Friday, September 24, 2004

How To Sneak Out
Here it is, Friday afternoon and I am looking at the door. My class is done ... and I am done. I am SO ready to get out of here for a couple of days. I am trying to think of a good way to make an exit and not get caught. Here are some ideas and tips that I came up with.

He Just Left - Have the receptionist tell whoever comes looking for you that you just left. I could leave now, and if anyone comes looking for me at 4:45PM I will have them fooled.

The Disappearing Man! - Give the illusion that you just slipped out. Maybe scatter some papers around your desk, and leave things in a state of disarray. If anyone comes looking, they will think that you must be around this building somewhere.

Hot Coffee - Go get a cup of coffee and put it in the microwave for 5:00 minutes. Remove it with pot-holders and put it on your desk. It should produce steam for up to half an hour, and stay warm for about one hour. It will add to that illusion that you must have just set that cup of coffee down and walked away from it.

I Saw Him A Minute Ago (Human Timestamp) - Make a pass through the office and say hello to everyone. Look busy, so you won't get stuck in a conversation. Perhaps ask someone what time it is. They may later recall, "he was still here at 3:00PM".

That's enough tips for now. I am going to go practice a few of these myself. I will let you know how they work. Enjoy your Friday afteroon.

I will be back in a moment!

Don't forget to sign up for your free iPod!. And come talk with us in the new Gloop Forums.

*Ray grabs his laptop and exits the building*

Thursday, September 23, 2004

They Blinded Me With (Computer) Science
This past week has been a real blur. Come to think of it, these past few months have been a blur. I've really had my head into my various projects and studies. It's not healthy, and it usually takes my wife to tell me that there seems to be a problem. I feel like a druggie sometimes because I deny that I spend too much time on my fruitless projects. Then I try to think back, and really scrutinize what I have done with my time. It's truely manic depression. I hate calling it that, because "depressed" is not how I see myself. But many years ago, when I heard manic depression explained, I got a lump in my throat. In fact, if I go far enough back in my own Blog I will see that I dicusses this with myself a year or more ago. I have come full circle!

I have definitely wasted away a lot of good hours and made my family feel ignored. For that, I feel pretty lousy. And while I am trying to correct these minor mind glitches, and stay "un-plugged" for a while ... my employer is chasing me around yelling at me to take two exams before the end of this month (which is just about here).

I have been sick this past week with the flue. I come home every day after having taught my Network Plus class, and just crash out. Every day this week, I have some home, crashed on a couch, ate, and then gone to bed. Every morning I wake up thinking that this flue is gone. Then, an hour or so later, I am drinking down thera-flue. Blah!

A few days ago, one of my students stumbled across my Blog because I used in an example for DNS during class. It never really occured to me that I use from time to time in classroom discussions. That wouldn't be so bad, but the web site has a few pictures of me, and it links right to this very Blog. I suppose it's probably not good for a student to come here and read about me trashing my company. Which is what happened.

It was quite embarassing. Not just because I trash my employer on a regular basis here, but because I am a different person when I go to work. At times, my alter ego (Ray Dios Haque) slips out and before I know it I am showing my students incriminating facts about what I do in my spare time. But for the most part, I play the role of "Steve the instructor". Steve the instructor loves his job, pays his taxes, and always enjoys teaching! Steve is also financially stable, of course. And there is never trouble at home.

I think this week has been a bit of a coming out for me. I can't hide forever in this part that I play for my co-workers. It only breaks me down inside. Yet, I am not entirely the character I play here either (as Ray). I have become a pretty good actor for everyone that I know and I'm not sure why I can't just be myself. I sometimes think that my wife is about the only one that really knows me. The real me. Not the many parts I play.

Well, that's enough psycho-analysis for me. I need to spend some time with my daughter. We were going to do a special activity at her school tonight, and when we got there we found out that it's next week. Woops. We are going to paint her nails! :-) Girl stuff is cool.

Before I go, I just want to say that I am glad my wife is understanding of me. She may not understand why I disappear into a laptop for hours. But she knows that I love her, and I have a re-occurring problem with what can only be described as manic depression. Thanks for keeping me around, babe. ;-)

Oh, and I started a discussion forum on Nothing fancy. Head over to and check it out!

