Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/13/2019

Hilda Hoffman

Filed under: About The Author,News and Current Events,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:30 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Born December 8th, 2002. Departed March 13th, 2019.

At 11:25am this morning, the vet told Sharon and I what we already knew; Hilda had passed on from this world into the next. I got her when she was just barely four months old and able to be spayed, because I wanted to come home to someone who loved me. And, I never doubted that she loved me. She was always Daddy’s girl, even though she spent more time with Sharon the last several years of her life, and surely loved Sharon at least as much as she loved me. She was born to a rescue already, or as I liked to remind her when she occasionally got sassy, she was the foundling of an unwed mother. I told her she should be grateful, but it turns out I was the one who was grateful for her.
I named her, against the strong objections of my ex-wife and step-daughter, Hildegard, though we always called her Hilda for short. She was named after Hildegard von Bingen, the 12th Century German saint, who was famous for being a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic and polymath. I thought my own Hilda deserved no less a significant name.
Although she looked like a very small Golden Retriever, her paperwork says that her mother was a Tibetan Terrier mix. We don’t know for sure what breed mix her father was, but based on the purple spots on her tongue, I always suspected he was a Chow mix. When anyone asked what kind of dog she was, I always told them, “Brown”. And, mostly that was true. She was just a good, brown dog. The kind of dog every boy hopes to have when he asks his parents for a dog.
She was always sweet-tempered, and neither Sharon nor I can ever recall her snapping at us, no matter what we had to do to her for health or grooming reasons. Though, I do understand in her later life, she was less patient with strangers at the vet’s office. I sympathized with her; I don’t care to be pawed at by doctors either, if I can help it.
I had her for sixteen good years. She saw me through my divorce. Even when my ex-wife conned me into letting her take Hilda to Phoenix, Arizona when we split, through strange circumstances, I managed to get her back. She came back to me via animal freight on a United Airlines flight and the inestimable kindness of strangers. She’d been crate trained until then, but after that adventure, she was a free-range pup. She spent most nights on the couch next to me and then in bed next to me. I think she was afraid she’d be kidnapped again if she didn’t.
She saw me through a very rough year of cancer treatment, too. Always patient with my lack of energy and just happy to be near me. While I was single after the divorce for many years, we had a regular ritual of driving to a pet store of an evening, then stopping at Jack-In-The-Box for 99 cent tacos. Years later, when Sharon brought her Jack-In-The-Box tacos, it was clear that she remembered them fondly.
And, then, when Sharon moved in and was having some difficult times, Hilda was always there, by her side, happy to give kisses and eat treats and french fries and chicken until Sharon felt better.
She also got very protective of our house and yard once Sharon moved in, as if she sensed that Sharon was important to me and needed to be kept safe, even if it just meant keeping her safe from deliveries and marauding kitty cats. It was also Sharon who came up with the idea of taking Hilda on rides in the car when she got too old to go for long walks the way she used to love to do. Hilda would lean her face into the wind, her nostrils getting a big as she could stretch them trying to gather in all the smells flying by. I truly think that those car rides brought her joy. I know for sure that having Sharon around to dote on her improved the quality of her life in her later years.
About two years ago, Hilda had a little scare with cancer, too. She had a very successful surgery which seemed to completely correct the cancer issue. And, it was at that point we decided that I would stop trying to get Sharon not to spoil Hilda so much and stop pretending that I didn’t spoil her just as much. At the time, we thought we’d only have another six months with her. We got more than two more years. Two bonus years of unconditional love and joy on four feet.
In short, Hilda was everything that a dog person could hope for in a companion, even, I think, converting Sharon from a cat person into a dog person. She was, not to put too fine a point on it, a very good dog.
And, now she’s gone and I’ll miss her. I know we’ll have other dogs, but we will never have one like Hilda again. She was one of a kind, and a true blessing for everyone who had the pleasure to know her.

You can see our collected photos of her here.

2/22/2019

SEAL Training

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,Personal Care — 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 Gibbous

Get into SEAL shape!

I’m too old to join the military any more, but I still hang out with guys who are or were active duty. I love these guys, and they’ll be the first to tell you that no matter how we romanticize military service, at some point, it’s like a lot of other jobs. Yes, there are some special requirements and goals are often a lot more dangerous than other jobs, but there’s nothing magical about the military. They do a hard job and the United States military does that job better than anyone else in the world, but it’s done by regular men and women. Even our special forces, which, again, are clearly the best of the best, are regular people who have just committed to working harder, training harder, and staying in better shape than other military forces. They do that with a combination of mental toughness and rigorous, scientific physical conditioning. I think the mental toughness is something that can be learned, and possibly taught, but the majority of us just aren’t willing to be that kind of tough. But, most of us, myself included, can be in better physical shape.
There are a lot of exercise programs out there meant to get you in to “fighting shape”. Some of them are designed to get you to a gym and buy a membership. Personally, I’ve always been more motivated when I didn’t have to convince myself to drive somewhere, change and interact with strangers, so I’ve always been more of a fan of things I can do at home. And, I’m cheap, so I prefer things that don’t need me to spend a lot of money on a piece of equipment, which means mostly body-weight work and inexpensive weights like dumbbells and kettle bells. Now, again, I’m too old to enlist, and I was never in shape to compete with the top echelon of the military operators by any stretch of the imagination, but I do okay for a fifty-year-old civilian. I’ve been in better shape, for sure, but every time I go through that climb back to fitness, I end up doing what is more or less old-fashioned calisthenics. No one does that kind of simple, effective workout better than the military. So, if you haven’t given up on your New Year’s Resolution to get back into shape, here’s some help for you and it comes directly from the Official Naval Special Warfare Website. Seriously. There’s only two exercises that need a machine more complicated than a kettle bell or dumbbell and the ones that need a bench can probably get done with a chair. Either way, you could do worse than following the Official Naval Special Warfare Website training videos. They’ve got an introduction that page, and also suggest checking out the forum post Strength Training: Start Here, but also, check out Get Your Body In Shape for BUD/S with the Naval Special Warfare Physical Training Guide.
Of course, be sure to consult with a physician before significantly changing your exercise routine to make sure you aren’t about to do any damage to yourself, but most of us can stand to be a little healthier. If you admire the brave men and women of our armed forces, let them inspire and motivate you to be better. Just remember, they’re human, too, just like you. They started somewhere and only got to where they are with determination and hard work. Don’t give up!

And, next week, I’ll have some other random thing from the internet that catches my eye.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/4/2019

New Rules for the New Year

Filed under: About The Author,Advice from your Uncle Jim,Better Living Through Technology,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor — 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 Waning Crescent

Okay, maybe not rules per se, but Friday posts might be different.

Look, I’ve been posting every Friday for something more than ten years. Probably close to sixteen years, actually, though I have to admit I haven’t actually checked. In any case, lately, it’s felt more like a chore than a joy. It’s a lot of work to find something original to share with you from somewhere out on the internet every week. I honestly think it might be easier to actually create my own content sometimes. Except, of course, it’s been a horrifically busy year and the past month or two has been even worse. So, what I’m trying to say in the most long-winded way imaginable, is that I’m probably going to change up what gets posted here every Friday. There’s literally no telling what I might share, from somewhere out in the big, wide world, or from the dark recesses of my own twisted mind.

But, since I haven’t quite gotten out of the habit of being helpful just yet, here’s a tip from your Uncle Jim.
The world being what it is, you probably got one or more gift cards for presents this year. Maybe it was a door prize at an office Christmas party or maybe it was your Christmas bonus or maybe just a lovely gift from a distant relative. No matter how you got it, it’s going to be virtually impossible to use the face value perfectly. Either you spend a bit more than the gift card and pay the rest, or you spend a bit less and have one or more gift cards with just a dollar or two on them. Save those gift cards with just small change left! When a website wants to collect credit card information for their “free trial”, use one of those gift cards! If you forget to cancel the free trial before they start billing you, all they’re going to get is a buck or two that you were probably going to forget about anyway. Or, if you do remember, you can use that couple of dollars for free trials for months and months! It works really, really well, trust me!

So, there you go, something totally from my own, little brain to help you live a little better.
Come back next week to see what I come up with next!

This post originally appeared at my other blog, Use Your Words.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences."
   --Dalai Lama

12/12/2018

Halfway

Filed under: About The Author,Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

So. Birthdays. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Based on entirely anecdotal evidence and a sample size that’s roughly the size of my family, I’m about halfway. Halfway through a life. It sounds so melodramatic. Well, at fifty, I guess I’m entitled to a little melodrama. Just a little, though. Because, after all, its only halfway. That means, if my family’s longevity and genome are any indication, I still have another fifty years or so of pretty active life ahead of me. That’s good though, because I still have a lot of stuff I want to do with life.

