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July 2011 Archives

Honor your those who keep you plugged in!

Dear SysQueens and SysKings, we salute you. You who have to crawl under desks among who-knows-what to reach cables, you who tactfully bite back the snark every time someone forgets how to find the clock on their task bar, you brave and talented souls who keep us all connected. Thank you. Now stop watching the blinkenlights and relax, because today is your day.

Your day to win.

Our judges for this years SysAdmin Pageant were the wonderful The Mary Sue and Geekosystem who read every essay and threw darts at hand picked some of their favorite entries before narrowing them down to their winners.

Now without any further ado, The winners of the 2011 SysAdmin contest!

The title of SysQueen for 2011 goes to Lisa, From South Carolina!

Here is the winning and moving essay for Lisa, as submitted by Brandon D:

I started off as an intern with an amazon subsidiary in 2007. Really I just knew someone who knew someone and I wasn't all that cut out for the internship. I was supposed to help develop internal pages for employees to access. Instead I choked down my pride and admitted I was in too deep and couldn't fulfill this task.

Shortly thereafter Lisa gave me a Linux box and a book to read. She said I was going to work primarily in Linux and work on putting up a system to monitor our services in real time. I searched around a bit and double checked my decision with her.

After I had her approval I went at it head first, mind you I had NO Linux/Unix knowledge prior to this. I was able to eventually get it running on host and client. For some reason it didn't want to properly report for other clients though :(.

Lisa gave me side tasks along the way and genuinely helped me get my feet wet in IT. It was then I decided I should pursue this. My internship ended and she fought to keep me there, but it was no use. HR had a clear cut line and another intern set to start out.

Time passed and eventually I came back the the company as a full time tech. If it weren't for Lisa I may have never started this career path. She is more than willing to give me advice or a good reference. She's currently working out in Cali, quite a bit aways from where I met her in South Carolina.

The most impressive part is that she raised her children almost single handedly. So I'll tip my ha...fedora off to you Mrs. Lisa. Even if you guys don't pick her I feel good writing this about her. If you ever need a sysadmin by god she is a (in a good way) beast.

The title of SysKing for 2011 goes to David P. from Oregon!

Here is his winning essay, as submitted by Scott:

Last year. about this time the system administrator we had died suddenly and unexpectedly.

He had all the passwords, it was the ultimate hit by a bus situation. Luckily, he was training someone to take over some of his duties, mainly the technical support side.

That person, Dave P., stood up in our hour of need, even though he was still fresh out of college. He was immediately enlisted to control and manage some major systems he had never touched including our server virtualization system and source code control system. His first task, to get the previous sysadmin's login password.

It turns out before he died, the previous sysadmin had left his machine running but locked down. It was your typical Windows 7 system, using NTLM for password encryption, and it was suspected that the machine had active connections to several other important servers. He kept all his passwords in a text file, protected in an encrypted rar file, AES 128, so cracking that was (and still is) out of the question.

As it so happens, some of our internal sites (in particular our defect tracking website) use our login password on standard http. Realizing this, Dave looked at a secondary machine and found the previous sysadmin had saved his password.

Using wireshark, a hub and IE, he was able to get a login password. With access to the normal work machine he found VNC up and running. A quick look into the VNC password translation and he was able to recover enough passwords to bring the network back under the control of someone on site.

Now to give you an idea of the size of group, locally, there are about 30 people; however, since this is where the software is mainly based this is where the source code control repositories live.

Those repositories are replicated to 5 sites around the world, and affect hundreds of developers as well as the company as a whole. In the last year, the entire infrastructure has been internally hacked and brought under control with the total down time being about 1-2 days.

We're talking VPN routers, servers he didn't know existed, Microsoft driver signing and systems like Rational ClearCase. Learning about and dealing with all of these items is no easy feat when there's someone to help guide you, but with the devastating blow of losing your mentor, that takes something special.

And while dealing with all this, he's also been able to help us move to cloud based e-mail, get married, have his honeymoon, and keep a smile on his face every day. He's always willing to help out and if you buy him a pint, he might regal you with some of his stories.

Congratulations Lisa and David! We'll be in contact regarding all of the shiny loot you've won!

But wait, there's more! One of you has won a $500 shopping spree at ThinkGeek!

That lucky geek is:Jennifer S. from California! Congrats to you, too! We'll be in contact via email to get you that gift certificate.

So Happy SysAdmin day everyone! Treat your cableslingers with the respect and honor they deserve, especially today.

Honor your those who keep you plugged in!

We're nearly there! Sysadmin day is a mere four days away, so if you haven't nominated your favorite Sysadmin yet, it's time to get your butt in gear lest they figure out what you're not up to. Trust us, they surely know about both the contest and the entries (or lack thereof) for them, so it's likely in the best interest of your internet-surfing habits to make sure that their name is in there somewhere.

To inspire you while you compose this ode to your personal cable-slinger, wander over to The Mary Sue's post, or Geekosystem's post on the Sysadmin contest (They kindly offered to help us pick our winners, isn't that awesome?) They've posted snippets of some of their favorite entries. And there have been some great ones. Seriously. One entrant actually wrote a SONG for her SysAdmin.

No really, look:

There I was just a-running along,
Listenin' to my favorite song.

And then.....Nothing

Standin' on the street,
Feelin' confused.
Thought that I was too good to feel abused.
We were not amused.

But did you give up, and let me walk away?
No, you had something more helpful to say.

You said, ""Toggle""
I said, ""Who-gle?""
You said, ""Toggle""
What's a toggle?
You said, ""Try it.""
So I tried it.
And now, I can't deny it.

Thank you for helping me fix my iPod,
I'll admit.
I'm an idiot.
When it comes to things that flash,
When it comes to things that blink,
When it comes to things that crash,
When it comes to things that clink,

I can't think.
So, for this moment of musical bliss,
You are overdue,
For my biggest,
My finest,
My fanciest and shiniest,
Thank you.
So, Thank you.

Another one of our personal favorites:

My sysadmin is a jerk.

Don't get me wrong, he means well. But it seems like he's flying by the seat of
his pants most of the time, that he has no idea what he's doing.

He probably doesn't.

He's irritable from working long hours to perform tasks that won't mean a whole lot to anyone else. He calls people names and sometimes he makes them feel small. He's one of those "the beatings will continue until morale improves" kind of people. It's a pain working with my sysadmin.

It will work out though. He does care and he is genuinely trying to help. He's trying to make a better life for himself, his family, and his friends. My sysadmin is attempting to solve problems that drive people nuts and help other sysadmins make smart decisions. Because of all that, I think I'll be able to put up with him.

So, my sysadmin is a well intentioned, capital J E R K, jerk.

My sysadmin is me.

Feeling inspired? Good! Head on over to the Official Contest Page to place your entry for either your Sysasmin or yourself (Yep, you can enter to with a $500 gift certificate of your very own!), and to see the list of the shiny goodies that your Sysadmin can will win.

On July 28th at midnight EST the contest will officially end, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. So get in while the getting is good!

Good luck everyone!

Wriggly AND mind-altering!

This Jello wants to influence your memory.

My gods, it's full of gelatin!
This weeks links have a surprising trend towards the edible and jiggly. While we're not actually saying anything about the world domination plans of said wobbly overlords, we have our suspicions.

In non-jiggly news, we're currently at SDCC so if you're at the con, check out our previous post to figure out where we are and come tackle us!

Links from The Twitter and Facebook 'verse:

There is a jelly that can interact with our cells!? We're doomed. (Wired)

10 hours of Epic Sax Guy. You're welcome. (YouTube)

If Epic Sax Guy isn't your cup of tea, try 10 hours of Mario! (YouTube)

The weather in Chicago is cloudy with a chance of HADOUKEN! (ObviousWinner)

Christopher Walken reads us The Three Little Pigs. Bonus: That Sweater! (YouTube)

Star Wars is SO metal! (YouTube)

A laser glove that can actually set things on fire!? Yeah, we'd sign that waiver. (YouTube)

Walk without rhythm, and you wont attract the worm. (BoingBoing)

This acapella soundtrack to a scene from Star Wars Ep. 1 is just too fitting. (YouTube)