Current Mood: Still sick (in more ways than one), but feeling better.
Musical Inspiration: None at the moment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Getting Back To 100%
Yesterday I woke up with a sore throat. The weather here has been crazy, so I fooled myself into thinking it was just sinus trouble. When evening struck I knew I had caught the "house cold". At 9:30PM I made the decision to take down a few shots of Niquil and sleep it off. Some time around 3:00AM I was suddenly awake and I didn't know why. It was like rising from the grave. I was heavily sedated. Sitting next to me, practically nudging my arm was one of our dogs. I hadn't seem him act that strange since the hamster got loose and was runing amuck in our bedroom. Then I heard a light rap on my door. It was my daughter, standing in her PJ's and making an "unhappy face". "I'm sick she said". This translates to "I puked somewhere in my room".

After shoveling the vomit away I tucked my daughter in and gave her some kids Tylenol to lower her slight fever. I think I must have been back to sleep 30 seconds after laying down. That Nyquil really works! This morning ... it was likt rising from the dead a second time. But I had to stay awak this time, and go to work. You might know, the one class I have taught in weeks and I get a cold. It was one long day. I find that once I get rolling teaching something I can practically turn off the part of my brain that says "you're sick stupid". But when lunch time came, and I sat down for a break I thought I was going to pass out.

When I came home, my daughter was bouncing off the walls. Kids don't stay sick long. Meanwhile, my wife is just starting to recover from this cold after having it pretty bad for about two solid weeks. Blah! Being a grown up sucks.

Good News Is On The Way
I e-mailed BTI this morning asking where my battery was. They responded back only ten minutes later with a tracking number. It was shipped days ago, and looking up the tracking number I could see that my battery was being delivered today! The UPS truck just stopped by a few minutes ago and dumped it off to me. So far, so good. I am at 78 percent on my replacement battery, and charging. I think I too am at 78 percent. I should be back to 100 percent in no time!

Replay It Again, Sam
Last night I learned some neat new tricks. There is a tool called "tcpreplay" which allows you to take packet logs and play them back in real time. They have to be in a generic format, such as "pcap" style (which is how Ethereal stores them). I just so happen to have three random logs from the coffee shop Friday night, so I got to work installing this replay tool. It was a bit dificult to get onto my Mac, because a few of the files it wanted to install were all ready installed as part of Ethereal. The tool I used to get it installed, Fink, would not allow it to overwrite as a security precaution. Doing some googling I found a quick solution. You can add "--force-install" to fink on the command line and replace those files. Both tools (tcpreplay, and Ethereal) work great.

For experimental purposes, I ran tcpreplay on the three log files, while running driftnet in another window. Driftnet has some really neat options that I have never really made use of. One, is to save away pictures instead of displaying them in a window. So I got driftnet going, played back the files, and then checked the directory I had specified. There I had 30 or so small images that had been "sniffed" Friday night. Neat! I wonder what else I can sniff after the fact? It never occurred to me to save my old Ethercap files for anything.

This is definitely good stuff to put in the book. I think on my next "outing" I will try some of these new tricks and produce some fresh and interesting material to share.

And now, I will rest and see if my neighbors are using their wireless network today while watching my battery charge up.

Current Mood: I'm Smiling
Musical Inspiration: I have a new Prodigy Album downloaded! Yay!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Chaos Over Coffee
Friday night the notorious Discount Man paid me a visit. He had been visiting with his girlfriend, and came right over afterwards so he didn't have a laptop or any other form of entertainment. After about an hour, I handed him my Dell, picked up my iBook and said "let's go". Rotary Girl has been quite ill lately with her anual upper-respiratory sickness. So we made a stop to the grocery up the street and made the liquor store just before closing. The remedy: whiskey, thera-flu, and honey. Rotary would tell me later, "it worked for a short while". After the quick stop, we hit the road for the coffee house.

