Thursday, April 29, 2004

Thursday The Sequel
Yesterday I decided that there is no time like the present, and I put a phone call into a publisher. They are based in California so I had to wait until the afternoon before I could get anyone on the phone. A young guy named Alex answered. I explained that I am writing a book, and shopping for a publisher. He gave me his e-mail address to submit the book to, and I went right into the next room and shipped it to him. I only sent two chapters and an index but it was almost 3 megs. There were a LOT of pictures in this book. That most certainly did it.

Now, here I am a day and a half later and no response. Alex, the man who took my book immediately emailed me back and let me know that he had sent it onto their reviewer. I was hoping for some kind of response from him, but nothing as of yet. I hate this waiting. I went through the same thing when I submitted my resume months ago. I wish people would just be upfront and honest. "Thanks, but no thanks" or "Maybe we might be interested, but probably not". But no response at all just seems ... disrespectful. I know I am a little impatient. But never is a long time to wait for a response. How soon is never?

Rob got eye surgery today! I'm not sure why. He like, wants to join the military. I'm sure the military would be good for him. Yet, if I were him I would not be looking to join up now. With all this shit in Iraq, you wouldn't see me signing up. At any rate, Robs eyes are in shitty shape. The surgery will certainly improve his quality of life. I just wish he wasn't do it for the military. I am a bit selfish too I suppose. I know that once Rob joins the ranks, I won't see him more than a few times a year.

So he called and left me voicemail earlier today. He was taking a bus to the eye clinic, but he would be blinded from the surgery, and he couldn't get a hold of any of the five people that had offered to drive him home after. I was still in Tiffin at the time, and I thought I would be stuck there all day. I called him back and left him a message wishing him luck. Later, he sent me an instant message "it burns! I'm blind! Goodnight!". And that was all she wrote.
Reading Camp
Right about now I would be wrapping up my A+ class, so that I could hop in my Bug and drive 120 miles home in the dark. Yet, I was able to leave at about 2:00PM today. I ate my lunch around 1:00 and then walked out onto the sunny campus and plopped down in the grass with my laptop. Ah, a nice sunny afternoon! It was almost peaceful. Almost.

To work in a center for the metally handicapped, you have to develop a certain tolerance to noise. Examples?

  • Baaa! *pause* Baaaa! - One of the "clients" (a handicapped person in care) makes noises like a goat. The poor guy really thinks it means something. So sometimes they talk back to him and it makes him happy. But, from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep he makes the "Baaa!" noise.
  • Bells, bells, bells - Some of the clients are very coordinated, so they get to spend time in their day riding around on bikes. They *REALLY* like the bicycle bells. A little too much. Here's a joke: Knock knock! Who's there? Isabelle. Isabelle who? Isa-belle really fucking necessary? I'm sick of it. Take the shit off.
  • More bells - You can't be mad at a retarded person for pulling a fire bell. But I guess you could be mad that it takes them about an hour and a half to turn the bell off. By the time the ringing stopped, I had blocked it out in my mind. What bell?
  • Ka-bang! - Okay, again, these people are retarded. They like loud noises, like slamming doors. So don't get upset when they walk in and out of a door several times just to hear the slamming noise. You have to keep your cool and think to yourself "this is the most fun he will have all day".
  • Preacher! Preacher! - I actually like the guy who thinks I am a preacher. I'm not sure who he has me confused with. But he likes to shake my hand, and introduce me to everyone as "the preacher". I can't get to the snack machines between 2:00 and 4:00 without going through this charade.

All right, enough with that. Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah, I got to leave work early because my students called off. I was sitting on the lawn of the campus taking in the sounds, and looking for a wireless network to leech when a guard came yelling for me. "Lisa? Regina? They are not coming, so you can go". I think before he had finished his thoughts, I was all ready turning the block in my Bug. "Thanks!" - VRRoooOOOM!

It was a good day to come home early. My son had a "reading camp" thing tonight at his school, so I was able to take the family to it. It was a nice evening afterschool activity. The kids were to go room to room and complete silly little activities to win paper badges to glue on to paper sashes. Nice gimmick. The kids seemed to like it. It was intended for all grade levels, so most of the activities were around 2nd or 3rd grade levels (or easier). I'm sure the 4th grade kids were insulted by the whole thing.

