Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Advogato Entry 283

Man.. Sarah and I are just way too compatible. We keep agreeing on all these little things.. Naturally, she's still Josh's girlfriend.

I'm moving soon (end of the month), probably into a fraternity for the summer. They've got DSL, digital cable, etc., so it should be pretty nice. The place is basically laid out like a small dorm, though we each get our own fridge (or half a fridge, or something like that).

Saw an odd thing today -- an apparently Muslim woman walking down the street wearing a Calvin Klein headdress.. The assimilation has begun, I guess

Been doing lots of stuff at work lately. Got a new version of Netsaint running, and it's now keeping track of many more things (with many yet to be added). In case people don't know, Netsaint has been renamed to Nagios, and Ethan Galstad, the main developer, is going to be giving a talk on it on Saturday at the U of MN.

Also, I've been tapped to build another firewall or two. Apparently Nimda reared it's head in one of our computer labs. Sheesh. Linux is a swiss army knife, but should I really be using it like a Band-Aid to fix problems that could have been avoided in the first place?

Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Advogato Entry 284

Spending too much time avoiding some end-of-semester projects. Dunno how far I'll get with them.

Anyway, bigger news for me was discovering that the Sun StorEdge A1000 arrays we have are not exactly operating at peak efficiency.. 4MB/s is a little slow for a RAID array. Still trying to figure out why that's happening..

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 285

I want this week to not exist. I don't want to take finals, or work on final projects. I'd rather be working at the job I have -- so much more rewarding to solve real problems..

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Advogato Entry 286

Thinking that maybe I should start saying ``free and open software'' instead of ``open source software.'' Might be good, as ``free'' gets in there somewhere and strengthens ``open.'' However, the die-hard ``free software'' folks might feel it dilutes the word ``free.'' Hard to say.

Still wishing this week didn't exist. I want to get back to trying to have a life, rather than avoiding studying for finals and doing some projects.

This morning I realized that Sarah really brings out a part of me that I think has always been around, hiding beneath the surface. It's nothing fancy, just some of my silliness -- my imaginitive side that's been hiding for a long time. I think she helps me loosen up and bring that more to the front. Maybe that's why I like her so much. Hard to say.

One of my roommates graduated the other day, though he still has to take finals.

The joys of going to a huge school (what? 40,000? something like that..)

I shouldn't have come here, though I'm glad for friends I've made. I especially appreciate meeting Sarah, but it's still unlikely that will amount to anything.

Well, it's not like I can go and do it again. I just want to move forward, finish up classes this summer and clean up some somewhat loose ends at work. I just hope I can keep in touch with Sarah and other friends.

It'll be a huge load off when I get out of college. It's been too long.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 287

Every so often, I come back to thinking about Microsoft's finances. Their accounting techniques have been widely used, most prominently at Enron (or so I hear). Couple that with the new licensing schemes they're coming out with, and I think they've found a recipe for their own demise.

There's this Bill Parish guy that has said that MS is actually losing money these days. I'm not sure I believe him, though -- his grammar and spelling is too poor to be very credible ;-) He also has some ideas that stretch the imagination, such as a Microsoft pyramid scheme that caused a global downturn in the economy. However, if it's true that MS is losing money, that could be one of the reasons why they're changing licensing methods.

From the reading I've done, it sounds like MS pays people with stock too much. Apparently, the SEC doesn't require a company to deduct payment in stock from their profit numbers. If you take that out, Parish says that the company is in the red.

Microsoft has a lot of money in the bank, but it might be to cover their ass when employees start cashing in. The company has been criticized by people like Ralph Nader for not paying dividends to their stockholders (of course, I guess Nader is mostly just annoyed because MS isn't paying very much in taxes).

Personally, I figure Microsoft will probably stick it out for quite a while. They might go down in five or ten years, probably after Bill Gates has made a graceful exit from the company.

In the wake of Enron, I bet the accountants at MS are busily working to find a way to hide financial issues that doesn't look like they're hiding something..

Or maybe I'm just paranoid..

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 288

I was halfway looking at cell phones the other day, and then my parents suggested today that I get one, since I'll probably be moving twice in the next few months, and don't necessarily want to pay for activation over and over. Of course, if I do get a cell phone, it'd probably be an expensive one that totally ruins the purpose of getting it ;-)

Well, maybe not. I guess I don't even know what features are good.

VoiceStream seems to be a popular carrier with the people I know. They appear to have decent coverage around here and decent prices (IMHO, not that I've looked much), but some ratings the company gets are pretty poor. They're deploying GPRS, some sort of networking technology that's apparently decent speed (I guess theoretically up to about 114kbit/s)

Hmm.. The data prices are steep, though. Ooh! I can pay $60/month for 20MBytes. Uh, yeah.

I suppose that just means I won't use it for what I want to use it. I think some of the voice plans allow for a little bit of data per month anyway.

Well, I'll probably head to a store tomorrow and get more info..

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Advogato Entry 289

Ah, the joys of turning into Big Brother.

