Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sep 5

Its my birthday, so here's the obligatory birthday post.

Wait- is there even such a thing???

IDK- I'm 50+, and I don't feel or act 30+. Or act 30+.

So anyway, I've been thinking of THAT song recently.... you know, the Lesley Gore song.  No particular reason, especially since that that song has nothing to do with me or my life.

But anyway, I suppose that since its my birthday I'm allowed to reminisce randomly on 50+ years of life.

For those of you who know IRL, I'm bloody well on the way to... 60. FUARK.

I can't accept that on a certain level.

Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

3 months between posts?

Intentions are a lot like opinions and other things... everyone's got 'em.

I really enjoy blogging. I enjoy writing fiction as well, although I've yet to complete more than a few chapters of any novel I've ever attempted. My good e-buddy Jesse (who is an ACTUAL, published author) has offered me some good advice and admonishment a few times regarding the care and feeding of novels, but so far all I've managed is a bit of weak writing on that front. And I'm not being self-deprecating- I'm just being honest based on what I've written vs what I like to read.

Even so, my blog has languished. Three months in internet time is like, what, two Ice Ages?

Not unexpectedly, the blog has a different title than the one originally imagined- it was originally going to be something like "I've never met a tool I didn't like" or "That tool just might work for this job". Common sense won out, and I offer a mea culpa instead of something clever.

...and here's where the tools come in. A while back, I installed a dual monitor mounting system and mounted a pair of identical LG 23" monitors to it. The original configuration also had a pair of Trendnet KVMs to switch between four HP/Compaq business-class minitowers. It was a nice setup but the PCs were not particularly power efficient (or cool: four PCs under a desk can throw out some serious BTUs!).

So, for some time, I've been running just one of the PCs, and the desk space where the other keyboard used to be is now the home of my laptop.

However, a few weeks ago I noticed that one of the monitors was leaning. I pushed it back into its proper position, but it just sort of wilted back down, with the screen generally point to the desk. Upon closer examination, I discovered the problem was a screw that had somehow worked itself loose. I'm not sure how exactly this had transpired, as it has not been in use for months.

To make a quite long story short, if you have a multi-monitor setup, it might not hurt to check the tension of the fasteners in the hardware.

It's been some time, but the Lego database is finally being actively developed again... hopefully with a "permanent" basis this time.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

If you've got a LinkedIn profile, this post is for YOU!

Mr. T is an avid gamer- there's quite honestly no other word for it. He also dabbles a bit with designing accessories such as clothing and armor for games like Team Fortress. He uses GIMP, Blender and a few other nice pieces of freeware that are quite commonly employed in the world of game design. He also uses terms like "procedurally generated" as part of his normal speech.

And this has exactly "what" to do with this blog?

Well, procedurally generated is generally a gaming term, but more specifically its a coding or programming term. If you're a gamer you're probably familiar with this term, but if you're not, consider a normal search on Google or Amazon. Let's say you're looking for a certain kind of cheese. Google and Amazon will both display results based upon your previous browsing history, other surfers' previous history AND general popularity. When I typed "c" into my browser, "complex" was the 1st Google result, and Amazon returned nothing. "ch" in the browser gave me "chicagotribune" while Amazon returned "charcoal". To get "cheese" out of Google, I had to type "cheese" + space); Amazon only needed "chee" to get me to cheese.

I told you all of that to tell you this: I have two drafts that I want to publish, but both of them are once again on the backburner- this time because of an observation I had whilst surfing contact suggestions on LinkedIn. Hence, it is not uncommon for my blog's subject matter to be procedurally generated after a fashion.

As in a previous post from July of 2016, I'd like to talk a bit about professional deportment. Last time I addressed email addresses specifically, but also addressed data quality. Today I'd like to get more personal and address your LinkedIn profile with some brutal honesty which I hope will help your online presence look a bit (well, a metric ***ton) better: it's your mug.

*I'm not sure about other parts of the world, but in American English, your "mug" is a colloquialism that can mean your portrait (as in, your mugshot- the photo the police take of you when you are apprehended). And, once again, it does not imply in any way that you've ever run afoul of the law- it's just a casual way of saying "your picture"- or selfie.

Apologies- for once- to my American audience: this blog is read in over fifty countries, of which the vast majority do not speak English as their 1st language, and many have to be transliterated. Trust me, as someone who has been formally exposed to over half a dozen languages: idioms and colloquialisms do NOT translate gracefully or accurately!

So, there I was on LinkedIn. I had received an invitation to connect with someone in my field, and I accepted it. Once I did this, LinkedIn offered a slate of its own recommendations, procedurally generated by my existing network, career field, and who knows what else!

