Faint praise

For my own safety and the privacy of those involved, this story may or may not have any basis in fact.  Those involved with this story have had their names changed to insure their privacy.

This morning a coworker (Bartholomew AKA Bart) had us (me and another coworker – Martin) listen to a song he and another coworker (Elizabeth AKA Beth) reworked for a project.  After listening to the song, I was duly impressed with the singing ability of Beth and said so.  Martin agreed, and continued to say that “with a little practice and the help of a voice coach” she could be really good.  I thought about what was said and I decided to point out that it could be viewed as a backhanded complement.  I continued by pointing out that if someone were to look at his code and say, “Wow, that some really nice code.  You know, with a little work and some tutoring sessions with a professor, you could be a really good.  Now how would you react to that?”.  His response was as expected, seeing the insult in what was being said, even if it started out as a compliment.

The point being that sometimes it’s best to stop at the compliment and leave off the rest of the narrative.  Normally I might now post about such things, but I saw the following story on a social media site and it made me think of the morning’s interaction and how it’s related.  That story is:

So, in a little town in Nowheresville, USA, there’s a river that’s about to flood, and needs to be quickly dammed.

The local college sends three professors: a structural engineer, a chemical engineer, and a literary critic.

The structural engineer suggests building a concrete dam to stem the river, and the mayor calls in a construction company to do the job. A week later, the dam is completed, but in a few days the river’s current becomes more intense, and the dam crumbles.

Next, the chemical engineer suggests adding a gelatin solution to the river, to solidify the whole thing. The mayor calls in a favor with a multinational chemical company, and they deliver a half ton of customized gelatinizing solution.They add it to the river near the source, and the whole river turns to gelatin. But a few days later, the current of the river becomes even stronger, and the water pressure at the source starts to break the gelatin apart

Then, out of nowhere, an awful thunderstorm appears over the town. the heavy rain starts to make the river flood.

In a last ditch attempt, the literary critic steps up to the river bank

He coughs softly, purses his lips, takes a momentary glance at his fingernails, and says “I suppose this river is… adequate.”

…and suddenly the flooding stops.

The two other professors rush to the critic’s side and ask “How the hell did you stop the river from flooding?”

And the critic replies, “Simple. I dammed it with faint praise.”

Backhanded compliments and faint praise can both have a detrimental affects on individuals.  Those that are gaining confidence and seemingly unstoppable can be brought to a stand still with such “compliments” and “praise”.  And it’s often not an intentional malicious act by the offending party, they often view it as being helpful.  So, I guess the question to ask yourself before doling out such helpful tidbits is: “How would you react if someone said something similar to you?”

The power to find what you need

As part of what I do, I often end up working in the command line in Linux.  As anyone that works in IT can tell you log files are very important.  Something that they might not mention is, they also take up a lot of space depending on the level of logging being done.  Recently I had need to free up some space for log file on the server, I didn’t want to get rid of any files, just compress the older files. Chances are I wouldn’t need them, but if I did, they would still be there.  To accomplish this, I decided to use find, a Linus command line tool that, you guessed it, finds “stuff”.  Find is useful in that the command line arguments you pass it can quickly sort through and return a very unique set of results.  Find also automatically recurses downward through the sub directories, so you get a comprehensive list, you can change that through a command line option as well.

So, the first thing I wanted to see is all files (I’m not interested in directories) in the directory designated for logging that were older than 10 days (a completely random selection of number of days, a little more than a week, less than two weeks).  That’s easy enough to do, I just enter

find -type f -mtime +10

and instantly got a whole slew of files returned.  So, let’s break down what I did, “-type f” tells it I’m looking only for file, no directories and the “-mtime +10” tell the program to only give me file that have a “last modified” date OLDER (+) that 10 days.  I notice a few files that have a .gz at the end which means they’ve already been compressed, so I don’t need them in the list.  Doing a bit of searching, I find that by adding “-not” in front of any option it return the opposite (props to http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_do_i_list_files_that_dont_match_a_pattern/).  Knowing that the “-name ” option will return files based on wild card matching I add that to the mix and end up with:

find -not -name "*.gz" -type -f -mtime +10

That looks better, giving me a shorter list, and NONE of the files listed end in .gz. Now the next step is to do something with those files, and this is where the, IMHO, the true power of find comes into play.  You can pass a command line argument to find that tells it to “do something” with the files it finds.  Just to make sure I’m not making any crazy mistakes, the first thing I try is something simple and non harming, like listing the full information for the file:

find . -not -name "*.gz" -type f -mtime +10 -exec ls -alh {} \;

