Thursday, June 30, 2005

A family that binges together...

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me (Proverbs 30:8).

A couple of Saturdays ago, Rizza and I brought the kids and Ria out for a short stroll at our usual weekend haunt at Suntec City. The kids had their routinary koi-feeding activity at the koi garden. They also went a-wishing at the Fortune Fountain with Ria in tow. Afterwards, we went for a whiff of fresh suburban air at the Sky Garden where the kids enjoyed the mini-playground.

Later, we headed down to basement 1 for the Fountain Food Court for our customary makan binge. Rizza had carrot cake (which is neither made of carrot nor a cake) and a couple of popiah, Ria and Butoy shared a plateful of chicken cutlet with fried rice, Am had her fave spring chicken with fried rice, but I was kind of feeling a bit stuffed so I went for a lighter feast --- kopi-c with kaya toast and two half-boiled eggs. Yum!


I used to frequent this Ya Kun Kaya Toast stall near Lau Pasat when I was still working for this company in the CBD area. They were serving the best kaya toast/half-boiled eggs combo this side of Singapore. Miss that, bigtime.





Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Firewall panic...

I was going through a regular check of my PCs log files (iis, av, firewall, rootkitrevealer, etc.) when I noted 142 high-rated blocked intrusions from my firewall log. Aparrently, there has been an abnormally high port 139 activity lately in the internet. I reckon one little bird telling me from IRC a few days after this month's patch tuesday to expect something "interesting" in the next few days as exploits of the released vulnerabilities were already spreading around.

Port 139 is one of the better-known NetBios ports. It is Microsoft's NetBios session port used for Windows File and Printer Sharing. It has been, perennially, one of the most attacked MS ports. For PCs directly connected to the internet, once a folder is shared with the default permissions (everybody: full control) and assuming no NTFS restrictions were defined, it is very likely to be pwn3d in a matter of minutes.

I wonder whether these machines doing port 139 probes are actually zombies which may be a part of a huge botnet carrying out an orchestrated scan of the port in the internet. The last time I ever encountered such a heightened port 139 activity (based on my honeypot's logs) was during the height of the mofei virus infection. Is this a precursor to a more potent variant of the virus, or a totally new, yet to be detected, worm which exploits one of the newly discovered vulnerabilities (my hunch is the SMB vulnerability)?

Brace yourself, there's more to this than meets the (firewall's) eyes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gloria's Mea Culpa, a little too late?

Yes, it was Ate Glo after all.

The President finally admitted that she was the person in the Gloriagate tapes whose conversation with (allegedly, until he owns up himself) Comelec Commissioner Garcillano were illegally recorded. Why it took her almost an eternity to confess is the 64-dollar question. Did she really try to influence the polls back then? Did she, uhm, try to push her weight around for her own gain? Did her spin doctors run out of tricks in trying to salvage her from this quagmire of lies(?) she has sank herself into?

She has said sorry to the nation. So what? The nation was not waiting for the rethorics much less an apology from her. Therein lies the dilemna of the President. Her apology may not be tantamount to admitting her trying to manipulate the election results but to the politics-weary man in the street, she's as guilty as sin. I wonder whether if she had cut and cut cleanly right after the brouhaha surfaced, things would be different. But that is moot now at this point in time.

Knowing the penchant of our politicos making mountains out of molehills, I expect this issue to heat up all the more in the coming days (expect more grandstanding, i would say). I just hope the rammifications to the economy in general is minimal. Kawawa naman ang karamihan pag nagkataon.

There are even talks of new EDSA revolution, etc. Tsk, we Filipinos should really learn from the lessons of the past. History repeating itself is an immutable fact; but history repeating itself again and again and again makes for a humdinger of a blog post (in the absence of a more quoteworthy quote, lol).

Bottomline, my support is still with the President (as I see no suitable presidentiable *my own opinion* from the opposition). It is during these times of distress when the true worth of a nation is measured. Suportahan taka, Ate Glo. Pardon moi, that's just my wasted self, ranting after a day of freaking work. =)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Wild Wild Wet weekend...

