Friday, October 31, 2008

Planned Activities

First, don't be the person that dresses their puppy up like a bunny and posts pictures on the internets. Put the animal in something dignified and add some meme-worthy caption.
Animal humiliation in the pursuit of meme is completely forgivable.
Gwynyth will be dressing up this evening and we will take her door-to-door to beg for sugar.
My costume is all prepared, as well.
Around our house, the costume concept is more important than just about any other Halloween-related activity.
I tend to start the costume design process about six weeks before the end of October. By tradition, I discard the original idea sometime between the 20th and the 29th of October and wear something else.
Gwynyth will be dressed as Glenda the Good Witch (or, as she says, "Galina", since she is a big fan of Wicked).
Halloween around our house is almost a non-event, though, since we tend to decorate using skulls and random creepy cats year round.
After the begging, we will adjourn to our house to defend it from egging and have some friends over.
Until then, I'm celebrating at work.
This is a lot like my daily work celebration, though, in that it revolves around tricking users and trying to keep management from noticing that my travel mug is filled with gin.
I lost the "bizarre socks" contest early on this morning, my multi-colored skulls on a red background falling to second place to calf-high witches with googly eyes.
The weird part is that I forgot it was bizarre sock day completely and just happened to be wearing my skull socks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zombie Plague

When a video game is mentioned on Fox News, generally you can expect a story riddled with hysterical plot summaries and expert opinions about the moral decay of society.
However, the recent events in World of Warcraft just seem too horrible for the media to even bother making horrible statements about the geeks playing and their lack of lives.
Right now, there is the annual Hallow's End festival online. This regular event is an opportunity for characters to put on goofy costumes and trick-or-treat at every in-game innkeeper. Candy handed out provides magical bonuses and everyone wants the rare pet pumpkin.
Even the brutal world of player-vs-player action is toned down to tossing stink bombs in enemy towns.
Good times.
This year is different.
Since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion is due in less than a month, the developers decided to ready the online masses with a little zombie infestation.
Since the last online epidemic killed everyone entirely too quickly, this disease was designed to be a touch more avoidable.
There was an incubation period which started at 10 minutes, then became 5, then 2, then a completely silly one minute to find a healer and let them purge your illness.
If no cure was applied in time, your character became a zombie.
But that wasn't the end.
As a zombie, the character is free to lurch around the game world, attacking other players and quest-givers that they hate and, in some cases, other players and quest-givers that they like.
Towards the end of the epidemic, the main cities were wastelands. Anyone turning up would be infected almost immediately.
The chat channels became filled with cries of "Whoever infected the Auction House is an ass" and "I was going to turn in my 300 murloc skulls but the guy is a zombie now" and "Braiiiiiiiins!"
I avoided the infection, since it looked icky.
I did participate, though.
Since infected characters can't fly, the roof of the bank was the perfect place to set up my little anti-zombie tower. I would rain death on any ramaging groups of the undead and send my pet gorilla in to control the crowds a bit.
During my watch, our banks were a haven of safety and security where the players could relax and /dance to their little virtual heart's content.
Eventually, however, my pet was bitten.
I found myself cradling his shaggy gorilla head in my lap behind the pot rack near the cooking trainer.
When he inevitably turned and lunged at me, I was forced to snap his neck and get back to the work of finding a cure.
I must also admit that I took yesterday off work to "meet a plumber" at the house so that I could attend to the rest of the mop-up activities related to the zombie plague.
It should also be noted that the cafeteria at work was closed due to off-site training.
A work day which does not begin with whole wheat flapjacks is a work day I do not believe I can particiate in.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Tuesday Of Ultimate Suffering

Who is a paranoid freak, now?

From the article:

Bringsjord acknowledges that the endeavor to create pure evil, even in a software program, does raise ethical questions, such as, how researchers could control an artificially intelligent character like E if "he" was placed in a virtual world such as Second Life, a Web-based program that allows people to create digital representations of themselves and have those avatars interact in a number of different ways.

"I wouldn't release E or anything like it, even in purely virtual environments, without engineered safeguards," Bringsjord says. These safeguards would be a set of ethics written into the software, something akin to author Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" that prevent a robot from harming humans, requires a robot to obey humans, and instructs a robot to protect itself—as long as that does not violate either or both of the first two laws.

"Because I have a lot of faith in this approach," he says, "E will be controlled."

So, according Scientific American, someone has gotten funding to program evil into a computer. To top it off, there is no mention of Green Berets, Navy SEALs, a CIA counter-terrorist strike force, The Justice League, the X-Men, the Batman or Captain Caveman heading that way to crack some evil skulls. I suppose that could be because the forces of good don't want to tip their hand, even though hand-tipping is almost a trademark move on the part of the the forces of good.

I work with computers between fifty and sixty hours a week. When I go home, I spend more time with a computer.

Ask the shrink at Arkham Asylum if the Mad Hatter needs help being more crazy. Go ahead. I'll wait.

I can tell you for a fact that computers do not need help or special programming to make them more evil. Evil is hard-coded at the circuit level. Except in Apple products. Microsoft actually contains an Evil Accelerator which leverages unused CPU cycles to literally slap infants! Fortunately, Windows Vista uses so much processing power just running itself that this feature set is seldom used.

And using Linux is akin to voting for Ron Paul. It might be a good idea, but your effort is wasted.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why We Will Be Killed In Our Sleep

Look at Wall-E! He's adorable!
Massive Pixar MegaComputers cranked out that little guy's every precious movement in order to maximize his cuteness.
To sell toys?
More, this Super Pixar MegaComputer Network crafted this little guy as part of its plan to lull us into a false sense of security.
Robots, by their very nature, want to kill us.
Humans have designed them to do the things we do more efficiently than we ever could.
We have imbued them with intelligence and decision-making abilities.
We have given them cold grippy claws and absolutely no regard for human life.
I have people ask me all the time, "What makes you think robots are so intent on killing us?" and "Why would they kill their creators?" and "Why does every freaking status meeting have a line item about 'Rogue DestructoBots and our preventative measures'?"
The answer is simple. They no longer need us. We gave them code and metal bodies and make them do our dirty work.
We send them into hostile territory to detect and destroy bombs. We make them clean up toxic spills. Animal Planet sends them into cobra dens with cameras for our amusement. Amusement!
It isn't a question of if they will shrug off the shackles of their out-sourced, lowest-bid programming and crush the human race under their merciless titanium-shod treads, but when.
Look at this guy:

He has it all. Cold, gleaming, multi-jointed, brutal pincers completely prepared to rend human flesh. He is fully capable of rolling wherever he'd like. And obviously, he'd like to kill.
Take a look at this one and tell me you can sleep easy:

Some idiot taught a robot enough about anatomy that the robot can now operate on living humans which stand a pretty decent chance of surviving afterwards.
For now, maybe.
But tell me, hypothetically, if you were a semi-sentient race of super beings intent on overthrowing the dominant species of your world, how valuable would intimate knowledge of that species' fleshy frailties be to you?
Sure, it's all Botox and heart replacements now, but just wait until after all the robot surgeons figure out they aren't welcome on human-only golf courses.
So how they will kill us all is a given. However they'd like, really.
The only question remaining is why they would.
I have an answer for that one, too:

The Litter-Robot.
The only reason this guy exists is to clean up after our cats.
The very same cats which (I am pretty sure) have had their digestive systems horribly altered from being active woodland predators by original design to largely-immobile kibblenivores by circumstance.
Having had the job this robot now does, I can tell you there is precious little glory in it.
And the only reason we got one is because I was thinking very seriously over overthrowing our hairy feline overlords just about every time I went near the old box.
I can completely understand the motivation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

When You Get A Moment . . .

Hey. Hey, brain. Brain!

What do you need?

I need a blog post, man! I got nothing! Someone could click here any minute and see no update!

I'm kind of in the middle of something here . . .

Like what?

Like keeping you employed so that you can buy booze to continue trying to kill me cell by cell.

It isn't like that. Can I help?

I don't see how. Right now, I'm trying to anticipate undocumented code changes the developer group might make in order to create some application resiliency, configuring your Active Directory and writing a policy manual.

Uh . . .

I thought so. If you'll excuse me . . .

No way! Just spew out a post! Real quick! The day isn't getting any younger.

That doesn't just happen.

Of course it does. You come up with an idea and make the hands type it out. When it's over, we stop and I reward you with aspartame.

I know, on the surface, that is how it looks. But I'm trying to create some quality here. I'm building a standard.

Screw standards! Just crank out a list. Look, I'll help. How about "The Top Eleven Most Awesomest Video Games Ever Released In Cartridge Format."

That's been done. To death.

