I'm ready for my holidays now....

by Mark Zaugg 22. May 2007 01:25

"Honey, did you get the gardening done?" 

"Nope." 

"Did you go shopping for the stuff you needed?"

"Nope."

"Did you get the renovations completed?"

"Nope."

"Did you do the laundry?  Take out the garbage?  Start the dishwasher?"

"Nope, nope and nope."

"Did you do anything to lift a finger around this place?"

"Not really.."

---

So much for dream vacations.  Although I haven't much to complain about.  My Lady-love was as wonderful as ever.  She was quite insistant that I do relax at least a little bit.  So I'm looking at the list I accomplished.

- Yardwork, done in spades (pun fully intended).  Does the yard look great?  Well, it's managable.  That's a good start for the year. 
- Renovation projects?  Completely untouched both of them.  Win some, lose some. 
- Shopping, I did far too much and got considerably over-wound from it.  Sorry, Lady-love, I'll try to not do that. 
- On Runescape I wasted pretty much my whole time spent playing this week to get a damned gout tuber in order to finish the last quest.  On the bright side, I'm caught up on quests.
- GPS has been bought and I'm up to 7 geocaches found.  I'll log them tomorrow and get caught up.  Plus I picked up a travel bug this week.  I'll choose where to set it free sometime over the weekend and loose it again. 
- Paperwork, uh-oh.  My plan on that was to do it yesterday and today to gear myself back up.  Instead we...
- Invited a friend over.  We met up with my Lady-love's sister Saturday, I got to visit with Babcia for a bit, and I spent some time with Plankbo and CAMZ.  And the bonus that I'll pester Bug in the near future to catch the McKenzie Brother's special.
- Reviewing Time Management for Sys Admins, completely untouched.  Bah, I'll be bussing tomorrow with my iPod and probably book in hand.
- I didn't even do warm ups for Tai Chi.  Considering I'm still uncertain if I'll go tomorrow at lunch or not, I feel kinda lousy over that one.
- Update the blog a little.  Well, I got somewhat regular updates done, I've added a few people to the blog roll, and I have a bunch more I forgot about (sorry, kids, I'll get you in there when I remember).  Oh, and I've updated the "News" box to keep track of how badly my Lady-love spanks my bottom playing Cribbage.  That's gotta count for something, ja?
- Going out for lunch or something...  Err...  Lady-love?  How'd I do?

Looks like I mostly covered my bases.  I'm satisfied at least..  Perhaps not relaxed, but they'll probably let me through the door tomorrow.

Let the games begin anew...

Vacation - Day... HEY! I think I lost track!!

by Mark Zaugg 20. May 2007 00:40

Oooooh, why do I do that to myself?  WHY? 

So the Lady-love decides to go to the super-duper-mega-confabulous garage sale in Okotoky.  That's not the bad part. 

I, on the other hand, decide that I'm going to go down to the Babcia's house and wire 'em up with ethernet cable running hither and thither.  That's not the bad part. 

In order to do so, I have to taunt myself by going to work to get my spool o' cable and my crimpers and risk that urge to read just one email even though I know very well it's against the very nature of email to read just one, and in the event that you actually do stop at one, you usually stopped because the consequences were so brutally horrific that you sit in stunned disbelief staring at the monitor with eyes agape and a small trickle of drool running down your chin from the corner of your mouth where you teeth used to be before you swallowed them.  But that's not the bad part. 

I even decided that it would be okay if I downloaded a few waypoints of geocaches onto my GPS so I could look for a few while I was in Okotokyo during my free time.  I didn't get to bed until after 1:00 AM, but that's not the bad part. 

The bad part is that I decided on my way back from the office that it would be okay to buy some beer.  18 beers on a Friday night.  I have no idea why I punish myself so..  At least I know I'll get to the other 16 sometime before the end of next month.  Just when the hell did I become such a lightweight anyhoo?

As for the rest of it:

1.  Lady-love had a wonderful time roaming the streets of Krakatoatoks with her street-born band of thugs.  She picked up a couple of nifty things we needed around the house.  I can't quite be sure what they are, but I can be certain they didn't all fit into the car and I'm pretty sure that at least one of them is Bug's old chair from when we were room-mates and the "Zarquilian Mafia" days.

