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.

3/26/2014

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.

5/20/2013

Easy Debian Install

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 5:16 pm

Only a couple of steps to have a dual boot machine running in no time. I haven’t actually checked my Windows XP partition because everything is working smoothly.
Debian win32-loader works great. Click on the link to download, then install and run. It asks you to reboot and then runs through the install process. It’s easy. I was extremely surprised. I had Debian installed on a newly purchased surplus machine and it’s running quite happily – and my office is sooo much quieter.

4/6/2013

QuickBooks Failure

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff — site admin @ 9:03 am

Intuit and I have a rocky relationship at best. They are similar to Microsoft in my book, a huge monopolistic leaning company that first convinces people that they can do their own books, then forces accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers to buy some kind of version if they need to look under the hood of the client’s books.

Add that every upgrade is a cascade effect, or at least has been in our case (I think there is a work around, but that’s not the level of my users) where as soon as a client upgrades, the accountant/bookkeeper has to upgrade which in turn forces the other clients to upgrade. At least with MS Office you can save as an earlier version.

First, it took me a week with back and forth to the tax office to finally figure out that it doesn’t matter what you read on the internet, QuickBooks Premier 2013 does not install on Windows Server 2008 64bit. There are some workarounds that say all you have to do is delete some licensing file and the program will work. How does that work if the licensing file is never installed? It doesn’t. I did get it installed on the virtual machine provided by Microsoft. Server 2008, but 32 bit.

Moving on. QuickBooks Premier comes with a client file manager that seems like it’s designed to manage backup files and things like that outside of opening each client. When you have to upgrade a ton of client files to the current data structure, this looks like a very handy thing to have. Click the Batch Upgrade icon and it brings up a box with all available client files. At the top is a recommendation that you leave the computer since you might have to be away from QuickBooks for several hours. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you can click upgrade and let it run overnight and it’s done. That may be how it’s supposed to work. In reality you have to baby sit the damn thing. Click the check box for a few files and the splash screen showing that QuickBooks is opening comes up. Then QuickBooks crashes (not the manager) and you have to click close the program. If it manages to make it through an upgrade of a client file, it tries to open QuickBooks again. When you look in the logs for the files that didn’t upgrade right, there are errors all over the place about not being able to run the manager software while QuickBooks is running. Then why the hell does it try to open QuickBooks?

At least I didn’t have to install this on my 2003 server image. The older 2010 version wouldn’t run on anything else and I had to restore that server from a hard drive image.

12/28/2012

Touch Screen in Your Car

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Goofy Commercials,Stupid Ideas — site admin @ 5:34 pm

Cadillac is adding a touch screen panel to your next car because, well because your phone doesn’t have any buttons anymore. It takes much longer to make a phone call with these new “smart” phones than it used to. And how many accidents are there going to be while you screw around trying to find the radio volume app on your car? Oh, they do have a disclaimer in really tiny print in the commercial about driving distracted. What’s more distracting than trying to figure out which screen you are on or trying to get to? Tactile buttons make the most sense when you think about it… so please car manufacturers, think about it.

1/20/2012

Blackout Strike Back Results

Filed under: Copyright,Geek News and Stuff,Politics — site admin @ 8:24 pm

Yahoo has a decent roundup of the numbers:
75,000 sites go dark to protest SOPA and PIPA.
http://sopastrike.com/on-strike/ and Chris Dodd shows how clueless he is by saying,

“With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property,” Dodd said. “The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics. It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.”

It is not. It is Not. IT IS NOT THEFT. It is copyright infringement. It is theft just like taking a photo of the Statue of Liberty is theft. Can we stop using this term? Neither is it piracy. Piracy happens on the high seas – sometimes the low seas. But definitely on the water – where they shoot at you and board your boat. And sometimes they get shot through the eye while their lifeboat bobs up and down on rough waters by navy seals. So it’s not piracy.

Now. Let’s address the idea that millions of American jobs are at stake. Copyright infringement occurs after those millions of people have already been paid their hourly wage to haul cables and hold cameras and serve food on the set. They were already paid. They won’t be paid any more or any less because Jerry made a copy. So let’s stop pretending that it’s about the “little people”. The little people are all union and their biggest threat is the studio.

