Saturday, December 31, 2005

Missing Fortunes
You ever opened a fortune cookie and thought, "what the hell is this supposed to mean"? I know I have had my share of them. A week or so ago my wife and I were free from the kids for the afternoon so we crashed our favortite chinese buffet. I must have stuffed my after-meal fortune into my pocket and forgotten about it. Just yesterday, I pulled that fortune back out of my pocket as I was trying to find a sugar packet that I had stowed away for a cup of tea. Here is what it said.

"Your courage will bring you honor"

I chuckled, and put it back into my pocket thinking "I hope that I won't find meaning in this fortune today, but what could go wrong?". I have had a very easy couple of weeks. That is, I have had a lot of time off from teaching. The holidays are pretty bleak for the training business that I am in. It seems that nobody wants to come to classes in December. Most folks are blowing vacation days that they have been stowing away. Others are busy with festivities, and have a hard time keeping up with work as it is. So as we suspected, the phone went dead and e-mails stopped pouring in. But, it was expected. I planned for this. I have a couple of checks coming from work in early December, and we are starting to book classes for January. Nothing to be concerned about.

With nothing on my chest, I have been able to really enjoy the holidays. Going out to lunch with my wife is always nice. Playing video games with my kids still serves as pretty enjoyable for me. And I had plenty of time to work on Christmas projects such as the "photo album/scrapbook" for my wife, and some refurbished iMacs for my kids.

So yesterday I was sitting in a SharePoint class (as a student). I had decided it would be good to see the other side to SharePoint that I don't teach (and probably never will). This was a development class, and after the first day of this two day class it was pretty obvious that I didn't belong there at all. I was anxious to pick up a check for some work I had done at this training center, and I had yet to been able to contact the accounting controller who generally lets me pick up my check. So around lunch time I was able to get her on the phone. "Hey, do you have a check for me?". "Uh, no. Your next check is coming on the 13th". That was bad news. I NEEDed that money. Really badly. I have a very large electric bill. The gas bill would come a day later (it was pretty bad). And I just got done re-working my mortgage. The mortgage re-work meant that I wouldn't have to make a house payment until March ... but they expected some fees to be paid up front.

It seems that the training center had simply lost my invoice. There was come confusion where they think it may have been placed under my company name, and not my given name. This was somehow enough to throw off the accounts payable person ... who in turn didn't pay me. But they found the invoice, they admit some err. It can be fixed right? "I will research this and call you", she says. "Can you call my cell phone when you find something?". I gave her the number. Then went back to class. For the next couple of hours I was watching my phone .. and waiting. When it got to be after 3:00PM I began trying to call her again. She didn't answer, and it didn't surprise me. Maybe she was blowing me off.

My class ended, and I stayed behind. Before long, all the students, instructors, and most of the staff had left. A couple of guys showed up to clean the carpets. And the intern showed up to watch the front desk until they locked the building. She said hello to me, and I indicated that I was waiting for the accountant. She said "you must need paid". I replied, "you have NO idea". I waited.

After half an hour or so, the intern returned. "Are you still waiting for her?". I nodded. "If you need to wait for me to leave, before you leave, I can get out of here". "Oh no", she said, "I will be leaving at five regardless". And with that, she went back to the desk. At about ten minutes to five, she returned. "I called her .. she said she didn't forget about you, and she will call you or come down in a few minutes". A few minutes later, she was on the phone for me at the front desk.

"Hello!", I said, "I hope you don't think I am stalking you. I just need an answer about this before I leave today"
"I understand", she says. "We found the invoice, and we are going to pay this on the 9th".
"*gulp* ... any chance of getting this paid sooner?"
"No, I have closed everything up for the month. I will be paying expenses on the 9th, and I can slip your check into that"
"Hrm ... okay"
"Do you need the money sooner?"
"Yes ... oh yes. I'm going to be in some trouble here"
"I'm sorry ... I may be able to get it to you this coming Friday ... maybe even Thursday"

And so I left, defeated, and not holding onto a check which I desperately needed. I suppose this is the risk of the business I am in. Working for yourself has it's rewards. Like the fact that I haven't taught a class in a couple of weeks, and yet I still grossed about what I was making a year ago working full time. Yet, getting paid on time has been a real challenge. And now I had a lot of phone calls to make. I thought my first move should probably be the bank.

As I was driving home sitting in Friday rush hour traffic I thought I might just have enough time to call the bank once i got home and plead with them, but I would be cutting it close. But hell, I would be driving past the bank to get home. So perhaps I should just stop. I rolled into the parking lot and flew straight to the teller. I must have said something like this.

"I'm in trouble ... rather, me and my account are in trouble"
She gave me a blank stare, and continued to do whatever she was doing. Stamping things, and moving paper around.
"I'm sure my account is in the negative, and by morning it will be doing summersaults".
"What's your account number?"

She looks up my account information, hits the spacebar a couple of times, and says "yeah, you are overdrawn, and you have two checks getting returned".

"My problem you see ... is that I should be here to deposit a paycheck ... and I didn't get paid. I was supposed to get paid, and they say they lost my invoice. And I won't be getting paid until the 9th ... is there anything we can do to stop the damage to my account? Can we freeze it, or put a hold on it or something?".
"No", she says rather quickly, "Do you have some money to put in the account?".
"No, that's my problem"
"Well ... there's not much we can do about that"
"Okay ... well .. any advice?"
"Yeah ... don't write checks when you don't have money in your account"

Now at this point you would think, Ray ... you MUST have gone over the counter. Right? Oh no. I have dealt with snottier people in my time. Hell, I have dealt with snottier people this month. I certainly wasn't in the mood. And I am quite sure I am not yet done explaining to various parties why I don't have "their money". But here was someone who has obvisouly always been paid on time (hell, she works for a bank). She may never know the insecurity of not really knowing if you will be paid at all. Likely, she will retire and never miss a paycheck. So, I don't expect her to understand what it would be like if someone had just mis-placed her only source of income, and left her to deal with it.

The Dalai Lama is a smart cat. Here is what he says about people who are short with you. In fact, he would make the same statement about those people who you might consider a total enemy. He says, "respect your enemies, for they are the only ones who allow you to practice patience". With that in mind ... I suppose this bank teller giving me a hard time, was definitely giving me some practice. But she wasn't helping me ... at all. And so I got back on track to get home.

So now what? I had about five dollars to my name. And truth be told, I had a lot less. By tomorrow checks would be bouncing like a truckload of high-bouncer balls. By next week, I will be in assloads of debt (with everyone) and it will take weeks to recover. Do you see the irony in my fortune cookie yet? Something told me when I pulled that damned thing out of my pocket just hours earlier, that I would later "get it". I was getting it now. There's really nothing to do in a situation like this, but deal with it. Here is what the Dalai Lama would say on the topic of a problem like this. He says, "if something is broke .. fix it. If it's broken, and it can't be fixed, there is no sense in worrying yourself about it".

And so, a plan began to come into place. I could probably hold off a few bills. People like the utility companies aren't too tough to deal with. If they don't make deals to keep your electricity running, or your gas flowing you can always go file a complaint against them. Your complaints are generally overturned, and tossed out. But by the time all that paper has been pushed, you have that money to pay them back and all is forgotten. But, I would need a couple of dollars for food and such. We probably had a few dollars laying around somewhere.

There was a jar of change on the fridge that consists of mostly pennies, but a lot of them. So I threw all that into a plastic bag and ran it through that green "change machine" at the grocery store. I was seven dollars richer from that process. Not bad! I had gotten a $10 Walgreen's card for X-Mas in a gift exchange ... I think. It's one of those gifts that you shrug off and stuff into the back of your wallet. But that was gold! Walgreens is a bit overpriced on everything. But it doesn't really matter. It's a free ten bucks!

So we had a good couple of bucks for groceries, and that got us some of the vital things we needed to survive the next week. Like dairy products, and the dreadful "Ramen noodles". I also had a poor man's goldmine growing in my garage. I have been collecting cans for weeks ... actually months. That had to be worth a few bucks right? Just this morning we drove those cans to the recycling center and came out $12 richer. Not bad for trash, although I was a bit jealous of these guys hauling in 30 to 50 pounds of scrap metal and walking out with a lot more cash than me. If I run across a construction dumpster in the next week, I may just have to dig through it!

In half an hour, it will be 2006. After a successful first year in business, it will seem strange to celebrate it being miles in debt, with "money on the way". Most businesses will fail in their first year in business. But not this one. In March, we will have made that first year. Of those businesses that survive, very few will make it for another four years. Yet, I have a feeling that most of them would throw in the towel when they found themselves chowing down on Ramen noodles and pumping gas on a credit card ... that was paid by an electronic check ... that will bounce in a few hours.

Happy new year! My new years resolution? To stay on the path, and have another good year in business!

Historic Comments
Glad to here from you again. Sorry to hear about the money troubles but it sounds like you are keeping your spirits up. Hope your business keeps improving.
Dennis | Homepage | 01.04.06 - 11:33 am | #

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Invading Print Servers
It's been a while since I did some real network invasion. And today, my homesick depression was reaching an all time high ... so I felt making an few stops might be in order.

On my way back to the hotel, I caught a glimpse of what looked like the edge of a strip mall which I thought might be interesting. I had to make a few turns to get into the parking lot, and it almost seemed like they were hiding it from the main highway. The mall was buried behind towering townhouse condos. As I made my way down a small winding road, I came upon this strange ... village. It was quite an impressive real estate project. The condos were narrow, but stood about four stories high. Some of the condos were actually businesses on the bottom. The problem was ... no parking. So as I spun around in my Bug, all I could wonder was "where the fuck do people park around here?". Hell, I might have even stopped into Quizno's for a sub. But after passing the place three times looking for a place to park my car, I gave up and waved goodbye. None of these little businesses looked all that busy, and I could now see why.

