Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Being Sick Sucks
I don't get sick very often. I'm a pretty lucky guy. But I always get a sinus infection in the late fall (done with that for 2006) and I usually get some sort of gross stomach flue in mid to late December. It must be mid-December.

Last night I drove home through hell on the highway as it was raining pretty heavily during rush hour. What should be a 20 minute drive turned into 45. I walked in the door to get my daughter and take her to Karate, which I had 15 minutes to pull off. Thankfully my wife had packed me up a nice meal - I was starving. I got to the mall and ran inside, getting my daughter through the door with a minute or two to spare and I was free to eat. I practically inhaled my dinner, licking the plate. Sausage patties, eggs with cheese on top, and waffles. Yummy. I was feeling pretty good.

About an hour later, my stomach started rolling over and I thought maybe I had eaten up that meal a little too fast. Woops. Two hours later, I began to wonder if something was going horribly wrong in my digestive track. At 10:00PM when my stomach woke me up after being asleep for about 15 minutes - I knew that I was in for a heck of a night. I went down to the fridge, grabbed the pepto-bismal and drank it down. It felt like poison rolling into my gut. Ouch. Then I started to feel really weak and strange. It was then that I knew, I had the flue.

I tried to go back to sleep. An hour later my stomach woke me up. Prepare to evacuate intestinal walls. It was like I had eaten handfuls of staples, and my body was ready to eject them. Hell, I wasn't sure which end I was going to erupt from. I'll spare the rest of the details for the sake of humanity. I went back to bed.

11:15PM I was awake again. Did my stomach wake me up? I was actually beginning to feel better. No, it was my pager blowing up with someone's network outage. Great, just great. So I grabbed my pager and cell phone and headed to the basement. It turned out to be a downed firewall in Delaware Washington. My only contacts for this account were all in Ohio and I doubt any of them gave half a shit. Yet, they pay to have us call them 24x7, so I left them a voicemail message and my cell phone number. I waited around 10 minutes or so. No call? Good. Good night.

2:00AM I was awake again. Who woke me up this time? I don't feel very good. I need more Pepto. Oh, but it's my pager again. This bad weather is taking it's toll on network tonight. So I go downstairs to my PC and investigate. This time it's a firewall in Cincinnati belonging to an electric company. Would they really give a shit that this thing went belly up in the middle of the night? I really don't like calling anyone at 2:00AM, even if I think it's important. I called the main business line thinking "I can leave them a message, an they will get it in the morning - and be glad that I didn't call them at home". But I wouldn't be so lucky, I was told that I could leave a message if this was an emergency. This was not an emergency that I could see. I called the cell phone of the owner. Ring. Please don't pick up. Ring. Please ... just go to voice mail. Ring. It goes to voicemail. Thank God. As I am leaving the message about his firewall being down, I start getting ping responses. Great. False alarm. Sorry.

I drink some more Pepto, sit on the toilet for a while, and I am back in bed. At 6:30AM the alarm goes off. I feel empty inside. No way. No way am I going to work. I've never called off since I started the new job. I have earned this sick day. I go back to sleep. 7:40AM my wife opens the bedroom door and turns on the light. She tells me I am about to be very late. I tell her I'm calling off. 8:05AM I call off. 8:10AM I go back to the toilet. 8:15AM I go back to sleep.

At 11:30 I crawl out of bed feeling really weak and odd. I tell my wife that usually the kids get sick before I do. She reminds me that my daughter was sick just a few days ago. I had forgotten. I plop myself down to my computer and start up my messenger. The guys at work pick on me for calling off, in a friendly way. But the one guy tells me that one of our co-workers was genuinely pissed off that I didn't show up. Why? I don't know. That guy certainly calls off more than any of us and has been known to excuse himself early on occasion when we are busily trying to get caught up. Screw him.

I decide to work on ODDREE Magazine. I started issue two, and haven't made much progress in a few weeks. Yesterday I had scrawled down two ideas I had for articles. This afternoon, I wrote half of each one. I was pleased with myself. I would like to just keep on trucking and finish them, but both require some additional labor and photo-taking and I just don't have the strength. I think I will just kick my feet up, finish reading Fight Club, and watch some TV. Back to work tomorrow? Probably.

Historic Comments
eel better dude. Look forward to the next issue.
George | 12.15.06 - 12:40 am | #

I know how it is to be sick and still have work to do so hope you feel better and thanks for all the cool stuff you have put together over the years.

You are good People Steve and I like what you are doing with ODDREE

Happy New Year Party on!
carwash | Homepage | 12.29.06 - 10:01 pm | #

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Ghost of My Former Self
I decided to let my kids take some pictures today. We had a little Thanksgiving meal at my house and invited my wifes family over. I knew my wife and I would get too involved with our guests to take pictures. But I didn't want my kids dropping the good camera, so I gave them our old Kodak serial camera which still proudly boasts "1 Megapixel" on the front.

On the camera was a picture that was taken a couple of years ago - the last time the camera was used. It was of me, in my Geek Squad uniform. Once I had the image off the camera, I blew it up full screen. It was like looking at a ghost. I'm not sure who took this picture (or why). But have a look around. I'm installing Windows XP for someone (maybe myself?). I look really tired and depressed. My cheeks are rosey from my blood pressure which was boiling over. On the wall behind me you can see an old training schedule from the evil training empire I worked for. In marker beside it, I have put up a couple of Novell courses that are coming up and then spelled out in big sacastic lettering "some dumb shit I don't want to teach" which was followed by "start a new job!". This was before I was laid off, and started my own business.

Anyhow, it's nice to look back and remember how nasty things got. I makes me appreciate how much better things are now. Happy belated Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How To Make Recruiters Call You
I have been hitting the job searching pretty hard lately, and I can't say that I have made a lick of progress. The only phone calls I seem to get are from recruiters who don't really have a job for me, but like to waste my time with stupid questions. I have also found that if you go out onto and post your resume, you will get phone calls from 5 or more recruiters who are just looking to put you in their database. If you "disable" your resume or make it "private" - wait a few days - then make it viewable again, those same people will call you back. For that matter you might try posting multiple resumes and see if they call you multiple times.

I got a call from a guy last week that I was reluctant to return. But there is that part of your brain that says "this *could* be the big phone call that gets you a better paying job". So I waited until I left out of work, and called this guy on my cell phone. It's as if the guy never even glanced at my resume. It's terribly insulting.

"Where are you working now?" - It's on my resume.
"What kind of experience do you have?" - It's on my resume.
"Are you A+ Certified?" - Uh yeah, I have like - 7 CompTIA certifications.
"Wow, I didn't know there were that many" - Yes. There are a bunch. EL OH EL.
"Any other certification?" - Yeah, what are you looking for exactly? I have many.

A note to recruiters every where. Act like you give a fuck, and do a little research with people when you are expecting their call. Like maybe ... just maybe ... glacing over the resume [ which is one page ].

Late last week I got a call from a recruiter that I worked with at the big evil corporate empire that I so hated. When she quit (or was fired? I forget), she went to work for a recruiting firm. I really needed to get back to her before she moved on and assumed I wasn't interested. Yet, my day was so busy, it didn't look like I was going to get a break. A break that I had definitely earned. I had to come in that morning at 7:30AM for a meeting, and I am still expected to work until 6:00PM. The "deal" is that when you get dicked with that schedule, you get a "two hour lunch". Don't ask me what I am supposed to do with a two hour lunch. But we were so busy, I was lucky to sneak out for half an hour to stuff down some french fries and call my old colleague.

My cell phone is out of minutes, and I am out of money. I can't make a call like this from work. So I started looking for pay phones. There aren't many in this fancy business district, on account that most people have cell phones. But I managed to find one at a gas station and I pumped two quarters into it (yes, a local call costs FIFTY CENTS). A receptionist answered, and aparently, could not hear me speak. The phone was broken. And I was just charged 50 cents to make a prank call. Thanks a lot. I drove to the next payphone, and I could tell that this one didn't work at all.

Next I headed to Giant Eagle. They seemed to have a working payphone in the lobby. This was my luck day. Fifty more cents later, the phone rings. No sooner does she answer, the doors swing open and "the cart boy" began crashing carts together. If I listen very closely, I am able to make out every other word that comes out of her mouth. It sounded like she wanted to offer me a contract teaching position, which entailed 80 percent travel. No thanks. Been there, done that.

My week just doesn't seem to be getting any better. Now the recruiters aren't calling any more. It's back to a job that's looking more and more like a financial dead end. Meanwhile, I am applying to a local University for acceptance this summer. I figure, if I'm this broke, perhaps the Federal government will pay for a couple of classes.

With a degree I might stand half a chance at decent wages.

Historic Comments

you know.. wierd things happen in my life that cause me to look back at a better time..

