May 2007


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Archive for May, 2007

It figures, doesn’t it?

Posted in Life on May 29th, 2007

I take a nice, long 5-day weekend, get to bed early on a couple of those nights, take long afternoon naps on two of those days, and what happens when I get home?



So, a bit of a weekend re-cap:

Thursday: retail therapy! Spent most of the performance bonus I got from work on a new tent, queen-sized tall air mattress and camping heater, as well as a number of miscellaneous sundry otems. Sorted above and all other camping gear and prepared for the event.

Friday: packed our stuff and off we went to The Gathering, a basically-SCA event that isn’t sanctioned by the SCA. Not a bad event, but it shares a weekend with Eggil’s, which is a long-standing event that has gone downhill in years past (which is why The Gathering cropped up). This means that instead of one large event, you end up with two medium-sized events, and neither one will ever be truly exceptional. Had some fun reveling with old friends, but kept it pretty mellow.

Our lovely Illyana performed with her Fire and Steel fire-dancing troupe, but the show was closed early due to noise restrictions. It seems a group of other campers were permitted to share the site, and they were complaining about us being noisy bastards. (Okay, we knew ahead of time about the 10:pm noise curfew, but it’s hard to deal with.)

Saturday: wandered merchant’s row and managed to find a new ceramic mug for Tolerant, whose metal mug was making everything taste funny. Discovered that the park Ranger had decreed “no live steel”, which I thought was pretty rude of him, consdiering that us SCA types have been carrying lots of the same for years without issue. But, this being a non-SCA event probably had a lot to do with that. Watched an extended fire show (Illyana was really good that night) and played (and lost) a game of Tablero (a variant of checkers played with shot glasses) and wandered around until I got sober again before heading to bed. (Tolerant wasn’t feeling well for most of the day, and I thought it would be rude to go to bed drunk.)

Sunday: it rained. Tolerant felt bad enough combined with a general “meh” feeling from both of us about staying another night led us to pack up and head back to civilization. Unpacked the gear and spent some time toying around with the computer before a late bedtime.

Monday: went to see Pirates of the Caribbean III. I thought it was pretty good. Dropped Tolerant back at her place and then grabbed some lunch while I did laundry and general cleanup around the house. Da Roomie couldn’t remember the exact date of my birthday, so he gave me the present he and Kyla got for me early: Steve Jackson’s “Munchkins”, along with the “Unnatural Axe” expansion. Yay! More gamage!

Monday evening: sat around with the Ratboy (who wasn’t impressed by PotC when he saw it later this afternoon) and discussed the possibility of him joining the Air Force as a means to get college money and job training. They want you to have a diploma to enlist, so this won’t be a critical issue for some time yet, as he’s still about ten credits shy of getting one. (Military life may just give him the kick in the ass he needs, much like his uncle J. Air Force means he won’t be a front-line grunt.)

WAY too late Monday: insomnia.

No soup for you! Wait… email say you get soup.

Posted in Geekery, Work on May 12th, 2007

So, the CSSA class and exam last week was fun – if you like being a guinea pig. Okay, that sorta goes with being a Techie, so it really wasn’t that bad.

We were only the 4th group to go through the new course, so thankfully the instructor was one of the top Engineers from SonicWALL and had the knowledge necessary to make heads and tales out of the slide deck and course book. Whoever wrote it was not a native-born English speaker, and apparently did not know what to do with the grammar check in his office suite.

Nor was that person a CSSA, as they got a number of things just outright wrong.

The really fun bit though was good and bad. The class is normally taught using a TZ170 Wireless model firewall that you get to keep (one of the reasons the class costs $1300 is $400 worth of training hardware). This time, though, they gave out brand-new TZ180 Wireless units, which is pretty cool. The new hardware is a definite improvement over the 170 (about twice the throughput and memory as the 170), but it isn’t in full production yet. The hardware is just fine – it’s the firmware that is still in beta. The best bug we found is that if you enable the “block all” content filter, it blocks all webpages – including the login page to control the unit.


Still, even with all that going on, I thought it was a good course, but that probably has a lot to do with the instructor’s knowledge level. If you take the pre-req online courses and pay attention during the training, you should be able to pass the test – unlike me.

I missed one question too many. D’oh!!

My big problem with tests is that I read quickly, and comprehend just as fast. When taking a test, I have a habit of zooming through and usually doing pretty good. Old age, however, has apparently thrown a wrench into that because the last few tests I’ve taken I have done poorly the first time through. I’ve taken to forcing myself to take the test twice, essentially – go through it once as normal, then go back to the start and do it again to double-check my work.

I couldn’t do that this time, however, due to the nature of the test. The test code is written in such a way that once you submit your answer, there is no going back. I tried to slow down, but it just wasn’t enough. The instructor popped up a couple of times with either additional information or corrected information to a couple questions, but I had already submitted those answers and so ended up missing one too many to pass the exam. (I missed 9, but would only have missed 5 or 6 with the additional info / corrected questions.)

So, as I’m asking the instructor about setting up a re-test, he gets an email from the rest of the testing team saying they have to lower the passing grade requirements due to the problems with the course book and test questions. A passing grade is now 75%…and I had scored 76%.

Woohoo!! Saved by email!

Revamped digs

Posted in Geekery on May 12th, 2007

As Da Roomie noticed, I have revamped my digs. Upgraded to WP 2.1.3, and got myself a new theme. Which also meant, of course, staying up waaaay to bloody late last night hacking CSS to get it to look the way I wanted.

