Diary of a Network Geek

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


“Snips and Snails and…”

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,By Bread Alone,Deep Thoughts,Fiction,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“… Puppy dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.”

So, really, I don’t have anything to say, but I know that if I don’t post something, people will wonder if the aliens have finally come to carry me away. I keep trying to explain that they’ll get the “special” e-mail from my super-secret automated dead-man switch system if that happens, but, who listens to me? So, instead of anything coherent, y’all are going to get some random snippets in a sort of stream of consciousness update.

I got the Waveceptor the other day, because it was under $30 on a closeout special. So, I’m now on atomic time and not living fifteen minutes into the future. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired?

I made red sauce tonight, but this time I added in a jar of fancy, red peppers, because they were on the shelf and I’d forgotten how long ago I’d bought them. Or, in fact, if I had bought them. And, if I didn’t buy them, who’d put them there… Right, see? Better I should use them now, quick, before they go bad. If they haven’t already.

No word back from anyone about the Craigslist.org post again. No word from the lady in question, in particular. Hopefully, she’ll get word and doesn’t freak out about me still thinking about her. Yes, thanks to my divorce, I worry about being percieved as a crazy stalker, even though I’ve never thought of myself that way before.

My mother has yet to read my blog even though she made such a huge deal about reading it for months before I let her. Parents. Pffft!

I found two writing contests that I’m going to enter. In fact, I started on a story for one, and would be working on it now, if not for my lack of sleep for weeks and a low-level state of delirium. Of course, that might simply add to the atmosphere of surreality and fantasy that I’m trying to capture in my writing.

I sold a William Burroughs t-shirt in my Cafe Press store the other day. But, I’m still not seeing a credit in the store. And, who would buy a XXL black t-shirt with a red silhouette of William S. Burroughs on it anyway?

I’ve almost set up an old Dell laptop for my redneck nephew for Christmas. I hope to get Windows2000 loaded on it for him. I’m working on configuring the WLAN card now, so I can get on-line with it and do updates and stuff. I figure I should try to give him something fairly standard and easy to use, but fun, too.

I was looking at better laptop bags than the freebie I got with the Toshiba. Everything seems like it’s close to what I want, but not quite right. I’ll probably have to go to a store and actually mingle with actual consumers, uh, “consuming” to find the right bag. Then I can pass a bag along to my nephew with the older laptop.

I talked to LK the other day. This “just friends” thing is strange, but kind of cool. Never done it before, with an ex, but it’s sort of nice, really.
Or, I’m delirious.
Okay, time to get the coffee ready for tomorrow and catch some ZZZs.


Travel Report

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,On The Road,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:39 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

(Note: This “post” was written over the space of two long waits in airports after gliding through easy and over-hyped security.)


Well, there wasn’t any free wifi at the airport that I could find, even using a cool new tool I found for Linux called Wifi-Radar. Super slick little proggie that scans for available open wifi networks and automagically attaches you to the network of your choice. Pretty cool. Anyway, security was a breeze. As usual, the blood-sucking, bottom-feeders in the alarmist media totally overhyped the delays. I got Hilda checked in, stopped for gas and slipped into the Park-N-Fly by about 10:45 AM. The shuttle got me to the airport no later than 11:15AM and I was checked in and through security in less than 20 minutes. That’s with an eTicket and a driver’s license that still has my last name misspelled with an extra letter. You’d think that would raise a red flag, right? Hell, it doesn’t even raise a damn eyebrow.

Feeling extra secure yet? So, we hear all kinds of stuff about how bad security is going to be, but, as far as I could see, the only thing added to security was that they were restricting fluids on the plane. Yeah, so, no drinks through security, which, of course, means that everyone was buying drinks in the terminal. I didn’t look at how much I was gouged for my bottle of water and masked the whole cost with a couple of magazines. No Maxim, though. Just PopSci, Scientific American, Men’s Health and Real Simple. You know, I may end up getting a subscription to Real Simple instead of Dwell. It’s more my style. Not quite so avant-garde and infinitely less expensive. I was very glad to have gotten my iPod back, though. And, I even managed to sync all of Tristan und Isolde to it before I took off in the morning. Sadly, I didn’t have quite enough time to create a playlist that let me listen to the entire opera in order, but, still, I have it in there. According to iTunes, I have almost three days worth of continuous music on my Nano. Based on the silly media hype, it sounded like I’d need it, so, I was thrilled.

