May 2006
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Archive for May, 2006

Weekend Update

Posted in Life on May 30th, 2006

Well, our second foray into eventing this year went pretty good. Yes, it rained nearly the entire weekend, but the sunny part came on the last day, allowing our gear to dry out before having to pack it – yay!

The main bummer for me was the fact that I actually had money to spend this time, and the one thing I wanted was a new pair of boots – something which none of the merchants available thought to bring. Pirate clothing of every other sort was there, just no boots. Bastards!

Tolerant and I were first to arrive on-site, and had to go through the rigmarole of tracking down the landocrat and securing space for our group, which was a bit tricky since everyone and their uncle Bob seemed to get there before we did. As luck would have it though, we got space near both biffies and a source of water with enough space for us to throw up the whole kit-and-kaboodle of tents we brought. Which, for 5 people, turned out to be three personal tents, a 22-foot main pavilion, a kitchen pavilion and a shower tent. Yes, we try to bring it all with us.

No, Grau, we’re not wimps. We just refuse to live in squalor like you black-powder-sniffing freaks :) The main pavilion (Nightsky) also functions as a lure, drawing passing party-goers in where we may knock them out and steal their booze bid them join in our revelry!

The mud almost worked in favor of our entertainment value, since the main walkway outside Nightsky was a bit of a slippery mess. Alas, we were not able to do the Patented Gypsy Point-and-Laugh, since nobody slipped.

We’ll put more bacon grease in there next time!

Once more into the breach!

Posted in Life on May 24th, 2006

Going to The Pirate Gathering this weekend, and in fine Oregon tradition, the forecast for Memorial Day weekend (which marks the beginning of barbecue season in even slightly more southern climes) looks like shit. More thunderstorms are expected.

The good news is that they may call for rain, but it looks like it won’t be freezing like it was at the last event. I know how to stay dry in An Tir weather (been SCA-ing up here most of my life, after all) but freezing is something you just can’t get used to.

I think I’ll buy a new tarp on the way out of town.

On the other geekery side of things, you may notice the thing at the very bottom of the page where it lists how many spam comments have been killed by my SpamKarma2 installation here on the blog – over 1500 to date since install. In all of those, I’ve had to manualy moderate maybe a dozen, and sometimes it has caught close to 200 in a two-day stretch!

So, if you are getting hounded by spam comments, check it out.

It never ends

Posted in Life on May 18th, 2006

At least, not when you own an older Chevy.

You’ll remember the last car-related post where I mentioned that it blew the replacement alternator? Well, I found another problem that may have been caused by or the cause of said malady.

It seems the low-to-midrange acceleration in my car went to hell last week. The ignition would cut out for a second, unless I was A.) moving at a steady speed, B.) accelerating very carefully or C.) punching it to the floor. Definitely not conducive to happy driving or fuel economy. So, I swung in to Tolerant’s bro-in-law’s garage, and he diagnosed it as a faulty ECM unit.

That’s right, the fekking computer crapped out on me. Good news: easy to replace, actual plug-and-play equipment. Bad news: just as expensive as the alternator. If I could lay my hands on a copy of the schematics, I’d try and fix the computer instead of replacing it.

I’ve only driven it around the block so far tonight, but it seems to have done the trick nicely. I love the ten-minute fixes.

All twitterpated and shit

Posted in Life on May 16th, 2006

Weekend Recap Time! Actually, this goes back a bit longer than the weekend, but you’ll see why.

Last Saturday, Tolerant went up to the 40-Year Celebration with Illyana, like I told you before. Well, it seems that Monday night, Tolerant got a wee bit too tipsy and was smooching on a gent camped with them – an old friend of the family. Nothing serious happened, but she still called to tell me about it on Tuesday night, feeling a little guilty about things and needing to know what I thought about the situation.

See, we started dating while I was rather seriously involved with another woman in an open relationship. As such, we set the rules for our own relationship to “open”, but never went anywhere with it. Frankly, an SCA event is the only place either one of us could think of where such a situation may crop up, so we made allowances for event flings (and there’s always the possibility of a Gypsy Pigpile to consider *LOL*).

The rule was to call if at all possible, but she had never thought she would be the one calling. I’m still a pretty open-minded guy and I trust her, so I told her just to be careful and check his references. Who wants to go a whole week horny if they don’t have to?

Keep reading… Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the Middle Ages

Posted in Life on May 11th, 2006

After a long hiatus, Tolerant and I have decided to get back into the SCA this year, if only a little. There are three events that our House will be attending, but only one of them is a sanctioned SCA event.

There is The Gathering in late May I think, which I believe has never been SCA, just built around that idea. It has been growing more popular over the past few years because the big SCA event that happens on the same weekend has been going to pot badly, with a string of management issues and bad sites.

Then there’s Gypsy Days / Sea Dog Nights (mostly just called Sea Dog) in late July which started out SCA, but then the BOD decided they didn’t like the way the event was being run – how dare the Autocrat offer to have more biffies delivered instead of turning people away from the event! So now it is an unsanctioned event that scads of people go to anyway.

This week, however, is the SCA’s 40th Anniversary celebration. The An Tir version is being held up in Randle Washington, and it runs from last weekend through this weekend. Nothing like camping with several thousand of your closest friends, wot? Since I couldn’t afford the whole week off, I will only be attending this weekend. The Ratboy is seriously bummed, since he has to work Saturday and can’t go with.