I don’t normally make a big deal about birthdays, but our culture seems to hang a lot more on the big five-oh. For whatever reason, fiftieth birthdays seem to be the point at which people freak out. At least for men. Personally, I think I’m doing okay. Sure, I’d like to make more money and have better benefits, so if there are any recruiters out there with a great IT Infrastructure Management job for me, I’d be open to that. But, honestly, I do okay. My blushing bride and I cleared the last of our consumer debt this past year, so our only outstanding loans are the mortgage and the loan for our solar panels. And, really, those solar panels are going to be an asset. After all, energy prices almost never go down, but that solar system will keep generating power at up to 80% of it’s current rate for the next 25 years. As with last year, I’ve read a lot of good books and seen a lot of good movies, though I’ve been mostly too busy to review them like I used to do.
Really, I’ve had a pretty good year. In some ways, maybe a bit too good. I was shocked to see how much weight I’d put on this year, mostly due to easy living and a wonderfully Southern wife who shows me how much she loves me with food. She really, really loves me, so I’ve eaten very well. So well, in fact, that my cardiologist fat-shamed me at my annual checkup with him. Now, I’m back on my program of rowing, weights and counting calories until I’m down to my ideal weight. (And, no, I am NOT sharing what that is!)
Of course, being married to Sharon does make my time here considerably more enjoyable. She works really hard to make sure I’m as well taken care of as she can manage. And, I work toward the same thing. I suppose that’s made a little easier for each of us because we remember how it was when we were with other people. It’s funny how getting a little older and having a bit more experience with the absolute worst and most wrong way to be in a relationship can make the current one so precious and enjoyable. Oh, sure, we still have our moments, just like every married couple does, but there’s no one I’d rather be married to at all and I count myself lucky to know it. Besides, she quite possibly is the only woman on the planet still willing to put up with my nonsense. And, this year, more than most, I’m a little extra grateful for her willingness to gently remind me about what’s important when I’ve gone a little off the rails. I’m lucky to still be married to her and my life gets better every year she’s still along for the ride.

In the past, I’ve listed the same group of celebrities who share my birthday. But, this year, I’ll only mention two, because they’re the only ones I currently care about. I’m shocked to realize that I’m a mere two years older than Jennifer Connelly, who was born on this day. She’s lovely and I’d watch her read the phone book. The other celebrity who shares my birthday is Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra. And, just like me, he did it his way.

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, that’s the state of me, as it were, this year. Some things I’m happier about than others, but, all in all, it’s been a pretty good year. I’ve just about given up trying to figure out what the coming year will bring, though I do try to make plans about writing more and doing more photography. In the end, though, what I choose to do or not do doesn’t matter, so long as Sharon and I do it together. I’m happy that she’s really become the only thing that matters in my life. God knows, I could have worse

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

This post originally appeared on my other, more current, blog, Use Your Words.

4/6/2018

Blast Radius

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

This may stretch the limits of what even I consider “fun”.

Ever since I was in junior high, I’ve been a little too interested in nuclear war. Personally, I blame the Cold War and movies like [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001WTVUW’ text=’The Day After’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’jkhoffman-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0f617978-3395-11e8-99c2-4f1995d99183′]. It looks kind of cheesy now, but back in the day, we were all terrified that this was our future. We were quite sure that Russia was going to launch missiles at us any moment and we would have to know how to survive. Or, maybe that was just the crazed group of boys I hung out with who all read science fiction pulps. I’ll allow that’s possible not everyone was as obsessed with the subject as we were.
But, the thing is, I don’t think it would have mattered. For one thing, I grew up not far from a pretty important Naval Air Station, and also not far from a major financial center. I’m pretty sure that where I lived would have been pretty quickly reduced to melted glass if World War Three had broken out. But, that seems to be a topic popping up again. And, it’s fresh enough that someone has created a new Nuclear Bomb Blast Simulator. I’ve shared these before but this one is, well, prettier than the others. It shows in pretty graphic terms just how large an area would be effected. Also, it seems to have better geolocation than the others that I’ve shared. And, if you, like me, have a dark sense of humor, you can always use your worst enemy’s location as the epicenter of the blast. That would be a kind of “fun”, right?