As I drove around in circles, Audrey (the laptop) was going nuts. I had KisMac running, and I was picking up an access point at a rate of about every two seconds. By the time I found a spot and parked in it ... I was down to a single access point. But that's okay. I can only rape one at a time, right? Looking ahead of me, I determined that this access point must belong to one of the following businesses: a hair and nail shop, a mailbox shop, an eyeglasses shop, or a small grocery store. The access point, "linksys", happily accepted me as a visitor and set me up with an address to use. I opened a terminal and went right to work.

My first goal, was to get an idea of what was on this network (other than me). So I did a simple nmap scan, and dumped that into a file like this ...

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ nmap > nmap.log

While that was running (and it was taking it's sweet time), I hopped to a second terminal and ran "findsmb". This is an old samba utility which does an MS Windows style "network browse". The idea being that any Windows-like file server in the immediate network will 'hollar back'.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ findsmb

--------------------------------------------------------------------- E-710-109987 +[WORKGROUP] [Windows NT 4.0] [NT LAN Manager 4.0]
audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient //

Hooray, I am not alone. But wait just a damned minute. When was the last time you came across a server running Windows NT. I had my doubts. Usually when nmap tells you that it found an NT server, it's actually found some sort of network appliance.

Next I ran "smbclient" and used it to get a dump of file shares from my new friend. Notice it prompted me for a password, and I declined to offer one up. This indicated that it was okay listing it's shares to an anonymous guy like me.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //E-710-109987
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Windows NT 4.0] Server=[NT LAN Manager 4.0]

Sharename Type Comment
--------- ---- -------
direct Printer direct
ADMIN$ Disk Remote Admin
print Printer print
C$ Disk Default share
D$ Disk Default share
E$ Disk Default share
print$ Disk Printer Drivers
hold Printer hold
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Windows NT 4.0] Server=[NT LAN Manager 4.0]

Server Comment
--------- -------

Workgroup Master
--------- -------
WORKGROUP E-710-109987

What the hell is this thing? Is it a print server? Is it just one of those glorified network printers, with PC-like functionality? I decided to try and connect to one of these shared drives and check it out. And while the C$ share most certainly contains the OS, I am wanting to poke through someones personal data or financial information. That's what really makes these sick little excursions worthwhile.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient //E-710-109987/e$
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Windows NT 4.0] Server=[NT LAN Manager 4.0]
tree connect failed: NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED

Oh ... so you aren't happy with allowing guests access to your hidden shares? Aren't we picky. How about ... administrators? Any love for an Administrator, with a blank password?

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient //E-710-109987/e$ -U Administrator
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Windows NT 4.0] Server=[NT LAN Manager 4.0]
smb: \>

That's what I'm talking about. What we have here is an SMB browsing session in progress. It's awaiting my command. Likely, I can now begin searching through files, and if I find something I like, I can "get" it.

smb: \> ls
efi D 0 Wed Oct 30 16:16:53 2002
spool D 0 Mon Apr 26 15:10:28 2004

50516 blocks of size 131072. 48395 blocks available
smb: \>

What on earth? After some poking around in and out of the shares I came to the conclusion that ... this was nothing but a print server. An utterly boring print server. By this time my nmap scan had finished, and I looked through it for my next victim. This was a strange network, in that it had several clients attached to it, but had no Internet gateway, or DNS resolution. It was truely a "workgroup". These networks give me a 'big rubbery one', because most companies don't bother any level of security. Why? Because they aren't connected to anything. Never mind the wireless signal that I used to waltz in from the parking lot.

I poked through my nmap file again and targeted my next victim. This server (?) had the address typically reserved for a gateway/router. Yet, it was a dead end for packets. So I made an attempt to talk to it as a Windows file server. I did a simple anonymous style "share list" against it. It obliged.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
Anonymous login successful
Domain=[MSOFFICE] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Sharename Type Comment
--------- ---- -------
Error returning browse list: NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED
session request to failed (Called name not present)
session request to 192 failed (Called name not present)
Anonymous login successful
Domain=[MSOFFICE] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Server Comment
--------- -------

Workgroup Master
--------- -------
WORKGROUP E-710-109987

This could be interesting, although it may just be another network appliance screwing with me. I think I will check out a different host. Maybe this character. Perhaps it's an actual running PC of some kind.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
Domain=[MASTER] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Sharename Type Comment
--------- ---- -------
PC Synergy Disk
C Disk
ADMIN$ Disk Remote Admin
C$ Disk Default share
session request to failed (Called name not present)
session request to 192 failed (Called name not present)
Domain=[MASTER] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Server Comment
--------- -------

Workgroup Master
--------- -------

Uh yeah ... this looks like another print server thing. God, I have found the most uninteresting network imaginable to inhabit. But I will look around anyway. This "PC Synergy" thing could possibly be something interesting.

audrey-ii:~ rayhaque$ smbclient "// Synergy" -U guest
Domain=[MASTER] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]
smb: \> ls
. D 0 Wed Oct 19 07:07:55 2005
.. D 0 Wed Oct 19 07:07:55 2005
PostalMate D 0 Wed Nov 2 16:43:11 2005
POSTALMATEActGrp.xml A 0 Wed Oct 19 07:07:55 2005

38170 blocks of size 524288. 31427 blocks available
smb: \> cd PostalMate
smb: \PostalMate\> ls
. D 0 Wed Nov 2 16:43:11 2005
.. D 0 Wed Nov 2 16:43:11 2005
32767.bmp A 12598 Thu Jun 22 09:51:44 2000
32768.bmp A 49256 Mon Aug 16 08:23:56 2004
32769.bmp A 14470 Mon Dec 4 14:02:26 2000
32770.bmp A 58266 Tue Feb 11 12:10:44 2003
32771.bmp A 15406 Tue Nov 25 07:49:24 2003
32772.bmp A 26100 Thu Sep 23 08:34:46 2004
borlndmm.dll A 25600 Mon Jan 24 06:01:00 2000
CashMate.chm A 228029 Mon Jun 20 13:58:10 2005
Cashmate.exe A 5968384 Thu Sep 22 08:01:00 2005
CashMate.GID AH 41663 Tue Sep 20 13:09:30 2005
Close.exe A 403456 Wed Jul 13 11:26:04 2005
complog.err A 0 Fri Dec 31 16:50:32 2004
DataPurge.dll A 775168 Wed Oct 5 15:25:24 2005
DropOff.dll A 1475072 Wed Oct 5 15:25:24 2005
ElabelSample.txt A 10811 Wed Jan 31 15:02:52 2001
ENHTRKLog.txt A 981 Thu Sep 19 15:04:44 2002
EnhTrkuRsp.txt A 5002 Sun Dec 23 12:08:08 2001
Events.dll A 681984 Wed Oct 5 14:36:35 2005
Events.log A 18221 Wed Oct 5 15:24:59 2005
FedExExpress_QuickRateSettingLog.txt A 408 Thu Jan 6 08:12:24 2005
Global Express Mail.lyt A 2436 Sun Feb 15 21:04:10 2004
Import A 561152 Fri Jan 23 07:45:44 2004
INSTALL.LOG A 7708 Wed Oct 5 15:25:04 2005
libeay32.dll A 651264 Sun Apr 18 16:43:44 2004
License.txt A 18316 Mon Aug 2 09:18:46 2004
Log D 0 Wed Nov 2 08:09:52 2005
MCStrings.txt A 381 Mon Jul 1 13:58:34 2002
midas.dll A 297984 Fri Mar 4 09:02:00 2005
MsgAction1.dll A 695296 Wed Oct 5 15:25:25 2005
MsgDownload.dll A 1114112 Wed Oct 5 15:25:23 2005
MsgRun.dll A 2130432 Wed Oct 5 15:25:23 2005
PDOXUSRS.LCK A 6752256 Wed Nov 2 08:07:29 2005
PDXRBLD.exe A 899072 Wed Jun 22 07:41:00 2005
Pdxrbld.INI A 81 Thu Oct 6 14:28:43 2005
Pdxrbld.LOG A 236 Thu Oct 6 14:27:25 2005
Pdxrbld2.exe A 603648 Fri Aug 3 13:21:00 2001
PMExceptions.txt A 164 Tue Sep 27 10:30:09 2005
PMShipment A 7512 Wed Jan 14 17:09:44 2004
PM_ImportFile.txt A 5359 Mon Oct 23 18:23:16 2000
PM_Win.exe A 15211520 Thu Sep 22 08:00:24 2005
PostalMate.chm A 504423 Tue Sep 6 10:23:56 2005
PostalMate.GID AH 71480 Sat Sep 24 12:44:18 2005 A 481140 Wed Oct 5 15:25:22 2005
Readme.txt A 156358 Wed Sep 21 14:15:22 2005
Setbrows.exe A 4528 Fri Oct 13 15:28:28 1995
ssleay32.dll A 147456 Sun Apr 18 16:43:46 2004
SystemCheck.exe A 941056 Wed Aug 3 10:40:14 2005
SystemUtilities.exe A 2625536 Thu Sep 22 08:01:26 2005
SysUtil.chm A 90859 Wed Aug 31 12:36:02 2005
Tables D 0 Wed Nov 2 17:10:36 2005
UNWISE.EXE A 153088 Fri Jul 26 15:02:06 2002
WSExport.dll A 693760 Thu Aug 11 12:46:18 2005
XMLTransform.dll A 434688 Wed Oct 5 14:36:34 2005
Zebra Dom 1.lyt A 2629 Thu Feb 17 13:45:02 2005
Zebra Dom 2.lyt A 2671 Tue Jun 7 13:53:30 2005
Zebra Dom Express.lyt A 2571 Thu Feb 17 13:45:02 2005
Zebra Dom Postcard.lyt A 2605 Thu Nov 4 09:23:24 2004
Zebra Intl 1.lyt A 3208 Wed Dec 15 07:38:52 2004
Zebra Intl 2.lyt A 2628 Thu Nov 4 09:23:24 2004
_QSQ6.DB A 3008512 Wed Nov 2 08:55:20 2005

38170 blocks of size 524288. 31427 blocks available
smb: \PostalMate\>

Oh - MY - GOD. I am talking to a postage machine. Well, now I know what shop I had targeted. It was the mailbox shop. This had to be the most uneventful adventure EVER. So why did I ever record it for you to read? Why did you even read through all this?

