Monday, August 30, 2004

Catching Up With Photos
I have taken a lot of pictures lately, and I haven't shared them. So now, it's photo time!

My son had his first football game on Sunday. I wanted to take pictures, but I couldn't find my digital camera. Where the hell did I leave it? I tried to remember the last time I used it. Oh, that's right. I took pictures of my muffler project and left the camera in the garage. So, here are some shots of my muffler project. I did this a few weekends ago.

This first shot is of my old muffler, off the Bug. As you can see, the muffler was DESPERATELY in need of replacement.

The new muffler just needed a little cleanup. It had a few small surfuce rust spots from sitting on the previous owners garage floor for the past 30 years. I sanded down the rusty stuff, and coated the muffler with a rust-killer and preventative. Hence, the shiny looking stuff.

I primed the new muffler. Looks good doesn't it? By the way, don't spray primer on a windy day. I think I am still picking gray goop out of my arm hair. I was going to take a picture of the new muffler installed with tailpipes and all ... but I guess I forgot.

So onto the next photos?

The First Game
This past Sunday my son had his first football game. We took some shots of him and his sister before they got their outfits trashed. It had been raining that morning, and the field was pretty muddy.

My daughter is a little young to be an official cheerleader, but we bought her an outfit so she could support her brother. It was a little short ... so you might notice we put pink shorts on underneath her outfit. And it was a good thing too because it was a tad chilly that morning.

Here is a shot of Bella with her Aunt Tanya.

Unfortunately, most of the other shots I took of the game looked like shit. But then, I don't know that it was a memorable game anyway. These kids didn't seem to have the most competent coaching staff. The team they played against had actually practice real football, while their team had spent weeks on retarded excersices. We knew they were in for trouble when the coaches had a cursing match with each other at practice just a few days before.

I caught this nice picture of Andy's girlfriend Abby, who came to support him (along with her mom and sister). They all came by our house later for a cookout and had a pretty good time.

I should have taken some pictures at our cookout. The weather just broke from drizzle, to straight sunshine, and it was perfect for a BBQ! I think I must have been manning the grill most of the time and I forgot about photo op's. Aw well. Of all that food we cooked up, there was very little left over. That made us happy. Aparently, our food was pretty damned good and it disappeared. We had a pretty good turnout too.

You never know what you will find when you empty out a flash card from your camera. The last couple of photos must have been taken by my wife. Today was the kids first day at school. It was day 1 of third grade for my son, and my daughters fist day of school ... EVER. I know it's going to be pretty hard on my wife. Our babies are growing up!!! :-( Okay, it's hard on me too.

Here are a few shots of my little girl, who is not so little any more.

And then I found pictures of my two dogs? I'm not sure if you know them. This is Angel (aka Black Girl).

And this is her son, Tubby (aka Brown Ass).

I also took some pictures of my wife naked! But ... I don't really have time to post them. See you later.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Our Stuff Is Pretty Too
I happened upon Microsoft's web page the other day checking to see if XP Service Pack 2 was public yet, and what did I find? Another attempt to draw attention away from what Apple is doing. Every once in a while, Microsoft attempts to show that they too have some artistic skills. Unfortunately for us, it's always a 'slapped on' design over top of something that was unattractive. It's kind of like taking a really ugly old car, and taking it to Maaco to be painted. In the end, it's a really well painted Chevy Citation.

apparently Microsoft gave up trying to get their own design department in gear, so they hired a real artist, Philipe Starck. He is best known for his many awards for architecture and design. But Philipe, we need to talk about this mouse of yours.

First of all this mouse looks like something I would pass up at Odd Lot's. The choice of color is extremely poor. I'm sure it looks better in person, but from the pictures I am seeing it looks like a Logitech knock off. That awful dark shiny gray stuff must be made from melted down GI Joe jeeps and machine guns. They claim it's a wonderful mouse to use, but I can only imagine that's because your hand will be covering it most of the time and you will often forget how ugly it is.

The real kicker was the picture of the artist, along with a wonderful quote which indicates his mouse is a meaningful art piece. Uh ... ye-ah. I couldn't help but bash them by screwing with their photo art. It's a parody, so they can't be too mad at me.

So kids, go get yourself a Starck mouse. They only run you about $30, which surprised me. I was expecting a price tag of $100. I guess that's $25 back to Mr. Starck, and $5 for the actual mouse. That makes sense.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Ralphs Dilema
I wrote up half a Blog entry and decided not to post it just yet. My Blogs have been nothing more than a bitch-fest lately. I decided to do us all a favor and put something fun here today. So, here is a cartoon I doodled in MS Paint. I vented, and enjoyed about an hour of a Friday afternoon NOT STUDYING. I hope you thoroughly enjoy it.

Click Here - (It's just a big image)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Playing Substitute
Tuesday morning I came to work, and sat in the usual "staff meeting" and I noticed that my boss wasn't present which was odd. I saw her pacing around outside the door so I knew something wasn't going well. After the meeting I was grabbed and asked if I could teach a Windows XP class. She tells me that Dustin is sick, and he wasn't holding up well. He had taught the first day of class, but he was in depserate need of a fill-in.

And so, I slipped back into "instructor mode" and ran a day of class. It was a welcomed break from all the studying I had been doing. At the end of the day I was beginning to worry that I might be back for Wednesdays class as well. I had planned on attending an Apple sponsored business seminar at noon that day. Dustin agreed to call me or my boss on Tuesday night and let us know how he was doing.

