HOWTO: Leave non-shitty voicemail

I’ve been receiving a fair amount of voicemail at work from sales jagbags that are of the form “Hey, this is Jagbag from JB Inc, I’ve got a couple of questions for you, so if you could call me back at 555-DICKBAG, I’d appreciate it.” I will never return this call. It’s not that its from a sales guy or that its a cold call, although that adds to the likelihood that I’ll delete it with prejudice. It’s the vague “I have a few questions for you.” Give me some specifics for a reason to call to you.

Its not just sales people, I receive voicemail from people in my organization with “call me back” and no other content.  That might be my biggest pet peeve.

How to leave a good voicemail:

  1. Tell me as specifically as possible what the content of our phone call would be if I called you back. I can be prepared when I call. I can send you e-mail with supplementary information before I call.  Help me help you.
  2. Leave when you might be available or unavailable. Let’s not play phone tag.
  3. If you are a sales person, remind me when we (or my company) did business together. I can look at past notes to refresh my memory. (See also #1.)
  4. Let me know if there is any urgency or the consequences of me taking too long to respond so I can prioritize with the rest of my day.
  5. If you are calling me with a problem, let me know what you have already tried to do to resolve the issue.  (Again, see also #1.)
  6. Leave your e-mail address if you don’t know if I have it already. There may be some answers that come better via text.
  7. If for whatever reason the content is inappropriate to leave on voice mail, say something like “I would prefer to say nothing else about it at this time as its inappropriate to leave in voicemail.”

Those 7 cover my biggest pet peeves… I’m sure there are more we could easily add.

quick and dirty dns lint

I run a DNS server that I and a lot of my friends use. The problem with it being “free” and being between friends is sometimes people forget to tell you if they have switched DNS serving arrangements or just haven’t kept the registration.  I wrote a quick and dirty script, thanks to the whois ruby gem, to check to see if all the domains listed in Bind9‘s named.conf are still registered and if so do they still have our nameserver listed as one of the nameservers.  g0ff asked me for a copy, so I thought it might be useful to share with others.

require 'rubygems'
require 'whois'
zones =
ZONE_RE = /^zone "(\w+.\w+)" in/[0]) do |f|
  f.each_line do |line|
    md = ZONE_RE.match(line.chomp)
    zones << md[1] unless md.nil?
NS_RE = /^#{ARGV[1]}$/i
zones.each do |zone|
  c =
    domain = c.query(zone)
    if domain.registered?
      if domain.nameservers.detect { |ns| !NS_RE.match( }.nil?
        puts "#{domain.domain} doesn't seem to have us as a dns server"
      puts "#{zone} doesn't appear to be registered"
  rescue Whois::ResponseIsThrottled
    sleep 120
    c =

Movember early termination: no mo

At dinner, my beautiful wife Sarah made the suggestion that she would match my donations if I shave it all off today.  At the start of this month, Lena had been asking “When do we pay you to shave it off?” Today is apparently the day.

I failed at my goal of growing a mustache for the full month of november, but when I could double the $611 I raised, I had to have some serious consideration.  After consulting with my mo bro, Chad, taking off the mustache was the right thing to do for the fund raising aspect of men’s health and in the spirit of Movember.

The fact that I looked like a 15 year old miscreant with what little mustache I could grow is just icing on the cake. At the end of this post are three photos detailing the end of the mustache and the early termination of Movember.  I do not regret any of it, but given how poorly my facial hair comes in, I think I’m unlikely to do it again.

At this point in time, I’ve raised $1,222 for men’s health issues to fight prostate cancer and testicular cancer.  There is still time, as these are excellent things to raise money for! I like all my man parts and I aim to keep them!  If you want to donate, please do!

Movember Day 29: Thanks @ana_crt! (Also, orthodontist mo!)

Special and awesome thanks to Ana for donating! 2 more days to go, get your donation in now and be awesome like Ana!  With her donation and one from Jason, I’m at $586.  It would be awesome to break 600. (More awesome would be $1000, but I’m being realistic.)

To celebrate, Ana (and everyone else) gets a “I’m at the orthodontist” picture!

Movember Day 24: Mustache in the Huddle House

I haven’t posted in a bit, but I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to say: seriously, I’m being goofy for a good cause, if you can, please donate. It’s only 6 days until the stache goes away. The mustache is temporary, a cure for testicular or prostate cancer can be forever!


Keith's attempts to fix the cable of life