Skip to main content.
Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Corrosion Control Industry Challenges

I originally wrote this as a response to someone else’s comment, but it won’t get much exposure there, and I kinda like it, so here we go:

If you’re looking for some sort of insider evaluation of Corrpro Companies, Inc. as a potential investment, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m just not qualified to speculate, and even if I had information not available to the public, do you think I could reveal it, or even the willingness to reveal it, on a publicly-accessible website with my name emblazoned all over it?

I can talk about my perspective on the corrosion control industry in general, which is very positive towards growth. Thanks to increasing awareness, more stringent regulations and enforcement, a significantly aging US infrastructure, and the patently obvious fact that maintaining structures is generally cheaper than the capital investment involved in replacing them, corrosion control seems to be breaking free of its previously relegated role of routine, and deferrable, maintenance, and ascending to the forefront of long term, strategic investment. In that regard, Corrpro, with its size, talent pool, experience and established contacts, ought to do well.

However, I and others have been starting to notice that there is more work piling up than there are corrosion engineers to deal with it. We’re talking about an extremely complex process in scientific and engineering terms, and I haven’t seen any great push from the academic community to propel talented young engineers into this field. Hell, the few states that issued PE licenses in Corrosion Engineering quit doing so just a couple of years ago, and despite the gains that NACE has made in making their education and certification programs more rigorous, a NACE certification still does not hold the same prestige as other engineering credentials, which makes corrosion a less attractive career for new blood.

So we’re starting to feel a crunch in talent. It takes at least three years to turn an engineering or materials science graduate into a capable field engineer and more than five to produce an insightful technician. To interpret the results of their work, and to spot the anomalies that could lead to serious problems, requires ten or twelve years of experience, if not a couple of decades, and although the market has grown, I’m not seeing people enter the field in greater numbers than before.

This is going to lead to a real crunch. Hopefully, we in the industry can keep ahead of the curve through outreach and advances in technology, both in detection and remediation, but if we have to resort to slapping standard answers on all the problems we encounter, the exceptions, which could be disastrous, will turn around and bite us in the ass. People can die when we screw up, and the public won’t tolerate that – not that they should.

With a limited pool of qualified personnel, companies are going to encounter a lot more problems than strategic business planning and clawing for market share. If internal conditions grew too bad at a largish corrosion control company (and I really mean that in an unspecified way – it’s not a dig at my employer), management could come in one day and realize that they’ve lost half their critical personnel and can’t fulfill their contracts.

So if you’re looking for an interesting, even challenging, career, with good potential for steady advancement if you want to apply yourself, and excellent opportunities for starting your own company, by all means, jump into corrosion. If you want to sink what’s left over from your grocery money into a quick-get-rich opportunity, I’d suggest starting a private law enforcement company over in Iraq.

Posted by Greg as Corrosion Control at 00:43 PST

1 Comment »

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Google Finance – Corrpro

Well, it’s official – I got the first post on the new Google Finance discussion group on Corrpro Companies, Inc. It got approved 6 hours and 10 minutes after I submitted it. My profile is up and visible to all, which currently makes my private email available to anyone who wants it, and provides a link to my blog.

So the idea of putting up my own message board to replace the old Yahoo one is officially dead. I don’t have to worry about all the crap that would have gotten posted, and I won’t have all the work of trying to fair-handedly moderate it.

Of course, it also means that I can assume that anyone who is interested in Corrpro is going to be able to find his or her way here and see everything I write. Well, that’s always been true, and I’ve known it, but this just makes it easier to be found. Hmmm – just went back and reviewed all the posts I tagged with the Corrpro category, and I didn’t see anything that I couldn’t live with being read by every person in my chain of command, all the way up to the Chairman of the Board (who, accusations of sucking up aside, is a pretty decent guy – hell, I introduced him to my parents.) As a matter of fact, since I only recently came up with the idea of having a Corrpro category, I can see that I need to go all the way back and tag a few more with it. I’ve already re-tagged my post honoring the late John Waters, and that just makes me think that I need to also put up a post honoring his brother, whom I also worked with – the former NACE president, Don Waters, who passed away before I started my blog. Yes – I have his old yearbook photo, too.