At about 7:00PM I got "the call" and I knew when I answered the phone that I would be teaching another day. It really irritated me. I know the guy isn't feeling well, but if you ask me, he rarely is feeling well. I had really looked forward to my little field trip, which was at this point officially cancelled. And so, I came to work the next day in a tie, and did another full day of this class. The entire day I heard nothing back from Dustin, so I assumed I must be taking this class the rest of the week. This morning I showed up in a tie, and to my delight, Dustin came stomping in.

He definitely didn't look 100 percent, but he was ready to take back his class, and I couldn't be happier. The class was going really well. Both the students, and myself were having fun, and I think they were learning a lot. But, I had planned on doing some serious studying, and that was about 16 hours of study time gone.

This morning I plopped down my laptop in an empty cubical and hit the eBooks. Now, here I am at lunchtime, and I have accomplished quite a bit. Back to the books.

I guess I will try and make next Wednesdays Apple seminar, since I will only teach Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Current Mood: Entertained with eBooks
Musical Inspiration: Frou Frou - Sounds like Bjork?

Monday, August 23, 2004

It Was a Shotgun Wedding
We hardly knew the bride, but somehow we ended up at the 'important people' table at the reception. And afterwards we were sitting on the deck of the grooms parents ... who we didn't know at all.

It began on Sunday, my wife and I dropped off the kids at her sisters house to attend my friends sisters' wedding. When we arrived we found that one side of the room had many more seats than the other. We guessed that the groom must have had more invitees than the bride. After everyone had shuffled in, it looked equally balanced. You couldn't have counted more than 70 people in all. Small weddings are cool.

Following the ceremony there was a short break where everyone was escorted outside. This was so that the whole marriage 'set' could be whisked away, and transformed into "party mode". Once everyone rolled back in, drinks were served, and tables were ready for eating. My wife and I stayed outside for quite a while, and when we headed inside we found that all the tables had a few people at them all ready. This was awkward because we didn't know anyone. There was a table in the rear, with only the priest sitting at it. He was slugging down a couple of beers, and laying back. He didn't mind us pulling up a chair.

After a while, our buddy Jeremy joined us at the table. After hanging with us a bit, his dad came after him. "You are supposed to be in the reserved section", said his dad. He added "you all are just as family as everyone else here". And with that, we were moved the the best seat in the house. The "immediate family table" which is overlooked by the stars of the show, April and Jason (bride and groom). It was strange, because we were seated with the parents of both bride and groom. My wife and I knew the bride's parents. But that was about it.

We found the grooms parents were very down to earth, and appreciated us joining their table. After a short discussion between the parents we learned that neither side had a lot of family that they kept in contact with. A brother or sister, a cousin, and that was about it. The remainder of the guests were freinds, neighbors, co-workers, and the like. Everyone kept thanking us for coming, and I got the feeling it's because they wanted to fill seats and make a nice party out of the event. The company was good, the food was great, and the beers were free. Did I mention the kids were away for the night? Let the good times roll! ;-)

After the buffet line and several beers. Make that SEVERAL beers, the music played and the dance floor opened. My wife and I haven't danced together in ages so we were looking forward to it. Unfortunately the DJ didn't seem to have anything from the past 30 years. I'm not kidding either. He was all about the 1950's. Now, I like oldies as much as the next guy. But when they are playing those dance songs of the 1950's, nobody in the room knows how to "wooly bully", or "charlie brown". I think at any given time, there were about 5 people on the floor. That devides into two couples, and one drunk male or female who doesn't realize they are alone.

When they started playing a really awful love song from the eighties we realized that this was our chance to get a slow dance in so we took it. The music picked up a bit. Pretty soon the DJ had worked his way into the 1980's and beyond. Hell, near the end of the party he played some songs that were only a few months old. A couple of times while on the dance floor my knees reminded me that I am fat, and old. It was quite a work out for someone who is horribly out of shape. I need to get my ass back on the treadmill!

When the party was over we helped the family load up all the decorations, etc from the party hall. We were waiting around for our pal Jeremy to finish up so that we could go out and see a movie or something. Jeremy was invited to the grooms parents afterwards, and so were we. We went ahead and packed up a few items into my car. Which wasn't much, we were driving the Beetle. And off we headed to the grooms parents place.

This house was something! From the outside it looked pretty damned big, and it was in a pretty ritzy neighborhood. I stood in the yard and made several attempts to pass off the cake we had brought over. It was the very important bridal cake. That piece that they have to freeze for a year, and eat on their one year anniversary. So I was afraid of dropping it, or otherwise fucking it up. Eventually they told me to take it into the house and hand it off. When I got inside, I was greeted by the groom's mothers' younger sister. She was a wreck. Aparently she has had some marital problems (her husbands an ass). She had been drinking half the night, and crying the other half. So here is a tipsy ... make that drunk ... middle aged woman getting ready to take this cake from me.

Now, I know what you are expecting to hear. She ruined the cake? No. That would make a great story though. Yet, this story isn't so bad either.

She reached out, put her hands under mine, and gripped my hands which were still holding the cake. It was a bit awkward. Then she leaned forward, staring me in right in the eyes. Her makeup was beginning to run, and she was beginning to speak in "long vowels" that you only hear from really drunk people. She asks me, "that little girl outside in the burgandy dress ... is she your girlfriend?". It was very sad. Here is a woman who is so drunk, and depressed that she thought she wanted to take me home. She must have been really mad at that guy. I explained that the young lady was my wife, and she apologized, slipping away with the cake. I think someone must have gotten the cake out of her hands and got it safely into the freezer. Mission accomplished.

