Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2005 > Mid-November 2005 Edition

Mid-November 2005 Edition

My New Job

Monday the seventh was the first day of my new job as MSNA: What was intended to be a job rehabilitation after my dismissal from the bank two years ago has turned into my first salaried job ever. I am trying hard not to be pleased with myself.

The job is very much the same thing I have been doing for the past five months, plus lots of printer maintenance. Fortunately I have a program called Jetadmin that lets me keep an eye on the public printers. And I also get to work with iMacs and learn to appreciate what Apple has done in reviving the Macintosh.

As a full-time Ball State worker, I get an hour for lunch. Sometime this month I will get some kind of orientation, in which I get my health insurance card and sign up for TIAACref, the nonprofit retirement plan. The other benefits are like those for my part-time positions.

On my first day one of my co-workers kindly took me to Greek's pizzeria for lunch on his tab. It's been awhile since I went there because I never had time for that long a lunch. On the last day of the week another co-worker, celebrating his successful presentation during a department-sponsored seminar a couple of days before, took six of us to a Thai restaurant. I ordered a particularly spicy dish. It was delicious and did a good job clearing out my lungs. :)

The Cubicle

I inherited the cubicle of my predecessor, and he was kind enough to have left a lot of junk behind: old workstations, out-of-date manuals, mounds of floppy diskettes, tape cartridges of backups done long ago, and Novell NetWare (server and client) materials. The floor had not been swept since new carpet was laid three years ago. And the filing cabinets were full of old invoices and memos.

Therefore my first few hours of the new job were spent cleaning out the cubicle. I borrowed a vacuum cleaner from the library's Service/Stores area in the basement. That thing has barely enough suction to pick up a loose dust bunny, but I managed to sweep off most of the floor and cubicle walls.

Later my co-workers Kirk and Navid came over and sorted through the stuff in the bookshelves, looking for usable stuff. We pretty much cleared out the shelves, cabinets and desktops. Then I moved my stuff from the server room to the new office. I found myself up against the wall because the cubicle layout is such that a workstation can only be set up at the far end. My predecessor got around this by using a laptop, but I hate those things and don't want to give up my current workstation.

The next day I brought a Bissell hand sweeper to finish sweeping the floor and cubicle walls. I cleaned out the remaining junk from the cubicle. Cables went back to Kirk; some items (like a KVM switch) I will talk with Kirk about. The laptop and its manual and CDs to went to Darlene the office supervisor. There are a whole bunch of keys which seem to unlock nothing; I put those and a whole bunch of screws and nuts in a plastic cup I keep hidden in one of the cabinet drawers.

The cubicle is now presentable.

Busted Knee

A couple of weeks before, on my way to the grocery I tripped on a crack, stumbled, and fell on the street. If not for my hands hitting the street first, my knees would have been busted up like Madre's (more on which later). As it is they were just scrapped, with the left knee looking worse than the right. I can still walk okay, and the knees will heal in time. I fear, though, that they will end up looking blotched like my right shin due to the peculiar way my now-diabetic body fixes itself.

Health Appointments

One morning after that I visited my doctor in Alexandria. I had some blood drawn for lab tests, and I was given some Singulair tablets for what appears to be a sinus condition after describing pain from what I thought was a sprained eye muscle. Otherwise, I came out okay. I did give my doctor a heads-up about the physical examination required as a condition of my new job.

A few days later I got a call from my physician's office, no doubt to report the results of my blood tests. Anyway, the report is not all that good: The blood sugar is okay, but the triglyceride and high-density cholesterol levels are not. I will get some brochure on a lower-tri diet and another blood test on the next visit.

A week later I had a dental appointment. The office was close to campus, so I walked all the way there and all the way back. I meant to let the staff know, but with all that has happened during the past few weeks it had slipped my mind. I let them know a half hour before I left, and was chided for this.