I’m also going to have to email a few associates. I’m sure that my old boss, Blaine, will get a chuckle out of all this. And, of course, increased traffic drives up my Google Page Rank™, and maybe, with the exposure, I can get more people to jump on the Linux bandwagon as well.

Posted by Greg as My Website, OS at 03:54 PST

Comments Off on Google Finance – Corrpro

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

New Corrpro Discussion Board

I found out about Google’s new Finance service yesterday – even before my Google Friends newsletter – when I saw in my logs that I had a visitor from it. I had to check it out because the referrer string included corrpro – and yes, Google Finance’s page on Corrpro Companies, Inc. includes links to blogs, and guess who tops the list! That makes me a little nervous, but I’ll stand by my past posts.

I almost didn’t notice the link at the bottom of the page – Google is starting a message board!

Wow, that takes the heat off of me – not that there was much, as it turned out. I ended up getting very little traffic from people looking for a new message board to replace the old Yahoo one, which was pretty scandalous at times. I was considering hosting a new one, but legal concerns on top of the apparently low demand kept me hesitant.

When I discovered it, there were no posts yet. I signed in to try and grab the first post, but registration is required, and apparently they’re serious about the posting rules. It appears to be working under the Google Groups organization, which is normally moderated, and has a pretty stand-up terms of service. Furthermore, the Finance section has its own Community Guidelines, which just reflect the “Behave!” portion of the TOS.

However, no one has joined the group yet. I already got an email back from the Google Team acknowledging my post attempt and saying that they are checking it to ensure it complies with the community guidelines. Hell, maybe I’ll get an invite to become the Group moderator!

Posted by Greg as My Website at 05:14 PST


This Is Rich…

I got a visit from The Man. No, not company officers trying to see what I’m writing about my employer, not the Department of Homeland Security (again!), I mean THE MAN – take a look:

Visit Detail
Domain Name (Network)
IP Address   205.248.102.# (Microsoft Corp)
Host Name
ISP   INFONET Services Corporation
Continent  :  North America
Country  :  United States
State  :  Washington
City  :  Redmond
Lat/Long  :  47.6788, -122.121
Distance  :  1,060 miles
Language   English (United States)
Operating System   Microsoft WinXP
Browser   Firefox
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20060111 Firefox/
Javascript   version 1.5

Resolution  :  1600 x 1200
Color Depth  :  32 bits

Time of Visit   Mar 24 2006 4:09:53 pm
Last Page View   Mar 24 2006 4:09:53 pm
Visit Length   0 seconds
Page Views   1
Referring URL…zilla:en-US:official
Search Engine
Search Words fc4 install network drivers
Visit Entry Page   http://www.gregrperr…inux-install-success
Visit Exit Page   http://www.gregrperr…inux-install-success
Out Click    
Time Zone   UTC-8:00
Visitor’s Time   Mar 24 2006 4:09:53 pm
Visit Number   4,192

I was just tickled to see someone from Microsoft coming here to look for information about installing Fedora Core 4. And what’s more – take a look at the browser my MS visitor was using – Firefox! What, Internet Explorer isn’t good enough for you guys? This really is rich…

Posted by Greg as My Website at 03:53 PST


Monday, March 20th, 2006


I’ve been incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks, trying to accomplish quite a few feats in my personal, professional, and linux-user lives. And they have all seemed to overlap.




Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Networking, Posts About Me at 17:25 PST

Comments Off on Hectic

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

User Agent Hijackers?

By now, all kinds of people are familiar with browser hijackers – those malware applications that you can sometimes get just from visiting a site. I’ve seen browser hijackers that change your home page, add favorites, redirect your search results, and worse, but this morning I may have seen a twist that’s new to me – a hijacked user agent.

A user agent is a string that an application sends out onto a network to identify itself. When you fire up Internet Explorer and go to a website, IE doesn’t just go out into the web and asks for the contents; it sends info about itself, where it’s connecting from, and information about the computer it’s running on. The user agent string is a short summary of that information.