Andy got to drag his sister around too. I'm sure he was frustrated taking his lil' sis around to all the activities, but his sister really appreciated it. She is enjoying the thought of being in school herself. She goes to Kindergarden next year! Of course, this whole evening was hell on the adults. You look around to all these otehr parents, and teachers who are trying to smile, but look pretty beat. If I could read minds, I think I would have heard "is it time to go home yet?" from just about all of them. Also, my prayers go out to the janitor who had to clean up after this bombardment of kids, food, paper scraps, etc.

And now, *RIGHT* now I would have been passing out of Tiffin Ohio on my way to greener corn fields. It's nice to be in bed on my lappy instead. I feel like I am forgetting something. Oh yeah! Dinner. See you later. I need to eat.

Things I wanted to talk about, but ran out of time and patience:
  • Rob had eye surgery
  • I submitted by book for review

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Return To Projects Lost
A few nights ago I was looking around my hard drive and I found the book I started to write. Like so many projects, I had started it, and then put it aside and abandoned it. And so I opened it up and started writing again. This afternoon I put a few more hours into it finishing up two chapters worth of information. Tonight, I think I will bite the bullet and send what I have to a publisher to see if they are interested in publishing this book. If I get word back that they would like to publish this book (and pay me for it), it would definitely put a fire under my ass to get to work finishing it. Otherwise I will probably bag the whole project and not have to feel guilty about leaving it incomplete. Although, I did promise I would complete it either way, and release it for free in the form of an e-book. We'll see.

Ode To Audrey
It's cold as hell in here today. I am in this classroom which is the second floor to a really old cafeteria. There is no heat in here today. I mean, none. The radiators that are usually piping hot to the touch are cold as ice. It must be about 40 degrees outside, and about 50 in this room. I have put two running PC's side by side to cross my legs over for heat, and put Audrey in my lap. So long as Audrey is recharging my battery, she generates a nice amount of heat. Thank you Audrey.

About the only good thing about coming out to this God forsaken facility is the cable TV. They have a really nice 32 inch television in this training room, with standard cable run to it. They also have a nice channel called "Fuse" which plays music videos all the time. They make fun of MTV for being the channel that "used to play music videos".

Only about two more hours to go until my next class. Boy does time fly.

Current Mood: Frozen
Musical Inspiration: Crazy - Richard Cheese
Wishing For: Heat and a network to infultrate

Sunday, April 25, 2004

I was pulling out of work Friday afternoon and my Bug jolted like I had dropped a wheel off. It sounded pretty bad, and my car was stuck for a moment. I got her moving, and parked her (rolling back into my parking spot very carefully). I hopped out assuming the worst and noticed nothing unusual. And so I slipped it into neutral and pushed it back and forth a little bit. Nothing. Odd.

I pulled out to the traffic light, sweat starting to form, and hit the brakes. KA-CHUNK! Oh, that's not good. It sounded like something was desperately wrong with my passengers side rear brakes. Later inspection would show that my brake bar (operating link) had snapped. This is a strange thick piece of metal that extends from one brake shoe to the other. It more or less holds the hand brake lever in place, and keeps the brake shoes pushed against the sides of the drum. It looked like when a piece broke off of the bar, it feel down into the drum and got wedged between my brake shoe. Ouch!

So all I need is a new brake bar, right? After a few calls to auto stores I could see I was fucked. They aren't really supposed to "go bad". Mine was broken because we had bent it taking it out, and I had to hammer it into shape to put it back in (which weakened it in that spot). I called Advanced Auto Pro and talked to this crazy old man that works weekends. This guy knows his stuff real well ... but what a strange bird. He said "I have one for old Chevy's, etc ... if you want to bring your old one in we can try to match it ... but you will probably have to grind it to make it fit". He was right.

I took my broken bar to the store and laid it over the generic replacement they offered. It was about 1 inch too long, which was fine. I would have to carve it up.

Working it with a hacksaw was cake. It was nowhere near as durable as the original bar that I took out. After some chiseling, grinding, sawing, etc. it was ready to go back in. No problem. The bar went back in, and all is dandy. A short test drive aruond the block, and no "KACHUNKS!" when I hit the brakes.

