Archive for August, 2005

Good investment?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Phishing comic

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Quote of the week: August 29th

Monday, August 29th, 2005

“A sysadmin is a cross between a detective, a police officer, a gardener, a doctor and a fireman”

Work rant

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

I’m very good at my current job, but my manager wants me to learn more about my job. What’s the point? I know my job better than anyone else including him. I have no drive or motivation to do so either. My last raise was 2.75% which may seem like a lot to some, but I waited 18 months for it. Here’s a nice slap with a cluestick:

1) Gas prices have gone up a LOT more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
2) Natural gas (Consumer’s Energy) has gone up a LOT more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
3) Our health “benefit” premiums have gone up WAY more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
4) Tuituion at school has gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
5) Day care has gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
6) School lunches have gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
7) Grocery and clothing prices have gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
8) Car and home insurance rates have gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.
9) Hell, the cost of a McDonald’s extra value meal has gone up more than 2.75% in the last 18 months.

and the biggest slap with the cluestick goes to (drum roll):

10) The company’s profits have gone up a HELL OF A LOT more than 2.75% in the last 18 months (I know, I work in a financial area of the company).

So what the hell? Your profits aren’t down, business has been up, volume has way more than recovered since 9/11 (which was the original blame for all business’ woes whether it really was or not). The scapegoat of a poor economy and a poor job market are no longer valid. The company isn’t “hurting” any more. So why shit on your employees?

Here’s why – because they’re a large corporation who could really give a flying fuck about their employees. Seriously. They’ll put on the politically correct speeches about “we’re for family” and “our employees mean a lot to us” garbage, but they never put their money where their mouth is. Our “health benefits” are absolute crap. After paying the high premiums, I can’t afford to go to the hospital because of the outrageous co-pays. My theory behind the horrible insurance is the fact that our company is Canadian-based. In Canada, they don’t have to worry about paying for health care premiums because their health care system is integrated into the government and paid for by taxes. This way EVERYONE gets health care. If they are to stay competitive in the United States, they HAVE to offer health benefits, but they don’t have to offer GOOD benefits…just enough to keep someone there. It makes perfect business sense, but you’re pissing off your employees. Is it worth the hassle of creating employees that resent you for your greedy business tactics? I would think not.

Again and again I hear in the meetings that our health benefits are average and the premiums we pay are average for the area. Well, after doing some research, I found out (you guessed it) that they’re blowing more smoke up our asses. Apparently they think their employees don’t talk to other people who work in other places in the Midland area. Dow Chemical and Dow Corning employees do pay premiums really close to ours and their coverage is about equal. What our leaders aren’t factoring in is the fact that the average Dow employee makes $17,000 more per year than our average employee. Oopsie!

A place of employment two buildings away from my place of employment doesn’t make their employees pay a premium at all! On top of that, their health care is the Cadillac of health care provided by Blue Cross. For instance, I saw a medical bill of $9,700.00+ which included a 3 day stay in the hospital (private room), and several procedures performed over this time. Their copay? $75.00.

To put it in perspective, I pay just over $200.00 per month for what they call “health insurance” where I work. When I had my vasectomy back in January, the hospital bill was for just under $1,200.00. I had to pay $483.00 of that. You would think it would be damn near free because it would prevent more people covered under their insurance policy, but no.

If you’re an employer, please let me encourage you to never EVER consider using Empire Blue – they are the most terrible insurance company I have ever had to deal with. Not just on a copay level, but a service level as well. Every other claim they try to weasel out of by denying the entire claim, or bits and pieces of it. They try to get you on technicalities so they don’t have to pay any part of the hospital claim such as “if you do not contact us within 48 hours of an emergency, we have the right to deny your claim”. Well great, what if I’m in a coma or unconscious for that period of time?

America – land of the free (not as in beer, but rather work your ass off your entire life just to drag your tounge across the sugar cube and hope you get a taste).

Bosses

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Why do so many bosses suck?

Because those who desire the power should be the least likely to have it. I’ve had some good bosses, and 90% of the time they didn’t really want the job, they just kind of grew into it over time.

Other times – whew. There was the one boss who, coming in the first day, told everybody that he wasn’t there to be a friend, and he could fire the whole department at a moment’s notice if he wanted.

5 minutes later I was dusting off my resume. When he found me dressing nice (so I could go on lunch breaks, which were really interviews), he told me he’d fired me if he caught me interviewing somewhere else. And he’d know, because he had “contacts” all over town who would tell him. “Contacts” who would call him and ask if I was applying somewhere. Private eyes – were watching me – they’d see my every move.

Oddly enough, I guess his contacts forgot to call him three days later when I quit and went to my new, higher paying, better hours job.

So if nothing else, I’m thankful for bad bosses, since they seem to be the greatest force in people finding new and better jobs. (Even though they suck)

“Normaler”

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Normaler – adj.

The act of appearing more normal than others.

“Well, he doesn’t look so much like a retard…I guess he’s normaler than the rest…”

5 mod points

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Once again – 5 more mod points awarded today. I tend to meta-moderate everyday, so there’s the reason I obtain mod points so frequently.

For those of you that don’t know why you never seem to get mod points – well, you’re likely not meta-moderating.

