Saturday, May 22, 2004

A typical 24 hour period...
Ok... there are still about 3.5 hours left in this particular 24 hours period, but I thought some of you might enjoy an idea of how it's gone... Oddly enough, I'm going to begin the story of this 24 hour session with the end of my day yesterday, because it started with a surprisingly good breakfast at the new dining facility. Since this camp was built they've used several large tents as a chow hall. It wasn't bad, but there's something about eating dinner in a tent that just doesn't appeal to me. To give you a better idea of the layout here, our worksite is right next to the pier. Because the logistics of getting all the soldiers back and forth to the LSA (Life Support Area ... military speak for living quarters and dining/shopping area), they built a small DFAC (dining facility) at the port and it's "catered" by a local restaurant. It's not too bad, but sometimes it's not that great either. The best part is Mexican night on Thursday and Sunday... but I digress. Anyway, the new DFAC at the LSA is a large building (a bunch of trailers joined), and it opened a couple of days ago. I had gone up there for a late night chow run one night, but it wasn't that great. However, someone hinted that they made omelets to order, and I just had to see this myself... IT WAS TRUE! Unfortunately, it was to be the one of highest points of my day... So I had my omelet, finished up my shift, and headed back to the apartment about 8am-ish (dodging crazed Kuwaiti drivers... but that's typical). Couple of hours spent reading and watching a movie... fell asleep... Woke up around 4pm and did some paperwork (yes dear, I'm working on my expense reports and review...). Then it occurred to me to check my webcam. I was rewarded with a beautiful sight (one of the OTHER high points of my day...):
Mom, dad's on the blinking thing...
I wonder how my hand tastes?yuk... not so good...
HI DAD!Why are those bears still following me???
I also took a couple seconds of video, to give you an idea of how I see this images... very slowly. Like 1 every 3 seconds or so... but considering it's 8000 miles away, I'm happy enough with it! Because I spent way too much time watching him, I was too late to get dinner (and hadn't eaten anything since breakfast). So I got to work, got some things started, and decided to go to McDonald's. I called Shelley on the way, and we just talked about their plans for the day. During this, I ordered the food, then parked the truck waiting for them to come out with it. I usually get stuff for the guards and a few of the other soldiers onsite, so my orders are usually fairly complicated. Sure enough, they forgot MY chicken nuggets (all this food for someone else, and they forget what I wanted...). I got out of the truck, locked it, and went inside ... You're probably already guessing what happened. I locked the keys in the truck. This would be a bit more funny, if not for a few facts. - 1. It's happened before, and we had to call the sponsor for a spare key ... - 2. The sponsor is a 45 minute drive away ... - 3. We never returned that spare key ... - 4. We lost that spare key ... - 5. They don't have any others. So now they're telling us it will have to happen tomorrow morning. This wouldnt be a HUGE problem... except for a few more facts: - 1. All the food was locked in the truck (not REALLY important, but...) ... - 2. The headlights were on (a LITTLE important, but we could jump it in the morning...) ... - 3. My military ID was inside (VERY important, and the only reason why we didn't abandon the whole thing.) While I'm waiting for Mike (our site chief) to bring me a coat hanger, I go for a walk to a local computer store. I bought a few toys to placate myself (nothing major ... really), and as I'm walking back I pick up a fist-sized piece of concrete (plenty of that just lying around) ... "just in case". So there we are, two blatantly apparent Americans in the middle of a Kuwaiti McDonalds with a coat hanger breaking into a truck. We got more than a few strange looks (and quite a few smiles as well), but no one could offer us a phone number to call a locksmith. Apparently they don't work after hours (just like the damn Canadians!). Finally a taxi driver offered us the use of a screwdriver to pry the top of the door enough to get the wire hanger in the door... did I mention this flimsy little ALUMINUM wire hanger sucked? Yeah... it did... Mike and I had both of our Leathermans holding the door (the taxi driver got a call... and took his screwdriver). After several attempts, I pulled it all the way out, bent a tight hook on the end, and managed to snag the door handle... So I resumed my trek back to work, handed out all the food, and settled in for another evening of Saving the World... One Email at a Time...
And now I'm posting this,
while enjoying my third (and most likely, last)
high point of the past 24 hours
... is it bad that two of the three things that brought me joy today were food related? Is that a commentary on me, you think?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sasser's effect on the 'net
By now everyone has heard of the latest 'worm' making it's way around the world. For the technologically-challenged of you out there (and I know there are a few of you...), I'll show you how this has an effect on your use of the Internet, even if you aren't infected. The Sasser worm doesn't do any real damage, but it does greatly effect the performance of the machine it has infested. Basically it's sole purpose is to exploit a recent vulnerability discovered in the Windows operating system, and continue on to it's next victim. The thing that makes this one unique is that no real user participation is required. It has a built in SMTP Server, so it can simply mail itself to the people it finds in your address book... Basically, whether you're infected or not, you're EFFECTED by the added traffic on the Internet. The overall effect is felt by all of us, as I noticed from my Internet Traffic Report link the other day. Here's a screenshot of what I saw: This may not mean much to you, but when you look at these:
The picture on the left shows the average response time of servers around the world. The picture on the right shows the "traffic index" as measured by the people at Internet Traffic Report by "pinging" servers in different areas around the globe simultaneously. They take average "ping" times and response times to get the traffic index that you see near the bottom of the menu at the left. As you can see from these screenshots, there was a major "something" happening between the hours of 0600 and 1000 on 5/7 (which is also the same day I started this post... to tell you how long I've been putting this off). I haven't seen anything that blames this 4-hour spike on Sasser, and it could have been a lot of things, including a problem with the data gathering. But when I saw it, it just gave me an idea of something to post, that maybe some of you weren't aware of the effects in your own corner of the world. Protecting yourself is fairly easy, and it's something everyone should be doing anyway. Browse to Microsoft's Windows Update page and let Microsoft scan your computer to check for any updates you may be lacking. Those of you who are not sure if you're version of windows is "legit" and are concerned... well, you should be. Pirated versions of Windows XP that are patched have been known to just stop working. I added a few new pictures to the Kuwait folder. The entire area was just blanketed today in haze and dust. It really does feel like I'm living on a different planet sometimes: Click here to see the Kuwait Album. I haven't found an easy way to have the latest photos at the beginning of the album, so you'll have to scroll down to see the latest ones. I'm also uploading an 8 second video for you to see. It's from the same spot as the pictures, but you have the added thrill of SOUND.... of course, it's just wind blowing... but you might get a bit of a different perspective. Shelley posted on the family 'blog the other day for Ryan's 3 month birthday. She should be getting us some new pictures soon, so we'll have those online too. My address here has changed, in case anyone was planning on sending anything... Not that there's anything I'm expecting... other than new videos from Shelley! We got a camcorder so she could catch things on real video for me... now if I could JUST get her to use the darn thing... ANYway, new address is on the left. Ok, that's all I've got for now! Love to all!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

No posts...
Sorry, I've switched shifts, so haven't been able to post much lately. I've been working on a good Sasser worm post... but don't know if I'll get a chance to post it while it's still relevent... I got to see Ryan on the webcam tonight... he's looking just amazing... all smiles and wiggles! Here's one of the shots: That's all for now!
Wednesday, May 05, 2004

As promised...
Oops... I uploaded the pictures yesterday, and was going to share them with you, but they were lost in the ether. I have no clue where they went... I'm sure they'll turn up sometime. Regardless, you can see the incredible CAR-EATING TENT right here! Also, looks like there was a screwup with my floral order for Shelley's office... instead of 2 dozen roses... she got 2. I can't believe the florist thought I would waste his time ordering TWO roses? Oh well, they made her happy, which is all that matters! Gotta run, enjoy the pics!
Monday, May 03, 2004

This could only happen to me...
Put in about 16 hours today... about mid-way through the shift, we had satellite problems, and the end of the shift was even more problems... err ... challenges.... Then the sandstorm hit... Then a tent landed on our truck... perfect end to a long day. Pictures to follow tomorrow. Too tired to mess with it right now. Love to all
Sunday, May 02, 2004

Too tired to title this...
I'm just barely staying awake, so there's no (real) imaginative title for this post. Just wanted to let you all know that there are new pictures up, and I really do plan on cleaning up the albums soon. Also, Shelley and I have an anniversary coming up... the second one we've spent apart. Anyone have any suggestions for what I should get her? :)