The one interesting thing was that I was almost on the news. No, not because I tried to sneak something dangerous on the plane. Though, God knows, I have done just that so many times it really makes me question the supposed security training they give those TSA agents. Anyway, there was some cute, Hispanic news chic there with her cameraman interviewing passengers about the virtually non-existent security delays and they saw my “Sunguard Secure, Disaster Recovery Experts” shirt. Right away the camera guy is all “So are you a disaster recovery expert?” and I start laughing at them both. I explain that, yes, I am an IT disaster recovery expert, but not the kind they were looking for. Oh, sure, I could have gone on TV and made a credible security expert, but that’s mainly because I’m well read and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about security for IT, which includes physical security, not because I’m a real anti-terrorist expert. But, why? Why the hell would I want to have my mug all over the TV news? I hate them, the alarmist fear-mongers always whipping the mass of unwashed humanity into a damn frenzy. Idiots. They’re not journalists anymore, just talking heads. It’s all about jumping on that fear-hype bandwagon, not about reporting real information that people can actually learn something from anymore. I don’t know, maybe it’s time to get a subscription to a local paper again. Ha! “A” local paper, that’s funny, isn’t it? It’s either the Chronicle or an out of town paper, like the Chicago Tribune or the Wall Street Journal. Oh, well, it’s almost all bad news anyway….


Well, here I am again, killing time in an airport waiting for my flight after breezing through security. I can’t tell if it’s just the media blowing things so far out of proportion or just people stupid enough to argue with the TSA agents and trying to break the rules. Honestly, I think it’s the TV news media who have to justify their existance by whipping everyone into a frenzy about the terrorists who weren’t even on US soil. Sure, I’ll grant you, getting blown up in a plane would really ruin my travel plans, but we’ve been living with this since 9/11 and, frankly, I think it’s about time we just adjust to higher security than we used to have. I mean, really, compared to most of the world, we’ve been skating along pretty free and easy. They’ve been dealing with terrorists in Europe for years and the British were more relaxed about this last incident than we were, even though it was their countrymen that were going to be blown up! This is just going to be a fact of life from now on. We need to get past the panic and fear and make our adjustments and move on with our lives, otherwise the terrorists have already won. So, in any case, I glided through security, in spite of not shaving, having a scruffy goatee and being loaded down with electronics. I guess it helps to just blank your face and go with the flow. Not like I have a choice, after all, so I might as well just accept the process and go with it. Seems to make things a lot easier. So, crazy security concerns aside, I had a good visit with the family.

Turns out, my parents were wrong and I wasn’t going to be presenting my nephew with his Eagle award, but it really did seem to mean a lot to him that I was there. Actually, it seemed to mean a lot to everyone to see me. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I never realized how important I was to my family. Of course, I spent some time setting up my parent’s new laptop and transferring settings and files over from the old one. I first thought that I’d be able to do that via a USB thumb drive, but there was just a little too much there to get onto a single one gig drive, so I had to use the network cable and crossover adapter that I’d brought with me. Good thing I have a little bit of experience being an IT consultant on the road and thought to bring some “extra” stuff I probably wouldn’t need, just in case. Sadly, I forgot to bring the copy of Word that I had for Mom and scratched the first CD of the Works install set, so I’ll have to ship them the CD and walk Mom through the install. Oh, the funny thing about her new laptop is the wireless connection. I cranked up that laptop and found five or six networks in the area with at least two that were unsecured, so I used that to piggy-back to the Internet. I think that ease of use just about convinced her to invest in broadband at their new house when the finally move in. They already have digital phone service through their cable, so I’m pretty sure they’d get a discount on the Internet connection, too. That along with a wireless router would really have them in the modern age of computing. And, I think they’d use their laptop more. Well, at least, Mom would. Dad mainly tells her what he wants and sends her off to do it, but he thinks he’s pretty high-tech, which is kind of funny. Actually, if you ever met either of my parents, it’d amuse you think of either of them being all that high-tech.

