Diary of a Network Geek

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

7/27/2012

Steal a BMW in 3 Minutes

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, I’m not advocating that you actually do this!

But, in Europe, it’s already been done.
Apparently, the special key that costs you $160 for your super-secure BMW isn’t really all that much of a deterrent after all.  According to a story that ran recently on ExtremeTech, hacker-thieves have found a way to bypass the BMW security system and, in a separate step, decode the information needed to actually start the car without having the special, expensive key.  It seems that the on-board diagnostic port on the cars gives them complete, unsecured access to the data in the car’s computer, which allows them to get the codes they need to program up a new key and drive away in your very high-end car.  Interestingly enough, they’re able to do this because BMW is required by law to keep the codes and on-board diagnostic information unencrypted to allow competing firms to service the vehicles and not get locked out by BMW to form a monopoly.
Although the article focuses on BMWs, likely this is happening to other cars that use a similar technology and for the same reasons.  It’s just that right now, the expensive, high-end BMWs are what the thieves are stealing, and in fact they’ve always been popular targets for thieves due to their general popularity, so they’re getting all the attention.

Frankly, when I first heard about these “special” keys and ignition systems, I wondered how long it would be before they were subverted.  I just generally distrust systems like that, which operate over easily accessible networks.  Too many points of failure.  Anyway, check out the video in the link.  It’s pretty scary how quickly they can accomplish their goal of stealing the car.
But, what an amazing, real-world test of that security system!

So, how is this “fun” for a Fun Friday link?
Okay, it’s not really, but it seemed appropriate to share while I was out at DEF*CON in Las Vegas.  But, all you criminal types, don’t get any ideas!  My house is being watched and I’ll be back by the time that most of you read this!

5/29/2011

DNS Redirect Attack

Filed under: Geek Work,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:34 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’m seeing traffic about this, so I thought I’d write up what I found.

I tweeted about a strange DNS-based network/malware attack that I saw on Friday, but, at the time, I didn’t see any interest, so I didn’t go into any real details.  Besides, I may be a hardcore geek, but I do have a life and was going out.  But, now, I’m seeing search engine traffic hitting my blog apparently looking for details, so I thought I’d describe the attack, as I saw it.

First of all, let me mention that I’ve seen a higher-than-usual occurrence of malware infections the past couple of weeks.  I mean, it’s a hazard of my business that, sooner or later, people are going to get infected, either through bad behavior or by accident, but the past three weeks or so I’ve seen way more problems like that than is even remotely normal.  So, bearing that in mind, I’ve been on a kind of high-alert status looking for any malware problems, but this was something new.

It started with someone from another location, who’s on a totally, physically separate network which uses a different internet service provider to connect to the Internet, calling me with a problem.  It was, apparently, a recurrence of a virus he had previously that we cleaned.  He described being taken to a webpage that featured a maroon graphic background with a white icon of a policeman holding up his hand to indicate “stop”.  The text on the page gave a message that said the user’s browser was not the correct version to access the page and that an upgrade was required.  Helpfully, it provided a button to press to receive the “upgrade”.  Obviously, the “upgrade” was an infection.  (You can see an example of the graphic here.)  Thankfully, I trained my users well enough to be suspicious of these kinds of things and no one who reported this actually clicked on it.

About the same time this happened, I noticed that my iPhone wasn’t connecting to the wifi hotspot I have setup in my office.  I checked the configuration and noticed that the DNS servers listed were wrong.  In fact, they’d all been replaced with a single DNS server; 188.229.88.7  Obviously, that seemed suspicious to me, so I opened a command prompt on my PC and did a tracert to see if I could figure out where this server was and, from that, why it had become the default DNS server on part of my network, despite my having very carefully configured totally different DNS servers that I knew were safe.  It looked like the tracert results showed me a network path that led out of the country somewhere, which was, to me, very suspicious.

