Monthly Archives: December 2004

Oh this is rich!

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I bought myself a present yesterday, and since I figured it would be a little while before I had time to play with it, I picked el cheapo free (and slow) shipping.

I got this email from Amazon.com this morning.

Items shipped on December 29, 2004:
Delivery estimate: January 6, 2005 – January 7, 2005
1 package via UPS Ground

  • 1 of: Suse Linux Professional 9.2

Ship Method:          UPS Ground
Tracking Number:    1Z1837030357103163
Status:                         IN TRANSIT
Shipment Date:      Dec 29, 2004
Destination:            Denton, TX, United States
Order ID:                103-3934609-5440639
         
Date                         Time                         Location Service Area         Checkpoint Details
Dec 29, 2004          05:57:00 AM          DENTON TX US                          OUT FOR DELIVERY 
Dec 29, 2004          03:00:00 AM          DENTON TX US                          ARRIVAL SCAN 
Dec 29, 2004          01:15:00 AM          DALLAS TX US                          DEPARTURE SCAN 
Dec 29, 2004          12:07:49 AM          Carrollton TX USA                          SHIPPED 
Dec 28, 2004          09:03:55 PM          DALLAS TX US                          ORIGIN SCAN 
Dec 28, 2004          06:43:12 AM          US                                          BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED

I couldn’t have gotten it any faster if I had done the really expensive “same day” shipping.

OK, so I am easy to amuse.

Of course there were two packages waiting for me when I got home last night.

Tidbits for today.

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Update on the “young lady” who went topless for a video game while in South Padre Island. – From The Register – She is now claiming that (1) she was a minor so it was wrong to take her picture,* and (2) that she had never even given permission**. The last line of the article really says it all for me though:

“The plaintiff is still a teenager and wishes to attend college, develop her career and be active in her community and church,” the lawsuit said.

I may be an old square, but I am not aware of any churches that would not be a little upset about a 17 year old girl going topless at a “family tourist resort”.

Why do I suddenly envision a career in “modeling” or “dancing” in her future?


We have a married couple in LJ-land who are constructing their own Hobbit Hole, and you can help!

Their journal is ourhobbithole, and their website is OurHobbitHole.com

I can now hear the opening of the new book by Tolkien’s grandchildren – Hobbit Hackers.

In a hole in the ground there lived a geek. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a geek-hole, and that means comfort, and lots of techno-toys.


We now have viruses that are targeting cell phones for real!

New Trojan threatens Symbian smart phones
Happy Christmas from the hackers

By John Blau, IDG news service

A new Trojan horse aimed at smart phones using the Symbian operating system is set to spoil the holiday season for uninformed wireless gamers.

The malware, MetalGear.a, which masquerades as a Symbian version of the Metal Gear Solid game, disables anti-virus programs and also installs a version of the Cabir worm identified earlier this year, according to SimWorks International, which issued an alert on Tuesday.

The Cabir worm, in turn, attempts to spread a second Trojan program, called SEXXXY, to nearby phones through the Bluetooth short-range wireless protocol.

“This is a new strand of smart phone malware because it actually consists of three pieces: two Trojans and a worm,” said Aaron Davidson, chief executive officer of SimWorks. “It also shows how viruses writers are getting more sophisticated.”

To infect their phones, users must open and install the fake Metal Gear game, according to Davidson. “There are plenty of Web sites offering cracked versions of games,” he said. “These sites are used not only by people seeking free software but also by virus writers.”

Similar to the Skulls trojan detected last month, the MetalGear Trojan uses the same icon-disabling technique to disable antivirus and other applications.

The Trojan also installs a version of the Cabir worm, which seeks to spread itself by sending a file called SEXXXY.sis to any Bluetooth-enabled phones in the vicinity, SimWork said. If users accept and install this file, it disables the Symbian application button on their phones.

In particular, if users install the MetalGear Trojan program, they will have difficulty repairing their phones because the program effectively disables all tools on the phone necessary to undo the damage, Davidson said.

The MetalGear and SEXXXY Trojan programs are included in a program, called Metal Gear.sis.

Anti-virus software from SimWorks has been updated to provide protection from both Trojan programs, Davidson said.

So far, Trojan horses, worms and viruses aimed at smart phones have failed to spread rampantly: Their propagation has been hindered by the need for users to accept and install programs.

