Today's fortunes

by Mark Zaugg 7. May 2007 21:20

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

Ce soir...

by Mark Zaugg 3. May 2007 23:23

Mesdames et messieurs, 

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

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

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

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

Appréciez, si vous plait.

Just how cool is THIS?

by Mark Zaugg 27. April 2007 11:24

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

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

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


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


Two thought Johnny.

by Mark Zaugg 20. April 2007 00:34

Man, if there's anything I hate... 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grampa and me and TV makes three.

by Mark Zaugg 9. April 2007 00:05

There's a couple of things I really enjoy about writing a blog. 

It's not that I have a thousand people hanging on my every word.  Hopefully the world has more sense than that by now. 

It's not that I have great insight.  I'm fumbling through life just like most people out there.  I'm good at a few things, great at being a Dad and a smart ass come to mind (I think the two may be related) and I pretty much fake everything else as I go. 

Okay, I have some aptitude with electronic stuff.  Yeah, I can make Cat-5 cable, and I can change my own oil (note to self:  Call Nissan to book an appointment to get your oil changed) and given time, energy and a little bit of research I'm a pretty capable guy.  I prefer the term "Renaissance Man" although "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" tends to equally apply. 

What I like most about writing a blog is that I can put down my thoughts and my interests and set out a milestone of where I'm at.  I'm free to ramble to myself and build to the point I'm making.  Hopefully a couple people will gain some understanding of what goes through my mind.  I hope that both my Lady-love and eventually my children can read through this and think to themselves, "So that's why I'm slightly unnerved any time I go out in public with him."  Perhaps someday they might even say, "Oooh, that helps to explain his dementia."  Or maybe, "He's only half the moron I give him credit for."  And finally, "He sure has bad grammar, hanging those prepositions and beginning sentences with a conjunction."

I also have entire blind spots.  My Lady-love continues to foolishly as my request on things like how to rearrange the furniture and whether I prefer the cobolt blue shirt or the royal blue shirt, and just what was I thinking wearing them with the swamp green pants instead of the olive green pants?  I mean, really, I thought they were ecru!

I'm pragmatic to a fault.  So long as the walls stand, I don't care what colour they are.  If she has a preference, that's terrific!  I'll fully support her decisions.  Asking me for my opinion is like asking her if she prefers conventional 5W30 over a synthetic 5W40.  I'm sure she'll back me up by asking me just what I meant.

Design just isn't my strong suit.

I'm pretty clear on where I stand.

If there's anything that drives me up the wall it's the design shows on TV.  They don't hold my interest, I don't believe the before and after pictures and half the time I think I've come up with dumber ideas that are twice as good because they're practical.  Actually, I pretty much hate all TV shows that are on now.  I've got a thousand things better to spend my time on in the evenings.

Naturally, I've picked up a new show - the first new show I've started watching in almost 5 years.  I've become a huge fan of Holmes on Homes.  Yeah, I know the claw from the head from the handle on a hammer.  Most of the time I even use it properly.

I like it, not because I learn something new - usually I either know what he's up to or I'm completely off in left field without knowing what is going on.  It's Mike and his "Make it right!" attitude.  That's where my Grampa fits in.  He would always say, "Quality pays for itself."  I can hear it in his own voice.

There's a story where Grampa had plasterers come in to do the walls in his home.  He supposedly told them he never wanted to see a crack in the plaster for as long as he lived.  One of the last things I ever did in his home after he passed on was walk from room to room looking at the walls.  I never saw a crack in a single wall through the entire house.  That's good building right there.  From the original crotchety old fart himself.  I like to imagine him looking over the craftsmen with a wary eye making sure everything was up to his standard.

You see, I'm never going to become an exceptional renovator.  I'm never, ever going to make a living by tearing a house apart, fixing it and selling it on the marketplace for a profit.  I may do some small jobs, but that's simply to make things more comfortable, better built and more practical in my home and environment.  I know when a project is too big for me to tackle on my own.

I've done little projects with my buddy Cam.  Well, some of them were big projects to me, but manageable for him.  When he does a job, he showed me the details in the background that made it a professional job versus a slap-together job.  I think if Mike Holmes ever pulled apart the work, he'd only criticize the parts of the project I did.

Mike's attitude is a bit infectious - and that's a great thing for me and my mindset.  I want to produce quality work and only quality work.  Once again, Grampa's words resonate, "Quality pays for itself."  If I'm doing a stored procedure, I don't care if it's the most elegant solution ever created, I care that it's the best stored procedure I've done so far

I'm okay with SQL and I genuinely love the language, but I know I have much to learn.  I may never be an expert renovator, but I want to do things right - at least as right as I am capable of doing.  Next time I'll know more and do better.  I may not knock out the perfect bash script run by a cron job, but there once was a time I hardly knew what bash and cron were.

So I scan through what I've got here and it's a scattering of points and thoughts that make no sense and don't come to a point.  I better emphasize it in bold so people know what I'm trying to say.

1.  "Quality pays for itself."  Grampa's words hold true and I love to repeat them.
2.  Here's a plug for Holmes on Homes.  He makes stuff right when people didn't know enough or didn't care enough to create with quality.
3.  I love writing in a blog.  Somedays I feel like an idiot putting my thoughts down, but I do the best I can and I think I'm improving.

I read me a book! I read me a.. Oh, nevermind...

by Mark Zaugg 20. March 2007 07:11

So I worked my way through Time Management for System Administrators from Tom Limoncelli.  It was a really good read and gave me some great ideas to get things up to snuff. 

Like anything I tend to come across, I'm finding that I do things half right to half ends and it's that last little bit that needs some nudging.  I'm exceptionally good at setting up routines and not clogging my brain debating which mundane task needs done first.  I swap out the backup tapes and follow my backup routine each and every morning - without thought and without fail.  (Why DID my backup skip Friday anyways?  Add that to my ToDo list...) 

I'm not so good at setting priorities or shuffling tasks to tomorrow instead of doing them just before I go home. 

I've found a new love for my Palm Pilot.  Well, it's an old love, really, but my m125 and I have once more found an intimacy that was lacking in our relationship..  I record the crap that needs done and it endlessly nags me to actually do it.  Plus I've found I can back it up perfectly on my Ubuntu box using JPilot.  It's helped me become more effective in that I'm (trying) to set up the Cycle as described by Tom, avoiding some of the time sinks, and I'm actually making headway for a change.

The down side, I've got three or five more books that were suggested reading.  Find the books, order the books, read the books.  Time Management for System Administrators was on my Palm Pilot for about eight months before I actually ordered it and read through it.  Sure, it was really worth it, but it takes me time to get around to these things..  ;-)

--

Speaking of System Administration, I noticed that Mr. Bug has been banging the drum with the poor migration plan that Zooomr tried to work through.  Zooomr is a site designed to make your photos available online.  Rather than just throwing a photo up and letting it loose, you have control of who gets to see it, you can add geographical information ("show me other photos taken near here"), links sound, it supports different languages, all in all it looks to be a nice promising site full of good ideas for photographers to present their shots.  (Don't look at me, I barely get around to updating photos around here.  ;-)

The fact that Bug introduced me to Zooomr should be my first clue:  This is something that he's following with interest.  When an upgrade gets pre-announced, takes longer than expected, and gets rolled back, us old fogeys shake our heads and start asking, "Where's your upgrade plan?"

I'm a little bit invested in the idea myself.  Babcia just did a trip down to Costa Rica.  Photos, of course, went up on some commercial webpage that insisted I create an account just to LOOK at the photos they posted.

*coff*

Okay, I can understand if you're running some sort of control over who gets to see the photos, but this was just pointless email address collection.  No thank you.

I'm also in the "I'd love to see Zooomr work" category.  Simply that I'm wasting breath on it puts me in the Rah-Rah camp.  I'd much prefer to set Mom up with a Zooomr account that I feel I can trust.

Of course, I'll be much more interested later this year once I pick up my digital SLR from Robinson's.  (I'm leaning to the FZ50, but I'm worried about some of the issues over higher ISO's which is my primary reason for getting into a Prosumer grade camera in the first place..  My friends at Robinson's won't steer me wrong.)

None of which negates the fact that their upgrade wasn't planned out and hasn't gone as expected and a number of us are a bit disappointed.

--

And speaking of disappointed, I'm back on the warpath with the Royal Bank again.  Bastards.

Deposit a cheque in the ABM.  Fine, they don't know if it's really a cheque or a poetic offering on how badly they collectively suck as a corporation.  I don't expect perfection.  But apparently, if it's deposited after 6:00 pm on a Sunday, it's still going to take up to 48 hours to process.