A time of double fisted blazz0ring. A time of the first semi official PLA chapter. A time of UP$. A time of Curs3d_Ang3ls. A time of Rattor pranking me 3rd party ld from South Africa.

Today was one of those days, and I just had to search for the mighty RDH.

I'm still not sure what sparked me to find you again.. but damn. I miss the old days.
hobKnob | 12.02.06 - 8:48 pm | #

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Staying The Course

Last year I ran into a couple of problems. None of them involved money. I was having money thrown at me like I was some kind of up and coming athlete. Everyone loved the training I was delivering, and my “work ethic” as one broker put it. Of course by “work ethic” he was referring to my willingness to take on new courses that I had never taught, on material that I was hardly familiar with. That seemed to be what separated me from the overpaid pre-Madonna’s of the training industry. My wife and I recognized it, and cashed in on it. Before long, the phone was always ringing with awkward requests, and it was difficult to keep track of everything coming in by e-mail. But with every success came a fair bit of sadness as everything I agreed to meant leaving town for a week at a time.

As we went into April, I was running from one week stink to another. From home – to airport – to a dirty hotel. The sweet victory of returning home and sending out the invoice just didn’t seem to counter the hard fact that I would probably have to do it all over 24 hours later. I simply didn’t want to leave any more. And my time at home was hardly productive. I usually sat around in my pajamas all day when I wasn’t on the road.

The money was great. And everything else sucked. My wife and I had always agreed that money shouldn’t drive our goals in life as the result is a miserable existence. And we were right. So I quit. The phone continued to ring, and I turned away job after job while working to get my resume out on the street – talk to old acquaintances and set up interviews. There were two jobs that stuck out in my mind as something obtainable. And I landed a position with one of them. So what’s happened since then?

I like my new job. I was once again part of a mom-and-pop style business, with a real team atmosphere. There are four of us working to stay ahead of service requests, phone calls, and security incidents, and a fifth member writing all the software. The boss and his wife run the sales, billing, and general customer service aspect. It works. It works well. The company has grown by at least a third, putting a stress on the four of us providing support and we suspect we’ll get a fifth partner by January.

I start every day trying to finish yesterdays load, and by noon I have far more to get done than I can ever commit to. The result is that I end up stuffing down lunch when I can, usually muting a customer so they don’t hear my munching. I’m busy, all the time. It’s nice. The days fly by, and I have fun at what I’m doing.

I suppose there are a few problems though. Namely, I’m flat fucking broke. When I applied for the job, I asked for $20,000 a year more than I ended up being hired for. But seeing that I was not getting calls from anyone, I took it. My wife and I ran some numbers and figured that we were going to barely squeak by. But there were surprises. The taxes were a bit higher than expected. Health care and dental insurance take a large portion of my check. And in the end, we were $200 short paying all of the bills.

How could we save our house? We would have to prove to the mortgage company that we can afford it. But here we are months later, and the mortgage company has figured out that we really can’t afford our house. I guess it was more like “fooling them” into thinking we could afford it. They’re nice people and they’re pretty understanding. I guess they have to be. As I look up and down my street, we hardly have any of our original neighbors. They’ve all moved away because they couldn’t afford their homes either. When we see moving vans, it’s never anyone moving in. It’s someone else who’s given up. Our street is littered with realtor signs, some boasting “HUD property” and one even boasts a good deal for “distressed property”. My wife an I figure that translates to “dog shit smells” and “urine stains”.

In an attempt to satisfy the mortgage company I cashed in on my retirement account. There’s very little left. A thousand bucks, or so. With the money we paid off our tax debts with mounting interest, our car which was nearing repossession status, and all of our utility bills which were starting to come to the mailbox in festive orange colors. That ought to do it, I thought. I put it all in front of the mortgage company. In my naivety I guess I thought that they would be willing to help me lower my payments. But the response instead was “that’s great, but you still don’t make enough money”. They always ask weird and insulting questions such as “do you have any other sources of income?”. I’m never sure how to answer that one. I guess I really want to know, “what do other people answer that with?”. Not because I am a smart ass, but I could use some more money myself!

The night after calling the bank and signing the papers to watch my retirement vanish, I had a nightmare that I was in prison. It was awful there, and I wasn’t being treated very well. It seemed like I had expected better, but upon getting there I realized that prison really sucks. Nobody came to see me for weeks. Eventually my dad showed up for a visit and said “we’re working with your lawyers, it may take some time”. But I kept pleading “you have to get me out of here … I mean, I’m not even sure what I did”. But after I was awake, and I could make sense of what was going on in my head, it was clear. I had put myself on trial for my financial ruin, and it was for my father who was judging me.

I explained the whole dream to my wife – adding that I was in grief over a financial decision that my father will not be happy with. She was quite understanding and assured me that we were doing the right thing and the only thing. I admitted that it was rather sad to sit around depressed about what my father would say about my financial un-successes.

Retirement spent, and bank account empty, I continued my new full time career making 13% less than I did when I was laid off several years ago. I felt I was underpaid then. I feel really underpaid now. While waiting on hold to talk to the mortgage company, they constantly remind you of their website. So I headed there to a section on “payment help” where they offer “alternatives to foreclosure”. My heart sank. There were five options. The first three were options that we have tried in attempts to get back on track and keep paying on our house. All options that have failed, as there is just not enough income to go around. The latter two unexplored options involved leaving your home in a voluntary fashion – to avoid the black mark of foreclosure. Those, I thought, were the only two I haven’t been through.

So I broke it to my wife. Monday I will call the mortgage company. I will tell them that we cannot make a payment. A payment that we needed to make if we wanted to stay on a plan. The plan being a “test” to see if we could stay on the path to repayment. The result of missing my deadline? Options four and five on the list. I don’t have to speculate. The whole thing is laid out for you. If you aren’t content leaving your home, there’s always the missing option six (foreclosure).

Likely, I will be leaving my house in the coming year. Not because I don’t like the place. I just simply can’t afford to live in it. I’m not bitter about it, but a little depressed. I’ve raised my kids here. We’ve painted the walls together. There are lots of great memories here.

I suppose that things might turn around. But I have to be honest with myself. I’m not going to get a large raise any time soon. I’m doing a great job at work. The boss even told me so, and he’s not a complimenting type. And it was a little sad to hear that one of our team members who has been there for years, makes the same thing I do.

Should I look for a new job? I guess it’s time to. I like my job. But I need more money. A lot more money. So much more money, that when I am asked by an interviewer “what is your current salary”, I had better put on a pretty good poker face.

In situations such as these, I wonder what the Buddha would have said. Likely he would remind me of suffering. He would tell me that when the things we like are taken away, we feel suffering. It brings me comfort in knowing that it’s just a house that’s gong away and not the life of someone I love. Life has dealt me much worse, and I’m not going to call this situation sour grapes. The time I have had with my kids, and not being on the road all the time certainly seems better than paying all my bills and leading a miserable life. I still feel we’re better off than this same time last year.

What’s next for me? What’s next for us? At 30 years old, and lacking a college degree I’m in no shape for demanding a large increase from my current employer.

It looks I will be back to the job search engines and updating my resume for one last stand. Wish me luck.?

Historic Comments
DEVO | 11.19.06 - 7:23 pm | #

Hey Ray, I am a long time reader of your blog. Been reading since I found you on the legendary thebroken forums. I come back from time to time and catch up on how you are doing, and somehow I always find a mirror of my own trials. This one is no different except for the fact that it reflects my situation 6 months ago. I dropped a job that was great for my bottom line, but bad for me personally. I left there and never looked back - instead, waiting tables to get by, and not even doing that. But alas, I did find a job that I love, and that loves my checkbook, and it all seems worth it now. Don't hesitate to do what needs to be done, in the end you will see the wisdom of your choice fully. Best of luck..
Ty | Homepage | 11.28.06 - 5:02 pm | #

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ah, the fruit of my past month of unemployment comes to the light of day. While the release date was set for tomorrow May 27th, 2006 it was 'pushed up' to today. Namely because street dates for something like this were only made to be broken by leaked links. But also because all the mirrors were ready for downloads and there was no reason to hold anything back.

I hope that the magazine turns out to be a success. It was a lot of fun to put together and I am all ready looking forward to working on Issue 2 . The next one will have a little more reader input and article submissions.

So get your copy now if you haven't all ready -

read more | digg story

Historic Comments
What happened to Ray?
Michael | 09.07.06 - 12:43 am | #
I crawled out of bed yesterday in a complete daze. The Niquil I had gulped down the night before must have kicked in. The first dose wore off around 4:30AM and when I woke up sneezing, I chugged down another dose to put me down. So at around 9:00AM I opened my eyes and realized it was really quiet in the house. I was a little confused. My house is never that quiet. But then I noticed the time and realized my kids had gone off to school and my wife had too as she was helping at the book fair all day. I felt pretty good. Almost like this head cold had subsided. But then about ten minutes later I was sneezing uncontrollably and choking down more pills. It's definitely a sinus infection. What great fucking timing.

