December 2005
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I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Archive for December, 2005

Blargh!

Posted in Life on December 31st, 2005

It’s rant time again, folks! You’ve been warned.

For Xmas I bought myself a data cable so I can get the pictures out of my phone without having to pay my celco fifty cents for the priviledge of emailing it to myself. When it arrived, I realized why I got such a cheap deal on it: no bloody software, just the USB drivers.

After several hours of searching, downloading and installing I think 7 different programs to get shit outta my sammy, only two actually worked with my phone. One was pure crippled trialware (look at all the things you could do if you paid for this!) and the other could only access the phone book and text messages.

Suddenly, a ray of light shone out from my browser: deep down in a dark user forum were the words “go to the Samsung support page, and check the downloads.”

*Whackwhackwhack*

That’s right, Mr. Big Bad Techie forgot to look beyond the accessories page to the support pages. And I only spend about two hours a day surfing support pages for my customers.

So now I can gleefully download all of the pictures out of my camera, where I can see…that they really look alot better in the camera’s tiny screen than on my 19″ monitor.

Crap. I may have to get a digicam soon after all. With rechargeable batteries. (I carry a power inverter in the car, so I always have 110V power at hand.)

======================================

A while back, the Boss and I got this great idea for implementing SugarCRM at the shop to take the place of our lousy scheduling and contact management routine. I studied the install procedure for days before I finally got a couple of days set aside so I could implement the silly thing.

Once I got started, I ran into the joys of Open-Source software: there’s more than one way to do anything, and much tweaking may be needed. I kept running into stupid little problems that would take an hour or two of research and bashing before I could get to the next problem. The Boss wanted it done before the end of the year, so I was all prepped to take it home over the weekend to bash the thing together and get it working…

Only to find out at the last minute he was pulling me off the project and handing it to our “Lead Tech”. Now, LT lost a couple days worth of pay last week due to illness and wanted a way to make it up, so the Boss was just helping him out by letting him have the project, and he understands my feelings on the subject, but damnit! This was my chance to do something really cool, and it got yanked out from under me. Not only that, now I’m left with no closure because I don’t get to actually get it working.

It’s to the point where I’m tempted to bash together a box out of the spare kit lying around the garage just so I can beat the damn thing.

Holiday Wrapup

Posted in Life on December 27th, 2005

It’s been a busy house this past weekend. Let’s start at the top:

Friday, I used the Xmas cash me old man sent to take The WBGF out to dinner. Mmmmm, steak and coconut shrimp! Round out the evening by watching a silly movie (National Treasure) while she knitted madly trying to finish up a scarf for her nephew.

Saturday Slept in late, then off for a leisurely brekke at our favorite dive. A little grocery shopping, then we split up to take care of the last-minute preparations. Back together again at Chez Wolfie later for a tasty Xmas Eve mini-feast. Mmmm…teriyaki pork loin with stuffing and taters.

After that, we jetted off again to her sister’s house for a quick get-together with some of her family, where we discovered that the Niece had spent the last week baking cookies much the same as my lady had.

Once we left there, it was off to the EMC’s for a little while, which turned into a long while. We were having fun, and it took a while for Pookie to get to sleep so we could haul out the Santa gifts and get them under the tree.

Sunday Up early to run back over to the EMC’s place to watch my daughter try to bury herself in wrapping paper. The girl has 5 sets of grandparents, at least 7 aunt/uncle sets and cousins out the waz. We need a shovel to find her under all that loot – and this year was lighter than last.

After a happy morning of paper-tearing and playing with new toys, it was down the highway to Salem to pick up the Ratboy, who wasn’t having much fun with his mom. Really, it was his half-sister down there that was driving him insane, but still. Once I got him back home, I nipped over to The WBGF’s place to exchange our gifts, where she spoiled me rotten. She really is too good for me.

Incidentaly, I may change her alias here in the Wofie-blog. She changed the from / to names on each of the gifts she gave me, and one of the ones that seemed truly appropriate was To: Smart Ass, From: Tolerant. That one seems to peg it pretty well, so you may see Tolerant in place of The WBGF in the future.

Right about here there was a couple of hours of quiet restfulness…then it was off to the EMC’s again so Ratty could collect the loot the EMC’s family had sent up. They’re a good bunch, and still make a point to include Ratty, which is really cool. Yes, I’m lucky enough to even have likeable ex-in-laws. Again, stayed up late playing games (The Simpson’s Edition of Life), got home and crashed.

Today? Slept in late. Went to Schuck’s to spend a gift card, then back for groceries, then back to the house to fire up the new Crock-pot. (Chicken & dumpling-type-thingies, which turned out good.) Watched Bewitched while dinner was cooking (TERRIBLE! A train wreck I couldn’t stop watching), then we cracked open my new copy of Mr. & Mrs. Smith for desert. (It was a close call between that and Serenity, but the Roomie hadn’t seen it yet.)

