Category Archives: Fun things to do

30 year old mailing lists…

Approximately 30 years ago I learned about “mailing lists” being sold for profit. Out of curiosity, I created a few fake company names just to track how they might proliferate. I hadn’t thought about this in a a very long time until recently I started receiving mail addressed to one of these companies I created so long ago. It is amazing that after thirty years, and eight address changes, mail addressed to one of the companies “Pelican Productions” started showing up in fairly large quantities at my current address. I almost feel bad for the companies that paid money for some mailing list from that long ago.

A nostalgic look at answering machine messages.

Not all that long ago, answering machines were a really useful tool that we all felt we had to have. I’m talking 1990’s, when not everyone had a cell phone, and people actually looked forward to reviewing their answering machine messages when they got home from work.

Back then (when it was so… important :), my wife used to cringe at my tendency to have a little fun with the recordings we had on our machine. I remember a few messages that provoked some serious and humorous responses. One time I had a computer synthesized voice that said “Brian and Sheila are no longer available, I have taken control….”. My mother was really disturbed by that one. On another occasion I had one I recorded (in my best Voice Response System type voice) which said…. “You have reached the Blankenships, Press #1 if you are calling about home improvements, Press #2 if you are selling lawn treatments, and if you are the Courier Journal calling to get me to subscribe to the daily paper, please hang up now!”. That one got lots of laughs, and one rude comment which I imagine was someone soliciting subscriptions which happened almost daily at the time.

I also created some humorous audio clips which I used for several answering machine messages. I ran across some of these recently and decided to share them. I plan to put one of them (probably pickcurl.wav or vru.wav) on my current answering machine at home (yes, for some reason I still have a home phone albeit it is VoIP). File links are provided below for your amusement or use on your own answering machine or voicemail.

pickcurl.wav – a mashup of Star Trek TNG and Curly from the Three Stooges.
timon.wav – Funny clip from a song in The Lion King
various.wav – a bunch of things thrown together
vru.wav – a ridiculous set of instructions on how to leave a message. I didn’t create this one, and I can’t remember where I found it. It is still funny today though, and I think it might be the first one I put back on my answering machine.

I never considered myself an artist….

Discussing a data masking issue with some co-workers, my dry-erase marker started leaking all over everything. I had never experienced a marker over-filled like this. I grabbed some paper and flinged the excess ink on it. I soon decided it was art, signed and numbered it, and showed it to a co-worker who is putting it on eBay. If by chance you would be interested in paying a large sum of money for a one of a kind piece of art such as this, just let me know.


Phantom Me

This photo looks like I am just sitting in a conference room, but actually I am at my cube where I normally sit all day.   Weird reflection off of the glass makes it look like I am in the conference room.   Several people commented about it.  Weird, but an interesting effect.


Hide your Potato

Someone modified the “Please wash your hands” sign in the men’s restroom at work this week. You might have already seen this, as it got pretty popular on reddit and other places. Still amazed at how many people don’t get it. Not sure who to give credit to… the floor is mostly developers and geeks in general.

Pwn1ng n00bs

I work in Information Security, but that isn’t what this blog is normally about. Today I am making an exception and posting something security related. If you haven’t heard of this scam, there is a spike in people calling saying that they have detected problems with your computer, etc. They claim credentials, tell you they are Microsoft, or have Microsoft engineers on staff, etc. They bluff people into thinking they are legit, but in reality it is organized crime.

There isn’t much you can to do stop them from calling. They spoof their callerID, so even if you block them, they may change the callerID and get through again. I do wish the government agencies would spend a little time to track down these actors and deal with them. Since that apparently isn’t happening, the best I can do is waste some of their time.

If it is not clear at this point, no one that you do not have an existing agreement with should be contacting you about security issues on your computer. Always be skeptical and assume from the start that it is a scam. They typically install malicious software on your computer to aid in further compromise of your information, leading to identity theft.

Click this link to hear my audio conversation with them. Pwn1ng n00bs

Also check out John Strand making a much more epic counter attack to these type of organizations here:

And my friend Ardian Crenshaw doing the same: