Patrick's Rants



4/17/2014

Stomping on My (Red) Hat

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 7:36 am

After much thought and (I thought) much research into the matter I decided to move to an Active Directory implementation for the office. It was not a decision made lightly and there are a few more pieces that have to be added to make everything work the way I want it. I was looking forward to group policy management, adding computers and users to the domain without have to spend too much time configuring accounts. Done right, Active Directory allows a single location for handling permissions and passwords. That’s the main thing I’m looking for – well that and some kind of certificate signon for our remote desktop logins.

My biggest concern was getting bogged down in the Windows Server 2008 implementation so I started by reading the Samba wiki Windows doesn’t like an external DNS, but I have a very customized DHCP/DNS server for the LTSP and I’m not moving that into Windows.

I managed to get Samba upgraded on the CentOS box and then…. Redhat Samba doesn’t work. At the time that I was attempting this, the encryption backend was still being worked on by Redhat and was incompatible with Windows. Really!? I ended up reverting to the prior install of Samba, which broke and I had to go through some magical incantations to remove cruft files and finally get Samba running properly again. I was so mad that I’ve only just now gotten to writing about it and some of the details have fallen out of my head*. Sorry. If you are going to use Active Directory on Redhat, just wait. It’s not ready yet.

One last glitch of installing Active Directory is Microsoft knows better than I do and disables Terminal Services because, you know, it’s safer that way. While I don’t disagree, that’s why I was trying to put AD on CentOS, that’s the only fuggin reason that I have Windows – to be able to use Windows (via Terminal Services). MS instead wants to force another server on me. Thanks, but no. We spent enough money on this server and I want it to do what I want it to do. It works for me. Maybe. There is a setting, buried in there somewhere (Google is your friend) that will allow you to re-enable the Terminal Services login.

So far I like the ability to join computers to the Domain and manage accounts and passwords in a central location. Create an account on the Domain and I can manage which computers the users have access to and I don’t have to go around creating accounts on laptops. If the laptop joined to the domain all a user has to do is login to it – if their account has privileges for the laptops. I have not joined my CentOS box to the domain, that is a task for another day. I do not, do not like. Absolutely hate might not be strong enough to express my vile hatred of Active Domain to actually do what some web sites say it can do (and I would love it if it did) and set policies so users would have a default printer and/or links on their desktops. This might work – I could have the wrong level of AD configured, but if it doesn’t work in the level I have it set at why the hell is the option there in the first place? It’s like having manual windows on your car, for future functionality the car company added the power window switch but the switch isn’t actually wired and the motor isn’t in the door cavity.

This is the kinda crap that makes computer Admins go absolutely nuts and joining some online role playing game where they hunt down Bill Gates or a likeness and beat him nearly to death but keep him alive so his suffering can continue. Cause you know, in real life it takes a lot of hams to get the gators to eat the body.

Just to be clear – in case I wasn’t – Samba should be ready to take on the AD role. Redhat broke it due to incompatible encryption libraries. Windows still fails in at least three ways that I normally would be using this software. (And I have a hard time figuring out where the hell all the configuration posts on the ‘net are referring to. Yeah, I’m an AD noob. When it takes 27 mufuggin clicks just to get close to where my screen looks like the one online – and mine still breaks!?… or doesn’t work, just as bad.)

*My initial draft was January 2, 2014.

4/13/2014

How’s This For an Honest Resume?

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Jobs — site admin @ 3:44 pm

The below email hit a mailing list that I subscribe to. If you are looking for a developer or looking to train someone to do things the way you do them consider David. He’s in the Phoenix metro area: newsletters@thetoolwiz.com

Hey, gang

I’m looking for someone who’s willing to save a ton of money by hiring a seasoned senior developer with a degree in math/CS at junior rates for 6 months while I learn something new.

I need some temporary work NOW — or even something that will lead to a perm position. I can do 1099, C2C, or W2 with full bene’s.

I’ve got $100 in my bank account and am behind on all of my bills. I’ve been out of work since late July and unemployment ran out at the end of March. I’m breathing fumes.

The problem is I’ve gotten pigeonholed and can’t even get interviews. I’ve got TONS of GREAT experience, just not the “right combination” of tools and recent experience that anybody is looking for.

