What the hell has happened to us

Where have we gone?
Where have we drifted to as a species?

When we can have a flagrantly immoral, publicity seeking whore throw the entire Women’s Rights movement and Battle for Equality and Respect back to the Dark Ages with one single nauseating photo and gain more attention than the technological achievement of landing a box the size of a van, launched a decade ago, onto an asteroid 3 million miles away.

When we even have such a thing as a “Women’s Rights movement” in the first place. By what possible justification should they need to fight for equality and respect? Why is that even a thing!

When we can have societies who put their daughters to death because they become victims to some human garbage animal who rapes them. All supposedly because they have brought shame to the family. All in the name of some religion.
What about the shame of not giving your own child the support and love they desperately needed when they needed it the most?

When we can pay corrupt Politicians and Corporate Executives millions of dollars while there are homeless Veterans living in alleys who sacrificed everything they had in life for a country they loved and thought would support them.

When we can pay some talented athlete millions of dollars to throw a ball for a few months out of the year while there’s some single mother working 3 jobs just so she can barely scrape by and provide for her children.

When we can have a 9 year old girl accidentally kill a shooting instructor with an Uzi and then we rail about how it’s our “Constitutional Right” to own firearms and we verbally abuse anyone who so much as mentions the possibility of better gun controls.
Seriously?! A fucking machine gun?
A 9 year old girl who now has to live for the rest of her life knowing she killed someone and live with that image.

Fuck you and your “rights of gun ownership”. You know damned well that isn’t what the Founding Fathers meant or what this country was built on.

When we can proudly say that this country was based on things like Freedom of Religion and Equality while at the same time persecuting anyone with different religious beliefs or sexuality than ourselves.
How about you stop waving that precious Bible of yours in other people’s faces and actually read the damned thing you fucking hypocrites.

When we can work 40 hours a week while at the same time seeing the same obviously perfectly healthy person begging for spare change every single day.
Or knowing of people who collect unemployment, welfare, food stamps, and child support while living in low income housing and buying expensive TVs and driving luxury cars.

How about you parasites get a damned job instead of stealing that subsidized support from people who actually legitimately need it.

When we can have charities struggling for finances to help rebuild countries ravaged by natural disaster that we feel we ‘don’t have the money to support‘ while we walk into Starbucks for our daily $5 latte.
I hope your coffee tastes like battery acid.

When we can idolize celebrities and then actively support, and/or ogle, the theft of female celebrities most personal photographs. Then we justify it by saying they deserve it because they’re celebrities? Seriously?
When we can give stricter penalties and sentencing to someone who illegally downloads music or movies than we do to Drug Dealers and Rapists.
When we can have political parties who care more for making the ‘other side’ look bad than they do about improving life for everyone. Then when any decisions are attempted by either side it is immediately opposed by the opposite party all because it is ‘the other side.’
You know what you need in order to even have sides? A whole! Right-wing, Left-wing, Same Goddamned Bird!
How about you morons stop spending so much time throwing mud at each other and actually work together for benefit of everyone?
When we can actively pollute, throw our trash on the ground, waste food, waste resources, hunt animals to extinction because some part of them has monetary value. All doing damage to the only damned planet we have. Actively helping to hasten our own demise. What the hell?! I can’t even form words enough to voice my disgust.

When we can have teenagers bullying others to such a horrible extent that the victim takes their own life, or they mentally snap and kill others in shooting rampages. Then we can say things like bullying should have encouraged them to toughen up.
You know what? Just fuck you.

When we can reach such a desperate point in our lives where we might not actually consider suicide but if we were ever in a fatal accident our last dying thought would be “Thank you” and we don’t even know what we did to reach that point. Let alone have any idea how to get out of it.

What the hell has happened to us?

BOHICA The New Trend in IT

Just in case you’re not sure.

BOHICA stands for Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.

It started with BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. A plague with far too much material online for me to feel the need to add to it with descriptions and discussions here.

In short, BYOD is defined as “Let Employees use whatever equipment they want and stop bitching. It’s IT’s job to be responsible for it even if they’re not allowed to control it, take the blame for it when it goes wrong, and clean up the mess afterwards.”