2.  Drill from the bottom up, don't mind the vapour barrier, and let the cable fly.  My motto for a perfect kitty-cat-5-e installation.

3.  I'm still pretty much blissfully unaware of what's happening at work.  I fear Tuesday like I've feared few other days.  But I've got two more weeks between here and there.

WHAT?  Two DAYS?  AWWWWGH!

4.  Took Babcia and Opa out Geocaching.  Hit four stops, found two, missed two, and introduced them to parts of the town they never knew existed in the ten years Mom's been down there.  I love this sport.  I can't wait to find the cache with a human eye.  (Isn't that the criteria for sport, after all?)

5.  Smoke me a kipper, mate.  I'm grabbing a beer, a fist full of popcorn, and collecting a dog around my feet to gather the crumbs and I'm crashing.  I'm feeling a little sleepy...  Maybe I'll drink half the beer and leave the rest on my desk for a week.  Or perhaps I'll just open it and then put the rest in the fridge to chill and de-fizz.  Or I'll put it on the counter and call it American..

Vacation - Day Three, Four, Five, Six

by Mark Zaugg 18. May 2007 09:24

Same old, same old, don't you think? 

A couple things I'm learning quickly.  Shopping for crap is just about the worst thing I can do on a vacation.  I buy junk I don't need, then I worry about racking up too much on the credit card.  Plus the annoyance that I've had to deal with queuing up for bad service to not find what I was looking for in the first place. 

I'm tired of waiting around, wasting my time pointlessly to pick between one flavour of junk I don't like and the other flavour of crap I hate.  It hasn't been entirely horrid, but one bad experience puts me off the rest of the day. 

Something funny got mentioned to me.  It was actually in reference to my daughter where she was described as "really high energy.  Nothing wrong, she was just really geared to go non-stop."  Most of what got described applied equally well to me.  We get extremely fidgity when we have to sit around too long.  We want to get out and do something - anything - rather than slowly go brain dead and rot away life.  It's part of what eats me away so much while waiting for a Customer Service Representative to finally come around and giggle, "Geez, guess we musta run out of them.  Have you tried looking around the store?" 

Why no, miss, it appears that I've been wandering the isles aimlessly for the past hour hoping I may run across what I was looking for by random chance instead of querying that inventory control system I know you're using because you insist on scanning each and every item individually in order to strangle any possible gasp of efficiency out of the process at all.  In fact, I was really only hoping to waste a little of my life's breath until I could arrive at the till in order to pay for the half of my purchase that I could actually find without the assistance you promised me "in two minutes" 15 minutes ago because I really wouldn't want to dimish the significance of hearing you discuss the forecast, your boyfriend, and precisely why you shouldn't have dressed the way you actually chose to dress yourself this morning without taking plenty of time to let your witty small talk distill into full splendour. 

Lest Mr. Bug thinks I'm starting to work myself up into a rant...

So one of the things I picked up is a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx handheld GPS with mapping capability.  It's a long name for a small gizmo you carry around when you go hiking.  It'll map where you are, keep a trail of where you've been and give you a compass to let you know which way you're going.

Which simply means the kids and I are going to go out geocaching together lots in the near future.  We went out for our first time Wednesday evening.  Record?  Couldn't find the first micro, overshot the second one, called it a night on account of bugs.  Note to self:  Wear good shoes and bring insect repellent.  That's probably good advice for life.

So other than hours and hours spent pointlessly in stores (my Lady-Love knows there is a moratorium on me shopping the remainder of my vacation -- unless we run out of potato chips), the time gardening has been okay and the yard's looking in shape.  I've got a great excuse to get out there and find a few caches around the city.  Life is pretty okay.  I guess.

Although, between you and me, I'm about ready to go back to work so I can relax a little...

Vacation - Day Two...

by Mark Zaugg 15. May 2007 09:29

Remember all that crap about "I will manage my vacation so that it won't become Project Management?" 

Remind me that if I have to walk into any other store again, it damned well better be on my terms and I'm only getting something I really, really want.  Blech. 