I went downstairs and checked my email. Just spam. No blinking voicemail light. I checked it anyway. No voicemail. *sigh* It would be a long day of waiting.

Sometime between Thursday and Friday I was to hear about this job. And the longer the day got, the more I began to think that I didn't get the job and they just didn't have the heart to tell me. They knew I wanted the job really bad (especially after bringing them brownies). Perhaps they just didn't have the heart to tell me. No, maybe I was jumping the gun. After all, it's a tough decision. They probably want to hold off until Friday to give their answer. I waited, and waited, and waited.

It was just about five o' clock now, and I was getting ready to go to the grocery and pick up dinner items. Another day gone. My wife had just started up the laundry. Something she had been putting off because of the noise. No sooner did she start it up that the phone rang. It was them. Here they had waited until the end of the day. Expecting bad news at this point I happily answered.

"So you tried to buy me with brownies, eh?". The owner seemed a little wierded out by the brownies, but appreciative none the less. He went on to tell me that they were hours away from making their decision, and he wanted to ask me a few questions if I had a moment. I did. And so he asked something to the effect of "why would you want to take a job as different as this one?". I had a good answer for this. I had a LONG answer for this and so I addressed it. In my explanation I detailed: (a) why I feel like my students don't learn anything valuable from me (b) that the training industry is a crooked self propelling product pusher (c) that I hate traveling (d) that I don't like getting stiffed. He agreed that these were all good reasons to leave my field and so, he paused. He looked through his schedule. "Can we meet tomorrow, say 3:30PM?", he asked. "Absolutely!", I replied.

So did I have the job? Was I interviewing a third time? What the hell was next? Thankfully before ending the call he let me know what's going on. "Just so that there is no suspense here, you probably know what's coming ... we're going to offer you a job tomorrow". Hooray! I got it! I got the job! Thank God. Now I could take a deep breath. And if I didn't feel like such utter shit on behalf of this infection I would jump up and down.

Today is a new day. I have a lot I need to get done. As I approach noon, I haven't accomplished much of anything. I need to talk to two different companies that I am contracted to and try to let myself off the hook on behalf of my new career. One project I never signed a contract for. In fact, I haven't billed them and may never get paid anyway. So no real loss there. The other, has always treated me very well, paid on time, etc. I regret telling them that I will not be working for them any more. I also need to call my mortgage company, and my auto finance company to let them know that I will indeed pay them sometime in the near future.

But I did get something done today. I published the first issue of my magazine! It's live, along with a new website that kept me busy for practically a full week. Check it out @

On a final note, as I was blogging my phone rang from a strange 800 number. She asks "is this the owner of Beavers IT Training?".

"Why, yes it is".
"I'm --- from Yahoo. Would you have a few minutes to discuss advertising for your business?"
"Oh, I don't think that will be necessary"
"Do you feel that your site doesn't need to be advertised?"
"No, it's just that as of today I'm kind of ... out of business. I'm closing".
"Ah, that's too bad, why is that?"
"Because I have a job! Thanks anyway though!"


It's a little depressing closing this thing down. My wife and I worked hard to build this business and now it's 'done'. I won't miss the work (at all!). But it's a bittersweet victory in our lives. Something I will always look back on. The highlight being our family trip to Pittsburgh. We will always have that. Perhaps I will keep the website around. In memory of our exciting 14 month venture.

Historic Comments
Thats flippin' awesome man. Hope you enjoy your new job/career.

I hope a good, stable job won't have an impact on your entertaining and eventful blog posts.
Michael | 05.31.06 - 9:38 am | #

Congrats on the job. I've often wondered why I sat through technology classes that seemed too simple to be doing any good. At least now you have a chance to become a BOFH.
Poe | 06.01.06 - 10:08 pm | #

YES! Great news Ray!

I just got similar news today, but I don't start until July 10th because I am taking time off to spend with my newborn daughter.

EvilRich | 06.02.06 - 3:31 pm | #

Glad to hear it Ray. I always wondered why you were training instead of being in the trenches. I am sure you will enjoy your new career. Congrats!
tdo | 06.05.06 - 7:09 pm | #

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Take this job, and politely exchange it.
It's been just about a month since I have worked a contract job. I can't say that it hasn't been nice. It has. But I was hoping to have a full time job by now and it hasn't happened. You see, somewhere between the 11 hour car drives, the Motel 6's, and the jet-lag ... it hit me. I do *not* want this job any more.

And so at the start of the month, I went out on Monster and Dice and started searching. There's not a lot of work that I am qualified to do. I'm a trainer. All I have done for six years is "train". The only people likely to hire me are training centers. But I'm not standing in line to work for one of those. This past year I've been to dozens of them, nationwide. And they are all the same. All of them operating on a shoestring budget. All of them pay their bills late. None of them are managed by anyone with any amount of sense. The only safety I have in this business is that the brokers pay me, and then chase down the senseless deadbeat straining center in their own time.

I saw a ton of jobs that I would love to take. The ones that interested me most were the Network Security something or rathers. At first, I only applied for a couple jobs in my area. I didn't want to send out a hundred resumes, and get dozens of responses. So I only sent out a handful. But nobody called.

So then I looked a little farther. Up to 100+ miles away. And this time I send out 25 resumes in a few days time. Still, not a single phone call or email. Many of the jobs I tried to follow up with yielded dead ends to voicemail boxes or receptionists who didn't know what I was talking about. One did call me back about a week after I submitted the application (which was maddening). I am pretty fucking sick of filing electronic job applications with everyones own clever little system. Escpecially when its the SAME information that Monster and Dice have you put into THEIR system. Anyway ... I got a response about a group calling themselves the career development program. I looked them up and it seemed to be a tax supported group that helps highschool kids in finding their future IT jobs. But alas, this was not the same group. Instead, I had filled out a form for a group that wanted to train ME. Yes, they wanted to get me "Microsoft Certified" so I could have the job of my dream. It took great restraint not to tell them that I am all ready a 2003 MCSE/MCT/MCSA, etc and I can't get a job to save my ass.

Dead ends. Voice mails. Filling out forms in the basement of state buildings. They all got me nowhere. Then I got a call from a local company that was looking for a Network Security Analyst. I remembered them well because I had been out a day or two earlier trying to put my resume into peoples hands. I believe that there is still reason to walk into a joint and hand them a resume. Of course I formatted in into the fanciest table you have ever seen. And I printed it on the finest of 100 percent cotton paper. But most people didn't want my resume.

I walked into one local business and asked the guard "is there an HR department here that I can drop a resume off to?". "I don't know", he said, "we just started here ... you might try the next building". In the next building I found some older woman in a tacky red dress leaning over a guard at the front desk aparently teaching him something about the phones. I asked again, "is there an HR department in this building? I would like to drop off a resume". She then went onto explain that they "typically did not accept walk-in's" and that they "had an electronic system on the Internet. She continued to tell me about their web site as if I were a child and I was unaware of these devices called "computers". While it was entertaining to flash her puzzled looks, and further drag more hopeless explanations out of her about how "web pages work" (in general) ... I was getting nowhere.

But that day I was able to drop off three resumes out of the 6 businesses I had visited. And one of them called me back. I set up an interview.

The first interview I had started with an application process. They handed be a paper application and explained that it was "a formality". I obliged and proceeded to fill out the details using my resume (which had all the necessary information). Once it was done, I headed to the "boss's office" where I had my first interview. It went very well. The conversation opened with him looking over my resume and telling me that "we didn't expect anyone with your qualifications to apply for this position". To which I thought, "I hope he's telling me I'm too smart for this ... and not the other way around". But yes, they felt I was far overqualified for a position as an entry level "security analyst". He was very interested in why I would want to drop my business and work for him. So I told him everything. Well, not quite everything. I left out the thing about the trains running under my hotel in Maryland. And when I couldn't afford three nights in a hotel, so I drove through the night to get to North Carolina, and had to take a few breaks to puke (from staying up all night). And I didn't tell him about getting into bed and finding other peoples hair in it. But I expressed my hatred for "the road", getting stiffed by training companies, etc. Being an independant business owner himself, he was delighted to hear of my misery. He related in a big way.

So the first interview went really well. So well, that the owner didn't mind spinning his terminal around and showing me their system. Which was quite impressive. I told him, "this is quite impressive". He agreed and went on to say "we couldn't find anything this robust, so I hired a genious to write it for me". As I watched him click around I made a few comments about what I saw on the screen. And then he gave me "the look". That look you get from someone when their brain says "one of us!". The last time I got that look was from a gay flight attendant who was fumbling with metal hangers. I had said "no more metal hangers!". This is a line from the classic film "Mommy Dearest", which is aparently very big with gays. I remember thinking "this is the look that gays give each other". A nod if you will.

