Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/27/2008

The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal,Things to Read — 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 Waning Crescent

Yes, you read that right, The Five Worst Things About Surviving Cancer.

When Kat asked me to write a guest post for the Canard Collective, this was the first topic that jumped to mind. Well, actually, to be fully honest, my first thoughts were about how much easier it would be to write about the five best things about, well, almost anything. The five best things about being divorced, for instance, or being unemployed or… Well, you get the idea. But, then, being the contrarian that I am, I thought about this. You know, people always think when you survive a major illness, or, as I like to say, cheat death, that your troubles are over. But, gentle readers, I’m here to tell you that it is not so. Surviving is just the beginning of the problems.

So, go over to the Collective and read what I wrote.  Then laugh at how different it is from all the other stuff that people did guest posts about.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it."
   --Eric Hoffer

8/15/2008

Electronic Cigarette

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, I have not started smoking again.

Regular readers may be familiar with my obsession with smoking. Or, rather, my fixation on the fact that I’d love a good smoke, but, having cheated cancer-related death once already, feel that it would be more than a little foolish to so dramatically increase the chances of getting cancer, again, that I just can’t justify lighting up again. Naturally, I still think about it and ways to reduce the craving and/or sublimate the urge with a similar experience. Well, I think I have the perfect solution: the electronic cigarette.

No, I am not making that up. Go ahead, click the link. I’ll wait.

See? Now, I think it’s really meant as a device to help you stop smoking, not continue the habit while cheating death, but, still… Of course, at $90+ shipping, I won’t be getting one any time soon. But, oh, what a glorious idea. It may not be a jet-pack, but an electronic cigarette is retro science-fiction to me. I love it!

8/4/2008

SCO Owes Novell

Filed under: Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:28 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Finally a little justice!

Man, this trial has dragged out for years and years and years! But, in spite of apparently basing their entire income structure on suing people for copyright infringement, SCO now owes Novell $2.5 million dollars for doing just that. You’d think that a company that ended up primarily made of, and run by, lawyers would have been pretty careful in regards to the lawsuits they exposed themselves to if they planned on extorting money from people for intellectually property infringement. Well, I would, at any rate.

(Yeah, I know this is kind of old news, but, hell, I’ve been busy and this slipped by me until now.)

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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!

6/14/2008

Happy Birthday, UNIVAC!

Filed under: Apple,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

On this day in 1951, my profession was, essentially “born”.

Today marks the anniversary of the unveiling of the UNIVAC, the world’s first commercially produced and available electronic digital computer in the United States. The first electronic computers were invented during World War II by the military. Engineers in Great Britain invented the Colossus computer to help break Nazi codes, and engineers in the United States invented the ENIAC, to help calculate the trajectories of missiles.
The ENIAC used 17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. It weighed 30 tons, was roughly 8 feet by 3 feet by 100 feet, took up 1800 square feet, and consumed 150 kW of power. The ENIAC radiated so much heat that industrial cooling fans were needed to keep its circuitry from melting down. It took two days to reprogram it for each new task.

The men who created the ENIAC decided to go into private business for themselves, and it was on this day in 1951 that they unveiled their first product, the UNIVAC I, the world’s first commercially available electronic computer. It was quite an improvement over the ENIAC, using a mere5,200 vacuum tubes, UNIVAC I weighed just 29,000 pounds (or 13 tons), consumed 125 kW, and could perform about 1,905 operations per second running on a 2.25 MHz clock, which was the fastest calculation rate in the world at the time. The Central Complex alone (i.e. the processor and memory unit) was 14 feet by 8 feet by 8.5 feet high. The complete system occupied more than 350 square feet of floor space.
The first customer to buy the UNIVAC was the United States Census Bureau, and the computer was used to predict the presidential election of 1952, after early returns began to come in. It correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win. Originally priced at $159,000, the UNIVAC I rose in price until they were between $1,250,000 and $1,500,000. A total of 46 systems were eventually built and delivered.
Thomas J. Watson, the chairman of IBM at the time, thought that computers, with all their incredibly complex vacuum tubes and circuitry, were too complicated. He famously said, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” But with the invention of the microchip in 1971, all the processing power of those thousands of vacuum tubes and punch cards could suddenly be crammed into a space the size of a postage stamp. Within a decade, the first personal computers, or PCs, began to appear. Ironically, Apple made them popular and inexpensive enough for the home user and drove what we think of as the computer revolution.

But, it all started with UNIVAC. So, happy birthday, big guy. Thanks for being just delicate enough to keep me working!

6/9/2008

All Clear

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:49 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Everything is still clear.

The doctor said my blood work was excellent.  I put on a couple of pounds, but, then it beats the way I took off all that weight last year!  My blood pressure was lower than it’s been on a Monday in a very long time, though, that’s probably because I wasn’t at work.  The scar tissue on my right lung is about as small as it’s likely to get though, and the doctor seemed fine with that.

Everything else, medically, satisfied the doctor, who seemed quite pleased with my progress.
The one thing I do still worry about is the money.  Even with what my medical insurance pays, I’m probably going to owe several thousand dollars this year and next year and, possibly, the year after that!  The thousand dollar deductible and 20% the insurance company doesn’t cover adds up pretty quickly with all these scans.  At least I’m on the right side of the grass to deal with them, though, so, I know things will work out eventually.
And, even though we’re paying big money at the pumps, I’m very grateful to be working in an industry that services the oil fields right now.  We have work for the next three to five years and they keep me busy.  That’s something else I’m really thankful for: having a job.  It’s not too many years ago I was out of work and didn’t know when I’d work again.  I try to remember that when I have problems on Mondays or have to work late on a Friday to update the firmware on the server drive array.

On a sad note, I found out this morning that an old friend whom I’d fallen out of touch with died yesterday from pancreatic cancer.  Even though I hadn’t really talked to him in years, knowing that he’s gone makes my own results a little bitter-sweet.
Cancer touches so many lives and I count myself as truly blessed to have been spared so many of the worst aspects of it.  In many ways, I’ve been very fortunate.  I do want you all to know that I’m more than willing to talk about cancer or my treatment with anyone who may be dealing with it elsewhere in their life.  I hope no one has been touched by cancer more than they have through me, but, if you all have, know that you don’t need to be alone with it.

Thanks again for all your prayers and positive support and thoughts!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Failure doesn't mean you are a failure... it just means you haven't succeeded yet."
   --Robert Schuller

6/1/2008

Review: The Strangers

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Personal,Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is mid-afternoon or 3:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


Strangers

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Quite possibly the least frightening scary movie I’ve ever seen.

Well, Child’s Play may have been worse, but The Strangers really is a bad, bad movie.
Granted, I am not the biggest fan of so-called horror films because I find them sadly formulaic and predictable, not to mention generally not scary, either. Also, mostly, the people in these movies never seem to learn and they make giant, ridiculous mistakes. Sadly, as much as I hoped this movie might surprise me, it did not.

So, the basic premise of The Strangers is this: A “happy” couple has a bit of relationship trouble after a friend’s wedding but end up out in the country at an isolated house where they’re stalked by persons unknown. One of the many formulas for horror films. So, naturally, here’s this couple, played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, and they’re having a fight about the fact that he’s asked her to marry him but she’s not ready to marry. And, of course, their fight leads them to sex. Well, almost… As they’re starting to get their freak on, a girl knocks at the door asking for some other girl by name, but, of course, not anyone the couple knows. That’s the last drama for almost an hour. Yes, that’s right, an hour. He goes out for cigarettes and she changes clothes while she dashes about the house hearing the usual “is someone there?” stuff that end up in horror movies. By the time he gets back with her cigarettes, she’s freaking out and we know that someone else is there. And, finally, there’s some hope that plot will occur and someone will die.

Well, there are finally a couple of deaths and a little bit of suspense and a bit of violence. But, let’s look at the mistakes now, shall we? First of all, they’re eating Bluebell Ice Cream. Now, that means that these folks are in the rural South somewhere, since that’s mostly where Bluebell is available. In fact, I’m betting they’re supposed to be in Texas, which is home to the Brenham-based dairy. So, that would mean that there should be guns in the house somewhere. Not just the shotgun they find, but one or more revolvers. I mean, seriously, can anyone believe that a rural Texas home doesn’t have more than just a shotgun? Really? Or that a guy would not have at least a passing understanding of how to use it? C’mon! I bet Live Tyler in real life has a better understanding of guns than the “hero” of this story!
Then, Liv Tyler spends most of the movie running around barefoot. Can you not take the time to put on shoes before trying to outrun a someone you think is going to kill you? I mean, seriously, am I going to make a mad dash to a barn over an unknown hillside trying to get away from a murderer without putting on shoes? Yeah, I don’t think so, either.
And, do I really need to go into the whole “stay together” thing? Or, do I need to reinforce what a good idea it is to keep your cellphone charged? Or how silly it is to stand by the windows when the killers are right outside and have an axe? Seriously, the two characters in this movie deserved to die. They were too stupid to live. It was just evolution in action.

Honestly, if this isn’t the worst movie I see all year, I’d be shocked. In fact, if I hadn’t only spent four dollars on the matinee to see The Strangers, I’d be really upset. Do yourself a favor, though, and don’t bother seeing this movie, or even renting it. Trust me.

5/23/2008

“I am not a geek…

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

…I am a level 15 Paladin!”

Actually, I never played paladins when I was a D&D freak. I played magic-users, illusionists, druids and thieves. I was better at thieves, but, since a friend really had a thing for thieves, and I could play a better magic-user than just about anyone else in our group, especially at low-levels, that was what I played most often. Where am I going with this? Wired has a sneak-preview of a character sheet from the latest version of Dungeons & Dragons, a Level 15 Paladin. Naturally!

While I’m not so sure about version FOUR of D&D (must not buy $150+ of game books! Argh!), the “I am not a geek…” t-shirt is available from Jinx, though I like the skeleton logo one better.

5/15/2008

Ants, on the march!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Okay, so this is really a local news item, but I think it’s still noteworthy.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who lives here that Houston has an ant problem. However, what may come as a surprise is just how bad it is and why. According to Wired and Yahoo! News, we’re being over run with the “crazy strawberry ant”, which is much worse than their cute name would imply. Now, the good news is that they kill fire ants, which are a plague of the worst order, but the bad news is these crazy strawberry ants love to foul electronics. Also, they’re resistant to current chemicals that kill them and they have multiple queens in a single nest, making them doubly hard to kill.

Luckily, there is an adorable solution to the entire mess: the South American tamandua. I don’t care if they cost $4500 or more. I want one!

5/12/2008

Prison Education

Filed under: Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Wow, talk about the School of Hard Knocks!

Apparently, there’s a trend in MBA programs to use ex-cons as speakers to educate the MBA hopefuls on ethics and legal behavior. Now, I can see how it would get the point across, and I’m all for letting someone who’s paid their debt to society make a living, but is this really the best idea? I mean, shouldn’t we teach ethics and proper, legal business behavior through positive examples not negative ones? As the article suggests some people think, it’s almost like rewarding criminal behavior.

I did like, however, the mention of the ex-con who embezzled million dollars from the security company who hired him. He’s awaiting sentencing now. I think they should sentence him to life, in a cubicle.

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