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:: Wednesday, December 07, 2005 ::

Ye Olde Update

Just an FYI: This blog is on something of a haitus in favor of grad school. My company has kindly agreed to pay for the bulk of it. And I mean bulk -- tuition, all books -- recommended ones too -- and class related fees. Even if it's not work related.

I have to pay for parking, student services, and a few other fees but I'm paying roughly 400 a semester for two classes a semester. In return, I just have to get a B or higher. (The company wants it's money back if I don't, and the institution will ask me to shape up or leave the graduate program as well).

I estimate it'll take about 2 1/2 more years to get my Master's in CS -- at the moment, I have no interest in going further. However, my first semester was difficult. I ended up taking a class with a very high workload (even for graduate level classes. Most of my fellow students did more work in that single class then they did for all their other classes combined) and the other was taught by an excellent professor, but the subject matter was rather difficult to me. I have always been weak in mathematics, and I got thrown head first into (for me) some rather esoteric applications of set theory.

I think I got an A- and a B in my two classes -- I will find out soon enough. So blogging will be in bursts, when classes are light. As you can tell, I've been really busy since mid-October.
:: Morat 1:29 PM :: ::

:: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 ::

Perils of the Modern World

Without going into detail, it appears -- rather, it is certain -- that someone listened in on a phone conversation between two people I know.

Let us call them "Girl A" and "Girl B", "Stalker" and talk about the chain of events. Some noteable facts:

1) Girl A met Stalker. He went from "nice, if codependent" to "cut off for being creepy". Subsequently, "Stalker" has managed to access phone numbers he shouldn't be able to -- specifically, that of another man Girl A met well after Stalker got cut out.
2) Girl A, having found out that "Stalker" was harassing a guy she met, had her locks changed. She is still unsure as to how Stalker got the guy's phone number.
3) Girl A has changed her cell phone number -- because of Stalker calling it. She handed out that number ONLY via email -- but it does show up on caller ID.
4) Girl A and Girl B both own cordless phones.

So here is what has transpired over the last day. Girl A and Girl B have a conversation about (probably over cordless phones, but it's possible Girl A was on her new cell phone) how Stalker managed to get Girl A's new cell phone number. In it, Girl B mentions that according to a learned source (Girl B has a friend whose husband's actual JOB is the various methods of being a snoop, and how to prevent them and inquiries were made) the most likely method of getting the new cell phone number was to get the SSN of Girl A and call the cell phone company. With the SSN and an address. The general consensus was that maybe Stalker had done this, or maybe he had entered her apartment and gotten the number while she wasn't there -- prior to the locks being changed. (Probably by claiming to a maintance worker that he was the husband and had locked himself out, etc).

This was Saturdayish. Today, Girl A gets a text message on her cell phone stating "Tell Girl A not to worry, I don't have your SSN". Girl A resolves to go to the police after work -- for a restraining order at the least (I suggested pressing charges for eavesdropping, since Girl A and B will attest that information was shared solely in a private phone conversation).

Girl B has had her line checked (remotely by the phone company) for an illegal tap and suggested Girl A do the same when she gets home. Girl B is fairly certain there are no illegal devices in the house proper (nor did someone gain access to the Caller ID box in the house since Girl B owns large, noisy dogs).

Girl B is replacing her old cordless phone (probably 900 MHz and easily eavesdropped on) with a newer 2.4 or 5.8 GHZ phone tomorrow. Girl A has been advised to do the same or -- since the odds are Stalker is eavesdropping on HER and not Girl B -- to replace it with a corded phone for the time being, and to change her passwords (it's possible her email is being read) as well as to notify her apartment complex (again) that someone masquerading as a husband or relative might be stalking around. Also, it was suggested she check around for something like a baby monitor or other "cheap" eavesdropping device. A professional sweep (courtesy of the expert friend) might be arranged.

This is, as you imagine, highly upsetting for Girls A and B. Not to mention both are still worried over the ease (the number was acquired within DAYS) of Stalker getting her new cell phone number, and the quickness with which he began to send harassing phone calls to a guy she'd met (within hours of receiving a call).

The operative theory is still that the Stalker had access to her home -- either had managed to snake a key and have it copied, or by persuading some of the complex workers he should be let in -- and thus acquired her cell phone number AND the number of the "new guy". (The locks were changed AFTER the harassing phone calls and the acquisition of the new cell number).

