It wasn't me. You can't prove anything.


New Years
A couple of people have asked me what plans I have this evening. I tell them "laundry" (with a visit from my old buddy Johnny Walker). I thought about it and I hope to wake up tomorrow and find there is no news about anything special. That is a sad statement. A good day is a slow news day recently. I don't remember a time in my life when people felt like this on mass. World War II movies seem to portray a home front feeling a bit like what I'm feeling now. I feel on edge and I check the news every fifteen minutes. I'm too paranoid. I must relax.
It is after lunch. Sidney and Japan have had their New Years celebration. They could just run them again at midnight for Houston and no one would notice the difference.
I'm listening to the
BBC Five Live. They just said another explosion has been heard in Baghdad. The comment was "That is typical these days. We hear this story every night from Baghdad." That too is a sad statement. It is true. There have been explosions in Baghdad every evening over the Christmas break.


In the beginning, sometime during World War II, Man said "Doing math by hand sucks." and Man wrought the paper tape machine. This paper tape had holes stamped into it's surface and ran along a light sensor that counted the wholes and allowed Man to run and play while the machine toiled. And Man said "This rocks." And Man was right.
The machine that counted the holes in a paper tape satisfied Man's need to pursue ignorance. But the machines multiplied and grew complex. They counted electrons. Each machine spoke it's own language driving Man nuts. Man said "This Sucks." And Man was right.
Then, during a time Man was willing to try new things, sometime in 1969, he begat the seed of his own ascension. Man loosed upon creation a language to guide machines. This language was called "C" and Man said "Everything else sucks. C is the only way to go." And Man was right.
From that point on every list of instructions for these complex machines was written in C, or hidden behind another language that was just a vale for C. And Man said "Whatever." And Man was right.


New Year's Resolution
I'm giving up sex for a year. Not just sex, my ally-catting ways as well. That's right. It is the straight and narrow for me for an entire year. No more staying out until dawn on work nights. No more three day parties. No more sexual treasure hunts. It will be tough, but I think with the support of family and friends I will prevail.
I look forward to your support.

Geek Speak
So, I'm trying to get Bugzilla to work on my web server. I follow the instructions. They are 10,000 foot level instructions. This is an open source project and the only way the people working on the project get paid is to hire themselves out as consultants. The instructions online are lacking to generate a need for more consulting. I follow the instructions as best as I know how.
The scripts included in the install that are supposed to fix the access rights mess up some of the execute attributes on the Perl scripts. The page “index.cgi” was working just find. Then, it just quit. What happens the script called “fixes” the rights on files. It didn't fix the rights on these files. The three-hundredth time I ran the script it must have messed them up. The symptom is the CGI script is listed in the browser instead of running on the server.

I had to learn a couple of things.

  • How to set rights on files more accurately.

  • How to change the colors in PUTTY.

  • How to set the access rights under Apache web server more appropriately.

  • Better security measures for Apache.

  • How to get CGI to run under folders other than the default under Apache.

  • How to install Perl modules (not how to fix them when they don't work).

  • How to write and run a hello world in PHP and Perl.

People laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a comic. Well, they aren't laughing now.
When I go I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my father. Not like the other people who were screaming in the car he was driving.


Someone Special
Have you ever had some one who you wished you were special too? Because they are special to you. It feels cruel when they treat you like every one else. You learn about them to find their interests. You make them your interests. Still, you are one among many. What to do?


What is with gift giving? Women seem to get all upset when you can't read their mind and pick out the perfect gift. My parents gave me a GPS for Christmas. I have no use for a GPS. I go nowhere. My father has needed one for his boat recently. I tried to give them a TiVo because they watch so much TV. My father took one look at the book and said “There is no way I'm going to learn how to use this.” Neanderthal.
From now on I'm giving people cash. That is just the Kelly thing to do. I'm never buying any one anything ever again as far as gifts go. All it does is provide people with an excuse to call you a jerk and blame you for their problems.
Bryan has a great thing going. I don't give him anything and he doesn't give me anything. It is a guy thing. We speak every six months or so. I consider him a close friend.
They are talking about people on TV at the malls exchanging and shopping. People are bargain hunting.


