November 25, 2009

Driving to Work

Begrudgingly, I may have to start driving to work. Even with a wreck on 495 this morning delaying traffic near the interchange, I was still in to work 15 minutes early, and I even stopped at the McDonald's drivethrough for a cup of hot chocolate on my way in. In the rain and the dark and I still shaved a half hour off my commute by driving to work, who'd have thunk? Getting off base yesterday was no big deal either, even though it looks bad as a pedestrian, it added maybe 10 minutes in reality.

Got home and went to the gym yesterday to do my cardio....I'm up to about 370 calories per 30 minutes - working myself a bit harder each week. It's a shame the gym I go to doesn't have punching bags or something besides the leg-based cardio machines. I'd like to mix up the workout a bit - maybe burn some big calories for jumping around. Somewhere in my garage there's a racquetball racquet I should dig out.

I think I may have figured out what I want for Christmas, a Glock 17C. I fired the 19 over the weekend and I wasn't as happy with it as the 17 from the week before. I definitely like feel of firing the 9mm rounds, but the smaller pistol doesn't fill my hands as well. I just need to buy a gun safe for the house, and then I'll probably buy it - even if I decide not to keep it in the long run - the resale value should allow me to save some money at the range on ammunition over the next year.

November 16, 2009

Virtual Labs and Virtual PC

I had Virtual PC 2007 up and running for my lab PC at home, and it's been quite a while since I've used it. Over the weekend, I logged onto Microsoft's site and see that the current version of Virtual PC is only supported for Windows 7 installs. Sigh, where does the time go? It was only yesterday when I upgraded the family server to WinXP Pro. Of course, my mutifunction printer probably won't have compatible drivers again, leading me down the whole equipment upgrade path.

I've considered using VirtualBox instead but recall some networking issue from the last time. I also have to find a distro to play with, as Im pretty sure I havent kept the lab VM up to date. There's about 10 different projects I want to work on, some graphical, some not.

Well, just rambling on..nothing to read here.

November 14, 2009

SPAM and Email Addresses

Every now and again I have to go and create a new email address. My old addresses get overrun with SPAM, because I'm not good about keeping my private life separated from my online life. These marketers just sell your email address to anybody, who then resell your address to someone else, and so on and so on.

It makes email a pointless way to try to contact anyone for anything important, because your message will just be lost in a sea of hopeless JU$T BUY C14LIS!! crap that's flooding the person's box.

I even have fairly effective anti-spam software that does a fairly good job of separating the wheat from the chaff...but I fear having to pick up my mail after a week of not reading it. I just downloaded 746 email messages, of which I want to read maybe 2. I'll have to filter through about 50 that the filters don't pick up either.

I'm going to change the way that I deal with email. I'm going to create a whitelist for the email that I want to get, and create a filter that dumps it into one folder, and then ignore the Inbox. Email needs to go more the way of how Facebook and other social networks work where you have to befriend someone to send them a message.

Fun Day with Junior

We started off at the small arms range. We rented a 9mm and fired off 100 rounds of ammo at 15 and 22 yards. Only one silhouette miss in the 2 boxes of ammo. At 22 yards, I don't see how or why I would be using a pistol to shoot someone at that range. If someone is that far away from me, I'd be more interested in breaking off contact than trying to hit them with a pistol round. Although I haven't made a decision on whether I want to break down and buy a pistol, it was a great deal of fun hitting the targets today. If I do want to keep shooting, it might be less expensive to have my own firearm, though - at $10 for the rental and having to buy ammo from the gunshop at $20.+ a box, I could probably save some bucks if I'm going to make a habit of the range. Of course, then I also need a gun safe for the house....but I could get a gun I like - pros/cons, etc...

Then off to lunch at Johnny Rockets, where I had a burger and fries - and my son had a big old double. The waitress drew little smiley faces in the ketchup trays she handed to us, and lunch was very filling and came in under $20 for both of us. We stopped at the movie theater, but there really was nothing that we 'had' to see enough to justify the price of the ticket.

From there we went shopping for some simple consumer goods at a local conglomerate. I bought some cheap DVDs and a new belt.

Then we went to my FAVORITE place - the bookstore. We bought some books and a magazine (with a DVD in it) and one of those Entertainment coupon books. I'm looking forward to reading Hakin9 magazine, as I've never seen it before and it looks interesting. One of the books we got was a history of guns, one of those big books that are always on sale. My son is upstairs devouring that one and a big Astronomy book. On the way home he told me he wants to take Astronomy instead of Physics for his senior year - even after I told him he'd still be learning physics, he still seemed genuinely interested in taking the alternative course. I'm actually pretty happy about him being interested in a hard science.