***********************
I can’t think of anything sufficiently pithy to say about this. I mean, hopefully this will curtail the most obnoxious of the cell phone users, but dammit virus writers, get a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a toy, I don’t particularly care – just find something more constructive to do.


And finally – I am bringing a quiz given to me by the great Simon Travaglia himself – yes, my hero – the BOFH posted a quiz that I really enjoyed so I want to see how everyone else does.


Scoring

I would think it was fairly evident, however:

Mostly A: You’re the normal sort of person, fit in most places and with most people
Mostly B: A touch geeky, but who isn’t
Mostly C: A bit more geeky, but nothing that can’t be forgiven.
Mostly D: If there were two of you, you’d form a Vaxcluster. STAY AWAY FROM NORMAL PEOPLE!


* OK, but on that same point, if you are a minor, you are not supposed to be going around topless either? And still I ask, where were her parents? If I were a girl, and I had done that at age 17, I would *still* be locked in my room and my dinners would be slid through a slot in the door.

** I have a lot of trouble with that, lawyers would want all of the legal “model permission” docs lined up before the first bit ever compiled. That just does not ring true to me.

Well, to borrow a phrase from wicked_wish,

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I’m off like a prom dress.

I’ve had a long day and I’m going to go home, make dinner, and relax.

I may get online and play a little if I feel like it but peace and quiet sure sounds good though.

Hey texaspenguin!

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Penguins Find Gay Love

(New York City) Roy and Silo aren’t alone. Earlier this year we reported on the two male penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who are completely devoted to each other and for the past six years have been inseparable.

Now, researchers from Japan say they’ve found a number of same-sex pairs of penguins at aquariums in Japan.

The Kyoto news agency reports that Keisuke Ueda, professor of behavioral ecology at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, found about 20 same-sex pairs at 16 major aquariums and zoos.

Like Roy and Silo (story) they shun female companionship, build a nest together, and have sex. Apparently, lots of sex.

Roy and Silo have even tried to have offspring. Their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay, says that the couple put a rock simulating an egg in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens.

Gramzay finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Things went perfectly. Roy and Silo sat on it for the typical 34 days until a chick, Tango, was born. For the next two and a half months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own.

(Full story here)

All bloody right!

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They signed it, they really signed it!

I have a customer who has been really slow to sign their new contract and as a result, really have been driving me crazy – there are so many things that they need accomplished but my hands were tied until the new contract went into place.

I busted my butt, outdid myself, and as a result, one of my customers signed their new contract which will increase their MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) substantially.

Only problem, because of my workload, I’m going to have to give them up. And I find myself not wanting to give them up. This customer was one of the ones I spent time with in San Francisco two weeks before Christmas. They are a lot of work, true. But they are also fun to work with, pleasant, and they say thank you for hard work. When I worked 72 hours solid over a weekend migrating their internal network to their new domain, they actually sent me a hand written thank you note and Starbucks card for a job well done that was above and beyond.

Fun part though, is going to be when they find out that they don’t get to keep me. They were one of the customers who after taking me to dinner in Sausalito told me that they were tempted to add a requirement in their contract that I be transferred out to Pleasanton where I would be available to drop by the office from time to time.

All the same, sometimes I even surprise myself.

Note to people.

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First, I am not a morning person.  Seriously. When I wake up I feel like crap for about 30 minutes and really don’t like dealing with people, the safest thing to do is what my father learned to do with my mother for 40 years, just stand back for a little bit and let me come to life normally.

If you call me and wake me up in the middle of the night, especially the day after Christmas, when I just drove three plus hours to get back home to go to work the next day, and have a raging case of laryngitis that has been brought on by allergies coupled with a record amount of stress, and then chatter at me for several minutes before getting to the point as to why you woke me up in the middle of the night, expect to have my jump down your throat, pull out your aorta, and use it to tie a bow tie around your throat.

(Note that I still will be really irritated when I find out that you called me because someone told you to call me even though they had sidestepped me throughout the entire issue – and this particular issue was over an hour dead and gone and there was NO FRELLING DOWNTIME FOR THE CUSTOMER.

OK, I have had all I can stand.

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Today was the final straw.

Monday and Tuesday have been very busy days for me, I have worked from about 8:30 in the morning until about 10 Monday night and a little after midnight Tuesday night. 

Why?

Because in both cases I had customers who had a project that needed to be completed and wrapped up prior to Christmas.  So I sucked it up, and produced, I documented new software and configurations to make sure that our support people would have no problems with any potential issues that came up over Christmas.