Before I could really pursue that, though, I got another call from a user at my location reporting the exact same error message and graphic, but going to a totally different website! I went to his computer and checked the IP configuration and found that his DNS servers had been replaced by the rogue server as well.  I refreshed his network config, several times actually, and the DNS servers reset, but, when I thought to check some other people in the same area of the building, his configuration set itself back to the rogue DNS server!  So, I reset the local network equipment to clear the DNS cache, and whatever other caches may have gotten poisoned by this attack, and the problem seemed to go away.  Unfortunately, whatever had caused the compromise was still active and seemed to poison the DNS cache and the DNS configuration again.  It did seem sporadic, though, as if the ISP was trying to correct the issue at their end.

As far as I can tell, the attack actually seemed to be network-based in some way.
At least, I couldn’t find any computer on my network that was infected with anything that AVG, Norton Anti-virus, or Malware Bytes could find.  It is, I suppose, possible, that this attack was so new that no of those programs had an updated detection pattern for it, but, based on the lack of detection, and the fact that it happened on two physically separate networks almost simultaneously, leads me to believe that this was a network-based attack.  I suspect that an ARP cache or DNS cache or something similar was attacked and compromised on a major network router somewhere.  Possibly one of the edge routers at a trans-continental connection somewhere.  From the tracert results I had, it looked like it was the East Coast somewhere, leading to Europe via London to France, though I could be wrong.  It’s possible that was a blind alley meant to throw researchers off the trail in some way.
Also, as of this writing the rogue DNS server seems to be out of commission, though that might change, too.

The Internet is a wild and wooly place, ladies and gents, and you can’t always count on your friendly, neighborhood Network Geek to watch over you and keep you safe!  So, be careful out there!
(And, if you’re a fellow professional who’s seen this, too, leave me comments and tell me what you found!)
UPDATE: Looks like the server is still active, but my ISP has blocked DNS traffic to it, to fix the problem.
Also?  I hate the bastards that do these things.  I hate every last one of the little rat bastards!

UPDATE/FOLLOW-UP: So, it seems like a lot of people have been effected by this problem!
Check the comments for what other folks did and tools they might suggest to help with the problem.  Frankly, I wish I’d had known about those tools when I started my day!  Yes, I was *totally* wrong when I said it looked like it was coming in from outside the routers.  It was, in fact, *several* PCs that were infected with whatever it was.  I found it, much like at least one commenter, by checking the results of “ipconfig /all” in a command prompt.  I noticed that the DHCP server listed in the config was NOT my actual DHCP server!  So, as I went from machine to machine, I saw several PCs that kept coming up as DHCP servers.  I used Malware Bytes to scan the infected PCs and it seemed to clean them off.  At least, for now.  I’m not sure what I’ll find in the morning.
Apparently, Friday, when it looked like the problem was getting cleaned up, it was really just people shutting their workstations down early for the long weekend.
In any case, as at least one commenter has mentioned, it looks like updates for the various scanners should be coming out this week, so keep updating your antivirus and antispyware programs and scan your networks!  Well, scan them more completely and carefully than you already have.
And, as always, if you have any new information or suggestions for tools to clear up the issue, please, leave them in the comments!

2/2/2009

Review: Taken

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — 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 a First Quarter Moon


Taken

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Taken Friday night with a group of friends for a “guys night out”.

First of all, let me say that this was a pretty simple, straight-forward movie in terms of plot and message. Of course, that was one of the things I liked about the movie. The bad guys were undeniably bad and the good guy was, well, a little bad, too, but considering that he was a father saving his daughter from a white slavery ring, I think that’s understandable.
Okay, so this movie is probably not going to win any awards or be very acclaimed by the critics, but I liked it a lot. It stars Liam Neeson as a former CIA agent who sacrificed his family and home-life in his dedication to the job. As a result, he’s become estranged from his now teenaged daughter. In an attempt to fix that, he’s given up his work and moved to L.A. to be near his daughter and his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s very rich new husband. Neeson plays a pretty sympathetic character, I think. At least, he’s sympathetic to anyone who’s ever been a father. He’s quite protective of his daughter, which is understandable both because of the world we live in and the job that his character used to do.
The plot, as much as I can say without revealing anything important, revolves around his daughter going on a trip to Europe. A trip about which she is not quite entirely honest with her father. It’s a classic plot launcher for simple, straight-forward movies like this that the dishonest must pay. And, she does. To start with, things aren’t quite as she’s been led to believe and she’s alone with another girl in Paris. That alone wouldn’t be so bad, but they run afoul of Albanian white slavers. Man, there’s nothing I hate more than Albanian white slavers. (Yes, I’m poking a bit of fun at how often they emphasized the fact that these guys were, in fact, Albanians. I guess someone had an axe to grind.)
In any case, Neeson’s character gets a panicked phone call from his daughter as she’s being taken. He warns the men to let her go or they’ll be sorry, but they don’t listen. Basically, they have no idea just what kind of damage Neeson’s character is capable of dishing out, or that they’re about to feel the full effect of that skill at hurting people.

