I'm here today with absolutely nothing to talk about.. and that's what I want to talk to you about.

Still not dead. Still not sleeping, either.

Work has been keeping me busy lately, but thankfully not due to a certain beastie that was supposed to go off last week. Conflicker.C appears to have been something of a damp squib, and I for one am grateful. I'm not terribly surprised that it didn't bring about The End of the Net as we Know It. Hyperbole and RPG references aside, packing an out-of-date exploit as a primary vector of infection coupled with samples of the Conflicker.C binary itself winding up in the hands of practically every antivirus researcher on the planet a month in advance gave the AV companies ample opportunity to develop and deploy countermeasures. That's not to say that Conflicker is dead and buried, I'm just saying that this time around the white hats came out on top. Unfortunately, there will always be a next time.

Most of my spare time last week was spent with Lyssa cleaning up the apartment in preparation for a visit from her family this weekend, which wound up not happening for reasons I'll detail later. We finished rebuilding the office in record time and then broadened our efforts to encompass the rest of our apartment. All told, we threw out another five bags of trash and made two trips to the thrift store to get rid of books and equipment which were only taking up space. It's now at the point where the guys who help you unload your car recognize me on sight when I pull up. I freed up a total of three shelves in the library and office by throwing out binders of whitepapers that I still carry around soft copies of and the aforementioned charitable donations, only to refill them with the books that had accumulated on most every horizontal surface in the apartment. After all that, we still had to purchase a fifteenth bookcase (fourteenth if you don't count the one holding the DVDs) to store the overflow.

At this rate, we'll have to buy a house just to hold our library.
I'm sorry to say that the visit from Lyssa's parents (to help celebrate her brother's birthday) didn't happen. In February Lyssa's father was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is when the muscle tissue that comprises much of the heart becomes stretched out and thus unable to contract and pump blood efficiently. Bill's had asthma for years, and working in a coal mine in southwestern Pennsylvania for much of his life probably didn't help matters any. It is my understanding that Bill will have a defibrillator implanted later this month to monitor the electrical activity of his heart, and shock it back into rhythm in the event that it falters. He was supposed to visit with us (meaning, Grant, Lyssa, and myself) last weekend but started feeling poorly sometime Friday evening or Saturday morning. Lyssa's parents decided sometime around noon on Saturday that they weren't making the trip down.

On Saturday night we celebrated Grant's 30th birthday; during the past few weeks, Grant's significant other organized a surprise party for him which called together many of his friends from the area and even Jill and Mike from New Jersey. Lyssa and I rode the Metro down to their place last night, and thought that we'd arrived just in the nick of time (around 1800 EST5EDT). As it turned out, Mike and Grant had been bumming around downtown DC all day and somehow got stuck in traffic on the way home (they'd hailed a cab in an attempt to evade the irregular weekend Metro schedule but were trapped behind a wreck), which meant that they got home about a half hour late. Even though close to thirty people were packed into their living room, it still took Grant a good five seconds to register that we'd all shouted "Surprise!" at him. Talking to the party-goers later, consensus was that they thought he was going to go upstairs without registering our presence. Suffice it to say that all concerned had a good time at the party; there were a dozen pizzas. There was a cake. There were sundry and exotic beers. There was discussion of living la vida contractor. There was foccacia. There was Guitar Hero, though no one spun the guitar around their neck or played in their underwear but the controllers do show some promise.

Only recently have I been playing with my Asus Eee PC 900 and the beta release of Backtrack 4. Knowing full well that I'll probably have to re-do all of my custom configs from scratch when the final release comes out, I've been teaching myself the ins and outs of the distribution and in the process learning a little bit about Ubuntu Linux (which the new release of Backtrack is based on). It takes a little hunting to control power management on Backtrack but it's well worth the effort when it comes to actually installing it on a portable machine. While I'm a die-hard fan of the command line and editing config files, I really must admit that GUI tools do make certain tasks easier, most of them administrative in nature. I've also been putting some of the included utilities to task against one of my spare wireless access points, which has been an educational experience. However, attempting to run a fakeauth attack when you only have one gigabyte of disk space to store miscellaneous files (like the output of airodump-ng) is probably not enough. I also noticed that the version of gpsd will pick up the GPS in my field kit but doesn't seem to pull any meaningful data from it. In hindsight, I think it's due to the fact that it's trying to pull binary data across the bus rather than NMEA protocol data, but that's a trivial fix.

And now, back to madly trying to catch up on everything not directly related to work.