Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why I became a Contractor in New York City

I didn't plan to become a contractor. I was working for Allarus Technology Management up until about two months ago. Allarus is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and deals exclusively with Small Business Server. Even though I dislike SBS, I knew that for some small businesses it will do the job. What I didn't know is that Allarus would take a company with 40 employees and perform a "swing migration", which is taking a normal Active Directory structure and then migrating it to a single Small Business Server. Effectively throwing all their IT eggs into one basket.

In an intelligent setup for a company's IT infrastructure, you try and design the schema to be a fault tolerant as their budget will support. This means making sure that if one thing breaks, it will affect the least amount of services. This is remarkable easy to do as long as you don't rely on Microsoft to provide all of your IT needs.

Allarus had me install a Cisco 1822 firewall/IPS/Router and then disable all the functionality of the Cisco device and use it only to route all traffic to the ISA server component of SBS premium. This was a true test of my ability to work for morons. Moving all services onto the one computer meant that if the server went down for any reason (rebooting after installing a monthly security patch, hardware failure, etc) The clients would not only lose their ability to use the services running on the server, but would also lose the ability to use the (IP) phones and browse the internet.

I voiced my opinion of this configuration and they told me to "just do my job". I consider my job to be to make sure that the clients can do their work and have the most stable and secure system possible. Sine I was prevented from doing this by orders from the owner, decided that I didn't want my name associated with such a shitty setup, I told my boss what I thought of his network designs and how he could clean them up. Anyways, that's how I became unemployed and a contractor in NYC.

tomorrow's installment: The life of a Contractor in NYC

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Study finds that stupid studies can kill people!

from: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn10380&feedId=online-news_rss20

Nicotine given to intensive care patients to ease their withdrawal from cigarettes may put them at a greater risk of death than going "cold turkey", researchers say.

A preliminary study of more than 200 smokers placed in intensive care suggests they are better off simply enduring withdrawal symptoms than receiving nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).


Ok, first off I should state that I am a smoker. I know its bad for me, but I have 4 reasons for doing this which can be found in a future post.

Back to the story. It turns out the strange part of this clinical study is that it reveals why we have so many malpractice deaths. What did Bekele Afessa and his fellow geniuses at the Mayo clinic think would happen when they slapped a deadly poison onto patients? They "expected to find that patients comforted by (NRT) fare better than smokers who do not receive it".

Now I listened to someone who saw Patch Adams and know about the healing power of comedy, but methinks its not the laughing-at-you variety of comedy that heals. This study was way over the line. Speaking of which it takes 1000 mg of cocaine to kill you and only 40 mg of nicotine for a lethal dose. but these guys are doctors, not mathematicians.

Oh well, at least the Mayo clinic isn't revered as one of the best hospitals in America or anything, and hey when Rob Reiner wants a study, Rob Reiner gets a study ;-)

My sister did a great presentation at UMBC about the statistics involved in hurricane forecasting

check it out: http://www.math.umbc.edu/~estanwy1/presentation2.ppt

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dude on religion:

The first religious text that I memorized back to front was Deities and Demigods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deities_and_Demigods) This may explain a lot, but I digress. I always wondered why Christian, Muslim, and Jewish beliefs weren't covered in the Good Book. I set out to find out about the big three, and where they came from.

I knew that most religions were formed in order to help maintain a civil society and to answer the Big Questions, namely; where do we come from and where do we go after we die. The smarter tribal elders answered these questions with, what at the time must have been a stroke of genius: Two more questions that every hairless ape had asked themselves: what is that big glowing ball of fire in the sky, and what are the millions of shiny points in the sky at night.

A lot of early belief systems were solar based. Sun worship is perfectly logical when answering the Big Questions of past generations:

BQ1 : Where do we come from?
A1 : God, AKA the big ball of fire in the sky

BQ2 : What happens to us after we die?
A2 : You live on forever with God in heaven, as one of the points of light we see in the sky.

The first philosophy actually holds true, even after the application of science. The sun is required for the continued survival of most life on our planet, so "creator of all things" isn't too far off base. There I go digressing again ;-)

If the sun worship Q/A idea made sense, then all I needed to do was to tie Judaism into this, which would then wrap up the explanation of origin for the Muslim and Christian faiths as well. Add that to the fact that Hindu and other polytheist belief systems are easily traceable to their Deities being aspects of living on the planet and of human nature. On top of that, we further add the fact that Buddhism is based on a respect for nature and observation of the living world. Now you have the sum which forms a picture of where all religions came from and some of the reasons they were invented. Sound stupid to you? Well this is what happens when you aren't brainwashed as a small child and still wonder about religion.