Though, somehow, they turned out at least two of us that make our living via technology. That’s just one of many things my brother and I have in common, though… It was nice talking with him some, though, I think we both wouldn’t have minded talking more. Eleven years apart and a vast difference in life experience, but we’re still the same in so many ways. Sadly, we both have many of the same things to fight through and over come. Both shy, each in our own way. Soft-spoken, but determined and, often, very single-minded of purpose. I honestly think that my brother has a PhD. because someone told him he couldn’t do it. We’re funny that way. Sometimes, that’s an asset, but not always.
Still, we often have very similar political views and, talking with my sole niece, Rachel, I was surprised to see how well our philosophies about kids meshed. That “little” girl has grown into quite a young woman. Just barely fifteen, but almost as tall as I am and, thankfully, looking more like her mother every day. I sat with her after her brother’s Eagle Ceremony and talked with her a bit, since I realized I didn’t really know her that well these days. The boys all center on me like iron filings on a magnet and that often seems to leave little room for Rachel. The last time I was home, she spent most of the time with Allison, my former step-daughter, and I didn’t get to talk to her. In any case, I took the opportunity to chat with her about a lot of different things, including driving, boys and her future plans. She didn’t have a boyfriend right now, but she’s already had two, which, at fifteen seemed like a good, slow start. She broke up with the last one, she told me, because he’d been smoking marijuana. Smart girl. Already learned that guys who smoke enough dope lose all motivation and ambition. It’s not just a stereotype. So, she was single, but didn’t seem in a big hurry to find the next guy, which I though was a good attitude, too. When I asked her about school and ideas for a career, she told me she wanted to go into nursing. Like I said, smart girl. It’s a good field and she has the right kind of personality for nursing. Even at fifteen, she was worried about her poor, old Uncle Jim standing when everyone else was sitting at the reception. I was glad for the chance to sit and talk with her. I just wish Allison had more of an opportunity to know her former cousin. I think Rachel would have been a good influence on her. Ah, well, maybe they’ll reconnect one day. Stranger things have happened.

Her little brother, Michael, my youngest nephew, is a whole different animal. This poor kid has no small amount of adversity to overcome. As a little guy, he got repeated ear infections and is, as I recall, legally deaf. But, since he was very small, he’s worn a hearing aid in each ear and does quite well. He has a very slight speech impediment, but he seems to make up for that with enthusiasm and volume. He certainly has no trouble making himself understood when he wants to get a point across! But, he also has a fairly rare back and spine condition that will require him to wear an obviously uncomfortable back brace for most of the next three years. He’s a good kid and doesn’t complain much when his parents tell him to get his brace back on, but it can’t be something he likes to do. I don’t know if any of the kids at school give him trouble for it, but I think his mother has already given her permission to pop the little wiseasses if they do sound off. And, if I ever hear about any grief, I tell you, Mike will have a mean uncle from Texas coming up to crack a couple of skulls for him. He’s a good boy and puts up just a tiny fuss at having to deal with all his physical troubles. And, in spite of all his reasons to be unhappy, I’d say he’s the most gregarious and, well, “jolly” of all my nephews. Always smiling and laughing and joking, even when irritation occasionally creases his forehead, it sure doesn’t cloud his world for very long at all. I know quite a few adults that could learn thing or two from this young man.

Then, there was my “redneck nephew”, as I like to call him.
John Dwight is a big kid. He looks slow and ponderous and even sounds a little thick, but he’s not. He’s a smart kid who lives in a town that doesn’t put much stock into “book learnin'” and it shows. Mainly, I think he’s just not very motivated. I think he sees the futility of his situation. He can only go so far in that little town outside of Rockford, Illinois. After that, if he wants more and bigger opportunities, he’ll have to leave. Based on how his mother and father have dealt with that decision, I doubt he’ll leave. Though, he is talking about enlisting in the military. He claims he wants to be a sniper, but with less than perfect vision, I think that’s not going to quite work out for him. He likes to work on cars, though, and seems to think he can bide his time waiting for the sniper program while being a mechanic. I don’t think he understands the military enough to know that once he starts as a mechanic, he’s likely to stay a mechanic, but, at least he’ll have a skill and a way to make a good living after mustering out. It would be a good way for hime to go.
He shadowed me for most of the time I was working on my Mom’s new laptop. I think partly because he wants to get a shiny, new laptop himself, but also because he’s interested. I talked with him about what I was doing and promised to send him one of the super cheap 1 Gig USB thumb-drives I’d found at MicroCenter and was using. He seemed genuinely excited about that. I’ll send that to him after I get back along with a Knoppix CD, so he can learn a little Linux. If he learns Linux and is still interested, I might send him an old Dell laptop with Redhat or Novell’s free OpenSuSE loaded on it. That would be another direction he could go. A little military experience and a couple of professional certifications and he could really go far.