And, again, without revealing too much, for about an hour and thirty minutes, what you have is Liam Neeson chasing bad guys all over Paris. Chasing them on foot, in cars and on a boat. Chasing them down alleys, hallways, stairways, through rooms filled with parties and criminals. Often, shooting them when he finally catches them. Occasionally cutting them or stabbing them. At least once, hitting them with a pipe and hooking one up to electricity. But, I assure you, he only does that to the bad guys. Oh, well, except for the one time he wings the wife of an old colleague who’s gotten corrupt. Other than that, though, he’s only shooting, stabbing, punching and torturing the bad guys. Honest.

I won’t tell you how it ends, but Taken is a very good action movie indeed. Edited down to a PG-13 here in the States, it was even more violent in other places, so I really look forward to a Director’s Cut DVD. It’s no surprise to me that this is at the top of the box office returns this weekend. It was a great movie and I recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone who digs action without gratuitous explosions. Again, it’s a simple, straight-forward movie, but it delivers on every promise it makes in the trailers, ads and reviews.
Well worth seeing in the theaters on the big screen!

7/16/2008

Cool Freemasons?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:37 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I am a Freemason.

I am also tragically unhip and I know it. I love my Masonic Brothers, but, honestly, I’ve never met one that is any less un-cool than I am. Well, thankfully, that may be changing, according to an article in the Boston Herald. Apparently, at least one Lodge there is attracting a slightly different kind of Brother: punk rock musicians. Now, keep in mind that the only requirements for membership is that a candidate be male, an adult (ie. usually over 18 or 21, depending on the jurisdiction), “free-born”, of “good report” (ie. not convicted of a felony and vouched for by a Brother), and have a belief in a “supreme being”. So, basically, a man who, theoretically, can make his own decisions and believes in a single deity. So, as long as they’re basically upstanding guys, who are willing to follow the rules of Freemasonry, we’re a pretty open group. Really. Not trying to take over the world at all. Honest. I promise.

Seriously, most of the Brothers I know can barely remember the punch line to a good joke, so you can pretty much forget the whole world-domination thing.
Here’s what the guys in the article had to say about it:

“It’s kind of like a history class that no one else can take,” said Dave Norton, drummer for Victory at Sea and The Men. He believes his membership in the fraternal organization will be especially rewarding when he tours Europe later this year.

and

Gary Robley, drummer for Dashboard Jesus and J. Geils cover band Blow Your Face Out, said he joined because his father was a Mason, as are many of his friends.
“There were a bunch of musicians I knew in it,” Robley said. “It was kind of a brotherhood. Musicians have always been a part of Masonry since its inception.”

Anyway, it struck me as both funny and cool that Lodge as I remember it is changing. When I was active, there was a lot of talk about how the Fraternity was hurting for members because new guys weren’t joining. Well, maybe the is the start of a cool new trend.
And, maybe, it’s about time I started looking for a local Lodge.

6/13/2008

Lucky Day

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

When everyone else has bad luck, I have great luck.

No, seriously!  I can’t wait to see how much my general luck improves compared to everyone else’s today.  Personally, I think it’s really all about keeping a positive mental attitude.  I mean, people are so quick to blame anything that goes wrong in their life on some superstitious belief that they’re having “bad luck” caused by some uncontrollable, supernatural event that they never stop to ask why they might have had even worse luck!  And, frankly, I think most people who will blame Friday the Thirteenth for their rotten luck don’t have any idea why they’re doing so!

