Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

Satisfying

Yeah, so I do this thing. Every time we get started on some new online game, I go completely stats hungry on it. Its just what I do. I’m a numbers freak. Games with more complexity in their stats and character information aren’t confusing or a ‘put off’, instead they appeal to me. Read more

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Deadlines

Ok, Apple now has 24 hours to make good, or I cancel and go with another laptop. Especially since Alienware now has an offer for the next 72 hours with $500 off their laptops. I don’t need any more incenting than that.

So Apple, if you’re listening … Get that shit in the mail, eh?

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Apache, logfiles and script kiddies

So in the past few months, something has been whacking my server’s apache log files. I did some tracking down, and found some disappointing stuff. This is clearly someone attempting to exploit apache (or web servers in general), by sending invalid, and in fact, data designed to overflow the server process and grant some permissions.
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Frightening

I was just sent an email from a good friend of mine. He tends to be pretty politically active, staying on top of issues both local and federal. He’s especially concerned about environmental things, reinforced by his wife being employed in that field as well (she works for an international symposium on global environmental concerns).

What he forwarded me was the text from this speech. Take a moment to read that so the rest of this post will have some meaning. First, I want to make sure this is taken in context. No, it isn’t true that every single religious affiliation or group believes the things mentioned in there, or that every right wing voter necessarily holds those things to be truths. It does, however, cast a more cynical eye on something that has been bothering me for some time.
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I’m guess I’m old fashioned…

Cynicism doesn’t really fit me. I don’t like thinking that way, nor having to think that way in order to rationalize a perceived behavior, but you know… thats just the way the world works sometimes. I suppose once you’ve worked for enough companies, or enough larger companies, you will eventually meet people who meet a certain criteria. Namely, those who would seek to rise through corporate ranks and achieve whatever element of success they want through manipulation and exploitation.

Is it so wrong to still believe the right way to go about doing that is by achievement, skill and honorable business practices? I suppose not, but perhaps its just naive to think that everyone would seek to take that path. I don’t even claim to be the holder of some holier-than-thou work ethic, or whatever, but to some of these people, concepts like loyalty, friendship and integrity have no place in their worlds. Sad, really. I suppose it has just always seemed the better path to prove value through deed instead of word. Furthermore, I know it works. It isn’t necessarily a fast process, nor easy. But its definitely satisfying. And not just ‘job well done’ satisfying, but also satisfying in the opinions that other people have of you, and how those get reflected back to you.

“Oh, I’ve heard about you … you’re the one who did X, Y and Z when noone else was willing to”

“Oh, hey, I finally get to meet you, I’ve heard so much about you from person A, B and C”

“Is the company taking care of you? We need to make sure you’re getting what you need”

“You let me know if you’re not happy where you’re at, I have room for someone like you anytime”

Tell me it isn’t satisfying to hear those sorts of comments. I’ve heard all of those within the last week. How you react to those statements is an entirely different matter, and depends on how humble you are, etc, but just to hear them makes alot of effort otherwise expended into the ether worthwhile.

So to those who would succeed through shortcuts, exploitation of relationships (or anything else, really), or manipulation of the truth to further your own ends, regardless of what other consequence that may have, or who else you might be hurting with those actions …. I tell you this:

You will never, ever hear those words. You will never, ever have the satisfaction of knowing your salary, position and compensation are DESERVED. I realize, those are hollow words, because you don’t care about that. Oh well. Your loss.

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As you might expect…

As with just about any other blog out there, I did recently get hit by the elements out there that would seek to make maintaining a site like this one a more difficult, high maintenance process. Fortunately, wordpress has some excellent facilities for dealing with comments spammers.

I found it an interesting observation that the spammers are not at all seeking click throughs to the sites they are advertising. Instead, they’re simply seeking to have the search engines find as many links to their site as they can, which in turn improves their rankings in searches for things. I suppose any system can be subverted if you throw enough assholes at it.

