Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/31/2018

WiFi Analyzer

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Now, available for Windows!

I’ve actually been using this particular program on an Android tablet for quite a long time. Come to think of it, I started out using it on a rooted Barnes and Noble nook tablet close to ten years ago, then when I upgraded, just kept using it. Often, I’d pull out my tablet, especially when on the road, to find the strongest local wifi signal to see if I could join that network. When I was in San Francisco for WonderCon in 2010, I used it to discover that the fastest wireless internet connection I could find was the yoga studio next door to the little, boutique hotel I was staying in. I also used it to tell the hotel staff what to change their wifi channel to for better performance.
More recently, I used it in my own neighborhood to tune my home wifi to the best channel so we got a stronger signal and weren’t sharing the same frequency with all the neighbors. Sure, it may be a small improvement, but I think it’s significant enough to make a few minutes spent with a free app worthwhile.
In any case, I saw recently on Lifehacker, that there’s a free Windows version of WiFi Analyzer available now. You just need to follow the links and download it. I linked to the Lifehacker article, instead of directly, because they go a great job showing you why it’s a good thing to have and use. Also, I’m too lazy to write all that out again. So, go hit their site, give them advertising revenue, and enjoy!

8/4/2017

Surveillance Self-Defence

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Also known as “opsec for computer users”.

Though, to be fair, most computer users don’t actually need this kind of operational security. And, they certainly don’t refer to it as “opsec”, like I just did. These days, I pretty much keep my nose clean and my mouth shut, even online. I mean, look, the average troll on a message board really isn’t worth my time, especially at my consulting rates. What’s more, I have never, ever seen anyone convince someone with an argument, no matter how well reasoned, that the listener’s position is, in fact, wrong and the speaker really is the political/cultural/media genius that they both think they are and claim to be. I mean, literally, not a single time. Not even when I’ve been the one making the arguments!

Still, there are those last few idealistic “true believers” out there who continue to throw themselves against the colossus that is the internet comment board, or, worse, the government. (And, let’s face it, no matter who’s government it is, getting them to change is a pretty monumental task!) Those brave souls need to keep themselves safe. It’s for those crusaders that the Electronic Frontier Foundation created their series of tutorials which they’ve grouped together under the heading of Surveillance Self Defence. And, let me tell you what, these are some really smart people who have made some really great tutorials on staying safe, and as anonymous as necessary, on the internet while you protest against or agitate for your cause.
They’ve also been fighting for you, whether you know it or not, for years. Since 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also known as the EFF, has been fighting to keep your free speech alive, especially on the internet. They’ve fought everyone from the MPAA to the U.S. Federal Government and won often. You can read about their legal victories on their website.

In any case, the EFF is a worth cause, to whom I donated anonymously at DEFCON 20, and opsec is pretty important, too.
So, all in all, not my usual “fun” for a Friday afternoon, but still good to talk about.
Come back next week to see what else I have to share!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, my other blog!

6/24/2016

Submarine Google View

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Personal,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Those who know me best, know my obsession with submarines.

I have loved submarines, especially the World War II era subs, since I was a kid growing up in Chicago and going to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There I would always want to make sure and tour the famous U505; a German U-Boat that was captured intact and towed through the Great Lakes to her final resting place in Chicago.  I’ve probably been through the U-505 more than a dozen times.  It’s incredible.
If I’m ever in a city where I can tour a submarine, I do my best to make it a priority.  For instance, the last time I was in San Francisco, I made sure to see the USS Pampanito, a retired U.S.N. submarine.  Similar in many ways to the German boats, but not quite as cramped.
I’ve read a number of books about World War II submarines, as well as modern subs, from both the Allies and the Axis.  I’ve never been aboard a Japanese submarine or a British submarine, but, now, thanks to the magic power of Google, we can take a virtual tour of one.  The HMS Ocelot has been pretty completely mapped by Google and you can get a really good look at what she was like.  Nothing replaces actually being in one, but this is about the next best thing.

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re probably avoiding work like most everyone else is, so why not have some educational fun and do a virtual tour of a piece of history!?
Enjoy and have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

6/5/2015

Hurricane Preparedness

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Dog and Pony Shows,News and Current Events,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Hurricane season started on Monday, June First. Are you ready?

Here in Texas, hurricane season is kind of a big deal.  Or, at least, it is to this kid from the Heartland.  Of course, most of the time, we have plenty of time to prepare because you see these things coming from a long, long way off.  Still, it’s better to be prepared early rather than competing with everyone for bottled water, bread and canned food.

So far, since I’ve been in…
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8/2/2013

Keep Track of Your Photography Gear

Filed under: Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

If you’re a hardcore photography enthusiast, you’ve probably already seen what I’m about to share.

But, in case you haven’t seen it yet, I’m going to go ahead and share it again.
Theft of camera gear is on the rise.  And, not just from tourists, either!  There have been several articles in the past couple months about photojournalists getting hit, too.  In Russia, they’ll apparently steal the camera right off of you while you’re wearing it!  But, don’t think it’s just a…
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8/1/2010

My Review of Think Tank Airport Ultralight V 2.0, Backpack with Security Cable, Lock and Shoulder Harness.

