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“As we are committed to energy and resource conservation…”

September 23, 2009, 6:39 PM

I came back to my hotel room from day three of Mac OS X Server training this evening, and found the room to be in an amusing state. All the lights were left on.

Let me explain. From what I can tell, the trend at hotels nowadays (exhibited both here and at the Bolger Center last month) is to post material saying that first of all, they are committed to energy and resource conservation, and that secondly, they are not replacing towels or bed linens (the latter only every third day) unless specifically requested.

I’m all for that. Since I’ve been living on my own, I have invested in greener fixtures in the interest of saving money. A small financial reward in the form of lower bills is an excellent incentive to save energy and therefore conserve resources. Likewise, I don’t wash my towels daily at home, usually letting them go three or four days before a wash. I have big towels at home, and so it’s especially fine there.

Now I’ve been around online, and many have indicated that the move is likely more about saving money than it is in conservation. But you know what – saving money is a good incentive to go green. That’s why I found it somewhat amusing that all the lights were left on today when I got back. Seriously. I think the housekeepers probably negated any energy savings gained from my not having them wash the towels after one use and not changing the sheets every day by leaving the lights on. When I left this morning, I turned all the lights off. I’ve gotten into a good habit about that ever since I started living on my own, since I’d otherwise be lighting the house for no one whenever I’m away. Saves me money that way, even with the CFL bulbs in my light fixtures. And now they left all the lights on here, with non-CFL bulbs to boot.

One would think the housekeepers would be more cognizant of this, but oh, well…

Categories: Amusing

What is wrong with the drivers up here?

September 21, 2009, 11:21 PM

It makes one wonder – what the crap is wrong with the drivers up here? This is like the outer reaches of the Philadelphia region, and these people drive like maniacs. These drivers make Fairfax County drivers look calm. What really got me is when I got passed illegally on the right on a two lane road because the guy behind me thought I was going too slowly. That just blew my mind. Otherwise, these people won’t let you in, and show no mercy.

And what makes this even more frustrating is that it’s not like these people are doing this on a six-lane road like Georgia Avenue or Rockville Pike. This area looks like a cross between Staunton and Stuarts Draft. The roads are narrow, mostly two lanes. And the lines at the lights are long, and the area doesn’t even look like it would be jammed with commuters, but it is. One thing, though – Philadelphia drivers don’t honk like we do in DC. DC-area drivers are quick to lean on the horn, and I’ll admit having driven with my hand close to or on the horn more than once. In the DC area, we don’t give people the finger so much. We just blow our horns.

Otherwise, though, the drive up here was uneventful. I-95 is kind of old and needs upgrading in places, but those drivers were fairly courteous. It’s these commuters that are ruthless.

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Categories: Philadelphia

And tomorrow, I head to Pennsylvania for nearly a week.

September 19, 2009, 5:50 PM

Yeah, tomorrow is going to be a travel day for me. I’m going to a Mac OS X Server class at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. Finally I’m going to get a really good understanding of Mac OS X Server, and this will be really useful when I get back to the office the following week.

Of course, this means I have to drive up Interstate 95 to get there, but it’s okay – I have a GPS this time around, and Lori (the name of the voice on my TomTom GPS) tells me where to turn. The only thing that particularly bugs me is all the tolls. It seems like just about every time you really get going, there’s a guy in a yellow safety vest with his hand out. And unless the tolls have changed, I’m going to have to pay $11.75 in tolls alone. That breaks down to $2.00 for the Fort McHenry Tunnel, $5.00 for the Susquehanna River bridge, $4.00 for the Delaware Turnpike, and then $0.75 for a short stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

I’m just glad to finally make the trip – I’ve been trying to do this for four months now. First I was going to take the class in mid-May in Charlottesville, and it was cancelled. Then late May in Blue Bell. Then mid-July. Then late August. Now, for mid-September, they promised me that they are definitely having the class, and I got no notifications that they were cancelling. Dy-no-mite!

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Categories: Work

How many public IPs does Augusta County have?

September 18, 2009, 7:05 PM

So I was talking to my mother on the phone this evening, and we discussed my day, and one of the things that came up was the stuff I did on Wikipedia during my lunch break this afternoon. As it turns out, I blocked an anonymous user for two weeks for vandalism, whose IP address, 216.12.45.78, is registered to Augusta County Public Schools, which is the school district where my mother teaches, and where I went to middle school and high school.

So I just kind of threw it out there to Mom: “How many public IPs does Augusta County have?” Mom was kind of taken back by that question, since we had a little language barrier here. What’s an IP? What does IP stand for? Explaining that was a little difficult, since in the few minutes I had to explain it, I had no chance of getting Mom to understand, though if I had a little longer, I might have had a way of figuring it out.

And now I did figure out how to explain it, after the conversation, of course. Basically, imagine you’re in a neighborhood. Each apartment building has a street address. That’s your public IP address. Let’s take “123 Sesame Street”, for example. Say that 123 Sesame Street has the IP address 123.456.789.000. Then each apartment inside 123 Sesame Street has a number. Thus the behind-the-router numbering of 192.168.x.x. Thus Gordon and Susan, in one apartment are 192.168.1.101. Bob is 192.168.1.102. Bert and Ernie are 192.168.1.103. Maria and Luis are 192.168.1.104. They all access the world by walking through the halls of 123 Sesame Street, and then going through the front doors of 123 Sesame Street. The apartment is your inside IP address, the hallways are your router, and then the door is your public IP. Thus Gordon and Susan’s computer, with a local IP address of 192.168.1.101, goes through the router and accesses the Internet via the public IP 123.456.789.000.

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Categories: Internet, Wikipedia

And then, they raided.

September 17, 2009, 10:39 PM

After photographing all the teabaggers around the Capitol, my day wasn’t over yet – not by a longshot. Anonymous had planned to raid on Saturday as well, and thankfully, the two demonstrations did not conflict. I finished getting my “daily dose of outrage” around 2:00, took the Metro from Union Station to Dupont Circle, and joined up with Anonymous to raid Scientology.

This was an unusual raid for me in one way – no mask or other form of costuming. Usually, I “mask up” for Anonymous “global” raids, even though Scientology has confirmed in writing that they know who I am. I usually wear the black or green zentai suit in warmer weather, or the standard Guy Fawkes mask. This time around, I brought a costume for raiding – I had the black zentai in my backpack, as well as the relevant accessories for it. But since I was already somewhat tired from the teabag protest, I basically said “screw it” and passed on the costume. I didn’t feel like changing in and out of the costume, and so I just came as I was.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Anonymous needs people who are “out” and unmasked to function properly. I’m the one who files for the protest permits, since if Scientologists get their hands on the permit somehow, they don’t get any fresh information. And sometimes, members of the public are more likely to interact with non-masked people vs. talking to someone wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. I gave out all of my You Found the Card cards, for one thing.

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Categories: Project Chanology

So the teabaggers put on quite a show, but they’re ultimately harmless.

September 15, 2009, 11:33 PM

So on Saturday, as promised, I was in downtown Washington covering the “Taxpayer March on Washington” with photos and videos. This was the big protest that the so-called “teabaggers” participated in on September 12. I’m planning on doing a full Photography set about this demonstration, but for now, here’s a little sampling of what went on, plus some videos.

If you want people to take you seriously, it's always a good idea to reference Joe the Plumber, who is neither Joe nor a plumber.
If you want people to take you seriously, it’s always a good idea to reference Joe the Plumber, who is neither Joe nor a plumber.

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Categories: Tea Party

Meanwhile, on the subject of protesters…

September 11, 2009, 7:52 PM

While I’m on the subject of protesters today, this is something I’ve been thinking about for a bit, and it relates to how my regular protest buddies handle their protests in the District of Columbia. I’m specifically referring to the radical crowd.

First of all, I believe that black blocs certainly have a place in the protest landscape. I believe that these people are far more dedicated to the various movements than most people that show up for large rallies, and that these people do a pretty good job in spreading the message that the system is rotten, and that all the bums need to be thrown out on their butts and the system rebuilt from the ground up.

However, I’ve observed that when engaging in demonstrations, the interactions with the police seem to become counterproductive more often than not. Specifically, the whole idea of keeping the police in the dark and not dealing with them directly. In my six(!) years of DC activism, the cops have started to get harsher with their tactics when it comes to anarchist blocs. They will forcibly shove protesters out of the street, and not being in the street and marching on the sidewalk instead tends to diminish the impact of a demonstration, since you’re kind of wedged into a narrow space between parked cars and the buildings. Likewise, if the police believe they’re forced to use force against demonstrators, they have demonstrated that they will gladly do so.

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Categories: Black bloc

So Saturday is going to be a lot of fun in more ways than one…

September 11, 2009, 7:03 PM

Saturday ought to be exciting. Lots of activism in the air on Saturday.

First of all, the teabaggers are going to Washington. I’ve never been to one of these “tea parties” before, and so it ought to be interesting to see what the right wing is like when they protest. I don’t believe they’re right by any stroke of the imagination, but we’ll see what happens. I’m going to be really inconspicuous about it, and hopefully get lots of interesting photos and movies of the event, and then post it up, most likely as a Photography set of some sort. It ought to be amusing.

The teabaggers’ plan is fairly standard as far as protests go. They’re gathering at Freedom Plaza, and then marching to the Capitol, where they’re having a rally. However, the timeframe is pretty ambitious, if you ask me. They’re starting up at 9 AM at Freedom Plaza, and beginning their march at 11:30. Then they expect to arrive at the Capitol and begin their rally at 1:00. I looked at that agenda, and was like, damn… After all, for most of the left-wing events I usually go to and participate in because I support the cause, they often don’t get started until noon, and things run a little later. And even then, things still run on “activist time”, where they’ll say noon, but it really means 12:30 or even 1:00. So we’ll see how well these guys keep to their schedule.

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DC Anons join Scientology staff… (like they’d have us)

September 6, 2009, 2:17 AM

Well, not really. What we did is a parody of a video at thefoundingchurch.org (site for the new Ideal Org). The recruitment video is laughable, and now we made it even more laughable by making a parody of it, just for the lulz.

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Categories: Project Chanology

So now I wonder if my apartment is possessed or something…

September 6, 2009, 12:16 AM

So the second clock I’ve placed in my bedroom has quit on me. And here it is…

The stuck clock in my bedroom

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Categories: House

Metro decides to close National Airport station over Labor Day weekend. Ummm…

September 2, 2009, 10:24 PM

So the big news today was that Metro was closing National Airport station over Labor Day weekend.

According to Metro’s press release about the closure, the work will involve a complete replacement of the Pentagon City interlocking, replacement of about 2,000 feet of track, maintenance of the aerial structure leading to and including National Airport station, and conduct fire line maintenance. The work appears to be preventative maintenance, and that’s a good thing.

However, the choice of weekends is not. Yes, this is fairly extensive work that basically requires a three-day weekend to complete in order to avoid major rush hour delays. However, choosing Labor Day weekend in particular to do it is a Bad Thing. After all, with it being the traditional last weekend of summer, people are traveling, and that means flying. And I’d expect that a number of people will have chosen to fly out of and into Washington National Airport. And Metro has cut the station serving the airport off from the rest of the system, closing it along with Pentagon City and Crystal City. Thus the line between Braddock Road and Huntington and Franconia-Springfield will be operating with trains, though who knows how, and then riders will have to take shuttle buses between there and Pentagon station, with stops at the closed stations. So in order to access Washington National Airport by public transit, people will have to take a shuttle bus.

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Categories: WMATA

As promised, here is the photo of our flash raid.

September 1, 2009, 8:42 PM

Recall that in this Journal entry, two of my coworkers came by our raid, and one of them took a picture of us, while the other posed with us with a piece of styrofoam on his face. Well, I finally got the photo from my coworker. Take a look…

The flash raid on August 28

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Categories: Project Chanology

It’s not often that I agree with Republican candidates’ ideas, but…

August 30, 2009, 10:47 PM

I’ve been kind of halfway following the gubernatorial race in Virginia this year, even though I’m no longer a Virginia resident. Part of that is because I did most of my growing up in Virginia, part because my parents still live there, plus half of the Washington Metropolitan Area, where I now live, is Virginia.

And Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has been saying a few things that resonate with me that seem to make sense. For one, he wants to reopen the closed rest areas within 90 days of taking office (though to his credit, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds also wants to reopen the rest areas, promising 60 days). The other thing that McDonnell wants to do is privatize Virginia’s liquor stores.

THANK YOU!

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A different twist on a game we’re all familiar with makes for an interesting evening…

August 30, 2009, 11:25 AM

On Saturday, Matthew Tilley and I went duckpin bowling in College Park. You may recall that we have bowled together before, having played three games of ten-pin bowling (i.e. what most consider bowling) in July.

This was exciting, because neither one of us had done duckpin before, and the rules and the equipment are slightly different. First of all, the pins are shorter and squatter than ten-pin. Secondly, the ball is smaller and lighter, and without any finger holes. The play is different as well, as you roll three balls per frame, and the scoring is slightly different. It’s the same as ten-pin, with the exception of knocking down all ten pins on the third roll. If you knock down all the pins on the third roll, no bonus is awarded.

And one thing that neither one of us was used to was that this was a very low-tech operation. This was a totally manual game. There was no automatic scoring equipment, and you pressed buttons to operate the pinsetter. There were two buttons – one was to reset the pins, and another just to clear the pins that had been knocked down (“deadwood”). This was one of those do-your-best moments. On Matthew’s first frame, we didn’t realize that there was a “deadwood” button, and so we bowled that frame in something of candlepin style, not clearing the pins between shots. On my first frame, I figured that there had to be something to clear the downed pins, and so I wondered if the reset button would do that. So I rolled one shot, knocked down a few pins, and then pressed reset. That killed all the pins, and laid out a fresh set. Oops. Good thing I didn’t do too well on that roll, since I essentially forced a do-over. That’s when we discovered the “deadwood” button, and we were good to go. Now we knew what we were doing.

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A Friday night flash raid was full of win…

August 29, 2009, 3:24 PM

Well, I had fun on Friday night. A bunch of Anons, including myself, flash raided outside the Founding Church of Scientology for about four hours or so, and had a blast in the process. Beret went in superhero garb to an extent, wearing bright blue shiny tights, a cape, a black top, and of course, in the style of too many superheroes, underwear on the outside. Plus, of course, the customary Guy Fawkes mask. I had my Power Rangers tee on, and coupled that with a Guy Fawkes mask. Not bad, if you ask me.

We got going right around 5:00, holding signs and passing out You Found The Card cards. Soon, the Scientologists showed up, such as “camera girl” and Scientology spokesmodel Sylvia Stanard. Funny that they never show up for our global raids anymore, but will certainly come out when we flash raid. Sylvia and a few of her goons came out with a flyer entitled “ANONYMOUS Frequently Asked Questions”.

The flyer was quite amusing, as they cited various YouTube videos and Web sites, and unverified Wikipedia passages. As a Wikipedia geek, that particularly amused me. The passages they cited were added on April 9, 2008, citing Uncyclopedia (hardly a reliable source). Scientology cites a revision on May 17, 2008, and the passages that they quoted were removed as unsourced on June 5, 2009. Yes, when you have a user-generated encyclopedia, sometimes stuff goes in that shouldn’t be there, and Scientology latched onto something with no sourcing. Fail on them. Plus using information about Anonymous as it existed in early 2008 to describe today’s Anonymous protests is kind of off, since much of that was before more mainstream Scientology critics such as Mark Bunker (aka “Wise Beard Man”) and Tory Christman joined the fold and helped Anonymous find its way. Now, many of the people involved in the early stuff are no longer active, and today’s group has little to no connection to the hacker group.

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Categories: Project Chanology