Huh, That Wasn’t So Bad After All….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:03 pm

After many hours of dorking around on various Web sites, bulletin boards and newsgroups, I finally got my head around the methodologies of Windows Mobile-based VPN. Actually, it turns out to be a fairly well-designed if somewhat esoteric system. I thought I might elaborate on the steps I took to reach my objective, in the hopes of perhaps being of aid to some other befuddled schmuck trawling the Googleverse for answers someday.

To recap: I needed to be able to connect to my home VPN server in order to effectively work with email on my new WM-based smartphone. This is one area where the Blackberry seems to be superior to Windows Mobile-based phones: RIM uses a push system that seamlessly interfaces with a number of mail systems, even (shudder) AOL, an ISP whose efforts to restrict their customers’ outside access to their own email is legendary. Getting a Windows Mobile phone to integrate with even an Exchange server can be a bit of a bugaboo if you’re trying to do it from outside the server’s network cluster.

Both my ISP and my work mail servers are POP3 (no IMAP), and both are really sticky about allowing outgoing email messages to be relayed through themselves from outside their home area….a good and cautious policy, to be sure, and one I wholeheartedly support. Mail servers that will accept outgoing mail traffic from any source are a huge problem, as they can serve as an open mail relay for those who are interested in moving massive amounts of email with relative anonymity, namely spammers and distributors of trojans and other malware.

On the other hand, this situation meant that, while I could receive my email via my phone, I could not send mail from it, because the POP3 servers would see my outgoing mail being relayed from the Verizon Wireless data network and promptly spank my connection, saying “Uh uh, not yours.” My sent mail would be bounced back to me with a “550” error.

On the other hand, my home network, which uses a fixed IP address, is on the whitelist for both my work mail server and–naturally–my ISP’s mail server. And since I already have a VPN server configured so I can occasionally check in to see how things are going on the LAN from abroad–and to provide a secure tunnel for my network activities when acessing public WiFi hotspots–I could use said VPN as a conduit through which to send my email. That way, when I send out an email from my phone, the message would first pass through my home network. The mail servers would see the outgoing mail as having come from my home, and allow the messages to pass through unmolested. Ingenious!

Only problem was, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the dogmad muckerfuthing VPN configured on my phone in the first place. Adding and configuring the basic information–VPN type, IP address, authentication method, etc.–was fairly straightforward. All that stuff takes place in Settings\Connections, and there’s a mini-wizard (tiny guy in a robe with a pointy wide-brimmed hat and a long–for him–beard) to take you through the steps. No problem. You can then connect to the VPN server via Verizon’s broadband network or via other connections (my phone has WiFi as well as CDMA/EVDO, for instance). Verizon is nice enough to allow all forms of VPN traffic over their network; IPSec, PPTP, SSL (provided that the software is available for Windows Mobile; ActiveX- or Java-based tunnel adapters need not apply), unlike some carriers. At least, that is the scuttlebutt I kept reading in the various forums I trawled whilst searching for help.

But after successfully configuring and establishing the VPN connection, any attempt to actually use the damn thing netted me a big old steaming platter of bupkis. Either the VPN connection would be broken immediately upon attempting to check my mail (leaving me back at square one), or else the connection would maintain but I would lose the ability to get anywhere on the Net, including my mail servers (leaving me at square negative one). One or another of these scenarios happened again and again, irrespective of the settings I changed, the network I used or the number of albino two-headed goats I bled out over the phone’s touch screen (got that tip from the built-in Help system).

Through a combination of persistence, Web crawling and slamming my forehead into the laminate of my desk (felt like it helped, anyway), I finally figured it out.

Windows Mobile breaks your network connections into two major sections: “My ISP” and “My Work Network”. Everything under the “My ISP” heading is presumed to be a method by which your device will connect directly to the Internet; in my case, via Verizon’s data network, though you could add other forms of connection here as well; say, a Bluetooth modem or something. Everything under the “My Work Network” heading is designed to connect you to some other network (“Work”, presumably). VPN connections are configured and maintained under this section. The complication lies in the fact that Windows Mobile wants to keep these different connection schemes separate from each other, unless you intentionally and with forethought cross the streams.

