Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

22Nov/10Off

Flagrant Attempt At Getting More DropBox Space

I'm going to post my Dropbox referral link here in hopes that you'll sign up and we can both suck up some more space. I keep an unholy amount of crap there. Help me keep more crap around!

15Nov/10Off

No Pain, No Gain?

All class, these folks

12Nov/10Off

Futzing With Themes

I'm messing with the look of the site for the first time in a couple of years. Brokeness will ensue I'm sure.

8Nov/10Off

OS X Monodevelop

Damn. How did I miss this. Monodevelop download. This means, in theory, that I can work on projects (still not talking about it) without switching from the MBP to the Oscar-damaged Linux laptop. This is a clear lesson about the value of being fairly oblivious and how it can cause delayed happiness. Wooooo.

Filed under: General, New To Me No Comments
8Nov/10Off

Birth of a Fascist

Today was a terrible day for getting anything done. Most of the (granted, this is MSFT software we're talking about here) infrastructure that I'm supposed to keep running or at least afloat managed to be broken by outside forces that I do not have direct control over. The whole experience, from the here and now perspective, is making me want to lock my network down to the point where people can just barely get the absolutely necessary accomplished. This is what creates new BOFHs. I've resisted for a long, long time but this day where the torrent of error emails carved my iPhone 4 down to 60% battery life by mid-day without making any phone calls may just be the final shove that I've needed to slough off this facade of niceness or cooperation and just run the network like a train system or something. Damn it. The trains will run on time.

Filed under: General No Comments
6Nov/10Off

Domain Consolidation

Lifehacker posted a question about the best domain registrar which reminded me that I have a whole bunch of domains registered with GoDaddy and I fucking hate GoDaddy. This domain was actually registered eons ago with Dotster which was the default registrar for the amazing PureNRG folks (I don't endorse them for the purpose of being paid. They're just awesome but I outgrew them pretty quickly mainly in the bandwidth department) so I've decided to consolidate them all onto a single registrar. I've heard stellar things about 1 and 1 (including a bunch of laudatory stuff in the post mentioned above) so I decided to move everything on over since it was inexpensive and didn't rely on boobs splashed all over the index to market what is essentially a pretty simple service and doesn't (as far as I know) have an outspoken right-wing douche at the helm.

The purpose of this post is to remind myself how to transfer domains away from GoDaddy:

  1. Unlock the domain.
  2. Machete your way through one of the worst administrative interfaces on the planet to get your authorization code.
  3. Sleep better knowing you're a little bit less of lazy bastard and throwing money at businesses who you feel guilty being associated with.

3Nov/10Off

Now That The ‘I Voted’ Stickers Have Settled At The Bottom of the Hamper

We made it out relatively unscathed in Colorado. Hickenlooper will more than likely be a decent governer and Bennet has not been replaced by that Buck wingnut. We lost a couple here and there but they were largely in districts that are traditionally pretty deep red and given the reactionary tendencies of rural folks this shouldn't come as a total surprise to anyone. Betsy Markey being ousted was a little surprising but I think that has more to do with the party affiliation than performance during time in office. Disappointing but fairly typical. Oh well, it looks like the apocalypse has been deflected for yet another election cycle.

The national picture is less happy but I can live with Republicans only being in control of part of Congress. At least with partial control they cannot persist with the run the ship aground strategy they've employed since Obama took office. It's small comfort but it beats the shit out of the alternative. I'm also a little disgusted that my least favorite orange guy, John Boner, will be shooting his mouth off that much more but I'm hoping that a less polarized (now there is an optimistic term, eh?) Congress will give him less opportunity to talk shit and then recede into the shadows until he can opportunistically jump on every negative event and claim that his party would've done things differently had the Socialists not been in power. Hopefully Boner can tie his own noose.

Filed under: General No Comments
1Nov/10Off

Ebooks, Pragmatism, and User Generated Hysteria

I'm a really big fan of my Kindle. I've actually procrastinated about reading many books that I've highly anticipated reading because they're still dead tree edition only or priced exactly the same in either paper or electronic edition. The upside is that I'm also reading a huge number of classic books in free editions in quite the same way that I'm accustomed to from back in the PDA days. I don't miss those days much but I did really dig being able to carry around my entire reading list in a searchable format where I could very quickly and easily dig out precise quotations when necessary and didn't destroy my spinal column in the process. Unlike the old and rather pricey PDAs, I seldom need to charge my Kindle (as long as I remember to disable wireless connectivity when I'm finished downloading new material) and hardly even think of it as a distinct electronic device anymore. Now it's just a white plastic slab that words come out of. I probably do more actual reading now than I've ever done before if only because I'm spending much less of the time my attention will allow tracking down the books I'm reading, figuring out what page I left off reading on after losing yet another fucking bookmark, and figuring out what the hell I did with the sheet of paper I typically keep in books with my notes because I hate re-reading marked up books.