Go away. You bother me.

Historic Comments
Get a Google Map of the place with no parking lots. Perhaps there's parking that you couldn't find. If there truly is no parking there, please post a google maps picture of one of the strangest streets I've ever heard of.

And you should have tried to print some crap out of one of those printers. Something like "I quit" or "The rebellion begins NOW!"
Poe | 11.03.05 - 10:05 pm | #

Hey, Google Maps! Here is a satelite photo of the area. The spot I was in is north of "Beacon Square". It doesn't look like much from this altitude though. You can't make out the intricate little weavings of roads between the big buildings. Like a small german town. From this map, it doesn't even look like the same place. Or maybe it isn't the same place. Perhaps Im lost. You can see by the picture that there are parking lots above, beside, and below the 'campus'/ But these were marked "permit only", and filled up by the condo dwellers.

I was trying to find the Marathon gas station which would have been a good land mark, but it doesn't seem to exist.

Its a government conspiracy.
Ray Dios Haque | 11.04.05 - 3:03 pm | #

Woops ... forgot the map link. Here that is ... hl=en
Ray Dios Haque | 11.04.05 - 3:04 pm | #

Jesus, those streets are a nightmare. You couldn't find the Quizno's on the map? I tried Google for that, but they all seem to have parking lots. Could be that most of their customers live in nearby apartments, condos, etc. Or those buildings could just be covers for machinery supporting a huge underground government facility. Raccoon City anyone?
Poe | 11.05.05 - 1:51 am | #

Whee, wardriving stories. I need to get me a damn laptop.
SiliconSnake | Homepage | 11.07.05 - 5:09 pm | #

Raaaaaaay. What IRC channel are you haunting now? I miss the milkshake contests. :P
conundrum | 12.07.05 - 11:44 pm | #

The machine you connected to was a windows workstation running a shipping system called "Postalmate 2000" authored by a company called "pcsynergy".
anon | 12.29.06 - 11:57 am | #

You can use nbtenum to enum smb accounts/shares.
jc | 06.06.07 - 10:51 am | #

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Maryland Trains
I'm getting used to the trains that run through this hotel every twenty minutes. I can almost sleep through the night here. But I will never get used to the loneliness. It's pretty depressing to end a day of training, because after I leave the training center I have nowhere to go. So typically I hang around the training center until five or so when they give me dirty looks and I have to leave.

Today I decided to go from the training center to McDonalds (because they have WiFi). I ordered up a chicken sandwich which I have never had from there, and will probably never order again. It was as if they took a single "chicken finger", slapped a cold piece of swiss cheese over it, and tossed it (upside down) into an elongated hamburger bun. There was also a piece of browned lettuce, and a green tomato slice glued in with excessive mayonnaise. Yummy! As I stuffed it down with my fries I made a mental note that this will be mentioned at the pearly gates when I arrive in "fat hell". As I was eating, I looked down into the cardboard box and saw a note that said "enjoy your chicken sandwich". Underneath was a clever little picture of a long haired hippie playing a guitar. What the hell kind of marketing is that?

About five minutes after I paid $2.95 for WiFi access at McDonalds ... it occurred to me that I had wasted my money. I couldn't think of what to do with this wonderful two hours of access I had just purchased. So I checked my email. Didn't have any. I started up my chat client, and updated it. I went to a couple of my favorite websites. That wasted 40 seconds. I ran system updates! I had access to all the worlds wealth of information and couldn't think of what to use it for. Pathetic. Then my phone rang. It was my wife!

She was mad at me. No doubt about that. She wondered (out loud) why I hadn't called her. Was I supposed to call her about something? She was concerned that I always call her at the end of my day and today I "hadn't bothered". I'm sure I had hurt her feelings, because I couldn't take the time to make a call and say hello. Why hadn't I called? It's not because I was too busy. Quite the contrary. Not because I didn't want to talk to her. I miss her dearly, and I am pretty lonely here. I have avoided calling her when I am away because I don't want to bother her. I assume she is busy doing stuff. She usually is. And I feel pretty pathetic calling her because I am desperate for her attention. I need a safer way to contact her. A method that allows me to say hello more often, without bugging her. I used to instant message her a lot but she dumped the IM software because people wouldn't leave her alone. Perhaps I could buy her a phone that IM's, and then I can harass her all the time!

As I left the McDonalds and headed to my car, I passed a Maryland police office who was on his way in. I couldn't help but notice his flak jacket which may just be standard uniform in these parts. I nodded, smiled, and said hello to him. When he got to the door of the restaurant he stopped, and called "excuse me" across the parking lot to me. I stopped, turned around, and said "yes?". Then he turned around, waving me off, and headed inside. That was strange. Was he looking for dinner, or was he there for me? I know my laptop probably looks like an explosive device due to my 'enhancements'. And sometimes when I pull it out in public places people give me strange looks. But I hadn't attracted any unwanted attention that I could think of. I had chosen a spot in the rear of the establishment that was even colder than the rest of the place (which was pretty damned cold). And I faced a wall, so nobody would nice my lid attachments. Maybe I should think twice about eating there again. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. Of course, that was probably from the chicken I ate. I drove away (quickly) and went straight to the hotel.

As I stumbled up the steps to the third floor of my hotel, one of my shoes slipped off and got stuck between the steps. Thinking I might lose it down a couple flights of stairs, I jumped to my knees to grab it. As I did, my eyeglasses came flying off. In a quick swoop to keep those from getting away I lost control of my book bag which spun off my arm and crashed into the steps. Luckily, my course materials took the blunt of the blow, and my laptop seems to be unaffected. I put my glasses back on. I took my other shoe off. I slung my bag back over my shoulder. I collected my pride. I slid into my room.

I pulled back the covers. Took off my dress shirt. Plopped myself down. Checked the time. 7:15PM. What the hell am I going to do until I fall asleep? I guess it's another night of whatever's on HBO. Last night it was "Catwoman", which I am guessing will go down in history as the absolute worst comic book movie ever made.

Historic Comments
Sorry to hear about the lonliness, but as far as your marriage goes, not being happy about being seperated from your wife is a good thing. If you were happy being away from home that would be a bad sign.

You and your wife should use the new yahoo meesenger, it has new 'stealth settings' that allow you to set who can see you online. This is directly from the yahoo help.

"If you are IMing with a few people and don't want to be interrupted, you can use Stealth Settings to appear invisible to everyone except the people you want to talk to."
Dennis | 11.02.05 - 11:25 am | #

You know, I should try that. It's been a long time since I tried to bring her back to IM'ing. Part of the problem is me though. I can't IM when I am teaching, because my PC screen is projected into the wall.

I really want a mobile phone that does it. That would be all too convenient. Expensive as hell too.
Ray Dios Haque | 11.04.05 - 3:06 pm | #

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What Day Is This?
Somehow I am in Maryland again. I came in on Sunday night, and I have spent the past four days between two cities. My suitcase is now full of mostly dirty clothes and somewhere between a condo I crashed at and the dirty hotel I am now in ... the clean clothes got all mixed together. I have resorted to sniffing undershirts and socks because nothing has that neat "folded" appearance since about Tuesday.

My skin looks yellow. Maybe it's the flourescent lighting. It could be that most of my face has peeled and fallen off after getting a vicious sunburn over the weekend. And then there is that smell. Perhaps I imagine all this because I am homesick. But I sware that I smell like a cheap hotel. I brought my own shampoo, and good soap, but I can smell the stale chlorine stench rising from underneath my rumpled undershirt.

My first night into town, I drove in at about 1:15AM. I was given the address, and electronic door-code to a Condo in Baltimore. When I spun up the sidestreet just outside of downtown I got a flash of the building front. It was a townhome located right off of the street, with absolutely nowhere to park in front. As I circled the block all I could find was bumper to bumper park cars, homeless people, and what looked like a pack of drug addicts (I would later discover that I was two doors down from a rehab center). Heading down a narrow alley, I came to an empty space with a sign hanging over it. It read "Private Drive". I parked there. I was probably asking for it, so I wrote a note which read something like "I am a visitor to this address ... please don't tow me away ... if you need me to move, call this cell phone". Then, I staggered into the house in the darkness. The first thing I noticed was an open laptop, and a lot of shoes by the door. Someone was living here, and they were probably fast asleep. I should be quiet. And so I removed my shoes, and tip-toed upstairs in the dark. Using my cell phone as a faint lighting device, I made my way into an empty bedroom and shut the door.

This condo was amazing. Everything was very clean and new looking. I had a bed, a full closet, and a high-def' TV for myself (and cable of course). The following morning I awoke, and went to the basement to shower as whoever else was living here might not like me taking 'their' bathroom. I ended up meeting the tennant a few days later. I had assumed it was a man judging by the size the sports shoes by the door. It was in fact a really tall middle eastern woman (with large feet). She attempted to have a conversation with me about where to park my car, and how to lock the door from the outside using the electronic doorlock. But it seems she spoke very little English. And so for the rest of my days there, "hello" and "see-ya" were about all we said to one another in passing.

Going from the condo to a filthy motel room was just .... well it sucked. In the condo, I had a nice selection of about five different access points to choose from for my wireless abuse. In the dirty hotel, I have to walk or drive down the street to access anything. My last night in the condo I had made my way into a really busy public network of some kind, and performed a man in the middle attack (Ettercap). In the process I ended up catching someones SSL certificate transfer ... which allowed me to capture all sorts of ... incriminating stuff. I was having a quick IM conversation with my buddy the Discount Man when I said "this is the point at which I become a criminal!". I smiled, I shut the lid, and I went to bed.

When I got into my hotel room the other night, I walked in to a haze of intense heat. The air conditioner was running at full blast. I walked to the wall, grabbed the thermostat, and upon twisting the dial to try and turn it off - the little dial popped off and spun around on the floor. After fiddling with it a bit to get it to shut off, I stomped over to the air conditioner and attempted to set it on "max cool", but the little dial just spun endlessly and didn't really seem to do anything. Yeah, it was one of "those".

I usually pop off my shoes and put them into the little slots under the TV stand that are sort of make shift shelves. But this room had drawers in it (a luxury). So I slid open to put my shoes in it, but there was a pile of stuff there. Here ... is what I found.

  • Two bundles of unpaid bills and letters - These bills told a story. They all belonged to a Mr. Eugene Williams in Florida. Most of them were unpaid hospital and doctor bills. But there were also various notices from two residences in Florida, and a couple of postcards. A few of the post items were addressed to a cancer clinic in Maine (presumably where Eugene was coming back from when he stopped in Maryland).
  • Two "doo-rags" - I didn't know that they made "doo-rags" that were all ready shaped like a human head, and with velco support. Neat!
  • Soiled Washrags - Uhm ... the 'stains' in these hotel rags were ... yellowed ... and uh ... well I didn't pick them up with my bare hands. For that matter, I doubt the hotel wanted them back.
  • Microsoft Street Maps 2005 - This is really nice software, and it cost Eugene $60 at Best Buy (still had the sticker on it). Hopefully he found his way back home without it.
  • Herbal Tea - This SURE looked like weed. But then I am such a nerd that I don't know what weed smells like or really even looks like. This stuff was very finely ground ... and I don't think they do that with weed. Anyhow, it was double-ziplocked ... and it weighed like 4 pounds. So if it WAS weed, Eugene probably cried long and hard over it.
  • Socks - What kind of man carries four pairs of thick black socks?
  • Hospital Parts - You know those things that they stick to you at the hospital for monitoring and stuff? I had a full set of those. On one end was a sticker that read something like "hey, don't take this home".

I obviously had no use for semen-stained towels (the hotel had provided me clean looking semen-stained towels of my own). And since I don't smoke weed, or drink that flavor of tea, I didn't really have much use for any of the other stuff. I could probably make a few bucks with the software on eBay. But this poor shmuck was coming home after being treated for cancer. And I like to think I am a nice guy.

I ended up grabbing a trashbag and using it to grab all of this stuff and toss it into a Denny's bag that was floating around the drawer. I threw my shoes back on and marched to the hotel counter. Lifting the bag up onto the desk I said, "hey this is going to sound wierd ... but I just checked into 119, and I found someones stuff in the drawer". And the hotel guy says "oh, someone is living there?". "Jesus! - I hope not, you just rented that room to me". Maybe he was confused about what I was saying. At any rate I showed him the cellular phone bill which was rubber banded with the other materials, and suggested "maybe you should call him and see if he needs this back". Likely, he threw away all the gross looking stuff, and put the mapping software on eBay. But ... I did my part.

One more day to go. Tomorrow afternoon, I will finish class (early I hope), and I will be back on the road heading home. I have made no plans to take a class next week. I just want to come home and be with my family for a week. Then I can decide if I want to travel again any time soon. Five days from home is ... an eternity.

Oh, and eventually I should throw away the half a pizza that's been sitting in the back seat of my bug since Tuesday. Although I am becoming accustomed to the smell.

Did I mention getting stranded with what seemed like a dead battery? Another time. I am done here and I have a dirty hotel I need to get back to.

Historic Comments
Whee! Wardriving story. Just add more technical stuff next time, like a packet capture log or something for us without the ability to wardrive to carouse through.
SiliconSnake | Homepage | 10.22.05 - 12:10 pm | #

May your every wish be granted in the near future (when I have some real time and motivation to go out and do some damage).

Ray Dios Haque | 11.04.05 - 3:07 pm | #

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Market Comes Back!
Okay, so I got my panties in a bunch. When you have been home for ten days not working and waiting for the phone to ring, you tend to get a little nervous. Within a few hours of having absolutely nothing on the schedule, I had made contact with a new broker and booked four weeks of work (possibly five!).

The Gift Of Kidney Stones
That frantic call I got last Friday about the instructor who was developing kidney stones ended up becoming a "go ahead" for me. The rate was acceptable (although nothing to write home about considering travel expenses). I was not too excited about teaching this awful Sharepoint class, but what else did I have to do?

So a few hours later I was shoveling a couple shirts, ties, and clean undies into my suitcase and preparing to drive to Maryland. The drive was a full seven hours, but I was up for it. I must have left close to 4:00PM and arrived at my hotel right at 11:00PM. The hotel of choice? Motel 6! I go for the cheapest hotel possible when I travel. Why? I have the following reasons:

Why To Choose a Cheap Hotel
  • The sheets are just as clean(?) as the expensive hotels
  • Better hotels give you free cereal, and a muffin (but charge you $20 extra per night for it)
  • The "free" in-room coffee that those 'nice' hotels provide, tastes like shit!
  • If you have an iron in your room, it closely resembles something made by Fisher Price. You should just plan to bring your own.
  • The nicer hotels often "provide WiFi", which means they expect you to pay $10 a night for it (while you can drive to a hot spot and *steal* your access for free!)
  • Nobody want's to sleep at a "shitty" motel, so you generally have the whole place to yourself
  • Those nice hotels give you 100 channels. But fifteen of them are Weather channels, and another thirty five of them are "pay per view" movie channels
  • Cheap hotels ... don't cost much

This Motel 6 was a whopping $60 a night (plus tax). That seemed pretty damn high to me, but everything else in the area was at least $20 more. When checking in, the guy at the counter asked, "you want a room in the front, or the back?". Having looked around the hotel before walking in, I knew that the front faced a strip mall and a car dealership. Figuring I could probably pick up a WiFi signal from there I agreed to the front. As he was ringing me up I looked down and saw a sign on the counter. It looked like it was made in Word, and had clip art of a little choo-choo. It read something like this ...

This hotel overlooks a live railroad track. Trains come regularly at intervals of 20 to 30 minutes. If you feel that the noise may bother you, please request a front facing room.

Looks like a made the right decision with that front room, eh? About getting settled into my room and climbing into bed the entire room began to shake like an earthquake, and a train came roaring down the valley behind the hotel (horn blaring). I did my best to ignore it, and sometime around 1:00 or 1:30AM I must have finally blocked it out of my head and passed out.

I awoke at 4:00AM to the sound of some woman downstairs from my room who thought it would be okay for her to have a conversation with her buddies, and maybe have a few beers. They laughed, they tossed things around. They had a good time. I eventually turned on the air conditioning fan to drown out the noise (which worked). The following night ... I slept like a LOG!

The class ended up being a real bitch to teach. Microsoft took a seminar (I think) and added some free labs from their website, and then packaged it as a "course". It is the *worst* course that they have ever offered (hands down) and I had the grand pleasure of delivering it. The evaluations for the course were of course pretty awful, but being the "nice guy" that I am, I managed to pull of a good instructor rating (which is required for getting paid!). I will think twice before agreeing to teach that class anytime soon. Although in the meantime, I think I might set up a sharepoint server just to play with it. Sharepoint is nifty!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Where'd The Market Go?
The hardest thing about being in business for yourself is definitely "projecting the market". When I went independent as an instructor in March this was a much easier business to be in. The State of Ohio, and it's Federal counterparts get their training budgets in early July. Prior to July, they get into a mad dash to spend all of their money from the previous year. It was like fucking Christmas, and I was your spoiled cousin. The phone rang off the hook. I was turning away jobs left and right because I was simply booked! But that was then, and here I am sliding into October. I'm no longer smiling.

To make things even harder, my former employer (who had been hiring me out so much, they might as well consider me employed there) went and merged with their lifelong competitors in the training business. Of course when this happened it was said that this "superpower" in the training industry was combining courses, and was going to go out and "kick ass" or something. But I knew then that this was a bad move. My former employer had all ready merged with my former-former employer ... and there was nothing left of that merger. I was the last to get laid off from that original company and by my count that left ... nobody. So would this merger prove to be the same? Nothing but a "legal merger" to aquire a contract or two? It seems so.

The scheduling contact I had at the super-power headquarters sat down with my one day to go over the coming schedule. She was a bit disappointed. "The way we understood it, they were going to give us their students so that we could run more classes ... but they don't have any to give us". This company that they had merged with brought a full staff, but no aparent business with them. So now the superpower had many more hungry mouths to feed, and no business to support it. As you may have guessed, this staff has dried up to practically nothing. We all suspected this would be the case, and sadly we suspected correctly.

In the meantime, I have been taking the table scraps of the training industry. "We can't run this class unless we break your rate down to somewhere near what we pay the toilet sanitizers" - "I'll take it!". Of course, the brokers still contact me with odd requests. "Can you teach ProPoint Clustering?" - "WTF is ProPoint?". Or, "Can you teach a class in Albany?" - "Albany New York?" - "No, Albany Canada".

So, as I watch the training industry sink into it's holiday slump, I wonder how I will pay my bills through March when it picks up again. I am also a little concerned that my taxes are going to be murder this year, and I will have to come up with the bazillion dollars for that too. What do I do with all of this downtime? Study!

