Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/14/2012

From The Heart

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

Today, for reasons that are mostly attributable to the evil machinations of greeting card companies, we are expected to engage in a conspicuous display of romantic passion.  People mistakenly call it “love”, but, in my experience, love often has little to do with what we celebrate on this strange, little holiday.  We put so much pressure on each other, and ourselves, to be in the right kind of loving, romantic, passionate relationship that, frankly, it’s almost guaranteed that things will go horribly wrong.  And, yet we continue with it anyway.

For years, I was single on St. Valentine’s Day, and wished beyond all reason to be in a relationship with someone, anyone, with whom I might share the day.  Then, of course, I was and the event couldn’t possibly live up to any of the expectations I had set up for the holiday, my partner, nor myself.  It seemed to me that with every passing year, whatever I did was less and less appreciated.  More fault was found with how I tried to make the day special for her, until that last year, my ex-wife was actually complaining about the roses I’d saved my lunch money, literally skipped lunches out with the people at the office, to pay for to continue what I’d hoped was a tradition.  For ten years, I bought her at least a dozen red roses, usually, a dozen red and a dozen white, carefully requesting that they not include baby’s breath, because she was allergic to it, only to have her complain that the flowers I’d been so proud of getting in spite of financial difficulty, were aggravating her allergies and always had.  For ten years, she let me buy those flowers and complained about them, often behind my back, and let me think I was doing a good thing.  All for “love”.

Well, I can’t speak for my ex-wife, but I don’t think I knew what love really was when we were together.
In church, Sunday, of course, they read First Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 4-7, which are “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  Now, I doubt that Paul was talking about romantic, passionate love in this letter, since he wasn’t particularly in favor of marriage, among other things, but, still, it’s often invoked as the kind of love we should have for a partner.
It’s certainly an ideal I strive for these days, on that rare occasion that I find myself involved with someone of the fairer sex.  But, it’s also how I simply try to treat everyone, regardless of how they feel about me.  Of course, some days I do that better than others, but it’s a goal for all days, not just this artificial, high-pressure holiday that was seemingly invented to make so many feel so inadequate.

And, I have to admit, my feelings about this holiday aren’t aided by my interest in history, especially Chicago history.  You see, I think of this day as the anniversary of when a fellow Chicagoan, Al Capone, rounded up seven of his closest buddies and gunned them down in the back alleys of the South Side of Chicago. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre! It was on this day, in 1929, that the rivalry between Bugs Moran and Al Capone reached its violent and bloody peak, leaving seven, bloody corpses in its wake, along with damaging both Moran’s North Side Gang and, ultimately, bringing so much attention to Capone from the FBI that it effectively ended his criminal career, as well.
Truly, a turning point in the criminal history of Chicago.

So, you all go out and have your romantic dinners and make cow-eyes at your object of desire, but, have yourself an extra bloody steak and remember how they used to celebrate this romantic holiday on the South Side in the old days.  And, remember, your relationship isn’t measured by how well or poorly things go today, but how you treat each other the other 364 days of the year.

 


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong."
   --Warren Buffet

2/14/2011

Chicago-Style St. Valentine’s Day Celebration

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:43 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

Normally, a day associate with love and romance and a complete imbalance of power in male-female relationships wherein the male of the species is required to present his pair-bonded mate, or potential mate, with a ridiculous display of conspicuous disposable income via dead foliage or high-calorie confectioneries.  And, no, I’m not bitter, thank you for asking.  I participated in this strange mating ritual for many years, spending untold amounts of my hard-earned money on the most gorgeous roses available in Houston, thanks to my ex-wife and the Rose Gallery.  (All kidding aside, they really are quite good and reasonably priced for the truly amazing roses that you’ll get from them on days like this.  For real.)

I, however, prefer to remember this day as the anniversary of when a fellow Chicagoan, Al Capone, rounded up seven of his closest buddies and gunned them down in the back alleys of the South Side of Chicago.  Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre!  It was on this day, in 1929, that the rivalry between Bugs Moran and Al Capone reached its violent and bloody peak, leaving seven, bloody corpses in its wake, along with damaging both Moran’s North Side Gang and, ultimately, bringing so much attention to Capone from the FBI that it effectively ended his criminal career, as well.
Truly, a turning point in the criminal history of Chicago.

So, you all go out and have your romantic dinners and make cow-eyes at your object of desire, but, have yourself an extra bloody steak and remember how they used to celebrate this romantic holiday on the South Side in the old days.