The -exec command line argument is great in that it will “execute” everything after “-exec” up to the “\;”.  The “{}” tells it to replace the result This means you can string along several commands, although at my level, I usually just want to do one thing at a time.  I like seeing each step and, by doing one step at a time, chances are I’ll find mistakes before it’s too late.

So, this is great, I have a listing of files, but what I really want to do is compress those files.  Now that I have a means of listing the files, and the results are what I’m expecting, I can replace the “command” with what I really want to do.  Final results are:

find . -not -name "*.gz" -type f -mtime +10 -exec gzip {} \;

The sweet part of this, I can run this command on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and it won’t attempt to recompress files that have already been compressed.  It’s really a minor thing, but why try to process files that don’t need it.

I hope you’ve found this helpful, and can build off of what I’ve shown.  The man page, if you’re so inclined to read it, for find can be read here http://linux.die.net/man/1/find.

 

 

Finding the positive

The day was Saturday, January 23, 2016.  It was the day after “snowmageddon 2016” (I find it interesting how people hype of a little bit of snowfall, but that’s a different topic all together).  The snow had mostly stopped, so I decided it was time to get out the tractor and clear the driveway, little did I imagine such a simple task would turn into such an adventure.

I went outside to start the tractor, swapped the brush hog for the back blade so I could clear the snow off the driveway. I start working and one of the tires must have been low because it came completely off the rim.

20160123_121546Not to be defeated (and because I was relatively close to the garage) I get the air hose out… only to fine out it will reach to within about 12 inches of the tire.

20160123_122309Bound not to be defeated, I reconfigure things to add a few inches to the hose! And wouldn’t ya know, I couldn’t get the tire to take air. So, out comes the air wrench and off comes the wheel. Thanks to a few things taught to me growing up, I know a few tricks when it comes to getting tires to take air (thanks Dad!). I finally get the tire to take air just in time for the belt to start slipping on the air compressor (guess it’s time to buy a new belt for the air compressor). Luckily, I have enough air left in the air compressor to fully air up the tire.  Tire aired up and ready to go, I start rolling it back out to the tractor to be greeted by the neighbor and his son on their four wheelers clearing my driveway.

Moral of the story? Well, from my perspective, it’s simply this: if you look for defeat and bad times you can find them easily enough, but if you do that, you can miss the good. In this case, having great neighbors that jump in and help without asking and the fact that the tractor is back together. All that other stuff, it’s simply noise.

Really? And you shared that?

I tend to lurk more than anything when it comes to social media, when compared to others, it seems as if I don’t even exist.  I don’t take pictures of every meal I eat, I don’t share every time I go to the grocery store, and I certainly don’t share every bit of drama.

Am I that private of an individual?  No, not really, I just don’t feel that everyone needs or wants to know my every movement.  I’m not a superstar, I’m just me.  Which brings me to the point of this post, I see people sharing things and, like the title says, I think “Really? And you shared that?”

FB_IMG_1453174789172For example, someone shared this image.  True, in the most basic of sense.  February 2016 will only come once in a lifetime, February 2, 2016 will only happen once in a lifetime as well, unless of course you happen to be in the movie “Groundhog day”.  What I really take issue with is the “Because” statement.  Let’s just think about this for a minute. February has 28 days three out of four years, 28 days is four weeks, so really every single February has 4 Sundays, 4 Monday, etc.  In fact, one out of four has an extra day of the week, this year it happens to be a Monday.  And it only happens every 823 years?  Uhm.. February 1988 had 2 Mondays!  Yeah, it really bothered me that much that I went in search of the previous occurrence.  And, just in case you’re wondering, the next one is February 2044.  Can you tell I’m annoyed by this?