We recorded the unboxing of 30 Timmy costumes for you, Enjoy! (UStream)

Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, a videogame created by a five year old geekling and her dad. You know you want to play. (Untold Entertainment)

We want to give these guys some of our lightsabers, if only for the *Fsshsh* *Craasssh* sound effects. (YouTube)

Warning, you will need a Unicorn Chaser after viewing this link. Though it's kind of worth it. (E-Bay)

Atlantis un-docks from the space station for the last time. *Sniffle* (NASA)

It's dangerous to go alone! Here, print one of these! (Imgur)

Who knew that Jello was so scarily versatile! (Boing Boing)

Paco. Possibly the bravest chihuahua ever. (YouTube)

That's all for now, superfriends. Enjoy whatever it is you're doing, and stay cool out there.

Wall E

TJHSST's 2010 Beautybot winner with his cockroach pal.

When considering this month's $1,000 charitable donation, we looked to the future. And the future is bleak for us meatsacks.

With all the recent innovations in singing, juggling, and Jeopardy-pwning robots, we realize it's only a matter of time before we'll be bowing to our new cybernetic overlords.

So we thought it would be prudent to butter them up while they're still prototypes, and to make sure our support didn't fall into the wrong hands. Skynet, we're looking at you.


Thus we've just donated $1,000 to FIRST, an educational nonprofit whose acronym stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." You may be most familiar with their FIRST Robotics program and competitions; we've pitched in to local Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology's competition the last few years, and we've prioritized our boxes of Borked Stuff for FIRST teams.

How could we not support an organization that provides a fun, accessible way for kids to get their hands dirty with design, programming, and the magic of soldering? Who knows--maybe our donation will go towards the development of another Grant Imahara, who has mentored for FIRST, which means more BattleBots, which means more swinging arms of robotic death, which means... actually, maybe this isn't such a great idea.

Please don't hurt us, Geoff.

Timmy and snowsuit in a crocheted Tauntaun costume by Mara Saxer

Timmy in a snowsuit in an amazing crocheted Tauntaun by Mara Saxer. There are no words.

There's still so much to do before we leave TG HQ for San Diego Comic-Con tomorrow: update the photos from Timmy's live costume unboxing Ustream, including that jaw-dropping Tauntaun above; pack said costumes for a carry-on because this year they're not getting stuck on a train; ritualistically iron our snazzy new "ThinkGeek Staff" t-shirts so we'll be easy to find; and plot the panels we'll want to stake out.

Now here's where it gets interactiveTM. Choose your own Comic-Con adventure:

SDCC goers, rejoice! We've already shipped over a ginormous box of freebies of everything from Annoy-a-trons to Legolas plushes. We don't want to ship any of it back home, so we're counting on you to relieve us of our goodies. There will even be a super-secret ninja chance to win a $200 gift certificate, but you have to attack us IRL to find out how.

In order to make Timmy photo ops and freebie acquisition easier, we've compiled a schedule we're calling "Stop Walking and Sit Still for a Minute this Year, ThinkGeek!"

No, we won't have a dedicated booth, but we're be squatting with the nice folks at Comic Images (booth 3200 aisle across from the Hasbro booth), and we'll be hanging out in that area when we're not at panels, eating, sleeping, drinking--um, "having a good time," or at any of these other fine places we have scheduled:

Wednesday 7/20

2pm to 5pm, booth setup at Comic Images (3200 aisle across from the Hasbro booth)
Only if you're setting up a booth, too! We'll be around Preview Night as well; watch @thinkgeek for updates.

