May 2009 Archives

Looking for Tits

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A few days ago, I cleaned out the nesting cage I have outside, hoping to attract a new couple of Blue Tits to settle in and raise their offspring. The past two - or has it been three already? - years I've seen the parents build and raise their little fluffy kids to self sustaining flying miracles.

Last year they built right on top of the previous' years nest, so I figured they might do so again this year, but so far I ain't seen a single bird, hence the complete cleaning out of the cage to offer a clean slate and possibly a different pair to find themselves a new temporary home.

If you're wondering what these little birdies look like, check out the post(s) about the nest I had in 2005 : More Tits, Peek-a-boo and Blue Tits.

Testing

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I don't know yet whether to "believe" this enneagram test that I took, but after answering 52 questions, it categorized me as a Type 1 (The Reformer) with a 9 wing (The Peacemaker) while instinctual being an SO (Social Variant). That is, if I understand it all correctly.

Does it fit? Do I think it fits? Do you think it fits me? Lemme know!

Working overtime

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I've just updated my schedule for the coming month and it sure will be a busy one. While I usually start out with somewhere between 160 to 168 hours and end up doing 170 to 180 by the time the month is coming to an end, the June schedule has me planned for a full 180 hours from the start.

Anyway, now that I've got the schedule, I'll be trying to squeeze in a visit to the dealership for a routine maintenance check for the car. (Done)

Note : While you may get the impression that I'm whining about all the (extra) hours I'm putting in the last couple of months, I don't really mind. It's just that sometimes I get ahead of myself and forget that every now and then one needs a break too.

Here we go again

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It's been a long but very fun day so far, and now I'm heading off to work a night shift. I'll regret it in the morning - hell, I'm partially regretting it already - but when people keep calling in ill, sometimes you just have to step up and do what's necessary : in this case, go work an extra shift (only the third time this month). Sleep tight everyone, I'll make sure things remain safe :-)

To Link or Not to Link?

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I've never been too keen on social networking tools or sites such as Facebook or netlog. Sure, I do agree that they have their value and probably are worth their while to some, but I consider the trade off between the privacy one gives up and the benefit their use may offer to be unbalanced.

However, after careful research I've created myself a profile at LinkedIn. Find it here : http://www.linkedin.com/in/jerryneeckx. That's all I've got to say about it.

Helping people out

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I decided to pop into my local bank branch to withdraw some cash before grabbing a bite to eat when something struck me as out of the ordinary as I entered the building. An elderly couple was sitting on a bench inside looking a bit lost. We made eye contact as I entered and I greeted them, they greeted me too.

Because I sensed something wasn't right, I looked around while I asked whether they had gotten stuck or something like that, with it being 8:20PM and all. I knew that the bank wasn't having a late night opening today, so their presence was definitely out of the ordinary. While I was withdrawing some cash, the woman started explaining that his card probably got eaten by the machine, yet neither of them seemed too convinced about that.

I could have just shrugged it off and not care, but it became quite clear that if I didn't do something to help them out, they'd still be sitting there for who knows how long. Since I didn't have the numbers for the bank telephone center on me, nor for card stop, I grabbed my statements because I knew they'd be printed on the back of those.

After doing so, I grabbed my pen and copied both of the numbers to the back of some advertising present in the branch and handed them over to the couple, explaining the difference between the both. They were happy, yet still confused. As I was talking to them about the phone numbers, the man pulled out his wallet to make sure his card hadn't slipped in there without him noticing, and he flashed quite a wad of money. Definitely not a wise thing to do, as you never know who you're dealing with, or who's watching.

I immediately blocked the view on the couple so others wouldn't get funny ideas, because people kept coming in and going out while this all was happening. His card wasn't there. Then the woman suggested that maybe I could phone the call center on their behalf, since they really had little idea what to do next. He had his cellphone on him - I didn't carry mine as I was only popping in and out of the house - so I used that to call the bank's call center. Even though it was close to eight thirty by now, I did manage to get a representative on the phone and I proceeded to explain the situation.

Then it turned out that the couple had managed to withdraw cash and their statements - so the phone numbers had been available even if I hadn't thought of requesting mine - and the operator asked for the account number. I read that off the couple's statement and it quickly turned out that the machine had indeed eaten the card. After verification that the last transaction - a withdrawal for approximately 300 dollar - wasn't fraudulent (the man confirmed the withdrawal was correct), I thanked the operator and started to relay the information to the couple.

After a couple of minutes, they relaxed a little, knowing where their card was, and that no one could get to it. I told them to pick it up first thing in the morning, since due to public holidays, banks will be closed for 4 days straight starting Thursday.

It took me about 15 minutes dealing with something that I wasn't my problem really, but I didn't mind.

Observations in traffic

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As I was heading home from work, I came across two pairs of geese along with their babies. I think the first couple had 5 - can't be sure as they were heading into the long grass at my side of the road - and the second couple had 4 in tow. As soon as I saw the two families on the road, which luckily isn't that busy on a Saturday afternoon, I slowed down, came to a full stop while keeping an eye open for any traffic behind me (none) and turned on my hazard signal to make sure they could cross safely.