Furthermore, it’s like the old question, what month has 28 days?  Answer:  All of them. Point being, when you share something like this without any thought, you’re just adding noise, you’re not adding to the conversation.  And it’s jabbering baby talk noises that makes me wonder if you even processed anything before clicking on that shiny little “share” button.  I’m not saying don’t share, that’s how we find interesting things, but I am saying think a little bit before clicking that button, just take a second and process what it is that you’re sharing.  Be socially aware, be responsible, take responsibility for what you’re saying (sharing) because at some point you’ll become that person that everyone ignores because you’re not adding to the conversation.

Apple, Renee

I stumbled across this in my drafts. In memory of Renee Apple.

Memories from Home

“…Here is a story. The sky hums, some dragonflies

pause over their shadows and dart off.

An awkward moment comes when you say, This is

my life. Earnestly, without regret.”

-Tom Andrews, The Hemophiliac’s Motorcycle.

I can remember the last visit to your house, on that Saturday afternoon.
You didn’t hear me, but I could hear you and Carol talking in the bedroom.
I stood in the living room with the boxes.

We followed the others up the hillside,

flowing like ants across the grass

seeking the cool shade under the tall tree.

Next to some of the boxes were picture frames, stacked neatly next to the walls. Some of the picture frames held paintings that Joan did a long time ago. If you look at it just right, you can feel the brush strokes.

Drums swallow the stillness around us,

as they started entering the circle, glowing with

pride and whooping as they come.

In one of the boxes were some knickknacks from a happier time; a stuffed shark from Cincinnati, and pictures that you took with your camera. You were always careful to chronicle the important times.

Alive with color, the first dancer entered the circle

full of color, as the bells on her dress jingled as she

moved, with her dark hair flowing over her shoulder.

I stand over the place where the couch used to be, remembering how you would laugh with Annika, while her salt and pepper colored dog nuzzled against your feet. If I look real close, I can still see the indention in the carpet where the couch was.

The woman merged with the other dancers,

wearing deerskin, wearing feathers, carrying staffs with

talons and other sacred artifacts.

I can see your green Honda Civic from the living room window. It looked like it was ready to go somewhere, just waiting for you to come out and get inside. It was eager to make the drive to St Louis.

High above the Mohigan, even the birds danced in circles

keeping time with the drum and the dancers below,

as if they were connected.

Before I left the house, I found an old picture of you on the floor. It was a picture from Amelia’s wedding. The photo might be torn, but the memory remains.

-Danny Brookhart

It’s just not that simple.

I recently started working as a “Word Nerd” for ExtraNerds (http://www.extranerds.com). One of the critical things to learn is how to estimate time for a project. It seems simple enough at first.  Clients want a “simple” web site based on WordPress, easy enough to do, and then there’s the selection of a theme and content.. oh my, the content.. and images and styling and the list goes on. Continue reading “It’s just not that simple.”

It’s a virus!

upside down screen
This, is NOT a virus! It’s a feature of certain video drivers. DO NOT ERASE YOUR HARD DRIVE!

Or so a certain someone seemed to think.  The individual in question thought his mother had a virus on her computer.  The screen was upside down, they couldn’t use it because, well, the screen was UPSIDE DOWN!  So, what was his solution?  He wiped the hard drive, reinstalled windows and all other related software.  As his brother was telling me this story, I started laughing.   Continue reading “It’s a virus!”

Basic Maintenance

There are some things that just need to be done. Basic maintenance on a computer is one of them. Running a disk check, defragmenting the hard drive, updating software, updating anti-virus software and running scans all fall into this category. The one that everyone seems to forget is dusting (cleaning out) the insides. This isn’t really that difficult, a couple of screws take off the side cover (depending on the design of the case, pull a lever and the side comes off, no screwing around needed).

As an example, this last week I received a call from a client “My computer screen keeps going blank! I turn on the computer and it works fine for about 15 minutes and then the screen goes blank. I can turn the computer off and start it back up, but the screen just keeps going blank after a few minutes.” Continue reading “Basic Maintenance”