The pamilya di-magiba went to the NTUC Downtown East's Wild, Wild Wet water theme park last Saturday. It was a struggle forcing the mantikilya family out of their slumber (normal weekend waking hours range between 10 - 11 AM). With bathing suits and swimming trunks in tow (and the usual swimming gears --- goggles for Am, Butoy's rubber duckie, tabo for me), we went a-dipping to our hearts' content (okay, some _visual_ feasts as well, heh -- panay batok nga sa akin ni Rizza eh, dami kasing chikababes na naka french cut).

This activity was organized by the Children's Worship Service (CWS) to which Butoy and Am attend to during Sundays. A number of families from our church, together with some CWS officers, were with us during this endeavor. We saw Adie with Rolly and Olive, Noel with his two barakos, the EspaƱol family, the SMD gang (Tuti, Amy, Ruthy, and others), the Monteverde family, the Pascual family, the Romero brothers, the Rivera family, and more.

The kids really relished frolicking in the Shiok River, the Slide, the Tsunami, and the other water rides that by 2 PM they were totally wasted. So we had to call it a day and headed home. Yeah, we were dog-tired and I was getting giddy with my eyes exhaustion (or was it overindulgence? harhar). But we all agreed, on a 4-to-1 vote, (Rizza being the quintessential KJ *toinks*) to return to this place once again during the next school break. Instead na camera dadalhin ko, largabista na lang... at eye-mo!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bill Gates LIVE!

Woot!

I just received my ticket for the Bill Gates LIVE! Fom Technology to Career show at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre on July 1. Will Bill's legendary Blue-Screen-of-Death curse turn up again as it did a number of times before? I bet MS-bashers would love to see Bill get BSODed again by his own *tounge-in-cheek* _crappy_ software. Harhar.



Anyways, I hope to gain an insight on what MS has to offer in the coming days. I'm quite keen to get a glimpse of their new client OS, avalanche (bittorrent-killer, as one of my MS-zealot friends say), SQL 2005. VStudio TS 2005, etc. Crappy or not, I will have to support these MS-apps in the future as the infrastructure I work on is mainly MS-centric. Beggars can never be choosy, you know. =)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Remembering Dad...

You left us almost 23 years ago. I have never seen Mom so devastated when news of your death reached us. She gathered us, Nitz, Sherren and I, and told us, in between sobs, you were gone. At my age then, it was hard to accept the truth. I cried not because you were gone, as I had no inkling of what death is all about that time, but because I symphatized with Mom. We were just too young then to comprehend what was happening around us. We couldn't make heads or tails of the events unfolding before us then. Why were there so many people in our house?

I've seen so many people crying during your wake both in Camiling and in Malasiqui. People whom I've never seen before. But they were one in saying you were a good man. Always ready to lend a hand, obliging to a fault. I listened to the testimonials of your colleagues and friends from Saudi Arabia and was not surprised at all the praises and tributes they pronounced. You had a heart and personality bigger than your 250-pound frame.


You were a good father. The best, in fact. I recall the day when you went your way to bring me to the movie Kuwatog. Remember Dad, we had a blast then? Or those times we'd go to the Manila Zoo which was just a stone's throw away from our house in Malate? Or the regular promenades we used to do at Luneta?

When we moved out to the province, each weekend you were home was fun. We'd wait by Apong's window overlooking the road and watch you emerge from the rickety bamboo gate then. And the usual Cindy's chicken bbq that you brought home sure made our day then. This was the routine then Dad. Before you left for the so-called "greener pasture" in Saudi.

Like you, Dad, I chose to be an OFW. Not because I lost hope to my country but because of the very same reason that drove you to that choice --- to earn for your family's future. I myself am now a father, Dad. And I try, as much as I can, to inculcate in my children's minds the values you have imparted on me during the short period we got to spend together. It would have been great if you were able to see them grow. They're a handful, I warn you.

It took a while before I came to accept you were gone, Dad. There were times when I felt you have just gone away, to return again sometime in the future. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, I was always looking for a father figure, sort of. Courting girls? I was clumsy. I knew you would have kicked my butt had you seen me going home dead drunk when I was in college. Funny dad, but I kind of missed a lot of your advices during those times of my juvenile jaunts.