Stauff's (the coffee house) was THE place to be on a Friday night. It took us a while to find a parking spot, and we worried about finding a seat inside. Once we made it inside, we found that there were plenty of places to sit down, and one of those vacant areas was next to a six plug outlet! Jackpot! The downside to sitting here, is that we had to share the area with a strange little hunchbacked hermit who was dressed like Johnny Cash. He was all right though, and offered to watch our laptops so we could go get some coffee. After getting some java, I went to work. Naturally, I had to answer the question that I get all the time ... "what the hell is all that crap on the back of your laptop?".

I was definitely not prepared for this "invasion" at the coffee shop. My collection of compiled tools were a wreck. I had tried to install a newer version of ettercap, which hadn't gone well. The result was that I had a new and an old version of it installed, and neither one worked. I was really wanting some material for my book, but it was not going to happen. So instead I thought I might just "play". It's been a while since I just aimlessly screwed around.

I went back and forth between driftnet, ethereal, and Terminal. I was determined to get ettercap running before we had to leave, but it never happened. Discount Man was anxious to get back to his girlfriend and was counting the minutes until she called him. I teased that she must be out with another man. And she was actually going out with an ex-boyfriend (out of kindness). Woops. I had to open my mouth.

Driftnet didn't catch anything too interesting, and neither did ethereal. Although, I have a few logs that are several megs each of "un-explored" packets. Maybe I have some juicy stuff, and it just hasn't been found yet.

Here are some shots of my various drifnet findings. What you are seeing is pictures that were loaded by the visitors of the coffee shop (and Discount Man for that matter). You can click on these small pictures to see the full size screenshot.

Nothing too interesting here. It looks like someone was browsing an online photo collection of some kind.

It looks like someone was surfing for a new wireless card.

Here is a business man of some sort (I passed him on the way to the bathroom) who was looking for his hotel. He was using a nice new Powerbook. Way to go, dude! At some point he was accessing his .Mac iDisk (online storage from Apple). I catpured it in Ethereal, but I haven't check it out yet. Here is what he was seeing ...

Here are some more "personal" images. It looked like we were getting close to seeing some proverbial "booty pics". But, it's a busy coffee shop. So I doubt we were going to see anything too juicy. About this time Discount Man got the call from his girlfriend telling him to come get her. He had the Dell packed up in seconds.

I stalled him as long as I could, and got one more screen for you. Again, nothing really juicy here. I'm not sure who this dude is, but I saw a lot of him that night.

I had also planned on some shots of Ethereal, but I was caught up in trying to get ettercap running, and we were only in the shop for about 40 minutes before we had to dash out.

Here is one shot anyway. It's someone visiting BBC news sites.

When I got home, I was pretty frustrated with my trashed operating system. I had made such a mess with the OS I decided to blow it away. I spent the rest of the night fishing out files and backing everything up. Saturday morning, I began the long process of reinstalling.

Apple Presents: Tiger
I have been pretty anxious to try Apple's new Tiger OS, and I have had the OS in a DMG file for a week or too now. I decided that this time, I would install everything I would ever need. So, first I installed OS9, and then I installed OS X Panther. That way, I could run shitty old "Classic Mac" applications if I wanted too. I was sure to leave behind 5 gigs of space on my hard drive for Tiger!

Once I got all that crap installed, an updated I went to install Tiger only to find that I couldn't create a partition. I had left behind the space I needed, but the installation wouldn't make use of it. Sure, I could use the disk utility to make a partition, but it would blow away everything else. Damn. So I started over installing OS9 (and making TWO partitions this time), then Panther, and then Tiger. The second time around, I was able to install Tiger from the DMG, to my 5 gig spot. By the way, a big thanks goes out to Wardriver who sent me a URL explaining how it's possible to get OS X installed from a Disk Mounted Image. Neat. Here is a shot of my "About this Mac" window ...