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Time

Time is such a tenuous thing. You think you have alot of it, and it passes by at an astonishing rate. Its amazing how many concepts around our daily existences revolve around it. We can ‘make time’, ‘pass the time’, ‘let time slip through our fingers’, ‘kill time’, ‘waste time’ and so on.

When we’re young, we think there’s so much time, we can’t hardly find ways to fill it all, and end up bored. We look forward to getting older, becoming like our parents or other idols of our youth. As we get older, we abandon some idols for others or end up in a searching pattern, trying to find our ideals, goals, wonts, desires and faith. At some point, we think we know what we want, or at least accept that it is a moving target, and simply strive to always move to that target. And then we spend the rest of our days seeking that, filling every single minute of every single day in that search.

It may not always feel like it. It may feel like we’re just existing in some sort of wheel, or locked into a cycle or pattern that simply repeats itself endlessly. But to what end? To make money? Find fame? Become a star? Usually nothing so far fetched or unreachable. But it does feel like there isn’t enough time. Why are we in a rush? Is it something we impose on ourselves? Are we so ‘instant gratification’ driven that we can’t be patient with reaching those goals? Is the short term gain always more important than the long term?

Maybe we do need to slow down again. Societal pressure, as well as our own (perhaps misguided) drives make us push hard against that. A scene from a recent movie just struck me as poignant on this thought. In The Last Samurai, in the lord of the village remarks on his poetry, and how he is seeking the perfect spring blossom. Finally, in his death scene, his eyes already clouded over from his impending death, he remarks that they’re all perfect. Maybe we do need to spend more time in the now, looking at the beauty all around us, share in the pleasures and joys that we already have, instead of dwelling so much on things as yet unrealized.

I’ve always used the phrase casually, “Gotta Have Goals”, usually in reference to something lewd or lascivious. And I don’t think thats changed. You do have to have goals, drives and things that get you up every morning and drive you to excel. So the frustration that I’m feeling now revolves strictly around the constraints we face in accomplishing all that we want within the constraints of the time we’re given. I think I need to step back, evaluate again what is important, and not try and do too much at once. And in the meantime, leave myself enough time to enjoy what is around me now.

I miss college. I think many people might say that same thing. Why? Well, perhaps it was because I was so moved to accomplishing the things I did there that I neglected to enjoy the here and now of it. Maybe 4 years of that kind of environment wasn’t enough. But thats simply an example.

I need to think about that some more.

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A few noteworthy post-election links

I’ll add to this as I get things forwarded to me.

This one is somewhat uplifting in spite of it all. I wish this wasn’t so funny. I don’t want to laugh about any of this. And this one was pre-election, but makes all this that much more frustrating. Also, I have alot of respect for Hunter S. Thompson, so whatever. Here’s something to note if you really just can’t take it anymore. Commentary from George Soros.

I’ll add more as I find them.

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A glazed stare

Thats how I feel. Glazed. To some extent, this both validates and invalidates the election process for me. One the one hand, you can see that yes, in fact, the people have spoken. On the other hand, they have demonstrated the fact that, in the majority, they are really really fucking dumb.

How, after the past four years of lying, stealing, tax evading, nepotism, lobby, money and favoritism-driven political agendas that this asshole can be seen as the ‘moral’ choice, and the ‘family’ choice, is completely beyond my comprehension. And I didn’t even start in about the economy, environment, big corporate breaks, or the global communities he’s gotten us kicked out of.

So yes! Go America! We get to see another four years of the worst administration this country has ever seen in its existence get to wreak its ugly habits on this great land of ours. And who will be able to blame? Only ourselves. Congratulations, you have managed to divide this country in a way it has not seen since the Civil War.

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Internet security

So after 4 or 5 failed attempts to reload my wife’s machine with XP Pro and associated stuff, I finally buckled down and took the hard road. I followed my own advice to friends about the proper methods for installing a machine securely, and keeping it secure. It worked. But Jesus, this is scary stuff.

