Diary of a Network Geek

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

6/7/2019

PowerToys 2019

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Geek Work,MicroSoft,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Some reboots are better than others.

Sometimes, I talk about really geeky things here, mostly because I AM a geek, but also because I am a professional geek. This is one of those times.
Back in the days of Windows 95 and Windows XP, Microsoft made a whole set of little tools that fankly should have been included in the operating system to begin with. Things like TweakUI that let you change almost every aspect of the look and feel of Windows, including where some system folders resided. There were other tools, too, like things thta would let you synchronize folders and autoplay CDs and, one of my favorites, Command Prompt Here that let you open, you guessed it, a command prompt in any folder from the Windows FileManager. Those little tools sort of fell off in popularity after those versions of Windows, but hard-core users and oldsters like me still remember them fondly.
Well, according to Lifehacker, Microsoft is bringing PowerToys back! What’s more, they’re making them open source, so you’ll be able to download the source code and write your own! Of course, they don’t have TweakUI in this batch of goodies, yet, but I’m sure some enterprising, young programmer will dive into the Microsoft GitHub PowerToys repository, and figure out a way to make all our old favorites. In any case, it’s a good space to watch for new utilities that may be useful to you. And, of course, it’s free, which is why I’m sharing it with you on a Friday.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/15/2013

11 Photography Cheat Sheets

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I really need to start generating original content instead of posting links to someone else’s work.

I’ll get on that Real Soon Now, but in the mean time, I’m going to continue the way I’ve been going.
So, as anyone who’s followed this blog more than a month knows, I’m into photography.  Granted, I haven’t hardly touched my camera in months because I’ve been busy cleaning my house with my girlfriend and helping her move in, but, still, I do love photography. …
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8/2/2011

Android Virus

Filed under: Geek Work,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:51 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, not a flu that your synthetic humanoid might catch.

Virus writers target operating systems with a large installed user base.  There’s nothing controversial or even particularly interesting about that statement.  It’s a generally accepted concept based on observation, if not actual hard facts.  For a long time, that’s why there were so many viral attacks on Windows.  Windows enjoyed the greatest market penetration, so Windows users had to put up with the most frequent attempts to penetrate their machines.
But, that’s changing as the distribution of operating systems changes.  Android, in various forms and flavors, is now the most installed operating system.  Yeah, that’s right, someone has been writing viruses (virii ?) that attack your Android phone.

I’ve seen two new stories about this today.  One from a Houston local tech celebrity, Dwight Silverman over at the Houston Chronicle, and elsewhere, both talking about a new Android Trojan that can actually record your voice conversations.
One of the things that people like about Android is that it can load software from places other than a restricted, safe, controlled marketplace, but, that’s also one of the liabilities.  Apparently, the malware takes advantage of that ability to load itself onto your phone’s SIM chip and force the phone to record conversations to the chip then, optionally, upload those recordings to a server, presumably controlled by an attacker.  It’s somewhat unclear how that process would be initiated, but the simple fact that it can do it at all is chilling to me.  Also unclear from the articles was whether or not this has been spotted in the wild.
Hopefully, not yet.

So, here’s another warning for you.  Your devices, of any kind, are not safe.  Not ever.  If you have them powered on and they can connect to a network, even if you think they aren’t, you may still be vulnerable.  The Internet, in all its forms, is a wild and wooly and dangerous place.
Be careful out there, people.

11/1/2008

GroupWise twice as stable

Filed under: Certification,E-Mail Entry,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Even though I use Microsoft Windows Server 2003 at work, I’m an unabashed Novell fan.

This is a total geek-out post, so if you’re not into server operating systems or e-mail systems or if up-time doesn’t matter in your world, ignore it, okay?

Now, for the few of you who are left, let me emphasize, I am a total Novell fanboy.  I mean, I totally drank the Kool-Aid on this one, okay?  I don’t have a Novell tattoo or anything, but I have been a Novell Certified Engineer since Jesus was a baby.  And, I’ve maintained that certification through the years, even though I have to admit, we’re kind of hitting the law of diminishing returns here.
Novell’s e-mail solution is called Groupwise.  It started out life as something else, but it’s been improved to a very reliable, stable platform that was actually pretty easy to maintain.  Of course, that’s relative when it comes to e-mail packages, but it was a good trade off between ease-of-use and robustness that made it a really nice solution.  And, obviously, it integrated very cleanly into the rest of Novell’s network management systems.  So, once it was all setup right, you could make a user and a new e-mail account in pretty much the same step.  I loved it.

Naturally, there was always a rivalry between Novell and Microsoft.  They each fired shots back and forth about who had the better, more reliable product.  Die-hards like me always argued in favor of Groupwise.  Guess what?  It turns out, we were right!  Google did some testing and polling and compared e-mail packages.  Naturally, they came out as the most reliable system, though, if they lock your account, good luck getting it unlocked again.  But, go to their blog entry about their e-mail findings and scroll down until you get to the graphic.  Go ahead, click the link and look at the graphic.  I’ll wait.
Did you notice the shortest bar, next to Gmail?  Yeah, Novell’s Groupwise.
Groupwise, on average, has half the down-time of a Microsoft Exchange system.  Half!  And, I bet if you loaded it in a multiserver configuration, or even a Linux server, that number would drop even more.  But, still, half as much downtime as Exchange!