Finally, my oldest nephew and godson, Bill…
As I write this, he’s on his way to his first year of college. He’ll be a Physics Major at Purdue University. Kid’s going to be a genius PhD, like his father. He has a girlfriend, Jenny, who’s nice enough, but tries a little too hard to be liked. When she forgets to work at it and relaxs, though, she’s a nice kid. Bill and I had a little talk on Friday night when his family came over for dinner. (Mom made “creole chicken”, a soulfood recipie that my grandmother picked up on the Southside of Chicago.) He’s so much like his father that it’s almost scary. I was touched Saturday when I figured out that he really just wanted me at the ceremony because he missed his Uncle Jim. I made sure to give him my cell number and told him he could call for anything but bail money. I hope he takes me up on the offer. I gave him the best advice I could for a Freshman going into that big, wide world of college. “Never go into a weekend without twenty bucks and a condom.” I explained that to him, but those stories will have to wait for another time on the blog. My plane is boarding, so I’m shutting down the laptop. Next stop, Houston!

Made it home safe and sound. Got my poor Hilda from the vet today. Apparently she barely ate, hid from the “keepers” and generally trusted no one. On the upside, she did learn to use the “doggie door” really well! That’s where she ran to get away from the people who were supposed to pamper her. *sigh* She wouldn’t even eat her home-made treats. Apparently, she just didn’t trust the kenel staff enough to take even the yummiest of muffins from them. (In fact, they said they smelled so good they almost ate some themselves!) She was so excited to see me, I could barely get her car harness on her. She wolfed food when we got home. And treats. And attacked a new rawhide chewie bone I’d gotten her. Well, she’s like her old dad, doesn’t trust anyone new and is loyal to a fault. She’s my dog, sure enough.
Glad to be home. And, finally, after all this time and all this trouble, this is home.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"While it may be true that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, sometimes it can be much more satisfying hacking your way through the rib cage."
   --Cara-Beth Lillback


Some New Tools

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:58 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
–Abraham Maslow

So, I’ve been doing a lot of strange things at work the past couple of weeks. And, by strange I mean working around problems like trying to get things done without spending money. That always seems to lead me through some interesting back doors and into areas that I’ve not been before.

First, I was asked to do some browser forensics. Basically, it was supposed that a particular employee, no myself, was spending a little too much tiem on the web. I was tasked with finding how much time and where they were going. Simple enough, right? Well, I had to do it on the “down low” and without sitting at their computer. Enter, Webhistorian, by Mandiant. This utility let me grab history files and arrange them into a nice, easy-to-read report that told me where, when and how long my intended target was spending time on the web. That combined with a drive mapped to the administrative share on his computer showed… That he was actually relatively innocent. Yeah, he went to some sports websites, but only first thing in the morning and at lunchtime. Nothing worth firing him over, at any rate.

Next, there was a more, um, general security question. And, okay, it wasn’t actually at work, but it’s good to know for work. A friend thought her computer might have been inadvertantly used in the comission of a crime by a “guest” and asked me to check it out. I can’t go into details because of pending legal action, but I decided to let her take it to the proper authorities first, in case I were to mess up any evidence. Once they’re satisfied, however, I’ll take a look at it. And, thanks to another blog I read, I’ll be using something called Helix.
I have read the aforementioned blog, A Day In The Life Of An Information Security Officer, for, well, years, actually. Mostly, it’s just an interesting diversion, but sometimes, I get good ideas from the posts and case files. This time, the new tool came from the comment section. Helix was suggested by another faithful reader. It’s a bootable, “live cd” Linux distribution. It’s also free, which is one of my main criteria for the tools I use.

I also had to clone a giant Windows XP disk this week. I tried a number of utilities, including Symantec’s Ghost, but it was another Linux distro that saved me. This time, I used Knoppix. Also a bootable, “live cd” distro which is available free from the Internet. I found the command by accident while searching for something else, but I also discovered there are other ways to clone a cd via Knoppix. My Google search turned up several HowTo documents. There was one on Knoppix.net’s forums, another on Linux.com and a third on Just Linux. I used the third method first, which turned out to not work so well at all. Something to do with XP and how finicky it is about hardware and booting, I suspect. So, I finally moved on to the appropriately named NTFSClone. I still had problems making it bootable, but I attribute that to the old disk running Windows XP. I hate XP. Truly. Still, I managed to have some good fun with all the different attempts. I enjoy a good intellectual challenge!