So in the early steps of the installation, for the XP CD and the SP1 CD I burned, the network is unplugged. I also have an applications CD burned which has the firewall on it (Tiny Personal Firewall, if you must know), which I then installed. Also installed the virus checker (PCcillin), and did the first of many rounds of virus checking. Once again, this is before its actually been live on any network.

Everything clean to this point, so I figure out which interface (there are two in the machine, one for the private home network) is which, and IPify the external interface, and finally, plug it in. Immediately switch over to the firewall configuration and put it into the ‘connected to an unsafe network’ category, and sit back a bit to watch. 26 attacks in the first 10 minutes. Not bad. I download the virus checker updates, and rescan the whole machine. Still clean.

Next step is windows updates, which also go on smoothly (no, I didn’t install SP2). Five or six reboots later, and the machine’s pretty much ready for primetime. Clean installation, no current viruses, and based on current patterns, roughly 2-3 attacks per minute on various ports. Gotta love the little kiddies with their scripts. Oh well. If television has taught me anything, its that with great power comes great responsibility. And right now, it appears that to utilize the great power of the Internet, I (and everyone else with any interest in keeping their machines clean) has the responsibility of parenting a bajillion script kiddies and their fucking brainless attacks.

Bah, I say. BAH.

(EDIT) At some point, I will publish the step by step how to on installing a machine (from the OS perspective at least) in a safe manner to keep out the unwanted. (/EDIT)

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And since I’m on my soapbox…

I just read through one of the transcripts of something called The McNealy Report. This is a regular thing that is recorded and transcribed for all of Sun, as an internal sort of newsletter. I’m pretty sure that quoting any significant portion of that would get me in trouble, but I’ll give a quick summary. Scott reiterates an employee question about what to do when you’re moved around in the organization or something similar, and in these chaotic times, you don’t really even know what you’re supposed to be doing. John MacGowan (sr.vp of hr) as part of his response, mentioned:

The whole system requires really good communication between a manager and an employee. Where that occurs, it works better. Where it doesn’t, there’s a problem

So exactly how are we supposed to have really good communication when we get moved around every 3 months.

Riddle me that, Batman.

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Once again…

Ultimately, I’m hoping that someone in SUN’s executive management reads this and takes something good out of it.

I’ll summarize in one statement. I was talking today to manager A. She had been responsible for the day to day tasks of employee C. She was not the direct report manager, however. That was manager B. Manager B was just asked to do a widespread layoff. Employee C was part of that cut. Manager A (who lost the resource), was not consulted. Additionally, as part of a sidebar discussion today, manager B asked manager A what it was that their employee did.

If that was too confusing, pardon me. The bottom line is that layoff decisions are being made, on a fairly widespread level, that DID NOT ASSESS THE BUSINESS IMPACT of the layoff. WTF, over.

Ok, I’m not so naive that I don’t understand that in some cases, you have to make difficult decisions about your staffing, and in some cases, you need to cut people who are critical. THAT HAPPENS. But you should never, ever do that unless you understand the business impact of those decisions and have some kind of (albeit perhaps only preliminary) plan in place for how to recover from the loss of that resource.

THAT’S JUST DUMB. In this latest RIF (Sun’s term for layoffs: reduction in force), I can count at least 3 people in my immediate vicinity that are (in my view) completely critical to the business. In none of those cases was any real assessment made to determine what sort of impact having that person be gone would have, nor how to recover from that person’s absence.

What a week.

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a big tall empty silo

Thats what my head feels like. My ear infection got worse, and is now spread to both ears, so I can’t hear. Well, thats not entirely accurate. I hear everything like it was coming through big gauze pads over both ears. Kind of like the muffling you get from a good pair of headphones.

And to those that have to deal with this (and worse) fulltime? I’m sorry. This just sucks. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I came home today, sat down, and was just about to hit the play button on winamp. A part of my brain realized … ‘why are you doing that? You’re not going to be able to hear it anyway’. Life without music is damn near my definition of hell. Not that I want either, but I think I’d even choose losing my sight before I’d go without hearing. Maybe not. I don’t know. Like I said, I’d rather not lose either.