Tiger is not all that different from Panther from what I am seeing. There are several fixes, and a new version of Safari which seems pretty cool. The first thing I found with it was an option called "Private Browsing". What the hell is that you may ask? Private Browsing lets you surf the wab without really caching anything, or putting anything into your history. Teens who share PC's with their parents will love this feature. Because they can surf porn and nobody will ever know! Thanks Apple! :-)

I goofed around with the new DashBoard feature too. I guess it's neat and all, but nothing I am interested in using. I was in a hurry to get back to work, and leave Tiger alone. I have decided that I will do my work and experimentation in Panther, and leave Tiger alone as a failsafe. So next time I have utterly ruined my OS installation and I want to invade a coffee shop, I can boot to a working OS!

Back to the drawing board!
Getting back to the task at hand, I have been installing Ettercap-NG since yesterday. That's right, since YESTERDAY. Installing the new version of Ettercap on linux was cake. But putting it onto my Mac has been a real mess. The dependencies range somewhere in the 50's (and still counting). As 1:00PM approaches I may be getting close. I have to get the remaining GTK+2 libraries installed and I should be good! I am thinking of trying to get all the libraries and binaries together in the end, and put it into a package. The idea there being to save others my pain.

Speaking of which ... I think I will go check on my progress. In the meantime, why haven't any of you signed up for an offer to get your free iPod? Now look, I WANT my free iPod and I am waiting on 5 of you to help me out. So click here and get to it! I don't know how many of you read Kevin Roses' Blog, but he just got his $250 gift certificate last week from this site.

Friday, September 17, 2004

fuq werk d00d!
I got up yesterday, confident that I could get all my work done for next week in a few hours. I had to go into the "old office" because that is where I was teaching next week. I wasn't all that upset that I was going to be in the old place (with the shitty hardware) because it was a week away from the "real office". It's like a vacationing training center. When I got there, I found two full classrooms with classes still running. I had been told that one of those classes had ended Wednesday. What I wasn't told is that another class started Thursday. So I thought I might as well hang out until these students took a break. When they did, I planned on sneaking in and stealing a computer to take home (so I could set up my class on it for imaging).

After an hour and a half of waiting (those bastards never take a break!) I got a phone call. "You are going to hold your class here next week". "Here" meaning, at the main office. I had wasted my time, efforts, and fuel. Now I had to travel a couple miles to the other office, having wasted my time. I really, REALLY, did not want to go to the main office. I had the feeling someone would try to rope me into a stupid project. I was also wearing my "civies" (t-shirt, jeans, and Chuck-T's). When I got there, I headed right into hiding in the "setup room". There I began installing stuff for next week. I never thought installing Windows 98 could be such a pain in the ass. This Dell computer I was installing to just wouldn't take it. Piece of shit! I hate you Dell, and your horrible hardware. Then ... I got another phone call.

I should just start screening all my calls. It was my ol' boss Bob who wanted me to attend a meeting with him about "testing" with a State agency out by the airport. I had tried to stay out of this whole project as much as possible but I had just been roped in. I tried to worm out of it explaining that I was wearing a t-shirt and dirty sneakers, but he wanted me to go home and change since I had the time. Motherfucker.

So I rush home, change, and off to the airport I go. When I get there I am briefed on the "issues at hand". It seems my company has promised these State workers a series of screening exams that they can use to evaluate folks who are applying for employment. They were complaining that the exams were too much geared for "vendor products" instead of "applicable skills". Basically Bob had sold them a bunch of certification questions and they didn't like the lack of realism. I had to agree with the customer. The questions were bullshit. I did my best to keep my mouth shut, and I only spoke a few times the entire meeting. They used my vast knowledge (?) of exams to have me translate certain exan categories. After the meeting I headed home, having accomplished absolutely nothing.

I ate, and hung out with my daughter for a few hours while my wife and son went off to football. Later, I decided that I am getting way too fat so I got in the treadmill for a while. This morning, I felt great! I should do the treadmill every night. But instead, I will probably continue to sit on my ass and be fat. Time will tell.

This morning I came to work and began beating on the Dell that wouldn't take Windows 98. It still doesn't want to take it. It seems that Windows 98 has a heart attack if you throw a gig and a half of RAM at it. I have since given up and installed Windows 98 into a Virtual PC for my class next week. Good enough!

