Jun 17, 2020

Choose Your Own IT Adventure

Just to set expectations, the IT in the post title is indeed Information Technology. There are no murderous clowns or spiders from outer space in this post.

Data Center of Doom cover

I've had this for awhile and never got around to sharing it. It all started back in BC (Before Corona) when I was talking to one of my managers in his office. I happened to see just enough of the book corner sticking out from a pile of books and papers to know it was a CYOA book. At first I thought it was a parody because it didn't look or sound like a typical CYOA book.

Data Center of Doom back cover

When I (excitedly) asked what it was he said I could take it as it was just a promo item he got at a tech trade show. As I started looking at it, there was no doubt it was an official book after seeing the ChooseCo logo. What a cool way to promote your company!

Here is the back cover text:
Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls provide a security architecture that protects, scales and evolves with data center needs. Our firewalls are designed to safely enable applications by user, application and content without compromising performance. We support physical, virtualized and mixed-mode date center environments, with consistent next-generation firewall features managed with a single centralized management platform.

There's also mention of a secret online ending but since the book is around 8 years old, that page no longer comes up with anything.

Data Center of Doom other books

I think my favorite thing about the book is this Books You May Have Missed section. CYOA fans will no doubt recognize the original inspirations for some of these tech parody titles.

So, what's the book about? You take the role of a network Security Architect at a pharmaceutical company that is on the verge of going public. Sounds like a thrilling adventure, right?

Your day starts off noticing network traffic from R&D is being routed to Georgia (the country) and from there your choices begin.

You can try to chase down the mysterious R&D network traffic.

You could end up giving a presentation to the Chief Information Security Office about Palo Alto firewalls, which would have prevented the whole R&D data thing to begin with.

You may find yourself heading off to the Amazon to find out what happened to another tech that was going to visit the company's latest acquisition.

Data Center of Doom illustrations

It's not all as boring as you think it might be, but then some of it is. My first run through followed the Amazon plot and it was fun. The corporate stuff, not so much and I don't know if someone that isn't into IT would even enjoy those parts.

For the heck of it, I checked eBay for this book and if the current listings are to be believed, it's on the rarer side. I couldn't find any completed auctions but there are two for sale right now, both asking over $70!

Jun 10, 2020

Spider, Man

Just a head's up: if spiders are not your thing, you may want to click away!
Maybe go check out this awesome Spider-Man spider cosplay.

Now that that's out of the way, on to our story.

I was driving to get take out the other night and noticed out of the corner of my eye something moving on the hood of the car. At first I thought...well, I don't know what I thought, maybe it was dirt or something? I came to a stop light and it was moving again. It was a spider but not one I'd seen before.

Bold Jumper 4

Naturally, when I got to my destination I had to take some pics since he'd managed to hang on for the ride. Here he is on the windshield wiper arm to give you an idea of size. It's really only about as big as my thumbnail but that's certainly bigger than the usual spiders I see around the house.

Bold Jumper 1

I tossed a pic up on Insta (that's how the cool kids say it, right?) and one of my friends ID'd it as a jumping spider. With that knowledge I was able to figure out it's a Bold Jumper. I've seen smaller jumping spiders before but they've looked quite different.

Bold Jumper 2

In retrospect, I should have known it was a jumping spider because there's two things I always notice about them. Unlike other spiders, when they move they always look like a stop motion special effect. There's just something stilted about their movement. The other thing is they seem to have great eyesight.

When I was leaning in to take these pics, I could clearly tell he was looking back at the big brick in the sky (my phone). You can see in the above pics, he was even cocking his head to the side. If he was wearing a tiny top hat, I imagine he'd tip it to me to say "Hello up there".

Bold Jumper 3

How's that for a close-up? Kinda feels like he's going to jump right at you!

He managed to hang on for the drive home as well so he's probably out and about hunting in my yard.

Jun 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - May 2020

Hope everyone is still doing good out there in internet land! I know a lot of places have started a phased re-opening but don't let that make you think we're out of the woods. We still have a way to go to get back to "normal". Please continue to be safe!

Okay, on with the show! I know we joke about time having no meaning but I seriously had to double check my movie log to make sure I saw the first entry this month because it felt like I watched it so long ago!


Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (Disney+) - An 8 part series on the making of The Mandalorian? Um, yes please!

Dispatches from Elsewhere (AMC) - I'm glad I decided to wait until all the episodes were out to watch them over a few days. I really enjoyed this as it actually engaged my brain and made me feel things.


This was sort of like The Andromeda Strain (science lab) meets 28 Days Later (rage virus) but keep in mind it is 1985. The scariest makeup effects are some flaky skin and boils which is a shame because if they'd done any kind of gore, it would make a better movie. As it is, I have no clue how this got an R rating.
There were a couple moments where the local yokels clash with the government/not quite CDC people that felt pretty relevant with the quarantine protestors. Despite it feeling like a made for TV movie, I thought it was pretty good overall. I mean, how can you go wrong with Police Academy's G.W. Bailey (Lt. Harris)? I was surprised at some of the "big" name cast that are here considering I hadn't heard of the movie.

Rating: 6/10

The only way I can describe this is sort of like a Dollar Store Evil Dead with a splash of 1985's Demons. The plot will sort of make sense while you're watching it and then rockets off the next exit for Whathehellsburg at 70 mph. The only thing more laughable than the effects is the acting. Having said that, it might be a good candidate for your own MST3k-inspired rip session.

Rating: 4/10

I'm not familiar enough with Treasure Island to make any kind of comparisons but it was pretty fun. The casting was spot on with really enjoyable performances.

Rating: 7/10

Blumhouse has made a name for itself cranking out mostly PG13 horror that I usually enjoy. Not so much for this vacation. While I didn't think it was all bad, the rating keeps it from becoming truly threatening at the needed times and it ends up feeling more like an amusement park haunted house than horror movie. The contrived plot "twist" at the end was too out of left field for me to do anything other than roll my eyes at it. And don't even get me started on how dumb Tattoo is...

Rating: 5/10

Never read the book and it's been decades since I've seen the original movie. From what I do remember, they made a few changes but it still feels like a hollow remake, some of which I blame on bland Jason Clarke. What I'd really be interested in is some kind of prequel about the mythology/creation of the Semetary. I do have to applaud the young actress that played the daughter, she was amazing. Also good: some cringe inducing gore.

Rating: 6/10

New: 5  Rewatch: 0

Year to Date
New: 27  Rewatch: 0