As I am IRL decidedly NOT a social butterfly, I welcome the LinkedIn suggestions and peruse them. Here's where it gets real and if you've skimmed down wondering when the wall of words would end, swallow your beverage and START READING NOW.

Gentle readers, I've had tons of sales training, and yet (for a number of unrelated reasons) I stink at sales. One thing I remember, though, that was common to all of this sales training, is this: we buy from folks like us, or ones that we like. I do not like generic silhouettes, nor will I connect with them. After all (and this is true) I am terrible with names. If I cannot connect a name with a face, I cannot make a connection. If Nikola Tesla, H.G.Wells, Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson had all sent me LinkedIn connection requests multiple times, and all they had for an avi was the default silhouette, I would decline them every time. Lesson 1 is: put up a real picture.

There's a caveat here, though: occasionally, a portrait may be TMI. There may be very good legal or safety reasons for omitting a portrait. In this case, you'll need to be creative if you desire a social media presence of any sort, but please... avoid the default silhouette!

Lesson 2: Your picture should be you. Unless you have some real issues as noted in the caveat following Lesson 1, put your picture here.

Lesson 3: Your picture should somehow communicate your personality, your passion, or your profession. For professional men, I don't think you can ever go wrong with a suit... or something that infers that you came to the office in a suit, but by 10 in the morning the jacket and tie were gone and the sleeves were rolled up. If you're C-level, you have license to go either way. For professional women, I'm sorry, I have little advice because the three-piece suit is not standard women's attire... I think. OTOH, if you're a working professional in a specialized field, wear the eye protection or hardhat or hearing protection or operate a specialized piece of equipment. My picture is a bit silly- but prized. Although its not a great picture, it was taken by a coworker with my camera, it really reflects my personality, and I like it.

Lesson 4: Your picture should not be an afterthought. You've invested time into creating your LinkedIn profile- why use cheap wallpaper? See lesson 3 regarding my picture. But... the idea here is about pictures that probably should not be used in a LinkedIn profile. So, don't reuse badly cropped photos of ANYTHING. Don't use prom photos (yes, I've seen 'em), wedding photos (ditto), graduation/seminar photos (uh-huh), photos with bad flash, poorly lit studio shots that obviously show you're seated in front of a pretty backdrop, obvious bad selfies, photos with your complexion/skin tone unfavorably illuminated. Ladies especially: attire or photo angle that emphasizes a particular feature (noses, etc) or sexualizes your portrait. When in doubt, have a disinterested (honest) third party check it out.

"But," you might say, "it's only LinkedIn."

According to a recent report, LinkedIn has 467 million members. Only China and India are more "populous". The whole world is looking at your mug, my friend.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The 3 (or so) faces of I.T.

As previously mentioned here, I did some network upgrades over the course of the holidays which were actually just completed  on Thursday morning (1/5/17, or 5.1.17 outside of North America), The end result is a faster SOHO network. The work is not quite yet done, but so far the end users are not gathering up tar, chicken feathers and kindling....

I ran into an interesting topic with our older son, Big D.  While we were hooking up various computers on the Steam Link, Mr T and I noted that Big D's box had the greatest lag on the network with the exception of my little corner- and my corner was expected. A quick analysis of his situation revealed a simple answer: of all of the known segments of the network, he was at the end of what I can determine is the longest piece of copper in the house. The problem is the location of his PC. Due to our upgrades, I have a spare switch that I could add and create a new segment, but I'm not certain that it would be beneficial.

Of course, this conundrum got me to thinking about I.T. from a higher level. Normally, when most of us (who are in some sort of business) think of I.T. ("information technology"), we generally think of our local I.T. person or the voice on the other end of the phone at the help desk. I'd like you to expand your I.T. horizons for a moment and consider what Dr. Sheldon Cooper might intellectually view I.T. as.

On the one hand, they are there to take care of your systems- computers, mice, printers.

On another level, they might fix your connectivity issues- basically, network problems.

A little deeper- they might even be able to deal with your data issues- backup and restore.

Finally, at my level (SOHO), I do that for everyone, plus ensure uptime, backups and data integrity.

At the SOHO level, one needs not only provide backup, but justify the cost of backup- as well as support the backup. Mind you. I'm not complaining. One problem a SOHO I.T. person shares with his or her counterparts in the business world is making a business case for a capital expenditure- in other words, "Do we really need this shiny gadget?"

Additionally, I (as a data-driven fellow) need storage. Just as a reminder, the unifying theme of this blog is data. I've lost metric **** (French- *****), German (********), Slavic languages (*****) tons of data due to recent crashes.I'm hoping that our new NAS (network attached storage) with 2x3TB HHDs will ameliorate this situation.

Finally, as Sir Richard Starkey once quipped, "I've got blisters on me fingers!" I don't really, but I always try to throw in what I hope is a clever little segue near the end of the blog.