Back to the Jews... Jews count the years by a lunar calendar, and obviously don't have an AD in it. In the Jewish calendar 2006 corresponds to the year 5766. That would mean the Jews started counting the years on or about the year 3760 BC or 660 years before the second known Egyptian pharaoh: Scorpion the 1st, was found in the Abydos cemetery.

This was good info, because it connected the beginning of the Jewish religion with the Egyptians, who were well known sun worshippers. It dawned on me that the Jews might have just borrowed the tool of religion from the Egyptians, while altering it to fit their needs and avoid the pitfalls of polytheism.

The Jews, who were slaves at this point in time, would have had plenty of time to study the application of a belief system on a populace by watching their Egyptian captors use it in their management of their own people. Maintaining solidarity within the Jewish population would have been next to impossible without a very strong tool used to connect one stranger with another. It must have taken hundreds of years of creating and spreading a belief that they would break free by standing united with a certainty that a higher power, stronger than even the Egyptians, had guaranteed them happiness and freedom.

The Jews would have also seen the high priests use the differing Gods to seize power from one pharaoh and then watch that same trick be used to unseat them. Maybe the Jews saw that if you have many Gods, then your society will also be divided. Knowing that in order to escape from Egyptian rule they would need to stand together, the Jews made sure that only the Sun was worshipped. The stars and planets would be relegated to the role of angels.

Actually as I re-read this, it sounds more and more like something that belongs in a cheesy role-playing game or sci-fi novel, but hey, its no dummer than believeing the earth is 6,000 years old or that we all decended from two people ;-)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

This is the first post of my first blog, so forgive me if my netiquette is not up to date. A summary of the idea put forth will precede each paragraph, as noted by brackets [].

[I am sick and tired of republican rule]
The last 6 years have sucked politically and especially economically. This is largely due to the Republican control of all the branches of government, allowing them to cut taxes to the wrong people and form new massive branches of government, rather than fixing the ones that are already there (ahem DHS). I think the Republicans have shown to us over the past 6 years that They neither deserve nor can handle the power that comes with responsibility.

[Democrats arent all that either, but they are the only other possible option right now]
This does not mean that the Democratic party is not also corrupt and scheming as well. I think the entire system not only allows corruption, but actually encourages it. While we cant fix the entire system in time for elections, we can make the only other feasible political choice: help out the Democratic party.

[People complain, Repubs get busted, nothing changes]
I hear a lot complaints about how the GOP is horrible, but then nothing is ever done about it. The reasons for this are varied, many, and irrelevant. Simply knowing the GOP is ripe with corruption, and even massive amounts of scandals hitting the papers daily has not affected their power, nor some of the voters opinions of their elected officials.

[They spent our money lets spend theirs]
When Clinton left office, he also left a budget surplus of $237 billion (1). George W has taken our surplus and turned it into the largest deficit spending ever, this includes both world wars. Well I say we show them what it feels like to have someone else spend your money in ways that dont help you at all.

Online advertising is a big part of the elections now. Howard Dean showed us how important the Internet can be for raising funds, and the Republicans have followed suit. if you search for "GOP" on google, the very first link is a paid spot for www.GOP.com. If you click on that link, it costs the GOP anywhere from a quarter to several dollars. Keeping this in mind I am proposing a "click in" for as long as it takes to hit them where it hurts; their advertising budget. Just think, less money for attack ads!

I know this strategy can be used for either party, but I think the Donkey has a stronger web presence than the core republicans.

Anyways, if you are tired of GWB and his cronies:

legalizing torture
terrorizing his own people with vague warnings of doom
taking away our rights to free speech
corrupting the press
signing checks that our fiscal ass cant handle
destabilizing the middle east for, err whatever his reason was
telling bad jokes and singing in public
spying on us citizens, recording all phone calls and requiring isp's to log all traffic
etc, etc, etc

If so, go to this link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=gop&btnG=Google+Search

and click on the blue pay-per-click advertisement funded by the GOP that reads:
Official GOP Site
www.GOP.com Support the Republican National Committee and make a difference.

ask all of your: friends, family, enemies, ex-girlfriends, parole officers, ex-boyfriends, pets, parole officers pets, etc, etc to click on the link as well.

Some people will tell you this is "click fraud"(2), but I say that we are not making any money off of it, the GOP is not a competitor, and we are not computer programs, but rather live humans exorcising our rights to move a mouse cursor over a link on google and then left-click....

we still have that much freedom.. dont we?

1) http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Tue_Oct_24_155324_2000.html

2) This is what I consider click fraud: