Friday, April 25, 2008

They Really Are Spying On You

This is a public service announcement for all my brothers and sisters residing in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is listening to your wireless computer traffic. Worse, they've asked your neighbour to do the work for them!

I wish I was making this up! Most of us are familiar with the Neighborhood Watch program. I think far fewer are aware of the Neighborhood Network Watch. The NNW is tasked with finding "terrorist activity" over local WiFi (wireless) computer networks. And as of March 8th, the NNW is asking citizens to join the Home Network Awareness Program (HNAP). In the words of the U.S. government:

"Participants in HNAP would collect sample network traffic from their own home networks as well as samples from networks within the vicinity. The Neighborhood Network Watch will be making a set of freely available instructions on how to capture network traffic, using the open source packet sniffer TCPDUMP, and how to log onto nearby wireless networks that maybe being operated by neighbors."

Instructions can be found here and here. Your neighbours may already be recording the information going across your home's wireless network. And this recorded information is then sent directly to the Data Analysis Division (DAD - aka Big Brother).

Having packet sniffing software in your possession is illegal in some countries. Using such software to record network traffic that isn't your own (such as to listen to your neighbour) is illegal in most places. But in the U.S., the government is encouraging volunteers to wander the streets with laptops, recording 30-60 minutes of network traffic which is then emailed to DAD.

Turn your encryption on! Place your wireless router away from walls and windows, close to the center of your home. And consider adjusting the transmit power levels of your WiFi router to the lowest levels that still work for you. Not to prevent terrorists from using your Internet connection... get real. This advice is to stop your government and their HNAP volunteers from recording your email and banking passwords, personal information, and all the rest.

Good luck.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's A Book... sort of

Done! After a lot of (rather) hard work, I'm done the training materials for next week's course in Denmark. The writing has gotten done, but barely in time. The editing took far longer than planned. The plane tickets almost didn't happen, but have now been finalized. And at the very last minute even the colour printer didn't want to cooperate! But it's done!

This 72-page handout is really only Chapters 7 & 8 for the textbook I'm writing. So it's not really "done". But it's nice to have something shiny and physical to show for months of effort. So nice!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm Paid to Not Know

Some days I feel like they pay me to live in ignorance. I never know in advance what's about to happen. This, in particular, applies to my travel plans. The trip to Denmark that didn't happen in February and didn't happen in March has long been scheduled for next week. Yet I still don't know if it's going to happen. I have no arrangements or plane tickets, even though I've spent weeks reminding others of their roles in the process.

It's like working on-call. But not. I'm not paid to carry a pager or accept 2am calls. Yet 6am flights (meaning waking up at 2am) with just days notice seems to be the norm.

This is part of the reason I strive for more stability in my personal life. What's troublesome is that as I work to that, life is actually becoming less stable. Far less stable. But interesting!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Is The Clock Broken?

Time is personal. It flies when you're having fun. It slows when you're bored. And according to the clock in my office, I think it is now going backwards.

It's been a busy week. Every evening has been full. Joby was in town so certain (excessive) amounts of drinking had to happen.

And the weekend is promising to be full and interesting!

But how much fun can I have if I don't get a little sleep? Hmmm, I guess then it's a good thing that time has stopped, an hour before the end of the work week. This gives me more time to recover from my week, before going out and having a weekend.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Party Pics...

Okay, these are all stolen pictures, courtesy of Kryte. Thanks!

Clearly I have a problem. I need a bigger bed!

By midnight I was still able to recognize cameras.

But seriously, should I have invited men too???

More can be found at Pictures 5 through 31 were taken at the party.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Seven 'oh one

Seven o'clock, plus a minute. Oh good golly, gosh oh darn. [read as: holy fucking God damn shit!] Gee willickiers [nevermind] it's good to get rid of my friends!

I couldn't have asked for more. I'm convinced all my guests had fun! I know they did. The apartment is not quite destroyed. The last welcome guests left around 6am, and the last bodies got booted out with the first transit at seven o'clock. I marked the moment by running to the kitchen and noting the clock. 7:01. Not bad. And now... I'm tired. I have to check my Baron and then go to sleep.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Party Day

Just hours to go, and the place is in chaos. Everything has a place and purpose, but nothing is there yet nor doing it yet. The groceries just arrived. I think I'm lacking juice. I could have sworn I intended to buy 3 orange juices but seem to have only one. And I still have to push aside the weights in the "fitness room" for party-goer overflow. Hopefully, any way.

I think I've thought of everything... for the party. It's about all I've been thinking about for days now. So is it any surprise, that aside from cheese and crackers I have no food to eat? Peanut butter and jam sammies for lunch. At least until the pizza place opens. And coffee, of course. I stopped at Starbucks last week and bought a selection of beans.

But now, there's a selection of coffee grindings sitting around the grinder. That and so much more needs to be attended to. Like vacuuming. The whole cleaning process started days ago with the vacuum cleaner. And today it will end with it. Everything has been moved and dusted and such, such that now it's time to clean the floor again.

There will be pictures afterwards. For now, the recycling must go out, it's using half-a-guest worth of space. Then, a thousand other tasks to prepare before my nice Saturday night at home. ;-)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Party Update

Hosting is fun! It really is. I never used to think that, but past friends have taught me how to organize a party. I've taken their teachings, adding in a bit of process engineering, and I think I have the plans for a party that runs itself.

I see myself cleaning glasses a few times through the night... but that should be it.

Adam loves to bake, and I'm afraid of ovens, so he's volunteered to put fresh french bread in the oven every hour or two. (They sell semi-baked bread here.) And he's offered to bake a batch of his (from scratch) brownies. My apartment is going to smell incredible!

The beer is sourced and cooled. The fridge is full. There's some air space in there, but I don't think the shelves can take the weight of another row of bottles. And the three spare cases (cooling) on the balcony are sorted so that each case contains a mix of the three beer varieties. Grolsch, Heineken and Brand will all be available all night.

The liquor stock in the bar would make a Kennedy proud. (Mental note, need more mix.)

Music will play when ever diving videos aren't. And anyone will be welcome to select the next song from the list of thousands available.

Last weekend I spent a bit on chairs. Nice ones! But I'm expecting mostly standing. Especially around the dining room table which will be packed with foods and drink.

Down the hall the bathroom and water closet are spotless. It took until 10pm last night, but every inch is shiny and clean. (Totally opposite to Sunday morning no doubt.) And I'll be leaving the bucket and cleaning supplies near by. "Accidents happen. There's the bucket, clean it up."

I'm very excited by how many people are coming! I really hope everyone has as much fun partying as I'm having planning. My only last concern... does anyone know where you can buy ice in Holland???

Friday, April 04, 2008

T-Minus Eight Days and I'm Getting Excited!

I don't throw many parties. So far, I've had two. But they were both really a lot of fun! And so I'm getting really excited that my next party is only eight days away.

In preparation I've just tried grocery shopping over the web for the first time. Albert Hein, the Dutch grocery monopoly, has a thuisbezord (home delivery) service. My 8 cases of beer, 7 bottles of wine, and 8 litres of cola will be delivered tomorrow between 11am and 1pm! And all delivered for a scant 7 Euros.

Considering the alternative is to make approximately 5 heavily laden trips to the local store 1km away, seven euros is nothing!

Next week I'll go for the walk and pick up a selection of cheeses, crackers, chips and such. But for now the idea of someone bringing 160 kg of beer to my door tickles me!

But the liquids are by no means the bulk of the planning. I'm convinced that an inexperienced host could invite a hundred people and get ten. So chasing and following up with all my friends to get their RSVP information is important. And so far people are enthusiastic. Indeed, I think I've had more people added to the invite list than those who have said they can't attend.

I suppose that means my next problem is chairs. So far I own, one. I can either devise a time sharing system so that each of the 50 guests gets a chance to sit, or I can take this week and borrow a lot of chairs.

If you see me in the city this week, I'll probably be walking around cafes saying things like," Pardon me, is this chair free?"