(This is the downside of spending too many years doing one thing and working for employers who value that but won’t let you work on anything other than that. I’ve done stuff “on the side” but none of it seems to count because it’s not “on the job” experience.)

EXPERIENCE

I’ve managed Linux servers; written lots of php code that spits out HTML (mostly 4.0); patched WordPress plugins and themes; written protocol drivers and stacks; configured systems and networks, and fixed networking problems that nobody else could figure out; set up lots of web servers and websites from scratch; have experience on cPanel, Plesk, and other control panels; lots of MySQL and other SQL DB experience.

I spent many years doing embedded systems development and machine control stuff. I love it! I’ve got real-time in my blood. (This is particularly beneficial when it comes to designing databases because I naturally tend to cluster data based on temporal coherence, which most database designers ignore. This alone can have a significantly beneficial impact on database performance.)

I’ve written tons of scripts in c-shell, k-shell, and Bourne shell, using most of the common *nix tools like awk, sed, grep, diff, regex, etc. My perl skills aren’t too good, and I’ve got no ruby or python experience. My javascript is so-so, although I see it as mostly just an interpreted variant of ‘c’ (with which I’m fluent); just a little experience with js libraries.

My web skills can be described simply as this: I do back-end stuff — php and SQL, filtering, parsing, the usual data shuffling; not anything that relates to eye-candy. (I’m NOT a graphic artist, don’t know ANY Adobe tools, and have absolutely NO aspirations to go in that direction. There are PLENTY of GREAT graphic designers out there; the world doesn’t need one more. Partner me with someone like that and we’ll kick butt!)

STRENGTHS

My strengths are software architecture, analysis, design, and development in and around OOP platforms: c/c++ and Delphi (object Pascal). I have some C# and .NET, but not enough to make anybody want me, although I’m happy to learn more. (It’s not a steep learning curve IMO.)

In particular, I’m very good with any kind of design that needs to work at several different levels — not just standalone apps, but apps that need to read databases over the web, do remote updates, distributed applications, real-time filtering and data extraction, and so forth.

I’m a quick learner.

I ran configuration and release management for a couple of years on several comercial projects. After that I worked on an IEEE/ISO standards committee that defined a Guide to Software Configuration Management (IEEE/ISO 1042), and I got experience with every version control tool on the market at that time (late 80’s – early 90’s). Since then, I’ve yet to see a VCS that’s not a variation on one of three basic themes. (I could set up an SCM and release policy for your company or some projects, for example)

I’ve got 2+ years of Agile/SCRUM experience; have managed projects of up to 5 people; have taking ideas from back-of-the-napkin sketches through to production release — on-time and under-budget — and everything in between. No customer support or QA, however. I’d be happy to be a SCRUM-master or Project Manager (or apprentice).

I can read Java but have never written any; again, I’m happy to learn. (There are so few Delphi books around that I have to read Java and C#/.NET books to learn about the latest programming paradigms that apply equally well in Delphi.)

I’ve set up a a few dozen websites that sell stuff online, using several different scripts. They all used PayPal to process payments, but I didn’t write the code for that part. I’ve also worked with a couple of commercial shopping cart scripts; no open source ones, tho.

I’ve got TONS of Wordpess experience, having worked with lots of free and premium plugins and themes. I’m a member of WPMUDEV if it matters. I’ve set up multi-user / networked WP sites, membershp sites, had custom plugins developed, and have tweaked plugins and themes.

GOALS

I’d love to get into mobile app development, but I don’t have sufficient java or Objective-C experience (although I’m totally willing to learn).

Actually, if you know of anybody who needs mobile apps built from scratch but doesn’t want to pay for two developers (Apple and Android), have them call me — I can deliver both apps from the same source code base (Delphi) at half-price and probably less time than either of the others. (And no, I have not published anything on either the AppStore or the PlayStore yet, but it’s not a big deal from what I can tell.)

Ultimately I’d love to get back into an Architect role — that’s the kind of work I enjoy most. Taking an idea, building a vision around it, then giving it birth.

Obviously, I’m over-qualified for every junior position out there, yet not quite qualified for anything anybody is looking for at the senior level.

I NEED TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW that gets me some “on-the-job experience” so I can get out of this frigging hole I’m in.