Coffee's on, I'm waiting for an hour or so to start up the lawn mower, and I get to my plan of Suburban Domestic Bliss or else, damn it!

Vacation - Day One...

by Mark Zaugg 14. May 2007 03:27

So this is officially a vacation, eh? 

I'm a little underwhelmed.  It turned out to be a regular day of chasing about, trying to cram a full 28 hours into the standard Earthling-sized day.  Bah!  Mere mortals! 

I dropped the kids off for Mother's Day, the dog and I did a little cruise about the country side going hither and thither, and I still managed to get home in time to watch the Formula 1 race.  Truth be known, there wasn't a whole heck of a lot I tried to cram in over the day.  After the race I fired up the game cube for some exciting "Lights, Camera, Pants!" action until the frustration of me sucking at Goo-Ladiators overwhelmed me and I gave up and played Runescape for a few hours.  I did my regular round of the blogs, ran upstairs to catch Holmes on Homes and called it a night.

I've felt the grind happening over the past while and my Lady-Love has convinced me that we need to take some time off.  She's right, of course.  So I've been trying to think about the stuff I want to get done this week.  Nothing too fancy.  Just do a little yardwork.  And maybe work on a small reno project or two.  And I want to do a bit of shopping and pick up a few things I've been neglecting for months.  And I ought to take a bit of time and play Runescape and just work on a level or two.  And I'm really liking the idea of buying a GPS unit and going Geocaching - just an excuse to get out there and hike a bit.  And I'd love to catch up on my paperwork and get that out of my hair (and my Lady-Love's line of sight).  And I'd really like to just up and get out of town for a while.  And I want to cook all week and maybe have some friends over and we'll have a BBQ or something.  Well, maybe I should settle for getting in touch with everyone and at least send out emails or something.

Oh right, isn't this why I needed vacation time in the first place?

Planning my week off is every bit as hard as work where I have a routine laid out for me day to day.   It's the one part of the Time Management book I don't have a grasp on yet - setting short and long term goals and writing them down.  I've got my airy-fairy list of wants, but nothing concrete enough to be able to figure out just how to get from here to there, where ever "there" may actually be.  I'm feeling more like I'm trying so hard to tread water I've forgotten how to swim.

Oh right, isn't this why I needed vacation time in the first place?

I'm trying to not address this week as a fire waiting to be put out.  I'm good at that, but I'd love a week of not putting out any fires.  Tomorrow I'll plan on shopping for clothes, maybe a short run over to Costco, and get some yard work in.  I've got an unofficial plan to take my Lady-Love somewhere nice for lunch unless we plan on getting out of Dodge for a few days.  Just keeping things small, managable, and relaxed for a week.  There's a hard enough goal right there.

"I will manage my vacation so that it won't become Project Management."

Yeah, score one for the stressed out sub-uber-geek with the large cup of coffee.

Today's fortunes

by Mark Zaugg 7. May 2007 21:20

Dad:  Your respect for others will be your ticket to success. 
Rebekk:  You shall soon make a long, overdue personal decision. 
KA:  A movie you watch will make you reach for the stars. 
Lady-Love:  Your every day will be filled by love, adoration and a furry face looking to mooch popcorn.

Ce soir...

by Mark Zaugg 3. May 2007 23:23

Mesdames et messieurs, 

 For dinner tonight, Chef Zaugg has prepared a sirloin tip sauteed gently in a poivre Cajun sauce avec onion et mushrooms tossed in a crisp et dry oak-aged Chardonnay.  It shall be accentué together with riz brun et riz sauvage avec garlic roti and thinly sliced avocat

 After dining, you shall be graced with strawberries et pitaya (dragon fruit). 

 Please enjoy ce soir's gastronomic experience.  Chef is most pleased to present it to you because he really thinks his Lady-Love is particularly wonderful. 

 The mood shall be set through the melodious sound of The Vesitbules, the Grateful Dead, Screaming Jay Hawkins and, of course, the Rheostatics.

Appréciez, si vous plait.

Just how cool is THIS?

by Mark Zaugg 27. April 2007 11:24

Stephen Hawking, a paragon of geeky coolness, and I hear he's pretty smart to boot, just went for a ride on the Vomit Comet.