Thank you, Dad, for being such a good father. I miss you, Dad. Bigtime.

Grounded....

I've been grounded for the past two days. This damn flu has got to go. My tasks are piling up! There is that decision document for my project which I am supposed to finish by month's end; there's the invitation I need to send for the security training I am conducting on the 4th of July; my EPC assignments; etc. Talk about biting off more than I can chew. If I had my druthers, I'd go to work. Darn...

Come to think of it, this is the first time I had gone on MC for two consecutive days. I'm still feverish, body aching badly. My throat itches like hell and my head seems going to burst any minute. Throw in this nagging cough and I'm in the pits.

I hope I'd get well soon. Sitting around doing nothing makes me feel antsy and bored.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sharing the spirit of Ubuntu...

"Humanity for others", that is what the ancient African word "Ubuntu" means. With the unfussy catchphrase "Linux for human beings," Canonical has hit the nail right in the head when it comes to bringing out a totally new and exciting user experience. And to say that the user interface is the best of the (Linux) lot, is totally a mortifying understatement (m_p_o).

I just received my Ubuntu CDs from Canonical this afternoon. Each package (total of 15) contains two CDs, one install CD and one live CD, and comes in a nifty packaging. I have distributed about 6 packages to my colleagues as my own little way of spreading the OSS message. My colleague Joel even claims that the Live CD interface puts Knoppix to shame (j_p_o). And coming from a Knoppix-loving, Nagios-using, Linux-zealot, WRX-driving chap, then there must be a tinge of truth in it *laughs*.

I am an open-source believer. I believe that the common tao should not be hindered from having access to the 1's and 0's of the digital world. Software license costs, if not totally free for normal home users, should not be steeply priced. Juan dela Cruz would rather bring galunggong to the dinner table for his family than bear the cost of one proprietary OS license.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Our own private playground...

This is our court. Where Butoy and I play New York playground-inspired hoops. It's where I've taught him how to execute that ankle-breaking, killer crossover. This is where he hones his trash talk, complete with "Stupid, Kobe!" and worse. The same place where, a few nights back, Lamar got dunked on by the man-kid Amare (El-Ay's my usual team while the kid goes for Phoenix because of the team's orange jersey).

This is also our racetrack. Where Butoy's Supra goes mano-a-mano with my Evo. Or Am's Skyline.

Or at times, this turns into our battleground. Where humans and orcs try to exterminate each other MDK-style.

There are times when we switch to Cartoon Network mode. When Am plays with her Powepuff game and Butoy with his "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles." And I play the applauding Dad, tsk.



Sometimes we'd all cuddle up and watch DVDs here as well, complete with popcorn and coke. Or listen to homegrown music from www.eradioportal.com while poring over our books (Butoy with his adventure pictorial books, Am with her fairy tales collection, and I with my IT books, some of which are shown on the right side of the picture).

This is our own li'l private playground. Where father, son and daughter spend most of their waking hours (well, at least during rainy weekends heh) breaking the keyboard. Pass me the popcorn sweetheart, and tell Mommy to stop bothering us...

Friday, June 17, 2005

DFRWS Forensic "Memory Analysis" Challenge

The Digital Forensics Research Workshop 2005 challenge is on!

Quoting an email from the Honeypots SecurityFocus mailing list:

Memory analysis is one of the primary themes of the 2005 Digital Forensics Research Workshop (DFRWS). In an effort to motivate discourse, research and tool development in this area, the Organizing Committee has created the intrusion/intellectual property theft scenario detailed at http://www.dfrws.org/2005/challenge/. This memory challenge is opento all, and team efforts are encouraged. An award will be given to the group that extracts the most information from the memory dumps, and the quality of documentation and novelty of techniques will be considered when choosing the winner. Network traffic associated with this intrusion will be made available during the workshop.

Time to bring out the the coroner's toolkit and start the autopsy! Let's get it on...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My daughter grows up...

Coming home from work a little while ago, I noticed Am-Am working on her drawings on the dinner table. I can see a marked improvement on her drawings. What used to be stick-people scribbles have taken more humanly shapes and forms. Her colours have gone more vivid, a mix of dynamic hues and bold strokes. I'll be posting some of her works occasionally.

She has also immensely progressed on her communications and writing skills. She was always acing her English exams the previous two terms (she only had two mistakes from the 20 or so English exams she had). Her teacher, Miss Foo, during one of the parents-teacher talk held at her school (Haig Girls School), told Rizza and I that Amberdawn was, so far, the brightest Filipino girl she had as a student.



Once in a while she would write short snippets to me and her mom. "I love you, Dad," or "Happy Mother's Day, Mom" then followed by a cheesy, cutesy message. This never fails to cheer Rizza and I up. Kahit kung minsan eh nagiging corny din ang baby ko.

Indeed she's grown... parang kelan lang ang baby ko eh pinapasyal pasyal ko pa sa bukid... namimitas kami ng manga o siniguelas... nanghuhuli ng tutubi... Funny but I get teary-eyed reminiscing those days...

Now she doesn't want to be called Am-Am anymore. Or Baby. Or Princess. "Daddy, you can only call me those when we're at home!," she would quip. Tsk, tsk... My daughter grows up... and fast!

Microsoft Patch Tuesday...

And so the the seemingly never-ending MS Patch Tuesday cycle has come full circle yet again. MS just released 10 (yes my dear OSS zealots *grins*, 10, one-oh) security hotfixes for this month. Not to mention 3 re-releases of previous patches (MS02-035, MS05-004, and MS05-019). A rundown of the patches can be found here.

Patch Tuesdays are notoriously reviled by systems administrators for the fact that rollout of patches within an enterprise entails a lot of taxing and tough work. One has to test whether a patch breaks an application or whether that million-dollar tester equipment still works after the patching or will a server crash, blah blah and more freaking blah.

MS has designated the second tuesday of each month as the day for releasing of security hotfixes/patches. March was an astoundingly big exception as MS didn't release any patch that month. Previously, MS was releasing patches as and when it sees fit (when a vulnerability is found, for example) and this had somehow created nightmares for SAs. Here you were just finished testing with one patch and was about to roll it out when *bam* another one comes in. Tsk, whoever conceived of the Patch Tuesday concept ought to be canonized (that is if he is dead *evil laughter*) or, at least, made a geek knight. =)

Now I have to refer back to my usual to-dos whenever such a day comes. Test the patches, cut some CDs containing these patches and pass to the application/equipment owners for testing, pilot rollout, and finally a mass, keep-your-fingers-crossed rollout. On paper (or blog or whatever) it sounds so simple and uncomplicated but it is not. Sometimes, Murphy is at work when you least expect him.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Microsoft Exams Retake Reprieve

This is a welcome news to all MS-centric IT professionals out there who are going for MCP certifications.

Microsoft's MCP exam retake promo has been extended for another three months. The new deadline for MS' "Second-Shot" offer is August 31, 2005 and retakes must be completed by September 30, 2005. This allows an exam taker who fails an MCP exam between June 1 to August 30 to retake that exam at no cost.

For more information, read the FAQs from the official MCP exam retake
website.



I myself have registered for this promo. I hope to upgrade my Windows 2000 MCSA and MCSE certs to Windows 2003. But as I have heard from some MCP forums scuttlebutts, Microsoft has really revamped the tests making them a hundred-fold (okay this might be an overkill *grins*) tougher. Sana mapalitan na mga pins ng mcse bear sa cubicle ko (photo shown).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Batam on my mind...

I was in Batam (Indonesia) yesterday for some ad hoc work. It seems the place hasn't changed much since the last time I was there.