I've been mulling over, coming back to, and re-reading this article in Prospect Magazine today because it actually engages authors who do not necessarily have religious attachments to the format their material inhabits as long as their skills still pay the bills. It's generally an engaging read especially Don DeLillo's extracted bits at the end -- they're taken from a speech but I wouldn't have seen them otherwise.

One thing that seems fairly consistent about the larger criticism of explosive electronic book growth is the loss of publishing intermediaries as ad hoc quality control. Part of me understands this immediately when I look at listings in Amazon's Kindle store where huge numbers of titles are just there in every category and indistinguishable when one has not yet been reviewed by either an Amazon customer or lifted from another publication or website. You could conceivably buy a book based entirely on its title without knowing any information about it other than title, author, and price. There isn't a spine with a publishing house mark to separate those who have braved the manuscript hawking from the great unwashed who simply wrote and published. This is understandably upsetting to those who rely greatly on the merits of manuscript pimping and press releases/review copies to validate their output.

I'm thinking that what scares publishers and traditional authors more than anything else isn't a great flood of amateurs flooding the already submerged marketplace but the idea of actually having the marketplace opened up for anyone and being forced to adapt their own models for that changed environment. I mean, face it, best selling books are largely utter shit -- well handled genre fiction that might as well be delivered via trough. The operative difference here is that the branded slop has been vetted by an external organization that thinks the book will make money. This is a reductionist way of looking at it and taken mainly because I think its funny but the reverse is most certainly true. The traditional publishing industry and its constituency would like to reduce the tension to the published and unpublished, retain the hardcover price, and forget the whole thing ever happened.

It seems like the folks who are reacting to the rise of the ebook format are doing so preemptively. Has this made some radical change in the way the book industry functions? Did this suddenly make Americans seek Tom Clancy and John Grisham instead of writing by people capable of not pooping out link after link of a chain of formulaic and episodic bullshit. I don't think so anymore than the 80's power combo of frat boy comedy and slasher flicks destroyed film production. One segment ate up a huge amount of expendable cash and the intensely ADHD generic public interest. That generalized interest doesn't radically change even in response to genuinely cool things but like a teenager in the 80s listens to the same cassingle of the same overplayed radio hit that composes their entire esthetic palate until they've burned out their sensitivity to it entirely puts it down and moves tepidly onto something else to overuse. The seemingly inevitable response from the powers that film was to either imitate (which typically and quickly sates the public desire for more of the same posthaste please) or adapts by miraculously whipping up another bland but at least novel new flavor of the month to seduce the generic public attention away from the twisted wreckage of what was the height of cool mere days ago. If you buy my line of thinking (and good on you if you don't) then there is a sort of symbiosis between the easily entertained and the hardly entertaining that is necessary for bestseller lists to even exist.

I think DeLillo's quoted questions at the end of the article are spot on. I hope I'm understanding his hints correctly but it seems like a shrug towards the medium more than anything else. He doesn't seem to fear or resent it as many of the others quoted do but (kinda have to remember here that Don is like 10000 years old) is simply waiting around to see what happens because what he really does isn't completely married to the format either. I think that is one of the reasons that I will read and (sometimes grudgingly) respect the stuff DeLillo creates. He takes some risks and even the worst of them and the least likely to make a room full of people absently high five one another is still light years ahead of teenage vampire Mormon love stories. At the same time, he used a novella (Pafko at the Wall) as the introduction to his best (in my not-so-humble opinion) novels and then later republished it as a separate book, as hardcover even. The motherfucker adapts and you should imitate that willingness to keep writing and adapt more than you should concentrate on aping the style and structure of White Noise (his worst, in my fervently disagreed with opinion) when sitting down at the keyboard all clueless and scared.

1Nov/10Off

Where I Hope To End Up Going Eventually

Again, I've been away from this particular channel for an unacceptable number of months. I say unacceptable because although I'm busy being a parent and running an IT department I feel like I've bypassed writing about a number of things I've thought were either important or worth sharing simply because I've gotten rather lazy about doing anything here. I've announced this site either dead or sleeping so many times that doing so again would just make me feel stupid. Eight years after the first post that would be more annoying than anything and I'm much happier being directly annoying than through some sneaky and underhanded measure.

