Category: Odd News


2022 Week 37 – Phone Phreaking

Last week I stumbled upon an old article on Altas Obscura, initially published in 2018, that brought back some fond memories. What if I told you that once upon a time (the late 60’s), you could take a cheap plastic whistle that you dug out of a box of Captain Crunch and blow it into a mouthpiece telephone to call any place in the world for FREE? The 2600hz tone the whistle produced was the same tone used by phone carriers to signal an open line on their once analog phone systems. Once you had an open line, you could dial any number you wanted free of charge.

Cap’n Crunch Bo’sun Whistle

Phone Phreaking “hobbyists” created a little “blue box” that reproduced the same tone, and the world would never be the same. A story about blue boxes was published in Esquire in 1971, and after reading, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (yes, the boys from Apple) were all over it, creating a business selling such a device. See, kids, we DID know how to have a good time before the Internet!

Blue Box

I was a little late to the phone Phreaking party, but I remember reading about it as a kid and “playing” around with phone lines using my Apple IIc computer in the 80s, and tiring known hacks on random pay phones I would come across. Since I’m unsure of the statute of limitations for such questionable activities, I’m just going to leave it at that.

2600 Magazine Winter 2017-2018

Years later, I discovered the infamous 2600 Magazine, launched in 1984 and still in publication today, and I got the bug again. For some unknown reason, I used to have the quarterly issues of 2600 delivered to my office vs. my home (poor attempt at privacy, I guess?), but I do remember expensing an annual subscription for “research” while I did a stint as a programmer in the early 2000’s. Inside each issue were stories of hackers doing some crazy things, like taking over the intercom system at K-Mart to accessing the terminals at Best Buy to get discount codes. The back cover was one of my favorite things about the 2600 magazine. It featured a picture of a working payphone from some random place around the world, something rarely seen in the United States these days.


Speaking of phones, Apple Insider just released a report titled “A secret tool lets police conduct mass surveillance using app data,” and it’s a little unnerving that data sold by Fog Data Science LLC to target ads based on a person’s location and interests is being accessed without a warrant.

Even if there is no crime scene, Fog boasts in marketing materials that it can offer police “predictive analytics” that claim to predict future hotspots of crime. The company says that it can provide real-time data on the daily movements of people with their trackable smartphones.

Apple Insider

This is another reason to audit your phone settings and adjust your security regularly.


And finally… If you use Emoji’s, you might have wondered how popular the one you’re about to send is. Well, wonder no more with this real-time Emoji tracker that shows the real-time emoji use on Twitter. Warning: a LOT is going on, and it might overwhelm those subject to issues with flashing things.

2022 Week 12 – Where There’s Smoke…

silhouette of people in musee d orsay clock

There was a HUGE warehouse fire at the Wal Marl Distribution center in Avon last Wednesday afternoon. All 1000 employees made it out safely, but the debris field stretched for miles as hazardous particulate in the smoke dropped from the sky miles to the north.

Warehouse fire in Avon as seen from Downtown Indy – 2022-03-16 @ 14:03 (IndyScan)

Amazingly enough, there was ANOTHER warehouse fire in the area the next day, but this fire started from welding sparks falling into foam insulation during construction.


Hot on the heels of the latest Daylight Saving Time (DST) change, the Senate passed legislation to end it. It still needs to be passed by the House, so we’ll see if it will happen. It’s not the first time the U.S. has tried ending it. At the end of 1973, Nixon signed a law that would end DST.

The experiment was supposed to last for two years, but it only lasted eight months, and Congress reverted to standard time in the fall of 1974.

https://time.com/6157915/daylight-saving-time-history/

I was running errands the other day & saw that the Saraga International Grocery store in Castleton (and old abandoned Target) had had a facelift. A nearby billboard is saying they are opening this Spring. It’s no Jungle Jim’s (in Cincy), but it’s better than anything else in the city. I hope the nearby ethnic stores aren’t impacted too much when this place opens.