My visitor tracking methods include saving the user agents of my visitors, and this morning I took a look at my logs and saw this:

At htxtp:// you will get an interest free line of credit of upto 100,000,000.00 just for signing up and you can pay back what you owe whenever you want. (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; At htxtp://www.credoninc

(I corrupted the link texts so they won’t be treated as links.)

The visitor in question appeared to be a person, not a bot or spider, so I’m suspecting his or her browser was hijacked. It seems an awfully esoteric hijack, though. It doesn’t actually do anything, and very few people will ever see it. I’m going to have to check this out.

Posted by Greg as My Website, Software at 06:37 PST

Comments Off on User Agent Hijackers?

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

Reinstall RT2500 Driver After Kernel Upgrade

I was working with Fedora today when I found out that what I was trying to do would be a lot easier if I was running the 2.6.15 kernel. What version was I running? Well, initially I found out by opening /boot/grub/grub.conf, but as I tooled around later, I realized the proper way was uname -r or cat /proc/version. I was running 2.6.14 – needed to upgrade!

Most of the info I found after a search dealt with upgrading between major releases – FC 3 to FC 4, for example. But I saw enough to figure out how to do it using yum. Upgrading the kernel seemed like heavy stuff, so I logged off and logged back in as root.

First, I made sure that I was using the latest version of yum (which I wasn’t):

[root@localhost /]# yum update yum

Then, a bunch of yum output messages later, I tried the same with the kernel:

[root@localhost /]# yum update kernel

I didn’t get any bells and whistles, just yum telling me it worked. Was I already running the new kernel? Using cat /proc/version I saw I wasn’t. So I checked the /boot directory – yep, there were more files there, including several that had “” in their names. I went further, looking at the /boot/grub/grub.conf. Yum had thoughtfully added the new kernel version to my list of startups, and left the default alone. So everything was set for a reboot. But wait – I was expecting that changing the kernel meant that my HWP54G rt2500 wireless card driver would need to be reinstalled. Did the Internet still work? Yes, cool, I could go to my blog and check my notes. There, I was reminded that I needed to install the new kernel source, so I also ran

[root@localhost /]# yum update kernel-devel

While my connection still worked, I saved a copy of the installation notes in my blog to the hard drive, and I was set for a reboot. During this, as expected, I failed to connect to my network. I also failed to mount my NTFS drives, so apparently I had done something special to make that work! But that’s for later. I had to look for the rt2X00 driver files – I had placed them in /etc/rt2500/module – which, if I had have read my notes fully, I would have seen from the examples. So I tried the following:

[root@localhost /]# cd /etc/rt2500/module
[root@localhost module]# make
make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/kernels/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4-i686'
Building modules, stage 2.
make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/kernels/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4-i686'
[root@localhost module]# make install-fedora
if ! [ -f rt2500.ko ]; then \
module; \
install 'rt2500.ko' to /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
install -m 755 -o 0 -g 0 -d /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
install -m 644 -o 0 -g 0 rt2500.ko /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
/sbin/depmod -a
[root@localhost module]#

(Hope you can pick out what I typed in – the bold text – from the responses.) And then I was back on my network! Nothing else to configure – all the settings were retained from before. I was able to open up a browser and go back to my blog – which I searched using the term ntfs. I was lucky – I had mentioned how I got the ntfs drives mounted, so now I’m off to fix that!

Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 15:57 PST

Comments Off on Reinstall RT2500 Driver After Kernel Upgrade

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Corporate Network Maverick

How To Get Approval For A Linux Desktop In A Windows Server Environment

This week has been a busy one for me, both at work and at home, but I’m going to write about the work aspect.

I ended up getting permission, if only in an surreptitious way, to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time but never thought I could get away with – I’m going to install Linux on my computer at work.

This may be a long story, but for those of you out there who consider Bill Gates to be the AntiChrist, or who just plain chafe at having to work with a flawed and vulnerable operating system when there are so many out there that are much better, and against all better judgment suffer at work by using Windows, this might be inspirational, and a roadmap for affecting change.

