Archive for February, 2009

He really does know everything.

We have a saying at my place of employ: Work smarter, not harder.

Now, I tend to assume that this is really corporate-speak to mean something along the lines of “We’d be able to save money on employees if we can make the employees we already have do more work in the same amount of time.”

But I kind of take it to heart. I’ve already mentioned on this blog how much I enjoy creating methods to make it so I don’t have to do repetitive tasks, but tonight I encountered something that made me really question how much those other people really enjoy the idea of reinventing the wheel:

Let’s say that you have a computer. If you’re reading this, you either do have one or you employ somebody to print out your favorite websites for you to read with the morning paper. Since nobody in his or her right mind would pay somebody to print out this blog, I’m going to go with the former. Anyway. You’ve got a computer. And let’s just say, you want to run a program and it doesn’t load. Instead, you get an error message. Doesn’t really matter what it says, because when I ask you what the error said, you’re not going to remember it anyway. But we’ll come back to that.

When I encounter this type of situation, there’s a very specific set of things I do to try and fix the problem. It goes like this:

  • Make note of the exact text of the error.
  • Go to Google.
  • Type in the exact text of the error.
  • Read the links that follow to see if anybody else has had the same error, and what they did to fix it.
  • Do what those other people did, which will almost always fix the error.

Now, that makes sense, right? I mean, it’s Google. As my friend Jonny says, “Google is the best sysadmin in the world. That Google dude knows everything.” It is incredibly rare that I get a computer problem that nobody in the world has EVER had before, and since it’s, well, Google, all those issues are generally available with a few simple keystrokes.

Thus, it’s very, very easy for me to do my job. I simply check to see if anybody else has done it before me, and I copy them. Now, utilizing these very same secret methods, you too can become a systems admin.

And now we’re back to the part that I said we were going to get back to: If you ever call me with computer problems, you can be sure that the one question I will absolutely, definitely ask you will be if there were any error messages, and what they said. It is in your best interest to be able to answer these questions. :)

But back to tonight. Without going into details, let’s just say that I encountered an issue with a computer that had been confusing people for days. During that time, the only time I actually got to look at the computer was while it was running a scan or something, so I didn’t have an actual chance to sit down and try to fix it myself until tonight. And when I did, what was the first thing I did? Looked for the error messages. (You starting to notice a recurring pattern? Good, I thought so.) Once I saw the error message, it took me all of five minutes to go to Google, find a solution, and implement it.


I don’t think I’m anything too special when it comes to what I do. Hell, I already said that you could do my job if you wanted to, just by using my tried and true methods. So what does it say that for almost a week, an entire team of people couldn’t fix an issue that was solved by fifteen seconds’ worth of googling? I mean, seriously, folks, it was the first link that was in the search results.

Like I said, for me, a lot of these issues are fixed in this manner. In reality, it’s a very simple thing.

I don’t really know if what I do is working smarter, but one thing it’s definitely not is working harder.

New Baby Photos

Went up to Vermont this weekend (as detailed in my previous post) and got a good number of new photos of the niece, as well as some great shots of my sister’s dog.

Link to the actual photo gallery

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We put our dog to sleep today.

This is my eulogy to a shepherd/retriever mix named Mahogany (so named for practically no reason at all, since she wasn’t mahogany colored—we literally couldn’t think of a name for her and this was the first one that was suggested by my sister after a marathon naming session that didn’t make any of us retch). She was getting on in years, had lost much of her hearing and was the second dog in a row that we owned that had Cushing’s Syndrome. But she was in our lives since I was fifteen, which is about half of my life, and she meant a lot to me.

When she was younger, she was a terror. We got her at about eight weeks, the day after Christmas of 1994, and she was adorable and fuzzy and couldn’t go the whole night without having to go out and pee. Somebody had to sleep with her in the back room of our house so that we could take her outside when she needed to. She was terribly submissive, and had a knack for peeing all over the floor when somebody new came into the house. And if somebody showed up in our driveway, she would go crazy, but not because she wanted to hurt them. It was more of a “OMIGOD THERE ARE PEOPLE THIS IS GREAT I LOVE NEW PEOPLE I WONDER IF THEY WILL PLAY WITH ME” kind of thing. Funny that nobody else but us saw it that way, though.

Since then, she was kind of a fixture in my life. I’d come back to my parents’ house for a weekend and she’d be there at the door, as excited to see me as if I had simply gone away for the day and was getting home.

Even as she got older—and her age really started to show—she would still have puppy moments. Though the fur under her chin started turning gray at the young age of two or three, she still loved to go outside and run like there was no tomorrow. And she loved playing in the snow, right up until the end. Somehow, she never really grasped the concept of how large she was. It was always funny to see a sixty-five pound dog try to climb into somebody’s lap while they sat in a recliner. And God save you if she ever climbed on a bed while you were laying on it: your face was inevitably doomed to a quite literal tongue-lashing from the dog, which would only let up once you had capitulated that she was, indeed, the winner.