We put a 3c905B-FX card into our Netsaint server the other day and connected it up to the building gateway today. The idea was to "mirror" incoming/outgoing traffic onto that interface, and log packets.

It's getting us in trouble already.

Ordered a cell phone on Sunday, should show up in the next few days.

Moving in a week.. Did some packing/cleaning already. Bare walls in the apartment make me feel pretty sad actually.. :-(

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Advogato Entry 290

Got my cell phone on Thursday. I got service through VoiceStream since their rates seemed pretty low, and I only had to sign my life away for a minimum of one year. AT&T and others wanted me to contract for two years. Their coverage is probably lowest of the big carriers, though I think they have the biggest GSM service in the US (Deutsche Telekom bought them a year or so ago).

Coverage isn't really a problem for me. I'm planning to use this phone instead of a land line, at least for the summer, so if it works outside of the local area, I'll just consider it a bonus. I found out it doesn't work at my office, but that's a windowless room in the middle of the building, behind at least two layers of concrete... Signal is good at my current apartment, though the meter blips off occasionally -- I'm curious why that happens..

Anyway, I just got the free phone they had, the Motorola T193. It's tiny, slightly smaller than Sarah's Nokia, at least (I think she has a 3360, but I'm not sure -- it has the same form factor, whatever it is).

I think VoiceStream had sent me a text message when I first got the phone, informing me of the phone number, but I think I accidentally deleted it. I'd gotten another text message, telling me I had a voicemail, but that was someone leaving a message for a girl named Brooke, IIRC. Anyway, I deleted the text message informing me of that, and then I think I deleted another one, which was probably the phone number. In the end, I used the phone's text messaging facility to send myself an e-mail, and the number was on the From: line ;-)

I was pretty surprised when I started looking into various phone services. For some reason, I expected companies to be upfront about the various services they offer -- what's included in which plan, etc. I suppose I might have gotten a clearer picture if I'd gone into one of the cell phone shops to get it, but I didn't want to get railroaded into a plan I didn't like. The information on the web was just awful, though.

I still don't know exactly what services I get, though. I realized after a while that the Internet service that had been promised wasn't working. After searching high and low to try and find some information, I called customer service. I was informed that I'd been put on a plan different than what they advertised on the web.. The code for the plan was apparently just one character off, so the guy switched to what I thought I ordered.

I've seen people complain about the customer service department, but I haven't had trouble yet. I suppose I'm just lucky. However, I have a suspicion that my Linux user habit of trying to find the solution myself by searching and trying various things probably makes me more prepared when I call them.. We'll see what happens in the future.

I've found VoiceStream's websites to be very inconsistent. They contract out various services to different organizations, which probably contributes to the mess. It's not hugely inconsistent -- that'd probably be better! I've found myself browsing around, having buttons suddenly disappear on the next page, etc. They also have some very short session timeouts. I've had to re-login many times.

I've noticed that the various websites seem to use different technologies to power them.. VoiceStream's main websites appear to be powered by ColdFusion, the iStream pages (iStream is the name for their data service) appear to be running Microsoft's Active Server Pages, and my billing info is brought to me by servlets. Very weird, IMHO..

The phone I got has similar inconsistencies. I think it has at least four different font sizes, but I can only pick two in the phone settings. Composing text messages uses the smallest font, browsing the web uses the next smallest. The default interface font is the second-largest, and there's a huge font that is the other option. Going between big and huge is not my idea of configurability.

Even the instructions for activating my phone weren't very good. I knew about SIM cards and whatever beforehand, but someone who didn't know about that would probably be really confused. There were at least two sets of instructions, but I think they started with "turn on your phone," neglecting the "insert your SIM card" part.. One set of instructions said I had to call someone with my IMEI number (apparently the handset serial number) and a number printed on my service agreement. Well, I didn't have a service agreement in the box I got, so I was glad that the phone seemed to work right out of the box, once I figured out exactly how the SIM card was supposed to be put in it's place..

It'll be a while before I can say whether I like the service or not. With all of the weird things I've seen already, I could never give it a strong thumbs up, but it's relatively cheap and I can text Sarah whenever I want ;-) I'm paying $30/month for 200 daytime minutes, unlimited weekend minutes, toll-free long distance, 300 text messages, and 1MB of data. I paid an extra dollar this month so I could have a "Smooth Criminal" ring tone, too, but nobody's called me yet.. *sigh*

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Advogato Entry 291

Moving sucks.

I managed to find myself some good roommates for the past two years, but they all decided to wander on to other places (where they don't need to share bedrooms anymore -- very understandable). Anyway, I'm moving into a very dorm-ish frat for the summer. I think I'm going to start looking for places for the fall very soon..

Unfortunately, the building manager at my new place has not shown himself to be very reliable. In the past few days, the place seems to look more and more like a dump, too.. I suppose that could be my mood, too.

This move is really bothering me, even though I'm only moving a few blocks. Mostly, I think I won't be able to see Sarah much anymore. On the other hand, she works three days a week at the building next to mine, so maybe we'll go out to lunch every once in a while. Oh well, I'm probably just overreacting..

I need to get back home for a little while, take a break from Minneapolis..