humor, Uncategorized

Random thoughts

sir_shower_cat

A short list of things I’ve learned in my fifty-five years on this planet, which has been sitting in my drafts bin for 2 years.

  1. Not everyone who wanders is lost.
  2. Assuming everyone who wanders is lost could mean that you’re lost.
  3. If you hate Coke, it does not automatically mean you love Pepsi.
  4. Newer is not automatically better.
  5. If there’s a salesperson involved, it’s because it needed selling.
  6. Work is never really eliminated.  It’s just moved around.
  7. You can’t truly appreciate something until you’ve worked for it.
  8. The more legs a creature has, the more love it has.  Except when it gets past 8 legs, then it’s scarry.
  9. Most people complain most often about things they know the least about.
  10. The best programming language hasn’t been invented yet.
  11. Every generation wants the next to think that they had all the fun.
  12. Every generation thinks they had to work harder than the next.
  13. If it doesn’t cut expenses, or increase revenue, it’s probably junk.
  14. Fixing bugs is not refactoring.
  15. Chances are good that a reboot will fix it.

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humor, Personal

My Holiday Wishlist and Resolution Bundle

  1. My oldest daughter will have a healthy baby this coming May
  2. No more “Semi-Annual”, “Monthly”, “Broad”, channel weirdness. Just “Ring0”, “Ring1”, etc.
  3. The ConfigMgr console gets real drag-and-drop support
  4. An international conference agrees to broker all acronyms.  No more dual-meanings
  5. Azure adds a normal UX-efficient desktop style UI, instead of the stupid tablet-style “blade” UI
  6. Azure Automation Runbooks testing allows viewing the last test output WHILE in the runbook editor (without cheating)
  7. A 14 inch HP/Dell/Lenovo/Acer laptop with Core i7, 16 gb memory, NVME boot storage and room for an SSD for under $500
  8. Azure Automation Runbooks testing process displays real-time output
  9. Ubuntu bundles WMI-compliant CIM into the standard distribution, with an API exposed to PowerShell Core
  10. My dog would stop farting in my office while I’m on business calls
  11. Intune would add equal inventory granularity with ConfigMgr to leverage inventory data for reports, policies, targeting, etc.
  12. ConfigMgr would update the little tragically-underfed homeless query editor
  13. People would stop carding me when I order an adult beverage even though I look like Moses’ beardless brother
  14. Microsoft would release a new Windows client that blocks ANY installs except .MSI or .MSIX – period. No exceptions ever.
  15. Roku would add a TV volume control to their phone app (I don’t care if it’s technically feasible, I want it)
  16. Notepad++ would include a snippets library feature as f-ing awesome as TextPad has always had (sorry, but the add-ins all suck)
  17. My son would stop leaving his underwear on the bathroom floor when taking a shower
  18. The number of blogs/podcasts/videos showing how to install and configure things would balance out with the blogs/podcasts/videos showing how to use the cool features (the balance still favors installation complexity, which is unfortunate, unless you’re a consultant, cough cough)
  19. Someone would actually read up to item 19
  20. Get a monthly PowerShell users group off the ground here, finally
  21. Santa adds to my shot-glass collection.  I still need about a dozen more US cities
  22. Santa brings us a better harness for turd brain (aka “snuggle turd”, aka “stinky brain”, aka “Dory”, aka my 100lbs chocolate lab from Mars)
  23. Santa shoves a whole Roland TDK30 kit down our broken chimney
  24. Start going to bed earlier
  25. Write another book (it’s been awhile)
  26. Increase my studying efforts / attend more user groups and conferences
  27. Stop rambling on long blog lists about silly stuff like holiday wishlists
  28. Build more projects in my garage
  29. 29 is a weird number to run out of wishlist ideas.  I should add things like ending cancer and world hunger, stopping all wars, making all politicians honest and hard-working, making everyone nice on social media, and Virginia getting a professional sports franchise (any sport will do).  Eh.
humor

The Cutting Edge: Moving Office Restrooms to the Cloud

After a decade of cloud transformation taking hold in larger organizations around the world, small and medium-sized businesses have also begun to pursue a cloud-based strategy.  Many business leaders are now looking for other areas to apply cloud technology.  The latest area of interest just happens to be business restrooms.

Just imagine the cost savings of not having to maintain toilets, urinals, sinks, cleaners, soap, tissue, hand towels, running water, ventilation, and event the custodial staff in every office!  Let someone else manage those things in the cloud, and we can reduce our lease costs, utilities costs, and improve employee productivity at the same time!” – Mai Ballzak, Chief Morale Officer at Ben, Dover and Smooch, LLP

Indeed, the potential cost savings are enormous, with more than material implications, it has potential for impacting staffing costs as well.

Not only can we reduce custodial and maintenance staffing costs, but we’re actively implementing a new program to train our employees to not use restrooms as much.  Maybe never! This keeps them at their assigned posts and improves productivity.  The results have been incredible!” – Ima Gassius, COO at Sphinct-R

Ima also mentioned related programs, like their latest “Fiber is for networks, not for digestion” campaign.  The goal being to reduce the need to leave assigned posts for non-productive restroom visits.  “Aside from a few messes, we’re seeing much higher productivity numbers from our human subjects, uh, I mean, employees, no wait, we’re supposed to call them ‘associates’ now.  Yeah.

Technologists are also getting on board with the idea.

We’ve been doing cloud since before there even was a cloud.  At first, I thought it was crazy.  Then I remembered how we’ve been trying to establish a cloud-agnostic approach to moving our shit around.  This IS literally moving our shit around, and without all the usual crap.” – Mike Hunt, Senior Analysis Analyst at the Allied American Analysis Analysts Analysis Agency of America, or AAAAAAA.

(psssst.  yes, this is satire.  please do not take any of this seriously. And remember: kids, don’t do drugs)

humor

Things that make me nervous

  1. Cops following me for a long time
  2. Doctor says “I think we need to do more tests”
  3. Dentist (looks at x-ray and just shakes head)
  4. Someone pointing a gun at my face
  5. Only one open restroom and it’s out of toilet tissue on taco lunch day
  6. Driving in Boston around the holidays
  7. A spider walking on my face
  8. A TSA person who stares at me without blinking while meticulously stretching latex gloves
  9. Something running around inside the refrigerator
  10. Seeing “Jason Sandys has replied to your post”
humor, interviews, Personal, Technology

Dr. Skatterbrainz Answers Reader Mail

Warning: The following text may contain adult-ish offensive language which may cause unwanted side effects.  Read at your own risk.

“I was just wondering what you think about going into IT consulting for someone who’s never done it before, but who’s been working in IT direct for about ten years?” – Brad

It’s not for everyone, but some really enjoy it.  It also depends on whether you’re working from home/remote or on-site mostly.  If you’re used to being in a room full of people and a bustling office environment, then switch to being alone all the time, even with online communication tools, it’s sometimes lonely.  If you have pets or someone at home to talk to it helps, otherwise you should get outside frequently and mix with other people.  Coffee shop, park, etc.  It also requires you to impose your own control over scheduling, sleep, eating, exercise, etc.

If you prefer keeping hands-on with things after you build them, it might be tough letting go of each project and moving on to the next.  If you like having a steady office environment, that too may be a tough adjustment.  If you don’t like traveling a lot, or meeting strangers and getting used to strange places, accents, rules, customs, and so on, it may be a tough adjustment.

Other things to consider are how well you adjust to working alone, or with different teams from one day/week/month to the next, as opposed to being with the same group of people for months/years.

I would suggest that if you’re really curious/interested in consulting to give it a try.  You will be exposed to more variety and more ideas than you typically get with a steady office role.  But, no matter how it turns out, it will still be more experience, and more experience is good no matter what (as long as it doesn’t kill you or leave you brain-damaged). And you may get to rack up lots of flyer miles and hotel rewards points.

“Why do CIOs so often turn down requests from their own IT staff to improve tools and processes?” – Jim

Because most technical people suck at communicating things in terms of money.  Remember that old book “Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars”?.  CxO’s like numbers and charts.  The more colors and spiffiness (I made that term up) the better.  The situations where I’ve seen (or done by myself) a proposal laid out in terms of what it will provide in terms of the following, it got a positive result:

  • Cost savings
  • New revenue (not always welcome, unless it’s in a core competency)
  • Added capability (e.g. competitive advantage)

Any idea you have to improve things needs to be distilled down to what “improve” really means.  Improves what?  How?  For whom?  Keep walking that question back until it comes to a dollar figure.  And one other aspect I find that helps is to focus more on the repeat financial benefit, rather than a one-time benefit.  A simple one-time cost-savings doesn’t usually get them excited enough to set down the Martini and whip out the credit card, but a pay-off that keeps getting better every quarter/year is hard to ignore.  In the end, if you have to fluff the numbers to make it work, you need to ask yourself if you really have the best idea.  If it really makes sense you shouldn’t need to oversell it, but make sure you present it in the language the suit-clad folks really love to hear.

“Some of my siblings and cousins have a condescending view of the IT profession.  They’re all lawyers and marketing people, but somehow think IT is like dishwashing.  What’s the best thing I can do for that?” – Charles

Hi Charles.  I can completely sympathize.  I have a few of those people in my family as well.  You can either hold a grudge, or let it go. I prefer to let it go.  Time is your most valuable asset.  Don’t waste it.  The time you would spend on debating them could be better used on learning new skills or finding more projects to grow your experience.  Changing someone’s mind about things is almost impossible without proper firearms and pharmaceuticals.

“I’ve seen you pick on Microsoft Access a few times.  What do you hate about it?” – Chris

I don’t hate Access itself.  It’s a great product, especially for small scale needs.  But it’s not built for large-scale, shared use, and it couples the application (forms, reports, logic) with the data (tables, views, etc.) which doesn’t scale or lend itself to flexible maintenance.  It’s also very dependent on the version of Office installed, so upgrading the rest of Office then becomes hostage to it.

The other issue is that shared-use problems often lead to proliferation of multiple, standalone copies throughout the enterprise.  Maintaining consistency and centralized reporting becomes increasingly difficult.

Then when IT wants (or needs) to roll out a new version of Office, it turns into “Now hold on a minute!  That’ll break our precious Access DB ‘application’!”   The longer the Access app remains in production, the more intrinsic it becomes to business operations, making it more sensitive to disruption.  And the longer is remains in production, the more likely staff will have quit/retired/died/joined a cult, whatever, and now nobody is left who knows how to maintain or modify the code.

This often leads to the following discussion playbook scenarios, complete with the eye-rolling, mumbling, and drooling package…

Version 1

IT: “You guys in Finance need to upgrade this Access thing of yours so it works with 2016!”

Finance guys: “The guy who wrote it left months/years ago and we don’t have anyone who can update it”

IT: “Not our problem. Make it happen.”

Finance guys: “Then fuck you.”

Version 2

IT: “You guys in Finance need to upgrade this Access thing of yours so it works with 2016!”

Finance guys: “Okay, but since this is YOUR requirement, then IT should pay for all that work.”

IT: “No!”

Finance guys: “Then fuck you.”

Version 3

IT: “You guys in Finance need to upgrade this Access thing of yours so it works with 2016!”

Finance guys: “Okay, but we don’t have anyone who can do it due to schedules and other work.  Can IT do it for us?”

IT: “No!”

Finance guys: “Then fuck you.”

Version 4

IT: “You guys in Finance need to…”

Finance guys: “Just fuck you.”

Then we break for lunch, listen to IT complain about how <insert department name here> are a bunch of a-holes to work with.  We come back to the office, fighting off the carb-coma sleep monster, and repeat the same discussions again.  Someone will suggest the usual workarounds…

  • “Let’s install the Access runtime for 2007 or 2010 along with Access 2016!”
    • “Adding more complexity to our environment is not the answer.”
  • “Move it to Citrix or RDS!”
    • Citrix/RDS guy: “No!  I need funding to buy more hardware.”
  • “Let’s App-V or ThinApp it!”
    • “Carl – Do YOU know how to sequence that?”
      • “Ummm no.  But I hear it’s really cool.”
    • “You thought Justin Bieber was cool.”
      • “What’s wrong with Justin?!”
    • (continues on until some smacks the table to break it up)
  • “Let’s rent an unmarked van and kidnap that old guy that wrote this!”
    • “I have $53 on me.  Can we rent one that cheap?”
      • “I have duct tape, maybe a gift card too, hold on…”

In the end, the most expensive, least efficient and most painful “solution” will be chosen and everyone will be unhappy.  After a few months they will have left for other jobs and a new staff will be looking at it, wash rinse and repeat.  Or, in some cases, they hire someone to rewrite the app using modern tools that support shared use, are easy to maintain and even move to the cloud.

“I’d like to use Chocolatey at my company, but management won’t allow it and won’t pay for the business version.  Can I still leverage pieces of it somehow?” – Larry

There are several things you can “leverage” without using the public repository, or buying the business license features.

  • Set up an internal repository.  If there’s no objection to internal sourcing of packages.
  • Crack open Chocolatey packages for the silent installation and configuration syntax to use elsewhere.  Scripts, SCCM, etc.
  • Apply for a new job elsewhere.

Option 1 – Setting up an internal repo…

  1. Read this – https://chocolatey.org/docs/how-to-host-feed
  2. Test, test, and test some more
  3. Pilot deployment
  4. Production domination and ultimate anihilation

Option 2 – Cracking open a warm one…

  1. Locate the desired package (e.g. Microsoft Teams desktop app)
  2. Click on the “Package source” link along the left (opens the Github repo)
  3. Inspect the .nuspec file for some general details
  4. Inspect the xxxinstall.ps1 file for the code and tasty stuff
  5. Copy / adapt when you can into whatever else you’re using

Notes:

  • If you intend to “keep up” with the latest releases of a given package, you may need to repeat the above steps, or monitor the vendor source location(s) to react as they post new versions.
  • If you want to expand on this, you can post your own packages with internal modification requirements (icacls, registry hacks, etc.) as needed, or adapt them into your own deployment scripts or task sequences.

Cheers!

Send more questions via Twitter DM.  If you follow me, and your account doesn’t smell like a bot, or a weird cats-for-kids black market thing, then I will usually follow you back.