First, you need to add your mail servers to the “Exceptions” list, found under the Advanced tab of Settings\Connections\Connections (yes, there’s a “Connections” item under the Connections tab of the Settings panel; don’t ask me why they couldn’t call it something else). Exceptions are URLs or IP addresses (or IP address ranges, such as 192.168.1.*) that Windows Mobile should not use your main Internet access connection to connect to. In my case, I added my entire home LAN address range, my work LAN address range, and the URLs of my two mail servers to the Exceptions list. If you don’t do this, then every time you try to access any of these sites or address ranges, Windows Mobile will break any other connections you may have established (say, for instance, your frigging VPN connection) in order to connect to those locations via your standard Internet connection. The exact opposite of what would actually work.

Then, you need to make some changes to the basic Accounts setup of Messaging, Windows Mobile’s built-in email/SMS program. By default, one would expect to set up one’s mail accounts to access “The Internet”, which is one of two connection types listed in the “Options” section of the Server Settings page of page 4 of Email Setup for each mail account you create. However, if you change the connection from “The Internet” to “Work”, then every time Messaging signs on to send of receive mail, it will “dial” the VPN connection you configured in Settings\Connections\Connections.

The upshot of all this is that my phone now connects to my home VPN server automatically every time I send or receive mail, and automatically breaks the VPN connection whenever I attempt to access any network resource not added to my Exceptions list. Receiving my mail via my VPN connection is considerably slower than doing it over Verizon’s network alone, but I have my phone set to check my mail every fifteen minutes automatically, so I’m not likely to notice the lag under most circumstances. And slow or not, sending mail is a hell of a lot faster over VPN than it is when every outgoing message is rejected by the server.

I sure hope that this humble missive turns out to be of help to someone else out there in Internetland, because I probably just bored three or four of my regular readers to death. Sorry ’bout that; I’ll send flowers. 😉


Two Potentially Useful Items of Note….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:15 pm

These are apropos of nothing in particular, but I thought I’d share them because I have found them useful.

Firstly: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been dying to get hold of an oldy-timey actual-mechanical-bells-in-it telephone ring sound file to use as a custom ringtone for my cell phone. It took a while to find this, but I managed to track down a public-domain piece of foley that fits the bill perfectly, and I turned it into an MP3, which most contemporary phones can use as a custom ringtone. Thought I’d make it available for y’all.

Secondly and equally apropos of nothing, I tried a trick this afternoon while looking for something to warm me up and help soothe a tickly throat. I made myself some hot lemonade, added a biggish hunk of ginger as is my normal SOP; then, on a whim, I added an eighth of a teaspoon of habanero pepper powder. Outstanding! Hot but not Kill You Hot, the pepper in no way aggravates the throat but instead helps to soothe the entire mouth. And the fruity flavor of the habanero pepper makes a nice compliment to the lemon and ginger. Add it while heating the water rather than after, for fullest effect.

Okay, that’s all I got. Happy Monday!


No Longer A Has-Bean…..

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:21 am

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

If you spend any time hanging out with me and a laptop you have doubtless heard of (and in all probability watched) a computer-animated short film called “The Killer Bean 2: The Party”, a sort of John-Woo-style trained-killer-out-for-justice action flick, only with all the characters played by animated (coffee? Oh, let’s hope so) beans. The film is embedded below:

Jeff Lew, CG animator and director of this little gem, has been slaving away in front of his workstation for the last few years, and has recently released a trailer for his upcoming full-length sequel, Killer Bean Forever. Here it is:

Personally, I cannot wait. 😀


It’s Good To Be Back

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:03 pm

I thought I’d take a moment to give a full report on the results of my recent back surgery.

Today is two weeks and a day after I went in for laparoscopic surgery to address the herniations in my L4 and L5 spinal discs, and to clear out scar tissue left over from the surgery I had ten years ago for ruptured and herniated discs at L4/L5/S1. Over the last year or so my back (and more specifically, my right leg, since this is primarily a reaction to pressure on my sciatic nerve) have hurt more or less constantly. That is to say, my leg has hurt constantly, to a greater or lesser degree. This has affected my stride, my posture, my activity level and my sleep. Basically it’s affected everything except my eye color. Additionally, I have been experiencing a gradual and unrelenting reduction in strength and motor control in my right leg, particularly my right gastrocnemius, ever since my initial surgery ten years ago.

