Tech funnies: outages

Facebook went down for a bit today, and apparently yesterday as well. Since I don’t hang out on facebook all day, every day, I didn’t realize they’d been down yesterday, and only noticed today because of the posts to one of the admin-type lists to which we subscribe here. I was kind of waiting for a snowball effect of twitter taking a dive as everyone flocked there to tweet about how facebook was down…

What I did on my non-vacation weekend

I worked. I cooked. Worked. Cooked. The usual.

I wasn’t feeling quite well over the weekend, and today still do not feel as well as I did last weekend. I’m not quite sick now that whatever minor sinus infection I had cleared itself out, but also not quite feeling a hundred percent. Generally, I blame this on the fact that I’ve had far too many doctor/hospital visits, and there are simply too many sick people in those places. Fortunately, I’m done with the doctors until November unless something comes up, since the last visit to the pulmonologist this past week gave me an all clear after an xray followup to track that nasty fluid buildup to make sure it was fully drained. But like I said, hanging around in hospitals and offices brings with it the potential for random bugs to crop up, and I’m guessing that’s what this nonsense is.

On the plus side, I cooked, a lot, this weekend. Today is mom’s birthday (happy birthday, Mom!), and we just had a small dinner for immediate family Saturday night: my sister was down from Georgia, my brothers both up from Orlando, and my other sister and I. Saturday night: classic steakhouse dinner, with steak (grass-fed, organic, no less), shrimp three ways (boiled, scampi, and asian-inspired), baked potatoes, corn, bruschetta (I made two loaves of Italian bread, and by the end of the night, both were gone). Sunday morning, as is his habit, my brother made breakfast, and people went about their business for awhile before returning for a day of football. The football food: roasted red pepper soup, guacamole, more bruschetta (and two more loaves of Italian bread), roasted sweet potatoes and carrots from the Lazy Dog Ranch garden, and two chickens that had been brined in a honey-pepper mixture and then smoked for about four hours (plus a fresh batch of bbq sauce). I also made some cherry-chocolate-toasted almond ice cream for those who like that sort of thing. The youngest brother also assembled an eggplant parmigian after I fried off the eggplant slices, and one of my sisters made sauce, since my sisters were bugging him to make it.

We watched the Dolphins take a win against the Vikings, and turned off the Jaguars game in disgust after the Chargers reached the 30-point mark. The battle of the Mannings was not all together that interesting as the Colts put the beatdown on the Giants, but that is what younger brothers are for, as everyone who has a younger brother knows.

Overall, a very nice weekend indeed. The weather is not yet modulating into fall for us here, even though some mornings have dipped near the 60 degree mark. This is actually a good thing in my book, as my seedlings in the flats will go out into the garden in the coming weeks, hopefully to give us some good output now that the captain is back in the game and not having another chunk of something cut out. I could use about five degrees of cooler weather in order to get the fall snow pea round started. Out in the frames directly, I put in a round of limas, snap beans, carrots, cukes, leeks, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and cowpeas. We’ll see how they do in what can still be some brutal heat, with no rain and only the standard watering. If I can stay healthy, with no more nasty surprises coming up to kick me in the ass, and I’m able to hold the bugs at bay, I’m hoping to get some kind of decent production out of this season yet.

Yet more ways to irritate tech support

So, you write in, telling us that you’re getting all sorts of trojans in your email. Mind you, you don’t bother to provide any evidence of anything of the sort, but someone on the staff tells you (quite correctly) that the virus definitions are always being updated, and if for some reason the server where you’re located needs an updated signature set, we’ll take care of it. You go away. We check, everything is up to date. Three days later, you’re back, telling us that you’re still getting these mysterious trojans, you’re not satisfied with the service, and you want to cancel. After five years of us hosing the account – during which you’ve opened very few tickets indeed, and which gives you plenty of time to know how we work, knowing that we do the things we say we will – instead of just saying “Hey, I’m still having this problem, what can we do”, you just want to cancel the account entirely. Then, when you’re asked, multiple times, for the headers of the mail you’re claiming is trojan-laden, so we can look at the logs, claim you have no idea what we’re asking for – this is even more ironic if your site indicates you’re claiming to be some kind of software developer. Then tell us we are “unconcerned”, “harsh”,  and have “email security issues”, and continue to ignore the requests we’ve made of you to provide any sort of information whatsoever that we can use. In the meantime, we’ve been going line by line in the mail logs finding every instance of your domain, including the system rejecting all kinds of crap from known spammers/spam locations, and, as it happens, deleting outright things found to have trojan-laden packages attached. That just makes us feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy around here, to be insulted while we’re trying to figure out, sans any useful information from you, what exactly you’re talking about, wasting our time because clearly you have zero interest in actually addressing the issue. And then to top it all off, claim that two of your systems were “damaged” by these so-called trojans, after telling us in response to our query about what it is that you’re seeing as trojans is whatever your antivirus says they are. That, of course, will make us wonder which of these situations apply: you foolishly didn’t actually have any antivirus  applications installed previously, and someone stupidly opened some random attachment. You didn’t keep your antivirus application up to date, so it didn’t trigger by whatever you claim was damaged when someone stupidly opened some random attachment. Or, the antivirus signatures were not updated in response to whatever the latest crap is being sent out – which, ironically enough, is exactly what we ourselves told you was a possibility and which we were checking on. Somehow, though, I figure in the latter case, you probably didn’t bother to write to the developer of whatever antivirus app you’re using to insult them in the same manner you insulted us. However, it’s a very interesting, although quite idiotic, way of dealing with a vendor with whom you’ve had a relationship for years. I’d say we’d keep that in mind, but pointing to an issue for which you won’t provide any investigative material, and which, remarkably enough, no one else has reported, is probably not a good framework on which to base just dumping a vendor without even bothering to make a good faith attempt to determine what is going on. But hey, best of luck with the next host, who perhaps will be able to read you mind.

