New Year, Same Shit…

The new year has come, but besides trying to remember to now write 2008 instead of 2007, nothing has changed.

The murder rate has started with a nice even figure of four for the year, so we are have started on the way of setting a new record. The assistant commissioner of police is trying to dispute the murder figure of 396 by saying the newspapers have it wrong and that if we take away the manslaughter figures you end up with 384. Phew! What a big difference that makes; that figure makes everything okay now. Oh for fuck’s sake, accept that you didn’t do your fucking job and do something about it. This trying to smooth everything to make it sound better may fool some of he people, but believe me, people are getting real fed up of the shit.

So this year what would I like to see:

  • Better police enforcement from to smallest crime up. So charge the PH drivers, the CD and DVD pirates and the litterers. Working to ensure the lawlessness stops will help.
  • A more efficient judicial system. This thing about waiting years for the trial to start have to end. By the time trial starts you can’t find the witnesses or people memories get fuzzy; heck my mind gets fuzzy after a week far worse for two or three years.
  • The enforcement of the death penalty. Contrary to what many people are saying, there can be no return of the death penalty because it never went anywhere. It is still the highest form of capital punishment and it is required by law that a person convicted of first degree murder be sentenced to death; it just has not been enforced.
  • A stronger agricultural sector. For a small country like ours, with many families starting out with farming and agriculture, should not have to paying through our nose for produce far less having to import food. Come on people, we will not be able to eat bricks and drink oil to survive.
  • Government spending our money wisely. While I will quicker see Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny playing poker at the Tooth Fairy’s house than see the government of Trinidad and Tobago manage the country’s finances effectively and efficiently, I will still wish it.
  • People having a better understanding and appreciation of the environment. Once they do, they would understand why we need to do all we can to protect it.
  • People learning to respect all life and not see other animals as “dumb”
    or “lower”. I’m pretty sure that if aliens were to come down here and
    treat us like how we treat other animals, we won’t like it.
  • People just being more courteous to each other. I think this will solve a lot of our problems.

While I don’t expect these things to happen, I can always hold on to the belief that it can. And maybe I can also convince myself and a few others than they can help cause these things to happen. Whoa, what a wonderful thing that will be.

The IEEE T&T Joint Computer and Communications Society Chapter

The IEEE has a Trinidad and Tobago Section of which we are trying to get a Joint Computer and Communications Society Chapter up and running. We already petitioned and got permission from the IEEE to form the chapter about a year ago, but have been unable to get the other aspects working. So I have now taken that up to get the inner parts working – getting an executive, members active, etc., etc.

Trying to get people involved is proving to be difficult, but I still have high hopes. I am hoping that it is the season that is affecting everything – Christmas is a bad time to try to get anything done down here.

We have a large number of members, so it is just for them to get actively involved. Let’s see how it pans out for the new year.

The Breathalyser is coming!

I had the opportunity of seeing and using the breathalyser recently. It was quite easy to use and easy to understand. The officer (I can’t remember his name) was quite helpful and gave a pretty good presentation of the product, not to mention  displayed good product knowledge. What I can’t understand is why it hasn’t been introduced as yet.

What the officer explained was that while it has been passed, it has not been assented to in law (at least I believe that is the term). For sure we need this product in this country, especially for the Christmas and Carnival seasons. I could only imagine how many people will be caught using this product.

Here are a few things to note:

  • Mints will not help you to pass the breathalyser test. It may cover the smell, but the alcohol on your breath comes from your lungs and is not covered up.
  • Using mouthwash just before the test as an excuse will not save you. If you use mouthwash and the test reads high (which it will), you will be placed in the back of a police vehicle for the most ten minutes. During this time, the mouthwash would dissipate, and the reading should be low; if the reading is high, it means you are drunk.
  • More than two beers can bring you over the limit; it all depends on your size and gender (men are less affected that women).
  • Water helps. Drinks lots of water while drinking to help rid your body of excess alcohol.

In all I do hope they bring this out soon, but I can see a huge culture clash when it does come out. We are a nation of drinkers and it is especially expected during the Christmas and carnival season. It will take both a change in culture and a great deal of police enforcement.

It’s NOT the network!

Recently we had an issue at our office where mail was not properly routing to the different regional Exchange servers and mail was not being sent or received as queues were just building. The routing is done over the Internet through Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.

I was asked to take a look at the network to determine if it was a network issue. I first asked a few questions just to determine the topology and how I can determine what might be happening, but not before I asked if there were any changes to any of the network or system elements – Firewall, Routers, Switches, OS or Application. I was told there were no changes, so I pulled out my trusty network protocol analyser – Network Instruments Observer ® – and hooked it up to a mirror port to the one going to the Exchange server.

After several hours of looking at the traffic, I could find no evidence of network issues. While there were TCP retransmissions, there were not enough to say that the network itself was causing the issue. In fact, what was evident was application layer errors (as opposed to errors at the transport layer and lower). So we started to look at the Exchange configuration; however, no changes were made to the configuration, or so they said.

Microsoft was later called in, who, after some troubleshooting, said that it was the network and had our IT guys making changes to MTU sizes and other things. For a while I started to doubt myself and my abilities to troubleshoot the network.

Try as they may, Microsoft could not resolve the issue. Somewhere during the process, they then disabled Smart Defense on the Checkpoint ® firewall and voila, everything started to work. So it wasn’t the network. It turned out that Smart Defense auto-update feature downloaded an update that caused the entire issue.