And, if you’re truly concerned, you can get the book I studied for weeks at the library, Nuclear War Survival Skills, for free, in PDF format. It claims to have been updated in 1987, but I’m quite certain it must have only to correct spelling errors because this is precisely how I remember it from all those years ago. And, I’m quite certain I had a copy in hand well before 1987, which was after I had graduated from high school.

So, um, enjoy!? And try not to think about it too much.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words.

3/12/2018

An OS Inside An OS

Filed under: About The Author,Better Living Through Technology,GUI Center,Linux,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:55 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog, I’m a geek. In fact, I’m actually a professional geek. Rumor has it, being a geek is cool now. I’ll get back to you on that.
In any case, one of the ways my geek has expressed itself is in early support for Linux.  I’ve used Linux, one way or another, for more than twenty years.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  What’s more, I’ve been Linux certified for more than ten years!  Strange but true!  I don’t use Linux as my main operating system, though, because I live in the real world, not a Techno-Libertarian Utopia.  And, yes, that means, I use Windows.  At home, it’s Windows 10, because that’s what came installed on the laptops I got for my wife and I while I was a highly-paid contractor in 2016 and we were refreshing all our electronics.  But, much to my surprise, there’s a way to run both Windows and Linux, together on the same machine!  Without having a dual-boot system!  Thanks to an article from the Linux Journal, which almost went the way of the dinosaurs last year, I have activated Windows Subsystem for Linux, which is ONLY available on Windows 10, and then installed Ubuntu, which is free, from the Microsoft Store.  The little screen-shot at the top of this post is Ubuntu, running in its own, little window, on my Windows 10 laptop.

This is exciting!
Now, I can brush up my bash scripting by setting up a series of rsync jobs to keep my two Western Digital MyCloud drives in sync, essentially backing one up to the other.  From the literature, I had thought that was built into the models I got, but it wasn’t.  I tried to use SSH to get that setup directly on the MyCloud devices, since they’re running some limited *nix kernel, but something about the way they were configured made connecting one directly to the other and running rsync from working “as expected”.  This, though, should get me around all that.
Now, all I have to do sort out the syntax for properly mounting the Windows shares I’ve set up in the Ubuntu virtual machine app.  So, I’m not 100% there yet, but this is a great start!

 

2/2/2018

Work – Fatherland – Order

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My own political leanings often surprise me.

I should start by saying that I don’t think of myself as a particularly political person in any sense of the word. Sure, I have some very strong opinions about some things, but I mostly keep that kind of thing to myself because I hate the idea of becoming a bore. And, I think I’m a terrifically boring person, though my wife and friends assure me that is not the case. In fact, recently when I pumped out a bunch of messages about the net neutrality changes and the fight in the House and Senate to repeal that very, very bad FCC decision, at least one friend was so surprised he had to ask me about it. Which gave me the opportunity to educate him. It was nice.
But, what the title of this post refers to is the results of the quiz I took at PolitiScales. The quiz is meant to measure where you fall on 8 axes, including the one we think of most; Progressive vs. Conservative. I was surprised to find out that I was only 31% Conservative, but 57% Progressive. More stunning to me was that I rated 57% Regulationist vs. 17% “Laissez-faire” and 52% Nationalist vs. 31% Internationalist. The other axes include; Constructivist vs. Essentialist, Communism vs. Capitalism, Ecology vs. Productivist, Revolutionist vs. Reformist and Rehabilitative Justice vs. Punitive Justice. Again, it was a little eye-opening to me as I’d always thought of myself as both more conservative and global than they measured me as being. Of course, this is just one relatively short quiz and my thoughts on all this are more complicated than they can easily measure with a multiple choice questionnaire. Still, I encourage you all to take the quiz and see how you feel about it. And, maybe, give a little thought to your political life before the mid-term elections later this year.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

1/26/2018

When To Buy What

Filed under: About The Author,Personal Care,Red Herrings — 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 Gibbous

Yes, you can save money by buying at the right time.

About a week ago, our dryer died. Or maybe our washing machine died. All we know is, right in the middle of a load, my wife started to smell the most horrible stench of burning electronics. She turned everything off and unplugged it all, but the fried electric smell of dead appliances lingered in the air for a couple days afterward. It was sad. But, on the other hand, that washer and dryer were over sixteen years old and, frankly, due for replacement. Actually, that’s one reason we’re not entirely sure which one became a deadly house fire potential hazard. When we refinanced our house last year, we agreed that when either of these appliances died, we would replace them both. We even set aside the money to pay for them, so that we wouldn’t go back into credit card debt after working so hard to get out from under those immoral interest rates. Sadly, they didn’t wait until the right month so that we could save money with a good sale, because the best time to buy household appliances is apparently November, especially around “Black Friday”. (Which is okay, really, because we already knew what we wanted to get and they almost never seem to go on sale.)