Point one: I'm entertaining job offers again. It dawned on me (mainly due to unrelenting harassment from a seemingly endless number of recruiters) that my current job is another case study in underpayment for services rendered and unbelievable scope creep (this in the sense that I spend more time dealing with budget concerns and phone bills than anything else) and that I should probably move on. That said, I'm waiting to hear about a position that is one of the best that I've ever been considered for and it is making me impatient as all hell. Part of that is wanting to leave my current job as soon as possible now that the option seems feasible but another entirely is how much more fun the new place would be and how much less bullshit it sounds like. The key thing that makes it exciting: No Windows servers at all. Zero. It's either Linux or OS X or a hosted solution (Hosted Exchange which doesn't sound terrible at this point) or doesn't exist. I've administered what amount to exclusively MSFT networks for a long time now and I'm pretty fed up with it. Granted, they're easy as fuck to make small changes to (AD isn't the worst thing in the world these days) but when something does go catastrophically wrong, between featuring some of the worst error logging I've ever seen and reacting differently to similar environs for no logical reason, shit gets painful quickly and I spend hours reading through horror stories reminiscent of my own on Expert Sexchange until I find some miraculously opaque solution or just burn things down and start over. I'm a little tired of that and the duct tape and baling wire feeling of my network. When working on things that are time and sanity consuming (this is, of course, the nature of the job) I'm haunted by the feeling that I'm going to reboot the machine only to have an NTLDR error come wailing out of its crypt like a malevolent Egyptian curse to tell me that all my crops are going to fail and my weekend has been banished. Do not like. There was a hysterically funny blog post I remember reading years ago (but cannot find thus no link action) that compared administering Windows boxes to being a member of a cargo cult, sitting in a palm tree tree with half a coconut held to each ear and pointlessly muttering "Roger Wilco" endlessly until you die and/or lose your mind and that sums it up succinctly I think.

The funny part is that a goodly number of potential employers completely fail to see multi-platform experience as a good thing. I interviewed a couple weeks ago with a ginormous company and completely aced all levels of the technical interviews (there were 4 before I ever talked a person face to face and each individual interviewer noted that I had a very easy time with their questions) then showed up at their corporate HQ for a three hour interview festival (hate these by the way, nothing keeps me snappy like sitting in a random conference room for a third of the day) which went swimmingly while talking to the developer and QA folks I would potentially be working with. Then I hit the stage of interviews that are typically easiest -- the direct interview with the person who would be my boss. Simple, right? No, the entire 30 minutes was dedicated to voicing his concern about my experience with both Apple and Linux platforms and how their business was dedicated to Microsoft and only Microsoft and how there was no future in anything else. He also turned a little red when I said that I manage my network from a Linux machine with a VirtualBox installation of XP for applications that are Windows-dependent and told me that 'That wouldn't work here at all because we use images.' Um, okay, so let's get back to the actual interview, dude. As far as I can tell I entertained all of his real questions as best as I could (including the weird DOS one. Wha?) and left fairly confident that I would have an offer that I would likely decline. I got a call from the company's head recruiter guy (who was swell and actually sounded more technically competent than your average corporate recruiter) who told me that although my interview results ranged from excellent to stellar someone else was chosen because their background was more in line with the company's chosen IT future. The recruiter actually seemed kind of embarrassed to have to tell me this and to be told that I would not have accepted the position because of the verging on platform-racist attitude their technical director had towards pretty much anything that wasn't Windows.

It was odd to say the very least. The more unsettling part about this entire round of interviewing is that weird 'This is my platform. There are many others like it but this one is mine' has been a near constant at least with the huge companies. In the other cases, it has been more like 'This position is not concerned with x platform at all and won't ever expand to touch that so we need to be sure you're not in love with that or actually like it or would know how to fix it if it were broken' which is equally weird. The company I actually want to work for, on the other hand, was really receptive to my breadth of experience and admitted that my Windows experience was worth having around as they're not committed to any one thing specifically and that if something on that platform turns out to be the thing they need then they'll adopt it. See, grown ups make me want to work for your company and bringing out weird insecurities in the actual interview don't Luckily, crazy seems to rule the process so I haven't even needed to decline any of the other positions and have moved merrily on my way away from companies who can't even deal with the fact that one of their sysadmins might have had a fling with another operating system. I feel kind of embarrassed while the interview is going on and wildly relieved when it over. It's been a learning experience of sorts but the Google-style infinite repetition quiz show and uncomfortably long and mostly irrelevant (you say anything attempting to link the above with my posting style and I will interview style that is becoming the default for even the piddliest of companies I'm about out of patience for it. The folks who were honest enough to admit it are as wearied by the process as I am. So, wish me luck with this one that I really want because I'm pretty goddamned tired of everything else.

Update:
I didn't get that job. The new head of the IT department decided to bring in one of his friends instead. Typical.