Filed under: Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Originally submitted at Adorama

Think Tank Airport Ultralight V 2.0, Backpack with Security Cable, Lock and Shoulder Harness.

Airport Easy

By J K Hoffman from Jersey Village, TX on 8/1/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Customizable, Roomy, Airplane Friendly, Comfortable

Best Uses: Transporting Gear, Travel

Describe Yourself: Photo Enthusiast

I got the Think Tank Airport Ultralight specifically for a trip to San Francisco, so I could get all my gear on the plane and didn’t have to trust it to the TSA. It was *perfect* for getting a maximum amount of gear on the plane and it fit in the overhead bin *easily*. I managed to get a camera body, two lenses, three hot-shoe flashes, batteries, chargers, and assorted cables and light modifiers into this bag comfortably and safely.
The outer pocket took my 15′ laptop snugly, but securely. Note that the picture included a laptop sleeve that did NOT come with this bag. However, after adding my own inexpensive laptop sleeve to help get me through security easier, this bag essentially let me travel with a small, portable studio ON THE PLANE. Thanks to this bag, I checked NO camera gear or electronics at all, but safely carried it all on with me!

I highly recommend this bag! It’s got good, strong construction and handled my gear well. I’m very happy with this purchase. It was worth every penny!

(legalese)

4/13/2010

TSA Has Sticky Fingers

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Well, I guess this is what happens when you don’t adequately screen candidates.

Of course, most of what the TSA does is make us feel safer, not anything that really makes us safer.  Still, I think we should draw the line at TSA employees ransacking our luggage for electronics.  And, no, before you ask, I didn’t lose anything this last trip to San Francisco.  In part, because I brought every bit of camera gear on the plane with me in a carry-on bag.  Might have been a good thing, considering the fact that the TSA did go into my checked bag to, uh, check my underwear or something.  After all, my boxer-briefs are quite possibly a threat to national security.  No, really, they must be.

Seriously, this is a huge problem and it has been for ages.  Photographers all know that you should never, ever check your camera gear through Baltimore, among other places.  Frankly, I have too much personal “disposable” income invested in my camera gear to check it through anywhere.  I’ve heard too many stories about things going missing from bags.  In fact, when I got into Houston and collected my bag, I was making small talk with a fellow passenger who was apparently shocked to discover that TSA baggage inspectors had been caught taking things out of people’s luggage.  Though, he had to admit that he had noticed some things had gone missing from his bag while traveling.  He figured, however, that they were just so over-worked that they’d forgotten to put it back in the bag.  Yeah, that’s actually what he told me.  Maybe it’s just me, but, well, I just don’t trust the average government employee.

I used a ThinkTank Airport Ultralight v2.5 to get all my photography gear into an overhead bin.  I ended up not using everything I brought, but I was glad to have it, just because I might have wanted it.  So, it was worth the investment.  I’ll probably get around to a review later.

Anyway, if you’re traveling, watch your bags and what goes into them.
Seriously.

4/1/2010

Review: The Bounty Hunter

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


TheBountyHunter

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Bounty Hunter Friday last week.

I know, I’ve been bad about letting things go between updates here, even though I’ve mostly reduced things to just doing movie reviews. I’ve been busy.
In any case, I did get out to see The Bounty Hunter staring Jennifer Anniston and Gerard Butler. They star as a formerly married people. He was a cop and she was a cub reporter. Now, she’s a very successful reporter and he’s a bounty hunter. The funny thing is, while she was working on a story, she got a little tangled up with the courts for a minor altercation that got a little blown out of proportion. Well, now, she’s working on another story and, as she’s about to go into court, she gets a call from a source, so she misses her court date. Naturally, what that means is that her bail gets revoked and a bench warrant for her arrest. Can you guess who gets the job?

Right.
And you can pretty well guess where the comedy goes from there. Of course, it is funny. I mean, really, it is. But, it’s a romantic comedy, even though these two start off divorced. At first, the movie is about him chasing her and trying to bring her back to jail. But, her story quickly becomes a problem as the people she’s investigating try to kill her. And, mayhem ensues.

I don’t have time for my regular, in depth review this morning, but let me say that this movie was far funnier than I thought it would be. I mean, look at the actors playing the two leading characters. No, really, just go look at them. They’re simply beautiful to look at, both of them. I’m pretty sure that’s all we were meant to do, anyway, was look at them. But, it turns out, their on-screen dialog is pretty funny, too. Okay, perhaps not the most brilliant or subtle comedy, but, still, funny enough that for most of the film I was laughing out loud. The last third of the movie, though, they really step up the romance content and it kind of over-shadows the comedy. It’s still there, but, frankly, I think at this point we’re supposed to be more interested in them as pretty people than actual people.