I headed back outside to hang out with the attractive young lady in the burgandy dress (my wife). We were commenting on how great the house looks, and it came up that they were building a pool. So before I knew it, we were all standing in the back yard of a strangers house, looking into a half finished pool. I looked around at the desk, the pool, the gigantic yard, and I thought ... these people are loaded.

A short while later we got the grand tour of the house, and it was amazing. When you see a house like this, you can't help but wonder "what do these people do for a living?". The owners (the grooms parents) were suprisingly down to earth. They were probably the most down to earth wealthy couple I have ever seen. This place had a living room, that overlooked another living room. Their bedroom was about the size of the house I grew up in. And just when you think you have seen it all ... a couple of doors opened and we were told "this side of the house isn't done just yet, we just moved in a few weeks ago". There was another SIDE to this house? Good Lord! There was also of course, a full basement. And I mean FULL. Simply amazing.

So after the grand tour, we slipped back outside to hang out on their desk. It was a good night to be outside. It was just warm enough that you didn't need a sweathshirt, and the bugs were nowhere to be found. It was strange talking to people, because nobody had any idea who we were. But everyone at this party was overly friendly, and didnt seem to mind shooting the shit.

After a while, the poor drunken lady emerged from the basement. Aparently, she had been hiding down there crying and someone kicked her out to go cheer herself up. She ended up in a chair next to my wife and I and had a nice hour conversation with us. This woman was telling us all about her kids, and her days in high school. She was definitely suffering from some mid-life ... crisis. I don't want to call it a crisis, because that cheapens the whole experience. She was just having some rough times. At some point she starting talking about the grooms parents, and how they used to be broke. It's always nice to see someone so wealthy, and then learn that not too long ago, they had nothing.

It seems that this couple began making money by running a popcorn machine in their garage and then selling it. I'm not sure what came next. But all these years later, they own several restaraunts around town. And they are definitely not hurting for cash. It gives hope to the poorest of us all.

After the party started to fold, we headed to Blockbuster with our buddy Jeremy and rented a movie. It would prove to be one of the worst movies I have ever rented. Something from National Lampoon. Then we stopped at the Stake and Shake and were served one of the worst meals we have ever had. Maybe we should have gone straight home from there?

At any rate, it was a day that will stand out in my mind for the rest of my life. It was an experience. There is something about seeing a bride and groom get hitched, seeing a marriage in despair, and seeing a couple moving towards retirement and still loving each other. The good, the bad, the new, the old ... it all makes you appreciate the people you have in life.

Historic Comments
Nice Story
M29 | 08.25.04 - 2:36 am | #

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Yesterday afternoon, my wife messaged me. She suggested that I go out that evening and do some wardriving or hang out at a coffee shop. She has a funny way of knowing when something is wrong with me. I really didn't want to go out. I just wanted to drink beers and watch TV with her. But I understood why she wanted to get me out of the house. She said I needed to get out and have fun.

I have been pretty depressed lately. I sometimes wonder if I am a textbook manic depressive. All the signs have always been there. I plant myself firmly into projects that I can never realistically finish, and then eventually I get a feeling that I am overwhelmed and exhausted. Working in the IT industry only feeds this bizarre battle in my mind. Maybe I am just overthinking things.

Studying for all of these exams is making me crazy. Every exam I sit down to, I think I am going to fail. It never goes away. No matter how prepared I am, the anxiety is always just as bad. It's so miserable that I dread every exam I take. Even after I walk out having passed, it will be an hour or so before I can "come down" from the nervous fit. That alone is maddening. Reading books and test questions 8 hours a day is maddening in it's own way. The lack of human interaction is just slowly eating away at me, pushing me further into withdrawal.

In the beginning, the studying didn't bother me so much. I believe there are two reasons for this. First, I felt I might be rewarded in the form of a raise. That money would help pay my mortgage and possibly leave something left at the end of the month. I don't ask for much. I just want to pay all my bills, and feel like I can answer my phone again without getting an angry bill collector. And part of me daydreams that I might someday be able to buy a nice new Apple notebook. Isn't that sad? Obtaining an MCSE and an MCT certification to fund the purchase of an Apple notebook.

Secondly, I was interested in the status I would obtain by taking the exams. Perhaps my peers would take me more seriously. I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear what the consultants say behind my back. They all hate me. I am a thorn in their side. I am in a constant state of questioning what they do, and what they have done with their train wreck of a network. They sure as hell don't want help from me, and my suggestions go un-noticed. Sometimes as I'm walking away from a conversation I can 'feel' them rolling their eyes at me. And for what? I had a conversation with two consultants a few days ago about their 'firewall'. I wanted them to open up a port so that I could connect outbound using Secure Shell. They didn't want to do it, because then they would have to open the 'inbound' port as well. I tried to explain how the whole "masquerading" feature of a firewall works, and that they didn't need to open inbound ports, but they honestly did not understand the concept. After they fiddled around with their "Microsoft ISA" server for 15 minutes or so, I just told them to forget about it. It's not worth fighting about. Why should I explain something so elementary in networking to two guys that probably make 20k a year more than me?

I can't wait until I have "achieved my certifications" and I can work on projects with these guys.

All right, so now you know what's been up my ass. It took my wife to tell me that I was unhappy, so that I could pour that out. And I do feel better, thank you. :-) My afternoon improved greatly Friday afternoon. We have this interesting product called "Sharepoint". It's a network based Microsoft product that allows an office full of people to share things. Share discussions, share documents, share pictures, whatever. In my idle time I had set up my own little personal site. In it, I had documented my thoughts on offering some Apple based services to the public. I linked my personal site to the Education site. Nobody really uses this product, but what the hell. I have tried a few weeks to get anyone interested.