WTF Am I Studying?
I decided the best way to determine where we were "missing out" with training gigs was to sit down and go through all of the emails and phone calls I get from brokers who were desperate for instructors. I saw a couple of common requests. At the top of the list was Microsoft SQL. I know nothing about SQL, but I know I could learn it. And I certainly have the time to study it! I also found I would only have to pass two exams, and I could begin delivering those courses and naming my own price. So I am one third of the way through a book, and I have been playing with the courses that I downloaded. But this took my attention away from what I had been studying the week before ...

Certified Ethical Hacker! Yeah, I am a HAXX0R (an ej33t one b1tch3$). I get asked every once in a while if I can teach this course. Of course, I can't. But maybe I could get certified to do it. So I looked at what needed to be done. One exam. I can pass one exam. I got to studying. As I studied, I also contacted my local training center (my former employer) and talked to them about it. In so many words, they don't offer the training because it "costs too much". They let other training centers fight for those students. Maybe I could work for those "other centers", but they are all far away. I also found that unless I take the course myself, the exam will cost $250 to try. Oh, and everything I had been studying is now declared "old" as they just revised the exam. Shit. So screw that. Dropped. Maybe I wasted some time. So what.

Another hot trend that I picked up on was "Microsoft Office Manager" (MOM). This is an awkward product that Microsoft made to monitor servers, and kick their ass once in a while when they drop a running service. It's neat stuff. It has also excited many IT managers and project leaders who are rushing to send their administrators off to MOM classes ... which aparently noone is qualified to teach. A quick look at my Microsoft Transcripts told me that I WAS qualified! I had been turning away calls saying "I can't teach that", when in fact I am permitted to. I don't know anything about it though. So I have speant a good week learning all I can about it. I downloaded the course, and I have been working through the labs. It's a neat product, and the course seems fun. So I volunteered myself to teach it twice this month. I am ready! I am confident! And ... after one cancellation for next week, I may still get a shot to run it on the 19th. Fucking cancellations.

And then there's Sharepoint. I know nothing about Sharepoint. I have used it as an "end user", but I don't think that counts. I get a call Friday afternoon from a broker out in VA. He says "So I have this guy to do the Sharepoint class next week ... he has done it for us many times ... but ... he might be passing a kidney stone". To which I replied "ouch!". He adds, "if I call you Monday and ask you to drive to Maryland and be there for a class Tuesday and Wednesday, can you do it?". I thought long and hard about this. At least four seconds. Almost long enough for me to glance up to a calendar I have hanging over my desk with lots of red pen marking out all of the cancellations I have had. "Yes! Count me in!". So this weekend I am learning Sharepoint as fast as humanly possible. Because I 'might' teach it next week. :-/ Alas, I need to teach it once or twice anyway just so that I can start taking the offers I get for it.

Cleveland Traffic is Worse Than LA Traffic
Having now been to Las Angeles and Pittsburgh (both known for intolerable traffic) I can safely say that areas of Cleveland are actually WORSE. I had a gig there for a five day class, and I was determined to stay in hotels as little as possible. This was a good plan. It did however involve me getting out of bed very early, and driving straight to Cleveland (a good 3 1/2 hour trip). My first day in, I arrived into town a full hour ahead of time. Good planning!! Yet, when I rolled off the highway I could see that the directions I had been given the previous week were terribly flawed. I was told to come off the highway and "bear right" onto "Antenucci Blvd". So I barrelled off the highway, with my Bug running hot and trying to stall. And alas, I could find no "Antenucci" anything. Turn right, then? And so I did. Bad move I guess. It took me about 20 minutes to get through one mile of traffic which abrubtly dead ended into a residential area. I could see residents backing out of their driveways, looking at all the traffic, and then turning to go in the other direction. They must know something I didn't.

After another 25 minutes or so I had worked my way to the other end of this road. Now I was sitting in a parking lot that rolled downhill into nothingness. It was really creepy. Just smog, and hills as far as the eyes could see. I would later learn that all of the construction and traffic was for a Wal-Mart getting built. I rolled off the edge of the road, and cut the engine. Reaching into my bag I pulled out my cell phone and my little black book and called the training center. The woman at the desk was describing a building which I was sitting next to. "Hey, I think I am all ready on that road". "Turn down that road to your right", she says. And so it seems that this parking lot connected to a narrow road which was somehow "Antenucci Blvd". No sign. No arrows. No indication that this dirt ridden path was even a road. I wonder how students find this damn place?

So I found the place, and when I got into my room I thought I might be in the wrong room. There were a couple of books and whitepapers laying around for Microsoft Exchange (I was teaching Windows XP) and my desk was littered with trash and coffee rings. Hell, even the waste basket had trash in it. But alas, this was my room. It was just not ... clean. Aside from the filthy condition of the classroom, it would be the only problems I had all week. In fact, the students were fantastic, and the class ran smooth as butter.

That night I checked into my hotel. It was much further away than it seemed on the map and traffic still sucked. Yet, what else did I have to do? I was in Cleveland. Once I arrived, I quicly realized why this room was only $32 a night. It was terribly small. The bed was warped in the middle. There were two tiny bars of soap on the sink that a guy like me could easily lose up the ass, or between the toes. The towels were more like washrags. This place didn't even give you shampoo! Now THAT's a cheap motel!! Aside from the low quality freebies, the place was suprisingly clean, and quiet too.

Halfway through the week I drove home after class. I was able to catch my son's football practice and sleep in my own bed. It was great. The only downside was that I didn't really want to drive back to Cleveland the next day for two more days out of town. Let me tell you friends ... there is nothing more lonely than sitting in a cold hotel room watching TV. I don't know how you "traveling types" can go on with your lives. I was in bed every night at 7:00PM hoping to God they weren't showing "Batman Forever" on HBO again. Yes, I watched that whole movie. All the way through. You know the one with "Poison Ivy" and the chubby "Batgirl". Fucking awful. My second night in the hotel I was laying in bed at about 10:00PM watching TV and it struck me. I was bored as hell, and really hungry. I had made the mistake of eating dinner directly after finishing a class, and I was ready for "the real dinner" now.

So I drove to Denny's across the road. When I walked in the waitress asked "are you a regular?". I didn't know it was one of those places. But when I looked around I could see that this place was a club for fat truckers. I plopped my bag down and placed an order for the cheapest, yet most satisfying junk on the menu. When they brought it out on two plates I delightfully said "oh, this came with a side of pancakes?!?!". That was a lot of food, and I ate every bit. While I waited for the food to come I popped Audrey (the laptop) onto the table and played a game of Hitchhickers Guide to The Galaxy (the 1980's Infocom game). I think I dragged every bit of amusement I could out of that laptop. You would too if you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere without wireless!

It's funny though. As shitty as it is to travel, I didn't mind that week a bit. I think partly because I knew I was just a long drive from home (not two connecting 5 hour flights). And I also knew that I was making a fair bit of money for a class that required no prep time, and very little expenses. With gas, hotel, and food, I averaged $36 a day in travel expenses. Yes, I lived off of the value menu for dinner and skipped lunch. :-) One week later, I got that check in the mail. A check the size of two paychecks (or four weeks of work) from my previous job. Not bad at all.

Oh, had I forgot to mention that my laptop came back to life? Just when I think the battery is completely shot and worthless, it begins charging again. It's as if Audrey got a second wind. Maybe she wants me to take her wardriving again and she misses "old times". I had finished surfing the web one night and had sat her down on my night stand. That's when I noticed her. Flashing "amber" (for 'Im charging') was just her way of reminding me that she needs love. The next trip I take, Audrey ... I promise. We will hit the unintentional hot-spots and make this Blog interesting again.

Historic Comments

It's nice to see your posting again,and things are looking up.

apex | Homepage | 10.14.05 - 1:01 pm | #

I was thinking the same thing too. Post more wardriving adventures. It's been ages since we've had a fresh one.
SiliconSnake | Homepage | 10.16.05 - 8:00 pm | #

Is the The Blue Monster going to post new stories, its been a year?
oc12 | 10.16.05 - 9:46 pm | #

Can kidney stones be turned into diamonds like human remains can?
Poe | 10.16.05 - 10:38 pm | #

I do really need to bring back the monster. These past few months he has been stuffed into the back of my Bug getting mildew posioning.

And I do not believe that kidney stones can turn into diamonds. But, I'm sure they would still make nice jewlery. Perhaps ear-rings?
Ray Dios Haque | 11.04.05 - 3:09 pm | #

Holy sh*t! You're alive! Glad to see you're still managing to scrape by. Hang in there and keep posting.
_shaun | Homepage | 10.08.05 - 6:46 pm | #

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Buddhas and Hookers
My wife and I had a couple of hours without the kids today and so we decided to hit a few thrift stores. I found an "iTrip" (FM Transmitter for an iPod) and it only cost me $2.99. I also bought a WebTV box for $1.99. Although now that I see that I can't hack it I think I may have spent two bucks for a one gig Seagate hard drive (the only salvageable piece).

On our way back from one of the thrift stores we passed an Asian market. The sign read "Asian groceries -and gifts-". I figured that the "gifts" were probably cheap ceramic Buddha's, and I was in the market for one. So I busted a u-turn and rolled in. When we walked inside, I turned around to leave. It was the smell. I remember when I was a child and my mom would take me to Rinks (it was like K-Mart) she would never take me to the bathroom. A couple of times I threatened to pee my pants, so she took me to it. That smell of urinal pucks and stagnant urine are embedded in my brain. That's what the Asian grocery smelled like.

So anyway, I looked behind the counter and saw many great pieces of Buddha art. The cashier was happy to check a few prices for me and I could tell by his reaction to my interest, that people didn't actually buy that crap. They just had it there for decoration. "How much for the small one?", I asked. He picked it up trying to decrypt the lettering on the bottom. It was hard to read, because the statue was so small (and therefore so was the label). "$5.99", he muttered. Not bad, I thought. So I asked about the "big Buddha". "49.99", he said. "Whoah! Is it wood?". "No", he says as he knocked on it, "it's soap-stone". I nodded as if I knew what soap stone was. I looked at my wife. She was smiling uncomfortably as if to say, "get me the hell out of here".