These days no one can afford to be just a “Windows Admin” or just a “Novell Admin” or, even just a “Unix admin”. We have to use the right tools to get the job done, whatever that looks like.
I’m the man behind the curtain who makes the great and powerful Oz go. If I want to outwit the flying monkeys that the Wicked Witch of the West sends after me, I’d better have a whole lot of tools in my toolbox besides my magic ruby hammer.
Even though I’m Linux certified, I don’t work with it enough for my taste, so I’ve finally gotten off my lazy butt and installed Open SuSE on two old laptops I have at the house. Again, it’s free and so were the laptops. One is an old Dell that came from an old job. The other is a Compaq that a friend gave me because he knew I’d get more use out of it than anyone who he might donate it to for the tax write-off. Either that, or I’ve become a charity. Hey, it could happen!
In any case, I’m working on expanding my toolbox, one piece at a time. And, now, you can take advantage of my tinkering to expand your own digital toolbox. Have fun with the new toys!


Mid-Week Update

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Novell,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:54 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Lord, what a boring title.
Hmm, come to think of it, it’s not a very exciting update, either. Anyway…
I got the last of my replacement server parts in Monday, got them in place and the bad stuff out again today. Oh, wait, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned that fiasco… Okay, so early last week I got all my server parts in except for my 1 Terabyte drive array, which got lost in shipping. That arrived Friday, but had the wrong cables. So, Friday, I decided to setup what I could anyway, and discovered that the keyboard and integrated trackball was bad. After a series of calls to Dell, they finally ship me the entire monitor/keyboard/rack-tray subsystem, because “that’s just how they come”. Those arrive Monday afternoon. I get them changed out and, basically, give up doing anything useful for the day.
Oh, yeah, the whole time, in between trying to get all the hardware worked out, I’m trying to talk a guy in Louisiana through setting up a “new” computer with an old hard drive. I say “trying” because apparently, this guy couldn’t read the damn screen to tell me what was going on. He kept asking me, “Uh, what’d I do next?” to which I almost always replied, “I don’t know, what does the screen SAY!?” And, apparently, it was so painfully funny that the engineer on the other side of the cubicle wall from me regaled his fellow engineers with the tale, much to their amusement. And, really, the guy in Louisiana was being pretty stupid. Everything he needed to know was right on the screen. But, I digress…
Then, yesterday, it takes me half the day just to figure out why the install can’t find any disk drives. Apparently, while hooking up the drive array, I some how wiped out the config on the two disks in the server itself. I have no idea how, but, wiped they were. And, since figuring that out, I have banged my head against the same module failing to install and configure correctly. Sadly, it’s the main security database the server uses to track everything. (For those in the know, it’s failing on the eDirectory/NDS/LDAP install and config. The modules are there, but the damn thing simply refuses to install a new NDS tree.) So, it’s kind of key to the whole reason we bought Novell’s Open Enterprise Server, instead of just running on Linux. This was not helped, I might add, by the fact that I was not smoking or that the boss stopped by to make clever comments about why I hadn’t figured the damn thing out yet, either.
I have an e-mail in to Novell to try and get some answers. We’ll see how it goes.

As for the other stuff, that messy, sloppy junk I call a personal life, well, it’s just not really going. Not unless you count the Prayer Team meeting last night and the grocery store tonight. So, since I won’t be managing to do my conversion this weekend, either, I’ll head back to the River Oaks Borders in search of True Love Friday night. I figure I’ll give it one more shot on Fridays, then take a week off to lick my wounds and convert my server, and try another night. Suggestions anyone?
Oh, and you’ll notice in deference to the start of my Troubles with Dating posts, I’ve added a new category, named in honor of my new favorite consolation at the Border’s coffee shop, Bavarian Death Cake of Love. So, if y’all are around, look for me. I’ll be the guy in glasses with a goatee, probably trying hard not to look like a stalker, and eating Bavarian Death Cake with a side of Italian Fascism. If you talk to me sweet, I might even buy you a slice! (Not you, boys. You’re on your own.)