As I said, the first family had almost crossed when I arrived, but the second family was a bit more cautious, even when I stopped about 2 meters from them. It took them a while to realize I wasn't gonna drive on before they started crossing. After they safely made it into the long grass I continued my way home.

On the ring way around Antwerp I spotted a car with the "L" prominently on the back, making others clear that it was a driver who was still learning. However, that same driver was going 120 on the left lane while both the middle and right lane were clear. The speed limit is 100 there by the way. I positioned myself in the right lane (no traffic there, remember) and when the driver slowed down a bit, I passed it.

Turns out there was a blond woman driving, seat so far to the front she could bite the wheel while her boyfriend (I assume) was in the passenger seat, shoes off and feet on the dashboard. If that's the way you're teaching others to participate in traffic, I can only hope that Darwin's Law of natural selection applies.

Recommendations

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Here are some things I can recommend because I've experienced them myself :

Looza B-3 - The stuff is yummy, especially when cold.
Apocalypto - Broadcasting locally tomorrow, already seen by me. Enjoyable.

About to head off to bed soon, early shifts starting tomorrow.

Dead Wood

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Apart from the all too regular letters and bills, my mailman stuffed my mailbox with that copy of "Building the Alaska Log Home" today. I wanted to take just a quick peek through, but got sucked right in! I quickly flipped to page one, started reading and was captivated by the words. Tom Walker (the author) really knows how to bring things to life, even - or especially? - for someone without background on the subject of building log cabins.

No doubt I'll have many more hours of reading pleasure from this book.

Can't speak, can write

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After having a cup of mildly hot tea with loads of honey and lemon juice, I am more or less able to talk without too much discomfort for about an hour. Too bad I always forget to shut up in time, or when my tea soothing effect has worn off. I guess more tea will be in order over the next couple of days.

Today at work I was appointed/offered/given a task that can either be deceivingly simple or overwhelmingly huge. According to my first impressions, there will be time for it (time=budget) but I don't know yet how much or when exactly. Over the next couple of days I'll be trying to find out what it is that's needed, what it is that is wanted and whether those two essential limits can be brought together enough to actually make things happen.

I am interested to take on the challenge, but I must know in advance whether it is doable. If not, it would just (another?) waste of precious time. More to follow later (possibly on the blog, otherwise just ask me about it in person).

Self pity post

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I'm feeling like crap this morning. An irritating cough, sore throat, a sniffy nose and a back that kills makes me be in quite a bad mood. I've been tossing and turning all night long to finally fall asleep just past five, which is way too little sleep when getting back up at 9:30.

Sure enough, I could have slept in for a couple more hours, but that just didn't work out. Popping off to work later this afternoon, I hope to feel better by the time.

Maybe I should have drunk loads of beer or alcohol last night - at least I'd know why I'd be feeling bad today, alas that was not the case. Maybe I'm just pushing myself too hard and this is the way to letting me know it has been "enough"? Who knows. It's not like I really do anything apart from work these days. I get home, turn on the TV or computer and that's it. I shouldn't be feeling tired, unless I'm really getting old.

Maybe I need some more physical exercise? How about building that log cabin in the woods - thanks for the feedback Hil and Ash! - or driving a motorcycle to work instead of my car? The latter is not really physical exercise compared to the log cabin building, that I admit but it is more "active" as it is driving a car, not?

Should I want to pursue that, I better get my ass studying though as I'd have to take an exam about the traffic rules and regulations and we all know how well you recall those after you've been on the road for several years. Good idea, I'll go get myself some food and then look at traffic signs till it is time to leave for work.

Six degrees of...

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How one thing leads to another... I was looking for information about a song online, and my Google search lead me to a result that could hold the answer. However, as I followed the link, I ended up at a fake anti virus page mimicking my computer and telling me it was infected. Yeah, right. I'm not an internet newbie, you know?

Anyway, as I went looking for a way to report this scam I was pointed to Google Webmaster Tools - for which I signed up years ago - where I could indeed report a spam site. Not sure whether my find would be filed under spam, but I figure it's close enough.

While exploring the data WMT holds for my various sites, I noticed that two URL's were listed as not being found. One of them was an external link - which I can do little about, since they are linking it incorrectly - but the other URL was one of my own! Aha, time to fix that error. To make a long and hardly interesting story shorter : I just fixed a linking error that had been on the site since 2002. No clue how I never noticed it before, but it's gone now. Bring in the crawler :)

Sweaty yet cool

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I'm so hungry I could eat a lion - wait, that doesn't seem right, does it? Lions have little to no problems eating humans, but I'm not too convinced that lions are all that edible. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I'm quite hungry, which is something that usually happens after a long visit to the sauna.

I came home around seven AM, took a quick nap from nine till twelve and then started preparing to head out to the sauna. Met up with Joco and Alex just past one PM and had a relaxing afternoon.

Tomorrow I've got a day off, on Sunday I'll be working an extra late shift to cover for a colleague that has been ill for the past week now. All this extra work will hopefully pay of in the long run.

Look the other way

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I was thinking about writing a relatively long and complex post about a proposal launched today by Hugo Vandenberghe (CD&V) - look up his name and you'll probably turn up enough information about his proposal regarding bank management and taking decisions to make up your own mind - but after thinking it over, I've decided not to waste my time on it.