So, why not tell them?  No, seriously, go check out “How Friday the 13th Works” at HowStuffWorks.com or “Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky” at About.com to see some ideas about why people think this way.  Personally, as a Freemason and a bit of a Knights Templar buff, I’ve always gone with how that was the day the Knights Templar were suppressed in all of Europe.  It’s as good as any other superstition!

8/14/2006

Travel Report

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,On The Road,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:39 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

(Note: This “post” was written over the space of two long waits in airports after gliding through easy and over-hyped security.)

08/11/06

Well, there wasn’t any free wifi at the airport that I could find, even using a cool new tool I found for Linux called Wifi-Radar. Super slick little proggie that scans for available open wifi networks and automagically attaches you to the network of your choice. Pretty cool. Anyway, security was a breeze. As usual, the blood-sucking, bottom-feeders in the alarmist media totally overhyped the delays. I got Hilda checked in, stopped for gas and slipped into the Park-N-Fly by about 10:45 AM. The shuttle got me to the airport no later than 11:15AM and I was checked in and through security in less than 20 minutes. That’s with an eTicket and a driver’s license that still has my last name misspelled with an extra letter. You’d think that would raise a red flag, right? Hell, it doesn’t even raise a damn eyebrow.

Feeling extra secure yet? So, we hear all kinds of stuff about how bad security is going to be, but, as far as I could see, the only thing added to security was that they were restricting fluids on the plane. Yeah, so, no drinks through security, which, of course, means that everyone was buying drinks in the terminal. I didn’t look at how much I was gouged for my bottle of water and masked the whole cost with a couple of magazines. No Maxim, though. Just PopSci, Scientific American, Men’s Health and Real Simple. You know, I may end up getting a subscription to Real Simple instead of Dwell. It’s more my style. Not quite so avant-garde and infinitely less expensive. I was very glad to have gotten my iPod back, though. And, I even managed to sync all of Tristan und Isolde to it before I took off in the morning. Sadly, I didn’t have quite enough time to create a playlist that let me listen to the entire opera in order, but, still, I have it in there. According to iTunes, I have almost three days worth of continuous music on my Nano. Based on the silly media hype, it sounded like I’d need it, so, I was thrilled.

The one interesting thing was that I was almost on the news. No, not because I tried to sneak something dangerous on the plane. Though, God knows, I have done just that so many times it really makes me question the supposed security training they give those TSA agents. Anyway, there was some cute, Hispanic news chic there with her cameraman interviewing passengers about the virtually non-existent security delays and they saw my “Sunguard Secure, Disaster Recovery Experts” shirt. Right away the camera guy is all “So are you a disaster recovery expert?” and I start laughing at them both. I explain that, yes, I am an IT disaster recovery expert, but not the kind they were looking for. Oh, sure, I could have gone on TV and made a credible security expert, but that’s mainly because I’m well read and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about security for IT, which includes physical security, not because I’m a real anti-terrorist expert. But, why? Why the hell would I want to have my mug all over the TV news? I hate them, the alarmist fear-mongers always whipping the mass of unwashed humanity into a damn frenzy. Idiots. They’re not journalists anymore, just talking heads. It’s all about jumping on that fear-hype bandwagon, not about reporting real information that people can actually learn something from anymore. I don’t know, maybe it’s time to get a subscription to a local paper again. Ha! “A” local paper, that’s funny, isn’t it? It’s either the Chronicle or an out of town paper, like the Chicago Tribune or the Wall Street Journal. Oh, well, it’s almost all bad news anyway….