It isn't fun being me on Christmas. I never seem to forgive myself. Some guy tried to run us off the road on the way home from work on Christmas Eve. My parents don't want their gift. I'm alone. There is no snow. Christmas sucks.

Next year Cash.


So, I'm trying to log into my machine remotely one day and it just isn't there. VNC keeps telling me "no server". I can still get to my web page (on the Linux box, go figure) so the network is still up. I've had this machine reboot for no reason a couple of times lately. When I get home I take one look at the screen "hard drive failure". That is a pretty new drive so I unplug everything and plug it back in. It comes right up. It is the power supply. "humph". The box isn't worth repairing. The $40 on a power supply would server me better if I just upgrade.
It seems like I hit this stage one every box. I have an old HP 333 that has a bad IDE channel that prevents me from installing the latest kernel of Linux. I have an old Gateway 400 that my web page uses. I also use it as a file server. The original 10 gigabyte hard drive caught on fire. That still cracks me up. It now has a 40 and a 120 gigabyte drive. I had to flash the BI/OS to get the 120 squeezed in there.
I should have a new machine on the way. Well, new to me. It is another x00 MHz box that no one seems to want. I want to take the box that I'm having the trouble with now and convert it to Linux. Right now the only thing I seem to do with it is Overnet, email and a bit of web surfing. I should be able to get away with Linux without trouble as long as the network card works under the distribution. The same NIC (Network Interface Card) will work find in one distro and not the other. It seems the cheaper the NIC the more likely it will work.
Now that Red Hat is dead (to me anyway) I have to find a new favorite distro of Linux. I will consider Fedora just as much as any other. I'm a bit miffed at Red Hat for acting like Microsoft. I'm sure they did this whole "We will support another free distro instead of keeping ours free" in order to get people used to paying for the name Red Hat. They can kiss my wallet.

What a difference a good night's sleep can make. I feel great this morning. I took a decongestant before I went to bed and slept like a baby.

Five Live
I listen to the BBC Five Live during the day. I come in at 6:30 am Central in Houston Texas. They are just starting their evening commute in England. They interview actors and singers and the like. They also have traffic reports, they call it “travel”. A couple of months ago the guy who plaid John Luc Picard on Start Trek The Next Generation read traffic. I thought that was cool. Well, It has been topped. Today they interviewed the guy who plaid Gollum. He read traffic as Gollum. It was disturbing and fascinating, just like Gollum. I pictured Gollum in a suit with a hat on the street on his way to work, daydreaming on the train, stopping for a paper, wanting an adventure.


I'm at work and I'm sick. If I don't come in I don't get paid. So, I'm here. I should be at home in bead sweating the cold out. I don't have a fever, because I'm popping Tylenol every ten minutes. I'm buzzing on cold medicine. It isn't a good buzz. I'm staring at the screen wanting desperately to go to sleep. Why waist a sick day on being sick? I got back from lunch and I feel a little better. I have so much to do when I get home. I have to pay bills. I have to do some research for Tpro. I have to wash the sheets. I need to pick up a package  from the apartment office. I have to throw out some boxes. I need to fix my computer because it is resetting for no reason and not coming back up.
It is not easy to be me and be sick and be responsible. I can leave today at three o'clock. The walk home sounds dreadful. I should stop at the store this evening. I need a bunch of stuff. It will not happen. I will go home and collapse. I fear I may sleep straight trough to tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off. It wouldn't be the first time.
Must keep eyes open. Must keep breathing. Must ... umm. something ... it isn't important.
I want to go home and sink into clean sheets, dream of sleeping so I'm enjoying two sleeps. I'll snore with a smile on my face. ahhhhh.