It was almost two years ago to this day when I was last assigned in Batam. I was working on a project back then which took roughly four months to complete. I was onsite Mondays to Fridays and was back in Singapore during weekends throughout this period. I made quite a number of friends there --- the jovial Pak Tarman, affable Pak Anton, helpful Imam, Pak Wisnu, my designated driver, and the IFX Pinoy community (Mang Larry, Wilson, Gil, brother Crispin, Christian who has since left the company for , if I recall in right, Intel, to name a few). But living on Batam chicken for four straight months is no joke. Oh, I am not referring to the "flightless" chickens Batam is famous for (akin to the PH's mga kalapating mababa ang lipad). KFC, McDonald's, and ayam penyet from some local makan spots were my usual fares during this period. Good thing the Batam chicken has ample breasts and juicilicious drumsticks. =)

This photo was taken onboard the Jet Raider ferry showing the Harbourfront wharf.



This one was from the Sekupang ferry terminal taken while on my trip back to SG.


The ferrys are still dingy for my standards. One still sees some cockroaches and other insects crawling around. They are still seaworthy though and for those chicken-loving ah bengs who seem to flock to Batam during weekends, this is good enough.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Back to C++ basics...

C++, as far as my classical-C-oriented-self is concerned, is always full of surprises. I was working on this touch utility, one of my weekend pet projects, when I ran into some "unexpected" results. I had a self-referencing operator (although valid as far as C++ is concerned) which causes my app to give rather off the mark outputs.

This is a valid code:

i = i;

but one has to carefully check this before the operator is ran. For instance, the operator may free up the memory of the left operand and copy over the memory from the right operand. This would result in freeing the memory before it is even copied.

Once the project is up-and-about (and free of bugs, i hope), I will be posting the code here for all to test and play around with. I plan to use this as a component of a push-updates script (for a few files actually) to about 20 servers distributed all throught our Asia-Pac sites. Update arrives --> script runs --> copies the updates --> touches the updated files (and does *other* stuff) --> logs the operation. That's KISS for you. Keep it simple, (_and_) stupid.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Am and Butoy's toys (rhymes!)...


Am and Butoy have this growing collection of miniature toys (I don't friggin' know how to call them, really) which they have gradually collected whenever we go to our usual weekend haunt. I was often wondering how my one-dollar coins, which I normally just leave lying around my work bench, keep disappearing. Yun pala nilalagay nila sa alkansya nila, dyaske. Now, whenever I get hold of a one-dollar coin I try to keep it and pass it over to them during our weekend escapades (of course I do this when the wife is not looking, kunsintidor *grins*).

These are the latest addition to their collection.


And this is Butoy's gundam collection.

I am planning to get a nice little cabinet for these toys. In fact, I myself am starting to appreciate these. I got a number of such toys in my cubicle *grins*.

Photo-op for the unweary...

I attended a seminar last Week at Suntec City which ended around 5 PM. I was to meet my wife around 7 PM for dinner and since I had a lot of time to spare and it was quite a fine day, I went strolling around the vicinity of Suntec City. With my ever reliable R707 onhand, I went a-clicking here and there and was too engrossed with what I was doing that I almost forgot about the dinner thingy. Lucky the wife's bus was caught in a jam.

This one is taken near Esplanade showing the Singapore CBD skyline. On the foreground is the world-famous Fullerton Hotel and on the right shows the ongoing constructions along One Marina.

I walked all the way to the Clifford pier and had some kopi-c from one of the coffee stalls there. On the way back I took this picture of the durian-inspired Esplanade.

I'm planning of having my own photoblog soon. I'm still evaluating which blog hosting I'll eventually pick. Suggestions?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Pamilya Di-Magiba's Geylang home...

I have been working for the past 5 years here in Singapore and the experience has somehow humbled me in a lot of ways. I have learned to value kinship more than ever being far from my family (for the first 3 years I was here) and loved ones; to cherish friendship, old and new; and to put more trust in God and be thankful of His blessings. In retrospect, I count myself fortunate for having my family with me.

I have stayed in four different places here during the past 5 years. When I started working here, I was staying at this HDB flat in Telok Blangah which I shared with my sister and some friends (Mon and Michelle, and Allan). It was a couple of bus rides away from my workplace at Tiong Bahru and was just at the foot of Mount Faber (the view was splendictacularrr!). My stay here lasted for over a year when I had to go back to the PH (January 2002) as the wifey was about to give birth to Butoy.