When politicians launch proposals such as this, they shouldn't wonder why they are seeing a huge drop in votes on election day.

Oh my, what is he up to now?

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Call me strange or even insane, I wouldn't really be surprised. Somehow I've got this idea stuck in my mind that building a log cabin by hand is a good idea. Of course you don't go building a log cabin in your backyard in Belgium, especially when you live on the 3rd floor in an apartment. You simply don't have a backyard, lol.

Jill and Aaron built one in Alaska a couple of years ago and have posted quite some information about their adventure and the building process at their AlaskaAntlerWorks site. Sure enough, they both seem to be young, fit and go-getters that did quite some research before heading off on this adventure. Since finding their site, I've been researching things online as well, mostly by taking a look at the experience others had and reading up on building tricks and tips. Last night before leaving for work, I ordered myself a copy of "Building the Alaska Log Home". Should I decide - after reading the book and doing more research - that building my own log cabin is not my thing, or quite unrealistic, I should still have learned some new things, right?

Let's look at how things look though, purely for the fun of it :

* I don't have a piece of land to build a log cabin on. That's something that can be fixed pretty easily though.

* I have no clue on how to build a log cabin. That's something I can - theoretically - learn from a book, right?

* I have little to no experience working with wood or power tools. That would probably take most time to tackle, but is definitely not a mission impossible. Unless I manage to cut off both arms with one swift move of the chainsaw on the first attempt at cutting down a tree. In that case things would get slightly more challenging.

* Starting such a project on my own wouldn't necessarily complicate things, but having a couple of helping hands would make it easier. Once again, something that can be remedied, providing I don't decide on building my cabin on the North Pole. Then again, maybe someone would like to move there, helping me out, who knows?

* If I move to the wilderness, I'd have to learn how to live with and from nature. Something I suppose most "modern" people have long forgotten. With some clever planning though, the adaptation could be done smoothly I suppose.

* What if I get bored of looking at the same mountain, lake or tree line after a couple of weeks? Then again, I've been looking at the same set of houses in my current place for the past 10 years. I guess it's a moot point.

I'm off to bed to find out whether this whole log cabin building idea fades off or not. If not, I may soon be looking for someone that owns a small or large lot of forest land in Belgium and who wouldn't mind me cutting down trees and building an experimental log cabin. I'm pretty sure building a first version locally would teach me a bunch of skills I currently don't possess, making things much easier should I pursue this weird idea abroad.

Plain wrong?

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Should Opel and Fiat merge, their first family car should be named "Opiate". Market it using the tag line "fun for everyone".

Things you shouldn't say in Holland right now : "I'll be buying myself a new Suzuki Swift, because I keep on missing my bus".

Changes

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I've just updated my work schedule on the right, as I'll be heading off to work tonight instead of tomorrow. Seems they're - once again - having a problem filling in one position and I'm called to the rescue. Ah well, it's not that I had planned something important tonight, so I agreed to help them out.

I'll be up for a couple of hours, then head back off to bed to sleep some more before starting this extra night shift.

Ear Candy

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I went out on a shopping spree just now and returned with a couple of gifts for others, but also gifts for myself :-) I clearly won't be listing the things I got for friends and family since I know they read this blog, spoiling the surprise would be dumb.

This is what I got myself though :

The Neon Judgement - Smack
The Neon Judgement - A Fashion Party
The Neon Judgement - Redbox
Nid & Sancy - Color at the darkest Disco
Nid & Sancy - Yeah Yeah Yes
Front 242 - Moments 1

It had been a while since I purchased new music, but I think I caught up well now.

Update : gotta head back off to the shop to return a couple of gifts because some people can't send out mail properly.

Security is a verb

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I just got back home from a quick intervention to fix some computer related problems at J&S's place - their virus scanner needed an upgrade and while it's not all that complicated for someone familiar with the process, they opted to call me in to do it for them. Wise choice :)

This creates a win-win situation : they know that I won't just run in and out and leave things behind broken, and I get some spare cash out of my experience and knowledge. Today's task included upgrading the virus scanner on J's machine, update Spybot S&D, remove an old Java install and install the new one, cleaning up some no longer needed files and desktop links and a full test of all the programs he uses frequently to make sure nothing got fubar'ed.

On S's machine I verified the virus scanner installation, removed no less than 3 out of date Spybot installations and installed the latest version. Opera also got an update and an old flash version was patched as well. It still leaves her system rather vulnerable due to missing OS and Office patches, but that's something I can't fix that easily as they opted to "borrow" an installation disk from someone else, hence it's running a "not so legit" version of office.

All of that was done within the hour while having a nice chat and giving security tips along the way. Securing machines is a very rewarding job, believe me, even if there is no such thing as 100% security.

For those less in the know or up to date on vulnerabilities :
- Firefox version 3.0.10 was released recently, patching one additional vulnerability
- NoScript saw the release of version 1.9.2.4 (Firefox plugin)
- Opera version 9.64 is available
- IE 8 has been deemed a critical update through Windows Update.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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