Saturday, February 09, 2008

The funniest things about Europe


Vincent Vega: You know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules Winnfield: What?
Vincent Vega: It's the little differences. I mean they got the same sh** over there that they got here, but it's just, just there it's a little different.
Jules Winnfield: Example.
So I've been in Germany for about three weeks now, and the little differences have taken some getting used to. I'll go over a few about them periodically, as I notice them.

First, Bathrooms. I've been to several places in search of housing, and noticed all of them share some interesting peculiarities. Even non-residential restrooms share these traits. They remind me of bathrooms in non-renovated US houses built prior to the 50's.
  • Toilets: When dropping your kids off at the pool, be wary that there is a mandatory water slide, only the water is off, and they will get stuck half way down. "Bottom" line is that you will feel like the stool examiner in "The Last Emperor" every time you have to go number two. On the plus side, your toilet will never get dirty, because you will be scrubbing the bowl after every visit.
  • Sinks: Usually they are small and functional only. They usually lack the pull stoppers, and opt for the old fashioned stopper on a chain. I have yet to see any sink vanity combinations in off base housing.
  • Showers: Very rudimentary with external plumbing, i.e. hand held shower head connected by hose to a faucet.
  • Vanities: None. Maybe the sink has some extra room to hold a bar of soap.
More to come.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What's been keeping me busy.


I've been really busy with work lately, and I've been running out of time to finish a project I've been working on. I'll be getting ready for my assignment to Germany after Christmas week, So I only have 3 weeks left of real work.

The wars in the Middle East cost money, especially the Iraq war. Part of the cutbacks across the Air Force have been the discontinuation of a Towel service at our gyms, and a major Lean focus, looking for ways to save more money.

The USAF is moving towards putting desktops into S3 (standby) and S5 (off) at night, but will require Wake on LAN capabilities for after hours patching. WoL implementation by vendors have been spotty in the past, and thankfully, our largest vendors, HP and Dell, have some pretty neat tools to make all the required changes in the BIOS. Since we were going into the BIOS, we thought it would be a good idea to secure boot orders and radios as well. This is where my project comes in.

I created secure BIOS settings for each specific Dell and HP model ordered through our Quarterly Enterprise Buy, and developed the ways to implement them. I've even had a chance to work with the HP engineers at the old Compaq campus in Houston to implement the settings to all current and future production. We hit some snags along the way, such as HP's older dx5150 model, which runs a home use oriented Award BIOS with limited manageability. I've had to develop scripting, and recovery and implementation procedures, for a firmware upgrade that allow remote password settings. Like pushing a giant red button labeled "Do not press", the most fun part was testing the recovery procedures by yanking the power cord in the middle of a BIOS Upgrade. They didn't work, turns out, the 8k boot block bios would not boot from my bootable CD, and I had to find an internal floppy drive to hook up to it.

The biggest challenge I had was integrating all the Dell WMI sample scripts into one large Visual Basic script. With some help from our office VB guru, I put in some named variables to allow for command line parameters instead of just the ordinary %1 %2 %n variables that I normally use for my batch files. I also added an array to support multiple password variables, so that portable systems that may have missed a password change can still get the BIOS settings.

This has been really good insight on what it takes to prepare a releasable product to a massive organization. There was a lot of testing and double checking that went into it, as well as all the licensing headaches that prevented me from distributing a self extracting floppy image, or GPL'ed floppy image writing program.

When every thing is done, my little project will have three releases posted on the USAF software distribution site, and implemented globally, at least until the Altiris Client Management Suite gets fielded. I'm just surprised that as long as WoL and ACPI has been a standard, it has taken until now for Microsoft to really embrace it out of the box with SMSv4.

Learning to run


I've been getting into running, with my most recent achievement being running 48 miles in 4 weeks. I've gotten faster, and I've even run non-stop for 60 minutes. What has helped is running on an empty stomach, the ability to track my progress, and Audio books. One of the problems I've been struggling with lately have been shin splints, but not where they normally occur, laterally to the tibia, but posterior and medial to the tibia. The Soleus muscle is responsible for foot flexion, and is located behind the tibia and fibula, and helps to pull the foot in. I kept on running toward my 48 mile goal while my shin splints were getting worse, until, the week after I finished, while attempting a 10k (6.2mi) run, the pain became so unbearable that I had to (painfully) walk back home after only 2.5 miles. The pain was so bad, that sticking rock solid ice packs directly on the area felt good. After taking a week off, and then only running sporadically for the 2 weeks after that, they have begun to feel better. During a follow up to the great Physical Therapist I see on base, I was given a run analysis. It turns out that I was running wrong, keeping my knee locked and projecting forward with my foot and toes. Instead, I have to teach myself another way to run, by using the hamstrings and thigh to push off. The problem is that it feels unnatural to me, and is really straining those muscles while they adjust to the extra work. While I did not have much shin pain from the 3 mile run today, I did feel like bigfoot while I was running.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Apple castoffs