Add a parabolic flight to my wish list.  Go Zero G has Professor Hawking's flight covered on the front page.

Here's a link to The Age's coverage where I discovered it first thing this morning.


I really admire Professor Hawking.  He turned hard concepts simple and popularized common sense ideas for the long term existance of humanity at large.  I stand amoung the legions who would be honoured to comingle our barf in sub-orbit someday.


Enter our hero into the Reality Distortion Field...

by Mark Zaugg 24. April 2007 23:59

I'm sad to say, but I have begun that long, distressing entry into that state known as the Friendly Happy People.  Living in the Reality Distortion Field.  Where everything is fine and dandy, we do everything with a single button, and the pablum is force fed to us through a tube. 

In this case, I finally got around to getting an iPod. 

Do I want an iPod?  I'm still not entirely sure.  My first problem - I'm a control freak.  Occupational hazard, I guess.  I don't want computers to be made 'easy' for me, I want things to be predictable.  I want to be able to determine what the problems are, should one occur.  "Easy" masks the control I want.

I distrust the "so simple you plug it in and go right away" mentality.  Computers are complicated beasts filled with pitfalls and compromises.  I want to make sure that the compromises I make fit my particular requirements.  I'd rather be secure than easy.  I'd rather have control than have someone guess what I want.  Your choices will certainly be different from my own.

So I plug in the iPod, download and install iTunes, put in my iCD (err..  I can tell I'm already getting carried away) and it starts ripping it into my library right away.  Only problem - I'm a bit of an audiophile.  I'm not going to tolerate my music ripped at crappy rates and have to hear a hissy "S" for the lifetime of my iPod.  It never once asked me how I wanted to rip the disc.

So the first thing I do is try to figure out just how the damned interface is supposed to work.  Not intuitive for me, sorry Mr. Jobs.  Perhaps I'm just dumb, or perhaps I'm a control freak, but the layout just doesn't work the way I want to use it.

In the case of an mp3 player, I want to rip my mp3's (or preferably, oggs) and be able to drag and drop them across to the device.  I mean, really, isn't that the very scheme that Apple popularized in the first place?  Now it's no longer good enough?

Of course, I want a simple way to rip an mp3 (or preferably ogg) at a variable rate, and don't even look at anything less than 256 bits.  I can't really compare an AAC, so for now I'm going to stick with what I know and trust.

Three pages into a help file and I'm told go to iTunes --> Preferences, click Advanced, and then click Importing.

Colour me stupid, but I'm not seeing it.

Close iTunes.  Open iTunes.  Look for ANYTHING that says iTunes --> Preferences, with an Advanced option.  Nope, nope, nope.

The only thing that's really helping me out at all here is my background.  "Okay," methinks to meself, "This is Apple now.  Based on BSD, I better put myself into a UNIX frame of mind."  In Windows, you're looking for your options settings under a Tools menu or some such.  In UNIX, you've typically got a "Preference" selection under the "Edit" menu.  Well, sure enough, there it is, right at the bottom in Edit.

It's one of my big fears about going to a Mac.  I don't want to get sucked into someone else's choices about how I'm supposed to do what I want to do.  I'm not afraid to "Think different" - after all, there is a certain logic in having Preferences under Edit to me, remember?  I'm afraid of the Apple mentality (TM) that "Thou shalt have only one mouse button because that is all thou shalt require."

Well, for what it's worth, I've decided the iPod is the best of a bad lot of mp3 players that don't meet what I want, so I'll try to fill 80 Gigs with music and see where it takes me...

Two thought Johnny.

by Mark Zaugg 20. April 2007 00:34

Man, if there's anything I hate... 

I hate SPAM.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. 

One of the things I do at work is to go through the damned spam filter and look for false positives.  I detest the utter waste of resources, I cannot stand the constant push of filth I do not want to see, I hate to think of the shady products from shadier hawksters, and I absolutely loathe and detest the scum that prey on - well, let's be blunt, shall we - the utter morons who waste their money supporting unscrupulous on-line behaviour. 

