Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I got an e-mail from my bos yesterday. The subject was something to the effect of "take your last test". I am one exam away from my MCSE and my MCT, so I was expecting a request to get that last exam in. They are anxious to have me teach some Windows 2000 and 2003 classes.

Instead of writing something encouraging, or even remotely friendly, I was being told that I would take my next exam next Friday. It was a demand, not a request. My boss further went on to say that they have given me plenty of time throughout the summer, and "many people have had to study in their own time" so I should have no problem passing that exam next week. She went on to tell me that "unless I had any objectives" that I would be expected to schedule and take that exam next week.

So, I had a few objections. I was pretty pissed off. I was at the end of a very long day of teaching this three day Linux Plus class in Yellow Springs, OH. It's a big class, and an important one. I hit the reply button and let er' rip. My personal time belongs to ME. Not the company. If people want to spend all night studying for the big test, than they are wasting their time. The company will never reimburse them for that time, nor will they ever recognize and reward the efforts. My family comes befroe my work. And if I work all day out of town, when I get home I am spending time with my FAMILY. I completely resent the fact that I should be expected to study in my own time. I let her know that I have made the decision NOT to study at home. Neither my family (or myself0 have anything to gain by me sitting in a corner and studying for hours. I challange her to show me otherwise.

Noone I have talked to at this company has seen a raise in more than two years time. I'm sure we are supposed to recognize that this new facility they built costs money. That the good coffee we serve our students is expensive. That the management folks upstairs who sit around and yell at each other all day are overpaid. But the people that are putting profit into the company are seeing nothing for it. I wonder what motivates them? So if they continue to work hard, and waste all their personal time studying ... good for the company in convincing them to do so. I however, will not be following that lead.

So in the end, I let her know that I will take the exam if they want me to. But in no way do I guarantee I will pass it. In fact, it's likely I will fail the exam, seeing that I am working through Thursday in Yellow Springs, and all five days next week back home. That leaves me one day of study time, which is not nearly enough for such a "feared" Active Directory exam.

I'm sure I probably could have handled the e-mail better. I probably left my boss in a place where she will have to wonder "how to handle this situation" which probably puts me in a bad position. When I drove back into town yesterday and met my wife and kids on the field (football practice) I let her know that I may have put my job on the rocks. I hope after explaining the whole thing that she understands my position. She asked if I thought they would try to "force me out". Possibly. I am probably becoming a threat to the powers that be. And that's not good.

I need to suck up my pride, and get through a couple more of these exams. So I can get the hell out of this place. :-) Anyone hiring?

Current Mood:
Musical Inspiration:

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I passed yet another exam. Hooray for me. Just look at my amazing Microsoft Transcript (and ph33r).

One more and I will be an officially underpaid MCSE and MCT in Windows 2003 Server.

Now I have to prepare for my class next week. I will have roughly 20 students in a Security+ class. It's a 5 day class, and I have to do it in three days (God only knows why). Maybe this will be a blessing. All the parts of this class taht I hate to teach can be skipped "in the interest of time".

I have threatened to put together my own version of a security class. One that shows you the ACTUAL tools that you use to attack and defend a network. Not the goofy ass Win32 tools you use in the Security+ class (like "Superscan" for portscanning). Lame.

Anyway, I had better grab my book and start prepping. Congratulate me by drinking a few beers. Thanks.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The IT Progress Bar
Maybe I am the only one that notices these subtleties. But ... I can't be the only one. In every Windows operating system when you stop or start a service you are given a "progress indicator". Sometimes you are lucky, and the indicator goes away before reaching 100 percent. Other times, you will watch in amazement as it run's full, starts back at zero, and loops again. Is this really a progress indicator? It's more like an "I haven't locked up" indicator. You will also see one of these when Windows is booting. More useful would be something that tells you how much longer you have to wait before this thing is done. But, I am guessing that it was extra work on the programming staff to make something like that.

I installed a Xerox laser printer this morning and it took ages. I got the ol' progress-less progress indicator for what had to be four minutes. God only knows what it was doing, if anything. All I saw was this ...

I think little bars like this represent our progress in the IT industry. You think we are moving forward, but then ... we have no basis for comparison. Sometimes it seems we are moving ahead, only to see our progress goes back to zero again.

Don't even get me started on the debates last night. I hate that our current president stumbles with big words like "Information Technology". Someone should tell him we call it "IT". That would keep him from screwing up his ramblings about "education". Asked, "what do you tell a guy who's job has been shipped overseas?" Bush responds, "educate him and his children". Greaaat. So he will be REALLY smart, and unemployed. That'll show those foriegners!

Bush, I am praying that you get sick and die on November 1st. Do you [i]feel my prayers[/i]?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Just Stolen!
I was working on a friends web site last night. I kept opening video clips and getting the little "would you like to upgrade?" messages with Media Player. Finally, I gave in and said "Yes". About 15 minutes later, the "all new" Microsoft Media Player version 10 was installed, and so I ran it.

What in the hell is this? It looks strangely familiar. It's like they took Apple's iTunes, and painted it in the blue color that Apple decided to stop using (probably because Microsoft stole it and put it in Windows XP). The new format was BLATANTLY ripped off.

Observe Apple's iTunes.

And you know how Apple launched that highly successful music store? Now everyone is trying to take a bite out of it. There are probably 10 large music stores popping up everywhere. Buy Pepsi, and get a free song! Buy Coke, and get a free song. The MS Media Player lets you chose a store to shop from. You have around five choices, all of which I am sure paid out the ass to be listed in the Media Player window. Oddly enough, Apple's music store is not listed there.

And just so you don't think I am making this shit up. Have a look at the iTunes Music Store ...

Microsoft doesn't have a single original thought. That should concern you. It concerns me. Here, we have the Industry leader in Server software, and Desktop Operating Systems. All of which are built entirely on ideas that were blatantly stolen from others.

Oh, and on an unrelated note ... I am beginning to get the feeling that Christoper Reeves will never walk again.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Walls Have Ears
I just love burying myself into a cubicle and hiding ... For hours. I can listen to the conversations all around me through the walls of the cubicles, and sometimes I am lucky enough to hear people talk about me.

This afternoon I finally wrote up some "quiz" questions I was asked to create last week. Why I am being asked to write questions for a class to "screen" the students, I will never know. I was told, "write some questions about HTML and Dreamweaver to qualify students for the class". Hrm. So ... I can't ask them questions about Dreamweaver for a Dreamweaver class. They don't know it yet. I can't quiz someone on how to use HTML Tables if they aren't expected to know that yet. And why is the instructor writing the pre-screening questions? Isn't that a conflict of interest?

At any rate I put it off for days, and I knew I would be bugged again about it if I didn't git-r-done. So, I threw together my 15 questions and e-mailed them to the "training administrator". A few minutes later, one of the other employees here wandered to her desk. She says, "Steve sent me these questions in notepad! Why would he do that?". I could hear every *grunt* and *sigh*. It was super.

I actually sent the file to her in PLAIN TEXT. Notepad just happened to be her "plain text viewer" of choice. Obviously, she didn't know how to move it into Microsoft Word, and she really wanted a Word document. But now that I heard her talking snotty about me, I was ready to have fun with her. I had forgot to include the answers to the questions I had sent her, and she was asking "what kind of questions" they were. So when I replied, I saved it into a different format ... RTF! Microsoft Word (once installed) adopts the RTF format, but the icon is strange and it's sure to keep her guessing. Besides, I could probably do better.

I just know that she will ask me to change them ... which is why I put them off for almost a week in the first place. I all ready have my next format of file lined up, XML! XML is the future. And since we are in a discussion about Web Development, I think that the XML format is appropriate.

Breaking Protocol
When I came into work this morning, there was a small pow-wow of the consultants gathered around and they were giggling at my expense. They gathered around my desk and had a look at what I was wearing. One of them tells me, "they got on my case last winter about wearing a sweater over a t-shirt". I made a face. He continued, "they told me that it was 'unfashionable' and that you should wear a collared shirt under your sweater". Hah! They should have seen what I was wearing last week. Anyhow, I hiked up my sweater and showed them the t-shirt I was wearing. It says "SPLASH!" and has a picture of a bare chested Mermaid on it. One of the best Thrift Shop finds of this century. I threatened that if anyone complains about the way that I'm dressed, the sweater comes off and I will parade around in the mermaid shirt until I'm forced out the door.

Ray's iPod ... On It's Way!!
I would like to thank those of you who helped me get my iPod. Last night, I got my fifth referral. I went ahead and clicked the little "Request Approval" button, and went to bed. About 11:00AM this morning, they approved me. Not even 12 hours later. That was quick! Most people have wait a week or more. Now all that was left for me to do was to fill out my shipping information, and finalize the deal! Now my order reads as "Processing". Next, it will move onto "STV" (Sent To Vendor), and from that point, it's just a matter of waiting for it to show up on my door step.

To repay those of you who used me as a referral, now randomly chooses one of my 5 referral friends and uses their referral ID. I wish all of you luck. I will be sure to keep everyone posted on new details, etc.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Slackware Found
After having royally fucked up my Slackware installation, it was time to reach for the CD and re-install. I don't know what the hell my problem was the first time around, but for some reason, LiLo just wasn't taking my changes to /etc/lilo.conf. Who knows. At any rate, last night I got the latest kernel and starting building.

The first time through I got a strange error about not bing able to mount the root file system. So I went back though the "make menuconfig" process and noticed that I hadn't given support for the ReiserFS (which was what I was using). Woops. While poking around, I also found that I could build in support for a writable NTFS file system. Nifty!

One all that worked, I went to work on my wireless card. There are no linux drivers, and probably never will be. But thankfully, ndiswrapper had fixed all that. This time around though, it didn't want to install cleanly. I kept getting errors about "wireless_send_event". To fix it, I rebuilt the kernel *again* and included Wireless Networking (not Radio), as well as several wireless cards I don't own. That last part was important. Because it fixed the issues. And now I have support for about 10 other cards if I should ever happen to get one. :-)

One last obstacle. Sound! I had never got my sound card to work before, but I could see that the new kernel picked it up and recognized it with the help of "ALSA". So I headed into the config and un-muted it. It worked! That's a first.

This morning I popped into work, laid down my laptop, and began to play. I had gotten EVERYTHING working last night, and I was anxious to get all my software re-installed. But ... alas I didn't have a working NIC. My on-board 3-Com NIC was nowhere to be found. I guess I didn't include it in the kernel config. One more kernel rebuild later, I was all set.

I put back Ettercap (new version all ready), Ethereal, driftnet, PSI (for chatting), and some other fun stuff like dependencies. Now here I am all these hours later ... and I haven't studied. Woops! Back to the books. No more fucking around! Really.

Oh yeah, and my buddy Rob filled out a credit card offer on his free account. So that means in about a week, he will get credit for the offer, and so will I. That will make five for me. Hah! I can almost smell that new iPod.

Lastly, did anyone notice that the monster updated his Blog?

Current Mood: SPiFFy
Musical Inspiration: Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (fantastic album)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Back To The Books
I have not missed studying for exams at all. It's been weeks since I took my last one, and I decided then that I was taking a nice long break. Today marks the first week in several weeks that I am not teaching, so it was back to studying for me. My boss flags me down every time I see her. She always smiles real big and then says, "so when do you think you will take your last test". I actually have two exams left, and I explain this every time. Then I tell her something like "hopefully soon".

The truth is, I don't think I should have to study at home. When I study at home, I spend that time ignoring my family, and making myself miserable. Why should I do all that in my free time? If I am not teaching, I have no problem studying. After all, they are paying for this time. So I will use it to their advantage. But if I am going to spend my personal time studying, I should personally be granted something for it. Like ... A RAISE?

I had a conversation with another instructor last week. He just passed an exam that makes him an instructor for two different Microsoft development tracks. Basically, it increases his value as an instructor tenfold. He complained to me that he spent $22 on some lousy exam "dumps" and then spent hours memorizing about 150 questions. I found it amusing. I wondered what his secret to passing all those exams were. He's been buying the questions. Now I don't feel so guilty for the "study guides" that I often pass the test with. Not that any of this studying matters. None of us are gaining anything financially for it. Oh ... but ... GO TEAM!! Let's do it for the TEAM!

Presidential Madness
I have enjoyed all the comments in my Blog. It's fun to partake in political debates with you all. It seems I am not the only one paying attention this election. I am not really political at all, but I have really been surprised at the world around me. There are some things that need changing, and I don't know that a new president is what we need (although I am willing to try). One example: Gay Marriage. If you ask me, it's none of my business what people do. If they want to be openly gay and marry someone of the same sex, how do we have the right to tell them no?

I found it rather disturbing that so many folks in congress rushed to BAN gay marriages before it could be voted upon. Knowing some gay couples myself, it's pretty sad. We seem to be living in an age where we can put our differences aside and give people the personal freedom they seek. So who is it that is so opposed to gay marriage? My wife and I were watching a show a few nights ago where an interviewer asked a room full of college students, "do you believe in gay marriage?". Every one of them raised their hands. Young people seem to be a little more open minded than those who are making the laws for us. All the more reason for young people to get out and vote.

The Blockbuster Deal
To fulfill my end of the free ipod deal I signed up for Blockbuster Online. I was instantly granted my two free "in store" rentals. You get two every month. The coupons arrived by mail, so I printed them out and my wife and I went to Blockbuster yesterday with them in hand. The cashier googled over them like he had never seen such a thing. After reading the entire text on both coupons (it was the same text on both) he finally pulled out the magic laser-wand and scanned them. Duh. I happily paid my extremely overdue $9 late fee, knowing that this would be the last time I ever had a late fee with my online membership. Then he tells me, "your rewards membership expired, would you like to renew it?". Well ... I don't need it. So, "No thanks". Then he tells me, "but you won't get any more free offers like this". Obviously he needed some clues.

I explained that I get the free coupons from the online deal, not from the store. Then I got asked, "would like like your movie for a week or for two days?". Gee. There's a tough question. Normally I pay more to get it for more days. But ... it's fucking free. Why would I say anything other than a week? So I got my movie for a week. Duh.

Anyhow, it's nice to know that I will get those free in store rentals every month, as well as my 'rotating deal' where I can have any three movies by mail from here to eternity. Oh, but there is bad news.

My buddy Rob also signed up for the free ipod deal under me, and he too wanted the Blockbuster offer. But oddly enough, he can't sign up for it. It seems that because I chose that offer, he can't. Or something like that. I went through the free ipod's FAQ and all I could find was some vague explanation that "not all offers are visible to all people, all the time". Wierd. At any rate, if any of you have had that kind of experience, post a comment. I'm curious to see if you others had the same problem.

Oh, and if you STILL haven't signed up for the free iPod, now is the time. ;-) One more note ... if you sign up (or have signed up) chose the HP over the Apple (if you get the 20GB). The HP model has a one year warranty, and the Apple only has a 90 day. Also, the HP has been shipping much faster, since they have a large quantity of them and the Apple's are backordered.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I had a single student for my "Excel Level 1" class today. I was almost hoping that I would get a moron, so that it would feel worthwhile. The labs in the materials were so simple that my kids could have done them, and not have felt challanged. My student however, was a young and inteligent receptionist who had all ready learned quite a bit about Excel after having struggled through it for months. Having been "self taught" as she was, the day was a bit of a waste. She was very kind, and went through all the labs with me ocassionally learning something new. The day ended pretty early, and so I decided I would finish something I started about a month ago. I would update the kernel on my laptop.

I don't know that I have ever updated a kernel and *not* had a problem. At least with Linux. On the other hand, I have never had problems updating a BSD kernel. Anyhow, I ran through the ./configure, make, make modules_install, make install, etc. process just fine. Of course, my kernel was honkin' huge. So I had to run back and do a 'make zImage'. Still too big. One more run, 'make bzImage' and I had a good kernel.

The trick now was getting LiLo to display the new kernel. So I copied the kernel image to the root, and edited /etc/lilo.conf. Then I ran /sbin/lilo to finalize everything. I reboot ... and there is no choice for the new kernel. Even though I added it. I remember having this problem before. What the fuck is the deal with LiLo?

I went out and started Googling around to see what to do next, and I found a solution. The kernel can install itself, and add itself to LiLo for you! So I gave it a go. It was something like 'make lilo_install'. I rebooted, and I got "9A" printed across the screen about 100 times. Not good. Now I couldn't boot into Linux, OR Windows. Yanking out my Windows XP CD, I booted up and ran recovery console. Then I ran a 'fixboot' and a 'fixmbr'. Rebooting, XP loaded okay, and I decided it was time to leave. I had enough.

I ran all my errands (bank, pay off a check loan, get my voter registration card so I can re-defeat Bush, made a very late car payment) and then headed home for dinner.

Other than my Slackware Woes, it has been a delightful day. I had an easy work day, and no class next week. I aim to study next week for my next big Microsoft exam. I only have two left. I need to bite my tongue and get through them. Then I can study something more interesting.

I would like to thank those of you who have helped me in getting my free iPod. I am now only a single referral away from meeting my goal. Four down, and I completed my offer. Also, note to those of you who have participated. I have been reading that the Apple 20GB iPods are backordered with Apple, and the mini iPods ship all the way from a supplier in China (takes weeks). If you want to speed up the process, you should switch to the "HP iPod". Its just like the Apple 20GB in every way (except for the HP logo on the front).

Also, as soon as I get that last referral, I would like to help those of you who have helped me out. I plan on leaving that link up on the left for "free iPods", and I will set it up to refer my referrals! Ryan (wardriver) will be first on the list, since he was the first to sign up under me. ;-)

If you haven't signed up for your free iPod yet ... why the heck not? Do it now!