Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.



Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:55 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, that’s not spelled incorrectly.

So, back in July, I had the amazing opportunity to go to DEFCON 20 in Las Vegas.  It was quite a historic event; the twentieth anniversary of the biggest, baddest, most talked about computer security convention ever.  Though, of course, I’m using that term somewhat euphemistically.  I heard about DEFCON shortly after getting started in the IT industry and have wanted to go ever since.  Like I mentioned last week, I’m a pretty big fan of sub-cultures and security and, well, DEFCON is the event of the year for an intersection of those two things.  Yes, I’m talking about hackers.

Now, before you assume that I’m off breaking the law, hackers aren’t all bad.  Hackers are just people who think very far outside the box when it comes to things like computers and technology and security.  In fact, most hackers will tell you that they’re interested in improving security by trying to break it.  And, that’s definitely a philosophy I share.  Until you know your security can withstand an assault, frankly, you don’t know how good it really is.
And, as anyone worth their salt at security will tell you, physical access is the first step.  If you can lock people out of your system and keep them from gaining any kind of access, well, that’s a secure system.  If you think I’m exaggerating, well, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that the most important data isn’t available from just any networked computer.  To get to it means getting past a locked door.  So, what, then, is the first step in testing security?  Testing locks.

And, yes, while at DEFCON I learned the basics of lockpicking.  It’s not actually illegal, unless I’m trying to bypass a lock to which I do not have permission to test, and carrying the tools for it isn’t illegal, unless I’m trespassing with them, in which case they become burglar’s tools and a different class of felony altogether.  But, I’m only interested in the skill for informational and entertainment purposes.  Trust me.
If you’re interested in exploring the world of “locksport”, there are people who can help and you don’t even have to go to DEFCON to get it.  Just head over to The Open Organization Of Lockpickers‘ website and take a look.  (Yes, that’s TOOOL, for short.)  They have slideshows that explain the basics as well as links to books and sites where you can buy the tools you need to try your hand at lockpicking.  It’s loads of fun!  Honest!

So, go check them out and enjoy your weekend!
(But, don’t call me for bail money if you get in trouble!)


Cards as Weapons

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Pretty much anything can be turned into a weapon.

Regular readers here will know that I’m not only security and safety conscious, but into, well, some of the stranger aspects of culture.  If there’s an obscure method of self-defense, or a strange sub-culture, I probably know about it.  I tend to be that way with obscure and rare books, too.  But, when all three of these things overlap?  It’s like nerdvana for me!
And such a confluence of material and subjects exist: Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay.

You probably have seen Ricky Jay in the movies, believe it or not, even if you may not have recognized him.  He’s been in a number of movies by David Mamet, but as a character actor, you may not associate his name with his face.  Either way, Ricky Jay is quite well known in the stage magic world and is one of the best card technicians who’s ever practiced the art.  His book, which retails for an amazing sum on [amazon_link id=”0446387568″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Amazon[/amazon_link], on the deadly art of card throwing is well known in some of the circles I’ve brushed up against in my varied and misspent youth.  But, it’s been so hard to find and expensive that few of us have ever actually read it.  Now, thanks to a, possibly pirated, copy that’s up on Scribd, you can download the entire PDF for free.  Free!  So, if  you like magic, or cards, or Ricky Jay, or obscure books, or strange self-defense weapons, or even just knowing cool, strange things, then download this book!  While you still can!

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re reading my blog.  What else have you got to do?


Vanishing Book

Filed under: Art,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

What if a book slowly faded away as you read it?

I like to read.  No, really, I do.  Sure the last couple years I’ve been pretty busy and I haven’t read nearly as much as I used to read in the “old days”, but I do still love to read.  Most of the time, I grind right through a book at a pretty steady pace, never really stopping until I finish it.  Every once in awhile, though, I do get stuck.  For whatever reason, a book may not grab me and hold my attention or get to a slow part and I’ll lose interest.  So, what if there was a way to add a sense of urgency to reading?

Well, that’s just what El Libro que No Puede Esperar, which translates as ‘The Book that Cannot Wait’, does, it makes you hurry, because, truly, the book cannot wait.  It’s a collection of stories by Latin American authors that’s printed in disappearing ink.  The book slowly starts to fade as soon as the sealed, plastic package is opened and will vanish completely in about two months, leaving an exceptionally well crafted blank book.  In fact, people who buy the book are encouraged to use it as a journal after the original ink disappears completely.

So, what about it?  Would “The Book That Cannot Wait” keep you motivated to read faster?  Or just seem like a waste of paper?
Well, either way, you can hit that link and see photos of the book, both sealed and with ink disappearing.  Go ahead and take a look.  It is, after all, Friday and you weren’t doing anything anyway!


Glass Hermits

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’ve always wanted a post-modern, surrealist pet.

Hermit crabs have always kind of fascinated me.  I’ve had one or two over the years, mostly as a kid.  They’re pretty fascinating at first.  Think about it for a minute.  A terrestrial crab that uses the discarded shells of other creatures for a home.  Pretty weird, right?  Well, ever since I first saw these crazy, little creatures, I’ve thought it would be cool to put them into clear shells so you could see just what was going on inside.  Apparently, I’m not the only one.

Artist/designer Robert DuGrenier has been making glass Hermit crab shells for Hermit Crabs to live in for more than 15 years.  And, now, he’s offering them for sale, too.  So, yes, now we can actually have the crazy hermit crab of the future with a see-through shell.

For real, go look at these and, if you are interested at all, buy some!  (No, I don’t get a cut!  I just think they’re cool!)  Besides, it’s Friday, why not have a little fun wasting time?


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