At about 9:00AM one of the consultants popped into the room throwing himself around in a bit of a tissy. It seems he had been told he needs to get a testing room set up within a few hours so that these State folks can come try it out. He was not pleased. Seeing that I was busy setting up my class for next week, he left me alone. Another hour later, one of the other consultants crashes in asking "what are you working on?". Now, when you are asked something like that, you have to first sigh (as if you have been defeated) and reply "trying to get this stuff done for next week". Then, you look at your watch. I don't wear one, but I looked anyway. This little trick seems to get me out of a lot of projects. It worked this time.

Within the next few hours, three of the consultants worked away on setting up a testing lab and then vanished. My boss stuck her head in the door looking panicked. "They will be here really soon", she says, "we need to lock down those workstations to a single website only, and turn off the pop-up blockers!". I told her "I don't know where the three guys ran off to", and pointed her towards the classroom area. She added, "our ass is on the chopping block here!". I nodded. Shaking my head I added, "yeah, I don't know where they are at". This is the point where you are supposed to volunteer yourself. I refrained.

As I would later explain to my wife, why should I give 120 percent, when I only get paid 60 percent for the 100 percent I am required? From here on out, I am not a team player. I threatened to make a button and wear it proudly on my chest. NOT A TEAM PLAYER. What does that get me? Extra work, and no extra pay? No thanks. Keep your extra work, and I will keep looking for a higher paying job.

I know, this is a negative attitude to have. Normally I would worry about something like this showing up on my next review. But then, we aren't reviewed here. To have a review would indicate the possibility for a raise.

And even while I type this to you all, facing the door, waiting for my virtual Windows 98 to finish installing I have people poking their heads in and out of this room nervously. I can be glad I did not get involved in what is transpiring outside. Just let me get my class done for next week so I can pull a disappearing act.

Current Mood:
Musical Inspiration:

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

It's Me Against Corporate America
I am definitely in the wrong place. I put on a tie this morning. Not because I like ties. In fact, when I was a bit younger and maybe a little naive I often made the statement that I would never take a job that required me to wear a tie. Now, I slap one on several times a week. My wife generally wraps them around shirts that I own so that they match a little bit. I have no desire to look fashionable, and if I pick out my own clothing, it definitely shows.

I only wore a tie this morning so that I could come to the weekly staff meeting and show my support for the company. I was the only instructor there. The others were either teaching, or just not showing up (which was a respectable decision). I shouldn't have gone. It has driven my negativity toward this company to an all time high. The topic of this meeting was "serving the customer", I think. I wasn't paying all that much attention. Our sales manager raised a concern that "people shouldn't hang out in the kitchen of the training area". He feels that if a group of employees are standing around a public area drinking their coffee, that a student might feel left out, ignored, or intimidated. The "concerns" that are raised just infuriate me. So a coffee pot was brought upstairs. Now, we can get the coffee from the "office kitchen" and we won't have to worry about accidentally socializing with our clients.

The owner of the company chimed in with feelings, agreeing with the drone. His "real life experience" came from getting his hair cut over the weekend. He tells us that he went to "Charles Panzone" on Sunday, because they were open on Sunday. This is not a place where normal people get haircuts. It's a salon. It's where wealthy people spend all day hanging out, wasting money, and talking about politics. But that's beside the point. In his story, he tells us that the atmosphere was great, and the haircut was wonderful. But while waiting to be "seated" and later while waiting to pay, he was put on hold by the person at the counter so that they could answer the phone.

It seems that having to wait on the receptionist (or whatever you call that person) left a bad taste in his mouth which brought a point to this story. Ignoring customers is bad. Gee. Thanks for the tip? I'm sure the receptionist who is probably paid $8.00 an hour has a big heart for all of the overpaid corporate clients she deals with.

I try to imagine what it must be like getting a bad haircut in a salon. But then, I have never been in a salon. For the past 10 years, my wife has been cutting my hair, as well as our children (and herself for that matter) with clippers that like to jam up. I want to feel the pain of getting bad service in a classy resteraunt, but the best I can do is talk about how bad the fries usually are at McDonalds. Or perhaps I can use Ramen noodles as my example. It's what I usually have for lunch, because I don't have the free flowing cash to head out to lunch everyday like the majority of the schmucks here. "Would anyone like to add anything?" he asked. Sure! How would this work as an example? "Last week I went to eat my Ramen noodles only to find that there was no flavor pack in the bag. The fools at the Ramen noodle factory must have forgot to put it in there. So, I went into the fridge and looked for remnants of other peoples old lunches to eat".