I've been needing to upgrade my mp3 player for a while now. I spend around $150 for an IRiver 256mb back in the day. It is still a good mp3 player, and it still has more features than an iPod, like FM tuner, line in and built in microphone with real time mp3 compression, but is a little lacking in the size department these days. After the Apple store came back on line following the Apple fanboy nerdgasm on September 5th, I picked up an now obsolete, "refurb" 2nd Gen iPod Nano for $90. I also got the Nike+ sensor that I've been wanting, and an armband. I am getting this primarily for running, so all the cool features that the iPod touch, or the other newer iPods are not really relevant. I still wish it had an integrated microphone & FM tuner, and maybe a standard Micro USB connector instead of the proprietary iPod connection. You would think that the company that makes laptops with all the extra's built in like a webcam, and all radios (except cellular), would do the same for their mp3 players.

I plan on having a real convergence device like the n95 to be my main portable media player / web browser / phone. The iPod Touch is cool and all, but without bluetooth and GPS, it wouldn't be able to tether to my phone when outside a hotspot.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

body work


I've been wrecked for a while. I've gradually put on 20 pounds since last Thanksgiving, and when I went back over 200 and started to develop a tertiary roll, I was compelled to take action. While googling for a calorie calculator, I came across this good site. Since I have to run at least 6 miles a week, and I am going back to the pool this summer, I decided to plug in some numbers. When I swim 2000m (20 laps), about 60minutes, at lunch, I burn 4000 calories for the day. When I run 2 miles, I burn around 3700. I am forcing myself to aim for a 4000 calorie per day average, and I'm still not quite there. This is the first week I am trying this out. Hopefully this will kick start my metabolism enough to get me back down to 180 soon.

Also, in related news, I have gone back to Troy University. I will be taking some Biology and Anatomy and Physiology classes, in order to meet some prerequisites for a Physicians Assistant program that the Military Offers. Even if I decide not to do it, I will enjoy the extra Science classes that I didn't take for my Business degree.

One of the things I've found out is that when the 36 mounths of GI Bill benefits run out, I will be covered under Texas' Hazelwood act, which waives all tuition to state public Universities for up to 150 hours.

Thursday, June 28, 2007



I've been really bad on updating my blog, even though a lot of things have been happening. This is to get Mom off my back, even though she already knows about all this.

In late May I had a spate of bad luck.

I over reacted to sudden breaking of all cars on I-85 by pulling the front brake too hard. This must have pulled the handlebar to the right, resulting in the bike laying down in front of me, and throwing me down on my left side. I escaped with some small but deep scrapes on my knee and foot, but my Jacket, gloves and boots were torn up.
The following week, when I was driving the Expedition through downtown, I was hit by someone that didn't stop for a stop sign, and caused me to roll over onto the drivers side.

All the money I had made from my deployment to Tyndall AFB was put into a 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan that we bought at auction in June.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A deaf man walks into a bar... stop me if you've heard this one.


I just returned from a visit back home to Montgomery, and suffered from some ride related injuries. One of them was a persistent ringing in my ears that sounded like a low reverberating bell. This was probably a result of all the wind noise from the ride back combined with the recently installed helmet speakers that I got from Aerostich for $15. The other injury was some neck pain from the constant wind buffeting and leaning over the tank and highway speeds, forcing me to keep my head tilted upward.

To combat the potential for hearing loss, I purchased some 26dB ear plugs at The Walmart. They really do a good job of cutting down on the noise level, especially at above average highway speeds.

To fix the wind problem, I have two solutions. The first is to find a taller replacement windscreen for my bike, which shouldn't be hard to find, considering the popularity of the XJ600 globally. The 2nd solution would be to buy a motorcycle with a taller wind shield.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Insurgent IT departments, and how to really deal with them.


Slashdot just recently posted a link to a great article that CIO magazine wrote about how unresponsive and/or repressive IT departments create insurgent shadow IT departments. CIO's advice to CIO's is to embrace and adopt the shadow IT departments. Out perform, or meet them halfway. The most important messages from the article are:
*Messy but Fertile beats Neat but Sterile
*No one jumps through hoops, they go around them.
*If the default answer is no, people will just stop asking.
*People who think outside of the box are not troublemakers, they may just know what they are talking about.