About five years ago, corporate send out a network engineer to install our new server, to replace some of our older machines, and to dump our old peer-to-peer network and hook us into a real WAN with Internet access at every desk. I got a brand new, 700 MHz machine running Windows NT – not top of the line for the time, but one of the faster machines in our office, because I was authorized to have AutoCAD. I also got to meet with Dane Hershberger. I hung over his shoulder every chance I got, asked a lot of questions, and later, after he got everything set up and left, I found out that I had been flagged as the local IT guy, complete with local administrator permissions (which in my opinion, were more like a power user than an administrator.)

For years Dane and I had frequent conversations, particularly about the corporate computer policy (which he wrote), that placed strict limits on what software could be installed on a company machine. I got tacit permission to experiment with any software I found useful, as long as I observed the appropriate licensing requirements, and I ended up submitting quite a few examples of useful applications I had found, all freeware or open source, which Dane posted for download on our intranet. The corporate IT people knew me well. I was also regarded with some suspicion – having been placed in the “knows enough to be dangerous” category, and being relatively open about my password-cracking and network probing past. I may have been the only person who got away with installing a hex editor and disassembler on my machine. Along the way I also became acquainted with one of the other systems engineers – Rayna, initial last name unimportant because she ended up becoming the bride of Dane (that lucky bastard!)

For a long time everything was comfortable. Problems got solved, and I was tolerated. I tested my limits, sure, but I was bound by the knowledge that if anyone ever uncovered traces of serious network abuse, I was guilty until proven innocent. I probably knew enough to get into places or do things that I wasn’t supposed go to or do, but I wasn’t confident in my ability to hide all the traces of where I had been or what I had done. I remember well the time I came into my office and found the visiting Dane and Rayna sitting at my machine and just shaking their heads with mixed dismay and interest. I got the impression that if the machine had belonged to anyone else, it would have been immediately boxed up and sent in for an OS reinstall. One thing I established well – they were both totally opposed to anything Linux.

But about a year ago, in the midst of some serious corporate overhead slashing, Dane and Rayna quit and moved on, and corporate decided to outsource. I immediately researched the new IT company, and in particular the names of the few who showed up in our address book as belonging to IT – we not only got an offsite Help Desk, we got a few new employees working at corporate headquarters. I was particularly disturbed that I couldn’t find any poop on our new network engineer – no personal website, and no postings on technical message boards using her real name. She was either really, really tech-savvy, or she was a just a tool that I could dance around. I had to err on the side of caution (and a damned good thing I did, too.)

I tried to establish a rapport, sort of like the way two modems handshake. I included her in my now routine submissions – security advisories, workarounds and fixes I had discovered (like how to get VPN working in NT), and I knew she was party to the reviews and suggestions I occasionally sent to the IT Steering Committee. But not a peep out of her. So she remained The Big Unknown. I’m sure she has been busy trying to understand and fix the personal handiwork of Dane, who, although he was good, had his own personal quirks, and was pretty much obliged to patch things instead of going back and redoing the hasty network setup that had been thrown together.

Apparently, things are so nonstandard in our network that other outsourced employees have been deployed to headquarters. I found this out this week in the course of pursuing a fix for my now outdated and overloaded computer.

My machine (yes, it’s still the same one I got those years ago, although I am next on the list for upgrade) has repeatedly butted up against the limits of its configuration. NT was installed on a front-end 2 GB partition of a 10GB hard drive. Long ago I decided to install any new applications on the second partition, but the first has gotten pretty full with security fixes (which I installed religiously while NT was still being supported), user profiles, Exchange folders, network monitoring software (now that’s a story in itself!), browser plugins, default-to-C-drive software, and the like. I’ve dealt with it on a patchwork basis myself, but finally it got to the point that Something More had to be done. I called the Help Desk, described my problems, and was astounded at their suggestion – use Partition Magic.

That’s funny – last year I saw PM on sale, $0 with rebate – and purchased it because I had heard such great things about it, and although I have addressed the same problem at home by reinstalling (I now have nine partitions on my main home computer), I had an eye on using it at work. I never tried it because I didn’t want to run software, especially privately-owned software, that performs such an elemental task without testing it first on something less significant than my primary work tool. The last thing I expected was a recommendation to use it from my own IT department. I eagerly set about doing so. I faithfully backed up my entire hard drive, loaded PM, and ran into a wall.