Let alone, this is a government cheque and I did a "Deposit it all into chequing, transfer all but $200 to my Student Line of Credit."  After all, it's not like I can really do that in one transaction.  And ghod forbid actually having to go to a teller and doing this during banking hours.  I'm not pulling cash here.  If I actually deposited an ode to how great is the evil that they propagate as a Canada's Most Respected Corporation (tm), they will track it back and they shall charge me NSF fees, ABM fees, fraud fees, doggerel fees, and presumably a fee for not paying them enough service charges.  It's not like they don't have my credit card number, nor can I stop them from doing whatever the hell they want with my accounts to ensure they get their slice of the pie first.  Honestly, I really don't think they care I've been banking there 35 years!

Right...  They have to charge a service fee for slicing the pie.  I forgot about that one.  And don't they have a fee for banking there for an extended period of time without contributing enough to shareholder profits and an inflated CEO salary?

Two days of this and just MAYBE I'll actually pay some money on the debt.

Lately it seems that any day that contains bitching about the Royal Bank is a good one.

Joe Sports

by Mark Zaugg 15. February 2007 07:36

Damn it. 

I'm driving home after work to pick up the kids, just pull out of the parkade, and I find out that Joe Sports (aka Collin Smith) died yesterday due to leukemia. 

 One of the things that brings joy to my life was listening to the guys on the radio argue and debate sports in Calgary.  Joe was very much in-touch with the sports scene in town and always had a grasp on more or less the way I felt on issues. 

 He was an agitator in the best sense of the word, and understood what rhetoric is and what it can accomplish.  He held you to task and made certain that if he felt you had something to answer for, he would raise the question somehow.  He's one of the best things about modern Calgary and I've missed not having him in daily contact for a while.

 He made life better.  He still does, because Joe Sport's effect will continue beyond his life.

 These are people that matter to me.  Goodbye, friend.

Sunday night shenanigans

by Mark Zaugg 5. February 2007 00:49

So what do you do on a Sunday evening when the kids have gone home and there's systems to administrate, paper to work and poop to be piled? 

Ahh, it's time to crawl into bed with my lady-love by my side, the dog at our feet, a bowl of popcorn 'twixt and 'tween and enjoy a rousing, comforting movie together. 

Now, I'm not one to say my lady-love shares the same taste as myself, heaven perish the trifling thought!  Instead I'm informed that I can choose to watch whatever movie I'd like to select, although she does mention that she has Papillion locked and loaded. 

Being the sort of fellow that has to break into song at a moments notice, I break into Maclean & Maclean's "Papillion D'Amour" right away.  Ahh, Maclean & Maclean.  Every prairie kid grew up listening and loving their joyous tones of raunch.  Ghod bless older brothers and friends with older brothers or tolerant parents.

Well, after getting "the look", I figure I better shut up and figure out where she's going with this, because, after watching "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D" (and yes, it was the 3D version,) I figure she's not going to, in a thousand years, dare to throw another "Sex in the City" reference at me in the same day -- not without equal and opposite reference to the aforementioned Maclean and Maclean, anyways.

Segueing my way from what must surely be my longest run-on sentence in weeks, my lady-love says to me, "It stars Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman."  SOLD!  I don't know if I'd say McQueen is more of a man's man than John Wayne, I just know that I wouldn't sit between the two of 'em drinking a sissy beer.  Not to say I have a problem with Hoffman, mind you, especially anything pre-Ishtar.  Hey - I liked Tootsie.  I was young at the time and easily swayed...  I listened to Maclean and Maclean for ghod's sake - cut me some slack here.

So I end up watching one of the bleakest, darkest coolest dementedly sick escape movies I've ever seen.  I've pretty much started measuring how much I enjoyed the movie my lady-love subjects me to by how quickly I run downstairs and look it up on Wikipedia to find out all that I can about it.  I'm all ready to run and fire up the laptop.

And then, I discover yet another one of my lady-love's deep, dark secrets.

Just as I, to this very day, have VHS tapes that have both Formula 1 and Blue's Clues together, my lady-love has Tim Allen recorded after Papillion.

Whatever can I say?  It's just not funny when you're thinking to yourself, "C'mon, that'll never work.. What you have to do is...."