It also meant upgrading a few plugins. The latest one added is ubernyms, and if you follow that link you’ll see why this is so cool. If you find yourself typing the same thing in a lot of your posts, you can have it just replace text, or wrap it in acronym or abbreviation tags, and even insert the links automagically. All the links above were generated by the plugin.

Very nice.

Someone finally said it

Posted in Life on May 11th, 2007

And I can’t say it any better.

Go read this article by Coyote Sharptongue


Posted in Geekery, Politics on May 11th, 2007

From Forbes

LONDON (Thomson Financial) – Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc could face a possible lawsuit for failing to include measures to control access to copyrighted material in products such as Vista OS, iTunes and the iPod, two companies have warned.

MRT and Bluebeat said the failure to use an available copyright protection solution contravenes the Digital Millennium Copyright Act…

So, if you follow their logic, the producer of the world’s safest automobile could conceivably sue anyone who isn’t driving their cars for public endangerment. Doctors and hospitals could sue bandage manufacturers for enabling the public to do without their services.

If the judge doesn’t just laugh them out of court, I will personally hunt him down so I can ask him to share whatever it is he’s on.

The (brief) history of the Molly Guard

Posted in Geekery, Humor, Work on May 9th, 2007

Way back in the 80’s, IBM manufactured a large mainframe system called the 4341. This system, like many today, included an emergency power-off switch, which could be used to immediately stop power should the sprinklers go off (or some other power problem), saving the unit from destruction. This switch was quite large, very red, and a little too accessible – as proved by a programmer’s daughter (named Molly) who managed to hit the switch twice – in the same day.

A Molly Guard is now considered to be anything that covers up a Big Red Switch to prevent mishaps, but is most commonly a plexiglass cover that can be flipped up. These devices have been installed all over the world – usually after someone trips the BRS accidentally.

Such is the case with one of my former employers.

I had just transferred to a new department – we were connecting slot machines from all over the country into one central jackpot. While I was in the installation department, actually getting the games online, we worked very closely with the guys in the data center and were fairly regularly in and out of it’s lovely air-conditioned depths. (Hey, it was ‘Vegas in the summer, and sometimes the building AC got a little overloaded.)

The Big Red Switch was not right out in the open, but it wasn’t exactly hard to get to, either. Nor was it covered with a Molly Guard.

One day I was out in the field testing my latest batch of installed machines with one of the DC guys on the phone when I hear a sudden silence and then “oh shit.” Then, quite distinctly, I hear my supervisor Al say “uhm…ooops?” as every machine in three banks of games starts flashing “no link”.

Turns out Al had been in there just to BS and soak up some AC, when he got bored and started looking around, and there’s this Big Red button, just asking to be pressed… so he pressed it. (None of us were surprised that Al was the one to trip it, it was completely in character.)

We had maintenance in there inside of 20 minutes with a new plexi shield.

Pardon me whilst I a-cert myself

Posted in Life on May 8th, 2007

So there we are, me and my supervisor sitting in the SonicWall Roadshow when the bit about “gold Partner Requirements” comes up. My supe gets to thinking about his own expired rankings and gets the idea we need to send someone to training. Just so happens there is one this week…

You guessed it: Da Wolfie goes in for another vendor-sponsored cert. Okay, in their defense, this is a useful class all on it’s own considering how many of these firewalls we support, and having additional alphabet-soup on my business card will certainly never hurt. It is, however, a little daunting that the class costs $1300!

No pressure here, Wolfie, but you’d better pass on the first try.


A day of extremes

Posted in Life on May 3rd, 2007

Today has been a real swinger of a ride, lemme tell you.

I spent the entire day today and most of yesterday working on a project for one of our clients who has a bad habit of waiting until the last minute before calling us in to help. The project? Build a completely new network for a new start-up subdivision of the parent company that will eventually break off on it’s own. The timeline? 3 or four weeks. When does he call us in? Two days before it i supposed to be running.


What’s left to do? The domain is built and the users have been created, but the Exchange server is barely functional. There’s no definite IP address in use, and we need to get additional IP’s from $ISP. We need to build a VPN, and then configure two routers for the whole thing to flow through.

Worse than anything, however, is that it all gets dumped in my lap. (The guy who normally would handle this account is conveniently busy elsewhere.) Yeah, I can muddle my way through a lot of stuff, but I don’t like working under a deadline that will get someone else in trouble for not meeting – so I’m just a wee bit stressed.

It also doesn’t help when the IP the client tells you to use is in fact the IP of his Gateway, and all of his DNS has been configured wrong to boot, so nothing will be officially usable for 48 hours from when I figured out he fucked that bit up.

That was 2:00 this afternoon.

I just about blew a few fuses, but with the help of a couple of my teammates (including Da Roomie) we got it all done.

So, I pack up my shit and run the hell away before he can call me back. When I get to Tolerant’s, I realize all over again that she is simply the Best Girlfriend Ever.

To wit:

She went shopping at lunch to pick up stuff for dinner and dessert.
She was mixing me a drink when I walked in the door.
Dinner was already cooking – beef tips in gravy over mash with corn, yum!
Some of my favorite music was playing to a happily hypnotic visualizer.

Inside of 15 minutes, I’m parked on the couch with my feet up, a drink in one hand, dinner in the other, and my sexy librarian snuggled up beside me. Dessert consisted of about 2 hours of cuddling and creampuffs with sliced bananas topped with Cool-Whip and chocolate sauce.

I am a lucky bastard.