Saturday, September 29, 2007

The appearance and reality of impropriety..

Lawdog, in his recent post on professionalism, highlights one level of inappropriate behavior that undermines good LE sorts everywhere...and apparently some sort of karmic floodgate was opened, when what do I run into but the rant blog regarding what sounds like a rather nasty situation in St Louis ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Don't know quite what to do with this one - I just got the first blogvertisement/semi-spam, and I don't know if (just this once) I'll refrain from deleting it. I'm a sentimentalist, you see, and the product in question and some of its related IP tools were good friends of mine in my first IT kind of job - and while I'm mostly operating from the command line these days (there's just something warm and fuzzy and comforting about having it all out there in front of god and everyone where you can easily track back, step by step, error-hunting as opposed to the occasional "wtf did the client do" moment...command line enforces a certain precision), I remember the clients fondly and think that for folks who aren't either geeks or aspiring geeks, that gui clients that just make it all automagically happen, are just dandy...and sometimes even for geeks and geek wannabe's.

On other notes, I'm just not a drinker these days, so going out clubbing without good company rapidly grows boring at best and annoying at worst - particularly as I find I have less patience for the cliche's and the club bunnies with every passing year.

Dinner with a friend, good live music (I'm still trying to get to this blues club I've heard of down on the waterfront), and making the effort to try and think kindly of those as may, from time to time, annoy me as the years pass seems more satisfying these days than many of the other options out there.

Could be that maturity is setting in, or I've simply sinned with enough vigor and variety that in the immortal worlds of Lili von Schtupp ("Blazing Saddles") I'm just tired....

Lili von Schtupp - "I'm Tired"

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On the other hand, I did have a great weekend hanging out with a friend perhaps I'm not *entirely* grown up yet :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FTP, a couple o' thoughts...

Once upon a time neither 'net, blogs, nor e-mail existed. Neither laptop nor desktop computer graced the land, and such computers as existed filled rooms and used funny shaped paper cards with holes punched in them to get information in and out of the behemoths - and someone to carry the boxes from computer to computer. Big boxes.

This quickly grew tiresome, and lo. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was born, a way to send information over a wire in a standard/predictable fashion that folks at the far end could predictably and reliably read - a fax machine for computers. FTP was and is a manual (do it by hand) way of doing things, without any (in the modern sense) servers to handle fancy things like addresses - if you want to send it someplace you put in the address yourself!

The first e-mail was simply very small FTP transfers between machines - Bob in Seattle making a copy of a note on an engineering spec to Billy Joe in Atlanta and sending it along with the engineering logic. That sort of thing.

Pretty quickly, however, folks figured out that just leaving a file for someone to stumble across and read at their convenience (or when prompted by a phone call) was pretty much for the birds, and the beginnings of modern e-mail wafted up from the depths of ingenuity.

Still...e-mail was always for quick/small messages - not for serious file sending. Even today, with larger hard drives and file size limits, most e-mail servers will choke up at attached files over 1mb (megabyte) in size, or not long after, size-wise.

FTP remains, for all its' age and kludginess, with it's cousin SFTP (Secure FTP), pretty much king of the pile for moving big files like pictures and sound files back and forth - or moving an entire hard drive across country - just start up the FTP session, point the files you want moved at their destination, and go away while it automagically happens. You can get fancier, but that's the fundamentals.

And really, with modern clients and servers, FTP isn't all that kludgy - it's just another tool we've got (the battleaxe compared to the scalpel) to move information back and forth, reliably and far faster than big boxes of paper. Heh.

Just thought I'd mention it, as some of us do share pics of kids and grandkids and cool guns and neat toys - and start beating our heads against the e-mail size limits at some point, either just bot being able to send what we want, or our account fills up and bogs down - neither of which bites you in FTP.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Latest News

Things are better on a number of fronts - whilst I'm still on (conceivably somewhat infectious) from direct hospital visits, I am improving nicely due to the twin blessings of steroids and anti-virals in conquering the vast annoyance that is Bell's Palsy. Have most of my face back under my control now, and consider this a real benefit.

Dad is doing better, from reports - I'm hearing he's on the respirator part time while he's fighting off an infection, but despite a challenged swallow reflex and the tracheotomy, he is more alert and has better color than he has had in some time.

Off in the wonderful world of work, well, I'm learning lots and my eagerness to learn has gone a whole week without being a tight rope stretched across the the hallway for myself and other, more innocent sorts, to trip over and and do the concrete hug.

Presently, I'm re-exploring after some time away from it, basic linux bash scripting - or "how to make it all happen automagically" in relationship to some otherwise very tedious tasks that because of their scheduling and very tedium, tend to generate human error.

This week, things are looking up, and today I get to clean out the garage!! Wallrat and another friend will be over to help load and keep me out of trouble, and a trip to the dump will be made. And perhaps a trip to storage. And a barter trip with the rental van to pick up a futon for friend #2.

Freedom isn't free...

Occasionally, I'll read something, and it will sit and gnaw at me for a couple of weeks or months until I can formulate some kind of response or somehow make sense of it.

Thus it was when an individual I respect as both a writer and an individual knocked out a piece attempting to carve out an exception to MYOB for seatbelts and motorcycle helmets. I could easily, softy that I am, see the humanitarian and fiscal sides of state intervention in requiring vehicle operators to ensure that they and all passengers wear seatbelts while an enclosed vehicle is in operation, and helmets when a motorcycle-style rig is in action.