Wednesdays are days that I basically take off (technically I am working from home on Wednesdays but they are more of a rest and recoup day since I usually end up working on Saturday) so this Wednesday, I spent trying to get some much needed rest and getting things ready so I can go see my family for Christmas.


Now the reason I work on Saturdays is simple, our support people seem to have some form of mental block when it comes to my customers.  Without fail, no matter how simple of a maintenance I would have scheduled, something would end up fucked up.

Case in point:  One week, I had a very simple maintenance, a support person was to log on to each server of a customer’s production setup and run a script that I had written to cycle some services.  Easy enough correct?

No.

Monday morning I get lambasted by my customer because three of the servers didn’t have their services restarted at all and one other server had it’s services restarted five times in that same period of time.

And so on and so forth.  Time after time, if I sacrificed my weekend, the maintenance would go smoothly but if I left it for one of the people who’s job was to work on Saturdays, things would not get done.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  My customer has completely lost faith in our support people, the only reason that they are a reference level customer is because I handle everything, all maintenance, all changes, all work.  I am doing a job that is normally handled by a team of 20 people, and doing it 24x7x365 – all of the other ASEs have backups but we are short one headcount and guess who does not have a backup as a result?


Coming back to tonight, my customer emails in with a confusion about DNS – the email remains unanswered all day.  No ticket opened, no reply via email to the customer, no call, no nothing.  Almost twelve hours pass, and one of our night people, when prodded by the TAM emails the following to the customer:

From:
Sent: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 5:31 PM
To:
Cc:
Subject: RE: firewall ports

I saw this email when I got in,

Has this been resolved?

The customer actually had to email back in telling the person in question to check and see if a ticket had been created.

*shudder*

This of course sets off the TAM and rightly so, as a result, I am dragged into the middle of it. 

Now for a background point here, I flew back to Dallas on Sunday – I have worked the last couple of days on about 4-5 hours of sleep each night, I have been called in the middle of the night for silly shit that I should not have been called for if people had just pulled their heads out of their collective asses long enough to fire a synapse.

This morning, I woke up with a runny nose and a scratchy throat, and I am expected to sing on Christmas Eve (and no, I have not had ANY time for practice – when I get to East Texas Friday, I will have about three to four hours to read music and practice before I will be doing my thing).

So here it is Wednesday night, I have had the night people royally screw things up, and then when the TAM called them back to see what they were going to say to the customer, the Manager on Duty told her that I had said that it was not important and that they could blow it off.

On that I call BULLSHIT.

I have had unreal levels of stress, lack of sleep, 60+ hour work weeks, and other assorted frustrations for too damn long.

This was the final straw.  I am tired of cleaning up after everyone else and mothering them through their jobs.

I’m dusting off my resume and polishing it up, there has got to be something better out there with more sane hours, (hopefully) better pay, less stress, and best of all, co-workers who don’t expect me to do all of their work for them.

blackpage, I’d like to sit down with you soon for some advice sir.

And if anyone has any suggestions, I would really appreciate it. 

Does anyone need a Computer Systems Engineer, with experience in Windows NT 3x/4/2K/2K3, Linux, AD, Solution Design and documentation, project management, etc?

I come cheap.

Bits, pieces, and random thoughts.

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Ya know, I really am loving the off the wall thought processes in Mac Hall

Matt and Ian, my hat (if I had one on) is off to you.

Armies of humping homosexuals, I mean who would have thought?


On unrelated news, Gerald Allen is an asshat.


I want to start playing with Cedega 4.2


People who live in Texas need to learn the importance of Saving Our Constitution!


A couple of interesting new webcomics I have run across – Alpha Shade and Burn Comics


Engadget is a pretty interesting gadget and tech toy site.


Metal and Magic is a really interesting art site. I find myself wishing I had artistic talent.


I am so loving the Conspiracy of Mammals

Oh, and Gothbat – Ah Gothbat! Take bats, which are just too cool for words, add gothic angst, and agitate well with a twisted outlook on the world and you have Random Interludes With Gothbat


Metal and Magic even gives us Paleolithic Ravers


I’m considering playing with the Xandros Linux Distro.


Well it looks like everyone’s favorite Vampire/Fairy Pornographer, Laurell K Hamilton is at it again – coming 28 December, 2004 is Bite

With this we get a new Anita Blake Novella, but I was so put off by the amount of unnecessary graphic sex in the last novel that I am really not sure if I want to bother. I liked Anita Blake for the mystery solving, smart comments, and character development – the last novel was phoned in, there were typos, and over 60% of the book was graphic sex scene after graphic sex scene. It was tedious to read and I really had trouble making it all the way through.