I called everyone and told them about my interview. It went well. I couldn't wait for what was next. The "second interview". Most companies do three, but I was told "we dont like to jerk people around - so we should be calling you for a second interview and that will be it". One more and I am in, I thought.

A couple of days ago I showed up to my second interview with the company. Just as I was opening the door, I did this trick where I took all the anxiety from my stomach, and just lifted it into the air. Once you have trained yourself through meditation, you can really control that nervous mind. It's a skill I wish I had picked up years ago. It doesn't always work, but that day I was very keenly focused, and when I sat down for my interview I was completely cool and collected.

I went through the usual parade of goofy questions such as "tell me about a time you were unable to help someone and what you did about it". It was pretty hard for me, but I scrambled to come up with good answers. They were drilling me about "help desk" scenarios. It's been years since I have been in that position. But I have done far greater things and so I called on those consulting engagements, service calls, etc. I also got to tell some of my favorite stories about huge mistakes that I have made. The interviewer loves those. Yes, I have screwed up. No, I'm not too arrogant to admit it. And yes, I have a sense of humor about it.

The next step of my interview was with "an engineer". I was sweating this one. I know most engineers MO. They're assholes. Hey, if you are an "engineer" and you are not an asshole, I apologize. But then, I haven't had you as a student in any of my classes. But this must have been my lucky day because the guy that interviewed me was the same slick young guy that I had handed my resume to the previous week. He was going to make this easy on me. He has questions like "if you can't figure something out, do you have a problem asking for help?". I asked him some questions like "why do you like it here, or DO you like it here?". He had good answers. And then came ... the BOMB. He slid a few pieces of paper stapled together across the table rather sheepishly and said "well ... I have this ... that you have to do". I looked it over. "It's a quiz!", I said. He nodded, and chuckled. "Yeah, sorry" he says, "we just need an idea of your technical abilities.

I layed it out in front of me and scanned over it. I hadn't filled out anything. Just wanted to get my bearings. "Don't feel like you have to answer any of them", he said, "... just try to fill in what you know". Question number one? List all seven layers of the OSI model. Question number two was something about "what layer of the model does this". Hell, the first 10 questions were on the OSI model, and I was working that pencil like it was some sort of magic wand. I rattled off the answers to all twenty questions and slammed down the pencil. Done.

Yeah, I screwed up a few. On the "list what ports these services use" question, I got telnet and ssh mixed up. And when asked to give a network ID and a broadcast address for an IP address, I put them backwards. I was rushing. But he was impressed to say the least. As his eyes wandered over my answers he lifted his eyebrows and said "I got to tell ya, I could only answer maybe four of these when I came to work here". I had done well. I HAD to have the job, right?

But alas, they thanked me for my time, and freed me explaining "we have a few more interviews on Friday and we will be in touch". Argh! The waiting game. What's one more week of waiting? I've been off for almost a month now. Sure, I'm out of money. Yes, I am holding off definite work out of town that would pay my bills in hopes of maybe getting this job ... but patience. I must pracice patience.

A few days later I got a call from Judy, my second interviewer. She says "are you still interested in the job?". Of course I was. She says "we are still interested in you. We have narrowed down to three candidates and would like for you to take an online exam for us". Another tecnical test? Not quite. This is was a "personality test". I really hate these. Mostly, because I'm sure that they can be 'beaten', and only provide false positives about job candidates. But I did it anway, answering 500 or so questions where you had to chose from two bizarre answers.

I was put off a bit by the test so I responded to the email with the link and info with news that I had taken it, and I was anxiously awaiting the next step. I went on to say that I was not above pandering if they would like for me to drop by with baked goods sometime while they make their decision. Strangely, I got a smiley back and a hint that "the boss likes dark chocolate".

Now, stay with me. This is where things get a little wierd in my life. Yesterday I headed out on foot to Wal-Mart. It's almost 2 miles away, but I had all day to spend sitting at home, and I needed the exercise. Plus my wife had the car. So I bought brownie mix, and some bacon. We were having "breakfast for dinner" that night. A favorite with the kids. As I was walking home, I got a call from my wife asking "when is your appointment at the bank?". Woops. I had comepletly forgot that I was meeting with a financial guy at my bank about my 401k investment. Saving the day, my wife drove to meet me at the bank, holding the paperwork. The good news was, I rolled over the majority of my retirement money into an IRA. But had to take a bit off the top to pay this months finances. Oh, and a bit more to pay my taxes at the end of the year. It's a severe penalty. But ... I would keep my house another month.

So this morning I clammered out of bed fighting a nasty house cold I had picked up and made some delicious chocolate brownies. Today they would likely make their decision about whether or not they were going to hire me. And yes, I took them some brownies. If it helps even a little to get me this job, it will be the best five bucks I've ever spent.

Man ... I would like to blog more. But on account of this house cold I am on my second dose of niquil. And it's kicking in. Blah! Good night.

Oh by the way, did I mention I started a magazine? The first issue is about done, and I will be dropping it along with a new web site very soon. You can find it here ...

Tomorrow (or Friday) I should find out if I got this job. WISH ME LUCK.

Historic Comments
Good luck with the job Ray

Happy Friday
carwash | Homepage | 05.25.06 - 9:03 pm | #

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I must admit, the smell of Oregon has appealed to me. It's been raining here and from the moment I got off the plane it was like visiting a city nestled into the forest. A damp pine forest. I mean, they make air fresheners that smell like this. And what's this? I can *smell it*. I normally can't smell shit. It's a pretty nice place to visit.

This visit for me is bittersweet. Once again, it's another in an long line of short contracts that involves me leaving home for a full week. My weekend, lasted only a little more than 24 hours. Baltimore, my family, it all seems like eons ago I saw them. But it hasn't even been a week. Thanks to my trouble with travel agents, I am about to embark Oregon into Airline hell. From Portland, I will be flying out to San Diego. I'm sure it's nice this time of year. Although, the airport terminal is where I will be -and it's probably 70 degrees year round.

I'll be in San Diego overnight. I'll arrive around midnight. And I will be "hanging loose" until around 7:30 in the morning. I'll then board a plane and fly to ... Vega. VIVA! LAS VEGAS! Yeah, that's right. The city of sin. But I'll only be there an hour or so (in the airport again). At that point I will board a plane and head on out to Columbus Ohio. My home. And when I arrive there, I will be committing another act of time travel. Flying forward through time, I will loose roughly three hours, arriving sometime in the afternoon.

And what do I have to look forward to next week, Maryland again?

I seem to remember looking at people in suits wandering around downtown like mindless sheep. I remember thinking to myself "that will never be me". I will never take some shitty job where you have to "dress up" to go to work. Yet here I am ... bouncing through flights trying to get home ... and stuffing my necktie into my backpack.

Just before I left town, my wife's grandfather was checked into the hospital for heart trouble. We rushed to the hospital as soon as we heard and found him sitting up in a bed chowing down on some hospital food like you wouldn't believe. For me, it was great to see him. He was a little tired from being probed and moved around for the past day and a half, but was otherwise looking good. I was glad we came. But he did that awkward thing that people of his age do: he reminisced. I understand it. And I hope that I will someday be able to look back and reminisce about a wonderful life with my grandkids. Yet, at the same time, it was very, very, saddening. This was his way to letting us know that "he's all right". A tender way of letting you know that he is happy with the life he's had, and he doesn't fear what's next even if that means passing on.

His biggest concern was of course for Grandma. He worries sick about her, as she has not been in the best of health either. Although, he looked good! How bad could the news be about these tests that they were performing. Pretty bad, it seems. The day after I arrived in Oregon I called my wife to learn that he was going to need an assortment of surgeries (immediately) or he had no chance of survival. The operation is planned for tomorrow of all days. So my wife will be stuck with my kids (they're off school) and most likely at the hospital to support poor Grandma where everyone will be praying for the best. And here I will be, sleeping in a terminal in San Diego. I should be home. Home needs me.

If anything good came out of this trip, it was my visit to the University of Oregons Library. It's an amazing collection of books that spans six stories, includes group study facilities on every floor, and several "quiet areas" that seat a hundred or more students each. Having nothing to do, and dreading "hotel living" I spent most of my free time there (before class, after class, lunches, etc). There was a vast collection of Buddhist books, some of which were copied from overseas and reprinted as "photo-stats". One book inparticular really impressed me, and I read the better part of it on my trip. I was so impressed, I went on Amazon this morning and bought it. It seems it's been reprinted several times since it was originally printed in 1960.

Well, I am off. Perhaps I will post more later. When I am trapped in San Diego.