It would appear Stalker has resorted to eavesdropping via scanner -- one hopes. The thought that Girl A or B's place might be bugged is disconcerting.

And that's been my introduction to the world of "Damn, your cordless phone is highly insecure!". (According to what I've found, eavesdropping on cellular signals is far more tricky). I plan to replace MY elderly phone relatively quickly.

Anyone have any thoughts? Suggestions? Paranoid worries? The police are being informed (and one hopes will be active) on the issue, but nonetheless.....

Perhaps one of you out there can answer this question: Does it require a physical tap to resolve Called ID signals? Are there scanners which can display caller ID from eavesdropped conversations (obviously, you have to be listening when it rings.....)

Update: Okay, this just gets weirder. Girl A had a conversation -- in her classroom (she's a teacher) on her cell phone, and had Stalker boy calling about it within minutes. Everything I've seen says, with modern cell phones, there is NO WAY he's bugging it. I don't think any cell phone plan (or cell phone cloning) will allow you to listen in on conversations from another phone. So either he's bugged her classroom, has a really good long-distance mike.....I have no idea.
:: Morat 12:28 PM :: ::

:: Monday, October 03, 2005 ::


Go see it. Even if you haven't watched the series. Just go see it. It's really good, from any perspective.
:: Morat 10:57 AM :: ::

:: Friday, September 30, 2005 ::

Browncoats Forever

I'll be seeing Serenity tonight. I'll let you know what I think come Monday. *

* Besides the fact that it should never have been cancelled. But hell, Fox cancelled Family Guy, so I wasn't surprised when they did....
:: Morat 2:26 PM :: ::

:: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 ::

DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus:
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.
For those unfamiliar with the investigation, let me give you the short version: It's pretty frickin' undeniable that Delay's PAC illegally funneled money into a handful of races in Texas. TRMPAC wasn't exactly subtle, because Delay didn't think anyone in Texas would indict him -- after all, the GOP owns pretty much all of Texas.

Just, as it turns out, not quite enough of Texas to so blatantly violate the law.

What's most interesting is that this is most likely to echo through state politics, rather than national ones. Between Perry's recent screwups, the general disgust with the Leg's inability to deal with the school finance problems, and now some very widespread corruption --- it's not the Texas GOP's best year.
:: Morat 9:58 AM :: ::

:: Saturday, September 24, 2005 ::


I made it through fine. Neither I nor my Dad lost power, and other than cleaning up some broken branches, no damage at my father's. My house has a single large branch down over my back fence, but the fence is fine so I only need to drag it out to the curb. No damage there either.

I'll be moving my things back to my home (computer towers, mostly) later today, once the rain dies down. I hope everyone else rode this through safely.
:: Morat 6:41 AM :: ::

:: Friday, September 23, 2005 ::

Rita on my mind

Just an update here -- I live in Houston, so Rita has been very heavily on my mind. My wife and family evacuated early, so they weren't caught in the current nightmare of traffic. I had planned to leave yesterday morning, but one look at the traffic convinced me I was much better off staying home or in the local shelter.

With Rita continuing to move eastward, I'm breathing a little easier. I'm very worried about one of the trees near my home (and it's likely path onto my garage) but that's what hurricane insurance is for. As for flooding or storm surge, I'm well above the 22 foot storm surge line, and my home weathered Allison easily.

I'm not taking my eye of this storm, but I'll let you guys know what it's like, as best I can. The computer will be off during the worst of the storm.

As for myself, I'm at my father's house (about three miles from mine), since the old man could use a little help (I was on his stupid roof yesterday, clearing branches, and I hate being on a roof) and his house is far less likely to lose power than mine. (I have above ground power lines). My computer towers are packed up and in the hallway here, safe from broken winds or water. My home is as storm-proof as I can make it (no plywood to be had, sadly) and my post-hurricane plans include storm shutters for the more exposed windows, and pre-cut plywood with hurricane clips for the rest.

I'll blog as I can -- with the hurricane moving that far east, we may actually retain power -- but I won't be risking my father's computer, so I'll be quiet during the height of the storm.

To anyone in Houston -- be careful. We probably dodged a bullet here, but our luck could change. Even so, Galveston and the low-lying areas aren't a safe place to be, so please make sure you're somewhere high and dry, and be careful of windows.

See you guys, at the least, on the other side of Rita.
:: Morat 10:28 AM :: ::

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