.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, though.
A couple weeks ago, another sort of IT person, who’s here from the real parent company in China, was sent over to my location to gather up all the passwords and access I had.  Probably to make a copy of my laptop, too, but I kept that with me or locked up.  I know they were trying to be sneaky or subtle when they did it by distracting me with a phantom project, but, really, when someone is sent for the passwords, there’s really only one thing to think.  Then, when I asked why the theoretical project I was supposed to be working on hadn’t been implemented when it was first sent out for bid 18 months ago, I was told that it was due to lack of funding.  If there weren’t funds then, when the company was doing well, where were the funds going to come from now that so many people were being laid off?  I got the answer to that question on Tuesday morning, so I went in and packed up my desk, just in case.  You see, ever since I worked for a company that got liquidated, I’ve kept my personal belongings at work limited to what I can easily put into one, small box, which I keep under my desk.  Just in case.
Apparently, the fact that I went into my final interview with a 99% packed desk shocked the people firing me.  But, then again, they were always underestimating me at that job anyway.

So, regardless of all that, when I got home Tuesday afternoon, I applied for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission.  I was able to go on-line and sign up, which is an improvement over the last time I was out of work, when you had to call or go in person.  Sadly, I won’t be able to apply for a payment until the 28th, but I’ve started my job search.  Well, really, I’ve just intensified my job search as I’ve been looking for about a month.  And, while I’ve had a couple phone interviews and at least two really good prospects, I still need to keep the requisite job search log.  The Texas Workforce Commission has a downloadable form on their website, but, honestly, I kind of hate it.  So, instead, I made my own spreadsheet.  I’ve shared the blank one at the bottom of this post.
Some of the columns have drop-down choice boxes in them and the form has gotten kind of big to accommodate all the new fields they have on the original form.  It is, however, formatted to print all on one page for easy verification should it be requested.  And, yes, for those of you wondering, I verified with the Texas Workforce Commission helpline that a spreadsheet is just fine for recording your job search activity.

So, grab a copy of the form and good luck in your job search!

jobsearchlog-blank

8/9/2011

Cyber Pearl Harbor?

Filed under: Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:41 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Really?  Are they bringing this one out again?

I’ve heard about the dangers of “cyber war” almost since I got started in this business twenty years ago.  Essentially, since the internet existed, people have been claiming that dangerous hackers are going to take over our infrastructure from within.  Sound familiar?  Like, oh, say, the Red Threat of the Cold War?
It’s pretty easy to get IT guys like me whipped into a frenzy about this.  Back in the day, Winn Schwartau wrote THE go-to book on the subject, [amazon_link id=”B00127UJMO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Information Warfare[/amazon_link], and in that book he talked about a so-called “Cyber Pearl Harbor” that ushered in a new era of digital warfare.  Well, now, it seems, ZDNet is reporting that we may have already had our so-called Cyber Pearl Harbor.  According to security researchers at McAfee, and elsewhere, several targets, including the United States, have been under a five year sustained cyber attack and they went on to speculate that a “state actor” was likely behind the attacks.  A security consultant at Sophos pointed out that fingers are usually pointed in China’s direction when government-funded and supported cyber attacks are discussed.  And, I have to admit, based on the other forms of espionage, especially industrial espionage, that we’ve seen from them over the years, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were using the Internet to attack various sites remotely in an attempt to get restricted information of various kinds.

But, is this a “Pearl Harbor”-like event?  I mean, really?
Do you see people rallying around this issue?  Are hackers joining the U.S. Military to defend our cyber borders?  If they are, it’s one of the best kept secrets in the world right now.  Seriously.
Pearl Harbor was a galvanizing event in our history.  That one event is what got us off the fence and into World War II, as a nation.  Honestly, I don’t see that happening here, or anywhere that high-level computer tech is the focal point of the debate.  We may rely on that tech to get our jobs done or to entertain us, but, really, most people don’t have any idea of the security work that goes on behind the scenes.  This is an invisible war, if it even can be called that.
Again, I think it’s a new form of Cold War.  It’s a battle waged in the shadows against an all but invisible enemy.  It won’t be fought like a conventional war of any kind, much less like World War II.  And, if the cyber war is an apt metaphor at all, then it’s a war we’re already fighting.

Oh, and as for the Chinese, well, they’ve already used their influence as a global market to get a partial retraction from those fine folks at McAfee, who are now claiming that there is no definitive link to any “state actor” of any kind, much less China.  Of course, I’ve only seen the back-peddling on a single, English-language, but Chinese supported, news site.  Still, that, my friends, is the view of the new global economy and the real war.  Big governments will start to throw their weight around and corporations will “adjust” their position on the truth to tap the market and access their bottom line.  Of course, that’s nothing new, either.  China’s been doing that for years.  Only now, they may be the biggest market still available in the entire world.
Looks like we all better start learning Mandarin!