Historic Comments mission_id=57

Hey Ray. I saw this and thought you would get a big kick out of it.


EvilRich | 05.09.06 - 8:03 am | #

Ray can u sexor my body?

Cerberus | Homepage | 05.13.06 - 9:44 pm | #

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The End Is Near
I was driving into Maryland last evening, and the moon appeared over the horizon. It seemed enormous. It was the "fullest full moon" that I have ever witnessed. It glowed so bright deer were still hanging at the side of route 68' to feast at 10:00PM. As that moon appeared to me, I think my heart must have skipped a beat. I just wasn't expecting it, and damned if it didn't startle me. I was approaching 8 hours in the car, and my mind was probably beginning to fall apart. Or perhaps my mind had just wandered so far off track that I was in a state of temporary shock. But why did I jump? What did I think it was? I have often have these dreams that the bomb has been dropped, and I see the end coming yet there is no time to react. When the air raid sirens ring out at noon on Wednesday afternoon, it sends chills up my spine.

It's that same dream I always have. Not enough time.

So a shrink might tell me "you're spending too much time away from your family, and you feel your end is coming". That shrink would be right. Not that I foresee my own death any time in the near future. But if I died today, would I be happy with the way things went? Does anyone ever look back in life and relish those long hours at the hotel in solitude? As I seek to find truth in this life, all I uncover is ... the truth. Things that I would otherwise be "happy" with if I wasn't otherwise trying to seek an destroy my own suffering.

I Quit
If these past few months are what I have to look forward to for the rest of my career, I no longer want the job. Initially, getting laid off was a gift. Sitting next to my wife at Station Square and watching my kids play in the fountain last summer, I thought that maybe we had stumbled onto something great. Here was a job making so much money, that it was almost ridiculous. I was pulling in twice the income I had been making before ... and that was including the part time job. We were on a "semi-vacation" which we had never been able to afford. But summer ended. The kids went back to school. And I went onto the road alone.

At first it almost seemed like an adventure. I was traveling America, to bring home the bacon to the fam'. But the loneliness began to eat away at me (probably one hour into my first trip). Some nights I would come back to my hotel room and then attempt to walk somewhere. Other nights I would drive to McDonalds and linger around until they began to sweep around me. It was just nice to be in the company of other people, even strangers. Still other nights (most, sadly) I would come back to my hotel, turn on HBO, strip down to my undershirt and boxers and watch TV (for five or six hours). Night after night it's been the same routine. Dates come and go. Time moves in slow motion. Nothing changes. But when I come home it's as if I have been gone for years. Like I am coming home from a way. Only to return the next week.

When I went to Chicago I had a weekend break inbetween which almost seemed to never happen. All of a sudden I was back in Chicago, and it seems like I was living there, and only visiting my family. God, my family. I miss them SO much. Words can't describe how heartwrenching it is to watch your wife choke back tears as you drive hundreds of miles away. The only thing worse is to see the same thing in your children.

Oregon Is Too Far
When I went out to California a year ago (time flies) it was the farthest I have ever been from home. And it felt pretty far. I got a call last week from a broker wanting me in Oregon next week. I did the quick math and deducted that a three day class isn't worth the obscene travel charges that it will take to get me there and back from Ohio. The broker disagreed, as he got the client to agree to cover those obscene travel charges. So, what the hell. Put me on a plane. Give me my peanuts, and half a soft drink. Pack my suitcase. Two pairs slacks, travel iron, four shirts, five ties, and canned soup to live on.

But things became complicated. Fast. By the time I had the contract I all ready knew I was in trouble. The deal was for me to pay all travel expenses, and get reimbursed from the broker. But I don't have the kind of money it was going to take to get me to Oregon (about $1200 not including a rental car). I needed to ask the broker to possibly help me out. They have covered travel for me before, and so I figured they would do it this time too. Today I shot off an email to the broker asking if they could help me out and my contact there just about shit his pants.

I received the nastiest of all nasty emails. Sure, I am a jerk for not asking this days ago, but I was kind of hoping I might get some money that has been owed to me by a certain unnamed deadbeat client (that obviously never showed up). First he reminded me that had I booked the flight early last week when he got the contract, it would be "much cheaper". I seem to remember the flight always costing in excess of $700 for a round trip ticket. He seems to remember it being half that much. Although, I have never flown even half that for $400. At any rate, he was angry.

In his second e-mail (I hadn't responded to the first yet) he reminded me that he had just written off a few checks to me for my work in Chicago which were fairly substantial. He would be correct. But nobody seems to take into account the issues I have such as (a) deadbeat clients, (b) unintentional weeks off due to cancellations (c) breaks to retain my sanity, (d) I have bills too. Only mine are far greater on account of all the late charges I have accumulated thanks to items A through C. I used to have a manager when I worked at Radio Shack years ago who would wander around shaking his handful of change complaining about "garnished wages" and telling bill collectors who called there "hey buddy, I've got a crop and a field!".

The problem it seems is that flights out of Oregon are slim to none. Perhaps spring break has something to do with it. But everyone is getting the hell out of Oregon and it's doubled the price of airline tickets. Over a break I had to put a call in to the kind fellow that was treating me like a child and try to get a grasp on the situation. He tells me "nothing is available. I have talked to all of our travel agents". I didn't believe it. I had just been on two ticket sites and they had round trip tickets for $700. Albeit, twice what he wanted to pay. But it was right on par with the numbers I have been seeing for a week and a half. Still he swore it was "not available". Unfortunately he was right. Later I tried to book one of those deals and I was politely told "those reservations are ... no longer available ... we have selected a new itinerary for you". That intoner is of course in excess of $1500. That's the flight. Nevermind the rental car and hotel this is going to take.

I could hardly concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing. My students were bored, and sweating like pigs. The classroom must have reached well over 80 degrees. I was in a state of anger, depression, and general frustration. Pile on the loneliness and the solitude and you are just about to the point of a complete breakdown.

Leaving the training center I got a phone call from the broker once again. Just another reminder that "we're fucked, and it's all your fault". Not those exact words mind you. But yeah, I get it. I can only apologize so much. While getting berated by the broker, a Neil Diamond impersonated cut me off, and flicked a cigarette onto my window which I had to extinguish with my window washing fluid. Pulling up to the "condo", I parked and got out of my car to be greeted by three or four loudly barking dogs. I tried to pick up my feet and walk quickly away from the dogs to shut them up. Echoing from the sides of the many dilapidated houses I could hear a kid yelling "run faggott, run". Now you are probably thinking "he didn't say that -you're paranoid". But he repeated it several more times. I turned to try and find him, but he was camouflaged in this wall of chain link fence, old mattresses, make shift gardens, etc. Normally I would probably get a good laugh over something like this. But today just wasn't the day.

When I look back on my life, is this what I will have to remember? Will my family remember who I was? If I died today, what would they say at my funeral? Will anyone remember the work I have done? In this past year, have I accomplished anything beneficial to my family? These places I go, these things that I do, none of it matters. I am helping overpaid corporate lackies move meaningless information from one piece of media to another.

I am a slave to the machine.

Current Mood: Utterly, Completely, and totally Depressed.
Musical Inspiration: Sheer Silence.

Historic Comments
Hey Ray,

Just take a few deep breaths and repeat to yourself "it's all good". You've done good things in your life and have a wonderful family to show for it. You should be proud of that fact. Hang in there; things will work themselves out.

What you should do is pack up the family and head off to the Canadian wilderness and live "off the grid" like Les Stroud. Thats what I want to do anyway...

Keep your head up.
_shaun | Homepage | 03.19.06 - 5:15 pm | #

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Never Pay For WiFi Again
Sure, I have been stuck in a hotel for a few days with absolutely nothing to do. Left alone with my thoughts, one HBO that only plays shit, and a hotel that charges for WiFi access ... I have resorted to network violence. Even as I record this post I am starving some poor victim of bandwidth and leaving a trail of utter confusion. Allow me to explain, and before long YOU TOO can steal all of your paid WiFi access.

What you need:
* A WiFi card and an OS that allows you to change the MAC address
* A hotel that charges upwards of $200 a night, and still wants 10 bucks more for WiFi.

