Thursday, March 31, 2005

So far, so good

My modem is still online this morning. I took a peek at it before leaving the house and the LEDs indicated it was locked. Upon getting into the office I was able to get my mail via IMAP and when I polled it in OpenNMS, things generally looked good.

If the Motorola stays online for the rest of today I think I can safely conclude I've got a hardware problem with the SMC.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

More cable modem problems

My SMC went down again this morning at around 1030. I power cycled it when I got home tonight and it came back up, but only for a short time. So, I disconnected it and reconnected the Motorola SB4101 which I'd been using previously but which has been in a box for the past few months.

The Moto came right back online and speeds are looking good. When I get into the office tomorrow morning I plan to poll it in OpenNMS to check the RF levels. If they aren't optimal I'm going to put in a request to have a cable tech check my connection. It's possible that the SMC is more sensitive than the Moto to less than optimal signal levels.

At least for the time being I'm using my Linksys RT31P2 router (provided by Vonage) as my firewall. It'll be interesting to see how well it performs, and how the Vonage service sounds while I'm passing other IP traffic across it.

In good company

Found via a story yesterday on Slashdot, an essay by Paul Graham entitled "Return of the Mac":

All the best hackers I know are gradually switching to Macs. My friend Robert said his whole research group at MIT recently bought themselves Powerbooks. These guys are not the graphic designers and grandmas who were buying Macs at Apple's low point in the mid 1990s. They're about as hardcore OS hackers as you can get.

The reason, of course, is OS X. Powerbooks are beautifully designed and run FreeBSD. What more do you need to know?
Graham's article does a good job of describing why I went with an iBook when I needed a new laptop back in December. You get a wonderful, seamless GUI but you also get the power of UNIX. To top it off, you have a plethora of commercial applications, and all of this runs on some very nice hardware.

I've found that most of the time I spend on a computer at home I'm using the Apple. It's partly the fact that as a laptop with a wireless connection I'm not limited to any specific location in the house, and it's partly the fact that the box is just a joy to use.

For most home users it is my not-so-humble opinion that a Mac is now a better choice than a Windows PC, as long as you don't have any hard-core gamers in the house. You get an easy to use, very solid, and secure OS, good hardware, and you don't need to be concerned with viruses and spyware. A coworker of mine has a PC repair shop that he runs on the side and tells me that about 65% of his work is cleaning up infected PCs. As long as the applications you need are available on Mac OS, why bother with the aggravation of Windows? And as much of a Linux fan that I am, there are still some rough edges -- printing in particular -- that make it trail behind OS-X for the majority of home users.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Back up

We're back online. Something needed to be kicked, and it appears that power cycling the modem did it.

Cable modem problems

I'm having a real WTF moment right now.

About 45 minutes ago I noticed that the SMC 8013 modem I have at home was offline. When I polled it in OpenNMS is shows as offline, unpingable via our DOCSIS network, unreachable via SNMP but with the right config file.

For shits and giggles I polled my old Motorola SB4101, which is currently sitting in a box. For soem reason, it's showing up as pingable and is showing info obtained via SNMP, though the info is purportedly for an SMC 8002.

As I said, WTF?!?!

I called Judith who was on her way home from school and asked her to power cycle the SMC. I'm hopin gthis clears out something and gets me back online. If not, I'll plug in the Motorola and use my Vonage Linksys router as a firewall. If I can't get back online then I'll be really annoyed.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Taking a break

I'm taking a bit of a break right now. I've spent a good part of the past couple of days changing diapers. Amanda is back to normal, although she seems to be eating more than she was before she got sick. She must be making up for what she lost over the course of last week.

Alexandra is on augmentin to fight a sinus bug and it's giving her the runs. So those diapers are real fun to change.