I’ve provided plenty of support for our network deployment of Norton (or Symantec) AntiVirus, so I was pleased and confounded to find that my client was now configured so that the user couldn’t turn it off. Someone’s been diligent – bringing our network machines under better management – but it didn’t help me, the somewhat talented maverick, when I needed to shut off all processes (I used to call them TSRs) that run in the background. So I called the Help Desk again. I re-enabled the corporate trojan (DameWare) to allow it to run, and reset the configuration to make it more interloper-friendly, and invited IT in to shut the antivirus client off. Our offsite office couldn’t do it, so I got referred to corporate, but the first person I talked to also couldn’t do it. (Did I undo everything I had done before to cripple it? Oops, better re-enable it in the hardware profile!) I was again referred, and soon got a message from The New Guy.

Said TNG send an email expressing his reservations for the whole scheme and making a few specific points. I answered him, addressing his concerns with great restraint, in a way that I hoped revealed my less-than-bumbling-idiot appreciation for the points he had raised. Apparently I was successful, and not totally offensive, because we ended up engaging in a dialog that lasted several days, whereby I found him accepting of me and my views. He expressed appreciation for my “going through the right channels regarding this issue.” (Hmmm… so my restraint was noted and encouraged – this is an adroit administrator.) He had also had read my IT Steering Committee comments, and echoed sympathy for my subtle push to rid ourselves of Microsoft hegemony. This was great – I was finally being treated with some respect and empathy from the new Powers-That-Be at corporate IT, but I was probably pushing it when, after my initial PM run, I noted ruefully that there was sufficient disk space left to install another OS, and spat off another email saying so, and included a mechanical (read: hopeless) justification for why testing a Linux workstation on a Windows network was a good idea:

I’ve often wondered, support issues aside, whether it was even possible to get a Linux desktop workstation to work with the Corrpro network – to interact with the Exchange Server, network partitions, centrally managed antivirus, etc. I was wondering if, just to answer such theoretical questions, I could be permitted to give it a try on my own time? Just think of it as a test bed. I could report on the difficulties I encountered, and then IT would know how practical the concept of running some clients would be. Think of the pace of software development right now – there are already applications that have been developed that are only available for Linux. In the future, or maybe even now, there could be specialized technical applications that we, as an engineering company with at least some R&D capacity, might want to be able to use. If anybody put in a request to try it to IT, right now all you guys can say is no, because you don’t know whether it’s even possible.

And think of the line you guys could put in your resumes:

“integrated Linux workstations into a native MS server environment”

Of course, my project would be entire self supported. If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something right there.

To my surprise and delight, I got the following response:

I am ok with you trying this … My caveat being that your manager there is ok with this too. I don’t want to get put in an awkward situation where down the road someone gets pissed at IT cause they told you to load Linux and now you can’t get any work done. ;) From what you said before though, you have another machine you can use if need be so it should be ok.

As a longtime (4+ years) Linux user in a corporate environment, I can tell you where the big problems will lie:

* Getting your Linux box to use active directory for authentication is not easy, and doesn’t seem to always work well.

* Evolution isn’t Outlook, and you have to pay extra for the Exchange connector anyway so that is a net loss of $50.

* Network drives aren’t quite as easy to use as they are in Windows.

* Network printing can be a bitch, or can be simple … depends on the printer really.

* Won’t be able to integrate any Anti-Virus, which in the short term I’m not that worried about, but long term I’m not sure what the solution would be.

Now that said, things are probably much better since they were 2 years ago when I had this setup at my previous job. I basically ended up requiring VMWare and to always be running an XP box inside my Linux environment. Of course a lot of that was because I had to be able to support the Windows network.

So give it a try, but lets keep this between us and your manager for now since I am out and haven’t spoken to anyone else on the team about this yet. :)

Assuming we ever get the backlog of tasks needing to be complete in IT to a much smaller number, I will be doing something similar. There is just so much going on right now and in the foreseeable short term future that I just can’t afford to do it yet. So I’ll be curious to hear your results!