Windows and Linux applications

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Well this is a long time overdue. Since I switched completely to Linux in 2002 (meaning no more Windows partition), I have found programs in Linux that serve as replacements for Windows programs. In many cases, you can find programs for Linux that simply aren’t ported or don’t exist in Windows. This list will be far from complete, but feel free to add to the list if you think of others. I’d like this to be a good resource for those that are not sure if they can make a complete switch. When I mention Linux in this article, I can pretty safely say all major distributions are covered by the following statements. I have used Slackware, Debian, Mandrake/Mandriva, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Knoppix, SuSE, and a few others.

Please keep in mind that the point of this article isn’t to say “switch now because it’s cheaper!”. My point would be that if you’re hesitant about switching because X application isn’t available under Linux, there may be a free, and possibly, a better solution already in place. It’s kind of like when you first entered the Windows world – did you *know* that Microsoft Office or Quicken was there? No, you found out about it by either reasearching it at a store that sells software or finding out after playing with Windows that it was already installed.

First off, I’d like to say many games work just fine under Linux. Yes, I know, Halo will never work under Linux because it is owned by Microsoft, but in all fairness, it’s a popular game that needs to be mentioned. It’s not really the fault of Linux or it’s developers, but rather Microsoft – why would they want their game playable on a competing OS? Anyways, here’s a list of games that I play under Linux:

Quake II
Quake III
Doom III
Unreal Tournament
Unreal Tournament 2003
Unreal Tournament 2004
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
America’s Army

Yes, it’s a small list, but I don’t game a whole lot either. I know there are many more that work, but those are just the games that I own and play under Linux. Also, I have to give Linux some credit for the games that come with most distributions. I have 18 games that were installed from the CD itself and those 18 were not the only games available on the CD either. Many more than what come with Windows I must say.

So now we get into the good stuff – what do we use at home? I’m going to compare Debian 3.1 with Windows XP for the sake of argument since Windows XP Home is what most home users tend to be using these days. Most of this will be based off of applications that I have used and/or paid for in the past. I try to write about what I know rather than make generalizations…it keeps things a little more “fair”.

Windows XP: You can buy the chopped down Microsoft Office 2003 suite for about $150.00 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
Debian 3.1: OpenOffice is a free download and a free application. If you feel like grabbing the beta version, it now comes with Base which is fairly comparable to Access.

To be fair though, OpenOffice has been ported to Windows, so you could always download and install OpenOffice instead. Thank you Sun Microsystems and the open source community!

Windows XP: mIRC is a chat program used for IRC. The cost after the 30 day trial period is $20.00.
Debian 3.1: XChat, BitchX, ircii, kvirc, there’s quite a few. All free.

To be fair – XChat and BitchX are available in Windows for free. Thanks again to the open source community! At the time of the writing of this article, XChat.org was down – I had heard a rumor that XChat for Windows was going to cost as they started charging a fee because it took time for porting the app to Windows, but I can’t confirm the rumor at this time.

Windows XP: IM Clients – Yahoo!, AIM, ICQ, etc
Debian 3.1: Same – they’ve all been ported to Linux, but Linux has a few more available only to the Linux OS such as Jabber.

I’m not big on instant messenging, but I see some companies use it internally including the company I work for. Unlike the other instant messengers out there, Jabber also has server software available for free for people using Linux. This would be more secure than using a 3rd party as a server for internal instant messaging for obvious reasons.

Windows XP: Microsoft Outlook for email. This generally comes with Microsoft Windows and would be some very nice software if it wasn’t the target of most virii and worms. Lotus Notes is a good alternative, but costs money for the server (the client is free). It is available in both Windows and Linux.
Debian 3.1: Evolution is very comparable as it has a calender, meeting, address book, and other things you find with Outlook – it can even plug into an Exchange server, though I have never done this.

Windows XP: You can purchase Quicken for Windows and it’s a very popular program to manage one’s finances. I have never used it, but I know people who do.
Debian 3.1: You can use Quicken in Linux, but you would need to use Crossover Office, which costs about $40.00. Crossover Office allows you to use many other Windows programs as well, so it’s not $40.00 to use just one program.

Windows XP: Most hardware is supported by default, but XP’s plug and play isn’t always the most accurate or best way to install the software. It can flat out be a pain if it installs bad drivers on its own. Almost all vendors make Windows drivers for their hardware.
Debian 3.1: I was honestly suprised at how well my hardware was picked up and just worked without having to tweak anything. Everything was automagically installed and ran fine. This wasn’t always the case with Linux, but with more support from hardware manufacturers as well as a larger number of people using Linux now than before, they’ve come a long way.

Hardware drivers are no longer a reason not to switch like it used to be. What gets my goat is when Windows 2000 and then when Windows XP first came out, hardware vendors were in a scramble to come out with drivers because 2k and XP didn’t support all hardware. Personally, I think both operating systems have fairly equal hardware support any more. I haven’t run into a problem with a piece of hardware since around 2000 with a sound card that was produced by a manufacturer that was no longer in business. It wasn’t any easier trying to find Windows drivers for the card either (even using driverguide.com!).

More to come later, but please feel free to add to this list!

Slo Mo – rappin’ retard

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Though I thought all rappers were retards, at least this just goes to show you that even a retard can rap…and likely hit the top 40.

check it out.

Quote of the week: August 22nd

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

“I’m thinking about it, therefore I might be.”