Here’s a copy of my resume for anybody who’s interested:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8250004/DPSchwartz_2014-Resume.pdf

I *REALLY* need to find someone who’s willing to hire a seasoned senior developer at junior rates for 3-6 months while I learn something new.

Surely there’s a start-up or somebody in this city who’ll see this as a screaming deal all the way around!

Thank you for your willingness to help out a fellow traveller!

-David Schwartz

PS: feel free to re-post this on other lists / newsgroups if you think it will help. Thanks!

PS: If you’re a RECRUITER: find someone who’ll interview me FIRST, THEN call me. Out-of-state positions will require relocation assistance.

3/27/2014

Almost There

Filed under: Money,Stocks — site admin @ 7:37 am

After a year of sitting on EGY (first bought in 3/2013, then reviewed and lamented) it seems as though I may have been accurate about my price prediction – at least it’s now on its way to $8.99 and above the original purchase price. I would have preferred to be right faster, but this is long term money. 2013 ended up being a slower quieter year when it comes to this account, maybe I’ll be back in the swing in 2014. After all, with around $900 to play with (assuming the price climbs to my projected goal) it will be time to start looking at new investment/trading positions again.

Anyone get in when I did and stick it out?


Remember, I’m not your adviser, I don’t sell stocks and I post my trades for entertainment and educational purposes only.

3/26/2014

Sort of Takedown Notice

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 8:00 am

I got an email asking me to remove a link or to mark it as nofollow from someone who runs a website that I linked to in a fairly old post. The email was polite enough, but I was “threatened” with:
/Regretfully we will be forced to submit, websites not complying with
our request, to Google using their Link Disavow procedure. *This may
have an adverse effect on your site.*/

Oh really? Disavow? Sounds like Ethan Hunt’s instructions just before the playback media self-destructs. Since I wasn’t sure why someone would want a link removed, especially a footnote to an article/post that I wrote on a totally related subject, I decided to look up the technical contact for the domain in question using whois and emailed the technical contact regarding the request. I was assured that the request was valid, but the original sender didn’t appreciate me circumventing his email address, Why would you email my partner when I sent you an email from the same domain as the link to remove? I didn’t actually respond to this query, the answer wouldn’t have mattered to him.

After a few back and forth emails, I finally responded that I believe the links are covered under fair use and that I wasn’t going to change them. The post in question actually was related to the linked to site and I used material from the site to help form the opinion in my post. How is this detrimental? Not sure. According to Google’s Webmaster Tools answer page on their disavow backlinks tool one should not just use the tool at risk of great peril

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

Perhaps they don’t like something else I wrote on the site or even some of my opinion in the post (all covered under the first amendment) and they can do what they will with their own site, just, you know, Google says don’t. :)

2/3/2014

Asus Windows Tablet thingy

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Goofy Commercials — site admin @ 7:54 pm

If you believe the commercials disparaging the Chromebook that Microsoft has been running lately then the ASUS (one picked at random) totally beats a Chromebook because you can’t use the Chromebook without the internet and you can’t install Office on it either. So now Microsoft is trying to leverage Office to force people to continue using Windows? What a twist from back in the day when Microsoft illegally leveraged the monopoly of Windows to force Internet Explorer and Office. I’m no fan of the race to the cloud (which Microsoft is doing too, by the way) but looking at this description of the Chromebook:

“Chromebooks run Web-based apps, not traditional PC applications.
Chromebooks are designed to be connected to the Internet. You can create documents and spreadsheets or edit photos on a Chromebook using Google apps designed for these purposes. The Chrome operating system will not load and run traditional PC software like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. However, files created in these applications can be viewed and edited using Google apps on your Chromebook or cloud-based applications like Microsoft’s Office web apps.

However, files created in these applications can be viewed and edited using Google apps… or cloud-based applications like Microsoft’s Office web apps.

Yeah. So you “can’t install Office on it”? So what? And you can’t use it without an internet connection – WiFi. Not completely true, but when was the last time you tried to send an email without being connected to the internet?

Kind of a lame attempt Microsoft. It might ring true with some people, but not here. Don’t get me wrong, Google is becoming the Goliath, too. I don’t want my documents on Office365 or in Google Docs.

Can You Really Plead the Fifth to a Subpoena?