My New Body

Those of you who know me know that since the end of July, I have been working out, going to the gym on an almost daily basis (6 times a week most weeks) and have been burning down some serious calories. However, most of the people that I know don't see me very often, if at all. I'd like to make the change a little more real to them. I have lost 5 inches on my waist. I have lost close to 30 pounds. My body shape has turned upside down from a beer bellied old man to a triangle-shaped middle-aged guy. I was just looking in the mirror, and I am having a hard time getting over myself.

For those of you who don't know me - this is a big deal. I haven't been under 200 pounds since 17 years ago. I intend to tip the scale at under 200 this week. How did I do it? I'll tell you my secret. No, it's not acai berries. No, it's not Scardsdale, Atkins or South Beach. It was just that I DECIDED TO DO IT. I COMMITTED TO IT AND I STUCK WITH IT. You can do it too. A good buddy of mine told me that there's three ways to lose weight - eat less, move more or both. Am I eating less? Yes - but not how you'd think. I've had three slices of pumpkin pie this week. I've snacked on M&Ms. In fact, I am eating less, but only because I'm paying attention to what I'm putting in my mouth. I don't sit and idly eat a canister of cashews while I'm at work. I've replaced mindless snacking with conscious eating. When I eat, I pay attention to what I'm doing.

Am I moving more? You betcha - I joined a gym, and I track my workouts and my calories burned on the treadmill. I burn down about 20 ice-cream sundaes a month according to my logs. 30 minutes a day of cardio, and then another 30 or more of weight lifting.

If you REALLY want to lose weight - here's a free diet plan for you. EAT LESS, MOVE MORE - 3500 calories per pound - the math isn't that hard, and the first 10 pounds are easy as hell. Drink lots of water...and enjoy a new you.

November 11, 2009

More About the Crime and Punishment Museum

They had two police simulators there - one was a driving simulator where you get to pull someone over, and end up crashing your patrol cruiser into their car instead. Making turns at high speeds, it's easy to get out of control. The simulator gives you this wierd feeling of vertigo as it has three big screens, and when you brake, the screen dips with the slowing of the car, so you feel like you're moving, but your inner ear is saying 'what the hell?' the whole time.

The other simulator was more interesting. It was a simulator of a police tactical raid on a residence, where you're part of a tactical team and you need to watch out for the bad guy with the weapon trained on you, and take them out. As the raid proceeds on this wall-sized projection, your body starts to believe the simulation. The lighting is just right and the camera movement is very natural as you get into the move and clear rhythm of the tactical team. As I held the pistol out, I could physically feel my body beginning to pump out extra adrenaline. It was a very tense minute or two until the ending, when my wife and I took out the bad guy at the end. Both of us tagged the bad guy with a double-tap, but I guess I squeezed off a third round that I missed with. I honestly don't remember pulling that trigger a third time - the adrenaline was definitely messing with my perceptions.

Crime and Punishment

My wife and I went to the Crime and Punishment museum in Washington, DC today. I had seen the museum ad on the back of a bus in the city, and it's been bugging me to go there. I wanted to see the forensics exhibits at the museum and the visit turned out to be educational. They had an exhibit discussing reality vs. TV in forensics, which I thought was pretty cool because I know that Hollywood is always fucking up the computer field when they dramatize it for TV. It was nice to know that my career field isn't the only one with its mouth agape staring at the TV thinking 'What the HELL are they doing?' while watching NCIS or Law and Order.

I probably shouldn't rag on NCIS. They try to get the tech right, but it's definitely dramatized for the viewer. Other shows are much worse, and movies are just outrageous. It turns out that forensics is a very sensitive science and that evidence examination isn't quite as expedient as they would lead you to believe. DNA testing, for example, can take days just for a preliminary match and even longer to be sure.

Afterwards, we hit up the District Chophouse and Brewery which is next door to the museum. The calamari appetizer was a meal in and of itself. I had a sirloin tips salad that was probably healthier for me, but ended up eating almost half of my wife's calamari to help her with it...yum. They have the brew vats upstairs, but I didn't take the time to go check out the brewery as we had to get back home.

All in all, it was nice having a day off work to go into town. I find that we're doing more things together without the child. I hope this is a good, slow adjustment back into life together as a couple as he grows wings and leaves the nest over the next few years.