Thursday 7/21

1:30pm, signing with Geek A Week artist Len Peralta, Comic Images booth (3200 aisle across from the Hasbro booth)
4:30pm, Quantum Mechanix (booth 2944)
5:30pm, League of Extraordinary Ladies party, Bristol Hotel
7:00pm, w00tstock, Balboa Theater, and a flash signing with Len during/after show

Friday 7/22

10:30am, Mark Dos Santos (booth 5559)
4:30pm, tokidoki (booth 4731)
6:45pm, RiffTrax Live
Sometime after 7pm, Geek Girls Network party, Vin de Syrah

Saturday 7/23

11:00am, Batton Lash and Exhibit A Press (booth 1909)
1:00pm, Bonnie Burton signing at Del Rey/Random House
6:00pm, San Diego Zombie Walk
9:00pm, Lucasfilm party

Sunday 7/24

11:00am, Scott Shaw! (booth I-8)
2:00pm, Browncoats with Marian Call
4:00pm, Comic Images booth (3200 aisle across from the Hasbro booth)

Some of the panels we'd like to attend are the obvious ones--Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, The Guild, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Mythbusters--and though it's unlikely you'll spot us in those huge rooms, we hope you'll stop by to say hello if you do.

If you're not going to SDCC and have no hope of finding us, we'll try to entertain you with photos and things via Twitter and Facebook and G+, but not too much. We know how obnoxious it can be to watch your friends goofing off when you're stuck writing TPS reports. (Don't forget the new cover sheet, mkay?) But do brace yourself for some epic cosplay. Because there will be that.

Speaking of cosplay, if you missed the Timmy costume unboxing stream, it's posted now for your squeeing pleasure. It took about an hour to get through the 30+ boxes, but it's worth the watch--there's a lot of creativity and hard work on display, and our squees were not rehearsed. We'll update our SDCC costume Flickr album tonight with these new costumes, and a trillion heartfelt thanks to those who contributed. July is truly our favorite month to get mail.

Honor your those who keep you plugged in!

They're out there. Quietly (or not so quietly) keeping us connected. The Sysadmins. Brave men and women slogging daily though our convoluted web histories, routing the internets, connecting cables and keeping incriminating emails out of our bosses inboxes. They hold our hands when we panic and forget the basics, and if they're kind, they pass along some of their vast wisdom.

So to celebrate SysAdmin Day on July 29th we're holding a pageant to honor the inner beauty of these cable-slingers. Two extraordinary Sysadmins will win not only a boxload of shiny goodies, but the prestige of being named ThinkGeek's 2011 SysKing and SysQueen.

But you need to nominate them. Help us find our King and Queen of the datastreams!

  • Go to the Official Contest Page
  • Write a heart wrenching essay about the cableslinging hero or heroine who keeps that sweet data flowing.
  • Wait while we, along with Geekosystem and The Mary Sue pick a winner.

  • On July 28th at midnight EST the contest will officially end, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. (Please note: Entering automatically puts you in the running to win a $500 shopping spree, too! Though we recommend sharing that with your Sysadmin. They have ways of knowing what you're up to.)

    Good luck to our entrants, and remember to RTFM!

Delicious? Delicious!

Yes folks. This is a CAKE.

It's a short list of links this week, but that will soon change as we are going to be at SDCC next week (and we'll post about our plans soon). So enjoy these delicious and awe-inspiring treats and prepare yourself for an onslaught of awesome!

Links from the Twitter and Facebook 'verse:

*SIGH* (Abstruse Goose)

Waaait for it...*FOOMP* (The Mary Sue)

Panterragaffe, a two-person walking machine. We need one now. (YouTube)

A complete PS2 game library. SEALED. *Boggle* (Playstation Collecting)

Leptocephalus. Weirdly creepy, yet breathtakingly beautiful. (YouTube)

Meet Marco and his new singing nipple. (YouTube)

This has to be just about the best bag ever. (Etsy)

A flying car gets the green light from the Feds. Time to start saving up for a fleet! (Geekosystem)

Tiny screech owls are silently judging you. (YouTube)

Baby Liam of Dinosaur-art nursery fame is a week old! Welcome to the world, little guy! (thekarpiuks.com)

Happy Belated Birthday, Ryan! This cake is apparently NOT a lie! (Flickr)

This Russian blue kitten saves the world from a fate worse than death: apples. (YouTube)

That's not a crocodile, THIS is a croco...HOLY SMOO! (The Austrailian)

This Hogwarts cake is too beautiful to eat. Dammit, Duff! (Charm City Cakes)

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be eaten by a silverback gorilla...well, here you go! (YouTube)

Anything tagged "Lightning" and "Mordor" has to be awesome. And this is, in the traditional sense. (Boing Boing)

That's all folks! See you at SDCC!

