Diary of a Network Geek

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



Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Not exactly an IT tool.

I use a lot of tools and gadgets to make my life easier, not just computer related stuff.  And, I have to admit, while I intended to use my Tools for Tuesday “themed” posts for all kind of day-to-day things I use to upgrade my quality of life, a device to fold t-shirts was not quite what I pictured sharing.
Of course, like a lot of networking geeks, I tend to dress pretty casually, especially on the weekends.  And, when you factor in the fact that I live in a suburb of Hell during the Summer here in Houston, well, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I have quite a few t-shirts.  In the past, before I met my blushing bride, the Organizing Decorator, my closet was a kind of haphazard firetrap filled with, among other things, shelves of t-shirts.  It was hard for me to deal with and they took up a lot of room and it took forever to fold them when I took them out of the dryer.  It was my least favorite thing about both laundry and my closet, even though I love my t-shirts.  Naturally, my wonderful wife had a solution for me, but, well, the fact that it was a favorite tool of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory didn’t really help her case.
But, when I left her to go to DEFCON XX in Las Vegas for a long weekend back in 2012 before we were married, she helped me understand how such a small thing could improve my life immensely by folding all my t-shirts with her FlipFold and reorganizing them for me.  It was, quite honestly, amazing.  They were all folded to the same size rectangle and could be stacked neatly so they took up about two-thirds of the room they did before!  And, I could find just the right one when I wanted it!  No more searching for my favorite Tee Fury design or that Threadless reprint I found on sale or whatever hard core geek t-shirt I may be looking for, for hours on end.  The neat stacks make them all easier to find, and give me room for more!  Not to mention that they look better when I put them on, too!
And, yes, it does make folding them after laundry easier and faster, too.  (Though I have to admit, the spectacular spouse has been doing my laundry a whole lot more than I have!)

My FlipFold was a gift, so I don’t recall how much it was at the time, but it was worth it.  You can get your own, in a rainbow of color options, at FlipFold.com.

(And, yes, it is one of the many contributing factors that led me to marry her.  Not the only one, but certainly one of them!)



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!)


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!


Review: The Hangover

Filed under: Fun,Movies,News and Current Events,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Hangover Friday night.

I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie. Seriously.
l mean, yeah, on the surface, it seems like it’s going to be another dumb, “drunk-bachelor-party-in-Vegas” movie, and, well, it is, but it’s also hilarious.
So, as you should have guessed, the premise is simple, a guy who’s about to get married goes for one last, wild night in Las Vegas with two of his good friends and his future brother-in-law. The movie opens with the groom and his future brother-in-law getting fitted for tuxedos and it quickly becomes evident that either Alan, the brother-in-law, is developmentally challenged or has dropped one too many hits of acid. Now, mix these two with a married, but frustrated teacher who steals a bunch of money for a “field trip” from his private school kids to finance his end of the trip to Vegas and a mildly castrated dentist who’s in a loveless relationship with a real bitch. Can you see all the ways this can go wrong? No, trust me, no, you cannot.

Things go quickly from bad to worse when the guys wake up in the morning with no recollection of what happened the night before and short one groom. Oh, and mix in an abandoned baby, a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken and a stolen police car and you have a good idea of what this movie is all about.
It’s a whirlwind tour of what four drunks, accidentally drugged out of their minds, might get up to in Sin City. And, I don’t think it’s revealing too much to say that some of those things include a stripper/escort, a wedding, a naked Chinese gambler, a kidnapping, some amazing blackjack, and Mike Tyson. And, yes, Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself, does make a cameo. How could he not?

Seriously, there’s a bit of sex, a tiny bit of violence, and more great lines than you can shake a stick at in this movie. It was so popular, that the show we actually bought tickets for was full and we had to sneak into the next show, which was also over full. And, I’m planning on roping some more people into going to see this again Friday night. It was hilarious!
Obviously, quite adult, but, still, one of the funniest movies ever. I was laughing so hard I almost choked on my own tongue!
Truly, a “must see” comedy this season.


