July 2005


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Archive for July, 2005

The oddest things

Posted in Life on July 31st, 2005

There have been days in my life where the wierdest things have happened to me or people have said some really odd stuff that just didn’t make any sense at all. Like Welsh Rarebit, for instance: it’s an English food, consisting of a cheese sauce on toast. It’s actually pronounced “rabbit”, and apparently came about because the English upper-class for some reason wanted to be able to eat something called rabbit, but were too snooty to actually eat rabbits – that was peasant food.

Or at least, that’s what BJ told me.

BJ’s wife Kathleen had the ability to somehow know just what kind of useless crap had managed to stuff itself indellibly into my brain. We’re sitting in the living room one night, watching Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man” when ‘The Seargent’ comes on screen. Kathleen sees the actor and says “damn, I know that guy from somewhere else…” she looks around the room, locks eyes with me for some reason and says “who the hell is that?” 20-some-odd years of television immediately roll before my eyes, and somehow the answer pops into my head: Gavin McCloud, formerly Capt. Stubing of ‘The Love Boat’.

This was not the only time she (or anyone else) has done this to me.

One of the strangest, however, was an afternoon in late September many years ago, during the conflict in Bosnia. I was sitting in my apartment chatting with a couple of friends – this was the rat-trap studio in Portland. Suddenly Slasher walks in, looks me dead in the eye and asks me if I want to take a job hunting snipers from Bosnian rooftops – the employer will equip me with my choice of gear, and give me a couple of scouts so I could be an anti-sniper sniper.

I shit you not – this kid trekked halfway across Portland to specifically seek me out and give me this job offer. He barely knew me, and had no idea what kind of training I had had, but somehow was convinced that not only did I have the skills for this kind of work, but I would be willing to traipse off to Bosnia for a 6-month stint.

I told him no – it only paid 10 grand.


Posted in Geekery, Humor, Life on July 26th, 2005

Let’s see here…

An intermittently bogged-down network at a business client’s has been giving me fits for almost two weeks now. The problem would show up for a few hours, and then go away. Similarly, if we re-booted the router, it would go away. Replacing the router, however, did not fix it. We couldn’t isolate the problem down to any one device – everything checked clean through the diagnostics, we were just getting hammered.

So, we put the original router back in. And it uhm…just works fine now? What the fuck? I put 15 hours into troubleshooting this goddamn thing and it just goes away?!? Argh!!

Near as I can figure, the most likely cause is a hacker. With no commonality of occurance on the inside (I.E., different computers on / off, different days of week / times of day / duration…) there has to be something on the outside.

Looks like it’s time for an intrusion detection system.

How do you know when you can trust your teenager? When he still asks if he can go to a party, despite being 17, having a cell phone and knowing I will be out most of the night on a date. Of course, he still bitches when I ask all the “who what where when how many adults?” questions, but at least he asked :)

It is hard to be a morally honest and true employee sometimes – especially when you don’t think you are being paid enough. In my line of work, people often ask you to take care of things for them, and I get hung up on the idea of doing the work for myself or bringing them in as a customer to the shop.

If I bring them in as a customer, it will increase the revenues for the shop, thus allowing my boss to give out raises.

If I do it myself, I get all the money now.

The real hesitation for me comes from the fact that ever since he hired me, the boss has been going on about how our managed services contracts will eventually float the business and get all of us raises. It has been 7 months now, and we have only sold 4 contracts of the 130 we need to get me what I’m worth. On top of that, when work gets slow, he implements mandated un-paid days off.

OK, this has only happened to me once, but it’s his first response anytime we get slow. It’s a stick I’m tired of being beat with.

I think this customer is mine.

Are those real?

Posted in Humor on July 21st, 2005

In this line of work, you never know where you’re going to go or who you’re going to meet. Case in point: our CFO and project manager (I know, we’re a bit uppity calling someone in a 7 person LLC a CFO) is a former man of the cloth. (What can I say – we needed an evangelist…)

So anyway, I’m looking over my schedule yesterday when I see a survey for a wiring job with a familiar name. “No, it couldn’t be,” I think.

It was. A large (they call themselves a ‘megastore’) adult shop needed three phone lines extended for a second point-of-sale machine. This would be why they sent me on the walk-through and not the CFO.

So today I spent most of my day clamboring around a porn shop running phone wire. There’s just something weird about looking up from punching down a terminal and seeing a large poster of tits.

Of all the adult shops I’ve been in over the years, I have to say this one takes a novel approach. Where most are dark and just seem kinda slimy, this place is big and wide-open – it reminded me more of the layout of the 99 cent store down the street. Plenty of light to see (and be seen) by, and all of the shelves were 5′ tall or shorter. No hiding behind a rack in this place so the other customers won’t see you.

That’s something I’ve never understood – they’re in the porn store too, why are you hiding from them?