Software packaging
I just had some guys come in to my office at my day job and ask me about adding a bunch of configuration files to Microstation. That is no big deal if it were the company's install. We have gone through great pains to make everything fit into a standard for just such times. The trouble is, they want to add our company's configuration files to another company's install of Microstation. I know this other company has not paid as much attention to standard folders and locations for configuration information as this company. They are asking me to do the most difficult possible combination of tricks. They want me to go into an existing system and make a bunch of changes without screwing a bunch of stuff up. I can put a brand new system in place easier. I can get rid of the existing system and put a new one in place easier.
People just don't understand that automating things requires people do do things the same way every time. When Henry Ford automated manufacturing of automobiles he did it with an assembly line. Every model T that rolled off the line was identical. You could get any color you wanted so long as it was black. All the parts have to fall into just the right place and bolt together without modification every time. Computers are no different. When some one changes the folder the program installs to, they are moving the engine to between the seats and don't even realize it.
My suggestion is to remove Microstation off the machines and do a full company-ized install. This will eliminate conflicts between their version and ours.

Jobs going overseas
By the way. The other company is in India. This company is moving many engineering support jobs offshore. The job I used to do here when I started at this company a couple of years ago will no longer exist in a few months, and it will never come back. It will never exist at any company again in the USA. Once they get the skills to do the support jobs and the engineering, what will stop them from just managing it all themselves? Why will they need the USA at all? They will have new markets all over the world full of new consumers with new found high paying (10% of US wages) salaries.
There was a meeting of the engineering industry people not long ago. I wish I had details. They were in awe of the Chinese. When companies go to China to research engineering, they find that all the engineers have PH/Ds from US universities and will work for ten cents on the dollar of US wages. They are immensely qualified. I'm afraid US citizens are just going to have to get used to a lower standard of living. We have ridden the high horse for too long it seems. Not everyone will own a car. Not everyone will have cable. Maybe we really are the stuck-up snobs the rest of the world sees us as.
Well, screw the rest of the world. I love the USA. I think she is the least worst country ever.

And I didn't think I had anything to say when I started typing. I need to be more upbeat. I'm going to be managing support at Tpro, so I will be the one deciding who gets the jobs and how things are done. That should float me for a couple of decades. Houston is a huge engineering town. It will be hit hard by this very soon. Maybe the housing market will come back to a reasonable level. I can watch the fall of western civilization from a tarries on the thirty-fifth floor. (eew! I don't like that image.) I can fight the rising tide of apathy and ignorance by spreading knowledge nurturing wisdom. That is a much better sound bite.

Excused Absences
Christmas and New Years day fall on Thursdays this year. My day job has a policy of working the day after Christmas. A mandate came down from corporate that they can take the day after Christmas and the day after New Years day as a free vacation day. I'm a contractor. If I don't come in, I don't get paid. Thanks Corporate. I get one less day of pay this year, and one less next year. And on top of a 6% pay cut in the beginning of this year. Merry Christmas!


Hobbit Names
I found a page that gives you your
hobbit name. Mine is Marmadas Grubb of Little Delving. Several soles have responded.

Fosco Chubb of Deephollow
Rosie-Posie Sandybanks (not of Frogmorton)
Meriadoc Knotwise of Michel Delving
Rosie-Posie Sandybanks of Frogmorton
Wilibald Bulge of Hobbiton
Dimple Bumbleroot
Longo Brambleburr of Bindbale Wood
Ruby Knotwise of Whitfurrows
- and her alter ego Merenwen Pallanén the elf
Honeysuckle Brockhouse of Loamsdown
Wilibald Grubb of Little Delving
Petunia Foxburr of Loamsdown

One cool thing is some of these little folk changed their email signature to reflect their hobbit name. This is the kind of stuff that makes the internet fun.


Geek Speak
So, I'm trying to get Perl and PHP to work on my Linux box. I have some experimentation to do for Tpro. In Red Hat 9.2, the last free version of Red Hat, I decide to cheat and just install them off the distribution CD. I find out they are already there. In order to make sure they are actually working before I try to install the real software I'm testing, I, being a geek, decide to get the tried and true “hello world” to pop on each first. Now, I might be done installing the test software by now if I had just assumed they work and sallied forth. No. I start pummeling through the documentation for Perl and PHP. I decide Pearl will be first. I tear the machine apart looking for the Perl folder. Other scripting languages like SH (Shell) BASH (Born Again Shell (no kidding)) all have folders to start with. Well, Perl is an executable. it takes me an hour of searching and research online to figure out that I'm barking up the wrong tree. There is Perl, /usr/bin/perl right where it is supposed to be, except it is a binary (and exe in Windows speak) instead of a folder. I write the hello world and it works in one shot.