Wedding Party

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not the actual party.

So, a good friend of mine, J., has finally proposed to his girlfriend of about a year, L., with whom he is very happy. In fact, I was starting to wonder if they were going to get around to it or if someone was going to have to actually suggest it to the poor boy. It will be the first marriage for both of them, and I cannot be happier for them. Truly, they seem almost perfectly matched to each other. And, as I told him, if they can survive the experience of planning a good-sized wedding, instead of running away to Las Vegas like I did, they’ll be just fine.

So, last night, he asks me if I’d like to be in the wedding party.

You know, I wasn’t in the wedding party for either of my sister’s weddings, or my brother’s wedding. Honestly, I was a little suprised and a bit intimidated. Funerals I can handle without too much trouble, but, ah, weddings and I haven’t always done well together. Still, it’s not until March, so, I might even have time to find a date.
But, don’t hold your breath!



Married Man!

Filed under: Personal Archive — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, it sure has been a long time since I did any updates on this page! In fact, it’s been literally months!! I can explain…

First off, I’ve been pretty damn busy at work. After my little adventure in the New Orleans airport, I hardly had a chance to sit down. Not only have I had to roll out two sets of patches, or “Service Packs” as they’re called now, on our Novell servers, but I’ve had to set up a Novell BorderManager Proxy server. Man, the troubles I’ve had with that! The initial setup was okay, but getting the VPN (Virtual Private Network) working has really bedeviled me. It’s been so bad that my boss, the CIO, had to raise some ruckus with our sales reps at Novell. He’s finally gotten me a connection with our local Support Engineer, who’s promised to come take a look at our configuration for me. Hopefully, he can find what a CNE (Certified Novell Engineer) with more than eight years experience has missed.
Second of all, I finally got my gorgeous girlfriend/fianc to marry me. On Saturday, March 10th, 2001, Anne and I got married in the Canterbury Wedding Chapel at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Allie, Anne’s daughter, was our ring-bearer/flower-girl. The service was nice, short and attended by the photographer. We thought it was the perfect way to get married. No one hassling us or telling us what to do and how to do it. No meddling mothers or aunts or sisters to make us miserable. No seating charts or receptions to worry about planning. Just a cool, quick wedding and a great steak dinner afterward. After that, we spent most of the week running around Las Vegas doing tourist stuff. We went to see Sigfried & Roy, Tournament of Kings and The Blue Man Group. We also went to see Star Trek:The Experience, where I bought “genuine” Romulan Ale and Klingon Blood Wine. But, of course, work intervened and I had to come back a day early to “fix” something that had gone wrong. What would they do if I ever quit?
Finally, now that we’ve done all that, we’ve been looking for houses. It looks like we found a nice four-bedroom, two-bath, two-story house on a lot that’s almost double-deep! And, even with all the flooding that we’ve had here in Houston, it stayed dry. What could be better?!? Two koi-ponds, that’s what. That’s right, the property already has two koi ponds on it, complete with koi. There’s a fireplace with a Ben Franklin stove in it and a partially finished garage. There’s a covered car port that’s connected to the house by a covered walkway. It’s really great and I hope the sale goes through okay. We’re scheduled to close this Friday, 6/29/2001!
And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my kidney stone. That’s right, as if all the work I’ve been doing isn’t enough, I was doubled over in pain by a kidney stone last week Monday, 6/22/2001. It got so bad, that I had Anne take me to the emergency room. We ran into Charles, our paramedic friend, there who told the nurses to take good care of me, which they did. I got moved through as fast as I’ve ever been. And a nice, young doctor gave me some great pain medication. I still haven’t passed the damn thing, but I’m off to see the friendly urologist tomorrow. I plan on demanding that he “do something” about it because I’m tired of peeing through a strainer!
Until next time….

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