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 6:57 pm

So… Bridget Kelly is claiming the fourth and fifth amendments to the US Constitution in order to not produce documents and emails being subpoenaed by the legislative committee looking into the so-called “bridge gate” scandal over there in New Jersey. I was confused about the fifth amendment claim since she is not actually testifying, my armchair legal analysis doesn’t seem to allow for refusal to turn over documents – documents most likely covered under Freedom of Information Act and open government laws. An attempt to go to a judge to quash the subpoena, perhaps, but refusal to produce evidence? She is not the first to do so and she seems to have a very knowledgeable attorney working for her and the fear seems to be if she speaks before the state legislature a possible protection from criminal prosecution may fail.

When I first heard about this story, I figured it would wisp away like smoke from a failing spark. The story seems to continue to evolve and it might turn out something real – and criminal – is afoot. It feels a little like piling on for Chris Christie, but this is how these things tend to work themselves out. Once there is a public accuser, others feel emboldened to speak out. I could be wrong, but it looks a lot like the GOP will have to look for a new 2016 nominee.

12/3/2013

Delivery Man

Filed under: In theaters,Reviews — site admin @ 8:55 pm

Went and saw “Delivery Man” last night. The movie has been out for a little while so the theater was not terribly crowded – just like we like it.
The question is – and how can any man answer this – how and when do you decide to reveal your identity to over 100 questioning youths? Vaughn plays David Wozniak a man who “donated” hundreds of times to a sperm bank using the alias “Starbuck” resulting in 533 children. When the children bring a lawsuit asking for his name, he struggles with the life he used to live and the life he has grown accustomed to. Vaughn brings his usual humor to this role along with something else, his ever more prominent life lessons. In this case, actions have consequences and one has to decide how to deal with them for better or worse.

11/1/2013

Ummm…

Filed under: Idiot Barber — site admin @ 6:39 pm

I’m not sure how to title this post. It’s a forward from the idiot Barber. In it we’re going to see how specious all prior arguments about freeloaders and socialism really are. I mean – the government owes Barber a ton of money by his(her?) calculation. It’s all wrong because nothing the Barber forwards is fact checked – I’ll do a little through the email:

Who died before they collected Social Security?

KEEP PASSING THIS AROUND UNTIL EVERY ONE HAS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO READ IT… THIS IS SURE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!!!! THE ONLY THING WRONG WITH THE GOVERNMENT’S CALCULATION OF AVAILABLE SOCIAL SECURITY IS THEY FORGOT TO FIGURE IN THE PEOPLE WHO DIED BEFORE THEY EVER COLLECTED A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK!!! WHERE DID THAT MONEY GO?

Remember, not only did you and I contribute to Social Security but your employer did, too. It totaled 15% of your income before taxes. If you averaged only $30K over your working life, that’s close to $220,500.

Actually, Barber, Social Security is 6.2% of your wages, the employer pays the other 6.2% which, in math in the real world, amounts to 12.4%. There is an additional 1.45% (matched by your employer) held out to pay for Medicare when you get to that age. I can see where you would think it’s 15%, but you are already wrong. So $220,500 is 15% of $1,470,000. The real amount, then, is $182,280.

Read that again. Did you see where the Government paid in one single penny? We are talking about the money you and your employer put in a Government bank to insure you and I, that we would have a retirement check from the money we put in, not the Government.

Actually, according the the history of the program on ssa.gov, the government has put some funds. But the idea was that it be totally “self-funded”.

Now they are calling the money we put in an entitlement when we reach the age to take it back.

So you aren’t “entitled” to receive payments? What else can it be called?

If you calculate the future invested value of $4,500 per year (yours & your employer’s contribution) at a simple 5% interest (less than what the Government pays on the money that it borrows), after 49 years of working you’d have $892,919.98.

Again, according to SSA.gov,

The numeric average of the 12 monthly interest rates for 2012 was 1.458 percent. The annual effective interest rate (the average rate of return on all investments over a one-year period) for the OASI and DI Trust Funds, combined, was 4.091 percent in 2012.

So yeah, I can see how 5% is less than what the government pays on the money that it borrows.
So let’s see… I can get the math to work. One lump sum each year of $4,500, one compound/interest payment per year. If you don’t own a time value of money calculator, check out this future value calculator. Of course, the real number to use (not 4,500) is $3,720 and the future value of that is $738,147.85. Aside from the fact that the money is not “invested” in any real sense of the term. The current working force is paying for the current retirees. There is a “trust fund” that is really the other pocket of the government and the interest paid on that comes from gasp! the government general funds. Look! The government did put other moneys into social security.