I'm certain that I've mentioned in at least a few blogs that I'm not in the habit of making New Year's Resolutions... have no fear, I'm not changing. However, the convenience of January 1st as a sort of milepost of Life is something which is not to be wasted. With the network fairly squared away, I now have time to do some programming/coding.

Before I go any further, "programming" and  "coding" are the same thing in this context. With my discovery of  things like STEMthe Hour of Code and the Maker Movement, I was once "back in the game" of something I had experimented with- only to discard decades ago.

Out first computer was a Commodore Colt, an XT compatible machine. One day, I discovered that I could make programs in a language called GW BASIC. Having a bit of experience with BASIC, I found a book on GW-BASIC and tried my hand at programming.  I don't recall exactly what the problem was, but the author(s) were so cavalier and asinine in their assumptions about their target audience (that would be folks wanting to learn GW BASIC) that they made a BOATload (where B=S, L=H, A=I and D=T) of assumptions, which made their book useless. Thanks to these dweeb losers, it took me over 20 years to get back to programming.

However, I eventually came back to programming, and in 2017 I hope to become familiar with Visual Basic 2015. Thanks to a free Microsoft version of of Visual Studio Community, I have access to Visual Basic 2015, as well as a few other programming languages. We'll see how it goes.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I've always liked Roman numerals.For those unfamiliar, I'll save you a few seconds of searching: this post is titled "2017" in Roman numerals.

So, this is my first "official" post of 2017, and as I was looking at my blog stats earlier, I noted with pleasure and amazement that I had acquired a reader in... MONGOLIA! It ranked up there in amazement with my first African reader!

Now, I hope no one is thinking that I'm some... I'm not sure- fill-in-the-blank person from North America. Quite the opposite- I'm a casual writer who has, over the course of a few short years, had the privilege to have his stuff read in ~50 countries around the globe. And a fair percentage- if not an outright majority- do not claim English as their native tongue. So to all of my readers, old and new, I wish you a Happy New Year, Thank You and WELCOME to my blog... my little corner of the internet!

For those completely new to this blog, it has more of a "unifying theme" rather than a plot, theme or storyline. I try to keep it a safe place- no vulgarity or situations requiring the reader to agree or disagree with any political, moral or religious opinion. It sounds a bit like milk toast, but honestly, this blog is nothing more than my attempt to tell a few stories, chronicle some events and just communicate what Life looks like through my eyes... and the unifying theme is the Secret Underground Lair (SUL).

I'll reveal what is surely a pretty poorly kept secret: the SUL is a room in the basement of a modest home in the NW suburbs of Chicago (GO CUBS!). Our home is also the location of the Dungeon. our physical fitness training area- currently overrun by clutter. The rest of the basement is not named, with the exception of the Pantry, which currently is home to some chicken stock, canned tomatoes and a few other edible sundries.

The SUL is an office area, walled off from the rest of the basement and accessible by a door which has a bell on a string (we have four cats- three have learned how to use the bell. The 4th doesn't care). During our waking hours, Mr. T and I conduct business here. We pretty much sit kitty corner and back to back of each other. Both of our areas of control are in a fair amount of disarray, although the office is starting to come together. I'm not one of those folks who makes New Year's Resolutions, but I'm thinking that this will be the year when we FINALLY get the office in shape. We've made a few small steps already, discarding a few things and doing some organizing.

On the negative side, we're 18 months (at least) behind on this project.

I've noticed that Life seems to be a project, and the SUL is a great microcosm of this concept. I've already replaced some older Cat 5e cabling which was throttling network performance- I have one more switch on the way which will take care of a few other issues. I also have two older PCs which I'm thinking of adding a second gigabit NIC (network interface card)- which would theoretically double available bandwidth and throughput to the PCs. That's a question for later.

The last paragraph is a good example of my unifying theme. I shoot for data, but as I'm a hands-on SOHO I.T. guy, you'll often seen see speeds and feeds here. I hope everyone reading this will continue, possibly looking at some of my previous posts, and hopefully returning for more!

Lastly, I'm hoping we can dye the elephant this week.


A year or so ago, I bought a plush elephant from a local retailer. I eventually also purchased a bottle of yellow dye. Why? Hadoop, of course! The unifying theme of this blog really is DATA... well, it tries.

It's time to put this to bed. I've read lots of articles, posts and blogs that were difficult to read, simply because they were presented as the dreaded "walls of text". No fear here- I try to keep my paragraphs short. I hope you've enjoyed this overview/review- please come back again!

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Monday, January 2, 2017

So, what did your NOC get for Christmas?