So, why don’t more people use it?

4/25/2008

Living off a USB drive

Filed under: Apple,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There’s something about this that appeals to me.

When I was fresh out of college, I won a trip to Long Beach with a bunch of amenities. A buddy of mine and I went, since we were both single, and enjoyed ourselves, in spite of the worst rainy season the greater L.A. area has seen in more than 20 years. I mean, roads would shut down after we’d use them, forcing us to find another way back to the hotel and I think we only two days of sun. The day we arrived and the day we left.
But, what I remember most was a t-shirt I saw at a tourist shop on Catalina. It was a Parrothead shirt that had the lyric “I used to rule my world from a payphone” on the back, with a nice, relaxing picture of a hammock between two palm trees. The idea of being so unattached, free and mobile really appealed to me, but, alas, it’s a life I’ve never known.

Now, what does that have to do with a USB drive? Well, thanks to Lifehacker, more than you’d think. Have you ever thought about how nice it might be to travel with all your information and favorite applications, but leave your laptop behind? Yep, free and easy living. All you need is a good-sized USB thumb drive and three articles: Top 10 USB Thumb Drive Tricks , Carry Your Life On A Thumb Drive and Tiny USB Office (via LifeHacker). That’s it. Your key to carrying your life in your pocket. Well, your digital life, at any rate.

And, before you write this off, I know a guy who did just what they describe. He loaded everything that mattered to him on a thumb drive and had no computer at all for more than a year. Of course, now, he has a MacBook, so you can take that with a grain of salt. But, also, according to ZDNet, Microsoft is coming out with a product to help you do all this via their suite of programs and operating systems called “StartKey“. You know when Microsoft gets behind an idea, you’ll see it implemented, one way or another.
So, do you all think you could do it? Could you make the switch?

12/15/2005

NSA CSS OS Guidelines

Filed under: Apple,Geek Work,MicroSoft,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Woo! That’s a lot of acronyms!
So, let’s break this down… What I’ve got here for you fine computer geeks who read my sad, little blog is a link to the National Security Agency Central Security Service computer Operating Systems security configuration guides. Clear as mud now, right? Okay, so what this is, in a nutshell, is a listing of guidelines from the NSA about how to configure and run server and desktop operating systems to their security standards. Or, at least, to the standard they release to the public. The latent paranoid conspiracy theorist in me can’t shake the feeling that the NSA doesn’t generally have an outward flow of information. And, they list four versions of Windows there, as if they can be actually secured. Surely, that must seem suspicious to my readers. Of course, they also have info for Macintosh and Solaris systems, so, you never know.
Anyway, it’s fun information from the NSA, so go have fun with it!

6/14/2005

Happy Birthday UNIVAC!

Filed under: Apple,Deep Thoughts,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Today is the birthday of UNIVAC.
According to Writer’s Almanac, it was on this day in 1951 the world’s first commercially produced computer was unveiled. UNIVAC, as it was known, weighed eight tons, used 5,000 vacuum tubes, and cost a quarter million dollars. But it could perform a thousand calculations per second, the fastest rate in the world at the time. The first one was bought by the U.S. Census Bureau. Not a big surprise, I guess, considering that no one else at the time had any idea what to use a computer for, besides quickly tabulating large numbers.
I remember a Troop Leader in Boy Scouts who worked on computers like this. He talked about the first “portable” calulators which were the size of laptops today, were filled with vacuum tubes, and could only add, subtract, multipy and divide. We’ve come a long way, baby! Now, we’ve got pretty graphics, free operating systems, and giant multi-national corporations all focused on selling us the next machine and suite of applications to go with it. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and has almost generated a whole new economy. Heck, it’s what makes it possible for you to even read this.
I wonder what the next fifty years will bring in the computer world?

4/5/2005

A Dinner Date

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hilda and I went out for dinner last night.
My dog is learning to ride in the car very nicely now. Well, now that I’ve adjusted her car-harness so that she can’t creep out of it! Actually, she’s learned to sit in that front seat and lean her chin against the edge of the door where the window is and have her nose in the air from the vent. Sure, I have a bunch of dogsnot on that window now, but she looks so cute.
Anyway, I decided I need to socialize her more, and I need to get out some, too. So, instead of packing crap that will be leaving the house, I came home from work late, phoned a couple of friends and, ulimately, invited myself over to dinner. And, of course, Hilda had to come with me, since she’s become my little, brown shadow.
She was even an angel when I stopped on the way home to get gas. She was laying down most of the way home and simply sat up and made faces at the strange man in front of us at the gas station. It sill amazes me how much respect I get at gas stations driving a retired police car, even with my beard. Go figure.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I keep talking about my dog, it’s actually quite simple. There’s nothing else safe for me to talk about right now. I can’t talk about my work troubles, in case someone there reads my blog. And, I can’t talk about the “other stuff” in case I’m being stalked. Or in case anyone thinks I’ve said or done anything worth sueing over. Or, whatever. So, Hilda is a nice, safe topic. Though, maybe I should name the koi after operating systems and talk about them to boost my Google ranking….


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