Are you surprised that I know there’s a good time to buy appliances? Don’t be. I only know because finance websites always seem to publish a guide to what month is best to buy what consumer good. This year, take a look at the one at Time’s Money section’s Month-by-Month Guide for the Best Time to Buy Everything. For instance, they suggest that the best time to buy a TV or other consumer electronics is the second half of January and February. Or that May might be the best time for furniture sales, which I did NOT know! In any case, if you can afford to wait and plan, you might be able to score yourself a good deal with their guide.

Good luck with your saving and spending in 2018!
(And, for those of you who are curious, we bought an American made washer and dryer; Speed Queen, though we actually got two separate units, not the combo.)

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

 

1/12/2018

Procedural Space Opera

Filed under: About The Author,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I may be a computer geek, but I’m heavier on the geek side.

Not that a statement like that is much of a surprise to people who know me. Or to people who follow my oldest blog, the eponymously named Diary of a Network Geek. The thing is, though, I fell into the network part of that. Before that, though, I was a slightly different kind of geek. I’ve always been into science-fiction and, at one time, thought I wanted to be a writer. Actually, I still do what to be a writer, but the networking thing has been more profitable. In any case, boring personal information aside, I still love almost everything related to science-fiction. And, back when I was trying to teach myself Perl, and later PHP, I made some goofy world-building random generators that made everything from story ideas to parts of languages. Since then, a lot of other people have made much, much better random generators, and that’s what I’m bringing to you this Friday.
Specifically, the Planet Generator created by David Stark, aka Zarkonnen, an Indie game developer from Zurich. Basically, it’s just a clean, simple webpage that randomly generates a thumbnail sketch for a space-opera-esque alien planet. It’s great all by itself, as far as I’m concerned, but the reason I’m sharing it is because Zarkonnen has decided to share his source code. (You can find it at Github.) So, if you’re inspired to take apart some cool code to try and add your own flair to it, you can! And, you might just learn something about programming along the way! My code was so ugly, I never shared it really, but I appreciate everyone, like David, who did, so that I might be inspired and learn.

Don’t worry, though, even if learning programming, or more programming, isn’t one of your New Year’s Resolutions, the already completed tool is kind of fun, too.
Have an “out of this world” weekend, and I’ll blog at you next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, a blog that gets frustratingly low traffic.

12/22/2017

Charitable Giving

Filed under: About The Author,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

As someone who’s been the beneficiary of charitable giving, I heartily endorse it!

And, actually, you may have enjoyed the benefits of charity, directly or indirectly, too. For instance, if you have had cancer or know someone who has had cancer, you’ve benefited from money donated to cancer research from any of a number of charities. If you’ve used Wikipedia, you have only been able to do so due to donations made to that organization. Also, I know that it’s at least partially my upbringing in the Methodist Church that has helped me form the belief that I should give back some of what I’ve been given. I don’t give it all to a church these days, but I do still like to give to worth causes. That seems like an especially important thing to both believe and do these days with the social and political climate being what they are. If you feel the same, but aren’t sure where to give, I have a couple suggestions.
First of all, there’s the Boing Boing 2017 Guide to Charitable Giving. I don’t necessarily endorse all the charities they list, but there are some good ones there, though several are out of the UK and may not be to my American audience’s taste.
Secondly, I’d like to recommend that you consider giving to established charities in your local area. Find a homeless shelter or women’s shelter to give to this year, maybe, or, my personal favorite, a local stray animal rescue. I lean toward donating toward the most helpless in need in my local area. I like the animal rescues because it’s such a huge problem where I live and it’s mostly domestic animals that have been mistreated one way or another. Domesticated animals are our responsibility and we should step up to that.

So, this Friday before Christmas, I hope you’ll forgive me for getting up on a soap box, but I truly believe that if we want the world to be a better place, we have to make it that way. One way I choose to do that is to donate to worthy causes. Besides, if you donate now, you can take it off your taxes, so it’s a “win-win” situation!

Anyway, I hope you’ll think about it and, either way, have a Merry Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

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