I don't know if I should be running terrified, but I think I love her just a little bit more than I did this morning.  Even if she won't let me use the term "lady-love".  Well, not in the same sentence as "Hindu hair wrap."

But she's gotta appreciate my tenacity at avoiding that very problem whilst cramming them so close together she'll be mad at me when she first reads that paragraph..

Now, I'll be running down to Canadian Tire tomorrow night so I can build me a doghouse to stay in..

Another damn blog on Vista?

by Mark Zaugg 31. January 2007 00:39

I followed and wrote on the release of the latest batch of browsers:  IE7 and Firefox2.  I've got a strong opinion on browsers:  It's best to be compliant with open standards and it's best for the browser to simply be the gate to the internet.  IE7 is much, much improved over IE6, however it is not as standards compliant and it doesn't have nearly as much flexibility as Firefox.  Flexibility matters when they mess up the interface as badly as Microsoft has.  (At least they need a way to provide the "classic" skin.)

Nonetheless, my opinion was - and still remains - that if you're running an older version of a browser, you ought to upgrade to IE7 (if you are able) and I certainly recommend installing Firefox 2 for the better browsing experience.

Well, Microsoft released Vista today to the general public, and no one is particularly questioning whether they should upgrade or not.  Only the extreme enthusiasts, some developers and new systems purchased will upgrade to Vista right away.

Are there issues with Vista?  Surely.

Do I care?  Surely not.

I'm not enthusiastic over Vista, but I must learn and support it.  Will my work's application install on Vista?  I need to test these things and ensure we have a flawless experience.  Will I enjoy the procedure?  Probably not.

Oh, I've been reading all the reports and blogs that you have been reading as well.  Some of the following revelations may come as a shock to you:

ad nauseum

So what do I do to celebrate this momentous occasion?  Well, yesterday I put a fresh image of Windows XP on a computer for our new developer.  Compare that to the end of life of Windows 98.  It seems to me I'm just a bit behind the times lately.

Where does my interest in all of this lie?  Well, I watched the launch of Vista.  As someone who worked in event production, it was utterly horrid.  Stiff and rigid on-stage performance, boring presentations of silly mounted DVDs, wacky moving camera angles and frenetic cuts that told you nothing about what Vista was but sure made you think you were watching through the eyes of a hyperactive Jack Russell Terrier on speed.  And then the band that walks onstage after the change over, start playing like it's a rehersal or something, and playing soullessly (but really loud and really frenetic, ya know, like a hyperactive Dalmation puppy on speed.  No wait.  Something yappier...  Like a Terrier of some sort.)

It had all the feel of a very boring presentation that the sponsors are trying to "create a buzz."  You can't force a buzz.

"Vista.  Might be nice, but I won't care until I have to buy a new system."

That's kinda catchy..  Maybe I'll start up a company that creates Internet memes.

Sunday Night Special

by Mark Zaugg 10. December 2006 21:37

I don't intend to post Sundays-only.  It's just working out that way right now. 

Life is too ratsofrassin' hectic right now.  It's not the holidays - although they are certainly dumping on the pile.  It's more than kids and job and life - that's a constant in this world. 

My lady-love has said a couple times in the past month that she's ready for a solid vacation.  After spending a little time looking up the meaning of the word "vacation" I'm becoming more and more inclined to agree.

I'm starting to ache, I never seem to get a full night's sleep, my brain never spins down, I'm hardly playing Runescape..  Is it just me, or is the whole world feeling like they're just hanging on by the fingernails?

Kids and I went to Heritage Park for the 12 Days of Christmas today and another chunk falls off my camera.  I'm shaving last night and I'm greeted with the sound of my razor popping, heating significantly at the handle, and surrounding me with the faint odour of ozone.  It feels like everything I've kept marginally running has suddenly collapsed and screamed, "Uncle!"

I've played Scrabble with Brian a few times over the past month and it helps relax my brain and shift gears a little.  Still, I'm about ready to take a good long breather and just wind down for a while.

One gift to get still, and I think I have it planned.  I hope my new razor lasts at least as long as my old one did.  I figure a little contact cement will keep my camera shooting photos until summertime.

Now all that's left is to start on my paperwork from two years ago and figure out the best way to refresh one's soul.  Ennis Sisters, Gordie Sampson or BB King?

Yes.

Welcome

Change is the only constant.

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

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

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

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.

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