We got out and hopped in the car. I backed out of the space, and just as I was putting it into drive some guy rolled into the parking lot and faced me head on. Being in a pinch I glanced over my shoulder to get an 'all clear' and then continued backing up to give him room. As he steered around me and I put the car in drive I noticed a figure shadowing over my wife. It was a thin (and I mean deathly thin) woman waving a cigarette around and yelling something at me. She looked familiar. I think because a moment earlier I had caught a glimpse of her waltzing through the parking lot as I looked over my shoulder. Ah! Now I know what she was saying. Something to the effect of, "you almost ran over me".

As she stumbled away (still yelling and waving her cigarette around) I wondered what she was doing waltzing through the parking lot jumping over concrete dividers and bushes. She was going out of her way to walk 10 feet or so from the sidewalk. Her outfit was ridiculous. It was a black dress that probably would have fit a traffic cone comfortably. Even for as tall as she was, she probably weighed in at around 100 pounds. She had high heels on. From this I deducted that she must be staying off the sidewalk for one of two reasons.

1. She is a prostitute, and she is off duty.

2. She is not a prostitute, and doesn't much like people trying to pick her up. So she is staying away from the main road as not to draw attention.

Now as the evening folds and I get ready to hop into my pajamas, I am sure that this event will be the most exciting event of the day.

The real question is: just what the hell will I do with my time tomorrow since I will not be teaching?

Historic Comments
Ray you could always pick her up to find out if she is a street ho.
Bird603568 | 08.24.05 - 8:05 pm | #

Heya Ray!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man here. Just taking advantage of an open access point atop the Metlife building here in the Apple...

I can't believe I found you. I used to read some of your stuff years ago. Didn't you have a different format of a site?


You never mentioned what you thought of that iTrip! I've been thinkin about picking one up but didn't want to shell out the cash if I didn't have to.

Take care my friend. Stop by and visit the Webslinger sometime.

Spider-Man | Homepage | 08.27.05 - 9:41 pm | #

Drink untill you can't drink anymore
Benzoate | 08.27.05 - 11:42 pm | #

Yo Ray, long time no see. Look me up bro, how have you been?
Gethsemane | 09.27.05 - 5:04 pm | #

Saturday, August 13, 2005

OS X On The RISC Platform Is "Natural"

With all the recent hype about OS X working on an Intel platform, I decided to explore it's roots. I had no idea what I was in for when I met with a student at the University of Berkley in California. He had tracked me down by e-mail a few weeks prior.

I flew out to California on a Friday, and settled into my dirty hotel late that night. The following morning, I threw on my jeans and headed out un-showered. I couldn't wait to get to the University and meet with my contact. During a phone call earlier in the week he had promised me that he could reveal "everything about OS X ... things that he shouldn't know", or so he said. This all sounded very enticing, and I was looking for something good to put in my blog. This guy insisted that I meet him in his favorite cafe, which was about a mile or so off the main campus. He had said he didn't want to be identified, but felt that this information should be made public.

When I arrived to the cafe, the man looked at me from across the room and waved me to his table. He nervously looked around the room, gripping a dirty yellow folder. "In this folder" ... he paused ... "are photos that will change the history of computing as we know it". Then he laid the folder down, smacked it with an open hand, and began to tease a cup of coffee with a stir stick. "Where do you think it came from?", he asked. I had read my history. I knew a little. "FreeBSD", I replied. He scoffed. "FreeBSD? Do you really believe that something so wonderful ... so elegant ... is a product of 1900's UNIX code?".

I had never really put much thought into it. One platform built on top of another seemed to be the way things get done with Operating Systems. He lean forward, reached into his folder, and drew out a photo. Sliding it across the table, I snapped it, and held it into the light from a neighboring window. "It's a mossy slab of ... something. It's a rock, right? A mossy stone?", I asked. He chuckled.

"Yes, a very important mossy stone. I signed up for the peace core seven years ago. I wasn't interested much in going to college. So I went off to Tibet for a while. I was there about three months when I found that rock. I had been trying to fit in with the native refugees I was there to help, and so I had been walking barefoot in brightly colored robes. Then I stepped in something. I stopped at that stone to wipe my feet off on it".

He stopped with his story, sipped at his coffee and then looked at me as if he were expecting me to ask him to continue. "Go on", I finally said, "what was it?". "It was dung. I'm sure of that now. Looking back, I remember stepping in it, and I could see the consistency was far too thin and granular to be mud-". "No!", I interrupted, "the stone! What was it about the stone?". "The stone", he paused, "revealed a piece of code. It was binary. It's simple really. If you look closely, you will see that the moss is dense, but has many empty spots. The empty spots separate the code".

"You mean to tell me ... that OS X grew on a rock ... naturally?". "Well not entirely", he added, "the rock ended up just being part of that 'expose' feature. But it was largely flawed. That component would later be discovered growing on the side of an old tree and would be added to what Apple later called 'Panther'. At least I think it was 'Panther'. I don't follow that stuff much".

I sat silently, turning the photo around in my hands. I looked, and didn't see much more than a moldy rock, and the toes of someone who had been standing at the edge of the rock when the photo was taken. "Do you have more?". "I have more", he replied, and pulled out a second photo.

The second photo was of a group of weeds. I stared at it intently. "Focus", he said. After several minutes of looking at the photo I gave up. "I just don't see it", I huffed accepting defeat. He snapped the photo back from me and looked at it himself, seeming surprised. "Oh this!" ... he raised his eyebrows and stuffed the photo back into his folder. "That is the wallpaper for Windows Vista ... so far it means nothing ... but I am exploring some theories ... it looks like weeds from the area where I had been staying and I think Microsoft may have people looking around there now. They steal things you know ... Microsoft, that is". Shuffling through his folder he removed a third photo, smiled, spun the photo around (still hiding it from view in his folder), smiled again, and finally yanked the photo out dropping it on the table.

This was a picture of a rain forest, taken from high in the air (possibly a cliff or mountaintop). "It's stunning", I said, "simply ... beautiful". "It looks pretty impressive. Nature has formed that wonderful forrest without the help or the effort of man. I knew that there had to be a reason for it being there. So I took this photo, and ran it through a piece of software I wrote to discover algorithms". "What did this reveal?". "It revealed a strange combination of plain text code, and an image". "And what were they?". He stopped for a moment, smiling at his little secret, and leaned forward before whispering, "It was Safari! ... I had discovered the Safari Web Browser!".

Naturally, one would be skeptical at such claims. I certainly was. As the hours passed, the man laid photo after photo on the table. Most looked like poorly planned vacation photos. The kind you have to sit through after one of your family members takes a trip to a coast line. A bunch of trees. Some people standing around monuments. A boat. Really, really, dull stuff. But all of these photos revealed pieces of code when properly translated and my new friend had all this supporting code to prove it.

"What ...", I started to ask, "who ... did you give this to?". "Who else could I give it to?", he replied angrily. "Didn't you see the code? ... It was RISC based, and it was written for the Apple platform. I took it to Steve Jobs, of course!". "Of course!", I added respectfully. "What would the developers of this software have to say about all of this?", I queried. "Do you mean ...", he looked around the cafe slowly lifting a finger and pointing upward, "... the Gods?". "No, no! The people that work at Apple who claim they have developed it. What would they say about all of this". "Oh those guys. They would probably say I'm nuts. What could they say? That they spent months trying to come up with an Operating System that would run on their Darwin base, and I found it growing on a tree?".

Suddenly, my mind began to race. "The iPod!", I shouted. "The iPod?". He shook his head. "Oh so you think that everything grows on trees, even iPods". I nodded. "No ... the iPod was just some slick engineering, and great marketing. No miracle of nature there".

"What did you get out of finding this?". "Nothing really. I took these pictures, I made my discovery, and I sent it all to Apple. I heard nothing back from them so I assumed they just thought I was a nut. But then I turned on the news one day and I saw it! I saw a preview of the latest stuff from Apple. And the wallpaper looked really familiar. It was derived from a pattern I discovered in a murky body of water were algae had grown at the waters edge".

I wondered why this had never been discussed. Why had Apple covered this up? Who else knew the truth about this Operating System? What would be next? I guess only time would tell. I headed back to my hotel later that afternoon and hit all my favorite news sites on my iBook. There were all sorts of people reporting about how OS X might ultimately run on an Intel platform as this was Apples plan. But, inside, I know that this is just not natural. It grew on a rock, and it was formed (by natural means) to run on a RISC based Motorola processor. Is it a gift from the heavens? Is earth nothing more than a natural formation meant to serve our technological means? What other modern wonders do we use on a day to day basis that were grown in this same manner?

The next time you go walking through a wooded area you had better look around. You may be tromping over or disturbing the next big Operating System. And if our disrespect toward the environment doesn't change ... Microsoft will never be toppled.

Historic Comments
I guess you ate those 'special' brownies today.
Poe | 08.14.05 - 1:24 pm | #

Apple before being on IBM chips was on Motorola chips.
oc12 | 08.14.05 - 9:06 pm | #

TIM | 08.15.05 - 7:52 pm | #

I dont understand it either and I wrote it. It's like a cross between a mock news item, and a bad interview from Rolling Stone.

Let's just forget I blogged that.

Ray Dios Haque | 08.21.05 - 9:59 pm | #

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

These past few nights I have had a hard time staying asleep. I usually drift off and don't awake until my alarm goes off (and even then I generally fade out for a few more minutes). A week or so ago, I decided to give up coffee. It upsets my stomach, and I'm not even sure I like the taste of it. I just like the caffiene. So I switched off to tea. Lighter, less sugar, and easier on the stomach. I really like tea. Maybe too much. I have been drinking probably six cups a day, half of which when I get home. I think the caffiene buzz is following me to bed and keeping me from sleeping well.