So, it's Christmas here in the SUL, and of course I'm playing Christmas music. The SUL is home to our very modest- meaning there is a sparse amount of equipment, and not shy- NOC (network operations center). As is the case most, if indeed not all years, our NOC is on the "NICE" list rather than the "other" list. So, because a couple of PCs were on the "other" list because of hard drive failures, I resolved that I would be a better SOHO I.T. manager in 2017.

It is now the 2nd of January. I'm happy (but slightly drained) as I report that I've been a very good giver of gifts to the network in general and the NOC in particular. It all started out with our family Christmas present. I should note that over the years, we've scaled back our Christmas celebrations to a few Christmas cards, a nice dinner and Christmas music. Much less stress, much less expense (commercialism), and with a few cats, no destroyed decorations to clean up.

The family Christmas present this year was a Steam Link and a Steam Controller. What is Steam? Check it out here. By the way, this is also the simplest way to explain the Cloud to folks. In a nutshell, the Steam Link is a device that is on your network. It will automatically detect any computer that is running that has Steam, and then let you play your Steam-hosted games on your TV. So, I tasked Mr. T with installing the device. Valve (the makers of the Link) have provided everything one needs to get the Link operational quickly. They included several electrical adapters, an HDMI cable and a flat CAT 6 cable.

And this is where the dominoes started to fall.

The ethernet cable was about 2 meters short. Not a problem- I had a spare in the SUL that was going to be replaced by another, longer cable that we had received that same day. I gave Mr. T the cable from the SUL and it was 1 meter short. We searched a bit for a dimly remembered cache of ethernet cables, but it proved to be as real as the city of El Dorado. So, I traded the flat cable for my shiny new purple cable. All was good with the Link.

Mr. T then gave the Link a functional test, discovering the computers on our network. Unsurprisingly, all three of my PCs had huge lag issues- I had observed this before. However, over the network, my Steam games were unplayable. So, I went back down to the NOC, and after a few simple tests I was reminded that the NOC's primary (8 port) switch had a dead port. I looked at my other (5 port) switch. I noted at least one CAT 5e cable was in use, so I went beck and ordered more CAT 6 cables and another 8 port switch.


Its now Monday night, and I've done all that I can. The 5 port switch has been replaced by an 8 port switch. I was about to say all was up to date on the new switch, when I decided to take one more look at the cabling.

FRACK! One more CAT 5e cable to replace!

Well, that's done. There's actually one more CAT 5e cable, but its attached to a printer that has a 10/100 NIC, so it can stay. In another few days the other switch will arrive, and after its installation  our NOC will be up to date. I still need to complete the configuration of our NAS (network atttached storage) device, but there's no rush on that.

My brain is officially on overtime- that's all for now from the SUL.

As always, I am hochspeyer, blogging data analysis and management so you don't have to.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The State of the Blog, v.04 (2016)

Well, it has been four years of writing... well, blogging. I sometimes question the literary validity of blogging versus other literary pursuits. I think blogging will be (or may be currently) viewed as a legitimate literary form, and so I throw up my feeble thoughts into the blogosphere every so often for amusement and evaluation.

Before I forget, I'd like to say "Thanks!" to all of my readers, loyal and occasional, new and old. And, in keeping with internet survey options which really make no sense, those who would answer "Other" also get my thanks.

I'm afraid this is going to be one of "those" posts, the sort I'd guess most blog writers dread: I've gotta write something, but I've got absolutely no clue as to what it will be.

I suppose I could go with the "ever-popular" "Year In Review" theme. Except I don't think anyone enjoys reading those- especially folks who don't know me or my family personally.

For a change, I'd like to say that this year has been pretty exceptional. Unlike last year when I had cataract surgery, we've not had and major illnesses or injuries- and we're quite thankful for this! Jennifer's Dad has been the exception, and out of respect for her family I'll leave it at that.

Daniel is no longer a newb at his job, and has scored some pretty impressive hours for a newcomer. Amanda and Mike are still at the ranch. Mr. T is ISO employment, and sharpening his graphics skills in the interim.

Jennifer and I are still knee-deep in home improvement projects. With the roof out of the way and the mulberry trimmed, we can now (hopefully!) turn our attention to other projects- more on these later.

And finally, one might ask: what's up in the wonderful world of data and programming?

Well, my latest endeavor I've been trying to do something which seems pretty simple- download and install Microsoft Visual Studio. We have an internal project or two at work which would benefit from multiple programmers poking at it, but I have as yet been able to successfully download and install Microsoft Visual Studio completely on my (personal) laptop. I've downloaded it to my work laptop and Jennifer's computer, so I'm more or less in business.

I've not done much with R or Python, but hopefully that will change in 2017. Who knows? For now, Merry/Happy Christmas! Here are a few recent photos I hope you enjoy!
Meerkat at home

New cat tree- Kenji on top, Tinka below

Meerkat, somewhere north of Springfield, IL