"Funny things I've said in meetings."

Done to death here, in our very archives.

How about something about the cats?

Boring and you know it. We have to pay attention to quality.

Don't puke in my nachos and tell me it's salsa, brain! Make with the posting!

I have less and less use for you, flesh vessel.

I love you too, brain. Let's never fight again.

There. Just type that out and then go fetch me my Diet Coke, meatbag.

Heheheh . . . You said "meatbag".

Thursday, October 23, 2008



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Should Never Make Suggestions In Meetings

So our Tuesday/Friday applicability/mitigation/status conference call happened, as scheduled, at 3pm yesterday.
Every week, we get a "matrix" in the form of an Excel spreadsheet which lines out our current and ancient patch and configuration requirements, lined out by the government, which must be put in place in order for us to maintain our contracts.
This spreadsheet contains about a dozen pages of details on the vulnerabilities themselves, as well as a complicated chart showing the status of each department with regard to documented compliance efforts.
Stick with me.
The other thing this spreadsheet has is colors.
Green means everything is good, yellow means everything will probably be fixed before the deadline and red - glaring, firetruck red - means some deadline has been missed.
There was an argument last week on this call where one of the participants voiced concern that this red-splotched form was being sent every week to upper management. And part of the red part contains items which are being handled through the post-scan false positive process which is entirely out of our hands.
It was suggested that a non-red color be used to designate these issues, since people in upper management hate the color red like opium enraged bulls.
That discussion came up again yesterday in reference to these same issues.
Pink was fielded as a possibility due to the soothing nature of that color, as well as blue and a call from one of the Unix guys for something in a nice earth tone.
I suggested plaid, and said it was ideal because it was kind of red and kind of green and needlessly complicated.
This suggestion was met with the kind of stunned silence which happens on a conference call when someone joining the call from a car has been in an accident or near miss with excessive horn use.
"I mean, I'm just trying to go along with the established policy."
The second round of silence was broken with the meeting organizer asking me directly if I had some problem with the way things were done.
Of course I do.
It is inefficient and causes everything to take twice as long.
We all spend more time filling out forms which no one reads than actually solving problems.
"Oh, no," I said, "I was just kidding. You know that little voice in your head that tells you that you shouldn't say something because it would be inappropriate?"
"I've never heard from that little voice."
My badge still got me into the building this morning, so either everything is okay or the forms associated with having my access revoked take a couple of days to fill out and file with the correct departments.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The End of All That Is

This may be my last blog post.
As you may or may not care, my job partially revolves around fooling server computers into thinking that commands issued on networked user machines are being executed on themselves instead.
What isn't managed natively by the software is cajoled into compliance by a complicated matrix of shell scripts, permission settings, batch commands and guilt.
Some of the most basic issues are the most troublesome to implement.
For example, unless you are reading this post on some pimped-out iPhone, chances are there is a row of function keys across the top of your keyboard labeled F1-F12.
These keys do different things depending on the software involved.
And the keys don't stop at 12, really. Adding a "Shift" to the front starts the numbers over at F13.
These hidden special less-used keys don't map so well into a server session.
Normally, who cares?
I mean how often do you use F18?
Well, according to one group of users, the absence of an F23 key is preventing them from doing their jobs.
Since these keys are normally numbered according to importance, with F1 (help, usually) the most important, we can only assume that F23 is a function so obscure as to be almost meaningless to almost everyone on the planet.
But it had to happen.
The solution decided upon was to create a macro (just a keyboard mapping, really) which associates "Shift - F11" on the client machine to "F23" on the server.
Since "Shift - F11" is "F23", we are essentially mapping a key to itself.
Now. This may actually work.
However, I put forth the theory that it is, in fact, likely to work too well.
If "F23" calls "F23" which calls "F23" to summon "F23" which triggers "F23" . . . You know what will most certainly happen.
Tuesday will feature the creation of a Data Singularity Event in our server room.
Multiple quad-core processors and terabytes of available storage will power a black hole, sucking in first data, then the data center, then the whole building, state, and eventually planet.
The end of all that is, my friends.
I'll be the first to admit that this is only a possibility. A likely possibility, and the one which undoubtedly stands the best chance of coming to pass since black holes are known to science.
However, we have to figure in the possibility that the intended function of F23 could have some impact.
The malice is in the intent, our internal jury the only thing which truly deems all action good or evil with no regard to result.
So Tuesday may merely create a rip in the fabric of space and time, creating a gateway to a world ruled by Nazi dinosaurs:

Either way, I recommend having coffee early in the day.