9/30/2009

Review: Surrogates

Filed under: Fun,Movies,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:13 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Surrogates

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I know, I’m late with my review of this and I didn’t post anything at all on Monday.

What can I tell you? It’s just been that kind of week! I suppose that I should be grateful that I have my iPhone to so I can, uh, “phone this one in” via the WordPress beta app.
Anyway, I saw Surrogates this past Friday. I liked this movie a lot. Now, I doubt it will be lauded as a great movie, nor will it do fantastically well at the box office, but I liked this movie better than Gamer, which covers some of the same intellectual ground. Surrogates is an action flick, too, but not to the same degree and, more importantly to me, Surrogates focused more on the social implications of the technology and less on the tawdry, flashy sex.

Surrogates stars Bruce Willis as an FBI agent in a world where virtually everyone has a “surrogate”, or remote-controlled robot, with which they interact with the world. The idea behind that is that the surrogate can’t die or be permanently damaged the way a human, or “user”, can. The problem is someone has found a weapon that can send some kind of feedback signal through the surrogate that will killthe user. Willis’ character is called in to investigate just such a crime and what might be the first murder since the invention of surrogates. The bigger problem is that the murder victim is the son of the man who invented surrogates.
The chief suspect is a “meat bag”, as people without surrogates are known. And, he was apparently used by an anti-surrogate extremist group called the “Dreads”, who are led by a dreadlocked Ving Rhames. So, now, not only does Willis’ character have to solve the first murder since the invention of surrogates, but has to figure out who made this “impossible” weapon, how, and, most importantly of all, why.  Add to this the fact that Willis’ character isn’t overly fond of surrogates to begin with, since his wife is using it as a way to hide from him emotionally as she tries to forget that they had a child who died.

But, like I said, this is an action film, so there is plenty of action.  A car chase with a helicopter that ends poorly and results in Willis’ character not being able to use his surrogate.  Being forced into the real world has some strange effects on people not used to it, or so it would seem from the level of anxiety he displays.  And, who can blame them for wanting to be in their surrogates all the time?  The surrogates are perfect.  Perfect bodies, perfect faces and, all but Willis’ have perfect hair.  And, these things are virtually indestructable.  So, that’s why it’s so important that they find out who’s killing people through their surrogates.
Willis’ character does find out, incidentally, but that’s far from the end of the story.  You’ll have to see it to understand and I’m not going to ruin it.

One thing to know, though, is that the action isn’t quite as good as Gamer, but the nasty, shock-value-only sex is virtually not present.  Also, I think they explored some of the social relevance of the surrogate phenomina better than those same aspects were explored in Gamer.
Definitely worth seeing this movie, but if you’re not a fan of science-fiction, you’d better hit this in a matinee.  Still worth seeing, though.

7/1/2008

A PI License to Fix PCS!!?!

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Dog and Pony Shows,Geek Work,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, now I need a Private Investigator’s license to work on PCs?

Yeah, according to articles at ExtremeTech and CW33, a recently passed law in Texas requires that ALL shops which include PC repair technicians have a PI license. Just so you know, a PI License isn’t for an individual, but, rather a business and all the employees would work under that umbrella license. Still, it would mean that at least one person go through the process of licensing, which has the following requirements:

  • three years of investigative experience or a bachelors degree in criminal justice for investigations company license
  • two consecutive years of legally acceptable experience in the guard company business
  • successful completion of a two-hundred-question examination testing ability of the manager applicant to operate the guard company under the provisions of the statute regulating them
  • criminal background check
  • submitting fingerprints to have on file with the FBI
  • ~$500 in registration fees, subscription fees, application fees, and fingerprint fees, payable yearly

(All that is from an article at Citronix Computer Techs. )

Now, it’s important to understand, too, that this is a brand new law, sponsored by a Private Investigation professional organization who are afraid of their profession becoming obsolete. Thankfully, there are also techs who have professional organizations, one of which is challenging the law, at least, according to KVUE.com.

Funny, I’ve always thought about getting a PI license and now I may be forced to do so! On the other hand, the $4000+ fines and possible jail-time are a great excuse for why I can’t help people at work with their private PCs!

3/9/2007

The Fun Goes On!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You didn’t think I was going to let an unidentified mass in my lung keep me from posting some Friday Fun Links, did you?

Of course, I queued this post up last night and I had to work two and a-half hours late to get a couple of circuits squared away for a cutover we’re doing on my phone system, so that might have had an effect on what I picked this week.
The theme is computers and zany fun.
First, we have a link to Things Not To Do In A Server Room. Sadly, at one time or another, I’ve done most of these things.  Hey, when you’re working by yourself to string cable for an entire company, things just happen!
And, having users that Abuse Their Computers Through Neglect doesn’t help things, either.  I have to warn you, one of the pictures at that link is totally disgusting, so make sure not to look at it too close to lunch.
I tell you, it’s enough to make you want to Smash Your Computer To Bits, and that’s just what the people did who submitted the pictures on that last link.  Reminds me of a movie I know that just happens to be like my life, except I have no Jennifer Anniston to round things out.  Ah, well, maybe one day…
And, finally, just to end things on a happy note, here’s a link to pictures of Office and Computer Pranks.  Now, I’ve never done anything quite like these, but there was that one time that I wrapped a guy’s cubicle in police crime scene tape after he freaked over a spam that claimed the FBI were on to him.  Yeah, that probably was unreasonably cruel.  But, it was fun.

So, think happy thoughts as you click your Friday Fun Links.  I’ll probably be talking to my pulmonary specialist as you read these, but don’t let that keep you from having a great Friday!

1/25/2005

Security, E-Mail and Blogs

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:12 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

“The question isn’t ‘Am I paranoid?’, but ‘Am I paranoid enough?'”
Ever heard that before? If you’ve dealt with computer security, it should be your damn mantra. But, too, if you just use the internet to send e-mail or blog, you should think about it. Why? Well, are you sure that all your e-mail is safe? And, do you know who reads your blog? If you wouldn’t want to say something in front of your mother or child, you might not want to put it up for the entire world to see. Also, did you know you can get fired for blogging? Yep, not only is there the famous Heather at dooce.com, but also the Delta Airlines incident and there’s this story on Register.com about two, unrelated incidents of people being fired for blogging. It’s even gone so far that Blogger has guidelines on “how not to get fired because of your blog“.
But, back to e-mail. I can remember on many occasions rebuilding e-mail files so that we could find out who sent what to whom and when they sent it. At least one time, I had to rebuild an entire e-mail server and system to replicate data that was taken by a U.S. Government agent. (No, not the IRS, thankfully, just the FBI and EPA. The IRS agents are really tough, from what I hear, when it comes to data collection.) Oh, but don’t think that simply deleting the mail is enough. No, siree, there are plenty of ways to get that back. For one thing, many internet enabled systems have a cache that can be poked and prodded back into a mail database. Or, perhaps someone forgot to delete their sent mail. Sometimes that’s even better because it will capture not only the outgoing mail, but part of the e-mail to which the “target” is replying. That’s two birds with one stone, there! Oh, and don’t think that a wireless device will protect you either. According to this story on Slashdot, even the messages sent Blackberry-to-Blackberry can be retrieved by your employer.

Of course, this works in reverse, as well. I often send copies of my work e-mail to my home account so that I have “backup” in case something goes tragically wrong with the work e-mail, I still have a copy to print out and present to a nice judge. Never know when that’s going to come in handy. Believe me, I’ve seen strange stuff when it comes to lawyers and e-mail. Don’t forget, I’ve worked through at least two sales and one bankruptcy. Trust me on this one, it’s nice to know you have proof of what you promised people!
And, if you want something to “vanish” you’d best get to know all about any purge functions you have available to you or look into getting a PGP-based “eraser”. Better yet, if you plan on defrauding the Federal Government, don’t talk about it in an e-mail to anyone. Hell, just don’t talk about it at all. Better yet, just be honest and pay your taxes like the rest of us.

Remember, in the end, the best thing is to just not do anything that you’d get fined for or do time for later. Barring that, don’t make a damn record of it where some vengeful prick might get their hands on it. And, above all, be careful who you cross. (Yeah, this is the sort of thing I think about on airplanes and sitting in hotels after working on new servers all day long. It is my entire life these days.)


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Aw, damnit, I left my spontaneous quips in my other pants."