08/14/06

Well, here I am again, killing time in an airport waiting for my flight after breezing through security. I can’t tell if it’s just the media blowing things so far out of proportion or just people stupid enough to argue with the TSA agents and trying to break the rules. Honestly, I think it’s the TV news media who have to justify their existance by whipping everyone into a frenzy about the terrorists who weren’t even on US soil. Sure, I’ll grant you, getting blown up in a plane would really ruin my travel plans, but we’ve been living with this since 9/11 and, frankly, I think it’s about time we just adjust to higher security than we used to have. I mean, really, compared to most of the world, we’ve been skating along pretty free and easy. They’ve been dealing with terrorists in Europe for years and the British were more relaxed about this last incident than we were, even though it was their countrymen that were going to be blown up! This is just going to be a fact of life from now on. We need to get past the panic and fear and make our adjustments and move on with our lives, otherwise the terrorists have already won. So, in any case, I glided through security, in spite of not shaving, having a scruffy goatee and being loaded down with electronics. I guess it helps to just blank your face and go with the flow. Not like I have a choice, after all, so I might as well just accept the process and go with it. Seems to make things a lot easier. So, crazy security concerns aside, I had a good visit with the family.

Turns out, my parents were wrong and I wasn’t going to be presenting my nephew with his Eagle award, but it really did seem to mean a lot to him that I was there. Actually, it seemed to mean a lot to everyone to see me. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I never realized how important I was to my family. Of course, I spent some time setting up my parent’s new laptop and transferring settings and files over from the old one. I first thought that I’d be able to do that via a USB thumb drive, but there was just a little too much there to get onto a single one gig drive, so I had to use the network cable and crossover adapter that I’d brought with me. Good thing I have a little bit of experience being an IT consultant on the road and thought to bring some “extra” stuff I probably wouldn’t need, just in case. Sadly, I forgot to bring the copy of Word that I had for Mom and scratched the first CD of the Works install set, so I’ll have to ship them the CD and walk Mom through the install. Oh, the funny thing about her new laptop is the wireless connection. I cranked up that laptop and found five or six networks in the area with at least two that were unsecured, so I used that to piggy-back to the Internet. I think that ease of use just about convinced her to invest in broadband at their new house when the finally move in. They already have digital phone service through their cable, so I’m pretty sure they’d get a discount on the Internet connection, too. That along with a wireless router would really have them in the modern age of computing. And, I think they’d use their laptop more. Well, at least, Mom would. Dad mainly tells her what he wants and sends her off to do it, but he thinks he’s pretty high-tech, which is kind of funny. Actually, if you ever met either of my parents, it’d amuse you think of either of them being all that high-tech.

Though, somehow, they turned out at least two of us that make our living via technology. That’s just one of many things my brother and I have in common, though… It was nice talking with him some, though, I think we both wouldn’t have minded talking more. Eleven years apart and a vast difference in life experience, but we’re still the same in so many ways. Sadly, we both have many of the same things to fight through and over come. Both shy, each in our own way. Soft-spoken, but determined and, often, very single-minded of purpose. I honestly think that my brother has a PhD. because someone told him he couldn’t do it. We’re funny that way. Sometimes, that’s an asset, but not always.
Still, we often have very similar political views and, talking with my sole niece, Rachel, I was surprised to see how well our philosophies about kids meshed. That “little” girl has grown into quite a young woman. Just barely fifteen, but almost as tall as I am and, thankfully, looking more like her mother every day. I sat with her after her brother’s Eagle Ceremony and talked with her a bit, since I realized I didn’t really know her that well these days. The boys all center on me like iron filings on a magnet and that often seems to leave little room for Rachel. The last time I was home, she spent most of the time with Allison, my former step-daughter, and I didn’t get to talk to her. In any case, I took the opportunity to chat with her about a lot of different things, including driving, boys and her future plans. She didn’t have a boyfriend right now, but she’s already had two, which, at fifteen seemed like a good, slow start. She broke up with the last one, she told me, because he’d been smoking marijuana. Smart girl. Already learned that guys who smoke enough dope lose all motivation and ambition. It’s not just a stereotype. So, she was single, but didn’t seem in a big hurry to find the next guy, which I though was a good attitude, too. When I asked her about school and ideas for a career, she told me she wanted to go into nursing. Like I said, smart girl. It’s a good field and she has the right kind of personality for nursing. Even at fifteen, she was worried about her poor, old Uncle Jim standing when everyone else was sitting at the reception. I was glad for the chance to sit and talk with her. I just wish Allison had more of an opportunity to know her former cousin. I think Rachel would have been a good influence on her. Ah, well, maybe they’ll reconnect one day. Stranger things have happened.