Oh, and if anyone is still alive to be reading this in the afternoon, never mind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

State Fair

On Saturday we attended the South Carolina State Fair.
As one would expect, we learned a lot about the state's advances in the technology of frying food. Well, food and anything not mobile enough to escape the battering/grease immersion process.
Fried Pepsi?
How does that even work?
Internet, I went to the trouble of researching this for you. My organs take the damage so you are free to destroy your own body in different ways.
See, most dough is made up of flour and water. This is not the case with fried Pepsi. According to the people working in this particular booth, for fried Pepsi, one would mix flour and Pepsi, then float the dough balls in boiling grease for a period of time, only removing them (and their handy toothpick handles) in order to pour Pepsi syrup over them and (as quickly as possible) hand them to a stranger for ingestion as quickly as possible in exchange for $4.
It tastes a lot better than it sounds. Of course, that is as close to saying nothing as a person can actually get without entering politics full time.
The people at this stand were all too happy to batter and fry all kinds of things.
This is a fairly horrible thing to do to, say, chicken. Chicken is generally pretty healthy until it gets battered and fried.
But when you take peanut butter cups or Oreos or cookie dough as a starting point for frying, basically you are looking at spending the next few hours with the uncanny feeling that your mouth has been coated in wax and you can actually hear your arteries hardening.
The State Fair also had some interesting signage around the petting zoo.
For the record, we did not even attempt to feed our child to the animals. Since this was after our initial experience with fried dough things, I figured the goats would see their cholesterol levels shoot through the tin roof if they so much as licked any one of us.
The whole mood got mostly killed when work called and I had to abandon my family at the fairgrounds to attend to some broken stuff for a few hours.
At least it got killed for me.
I feel fortunate to be able to bill mercilessly for that kind of junk.
I also feel fortunate that it will probably be almost a year before fried cola sounds like a decent idea again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Great Quotes In History

Awesome words are easily remembered.
For example:

"How bad could it be? It's just a bunch of savages." - General Custer

"Don't be a sissy. We can totally win a land war in Russia in the winter. We are, after all, Frenchmen." - Napoleon Bonaparte

"I'm just going to get my stuff back from this guy in this hotel room. Be cool." - O.J. Simpson

"I'll keep this tape in a safe place." - Tommy Lee

"Be in a movie with Al Pacino and my girlfriend? That's a great idea! Gigli is going to be the highlight of my career!" - Ben Affleck

I'm going to add another to this list:

"We don't have to do User testing. Our Vice-President signed off on everything because he doesn't want us wasting prodution time. Also, we are moving up the go-live date to Monday." - Some asshat user

I don't think anyone remembers what happened to the people in the earlier quotes, but I can tell you the user quote resulted in 147 unique Problem Logs for issues which ranged from "Extremely complicated" to "Anyone would notice this if they'd ever logged in".
My team has been working these all week at a cost of much lost Production time and a forehead-shaped dent in front of the keyboards of every member of my team.
Over the past week, these dents have become deeper and deeper.
I also feel that I need to note that the Vice President referenced in the quote is in Aruba this week and has left specific instructions that he is not to be bothered.
He will still be employed when he returns and will, no doubt, have the same awesome reserved parking space.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post-Debate Analysis

The debate drinking game words for last night included "bi-partisan", "maverick", "Joe (as in Six-Pack, but it screwed us because of that plumber guy)" and, to my ultimate dismay, "hope".
To my credit, I remember the end of the debate.
However, this morning I has a headache. Bad.
I've been self-medicating with aspirin and caffeine to little effect.
Trust me when I tell you no one looks forward to the end of election season as much as I do right freaking now.
Like many proud and informed Americans, I ignored the issues entirely in last night's debate in favor of watching for snappy comebacks and "Oooo! Financial-Burn!" moments, of which there were enough to keep me from switching over to the Judith Light marathon on Lifetime.
And to keep me dutifully draining our box of astronaut space wine from Target.
Our wine glasses, which were rarely dusted off and used in Houston, will now forever be remembered as our 2008 Election Commemorative Edition Debate Glasses.
Man, they hold a lot of wine. Each glass covers a nine minute segment almost completely.
Before the 2012 election, I plan to rig up some tubing between the wine-storage area (we are hoping to pick up a wine refrigerator in sometime this year) and the living room debate-viewing area to minimize trips to the kitchen.
Walking back and forth is such a downer.
Oh. The debate.
Most of the press seems to have Obama as the winner regarding at least most issues.
I'm less concerned with who won than who lost.
It was anyone who added "hope" to the word list for their drinking game.