My story doesn't seem to have a moral. But it does! It's a hidden lesson. See if you can find it.

And while I have passed another exam, and gotten another pat on the back, I see no signs of ever making more money. Ever. I spoke with one of the other instructors yesterday. He just passed an XML exam, and is one exam away from completing his MCDBA. It's a valuable certification, especiially when you combine it with an MCSE and an MCT (and a couple of other certifications he has picked up). But has he been rewarded? No. Has our third wheel been rewarded for her exam triump for new Netware products? No. Will I be rewarded for obtaining my MCSE and MCT? I'm venturing a "no" answer here.

I have revised my plan for my employment here. When I first came here, my plan was to grow my skills, and grow my paycheck to cover my increased cost of living expenses. Needless to say it's been a few years since I recieved a raise of any kind. Now, a couple of years later, I am growing my skills, but not my wallet. It seems I should continue to take my low pay in exchange for free training, and study time (lots of it). But in the end, they will have raised the perfect employee for someone else to hire. In fact, I see that they have raised four instructors whose only stipulation in new employment (referring to a signed non-compete contract) is that they cannot teach in their new position.

I think I will lean back toward what I actually enjoy doing. As much as I have danced around the issue, I love network security (or lack thereof). I need to focus on finishing my MCSE, adding one more exam to become an MCSE+Security, and then push toward my CISSP. And then of course, I will move onto a job that pays me what I am worth on the market. According to and their salary calculator, that is about $24,000 more than I make now.

Current Mood: Uninspired
Musical Inspiration: Instead of listening to music today, I am picking up conversations around the office over the cubical walls.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Study, Study, Study
I woke up this morning to my alarm clock at 6:45AM and went right back to sleep. Some time after eight my wife came back into the bedroom and said "you realize it's after eight right?". I replied "yep!", and then I went back to sleep. About nine o' clock I got up and ate some cereal, and choked down some coffee. My wife asked if I was going in late, and I said "nope! ... I'm not going in at all!".

Yesterday I snuck around the office all day looking for a good place to sit and study. But it's really hard to study at work. I have found that the other instructors barely show up at all to work when they are not teaching, so why should I? I didn't even shower until about 11:00AM.

I can't say it was an enjoyable day off. I have been reading over practice questions all damned day getting ready for the big test. I hate all this studying. There are so many other things I would rather be working on. I think when I began studying for my MCSE I was all for it. I believed in my heart that I would be rewarded for my hard work. Now, I seriously doubt I will. I will be teaching more, and making the company more money. But I myself, will still be $100 short on my bills every month.

I have decided that after my exam tomorrow (whether I pass or fail) I am going to find a quiet corner with my laptop and work on my book the rest of the day. Enough is enough with this shit.

Current Mood: Burnt Out *again*
Musical Inspiration: The Propellerheads

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Gloop Books Presents:
I have decided that courseware really sucks. When I say "courseware" I am referring to the 100 page or so leaflets that my training company pays $150+ for. I don't know what pisses me off more. The fact that they pay so much for them, or that I have to teach from the damned things. They are always out of date, and I know I can do better. So I think I will start writing courseware. I am starting with "Linux+". Because the major courseware vendors (like Element K) can't make a good Linux+ class book to save their asses.

Anyhow, before I go off writing courseware, I should finish the first book I started writing months ago. Many of you are hanging on hoping I release this book sometime this decade. When I went back through it yesterday I was thinking to myself, "this is a great book!" ... but it definitely needs some work to finish it up. For one, I need to do a bit more Wardriving and collect some material for the book.

With my battery acting up, I can't accomplish much. Unless hook up the ol' power inverter and drive around with that running in my car seat. I am in the process of getting a replacement. I think until then, I will work with some areas of the book that I never finished. Such as "wireless card modification" and "cantenna creations". I have some great photographs to put in this book. You will love them.

