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Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Having a Little Fun

Going through my page requests, I noticed some 1,700+ from a website called www.securedeath.com. “What the hell is this?” I wondered. Well, it appears to be some lame-ass hacker website in Arabic, located in Saudi Arabia. All those page requests? Some drongo script kiddie forum user had found my revolving skull and crossbones gif and was using it as his personal avatar. He is going by the handle BAD HACKER. He lists his occupation as a “Profissinal HaXoR”.

Normally, it wouldn’t bother me if somebody took an image from my website and used it for his own purposes, but this guy didn’t bother to copy it – he just created a link to my site, so whenever somebody looks at a page that he has posted on, the site comes over to mine and downloads it. That’s taking my bandwidth, so I had to retort.

Now, if someone visits securedeath and sees this guy, instead of having this cool avatar:

Red Skull

they see this:

I Stole

It’s a very simple hack to get around – let’s see how long it takes him to fix it.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 12:33 PST

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Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Ending the Subdomain Experiment

After three months, I reassessed my decision to move my blog to a subdomain on my website. It had turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. I’ve moved to change everything back, but I never kept track of all the little changes I made to try and adapt to the subdomain difference, so errors might pop up again and again.

I made this decision after reviewing literature on the implications of search engine optimization on the subdomain/folder choice. The vague generalizations that I encountered had new meaning after my experience of the last three months. I would now have to say that, for a personal website, subdomains present more problems than benefits. I had thought that the subdomains were more technically savvy; but I found that the general public and search engines (which cater to the general public) do not appreciate the difference.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 16:04 PST

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Why Does Alaska Have Daylight Savings Time?

Last night, a few colleagues and I had dinner together, then went to watch the local fireworks, which didn’t start until midnight. When they started, it was after sunset, but it was still light enough to easily distinguish different colors. I’ve always liked the Muslim definitions of dawn and sunset – being able to distinguish a white thread from a black one – for their practicality; although technically, this would be dusk, not sunset. (While researching this simple assertion I discovered the difference between sunset and dusk – and that there are three different definitions of dusk. Further reasons for respecting Islamic pragmatism.)

I had only been in Alaska for a day before I started questioning the usefulness of Daylight Savings Time in Alaska. If there’s only about five hours’ difference between sunset and sunrise, and as far as I can tell, only about an hour or two of anything close to real darkness, where are the energy savings and public safety benefits that so many proponents of DST claim? I confess that I am not a fan of DST. I have a simple solution for those that say they like having more daylight in the summer – go to bed earlier and get up earlier. But I expect this solution, which I have implemented myself so simply, is as at odds with public sentimentality as is my opposition to using the word “gender” as a polite reference to the word “sex”.

It turns out that I am not alone. Hawai’i, Arizona, Puerto Rico and parts of Indiana refuse to use DST, and there is a movement to get it abolished in Alaska as well. The explanation for using both a single time zone in Alaska and DST seems to be a political expediency.

Current meatspace coordinates: 61.189°, -149.869°
Local appellation: Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
“>Anchorage, Alaska

I had a lot of trouble getting here. My travel plans called for departing home in Kansas City on Sunday around 11:00 AM and getting to Anchorage about midnight (plus a three hour time change); going Kansas City – Dallas/Fort Worth – San Francisco – Anchorage. But when my first leg arrived at the DFW area, severe weather kept us from landing, and we had to divert to Oklahoma City for fuel. There were no gates available, so we spent about three hours on the tarmac waiting for more fuel, clearance to proceed to DFW, and a new flight plan. By the time I got to Dallas, it was too late to proceed and I had to spend the night there. On Monday I tried again, going DFW – Denver – Seattle – Anchorage, so it was no great surprise that only one of my bags arrived. The missing bag contained all my test equipment. By coincidence, my fellow engineer, who had used a different airline and was coming from San Diego, also lost his bag containing test equipment, but at least he got here on time. Both of our bags showed up a day after we arrived.

Posted by Greg as Travel at 15:49 PST

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Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Home for a Few Days

I got done in Killeen, Texas on Tuesday. I got really lucky – the storms have been hanging around, but I just managed to get my work in without having to spend more time. I drove from Texas to Missouri on Wednesday and had a few days to try to catch up with everything – I had planned on having the whole week, and figured I could get at least two reports done. Tomorrow I’m going to Anchorage, Alaska, for two weeks. I guess I’ll be writing on the plane!

I finally figured out some very elementary things that had, until now, escaped my notice. Many people come to my blog from a search engine result that uses my old www.gregrperry.com/blog format, and some come from links that I had previously seeded in technical message boards. They’ve all been getting an error page! No wonder my traffic is down. I have thrown up a hasty explanation and workaround on my standard error page, but I should really write something smarter – a PHP page that takes the sought link and rewrites it to the blog.gregrperry.com format and then uses a redirect. But it’s been a long time since I’ve done any coding, and just writing has been tough to keep up with.

I knew that some of my images weren’t showing because I had hard-coded the source of the images instead of using relative ones, but what I didn’t realize is just how extensively my own internal links, referencing other posts, are nearly all screwed up. Well, a smart error page might fix that problem for now, too. Still, it’s going to take a lot of work to make everything right. *Sigh*

Posted by Greg as My Website, Travel at 10:22 PST

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Friday, June 22nd, 2007

The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

I’m cheating. I had every intention of posting this right away; but travel, work, and a general malaise associated with personal events kept me from doing so. But I’m going to change the time stamp on this post to reflect the time that it happened.

Today is a travel day. I finished up my work in Alamogordo yesterday, but we got a late start this morning because last night my coworker and I stopped in at VFW Post 7686, and it turned out to be karaoke night. This was my first experience with karaoke. My coworker, an exuberant young Texan, entertained fewer reservations about the prospect than I, and he was wily, for after hearing me spoof the situation from the safety of my bar stool and waiting for just the right time, he volunteered me to get up and sing Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. It just went (sober perspective:) downhill/(inebriated perspective:) uphill from there. Alamogordo has got to be one of the friendliest places on Earth, so the reception that I got was no indication of the quality of my singing. Thankfully, the VFW pays for cab rides home.

Yeah. I was a little slow this morning.

My coworker is going on vacation from here, and I had already offered to take him with me back to Killeen, Texas. But there’s a weekend to fill before I can get back to work, and he enticed me into partying the night in Austin and tubing down the Guadalupe River tomorrow. However, our crash-for-the-night plans have fallen through, and rumors of tightened law enforcement on the river have changed our plans, so we’re heading for Houston.

On the way, we decided to stop in and see the Alamo in San Antonio. As a history buff, I couldn’t resist. However, you can see from the following photos that I am still a little hung over.

Greg Perry at the Alamo Greg Perry at the Alamo

Posted by Greg as History, Travel at 22:46 PST

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Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Just checking in. I’ve missed so many good things to write about, and here I am coughing up the banal.

Current meatspace coordinates: 32.8791, -105.9609
I can’t even remember how to plug in the Google map, or the xhtml code for the degree sign.

I went through a major life event two weeks ago, and I’ve just been stumbling through since then. Thank the gods that there’s work and travel. I got to see an old friend and meet his wife and children, I snagged a trip to Alaska for July (a place I’ve been want to go to since I was a teenager), and I had the eighteenth anniversary of my US citizenship. And that’s just since then – there were a lot of noteworthy events preceding.

It might be cathartic for me to write about my divorce, but it’s just too personal to do so in a public place. There’s only one thing I can be sure of – life will go on.

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me, Travel at 22:02 PST

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Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

Trinity

Working in the Las Cruces, New Mexico, area for the last two weeks, I got one significant side benefit: a personal tour of the Trinity test site – the location of the world’s first nuclear explosion, and the McDonald Ranch House, where the bomb was assembled. Here’s a picture of me standing in the crater at ground zero:

Greg Perry at the Trinity Test Site, 2007
Photo by George Baird

I’ve been working a lot in the American Southwest lately – Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – and one of the few things I’ve taken time out for is stopping in to visit places of historical significance, like Fort Craig, Picacho Peak, Glorieta Pass, and the place where Billy the Kid died. Trinity was a major coup, as the site is only open to the public on two days a year, and I got to skip the crowd. Since I’m a dilettante, not a history buff, I’m sure I’ve been driving right by places that I would find fascinating if I had known about them.

Posted by Greg as History, Travel at 08:38 PST

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Monday, May 21st, 2007

Made It to Las Cruces

It seemed like I just couldn’t get to sleep early – I’ve never really been good at that – but I got up at 0300 and officially pulled out at 0400 CDT, with only three and a half hours of sleep. I got in to Las Cruces, NM at 1910 MDT, just over 16 hours, and the trip was exactly 1500 km (932 miles) – I took a huge shortcut. Instead of following the interstates, I picked up US Highway 54 in Wichita, Kansas and stayed on it all the way to Alamagordo, New Mexico. I shaved an hour off the drive and more than 300 km, and would have done even better if I hadn’t been misinformed that they had reopened the main road through Greensburg.

Driving this way, slowing down to go through each town, is much less mind-numbing. I didn’t get any extra sleep last night, but I’m feeling fine this morning. Usually after long drives I’m like a zombie the following day. Plus, every now and then I pull over when I see a historical marker sign, so I got to see the place where Billy the Kid was killed.

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me, Travel at 05:17 PST

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Saturday, May 19th, 2007

I’m Not Dead

“Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.”

I’ve been very busy handling a lot of important personal stuff. I did get I little bit of enjoyment recently, though – I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to attend a graduation. The son of one of my old Army buddies had chosen to follow us and become a combat engineer. In my day, that was MOS 12B, but nowadays it’s 21B. Turns out he had been staying in my old building – Delta Company, 35th Engineer Battalion. I was very proud of him, and looking around, I found myself wishing I could do the whole Army thing all over again, even if it meant starting from scratch at Basic training.

I also got myself a cool Sapper hat to show off my tab.

I’m going to bed early tonight, and am planning on hitting the road around 3 A.M. I aim to make Las Cruces, New Mexico, before it gets too late. It’s about 1800 km (1100+ miles) in one day. I should have left today and made it a two-day drive.

I’m going to be extremely busy for at least the next two weeks, and probably won’t get to blog.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Posts About Me, Travel at 18:37 PST

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Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Tumult

The last couple of weeks – well, month plus – have been full of stress and challenges on a personal front that I decided that I didn’t want to blog about. As part of it, I felt obliged to go back to San Diego and ended up staying there far longer than I wanted to.

I took care of things there as best I could and left when I had to. I drove the 2700 kilometers (1700 miles) from San Diego to Kansas City in 34 hours.

On the recommendation of a friend, I tried taking a shortcut between Tucumcari, New Mexico and Wichita, Kansas. I left the interstate and took Highway 54, a mostly two lane highway that has a speed limit of 65 mph most of the time, but slows down briefly as you pass through little towns in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

One of the little towns was Greensburg, Kansas – where an F5 tornado had alighted just four days before.

All I can say is: Holy shit.

Posted by Greg as Current Events, Posts About Me at 07:14 PST

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