On Friday I was told that the issue causing our SMC gateways to stop routing when configured for static IP was fixed. Apparently, an MD5 key somewhere in our network got munged and killed our connectivity. I think something else is going on. I switched my gateway back to static IP yesterday and everything was running fine until this morning, when it dropped a couple of times. So, I flipped it back to pulling its WAN IP via DHCP. I really wish our network admins would fix whatever is wrong.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Pluto Data Followup

In going through Sitemeter's list of referrals linking to this blog, I've found that the single most popular is for searches related to the Pluto Data Scam, which I previously posted about. In fact, if you google for Pluto Data this blog is one of the first few links. This has done wonders for my traffic. :-)

I've also received emails from folks asking what to do if they see a fraudulent Pluto Data charge on their credit card statement. I'm not in a position to give out legal advice but what I did was to call my credit card company to dispute the charge. In my case, they looked into it and reversed the charge. Since it's evident that somehow, the people behind the Pluto Data scam got ahold of my credit card number, I had the bank disable the account pending a call back from me to reenable it. They said that to discontinue it immediately would hamper the investigation. (I don't know if this is true or just a stalling tactic to keep you as a customer.) Now that the investigation on my card is complete I am planning to cancel the card.

Were I hit with multiple charges, I'd probably also file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. See this link, and my state's attorney general. Since it was only a $40 charge I didn't feel doing so was worth my time.

If you have specific questions about how to handle this or other identity theft issues, you should contact a local attorney familiar with consumer law.

Airport blogging, part two

This is being written at gate E8 in the Fort Lauderdale airport. Unlike Philly, the wifi access here is free, and available throughout the concourses and at each gate. What surprised me, though, is that the airport is not using a captive portal to at least get you to click on a button to accept their terms of service. Rather, it's wide open. I started FireFox and went straight to Yahoo.

Not that I'm complaining.

Anyway, the plane for my flight which is supposed to depart at 0950 is not expected to arrive here until about 1020. Estimated departure time is now 1100. What with the wonderful PHL baggage claim I'll be lucky to get out of the airport there by 1600.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

SMC WAP Problem

We're can't login into the SMC WAPs we installed Monday. After entering in the username and password, we get the logon screen back. If not for trying to logon using FireFox we'd be scratching our heads.

Unlike IE, which just dumps you back at the logon page, FireFox pops up a download dialog box asking you what you want to open the file index.htm with. Then when you select FireFox, you get a new tab with the same logon page.

I think the problem is that the internal web servers on the WAPs have the MIME headers misconfigured to serve up pages as "text/plain" instead of "text/html." Unfortunately, the Live Headers extensiont to Firefox is either no longer available or not compatible with v1.01, so this is a SWAG.

For more on MIME headers configuration, see what the WWW Consortium has to say.

Doing better

Judith called me last night to let me know that she and Amanda are doing a lot better. That sure sets my mind a bit more at ease. Alexandra is still sick but it doesn't seem to be really bad.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Airport blogging

I am writing this post in WordPad while sitting at gate B6 in the Philadelphia International Airport. It will be posted later since although I'm sitting about ten feet from an AT&T WiFi hotspot, it isn't free, and I'm not about to pay $9.99 to get online for such a short time.

This afternoon I am flying down Fort Lauderdale, FL to setup equipment demonstrating our product for providing high speed Internet access to hotel guest for our booth at a hospitality trade show. I'll do the actual setup sometime tomorrow, and once everything is up and running I'll drive on over to my Grandfather's house. I'll get to see him and his "mistress," as well as an aunt and uncle.

Although I'm looking forward to seeing relatives, it would've been hard to think of a worse time for this trip. Not only do Amanda and Judith still have their stomach bugs, yesterday Alexandra came home from daycare with a mild fever. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was able to help out Judith yesterday because I had to go on a service installation for a senior VP. And today, my mom was able to take off and watch the kids. Judith was well enough to make it into work, which she needs to do because we've both missed a lot of days this winter being sick ourselves and being home to take care of Amanda when she's been sick. We have our babysitter lined up for tomorrow if needed. Gawd. I'm flying home Thursday.

Regarding yesterday's install, it was interesting. Along with my boss I headed out to a nearby country club, to which the previously-mentioned VP belongs. The club is getting high speed access for the office, plus they want to setup a hotspot for members. To cover the whole building we needed two SMC 2555W-AG access points. To isolate the hotspot traffic from the office LAN, two cable modems were installed, one for the office and the other for the hotspots.

The 2555W-AGs are business-grade APs, offering pretty good security features and good signal. They also support power-over-Ethernet. The interface is a little goofy, in my opinion. Initial setup is done through a console cable on the command line. You have to login via a terminal emulator and set the Ethernet port's IP, and if you are not located in the USA you'll need to change the country, due to different RF regulations in various countries. Once this initial setup is complete you can logon and use the web UI.