And this is a new quantum level of stupidity. Take-Two, Sony, and Microsoft sued over The Guy Game – There is a young woman who has filed suit against the Take Two for including footage of her topless, taken during the annual spring break revels on Texas’ South Padre Island, without her legal consent. Why didn’t they have her legal consent? Because she was 17 at the time that she “gave” said consent and was legally incapable of knowing what she was doing.

*whatever*

The most amazing part of this is this particular cow is filing suit against Sony and Microsoft because they created game plaforms that the game runs on.

*boggles*

You know, I am ticked that Take Two didn’t check more carefully on the people who “strutted their stuff” for the game, but I am having a hard time having any sympathy for this wench. From what I have been able to find out she had filled out the forms etc, and either she or her parents had a change of heart later on. And since she was 17 at the time and didn’t have legal right to sign the documents, she is getting this on a technicality.

Fine.

Whatever.

But the moment she starts going after Sony and Microsoft, something tells me that she is now just going for the money. I find myself hoping that her case is thrown out of court. Sure, have Take Two remove her “likeness” from the game and re-issue it, but she needs to collect nothing.

This is why I get really fed up with people in general.

Well, that's it for today at least.

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What a week!

I have a lot that I want to write about my excursion to the west coast but I have been snowed under at work.

It took most of Sunday to get me back to Texas and I fell almost immediately into the bed – for some strange reason, flying wears me out completely, as in no energy whatsoever left in my body.

The phone drug me out of my sleep at 0200 this morning with a DBA asking me what I wanted to do about database corruption for a customer who is still in implementation.

* * * * *

So sue me, I was tired and cranky and told him to ask the Project Manager for the customer because they were not my problem yet.

When I admitted this to the PM in question last night and apologized for throwing him under the bus, he was surprised. No one had called or emailed him about that.

*narrows eyes*

Evidentially I am not nearly scary enough anymore. Methinks I need to eviscerate a few people soon to remind the survivors that I too can be grumpy.


Today has been taken up with my finding out that a whole set of documentation was needed for a customer today so their new application could go live tonight.

So many, many pages of doccos later, all is written, and I have even created 75+ new domain accounts for our support staff so that they can log onto the boxes and do their jobs.

Lordy but I am tired now.

So I think I will just go on to bed now (well, once I drive home that is).

Greetings From Novato, CA

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Let’s see

  • Driving over the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge at night is breathtakingly beautiful.
  • Northern CA weather is beautiful. (40s at night, 60s during the day)
  • It’s GREEN!
  • I’m probably more relaxed in the last several days than in the preceding several months.

So far, so great

Warning to everyone in the San Francisco area . . .

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I’m baaaaack!

I haven’t been here in about twenty five years but I am finally back.

Got my luggage, now about that rent car.

Viva Las Vegas!

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On the ground in Vegas. We will be boarding shortly.

It’s bloody HOT here, thank goodness that I had a t-shirt on under my shirt.

That does it!

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Who wants to torture themselves tonight and go see a movie with me?

Everyone knows that I really enjoy bad cinema, the more corny the movie, the more trite the screenplay, the bad science, it all makes for things that are unintentionally funny and very entertaining.

wicked_wish‘s review of Blade: Trinity tells me that this may be the classical unintentional comedy for this holiday season.

Pure magic(TM) moments such as the following must not be missed!
Bad words abound! You are warned.

*Bangs head repeatedly on his desk*

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Oh Evil, Evil, Evil AOL.

Even more evil is your so-called Broadband Solution that requires users to be logged in and running your Daemonic client software before they get any form of connectivity.

And the Evil icing on the Evil cake is the fact that this particular end user has only this solution for working from home.

What a week!

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This is really turning into a strange month so far.

To say that I have been busy is putting it mildly but it should get even more interesting next week.

I’m being shipped out to San Francisco for the next week.

This should be pretty interesting.

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At a customer site for a few hours today. and I have realized something.

I have it pretty cushy at work. 

I can listen to streaming media, check my home email, establish a remote connection to my computer at home, and a lot of other things that seem to be pretty much verbotten here.  (They have web filtering software that blocks access to many things – pretty draconian if you ask me)

You never really realize just how good you have it until you get a taste of how other places are.