I am now in less pain than I have been for—what, six months, a year?—anyway, than at any time since my back started acting up again. Other than some residual tenderness in the area of the incisions and a long-standing habitual forward tilt to my pelvis (a response to the pain from fully straightening my back), I am largely free from the discomfort and restrictions of my condition. I can now sleep without the need for painkillers and muscle relaxants to keep me from waking in the middle of the night and being unable to drift back off because of the discomfort. The weakness in my right gastroc remains, and may never go away—too many years with my sciatic nerve trapped under a mass of calcified scar tissue like a line of unfortunate motorists in a freeway collapse—but I will be undergoing physical therapy to see what might be regained there as well.

I have often said that we Big White Guys are the Chevy K Blazers of the human race: big, noisy, wasteful of resources, with shitty repair records. We were designed to die in battle with an axe planted in our skull by age 25, leaving behind a bereaved widow and three or four children to take our place. We were never meant to survive to age 39, and our rapidly decaying biological infrastructure is proof positive of this.

There must be many partially-crippled Big White Guys in very similar circumstances to mine out there right now, cruising the Infobahn from their ergonomic office chairs or from their La-Z-Boys via their laptops. Sould you happen to come across this missive whilst casually Googling away an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon, this message is for you: I know your last surgery sucked. Believe me, I know because I had it myself. It left you weak or limited or painful, and you vowed to yourself that you would put up with just about anything rather than go through that bullshit again. I’m telling you the experience has changed. The technology has improved drastically. What took me six months to recover from the first time was over in two weeks, with nothing of the side-effects I experienced back then. I can’t believe I agonized for months over the decision to go forward with the surgery, but I did it, so you don’t have to. It worked. Go talk to a specialist. Now.

If you are in the Puget Sound area, I highly recommend Dr. Jeffrey Roh at Orthopedics International. Just don’t mis-associate the quality of his medicine with the quality of his secretarial staff: they all seem to have the organizational skills of Clostridium bacteria. But the medical staff is top-notch, and he really seems to know his spines.



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:05 am

Got this off of Fark today:

I may never get that song out of my head. 🙂


Interesting PHP Attack Making The Rounds….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:26 pm

Those of you who run or maintain Web servers probably already know about this, but it doesn’t hurt to Google it up a bit with another post on the subject.

A while back I cribbed a php script from somewhere online and futzed around with it until I had a little file that would continuously generate an HTML-based record of my visitors: IP address, host name, date, time referrer and OS/browser. (I take no credit for this whatsoever, save for the ability to cut and paste other people’s shit together until it more or less works.) It’s faster and easer than checking the actual IIS logs or generating a complete report, and can be checked from completely outside the firewall without a lot of dangerous port forwarding or tedious VPN.

About three weeks ago I began to notice some interesting hits in my access log. These hits always start with the main address of my blog but end with a regular page identifier (“?p=”, as in, “please take me to page number….”), then a long URL for any of a number of directories on various sites in Russia. It looked really suspicious. At first I took it to be some sort of trackback spam or “sping“. However, my software is pretty good at trashing these sorts of intrusions, and anyway these didn’t include a referrer, which is the usual SOP for trackback spammers. After switching to my Mac and donning my +10 Tor Helmet of Anonymity, I visited one of these sites. I was immediately presented with a screen full of gibberish, a text file containing some dense and (to me) unreadable code. I was getting a little paranoid.

After noodling around for what seemed like hours I found some answers online, courtesy of some folks much smarter than myself on a New Zealand PHP user BBS. The page of gibberish, once deobfuscated, appears to be a remote file include attack; an attempt to get my server to access and execute a piece of code from a remote computer. In this case, the code happens to be an IRC client. The client would then link up with a group of IRC hosts and set up to exchange files with them, presumably more exploits that would turn my computer into a zombie, using it as a staging ground for attacks on other servers. Pretty cute.