Iron Man

Do you look like Tony Stark? Do you live in Virginia, Maryland, DC, or have an Iron Man suit so you can fly to Fairfax, Virginia? Have you ever wanted to appear on our website and in our catalogs?

Our photographers are desperately seeking a Tony Stark lookalike for an upcoming product shoot. If you can answer yes to the first two questions above--we can maybe convince you of the third one--we really, really want to hear from you.

The shoot will take place on Thursday, July 21st at our Fairfax, Virginia headquarters, but if that date doesn't work for you, Mr. Stark, we'd be happy to schedule it sometime earlier that week. We understand you are a very busy man. Seeing as you're so wealthy, however, the only compensation you'll receive is a kiss on the cheek from a Ms. "Timmy" Potts who may or may not look like a small monkey.

If you're interested, please email replybot at thinkgeek.com a photo of yourself demonstrating your Tony Stark-itude, your full name and phone number, and your availability on or around 7/21.

We won't need proof that you have a heart.

Exhausted Maru manages adorableness

Exhausted Maru. Even boxes cannot tempt him this day.

It's been hot again this week here at ThinkGeek HQ, so we're just going to leave this long list of links for you while we go lay on our backs like Maru to try to stay cool.

Links from The Twitter and Facebook 'Verse:

Maru exemplifies exhaustion, fluffiness. (YouTube)

Sarah has to be one of the most awesome kids in the known universe to have requested THIS cake for her birthday. (Cakewrecks)

Marian Call's "Good Morning Moon", written for waking up astronauts as well as sleepy terrestrials. (Marian Call/Bandcamp)

Steve Ballmer wants you to give it up for him. (YouTube)

Seagull steals Go Pro camera, takes amazing aerial shots, hornks triumphantly. (YouTube)

The Supreme Court strikes down a law restricting video game sales to minors stating that it would violate the First Amendment right to free speech. (Ars Technica)

Mind control goes wireless, is fashionable. (Discover)

How to make a book light from an actual book. Nifty! (Grathio Labs)

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago wants YOU to be its roommate! Really! (msichicago.org)

We need a photo of a car with Millennium Falcon plates driving down this street. Stat. (Google Maps)

Super Street Fire, Turbo Championship Edition (Ulule)

We might have to paper the walls with this David Tennant Fright Night poster. (SFX)

With Sense-roid, you can cuddle with yourself! (YouTube)

Monty Python and the holy Fight Club. (YouTube)

Why female armor sucks. Pinching! (Laughing Squid)

Splitscreen: A Love Story. (YouTube)

The Journey of the Fellowship; in LEGO. (mocpages)

Pork Chop the cat has his human well trained. (YouTube)

Animals being...jerks. (animalsbeingdicks.com)

Our Web Community Monkey is going to be on a panel at Interventioncon! (interventioncon.com)

Candied Bacon Ice cream? YUM! (davidlebovitz.com)

ThinkGeek makes caffeinated donuts, is energized for a week. (YouTube)

Excuse me, but whose Bear Urine is this? (NationalGeographic)

Tiny cameras on fireworks? Genius! (YouTube)

Darth Hairdryer. Enough said. (Behance.net)

the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module office has a very familiar face on it's logo. (NASA)

Return to the Carina Nebula. (Spacetelescope)

Harry Potter vs. Star Wars. (Ufunk)

Kim Hyun's Dice Figures are eerily cool. (the Uniblog)

Lou the chinchilla beckons you to the Dark Side (ThinkGeek)

Brass and Lace is making Timmy a frighteningly fetching Wil Wheaton-esque clown sweater. Yay! (BrassandLace)

Enjoy the many faces of the running basset hound. (Buzzfeed)

Game of Thrones violin cover (YouTube)

The color clock, representing time as a hexadecimal color value. (thecolourclock.co.uk)

Transparent rugs rug. Gorgeously colorful. (BoingBoing)

My summer at an Indian call center (MotherJones)

Hope you enjoyed all that clicking! Now go outside, get some sun and practice running around like a basset hound.