Making Lemonade

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:55 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, some things went well today, and others, not so much.
Virtually all my hardware arrived yesterday and I was able to start getting things setup. Which was good, but not everything went according to plan. For instance, my giant terabyte external drive array is still on a UPS truck somewhere in the greater Houston area. Or so the UPS tracking website tells me. Then, there’s the Novell Open Enterprise Server/SuSE Linux CDs that won’t be arriving. Why? Well, both the salesman and I were surprised to discover that they don’t send the media anymore. Now, it’s a download, which is what they’re doing even as we speak.
Also, there was the left side panel on the half-height rack from Dell that wouldn’t stay on. Any guesses why? Because the underage, third-world welder was overworked that week and the welds on the hooks at the bottom of the panel were extremely substandard and popped. Of course, I could have taken it out to the guys in the shop to get them to weld it quick, but that’s not the point. Dell sold me a fully functional rack that should have had all its parts together. They didn’t send that, so, now, they’re sending a replacement door. I figure it’ll arrive about the time that missing drive array does.
Now, here’s the lemons to lemonade part…
The great, big UPS that was shown on the quote as simply being 120 volts, which should be standard wall power, turned out to have a funky, 30 amp, round, grounded plug. So, I had to con one of the electricians we have on staff to help me out. Turns out he’s going to run a completely new 30 amp circuit just for the server. Which, as you old server monkies know, is just precisely what we should have anyway. Of course, I knew they wouldn’t want to hassle with it, so I totally ignored that and, well, sometimes, God likes me and sends me just enough lemons to make a whole, yummy pitcher of lemonade. Just like today.

So, in short, I’ve had worse days. The server is almost ready to go and the boss still thinks I walk on water. All in all, not bad at all.


Open Enterprise Server, or Bust!

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:39 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, it looks like my server finally got approved.
Yea! So, yesterday morning, our office in New Orleans is having their third or fourth server space crisis in as many weeks and they start complaining about why they can’t get a new server. Of course, I patiently explain that I’ve been going through this little drive-space two-step for about six months or so here in Houston and we need a server as bad as they do. Well, I guess I said the right things to the right people and suddenly everything is a go. So I scrambled around and ordered a Dell server with 1.5 gig of RAM and 1 TERABYTE of hard drive space. I also ordered SyncSort backup software for Linux/Novell, two 1 terabyte network attached storage devices and a 50 user copy of Novell’s Open Enterprise Server for SuSE Linux. Now, all I have to do is whip together a migration plan. *sigh*
After I get this all converted and what not, I’ll repurpose the old server for the New Orleans office. Sadly this will mean travel to the sweatiest, back-road, industrial armpit outside of New Orleans, but, well, at least it’ll get done. And, I’ll have my OES server on nice, clean, safe, bullet-proof Linux. Of course, that means more geeky/technical writing. And a lot of penguin references.

I lost a reader recently, and I think my lack of geek content is to blame. At least, I have one less subscriber on Bloglines and, while it is possible that someone else has bailed on me, I blame it on a boring, barely technical job. I spend more time hooking up cables for my boss’ KVM switch than I do maintaining anything. In many ways, it has been rather disheartening. Of course, by the time I’m done here, I’ll have some really good things to put on my resume, but, then, I’ve been spinning long, thankless jobs into impressive experience since I started in this business. That Marketing degree comes in handy sometimes. So, in short, I’m looking forward to being a very technical guy for a couple of weeks. I hope I don’t bore my new readers while I geek out, though. Frankly, I really like some of you new ones. And, yes, I really do enjoy having a more female demographic. Really.


Back to Bash

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, I’m back to something I’m comfortable with at work.
Yep, I finally got most of my end of the workstation imaging project done last week. The basic images for the hardware and the Novell client are all squared away. At least, they are for all the hardware that we have in stock. I still need to get images of one of the older Dell PCs and the engineering laptop, but that’s easy enough now that I have a good idea what I need to do. The hardest part of all this, so far, has been figuring out what should go into the dang image! But, the resident expert on workstation images got me all fixed up in that area and the rest was actually pretty simple.
Now, though, I’ve been back to the Linux-based ZENWorks Imaging partition. We had an “issue” with the restore menu I did. Apparently, if you have an existing partition and only restore one partition of an image, it doesn’t completely wipe the existing partition. In other words, it just copies the files over the existing install. Not good enough for our purposes. So, I had to devise a method for deleting the existing C partition, recreating it and then, finally, restoring it from the local backup image. Not a problem, right? Wrong. I needed to have a universal menu that could tell what size the existing partition was and plug that into the script which recreated the partition. Not quite as easy as it sounds. Well, thanks to sed & awk, second edition, I found a relatively painless and reliable way to get it done. Basically, I run an “fdisk /dev/hda -l”, pull the relevant information from those results with grep and use “awk” to spit out the correct information to populate the variable. Actually, I have to do some mathmatical adjustments to that, too, but, in a nutshell, that’s what I did. If anyone is really interested and doesn’t want to shell out the money for Learning the bash shell, second edition and sed & awk, second edition, I can put the restore menu that I use up on the site. I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet solution. Hmm, maybe I’ll submit it to Cool Solutions for another t-shirt….
Well, that’s what I’ve been up to at work. If youse guys want to know more, just pop something into the comments!