Friday afternoon, I see that Gretchen, our Organizational Growth manager was trying to get into my personal site to leave some comments. It turns out that I spiked her interest and she wanted to help! Gretchen said "I'm not much help on the technical side, but I can help you put together a business case". That is just what I needed to give me a good weekend. Someone knows I am not crazy. She wants to partner with me on this project! I was excited. I ran over to her and let her know that I am collecting data, but I will plan a meeting with her as soon as I have something to put on paper.

I made a few decisions on Friday. First, I would stop studying so much at home. It's killing me. Sucking the life out. Depressing me. Not to mention making my family hate me. And for what? I can study at work. They can pay me for it. Secondly, I decided to move forward on a project that I actually wanted to be part of. My dream is to run a wing of consulting that offers help to Mac users. In the meantime I still need to finish my MCSE. But as soon as it's done, I want to start studying something that I care about. It's not that I hate Microsoft products, but I don't like them. The way they do business is getting more insane by the decade.

Steve Jobs had a passion for computers. He still does. But I think at this point he is a broken man, still fighting a cause that he began in the seventies. Computers should be fun. He really believes that using a computer should feel spiritual. His products are a careful balance of design and engineering. Easy to use, good to look at, and they do what you need them to.

I went into MicroCenter the other day (local computer shop) and I was ill walking around looking at parts. I really hate gamers. If you are a gamer, you should stop reading at this point. However, if you continue to read, I will expect some hate comments from you.

I firmly believe that gamers have fed the decline of IT. I look at where we have come in all these years of progress (?) since the information age began. What do we have to show for the past 30 years? I look around this computer store and see aisles of shitty 3D shoot-em-ups. The parts sections look like Mickey Mouse ate neon colored Crayons and puked everywhere. Why the hell does a motherboard need neon colored pieces? Oh, so that the neon lights in your PC will light them up and make them nifty looking. How will I see inside your PC? Because you have an acryllic wall that lets me look at your parts inside. While looking into your PC I can comment on all the overpriced parts that you blew a small fortune on.

An overclocked processor is a given for a gamer. And hell, you will need a watercooled system to keep it from burning up. My car isn't even liquid cooled. You don't want a liquid cooled processor? Then you will have to chose from one in a hundred fans that all look like they were stripped of military equipment. Those fans are going to be loud, so you had better buy that $250 sound system. Did I mention that you should get an "overclockers kit"? They really make these kits, and they cost about $150 to $200.

Even PC cases have gotten rediculous. They all look like MTV took them to a chop shop and destroyed them. Thanks MTV, you done' pimped my PC! The few cases that looked somewhat respectable were blatant Apple rip-offs. If you are building a PC, you better have saved a few hundred bucks to drop on your video card. You will need to see those enemies coming from a mile away. The gaming industry is quick to remind you that you will need the latest card, to play the latest games. A nice way to keep the eternal money machine moving. If you are still reading this, and you are a gamer, you should be getting a lump in your throat about now.

Gamers have enslaved the IT industry, and big business just goes along for the ride. Work gave me this Dell laptop, and I can barely use it. It weighs even more than my ten year old iBook. The keys have worn down. Seriously, half the lettering is gone after a year of use. The sucker has a 2Ghz processor in it. I always know when I am pushing the processor, because my lap about catches fire from the heat, and the turbine fans kick on in the back. It has built in wireless in the form of a mini-PCI card in the bottom. But it's internal wiring sucks, and I can't get far from the access point before it drops connections on me. Dude, I got a Dell. And it's a piece of shit. But if I want to play games, I got it made. Because it's fast, and it's got the bestest' Nvidia card ever. Thanks to you gamers out there, Dell has produced you the perfect laptop. But ... they sold it to me, and all I want to do is read my email and listen to music.

Hope Lies In The Corner
In the rear of this "super center" of shit, is a part of the store dedicated to Apple stuff. Apple notebooks, PC's, software, etc. Of course this part of the store is only staffed with one employee, who to my delight was running around the whole half hour I was there taking care of customers. The customers however, were mostly older people. The clerk was obviously a nerd, but from my generation. I see a lot of people from my generation wearing their elmo glasses, and hugging a Mac. I wonder if we are the new generation of hippies? In the past few years, Mac's have been seen as a yuppie toy. And that bothers me.

Perhaps this is partly due to the way that Apple marketed their new computers. The message was simple. Don't force yourself to understand the PC. Expect the PC to understand you. Unfortunately the technically literate translate this to "if you are too damned stupid to run a PC, get a Mac and be a Mac-tard". I am always explaining to people why Mac's are more of a real computer, than their retarded PC but I don't think they are hearing me. I am not so much of an Apple whore that I go around "switching people". But 'their stuff is better'. People see me with the Mac and ask really dumb questions like, "what can you do on it?". Obviously, all the same stuff a PC can do. Duh. Unless you want to play games. Mac's don't really do games. I would consider that a strength.

All right, how did this one blog entry turn into a book? Let me conclude. I have something to enjoy at work now. I have something to work toward. I might just earn the respect of my peers and employer. I might get a raise. I might enjoy my job. This Wednesday I am going to the Apple store in my area for their "business discussion". It sounds lame, but I might just get to drag a lot of information out of a business professional who can feed my plan.

Now, stop reading all this bullshit and get back to your game of Counterstrike. And remember, it was your purchase of all that retarded overspriced shit that convinced the hardware manufacturers that they are doing the right thing. YOU MURDERED I.T. ;-)

Current Mood: Spiffy
Musical Inspiration: Death Cab for Cutie (thanks Rob!)

Historic Comments
I didn't pay for shit
Benzoate | 08.21.04 - 10:43 pm | #

I do both. I'm a hardcore gamer, AND I'm majoring in information technology. The way I like to look at it, is that each faction of technology (gamers, office nerds, programmers, e-mail, internet, etc..) each help the computer industry as a whole. Because of gamers, there's even a more demand for processor power and increases in hard drive space and RAM. The programming people help to drive new and innovative products that help utilize and drive the technology that's being made. And the IT people are solving problems and creating networks. Without one of these factions (yes, gaming included), the computer industry as a whole would be 5 years behind.

And no one is forcing you to play video games.
Cody aka CypherXero | Homepage | 08.22.04 - 10:29 am | #

hear hear Ray!

In my experience, actually meeting with and trying to talk to gamers about computers is next to impossible. They don't know as much about computers as they think they do. To me, they're right there along with the "end user".
cerealkiller76 | Homepage | 08.22.04 - 4:01 pm | #

Gaming is a waste of time and money. People with no friends game for hours instead of Code for hours...
huh | 08.22.04 - 6:21 pm | #

It's so easy and so simple I don't see why more people don't run Linux.

I'm Steve and a Super Villain. pid=54
oc12 | 08.22.04 - 7:35 pm | #

If you ask me, the computer industry IS five years behind. Maybe more.

It depresses me that things haven't changed much since IBM introduced the PC in 81.

The technology continues to build upon itself slowly. Why not start over. Reinvent the wheel? First there was DOS, and then 95 and then 98. Why didnt they just trash it all and make something new? NT gave birth to 2000 which gave birth to XP. I see small gradual improvements, but nothing to write home about.

I don't think this industry is leaping and bounding the way it did thirty years ago.

At this rate, I will not own a flying car in my lifetime, and that pisses me off.

Ray | 08.23.04 - 10:04 pm | #

I totally agree with you Ray, take it easy with the tests man, I know they can become overbearing
magikgrl | Homepage | 08.24.04 - 11:17 am | #

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A Positive Vibe
After all that negative venting I did, I decided I could stop being a "cry baby bitch" (as Mannox would say) and try to start thinking positively again. Halfway through my MCSE it's blatantly obvious that I don't really like the product all that much, and I don't want to spend the rest of my career pushing it upon the masses. That being said, I need to continue to study for my MCSE. It's job security, and maybe a raise, right?

And now for a quote.
Expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then try to bring those things into what you are doing.

Who said it? Steve Jobs. I really like the way that guy thinks. He was a horrible person to work for. This is certain. But the guy really has a mind for innovation. People tend to give Apple a lot of crap, but I am always looking at what they are doing and saying "why isn't anyone paying attention to these people?". Their products never cease to amaze me. I think Steve Jobs is an artist, trapped in the position of an IT innovator. Crossing Jobs with a team of software engineers, and you get the perfect mix of design and engineering.

And while the world will never make "the switch", I would like to somehow work Apple products into my career. So I bit the bullet and took a stab at it. Last night I wrote up an email to my boss, and the head of consulting. I basically said "why not have some support for Apple integration?". OS X works very nicely with Active Directory. Who knew? Many enterprise companies have a couple of Apple notebooks running around unsecured, and they have no idea how to fit it into their PC infrastructure. That's where I could come in ... theoretically. So I asked, "just how many requests have we had for Apple support", and also, "is this a course of business that our organization would be interested in".

I'm not sure what the response was, but as I told my wife, I bet they made the kind of face you make when you smell a dog fart. Lips curled, eyes scrunched. Not suprisingly, I heard nothing back. As I tromped through the cubical farm today I was grabbed by one of our sales people. She had been speaking with one of our State accounts who had asked, "do you all support Apple products?". The timing could not be better. I told her to e-mail my boss the details immediately. I need proof that this market exists!

I have heard that 5 percent of the worlds computer sales are ... Macintoshes. I hear a figure like that and I think "that many?". Honestly, you don't see too many people running around with Macs. But ... they are 'out there'. And corporate America seems to be struggling with trying to make them fit into the Windows Server environments. There's a niche in there! I'm telling you!

And so, as I study for my next big exam (oh boy) I think I will put together some ideas on the side. Perhaps I should serioulsy do some homework on this in weeks to come, and really put a foot forward. Who knows, perhaps they will buy me some nice books from Apple, and a Powerbook.

Current Mood: A bit more cheerful

Historic Comments
Hey Ray, Apple sells more then 700K+ units each year, small number compare to the PC but it's still a large amount.
oc12 | 08.19.04 - 3:53 pm | #

I was able to pull together some newer statistics. Today, about 11.8 percent of the computers sold are Apple. But, that's worldwide. Apple's product line appeals more in other countries (namely Australia and Japan).

I also read that well over 20 percent of education computer sales are Apple. Not a surprising figure there. I almost expected a larger number in that category.

Ray | 08.19.04 - 6:25 pm | #

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Confessions Of a Corporate Whore
Somehow I thought things would be different. When my company was eaten by this larger company, I suspected that I stood a chance of reviving my career. Perhaps I am just suffering from post-exam depression.

Last night I went home and found that "Pirates Of Silicon Valley" had finished downloading. It took nearly a week, but it was worth the long wait. What a great film. It still saddens me to see it ending with Apple getting partially owned by Microsoft (the pimp of all corporate sluts). This morning I come in and sit down at our weekly morning staff meeting. The owner hopped around showing us the main Microsoft page hoping that we will find something insightful there, and want to visit it more often. He is really pushing for his employees to care about what is on that page.

The entire time I was thinking to myself how canned the photos are. You have all these pictures of smiling people from all ethnicities, which have nothing to do with IT. In fact, these are professional models. Real IT people have never been so pretty. If you never paid much attention to the main web site, you should. It gives you instructions on how to be a better corporate whore. And if thats not enough, they give us partners a special page. It's full of tips on how you can struggle to keep up with the rediculous requirements that Microsoft keeps throwing out. Every new fiscal year, the rules change, and new hoops are set up to be jumped through.

One picture featured a black guy leaning over something and smiling. Behind him is an asian guy grinning wildly. It really looks like he is getting rammed from behind and loving it. The real theme of the photo is lost by the art school dropout that cropped it. Beside the photo is a big warning sign about "how to keep your staff from installing Service Pack 2 for XP". Why would you want to keep people from installing a Service Pack, isn't it supposed to fix things? Don't even get me started.

Perhaps I am being over critical. Last night I perused around and I was amazed at how nice their site is. It's themed to look like the product that they produce (OS X). The photos are of people USING the product. It just makes sense. The focus is how good the product is, and ways you can get the most from it. Isn't that what a web page should be? Shameless self promotion should be the focus of every vendor.

Part of me is screaming, "stop being the corporate whore". Another part of me says, "get these certifications ... because it will make you more money". And yet a third part of me says, "none of this really matters". Having gotten halfway through my MCSE process my mind is full of thoughts that are half Tyler Durden and half Steve Jobbs circa 1978. Why couldn't Apple have won? Why did it have to be Microsoft. PC's should be about more than upgrading your software and trying to live with it's inherent flaws.

And as I write this all to you, I do it from my new hand-me-down laptop. I was lucky (?) enough to score it off a guy that left the company only to turn around and perform consulting for more money. I spent the morning picking dog hairs out of the keyboard, and wondering why the lettering has rubbed off of the keys. The laptop, a Dell, is only a year or so old and was top of the line back then. While it's a nice laptop, it came with a few problems. First, it doesn't really belong to me. Secondly, it was given to me so that I would stop carrying around my beat up old iBook. Third, it's not an iBook and it runs XP.

One Last Ranting
My boss called me into her office yesterday. I didn't expect any good news. A short congratulations for passing yet another exam towards my 2003 MCSE. Hooray. A request that next time I drastically change a Linux+ class I should tell them first. Lastly I was told I should come upstairs and sit in the offices with the rest of the inside staff (not hide in the woodwork of the training center on the first floor). The actual phrase was "we have not ulitlized you enough". In so many words that translates to "we're not making money off of you". Being a corporate whore, this was the proverbial bitch slap from my pimp. Back to the curb, you!

Don't get me wrong, this was not a reaming of any kind. My boss is very nice. She expressed guilt for not having 'utilized' me much lately. But there was still one question I had left ... "where is the money?". When they asked that I start working on my MCSE/MCT I was pleased to do so, assuming it meant some extra money for me. At this point, I bravely requested a "benefit structure" that applied to my certification track. In other words, pave my way with cash. My boss (my brand new boss at the time) said she would get right to work on it. Here I am a few months later still waiting for any 'word'.

With my boss staring across her wrap around desk trying to smile, I asked "any work on that development plan?". The word is, there is no word. She expressed that there has not been much done with my 'development plan'. In other words, getting me some more money is not really a priority at this time. Okay ... so I will keep asking, and keep taking tests, and eventually maybe look for other employment. I believe the term is "never compromise". The minute I sit down and take it, is the minute I stop growing my skill set, and making myself into a more profitable person.

If I am going to continue to be a corporate whore, they are going to have to slap me around less, and put me on curbs of better neighborhoods.

*deep breath* Sorry ... I'll stop now.

Current Mood: Irritated, and burnt out on Microsoft
Musical Inspiration: I have no tunes on this new laptop, and no headphones either.

Historic Comments
I feel ya. I fuckin hate my job. For the last year I've been overworked, under appreciated, and under paid. I've passed the CISSP, gotten my SSCP, and I am now working on my 2003 MCSE and I have gotten and will get nothing for it.

They believe the opportunity for me to do these things is payment enough. I can't wait until I find a new job. Oh how I hate those corporate heartless pieces of shit!!!

_shaun | Homepage | 08.17.04 - 9:30 pm | #

Just be sure that if you go out, you go out in "Office Space" style.
cerealkiller76 | Homepage | 08.18.04 - 5:55 am | #

I just had to edit this post to include the picture(s) I was describing from the Microsoft web site. Enjoy.

_shaun: The silver lining is "eventually they will have to pay you more, or you will leave". But in the mean time, telling myself that doesn't seem to help.

cereal: I have daydreams .... that's all I'm saying!
Ray | 08.18.04 - 9:05 am | #

what are the specs on that new laptop?
tRiBaLmUnKy | 08.18.04 - 5:11 pm | #

My lappy is a Dell Inspiron 8200. It's got a 2.0Ghz CPU, and 512MB's of RAM. Also a 30 gig hard drive. Not bad eh?

They may order me more RAM for it to ... "so that I can run several Virtual PC's for classroom use". Sometimes my employer is aaaalll right.

Ray | 08.18.04 - 9:12 pm | #

"One picture featured a black guy leaning over something and smiling. Behind him is an asian guy grinning wildly. It really looks like he is getting rammed from behind and loving it. The real theme of the photo is lost by the art school dropout that cropped it."

