Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

It’s NOT Telecommuting!

OK, so it is telecommuting – but hear me out for just a second..

I have been involved in a job search as a Linux admin for a few months now and one of the barriers I keep running in to is (get this) physical location, or company location. WHY? Business owners, let me reason with you for a moment here.

Your servers are “in the cloud”:
There are a LOT of companies these days who are using cloud servers and services. Buzz words like Paas, Saas and Iaas are all the rage now, along with their providers AWS, Rackspace, Azure, Google and the like. These services that you use locally for your business are not actually located at your business. Likely, they are not even in the same time zone, and, in some cases, country. Every time one of your server administrators or users access those services and systems, they are doing so remotely, even if they are sitting at a desk next to you in your corporate headquarters.

You have “datacenters”:
For those of you who have your own datacenters for your machines, you have the same issue. Most companies have at least two such facilities for redundancy and either one or both of them are typically located away from your corporate campus. This, again, means that when you are working on them in any capacity, you are doing so remotely, or “telecommuting”, whether it be from your corporate campus, from, home or across the world.

So you see, in almost every scenario in these modern times, you are already telecommuting to use your own resources. I am here to implore you to consider expanding your employment pool by letting computer workers do their jobs remotely. Save yourself some real estate space. Use conference calls, instant messaging, emails and video chats (free) for your office communications. Dramatically lower your corporate utility bills and *paper costs*. And give someone like myself a shot. You’ll be happy you did!

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016


OK, so it’s October and once again there is an onslaught of spooky movies and ghost hunting shows all over the digital media outlets. Although I have LONG been a fan of such things, I have a few questions to pose to the ghost hunters out there. Leave it to me to go interjecting logic into all this, but some questions just scream for an answer.

Why is it that all ghosts are presumed to be telling the truth? So assuming that you actually get to talk to a ghost that has been harassing you or your family by haunting and scaring the crap out of you, WHY do you believe a word they say? I mean, I hardly believe anyone living I meet in person, let alone some dead guy that has been hiding for 100 years in my closet.

Speaking of closets, why do all ghosts seem to live in the closet, attic or basement? Presumably, while alive, most people live in their living room, at work, etc.. Why such a change? I mean if you are invisible and stuff, what’s to stop you from hanging on the couch and watching Oprah? What is the allure of the closet? And what the heck are they *doing* in there all day? I assume they don’t need to sleep?

What’s the deal with the dark? You will see countless paranormal investigators tell you that “spirits require a lot of energy to manifest”, but in the same breath, they turn off all the power. Do they *not* want to find them? I also notice that normal people see these ghosts during the day, or while watching tv or doing laundry (again in the basement). So why not follow the scientific method and try and duplicate that and do wash with the lights on instead of bump into walls in the dark while trying to “see” something?

If you have a haunted house and you are terrified enough to seek help. WHY go to a paranormal group? These groups come into your house, declare it haunted and then leave, leaving you with the problem (at least the ones on tv do). I mean, don’t you already know your house is haunted in the first place?

Paranormal groups that use psychics? Seriously? Why not use two psychics, have them write down their impressions independently and then compare notes. Otherwise you have 1 that says whatever they want with no verification, or two at the same time that just agree with each other. And how come they all head straight for the basement, closet or attic 🙂

Cleansing your haunted house with burning weeds. This I do not understand other than the fact that it probably smells up your house. I mean if that makes ghosts go away then great, but what happens when you plug the air fresheners back in? Go and get some *actual* clergy and not some emo chick ringing a bell and throwing rock salt on your floor.

Are there “good” ghosts? Time and time again, I see these paranormal groups saying “there is nothing here to worry about”, “they won’t harm you” or even “the ghost of your -insert relative here- is here to protect you from -insert evil ghost-“. EXCUSE ME?! If there is some invisible person making noises rummaging around in my basement or playing with my dishes and “manifesting” themselves in front of me when I am waking to the bathroom to pee, THAT is not harmless. It is trying to frighten you to death. People actually do get scared to death you know, not to mention the stress that kind of thing could put a person or family through.

Exactly what are they saying? This is probably one of my biggest beefs. Aside from believing whatever unverified malarkey your resident psy”chick” tells you, your options are some kind of one sided conversation like light this light for “yes” kinda thing (what if they want to light it for no?), or EVPs, which to me mostly sound like overdubbed intestinal gas recorded on an 8-track player.

I am sure there is more but I will stop here and leave room for what I hope is the barrage of interesting comments!

Haunt ya later!

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

My Web Workers Toolkit

Ahh, it’s been far too long since I have had anything to say here. I have to say that I have been *legitimately* busy this time. As many of you know, we have come to a close on the first season of The LinuxLink TechShow. That’s 365 (about) 2 hour long episodes over the course of the last 6 years. We are due to start our next 365 at the Ohio Linux Fest in a month. This leaves an enormous amount of prep work and a fair bit of reorganization to keep things exciting and help us start out with a bang.