Her little brother, Michael, my youngest nephew, is a whole different animal. This poor kid has no small amount of adversity to overcome. As a little guy, he got repeated ear infections and is, as I recall, legally deaf. But, since he was very small, he’s worn a hearing aid in each ear and does quite well. He has a very slight speech impediment, but he seems to make up for that with enthusiasm and volume. He certainly has no trouble making himself understood when he wants to get a point across! But, he also has a fairly rare back and spine condition that will require him to wear an obviously uncomfortable back brace for most of the next three years. He’s a good kid and doesn’t complain much when his parents tell him to get his brace back on, but it can’t be something he likes to do. I don’t know if any of the kids at school give him trouble for it, but I think his mother has already given her permission to pop the little wiseasses if they do sound off. And, if I ever hear about any grief, I tell you, Mike will have a mean uncle from Texas coming up to crack a couple of skulls for him. He’s a good boy and puts up just a tiny fuss at having to deal with all his physical troubles. And, in spite of all his reasons to be unhappy, I’d say he’s the most gregarious and, well, “jolly” of all my nephews. Always smiling and laughing and joking, even when irritation occasionally creases his forehead, it sure doesn’t cloud his world for very long at all. I know quite a few adults that could learn thing or two from this young man.

Then, there was my “redneck nephew”, as I like to call him.
John Dwight is a big kid. He looks slow and ponderous and even sounds a little thick, but he’s not. He’s a smart kid who lives in a town that doesn’t put much stock into “book learnin'” and it shows. Mainly, I think he’s just not very motivated. I think he sees the futility of his situation. He can only go so far in that little town outside of Rockford, Illinois. After that, if he wants more and bigger opportunities, he’ll have to leave. Based on how his mother and father have dealt with that decision, I doubt he’ll leave. Though, he is talking about enlisting in the military. He claims he wants to be a sniper, but with less than perfect vision, I think that’s not going to quite work out for him. He likes to work on cars, though, and seems to think he can bide his time waiting for the sniper program while being a mechanic. I don’t think he understands the military enough to know that once he starts as a mechanic, he’s likely to stay a mechanic, but, at least he’ll have a skill and a way to make a good living after mustering out. It would be a good way for hime to go.
He shadowed me for most of the time I was working on my Mom’s new laptop. I think partly because he wants to get a shiny, new laptop himself, but also because he’s interested. I talked with him about what I was doing and promised to send him one of the super cheap 1 Gig USB thumb-drives I’d found at MicroCenter and was using. He seemed genuinely excited about that. I’ll send that to him after I get back along with a Knoppix CD, so he can learn a little Linux. If he learns Linux and is still interested, I might send him an old Dell laptop with Redhat or Novell’s free OpenSuSE loaded on it. That would be another direction he could go. A little military experience and a couple of professional certifications and he could really go far.

Finally, my oldest nephew and godson, Bill…
As I write this, he’s on his way to his first year of college. He’ll be a Physics Major at Purdue University. Kid’s going to be a genius PhD, like his father. He has a girlfriend, Jenny, who’s nice enough, but tries a little too hard to be liked. When she forgets to work at it and relaxs, though, she’s a nice kid. Bill and I had a little talk on Friday night when his family came over for dinner. (Mom made “creole chicken”, a soulfood recipie that my grandmother picked up on the Southside of Chicago.) He’s so much like his father that it’s almost scary. I was touched Saturday when I figured out that he really just wanted me at the ceremony because he missed his Uncle Jim. I made sure to give him my cell number and told him he could call for anything but bail money. I hope he takes me up on the offer. I gave him the best advice I could for a Freshman going into that big, wide world of college. “Never go into a weekend without twenty bucks and a condom.” I explained that to him, but those stories will have to wait for another time on the blog. My plane is boarding, so I’m shutting down the laptop. Next stop, Houston!