My mother told me earlier this week that she was going to be put down. I’m thankful that my job affords me the ability to work from any location, because I decided quite fast that I would drive up so I could see her again and say goodbye. And this morning, at nine o’clock, we made the trip to the vet’s to put her to rest.

The entire process took only about two minutes. It’s not the first time I’d seen a family member die—no, this was in fact the third time I’d had the privilege. The vet pushed what seemed to be an absurd amount of anesthetic through a syringe, and quite soon, the pup’s breathing slowed and stopped.

She died with her eyes open. I had thought she would drift off to sleep, but I guess it happened too quickly for even that.

In a way, getting to say goodbye to my dog makes me feel a little better about not being able to say goodbye to my grandmother. The frustration of having one family member pass on so fast is tempered a little bit by the ability to show the other one how much I loved them both. It’s a small consolation, but it is one, at least.

My parents say they probably won’t get another dog for a while. The last time we had to put a dog down, it was about six months before we all decided it was time. Now that there isn’t a whole house full of kids to help take care of it, I wonder if it might not be a little while longer, if at all, before they get another. But this family has always had a dog in it, and I can’t imagine it without one in the house to help keep the cats company.

I just hope that if they do get a new one, it’s not something small. I wouldn’t want to accidentally step on it.


October 23, 1994 — February 20, 2009

You were loved and you will be missed by all—even by those who thought you were trying to eat them.


You might notice that the site has received somewhat of a facelift. Actually, a facelift is rather minor. This is more like the Six Million Dollar Man. You know: better, stronger, faster.

I had grown really weary of the old site design, but there was a certain element of pride involved with the fact that I had designed it myself, from the ground up, not to mention that there were some custom things I had done with it that had even prevented me from upgrading WordPress for fear that I might break something on the site. Not that there weren’t already things wrong with the site—the image galleries never quite seemed to work right, for example—but the concept of redoing it all, from scratch, was so daunting as to be completely paralyzing.

I had been trying to come up with a way to incorporate this particular look (a color-shifted variant of the Fusion theme that I was quite fond of) into the site, and using it to help come up with a site design that better fit my current interests. I wanted something that would allow me to incorporate all of the photography I’ve been doing lately, without losing the function and form of the pages I’d already incorporated into the site.

I dunno. I guess tonight was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided that come hell or high water, I was both upgrading the software on the site and changing the theme, and I would worry about fixing the problems that would undoubtedly crop up later. It turns out that I didn’t have anything to worry about. The upgrade wiped out the custom changes I’d made, so I didn’t have to worry about extricating them from the internal code—and thankfully, I have since learned that there are easier ways to customize, and I will definitely be using them should I want to make any changes under the hood from now on—and the theme installed flawlessly without any real effort from me. From there, it was a simple matter of moving the content around and installing or upgrading some plugins I had had running.

And speaking of moving content around, some notes on housekeeping:

  • The pages for my Senior Recital and the Plymouth Mozart’s Requiem performance are still here, but are now listed as menu items under the “Music Related” menu at the top of the screen.
  • The same goes for certain site related content: the Privacy Policy, Contact Form and Email Subscription options page are all available as items in the “Site Related” menu up there. Also, in addition to the archives dropdown menu and category listing on the right, there are links to the archives and categories in that same menu.
  • Those of you—particularly family members—who have been going to my Flickr page to look at photos of the niece can now simply come here. I’ve integrated the blog with Flickr, so all of my photosets and albums are available through the Photo Galleries link above. The integration allows for commenting and posting notes on the pictures without having to go to Flickr. I’m hoping that this will encourage you to participate in addition to just looking.

See? It’s as easy as clicking the photo album cover here. :)

Ultimately, this overhaul is intended to force me to actually use the skills I acquired during all those years of school and write more. But part of the new look is to incorporate my new hobbies—namely, the photography. I took some photos of a friend’s band at a club this past weekend, and after she looked at them today I was almost instantly offered a paid gig doing promotional photos for the band. Not only is this an enormous compliment, it’s affirming in a way, because I’ve gotten so into photography that I was considering starting up a small business with it, and this kind of thing lets me know that it’s a possibility, even if it’s only local and even if it’s only once in a while. It’s nice to know that people think what you do is worthwhile.

So I’m hoping that I’ll contribute more often to the site, and not just in one medium, but in three—image, word, and music. It’s been a while since I put anything new on the site, musically, but I am working at it, if slowly. And the other two are just as lacking.

If you notice anything on the site not acting as you think it should, comment on this post. And keep an eye out for new content. It’ll be coming, I swear it. Just a reminder that you can subscribe via RSS or email. :)

(You might also notice that the name of the blog has changed. Think of it as my take on nirvana, I guess.)

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