Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wait, Which Terrorists Are Our Terrorists?

Syria is a mess. Assad’s men are being backed by Hizbollah, which the US says are terrorists. The rebels in Syria receive aid and support from al-Qaeda, which the US says are terrorists. Does this mean now that the enemy of my enemy which is still my enemy that is friends of a friend of a friend is my friend in this localized context? And you thought the Chinese were inscrutable… this takes the cake.

And, yes, we’re in cahoots with al-Qaeda on this one, same as we were in Libya. What gives? They blow up our stuff and murder people indiscriminately, but we’re still cool about hooking up with them on projects to get rid of unfriendly regimes in the area? The Saudis are every bit as oppressive as the Assads in Syria, but they’re on our side, so we let that stuff slide. Lean in the direction of Russia, though, and we’re ready to let al-Qaeda go crazy on you.

The US involvement in Syria was bad to begin with. It wasn’t a case of freedom-loving people trying to overthrow an evil ogre. It’s a case of power-hungry baddies (al-Qaeda) in a near-genocidal struggle for conflict with another group of power-hungry baddies (Assad’s Alawites). We really don’t want either side to win, but we know one will.

Well, Russia’s backed Assad’s side, with more than just words. That means Russia has to take the side of Hezbollah and, with it and Syria, Iran. Once again, the conflict in the Middle East is a proxy war for superpower struggles. In this version, though, we seem to have picked up a terrorist organization to do some work for us.

I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable with that…

Networking with Cats

Take it from me, you do *not* want cats in your production network environment. You especially do not want them in charge of cabling. Heck, you don’t even want them *present* during cabling. Although, I do confess that they make for good temporary heat sinks. They like to sit on warm equipment and soak up the energy. Even so, cats are not good in the server room.

Need another distraction, but you’d like one you can learn from while doing? is for you. It’ll drop you somewhere in the world and you’re supposed to figure out where you are. You can play hard mode where you guess based only on what you know, or you can guess after using Internet resources to narrow things down.

I like the latter mode, which means I try to pinpoint my location. On the round I just did, I was within 11 meters of one location, but really lost it when I was off by 58km somewhere in New Zealand. I like to wander away from my start point to look for clues. One time, I saw a “You Are Here” sign for tourists that was invaluable.

The best part of this is how I sharpen my location-finding skills while seeing some really neat locations in the world. I love searching for road signs, flags, indications of traffic flow, and other clues to help me know where it is that GeoGuessr decided to drop me.

A Call from the Technical Support Department

Guy calls… Caller ID shows “Unknown Number”… I’m game. I answer.

“Hello.” Already I can detect the Bihari accent. This guy’s from India. “My name is John Peterson.” Lie. “I am from the technical support department for the Windows operating system.” Big lie. “Am I speaking with Mr. Webb?” Oh-ho! He’s got a directory!

“Yes,” I reply.

“We have been receiving notifications of many problems from your computer as you attempt to access web sites. We are calling to resolve those issues with you.” Oh really? I did not know that. How wonderful for him to have called me! “Are you at your Windows operating system computer?”

“Yes.” This promises great fun and sport, I can sense that already.

“What version of Windows Operating System do you have?”

“I have one computer with XP, one with Vista, and one with Windows 7.”

“Are you at your computer?”


“Do you see, in the lower left corner, a button that says ‘Start’?” I guess that’s how he can make sure I don’t have Windows 8.


“Please apply the left-click on that button.”

“OK.” And, yes, I did apply the left-click to the start button.

“Do you see a list of options?”


He then proceeds to read off a list of options that I don’t have because I’ve configured my start menu to be like classic Windows. I know what he’s reading to me is for the default config on Windows 7. I don’t have that here. I tell him that I don’t see those options.

“Do you see a list of programs?”

I click on “Programs” and, yes, I do see a list. Three columns wide. No way am I reading all those off, even if I was a chump. “Yes, a long list of programs. Lots of them.”

“Do you see an option for ‘My Documents’ or ‘Computer’?”

