Diary of a Network Geek

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

5/30/2005

Waxing Philisophical

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Don’t laugh, it happens sometimes!
Lately, I’ve had a lot of externally generated chaos in my life. People doing things that they can morally justify in their own, strange view of the world. Imagined “crimes” I’ve committed against them making their own bad behavior somehow “justice”. It’s an interesting thought, really. But, I’m reminded of a quote:

“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.”
-H.G. Wells

Interesting that a science-fiction author would come up with that one, isn’t it?
So, I find myself looking at my own behavior in light of that statement. What am I jealous of? What makes me angry and cry out for justice? Frankly, nothing that I should expect justice from as the end result. Why should I expect justice? Am I somehow so morally upright, or worse, superior, that I should expect justice when others recieve none?

“Who told you life was fair?”
-William F. Hoffman, Jr. (my father)

Funny, that now, Dad should tell me that I’m about due for something good to happen to me. And, that I should be the one to remind him that, just because I’m “due” doesn’t mean that it will happen. Hey, sometimes, life just isn’t “fair”. I don’t get my way. Sometimes, I lose. Things and people are taken away from me. I’m punished for things other people did. But, none of that is an excuse for me to behave badly.

“There is no merit in discipline under ideal circumstances. I’ll have it in the face of death, or it’s useless.”
-Issac Asimov

In the end, it is my moral duty to behave in a manner consistent with my personal belief system, no matter the circumstances. It is often painful and fills my life with uncomfortable situations, but that is no excuse. I cannot change my moral compass because I hit rough seas. A new compass will still point the way and if it doesn’t, then I’m lost.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
-Job 13:15

I’ve often identified with poor, old Job. The guy got pounded at God’s acquiesence. The Enemy, which is how Satan translates from Hebrew, was given the opportunity to turn Job from God. He hit Job with everything under the Sun, but he never denounced God. Oh, just like me, he shook his fist at God and asked “Why me?!”, but he never renounced his belief. God abides, whether I choose to believe in His power or not. I only cheat myself to deny him. He sustains me through the hard times when all humans may desert me. Prayer realigns me to His presence and His purpose for me.

” From one thing, know ten thousand things. ”
-Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

So, from each “problem” I try to learn something new. About myself, about the world, or about God and His path for me. It’s not always easy and I often need help to see the lesson. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to my health insurance kicking back in so I can get back to seeing my therapist. We’d just gotten to a point where I was starting to learn some really interesting things about myself and then… Pop! Ah, well, from what I understand, those deep, dark secrets will still be there when I get back to seeing him. I never thought I’d feel so good about going to a therapist. Really. Of course, part of that is I’m learning how tough I am on myself. For years, I held myself to a higher standard than those around me, much to my own detriment. So, for me, learning to be gentle with myself and “ease up” on myself has been a challenge.

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
-Mark Twain

I try to keep that in mind as I learn to trust again. And, as I learn to be more honest, with myself and others. Honesty works both ways. First, I have to stop lying to myself, then I have to keep from lying to others. Not everyone is up to the task, and I know I wasn’t always either. But, the truth is easier than keeping track of so many lies. Much easier.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32

3/25/2005

Magstripe Reading Fun

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Ever wonder what’s on that magnetic stripe on your credit card?
Well, there are ways of finding out. Or, as they say in Wilwauke, “we have ways of making you talk”! (That’s an old joke from Boy Scout camp in Pierson, Wisconson.) Interestingly enough, a gentleman with the prestigious name “Billy Hoffman” has developed a little project called StripeSnoop that is all about getting at the information. The link first came to my attention via an article at Slashdot, so if his site is down, give it a couple of days for the “new” to wear off and the Slashdotters to get over it, then go back. Mr. Hoffman’s site has information on everything you’ll need from the software to building the hardware reader. Pretty cool!
Now, some of you may be asking, “Uh, isn’t this illegal or something?” Well, as far as I know, no, it’s not. Reproducing what you read off these magstripes would definately be illegal, but just read ing it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, the credit card companies might not want you to know what they encode on their cards, but I doubt that it’s illegal. And, what is encoded on those cards is pretty interesting. For instance, did you know that your ATM card has your PIN encoded on it? That’s why you have to go get a new card and reassign it a PIN when you lose your old one. Now, that may have changed recently, but I doubt it since banks generally fear change. And, I have to admit, I’ve always wanted to know just what that magstripe on the back of my driver’s license has on it.
In any case, it’s an interesting project and I thought I’d post it. Oh, by the way, this project is not connected with either my father, William F. Hoffman, Jr., my brother, William F. Hoffman, III, or my eldest nephew, William Thomas Hoffman. Just thought I’d clear that up. Though, you can see why the name caught my attention!


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