Friday, December 19, 2008

Sums it up...



Goes with;

Q: What do all religions have in common?
A: The belief that they are the only right one

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They Didn't Forget!

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 648655

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aw come on Murphy, I've got a cold!

The family is coming out of having been sick since just before Thanksgiving. Started with my eldest and rippled through the house. Mostly bit the wife and I due to our allowing our guard down when we were stressed out over the holiday and dojo events. What does a sick Dad need while thinking feels like pushing threads through ballistics gel with a needle? A sick computer!

During all this my gaming rig started flaking out. This is my home built NewEgg special that has gone along like a trooper up until, well, it stopped. Close to two years now if the last BIOS update is correct. So much for sitting down and relaxing reading email or gaming. Now I get to finish my work day and see if it boots.

I still get nervous booting it, even though now, it looks like I figured it out. Mostly.

You want to know why there are PC Geeks? Electronics Geeks? etc.? Easy. They have a stubborn streak that even when they are feeling like crud the given technology will not beat them. I spent a few days pulling SATA cables, updating BIOS and chasing configurations. But I did beat it, even with a cold. Looks like the memory may be going, but splitting the chips over the two memory channels fixed things (reseating it could have fixed it) for now.

___________________________________________________
For my fellow Geeks or the morbidly curious...

I was powering up my system, all indicators looked good, when my fans would all go to max power - as if the system was overheated. Even though it was sitting in a cold (60 degree F) room and hadn't been powered on. Initially, doing a few resets would clear it.

Then it wouldn't. Then pulling random SATA cables cleared it, or the act of powering off the PS and doing work did. Then that didn't.

And finally, when I had both Memory chips out and wanted to check something in the BIOS, I had the eureka moment. The system, without memory, went into the "max fan speed" situation. Oh, so this is how you indicate you think you don't have memory? Cute.

ASUS, if your reading, I dislike that your POST will not run when you feel there is no memory. Spinning my fans up to maximum doesn't say squat to me other than "I'm a confused mother board".

After this I tested each chip independently, both showed 1G, as expected. In case it was getting weirded out having the memory chips on the same memory channel, I moved them so that one is on A and one is on B (the motherboard docs don't say anything helpful here, and the original configuration worked for a few years so...). So far, so good. Next will be replacing the memory should things flake again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A neat twist on dealing with the holidays....

I've been a fan of Dumb Little Man since I discovered it earlier this year. Today they posted "Used your Management Skills to Build a Stress-Free Christmas". I was skeptical, but it was well worth the read.

Here are a few of my fave's...
  • A project always takes three times longer than you anticipate. So plan shopping trips, drives to the store, getting the family ready to go to the party. If you build in an extra 15 (or 30!) minutes of lead time, that heavier-than-usual traffic will not tip you over into road rage and ruin your holiday spirit.

  • Accept less than perfection: You know when you're working on that special report and you reach the point when you say, "OK, that's it. That's all they get." The same thing applies to Christmas presents. Accept that there is no perfect one.

  • In your heart you know that the odds are whatever you give might be the wrong color. Or not the exact shade of the right color. One size too small. One size too big. If your objective is to be perfect, you set yourself up for failure. Aim for that golden mean, give your gift with a big smile and a hug and enjoy life.
    My add to the list would be Schedule time for yourself. At work when you need to get something done, you can go off and schedule a meeting with yourself. My Boss's Boss a few jobs back would do this; Take over a conference room for an hour to get something done. The rule being he was in a meeting, and could only be validly interrupted if you would interrupt a normal meeting. Result? He had time to get stuff done and we all knew to leave him alone.

    Given my wife's family (now 36 grandkids, 17 adults, and various friends of family) there are times where you need to get away. Take a walk, hide outside, whatever. If it helps reduce your level of stress or overwhelmedness (god help me when the grammar police see that miscarriage of verbage) will help you enjoy the holidays. Trust me, your family will understand.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    And in other news...

    On Saturday my wife and son were up for their next rank at the Dojo. For the adults, this means you've probably been stressing about it, overtly, for at least a few days - possibly longer. For the kids, it's usually a serious amount of excitement. Usually.

    This time my son had himself wound up. I'm not sure if he knew it, and we didn't know it, until the day of. For the last week he's been unusually quiet and kept having these odd emotional out bursts. Nothing any of us could pin down. As I drove him to his test it became obvious; he spent the whole trip, and the rest of the weekend, talking. Guess he had a lot of pent up chatter from being quiet!

    Both received their new rank! My wife getting her Green belt and my son getting his "Favorite Color" (Blue) belt. I'm very proud of them both - it was a busy day!

    And in a surprise twist, I was awarded 2nd degree brown. Eeek. That much closer to the test.

    This time, L0L Cats ftw....


    Never forget.

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    And exactly how do I use this road then...?


    I'm driving to pick up the kids from school yesterday and I end up behind this truck. It's a public road, and we're both stuck at the same set of lights.

    How exactly can I not follow him?!

    Paradoxical stupidity ftw.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    The makings of Skynet?


    The video is about a scientist who took some rat brain tissue, broke it down into neuron level components, and provided input from a flight simulator to and from the resulting goo. The neurons were able to start self organizing and learn to fly a computer flight simulation.

    Very cool experiment, and the whole time I'm thinking "Where's the Terminator?"

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    You just got pwned.

    Mornings, a time for reflection, quiet, contemplation. Not. I have 3 kids, mornings are a time for energy, excitement, and the occasional (ok, often) wise crack. This morning I'm making my breakfast and my wife is explaining how she slept better after getting the humidifier going last night.