When I am closer to being done, I will also put up some sample content for everyone. I plan on publishing this book through The cost will be relatively low. I am going to keep the cost of the book under $20, and hopefully still get it published in a hardbound format.

I have been working on a cover, which reflects the design and theme of Gloop Dot Net in general, as I hope to grow "Gloop Books" into a somewhat lucrative business. Some of that will be from personal projects like my Wardriving book, but the real money will probably be made on courseware. Seeing how I can turn a $40+ profit on every courseware sale, and the wardriving book will be practically free.

Let me know what you think about the cover. I think it's pretty damned funny. You will also notice that there is nothing technical about the photo on the front. That was intentional. The back of the book will feature more technical photos of cantennas, laptop modding, etc.

Current Mood: Jolly Good, thanks.
Musical Inspiration: iTunes Radio (bubble-gum trance)

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Free iPods ... No, I mean, really.
Don't you hate it when you are are trying to surf websites, and you get some idiotic ad that tells you to "shoot the ipod and win"? Anyhow, it seems that there are some legitimate people out there giving away free iPods. It's a new method of mass marketing. It makes sense when you think about it. Let's say I sign up for a subscription service, and then get five of my friends to do the same. We have just justified the cost of the iPod.

You can call it what you want, but what it means is that getting iPods for nothing, isn't just some shitty spam method. There is this website with the ultra clever name of I went there a few months ago after I read about it somewhere and created an account with them. It REALLY looks like a scam. I didn't want to get spammed, so I created a new email account, and used it to sign up. A few months later, I never got any mail to the account, and I had forgotten why I created it to begin with. Oh yeah! That free iPod thing.

I decided to search around for more info on this free iPod website. Expecting to find a bunch of dismayed, and pissed off people I found a bunch of Blog entries from people who were happily posing with their new free toys and bragging about it. One guy runs a site called and he took pictures of everything. Not just the iPod he got, but the truck delivering it to his home. It's quite a hoot.

Wired magazine wrote an article on the site and interviewed the marketing folks behind it. They actually ship dozens of iPods daily, and make pretty good money with the whole system.

So here is how it works.
  • Create an account - This is just your email address, and a simple password (they really wont spam you, I tested it)

  • Chose your prize! - You can re-chose later, but the prize is one of many model iPods (classic 20GB or 4GB mini), or a $250 gift certificate to iTunes Music Store.

  • Sign Up for ONE Offer (you have a dozen to chose from) - This is the part where you need to buy something. I will explain in a moment.

  • Refer 5 Friends - Five of your buddies must do this too. This is how they are able to give you a $250 toy for nothing.

  • You knew there was a catch, you have to BUY something. But really, the catch is not a catch at all. They are give you some services to chose from, and they are not all bad. I think I will go with the Blockbuster service. It's like "Netflix". You can rent movies online, and they are shipped out to you the same day. You can have up to three at a time, just like Netflix. But, Netflix is $24.99 a month. Blockbuster's service is $19.99, and they let you have 2 free in-store rentals too. If I rent two movies a month, I spend $20 easily because I always accumulate gigantic late fees. Anyhow, it's a pretty good deal.

    The other services are things like credit card offers, diet pills, ISP's, etc. None of them really interested me that much. Oh, there was one where you can buy postage online, and print postage labels. While that's neat, PayPal does that for me and I don't pay anything extra for it.

    The bottom line is that I gave it a shot, and so should you. If five of you out there follow my link, you will earn me an iPod, and you will be on your way to earning your own iPod as well.

    Did I mention you can cancel any of these "services" whenever you want? They say you have to keep your Blockbuster server for at least the two weeks of the free trial period. So basically, you need to stay on with them for at least one month. But if you ask me, $20 for an iPod is a pretty good damned deal. Don't you think? And you could watch a couple of movies using a service that you might just enjoy.

