Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Almost Deadly

On Saturday I had a Martial Arts Grading..

The Agency has been paying for me to do classes for quite a while now. They say if I ever want to be a fully fledged Agent I have to know how to defend myself without relying on gadgets and conveniently placed blunt objects.

I heartily agree and so every Monday and Wednesday night I diligently attend class so that one day I will be a killing machine. It's pretty hard work. Most nights I come home completely stuffed and covered in bruises from being kicked, punched and thrown across the room.

The programme is a diverse mix of Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Judo, self-defense techniques, fitness drills and Ecky-Thump (pending the availability of Black Pudding).

It's quite difficult sometimes. I've never been a sporty spice. I will admit that I did Tenpin Bowling as my high school sport for as many terms as I could get away with. But it seems that on Saturday, all my hard work paid off. Sir has finally recognised my potential and asked me to join an advanced class on Sundays that will help me with technique and introduce me to some weapons.

And so last Sunday, I held Nunchucks for the first time. They are a lot of fun but I'm not sure of the practical application seeing as they are too big to fit into my handbag.

And I was a little disturbed to find that the entire Nunchuck routine has to be done right-handed.

"Sir, this is discrimination against left-handed persons", I complained while swinging my Nunchucks awkwardly.

"Suck it up, Grasshopper", Sir said with a stern look. "Maybe you could invent a Martial Arts for left handers".

A mind like mine doesn't need much encouragement.

I hereby give you the Martial Art of Kitt-Oog-Jitsu! The word Kitt-Oog originates from the Irish word for left-handed - Ciotógach.
  • Disciples of Kitt-Oog-Jitsu must be left-handed or ambidexterous.
  • They must observe the sacred day of August 13 (Left Handers Day) and keep it Holy
  • Upon entering or leaving the training area, disciples must bow with their left fist touching their right collarbone
  • All drills must start with the left hand or leg
  • During free spar, double points are awarded for left hand kicks or hand strikes
  • Disciples will attend any Equal Rights for Lefties Rallies in their local area.
Any takers?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cheer Up Emo Kid Or I'll Give You Something To Cry About

I was with a crew on Sunday night and we were discussing the influence of emo culture.

"I wish my lawn was emo, then it would cut itself", I said in my usual deadpan delivery.

One of my friends nearly inhaled his drink. "Dude, you're sick."

"Hey don't blame me!", I said though a mouthful of gourmet pizza. "I didn't print the t-shirt."

Seriously though, there is going to come a time when all the emo kids are going to grow up, grow out of their skinny jeans and their deep introspection. What kind of support is going to be available for them? That's why we came up with the idea of Emo Rehab.

Successful applicants will be taken through the following comprehensive programme, which aims to turn Emo Kids into happy, emotionally stable citizens.
  • Emo kids will be taken to an exclusive secluded resort close to the equator where it will be impossible to wear black skinny jeans due to the excessive heat
  • Fringes/Bangs will be trimmed and hair dyed anything other than black
  • Bright coloured clothing will be imported from JayJays, Lorna Jane and GAP
  • The kids will spend at least 2hrs per day in direct sunlight. That'll get rid of the pasty look
  • Diaries are banned but kids may make sandcastles as a form of self-expression (no skull-castles please)
  • Musical expression is encouraged during the rehabilitation process and a variety of musical instruments will be provided such as the tin whistle, harp and kazoo
  • Emo Kids will eat with plastic cutlery to avoid any.. unpleasantness
  • Classes will be conducted each day such as Smiling 101, How To Make Eye Contact and Finding Your Inner Happy Person
  • Entertainment is important in the rehabilitation process so students are encouraged to watch educational documentaries like "Third World Living" and "Wars, Coups & Genocide". These videos aim to show that we have many reasons to be happy in the developed world
I think it'll be a hit. But what to do with all the black skinny jeans..

Monday, June 16, 2008

Geek Credibility Restored

On Friday I went to the city and sat for the MCDST Exam 70-271..

It's one of the IT exams needed for folks wanting to gain the credential of Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. It's a good entry-level credential for people who are starting out in IT, or in my case, to kick start training to gain a higher qualification.

I figure you've got to start somewhere, and when you're as lazy as I am with study it's a goal that's perfectly do-able and gets you commited to studying regularly.

Unfortunately due to the non-disclosure agreement, I'm effectively gagged from talking about the types of questions you might encounter on the test.

Here are a few tips if you're thinking of going for this certification;
  • Get your hands on the official training kit. I recommend you buy from ebay. I scored a bargain for $40 instead of $110 retail.
  • Schedule in a regular study time and set realistic goals. The training kit is broken up into chapters and exercises and tells you how long each section will take to get through.
  • Be accountable to someone such as a co-worker or boss about your goals. Email them weekly with an update of how you are doing. Re-adjust goals if the schedule isn't working.
  • Book your exam early so you are commited to taking the exam within a certain time frame. If you don't book, you might be tempted to get lazy with your study schedule. Also these tests often need to be booked at least a month in advance so don't miss out.
  • Learn all the material in the book and read technet articles. The book covers just about everything but make sure you read supplimentary material on any areas you are weak on.
  • Photocopy the Lesson Summaries at the end of each chapter and read over them regularly. Re-read these summaries on the morning of your exam to jog your memory.
  • Take the practice tests on the CD-ROM included with the training kit. It'll let you know the areas where you need to improve. In my case, I bombed majorly on the practice tests which made me study a lot harder. As a result I did very well on the day with a score of 816 (a pass is 700) and I found the real exam to be a lot easier than the practice tests.
  • Make sure you take sufficient ID to the exam. One photo ID and one bank/credit card.
  • Have something good to eat before you exam (I recommend at least 3 weetbix) and make sure you're fully hydrated. Unfortunately they don't allow food and drink in the exam cube and you'll be in there for 2hrs.
When you finish up your exam with a stunningly awesome pass mark, you might want to celebrate at a local restaurant. I found a sweet cafe and ordered a huge stack of tempura fish, fat chips and chased it down with a huge chocolate cookie. Ah, good times..

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Note From Your Friendly Network Administrator

My job role with The Agency is quite a varied one, but one of my responsibilities is maintaining the Network and providing Technical Support to The Agency's many minions.

Generally I really like this aspect of the job, but there are times when I shake my head in wonder at the total ineptitude of some of my colleagues. Generally it's the older crew that are used to doing things "old school". The kind of guys that stand around the water cooler and say things like, "Remember that time we took down that poltergeist with nothing but a proton pack and a rolled up newspaper? Ah, those were the days.."

They're not that great with computers and now they've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 3rd millennium.

Here be the chronicles of how they annoy me..

1. Don't ask me to install a new printer cartridge, laser toner or copier toner for you.
They have instructions on the box. Some are even conveniently packaged so that you just remove all the orange tags before inserting into the printer. Really.. if you can make toast, you can change a toner.

2. Don't ask me what your password is.
I'm pretty talented but I have to draw the line at omniscience. No, I do not know your password but I can reset it for you.

3. Don't neglect to tell me about a computer problem in the hope that it'll go away.
It won't, believe me. Don't get pissy when I tell you I have to order in parts. You could have told me about it last week.

4. Don't tell me how to fix a problem, tell me what the problem is.
Just because you couldn't get that spreadsheet to work the way you wanted, doesn't mean you need to upgrade to the latest version of office. I refuse to install that overpriced abomination on any PC on my network. The problem is that you don't know how to use Excel.

5. Don't phone me demanding that I instantaneously materialise in your cube to fix your problem.
Most days I have a lot of things going on. Let me prioritise my own workload.

6. Don't ask me to restore data that hasn't been backed up.
If you made a document an hour ago and then deleted it, it's not on backup. Get a TARDIS or learn your lesson and get used to hitting Ctrl-S regularly.

7. Don't you dare walk away from your PC without locking it.
Do you really want other people reading your email? Do you want the Director to see that you're reading LOLCATs again?

8. Don't phone me repeatedly when I have PMT.
Approach my desk slowly, with palms up and preferably with at least 100 grams of good quality dairy milk chocolate. Not white, not dark but dairy milk.

9. Don't take it as a personal insult if you don't have access to a Network Folder.
There could be a very good reason why you don't have clearance. If not, it only takes a couple of minutes to fix. Chill out.

10. Don't ask me to install meaningless third party software that is going to take up system resources just so you can have some trinket for your desktop.
What's on your PC is all you need for work. If it was really that necessary, don't you think I would have rolled it out to everyone?

If only I could post this at work..