I was reading a magazine article on Google a week or two ago and they mentioned that Google was testing a new mail engine like Yahoo mail, only better. Being a big fan of whatever Google is working on, I just had to have an account. Unfortunately, Google was only BETA testing it, and they wouldn't give an account to just anybody. Today I opened up to put in a journal entry and there was a little link letting me know that I could sign up for GMail if I wanted.

GMail is slick. It's got a great search feature (no surprise there) and they give you a full gig of space for your mail. The idea is that you will never have to delete another e-mail again. You can keep them forever, and easily search your old archived mail if you want. It's impressive. It may just become my new primary mail account.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Fat Fingered Idiots
My phone rang a few minutes ago, I silenced it sending the call to voicemail. It could have been my wife, but I was trying to finish up with my students. My wife is respectful when she calls my cell phone, and the first thing she always asks is "do you have a minute?". Instead of leaving a voice mail message, they hung up and called right back. It could be important, so I take the call. Here it's some idiot foreigner who mis-dialed my number TWICE, and obviously didn't listen to my voice mail message which begins with my full name. And then they hang up on me. No apology. No remorse. No callback number. What the hell is wrong with people? Most people are THAT rude. I know, because when I am at the grocery, they try to run into me with their cart, and I end up being the only one to say "excuse me". If you are one of those people, go fuck yourself ... TWICE.

So here I am in Tiffin Ohio again. I hate driving out here. I end up with nearly 4 hours between classes, and I have absolutely nothing to do. I should be filling out my paperwork that I was supposed to have handed in last Friday. Now that its a week late tomorrow, I should probably get on that. But all I want to do is watch TV and listen to my stupid music collection. I feel like slacking. And then, when it's all over I get to drive home ... which takes over two hours.

True Security Horror Stories
I don't know if you have tried driftnet yet, but you need to. Driftnet is a program that sifts through network traffic looking for JPG or GIF headers. When it finds them, it absorbs the traffic and then displays it in a window. So basically, you can sniff pictures off the wire. My initial results with the program were pretty bleak. I got nothing. Why? Not because nobody was surfing the web, because none of their traffic was coming to me! Damn switches and their secure ways.

Driftnet by itself will reveal little more than your own traffic. I have found that I could run driftnet on my router and set it to focus on my outgoing traffic. Although undocumented, driftnet allows you to specify a nic to use with the -i argument. Of course, I had to pipe the pictures back to my running X session. It was a little buggy, but it did work.

So how can you see any more than your own traffic? That will require a little more work. If you have never learned to use ettercap, you are missing out. Ettercap is an application that will scan your network looking for active hosts, and then it displays them. You can pick a host on the left, and their target on the right, and then sniff the traffic inbetween. If you know anything about routing, you will say "yeah right!". But, it works. Ettercap basically convinces your victim that the gateway can be found at a new MAC address, and it offers up yours. So they will start sending all their traffic to you where you can sniff it with a packet analyzer, or display it with driftnet. The bad news? Their traffic ends with you. I have found you can actually forward the traffic for them to the gateway, becoming that proverbial man in the middle. But as far as I can see, the gateway cannot be set from the command line options. So instead, you have to put everything into a configuration file, and sacrifice the easy Interactive mode that ettercap offers.

Glitches aside, it's surprisingly easy to set up a man in the middle attack and begin surfing the traffic of your fellow network users. It also proves to be a pretty interesting past time. Ever wondered what your boss is really looking at in there? Now you will know.

My advice: Try ettercap on a test environment before taking into a production network. It's tough to configure with a gateway, and without a gateway you will only be fucking up peoples transmissions. And that's just not nice.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Recharging My Batteries
I hate batteries. For the past few weeks my battery in my laptop has not wanted to charge at all. It flatlined at zero percent and never moved past it. So I submitted a request to return the battery, and they obliged. This morning, I get to the office and plug in my laptop. Immediately I am pulled into the firing line to resolve several issues, and I abandon my laptop for hours. Around lunch, I come back and find my battery is charged to 30 percent. WHAT THE HELL? It want's to work now? I guess I might have to cancel my RMA if it continues to work all right.


