Category: Work

Another Love Letter to Microsoft

Here is what I love about Windows 2000's network configuration.

First of all, if you uninstall a network card -- say, for example, because you are having trouble getting it to work, perhaps trouble that suspiciously coincides with the latest round of Microsoft patches --, and then reinstall that card, you will find that your network settings have defaulted back to DHCP instead of static IP.

So you'll have to re-enter your IP.

If the machine you are currently working on happens to be a Web server that uses 250 different IP's, you will have to re-enter your 250 IP's.

But Thad, you say, that is awesome! How could life possibly get any better?

Well, it may seem difficult, but it does get better.

You can only enter one IP at a time.

And you can't copy and paste.

And no matter how many dozen times you enter the netmask 255.255.252.0, it will always default to 255.255.255.0.

And and every single time you tell it to add a new IP, it pops the new IP window up right on top of the list of existing IP's. So that if it is, just for the sake of argument, 11:30 at goddamnfuckinghellshitcock night and you are entering 250 different addresses, you have to scroll a bar and then drag a window to see the last one you entered. In the absurdly unlikely event that you somehow have trouble keeping your place under those conditions.

Awesome enough for you?

Yes, I am sure you are saying. Yes, that is just incredibly, unspeakably awesome. There is no possible greater threshold for awesomeness.

Well shut up, you're wrong.

Let's say you make a mistake. Let's say you somehow enter the same IP address twice. I know, there is absolutely no way of that happening under the circumstances, but bear with me in this thought experiment.

Let's say you enter an IP twice. It doesn't like it when you do that.

But does it tell you when you enter the redundant IP? No, that would make too much sense. Does it just delete the redundant IP itself seeing as the two are identical? Of course not. That would be stupid. That would require someone at Microsoft to write an entire extra line of code.

But Thad, you may say, surely they must at least tell you which IP is redundant?

My friend, where's the fun in that? Why tell you when they can instead just make you strain your eyes staring at every single IP you've entered?

Oh, and also, there's no way of sorting them.

They don't pay me enough for this shit.

Nomenclature

I have come to absolutely loathe it when people refer to the Web as "the Internet" -- as in, "E-Mail's not working, but the Internet is."

This is, of course, like so many problems in the wonderful world of computers, entirely Microsoft's fault.

Seriously. Internet Explorer? What the fuck is that? It's an effing Web browser. I guess I can get "Explorer" as a synonym for "Browser" (remember, these are the same guys who had to change "Trash" to "Recycle Bin" and "Bookmarks" to "Favorites"), but "Web" and "Internet" are not synonymous, and fuck you guys for making everybody think they are.

Do you know how many people don't know what a Web browser is thanks to that nonsense? If I had a nickel for every time I'd told somebody to open her browser and heard "How do I do that? ...Oh, you mean I go to the Internet," I'd probably have enough money to buy Windows Vista Ultimate Limited Numbered Signature Edition (though not nearly enough to buy hardware to run it on).

And guess what? Microsoft is now trying very hard to obfuscate things even further by slapping the word "Windows" in front of everything. So now it's not just Internet Explorer anymore, it's Windows Internet Explorer (ironically, they picked this name right as they decoupled the program from Windows Explorer -- which, oh yeah, they repeatedly claimed was impossible during that whole antitrust suit thing).

I used to work at a university computer store, and not a day went by but somebody came in who didn't know the difference between Windows and Office. And it's shit like this -- like Windows Internet Explorer -- that is directly responsible for people not being able to understand the difference between an operating system and a fucking Office Suite -- or, in this case, an operating system, a Web browser, and the Internet.

At least they're not calling it Windows Office -- yet.

Just Like T's Class

You know, there's just something cathartic about cleaning house -- about going through a few dozen old computers, finding out what works and what doesn't, wiping drives, keeping what may be of use at a later date and donating the rest. Sure it's boring and repetitive, and I inevitably manage to cut myself on something, but it reminds me of high school, and then my first job out of high school, and it's good honest work.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to do it every day, but it's a welcome break from mail server maintenance -- and a whole lot more inline with my salary, too.

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda.


Reading: Neuromancer

Playing: Mega Man ZX

My Day So Far

I drove 45 miles to plug a hub back in and came back to find all our E-Mail accounts completely wiped.

I need a fucking drink.

(Update, 11:40 AM: on reinstall, it looks like they're all back up, thank Baby Jesus. Also, thank Jewish God, Allah, and Tom Cruise with his witchcraft.)