November 10, 2009

Why PowerPoint sucks

Well, maybe it's not the software product itself. In fact, for presentation software it's pretty good at what it does. The problem is how people use it. I had some introductory briefings today, and there was some serious PowerPoint abuse going on. Let's go with my two favorite pet peeves for Powerpointers.

First is the guy who shows PPT slides and then proceeds to read them to the audience, word for word. The whole speech, I'm thinking to myself that it'd be a hell of a lot faster if he just flipped up the slides and said, "Here, read this", the gave us a minute. In fact, I'd have been much happier, since I appear to have better reading skills than him. As he mispronounced half of his slides, I got the impression he was giving someone else's briefing. The was no expansion of the ideas on the slides...none. Why waste my time with 30 minutes of this? I was so distracted, I can't remember what his brief was about...something about how to report sexual assault incidents.

This brings about pet peeve #2. Several of the slides in the many briefs today presented important numbers, hyperlinks, pin codes. But the slides weren't handouts. Why would you present information-rich vital data in presentation form on screen without handing the info out? For important take-aways, like the question list for bomb threats, there should be a handout - maybe a 3x5 card..not an onscreen slide. Even if I am taking notes, copying your slide is going to slow down your briefing.

PowerPoint presentations should be a tool in a presenters toolkit that helps cement concepts in the audience's mind. The briefing belongs on your notecards, not on the screen. If you have no audio-visual aids that add to or punctuate your talk, turn off the projector and engage your the last briefer in today's slides, just engaging talk.

All day orientation

It's going to be a long day at work today. I have an all day Orientation briefing. With the sleep debt built up from Sunday, I'm going to have a hard time staying awake. It might take some caffeine, or even standing in the back of the room. I'm not sure of the benefits of 4 hour briefings to cover material that has already been learned though being on the job. Different people learn in different ways, and long meetings just chew up productive time to attempt to teach at a slow pace. I much prefer high-speed information delivery at a pace I can control, like CBTs. The only use for in-person training is when we have a two-way street with the instructor.

November 09, 2009

Commuting Sucks

Did I mention that commuting sucks? I leave the house and get to work an hour and a half later. Part of my commute is on the metro which, while cleaner than some other cities, is sometimes a pretty smelly endeavour. Most of the time is spent on the train, but I still 'slug' a ride into the city as an HOV extra. This has saved me a good deal of gas money, and makes the commute shorter than it could be. Still, 3 hours of my life just to get to/from work. I've had to cut down on my gym workout just to fit it into my day. And commuting isn't just time, it's boring. If it was at least just one mode of transport, I could sleep..but that's a bad idea when you could miss your stop.

Of course, I've plenty to fill the time with. This blog post is a good example, written on the third leg of today's journey, and posted to my blog via email once we get to a cell coverage metro stop. I also have my CISSP credits to catch up on. At this rate, I'll be ahead of the curve for next year.

November 08, 2009

Worked on Sunday

It's been a while since I did a weekend system maintenance thing - It's interesting working technical stuff again - I had prepared a script and some patches for a VMWare patch set (VMWare ESX 3.5) to run this weekend, and put them in the /tmp directory on the host. So, I logged in to run the script and 'WTF!!!', the patches and my script were gone....who would have deleted my stuff? I questioned the two suspects that I work with ("Little Red" and "Mr. Laid Back"), but neither of them were the culprit. I had to go and download the patches again and go through and make sure I installed them in the right order (only to mess up the file names while I was doing that, which Red caught for me).

Later I went online and found this post [cached from Google]. For all the things that we know, there is so much in IT that we don't, and it's the details that will get you. Not a big deal this time - just some added time but I'll be changing where I put that script in the future.

November 07, 2009

Firing Line

Went to the range today..It was fun teaching my wife and son to shoot. We fired a rental pistol, .22 caliber - just to get familiar with the weapon and the feel of firing a pistol. I'm not bad with a rifle, and this weapon is not much different. The pistol sights were badly off. I had fairly good grouping, even out at 20 yards, but the left-right sight adjustment needed to be tuned, A LOT! Rather than adjust it, we lived with it and just aimed left, but at 20 yards, I was aiming completely off-target just to hit the center of mass.

I also shake badly. With a pistol, and firing at the range, I'm not familiar with more stable positions, so we were firing double-arms up, cross-body or straight on. The shake made it nigh impossible for me to have any kind of sight alignment. :wiggle:wiggle:wiggle:

But, we had fun. I shot off probably 150 rounds today and my wife and son about 50 and 100 each. I took them each separately to keep my sanity. It's nice that the range is so close by.