Am I going to fix spam?  I only wish.  The only way to beat spam at the moment is to get the very same utter morons mentioned above to completely stop purchasing anything through spam.  Then we still have to deal with the stock spam, so I suppose it will probably always end up being an arms race back and forth.

Why am I mentioning this?  I'm suffering a large increase in spam at the moment right here.

You see, I have a friend who has his blog hosted on vox.com.  Cool, I haven't been in touch with him for ages.  I sign up for an account and instead of posting directly, I send a private message to him on his blog since I did not have his email.  One of the things I mentioned in that message was a blog entry I wrote here that included him.

Please remember, this is a PRIVATE MESSAGE.  By the very name of "private message" I think I can make the assumption that only he and I are able to read the message, right?

Wrong, apparently.  Unless Hieraco sold that link directly to Russian spammers.  Which I doubt.  Hieraco, please do me a favour and take some time and make sure you're running a full scan for viruses, keyloggers, trojans, spyware and rootkits, okay?  Just in case I have to eat my words soon.

Right after I send that link, the blog entry that I included in that link gets innundated with spam.  Not just one or two.  Not ten or twenty.  Right now I'm averaging between 5 and 8 spammy links a day.

"Oooh," I hear you say.  "What a terrible thing to have to delete a few comments."  No, it's a problem.  It takes my bandwidth, it uses my time and resources and it's just rude and ignorant.  Not a single spammy link will get approved here, and even if it does, I'm pretty confident the two readers I've got are going to know it's spam instantly and ignore it.  By the way, dear reader, if you don't - I'm coming after you.

Now I'd say something if it was happening in every blog entry I've written, but it is only happening in one single entry, starting immediately after I sent a private message to Hieraco.  What am I to assume is the problem?

Well, barring my fine, cat-fancying friend getting back to me telling me he had a trojan on his system, I'm going to make the assumption that vox.com has a problem with their PM system.  I won't say it's been compromised, but I certainly don't trust it and you can officially expect me to not move my blog over there anytime soon.  Now I've got his direct email, I can safely say I'll browse his blog but never post a link or email there again, private or not.

Blown trust does not come back easily.  My trust with vox.com got blown out the window from my very first encounter.  I don't think that will ever be recovered.

Which brings me, quite nicely, to my second thought for this entry.  Nick Booth over at The Inquirer has written what I consider to be a very interesting and insightful article.

Businesses want to get closer to customers, but they end up stalking them instead. Companies want relationships with customers, but customers want restraining orders from companies they wish they'd never met.

"Instead of creating loyalty, the effect most CRM systems have is to make you rue the day you ever gave away your home number," says Tefler.

In this case, Tefler is trying to sell a better CRM (Customer Relation Management) system that is more about relationships than tracking your customers' every move and trying to second guess them before they make it.  I wish him every success with that - I'm not going to buy into it just now.  I believe the best CRM remains the handshake, and if you can't keep track of the handshakes you've made in the last year, you need to get yourself more staff to help you out with your customers.  Should Tefler and his company Pegasystems prove me wrong, I hope I'll be in position to shell out the cash for a copy of what would be truly fabulous software.

Look, I run databases.  I've had personal information under my fingertips that, in all seriousness, I feel uncomfortable knowing.  It's not my business knowing some celebrity's private, unlisted home phone number.  In my line of work, sometimes I run across information like that.  It's when the companies start trying to bend information to its will in order to squeeze every last penny they can out of a name that things go wrong.

My line of work generally attracts people with a very high sense of ethics, integrity, standards and a firm knowledge of what should be kept private.  I'm not going to fool anyone and deny that there are bad apples out there.  Overall, the DBA's know that you better keep your data private and secure because if you make a mistake and reveal information, not only intentionally but merely by accident, your career could be over and you're looking at a life of doing less scrupulous work such as telemarketer, lawyer or politician.

Don't look at me to sell your information at a profit - I will not do it.  Don't look at me to sign up for loyalty cards to enable your company to track my every purchase - I will not do it.  Don't expect me enable your schemes to peddle filth and questionable pills by posting your spammy messages on my blog.

I will not do it.  I may be a crotchety old pain in the ass, but I will keep my integrity.

Welcome

Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.

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