• geek

    City of Angels

    I am in Los Angeles for a lightning business trip this weekend. I was sent here to do an operating system upgrade on our switch infrastructure here, as well as to add a few more switches into the mix. Because it’s work that requires taking down our network, my physical presence was required.

    It’s a tiring, but rewarding thing, when work like this goes well. There’s a part of me that really loves that I can be sent across the country to build a data center on my own. Problems inevitably come up, but I have enough experience now that I can handle them. If I were a RPG character, I’d be well into my evolution to superhero. It’s a nice feeling.

    The downside is that there’s massive stress in the week leading up to the trip. Part of the work involves very special, very expensive cables. The whole thing could fail if I forget one or ordered the wrong length or something. There’s no store that you can visit to buy a replacement – and it can take a week or more to get another one. For a brief moment when I first arrived, I thought I had botched this, but I had forgotten that I was going to be reassigning some cables that were already in place.

    After weeks of anxiety (and the attendant dreams) and preparation and coordination, everything went fine. I have at least a few hours of work ahead of me if all goes well with some general clean-up and inventory, since I’m standing here, but the hard work is already done. I can, at last, relax, knowing that the big scary thing has passed. When I finally fell into bed around 3 a.m. this morning, it was with a giant sigh of relief at a stressor removed.

    It’s a cold but muggy day this morning in Los Angeles, but a good one. Much is happening and much that is happening is good.

  • geek,  introspection,  writing

    The Death of Personal Blogging

    In 2001, I was a compulsive blog reader. At the time, the Internet had little more content than blogs, some corporate websites and the very beginnings of the information superhighway that it’s become. (Aside – what is a superhighway? Is it extra wide? Extra fast? Is it another one of those words that sound impressive and speedy and mean nothing?) I was blogging before there was blog software, but by then, Livejournal had debuted and begun to change the world. Diary-x soon followed, which I moved my blog to from the manual HTML pages I was creating. When the famous hard drive crash happened, I lost my blog, but I also lost contact with the people that I read and had befriended. We would have been surprised to call it a blog; what we were doing was journaling. We were writing in online journals, an almost direct translation of the paper kind. We, total strangers from different parts of the world, were sharing our lives in a very real and meaningful way.

    This was, of course, before anyone had lost their job because of what they put online. The Internet was a more innocent place then. I’ve found myself nostalgic for that time, when personal blogs were the majority of the content. Their heyday has really passed. Facebook and MySpace did it; instead of writing long journal entries, now it is easy to microblog to a private audience, to make tiny updates of whatever passes through your mind. Twitter specializes in this and its popularity is proof that this fills a real human need. With such ease for dropping thoughts, the longer process required for putting together a coherent post seems to have slipped away for most. I’ve certainly struggled with that myself.

    If the Internet has given us anything amazing out of science fiction, it is the ability to access a global knowledge base. I remember looking for a map of Scotland in 1998 and being completely unable to find one. No one had put one up yet. Now there are hundreds. It is the book nerd’s dream. But sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the price, for all the paranoia that’s come with it. There was a time when people could be brutally honest and open and anonymous, when there was so much to be learned about how people really thought about how they lived.  I can’t help but miss it every now and again.

    Who do you read? Who do you recommend?

  • geek,  knitting,  spinning

    A handspun bag

    My obsession with my Gtab continues; so I used the opportunity of needing a case for it to use up some of my early handspun yarns. Lately I seem to be too impatient to bother with finding other people’s patterns,so I just sort of made it up as I went along.  I knew that I wanted to use stranded knitting to make the bag thick and I happen to really enjoy alternating yarns over 1 stitch (i.e. *K1 MC, K1 CC, rep from *), so that’s what I did.  One of the yarns that I chose was the last thing I spun before going to SOAR – it is overtwisted and overplied, which makes for yarn with the basic consistency of bundles of straw.  Not very pleasant.  The second yarn I used was yarn that I spun in Maggie Casey’s class at SOAR from a fleece that we handcarded ourselves.  In comparison, it is the softest and fluffiest yarn that you could imagine.  Even standing alone, it’s a yarn that I can actually knit with, which differentiates it quite a bit from all of the yarn that I made before taking her class.