    If you sign up, do it with this link!! That way, you are using my referral ID and helping me out. ;-)

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    It's Like Powerpoint
    A short while ago, I attended the Apple sponsered "Pro Day" at my local Apple Store. I wasn't really interested in the topic at hand, I just wanted to talk to someone who works with Apple's business and small business department. I have a dream of bringing Apple training and consultation into my current employer. Of course I would want to drive and lead this department.

    My goal today was to collect some materials on "how Apple fits into our equation". I think I may have wasted my time. I arrived at about 11:30AM, and the event was to begin at noon. I didn't see anyone else waiting around, but I was early.

    I was eager to see the new iMac that debued just yesterday at the Apple Expo in France. But ... the stores don't have the new iMac yet, and won't until mid September some time. So I poked around the store thumbing through books, and dirtying up the demo models.

    At 12 noon, one of the store associates wandered to a podium in the back of the store and announced that the Apple Pro day demonstration was about to begin. At that point, I took my seat in the Apple "theater". This theater is just a large projection screen hooked to an iMac which the speaker can stand next to while he "demo's things". After sitting down, two other guys wandered over and lingered near by. They were waiting for their repaired laptop to show up and just wanted to waste some time.

    Today's topic, "Keynote". I have heard of Keynote, but I have never used it. The Apple guy told us, "it's like Powerpoint". I was waiting for him to add "... only better", but that never came out. He continued to rush through the presentation, seeming annoyed that my presence required him to go through the whole song and dance about what this product does. It was pretty mindless stuff. You can add pictures. You can add text. You can change your pictures and text. You can throw in transition effects. Yeah, you get the idea.

    After about five minutes, the two guys who were standing around, slid away. And there I was, the only listener. The Apple guy continued for another five minutes or so, rushing through the presentation. Then he asks me, "any questions about Keynote?". I replied, "no, but I have an alterior motive for being here". I looked around and said "but I don't want to ruin this presentation for the rest of the audience". It was a joke, you see.

    At this point I stood up and walked over to sit down next to the speaker, and he clicked off his phallic microphone that had been lingering dangerously close to his face. I went on to tell him that I work for a company offering training and consulting that is 100 percent Microsoft. I added that I would like to offer Apple services of some kind, whether it be mentoring/consulting, or if possible, training. I also told him that I had been on the website and read a bunch of documents that seemed straight forward, but I was interested in talking one on one with an Apple Business specialist.

    It was clear to me then that I was not in contact with an Apple Business specialist. This guy was just a general staffer of the store, and maybe a "Genius Bar" worker. I guess I can't expect Apple to send out a business representative once a week for a 10 minute product demo. The Apple dude proceeded to bring up Apples website, clicked on Support, and then brought up some business related materials. "Have you looked at this stuff?", he asked. Actually, I hadn't. I had been looking in a different area of the website which was geared more towards businesses who wanted help from Apple. This stuff was geared for businesses wanting to help other businesses who use Apple products.

    The Apple dude then went on to click on a few things, and shrug a lot. Then he tells me, "none of this is really managed locally" ... "if I were you, I would send an e-mail to the folks in California".

    All right, so I wasted my time. But it was still fun to drive out to the "expensive mall" and play with toys I can't afford.

    I headed right home afterward to study, but when I arrived home I found my wife and kids were missing. They also locked the house ... and I don't have a key. That's all right. It's a nice day to sit on my steps, use my wireless connection to blog, and maybe get some studying done.

    And while I was sitting here, blogging to you about Apple blowing me off, and not wanting to study for my next Microsoft exam ... the mail lady pulled up. She was holding a Microsoft Welcome kit out of her Jeep window. I wondered when I was going to get that kit. It looked like it had been through utter hell. Stamped across the top was "DO NOT BEND". Well, someone didn't follow instructions.

    Anyhow. I opened up my kit. There is my new wallet card and lapel pin. There was also a big sealed envelope telling me all about the "rules and requirements" of being a Microsoft lackie. Great. My new benefit package is nothing more than a "congratulations" from a laser printed template, and a 90 page disclaimer in 5 point print. It's like giving a dog a new dog collar for Christmas. It looks nice ... but oh yeah, "I'm owned".

    Does this career get any better? I think in another life I was an airplane pilot, or a fireman.