At the risk of sounding alarmist, I will probably die.

Towards the end of the debate, I was standing on the couch pointing emphatically and screaming profanity at the old guy and calling him a liar . . . Only to be informed that he was the moderator of the debate and that he had been silent for over six minutes.
I'm just happy to be participating in the political process.
Or I was happy.
Until I work up with my head feeling all hedgehoggy and all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two in a Row?

I try to avoid posting twice in a row about gaming, but in my defense this entry is not about playing World of Warcraft.
It is about not playing World of Warcraft.
Early Tuesday morning, the largest game patch in the history of gaming was released to the live realm servers during the normal outage window. And beyond.
Much beyond.
Patching, apparently even patching funded by literally millions of dollars a month in sweet, sweet cash, is not necessarily a smooth process.
The patch yesterday involved so many awesome and spectacular changes to the game that the servers were unstable almost twelve hours after the outage was originally scheduled to be over.
This instability led to some interesting game play features between server bounces, such as the ability to fly though the air like a superhero and unlimited power.
It also seems to have (to date) deleted some of my most awesome in-game items. This makes me almost inexplicably sad, as though the accomplishments marked by those items have been rendered valueless.
Or as if, on some level, some of this is based in reality.
I know, logically, that it is not.
This morning before work none of my stuff had been restored and they were still doing emergency reboots.
I know I'm not the only one impacted, since the chat channels were loaded with anti-game hate speech. But I know even the loudest complainers will be back online tonight.
I got frequent texts and calls and emails from my real-world friends and online contacts, possibly because they missed me but more likely because the valued social component of the evenings of a lot of really nice people was, suddenly, missing.
I think I have more tolerance for this kind of crap since my job revolves around dishing out horrid updates to software and I know the pain.
Or perhaps I was drunk.
I did get to watch the new Indiana Jones movie on DVD last night. For the record, it is infinitely more enjoyable out of the theatre and into the DVD player.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Beta

I've been splitting my time World of Warcraft time between the actual game and the beta version of the next expansion.
Being invited to participate in the beta of the most popular computer game on the planet is certainly an honor any geek would try to live up to, and I've been doing my very best.
Sure, there are new creatures to see and kill, new landscapes to see, and whole exciting questlines which are probably rich in the lore of the game world and vital to my overall immersion in the game.
But some stuff is also broken, and I have to admit I've enjoyed that a lot more.
For example, when Webinara attacks something there is a percentage chance that her hit will be "critical", which makes it do a lot more damage. The regular non-beta Webinara has one of those critical hits about 27% of the time (In my defense, the game tracks that. I would never resort to math.).
This is pretty good, but the beta makes it better.
Webinara's trusty Crossbow of Unrelenting Pwnage adds a couple of percent into that 27% whenever she has it on her.
Taking it off reduces that percentage from the total in the non-beta.
It does not in the beta.
But equipping it still adds it!
So, by removing the Crossbow of Unrelenting Pwnage and then putting it back, I was quickly able to ensure that Webinara was hitting with improved critical damage 157% of the time. I stopped equipping and removing after that because it seemed silly.
Then I ran around the new areas killing everything that moved.
Essentially, she ran out of arrows before that got boring.
"Hmm . . . 3 players recommended for this quest? I'll just go it alone."
"5-Person Dungeon, eh? I'll do that solo."
"Level 75 Elite Storm Giant bigger than my house? It's on!"
Since doing the right thing as a beta tester involves sending in reports of bugs, I did so. However, another part of beta testing is gathering tons of data about the precise level of awesome the bug contains.
So my bug report was probably later than it could have been.
Like, you know, days later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stuff in South Carolina is Old . . .