Now, I’ll grant you, I had pretty low expectations for this film, but they were certainly all exceeded. It was a funny, comedy romp that was grown-up without being particularly blue.
Oh, and also, there was some action, so that Gerard Butler could show off his 300 physique. And, yes, for those of you who care, he does still pretty much have it. Damn him. Also, Jennifer Anniston was pretty damn hot, too.
The plot is nothing new, really, and the surprises were few, but the movie was fun enough, and the stars attractive enough, that it really didn’t matter much. And, let me hasten to point out, in spite of some weaknesses in the plot and action, and romance, I was still quite entertained. Though, yes, I do have to agree with other reviewers that the two stars lacked on-screen chemistry. At no point did I suspect they were banging each other off camera, and that’s okay. It doesn’t take anything away from the film, really. I doubt I’d have much chemistry with my ex-wife, even if I had to drag her back to jail, so a certain friction instead of chemistry in this movie actually kind of works.

So, in short, it’s not a bad film and if you’re in the mood for something light, fun, and not overly challenging mentally, in short, if you’re looking to be entertained, then this movie is a great choice for you. If you can’t stand one of these co-stars, you might want to wait until it hits DVD, but otherwise, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this film. I wouldn’t see it again in the theater, but I’d rent it again, just for fun.

And, now, with that, I have to sign off and head to the airport. Vacation has officially begun and I’m off to WonderCon in scenic San Francisco. I’ll try to do a couple of updates while I’m gone.
(Oh, and don’t get any ideas about coming to rob me. My vicious guard dog is still here and people will be checking on my house throughout the weekend.)

9/30/2008

Review: Little Brother

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,News and Current Events,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow this weekend.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is so, so worth braving the Young Adult section of the bookstore or library to get and definitely worth getting for your own young adults. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s geared toward a younger audience, because there’s actually a bit more sex in it than most science-fiction I’ve read this year! Seriously!
Little Brother, in short, is about the Department of Homeland Security. Not quite the way it is now, but where it might be going if we’re not careful. The story is about a somewhat precoscious teen named Marcus who’s a bit of a geek. He plays live-action role-playing games and works with computers and subverts his school’s security measures to get out of class to play alternate reality games. But, he and several of his friends get caught up in a bad situation while doing this one day. In the story, terrorists blow up the Bay Bridge in San Francisco while Marcus and his friends are skipping school. And, the DHS sweeps them up with other questionable people and interrogates them.
Frankly, the interrogation techniques are probably what you’ve read about already. Simple humiliation by not being allowed to use bathroom facilities, sleep deprivation, isolation, aggressive and extended questioning sessions, you know, the usual. The kinds of things that are used all the time to get information out of alleged terrorists. Only Marcus isn’t a terrorist and he hasn’t even been charged with a crime. The DHS is only questioning him because he seems a little suspicious and out of the ordinary. You know, the usual. The usual nightmare that anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time just being a regular, normal citizen might go through because we’re handing over our freedoms with the idea that we might gain security in exchange.

Well, they release Marcus and two of this three friends. Marcus got the worst of the questioning, but all of them are worried about their missing friend. Only Marcus, he’s gotten angry at how he was treated. Much the way I imagine many otherwise innocent people have gotten angry at how they’ve been treated or “questioned”. So, Marcus decides he’s going to get back at the DHS. And, thanks to his talents as a young computer hacker, he does.

I won’t ruin the story by telling you all that happens, but it is a gripping read, not lessened by the fact that it’s something which could happen right here in our country. In fact, some people feel it is happening. One of the many things I liked about this book was how accurate the computer security was. Doctorow really researched this well and even called in contacts like the infamous Bruce Schneier to help get it right. As a matter of fact, they get it so right that I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in getting the basics of computer security. They explain public key cryptography, protocol tunneling, and several other key concepts in modern computer security that, frankly, are somewhat hard to explain.
If you’re worried about the future of your country, or just the future of your children, I encourage you to read this book. If you want to encourage the next generation to be politically aware and have a good understanding of the issues, buy this book for them.

I may not always agree with Cory Doctorow’s political agenda, but Little Brother is a great book and will provide many topics of discussion for interested classes and families.
Read this book!

7/23/2008

SF Network Admin Holds City Hostage

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:09 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Okay, not quite the whole city…

Have you been reading about this network administrator in San Francisco who was keeping key passwords secret and holding the city’s fiber network hostage? Yeah, well, he gave them up to the mayor today. And, you know what? I bet there are a lot more companies in this situation than realize it.  Okay, maybe they don’t have to worry about being taken hostage by a disgruntled employee, but they may have someone who holds key information for their network that no one else has.  And, of course, if something happened to them, well, that company would be in a bad spot.

I, for one, always try to plan for being gone. You know, in case I were trapped under a rock, hit by a bus, or, oh, I don’t know, died of cancer.   And, I’m not the only one.  So, if you want to protect your business, plan for your network administrator to fall through a figurative manhole.
Don’t let what happened in San Francisco happen to you and your business!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Sometimes a winner is just a dreamer who never gave up."

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