#!/usr/bin/perl (This like tells the interface where to find the language so it can run the script.)
print “hello world”;

That's it. Three hours later for that. That did include install time.
Now I'm off to PHP. PHP is a bit different. It is a web scripting language only. In other words, you need a web server to run it for you. (PHP does have a command line interface. That is not what I was testing.) I thumb through a PHP book I bought several months ago. The first chapter has the fabled “hello world” page ready for my use.

<title>Lookout World!</title>
<?php echo 'hello world' ?>

I pop over to my HTTP folder and plop the script down in a test folder and try to hit it from outside. “object not found”. =\ What the heck? I stare at the PHP script on the screen and think to myself “It is right here in the screen. What do you mean you can't find it?” Well, it isn't the computer, it is me. I've put the script in the wrong test folder. I pop over to the right test folder and retype the script, because I can't remember the intricacies of the mv command in Linux, and Putty (the term program I'm using) locks up. I must have it some magic key to upset Putty. “rassa-frassin-picajunk”. Then came the magic words in my browser “Hello World”. They some how make everything OK.


It is freezing outside. There is a light frost on cars and grass. This city is not used to it. In Houston, if one patch of ice forms on an overpass ten miles north of the city limits, the whole city shuts down. People here just don't know how to drive in weather of any kind.

I am so smart (I mean smart)
I was just helping out someone at work this morning. They want to install this software on a standing web server at the company I work for. The trouble is, our IS department blows a gasket when you want to put anything on these servers. They are very touchy and the versions of DLLs need to be tracked to verify security updates and stuff like that. Anyway, I was able to walk this person through a complicated install requirements schema. I told him how to approach the vendor and the IS people to make sure he gets what he needs. I was able to explain why we need to do the whole thing twice (development and production). Sometimes I surprise myself with my own knowledge.

Failure to control speed
There is a law in Texas that says if you rear-end some one it is your fault. The law is there to take the load off the courts I'm sure. I've only heard of one of my friends getting this overturned and making it the other person's fault. It is a boon for insurance fraud people because they simply cut some one off and slam on the breaks. The whisper mill says if you can prove the person in front was on their mobile phone, you might get them ticketed instead of you.

Help Desk woes
Where I work uses a huge support company for technical support. Our company has tens of thousands of workers. The last couple of months, the wait time has gone to over an hour. You have to listen to this repeating voice that bitches at you for calling the help desk. It says you will receive a response in 24 hours. The trouble is, I know more than the front line people who will get this email. They say 24 hours, but I get three week turn around. I have them lower the priority of the ticket without telling me because they don't want it to show up on the reports. That gets my hackles up.
I only had to listen to the repeat message four times that time. I actually got through in five minutes.
I need a password reset on a VMS server. The front line person can't do that. They have to escalate me to security. I'm only on hold there for about two minutes. That is all acceptable. What happened?
I'm going to do this for Tpro. I'm going to be 1-800-NoHelp. It is amazing how may companies suck at support. I hope Tpro is not one of them.

Microsoft Flight Simulator
I got Microsoft Flight Simulator Tuesday evening. I'm thinking it was a mistake. I'm legally blind and unable to drive or ever get a pilot's license. I love the simulators. This thing is going to soak up a bunch of time. I can sit there and watch the plane fly past some mountain range and just love it. I'm not even into the navigation and map manipulation stuff. My favorite activity is flying through a mountain range and landing on a lake in the middle of nowhere. I've always had some fascination with aquatic planes. There are helicopters too. I've developed a much higher respect for helicopter pilots. Even in easy mode the helicopter is like trying to heard cats in the air. My favorite plane at the moment is the Piper Cub. It is a one person plane with no horsepower that flies at about sixty miles an hour. It is just a sweetheart to fly.


Quote of the day
He without stones should not through rocks.

We had a descent little break today at my day job. There was a fire drill in the middle of the morning. I wouldn't mind doing that every day the weather is pleasant. It is December eighth and the temperature outside is in the sixties. I'm not complaining. It is just a bit off really. December is supposed to be cold and rainy. I remember as a kid walking around outside in shorts on Christmas Eve. Ah, well. global warming is a bugger.

I'm watching a Jackie Chan movie called
The Medallion. It is definitely Chan's stile. I'm zooming through the boring bits. There is a stupid love story. Something about a kid and a book. Blaw blaw blaw. I do like the Hong Kong opinion of Interpol. They are teated like inept Keystone boobs. Not worth a rental.


California bans GM pet fish
I'm going to buy a tanker truck full of these things, drive them to CA, and dump them in several rivers and streams just to piss all the CA freaks off. (my apologies if you are a CA freak =] )

DND isn't that bad
Some one read my DND gripe below and asked me what other stuff is making me upset right now.
Bad stuff
I'm working two jobs.
I'm only getting paid at one job.
The second job is costing me a fortune in money and time.
I got a 6% pay cut at the job that does pay.
I haven't had sex in a year and a half.
My only love prospects suck.
I'm only attracted to gay women (issues!!!!! This needs another blog entry).
I just can't bring myself to sleep around. I need "looooove" or something.
I have this rage problem that I can't get ahead of.
I've stopped preying because I'm getting tired of listening to myself wine to God. (OK, I haven't stopped preying, but I do feel pathetic.)
My next door neighbor, no matter who lives there, has a sub-woofer they insist on putting next to the adjoining wall.
Good stuff
My best friend in the world, Adam, is always there for me, doesn't always put up with me, and is usually supportive.
My parents have always been supportive and had my back.
The second job, the one that does not yet pay, gives me hope for the future.
I know God suffers with me. I know 99/100 people on the Earth have it worse than I do. I know I'm going to heaven when I die. I wish that did it for me.

Offshore Programming
I just heard an interesting fact about Offshore Outsourcing of code. One of the advantages is hiring three companies to start a project and dumping the one that show the crappiest results after three months. Then dumping the runner-up after six months. I assume this is on like a two year project or so.
It would most likely be best if they didn't know the other companies were involved. Then again, the sense of competition might help spur them along.
From a Tpro perspective I need to know these things. The only way to beat the Man is to be the Man.

I spend time on the phone at work. I have an ear bud thing that allows me to use my hands for rude gestures while helping people through computer problems. I caught myself a minute ago hitting the mute button just as I was about to cough. The trouble is, I was not on the phone and didn't even have the ear bud in my ear. It makes me wander how many people have seen me do this while they are sitting in my office talking to me. I wander how many of them have done it.


Well, my workplace has some interesting security ideas. There is a fence all around the complex and guards. There are three gates for automobiles. The “back” gate is almost never open. There is no automatic open thing that opens it. I t is just for show really. The side gate is closed off this morning for no apparent reason. I don't drive and the guard let me walk in. That is worrying. That is the kind of thing they do when there is a security threat or, even more worrying to me, a lay-off. I've heard rumors that a large project is about to be reassessed. The two in the chest two in the head meeting was yesterday. hmmm.
-later the same day-
They are obviously funneling people through one entrance because they are looking for some one coming in to the complex. I'm not giving anything away. The rumors I've heard about the project are at least delayed.

Notebooks everywhere
I just walked past a conference room. There were fifteen people in there with at least ten notebook computers. Every notebook had a separate network cable. There were two hubs and a switch. My company has a paranoid view of wireless. I'm thinking one wireless router would have eliminated fifteen cables and obvious hazards. They wouldn't have spent twenty minutes setting up all the wires and wasted tape taping them to the carpet. The policy is just plain no. Oh, well. I suppose it is for the best.