    My bag is scratchy and scruffy and rough, but it absolutely does the job.  And how many Gtabs get to be carried around in a hand carded, hand spun, hand knitted bag?  At the end of the day, that’s what all of this fiber madness is about.  My bag might be a little rough and unfinished looking, but every single scrap of it is the reward of the labor of my hands.  I go to bed satisfied that I have brought something into this very mass-produced, commercialized world that is totally unique and mine.  And I had a lot of fun doing it, though knitting with my pre-SOAR yarn did contribute to a carpal tunnel flare.  I’m really looking forward to knitting with some of the other yarns that I’ve made since, since I can tell by their feel that they’re nice and soft.

  • geek

    The Gtab

          I’m writing this post from a new toy, which means I am typing rather slower than usual, or perhaps rather faster than usual, given that the only appendages in use are my thumbs and all they ordinarily have to do is slam the space bar in a very impressive and, if I’m lucky in my keyboard, noisy fashion.  So really, this is going much faster than it ought.

    I took a Cisco test this weekend, so have been busy pushing obscure facts about BGP in my head for a few weeks.  I passed, which renewed my CCNP for three years, so I decided to celebrate by replacing my ZaReason Ubuntu netbook with a Viewsonic GTablet, which being the cheapskate that I am, I bought second-hand off Ebay.  I gave the netbook to our House Teenager, thus fulfilling my linux nerd quota of forcing others to use an operating system they’ve never heard of.

    I will make a nerd of him yet.

    The Gtablet runs Android, which I admit to a certain nerdly interest in, though mostly because I just have to play with new stuff.  The fun part of this is that people go off and write their own ROMs, so the look and feel of your tablet can vary quite a lot.  So can its functionality, so swapping around ROMs is not for the faint of heart.  There was a moment earlier today where my Gtablet lost its internal hard drive, which was my fault.  So I found it again.  This may not be an experience that everyone enjoys, but I sure do.

    The ROM that the Gtab ships with begins by having you set up your account in a group called Family, which would indicate that I’m supposed to share my new toy.  Clearly a fundamental misunderstanding, so it just had to go.

    I started with Vegan Ginger, but couldn’t access the Android market and, as we all know, it is all about the apps.  I bought it with the intention of being able to get more writing done and to take better advantage of my long train commute.  (So far, so good.) So I’ve been playing with productivity apps, like list makers and WordPress and simple writing editors.  All of which I’ll be using.  But I also found an app where I get to raise sheep and throw them around.  I’m a knitter and a spinner, I just can’t help myself.

    Although my Gtab and me are still in the honeymoon phase, I can tell we’re going to last.  The netbook never really worked for me the way I’d hoped because I primarily want to use it on my commute, which is an hour long train ride.  It only had an hour long battery life if I kept the wifi off and the form factor didn’t work well for being scrunched up in a seat with a stranger sitting right next to you.  The tablet is a little more public to work on, but by being smaller and working on a touch screen with a normal size keyboard, is actually easier to use.  And the apps are there to help streamline the process.  Ahh, the apps.

  • geek


    Yesterday afternoon, I got a pleasant surprise at work.  Rather than wait until my laptop is supposed to be replaced in January, I was given an almost new upgrade that was originally intended for a new employee that decided he couldn’t deal with Mac OSX.  So I am now typing from a very shiny new laptop that is essentially my old laptop with newer hardware and a prettier screen.  (Yippie, 400 GB additional of disk space!)

    The upgrade has gone really smoothly, which was kind of a revelation to me, since that never happens.  I was using Time Machine on the old MacBook Pro to an external hard drive.  While I formatted and put a fresh install of Mac OSX on the new laptop, I ran a final backup on the old one.  I connected the backup drive to my new computer and ran a Time Machine import and….everything *just worked*.  I have had one problem with Aperture, which includes the volume name in the pathing of its files, but a quick Google search put me to rights again.  (Select all of your photos, then go to File –> Locate Referenced Files.  Select one file and then locate it manually on your hard drive.  Click “Reconnect All” and wait.)

    My programs are all configured as they were, my shortcuts are in place.  Quicken, despite its usage of resource forks, works.  Unfortunately, the messy assortment of my data is also over in its chaotic glory, so there’s a project to be done today.  Still, I am very impressed.  Apple hardware is kind of scandalously expensive, but you’re paying for some really quality software in that price.

    So really, if you’re not using Time Machine yet, do.  I’m impressed.

    I’ve been putting some thought into replacing my cell lately, since after two years the Home button isn’t as responsive as it used to be and the whole device has become frustratingly sluggish and I’m due for an upgrade.  I installed the latest iPhone update this morning and it does seem to have picked up the pace again, so perhaps it was just a question of cruft buildup.  Still, I’ve been looking into some of the other phones on the market as a potential.  My phone must be a smartphone with MP3 support and have GPS functionality built in.  I really like the App store and its potential, so that’s another consideration.  I’m certainly interested in Android, like a good geek.  Anyone have recent phone experiences that can help me make up my mind?

  • art,  geek

    Geek Art

    In the last two days, I’ve been doing some coding and clean-up of my computer. In ways that I could describe but would be long and boring, I got the two random bits of text that I found particularly meaningful.

    The first, output from a Perl script gone wrong:

    They need to be tested and
    need to be tested and
    to be tested and
    be tested and
    tested and
    until they finally get the love they seek.

    And second, sad and weird:

    cleopatra:Scripts cmoliver$ ls
    Crafts Finance Legal Mom Writing

    cleopatra:Scripts cmoliver$ rm -rf ./Mom/

    Uhm, yeah.

  • feminism,  geek

    Happy Ada Lovelace Day

    Ada Lovelace Day is, of course, near and dear to my heart. It’s nice to see women in tech being recognized. Sometimes it feels like I’m a mythological beast by being a female sysadmin, so a day to focus on the fact that we are not actually alone is nice.

    So, cheers to you, The Right Honourable the Countess of Lovelace. You have led the way.

  • geek,  work

    Study Study Bee

    I’ve been a high-geared nerd lately, which has been taking up tremendous amounts of time. Being a professional nerd means that studying on a regular basis is a pretty important part of being able to advance my career, since technology is constantly changing. I’ve been on a hiatus since my mom passed away (since that is pretty much the most awesome excuse to not study ever), but about a month ago, I got myself back in gear to try and finish off my CCNP, which is a five-test series on Cisco’s equipment as regards switching and routing. Or, for the layperson, “what makes a large part of the Internet go”. I have been on my last test for about a year and a half, which is just silly. It should never have taken me this long, but I lost motivation and got lazy. And, y’know, my mom died.

    I’m currently set to take the test in about a week. I cannot wait to have this obligation from over my head. The material for this particular test is actually largely irrelevant to my current job, so it just feels like a pull away from what I’d really like to spend my time focusing on.

    Is it a sign of the unrepentant nerd that I’m excited to finish the CCNP series just so that I can start studying for the next certification?

  • geek,  politics

    Cuba Embraces the Penguin

    Cuba officially supports Linux now, which is pretty rocking from both an open source perspective and a “gosh, American policies regarding Cuba are so beyond stupid” standpoint.

    The plane we were on from Montego Bay was delayed rather significantly by a sick passenger. We had to go back to the gate and let her off, because if she became very ill in the air space over Cuba, we would not be able to land.

    This is so stupid. So stupid. Our embargoes against Cuba need to end. I personally really resent not being able to go to a place on this planet because my government cannot get with the times and is still participating in the Cold War. I also am horrified that we have a policy of bringing democracy to Cuba that was codified in 1992, considering that we certainly have zero problem supporting dictators in Latin America or other Communist governments when it furthers our business interests.

    So what gives with Cuba? What could our objections, in 2009, possibly still be?