Idiot vs. Hero

Filed under: Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:16 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

It’s a fine line between idiot and hero.
I’ve crossed that line. To the hero side, you weisenheimers! Notice that I’ve been a little quiet on what I’ve been doing at work since I got back from Florida? Well, that’s because things have gone horribly wrong. The whole idea of having a single base ZENWorks for Desktops Imaging installation of Windows XP just didn’t work out the way we’d planned. It was taking too long to make the “addon” images to customize everything for the individual models. And, every little, tiny change Dell made in the chipset was making the addon images fail, too. So, about two weeks ago, I was told we were abandoning that line of thought and going with what I originally suggested, namely, an image per model. And, that I had until Monday the 14th to get it all working.
Well, I got it pretty well there until Monday a fatal flaw was found. With the Dynamic Local User option enabled, when we installed Groupwise as one user, none of the other users could access it. Not even the local administrator of the machine! WTF!? So, I rebuilt the image, twice, each time making sure that all the updates were included. No go. Then I tried every variation of installing the Novell Client and the ZEN for Desktops clients. Same thing. As soon as I hit the network, in any way, only the user that installed Groupwise could access it, or the directory it was installed in. After almost a week of this, you can image how stupid I was starting to feel! Though, no one else could come up with an answer for why this was happening, either…
Well, this evening, at about 6:00pm, I found it. The answer was in the Local Security Policies. The setting was unser Security Options, Network access: Sharing and security model for local accounts. It was set to “Guest only: local users authenticate as Guest.”, but should needed to be set to “Classic: local users authenticate as themselves.” As soon as I changed that, BAM! It was all working just like it was supposed to work. I tested it twice and got out before something else went wrong!
So, yes, it was a fine line between idiot and hero, but by the end of my very long working day, I was the hero. Again. Yea, me!


Small Victories

Filed under: Geek Work,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Got it licked!

Thanks to a little help from a fresh pair of eyes, that is. I’d been having trouble working with the image of our Dell Precision 670 Workstation series, until one of the other guys pointed out something in the registry for me. Now, I’d manually edited the registry file via a text editor, but, somehow, that didn’t make a difference. So, I changed it in another tool (Console One, actually), and the entire image worked! (To refresh your memory, the surviving Mike aka The Messiah, figured out a way to use SNAPShot to make addon images. So, I’ve been exporting the registry changes from the NAL objects I created in Console One, hence the above statement. Make sense now?)
And, I’ve redone the image for the GX280 the same way. Fortunately, I didn’t have the same problems with that image that I had with the SCSI based ones. Now, I’m working on updating the d400 image. It’s a little tedious, but at least I’m making progress again. Finally!

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Minor Setbacks

Filed under: Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I had some minor setbacks at work this week.

I say minor because, as far as I’m concerned, anything short of termination or death is minor. So, first the ZENWorks imaging thing that I thought I’d worked out last week didn’t work this week. Or, rather, it didn’t work all the time or even consistently. So, I’m working on that. Again. Oh, joy.

Then, I’ve been doing a lot of Linux server work lately and that had some small snags. Mainly, it was me being tired, a little depressed, and somewhat distracted. I forgot a couple of little, “detail” items, like chaning IP addresses and cleaning out temp files before running a backup. Stuff like that. The only “show-stopper” was something entirely out of my hands. (Hey, that seems like a theme in my life these days!) The server that I’d been working on, and getting prepared to install on a remote SAN, can’t be shipped until we get the additional processor and power supply from Dell. They’ve been on order for almost a month now. *sigh* Oh, well, my end is almost done. Just a little bit of testing left to do and then…. I wait. (Unfortunately, that seems like a theme in my life right now, too. Always waiting…)

All in all, though, it’s not been a bad week. Nice and quiet. So far…

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