Fortunately a few different aspects of my setup–including but not limited to a lack of this sort of vulnerability in recent versions of WordPress–kept this attack from having any effect on my system, nor those of most relatively well-maintained servers. But the exploit is obviously making headway somewhere, because the number and variety of these hits in my access log is increasing. And I’m seeing a lot more chatter online about it as well….considerably more than I found when I was doing my initial search.

It seems for the moment that my system is (reasonably) safe (from this particular attack [knock phenolic resin]). But like I said in the beginning of this, the more people who write about this sort of thing, the greater the overall awareness. Knowledge is power. And power corrupts. Therefore….um….knowledge corrupts. But not as much as a corrupted server. Pass it on. :mrgreen:


My Mini-Review Of The Samsung SCH-i760

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:07 am

Okay, so now that I’m back to more-or-less normal, I thought I’d post a quick review of my new smartphone.

My boss first offered me a Blackberry a couple of years ago, before we hosted the 3rd International Medicinal Mushroom Conference. I demurred; at the time the idea of making myself yet still even further more availabler to my boss seemed against my best interests….much the same way that French-kissing a running Cuisinart might be interpreted as being against my best interests (well, if not exactly the same way, at least with an equal level of severity). Now, the concept seems to have an air of inevitability to it. Other members of our team have been given Blackberries and have found the extra connectivity extremely helpful, so I finally decided to catch the bug. ‘Specially since my employer would be picking up the tab for unlimited data access; yee-haw!

On the other hand, I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of an actual Blackberry. I’ve worked with a Windows Mobile PDA in the past, and had good experience with it. I particularly liked the ability to see and mount Windows and SMB network shares, plus the overall familiar Windows-like feel to the interface. Additionally, I greatly prefer the slider-style layout of lots of Windows Mobile smartphones, which gives you a wider keyboard and more traditional layout than the fixed-face Blackberry keyboards, and the ability to switch from portrait to landscape mode, which makes the thing much more versatile as a Web browsing tool. So, a Windows Mobile slider was it.

My first choice for a phone would have been a Tilt from AT&T Wireless. It’s a slider with all the goodies, including a full GPS receiver, and a four-band cell radio that operates in Europe as well as the US. I’m currently a Verizon customer, and have had no complaints with my service (in fact, my phone often gets signal where other carriers’ phones–particularly those from AT&T, formerly Cingular, formerly AT&T–fear to tread). But I was willing to jump ship for a chance at a top-of-the-line international-capable data phone. Unfortunately, AT&T was not willing to front me the cost of breaking my Verizon contract for our three phones; guess that $1500 in yearly fees didn’t make up for the 300 bucks they would have had to give me to break contract. So fuck ’em. Instead, I picked Verizon’s Samsung SCH-i760.


The i760 is a nice little PDA, or a nice big phone, depending on the way you look at it. It’s relatively comfortable to use as a phone. I especially like the fact that it features a full set of phone buttons on the front of the device (unlike many sliders), so you can dial it like a real big-boy phone while it’s still closed. I really dislike using virtual buttons on a screen, which is one of a host of reasons why I’m not interested in an iPhone, despite my typical Apple fanboyness. Now if only they could find some magic method to keep you from getting ear prints on the screen….

And it’s a nice screen, big and bright and easy to read. Unlike many WM smartphones, the i760 actually has a touch-sensitive screen, and comes with the most adorable little half-height stylus that hides in a compartment on the side of the unit and telescopes open like a car radio antenna when you pull it out. It feels kind of flimsy–wouldn’t want to try levering open a manhole cover with it–but any force strong enough to damage the stylus would totally fuck up the screen, so the two seem well-paired in terms of form and function. I truly appreciate having a stylus available to me when I want one; there’s really only so much you can do with joypads and scroll wheels. Good thing, since the i760 has the former but not the latter. Personally I don’t miss it the lack of a scroll wheel, but some folks might.

Button layout is nice, though operating the phone lefthanded tends to put pressure on the side of the phone that slides open. It takes a little practice to not pop the slide a little every time you pull the phone out of its holster. No biggie, particularly for Northpaws. Sound quality on the speaker is good, as is the speakerphone, though I don’t habitually use speakerphones. Of course the phone also comes with Bluetooth, both for pairing with headsets and for OBEX file sharing and synchronization with PCs (and Macs; I use a Mac as my primary computer, and use Mark/Space’s The Missing Sync to sync my address book and “To Do” list between my Mac and my phone. Never dreamed I’d have enough stuff to do and people to contact to find this sort of thing useful. Guess I’m all growed up….).