I returned to Singapore around May 2002 and went on to stay at a Potong Pasir HDB (shared it with my sister and Marge), a stone's throw away from the Potong Pasir MRT station (which was still under construction when I arrived). During this period, I started working as a systems administrator for a client at Kallang Way (I was working for a service provider at this point of time) which was 15 minutes walk from where I was staying. Convenience is my middle name, so it seems *grins*.

Around June 2003 (after the SARS scare here had subsided), I brought my family over and moved to the Sunny Spring condo along Guillemard Road. It was a rather posh place compared to the HDBs I used to stay, complete with gym facilities, pools, and sauna. We stayed here for one year before we decided to move to Wing Fong Mansions in Geylang.

Ah, Geylang. It is what is Ermita (during it's heydays) is to the PH, if you get my drift. The place may be a tad raunchy what with all the girls plying their "wares" at Lorong 14, Lorong 12 and Talma Road, tsk tsk tsk. Temptations, temptations, temptations. But why stay here? The answer is full of "becauses" - because it's near our church, because I can take Bus 125 to work (10 mins walk to the bus stop), because Am's school is near, because it's 10 minutes away to Suntec City, because it only takes one bus ride for my wife to her work (Bus 70), and more. Convenience.

This is the view from outside the masters bedroom overlooking the National Stadium, Suntec City and the famed Singapore CBD skyline.



And this is how it looks at night. Awesome (though not in a Mount Faber kind of way)...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Movie Review: Madagascar

Allow me to deviate a bit from the usual geek stuff I have been blabbering about in my previous posts. I will don my movie critic hat for this one and will talk about the movie Madagascar which the pamilya di-magiba went on to watch yesterday at the Golden Village Cinemas at Tampines Mall.

The movie is about the fancy of Marty the Zebra (voiced by Chris Rock) to "return to the wild." Marty, together with his friends Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) are the pampered lot of Manhattan's Central Park Zoo. Alex is the narcissistic "King" of the zoo, Gloria the maternal and protective member of the group, Melman is the hypochondriac, pill-popping giraffe, and Marty who daydreams about frolicking in the wild during his workouts.

How the four ended up in Madagascar through a bunch of hilarious misadventures is really quite entertaining (the pace was quite fast, afaiac). Ali G voicing King Julien the 13th, the lemur king, provides added laughs with his Rastafarian antics and all.

Overall, the movie is very entertaining, the visuals lush and detailed but replete with human quirks. Butoy had a blast, Am-am said she just luuurve the movie. Rizza, playing the role of spoiler to the hilt, said it was so-so and a tad boring. Me? I have to agree with the kids on this one.

Next stop, Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bill Gates in Singapore...

The man is coming!

Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation, Geek Extraordinaire, is coming to Singapore on the 1st of July. According to the MS Singapore website, he will be speaking about the future of computing including latest updates on upcoming product releases such as SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and Longhorn.



I have registered for the event hoping I'd get the chance to catch a glimpse of the man who has helped shape the information technology world to what it is today. I might even get lucky and have the chance to ask the man a question!

Also speaking in the event is Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technologies, SH Goh from the Singapore WDA, Anand Shankar from Hewitt Associates, and Colin Png of Microsoft APAC.

Hate him or love him, Bill Gates will always occupy a special spot in the geek Olympus.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

SG Reunion (sort of)...

Corazon Amores, a highschool classmate of mine and a good friend of my wife, was in town last week. Currently based in Medan, Indonesia, Cora was here to attend a training so we took the opportunity to bring her out for dinner last Sunday. It has been ages since we have last spoken so we tried to catch up on each other life's goings-on. To quote my email to our class' yahoogroup,

Not that I'm waxing lyrical here (on the chit chats and recollections) but it sure was a mix of nostalgia and joy to look back at how we all have grown (pounds,inches and all) since our high school days.



Sometimes one needs but a moment to ponder on the past, look at the present, gaze at what beckons and truly appreciate all the small things --- friendship, love, companionship --- and be thankful for what he is and what he has.