September 2006


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Archive for September, 2006

Fun in the shop

Posted in Geekery, Work on September 26th, 2006

CLIENT: Our internet is spotty as hell, and the ISP says everything is fine on their end. Any ideas?
ME: Hmmm…reboot the router for me.
CLIENT: Ok, the lights are coming back on, looks like normal now.
ME: Okay, I’m in. Let me nose about for a bit and I’ll call you right back.

Poke poke poke…hmm. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary, let’s check the firewall logs. What’s this? Intrusion Prevention System says it has been fending off attacks? From inside? MEDIC!

So we dispatched a tech, and he brought us a present this morning: a horribly infested laptop, the many infections of which were swamping the network in attempts to propagate themselves to other machines, or phone home or whatever. Needless to say, little 128K fractional T1 line was not up to the task.

Neither was our 2.5M DSL line at the shop, as we found out when Mr. A+ plugged the damn lappy into our network – on the internal side.

Yet again, I am amazed at how someone with a certification can get one. A very stupid mistake. I can only hope that our systems were hardened enough to prevent infection.

Yar, Matey!

Posted in Life on September 24th, 2006

Boy, I guess I’m a bad blogger – it’s been a whole week since my last post.

We had a bit of fun for Pookie’s birthday this year – as a happy coincidence, we had the Pirate Festival to attend down at Cathedral Park. This turns out to be a pretty decent place to hold an event of this size. The space is pretty open, so at first glance you’re thinking there will be no shade – there are hardly any trees. Then you remember that you’re directly under the St. Johns bridge, which happens to run East-West, Leaving a 40-foor wide swath of shadow right down the middle of the park.

On hand was an actual sailing ship and many, many, many people dressed as pirates. I had no idea there were that many in the area. Sure, the SCA has drifted toward pirates lately, but this was a bit surprising.

Good points included some good music, dancing and plain ol’ fun. A bunch of those inflatable bouncy places for the kids to tromp on, face painting and other child-friendly delights. For the adults, there was an “Ale Garden”, and most of the music was more adult-oriented.

Bad points included a lack of easy public transport combined with lousy parking, a $15 cover charge and long lines for everything. I mean hour-long lines. It seems that not a single food vendor had any idea how to staff an event like this, and they were taking forever to get anything served.

They are saying next year they will extend it to two days, which will be good – give them more time to make a profit, maybe they can lower the cover charge. In 3 year’s time, the event may grow large enough to be held down at Waterfront park.


Posted in Life on September 17th, 2006

I seem to have forgotten to blog for almost a week.

Well, things have been going pretty smoothly at the new job. Met a few of the clients and looked over their situations, and am pretty pleased with the level of quality and consistency in the systems. It’s always easier to take care of something that was designed well to begin with.

I got things switched over to my new permanent laptop this week, and while it is pretty cool, it isn’t quite as cool as the first one I had :( It did however, allow me to find a problem in some Terminal Services software – it can’t draw the windows correctly in a widescreen format. Makes for some interesting issues.

It’s been different at home too. With the new work schedule, I can’t have Pookie over on weeknights anymore, since it would be too much of a strain on her to get up that early. It’s a bummer because I see her less, but the days I miss out on are the ones where we were always rushing to get home, cook dinner, get her into the bath and then into bed. Not exactly “quality time”.

I don’t know quite how it happened, but we have aparently gotten another set of party-neighbors. 503 B somehow just attracts ’em, and now I have to figure a way to shut them up so we can all get to sleep. Wheee.

Yknow, a couple of tear-gas grenades would at least chase ’em out into the street…

Scene what, Act whatever

Posted in Life on September 11th, 2006

Parts of a Play That Has Never Been Written

My buddy BJ back in ‘Vegas was into theater – the tech and production side, not the acting. We would sit and laugh over tales he had from the shows he helped run, and we got the idea to do a sort of “Noises-Off-Knock-Off”, a bunch of behind-the-scenes scenes. The only problem was we couldn’t figure out how to string them together. Tolerant just gave me the idea that each scene is from a different play in a community theater that will put on just about anything. Here’s a sample:

STAGETECH is stage left, heaving on a rope that goes up to the ceiling.
DIRECTOR and PRODUCER are stage right, loudly arguing about a piece of scenery. They call STAGETECH over to get his opinion. ST is busy, but sees they won’t be put off.

ST: Frowns, looks around, spots FEMALE STAGEHAND, visually sizes her up.
ST: “You! C’mere for a minute!”
FSH: Looks up, drops what she is doing and walks over.
ST: “Hold this.” Hands rope to FSH, turns and walks towards DIR and PRO
FSH: “Ack!” as she rises slowly to the ceiling. ALL turn to watch.
ST: Looks at FSH, looks down at his paunch. “Damn! I gotta lay off the doughnuts!”


Stage left: two ACTORS and STAGETECH are working out a fight scene.
Stage Right: DIRECTOR and ACTORS are arguing over dialogue. Horrid Brooklyn accents abound.
ST pushes ACTOR1 aside and takes his place to better demonstrate how to throw a believable punch, goes through routine slowly with ACTOR2 a few times.
ST: “Okay, let’s try it again at full speed.” ST and A2 begin routine, it looks pretty good. DIR and ACTORS get a little louder.
About halfway through fight routine, ST clocks A2 loudly across the jaw, A2 goes down in a heap. Silence on stage, then ACTORS rush over to check on A2.
ST: “I said dodge LEFT you twit!” Throws hands in air and exits.

You ever have one of those days when…

Posted in Life on September 9th, 2006

So for the past two days I have been dealing with my impacted wisdom tooth, which is slowly crushing the teeth in my lower-left jawline. “Painful” is too mild a word. Take a red-hot poker and place the tip at the base of your jaw just below your ear. Now brace the front of your mouth on a brick wall and have someone stand behind you with a huge-ass jackhammer and drive that fucker forward against the poker as hard as they can.

Now multiply that feeling by about 10, and you’ve got what I was feeling last night. Seriously. It got so bad at one point I was actually considering using my handy Gerber multi-pliers to rip out one of my molars, which would at least make room for the other remaining teeth to move around a bit. I actually had the pliers in my hand.

Tolerant, however, came to my rescue! Having had similar pain issues in the past, she had a couple prescription-grade painkillers in the medicine cabinet that she brought over for me. That Angel actually walked over to my house at 11 o’clock just to deliver them! These cut the pain enough for me to get to sleep, and that’s when my funky pain-tolerance system finally kicked in.

I don’t know how it does it, but my brain is able somehow to simply ignore nerve input when it needs to – this has come in very handy at times, lemme tell you. Once the meds cut the pain enough for me to sleep, my brain must have decided that the nerves in question were malfunctioning and severely reduced their say in how lousy I was going to be feeling. By morning, I was only suffering mild discomfort, the sort which is easily handled by Excedrin and friends.

I’m not totally in the clear yet – one of my molars has been tilted forward, which means my teeth meet earlier now and in kind of an odd way, and this is the most sensitive tooth currently. I have to be careful eating, but I can get by. In a week or so I will have adjusted to it and will be fine until the next shift in pressure. With any luck, I’ll only have to go through this one more time before December, when my insurance will start and I can go to the dentist to get this permanently fixed.

In the meantime, though, if you see me pacing the hallway with pliers in my hand, just knock my ass out.

Conferences Ahoy

Posted in Work on September 6th, 2006

A couple weeks back, I went to a “Roadshow” put together by those prats up in Redmond that consisted of an RV with a about 500 pounds of computer equipment installed, and driven by some old coot who “demonstrated” some of the technologies available. Complete waste of my time.

Sure, they had an install of Windows Vista to show off, but they put it on an old laptop lacking the horsepower needed to show off the new pretty Aero Glass interface, so what we really saw could have merely been an artist’s rendering for all I know. The coot in question hadn’t bothered to keep up on the latest news, admitting that several of the guys back at HQ had given him a bunch of reading material that he “hadn’t got around to reading yet.” It’s bad when your audience is informing you about the features of your product.

Today I went to a conference put together by SonicWALL, maker of firewalls and other related products. A team of 5 guys who all seriously knew their stuff and had an actual presentation to give. The whole spiel was about as close to 50-50 sales / technical as they could get it, but unfortunately they mixed the whole thing up during the day. Would have been better, I think, if they had separated it out more so that the techies and sales guys didn’t have to sit through the whole thing to get what they needed.

On the bonus side, the Westin Hotel (750 SW Alder) laid out a great spread for lunch, including some of the best cheesecake I have ever had. I was almost licking the plate clean.

Day One

Posted in Work on September 5th, 2006

I have to say, I’m rather impressed.

Today was the first day at the new job, and several things pop right out at me as improvements over the former:

The boss understands the value of good tools. The first thing they did today was hand me a laptop and get me configured on the network with all the software I will need just to get things done around the office. A rather rocking laptop, even if this one is only a demo model to hold me over until my official laptop comes in – which will have a docking station and dual flat-panels. Sweeeeet!

Even more surprising was that I get a desk to put it all on.

The boss also understands that the little things add up – mileage is reimbursed at the Federal rate of 40.5 cents per mile. Yay!

Most importantly, the boss understands the value of time spent doing things internally, even though we can’t bill for the time. Yes, it is a bummer to spend a few hours a month doing things that we can’t bill for, but those things will help keep us efficient so we do not waste more time later on down the road repairing things that could have been fixed earlier in less time, before they blew up.

I am feeling so much better already. I’m almost (dare I say it?) looking forward to work!

Elvis has left the building!

Posted in Life on September 2nd, 2006

Thank you! Thankyouverymuuhch!

Today was the last day at the Grungy Old Job, so I now have a three-day weekend to prepare myself for the Sparkly New Job. So, what was the last thing I did? Found a bug in the server-monitoring software on the main server.

It seems that when you are trying to change the admin password, if you don’t use a correct new password, it gives you an error message saying there is something wrong with your old password.

Brilliant, eh? It only took me 15 minutes to remember to tell the boss he needed to use at least 2 special characters.

I did get to have a bit of fun though. When I changed out of my work shirt so I could turn it in, I grabbed my “Certified Technician” shirt. The one that says “Shut up and Reboot!” on the back :) And I made some money off the boss – I sold him my old nuker and coffeepot that we’d been using at the Nort East shop since we opened. (I have noplace to use them now, and it saved him the trouble of buying new ones.)