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shockme (2685)

  {shock} {at} {}
AOL IM: stephenhargrove (Add Buddy, Send Message)

If you really must have more information about me, see my home node [] at PerlMonks [] or my journal [] at

Journal of shockme (2685)

Wednesday December 10, 2003
11:24 PM


I stumbled across a blurb in the most recent Debian Weekly News about Bruce Perens' UserLinux. The discussion list is already pretty active. It sounds like an interesting project. I think I'll keep an eye on it and see where it leads ...

Tuesday December 09, 2003
06:01 PM

A Question Regarding a CGI script

Consider the following script:

use strict;
use CGI qw(param);

$user_name = param(UserName);
$email_addy = param(EmailAddy);
$comments = param(Comments);

open(SENDMAIL, "| sendmail -oi -t") or die "Can't fork for sendmail: $!\n";
From: $email_addy
To: joe\
Subject: Message from $user_name

$user_name ($email_addy) has sent you the following:





Other than flooding Joe's inbox, can you think of any way that this script could be abused? More specifically, is it possible to abuse this script to send email to someone other than Joe?

Posted from, comment here.

Monday December 08, 2003
11:21 PM

Perl Advent / PS2 / Scotch

I finally got around to putting the Perl Advent Calendar RDF on my (e) journal. Very cool ... and now I don't have to fret about forgetting about it.

Justin and I finished Medal of Honor Rising Sun (cooperative mode) tonight. It's a very fun game, although the cooperative mode is a little short. I'm psych'd to see cooperative mode finally taking off on the PS2, and I'm really looking forward to the time when cooperative mode is the primary focus, with solo mode eating the short sheet.

So, having conquered WW2, we moved on to SOCOM 2: US Navy SEALs, which (absent network capability -- coming soon to a Christmas tree near me) doesn't have a cooperative mode. Justin bored quickly, but I played it long enough to satisfy my curiosity. It looks like they've really done a bang-up job on this one. Very deep, and very involved. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with it.

Given Justin's quick dismissal of SOCOM 2, we moved on to Time Splitters 2. The graphics leave much to be desired, but it's a fast moving, fun game. Tonight we conquered Siberia, 1990. Tomorrow, we invade Chicago circa 1932. I dig Chi-Town.

While fragging our way through Siberia, I took about 7 telephone calls/pages from the office. We're having cooling problems on a few of our servers, and one's NIC keeps dying. Disabling and re-enabling it does the trick. I'm betting I get paged during the night and have to drive to the office. Grrr....

If you've never tried it, I highly recommend Scotch and Sprite. Aim for a 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 ratio between the Scotch and the Sprite. It's a staple around my house - and when I say "my house", I mean "me" (although Lori does enjoy them, too). Good stuff. You won't regret it.

Posted from, comment here.

Sunday December 07, 2003
03:09 PM

Safety Nets

Lubbock, Texas is one of many places that can safely be considered to not be technologically advanced. Job opportunities in a technical field, such as system administrators, programmers, and the like are few and far between.

So, employers tend to be somewhat ... hardnosed, I guess. I've heard several of my supervisors make statements along the lines of "I understand his concerns, but what's he going to do? It's not like he's going to quit and find another job around here."


What they seem to forget is that I am not in that boat. I was a programmer, then obtained my law degree and practiced as an attorney for about 5 years, and am now working as a system administrator. By choice. I made the conscious decision to leave the legal field and re-enter the computer field, because I absolutely love working with computers. But I hate rubbing elbows with assholes, bureaucrats and employers who are convinced they have the upper hand in all situations.

I can just as easily "unmake" my decision. I put a pencil to it the other day, and I figure that I could quit my job, re-open my practice, and completely replace my current income within 3 - 5 months. Within a year, I could almost double my current income.

I think I'm going to voice this the next time one my leaders spouts off. I really want to see the looks on their faces when they realize what they have apparently forgotten: I have a safety net. I'm here because I chose to be here. Not because I had nowhere else to turn. And when it comes to the terms of my employment, I don't have to eat whatever scraps they choose to throw my way.

Posted from, comment here.

Thursday December 04, 2003
10:56 PM

Confusion ... Moreso Than Usual

Well, I've finally done it. I've thought about laptops to the point that I've managed to confuse myself beyond concentration.

How important do you think technical support for a laptop is? Myself, I know diddle about repairing a laptop. They're damned near impossible.

But how much would you pay for hardware support? I'm looking at a deal that's $1,850.00 without support, because this particular laptop is used. A whole 3 weeks old, but used nonetheless. And the technical/hardware support contract is non-transferable.

The comparable new model is $3,600.00 or so, but includes a few things the other doesn't:

  • 3 years hardware/technical support (vs. 0 on the used);
  • 1Gb of RAM (vs. 512Mb on the used);
  • DVD-RW / CD-RW (vs. DVD/CD-RW on the used);
  • Wireless support and wired networking (vs. wired networking only on the used);
  • 16" UXGA (vs. 15" UXGA on the used);
  • An extra battery;
  • An extra AC adapter.

So, that's $1,800 for what would cost me about $700 (ballpark) to add to the used, which means technical/hardware support is going to cost me about $1,000.00 - $1,100.00.

Good Lord. I'm so confused. I mean, $1,000 is ton of dough to me. But if I go the $1,850.00 used model, where do I turn if the thing goes tits up on day 2?

Posted from, comment here.

Tuesday December 02, 2003
11:39 PM

Alienware and eBay

Alienware apparently has some sort of hard-on for sellers on eBay. Today, I've witnessed probably 20 or so different auctions canceled, and many of the active auctions contain pleas to not cancel the auction. Most of the non-canceled auctions contain disclaimers that the seller isn't associated with Alienware and the purchase of said item will not include technical support.