1/8/2004

Privacy Alert!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, actually, that should be lack of privacy alert…

Now, keep in mind that I’m a fiscal conservative and have always, so far, voted Republican as you read this. Remember that I’m not a screaming liberal that wants to outlaw guns, okay?
Over the Christmas holidays, George W. Bush signed into law the most dangerous bill since the Patriot Act. According to this article on WiredNews, the new Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 allows the FBI “to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge.” So, basically, that means if you look “funny” to an FBI agent, that agent can get every financial detail of your life, without a search warrant or subpoena and the financial institution supplying the info is not allowed to even tell you. Remind you of anything? Yep, this is the same thing that happened with libraries taken to the next logical step. See? Those librarians were right to be worried. And we should have been, too.
What disturbs me about this is that ol’ George W., whom I voted for in the last election, slipped this by at a time when most folks are pressed for time and might have missed it. Basically, he knew it was a violation of our civil liberties and decided too many people would raise a fuss about it, so he slipped it in on the “down-low”.
So, how does that commercial run? “What’s in your wallet?” No matter what it is, the government can find out about it now. Oh, I know, I know, if I haven’t done anything wrong, what do I have to worry about? Right? Well, how soon before expressing a dissenting view, like mine, is a crime against the State? How long before our “right” to free speech is infringed? Remember, it started small, just like Nazi Germany. First, a few little rights were shaved off. Then, a few more. The next thing they knew, soldiers were showing up to collect guns. Then, they were showing up to collect “enemies of the state”. Is it too late to stop that slide here? I pray to God it is.
Remember this and vote in your next local election. Don’t let all our rights get stolen away in the name of “security”. Remember what Ben Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

9/10/2003

Patriot II?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I hope not.

Now, I am a patriot. In fact, I describe myself as a nationalist, but I’m not in favor of continuing the Patriot Act, under any name. However, according to this article on Wired News, that’s just what some Senators are trying to do. In fact, it’s our old buddy Orrin Hatch who’s leading the charge.
Now, folks, I’m all for stopping terrorists and drug-dealers, but I’m not in favor of the erosions of privacy that they’re trying to get through. For instance, why stop a legal US resident from sending money home to a foreign country? Okay, okay, sure, got to stop people from supporting the terrorists over-seas, but should that stop someone sending money home to a sick mother? Should that take options away from judges who might have seen a glimmer of hope when talking to a first-time drug offender? Personally, I know several people that were “scared straight” by their first encounter with the criminal justice system.
But, wait, there’s more! This little doozey would also: Allow the FBI to get a wiretap order on a wireless device, such as a cell phone, from any district court in the country, Force defendants who are trying to exclude illegal wiretap evidence to prove police intentionally broke the rules, Increase the ability of the FBI to self-issue subpoenas for terrorism investigations without having to consult a judge, and Ease restrictions on government access to sensitive financial records. In other words, it would move us toward an elected fascist state. How do you feel about that, Comrade?
So, contact your Congressman and protest. Don’t let them take away any more of your personal freedoms!

8/11/2003

Free E-Mail Endangered?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Is free e-mail a threat to the free world?

According to this article on the Austrailian News Interactive site, the Austrailian Federal Police seem to think it is. If I understand who they are, the AFP is like the US FBI, so they’re national security heavy-weights. Anyway, they are working with free e-mail providers to make it easier to track anonymous threats, fraud and other crimes that are carried out via e-mail. That’s all well and good, but at least one “former NCA member”, whatever that is, by the name of Greg Melick said “Do away with free internet (email) accounts…” Which seems a little too harsh. On the other hand, he also said “Microsoft and others who provide these services have to be brought to heel.” And, I’m all for putting the screws to the Evil Empire.

Anyway, all you YahooMail and HotMail users might think about all that. Enjoy it while you can.

7/20/2003

Feel The Burn!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events,Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Why do I have a hard time sympathizing?

Okay, look, the smut peddlers are protected by the First Amendment, but when they get harrassed by an e-extortionist, it’s hard for me to feel too much sympathy. Not even when their websites get crippled, as is apparently happening, according to this Wired News story.
After all, these sleeze-bags are behind the most offensive and pervasive spam I recieve. I have an 11-year-old daughter who might be accidentally exposed to this filth, just because some wormy slime-ball needs to make money in a dirty, disgusting business. So, they’re getting black-mailed by some hacker/cracker/script-kiddie and they don’t like having to explain to the FBI what their business is. Hmm, seems like it’s time to get out of the business, eh?
Of course, they have their rights as American citizens, including the right to Free Speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment, but I just don’t put pornography in the same class as political dissent. Go figure. I just hope this guy puts enough pressure on these “business people” to close some of them down.

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