As I drifted in and out of sleep last night, I kept having these colorful and vivid dreams. The kind that only seem to last a few minutes but must take place over the period of a few hours. Mostly good and happy thoughts. Yet, the last dream I remember having was downright awful. I was sitting next to my mother on a wooden picnic bench at the top of a hill. Off to the right at a neighboring table was my wife and kids. We were enjoying lunch on a beutiful day. The sky was bright blue, and the grass a lovely shade of green. It was kind of like the default Windows XP wallpaper. Just so wonderful, it looked computer generated.

My mother was telling me a story and we were laughing and having a good time. Then ... air raid sirens. It was a little un-nerving and everyone began to get frightened. "What time is it?", I asked. Looking at her watch, my mother replied "9:53". Then I replied, "Well it's a little early, but it's Wednesday. They always run those at noon". Everyone agreed that it was probably normal, and we began to get back to our conversations. Then a strange formation of clouds appeared and it cast an obscure shadow upon the valley of green grass below. It didn't look much like anything. Just several cloudlike circular shadows. Almost like a reflection of something. It was an aircraft of some kind. And it was above us. Just as I looked up to the sky to see what was making the shadows - a ring shaped cloud decended from the heavens and began to drift toward the valley gaining speed. As it did, fire erupted from it's sides making an awful noise which echoed through the valley.

It was a bomb.

There was no time. The last thing I remember seeing was my mother flailing around in a panic (she recognized that everyone was about to be vaporized). It was horribly realisitic. It was the same noise she made when I teased her with rubber spiders as a kid. I remember thinking, I don't even have time to look at my family. We are about to go up in flames, and I can't even tell them I love them or say goodbye. I didn't even have time to turn around and see them.

So what was this dream about? Not enough time. I think it's a fear that we all have. I am just discovering it within myself. My dreams have taken new forms with me. They help me understand things about myself. My hope is that I will eventually learn meditation, and I won't have to sleep to invoke these locked away thoughts. Last night, I read a few lessons from the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has a funny way of giving it to you straight. He says, "we all die". He also says, "you won't be coming back". Finally he adds, "the only thing we DON'T know is WHEN we will die". So we had better prepare ourselves for death, basically.

As I sat at work today I kept checking the clock nervously. Not that I think I am some sort of psychic or anything ... but the dream seemed so real that it actually creeped me out. When I glanced to the clock and saw that it was just about 10:00AM I breathed a sigh of relief.

There is time.

Other events I don't want to write about now:

1) A consultant was pushed from the plane (someone was fired from my old employer whom I am serving this week).
2) Others from this company will likely leave -and if the company survives- it will mean more work local employment for me.
3) My daughter has lost three teeth this week (literally, she lost one - we found the other two).

Current Mood: Partly Enlightened
Musical Inspiration: I've been using my iPod to listen to Dhamma talks (and the White Stripes!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Good Books
These past few weeks I have been very much at ease with myself. My schedule is filled for a few weeks, and I haven't needed to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for my next class as they are courses that I have all ready taught. In my idle time (which has been plenty) I have taken to reading a few books. First, I finished my last Douglas Adams book "Mostly Harmless" just after returning home from Pittsburgh. It was a bit sad, because I ran out of books, and because I know that there won't be a new book (he's dead).

My wife and I were out wandering around in the north end and I expressed a desire to stop into the half-price book store. I was unable to find anything interesting to read there. I ended up perusing the IT books for the better part of an hour only to come to the realization that "Wireless" and "Security" books all suck (in general). I don't think it's because I am 'so smart'. Rather these books all focus on the same skill level, which must border somewhere around 'lame-ass'.

I was bored. I headed into religion.

My wife and I have been exploring Buddhism as of lately. I've always been a bit curious about it myself, but have never really taken the time to read anything. I had browsed through a few of the books she had picked up a week or so ago, and I was unimpressed. I found that most of the books are what people think the message of Buddhism is, not really what is taught. One book caught my eye because it is written by the Dalai Lama himself. After reading through the intro I found that this was one book from a series of books, and I was all ready into the sequel. This didn't seem to matter much, because each book focus on a different teaching of sorts. Since picking it up over the weekend, I am maybe a third through it. It's good stuff.

I also randomly came to a book which I had once picked up years earlier. The Tao of Pooh. This book introduces the reader to Taoism by using Winnie the Pooh characters. It brought back quite a few memories. When I was about 11 years old I went on a trip to North Carolina with my Aunt. She's a nun. Oh wait, this is an interesting story. I need to set this up.

The Nun, The Hacker, Usagi Yojimbo
Nuns are highly sociable. If you think nuns sit around all day in a convent praying, you don't know nun-thing! Nuns like to visit people. People like having nuns over. It was a phenomenon that I picked up on when I traveled with my aunt. I guess preparing a meal for a nun, and pulling out the sleeper sofa for them must be pretty enlightening. We traveled through Tennessee and the Carolina's for an entire week and never had a problem staying the night somewhere for free. I guess it would be pretty cold hearted to turn away a nun.

One of these nice families that hosted my nun and I, were the Messers. The family seemed harmless enough, but it was apparent that they had issues. The father of the family had severe suicidal depression, and was constantly on and off various drugs. The son, Damian, was highly intelligent but completely withdrawn and it was worried that he might suffer from depression like his father. Between Damian and his father, they had accrued about ten computers in their basement.

Did you catch that? I said TEN COMPUTERS. Now you may say "I have twelve in my basement -what's the big deal"? Friends, this was 1987! To have ten operational computers lined up in your basement in the 1980's was amazing. There was a couple of Commodores, Apples, "Trash-80's", and of course many IBM clones.

Damian was told he had to entertain me, and so he took me into this dungeon. I was in awe. He kind of directed me to the rear of the room where the older Commodore games were and showed me how I could load a few games. I must admit, Usagi Yojimbo was a nifty game. You were this character from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A big rabbit with a samurai sword. You could give money to peasants, and then murder them in cold blood. This would cost you karma, however, and was regarded as a bad move.

After having enough with the games I was soon at Damian's side watching him work. I had a couple of BBS's that I used back home, but this guy was dialing into BBS's with features that I had never seen. He was happy to show me around his favorite hang-outs, let me read some of his documentation, and even put on some interesting college radio stuff which he rather liked.

Later that night I leaned over and picked up a tattered book and asked, "what's this?". "Oh!", he replied as he snatched it away, "just a book I am reading that your aunt ... might not agree with". He winked and stuffed it into his back pocket.

Our Story Continues
All those years ago, Damian was reading this book which I now held in the book store. Just what was this secretive, yet silly looking, book all about? I flipped the book over in the book store and read the back. Taoism. Interesting. The following day I sat down and read the whole damned thing. It's a good book. So good, that I feel obligated to stuff it into the pocket of a friend and convince them they need to read it to.

The Writer Within
So I got a message a while ago from my buddy Ryan (Wardriver). He asked, "what's going on with Gloop?". That's a good question. I have no idea. Here I built Gloop up from an inside joke into a mock company that sold imaginary products. But it was also the distribution point for my unfinished book. While I don't know that I have plans to revive Gloop as a website, I do certainly have plans to finish the book!

I was teaching a "Microsoft Security Fundamentals" course last week. Stop laughing. The second or third day into it I decided that I needed to practice a little of what I had been preaching. Here, I had been teaching a security class all week, but hadn't really shown my students what poor security looks like. So I popped open Audrey, and went to work on the hotel's wireless network. The hotel had a secure system that required you to put in a password to connect and then your connection would time out within a few hours. This was a nice feature for an attacker because it told me that any hosts I might find on this network were active users whose traffic I might want to sniff.

The bad news is that after about two hours, I had gotten nowhere. Through some old tools like nmap I had tracked down about three active Wireless users. But all my favorite tools were bombing out on me. Ethereal? Nope. Ettercap? No way. Everything was either bombing out no me, or simply not loading. It was my own doing. I had run several Apple updates the past few weeks which had surely crippled the dependencies for my X-Windows stuff. I gave up, and went to bed.

Once I got back from Pittsburgh, I continued the fight. I went out and got the source code for all my broken tools and rebuilt them to get them running again. The latest version of Ethereal has some very nice new features.

But what am I doing this for? Oh yeah, I plan on using these. Have I decided to get back to work on this book? I guess I have. It wasn't a conscious decision. There is much to be done. I need to get Audrey's battery charging and hit the streets. I need to collect some data! I need to hit up the local coffee shops and get back into practice.

Current Mood: Pleased
Musical Inspiration: Squirrel Nut Zippers (I found their 2000 album at a used music shop for $5)

Historic Comments
I'm looking forward to more wardriving adventures. On religion, there's too many -isms in the world. Think I'll stick with what I know.
Anonymous | 07.11.05 - 10:54 pm | #

Glad to see things are turning around for you ray! I am looking forward to reading your book

tdo | 07.12.05 - 1:00 am | #

Being serious for once.

I have spent the last year studying buddhism in its various forms. It has been such a fantastic journey reading about how it spread from india (from Shakyamuni himself) all the way to his votary Nichiren Daishonin in Japan.

All I will say to you is this my friend. What makes us (humans) so special is that we are human in THIS lifetime for one purpose.

To finally achieve enlightenment.

I'd like to talk to you more about this if you are interested in buddhism. Shoot me an email. You have the address.

With Gassho (palms pressed)
Phrightener | 07.12.05 - 8:16 pm | #

Hey Phrighty,

I had no idea you too were a bodhisattva. I am really enjoying that first book I got from the Dalai Lama. There are a few things in there that have left me scratching my head, but I think I may end up reading it a second time.

So I guess that makes us "sangha?", eh old friend?

Ray | Homepage | 07.20.05 - 8:47 am | #

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hitchhikers Guide To Pittsburgh
After reading a couple of Douglas Adams books, I began to pick up a few things from his writings. Number one, he hates New York. Maybe 'hate' isn't strong enough. Loathe. There's a nice word. He LOATHES new York. I suppose being Brittish that it's the complete opposite of the world he was acustomed to. I also gradually picked up that Douglas Adams was a bit of a traveler, and when he traveled he was probably highly amused by the cultures around him. This of course translates into intergalactic travel in his books. But having done some traveling you begin to unravel the parallels in his books.

This past week, I traveled to Pittsburgh PA to do a week long class in the downtown area. We had decided to book a hotel inside of downtown, despite various warnings of the 'cost' involved. Sure, it was a little overpriced. About $180 a night. But with my AAA discount, it came down to $109. That paid for a double room, a couple of TV's, a desk, a huge bedroom, and plenty of living space! There were other nice features such as a shuttle van that would take you anywhere you wanted to go, an indoor pool, and of course valet parking. Normally, we would not spring for such a ritzy hotel for work travel ... but this was a vacation too!

Being that it was a vacation, we brought the whole family along for the ride. Sometime in our second night in Pittsburgh, I found myself looking across the river. We had taken the subway just across the river to a nice tourist spot known as "Station Square". As I looked over Pittsburgh which was now beginning to glow as the night embraced it, I thought to myself "thank God I was laid off".

Audrey II Saves The Day
One of these days I'm going to get myself a new laptop. Audrey has some serious issues. She murders batteries faster than I can afford to install them. Looking around for replacement parts to rebuild her with, I can see I am going to spend a hundred dollars or so. But just when I consider retiring the old beast, she surprises me again.

Our first night in the hotel, I grabbed the bag of phone parts and began to dump it on the hotel room desk. We had brought along our Vonage box (voice over IP) and our business telephone. The idea being that we could plug it into the hotel's "data port" and have a free phone to make local calls from during the week. Plus, we could answer our business line and not have to keep checking voicemail all week. Low and behold, there was no data port. It seems the hotel is being rennovated, and would soon be turned into a "Doubletree Hotel". The data ports were no longer. They have been replaced with wireless access, which was still not yet completed. Luckily our floor had an access point, which must have been relatively nearby. Cracking open Audrey, she connected with ease and I was online.

The problem: The Vonage box plugs into a normal network port. I wanted to plug it into Audrey and make the laptop route the traffic to the wireless network. This would require a crossover cable ... and I didn't have one. I made a quick trip down to the hotel lobby and asked where that "convenience store" was that I read about in the brochure. "You mean the 7-11?", the guy asked me. "Sure", I said. In the 7-11 I found everything I needed. Nail clippers, and some tape. Back at the hotel room, I split open my cable, clipped the orange and green pairs, and wired them opposite to each other. Boom! Instant cross-over cable. Moments later Audrey was routing my phone calls. I kissed her.

A few days later my son was still bummed that his laptop didn't work. A week or so earlier he had dragged this old laptop out of my basement and asked if he could have it. I let him know that I had planned on giving it to him before, but didn't because the battery was shot. He must have a bit of his old man in him, because he spent the next day or so nursing the old Ni-Cad back to good health. Anyhow, the poor boy couldn't get the wireless access to work at all. Having a look at it I could see that his traffic was being diverted to the hotels "wireless payment system". What a load of crap! It had worked fine for a few minutes. After a few futile attempts to change his MAC address I began to wonder how it was that Audrey was still so well connected.

After having a look at what Audrey was connected to, it occurred to me that I wasn't using the hotel's wireless access at all. I was connected to some nearby point, and I had been freeloading the past few days. This explained why the signal was somewhat weak and sometimes unreliable. So I did what any respectable citizen would do. I waved my son over to that side of the room and showed him how to do wireless surveys, locate open AP's, and freeload! To this, he stood up, shook his fists in the air, and yelled "hacking power". I couldn't be more proud. The rest of the trip he was carrying the laptop around finding that it worked better in some areas than others and eventually ended up camping out under my desk to surf Pokemon and Neo Pets websites.

Incidentally, I picked up a new Hitchiker's book in Pittsburgh. It seems to be a tradition when I travel. So I will end with one of my favorite quotes.

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws". -Mostly Harmless

Historic Comments
Way to help raise the hackers of tomorrow, Ray!
Dan | Homepage | 06.26.05 - 12:53 pm | #

Face the facts Ray, one of these days Franken-Audrey is going to pass away. You should prepare now by placing a "Donate to Audrey III" button at the top of your page. Glad to see you're posting again!
Poe | 06.26.05 - 7:10 pm | #

Heya You need to pick up Last Chance to See. A non fiction Adams book about a lot of his travels around the world looking for endangered/extinct species of animals. Great book, and gives you even more insight into what he thought about the world around him.
George | 06.27.05 - 12:47 am | #

Glad to here that all is well.
apex | Homepage | 06.27.05 - 3:01 pm | #

Apex, what have you been doing you bum?

Anyways, sup Ray? Good to see you are showin the boy a few tricks. >
Phrightener | 06.28.05 - 10:58 am | #

Ray, that is awesome.
Benzoate | 06.29.05 - 6:13 am | #

Found ya :P

How goes the blazzoring?
hobKnob | Homepage | 06.29.05 - 1:04 pm | #

Poe: You're right about that! Perhaps I should try to update and complete my book and then sell it for a few dollars a pop.

George: That book sounds dope. I have tried to find it in a couple of book stores and failed. I think I will have to order that one.

HobKnob: Where the hell have you been? Phrightener and I called off the search for you sometime back in 2000.

Ray | 07.11.05 - 6:24 pm | #

Friday, June 10, 2005

Alive, Not Well
Ah, I am beginning to look like most people who start up a blog. They post like mad, then out of the blue they just stop. But, alas, I am still alive and I have not abandoned my blog.

I just finished up a week long stint of teaching web design to a handful of insurance company employees. It was an odd class, "CIW Site Designer". I had no idea what the course entailed, but I had nothing to teach this week (or the week before) so I jumped at the invitation. I ended up driving across town this past Friday to pick up the courseware and after leafing through it I decided that this class was right up my alley. It involved a bit of explanation for general "web" know-how like "how to write HTML" and "what's available for site hosting". But the majority of the class was spent actually training the students how to use FrontPage (barf!) and DreamWeaver. The students made their choice pretty quickly on what they would be using ... and it was Dreamweaver. I can't blame them really. It was interesting to see that the author of the student materials was a bit biased, stating things like "this feature is far easier/better in Dreamweaver".

It was one LONG week. Not because of the students or the class, they were just great. But I seem to have developed an awful sinus infection. About a week and a half ago I picked up what seemed like a light cold. But I don't get colds. And when I get something like a cold, I know what it really means. A sinus infection. Right away I started chucking down sinus pills, and washing them down with 'Tussin'. Here I am going on two weeks with this thing and I still haven't beat it. It has been utter hell going to sleep, and then waking up. And then getting the drugs in my system quick enough to keep some level of alertness. A couple of times I may have taken a bit too much of that 'Tussin'. It seems that mixing beer and Tussin gives you a really nice high. I think I ended up inadvertently taking some sort of red-neck drug concoction. But I felt really good that night. REALLY good. :-)

I tried calling into the doctors office today, and their hours are simply insane. Some days they are open 13 hours, and other days only 4. Today they were open for 4 hours and I missed them. I need antibiotics BAD. I wish you could just walk into a drug store and pick them up. But I understand why you can't.

As I was leaving the training center today, the owner stopped me in the hallway and said "I have something for you". It was a check, for the training I did there a few weeks ago. Hooray! I got paid. Along with the check I got earlier in the week, I was able to pay my bills. I know, it doesn't sound very exciting. But 'paying your bills' is always a concern when you are independent and you're not quite sure if you will ever see money for the work you have done.

So work has been steady, and good. At my current rate, I am averaging one week off a month (and four weeks teaching). This pays all my bills, and then some. In the weeks I am off I find that I am still working, but it's work that I enjoy. And being home for an entire week is great. I can sit around in my pajamas until noon. I can take my shower at 4:00PM. I can sleep in until 10:00AM. This independent stuff is great. Speaking of taking a week off, I have nothing scheduled next week! I am quite glad. I don't know that I am ever going to beat this infection. Now I can get into the doctor and get some good drugs.

Current Mood: Sick Damnitt!
Musical Inspiration: Shut up and turn it off. I don't feel good.

Historic Comments
i know you all did the gratis ipod thing but if you are looking to do another one and maybe ebay it check it out! its legit like gratis too. ref=401849
phrighty | 06.10.05 - 8:13 pm | #

Thats all youre bitch as has to say after Ray finally post about whats happened in his life so far. Thats a bitch thing to do.
Benzoate | 06.10.05 - 10:48 pm | #

Whadda ya mean you can't just walk in to a store and buy anitbiotics? What kind you looking for? And congrats on meeting ends with those bills. Keep it up and you might be able to afford a vacation one of these days.
Poe | 06.11.05 - 7:19 pm | #

good to have you back
LiteHedded | Homepage | 06.14.05 - 1:26 pm | #

Heh, it probably worked without the beer. Robutussin has DXM in it, which can make you trip like a motherfucker. The beer probably helped.
SiliconSnake | 06.15.05 - 4:37 am | #

You can get an ipod mini with just 4 referrals. Check this out. referral=281
Anonymous | 06.19.05 - 10:20 pm | #

i hate all of you ipod bitches to death
Benzoate | 06.20.05 - 6:52 pm | #

Is this where you get free iPods?
Anonymous | 06.21.05 - 10:35 pm | #

Yup, its the link above the guy complaining about ipods and calling such people who like to get them "bitches".

Phrighty | 06.22.05 - 7:18 pm | #