Update:
Made it home safe and sound. Got my poor Hilda from the vet today. Apparently she barely ate, hid from the “keepers” and generally trusted no one. On the upside, she did learn to use the “doggie door” really well! That’s where she ran to get away from the people who were supposed to pamper her. *sigh* She wouldn’t even eat her home-made treats. Apparently, she just didn’t trust the kenel staff enough to take even the yummiest of muffins from them. (In fact, they said they smelled so good they almost ate some themselves!) She was so excited to see me, I could barely get her car harness on her. She wolfed food when we got home. And treats. And attacked a new rawhide chewie bone I’d gotten her. Well, she’s like her old dad, doesn’t trust anyone new and is loyal to a fault. She’s my dog, sure enough.
Glad to be home. And, finally, after all this time and all this trouble, this is home.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
   --Franklin Delano Roosevelt

3/23/2004

Novell releases new SUSE

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Novell is getting right on it!

Just a few months ago, Novell bought SuSE, the leading LINUX company in Europe. Well, now they’ve announced that they’re going to be letting loose some new versions of their distro. At least, according to this article on Wired News, they are. Frankly, all I can say is “Horay!!” I really hope Novell follows through on what they’ve started here. I know they have a whole section of their website dedicated to the Novell\Linux intersection.
I really, really like the idea of running Novell products on a Linux kernel. For instance, I can’t think of a better sounding e-mail solution for corporate envrionments than GroupWise on Linux. (Okay, I’m a little biased, but still….) I mean, this just sounds like a bulletproof setup to me. None of the hassles of Exchange/Outlook bugs, exploits, viruses or worms and the reliability of Linux. C’mon, let’s face it, Unix-based servers so very rarely crash that it’s almost a non-issue.
Now, if someone would just offer me a Novell job where they’re starting to use Linux…. Ah, well, a guy can dream, right?

2/25/2004

Project LiMux

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

On a happier foreign note…

Open Source projects in Germany. Accoding to this article on Wired News, Munich is going forward with thier migration to Open Source software. They’re not the first, but they’re the first I know of in Europe. And, they’re the first I’ve heard about in a long time. That combined with the whole Novell purchase of SUSE makes me really glad to be of German descent! Seriously, it really looks like Germany is getting cranked up on the latest technology and that’s cool. Hopefully, they’ll pull some of the rest of Europe along! Go, Tux, go!

9/8/2002

Favorite Fantasy Author

Filed under: Fiction — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I just got a reply from my favorite fantasy author, Lawrence Watt-Evans, today. I’ve read almost all of his work, except for the Lords of Ds series which I just couldn’t get into for some reason. I especially like his Ethshar series of books and stories. I really like the flow of his style of writing, what people in the writing game call an author’s “voice”. It’s real familiar and comfortable to read. I find his work more relaxing than just about any other author I’ve read, including the incomparable Frank Herbert and Ernest Hemmingway. (I read those two authors for different reasons than I read Lawrence Watt-Evans.)

Anyway, I’ve been working at writing some fiction again (no, not my resume!) and I ran into a bit of a snag: naming. See, I’ve been hiding behind that for a relly long time, something in the neighborhood of ten years, to keep from writing. That bothered me enough this past week to get past it and just start writing. But, before I did, I turned to my favorite fantasy author to see how *he* made his character names.
Well, the lucky, *professional* author was off in Europe on vacation, so he didn’t get a chance to respond to me for a week, or so. Lucky me. If he had, I might not have actually started writing the damn story. See, he went through a process much like I had been trying to go through, but I had some significant difficulty with it and I used that as a reason to not write. So, if he’d responded sooner, I might have gotten bogged down again.

Anyway, I wanted to encourage everyone in the world to go buy Lawrence Watt-Evans’s books. I highly reccomend “The Misenchanted Sword” and “With A Single Spell”, which are both great places to start in the Ethshar books. Also, I highly reccomend “Dragon Weather” and its sequel “The Dragon Society”, which are not set in Ethshar, but are superior fantasy novels. Keep in mind, this isn’t Tolkein-esque work here, it’s much, much more accessable than all that. Nor is it a cheap copy of someone else’s style. Lawrence Watt-Evans is in a class all his own.
You can find out more about Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Ethshar, at Ethshar.com or Watt-Evans.com


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