The keyboard is….well, it’s as good as it’s gonna get. My toe-sized thumbs have some problem navigating the keys–I’m never going to be one of those blinding-fast text-messaging preteens you see at the bus stop–but the layout and the size of the keyboard make simple messaging a straightforward if somewhat poky prospect. Certainly the keyboard seems much easier to use than the smaller ones on Blackberries and other portrait-oriented non-sliders. I don’t use SMS so I don’t have to worry about being able to respond to someone via texting in real-time; I much prefer email. The mail client built into Windows Mobile is primitive: no filters, no mail rules, nothing like that. If your email account is prone to spam you may spend a lot of time deleting junk one-thumbed. There are other mail clients available for the platform, but I tried one out and found it not much easier to use than just deleting the stuff. Fortunately for my situation I was able to set up a spam-filtering system on my server to strip the majority of it from my accounts before it gets a chance to clog my inbox. Others may not be so lucky.

The phone runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional, which includes a basic suite of Microsoft’s “Office Mobile” applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the Messaging (mail and SMS) client, including the ability to sync up with an Exchange server. My company doesn’t use Exchange, and I rather doubt I will find much use for any of the other included Mini-Me Office applications (did you know you can buy a little doohickey that hooks to the VGA port of a projector, allowing you to run PowerPoint presentations from your PDA over Bluetooth? Sounds ghastly!), but it’s nice to know that they’re there.

The browser seems to work just fine, though looking at just about any Web site–optimized for mobile devices or not–on a phone is pretty much exactly the kind of torture you might think it would be. But I can use the Web and newer services such as Google Maps and Windows Live Search to check the traffic maps, get directions, check weather, look up movie listings….all the things one might want to do with one’s phone. (Oh, and make calls. 🙂 ) Internet access takes place over Verizon’s zippy CDMA/EVDO data network, or over the phone’s included 802.11b/g WiFi (another cute touch; if you successfully bind to a wireless access point, the phone drops its cellular data connection until the WiFi link is broken). That WiFi will potentially come in quite handy, allowing me to access the Internet in those rare areas where Verizon’s cellular network does not reach (already tested it with my favorite Windows Mobile stumbler, WiFiFoFum; works like a charm). Equipped with Skype for Windows Mobile, I can even make international calls from wireless hot spots in countries where my phone will not function.

The phone also includes (of course) a 1.3 megapixel camera with an LED flash, and also records video at 320 x 240 pixel resolution. It has 128 megabytes of ROM, 64 of built-in RAM, and a MicroSD slot capable of handling cards up to 2 GB in size. That MicroSD slot is one of the phone’s real downsides. Given how this unit is touted by Samsung as a media machine–it’s one of a limited number of non-Apple devices capable of playing audio files encoded in Apple’s AAC format–it would be nice if you could store more than 2 gigs of data on the card. I’m hoping that a future firmware update will update the card to handle MicroSDHC, which can take much higher capacities. The Tilt, by comparison, handles MicroSDHC right out of the chute.

Battery life seems just fine. Samsung claims up to 5 hours of talk or 13 days of standby, though the more you use the PDA functions the worse the battery life will be, given that big bright screen. I get about two or three days of regular use out of the thing before I feel like I have to charge it again. It comes with two lithium-ion batteries, a “standard” and an “extended” battery (times listed above are for the extended battery). Personally I see very little difference in weight and no difference in bulk between the two, so I use the extended. I can’t imagine wanting to lug around a second charged battery, but I suppose it was nice of Samsung to provide it. A complimentary high-quality case would have been nicer; this thing’s a bitch to find a case for. One of the best I’ve found so far was designed to hold a flat digital camera, but even that has a belt loop instead of the much-needed clip. Still trawling the Web for the perfect case/holster….it’s probably hiding in the same underground bunker as the ultimate stainless-steel travel mug.

