War Driving from Fremont to Reno, Nevada

During one of our trips to the gambling mecca this side of Nevada, we usually leave the house at around 7:00 in the morning.

old school geek memories - a stumbling we shall go
old school geek memories – a stumbling we shall go (Photo credit: philcampbell)

That normally allows us with enough time to make sure that someone had already heated up any one of our favorite nickel or penny slot machines, when we arrive. But, on this particular trip – which was on a Sunday – we left the house two hours earlier than the usual.

We’ll be driving much slower and will try to cover more secondary roads on selected cities and towns along the way. Armed with my relic-of-the dot-com-bust but still-trusty, WiFi-equipped notebook, a booster antenna and the notoriously popular wireless sniffer, NetStumbler, we’ll be war driving from Fremont to Reno, Nevada.

The rapid popularity of wireless Internet access spawned the fine art of war driving: a computer cracking technique that involves driving through a neighborhood with a wireless-enabled notebook computer and mapping houses and businesses that have wireless access points. There are states that deem this practice illegal. But not in these two tech-savvy states of California and Nevada — homes to Silicon Valley and the Comdex Expos.

But why war drive? It is because of my distaste for cell phones. While cell phones are convenient for emergencies, non-yakkers like me want to have Internet access – the world at your fingertips – as we drive along. The tiny screens in cell phones and other WiFi-enabled gadgets like the Palm Tungsten C just don’t compare to the full-glory of a big, crisp 12″ or 14″ TFT computer screen.

We utilized the I-580 East to 205 to I-5 North to 120 to CA-99 to Highway 80 East route to reach Reno, Nevada and in the course of the almost  4 and a half hours of leisurely cruising/war driving, I had concluded that it is not only indispensable to bring your notebook computer if you will embark on a long-haul drive but it also a convenient way to get in touch with the world – all for free… while giving your tired eyes a lot of relief! The world is indeed a small place with the Internet and WiFi access. Access points abound – except for the major portion of the uphill stretch from Placerville to Sparks – in most of the areas we drove by!

However, in time, war driving may suffer the same fate as using your cell phones while you’re driving — which is now widely implemented in densely populated cities — unless, a highly secure and selective encryption standard will come along the way. One that will be good enough to sort out the free-for-public-use wireless networks from the private ones.



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The Lusty Month of May (Sad It Is to Fiesta)

English: Street map of Manila, Philippines wit...
English: Street map of Manila, Philippines with points of interest indicated. This is an SVG version of Media:Ph map manila large.png. Updated for 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May is fiesta month in Manila. Streets will be crowded with people attending town fiestas. Will the merry month of May also herald the coming months – or, even years – of festivities in the country? Something to cheer and to be merry about? While jaded business traders may don’t care, the true investors really hope so. The country – already badly battered from the spate of tragedies during the post-Ramos administration – hopes that the hot but breezy month of May will prove to be the spark to propel the country in the right direction.

Fiestas had been part and parcel of Filipino culture. It had its roots back to the times when Spain ruled the world and, its brand of religion…the panacea for all ills. Lots of food, free-flowing beers and hot gossips abound in these yearly gatherings of families and friends. Streets are festooned with streamers and bands are playing constantly, as if reminding the residents of the good times that lie ahead. But sadly, fiestas also bring a false sense of prosperity, especially in these hard economic times. People, in the spirit of celebration, are sometimes forced to shell-out meager savings just to get by these ostensibly marked cultural events.

Much the same way investors may be lulled into a false sense of fiesta in the prevailing economic condition. The naive investor must rid himself of this false sense of bullishness (or bearishness) in the economy but should rather assess each and every day either as an opportunity or a day to scale down.

Manila’s current politico-economic climate is just too testy for now. Better not to fiesta at all but rather be holding that bag of goodies for the rainy days ahead! But, if you already made your stash in Manila, regardless of the economic direction it had moved, then…fiesta on! And don’t forget the lechon!

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The Netpliance hack parts….

The iOpener hack parts arrived via UPS a week after I had ordered them from an East Coast computer parts company. I could

hacking the i-Opener
hacking the i-Opener (Photo credit: blakespot)

have also bought the parts locally -and cheaper – but I don’t like to bother with the hassle of assembling them – specially the 44-pin IDE cable for the laptop HD that will hook up to the iOpener. The driving time to buy them locally will also offset whatever savings I can.

Aside from the cable, there is also the IDE adapter as well as the actual laptop HD (3 GB).

Total cost: $50.

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A Movable Type experiment

Blogs are becoming an easy way of having a presence on the web. Most of personal sites these days are blogs. TypePad and Blogger are getting into the mainstream. They had normally been called the ICQ of web sites .The former is fee-based while the latter is freebie. What sets them apart from the old days of free (or, paid) website? The richness of content and ease of use. Most of the content on blogs are syndicated (RSS) and links are, most of the time, ads. With blogs, you simply type away, add your images or photos, click a button, and, ergo, instant but professional-looking website – uh, er – blog!

Blogs are great if you simply love to write and put your ideas on the web. Unlike regular web sites, blogs lack the snazzy extra features that enables one to have total control of what to put on the site. But what it lacked in features, its ease of use is what casual web users loved the most and lured them to sign up for their services.

Since I host this site on my own web server, I decided give the most popular one – Movable Type from SixApart – a peek.

From what I had read before, I needed the latest versions of Movable Type, MySQL and the database hooks – they were quickly downloaded and installed (Perl also required but this is already included in OS X) on the server. After doing a lot of web searches, it took me some time to set it up and get it running, using instructions from maczealots.com. My plan was to incorporate the ‘blogger’ into this website but I backed out on the last-minute. It was a hardware hog – well, at least for my current setup and use. Rebuilding was quite slow. Since the Mac G4 is also my FTP server and web cam host, I didn’t like the extra strain Movable Type put on the server. Maybe, I can incorporate it on this site later on…when I get my hands on a G5!


After acquiring an Apple iMac G5 a few months later and testing other blogging software, I integrated the same blogger – Movable Type- to my web site in Oct. 01, 2004.

My other blog: kupitero.blogspot.com

Download the XML FeedReader here

A Short Trip to Lake Tahoe

I was feeling bored that I decided to make the four hours plus drive to Lake Tahoe, to take a breather.

English: The Gondola ride at Lake Tahoe, South...
English: The Gondola ride at Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After three days of revamping this site, the occasional tweaking of all the computers in the house and my fix-your-PC moonlighting, I had it for a while. After all, it had just been just quite a while since I updated/revised my (this) site. That third revision was easier, since most of the images were already done – from the previous two versions. My initial site and its subsequent revision were both hosted at Philippine-based servers. After I setup my own server, I thought that making any major revisions to one’s site will seem to be all too easy – I was wrong!

I noticed a smaller volume of traffic going to Tahoe specially on a weekend. Usually, the traffic is a little tighter – specially on a Friday – since the folks with RVs normally start their weekend jaunts early. Not so these days. Maybe the Indian casinos had really taken a deep bite into the business of the usual casino haunts like Reno, Tahoe and even, Las Vegas.

We arrived a with a little bit of sunlight to spare and immediately grabbed a quick bite at our favorite 24 hr. cafe inside the Horizon – – the spicy buffalo wings is always on our to-order list.

Afterwards, it was back to Harvey’s, where we played our favorite nickel and penny slots…way until the early hours of Saturday.

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Waiting for the Netpliance iOpener hack parts

The thing had been sitting on a makeshift shelf on the garage – very close to the roof. I had only tested it briefly after I had acquired it from an estate auction in Dec. 2002 (too bad, I missed to get the compatible Canon printer in the same auction!!!  Grrr).

Back then, it was still fairly a popular hobby for hardware guys to hack this piece. But, back then, maybe I got too much stuff to attend to and forgot the iOpener altogether.

Suddenly, last month – after I set up yet another PC/TV for my parents in our living room – using the assortment of PC hardware strewn in all parts of the garage – the final product doesn’t seem to appeal to me aesthetically. Ding! Ding! Why not use a hacked iOpener instead?

Maybe it’s fortuitous…Parts for the hack would have been considerably steeper had I done it earlier! Now, I’m simply waiting for the UPS truck to arrive!!!


You can see the ‘blow by blow’ account’ of the iOpener transformation (hack??) here.

After a month of on-off-on work, on 6/01/04, the hack was done. You can see the finished product here.