OMG! ROTFL!! hahaha...!!!
j-dogg | 08.19.04 - 9:48 am | #

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Things To Do When ...
I was studying all morning and early afternoon for my next exam, and suddenly I came to a crashing halt. I was bored out of my fucking mind. About this time, Randy, who was sitting behind me said "damn I'm bored". He too had been readin exam questions all damn day. So I decided to compile a things you can do when you are tired of studying. These activities kept me busy for about two and a half hours.

  • iTunes Party - Thats right, you can throw your own iTunes party. One of the new iTunes features lets you create a "party shuffle". It basically randomly draws 15 or so songs and gets them ready to play. You can stare in amazement as it pulls the worst songs from your collection and puts them side by side. They should name this feature "Retarded DJ".
  • Search For Wallpaper - I know you have done this. Scour the Internet looking for Wallpaper that looks 'cool'. You will probably waste at least 20 minutes, and end up deciding you didn't really want your desktop to look 'hip' anyway. Although, Randy and I agreed, Rodney Dangerfield looked pretty damn nice on his Windows 2003 Server.
  • Read Maddox - For those of you who are not familiar, Maddox is a raving, ranting angry web user. He tends to illustrate his rants with hand drawn ms-paint graphics and cut and paste photos. After a few months, there was plenty of new material to read, and the hate mail there is great entertainment. This is good for hours of entertainment. Check out his site.
  • Read Your Email - Actually, this activity should be called 'check your email'. If you aren't expecting any mail, you can click the "Send/Recieve" button and wonder if you will get some SPAM. It's a bit like playing craps. This might entertain you for 30 seconds.
  • Watch Videos - The conversation starts with talking about 'offensive videos' and leads to "have you ever seen Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up"? Randy had not, and so we downloaded it and watched it. Randy agreed, it's the most offensive music video ever.
  • Canned Air Shenanigans - Did you know that if you turn canned air upside-down, freezing air shoots out? We struggled to find something fun to do with the effect, but drew a blank. We threatened to give each other frost bite, and looked for something else to do.

I think that gives you a good idea of how bored we were. Guess what I will be doing tomorrow? Yeah, studying. I think I will work on my buddy's web site if I can't stay focused. I REALLY need to just put my head into the books, and get this exam taken. Once I pass this next one, I will be a Microsoft Certified System Administrator. Oh yeah, I know you're jealous.

Current Mood: Bored!!
Musical Inspiration: I still like Postal Service (it rocks)

Historic Comments
I, too, am familiar with the intrigue that is canned air. I gave myself frostbite with it once. I think I still have the mark.
NEUR0 | Homepage | 08.12.04 - 10:02 am | #

Spray the canned air upside on your penis to remove genital warts. Also, did you know urine is sterile? You can drink it.
Phrighty | 08.12.04 - 4:12 pm | #

can we get the link to this rodney dangerfield wallpaper? and yes, maddox does indeed pwn
tRiBaLmUnKy | 08.12.04 - 4:51 pm | #

Ray you locked me out of your server you bastard!

I email me and I will give you an advance link to SP2 in case you don't have it already.
conundrum | 08.12.04 - 10:10 pm | #

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The winner, it is me!
I took my Microsoft 70-290 exam today, and passed it with an extremely large margin. This makes me about two-thirds Microsoft Certified System Administrator, and about one third MCSE. I still have about 4 more exams to go which is a bit depressing. But let's not focus on the negative. Look at my score report.

You see all that black there? That's right. I am a PIMP. My score was a whopping 916 out of 1000. The insane amount of studying I did leading up to the exam definitely paid off in a big way.

You see the big red bottle? That's by reward. You see, if I pass an exam, I drink a big tasty beer. If I fail an exam, I drink a big less-tasty cheap beer (or two). This is my policy and I am sticking to it.

And so now, for a momemt, I can take a deep breath and relax. Tomorrow I will begin to study for my 70-291 exam which I will need to take in about a week if I intend on obtaining my MCSE by October 1st.

Needless to say my boss was impressed. She was all like, "Is this the test that people are saying is so hard? - You nailed it!". She was about to call me a pimp, I just know it.

Current Mood: Pretty damned happy
Musical Inspiration: This calls for something techno-ish

Historic Comments
Congrats! I have passed the CISSP exam (just waiting to meet the work experience requirement) and attained SSCP. Next I am going to go for MCSE. What test would you recommend I start with?
_shaun | Homepage | 08.03.04 - 6:03 pm | #

Well done Ray, always a fantastic feeling when you reach greatness.
[eD] | Homepage | 08.03.04 - 7:36 pm | #

_shaun: Being the vendor-neutral whore that I am, I would start with Security+, or A+ and Net+. You can use A+ and Net+ as one elective, or Security+ as a full elective towards your MCSE (with Security specialization). The exams cost about $60 more, but the certs are lifetime. And they make you look neat on a resume.

But I have just started beating down the track in order, starting with Windows XP (70-270). Give that exam some time, and you will get a feel for Microsofts insane Q and A methods.

Congrats on your CISSP!!! That's extremely respectable. I would like to obtain that one myself. It's an expensive one though, and I dont think my employer would float the bill since I couldn't teach it. :-( And teaching is my primary role.

eD: Thank you!! Thank you!!
Ray | 08.04.04 - 8:47 am | #

Ray! You better be at DefCon next year.

No excuses.
conundrum | 08.05.04 - 10:06 pm | #


What materials did you use to prepare for the 290 exam? Are you a fan of the Microsoft press books? I like Boson for the practice exams. Who do you prefer?


Were you at Defcon? I am contemplating going next year. It would be my first trip. Is it really worth it?
_shaun | Homepage | 08.06.04 - 1:47 pm | #

con: You know, I will get down there one of these years. Two things are always against me though. I'm always teaching a lot that time of year ... and I am broke. One of these years man ... one of these years.