Overall, the SCH-i760 is a great communications tool, with a few slight blemishes that put it just shy of its biggest competitor. If you are already an AT&T Wireless customer or are in the market for your first cell phone, you might want to pick the Tilt instead: it has all the i760 has, plus GPS, SDHC, more ROM and RAM plus international capabilities. But for a Verizon customer not looking (or not able) to jump providers, the i760 is a great alternative that is long on features and short on compromises. I recommend it nine-tenths-heartedly. 😉

While we’re on the subject: would any of my readers with mad Windows Mobile skillz care to help me to set up a PPTP server connection over EVDO? One place where WM seems to fall short is in the ease-of-networking department, probably due to the inclusion of the factor of various wireless carriers and their data systems. Thanks in advance!�


Snorty Snort Snort

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:11 pm

Still not quite up to speed; I was feeling almost perky yesterday and overdid things, and by bedtime I couldn’t drop off over the din of The Sciatic Nerve Beaver trying to pull my right leg apart like a hunk of string cheese. So I took a Percocet. Then another. Then I spent a good chunk of the remainder of the night with the first case of bedspins I’ve had since I was sixteen. I can’t believe that there are people who abuse these things recreationally; why not just put a plastic bag over your head and secure it with a rubber band?Anywho, just a brief post courtesy of my friend Mike, who forwarded this to me today. It’s a parody of an ad for Microsoft’s (somewhat) new Surface technology. Enjoy!


Well, that’s that taken care of…….

Filed under: @ 10:29 pm

For those of you to whom the phone tree did not extend (and my apologies for the delay in contact to those whom I did reach), Andrew had his back surgery today and is back at home resting comfortably. In medical speak this means that he’s currently stoned out of his gourd on Percoset, but recovering normally nonetheless.

It’s been an eventful week. I started coming down with some sort of upper respiratory crud on Monday morning, by Tuesday afternoon I was dizzy and nauseated and by Tuesday evening I was in our local ER being pumped full of lactated Ringer’s solution, Compazine, and Toradol. I most decidedly did NOT go to work on Wednesday.

This morning we got up at 0630, left the house at 0715 and didn’t get to Kirkland until 0830 (*&^%$#*&!!!!! interstate 405!).
Andrew hit the decks in the surgical prep ward at about 0945 but since they were very space constrained I didn’t get to go with him so I sat, fumed, and cast what is turning out to be a remarkably ugly cat blanket on to my circular knitting needles. When they finally let me go and sit with him we were both in a tizzy, him a little more so because he was freezing to death and his blood glucose was low.
When they took him to surgery a little before 1100 the surgeon told me they’d take 3-4 hours. And so I sat. And knit, and listened to books on tape, and the Brandenburg Concertos, and suffered probably nearly fatal daytime TV toxicity.

When the surgeon finally reappeared at 1530 to give me a progress report he told me that Andrew was in recovery and I’d be able to see him in about an hour.
At 1700 I went to bug the candystriper at the volunteer desk. She called the recovery room and relayed to me that Andrew was taking a little longer to recover from the anesthetic than was expected and it’d be at least another half an hour. They’d call me or someone would come and get me.
Do you know how fast I can knit when I’m properly stimulated? Pretty dang fast.

So I watched the local news and then the NBC nightly news and then I went to bug the candystriper again. At least another 15-20 minutes came the reply.

Couldn’t concentrate on my book, couldn’t stomach anymore television, really tired of knitting. AHA! Finally someone in surgical blues coming out to talk to me.
The recovery nurse told me that Andrew was doing well but was dizzy and somewhat nauseated. They were going to have to give him at least another half an hour to rest before they’d get him up, why didn’t I go and pick up his pain meds?
Load up the bag with my books and my knitting, my purse, and the bag that Andrew insisted on bringing with him that contained his Dell laptop, his new data enabled cell phone and God knows what all else, and traipse halfway across the building. How much time did it take me? 10 freakin’ minutes.
Double bugger.

Got back, sat down, and was knitting with a vengance again (it really is a remarkably ugly cat blanket, but Scrum loves the texture of knitted things) when the surgical nurse came back to tell me they’d finally managed to get Andrew up and walking.
So nearly 8 hours later I finally got to rejoin my husband and I sat and knit some more while he came around completely.