Now, the newest incarnation of this trend is “Consumerization of IT”

Since we’re partially discussing word definitions.

Consumerization: n. The act of making things suitable for Consumers.
Consumer: A person who purchases goods and services for personal use.
IT: Short for Information Technology. The Department within a Company that is responsible for managing company owned computers, networks, and other business related technology.

So, hmm. “Consumerization of IT” essentially means:

“Let’s take all this software that’s designed for Consumers, aka “personal use, toss it into a Business environment, and then make IT responsible for whatever damage this causes.”

That description is embellished a bit but it’s still very nearly the exact definition of the Consumerization of IT trend.

Our Employees want a square peg to fit into this round hole so by god we’re going to hammer it in and you guys better deal with it and clean up the mess!

And, to add to this, as IT Professionals, we’re “resistant to change” or “too controlling” or just cranky if we object to this idea and try to suggest issues with the opening of the flood gates for uncontrolled usage of software, hardware, and services designed for “Personal Use” within a Business environment.

Plus, not only are we not supposed to be “resistant to change”, we’re expected to be held accountable for the damage this trend causes, when it happens (not if), and happily clean up the mess afterwards.

The Consumerization of IT trend is being 100% pushed by companies that stand to gain huge sources of revenue from it, will have zero liability for it when it causes damage because, hey, it’s designed for personal use it’s the companies choice to use the software for an environment it wasn’t designed for, and it’s the job of the IT Department to clean up the damage.

To top this whole idea off, it’s being swallowed whole by the Enterprise/Business world as a majority like the good little Corporate Lemmings that they are.

BOHICA fellow IT Professionals and fair warning, there is no lube or rubber gloves being used this time.

First Do No Harm

I’m tired.

I’m burnt out, depressed, sick of an existence where every day it’s “Stand up, only to get knocked down again”.

Where every day it’s a struggle to not simply give up. Where I literally have nothing positive to look forward to daily. I’m tired of being in a  dead-end job that I have reached the ceiling of title, responsibility, pay, and necessary skills and I’m stuck because it does have it’s benefits, I have achieved the trust in my skills of my coworkers and it beats unemployment.

However, This blog isn’t about my petty, woe is me, whining.

My point is, I’m not an asshole. Or at least I’m a nice asshole until forced to be otherwise.

I’ll stand and face life with both middle fingers raised high, support anyone who needs it, and do my damnedest to try and always build up my environment, even as I personally am knocked down, yet again.

As such, I can’t sit idly by and watch things that truly piss me off.

I’m truly tired of how this society and industry has turned many of us into cynical, cranky, self-righteous assholes. Or trolls.

Or, even worse YouTube Commenters!

I’m sick of being in a Society, in an Industry and in Communities where the instant anyone brings up a question or discussion about any specific technology, be it Apple, Microsoft, Linux, whatever, they’re torn apart by the pseudo-religious trolls of “the opposition”.

Mindless fanatical, goose stepping sheep who treat their technology of choice like it was some sort of deity and anyone who disagrees with them needs to be chased out of town by flaming torch wielding villagers. Who feels their own personal views of “what’s right” is the ONLY way that’s right.

Where anyone new, who is just trying to learn and join an industry that they have not yet been embittered and burnt-out by, will get eaten alive like tossing a baby seal into a shark tank. Simply because they might not know everything, or get some details wrong in some subject.

I’m sick of living in a Society where anyone who has a different Gender, Race, Nationality, Belief System, Political View, Sexual Preference, Desire to be treated equal with the same benefits as “normal society, Hair Color, Body Piercings, Taste in Music, ANYTHING has to live with the concern of being condemned by anyone who so vehemently disagrees with their choices that they feel it’s their responsibility to try and change them to their own way of life.

GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF!

Judge not, lest ye be Judged.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Live and Let Live.

Stop being a fucking Hypocrite.

First, Do No Harm

I’ve got news for you self-righteous assholes out there. YOU are what’s wrong with this world.
Not those people you feel you have to convert to your tiny, pathetic little way of thinking.

Do you seriously want to live in a world of drones. Where we all believe the same, look the same, act the same, use all the same technology, have all the same political beliefs? A world devoid of the marvels of differences. A drab, grey world of clones where no one and nothing is different than anything else.

I truly feel sorry for you then.

We are ALL on this rock together.

Believe in God? Fantastic.
I have news for you. Your God created those people you so despise also. Get off your pedestal and let him deal with them as he sees fit when/if the time ever comes for judgment. Don’t be a dick.

Right-Wing? Left-Wing? Awesome.
Be involved in making ‘your side’ better for the benefit of all. Stop being a narrow-minded asshole.
Left Wing, Right Wing, Same Damned Bird!

Instead of tearing others down in order to make yourself feel better because your life sucks and you’re tired, how about extending a hand in friendship, acceptance, and the shared desire to make life on this spinning ball of dirt a better place for everyone.

Challenging a Techno-Social Myth

I was initially going to call this write up Challenging Einstein which would have been way more eye catching of a title.

However, Einstein never actually said the quote listed in the photo below so I would have been propagating an incorrect quote just for the sake of attracting readers if I had done so.

Since you’re currently reading this, obviously my boring title still worked anyway.

Einstein

Here’s the thing, that quote was probably done by some angry old Psychologist who got bumped into on the sidewalk by some teenager doing what those girls in the picture are doing.

So he took Einstein’s actual quote, which is:

“It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity. I hope that someday, our humanity might yet surpass our technology”

Then he bent the real quote to fit his own frustrations, shook his old Motorola brick phone in the air angrily, and created a new viral urban myth using Einstein to give his antiquated way of thinking some sense of credence.

I’m neither going to agree, nor disagree with Einstein’s actual quote, but I am going to argue that misquote shown in the photo. (Except for the part about idiots. That part is solid fact)

Take this photo from November 22, 1963 which has also been used in a viral campaign to argue that misquote as a partial example of my thoughts.

newspapers

The argument, as shown in the first photo, is that as we advance we are spending all of our time glued to our devices and we are not being ‘social’. We are supposedly not interacting with each other anymore but only with our technology.

I disagree with that way of thinking.

I think it’s more a matter of challenging the traditional definition of “human interaction”.
I interact constantly. I guarantee every one of those girls in the photo above are chatting, texting, IM’ing, etc. with friends. They are possibly being social and interacting with people they would have never had the remotest chance of ever communicating with 50 years ago.

I have probably 100+ friends from online communities. Quite a few I’ve met in person at Microsoft’s TechEd conference but they’re still only friends that I’ll only ever meet in person when I attend that conference.

I have many more in other parts of the world that I have never, likely will never, meet in person who would actually let me sleep on their couch should I somehow find myself in their area. In every definition of the word, these people are friends.

I have many more online people that I regularly converse with who at least qualify as regular acquaintances.

In “real life”, I might have 2, maybe 3 friends.

Back in 1963 our flow of news and information was strictly one way. Those folks shown in that old photo likely never spoke a single word with each other during that commute. They also had no technological means to ‘speak’ with anyone via mobile communications. The only means of getting information they had was either by newspaper, television, or radio. One way. No “interaction” what so ever.

If anything, technology has made humanity more interactive.

I’ve chatted on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, with  individuals who, by all accounts, are famous within their industry and I have even met in person and shared beers together. There’s no way I’d ever get a chance to meet these people in person without having talked on social media first.

So what exactly is considered “human interaction” today?

Perhaps we should be updating our way of thinking to match our advances in culture and technology.

The Darkside and the Geekside

This isn’t really an IT related post. It’s more of a “What makes Rigsby tick” post. I know, damned scary thought.

I know full well there are many online friends who have had their fill of my mood swings, self-deprecating comments, and overall “PMS’ing Eeyore” attitude at times and quite a few have reached the point where they’re sick of dealing with me.

I suddenly had the idea to try and dump some of what goes on in my mind into print. I know full well that what I’m going to talk about is far from uncommon, especially in our industry, so maybe my little ‘soul baring’ will make someone else feel a little better.

I’ve always had a high aptitude for technology. I’ve been into tearing apart and rebuilding anything with a power cord since I was big enough to hold a screwdriver. My first PC was a 386SX, which I promptly opened up and replaced the hard drive, added more memory, a better speaker, etc.

