The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, Debtember 31, 2002

Notes on a book found in the emergency room at 12:07 am

While waiting in the emergency room to hear news of Gregory, JeffK pointed out a book sitting on a near by table. “Why don't you read about Queen Victoria?” he said.

“Is that what that book is about?” I reached over to pick up the book. It has obviously been abandoned in the emergency room and had been sitting there for some time. No one else was near the book. “It looks pretty old,” I said.

“When was it written?” asked Mark.

I flipped to the copyright page. “It was printed in 1971,” I said.

“Wow, that's older than I am,” said Jeff.

“But that's not when it was originally written.”

“When was that?”

“1965.” I flipped through the first few pages. Just past the Table of Contents was a list of illustrations that appeared in the book. “Hey, pictures!” I then started flipping through the book and stopped dead. “Now this is odd,” I said.

“What is it?”

“It's an ad,” I said, holding it to where Mark and JeffK could see it.

“I've never heard of ads in books before,” said Mark.

“Neither have I,” I said.

It was wierd. Four ads appear in the book. The first for Club Cocktails, the “ready to drink real cocktails. Hardstuff.” 25–48 Proof no less! The second ad—Kotex Kotique™. “Truly effective—but ever so gentle.” Third ad is a classic—you're soaking in it. Yup, there is Madge, telling the incredulous customer that yes, “Palmolive softens hands while you do dishes.” And last but not least, Sanka® Decaffeinated Coffee, just in case you couldn't stay awake reading the book.

Kotex and Kotique are registered trademarks of Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Sanka is a registered trademark of General Foods.

Club Cocktails.  They go where you go. Come discover the Kotex Kotique Madge!  A dishwashing liquid to soften hands? Sanka Decaffeinated Coffee

Core dumps, WAPs and war driving

After visiting the hospital, Mark, JeffK and I headed over to Kelly's to hang out for a bit. How we ended up talking about Michael Jackson, I don't know, but when we were tyring to show Mark just how badly Jacko looks these days, Kelly's Windows XP box crashed. What I did now know, but Mark did, was that Windows XP can generate a crash dump for later analysis. When Mark checked the dump directory, Kelly had approximately 50 dump files already there.

Unlike Windows NT, Windows XP doesn't come with dumpcheck.exe, which will tell you exactly where the crash took place. Mark then spent the next half hour or so (why not?) trying to determine the location of the crash, and to track down a copy of dumpcheck.exe. Unfortunately, Kelly's copy of Windows XP was set to only record a minimal dump, of which dumpcheck.exe wasn't able to work with. But Mark was able to track the crash down to ntkernel.dll which pretty much means a buggy driver, although not which driver is bad. Kelly then configured Windows XP to do a full dump next time it crashes.

After expressing the sad state of affairs with Wacko Jacko, talk then turned towards wireless networks. Mark recently aquired some equipment and was looking to set up a WAP at home. Mark didn't quite realize that WAP security was a joke (crackable with as little as 5K worth of traffic) and that really, you need to firewall off any wireless stations; all WAP security was good for was “to keep someone from inadvertantly connecting to your network.” Mark was then curious as to the range and from experiments done here at the Facility in the Middle of Nowhere, we were able to pick up a signal outside the building, up to maybe twenty yards or so (Rob and I didn't go much futher than that). We then decided to test Kelly's range.

Mind you, this was at 2:30 in the morning.

So with laptop literally in hand, we walked down the street and found that the signal strength was good for perhaps a hundred yards or so—definitely three houses down although it wasn't a straight cut-off point. The frequencies used tend to bounce around so that going around a corner only ten yards away would cut the signal entirely; but hit just the right spot and the signal can bounce down the street.

We also talked a bit about war driving and the best areas to concentrate on down here in Lower Sheol. We figured the best places would be around Congress, between Yamato and Clint Moore (in Boca Raton) and along Cypress Creek, between I-95 and Powerline (in Ft. Lauderdale). One of these days …

“We need to work on your blood-curdling scream … ”

Spring and I went to visit Gregory in the hospital tonight. He was awake and coherent and finally in a proper hospital room; until something like 5:00 pm today he was stuck in room 7 of the emergency ward since his arrival. From the explanation there seemed to be a shortage of beds at the hospital.

On the good side he has the whole room to himself.

Around 9:00 pm the nurse somes in to change the bed sheets. We leave the room, but it was plainly audible that Gregory was not happy about the situation, what with six broken ribs and a snapped clavicle. Half an hour and three nurses later, the bed sheets are fresh and Gregory is receiving the Oh-So-Blessed Pain Killers. Spring leans over to Gregory and says, “Gregory, we need to work on your blood-curdling scream. Something that will definitely tell the nurses to back off!” Greg found that quite amusing.

Fifteen minutes later he's snoring away in drug-induced dreams. We stay for a bit longer, then head on our way.

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