7/2/2011

Inspiration, Motivation and Synchronicity

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Can I call myself a writer, if I’m not writing?

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the days that I used to post virtually every day.  That was, it seems, a very long time ago.  That was before I got divorced and before I almost killed myself through self-neglect.  It was also before I met and dated a dear, sweet woman who will always have a special place in my heart and before I bought my camera.
I couldn’t tell you why I used to write so much and why I don’t now.  I only know that something changed.  Some elusive thing changed, escaped me, slipped from my grasp.  Maybe it was a lack of motivation.  Maybe it was that everything seemed so hollow and pointless after spending a year doing the horizontal mambo with Death that any words I might spit on the page seemed like a waste of my time and yours, dear readers.  Maybe it was a lack of what every “wanna’ be” writer thinks will get them off their lazy butts and in front of a keyboard; inspiration.
I honestly don’t know.  But, I’ve felt the itch again.  I’ve felt the urge to chew up a bit of whitespace on the Internet and spit out the stuff that makes me choke.  I’ve also discovered Tumblr.  Yes, another blogging platform.  And, yes, I’m sure I won’t stay there long, because this is my blogging home, but until then, I have found my little slice of Tumblr oddly inspirational.  I suppose it has to do with thinking differently about how I do what I do, but all that really matters is that it’s gotten me writing again.

The other thing, I think, that compels me is the fact that I’ll be 43 this year.
Something changes again when a man feels the fetid, stinking breath of middle-age on the back of his neck and realizes that he has achieved less than the lofty goals he set for himself at 18.  Granted, many great artists of various kinds have come into their own only after having turned fifty, and, given my family’s record of longevity, I probably have another good 45 years or more of intelligent, intelligible output left in me, but, still, not having produced even a single work of long-form fiction nags at me.  You see, as good as I have gotten at extemporaneous non-fiction, thanks in no small part to this blog, I seem to have almost completely lost the knack of producing fiction.  And, trust me, as someone who worships the great storytellers of literature, I find that disappointing, to say the least.
It does not help, either, that many of my literary heroes are, in fact, dead.  Most of them, unfortunately, died before they were 50.  And, almost all of them, produced their greatest work before they were 40.
When I was younger, I tried to emulate those writers in many ways.  Unfortunately for me, one of the writers who’s work I respected the most was Ernest Hemingway.  Now, don’t think that means I purposely drank hard for years, because I didn’t.  Oh, I drank pretty hard, but not in conscious imitation of Hemingway.  And, certainly, I haven’t run through wives the way he did!  What’s more, I’m pretty sure I haven’t achieved his level of misogyny.  (In fact, I recently checked with several female friends on just that subject for reasons inappropriate to go into here and they all assured me that, whatever my character flaws may be, misogyny of any kind, much less at the level of “Papa” Hemingway, was not one of them.)  Nor, I hope you will be pleased to learn, do I plan to commit suicide via shotgun at 50 the way he did.  For one thing, I know pretty much everyone who might find the body and I like them, so I won’t subject them to that.  For another, I neither plan to give my detractors the satisfaction of my untimely death nor do I own a shotgun.

Now, you may ask why, in a post about inspiration and motivation, I would dwell on Hemingway’s death.  Good question.
You see, last night, I queued up a quote from Hemingway on that Tumblr I recently started.  By the time you read this post, in fact, it should be up, so feel free to pause for a moment and go read it.  It’s one of my favorites.
The thing is, though, this morning, I got my regular e-mail from the Writer’s Almanac, which lists today’s literary events of historic note.  Today, as it turns out, in a weird bit of synchronicity, is the anniversary of the day when Hemingway, suffering from cancer, did himself in with his trusty, manly shotgun.  Killing himself as he might have killed one of his heroically tragic characters.
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China, or anywhere else?
It’s a reminder.  A reminder of how many times I have almost given up.  A reminder of how many times I have, in true Hemingway hero fashion, faced death, or, worse, my own internal demons, and, rather than giving up or giving in, set my jaw, dug into the mud and just kept plowing forward.

You see, I forget, sometimes, who I am.
I forget that there is more to me than who I see reflected in the vision of others.  In my own insecurity, I forget how strong I can be.  I forget that love is the answer to all my problems.  Not being hard and tough, like I think Hemingway thought men, especially himself, should be.  I forget that it takes great strength of character to care, and I do care, about so many things and so many people.  I forget that what I see as my weakness is, in fact, my strength.  I forget that I have gotten up, as the saying goes, one more time than I have been knocked down.
And, so, as I imagine many of my dead heroes have done, I do my best to set aside doubt and fear and the perceived  judgement of others and do what I was taught as a child; I simply am trying again.  Trying to learn from the mistakes and failures of my past, not forgetting them, but not letting them get in my way, either.
And, as you can see, if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’m starting to write again.

 


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you can't be thankful for what you receive, be thankful for what you escape."
   --Unknown


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