Which is a problem for me. I mean, I understand Alienware's position, and they're perfectly within their right to not allow the technical support to be transferable. However, when you're spending $1,500 - $2,000 on hardware, that warm, fuzzy feeling that you have a safety net in the event the system goes tits-up on Day 2 is pretty nice to have ...

Laptops ... Man, that's a mixed bag. On one hand, I'd love to have one. On the other hand, I'd never get a moment's rest because I'd always have the thing with me ...

Here's what I'd really like to have:

  • 15" - 16" Active matrix, preferably 1600 x 1200 resolution
  • 1 Gb RAM
  • NVidia or ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 with a minimum of 64mb RAM
  • Somewhere close to a 3GHz processor
  • DVD/CD-RW (preferably DVD-RW)
  • 40 - 60 Gb hard drive, ATA100, with 8Mb cache
  • USB and Firewire port(s)
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • An open bay for an extra battery, optical drive, etc.
  • 100% Soundblaster compatible soundcard

Oh, and it absolutely must be Linux-friendly. Debian all the way, baby.

And Alienware seems to fit the bill.

Anyone have any experience with used Alienware laptops, eBay purchases of Alienware laptops, or advice concerning that I'm way off base along with other suggestions?

I'm really chomping at the bit ... such a bad sign ... and yet so right ...

Posted from, comment here.

Monday December 01, 2003
07:27 PM

When $friend != $friend

What do you say to a guy who goes on and on and on ... ad nauseum ... about the fact that we (he and I) never spend time together anymore. How we really need to get together more often, etc., etc., etc. And then, when he knows you'll be in town for 4 days, and knows how to get in touch with you, when it's been made clear that all he has to do is pick up the phone and he absolutely agrees to call ... and doesn't.

I say you don't say a thing. Just move on and count yourself fortunate to have so easily identified someone who is, at best, an acquaintance.

If only I'd let it go years ago ... I've lost so much time over this guy.

Every time he has a problem, I'm the first to hear about it. And I spend hours on the phone - or face-to-face - talking with him, listening, etc. Every time he needs a shoulder, I'm the one he calls. Every time he needs anything, it's me.

And I have unconditionally been there for him. To the extent of opening my home to him, offering him room and board, feeding him, whatever the situation called for. I have always been there, regardless of the circumstances. I have actually lost favor with other people and countless opportunities, simply because I insisted on devotion to a friend.

But when it comes to just hanging out, being together, doing "friend" stuff, well ... he's got "family commitments", or "emergencies", or [insert convenient excuse here]. Oh sure, he can hang for an hour, if I'm willing to come pick him up. Nevermind that it'll take me 20 minutes to drive to his place ...

It took me until this weekend to really see it, but I'm nothing more than a convenience. And that kind of hurts. I always considered him a brother, but I guess it's my own damned fault.

I'll live.

Posted from, comment here.

Wednesday November 26, 2003
04:54 PM

So Long, Danny

Danny Cepero.

I've known him almost as long as I've known anyone. A tall guy, on the heavy side, with a firm handshake, and a round face and a smile that screams "gentle, friendly guy inside".

Faithful and loving. Gentle and caring. Devoted. As a pediatrician, he quietly reassured nervous and upset parents. And they knew, on some level within themselves, that he cared as deeply for their children as he did his own.

When he wasn't at work, he was with his family -- although he could occasionally be tempted to go see a movie with a friend. His family rested comfortably in the knowledge of his dedication and commitment to them.

One wife. Two young children.

His friends knew they could count on him. His word was his bond. Dependable. Reliable. He was always there, through thick and thin, ready to listen and forever refusing to judge harshly.

Quick to laugh. Slow to anger. He was one of the good guys.

43 years old.

Last night, November 25, 2003, at approximately 11:00PM CST, Danny died.

No one had a clue. No one saw it coming. No one ... knew. He was supposed to be well. The doctors said he would be okay ... And just like that - blink - he was gone.

So long, Danny. Old friend ... I'll miss you forever.

Posted from, comment here.

Tuesday November 25, 2003
06:59 PM

Simplicity Made Difficult

It's the old "Oh hell, you've done what I said and not what I meant" scenario.

It started off simple enough. Boss Man sends me several documents and says he wants them "automated". By this, he means that he wants me to create HTML forms where people can enter the information rather than filling out a paper form. I talk to him about it for a bit, and we arrive at an understanding. Basically, I just need to present the form, do a little data validation, and when finished, present the form in a printable format.

So off I go. I grab the first form, convert it to a template, and write up a simple script to present the form, do some basic validation, etc. Basically, just what he said he wanted.

(Surely you can see this one coming ...)

No, no, no. This needs to validate against the Systems database and cross reference against any affected systems. If the user says the form relates to an Exchange server, it needs to be smart enough to create a cross reference entry for every fucking Exchange server we have. Same for Sendmail, Linux, Windows NT, 2000, 2003, etc. And, any time we bring up a system on the Systems database, we should be able to see and access all of the forms related to it.

Basically, it needs to be tightly integrated into a system that doesn't even exist yet. Huh?

I'm sure, at some level, this is all my fault ... like when I accepted employment at this institution ...

Posted from, comment here.

Monday November 24, 2003
05:44 PM

As T-Day Approaches, So Does Burn-out

I can feel burn-out creeping up on me like cold death. And just as unwelcome, too. It's a good thing this is a short week with a long weekend. I need it.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a laptop rather than a second workstation at the house. I think I'll stick with the workstation. If I had a laptop, I'd be too tempted to take it with me on vacations/holidays, and I'd never get a break. I know myself too well in this regard.

What I really need is my PS2 replaced/repaired. I could really go for some good ol' fashioned fraggin' tonight ...

Posted from, comment here.