Altough the boxes support 802.11a, b and g, I disabled 802.11a. Very few people are going to have compatabile cards and I wanted to reduce the load on the units. Per the customer's wishes we activated encryption. Since the club doesn't have a captive portal this is the only feasible way to limit access.

One thing I disliked about the WAP is that you cannot have just WEP or just WPA. If you activate WEP, WPA is automatically enabled. I realize WPA is more secure but this is a semi-public hotspot and encyption is really only used for access control.

A side effect of having WPA enabled was that my boss could not get his Powerbook to associate with the access point. We couldn't figure out if it was something specific to his machine or an incompatibility between Apples and SMCs. I was wishing that I'd had my iBook with me for another data point.

That's it for now. More later, perhaps.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


This has not been a fun weekend. Both Amanda and Judith came down with a stomach bug. Our pediatrician's told us that yes, something is going around. Wonderful.

So as you can imagine, I don't have anything profound to write about.

I hope your weekend was more relaxing.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Followup on Philly CCW

Apparently, the guy that Philly has decided to railroad in my previous post is a lawyer.

(Let's audience laughter die down.)

Philadelphia is in for a world of hurt. As recently as 1996, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on the issue of Philly's ability to regulate firearms.

"The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.[*287] Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern. The constitution does not provide that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where it may be abridged at will, but that it shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth. Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation."

Ortiz v. Commonwealth
, 545 Pa. 279 (1996) at 286 - 287 (emphasis added). (The first line in the above excerpt is Article I, Section 21 of the PA Constitution.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Open season on CCW holders in Philly?

This is preliminary but it looks like John Street's efforts to go after CCW holders in Philly may have already started. See this thread on the SIG Forum (you'll need to go to the second page).

We need to keep an eye on this.

Well, this is a first

In general, I've found CD burning to work better under Linux than Windows. However, this morning I attempted to burn copies of the SUSE 9.2 Professional CDs for a coworker and K3B kept crashing on me. I was able to copy the first two discs, but starting with CD-3 is flat out refused to work.

So, I rebooted my laptop into XP and installed Nero 6.3. It worked flawlessly.

I wonder if the hardware has something to do with it. My source drive is my Dell D600's Toshiba DVD-ROM and the burner is a LaCie/Mitsumi 48x CD-RW connected via USB. I've certainly never seen such flakiness with K3B on Bagend, which has an NEC IDE DVD-RW.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

John Street is an Asshole

Mayor John Street of Philadelphia is an asshole. Philly had a rather nasty spate of murders committed with guns over the weekend, bringing this year's homicide total to 78. So what does Mr. Mayor want to do? Disarm the potential victims:

The mayor says Philadelphia is in the midst of a crisis. He's threatening to impose a moratorium on gun permits, perhaps as early as next week.

And, he says, he's written a letter to Governor Rendell, asking for a meeting to explore legislation regulating the sale of guns in Philadelphia...

Pennsylvania's Uniform Firearms Act fortunately reserves all regulation of firearms to the state. Moreover, there is no such thing as a "gun permit" in Pennsylvania. Unlike states such as Illinois or New Jersey, there is no requirement for an otherwise law-abiding citizen to obtain a permit to buy a firearm. Rifles and shotguns may legally be purchased directly from another PA resident, although handguns much be bought through a Federally-licensed dealer. And, before a dealer can sell any firearm to a customer, he must first pass a background check performed by the state police in Harrisburg.

So just what does Street want to put a moratorium on? Does he want to suspend the issuance of permits to carry a concealed firearm? If that's the case, then he's preventing people who are vetted by the state as certified good guys from carrying a gun for protection. Just how many of the recent spate of murders were comitted by carry permit holders? If it's anything other than ZERO I'd be very, very surprised -- otherwise the media would be trumpeting the fact.

This is just another big-city mayor looking for a way to deflect attention from his own failed policies by scapegoating law abiding gun owners. IOW, another asshole.


I installed NeoOffice/J on my iBook today. In the words of its developers:

... NeoOffice the main development project for making to run natively on MacOS X. It is a free software port of to the MacOS X platform.

In doing so, they are using Carbon and Java. The end result is that OO.o winds up fitting in with the rest of OS-X's GUI and it should run faster, since you don't need the overhead of X11. So far I've only used it a little bit, to create an invoice for a client and then export it to a PDF. We'll see how it does compared with the X11-based Mac port of OO.o.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

iBook RAM Upgrade

A little package from Crucial was waiting for me when I got home tonight -- the 512 meg SODIMM I ordered last week. I installed it after dinner.

This was the first time I'd popped open the iBook. Per Apple's instructions in the iBook owner's manual, I removed the battery, then flipped the box over and took off the keyboard. With the keyboard off I was able to get to the Airport Extreme wireless card, which sits over the RAM slot and so needed to be removed. Under the Airport Extreme is a protective metal plate held on with four tiny Phillips head screws. Luckily, the small Phillips bit on my Victorinox Cybertool fit the screws or I'd have to go find my jeweler's screwdrivers. With the plate out of the way I was able to access the DIMM slot and install the new stick. Reassembly was in reverse order.

The iBook recognized the new RAM without problems. You can check this by going to the Apple menu and selecting "About this Mac."

So far the upgrade seems worthwhile. The machine is noticeably better running when I have multiple apps running. After logging in I opened Thunderbird, Firefox, IE, Safari, iChat, and Yahoo! Messenger. With the stock 256 megs of RAM everything would've opened much more slowly. And it may be just me, but several graphics-intensive sites, e.g.,, seem to render faster now.

So, I definitely recommend upgrading if you're running OS-X on only 256 megs of RAM. 512 should be good, and 768 is great. OS-X will use it.

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a busy past few days.

Saturday was spent at home with the kids, then Judith and I went out for dinner while my parents babysat. It was a nice break.

Sunday afternoon I took a drive up to Cabela's. I'd forgotten that they are having their Spring Expo, and when I got there found that it was mobbed. No matter, I got what I went for: 4 .50 caliber ammo cans. I want to get all of my ammo into these cans so that it's better organized and sealed against humidity. The cans are also too difficult for small kids to open, although in a couple of years they'll both be exposed to guns for safety reasons. Take away the "forbidden fruit" stigma and kids are much less likely to get into trouble with guns.

Aside from the ammo cans, Cabela's had a sale on Sellier & Bellot .45 ACP @ $7.49 for a box of 50. In my experience, S&B makes accurate, reliable ammo. I've had good results in the past with S&B .303 British, 9mm, and .45, so I bought four boxes of .45. Finally, I also picked up an HKS speedloader for my Ruger Service Six. The Ruger has now replaced my S&W Model 28 as my downstairs house gun. It shoots just as well and if G-d forbid I ever have to use it, I'd be less upset at losing the Ruger to the evidence room than the Smith.

Yesterday I attended an installation of our hospitality service offering at the same hotel I visited for the site survey about a month ago. It's in Beach Haven, NJ on Long Beach Island, which is about a two hour schlep each way. It was educational and got me out of the office for a day.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Feds Investigating Pluto Data Scam

This is a bit of good news.

Federal authorities have opened an investigation into a rash of mysterious $30 and $40 charges appearing on consumer credit cards around the country, has learned. The charges are for the purchase of DVDs and CDs from a company named "Pluto Data Ltd." Thousands of complaints about the charges have appeared on a Web site devoted to the mystery, with consumers saying they've never heard of the company.

I hope they catch the bastards behind this scam.


I spent this morning trying to get our Symantec IGear license reactivated. We purchased a renewal last month from one of Symatec's resellers but they sent the new license certificate to the wrong person here. As a result, the old license was allowed to lapse. I got shunted around by Symantec to several different department until finally I was pointed at a web page to enter in the IGear serial number and the new license number. Everything should be back up and running once our Qubes do their daily check-in. What a massive PITA. I'm glad it's Friday.

This afternoon I ordered a 512 MB SODIMM from Crucial to upgrade the RAM in my Apple iBook. It still has the stock 256 MB which is on the light side for OS-X. Usable but by no means optimal. 512 MB is usually the recommended minimum. Since the iBook has 1 free slot I'll have a total of 768 MB, which should be plenty.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gerber Multi-Plier 400

Apparently I spent a pretty good chunk of change at REI over the past year, so when my annual dividend came in last week is was about $43. Of course, it burned a hole in my pocket, so I went up to the local REI store but didn't find anything I wanted. I'd hoped to find a good multitool, since my old Gerber Multi-Plier Scout had gone AWOL (it's since shown up). After getting home I went to their website and ordered a Gerber Multi-Plier 400 Value Pack from their outlet store on closeout. It came in today's mail.

The MP 400 is a compact model so it's smaller than my MP Scout. It came with a black ballistic nylon belt pouch and an Infinity Ultra LED task light (hence the "Value Pack"). Aside from the pliers with wire cutters, it's got a few different screwdriver blades, Fiskars scissors, and a knife with a half-serrated edge. All tools lock open, one thing I've always appreciated about Gerber's multitools.

My first impression was that it is a little rougher than my MP Scout, but it may be that my Scout is just worn in, because I've had it since the late '90s. Other than that, I tried out the knife blade by cutting up some Pampers boxes when I took out the trash tonight. It's sharp. I tried out the scissors on a piece of nylon cord and it cut fine.

The Infinity Ultra LED task light is pretty cool. It is powered by a single AA cell; Gerber includes a Duracell. The light is machined from aluminum so it should be quite rugged. It's finished in the white and has a black steel pocket clip. The body of the light is machined into a tail with a hole for a lanyard, which you have to supply yourself. I made one with a piece of green paracord.

The light is bright enough to keep you from tripping over stuff in the dark and to work on things without blinding yourself. It could probably be made a bit brighter if the reflector part of the bezel was polished better. Gerber claims that the light is good for 100 hours on the single AA cell.

My Multi-Plier Scout in currently in my laptop bag as part of my urban possibles kit, along with my Victorinox CyberTool 41 and an LED flashlight, among a few other items. I think I'll replace the Scout with the 400 since it's a bit lighter, and put the Scout in the console of my truck. The Infinity Ultra LED light will probably be stashed with my iBook, which I use when going to client sites.

Modem troubles

Those of us acting as guinea pigs for our forthcoming static IP service have been experiencing problems for the past couple of days. Due to some backend network architecture changes our IPs weren't routing. Mine went down sometime last night, but I didn't discover it until I tried to check my email from work this morning.

Upon getting home I logged into my SMC gateway and reconfigured it to pull an IP via DHCP, and got back online after the box rebooted.

Since I host behind the modem I had to go and update the DNS A record so that I could receive mail. DNS for is provided by the fine folks at I've been using them for a couple of years now and have been 100% satisfied. One thing that's impressed me is the speed at which changes to DNS records propagate. Every time I've had to update the A record for, I've been able to start receiving mail within 15 minutes, from a variety of outside senders.

Astaro Review Online is running my review of Astaro Security Linux 5.1. Check it out and tell me what you think.

McCain-Feingold "Clarification"

The outrage in the blogosphere has been noticed:

Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold reassured the Internet community that bloggers will not be regulated by federal campaign finance laws.

"The latest misinformation from the antireform crowd is the suggestion that our bill will require regulation of blogs and other Internet communications," they said. "This issue has nothing to with private citizens communicating on the Internet."

Uh huh. One thing Congress is really good at is drafting ambiguous legislation that can be applied by courts in ways the writers of the legislation didn't intend. Legislation gets passed and then the law of unintended consequences takes over. Look at how RICO, intended as a tool for fighting organized crime, has morphed into a law used to go after abortion protesters. With respect to the law under scrutiny here, a court has already ruled that it is applicable to more than what its primary sponsors claim.

Methinks that McCain and Feingold were taken by surprise with the shitstorm the FEC's comments generated.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Powerline Ethernet

I'm looking for feedback on powerline Ethernet (e.g., HomePlug) from anyone who's used it. I was recently asked to come up with a cheap solution for providing Internet access to guests of small hotels (50 rooms or less). My idea involves using powerline Ethernet to provide in-building backhaul for several wireless access points. One of the powerline Ethernet bridges would be connected to a cable modem.

I realize that powerline Ethernet is a technology mostly used in homes, but I'm especially interested in hearing from anyone who's used it in a business environment. How well did it work? Were there any particular problems you ran into?

Thanks in advance.

More chipping away at the First Amendment

So much for being the party of smaller government:

... two key GOP leaders last week were talking about expanding it. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told reporters he wanted to extend the agency’s control over “indecent” speech to cable and satellite television. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, his House counterpart, said he also might support the idea.

What a load of crap. What part of "Congress shall make no law..." is so damn difficult to understand. I agree with the sentiment that an awful lot of content on TV and radio is foul. But more Federal regulation administered by unelected bureaucrats in the name of protecting the American people isn't the solution. If people find something offensive -- especially on a service they pay for each month -- they can turn it off or change the channel.

This just goes to show you that like the Democrats, Republicans are statist control freaks at heart. Each party just likes to regulate different things. The Dems want to regulate stuff like guns, race, and business, while the Reps want to regulate what you do with your genitals, what you watch or listen to, and what substances you can put in your body.

More template tweaking

Based on reader feedback I got rid of the navy blue background in the header. I'm still not 100% satisfied with this template so I may switch to something completely different. Anyway, at least now the header is legible.

Monday, March 07, 2005

MFI Blog

GWA.45 created a new blog specifically for the McCain-Feingold Insurrection. Current members are listed there.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

New color scheme

In light of reader feedback I changed the color scheme. Hopefully this is a bit easier on the eyes. Please let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

How the Government Breaks the Law

From Judge Andrew Napolitano:

It should be against the law to break the law. Unfortunately, it is not. In early 21st-century America, a dirty little secret still exists among public officials, politicians, judges, prosecutors, and the police. The government - federal, state, and local - is not bound to obey its own laws. I know this sounds crazy, but too many cases prove it true. It should be a matter of grave concern for every American who prizes personal liberty.

When I became a judge in New Jersey, I had impeccable conservative Republican law-and-order credentials. When I left eight years later, I was a born-again individualist, after witnessing first-hand how the criminal justice system works to subvert and shred the Constitution. You think you’ve got rights that are guaranteed? Well, think again.

Read the whole thing. H.L. Mencken comes to mind:

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Regulate THIS!

In just a few months, [FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith] warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines. Link.

The McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act stinks like a barrel of dead fish, and this is the topping. Using it to directly suppress individual political speech is beyond the pale. Fuck that. I will not be silenced. I will write whatever the hell I want and link to any site I please. I don't want to have to sit down one day and answer the question from my kids, "Daddy, what did you do when they censored the Internet."

Molon Labe applies not just to my guns, it applies to my keyboard. Join the M-F Insurrection!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Out and about

This afternoon I'll be going to one of our customers who is experiencing intermittent connectivity problems. Their SMC gateway keeps dropping offline and has to be power cycled. We have several customers experiencing similar problems and we've been unable to replicate this in our lab. So, we're planning to setup a laptop connected to the modem via a serial cable and save the console output to a file. We'll simultaneously run Ethereal to see if maybe the problem is being caused by some kind of weird packets. We'll leave the laptop onsite for a few days to gather a good amount of data.

The SMC 8013 gateway that we use doesn't have a regular 9 pin RS232 port on it. Rather, the serial console is only available if you pop the cover off and connect a custom cable to an array of pins on the mainboard. Obviously, it's not anticipated that this will be a frequently-used feature.

Rather than going into the office then out to the customer, who is in West Chester, I'm just working from home this morning.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Pluto Data Scam

I just sent this to the Daynotes Backchannel:

Hi all,

I just got hit by the "Pluto Data" scam. I called my credit card issuer and they're going to dispute the charge. I should have a credit back to my account in 3 business days. In the interim I've deactivated the card; the issuer said that closing the account would hurt the fraud investigation. Assuming this goes in my favor the account will definitely be closed, though.

Bascially what the scammers do is place a charge on your credit card for $29.99 or $39.99. There's an 888 number for Pluto Data on the credit card statement. Other folks who've called the number get informed it's for a DVD or CD that they didn't order.

the working theory the perpetrators seem to be using is that at $30 - $40 charge when mixed in with a bunch of other items on a statement won't be noticed, or if noticed, ignored. Luckily, I hadn't used the card at all last month so when I saw the Pluto Data charge it immediately raised a red flag.

There is a long, detailed thread about this on the forums:,12704660

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you feel should read it, and/or put it on your Daynotes page.

Dave Markowitz AIM: dmarkowitz527 Y!: dave_markowitz RKBA = FREEDOM!!!

People who commit this kind of fraud should be hanged, drawn and quartered.