Truly, it was one of the happiest Christmases I’ve had in a while. Lots of family and friends, no major disasters, and I was able to get good gifts for those I love. My cup runneth over.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Announcement

Posted in Life on December 22nd, 2005

I hereby formally apologize for bending my girlfriend in half and making her kick the headboard. If she doesn’t finish her x-mas baking, it’s all my fault.

The Cyberwolfe

From the Bench: ID unconstitutional!

Posted in Politics on December 20th, 2005

From CNN.com:

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) — “Intelligent design” cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said.

Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.

That’s right, folks, the Judge caught the proponents of ID outright lying to him in an effort to prove their case any way they could. Here’s a hint: if you have to lie to change someone’s mind, then chances are you’re WRONG!

And don’t go off about how the Judge made a snap decision based on his own beliefs or something – the man sat down and wrote a 139-page dissertation on his legal opinion.

Bye-bye, thanks for playing.

Book Report: At All Costs

Posted in Reviews on December 18th, 2005

David Weber started a series of books many years ago based on the life and career of one Honor Harrington, in what later become known as the “Honorverse”. The title character starts out as a Captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy, and the series itself is best described as “hard military sci-fi”.

Thankfully, the author takes pains to understand that not all of his readers may truly appreciate the extent of his math skills, and puts the hardest part of the science in easily spotted paragraphs that can be basically ignored, allowing the reader to concentrate on the story elements and character interaction.

In what appears to be the final book of the series, At All Costs centers on the events following the Republic of Haven’s resumption of the war between itself and the Manticoran Alliance. Haven begins to suspect that they have been manipulated by one of their own politicians into resuming the war, and are desperately trying to find a way out of it while at the same time persuing the conflict.

Meanwhile, back on Manticore, they’ve managed to kick the High Ridge government out and are working towards putting another kick-ass fleet together – with Admiral Honor Harrington at the helm, of course.

Considering the vast distances involved in this sort of interstellar conflict, there is ample time for a few sub-plots to crop up or carry over from previous installments. This book also references events that have taken place in other ‘sidebar’ books, so if you haven’t read every book out in the “Honorverse”, you may have to muddle along in some parts. It doesn’t really affect the total book, but it does leave you wondering on occasion. As another good point, Baen Books included another CD with the rest of the series. So if you don’t mind reading on your computer, you can go back and catch up on any books you missed.

Other points, both good and bad (and spoiler warning): Read the rest of this entry »

When you make an assumption…

Posted in Work on December 17th, 2005

…you make and ass out of ‘you’ and ‘umption’.

Started off the day with our “Lead Tech” calling in sick, so I had to pick up some of his workload. This turned out to be a good thing and a bad thing. Good for the client, bad for me.

The task was to re-locate an office network one floor down. Three companies used to share a building in NW Industrial, but one company moved out. Company B opted to expand into the vacant space. It’s an older building, but it has been pretty thoroughly wired-up over the years, so no real problem, right? Ha.

Assumption: All three companies were sharing out a T1 for internet access. Therefore all we really need to do is swap out the old hub for a shiny new switch and maybe supply a couple of new patch cables.

Reality: Two of the three companies were sharing out the T1, Company C actually had their own little wiring closet with a DSL link. Funny how Mr. Lead Tech failed to notice this when he did notice the hub – which is in the little closet.

So, there I am, without any of my tracing tools trying to figure out why in hell I can’t get a signal no matter what I do with the wiring. After 1.5 hours of head-wall-interfacing, I finally got their other phone tech on the line and he told me about the DSL. No fucking wonder I couldn’t get an IP. Ok, new office network needs to connect to old router…hmm. Router is already full, and all of the old jacks will be used by Company A’s expansion. Lines 1,2, and 3 are labeled, but where does 4 go?

Through the wall, around the corner, up the next wall to the roof, along that rafter there, where it…disappears into the insulation. Crappity. Well, I’ve traced out (the hard way) every other line in this bloody place, I’ll just unplug it and see who complains. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Ok, test a few stations – they’ve all got network access. Maybe it wasn’t in use. Maybe I’m done. Cool! Wait – is that copier networked?

Yup.

On a home-run to the router. Instead of the switch across the room. Of course there aren’t any other outlets on that wall, and the bloody thing can’t be moved. Hmm…there’s about 100′ of wire over in that corner they aren’t using, and that wall doesn’t go all the way to the roof; if I drape that line over that rafter there, and tape it to the top of the false wall…

Got a ladder?