Why do I think this is important? Not too long ago, I got into trouble because apparently, I wan't supposed to have admin rights on my work computer, and got fussed at for syncing appointments between Outlook and my Sony Erisson P910. The only reason the PDA sync was bad was because there was a policy against non-government provided PDA's being connected to my laptop. I was doing things that made me work better and more efficiently, and the only thing I got was the riot act for violating policy, and creating potential security holes. No one cared that I was working better. Realizing the perils of going into details about work on a public blog, I will leave it at that.

All I will say is that this article is great advice for anyone in charge of a enterprise level information system. It will help them find a good balance between user efficiency, and complete lockdown.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My paid vacation just got better


My wartime deployment has been to Panama City, Florida. I've been down here for a little of 30 days now, and I've been living out of a 2 star motel room with wifi slower than the GPRS on my cell phone. I've been moved on base to an old dorm room with a shared bathroom, and NO Internet access. I have to go to the main office to use their wireless router.

As far as my job goes, I just sit around and monitor a few conference calls on the old legacy phone system. This office is staffed around the clock, and uses around 8 personnel to essentially baby sit old telco equipment. This could easily be replaced with VOSIP phones, but then they wouldn't be able to waste money on all our paychecks. I basically sit around and watch TV, work out at the Gym, or, when the proxy server is down, surf the Internet. I am not being used for my abilities, or skills. I am being used for my security clearance, and it sucks, because I am not being challenged, and I do not have a chance to excel.

Now, this "deployment" is getting better because I have been allowed to move off base, provided I can find somewhere for $27/day. Along with another guy from my base, we are moving to West End Harbor condos in Mexico Beach. This is the floorplan, with 1791 square feet.

If anyone has a boat, they are welcome to come down and park it in our boat slip. We are a stones throw away from the beach.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ask A Ninja Question 30


This has got to be one of the most funny Ask A Ninja's I've seen in a while. I spewed coffee on my monitor while watching it this morning.

Friday, December 22, 2006

You should be blogging


Found on digg 3.0's video feed. Very hilarious, see what happens when MBA types try to be hip. Almost as funny as the old lady on Airplane that spoke jive.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Goldeneye: Source Beta Trailer


Golden Eye for N64 was one of the best games released for the N64, besides Super Mario Brothers and Zelda Ocarina of Time. My brother and I used to spend countless hours playing each other split screen on the varios maps and game modes. I can't wait to try this out on HL:Source, and play multiplayer without the split screen.

Beta Trailer Released!
Blurb: A trailer for the upcoming Beta of Goldeneye Source has been released! Showcased in this trailer are the various maps of the mod. More videos to come, and check back later more information. Special thanks to everyone who helped make this possible. A very special thanks to xes garcia and vader02 for the gunbarrel, basstronix and rich douglas for the music.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ride to B'ham


I rode up to Birmingham with my supervisor this morning. He has a Victory Vegas chopper , and was getting saddle bags mounted on it at the dealership there. I rode along because that would be the longest ride to date, and I wanted to test drive a cruiser. I ended up riding a 2006 Vegas which is a 100ci => 1600cc+ V-twin. It sounded great, and had a lot of power, but I just didn't like the slouching feeling, and I couldn't get used to the feel of having my foot pegs so far forward.
After the Victory dealership, we went up to Bogart's Motorsports, the nearest BMW and Ducati dealership. They did not have any GS demo models available, but they had a R1200S which has the same flat twin motor. Unfortunately, they were out of gas, and their rescue truck was out. I ended up testing a Sportclassic GT1000 around their 6 mile test loop. It had a lot more power than my 600, but the exhaust was just too puny. It sounded like it was puttering the whole time, like a wannabe chopper.
I also saw the Victory Hammer S, and was impressed with it's looks, but I didn't get to ride one. I assume it feels much like the Vegas, and is as expensive. I just can't justify spending as much on a bike as we did on our last new vehicle.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What to do with 200GB of Hosting?


I've found an offer from someone who gives back $90 of the dreamhost referral fee to the referee, making 1 year of basic hosting $30. It seems like a great deal, I just need to figure out if I could actually use it. I already host my pictures on Flicker, and I use blogger for blogging. I don't do a lot of web stuff, so I'm kind of at a loss to justify it.