The idea here, is to assume the identity of a paying customer. This is tougher than it sounds. The access point will welcome you to the network by giving you an address through DHCP. Now you can talk to the access point, and nobody else. In fact, it seems if you try to ping one of the other users of the network, the access point will restrict you from gaining the MAC address of that other party. It seems they are able to stop you from getting the MAC address of anyone but the access point itself. This of course, will stop you from sending traffic to anyone else on the network. So how can you get the victim to send their MAC address to you? Become the access point.

ifconfig eth1

Now you can wait, or if you know the IP address of a legitimate paid customer, you can try pinging them now. You may get a response and you may not. It doesn't matter really. Now you can check your ARP table like this ...

arp -a

You should see the MAC address of the access point, maybe your own MAC address, and then the address or addresses of our potential victims. You might want to start up a second terminal and run ...

tcpdump -i eth1

Just watch for a few minutes and see what kind of traffic people are generating. If you start seeing requests for web pages, VPN connections, etc, those are paying customers. So get a look at their IP addresses. Just don't stay in this mode for long ... because you are derailing traffic from those folks, and confusing the utter hell out of them. Additionally, this is not very nice and you are cheating someone from the access that they paid for. Now ... let's get onto how to take advantage of them.

Now that you know the victims MAC address, and IP address, you need to assume it. This is the hard part, because a lot of OS's or WiFi cards, or BOTH will stop you from falsifying your MAC address. I suppose this is for security sake, but it pisses me off. I am trying to do all this on my MAC, and OS X hasn't allowed you to change the MAC address of the WiFi card since Jaguar. So in my case, I went out and got a "Live" distribution of Ubuntu Linux. The Live version can be booted directly from a CD ROM, and it comes in a Mac PowerPC flavor!

Having booted my distro, and having come to a terminal we do the following ...

ifconfig eth1 down
ifconfig eth1 hw ether 00:11:22:33:44:55
ifconfig eth1
ifconfig eth1 up

First, we brought down the network interface. This is a must. We can't just change our MAC address while the card is in use. For that matter, we're not "changing it" at all. Your MAC address is more or less hard-coded into the network device itself. But we can convince the OS to lie about it, and unless you get an error message ... we're in business. So the second line forced a new 'hw' (hardware) of an 'ether' (ethernet) type to '00:11:22:33:44:55'. This is an imaginary MAC address, so imagine it is that of our victim.

The third line was to configure the IP address of our victim. The last line 'raises' or starts the interface back up. At this point you ARE the victim. You have become ... THEM. You can bring up a browser and begin surfing.

What are the repercussions? There are a few. For one, the victim is probably still trying to use the WiFi access that they paid for. You are using it too .. as them. So imagine what the Access Point must be thinking. To the access point, one person is requesting all of the traffic that is actually coming from two different people. It happily answers each request. One the traffic comes back the other way, the access point sends the traffic to that 'one person' which is actually the TWO of you. So that is to say, if I bring up, the web page comes back to both of you. Your victim's workstation is probably confused by this, as he didn't request that site. If your victim is especially savvy, YOU may become HIS victim, as he can see all of this traffic that only you should be seeing.

Otherwise, everything works just fine. Surprisingly.

Chicago Week #2
Why did I EVER agree to teaching two solid weeks in Chicago? Oh yeah, it was the money. That's it. At the end of last week I came home for the weekend. And never has a weekend passed by so quickly. Before I knew it, I was back at the airport and ready to go back to Chicago. Sitting on the plane, and watching my home town disappear from under me I flipped on my iPod and hit 'random shuffle'. Wouldn't you know it? Simon and Garfunkel. Homeward Bound. I have never paid that much attention to the song. It's not a song about 'going home'. It's a song about being far away from home, doing business with strangers, and questioning your sanity on the road. I just sort of welled up.

I suppose this is the life for a bachelor. Someone without any goals of family. Or someone who is just plain crazy. In fact, on my way back from Chicago last week I sat next to a guy on the plane. He was your typical "road warrior". Wearing his short sleeved Polo shirt, khaki pants, and gripping his pocket PC, he was on his way to my home town. We struck up a conversation about Columbus and what a nice town it is. "I'll only be here for an hour or so, and then I have to fly right back out". He went on to tell me how crazy his schedule is, and how he hasn't been home in nearly a month. We exchanged complaints about hotel living, airport security, lack of entertainment, etc. Near the end of our conversation he said, "it's weird you know ... living the bachelor lifestyle after all these years". I gathered from the conversation that he had a family, but he didn't know them very well any more. Divorced I imagine. Or perhaps he is one of these "barely married" types that has a wife whom he never sleeps with ... and really doesn't want to sleep with when he at home.

At any rate, the whole thing put me in a down swing, and could just see myself becoming that guy. This lonely old dude who roams the world and has obviously forgotten about what's important in life. For that matter, how does technology (and what I do with it) really make anyone happy?

My entire career is a lie. I am an "instructor". I teach people how to use products because at some point their manager or CEO was sold on said product. It is now my job to convince them that they should use it, and perhaps give them some pointers. They will then use said product to move information from point A to point B. A nice analogy to information technology might be Douglas Adam's explanation of 'the bypass' (highway) in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He said that the bypass takes people from point A to point C. And people from point C to point A. All driving very fast of course. This leaves people in point B to wonder just what's so great about these two points that they have to drive so far and so fast to get there. I ... am at point B in my life. Information technology does little (if anything) to aid in human compassion. Being that human compassion is the only answer to true happiness, my entire career is a waste of time and money.

This leaves me in an awkward position. I can't walk into class and tell everyone why they are wasting their lives along with me. I have to keep selling this lie. As much as I try not to be ... I am part of the machine.

I need out of the training business, and I need a position where I can go home at night and do what's important, and that is to be close to my family. I need them, and they need me. I am doing nothing for my family when I am 500 miles away other then creating suffering.

Tonight I'll sing my songs again,
I'll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thoughts escaping,
Home where my musics playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

-Homeward Bound : Simon and Garfunkel

Historic Comments
Just make enough money to pay off all your debts, buy a cabin in the woods somewhere, quit your job, and drop off the radar. Sometimes the best way to deal with technology is to turn it off for a while.
Poe | 03.02.06 - 2:18 am | #

God bless you Poe. You understand!!

Ray Dios Haque | 03.02.06 - 11:24 am | #

I've learned a lot of networking information and about dealing with life from reading your blog. Your a valuble instructor to unknown number of people over the internet.

Thank You!
Devo | 03.03.06 - 6:49 pm | #

Hey S! I can so relate on the technology front. I feel like I've forgotten much more than I remember anymore. I am so bored with being a code monkey but its the only thing anyone wants to pay me for right now.

I really want to be a Sommelier (wine expert) but I am looking at years of study and tests to get there. These tests cost money and just how am I supposed to get this money? Being a code monkey. Its a means to an end.

So, whatever happened to your attempts to break into the the security racket? I would think you'd be a natural. You'd also be able to spend more time with your familiy which seems to be the biggest issue with your current situation.


Evil_Rich | 03.14.06 - 10:24 am | #

Devo - I'm glad my blogs have educated and inspired you.

Rich - Still a code monkey, eh? I just used a term the other day that you and the other code monkeys loved, "dancing balogna". That takes me back. Anyway, I would love to be a security auditor. Get paid to break into peoples networks. Unfortunately that job only seems to be available to folks with degrees, and so called "established experts". It's all a means to an end I suppose. We're just slaves together, to the information machine.

Ray Dios Haque | 03.16.06 - 7:59 pm | #

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Steel-ing Documents
This week I travelled to Pittsburgh to teach a three day course in a downtown office building. When I passed through PA last week, I was blown away by just how many Steeler fans there are (long outside of Pittsburgh). After winning the SuperBowl, the fans of course went nuts. I was unaware of the celebration that was going to take place so I was a little surprised when I went to get a room at my usual hotel and they were booked. Woops! I was able to find a slightly cheaper hotel not too far away, that also provided free Internet access and a shuttle downtown.

By the way, I have had a good couple of weeks. Last week I took the family to New York. It was a vacation. That is, I was not teaching there. We just went for fun. We saw the statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Niagara Falls. And now I was in my favorite city, Pittsburgh. So you won't hear any bitching and whining from me in this posting (awww shucks!).

It seems that the Steelers were having one hell of a homecoming on Tuesday afternoon. There was going to be a parade and everything. So at lunchtime, I let everyone break for an hour and half to go watch it. I myself, also went down to the streets. It was simply amazing. There were 250,000 in the streets. All of downtown, and every other Steelers fan that had rolled into town lined the streets. The players came through, cheering, waving to the fans, signing autographs, and even doing some stage diving. Yes, stage diving. It was one hell of a homecoming party, and I was lucky enough to be around at the time.

The follwing day I found myself in this 30 story office building, about 15 floors up. It was lunchtime and I had decided not to go out. I could hold off until dinner, and I had spent way too much of my travel money on t-shirts to take home to my wife (Steeler Superbowl champ shirts). While I was waiting for my students to pop back, I dropped Audrey onto the window sill and went shopping for access points. And wow ... I found a lot of them. Here is what KisMac detected in "passive mode".