(Update 2, 11:45 AM: somebody sent me an E-Mail page to inform me that the E-Mail server was down. Have you noticed how the vast majority of computer users do not think things through?)

The Right Decision

Had a rough day at work. Now, I'm not a Catholic, and I never made it through The Divine Comedy, so I'm not really sure whether my day at work was Hell or simply Purgatory, but I can eliminate Heaven right off.

And I got to thinking...you know, as soon as I get home, I'm going to the fridge and grabbing a fucking beer.

But then I thought, you know what? No. As soon as I get home, I'm hitting the gym.

And I did, and I feel much better for it.

I think I'll reward myself with a beer.

Keep Hydrated

Yeah, this is going to be one of those where I talk about living in the desert.

There's a lot I love about the desert. Oh, sure, it's a hostile environment, particularly to pigment-challenged individuals of Irish Honky descent such as myself, and sure, those same honkies who have the least resistance to the sun's rays have decided for some reason to fill this region with concrete and asphalt to make it that much more unbearable, but there are still some very pretty things to be seen.

I've spent a few hours over the past couple of weeks handing out flyers for our company. I hate to be one of those guys who waves his degree around, but that's really not what I got it to do. But we need business, and there are a hell of a lot of new businesses opening within a mile radius of here, and the boss thinks I should be the guy who hands flyers out, so that's part of what I've been doing.

The first day, I overdid it: I thought I had sunscreen, but it turned out I didn't. Must not have packed any when I moved in February (which, all things considered, makes sense). So I went out and handed out flyers for three hours and got good and sunburned and chafed. I spent Memorial Day Weekend unable to walk comfortably. I am amused by the mental image of the tableau of a very sunburned guy going up to the counter at Target with sunscreen, aloe gel, and talc in his basket -- no explanation necessary.

Since then, I've limited myself to 90 minutes of flyering a day, and of course it goes without saying that this 90 minutes must be complete before 10 AM because I'm not going out when there's an excessive heat warning in effect. But I haven't been out there the past few days because things have been so busy at the shop. Mixed blessing -- I'd rather not be out there handing out flyers, but at the same time if I don't find time for it soon the boss is going to yell at me again.

I don't like sunscreen. It's greasy, smelly, and invariably gets in your eyes, even if the label proclaims it's non-greasy, unscented, and sweat-proof. But it beats being baked alive.

Dad also leant me a hat which once belonged to a family friend who died of cancer. I think that's pretty cool.

And handing out flyers isn't all bad. I dig the desert landscaping surrounding most of the buildings. Often I will hear a rustling in the bushes and see a large lizard come out.

Meantime, I haven't had much time to relax when I've been home from work -- work on a computer all day, go home and work on a computer. See, my grandma's been rocking Windows 98 for the past 8 years, and since Microsoft has ended support for it, I decided I should probably upgrade her to XP.

Have you caught the mistake in my thinking?

That's right: the word upgrade.

Let me explain something. I have never had a Windows upgrade go well. 95 turned out to be incompatible with my processor, 98 hosed my filesystem (which is why there is no complete extant copy of KateStory IX), and XP hosed my partition table. ME...actually upgraded smoothly and gave me no trouble, but I think the fact that it installed Windows ME on my computer means it still did serious harm to my system.

So I should have known better. I shouldn't even have attempted the upgrade. I should have backed up her files to CD, wiped the drive, and done a clean install.

But I didn't. I attempted an upgrade. Which went fine until the reboot, at which point the installation hung. No error, just a hang at boot time.

So then I made my second mistake: I tried to use Recovery Console.

Specifically, I used fixboot. Which hosed my partition table. I wound up with what looked like a 10MB FAT12 partition with only one file on it. Knoppix showed more files, but they were all gibberish.

Daunted, I retreated to lick my wounds and study the problem before going back the next weekend to attempt a fix. I found a useful MBR tool on UBCD4Win, which got the filesystem looking good enough to run a chkdsk on. After that, the files were visible, but the damn thing still wouldn't boot no matter what I did or how many times I installed an OS on top of it. (And yes, the partition is set bootable.)

It was about this point where I hit the Eject button on the CD-ROM drive and it launched my CD across the room. It bears noting that this is not even a slot-loading drive, it's the kind with a tray. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life.

There comes a point in a project where you know you need to stop for the day. Seeing your Windows XP disc fly across the room is such a point.