Ten minutes later of me doing my squirrel impression, and the copier is back on the network, Company B is live, and their voicemail server even works. Total time: 2.75 hours.

Estimated time if (A) Mr. Bonehead Lead Tech had asked the right people and / or actually looked at things or (B) I had had my network tool kit with me: 0.5 hours.

Okay sure, we got to charge more this way, but it also made one part of my company look damned stupid to a long-term customer. Not necesarilly a good thing.

Maybe we don’t need to Act quite so Patriotic

Posted in Politics on December 16th, 2005

From CNN.com:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans’ privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

This debate has been going back-and-forth for some time now, with fervent opinion from both sides. For example:

“The time for Democrats to stop standing in the way has come.” –White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

Funy, here’s what one of the Republican nay-sayers had to say:

“Those that would give up essential liberties in pursuit in a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security,” –Sen. John Sununu, R-New Hampshire

You tell ’em, Johnny!

You can fin a list of the dying provisions here.

In Memoriam

Posted in Life on December 15th, 2005

We have terrible news from the home front. Some time in the wee hours night before last, Tweaker, our Resident Rodent, passed into the great Hamster Heaven.

He was found on his wheel, with no apparent cause of death. He was in excellent shape for a hamster, well-fed and he got plenty of exercise spinning that wheel at all hours of the night. I myself saw him running that night before I went to bed, and he seemed fine.

Foul play is not suspected – his habitat has not been tampered with, and the two primary suspects for foul play would have been our feline masters Zoe and Trouble. Zoe has been a housecat for too long to care about any food that doesn’t come from my hands, and Trouble is just too stupid. (Honestly – I have seen this cat stare at tuna in his dish with that “what the hell is this?” look on his face while Zoe is inhaling her share.)

I think it was just his time.

Please take a moment to dig through your MP3 collection for the bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace” and play it in his honor. I think he would have loved to hear cats being tortured.

Freaking the Mundanes

Posted in Life on December 9th, 2005

Feeling the urge to scribble, but nothing recent worth scribbling about, so here’s this instead:

Many years ago, sometime around the time I was three and my brother was six and starting school, I proudly announced to Mom that my invisible friend and I were enrolling in Sword School. Mom, being the understanding soul she is, took it in stride. She was not surprised, however, when I later found and joined the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Lucky Dog Dave, a friend of mine in high school shared a French class with me. I had a knack for the language and Dave had a knack for hearing my nearly-inaudible whispered hints, so were fast friends. (He got the name from a dog food commercial he could immitate to hilarious extent.)

Anywho, a few weeks into the class he suggested I come down to the Rennaisance Faire that was to be held soon and check out the club he was in. He described it as “D&D-like” and thought I’d get a kick out of it. Sounded like fun to me, so I went.

My hometown of Grants Pass (knowne in the SCA as Myrtleholt) is a small shire, and there were only a dozen or so folks hanging around, but it was a good bit of fun. People walking around in funny clothes, speaking in funny accents, and actually putting on armor and beating on each other. I was wearing a loaner tunic and doing my best (horrible) King’s English accent in minutes.

Later, Dave and some others dragged me to the after-revel at the Seneschal’s house. (A Seneschal is a government official in the SCA.) Then they truly sunk the hook in my cheek: they had sexy bellydancers, and one of them was my age!

Within the next two years, … Read the rest of this entry »

Google Loves us better

Posted in Geekery on December 9th, 2005

Google, the penultimate search engine, has been dipping it’s toes in many varied waters recently, as you all know. One of the more useful to me has been Google Maps, which I use every day to find where many of my customers live. Today, they released the beta for Google Transit, a service to help you plot a path on public transport to your destination.

This is really a happy mash-up between Maps and your local transit provider’s schedules and route maps. Enter a starting point and destination, it gives you a route and several time options. Add an ETA to your query, and it will give you more narrow results based on that. A truly nifty idea.

The best part is that our beloved Portland is the first city to get the service. Go Portland! I’m guessing this is primarily because our transit system rocketh mightily, and Tri-Met already had a ton of info available on the ‘Net.

Of course, there is going to be the oddball thing showing up. In looking up Tri-Met’s website just now, I find the following:

It all started on the bus

Fifty years ago, Rosa Parks (19132005) was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. TriMet is commemorating this historic event and Rosa Parks’ legacy.

Bus service changes effective Dec. 4

Schedules were adjusted on 8 bus lines as of Sunday, December 4. Line 83-Park Blocks was discontinued.

Whoops!

Ok, this is obviously just one of those unhappy coincidences – line 83 wasn’t getting enough riders to justify the expense, and it just happens to go through the Park Blocks, and Rosa’s last name just happens to be Parks.

Timing is everything.