_shaun: I really don't care much for the MS books. They are geared more toward the product, and less towards the exam. Generally, I want to know the product very well. But passing the test is my real objective. For exam passing, I am all about Sybex books. They put the exam number right there on the cover to remove all doubt about why you bought the book.

For practice tests, nothing beats 'the real thing'. It's always nice when you can get a fairly recent copy of TestKing questions. Then you have some idea of the scope of the questions (if not the actual questions). Use caution though, I have found TK often answers the questions incorrectly.

Ray | 08.07.04 - 9:24 am | #

Congrats Ray! How about getting a few more bottles for us all to drink to your success...okay next time.

You better remember or I will send the Blue Monster after you!!!
Beta | Homepage | 08.08.04 - 6:32 pm | #

DefCon is absolutely worth it.

Ray - Bring Rotary and the kids and call it a family vacation. ;P
conundrum | 08.10.04 - 12:39 pm | #

Congrats!, but what's cheaper and less-tasty than a Bud 40oz. blechh! =P
j-dogg | 08.10.04 - 4:01 pm | #

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Silly Bug Projects
I should be studying, but hell, I HAVE been studying. I need to take my Windows 2003 Server exam next week if I expect to stay on track with my MCSE certification. Damn this exam is a bitch. But I am driving myself nuts by reading these practice questions over and over again ... and still getting the same ones wrong. Break time!!

Yes, it runs Slackware
Long ago, some PC's were manufactured strictly to run Novell Netware, and they would put a sticker on the outside that advertised the fact. Damn, that was funny. So here is my Bug, which now runs Slackware Linux. Now I know what you are asking, how is it that your CAR runs Slackware? It's a lnog story. Let's start with this photo though.

There was a Futurama episode once where Frye says "this one has a drivers side floor" in reference to a VW Micro-Bus. So here I am showing off my floor. I finally painted it. It's been installed and primed for a few months now. I painted it black. Someone start playing that Stone's song, please.

It started with a pile of parts, and an idea. Could I build myself a PC in the back seat of my Bug? It could serve up tunes through a network share to my 3-Com Audrey, which I could mount in the front area of the Bug. I losely arranged the parts inside my car to see if they would fit. They would! And so I spent the next few hours installing Slackware on a pile of junk. I would move it into the car later.

Some of the best tools I got from my grandfather have been the non-tools (junk) that he had stuffed into toolboxes. This glue-gun has proved useful on MANY occassions.

Armed with a table-saw, a gluegun, and a bunch of scrap particle board that I dug out of a dumpster, I went to work and created an "enclosure".

I use the term enclosure losely. This is basically, particle board glued onto the parts. The parts themselves are the heart of this mess, and the particle board just gives the glue something to hold onto.

Here is the PC from another angle. It's layered. Hard drive sits on the 'mini' power supply from a dead 'footprint PC', the power supply rests on top of the processor and motherboard. The motherboard is bolted directly onto a piece of particle board the same size, to keep it from grounding out.

After stuffing it into my car to see if it would fit, my glue cut lose and the whole thing started falling apart. It would need more glue!! After some more hot glue, and another piece of particle board, this thing was solid as a rock!!

Only one problem ... how would I hook up the power supply? In my rushing to get the sucker together, I forgot to leave a hole. Out came the power drill, and the miter saw. After drilling some holes, I was able to punch out a hole just big enough to get my two fingers through to hook up the power supply. This newly added side will shield the power supply from the heat of the heat duct that passes near it.

There you see I have the power hooked up, and my PC in place. This is a view of the back seat of the Bug with the seat removed. Notice all that nice empty space under the drivers side passenger. Some people keep stereo equipment or amps in there.

Now here is a veiw of the PC installed to the empty space. Notice that the hard drive appears to run flush with the back seat. The back seat however is hollow, providing an extra several inches of space above the drive to let it breathe.

Questions and Answers
Why did you do this?
  • Shut up.
Why Slackware?
  • All I needed is a kernel and Samba. I didn't need a flavor that revolves around the coolest looking desktop.
Won't the heat from your heater duct melt the hot glue?
  • UHM .... We will find out this winter!
What has the monster been up to?

Whats next?
I REALLY NEED to replace my exhaust. It's the reason my bug has been garaged the past few weeks. I have been driving it very little. I bought a muffler a while back out of California and it was the most pathetic piece of trash I have ever purchased. Just last night I closed a bid on a good German muffler from a guy in Canada. The cost, $30 after shipping. Not bad at all! It is being installed as soon as it arrives.

I am also planning a project to replace my door panels. They are in sad shape. The vinyl is started to peel back and fall off. Last weekend I went at the drivers side with some liquid weld glue, and a staple gun. I was able to get the vinyl to stay put for a while, but it still is looking sad.

I know its hard to tell by the photo, but it's just barely stretching over the particle board at the top. When I removed it I couldn't help but notice how cheaply made it was. I could definitely do a better job. And so I have planned on making my own door panels. I will need particle board, and some Vinyl. The vinyl comes cheaply from the fabric store. It run's around 6 bucks a yard. I will need maybe 3 yards for both door panels. At that cost, I could do a two color design and sew the vinyl into stripes! I may be getting ahead of myself. We will see.

In the meantime I picked up the particle board from the local hardware store. This giant sheet only ran me 7 dollars.

All right, I suppose I should make the kids something for lunch and then get back to studying again. :-( I hope you enjoyed a peer into my goofy project of the month.

Won't you join me next time when I mount the 3-Com Audrey onto my dashboard to load songs and play them from my Slackware PC?