Tolerant, however, jumped in the deep end with our Lady Illyana and has been there all this week suffering through mostly bad weather and trying to compensate for dehydration and high altitudes. I can’t wait to get up there, so I have taken tomorrow off from work.

So, first thing I take Pookie to school, then straight to the store for supplies. Swing back to the house to shovel the accumulated detritus out of the Beastie, and then shovel in my gear. This won’t take long – I packed most of what I need last weekend, and Tolerant took all the big stuff with her last Saturday. Top off the fuel, and I should be on the road (hopefully) by 10:00am and singing bad ballads at the top of my lungs all the way.

“…And in a startled voice he cries / to what’s before his eyes
Ach lad, I don’t know where ye’ve been / but I see ye’ve won first prize!”

The joy of server rollouts

Posted in Life on May 10th, 2006

One of our clients has a server we have been limping along for several months. It runs an old DOS database that the client is in the market to replace, but we decided that the random crashes mean we can’t wait for the new to replpace the old. In line with this, we built them a handsome new server powerful enough to handle any of the current software solutions the client might purchase. Today was install and migration.

The domain has been screwy for some time now, and today I got a look into all the things that were causing problems on a software level. It turns out that (unbeknownst to me) a server I pulled out of the network and rebuilt some time ago was actually a backup domain controller. It’s ghost was still mucking about in the system, though, and prevented us from integrating the new server until it was cleared out. Whoops.

Unfortunately, there were other things wrong – like the fact that for DNS to work properly on a domain controller, the DC’s own NICs have to point to itself. And no, the DNS installation wizard does not do that for you or ever mention the idea. Useful information that is now imprinted on my brain for life.

The list doesn’t stop there, but it does involve about 15 command-line scripts that the Server2003 installation wizards never mention. It is quite obvious to me now that I need to purchase myself a book detailing all the tips and tricks of Windows Server2003.

For now, though, we realized that with less than 20 users on the network, it would be quicker and easier to rebuild the domain from scratch on the new machine than try to iron out all the little bullshit preventing the by-the-book method of join server to domain, promote inside domain, demote old server. And we were right, and it now works just fine.

Login speeds have improved dramatically; there is a ton more storage on the new SATA array; they have a real tape backup system; and I can now complete the rollout of the corporate-edition anti-spyware solution that would not run on Server2000.

Next step is to take the old server back to the shop for some serious hardware diags and a tune-up or possible re-pave to Server2003. Better yet, I’ll throw SuSE on the damn thing. Okay, I can’t really do that, since we can use it as a backup DC once we get the crashes sorted out.

Rats.

More fun with wrenches

Posted in Life on May 9th, 2006

So, after I replaced the alternator in the Beastie last month, things were fine until about a week ago when I noticed that after I got a few blocks from home, the Charging light would come on for a couple minutes, and then go off again. Worrisome, but as long as it was running right the rest of the time…

But no, this morning the light came on and stayed on, all the way to work, even after I stopped and re-started the car a couple times trying to shake it loose. Nothing for it but to take it back for exchange, right? So I did. And the fucking thing passed all the tests, just like my battery did a few months ago.

This time, I just stood there and kept giving the guy behind the counter my unhappy face until he exchanged it. It was against policy, but I explained that the problem usually doesn’t show up for 5 minutes, where their test only lasts thirty seconds. Eventually he gave in to me and swapped it out.

So far, so good – I made it home from the shop without any trouble lights. Tomorrow will be the real test.

Bachelor Life

Posted in Life on May 7th, 2006

Check out the new page to your left: Surviving Bachelor Life

Something stinks in Denmark

Posted in Life on May 2nd, 2006

Okay, maybe not quite Denmark, but the client in question is out in Sandy, which sometimes feels that far away.

Got a call last week that one of the terminals at a clien’ts business had managed to get a virus. Considering the presence of a masterfully tuned installation of SAV10, this was a rare feat indeed for the virus sender.

One look at the screen said it all: the culprit was one of many variants that turns the affected host into a spam relay – as evidenced by the no less than 37 email scans in constant process. Logs revealed a multitude of random email addresses and bogus subject lines. Oh – and the damn thing spreads itself via file sharing protocols across a network.

Nuh-uh. Nobody turns my systems into a botnet!
>click< as the network card is disabled. SAV quick scan...target acquired. Download removal tool from Symantec, follow simple instructions... >beep< The light is green, the trap is clean. Turns out only the one system was compromised, and it had to be by inadvertant user assistance. (The poor sod clicked on something somewhere...) The beauty part is the only folder available via file-sharing at the time was the data folder that is only accessed by an ancient DOS database - and DOS is too stupid to know what to do with this bit of virus code. In other DOS fun, I was suckered into responding to a post on Craigslist from someone having trouble re-formatting a disk for an XP install. They are currently running into just about every problem they can have. It sounds like the whole thing started with a mildly corrupt mbr that hosed the install process - not a big deal. Turns out there is an undocumented feature of fdisk for erasing and re-writing the master boot record of the drive, and that should fix their problem. Only they don't have a boot disk. Ok, send 'em a link to bootdisks.com...oh, they don't have a floppy drive. Ok, quick tutorial on making a boot CD with the proper tools... Now I'm waiting for the email that says they don't have a CD burner available to them. That's when they hear about my fee structure.