Diary of a Network Geek

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


The Traditional Birthday Post

Filed under: About The Author — 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 Waning Crescent

So, today marks yet another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, I don’t hang a lot on birthdays, especially my own. I mean, for the most part, they’re just another day. Another marker of many in my life and, frankly, a rather arbitrary one at that. I’m more impressed with the fact that I’m still married, healthy, and just $5,000 away from being entirely out of consumer debt than that I’m turning 49 today. Seriously, though, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an accomplishment, I think. There are many who haven’t, and, God knows, I’ve had my share of brushes with death, but, even that’s not altogether unusual, really. In fact, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 30 years, or more if I’m particularly lucky. Which is a good thing because, in spite of being statistically middle-aged, I come from an unusually long-lived family and I have many, many things yet to accomplish.

It’s been a mostly good year, really. My wife and I refinanced the house, letting us fix it up and clear the majority of our credit card debt. I also moved from being an over-paid contractor always in danger of being out of work to being the best bargain in IT Infrastructure Management for a company five minutes from my house. Even in Houston, that’s a hard commute to beat. And, of course, for a brief while, my other blog, Diary of a Network Geek was on the first page of Google search results for the search term “network geek”. It’s always fun when that happens. I’ve read a lot of good books, though I’ve been mostly too busy to review them like I used to do. I’ve had as low-stress a year as I think I’m capable of having, frankly. Of course, the Zen meditation helps with that. I’ve done that for over four years now.
And, then there’s the fact that I’m still married to Sharon. My blushing bride does tend to make every year a little sweeter for me. I’d like to think that we’re finally easing into that place where we know each other well enough to truly start enjoying the other’s company. There’s also the possibility that I’ve finally started to mellow with age. At least, that’s her theory.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission. (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)

So, I really have no idea what the coming year will bring, but I’m looking forward to it. We’ve talked about maybe selling our house and moving into something smaller, that we can retire into and maintain easier. Then again, we know this house doesn’t flood, so we may just stay. Either way, I’ll just keep on going, because, at this point I don’t know what else I’d do, frankly. And, it doesn’t matter, so long as Sharon and I do it together, or at least near each other. (Yes, that was a parallel play joke. Deal with it.)

All in all, life is going along okay and I’m sure it’ll be good coming year.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


Keeping It Clean

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — 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 Waxing Crescent

Of course, I’m talking about your reputation on-line.

Look, I’m a little pressed for time this week, so I’m going to get right down to it.  On-line, where no one knows all that much about you, really, reputation is everything.  Two weeks ago, I had a link for you with information about beating a polygraph, in case you got caught doing things that embarrassed you.  This week, I’ve got a link to an article by Jack Wallen at TechRepublic with reviews…
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It’s all magic to them…

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My users think I’m a magician or a sorcerer.

Frankly, I’m not sure which is better.
In any case, this week I finally cleaned up the last remnants of some nastiness that one of my users got himself into. He followed a link from Google search results to what seemed like a perfectly legitimate blog. He was looking for some poetry reference in the Sex In The City movie. (Yeah, I know, I know. A big, tough oil industry service guy looking for poetry in a chick flick. Go figure!) Well, when he got to this blog, it had an embedded player with what it claimed was a clip from the movie. But, when he went to play the clip, it told him he needed to update his Flash player and provides a “helpful” link. That’s when all manner of unholiness broke loose on his computer.

Well, he got updated, all right. With spyware and virii. I lost count of how many and what kind there were. One changed his time and date format to include the text “VIRUS ALERT!!”, so that it appeared next to the time on his Taskbar. Another made his main hard drive, his “C” drive, disappear from his My Computer! And, at least one of these was the FakeAVAlert trojan, but I never did figure out which one scrambled his My Computer. The funny thing was, after running every anti-virus and spyware removal tool that I normally use, the drive was still hiding somewhere. But, he was running from that drive just fine! Well, I searched for a day or two, while doing the rest of my normal gig, but never could find why this had happened.
I did, however, find a fix. TweakUI from the Windows XP Power Toys. I loaded that on his computer then went in to it under the My Computer section and, sure enough, the local drive was shown as being hidden. I corrected that and **SHAZAM**!!
UPDATE: It occurred to me this morning, after posting, that I should let you all know how to fix the clock issue in more detail.  The setting is found in the Control Panel, under Regional Options, which is not quite intuitive.  Under Regional Options, choose Custom, then find Time and adjust the format per the screen instructions.  If you’re in Windows 2000, once Regional Options is open, choose the Time tab and adjust accordingly.

Yep, just like magic, I am.


Googlecache Backdoor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Personal,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

An old “trick” that never seems to get old, even when it doesn’t quite work.

Every once in a while, I actually talk about technical stuff on this blog and this week, I’m focused on Google. Oh, sure, it’s called “Diary of a Network Geek”, but I generally talk about all sorts of geeky things that have nothing to do with computers or networking at all. Well, today you get a treat, gentle readers, and I’ll write a little technical bit about what this is and how it works, or doesn’t. Here’s the trick, in a nutshell: Google a specific site or page with no extra parameters, using the “site:ryumaou.com” syntax. (To hit a specific page, “site:ryumaou.com/hoffman/netgeek/“) When you get your search results, notice at the bottom of each description, there is a link labelled “Cached”. Click that and you’re looking at the page as it resides on the Google servers. At this point, normally, you’d not be hitting the actual website at all, but simply viewing the page as it was stored on Google’s servers when they spidered the site for their search database.

GoogleCacheGotchaNow, normally, that would hide you from a web log, but not from this blog. Why? Good question. What you see pictured in the graphic on this post is a rookie mistake. Googlecache browsing doesn’t work well to conceal one’s IP address when browsing dynamic content. I know it might not always seem like it, but this blog is, actually, fairly dynamic. In this particular case, what tripped up our inexperienced sneak is a plugin, or set of plugins, running on the blog. Mainly, it was the plugin that makes the pretty title graphics via PHP. When our tricksy, little Hobbit hit the Googlecached page, his browser made a call directly back to code stored on my site to generate the cool graphics. Graphics which, because they are generated dynamically, are not stored in Google’s cache, but created “on the fly” every time someone hits my page. Interestingly enough, even if our erstwhile intruder had turned off the ability to view graphics in his browser, the PHP code would have still generated graphic, thereby alerting me to his rather weak attempt to conceal his identity.
The only thing one might gain from this “hack” is the ability to get around a blocked IP address. Sadly, the sneak doesn’t need to do this, as I block very few IP addresses at all. For one thing, an IP block is of limited value for blocking spammers, since they change IPs regularly to avoid such blocks. For another, to deal with spam and other unwanted visitors, I have other tools that work much better. So, really, all this particular tricksy, little Hobbit did was, well, waste their own time and give me a handy topic to write a quick piece about very basic web security.

So, um, thanks. Now, c’mon in from the cold and just browse the site to your heart’s content, okay? Oh, and don’t forget to vote on the poll in the sidebar there everybody!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are."

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