Illegally copied movies have always been a problem for the movie studios. Illegally copies cassettes have always been a problem for the recording industry. Swap meets and flea markets were full of these copied movies and songs. The movie studios and recording studios weren’t clamoring to have the streets in front of the swap meets closed down based upon someone deciding that there were “stolen” movies at the swap meet. No. The people selling illegal copies were arrested and punished. The whole stinking swap meet wasn’t shut down. That’s what the movie and recording studios want. They want the whole swap meet shut down. And they want the telephone pole where someone posted a flyer chopped down. And they want the corner gas station to be seized if someone posts a flyer on the wall. And they want the road to the gas station ripped up, too. That’s what SOPA and PIPA would have done. Over react to an overblown problem.

Stop calling it “piracy”. Stop calling it “theft”. Call it what it is, infringement. Stop adding stupid laws to prevent me from watching a movie I bought on whichever device I choose. Stop convincing manufacturers to build defective CDs and players so I can’t listen to the CD I bought in my car. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act could have effectively outlawed the sharpie marker if it was used to “circumvent” the copyright stripe on your CD.

These bills were over reaching and draconian. The movie studios want to have meaningful protections? They need to start with meaningful and realistic language.

1/18/2012

The Net Goes Dark – Sort Of

Filed under: Copyright,Geek News and Stuff,Politics — site admin @ 6:34 am

Wikipedia Blackout
Google Blackout
Craigslist Blackout
Some sites on the internet have gone “dark” to show what could happen under the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills being considered in congress. Please visit the action pages of these sites:
Wikipedia Google Craigslist

And from the People’s Email Network (PEN):

Though not as heinous on its face as some other legislation we have
seen pushed in Congress lately, the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act
(SOPA) would take a giant ax to the roots of the internet in an
attempt to a deal with a problem up the branches somewhere.

Junk SOPA Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum1091.php

The bill is so poorly written and vague in its definitions that it
would potentially criminalize innocent behavior, an open door to
selective prosecutions. Worse yet, it would give single troll
complainers the power to completely and unilaterally shut down
websites on false accusations, and force those sites to engage in
lengthy legal battles to restore themselves.

Even those who originally supported the concept of SOPA are appalled
at the blunderbuss tactics of the bill as presented, and Congress
must go back to the drawing board, with the input of those who really
know how the internet works, to come up with a bill that will not do
more harm than good.

Though advertised as a bipartisan bill, on closer inspection only two
Democratic sponsors were initial sponsors, Schiff and Berman, whose
districts include all the big Hollywood movie studios. What a
coincidence! And we should add, having just finished producing a
movie ourselves we have great sympathy for those who deserve to be
paid for their creative work, for how else can we righteously
compensate our valiant cast, crew and support people? But this SOPA
bill is absolutely the wrong way to do it.

And after you submit the action page you can now request a bulk order
of the new “Occupy America” bumper stickers that have been so very
popular. Demonstrate your support for the spreading occupy movements.
We are just asking about a dollar each in bulk to help cover our
costs, which include sending free single stickers to anyone who wants
one. We just got in the latest shipment and all remaining single
sticker requests are going out now. Here is a direct link to the bulk
order page.

Bulk Occupy America bumper stickers:
http://www.peaceteam.net/bulk_occupy_stickers.php

And you can still make all the single sticker requests you like at

Single Occupy American bumper stickers:
http://www.peaceteam.net/all_bumper_stickers.php

Mark Your Calendars For A Radio Appearance By The Pen

In the meantime we are getting attention in the progressive media. On
Jan. 16 at 2PM PST, yours truly, The Pen, will appear live on the
Harrison radio show in Los Angeles on KPFK to discuss these latest
developments. You can tune in from anywhere over the internet at
either http://www.smartshow.org or http://www.goharrison.com.

We’d also like you to know we are doing the final tweaks now on the
mix for the theme song for “The Last War Crime” movie and anticipate
getting it posted on iTunes in about a week. It would be wonderful if
we could make a splash on iTunes about the song, as a way of
introducing people to the movie itself. We pulled in the top rock and
roll and jazz studio musicians in Los Angeles for this, and the best
background singers on the planet, who have worked with everyone from
Natalie Cole to Phil Collins. It’s one hopping rock and roll track
entitled, “It’s A Crime”, so please stay tuned for that.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.
Contributions to The People’s Email Network are not tax-deductible
for federal income tax purposes.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at
http://www.peaceteam.net/in.htm

Or if you want to cease receiving our messages, just use the function
at http://www.usalone.net/out.htm

usalone451b:90158

10/5/2011

Steve Jobs, Dead at 56

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,General — site admin @ 5:59 pm

Steve Jobs, dead at 56.

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