Basically the Analytical side of my mind has always been dominant. I had an IQ test done when I was 12 and scored in the mid 160’s. Human average IQ is from 90 – 109. I’m in no way bragging or saying I’m smarter than anyone else or any such thing. IQ doesn’t mean squat unless you pursue higher education and take advantage of it and I never really did. All it is, is your ability to learn.

It in no way makes you any more intelligent that the next person. Especially if that next person has furthered their education.

The only reason I’m even mentioning it is to set the background a bit.

It’s medically documented that individuals with higher than average aptitude for the analytical side of their mind also have a high chance for struggling with the artistic/emotional side of their brain.

Hence the saying of “There’s a fine line between Genius and Insanity”

Mind you, I’m sane and stable as a rock. But, I’ve had self-esteem issues and “negative attitude” my entire life. I do my best to balance this out with a wry wit, sarcastic humor, and “I don’t give a shit” attitude but it doesn’t always work.

Now, these situations are automatically the recipe for a rough time. Being technically inclined I naturally got into Information Technology as a career.

Well, I’ve found myself surrounded with friends who are some of the top minds in the entire industry. Brilliant, accomplished Leaders in the IT Professional industry. Microsoft MVPs and Certified Teachers, Professionals who speak at tech conferences. All around awesome people, some of the friendliest and coolest you’ll ever meet.

However, they’re intimidating as hell!

Shadows that are big enough to get frost bite when standing in them. Professionals who can have a ‘brain fart’ and forget more skills than I’ll ever have. Really difficult individuals to compare ones self to when you’ve already struggled with self-esteem issues your whole life.

Combine that with my chosen place of employment being High Tech Manufacturing, which in itself is also filled with highly intelligent, highly educated people. It is also, oddly enough, filled with old technology. By the nature of the industry the equipment used is highly expensive and built really well. So, the computers running most of the equipment are old. Running old software and old operating systems.

You’re probably not seeing where this is going.

It boils down to me, being really good with technology that’s old enough that no one else in the IT Industry cares about and, due to my employment, being in a situation where I have zero incentive to learn new, updated skills because they wouldn’t be used anyway and surrounded by toss in all my friends who are vastly smarter than I am.

Sprinkle liberally with strong doses of self-esteem issues, bouts of depression and  personal life struggles recently and shake well. What you get is,

Me.

Just Upgrade or maybe not

As IT Professionals a core element of our industry is the fact that technology is constantly evolving, advancing, and changing into newer ways of doing things.

This movement is coupled with, and magnified by, the fact that technology companies cancel support for the older products and technology.

A natural byproduct of being an IT Pro is that we develop the opinion that it’s our job to ‘champion’, or evangelize, our individual stance on what direction we feel these changes should be made with those we support.

Always pushing our employers and our customers into implementing the newest technology and replacing the systems that are no longer supported.

“The solution to your issue is  to implement BYOD now!”

“XP is no longer supported, you HAVE to upgrade immediately!”

“You’re still on OSX 10.5, are you crazy?!”

“That system is still running Ubuntu 10.04. Are you an idiot?”

“OMG! My Android phone is so much better than your stupid iPhone!”

“Why in the world did you reformat that old computer? It’s slower than my phone. Throw it away!”

The Internet is full of articles on “how” to upgrade or “why” to upgrade, all written by IT Professionals that are true experts in their fields.

I want to approach this topic from a different angle. To perhaps offer another perspective and a potential reminder to others in this industry.

1. First off, no it’s actually not our jobs to push our employers and customers into replacing their systems.

As IT Professionals we stand between an Industry that moves at unrelenting speed and the Consumer/Customer/User/Employer that implements new things at their own pace, if they do it at all.

It’s our job to provide a cushion between these two equal and opposite realities. We examine both the needs of the end user and the available new products and technology in order to be a trusted voice of reason for both sides.

We review the requirements of the user so that we can advise on the best solutions for their needs.

We also provide feedback into the industry as to those end user requirements so that we can help shape the future technology movement.

We are the only ones who have view of both sides so we are the experts at making the best fit between the two.

2. Don’t be a dick.

Seriously, the IT Professionals industry is full of Champions, Evangelists, Experts, Gurus, Consultants, etc.

What it doesn’t need are Fanboy/Fangirls.

Support your opinions and preferred solutions, sure, but don’t be a mindless zealot.

No solution to any problem was ever properly solved by someone with an agenda, on some kind of campaign.

Just look at our Governments as an example.

When you’re surrounded by round holes and all you have are square pegs, and a hammer, it’s not your job, or your right to make those square pegs fit anyway.

Shoving your views and opinions on what the end user should do down their throats, purely based on your own opinions, is an abusive use of our position.

3. I know it’s a shock but sometimes “just upgrade” is actually not the right answer.

Heresy! I’m going to be strung up on my server rack and get my coffee taken away by the flaming keyboard wielding mob of IT Professionals!

It’s a scary idea, but it’s true! There might actually be reasons that the end user is using their outdated technology.

Hardware compatibility with certain peripherals such as specialized controllers.

Software compatibility with expensive or irreplaceable software suites.

The system might still be perfectly capable of doing what it’s supposed to do.

Hell, maybe they just like it.

Or, yeah, they might not know what their options are.

Whatever the situation, there IS ALWAYS a reason someone isn’t implementing changes on their own.

Frankly you should be happy that they aren’t making their own changes because if they were, we’d be unemployed.

Use your knowledge and view of the situation to carefully review the users needs, and wants, and see if there is a way for them to get the same experience with more modern technology.

If there isn’t a way, then support their decisions, offer advice and use your skills to make their current systems work the best way possible.

If they don’t want to, or simply can’t, upgrade their XP machine, let them know all the reasons it’s important to replace it if/when they can but also go over all the options for making it as secure as possible so that they can continue using it. Then, revisit the situation at a later date to see if anything has changed.

Don’t belittle them for their decisions because when it comes down to it, you work for them. Not the other way around.

Pulling Local Admin Rights without causing the App-ocalypse

Or, what I like to call “Hah!, neener neener, No, you can’t go behind my back and install iTunes anymore!

(Disclaimer: There’s undoubted way more knowledgeable readers than me, especially in more Security related skills, that will cringe and tear apart what I’m about to write. But, this worked for my specific issue and it severely limits the security repercussions of using Local Admin. So, use these tips at your own discretion)

 

You know them, you hate them.

The poorly coded Windows software that simply will not run without Local Administrator privileges.

So, you’re forced to give your Users way more privileges than they need, simply to support some critical software that was designed wrong.

Well, I’ve found ways to fix this by changing only privileges on a granular, more focused level instead of the global use of Administrator accounts.

First some real world background on what caused me to need to learn this stuff.

We’re, (as of this writing but upgrading very soon), a Windows 2003R2 Domain. (don’t judge)

Plus we have some VERY expensive, and now irreplaceable, critical Enterprise line of business software from the XP era that was written to require Local Admin rights of the user or it simply didn’t run.

The software in question, since I’m going to reference it later, is called Agile Advantage. It’s some niche software for Product Lifecycle Management used in the Manufacturing industry.

Agile was an awesome company, but back in 2006 Oracle bought them and shut them down. Well, the software is essentially the spinal cord of our company, so here I am trying to keep it working as the Windows world advances along.

Ok, so Security Nightmare Number One. I am (now WAS, but we’re getting to that) required to give everyone who uses this software Local Admin privileges. Which, was essentially the whole company.

Now, leading into Security  Nightmare Number Two, as I mentioned above, we’re a 2003R2 Domain so we use a KIX script at log-in to map network drives. I know there are much better ways to do it, even under 2003R2, like Powershell, but it has been in place for a long time, and it works. Well, here’s the thing.

Security Nightmare Number Two The User Account Control (UAC), in Windows 7 forward, blocks the KIX script when ran under Local Administrator level accounts.

(Something I didn’t know before this, when ran under Local User UAC runs with the same privileges as Windows Explorer so it doesn’t cause this problem)

You can probably see where this is going.

Combine these two and now I’m giving Local Administrator to all my Users on Windows 7 PCs, AND turning off UAC. Both highly not recommended but I had no choice.

Moving on to the reason you’re reading this. I finally had enough and undertook the massive project of trying to turn this train wreck around.

(Tool #1 for you TL;DR visitors)
Being a huge fan of the Microsoft SysInternals suite of tools, I finally realized I could use Process Monitor to get a view of exactly what was going on behind the scenes in Windows when Agile Advantage was running.

Now, I at least have not been able to get Process Monitor to run except under Local Admin so this was a brief bump in my plan as the whole point was to test this application under Local User.

The solution in my case was to log into Windows with Local Admin privileges and then do a Right-Click Run As on the Agile Advantage exe and select a Local User level account.

This essentially tricks the application into behaving as if I was logged in as a local user but lets Process Monitor run as intended.

Process Monitor, if you happen to not know already, scans every single active system call that is going on in Windows. So, the critical trick to using it is Filters because it goes nuts when you first run it because it’s really a busy place behind the scenes of Windows.

By adding a filter for Process Name is, in this case AgileAdvantage.exe, to Include and then a filter for Result is Denied I was able to focus the background noise down to just the traffic I was looking for.

Keep in mind Process Monitor is highly customizable so I recommend playing around with the filters so you can get it to do just what you want for your specific situation.

This lead me to seeing Denied attempts against two local files in the C:\Windows and C:\Program Files(x86)\Agile Advantage 2006\ directories and also Denied against several Registry keys in the HKCR and HKLM hives.

By targeting those specific entries and changing the Advanced Security Properties for of each one to give LOCALPCNAME\Users Admin level privileges to just those files I then got Agile to run. There was a couple instances in the Registry keys where the LOCALPCNAME\Users account wasn’t even on the Security tab, so I just added it as needed.

Now, I used the Local\Users group because my intention is to create a generic image for future PC roll-outs and I don’t want to re-do this every time for each specific Active Directory account that might use the PC.

Ok, so I’ve gotten the application to run, but it was still acting squirrely. Some functions that normally worked immediately were now taking a couple minutes, etc. Details are going to be different for each person and each application.

For my specific case, this lead me to poke around forums for other possible tools to use to get a deeper view of what was going on. This lead me to

(Tool #2 for you TL;DR visitors)
The Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit. Now, this software does way more than I even know, or needed in this project so I’d recommend playing around with it more. The part I specifically used is called the Standard User Analyzer (SUA) under Developer and Tester Tools. When I directed SUA to my target application and launched it, I got some more in-depth views of the system calls on the various tabs.

On the Registry tab there was a couple more HKLM and HKU keys getting denied and on the Other Objects tab there was a sub-directory in the hidden C:\ProgramData directory that was trying to get written to and getting denied.

So, essentially what I’m saying is to use both of the tools listed above for your troubleshooting investigation.

Another similar tool that was brought to my attention by Chris Jackson, an Architect at Microsoft (@appcompatguy on Twitter) is called LUA Buglight.

For my specific instance I didn’t need this tool but it looks to be very useful for this and generates a concise text file report of the issues it runs into.

These steps fixed my specific problem that I’ve been fighting for years. It was a giant pain in the butt and I repeated these steps for a couple other key applications but combining all this work with a reference PC that I plan to use for imaging future systems, all the effort now will make future issues non-existent.

Now, some further adjustments I made because I’ve just found a lot of Windows Weirdness in the Event log over the years on systems running as Local User.

In Computer Management, Local Users and Groups, I added the following accounts to the following Groups.

NT AUTHORITY\Authenticated Users and DOMAIN\Domain Users added to the Distributed COM Users group. Again, I did Domain\Users versus a specific person because I’m creating a generic image system.

I also added them to a few others, like Event Log Readers, Performance Log Users, Performance Monitor Users, etc. just to make any future work I might need to do on the individuals computer under their account later easier. This is just something you can decide for your own individual instances.

Happy Hunting and I hope my project steps here help others in similar situations.

To reference back to my initial Disclaimer above. I’m sure there are reasons why what I did are probably not recommended by some professionals but I weighed the potential issues against allowing global Administrator privileges and decided these options were far preferable.