The fiscal and humanitarian arguments spoke to me, orating on the horrific human and financial costs of brain-injured survivors and the needlessly deceased - formerly contributing members of society struck down in their prime, immediately reduced from functioning parent/child/caregiver/citizen/etc to dead or dependent for a lifetime of intense care.

Yet something troubled me about the regulatory approach, and initially I thought it might simply be that I get twitchy around the word "regulatory". Most regulation, after all, emerges from an honest (if misguided) belief by the originator(s) that a given problem can be resolved or prevented through careful regulatory application of the dead hand of the state - regardless of the said regulations real world effects after the law of unintended consequences kicks in.

For the classic horrible example with which most are familiar, Carrie Nation and her Temperance league were not setting about prohibiting alcohol as a means of promoting criminality and organized crime.

Though many laugh at them today, they saw before them the very real problem of addiction (to alcohol, in this instance) and its' effects on the alcoholic, the alcoholics family, and those in the vicinity of the out of control alcoholic - and made the logical leap that if they could remove the implement of addiction (alcohol) that all would be well with the world, as the addict would be deprived of the EEEEEVIIIIIIILLLL substance that turned them into a beast.

Didn't quite work out that way. Left, I think, a lot of us rather twitchy about the whole concept of regulation and unintended consequences. Supply, meet Demand, and his cousin, Greed.

More recently, the "War on Drugs" and the latest of the genre (the incipient "War on Tobacco") are in the process of working out about as well. There are many producers and suppliers of illicit recreational substances that, should they contemplate such things, are immensely grateful for the unintentional price supports for their products provided by the laws within the United States, and our fine nations tireless efforts to export those laws abroad.

All of which brings me back to my contemplation of honestly well-intended laws requiring seat belts and helmets. I suppose my take is that, hard-hearted as it may seem, the spectre of state intervention has sufficient historic downsides that I can get really supportive of educational efforts, but oppose governmental punitive measures with equal alacracity because of their tendency to backfire and splatter unintended consequences all over the landscape.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

And so it goes...

Woke up last Weds with what felt like a bug bite or a hive slightly off-center on my back, and was quite bothersome as I dealt with that as my workplace presented high adventure. A rash spread out to about 2" or so, but I thought nothing of it...


Sunday, I woke and about mid-day discovered my left eye was "blinking funny" and not closing properly. After much suggesting I was over-reacting, I nonetheless called the insurance nurse line where an RN walked me through and suggested that Bell's Palsy and shingles were possible, and that I should call the on-call doctor. I did, and he basically said don't panic, see someone in the morning.

I made an appointment for 10:45 the next morning. But as I was in the office, a co-worker pointed out my left face was if I'd visited the dentist. I'd noticed some tingling, but since I had an appointment anyway...but given my Dad's recent adventures, was seriously distressed about potential stroke issues...

Got going, went to Dr. early, he saw me, and sure enough - Bell's Palsy with shingles (thankfully mild, thus far) for salsa. Also had a little lecture for me about appropriate use of the ER...

Summarized as "if bilateral symmetry goes wrong, get your ass to the phone, call 911 or make someone do so, and don't muck about - and don't try and drive yourself - and don't listen to anyone that tells ya otherwise!"

Heh. I suppose I do take the butch thing a little far...hopefully the Bell's will resolve favorably.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A few brief thoughts

It's late, so I'll keep it short. Others have covered the "remembrance" aspect of 9/11 far better than I hope to, and at far greater depth...thus, another path.

I remember the wonder as a child of going with my father to the airport to wave goodbye as he departed for, and returned from, his many business trips. He always brought Planters Peanuts for my brother and I from the flight on the trips home, and every visit to the airport was precious watching the miracle of those great big planes taking off and landing. For years, whenever I traveled, a bit of that wonder remained with me every time I flew or picked up friends at the airport.

I remember privacy, the aftermath of the freedom of speech movement (that miraculous time when it seemed one could say anything without fear of a federal agent turning up to chat), a time when our national pride was in resurgence.

I remember the day when it began to crumble, when out of fear and a need to appear to be doing something our leaders gladly passed the abomination of the Patriot Acts.

I miss flying and being met by friends and family at the gate. I miss not having to carry ID and the spontaneity of ticket counter sales. I miss the checks and balances of competing agency interests prior to the mutant stepchild of Homeland Security. I miss bookstores and libraries who didn't have to worry about getting "National Security Letters" to cough up your reading habits because someone needed to look busy.

I am a firm believer in "you break it, you bought it" - we clearly needed to have a little chat with Afghanistan after 9/11. I am less sure of the need for our chat with Iraq, beyond the eternal truth that it is better to squash the villains whilst they are small and have not yet precipitated multi-continental conflicts. I am sure, in both instances, we went in (necessarily or not, an argument for another day) and stomped some rather bad folk, and in the process busted up the allegorical bar.

Honor requires we pay the barkeep. We need to commit the troops and treasure to restore both nations to a condition where they are at least vaguely self-sufficient, and not terribly much worse off than prior to our arrival, sans a few missing villains who will likely be replaced by eager volunteers.

We lost lives on 9/11 in as big a peacetime tragedy as I believe we've seen in the U.S. - but then we got busy about it, and threw a lot of what makes life worth living as an American away. "May I see your papers please? Do you have a permit to chance your residence or travel?"

Thompson for President. Perhaps he can slow the slippery slide to perdition.