    Wife: "... and I didn't wake up as ..."

    My 4 year old, without missing a beat, interjects: "Emotional?"

    I was glad I wasn't drinking anything. I would have sprayed it all over the kitchen as the laughter struck me. Point awarded to the 4 year old!

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Friday, November 07, 2008

    A tribute to John Williams...

    Now that's my kind of rule....






    Now that's someone who's thinking. The whole set of images can be found here. It's a series of images from Zoo's worldwide.

    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Which one wins?

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people.

    He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

    'The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

    The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Quirk with Postfix and Dovecot...?

    Over the weekend I got pulled into a tech call where my "CEOs Email wasn't working". To setup things here, we're on CentOs 4.latest with Postfix 2.2.10 and Dovecot 0.99. All patches are applied and up to date.

    Sure enough there were a few pop3 processes sucking down 100% CPU loads. The log showed:
    Nov 2 12:39:57 mail pop3(ceo@domain.com): Timeout while waiting for release of shared fcntl() lock for index file /var/spool/mail-domains/domain.com/CEO/mail/.imap/INBOX/.imap.index
    A quick look showed that there were multiple processes locking out the file. After some "duhs" I got the right processes stopped, killed the remaining, and restarted. No change. Restarting all processes involved also showed no change. The moment the user came in, things locked back up. Tried removing and rebuilding the IMAP files, no change.

    Eventually, I came around to the old standby and I did a $ mail -f CEO/mailbox and then quit out. That fixed it. Still not sure why.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Emotions in Music

    Quickly, name a song that has meaning to you. How about one that causes a specific emotion when you hear it? Perhaps it makes you sad, agitated, aggressive; something. In my collection I have a number of songs that will do that, but one always makes me sad. It's from a game I've never played; Halo 3.

    I never played Halo 3 because I already have a subscription to the Microsoft Operating System required upgrade plan -- I wasn't getting sucked into the Microsoft Game Console upgrade plan as well.

    The penance exacted by Microsoft is that they released Halo 3 only on the 360. After having loved the first one, suffered the injustice of the abrupt cliff hanger in the 2nd, I never got to see the ending. Still, I own the soundtrack. A soundtrack with a song that causes me to feel sad every time it comes on. What's a geek to do?

    Exactly. YouTube.

    The ending, with the song, is posted so we can see how things finish for the Master Chief. The Admiral has a small speech he gives that speaks beyond the game;
    For us, the storm has passed. The war is over. And let us never forget those who journeyed into the howling dark, and did not return. For their decision required courage beyond measure. Sacrifice, an unshakable conviction that their fight -- our fight, was elsewhere. As we start to rebuild, this hillside will remain barren, a memorial to heroes fallen. They ennobled all of us, and they shall not be forgotten.
    I could see the same speech being given when our troops come home. To all soldiers, real and virtual. You will not be forgotten, and may time grant you the gift to forget that which you need to.

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    A picture is worth 700 billion....

    "A demonstrator holds up a sign behind U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (L) and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke (R) during a hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee September 23, 2008 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Bush administration officials were testifying about a proposed $700 billion bailout that they hope will stabilize the faltering U.S. financial system. (Getty | Chip Somodevilla)"

    Original can be found here.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    lol...

    My home office is in the cellar and I have one window. It's not far off from a cube in the farm at the typical office. I get some sun, but not much. Occasionally I take over the upstairs and enjoy a day of sunlight.

    Today the family isn't here. Two thirds of the kids at school, the other with Mom visiting family. Leaving Dad, upstairs, away from his decent sound system and stuck with laptop speakers if I want to listen to my MP3s.... after awhile I started eyeing the house stereo system, I know I don't have the cable to hook my laptop audio to the system ('cause I looked for it *sigh*) but I can fall back to burning CDs.

    I hope the neighbors are enjoying today's mix; new Theory of a Deadman and Metallica, mixed in with some older GodSmack, Disturbed and Nightwish.

    ... and it is more fun to headbang with longer hair. lol

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    TED Talk: The real difference between liberals and conservatives



    This talk is well worth the 18 minutes it takes to sit through it. I've quoted the summary, below, which is very brief. I really enjoy the TED talks I've watched - this one is no different.
    Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Yeah, that's my son....

    I've been working some days upstairs the past few weeks. This was part of today's morning routine. Somehow my son and wife ended up in the bathroom talking.

    "What's that Mama?" Asked my curious son.

    "Shaving stuff," answered my wife.

    "Daddy's?" That's my son, quickly parsing reality.

    "And mine too."

    "What do you shave?!" Asked my son almost before my wife had finished the previous answer.

    I lost it laughing. Not sure which was the best part; starting the day with a good laugh or my son having one of those reality shattering moments. Yes son, women shave too.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Ubiquity

    I'm a big fan of the 'launcher' space. I use Quicksilver on my Mac so often that I get pissed when I get home and forget I'm using my Windows system. Mozilla Labs just launched a Quicksilver-style addon for FireFox called Ubiquity.

    From the Devs:
    You’re writing an email to invite a friend to meet at a local San Francisco restaurant that neither of you has been to. You’d like to include a map. Today, this involves the disjointed tasks of message composition on a web-mail service, mapping the address on a map site, searching for reviews on the restaurant on a search engine, and finally copying all links into the message being composed. This familiar sequence is an awful lot of clicking, typing, searching, copying, and pasting in order to do a very simple task. And you haven’t even really sent a map or useful reviews—only links to them.

    Okay, that's somewhat long winded. Short version, being able to use Google Maps and Google Mail to quickly send someone directions is cool. Also being able to do in place highlighting and then email without having to do a screen cap and edit session is a time saver. Calculator? Sure. And plenty of other tricks for a pure alpha.

    I'm hooked. No shock.

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Things that should....

    ... make you go "Hmmm!?"

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Hmm, that didn't go as planned.

    No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
    — Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke
    Yeah, that sums it up. I finally upgraded to DD-WRT v24-SP1. Last time I upgraded my router was in 2006. What's that mean? Well, it means that my settings are gonna be garbage and my memory had best be working.

    For those in the know, skip this, for the rest I'll answer the "WTF are you talking about?!". Your connection to the internet likely goes through a box somewhere in your place that someone, somewhere, termed a router. Could be a Wireless-Router, Cable-Modem-Router, LinkSys-Router, etc. The names go on, but they all do the same basic thing, make sure that devices plugged into them or wirelessly accessing them, can get out onto the internet. Mine is a LinkSys WRT54GL v1.0 -- I know this because I had to go figure it out today to upgrade my router.

    Okay, so what happened? Well, I like LinkSys, but I really like DD-WRT. DD-WRT is an in place replacement for the software on my LinkSys taking it from "cool" to "OMFGR0x0rzb0x0rz" allowing me to do a lot of things I "need" to do, and some that are just fun... in the end I'm a geek after all.

    So, after figuring out what router I had, what version it was and what version of DD-WRT to put onto it to upgrade. I did the hard part (not) and flashed the new image onto the device - and it worked!

    Well, it worked as a serious block to productivity -- no network access. Fidgeted with settings, tweaked this, tweaked that. Ugh, okay, wtf?! Well, nothing is working, nothing I do is helping. I shall do what Geeks around the world must do at a time like this; admit defeat and reset to factory defaults (what did you expect? Google it? I had not net access... well, except off the iPhone, still, read the dox? Yeesh!) and reconfigure from memory.

    The reset did fix all my quirks, instant net access again. Thankfully my memory didn't suck too bad and I got the rest reconfigured so I don't have to go through the house telling all the wireless devices new keys (yuck).

    Now to go see what I can tweak.... *evil grin*

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Happy people dancing....


    Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

    The title, etc. are a direct copy. I was pointed to this by a coworker who found it on the APoD site.

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    User friendly my ......

    Like most of the addicts, the moment the new iPhone software came out I upgraded. There were a few apps I was curious to get my hands on from the new AppStore and some others that I'd blow some of my birthday money on as fun-to-have stuff.

    Cool. It's been working great. I pulled down Chopper and Things from the AppStore via my iPhone (this is the old one, not the 3G) and started playing. Cool. That was a few days back now.

    Today, all my apps stopped working. Not a crash, but clicking on any of my apps resulted in being booted back to the application menu. All iPhone native apps worked fine. WTF?

    After some googling I found the answer, but first, the why: Yesterday I downloaded my first App via iTunes and sync'd it. It worked fine, until I sync'd all my apps today. So what happened?

    Nothing, as it turns out. I was trying all kinds of crazy things, rebooting my iPhone, reinstalling my apps, etc. Nope - that wasn't it. All you need to do is bring up iTunes, click into the Applications folder and Double click on one of the Apps you downloaded on your iPhone. When it asks for your password, do so, and you'll be authorized. Your next Sync will fix things up.

    You shouldn't have to remove/reinstall the apps. I had already, so I can't be 100% sure, but what I read said you should be good.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    JibJab is back for 2008!

    Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    We Passed.

    For those that haven't heard, the wife and I both passed our belt exams. She has reached blue, and I brown (Our dojo goes: white - orange - purple - blue - green - brown - black). I could write a lot on the test itself from the opening run to the ending staring contest (seriously!) and all that transpired in between, but the thing that caught my attention was the next morning.

    As the house started to wake up, mainly the wife and I the kids were already up, my eldest daughter comes into our bedroom and asks "Is this cooking oil?". At that moment we were both wide awake. Our eldest is 8, can cook, and knows how to read. So the question was a little odd.

    "No," my wife answered. "That's vanilla." My wife got and up and they left the room.

    A little while later we were all seated in the dining room having pancakes. My eldest decided that our arms would be sore, so it would be nice if she cooked breakfast. She got her sister to help, and they made pancakes for everyone.

    It was a nice start to the Test Hangover day.

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    No more heckling me... it's science!



    Really! Give this guy credit for finding a reason to be playing his lvl 29 human, and ending up with a presentation to back it. Finally, finally, an explanation for the relativistic effects of time distortion in Azeroth *evil grin*.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    In honor of George Carlin.

    You'll be missed Mr. Carlin.

    In honor of one of Carlin’s more memorable routines, here now are the 7 words you can’t say on television: Shit. Piss. Fuck. Cunt. Cocksucker. Motherfucker. Tits.

    And the old Baseball vs. Football... enjoy.

    Backfired?

    With the kids getting older and my iTunes/MP3 collection growing I introduced the kids to burning CDs. I brought each one down to my work Mac and had them select enough of their favorite songs to fill a CD. They have been a smash hit. Each of the kids bedrooms has their own radio (with CD player) that they can listen to whenever, but usually at bedtime. I've been hearing the CDs at bedtime, on the main stereo, and even on my eldest's walkman.

    And there's the problem. My little system in the office downstairs can belt out the tunes, but it can't compete with three kids and the home audio system upstairs. May be time to invest in a headset.

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Dancing with the Stars...



    What? You thought I watched the TV one? You don't know the power of dark side....

    Poor Calvin



    Found the link over on Reddit. That's about as depressing as it can get for a Calvin fan.

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    Kung Fu Panda

    Was more than I expected it to be.

    Jack Black as a Panda had me picturing a different movie. Still, curious, the family went to see it for Father's Day and had a blast. A very enjoyable romp, with the kids leaving the theater trying to do the Wuxi Finger Hold to someone the entire way home (or trying to evade it as Dad tries to get their fingers).

    The credits floored me. As with any movie I want to see, I avoid the previews, trailers, and review sites. So I didn't know the names that were voicing the Five or their Master. Worth the watch. Even the Kung Fu was well done.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Yes, they did.

    I got one of the, now famous, rock emails today. If you haven't seen the work of Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II you want to check it out (and the Snopes entry saying TRUE). Every Memorial day, starting in 1999 he has repainted a rock on highway 25 in Iowa.

    I have seen these before. For whatever reason, I had never read the rock. I guess I had seen but not looked. Here's the image:


    In case you can't, or like me didn't, see it the caption reads:

    All gave some. Some gave All.


    Finding the original author (if you say Billy Ray Cyrus you get a free boot to the head) has proven difficult. There are many quotes, requotes, and reuse of this quote all over. I did see one attribution to a Korean war veteran, but nothing definite.

    Friday, June 06, 2008

    Mac Tools...

    As promised, no introspection posts for a bit. Instead, lets see what Mac tools are on the dock these days.

    TextMate - My programmers editor on the Mac. More pieces than I know how to use atm.
    Adium - Trilian on the Mac. AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, GTalk? Yes, and more.
    Things - The only way to track tasks, imo. You want to GTD, sure you can, otherwise home brew!
    QuickSilver - When I changed from PC to Mac. This was a lifesaver. Now it's an addiction.
    Pixelmator - PaintShopPro on the Mac, mostly. Still growing, very useful.
    Skitch - The only way to take and annotate screenshots
    SSHKeychain - Let something else worry about those SSH keys. Nice OSX integration.
    iTerm - Forget the regular terminal... I missed my tab bar.

    Those are the non-standard tools I use the most. TextMate and PixelMator require registration at some point. Skitch and Things are still in beta, but will be looking for cash. The rest are free.

    Downloaded, but untried:
    MeerKat - allegedly a big brother to SSHKeychain, but with a price tag.
    IceClean - System tuning helper.

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Creatively running....

    It's annoying. While running I'm composing these cool blog posts, by the time I get settled in I've forgotten them. Write them down while running! Uh, no. Running is for running, not stopping to write (although maybe while doing intervals). Part of what I'm trying to achieve while running is not stopping - taking notes would defeat that. Ah well, lets see if I can figure out where I left off.

    Last year I always had my iPod with me. The cadences were a big help keeping me moving in a good rhythm. This year I've been leaving it at home. Not that I don't start screwing them up, but my goals have been different. I've been forcing myself to deal with myself and not hide behind the music. Think of it as a running meditation.

    The results have been fun. On days where my mind is all over the place, my runs are horrid. Days where I can empty my mind and stay focused on the run, I do well. The experience has helped me to push past some of the stress that I've been incurring at work and with certain friends.

    Where ya going with this dude? Well, what cracked me up today was the broken cadence that kept cropping into my head:
    Up the hill! Down the hill! Around the hill! Back again!
    3 Miles. You can do it! If you try! Guts! Pride! Loyalty!
    Yes, it was a three mile route. I kept hanging up on that "Loyalty" one. After being zinged with the "You teach by hurting" I've been stuck in a self evaluation mode on my teaching skills. If it were any one else who had said it, I would have laughed it off and moved on, but someone that was once so close to me shook me up. I think I have an answer, though, and we'll let G'n'R put it into words:
    I know you don't wanna hear me cryin'
    An I know you don't wanna hear me deny
    That your satisfaction lies in your illusion
    But your delusions are yours and not mine
    We take for granted we know the whole story
    We judge a book by its cover
    And read what we want
    Between selected lines
    My promise: back to the normal babble on the next post. Enough of damning myself. Silence isn't golden when I'm holding it inside...

    ... I wonder if the RIAA is gonna hit me up for quoting lyrics?

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    Come again?

    I've been called many things but this one cracked me up...

    It reads "There are good and dad germs". *laughing* I know what she meant, but this version is much funnier. This was hung outside my son's cafeteria.

    Good, or bad?

    Support our Troops.
    If you can't stand behind them,
    then feel free to stand in front of them.
    My wife saw this one as a bumper sticker. I don't feel that it conveys the right meaning. You know I support our troops. They are doing a job, one they volunteered for, so we can do our job in making sure what they do "is the right thing".

    Part of what they defend, to steal a quote from Demolition man, is our right to be @$$h*les. Seriously. They are defending our right to have our own opinion, even if it differs from what is currently mainstream.

    Should those people be put on the front lines 0r, depending on your interpretation of that quote, shot? That' would be another of those opinions your entitled to.

    Personally, I think this one works better:

    Support our troops, they're doing their job.
    Question the Politicians, they have an agenda.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Paradox?

    I took the kids to the Memorial day parade, dedication, and wreath placing this year. It was the first year I "made" them sit through most of it, and they had a lot of questions. There's no doubt that they were there for the parade more than the speeches.

    As we walked from the town's Veteran's Memorial to the graveyard I was fielding all kinds of questions.

    "Who was the woman [who spoke]?" She was an Army Vet, recently released from Bethesda after having an IED "only do soft tissue damage" to her legs while deployed. She spent 6 months recovering and she walked in the Parade.

    That was the easy one this year. As we walked we started talking about why countries would go to war. I explained that it's a lot like the kids getting into a fight at school. It may make sense at the moment, but in the end you both end up beat and wonder why you did it. As I'm explaining this, I notice a woman in her late 40s hovering near us. As I start to wonder, and stop talking, she prompts me to continue.

    "I want to hear the end," she said. "You must be a teacher. Do you teach?"

    "No, I'm a software engineer."

    She continues with us as I finish the analogy and we all reach the graveyard for the Wreath Ceremony. I wish I had said thank you to her. She made my day with that simple complement - especially after a close friend told me that the only way I know how to teach is by hurting people.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Using Ubuntu or Debian? Read NOW.

    This comes from the SANS Storm Center:
    It is obvious that this is highly critical – if you are running a Debian or Ubuntu system, and you are using keys for SSH authentication (ironically, that's something we've been recommending for a long time), and those keys were generated between September 2006 and May 13th 2008 then you are vulnerable. In other words, those secure systems can be very easily brute forced. What's even worse, H D Moore said that he will soon release a brute force tool that will allow an attacker easy access to any SSH account that uses public key authentication.

    But this is not all – keep in mind that ANY cryptographic material created on vulnerable systems can be compromised. If you generated SSL keys on such Debian or Ubuntu systems, you will have to recreate the certificates and get them signed again. An attacker can even decrypt old SSH sessions now.
    If you've used Ubuntu or Debian to generate SSH, Certificates, etc. get to regenerating them before the tools to break the keys are fully in the wild.

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    A week of things that make you think....



    This is a video of a lecture at UC Berkley in 2007. It's another of those worth your time to watch. This one is a bit longer than reading the article from the last post, and just as thought provoking.

    It's too bad information of this level is confined to the Lecture circuit, while Britney, Miley and George hog the headlines and distract folks from what will be affecting them soon enough. At what point did we start assuming that people were too stupid to deal with real issues... Fox? NBC? Beuller?

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Culture of Quitting? g

    I caught a serious article from The Daily WTF over on Del.icio.us today; "Up or Out: Solving the IT Turnover Crisis". I hadn't thought about employment in these terms before;
    ... if a company embraced a culture of quitting. If they were upfront with their employees and said something to the effect of, “we know that you’re not going to retire here; in fact, after two to three years, we know you’ll be ready to move on to a different job. But before that happens, we want to make sure that you feel that you’ve done an excellent job here and are leaving with some solid experience under your belt. Of course, there are a handful of architect and management positions available, but you’ll really need to demonstrate commitment before even being considered for those. Obviously, that path isn’t for everyone.”
    It's an interesting observation on why people stay or leave a given company. I've been running into this one a lot lately:
    What was once “fresh new ideas that we can’t implement today” become “the same old boring suggestions that we’re never going to do”. Prior solutions to similar problems are greeted with “yeah, we worked on that project, too” or simply dismissed as “that was five years ago, and we’ve all heard the story.” This leads towards a loss of self actualization which ends up chipping away at motivation.
    Emphasis added. I'm still processing this article out on many levels. Check it out.

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Heh. Told ya.



    What a shock - new study shows that playing violent video games isn't the cause of violent behavior. I'm shocked. Really. Seriously.

    Not.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    It's not fixed, it's broken.



    Today our kitten goes in to get broken. Yes, I know the proper term is "She's going in to be fixed" but when she comes out of the operation exactly how is she "fixed"? She's not broken right now, and the surgery is to stop her procreational activities (and the hours of meowing) -- and that biological imperative was working fine when she went in. Thus, when she comes out, she's broken... not fixed.

    In any case, I was greeting with a similar LoLCat this morning. Since her surgery requires 11 hours of no food/water all of the animals get to suffer with her. Even the dog's food, what was left of it, is hidden as a few of the cats will eat that even if they have their own. All of them had a similar look to the cat in the pic above.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Sorry Microsoft....

    It has happened. Unthinkable! Deranged! Pick your favorite exclamation - my network is no longer a Microsoft Ad. The Apple Guy has broken in. The wife needed a new computer that could play WoW, PokerStars, web browse, do email, and work on photos. Hmm, all those tools come pretty clean on a new Mac. So she is the proud owner of a new MacBook Pro.

    The conversion went pretty simply. Moving her address book, photos, and WoW install was simple. WoW ships both OS X and WinXP on the same disks (Go Blizzard!) so 10 CDs later (original and BC) WoW was working. Outlook Express' address book is easily exported as a CSV and reimported into Address Book on the Mac. Photos slide easily into iPhoto. The "worst" thing I had to do was get Outlook's folders into Mail.app.

    Even that wasn't so bad, as long as you have a working Windows PC. You can run DbxConv on your Windows PC (or someone's Windows PC) and convert the DBX files to Mbox which Mail.app can import easily.

    Even PokerStars cooperated releasing a beta native OS X client. The world is ending.

    Now to see if she gets hooked or kills me.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    The Saga isn't over?

    Irony: Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs

    I thought the drama with Alienware was over. It's been over a year since I sold the beast and upgraded it to an iPhone (Yes, I still think that was a good trade). Today I'm reviewing my spam folder and I find a Customer Satisfaction Survey from Alienware!

    Okay, bad choice of targets guys. I think your average score was "Sucked". I'm certain that you never listened, or tracked, what I told you on the 6+ tech calls. Nor did you hear me when I sold your system to get a smartphone.

    Yes, I filled it out. I wonder if they will contact me to "learn more" about the situation. If their processes are constant, I'll get another of these next year after having heard nothing about this one.

    Would you recommend Alienware to people purchasing a new PC?
    (d) Definitely Not.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Okay, I'm scared....

    Now I know why the RIAA is so adamant about chasing down pirates!

    It's where they make their money... oh wait, that's the 1790s, it's fair game to plagiarize, right? *snicker*

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Dog owners in Amsterdam are angry after the city legalised public sex in one of the city's most famous parks.

    Councillors agreed that heterosexual and gay couples could have sex in the Vondelpark which has ten million visitors a year.

    But they promised to clampdown on dog owners who let their pets walk in the park without a lead.

    One dog owner protested: "As long as the park has existed, we've been allowed to let our dogs run freely. It's outrageous that we will be punished from now on but public sex won't."

    A spokesman for the council which runs the southern part of Amsterdam said: "When the dogs are not kept on a leash they pee on whatever they see and they cause a lot of nuisance for other visitors."

    Alderman Paul Van Grieken defended the decision to allow public sex in the park from September.

    "Why should we oppose a rule on something you can't oppose a rule on. Moreover it isn't a nuisance for the other visitors and gives a lot of pleasure to a certain group of people," he said.

    "There still are rules," he added. "They must take their garbage with them afterwards and never have intercourse near the playground. The sex must be limited to the evening hours and night."

    This begs a "someone screwed the pooch" comment, but, ew!

    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Now that's a cover!

    The Final Countdown by Europe.... as done by a symphony orchestra and 3 cellos...



    Edit: You can hear more songs from Melo-M on their mySpace page and get info on their site.

    Friday, February 29, 2008

    And I thought I had it rough.

    From XKCD - No way to explain this comic but to read it.

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Look! Flying Pigs!

    I finally coerced my wife to get her Google tools set up properly last night. In honor of her finally getting Reader going, I thought I'd post the top ten eight (in no particular order) of blogs that I enjoy reading.
    I can has cheezeburger?This internet phenom is up there with AYBARBTU, you've either heard of it, or your about to go "Is this where those cat pics with bad grammar come from!". This is where Ceiling Cat hides, and no, I don't have the bucket.
    WoW InsiderYou knew I had at least one, right? This is my main resource for WoW related info. It's gotten very busy as its popularity has increased, but it doesn't suck yet.
    Zen HabitsKinda in the GTD space, this blog contains a lot of tips and ideas for self-improvement. Thankfully it's not the 300 page kind but the "Hmm, that's interesting" kind.
    TUAWThe Unofficial Apple Weblog (now you know why folks call it TUAW) covers all things apple. It's the WoW Insider of the Apple space. Great resource on patches, upcoming stuff, software, etc.
    Cool ToolsThis is a low volume site that contains one cool tool (or item) per day. This is where I found the Total Shaving Solution I now use, and a few other cool things.
    LifehackerThis link is for the top 10. If you want to see the definition of high volume, Lifehacker keeps up with Digg and Reddit but on the life hacking side. You'll find all sorts of stuff here from Zen Habit's cross links to USB Docks for HDs.
    Download SquadSimilar to TUAW, but not Apple-centric. You'll find tools for all OS's crossing through here.
    PostSecretAnother internet Phenom. People mail this guy their secrets on postcards and he posts the more interesting ones. Go look, you'll be surprised. Not only has this caught on, it's spawned a few books.


    For the stat curious: I have 58 subscriptions, and over the last 30 days I have read 4,781 items, starred 1 items, shared 3 items, and emailed 13 items (from Reader Trends). Looks impressive until you realize I skim Reddit and Del.icio.us - talk about high volume!

    I made it to ten after all!

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Breaking out the classics

    It was a fun family weekend. On the parental side, we've finally started repainting the universe, starting with the ceilings (sorry, no ceiling cats found). The kids have been excited for us to start the painting projects as Mom has promised they can help with the walls. Since we weren't doing walls we compromised and the kids helped with fetching of tools, etc. and then we took them out to lunch and then did groceries.

    While at Stop & Shop we came across a board game kiosk. Yeah, I was surprised too. Monopoly, Battle Ships, Connect 4 -- all those staples of our youth. There were more but I focused in on battleships thinking the older two would have fun. They have been playing it ever since.

    Picture this; it's the heat of battle. My son has managed to sink 3, my daughter has sunk 4 and is searching for my son's patrol boat. It's her shot.

    Daughter: "I-1"
    Son: "HOW?!"
    Daughter: "I-1"
    Son, now getting agitated. "You didn't sink my last ship"

    Luckily Mom stepped in to explain that "I 1" was a coordinate, not a statement that he had lost to his sister. I'm so glad they don't equip these ships with nukes.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    The Internet is written by....

    ... coders drinking caffeine and listening to loud music.

    Seriously!

    For me, I had a deadline I had to meet and was having that feeling of "I can't get moving." I had lunch, grabbed a Mountain Dew on the way into the office, loaded up some "Motivational Music" (in this case, loud Nightwish) and got to work.

    The result? An couple hours later the deadline was achieved and sent out for review. I'm more relaxed, if on a high from the coding session, and things look good (until the users get their hands on the work *laughs*).

    Why does this work? The drink is probably psychosomatic, to some extent, but the rest had some interesting side effects:

    The loud music blocks out distractions and clearly indicates I'm busy. If the headset is on and you can hear the music, don't interrupt unless a server is literally on fire.

    I set my IM (Adium) to a "busy" message of "Working. Important IMs will be answered" and proceeded to ignore anything that came through that wasn't a coworker with an important issue (thank you Growl!)

    I then focused on my work. Oddly enough, in an interrupt free environment where I was relaxed and focused. Whoa, look! I did everything those "how to eliminate distractions and get stuff done" suggest and it all started when I got a dew, some tunes, and decided "this has to be done now."

    I'm sure there's a lesson in there....

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Zen Simplification

    I keep forgetting to post this (even if its posted in two different places in my home office. Doh!):
    Zen Simplification
    1) Collect everything in one place
    2) Choose the essential
    3) Eliminate the rest
    4) Organize the remaining neatly and nicely.
    Sadly I lost the original source. I have been doing this for years. The idea is simple, when an area (desk, cellar, garage, file system) gets filled up you go and Simplify it. Take everything and put it out in the open, find those things that you use, eliminate the rest (this includes the 'but I put this here for some reason!' items) and then organize the remaining.

    If you look back at my post about the cellar cleaning, this is what I did, even if I didn't call it out explicitly. Before I could get to rewiring the network I had to clean out the Christmas clutter that had accumulated. I pulled it all out, looked at what was used, what wasn't, and tossed everything in the latter category. The rest got organized, and then I dove into rewiring the network.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    That's why....

    I've been playing MP3s and streaming audio since I got hooked on both in a year my kids will remind me was before they were born. I enjoy finding and purchasing music. Sorry RIAA, I have actually *bought* mine, so don't hope to get another frivolous lawsuit out of this post.

    Through services like Pandora (and others who have end of lifed) I've found everything from Trans Siberian Orchestra to Nightwish and many in between. With my new found Apple addiction, I've gotten hooked on iTunes and allow myself part of my allowance each month to pick up new tunes. I'm afraid to look at the size of the folder.

    It has served me well. The kids enjoy the "Music that Dad made" on car rides (CDs with at least one favorite song for everyone) and I really enjoy tailoring mixes for my running, or work. When I have bad days at work it's nice to click on the "My Top Rated" in iTunes and let those songs that I really like overwhelm my bad mood.

    I'm not 100% sure the neighbors like it when I do this, as I have been known to tell friends "I can feel my keyboard vibrating" due to the volume level I'm playing things at. Still, if my idea of Zen meditation is rattling the rafters, tough. On days like that you don't want to tell me to turn it down.... encouragement to find a louder system you don't want to give me.

    Haven't tried iTunes? Give it a whirl. Prior to this I was using WinAmp (PC only), but I never made a connection with the rating system (although I'm a year out on releases now) which is what I've been using to good effect on the Mac.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Winter Cleaning?

    Finally this weekend I attacked my cellar. My home office and all of our computers are in the cellar. As well as anything else that gets dumped there. As we started to use the wireless connection more I had wanted to reorg the network to move the access point into a more open area. In order to do that I had to blast through the junk in the way.

    Funny how there are those points in the house that accumulate clutter. For us, the cellar had been the dumping ground for wrapped presents, boxes, left over wrapping paper, and more than a few cat toys (ranging from actual cat toys to 'which one of them stole that!?'). With my Son over Grandma's and the girls playing with friends, I dug in and started moving things.

    It always interests me how your mind works when your doing these things. I had been shifting and rerunning network cables while moving furniture and I had it my head that this one cable had to go. It ran from the old hub location to the new one, no need for that! No sooner had I gotten it removed than I realized I needed a wire running from one of the systems, where the hub had been, to the new hub. Could have moved it over and been done with it. Ooops. Ah well, the dust bunnies and I now have a new accord.

    After having finished the cellar, my wife and I attacked our bed room, another source of clutter. I wonder how much of the house is going to survive our Winter Cleaning.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    PEBCAK?

    Yes, I'm still enjoying my iPhone. Trust me, it's tweaking Verizon as much as some of you who are still shocked I bought one. Still, they did make me that amazing offer after I bought my $500 phone, that they'd take $10 off my next phone from them.

    Anyway, the latest patch for the iPhone came out over the past couple of days and this morning I found myself installing that, and the latest iTunes patch. Welcome to an impromptu patch day! For those that haven't gone through updating your iPhone, here's how it normally works:

    You plug in your iPhone, and iTunes lets you know that new software is available. After promising the EULA gods your first born, you start downloading. It automatically installs, restarts your phone, does some registration stuff and your good to go.

    Nothing too painful.

    Today, though, a new wrinkle; both the iPhone and iTunes had an update. I'm a seasoned software dude, I know this drill. Update the installer first! I aborted the iPhone update, and instead did the iTunes one. Good so far. Reboot required (rare, and still annoying).

    Came around, did the normal iPhone update, and I lost all connectivity to AT&T. Weird. Maybe it's a fluke. I'll keep an eye on it.... hours pass, no change. This is very odd, not only no bars I'm now getting "no service". Uh. Good patch. Okay, one last check. Lets plug it in and see if anything new syncs down.... *whirrr buzz click* "Activation successful!"

    Ah. Why didn't it do that during the upgrade like it usually does?

    If you have some quirks after install iPhone 1.1.3, unplug the USB and replug it in to kick up activation.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Firefox addons I now use...

    When I got the Mac for work I decided to do something weird - not install all of my FireFox addons. Given that it was a new OS and a new UI, it made sense that what I did on Windows XP may not be what I would need here.

    It was the right move. My Firefox addon list now looks like:

    Adblock Plus - There are Ads on the internet? You sure?
    Download Statusbar - A drop in replacement for the default firefox stuff. Really useful.
    Fancy Numbered Tabs - Puts a number on the tabs so you can Alt-# to them easily.
    (Wish this worked with the Noia theme *sigh*)
    FaviconizeTab - No surprise, for Pandora. Reduces a tab down to its favicon.

    Then for work;
    Firebug - Do web dev? Go get it.
    YSlow - Don't use this one as much, but it has some neat data
    Web Developer - I have to go see if I use this all the time and don't realize it, or never touch it.

    Since the Mac menuing system does what Personal Menu does, I didn't need to do that. There were a few others that fell by the wayside as well.

    What are the ones you guys live on that I don't use?

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    Beginnings....

    Funny how things make sense at, what seem like, odd times and places. This weekend I had time to reflect as I went for a walk with my youngest daughter. Her brother and sister wanted to play in the melting snowbanks but she wanted to go off and get some exercise. So we got the dog and headed out.

    Since it was just us, she had the luxury of being in control - no sister to argue with to be on point, no brother complaining. She directed the entire walk telling me when we needed to turn and where we were going. It was all she'd say - the rest of the walk was quiet and it left my mind wandering.

    As you've seen rumblings of here the fall of 2007 sucked for me. Work was hard - the transition to my new role shook up the family, as was expected, but the lack of the direction we expected my career to go in threw us for a loop and left a lot of questions. That stress pushed the right buttons to place some distance between everyone and cause a lot of friction. The resulting eruption wasn't fun - but did reset us back to normal.

    While all that was going on I was hitting another wall in my Martial Arts. A new plateau as I take the step from intermediate to 'advanced'. It sounds presumptuous to put it that way, but when I take my next exam I will be one rank from being Black belt. I'm not a beginner, I'm solidly an intermediate - and if you have a good term for not-intermediate and not-expert post it!

    Anyway, it was very easy to see what wasn't going right, but it wasn't so easy to figure out what to do to fix it. It felt like every turn ran into one wall or another. Frustrating to say the least, until I was able to break it up and start attacking parts that needed attacking and letting go of those that didn't.

    By the time of the walk, this was two months of history, and I was still puzzling over parts of it. Mentally I complained that at the start, of the job, of martial arts, it was all easier. I swear my mind has a hacked version of TiVo and Google running - instantly I heard a scene from Teen Titans where Robin was complaining about the same thing as he made his pilgrimage to find the True Master. She said to him:
    Beginnings are often easier; but look at all that you have learned [from your adventures]
    It got me reviewing all that I had learned over the past two years and made me realize, again, how silly I was being. Doesn't mean things are perfect, just that I've decided to look past some of the imperfections.

    Bring it on 2008!

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Of kittens and leaves....

    As you may remember, we got a kitten in Sep '07. Spaz, as she's been named, has become a regular sibling in the family. Annoying her older sisters, attacking invading paper scraps, and using the dogs tail as an amusement ride. Lately, though, she's decided to become a regular member of my "office staff".

    The office staff are those pets that are (foolish?) enough to come and hang in the dungeon. This time of year the dungeon is cold, even with the space heater going. Those who brave it out down here either have fur coats or jobs. Normally it is our middle cat, Nikki, on top of my bookcase on her cat mat and the pup that visit. And now Spaz.

    As I write this Spaz is staring out the window in front of where I work. She's been there for 10 minutes, maybe 15. She started up on the shelf by her sister when something outside caught her attention. She was in the "pre pounce" look that all cats have once they've sighted in on a target.

    She was smart enough to realize that she couldn't leap from there and through the window. So she got down, and with her back paws on the shelf and her front paws on the window sill - resumed her vigil.

    The object, outside, that has her interest is a leaf that has its stem stuck in the snowbank from shoveling off our deck. It's wedged in enough that it wont be blown away, but it still sways randomly with the wind. In her mind, it must be some cool intruder as nothing has kept her interest this long.

    She had been at the window long enough that I was used to her. Then, suddenly, a new noise. "BONG". You know the sound. It's the sound of the kittens head hitting the window as she learns that she can't leap through it.

    To her credit, where her sisters would do the "I didn't do that". She glared, briefly at the window, and then resumed her watch of the leaf.

    Halloo 2008!

    And goodbye fall of 2007. You can leave, you wont be missed (pun unintentional).

    It's been quiet here recently, I know. The problem with my set of restrictions for blogging is that you have to be careful what you write about. I don't want to put friends a family onto a stage they don't want to be on so many "cool posts" die before they go very far. Still, I'll find something.

    A big theme on the blogsphere right now is, no shock, New Years Resolutions. Personally, I don't follow them. I'd rather make and update my goals as I go along. Am I dieting? Sure, I want to lose a few pounds. I'm also exercising, as both tanked during the last few months. It's nothing to do with the new year though.

    I have also had some good success cleaning out the chaff in my inbox. Ever sit and figure out of all the emails you signed up for, that someone sends you, how many you read? I have been focusing on that as of late. Especially after the barrage I was getting around Christmas - that had to stop. One retailer was emailing me daily with "specials". Can't be that special if you tweak it daily guys.

    Unlike postal mailed catalogs, I control my inbox (aside from Spam, but I can control that too with some effort and tools). So now, when I get a new email from some service I signed up for but never use, instead of deleting it, I opt-out. I have cut my garbage mail down over 80% already. Most of this stuff I used at one time, but no longer and never made the effort to remove myself from it.

    Funny that. At 2s a delete if I get one message a week, thats one minute of wasted time a year. Doesn't seem like much, but now multiply that by all the emails you get and it adds up.

    Try it. Take a week and filter through your own and remove yourself from any that you were ready to delete the moment you read the from and/or subject line.