So I brought the computer home to work on it here. (Grandma's is thirty miles from here, meaning I logged roughly 120 in my two round-trips this past weekend.) So far I've made little progress -- my flying WinXP disc does not look to be in very good shape; I made a copy of it last night but it took hours to do, so I'm betting there was some serious trouble reading the data on it. Hopefully it somehow made a good copy anyway. I haven't tried it today because I've been busy trying to revdep-rebuild my Gentoo install, because I can't upgrade KDE until I recompile a bunch of programs that used to have ungif support, which is now deprecated because the patent on the GIF algorithm finally expired. (You see what software patents do? Do you see?)

Also I bought Grandma a new CD burner. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get the mail-in rebate on it. It is possible that I did not pick up the appropriate form and will have to go back to Fry's to get it. The fun never ends.

All in all, it's been a stressful month. But on the plus side, I haven't been mugged by a hooker at knife-point, so I guess that means I know at least one guy who's had a worse month than I have. Hey, count your blessings.


Also, I don't intend to make a habit of mixing business with this blog, but I've been working on a website for a local musician named Devon Bridgewater at nuancemusic.org. Nuance Music (AKA Nuance Jazz Trio) is a local jazz group consisting of Devon, Dick Curtis, and Joel DiBartolo, director of jazz studies at my alma mater.

Anyway, I'm just throwing that link out because Devon's looking to drum up some publicity to his site, and unfortunately his Google page rank is pretty low right now, so he needs all the links he can get. So spread the word around, and, most importantly, link to his site. (I might add it to my links page if I ever drum up the courage to dust off the cobwebs and update the damn thing.)

Once again, that page is Nuance Music.

Hell, while I'm at it, Google hasn't even listed any of the other pages on the site, so here are links to them too: gigs, press, jazz, weddings, gallery, corporate clients, festivals, contact, Spanish.


Reading: A Scanner Darkly. Hoping the movie doesn't suck.

Playing: Suikoden 5. Basically at this point the series is openly hostile to newcomers -- this game took 7 hours to get interesting (still better than the 30 hours of 3 and the never of 4), and there's no way anybody would play that far without having a tremendous amount of goodwill left over from the first two games.

Fire and Ice

It's 100 degrees out, but I've just moved into the server room, where it's chilly enough that I'm actually considering going back to hot coffee -- I've been drinking it cold ever since it got up to about 90 degrees out.

Of course, if I'd remembered to bring my towel today, I could probably use it to keep warm. Oh well -- I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Anyway. Come July I think I'm going to be really happy to be in here. But come next February, I think I'll have to bring a blanket.


Playing: New Super Mario Bros.

Fuck experts-exchange.com

I am so sick of these bastards. Nary a week goes by when I don't stumble across their shit: I have some sort of problem I need to fix, I do a Google search, and wind up clicking on a helpful-looking link -- not looking at the URL it leads to -- only to find these assholes wasting my valuable time again.

Look -- I'm not giving you fuckers money for tech support, especially when there's no guarantee that your answer will have any relevance whatsoever to my issue. All you're doing is wasting my valuable time -- frequently when I'm at work and time, as they say, is money. And how the hell do you manage to get all your crap on the first page of every Google search for every conceivable network troubleshooting problem?

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OMGWTFBBQ

It's a gorgeous fucking day. The high is 77 and there's a pleasant breeze. And in Phoenix in April, each gorgeous day could be the last one until fall: in a month, it'll be up over 100.

I was very disappointed that I ran late leaving the house this morning and had to drive instead of biking. But on the plus side, we had an employee barbecue at lunch.

Other than that, we're moving servers around. Lot of heavy lifting and interesting maneuvering. In-between that I'm setting up a mailserver.

Life is good.


Reading: Stranger in a Strange Land. Which, other than making me use the word "grok" more often than usual (though I've used it for years anyway), has somewhat lowered my esteem of Speaker for the Dead, which seems to crib all its best ideas from Heinlein. I guess I'm now down to liking only one thing Orson Scott Card's ever written.

Internet!

I spent about 5 and a half hours yesterday moving some 200 websites over to a new server.

And it's a good thing I did, because the old server died later that night.

(If you are a pothead like my pothead brother, you have probably already started jabbering about synchronicity as if Buckminster Fuller were some kind of goddamn fairy prince instead of a scientist. If, however, you possess an ounce of common sense, it has probably occurred to you that usually when you move files from one computer to another, it is because it is reasonably likely that the original is going south.)

So, just to recap: four days into my new job, and I have already saved the Internet.

Is anyone keeping track of how many times I've saved the Internet now?

I think it's six.

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