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Medicine

As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of the medical industry. No, I don’t need the qualify that, I’m not a fan of the medical industry. I don’t go as far down that road as some others. Some people I know wouldn’t go to a doctor unless their leg was only loosely attached. I value the services that specific physicians and surgeons provide, when it is needed. Thats the key right there, I guess. I do believe that the human body has an amazing recuperative ability. Astonishing, really … when you consider all of the complex systems involved just to do something as simple as a cut on your skin healing. So when I absolutely need some kind of care, its usually at the point when I’ve accepted that either a) my body’s ability to heal some particular thing isn’t good enough, or b) that the healing process is too painfully slow for me to tolerate the pain any longer.

Today was just such an event. I am prone to ear infections. Moving to Colorado has been mostly good things, and at least this one bad thing. The lack of humidity in the air means that the skin on the inside of my ear canal is very dry, and itchy. Jamming my finger in there to relieve the itching has a tendency to introduce some bad stuff in there that sometimes gets infected to a lesser (or in this case, greater) degree. The side of my head is kinda puffy. My ear canal is all but completely swollen shut. When she went poking in there with the little light scopey thing, she couldn’t even see my eardrum. Middle ear infection at minimum, and possibly also inner ear (that would be normal for me). So what do they do for this? Usually, you get a systemic antibiotic to handle the infection from the body perspective, and then a topical one (ear drops) to handle the part that is external to the bloodstream. Only one problem. When the ear canal is so swollen shut that the drops can’t reach the parts (or some of the parts) that are infected, they have to insert a ‘wick’. Ok, so your ear canal is dry, irritated, infected, tender and painful. I can’t imagine a more soothing experience than stuffing a dry, chafing cloth wick down in there. Not so much.

I have scales of pain. In your typical scale of 1 to 10, dental pain and gout are competing for first place at 9 or 10. That singular event registered at about an 8. Most things below a 7 don’t even really annoy me too much, or my tolerance for them is sufficient to keep me going without any medication needed. This was so sudden and acute that I nearly threw up on the attending nurse. God. All in the name of getting better. The alternatives aren’t acceptable.

I’ll save my ranting and raving about big pharma companies and the HMOs for another post when I’ve settled down.

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Liquor

Every year I do this exercise to see whats needed to fill out a “well-rounded” bar that can suit most needs for the folks that come over and want to mix drinks. Most of the books for bartenders list way too much, or are so outdated that they still think drinks from the 60’s are en vogue. Since we generally don’t drink too much hard liquor at home, this is, to some extent, an attempt to match our bar up to the tastes of the people who will visit.

I do enjoy Scotch (single malt), and good tequila, so there are several types of each. Beyond that, its mostly an attempt to have a good solid set of mixers so people can play around and try something new if they want.

Invariably, the things we end up using the most of are shots (tequila, jaeger, rumple, goldschlagger, etc) and the ingredients in the most common party drinks, like margueritas. There is usually a least one instance of scotch tasting for the expert and uninitiated. After reading this, it sounds like we’re a bunch of alcoholics. That isn’t really accurate. There are a few people who maybe go a bit too far, and they are invariably labelled as the year’s party victims (there’s always at least one), but most people keep it under control.

I don’t consider myself a heavy drinker. I drink socially (never alone), and usually about once or twice a week. I occasionally have a beer with a meal as well, but not normally. For all that though, when I do drink, I’m sort of a snob about it, and want very fine tasting stuff. Single malt scotches, never blends. Anejo tequilas, small batch beers that tend towards the very hoppy (IPA, ESB, etc). I’d sooner die than have to stomach a mass produced beer (the Bud, Coors and Millers of the world). I’d rather spend that very small amount of time I am drinking enjoying it. Just like life.

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