What the hell is that? Oh, my cell phone is about to die. It must have been the two long phone calls I had made. Or maybe that battery is on it's way out too. Come to think of it, I think my battery needs replaced. This past week I have had a hard time going to sleep, and then staying awake. And at various stages of the day, I seem to be forced into sleep mode!

Catching Up
I have abandoned my Blog for so damn long, it's hard to remember where I left off. Here is a re-cap of the past few weeks.

  • The Bug - My car has been running GREAT! I have been driving it nearly everyday. I finally got some new gaskets for my oil screen which should stop me from leaving my mark everywhere I park it. I try to tell people that I am just marking my territory, but they just don't appreciate it.
  • My Job - I'm employed! My staff from my previous employer is down by two. I now only work with 5 people. They are needy five people. But I am officially employed with the new, better, bigger training company. Yay!
  • My Sexual Status - Despite the hopes of many, I remain heterosexual. So stop calling me all ready.

Relics Of The War
My grandfather is getting old. He is only now approaching 80 years of age, but he looks like he's nearing 100. His body is frail, and his mind is beginning to slip. It really saddens me. I never really knew him all that well, but I always admired him for his sense of humor and his wood-working skills. His second wife recently went into assisted living, and he followed soon after.

Last night my mother drove me out to his house where my uncles had arrived to look through his things. My grandfather was there too, naturally. The goal was to divy things out to whoever wanted them. Whatever was left in this house would be auctioned off by the Realtor, or hauled away as trash. My interest was in tools. And boy did he have tools!

It was strange to see my uncles fight over the same items. All of them are wood workers, and carvers, so their interest was in routers, and chisels. There were a few, but my grandfather had all ready put aside many of the carving items that he wanted to keep. So many left with just a few small items. Everyone knew what I was after. Wrenches, sockets, pliers, and anything that would help me work on my Bug. What I found were about 8 full toolboxes. I didn't have to compete with anyone for any of it. In fact, it took me nearly an hour to gather up and load all the tools into my mom's Saturn. She was about scraping the street driving back to my house from the intense load. I made the mistake of saying I was looking for some good C-Clamps. I have three boxes.

Part of me felt really bad. These are tools that my Grandfather had his entire life. Yet, I know that I will have these tools my entire life, and pass them onto my son. So they will stay in the family, doing what they did for him. It was also nice visiting with him. During the shuffle, I dragged out a large wooden box with a leather strap as a handle. It was like a lightweight treasure chest. On the side was my grandfathers name painted onto the stained wood in gold and black lettering. I just had to know where it came from.

It turns out, that my grandfather hand built this box to carry his tools in while stationed on an island in world war II. It was one of the few things he brought back from the war, and he continued to use it for many years after. Inside the chest was written "ASK AND YE SHALL RECIEVE". My grandfather explained that "other companies were constantly sneaking away with his tools and not returning them". It was also about the same time he built in a lock. Nobody wanted the chest, which suprised me. It seemed noone was after sentimental items like this.

I also picked up a canteen and mentioned that it looked to be military issued. It was. It had hung around my grandfathers neck when he was a carpenter during the war. Again, nobody wanted it. It was thrown aside as garbage. I hurried it into the car on top of a gigantic drill press. At some point, I gave myself a really nasty pressure blister and it bled profusely. I reached into the canteen pouch looking for a band aid, and found a whole box! They were obviously not from the world war II, but looked like they had been in there since the Vietnam era.

Up intil the time I left I was still finding goodies to take home. I found a broken magnifying glass that I used as a kid to burn up ants on the sidewalk. I found some flashlights that have a flexible bending end to them. Great for auto work. I found some hotel soap. A whole collection. And some keys too. Not sure what the hell that was about, but the hotel "drinks" looked fun. A Mai-Tai ready to pour? Taken! Near the end I was going through the kitchen drawers. Tupperware? Ice cream spoon? Forks, knives, etc?!?! Now I was just picking, and I had no room left in my mom's car. I was also beginning to feel a little guilty for looting the place. But my uncle's kept reassuring me "better you take it home and use it, than a stranger selling it for a few bucks".

Thats all the Blog I have in me for now. I miss having this journal and I need to get back to it. There is something gratifying about recording your daily thoughts and activities. Thank you Blogger.

Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm sitting at work yesterday. I had hurried through everything I had to get done, and now I was waiting for a classroom to become free so I could turn it into an on-the-fly testing room. While waiting, I thought I might crack open my Audrey (my iBook) and do some messaging, read forums, maybe check my mail. I have my laptop cracked open and running, then *click*, it's in sleep mode. That was odd. I know my battery has been giving me shit (I think it's gone bad all ready) but I was plugged in! I stick my head through the server rack and confirm that I am plugged in. I start wiggling various fittings on my power supply and I confirm my worst fear. I had a short in my power supply. I knew right where it was too. I could see the ground wires threading coming out for the past few weeks. But ... that wasn't the problem. I had a short in the fat connector that goes into the laptop itself. So make that TWO shorts. Shit!!

Audrey Get's a Bypass
I had been planning on doing this anyway ... but I was putting it off as long as I could. My power supply was now dead, and it may have been the reason my battery wasnt charging. My plan was to attach the power supply to the back of my screen and mount it there. Also, use a standard fitting power cable for charging puposes! And so I grabbed the hockey puck shaped adapter and pulled and pulled and .. SPLIT! It was hard to get apart, and I could see that it would not be going back together without glue. No turning back now!

Next I would need to find out how this thing is wired. Looking at the inside of the puck I could find only two wires, and one was ground. Seem's simple! Yet, the plug-adapter that goes into the laptop looks complication. Its like an RCA plug, with an 1/8th inch heaphone jack stuck in the middle of it. The headphone connector has a three ring inner plug, and shielding. So where are the other 2 connections? I cut into the cable and stripped off some of the rubber coating. Inside I found just the one wire, and grounding going over it. So my answers would lie in the plug itself. I tried pulling on the metal shield-like covering and it was not coming out easily. So I grabbed a steak knife and went to work on it peeling off all the rubber.

And I learned ... nothing! Other than Apple designed an indestructable connector, and a really thin cable to go into it. And so I got out the multi-meter and started doing continuity tests. I found that the "tip" (headphone like thing) was all one piece, and it carried the positive current. The "shrouding" was the ground. And that was it! It was actually pretty simple.

Next I had to go 'inside' and rip my laptop apart again. I hate doing it. Those iBooks are a bitch to operate on. After some careful surgery I was able to yank out the power plug-in module from the inside of the laptop. Examining it, and comparing it to the adapter parts I could find where the white wire (positive) and the black wire (ground) would attach.

The next trick would be stringing wire through the laptop. If I wanted to mount my power supply to the back of my screen, I would need to fish wire through the display. It's brain surgery. So apart that came, and I had to find wire that would work. What would carry the voltage well, and still be small and thin? How about the wire that I was cutting off of the power supply. I cut the longest piece I could, without getting any of the bad ends with the tears in the cable. Here you can see I managed to string the wire through the display (I drilled a hole) and then got the display back together.

Next, I had to string the wire through the laptop to where I would be attaching it to the power connector. Luckily, there is a lot of wasted space in an iBook, so fitting the wire in there was no problem.

Soldering would be little tricky, because I didnt want to leave too much wire inside, yet I wanted to cut off enough that it would be out of my way. I think I found a good halfway point. I clipped, and soldered!

Once I was done, I got everything closed up and realised that I put a piece of plastic in upside-down. No wonder it was so hard to screw shut! Oh hell, I'm not going to care. On the back of the laptop I had taped down my puck, and a Witmans' Chocolate tin. Inside the chocolate tin I mounted a three prong AC connector that I ripped out of a dead power supply. Finally a standard AC fitting, and no adapter to lug around! But ... would it work?

I plugged everything in!

It works! That orange light means that my battery is charging. Hooray! No smoke, no fires! Here I am booting into OS X again.

Now the bad news. Green light! Argh! My battery didn't charge that fast! So my battery is still dead, and I will have to try and exchange it. But at least I have a working laptop again. By this time it was 12:30AM and I had a dentist appointment early the next morning. So I carried my taped up mess to bed and crashed.

Just a short while ago, I removed all the electrical tape and applied some adhesive under my new mounted items. I will take a picture later so you can see Audrey in all her glory.