I know people like to claim or think that tech support folks don’t like people. But that just isn’t true. They just  don’t like you.

Wabbit season

Duck season! Football season! Yay!

About damn time. College kicked off last night and continues through the weekend, the NFL begins next week, and soon we will be awash in games. I watched – or, rather, listened while helping paint one of the bedrooms – to South Carolina stomp all over Southern Miss, and then USC make it past Hawaii. As for Towson and Indiana? Yeah, right.

Anyway, the painting. Someone who shall not be named decided one of the bedrooms needed to be painted a different color: radiant sun, to be exact, although to me it looks like an off-white sort of color, but who am I to say? It will take a couple of coats, since it’s lighter than the current color, but it’s good exercise for me, even though by the end of the taping around the baseboards and the subsequent painting in that area, I was getting a bit sore. Still, with that part done, the rest is fairly easy, just rolling away, and we should finish today. Just in time for some Georgia person to arrive and stay for a few days.

And it’s time to go back to cooking a bit, too: this afternoon, stir fry, with chicken and lots of veggies, and scallion noodles. Since we will have people in the house this weekend even though we are not doing a big gathering as in years past, I’ll be brining a butt today so it can go on the smoker in the wee hours and be ready for Saturday afternoon’s more traditional kickoff of a slate of college games. We also need more bbq sauce. And I think, just for fun, we’ll do a bit of chicken as well, as it’s been forever since I’ve done any smoked poultry. Chicken breasts alone are tricky, as they’ll go from tender, moist, and delicious to rubbery dried out nastiness in no time, so perhaps a whole chicken is in order (but I’ll have to rig something so the chicken doesn’t drip on the porkalicious goodness that will be in the smoker before it). Applewood smoked chicken quesadillas for leftovers, anyone?

Bugs, redux

The problem with spending quite a bit of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals is that these places are more often than not filled with sick people. While this is not entirely surprising – after all, how often do well people go to the doctor or visit a hospital unless they’re visiting someone or working there? – it is rather annoying for those of us who are otherwise healthy but are susceptible, thanks to being blasted with radiation and chemicals, to picking up bugs from various places in their travels.

Such is the case on the ranch, where yours truly has a typical case of the flu or a cold or something, resulting in an amazing amount of snot being blown out of my head.

Speaking of amazing amounts of stuff: this week, a return visit to the pulmonologist, for a followup xray to make sure that massive amount of fluid they drained out of the left lung last week remains at bay. It does, although there is still a bit of hazy “pneumonia-like stuff” hanging out at the bottom of the left lung. Do we know what it is and why it’s there? No. Do we want to preemptively treat it with antibiotics or anything? I voted no, and the doctor concurred. In two weeks we’ll have a followup xray to see what progress the body can make on its own.

On another note, I got to see the xrays and scans from before and after he drained the fluid. I have to say, it was one of the most incredible things I’ve seen on a scan, and more than a little scary: my left lung was pushed almost to the point of collapse by the sheer amount of fluid, and the CT scan results, when rolled back and forth like a film, are rather awesome in demonstrating just what medical technology has the ability to do (of course, I am a great fan of technology in general and medical technology in particular, because hey, it has saved my life rather spectacularly, twice, in the span of five years). When viewed as a film, the CT scan results, working from the top of the lung downward, show a massive black space where the fluid has displaced the lung – a bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey, minus the stars bit, because there was absolutely nothing there but a huge amount of (thankfully benign) fluid.

Right now, although my head is stuffed to the point where I want to chop it off, breathing deeply no longer is the agony it has been, and is getting better daily. A slight twinge here and there, but overall, recovery is back on track. The other day I went out for about 20 minutes or so and actually worked in the garden by chopping off some of the giant okra fingers that were threatening to topple some of the plants. All of those went into compost, as they were inedible – some had dried on the stem, the seeds rattling around in the now zebra-striped pods as I cut and tossed them.

I’ve decided to try another round of tomatoes, as a last hurrah to the season. I’ve also decided that instead of starting other things in flats, they’re just going to head straight for sowing in the frames. Since Earl is not going to pass closely enough to our coast to bring us any weather, and the daily rains appear to have moved along, there is no real danger at this point of the seeds being washed out or the soil staying wet so long so as to cause the seeds to rot in place. That means the broccoli, cauliflower, and other assorted goodies will be directly sowed at some hopefully short time in the future – but after we go through another week of 95-degree weather here, according to our forecast. Summer does not want to let go its grip, and who can blame it, really? Summer, to me, is the very best of seasons.