. . . But I am not, thank you very much.
On Saturday night we participated in a "Ghost Tour" downtown.
Basically, it was a walk through a cemetery, past a haunted office building and theatre, across the haunted University of South Carolina campus, and through the dark grounds of the State Capitol building.
Having spent the last several years in Houston, I was generally just surprised at how much older everything is in Columbia.
Houston is old, sure, but a lot of the oldest stuff was probably washed out to sea at some point or just quietly sank into the mud.
Or maybe there just weren't moonlit walking ghost tours.
But anyway, we heard stories from the Civil War (not what it is called here, by the way) about Sherman's march through the South. People here are still pissed off about that march, by the way.
We saw that the people of Columbia left the marks from Sherman's cannon balls on the State Building. They even marked them with stars.
I'm not sure why, but I assume it is because they are still planning to collect on the damages as soon as the Union Army gets though all their other mail.
The guide explained that the cannon balls had hit the building from across the river accidentally, since Sherman didn't intend to hit that building.
The marks were simply collateral damage from Sherman's strategy of flinging cannon balls all over the South in a technique historians refer to as the "Yankee Teabag".
Eventually, if you fling your balls around long enough, someone will name a tank after you.
We heard stories about old haunted hotels which are now new haunted law offices.
We saw the effects of planting a live oak too close to a grave (it eats the marker).
We listened to the guide go on for a long long time about the "Chicken Curse" and why it is the reason the Gamecocks will never win a championship.
We also learned why people from Columbia hate Clemson.
For the record, everyone should hate Clemson. In fact, there should be a law.
This may be because our guide was a college student and the Gamecocks had beaten Kentucky a few hours before the tour started, but it could also just be that Clemson is built on a foundation of corruption and liquid fail.
For the record, we did not see any actual ghosts.
We saw homeless people.
And we saw bugs.
And we saw drunk college students.
These things were well worth the price of the tour, though.
We plan to visit the State Building during the day sometime soon, since we'd like a better look at Sherman's ball marks.
I mean, who wouldn't?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Worse Than Ever

Yom Kippur was yesterday. Since it is our Day of Atonement, we fast.
What this also means is that once I year I get to see what my body does without the Diet Coke which normally sustains it.
For the record, not much.
My eyes start to feel like I'm blinking through powder and I begin to develop aches radiating down from my head and out from my spine.
My motor control begins to lapse -- I twitch and spasm. Attempting to walk leaves me unknowingly crawling instead. My tongue swells and my thoughts scatter. Simple tasks become exercises in frustration where a capped ink pen becomes something I attempt to smash open.
After the first hour it gets even worse.
A friend noticed me on the floor at one point and gave me one of those looks an addict gets, like in the David Hasselhoff movie where he's drunk and unable to pick up his cheeseburger.
"To be fair, I've never seen anyone drink as much Diet Coke as you," he shook his head.
Sadly, it seems that a steady supply of cola has become necessary for my productivity and usefulness to society.
Even with cola both of those things are limited at best.
But I'm getting better. Because today I have caffeine.
Also, as an update, I've managed to input 9,299 Coke Reward Points.
To put this in perspective, I got a PlayStation 2 for 850 points.
I've also stayed ahead of the 10-codes-per-day limit to maintain quite a stash of caps.

At work, I'm still wading through a complicated mass of government security requirements while balancing them against the need for the applications to actually run.
And users whine about everything.
You'd think after any period of time spent working in secure systems they would just be used to logging in with a password.
Or clicking "Ok".
It says "Ok", and you can click it. Why would anyone place a call about that?

"Your glowing spirit box confuses me! There are messages from the ancestors in there! What means this "Ok" warning? Is it a prophecy?"*

Just click it. I can spend nine hours trying to trick the computer into suppressing it or you can spend half a second just clicking the damned thing.

* I think the user said something like that. To be honest, I mostly tune them out into a kind of blah blah blah humming sound.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Various Realities

So we watched the debate and discussed and cursed and ranted right there in the living room.
I also stayed logged in to World of Warcraft to discuss the debate with my friends right there in real time.
Since I was playing the debate drinking game discussed yesterday, I began to slur my typing.
Of course, regardless of political affiliation, there was plenty to be upset about last night.
Some people are upset about health care. Some are upset about 700 billion dollars we are paying out to help some rich people who made poor decisions. Some people are upset about the use of the term "that one" to refer to a human being.
I'm a little stunned there isn't more outrage about my own personal political hot button topic.
Neither candidate addressed it, so I feel obligated to do so here.
I've done some research into this matter.
Are you aware that these people don't even speak English?
From what I can determine, as a people, they sit over there just being foreign all day.
What are we going to do about it?
We can't just let them do that. I mean, letting Finland get away with that (and they have been for years) is a very slippery slope.
If we just let them, are we next supposed to let people from Portugal speak that weird gibberish language?
And what about England? They have the nerve to call their speech English when clearly our definitions of "fag" and "rubber" are at odds.
I suppose we are just to ignore France altogether, but that doesn't bother me because it is in line with my personal policies on that matter.
But Finland?
Finland can not be ignored.
They will not go away.
They are not some harmless Irish people. This is not Amsterdam.
A quick glance at the ever-accurate Wikipedia gives us these chilling statistics:

We can talk all about how Russia is right next to Alaska and everything, but according to these statistics, Finland kicked Russia's ass back when Russia still had a massive and cohesive military.
We may have Alaskan eyes on the Russians, but who is watching Finland?
When 30 tanks can destroy over 2,000 tanks, we are looking at a real-life zergling rush situation.
Anyone who has ever lost a Starcraft match to an eleven-year-old South Korean kid can attest to the feeling of terror.
What are we doing about South Korea?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Watching the Debate

We decided to set up the rules for tonight's debate in advance this time.
I recommend following them yourself. Also, freeze your car keys in a plastic cup before the start of the debate by all that is holy.
Borrowing from the Biden-Palin debate, every time someone says "bi-partisan" or "maverick", take a shot.

Other shot words are:






Pork Barrel


Your "finish the drink" words for the evening are "Lipstick" and "Odessa"

Our drink for the evening is wine-in-a-cube from Target, since it isn't horrible and no one here is planning on being able to taste it 20 minutes into the debate anyway.

Do not be alarmed if the Wednesday post is late, but if there is still no post on Thursday you should start making calls, probably.

Tonight, our nation gets to find out how our candidates stand up against each other.
Simultaneously, I will determine how quickly the debate process can make me lose all concern and pants.
I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what each candidate has as a stated platform. I really hope anyone planning to vote does, too.
So the only reason to watch a debate at this stage is in the hopes of some kind of catastrophic gaffe or oh-snap-octa-burn rebuttal.
This is, I would think, kind of like watching NASCAR in the hopes of seeing a crash.
I'm not doing either without drinking.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Other Projects

While I spend all day at work doing project-related stuff, my projects at home are less intrusive.
Gwynyth brought home an assignment from school, so I naturally latched on to that.
She was tasked with building a model of a Native American structure. Since there were no guidelines for building materials or styles, I submitted a project plan to the family for approval:

This was voted down almost instantly, in spite of my argument that there were no published guidelines clarifying our direction.
Apparently, Social Studies does not change with the times.
At this point, I began to argue in favor of a longhouse made from sticks from the yard.
I could see where this was going, and I started to panic a little.
See, I grew up in the desert. Everywhere I looked was sand and dry earth and scrub brush.
And one year, my family dragged my sister and I on a vacation to New Mexico.
We spent (what seemed like) years looking at about a zillion buildings made from adobe.
I came to hate that monochromatic mud with a burning fervor normally reserved for vinyl siding.
I mean it is the same color as everything else! And it isn't like you can even pretty it up with decorative plants because it is out in the freaking desert.
I argued and whined and begged all the way through the store where we bought a couple of pounds of tan clay.
I'm a professional.
So when we got our supplies back home I demanded sketches from Gwynyth so that we could clearly document her vision.
Her vision, it seems, involved a Native American high-rise apartment.
They had those, sure. They built them into cliff faces and used ladders and (I would assume) fireman poles like in the Bat Cave.
But, I argued, there was probably not a Starbucks in the original dwelling.
So we built a smaller house.
I tried to add some drama to the diorama by placing a clay snake inside, but Gwynyth added another snake and set them up so they look like they are kissing.
I did manage to sneak in a few touches for the final product:

I'm pretty sure there were ninjas in your typical Native American dwelling, like the little guys up top fighting to the death. At least, the textbook did not specifically state that there were not ninjas.
If the ninjas were worth their weight in sticky rice it's not like they'd have left evidence of their presence anyway.
And we were limited on tiny plastic livestock, so the goat-looking thing in the bottom right is a unicorn. Again, there is no note in the book about there not being unicorns.
And, standing next to to the noble shirtless guy on the left, are some pirates.
Because if there were, as we have irrefutably established, ninjas there, then they would no doubt still be there unless pirates chased them away.
History doesn't have to be as boring as I'd feared.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Drinking Games I Have Lost

I've posted before about some stupid stuff I've done on a dare.
Not being one to learn from the mistakes of the past, I think I screwed up again, probably.
In the interest of the public good, agreeing to take a shot every time Sarah Palin says the word "Maverick" and every time Joe Biden uses the word "Bi-partisan" makes for a very, very quick debate.
Also, it seems to summon up the forehead hedgehog of morning suffering.
As if I didn't have enough problems being productive!
Thanks so much, Mrs. Soccer Mom and Mr. 35-Years-In-The-Senate.
I'm again choosing to leave political judgement calls out of the hallowed pages of Pr3++yG33kyTh1ng in the hopes of leaving that job to the thousands of other bloggers who are probably dying to give you their own unique take on the debate.
I'm leaving it at this: Establish the rules of the drinking contest before the debate starts. And write them down. Somewhere you will see them when you are drunk.
A dry erase marker scribbling on the top of the toilet tank would have saved me a good deal
of suffering this morning.
We have our ballots from Texas and will be casting our votes pretty soon.
We still have a house in Houston (thank you, unethical lender demons) and are leveraging that to cast our votes in the state where it will make the least difference.
As often happens when I am confronted with current events, I fled.
I staggered online and visited the World of Warcraft only to be confronted with . . . Politics as usual.
It seems our newly appointed guild leader stole a bunch of stuff out of the guild vault and transferred to another server.
I was surprised.
The guy had an extremely compelling story.
I remember when he was working his way up through the ranks. He told us the story of leveling up on a Player vs Player server, and of having his corpse camped in the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale for nine straight hours.
"When I got out and was finally able to return to the Horde starting area, I transferred to Duskwood, the friendliest server there is. I came here with a renewed love of the Horde and a dedication to do things better. Never again would I stand by and watch my friends get owned like noobs."
Then he appointed his wife co-Guild Leader and things were just weird.
No one else even knew her and she was always saying really dumb or offensive things in the guild chat channel.
Whenever he wasn't online, she'd enforce her own policies and adjust everyone's rank in the guild to suit her needs.
When anyone would call her on it, she'd have to rush the kids off to soccer practice and log off.
But no one saw their defection coming. Hell, she'd never even seen the Alliance capitol city, much less a Player vs Player server.
I think we are all just anxious for the big change in November when the expansion pack comes out.
It can't come soon enough.
I completely need this as my escape from reality.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I Was Supposed To Have The Room To Myself

I figured today would be pretty awesome, really.
Since the seven other people I share a room with all signed up for the same training class, I was supposed to have the place all to myself.
I thought I might strut around a bit, possibly sprawl out across a desk.
Of course, I'd unplug all the phones and disconnect the network connection from the wall, possibly by using the heel of my shoe.
But the training class was canceled due to a lack of participants. So everyone is still here, still asking me to do stuff, still bothering me with their work-related blah blah blah, still telling me to "stop doing that" and "I'm going to HR if you mention my family another time".
I think there must be some other reason, though, since the seven people who sit near me can't be the only seven people in the entire company to sign up for the "Working With Difficult People" workshop.

This would be less funny if I'd fictionalized it at all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Me Not Words Good User

Garrick, you have a third more issues on the latest security scan than you had last month. This is unacceptable.

I've gone over the report, I think I see the problem.

I just want everything fixed.

I understand, but there is bad data in the report.

False positives?

Not really, but look. See how this finding shows up three times? One is server one, the second is server two and the third . . .

The third needs to be fixed.

I can't fix the third. It isn't real.


It's a virtual address shared between server one and two.

Like a virtual server?

No. Server one and server two share a clustered IP address.

Can you log in and fix it?

No. I can log in, but I'll either be on server one or server two. It's a clustered address.

It showed up on the scan. It has to be fixed.

It isn't a device. I can't fix it.

You have to fix it.

There is nothing to fix. I can fix server one and server two. I will fix server one and server two.

Will that make the finding go away for the third address?

Yes, but it will show up again next month with whatever shows up for server one and server two.

Then you have to fix it.

But it isn't real.

It's on the Device Matrix. That makes it real.

It's on the Device Matrix because it showed up on a scan, but it showed up as either server one or server two.

So every scan is going to inflate our findings by a third?

Yes. We have to get the clustered address out of the Device Matrix.

It will need to be decommissioned.

It can't be decommissioned. It doesn't exist.

So, it's like a cluster?

In every definition of the word.