So what did we learn from all this.

  1. Automatic update is a bad idea for mission critical systems.
  2. Always check properly to determine if there were any changes to the system. A proper change management process is important.
  3. Always check every component. It is not always the network.

You always find that users complain that the network is slow or has problems when there is problem with mail, printing and especially the Internet. The most important skill to have for the IT industry, especially the service industry, is troubleshooting skills.

I find it easier to troubleshoot using the OSI Layers starting from the physical layer and moving to the application layer, ruling out each one as you go. But that is of course if you really have no idea of what the problem with be, so depending on the problem, it could be best to start from the top down.

Jury Service and Religion

Well I am on Jury Service and I will say that the experience is not as bad as I expected. First I must say that I have not been selected for the jury as yet; I was not one of the lucky ones. But the the initial part was intriguing and I am all for new experiences.

So anyway, there was one thing that came up during the selection, and that was an application for exemption from Jury Service. This particular individual’s application was that their religion does not allow for their participation as a juror. Now I have heard about this before about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I was not sure if this particular individual was one. The argument is that they are not supposed to cast judgment, only God is to do that.

Now I question this thinking. Yes God will cast judgment and yada yada, but do we trust all judgment to him (or her). Is this really rational thinking, not that religion was rational to begin with, but really? If God is to do all judgment, then why bother with anything like policing or an entire judicial system? I mean, what is the purpose of it all if we aren’t supposed to do anything to the criminals. It would be interesting to see a world run by people with the belief system, but then there shouldn’t be crime if everyone believed the same thing, wouldn’t it?

Still, at the risk of pissing off some people, I still thing the thinking is skewed, but then they shouldn’t be judging me right?

Civic duty once again

“A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”

Robert Frost

I come home today after a hard day’s work and what do I find, a “Summons to Jurors” – Jury Duty. So now I have to report for jury duty from December 3rd, the peak of the Christmas season. Shit!

The real jokey thing about this is that I only got my Vacation approved today for two weeks… from the 3rd December.

Now I am all for doing my civic duty, but I really could have done without this at this time of the year. Also I wanted to do some other Cisco Certification exams before the end of the year. Unfortunately, I doubt that those certification exams would count for anything to get me off of service.

I only hope that I am not sequestered for this thing.

Think you can hide?

SecurityDude has an interesting blog about how easy it is to get background information on people in the US. If you live in the US, it is interesting what information they can get on you.

  • Find out where you live?
  • Get satellite pictures of your home?
  • Determine the value of your home and how much you pay in property taxes?
  • Get a list of all of the places you have lived in the last 20+ years?
  • Find out your age, and the name/age of your spouse?
  • Obtain a list of your criminal convictions in every state?

Wow! No wonder there are so many paranoid people in the US. I have to say it kinda makes you happy to live in Trinidad and Tobago. So I guess it can be a good thing to be living in a backward country like this. Yes, it means I can’t find out whether that new employee is really a sick fuck, but it also means that others can’t find out whether I am a sick fuck.

Bloody Murder

The headline of today’s Trinidad Express reads “Tortured”. It seems like the murders are getting more gruesome by the day, if it isn’t one then its another or another. It’s not only that the respect for human life is gone, but also the respect for the law. The criminals know that they can do their evil acts and get away with it.

So what do we do now. The fact is, the police service is impotent, and the government does not believe that crime is an issue to be dealt with. In fact, the PNM did not see this fit to address during the elections, far less that after winning the thing. The mere fact that they brought back Martin Joseph is testament to that.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

But I will admit that crime is not just a governmental issue… it is a societal one and we really need to look at ourselves and wonder what can we do. It is frightening I know, because I myself have seen someone robbed, and while I could not have done anything at the time (since I really didn’t know what was happening), I could have pursued, but I will admit I was afraid, and also no one else was looking like they were going to help anyway. But we need to get over this fear and fight the evil that stalks the land… for the sake of the nation and for our families.

The spree has begun

So the new ministers are out on a week-long retreat to the Salybia Beach Resort and Spa before they take up their official duties so that they can “hit the ground running”. Not only did they book the entire resort for the week, but also the two other residences at the sides. You can be sure that this is not petty money being spent for this “retreat”. The TnT Mirror has that the cost is about $800,000 TT – I’m pretty sure that it is more than than. I certainly don’t think they are eating cheese and bread up there, more like steak and lobster.

So who is the biggest earner in this, none other than the PNM’s Roger Boynes, part owner of the the Salybia Beach Resort (his the brother Ronald is also an owner). Well the PNM needs to repay their financiers somehow.

The Prime Minister says that the ‘Retreat first of many‘. You can bet not only that, but spending our money as well. They have many other financiers to repay, and with the many other “projects” that they have planned, I expect some serious bobol to take place.

10 Career Killers to Avoid

Network World has an interesting article by Thomas Hoffman that I thought would be good to share. It’s called 10 career killers to avoid.

To quickly summarise, here is the quick list:

  1. Failing to have a life plan.
  2. Not keeping your skills current.
  3. Failing to deliver results.
  4. Confusing efficiency with effectiveness.
  5. Believing that you are irreplaceable.
  6. Knowing all the answers.
  7. Surrounding yourself with “brown-nosers.”
  8. Forgetting to give credit to others.
  9. Failing to self-promote.
  10. Losing perspective.

I know I am guilty of numbers 2, 9 and 10, so I guess that I have some work to do.

Check out the list at the link above and get a clue.