What distro are you thinking of starting with?

Longtime Linux user? Pointers? Doing something similar? What distro??? I’m in heaven! I’ve found a kindred soul!

My PM repartitioning, run in DOS mode straight from the CD, seemed to work fine – I now have some room to breathe, and 4 GB of unformatted space on the tail end of my hard drive. A backup machine spent most of today downloading the FC4 iso’s, which should by now be stored on the network drives. Unfortunately, I can’t just bring in my copy – it’s on DVD, which my machine can’t handle.

You know, looking back at my past posts about Corrpro, there’s no way of evaluating just how much my feeling of disassociation that I had with the new IT guys colored my disaffection. I never mentioned it during that chaotic period between my finding out that my boss was leaving and the formalizing of our new organizational structure, but now that I’ve seen the light, it must have had a big impact. Just watch how I knock down the obstacles in my way, and see my morale improve!

Oh – hope posting all this doesn’t sour me.

Posted by Greg as Networking, OS, Posts About Me at 16:05 PST


Saturday, March 4th, 2006

Found Another Old Friend

I got an email about a month ago through Classmates from an old high school buddy. I get notices like these every so often from places where I’ve registered my past affiliations – schools, army posts, etc – but since I never fork out the registration fees to get the upgraded membership that would allow me to directly respond to people, I’m usually stuck with a form answer that doesn’t let me pass on my real email. Usually, I see the contact and do a search for the person’s name, hoping to find another way to contact them back outside of limited back-and-forth these places allow. In this case, I did try the Classmates response – they seem to have loosened up a little – but nothing further happened. A while later I followed up, trying the Classmates contact again, and this time, I got an answer!

So I was finally able to catch up with Frank Tarzanin. I must have run into him at least once since high school graduation in 1983, because I knew that he, like me, ended up in the US Army Reserves, and that both of us disdained the more effete jobs and became infantrymen. Hu-ah!

Frank got my message pointing him to this website and my contact email, and this time he sent me his own email address and a phone number. Now, we both went to high school back in Pennsylvania, and when I searched his name, all the hits I got were also back East, so when I came into work on Friday I picked up the phone at about 6:45 am and dialed the number, thinking it was probably a home number and that he was likely at work. I never bothered to look up the area code, and I was surprised to get an answer after a couple of rings, but he sounded a little blurry. Turns out that Frank is now living in San Francisco, and he was back in school to get his MBA, so I woke the poor bastard up.

We chatted for a good while. Damn, it’s good to catch up with old friends. I’m going to send him all the contacts I come up with over the years, so don’t be surprised if you get a call or email from Frank. Now I just have to figure a way to get myself sent up to our SF office so I can go see him. Hmmm. I’m going to have to dig out my old yearbooks so I can can put up “then” photos of people I run into.

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me at 19:24 PST

Comments Off on Found Another Old Friend

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Google PageRank™ 4

I noticed that my brother’s website,, had sprung up the Google search results, so I pulled out my php script to calculate his PageRank™ and was stunned to see that it had leapt up to a 3 already. I took me five months to go from a 0 to a 2 and another four months to get to a 3, and has only been up and running for a couple of months. (Of course, I linked to him right away – maybe I helped drag him up!)

So I had to check my own site, and tadaa! I’ve finally hit 4! At least, according to my php script, which uses the algorithm published by Brin and Page; also a link I obtained somewhere that directly queries Google (I can’t publish it – it includes a code that I don’t remember how I got, without which you get a nasty error message from Google, and I want it to keep working for me); and using WhoLinksToMe still reports PR 3, but it took a long time, and that site has been pretty clunky lately – I think I’m going to drop my link to them.

It took me… twelve months? Oh Crap! [Literal slap to the head!] I forgot my own website’s anniversary! has been up for one year as of February 25, 2006. This blog is not as old – I started off with raw html files, then installed Mambo-now-called-Joomla on May 11 (now idle), then this WordPress blog on April 28 with my first post.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 11:56 PST


« Previous Entries  Next Page »