One of the *surprises* in store brings me to my current topic at hand, my web workers toolkit.

People all have differing opinions about what you really need to do decent web work. As an old commandline jockey, I thought I would share my own.

1) Vim.
Quite possibly the best text editor in the world, I use vim for darn near everything. As a system administrator, it’s indispensable (for scripting) and I find it similarly necessary for web work. Vim has a fantastic (imho) syntax highlighting system which does quite well for html and php highlighting. The only caveat is to make sure to set “set background=dark” in your .vimrc file, unless, of course, you are one of those wierdos who uses a light background in your terminal.

2) tidy or the w3c validator.
I DEFY you to write good code without one of these. There is NOTHING as nice as standards compliant code and without a good validator, you will have nothing like standards compliant code. The reason I listed both of these is that tidy is a program you can use locally to check your code and the w3c validator will check any pages that are accessible via the web.

3) Many different browsers.
Unfortunately, all browsers are not made equal. You can be sure that all mozilla based browsers like Firefox, etc., will display things very similarly, and maybe even throw Google Chrome into that mix, but you may really want to check your code with Safari and IE to be sure things still look the way you had intended, and let’s not forget about a text browser like lynx or w3m to make sure your pages are readable and navigable that way too.

4) Lastly, for me, some good reference material.
One can hardly be expected to remember everything and having some reference material handy for those odd css commands and perhaps php/perl/python/someotherprogramminglanguage could really save you some time and frustration. Never underestimate keeping your old code around for example and never ever underestimate the power of the power of the Google Search!

In a nutshell, that’s generally what keeps me cranking out websites and webpages. What kinds of things do you use? What am I missing out on? Send a long a comment and let us all know what works for you! ( Unless, of course, you use emacs 😀 )

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Who was that masked man?



I was reading some news and came apon this news article about how Blizzard is going to reveal peoples real names on it’s WOW forums. I am not even sure how this caught my attention as I am not really a gamer, and have never played WOW, but the underlying topic of anonymity is one I have had on my “things to write about” list for quite a while. It may as well be now 🙂

Apparently, the reason they are going to release people’s real names is for security and to *help* people be nicer. You see, sometimes this online anonymity breeds supermen who talk like they are 10 feet tall, bulletproof and know everything. You know the kind, trolls. Supplying your real life name helps people be a bit more cautious about what they say and do online. It makes perfect sense to me.

One of my favorite passages from the Bible (1 Cor 13:11) says “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” That is some powerful stuff and wisdom to live by. Certainly that was the case with me.

Long ago before the birth of the internet, there were these things called BBS’ (Bulletin Board Systems). They were computers running software that would let you call into them with your computer through the phone line and game, chat and exchange data. Let me tell you, in it’s heyday, it was way cool. I ran several of these BBS’. I was the SysOp (System Operator). Anyhow, on many of these BBS’ you were encouraged to use a handle, like with a CB radio, to maintain your online presence. This had a practical purpose in that in those days bits weren’t as cheap to come by and someone’s handle normally would take up a lot less identifier space than their whole name. It was fun to have an alternate persona once in a while as well, I will admit.

The difference between those days and these days is there was always a local administrator with the pertinent information in case there was a problem. There is no such person anymore. It is almost impossible now to accurately moderate things on the internet. People of little conscience and wisdom use this flaw to hurt and abuse people with wild abandon.

Now I can see how having some avenue to anonymity has helped people as well. There are religious and political dissidents who have used this to be able to speak out against dictators, etc.. I, however, think that for the most part, using your real name should be whole heartedly encouraged. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you think. Be brave enough to acknowledge the things that you have said and done.

I have had people, who I only know by their handle, ask me to refer them for jobs and other things. I just cannot do it. How do you tell a perspective employer that they really should give your online buddy “booger” or “captain bacon” a shot? How do you recommend someone like that? If it’s you, how do you point someone to your body of online work under that pseudonym and have them take you seriously?

Now we have even more than annoying flame-bait trolls, who we all wish would die in a fire. We have graduated to online cyber-bullying, where these bad people have used their evil to promote people getting hurt and even hurting themselves (remember that the pen is mightier than the sword).

Really, folks, it’s time for this to stop. Be who you are and be proud of it or use it as an opportunity to make yourself better! Who’s with me?

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010


Updates, updates everywhere. I pushed a bunch of updates to, my Blog, LinuxPlanet Casts and Blogs, LinuxForChristians, TLLTS Planet and the Lincware forums. Everything looks ok right now, but please let me know if you see anything strange happening (or not happening as the case may be). Thanks and you may now return to your previously scheduled rss feed.

Monday, January 18th, 2010


I thought really quick this morning that I would like to play a little Christmas music, something nice. Where to get some in a hurry? Well, of course, I went to Magnatune.

Really, I don’t mention these guys enough, not here or on the show. As their motto implies, they are _not evil_. They are DRM free, they carry a FANTASTIC selection of music of all tastes and interests. You pay REASONABLE prices that you decide, and Magnatune actually gets money back to the artists too, much unlike the big music industry giants.

Do yourself and some really talented musicians a favor and check out Magnatune today. You can also arrange Magnatune gift cards, and , of course, listen for FREE to their ENTIRE collection!

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

On Web Video

When I decided I wanted to do this new show thing and do it in video, I didn’t know what I was really in for. Then as I started playing a little with video and wanted to stick a snippet on the web, I was sure I was in trouble.

This is a collection of quick notes on how I did it.

First, I grabbed some video off of my camera. Now the camera records to avi but does it in high-def, which is a little large for what I wanted, so I ran it through tablet-encode, which is an mencoder wraparound script that generates small-enough video that works on the n770/800/810 devices. This worked like a charm and a line like so: (code is all one line)

tablet-encode –preset=best -2 file.avi newshow.avi

got me an avi file that was 400×200 30fps.

Next I wanted to get that on the web and viewable. A quick look through some internet available howtos revealed that an flv (flash video file) was the way to go there. So, off I went to create flv from avi. After some serious digging I was direted, once again, back to mplayer/mencoder. (code is all one line)

mencoder -forceidx -of lavf -oac mp3lame -lameopts abr:br=56 -srate 22050 -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=flv:vbitrate=250:mbd=2:mv0:trell:v4mv:cbp:last_pred=3 -vf scale=360:240 -o $1.flv $1

Then was the tricky part. I wanted to just use an embed or object statement in some html to stick that video in the page, but that would not work at all. It took me hours of looking through people’s bad documentation on the net to discern that what I really needed was a flash player in order to play flash video. Another quick search revealed the free-enough JW FLV Player.

Once you have that and get the “player-viral.swf” or flv player on your webserver and accessible, there is only one more little barrier. It’s nice to have a picture to have at the front of your video instead of a black screen (before your play the video). Once again, mplayer: (and once again, all one line)

mplayer -ss 10 -nosound -vo jpeg -frames 1 newshow.flv

Which will create an image named 000001.jpg or some such. I just renamed it to newshow.jpg.

Now with all that, I can put my flv and jpg somewhere I can get to, and do an embed statement in a webpage like so:

< embed src='player-viral.swf' width='400' height='240' bgcolor='undefined' allowscriptaccess='always' allowfullscreen='true' repeat='none' flashvars='file=newshow.flv&image=newshow.jpg' />

Obviously the lessthan sign and the embed command should go together but, alas, it will not let me post the code any other way 🙂

Friday, October 9th, 2009

An interesting project perhaps?

The posts today are flying from my fingers! I guess watching Kitchen Nightmares has somehow gotten my brain and fingers working in conjunction with one another…

I mentioned that with my router troubles I had taken some pleasure in watching the people in my neighborhood connect to my unconnected router because it was unprotected and try to surf through it. It would sit there and blink like a dozen crazed fireflies half the night long.

Well, that got me thinking. If (and I do mean *if*) I can do some sort of reset magic and get my old router to function a little again, what about setting up a sort of science experiment? I am thinking of setting up a lone linux box, connected only to that default and unprotected router (except maybe a real admin password) and have that doll out connections to these people and have all web traffic redirected to a local page. The thought had crossed my mind to have all the web traffic redirected to a local goatse page, but perhaps that is too nasty. Maybe just collect all the statistical info I can get from their machines and redirect them to a page notifying them that I did just that and that and this connection wasn’t going to get them anywhere.

So, to that end, I am looking for ideas and suggestions on how to accomplish that feat. Perhaps squid? That might be a little heavy though, and I am under the impression that somehow we can do this with just iptables? There has to be an easy way. So, again, please let me know if you have hints, tips, or suggestions. This just might turn out to be some real fun!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

How to ruin an uptime

I had this old Belkin wireless router at home, and I knew it was on the way out for some time now. The symptoms were it would occasionally just stop allowing any new connections. A couple weeks ago I purchased a nice little Netgear wireless router to replace it with, but as luck would have it, I didn’t do it fast enough.

I have told stories here about my penchant for procrastination at home. They are all too true I assure you. It’s sort of like that old adage that the mechanic’s car always is in need of repair Likewise, so it is with the System Administrator as well. I went week by week without the gumption to actually configure this new router and dig through the pile of ethernet cables and power wires to replace the old one. I will have to note, however, that I did take a perverse glee from seeing people in my neighborhood connect to my new and powered on but not connected router and try to surf the web. More on that later….

Back to the old router. As you may have guessed, I waited just long enough for it to die while I was not in a position for an immediate fix, throwing my wife and daughter into the thralls of several hours of internet withdrawal. For some reason, at 3:30 in the morning, it dropped it’s connection to my cable modem and steadfastly refused to grab an address from it again. My internal network was working just fine and you could connect to the wireless here, but could not get out through the intertubes whatsoever.

The fix was lengthy, mostly because of poor planning and much haste to get things running again. I put the new router in place fast enough, but, of course, I had to configure it for my specific network needs. This is where the trouble was. I had to change the base addressing to reflect my normal subnet. That was easy. I also had to change the password. That was a snap. I added in my port forwarding information. I turned off the router’s dhcp (I run a dhcp server). I had to fight through several resets of the router and cable modem to get the cable modem to hand out an address to my new router. The real rub came with my dyndns though. You see, in order for me to get into my email, my mail config points to my dyndns address. Well, due to my piss poor planning, all my dyndns account information was (you guessed it) stored in my email. Can’t get into email because no dyndns, can’t set up dyndns because account info in email. Sheesh, what a pain. I spent maybe an hour trying different account names and a dozen old passwords until I found the right combo.

None of that tells you how the uptime was ruined though. That was just an absolutely stupid moment I had. I take great pride normally in pointing out to windows users that you almost never have to reboot a working Linux/unix system. It’s just not necessary unless you can’t get a shell somehow. Well, I must be working too close to the windows guys because before I figured out why I couldn’t get into my email, I spent a good 20 minutes or so troubleshooting and getting increasingly frustrated until, you guessed it, I played the old “lets just reboot the server and see if that fixes things” card. How humbling it was to lose my 195 day uptime and of course the reboot helped nothing. It really was one of those “I could have had a V8” moments.

So what are some things to be learned form this? Normally I keep a file tucked away that holds all my various logins and account information and passwords. Of course, my dyndns info was missing from this. You can rest assured it’s there now. Although it does not sound like good security practice to do that, there just is no other practical way I can think of to manage all that info than to keep a list somehow. The other thing is, by all means, when you start to get frustrated with a problem, step away for a moment and/or ask someone for advice before you make it worse. I guarantee that if I had stepped away and maybe called Dann or something, I would have realized what a dope was being before I finished dialing the number. Instead I just blundered my way through because I was tired and irritated causing myself even more downtime than was necessary.

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Gos 3

A while ago I mentioned that I installed Suse on a separate partition on my laptop. My intentions were to give it a test drive and then use hat partition to do the same for some other distributions. Well, last night I finally got off my rhump and tried Gos 3.

I have to say that the installation was quite painless, even for it being a dual boot. The only thing I had to do was tell the installer which partition to use and it did the rest all by itself. Truly, the most difficult part of the install was that I had to burn 2 cds to get it to work, the first one was a coaster.

The OS defaults to a quite good looking desktop that is very reminiscent of OS X, if OS X were green 🙂 The installed utilities and programs in the dock are quite google centric, which to me is not a problem because I use several of them already. The application responsiveness is quick and clean as well. I can see where this would indeed make a great distribution for netbook oriented installs.

The google gadgets are also pretty neat. The are again really reminiscent of OS X. There isn’t quite the selection yet of programs and utilities that Apple has, but I suspect there ill be eventually, and the ones that are there are usable and entertaining. They even have several versions of the giant analog clock, just for dann.

Now for what I didn’t like: The color, for some reason, seems a little washed out. Maybe I am hallucinating or maybe my laptop is just getting old, but I don’t notice that while using Ubuntu proper. The menu’s are this ugly grey/brushed metal just which reminds me of the “cool menus” of the early 90s from enlightenment or maybe an old fluxbox theme. In other words, with the nice glossy look that the desktop has, I believe the menus look clunky and dated. They don’t match, but they work fine and most people will probably only use the taskbar/dock thingy at the bottom anyhow, which brings me to that. That dock is really slick looking and working too, with one exception. How the heck do you alter it? For something as sweet looking and working as that, you’d think you could add and subtract programs/icons with a right click menu or something. Last but not least, this Gos is a very netcentric distribution that even comes with an icon to start youtube right in the dock, but it doesn’t have any form of flash installed? Wtf guys? I am sure there are people out there who will say, but that’s not free software, or what have you, but here’s a newsflash for them, I don’t care and most other people won’t either. That’s just an irritation waiting to happen by design.

All in all, I have to say that I really dig using Gos 3. I actually expect it to be hit, especially among netbook users and people who want an easy and lighter Linux. I say try it. You just may like it!

Saturday, October 4th, 2008