I hopped onto the first one that I found without WEP enabled. It was a "linksys" access point. The signal was strong, and I had an internet connection with it. But ... that just didn't satisyfy my urge to explore. I looked around the nextwork for hosts, and found none. I was likely stuck in a private network, that was in turn plugged into a seperate private network. Notice that there are actually two networks named "linksys"? I did. And I wanted to connect to the 'other one'. Like Windows, a Mac will only display the network name, not the actual access points. And when you have two named the same thing, you never know which one you are physically connected to. Luckily, later versions of KisMac like the one I am using, allows you to right click on an access point and join it. And so I did!

Once connected I ran "findsmb" in a terminal and it came up with nothing. I was sure there were windows hosts ... or something on this network. I pinged around and got some semi-conclusive results. Right about now, nmap would be a useful tool but I just reloaded the OS on this laptop a week ago and I was without all my old tools. Where else could I get a map of this network? Of course! I need to see the DHCP lease table. I'll bet that I can connect to the access point and provide the default admin username and password to get it. So I brought up in my browser. I used the username and password of "admin" and I was in.

Next stop was to find the dhcp clients list on this thing. These menus were awful. I much prefer D-Link for navigation. But after much digging, I found a button for the client list. This is what I got.

I know, I know. I hate to blur things out. But what I had stumbled into was obvisouly a law firm. And I don't want to go to prison. So excuse the "mosaic blurs". As you can see, there were plenty of hosts on this network (or there had been lately). A lot of these looked to be laptops. Finding them would be a matter of trial and error. Again, nmap would be helpful. I REALLY need to put some developer tools on this laptop so I can compile my goodies. In the mean time, a simple file browse request will do the trick.

OS X ships with the smbclient utility. I will use it against this list of IP addresses. The usage is pretty simple, smbclient -L //ipaddress, where the "L" says to "show me a list of your shares". When it hanged, I did a CTRL+C to cancel, and then moved to the next one. Here is my terminal dialogue ...

Last login: Wed Feb  8 11:57:59 on ttyp1
Welcome to Darwin!
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
session request to failed (Called name not present)
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
timeout connecting to
Error connecting to (Host is down)
Connection to failed
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
Domain=[PARALEGAL] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Sharename Type Comment
--------- ---- -------
My Documents Disk
print$ Disk Printer Drivers
SharedDocs Disk
Printer7 Printer SHARP AL-1641CS (Copy 1)
Printer4 Printer Sharpdesk Composer
Printer5 Printer SHARP AL-1641CS (Copy 3)
Printer3 Printer SHARP AL-1641CS
sharp Printer SHARP AL-1641CS (Copy 2)
Printer9 Printer PrimoPDF
Printer2 Printer HP Deskjet 3840 Series
Printer Printer HP Image Writer
session request to failed (Called name not present)
session request to 192 failed (Called name not present)
Domain=[PARALEGAL] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

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

Workgroup Master
--------- -------
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbclient
Usage: [-?EgVNkP] [--usage] [-R NAME-RESOLVE-ORDER] [-M HOST] [-I IP] [-L HOST]
[-t CODE] [-m LEVEL] [-T IXFqgbNan] [-D DIR] [-c ARG] [-b BYTES]
[-U USERNAME] [-A FILE] [-S on|off|required] service
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbmount
-bash: smbmount: command not found
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ mountsmb
-bash: mountsmb: command not found
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ mount -t smb
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ mount -t smb //
usage: mount [-dfruvw] [-o options] [-t ufs | external_type] special node
mount [-adfruvw] [-t ufs | external_type]
mount [-dfruvw] special | node
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ mount -t smbfs //
usage: mount [-dfruvw] [-o options] [-t ufs | external_type] special node
mount [-adfruvw] [-t ufs | external_type]
mount [-dfruvw] special | node
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$

It looks like I found a winner. He has a couple of interesting looking shares. It's too bad I can't remember how to mount a share from terminal. Instead, I end up using "Finder" to "Connect to server ...". Here is that box.

There is a delay, and I am now asked to authenticate. This could be a problem, as I am not a user on their domain/directory ... if they have one. I will try "guest" with no password. This probably won't work.

Oh, and it does work. How sad! I wonder what we will find here. Let's have a look at this share, shall we?

These look like ... "lawyer stuff" ... or something. Let's have a closer look.

Looks like an interesting story. Some womans husband is getting deported, and she is asking that they please not take him away. How is it this guy rakes in $94k a year raising horses. I'm in the wrong fucking business. Either I need to start raising horses, or become an immigrant and hook up with one.

I don't know what this fingerprint business is about. But I thought it looked amusing.

There were no doubt other goodies on this workstation, but I had a whole network to explore, and lunchtime was going by fast. I went ahead and moved onto my next target. Here is that terminal dialogue ...

Last login: Wed Feb  8 12:09:52 on ttyp2
Welcome to Darwin!
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$ smbclient -L //
session request to failed (Called name not present)
session request to 192 failed (Called name not present)
Domain=[ATTORNEY] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

Sharename Type Comment
--------- ---- -------
Clients Disk
My Documents Disk
print$ Disk Printer Drivers
SharedDocs Disk
C Disk
Impro56 Disk
Printer3 Printer PrimoPDF
Printer5 Printer KONICA MINOLTA PagePro 1350W (Copy 1)
Case Lists Disk
Printer2 Printer KONICA MINOLTA PagePro 1350W
ADMIN$ Disk Remote Admin
C$ Disk Default share
Printer Printer Microsoft Office Document Image Writer
session request to failed (Called name not present)
session request to 192 failed (Called name not present)
Domain=[ATTORNEY] OS=[Windows 5.1] Server=[Windows 2000 LAN Manager]

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

Workgroup Master
--------- -------
Ray-Dios-Haques-Computer:~ rayhaque$

You'll that it asks me for a password at some point, and I just sort of struck the enter key as if to say "I don't need no steenkin' password". That seemed to do the trick, and I got a list of shared stuff. Would you LOOK at these?

Note to prospective network users/attorneys/fucktards: Do not share your entire client list, without security, calling it Clients, and leave it laying on a non-secured access point. Do not share "My Documents". They are YOUR fucking documents. Not mine. Keep them to yourself. Do not share your entire C drive. In fact, having shared your entire C drive in such a manner, you can disregard all of these other rules -because you are an idiot, and you blew it.

I attach to the "C" share just to see if the user was indeed that stupid. They were. I hit the "Clients" folder to see if it does indeed have a list of clients, or documents pertaining to their client base. It does.

This is the point at which I make an ethical decision. Should I delve into the lives of others and begin reading their personal files? Do I really want to explore the legal matters of strangers, and further incriminate myself?


Of course I fucking do it! Here are some samples of the better tidbits I found.

Just when I was getting to the really good stuff my students started returning to lunch. My laptop is a real eye sore, and Audrey just loves the attention she gets for her "Franken-stein-ish" appearance. After having a couple of awkward moments with students having over my shoulder asking "whatcha' doing?" I decided to end this adventure and get back to work.

Next time I am out in Pittsburgh I really need to go wardriving, or better yet war-walking.

Historic Comments
Christ Ray, see what happens when you try to do a bigboy job with a "mac"?

"Where else could I get a map of this network? Of course! I need to see the DHCP lease table"

Fuck "findsmb" dude. Hitting the lease table it first on my list. No waiting, no guessing, and if someone is dumb enough to name their router "Linksys" then there is a 92.3% chance the default password is the same.

On a side note, I would have to say as of late that I really like the Auditor (or BackTrack) live Cd from It just have all the tools/drivers in one package.

Now, add that with a network card that supports packet injection and you've got wep cracking in less than a couple minutes. Longer for 3 types of wpa.

anyways....i digress....i need ben and jerry's.
Phrightener | 02.10.06 - 11:17 pm | #

you law breaker you
LiteHedded | Homepage | 02.14.06 - 10:33 am | #

Should have renamed their documents: Dear John Letter, People I'm Firing, People I'm Sleeping With, Embezzelment Funds, Potato Bar, etc...

Keep them guessing when they need that document next.
Poe | 02.16.06 - 7:35 pm | #

Phrighty: I love you. When are we going to finally get together and have gay sex? I'm going to have to check out that Auditor distro. I was just telling someone the other day about how cool Knoppix-STD was before it got so old and useless.

Poe: Hah! They would probably learn to live with the annoyance instead of figuring out how to fix it. "Where is the Smith case?" - "Oh, check the 'Go Fuck Yourself' folder, and open up 'i shit myself lol.doc'.

Ray Dios Haque | 02.21.06 - 8:19 pm | #

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Seeing Stars
Long, long, ago ... you could step outside and see the stars. Perhaps you still can. But that means you live far enough away from the lights of the city, that you can still make out the sky the way it was meant to be viewed by man. Staring out into the far reaches of space, with nothing but air and cold space seperating you and a distant planet.

