I'm looking for inexpensive travel options. Doesn't have to be right now but sometime in 2013 would be good.
Ordinarily this would be a year I'd go to Australia for a SAGE-AU conference but they're not doing those anymore (sadness). Last time I had this much vacation banked I went to Oslo for 6 weeks as a visitor at Oslo University College's masters in system administration program (an option I'm considering again). It would be interesting to do something I haven't done before, though.
The tutorial slate has been announced. Technical presentations have been selected (and submitters notified). Registration will be opening and full schedule will be posted in the next few days.
The first time I was tested it took 3 weeks to get the result. Those were, without a doubt, the most miserable three weeks of my life. I spent the entire time worried and wondering and pondering the "what if?"s. What would I do? Who, if anyone, in my family would I tell? Could I even face my family? Sure, I was always careful but with something like that can you ever be careful _enough_? I still have those fears every time I am tested, though thankfully it now only takes about 20 minutes to get the initial results.
Like everyone, I've lost people to it along the way. There are holes in my life that will never be filled. There are holes I don't even know about because I never met the person who would/could have been significant to me.
As treatment gets better and life expectancy gets higher I sense a lot of complacency not only in the GBLT world but also in the straight world. People seem to think it doesn't matter anymore.
It. Matters. It matters more than I can ever hope to express.
Do yourself and everyone you care for ... and those you will care about in the future a favor. Learn about it. Behave responsibly.
This historic event was 40 years (or way more) in the making. I want to thank the state senators and representatives who had the courage to Do The Right Thing in passing this law.
As I have been saying as long as I can remember, "We don't want special rights, we want equal rights."
If you would like an invite the next time they open the window please let me know. Private message (email, IM, etc) me the email address you want it sent to. It seems to work best if the address is somehow connected to a Google service.
January 05, 2011
Dear Mr. Damon:
Thank you for contacting United Airlines.
I understand your concerns regarding security screening.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assumed responsibility for security screening for all major U.S. airports, effective November 19, 2001
I will forward your feedback to our senior management, so they understand how the experience impacted your perception of air travel.
We appreciate your e-mail (sic) and hope to see you on a future United Airlines flight.
Ok, for now I'm going to ignore the missing . after 2001 and failing to notice that I'd taken the time to actually write and post a letter instead of dashing off email. What I'm not going to ignore is the complete lack of saying anything meaningful. A.k.a a failure to communicate.
Hopefully that senior management will actually say something.
Na, not going to happen.
"9569: To finish the PIN process enter the code on sprint.com ONLY. Sprint personnel will not ask you for it. If you shared it by mistake, call *2. ######## Call back #: #######"
Note the part where it says "Sprint personnel will not ask you for it" - their trick was to call as I got the page and say they are trying to track some service problem and ask me to read the 8 digit number. Thus directing my attention to the end of the page and skipping over the improtant security warning. I was distracted by what I was doing so I questioned it briefly but read him the number. I immediately received another message saying my PIN and "secret question" (note the sneer marks) had been accessed.
My suspicions were raised by this second message - Sprint should never need that information. They were confirmed when he called back asking for "just your first name on record, to confirm your identity". At this point I was no longer distracted but was paying attention only to the phone call. I asked him to prove he was with Sprint and he said he'd have his supervisor call me and got off the phone. Of course, no supervisor called.
The call came from 206-567-3943 (located on Vashon Island). The fact it wasn't a 1-800 number was another clue that it wasn't from Sprint.
Within seconds of the second call I was on the phone with Sprint. They confirmed they would never have placed such a call to me and transferred me to the fraud department - which, it turns out, was closed. I went to the web site and changed the PIN and question within a few minutes of the initial contact.
I think the only thing that "saved" me from being burned really badly was the fact that I used a unique PIN and question on that site. They shouldn't be able to use them for any other access. However, they did have access to my Sprint account which means they can find out other information about me (I'm not sure how bad the leak is yet, I haven't spoken with the fraud department yet). So far I don't see any new lines of service or long distance/international calls. I don't know if the sprint site would have required them to re-authenticate once I changed the PIN.
Social engineering is the most pernicious and most difficult form of cracking to fight. If I'd had (or taken) 30 seconds to read the text of the page instead of letting him direct me to just the part he wanted I wouldn't have been had at all. By keeping me distracted and knowing enough about the text of the page he managed to get the information he wanted.
The easiest way to stop this kind of fraud: If someone calls from your credit card company, phone company, or any other company, and asks you to read a number or otherwise interact tell them you'll call them back - and call back the main number, not the number they give you.
P.O. Box 6120
Rapid City, SD 57709-6120
Dear Sir or Madam,
As an examination of this year's records will show, I have done very little traveling with you — to the point where I will no longer be a premier customer next year. I have always felt that a regular customer should let a company know why they have reduced or stopped doing business.
In this case the cause can be traced to a simple acronym:
The TSA has managed to finish changing something I used to look forward to with joy-filled anticipation — travel — and turn it into not only something of a drudgery (the industry changes in the past 10 years did that, though premier status helped mitigate that a bit) but now something to be actively avoided. At this point I look forward to travel with about the same level of joy and anticipation I would a protracted visit to the dentist. With the deployment of the backscatter scanner and seriously invasive pat-downs my desire to go to other places via air has reached an all-time low.
If the supposed security represented by these activities were real I would probably be more willing to tolerate them but it is quite clear from the analysis that not only is it not helping to keep us safe but is instead actually achieving the terrorists’ aims of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
In conversations with friends who likewise were heavy travelers it has become clear to me that many of us are avoiding airline travel whenever possible. I have been doing most of my long-distance domestic travel by Amtrak. The one flight I took this year would have been booked on the train but time constraints prevented it.
It is my hope that the carriers, realizing the lost revenue unwilling travelers like me represent, will begin pushing back against the TSA and their security theater. You can get me back in the air by making it pleasant (or at least not actively unpleasant) to travel again.