Remarkably the trip home was uneventful. There wasn’t any traffic, I managed to drive Andrew’s car for an entire day and remember that it’s an automatic so I don’t have to stomp on the clutch, and Andrew managed to get himself up the stairs without tripping over the cat.
So the next 3 days are going to be pretty laid back chez us. I’m going to cook up a storm so that we have plenty of dinners in the freezer that Andrew doesn’t have to cook. I’m also going to sleep in, drink ginger tea and (ergh) Gatorade and hope that my nose stops running. Andrew is going to rest, take his pain pills, drink plenty of water, and rest in that order. Neither of us is going to think much, neither of us is going to exert much, and we may or may not answer the phone depending on how troll-ish we’re feeling (sorry Joe, no brain picking about security cameras this weekend). If we get to feeling really intellectual we may watch some more of Season 2 of The Muppet Show.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and for the offers of help. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t hear much from us over the weekend.


Possibly The Coolest Billboard Ever

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:58 am

Got this off of EcoGeek:

Use Electricity Wisely


Sorry About The Dearth Of Posts

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:58 pm

I’ve been busy for a few days now. Firstly I’ve been getting my act together for my upcoming laminotomy, which will take place next week Thursday. The science of back surgery has advanced significantly in the last ten or so years: the procedure will take place through two 1-centimeter holes instead of a four-inch-long incision, and will involve no yanking and rearranging of major nerves, unlike my last surgery. I will be under for a couple of hours and leave the facility that day, strictly an in-by-nine-out-by-five sort of thing. Hell, I may even get free Martinizing.

Secondly, I have recently gotten entirely too caught up in adult toys as of late (hmmm….probably could have phrased that a bit better). I hadn’t even finished with Bioshock when Half-Life 2: Episode Two came out. So then, while I took a break from greasing Splicers in Rapture to plug a few Zombines in HL2ep2, the frickin’ Crysis Single Player Demo comes out and I have to spend a few hours running around some anonymous, absolutely gorgeously rendered Philippine island plugging Korean commandos. That game’s graphics engine is absolutely stunning; I’m finally pushing my obnoxious new gaming rig to its limits.

On top of all this, I managed to convince my boss to pay for a full data package for my cell phone (took about five minutes to talk him into it; I love that man) so I had to go and get me a data-enabled phone. I picked the Samsung SCH-i760, a Windows Mobile 6 smart phone just released for my Verizon plan. I spent much of today (and will probably spend a decent chunk of tomorrow) getting this thing totally rigged for my contacts, email accounts and other stuff (still have to work out the VPN and get a MicroSD card for it….maybe a Bluetooth GPS as well). So far, I think the tentative verdict is that I love this phone more than Democracy (can you blame me? I’ve practically forgotten what it looked like), free markets (ditto) and apple pie (still too junked-out on leftover Halloween candy)….just about anything but my wife. I’ll post a more detailed mash note sometime in the near future.

But the real reason I’m writing this post is to ask a question: do any of you out there have problems connecting to my server? Not merely that it may be slow at times (this is the data line for the house, after all, and with three people checking their email, surfing the Web and seeding the occasional BitTorrent in here, access to the Web server may occasionally slow to a brisk crawl), or that it may occasionally not respond at all (I do shut it down for occasional maintenance, for as much as a half-hour or so at a a time).

What I’m talking about is more like this: you try to access the blog, your browser returns a timeout, you hit Refresh, and get connected immediately. Or maybe it takes two or three refreshes before you connect. Sometimes it may happen during the initial request, other times while you’re trying to post a comment.

The reason I ask is because I deal with that sort of problem with my blog on a daily basis from inside my local network. But I have all sorts of wierd shit going on with my local computers: multiple IP addresses tied to a single NIC, possible cross-contamination from having the LAN side of multiple routers plugged into a common network switch, allkindagoodshit. I’m not good enough with a packet analyzer to look at my requests and decide where they’re going wrong, and frankly, unless it’s happening to you my loyal public (hi you two!) as well, I’m probably to damn lazy to bother.

So let me know, willya? How fares your Uncle Andrew dot Net experience?

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