I figured I was punished enough for this when I sat down on the dentist's chair, which was adjusted for someone shorter than me, and in fifteen minutes pinched the nerves in my right middle back. The pain went from my right chest up my shoulder and down my right arm to my fingertips. I had to get up from the chair and try to stretch my back to make the feeling go away. My dentist readjusted the chair to my height, and the pain subsided.

Apart from the back pain, the visit went well: My teeth are now clean and healthy.

Madre's Knee

This morning Madre gets a prosthetic knee installed. She was in hospital for a week; then was more or less chairbound for another week or so, intersped with physical therapy while the bones in her leg grow to adapt to the prosthetic.

My sister Vickie told me I will be making a lot of coffee for Madre when she gets back. Madre herself told me that is unlikely: Padre makes the coffee, and I tend to make it strong enough to curl fingernails. I can't tell myself: I make the coffee, not drink it. :)

Wallace & Gromit

A few Saturday ago I saw Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the newly released Wallace & Gromit movie. It differs from the past three W&G films in that it is longer, more elaborate, and (although it is so hard to tell that I learned this from reading iMDB) computer-generated rather than actual claymation. Still, Wallace was still Wallace (ignorant of the obvious), Gromit was still Gromit (saving Wallace from the obvious), and it was very funny movie.

This makes the fire at Aardman all the more sad. The studio itself was not hit (as I was led to believe from the BBC article): It was its storage archive that was destroyed, wiping out props and storyboards for the three W&G short films, Creature Comforts and other stuff.

The film version of DOOM also came out, but I did not see it after reading the poor reviews from the Ars Technica site. I figured something like that would happen: Hollywood could not swallow monsters from Hell in 2145, so they changed it to humans mutated by viruses in 2045. How dumb can you get?

Sony BMG

DRM is supposed to stand for Digital Rights Management. With the piracy-obsessed Sony BMG, the music division of Sony, it really means (according to an Ars Technica article title) Devious Rootkit Malware.

Sony BMG has joined the army of crackers by providing a rootkit — a program that infects a computer's operating system to allow a cracker unlimited access — in CDs from a couple of dozen of their artists, including Celine Dion and Neil Diamond. The malware inserts itself between the Windows kernel and the CD driver, so that if you rip out the malware the CD drive will no longer work — unless you reinstall Windows.

Sony BMG has allied itself with the filth of the Internet, and already there are calls to boycott Sony BMG music. I am just glad I don't buy music much anymore.

But Sony is not alone: The music and film industries are taking on the aspects of legal crime syndicates, dedicated to extorting money out of its consumer base for largely inferior product.

The Sony BMG DRM/rootkit issue has actually made it on NPR, which usually broadcasts either breaking news, news analysis or tooth-rootingly squishy "human-interest" stuff (just to prove you care).

According to NPR Sony BMG is so upset that people are called their DRM software "spyware", "malware" or "rootkit". One of their executives told NPR that "'Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it,' he asked? 'The software is designed to protect our CDs from unauthorized copying, ripping.'".

Naturally he does not explain what authorized copying would be; nor does he explain how his DRM technology won't leave a target computer vulnerable to the army of crackers out on the Internet; nor does he make the case of why such anti-spyware software as AdAware, Spybot, and ZoneAlarm should not treat the DRM software as anything other than what it is — a rootkit. I will not even touch the discriminatory nature of the rootkit (it does not work on Apple or Linux boxes).

I tend to expect selfish evil from corporate executives, but at least I would think that they would at least have enough sense to placate their customer base. Sony BMG actually goes out of its way to bring pain and suffering to its customers. And you will see more of this as the rest of the music industry adopts similar technologies.

It is time to abandon the music industry. Don't buy CDs: Support local music instead.

Oh, at last report Sony BMG, burned by wave after wave of fiery publicity, has stopping using the rootkit. They will not recall any of the infected disks already on the market. And it will not help its already battered image: Nobody is going to forget what it tried to perpetrate on its over-trusting customers.

Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 12 November 2005.