Anyway, just another day in the life of a Techie.

419 is not a lucky number…

Posted in Geekery on July 20th, 2005

…nor is the inordinate number of 419 scam emails I have been recieving lately – at least 4 a day for the last week and a half.

I have no idea what prompted this – the email address in question is posted on a website, so it could have been a simple trolling. Then again, this is also the email address I use when communicating with my elected Representatives, Senators, and the White House.

Makes ya wonder, eh?

Me? Foment conspiracy theories with zero evidence? Never!

Where, oh where has my little wrench gone…

Posted in Geekery on July 19th, 2005

One of the biggest garage concerns of a techie like myself is the ability to find anything you are looking for quickly. What stands directly in the way of this is actually having your tools organized.

You see, there are many different classes and uses of tools, and I have managed to get things organized into different tool boxes according to this. Computer tools in one box, car tools in another, and some specialty tools on a rack in the garage.

The problem comes when you move your tool boxes around. Back when I moved into the new shop at work, we didn’t have any tools to stock the place. I just shrugged and brought my kit from home.

Of course, the tool I’m looking for right now is in the box at work.



Posted in Life on July 18th, 2005

So I finally get around to cancelling the never-used land line phone number here at Chez Wolfie Saturday, only to wake up Sunday morning to discover that the T-Mobile network is down hard and bleeding, with no ETA for a repair. Not only is it down, it managed to go down in such a way that the towers are still accepting links, so my phone won’t even switch over to roaming.


System was down for about 6 hours that I noticed, and is now back. I had better see a credit.

Hoary Hedgehogs, Batman! : Ubuntu Linux Review

Posted in Geekery on July 16th, 2005

I’ve been noticing lately that the old laptop here has been getting kind of slow and boggy after I leave it running, so I’ve been thinking about a reformat and looking around to see what’s available. Slackware has been good to me, but there were still some quirks that I was hoping to work out.

There’s been a lot of talk in the trade mags and websites about Ubuntu Linux, and I have been meaning to check it out. The Roomie reminded me that he had already done so, and highly recommended it – it’s based on Knoppix, which is in turn based on Debian, which is one of the most stable versions of Linux available, and Knoppix is known for it’s hardware detection abilities. Why not? sez I.

What I actually installed was Kubuntu, which is simply the KDE version of Ubuntu, which normally ships with Gnome. I’ve never really liked Gnome for silly little personal reasons – don’t let my opinion stop you from using it.

The installation routine isn’t as pretty as SuSE’s YaST or Fedora’s anaconda, Read the rest of this entry »

The dirty bastards

Posted in Geekery on July 13th, 2005

Here’s a damn interesting (although long) read: the entire complaint filed by AMD vs. Intel.

Down toward the bottom (about page 40) it describes how Intel’s compiler (the one given to independent software vendors) deliberately fouls up code when run on an AMD processor.

Now, when I asked why my boss doesn’t really carry any AMD product unless by request, he quotes to me all the times he has run into problems running business software on AMD chips. It wasn’t an AMD problem he kept running into, it was an Intel nastiness executed at the programmer level.

To continue our company’s standard ‘car analogy’ series, it would be like building a carburettor that could sniff out the difference in gasoline producers, and deliberately making the car screw the mixture up unless it tasted Chevron Techron. (Come to think of it, I have been hearing all those ads for ‘Top Tier’ gas lately…)

The dirty bastards.

Weird weekend

Posted in Life on July 11th, 2005

I don’t know if it was a moon phase or what, but there was something in the air this weekend that set almost everyone around me on edge – but only for seconds at a time.

I first noticed it Friday night, but it was really only affecting me, so I didn’t think much of it – other than apologizing to the Girlfriend for being moderately a prick.

Saturday was mostly ok, except our tv went kerplooie Friday night, and we spent a good chunk of the day pricing replacements. I wrote any bad emotions off to that.

Sunday, however, was a game day and a couple friends came over, so I had a wider sampling to observe. My daughter was her usual manic self, but the reactions she got were a lot stiffer from all but one of the other guys there. (The Physicist is a remarkably good-natured guy. ) Everyone else was having a good time, but the kind where you know that one false move is all it will take for someone to snap.

All in all, it was damn distracting.

Beware, terrorists

Posted in Life on July 7th, 2005

CNN.com – World leaders condemn attacks, offer support – Jul 7, 2005

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political movement linked to the Irish Republican Army: “I condemn the bomb attacks in London this morning. I have sent a message of sympathy and solidarity to Mr. Blair and the London mayor, Ken Livingstone. On behalf of Sinn Fein I offer my sincere condolences to the victims and the families of those killed and injured and to the people of London.”

Now they’ve done it: Al Queda has pissed off the IRA by playing in their yard. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops start finding gift-wrapped Al Queda bodies on their doorstep.