Lucky me, I don’t. “No, I don’t have options for those.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am sure. Those options are not there.”

“Well, let us try a more direct method or way. Look at your keyboard. What button do you see in the lower left corner?”


“And what button is next to that? FN?”

“No, it’s ALT.”

“And what button is next to that?”

“The spacebar.”

“Don’t you have a key with a Windows logo on it?”

“No.” OK, so that’s a bit of a lie, but I prefer using keyboards without a Windows key, so since he’s lied to me, I get to play make-believe with him.

“There is no keyboard that does not have a Windows key!”

“Mine doesn’t have a Windows key.”

“You have to have a Windows key! Every keyboard made for the Windows operating system has a Windows key!”

“I’m telling you, I don’t have a Windows key. I’ve been using Windows since 1993, and the keyboards back then did not have a Windows key. My keyboard right now does not have a Windows key.”

“You have to have a Windows key! I am smarter than you!”


“Is your mother there?”

What does he need my mother for? “No, my mother is not here.”

“Are you at you at your mother’s computer?”

“No, this is my computer. My mother does not live here. I live here. This is my computer.”

“This is your computer?”

“Yes, this is my computer.”

“Well, I am calling from the Technical Support Department. Now you must listen to me!”

“The Technical Support Department from which company?”

“I have told you.”

“No, you just said you’re with the Technical Support Department. You didn’t say which company you’re with.”

“I’m with the Windows Operating System.”

“The Windows Operating System isn’t a company. Microsoft is a company. Hewlett-Packard is a company. IBM is a company. What company are you with?”

“I’m with The Geek Squad.”

“Hmm… I don’t have a Geek Squad account. Is this free support?”


“So this is pay support? How much will it cost?”

“No, it won’t cost you.”

“Wait, so you’re giving me free support and not free support?”

“Stop confusing yourself! Listen to me! Minor problems we fix for free: major problems, big bucks!”

“So what is a major problem?”

“We will find out! Do you have an icon that says ‘My Computer.’?” Nice redirect, Mr. Non-Peterson. I’ll play along.

“Yes.” Looks like the blind squirrel found a nut.

“Please to right-click that icon and read to me the options.”

I right-click it and read the list, as I see it: “Open, Explore, Search, Map Network Drive, Disconnect Net-”

“Please click the option that says ‘Manage’.” Rude! He interrupted me!

Just as well. I didn’t have a ‘Manage’ option. I told him that.

“You have no ‘Manage’ option?”


“Is this a special computer that your employer has especially built for you?”


“And somehow, you have the *only* Windows Operating System in the world that does not have a Windows key, a Computer option or a Manage option?”

“It’s not the only one that doesn’t fit that description, you see-”

“Why don’t you go use your mother’s computer, you [obscene gerund followed by an obscene noun]!” And then, before I could reply, he hung up.

Pity. I was wanting him to ask me to click on something so I could rattle off one of the many Blue Screen of Death messages that I’ve memorized.

Oh well, now I have to let my mom know that a very angry Indian chap has ordered me to use her computer. Right before Mother’s Day, too. How thoughtful of the guy!

The Saga of a Test-Taking Man

I make no mystery of it: I love taking tests that I’ve studied for. I appreciate a well-written test with difficult, yet doable, questions. I read up for the test, do labs, do my homework, do practice labs, and then I go for it.

This year, I’ve taken three tests so far. After starting my studies in January, I set a goal to have two CCNA certifications by the end of April. I am happy to say that I attained that goal. Now, I’m planning to do four more tests in the next three months to earn my CCNP-Security. These are tests that have a minimum pass score of 80% and the tests themselves are no slouches. They remind me of the AP exams in terms of depth and difficulty – and if a test-taker knows what he’s doing, they’ll drain him of information. No topic goes uncovered.

As a teacher, I’ve told countless students that reading, study, and practice is the key to successful learning. Now, I have another chance to apply that in my life. I believe I can do this. True belief leads to actions based upon that belief. Therefore, it’s time for some actions on my part. Onwards to the CCNP!