If you took out only 3% per year, you’d receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than 30 years (until you’re 95 if you retire at age 65) and that’s with no interest paid on that final amount on deposit!

Honestly, it took me a while to realize that although they want to talk about earnings and interest rates there is no interest rate attached to the 3% withdrawal number. That’s the only way that figure works. It also helps if inflation didn’t require you to raise your withdrawal rate over time just to keep up.

If you bought an annuity or another investment and it paid 4% per year, you’d have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month.

Not in the real world. Here you have to decide on a withdrawal rate that is lower than your return – else you are going to have to eat into your principal as your expenses and and inflation rise. Of course you could decide on a withdrawal rate higher than your rate of return but you have to be confident about how long you have to live. There are variations, of course but Barber is trying to keep it simple.

Another thing – if someone died in their 50′s or before, they never withdrew one cent of their social security money that they paid into all their lives – so that money just went up in smoke?

Maybe. If they were single and never had any children. Part of Social Security is survivor’s benefits. Your spouse and children receive these funds whether they contributed anything at all. It’s only while your children are still minors, but still.

THE FOLKS IN WASHINGTON HAVE PULLED OFF A BIGGER PONZI SCHEME THAN BERNIE MADOFF EVER DID.
Entitlement my foot, I paid cash for my social security insurance! Just because they borrowed the money for other government spending, doesn’t make my benefits some kind of charity or handout!! Remember Congressional benefits? — free healthcare, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days.

Now that’s welfare, and they have the nerve to call my social security retirement payments entitlements? We’re “broke” and we can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, or Homeless. Yet in the last few months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, Turkey,Egypt and Pakistan.

Again, if you are entitled to it what else can we call it?

Literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!! And they can’t help our own citizens in New York and New Jersey! They call Social Security and Medicare an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives, and now, when its time for us to collect, the government is running out of money.

Why did the government borrow from it in the first place? It was never supposed to be part of the general fund. They (the scum bags in Washington) stole $5,000,000,000,000 (that is $5 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund).

It’s not gone. The only thing that the Trust Fund can be invested in is US government issued debt. There is nothing else it can be “invested” in.

Sad isn’t it. 99% of people won’t have the guts to forward this. I’m in the 1% — I just did

You’re in the 1%? Now wonder I don’t like you. :) It bounces around with rates of return, then 0% return. I know. Simple minds, but at least start with real world numbers. The correct withholding amount would a good start.

10/23/2013

Don’t you Fact Check at All?

Filed under: Idiot Barber — site admin @ 6:47 am

Well, probably not. I should know Barber doesn’t fact check, I keep getting email that is supposed to go to Pat’s racist friends – for years now.
Yesterday, the quote was supposed to be from Ben Stein:

“Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured… but not everyone must prove they are a citizen”

Well… Stein actually supports government supported health care. He wrote a speech for Nixon supporting subsidies 40 years ago. Oh, and according Snopes (falsely cited by Barber in support of racist emails), Ben Stein never made the quote above.

9/4/2013

Portfolio Review

Filed under: Money,Stocks — site admin @ 7:12 am

My active account has taken quite the beating this year, pretty well wiping out all of my gains since I opened it. It is a dinky little account, though so no harm no foul, it could just be worth a bit lot more. The dividend stocks that I hold continue to pay out their dividends and I patiently wait for recovery of HMY and EGY

On a much more positive note, my wife’s passively(semi-actively?) managed account is doing just fine. We look at the Prime Interest Rate to decide which ETF or Mutual Fund is the “right” one for right now, move the primary investment as the Fed makes adjustments that move the Prime Rate, dollar cost average into the funds as deposits are made into the account. I may add options – covered calls and cash secured puts – but no single position has round lots so there will have to be some rebalancing or continued growth of holdings before I can add that extra boost to the growth of her account.

In the overall scheme of things, my active account is only a small part of my expected total retirement funds so for it to be beat up down and sideways – while a bit ego bruising – is not currently a major concern. I do, however, have to prove to myself that I’m capable of taking the existing nest egg and making it grow over time

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