As I sped down the highway sipping my tea, I jerked the wheel narrowly avoiding certain death as my eyes wandered to the sky and back to the road again. It was going to be a LONG day. I had started my day at 9:00AM that morning. My venture to the "buy and sell shop" only put me ahead by $50 and I was about $6.00 short of what I needed to get home. But, I had pulled together about all the money I was going to get and wished for the best. It was now going on 11:00PM and I was traveling cross-country only stopping for gas, and buying that with my "Health Savings". I was short the amount needed for three nights in a hotel, so the first night I would be driving straight to my training job. That meant that by the time I arrived to get the job done, I was all ready up for 24 hours.

I have pulled "all nighters" in my time. But this one was pretty bad. This was an all nighter, an all dayer, and another late night. Just about a full 36 hours of driving, standing and talking, and eventually seeking rest.

By the time class was over, I was starting to get a bad case of "un-rest". At some point at around 36 hours of being awake and active your brain begins to melt away. The continous feeding of aspirin and caffiene probably only aggravate the onset. For me, the effect is hearing strange noises that aren't really there. Almost like you can pick up a radio station but you just can't make out the words. Also, your legs feel like giant spongy hotdogs, and they begin to stop working causing almost a wobbling drunken stupor. I hopped in my car and drove straight to my hotel. Yet, my hotel was an hour away ... and with traffic it was almost two hours away. I needed sleep bad.

I just couldn't wait to get into that disgusting dirty bed at the Motel 6. I was craving it! I popped into the lobby, waited in line, and laid down my "Internet Registration", which had given me a savings of near $14!! The clerk (after doing all the paperwork stuff) softly laid my credit card down and asked, "do you have another form of payment sir?". I think my response was something to the effect of "you have got to be fucking kidding!". He was not. I had some issues now. Sure, I had enough for one night in a hotel, but that would be all the cash I had. And then I wouldn't have gas for the ride home.

I ran across the street to a payphone and called the bank that hosts my Health Savings account. I'm not sure how happy they would be that I was blowing the money on gas and hotel rooms, but they didn't seem to care. "Your balance here shows as $147.00 sir". Moments later I got my wife from my cell phone.

Me: Guess who's sleeping in his car tonight?
Her: You're kidding? What happened?
Me: I don't know. They won't take my card. I called the bank, they can't explain why it's being declined. Good night. If you need to get a hold of me, you can call my cell phone. But you will have to talk fast because I just ran out of cell minutes.
Her: Okay *sigh* Bye!

It was getting cold fast as the sun had set several hours ago, and it was going on 8:00PM. The area around my hotel was not the best place to be in town after dark. My best bet would be to find some place warm that I could literally *hide* for the night. There was a Wal-Mart nearby and I we beginning to devise a plot to hide myself behind bedding. Nobody would look back there, and I would definitely stay warm and comfortable. But I had to move fast. My brain was on the verge of a mental callapse and I was becoming emotionally unstable.

About the time I was starting the car, my wife called.

Her: Go buy phone minutes and call me back. We are going to wire you some money.
Me: Okay!

My wife was moments away from saving the day. With that, I ran into a Target and picked up a phone card. There was an ATM machine there, so I went ahead and inserted my credit card and although I didn't know my PIN number, I asked for a balance. It spit out a receipt stating "$72" was my present balance. Hrm ... that is exactly HALF of what the credit card company is telling me that I have. That can't be a coincidence. So I buy my phone card (with my Health Savings card -and it worked), I charge up my minutes, and I call her back.

Her: Where are you right now?
Me: I ... I don't know. I'm in a Target ... somewhere.
Her: That doesn't help me.
Me: I have the phone number to this store, but I don't see the address on this receipt.
Her: Whats the phone number?

It seems that you can locate Western Union locations by using the phone number of a residence or business ... and there was a Western Union about a block away. Thankfully, my brother in law had overheard what was transpiring and decided to help us out with a quick loan. Driving down the street a ways I located this grocery called "Weis". It was a lot like the local grocers back in my home town that are now owned by independents and are usually pretty dirty. This one was very dirty, and seemed to attract a lot of drunks. But, it was a Western Union hotspot, and I was about to get some money!

My brother in law Scott phoned me, and went off to set up the transfer. All there was to do now is to wait. Funny thing about sleep deprovation ... your body tends to want to shut down on you when you stop using it and slow down for a minute. So perhaps I should have found a place to sit for a while. As if it my legs suddenly took control of themselves, I found myself buckling sideways. Trying to regain my posture, I lunched to grab a hold of something and stumbled backwards over a couple of bags of dog food. Then I just came crashing down face first, throwing arms out, and taking a blow to my elbos. It hurt. Now I was on the floor laying over a bag of dog food, and my backpack had slid up my back striking a blow to my head. I stood up, snapped up my glasses, and looked around. A couple of clerks gave me a dirty look and went on about their ways. I probably looked like a drunk.

Just under an hour later, I was walking out of the grocery, with $200 cash in my wallet. I would get a hotel. I would sleep. Life was good.

On the way back home, I couldn't see any stars. Just rain, and a lot of fog. But just about 100 miles from home the clouds cleared, I drove away from the lights of a small city, and the stars emerged again. It's as if things just become clear when you leave home, and drive 400 miles away from it. And what was clear to me was that I missed my family desperately.

It's good to be home.

Historic Comments
Glad to hear you got there and back without freezing. Hopefully the phone will soon be ringing off the hook with classes near you.
Spuzz | 01.14.06 - 7:00 am | #

I love you man!
Jason heckathorn | Homepage | 01.17.06 - 9:24 pm | #

I know the feeling. Except in my case it is the opposite. I grew up in Oklahoma and because of the weather patterns thunderstorms were common. I now live in Arizona and it does not rain much here. During monsoon season here in Arizona I like going out and watching the storms roll in. My wife thinks I am crazy but I guess the storms remind of home.
Dennis | Homepage | 01.20.06 - 10:55 am | #

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friday Deadlines
It's now Friday. The time: 5:16PM. The plan was to be on my way back from the bank at this point having deposited what was owed to me, and counting out a couple of large bills to finance my trip to Maryland.

Instead, I have been left empty handed with not so much as a phone call from the accounting controller who said "give a call on Thursday and Friday and I might have your check".

I have $147.23 to my name in the form of a Health Savings Account. This is a special account that is to be used for medical, dental, or pharmacuticals. I will be traveling across the country with it to buy gas, and one nights hotel stay. Just one night though, and that's the problem. I have two more nights stay unaccounted for. I have all ready figured that I can try to sleep a couple hours Sunday night, and then drive all night into Maryland -arriving to my class a bit sleepy, but ready to teach. Yet, I am still left with one night that I have planned on spending in my car. If it were summer, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. But it's cold as hell outside right now, and it's a little colder where I am headed. Unless I leave the engine running all night, I am going to freeze to death. Plus I will be ... filthy. I will have to do the old "cup o' shower" in a fast food restroom.

I have racked my brain for options, and I keep coming up dry. At one point I thought maybe I could stay at a campground, with electric. Then I could stay warm at night with an electric heater, and maybe even catch a hot bath in the morning. Sadly, camp grounds don't open until March ... on account of it being so fucking cold. I checked out bed and breakfast joints in the area, but those cost more than a hotel ... on account of the luxurious clean sheets and hot meals (who needs those). I thought that the YMCA also had "rooms" available which consisted of a cot, and a shared bath. But I guess I made that up, because I couldn't find any.

In the morning I will be running up to the local "buy and sell" movie shop to sell off a few DVD's from the collection.

How about I end on a quote that nobody will appreciate?

In the Nanny From Hell episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the nanny tells Larry David, "So basically I'm a homeless person ... except I don't stink!". Man, that was a funny episode. I hope I don't have to sell that season of episodes away. I haven't watched them all yet!

Next episode: How to survive three days away from home, buying only fuel!

Historic Comments
The cheapest place to stay is a Hostel, check for them in your area online.
Anonymous | 01.06.06 - 9:46 pm | #

You were right about Hostels. Killer concept. I think I caught something about them on a show on the Discovery channel a ways back. I found one outside of town near a State park. It was about an hour drive, but hell, for $20 it was well worth it! That place had a 'self serve kitchen', lockers, and even Internet access. Only problems is, they will only book "large groups" until January 20th. What's that about?

All the other Hostels I could find were in Baltimore. Which I wouldn't mind driving to, but it literally takes nearly three hours to get in and out of because of DC traffic.

I will be looking for Hostels for anywhere else I go. They seem like a good idea. And hell, as noisey as some of my neighbors have been in Hotels, I don't realy mind "bunkin" with strangers.


Oh, and here is a nice URL for anyone interested in Hostels:
Ray Dios Haque | 01.06.06 - 11:27 pm | #