And finally… The Wall Street Journal has an interesting video on Youtube called “What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close.” The Video was posted in October of last year, but it’s pretty interesting and shows what’s been going on at the shipping ports in the U.S.

2022 Week 6 – Snowmageddon

rain of snow in town painting

We received our first big snowfall of the season last Thursday. Total accumulation in the Indy area was 6-8 inches. It was enough to shut the city down for the day. Although some people like it, I’m not a big fan of the snow shovel (or the sore back for days afterward). Luckily I found a neighborhood Boy Scout on Next Door offering his services to neighbors and asking people to pay what they think is fair. Glad to see some kids out there are willing to do a little manual labor to make some money.


When the weather turns cold, it’s fun to start a new show & really get into it. I’m not one to “binge” in the true sense of the word by watching non-stop all day long, but I can knock out a few episodes a night and finish a season pretty quickly.

My current Top-10 “binge-worthy” shows (in no particular order) are:

  • The Sopranos
  • Breaking Bad
  • Better Call Saul
  • The Americans
  • Homeland
  • Halt and Catch Fire
  • Sex Ed
  • Ozark
  • Good Girls
  • Ted Lasso
  • Bonus: Rick & Morty

I’ve been working a few days a week in the Lawrence, Indiana area, and there’s a serious lack of decent food over there. After a lot of scanning the area on Google Maps, I happened upon a place called Fitzgerald’s Lunch House. My first meal was an online order because I was short on time. I ordered the Roast “Beast” with Mac & Cheese (self allowed cheat day). Everything at Fitzgeralds is scratch-made, and you can really tell. The quality is superb, and the portions are plentiful. It honestly was one of the best roast beef sandwiches I’ve had in a LONG time.

Roast “Beast” with Mac-n-Cheese

I returned the next week for more of the same, only to be told they were out of roast beef. I immediately spotted the Cubano on the menu and placed my order. The is the real deal, the sliced pork loin was the key, and it was pressed to perfection on the proper roll. After talking to one of the employees for a few, I found out they even make their own pickles. And I’m here to tell you the pickles shine on this sandwich.

I’ve since visited Fitzgerald’s Lunch House each week of the past month, and the quality and consistency have remained on point. This is a place I would eat at every couple of days if I worked in the area more.


And finally, are you old enough to remember hearing Sonic Booms in the Midwest? OrangeBean had an interesting article that explains why Sonic Booms are very rare these days over the U.S.

That’s it for this week. I’ve been trying out some new places to eat & should have some more reviews coming soon! Stay warm out there.

2021 Week 51 – One Week to Go!

It’s the week before Christmas, and we’ve had some amazingly warm weather lately. I was looking at the long-term forecast, and it says we’re going to be in the 60s on December 25th… In INDIANA! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 60-degree Christmas in the Midwest.


The Bearded Bagel opened up a brick-and-mortar shop on 96th St. in front of Sam’s club. I haven’t been yet, but they specialize in steamed bagel sandwiches like Broad Ribble Bagle (BRB) serves. Not as big of a menu as BRB but a lot closer. The food trucks have been around the city for a while now and have a pretty decent following.

Speaking of Carbs, the Chef/Owner of Northside Social plans to open a biscuit place around 96th and Keystone. I’m keeping my eye on that as it’s really close to my office (and I love a good biscuit sandwich).

Staying on the food topic, The Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple has opened a new location across the street from their old locations. They own the building, so they should have a little more control of future costs. I’ve had lunch at the new location twice this past week. For the first lunch, I ordered a Cuban sandwich with a salad. It was very good, and I would not hesitate to get that again, but the guy sitting next to me ordered the 7-inch personal deep dish pizza, so I knew I needed to return.

Pepperoni, Mushroom, & Green Olive Pizza

This was a solid little pizza that was absolutely delicious. LOTS of cheese and toppings with a very flavorful sauce and light doughy crust. All I was missing was a side of garlic butter to dip that crust in.

I’ve been a little less serious about the Low Carb diet these past few weeks and have found myself “cheating” a little more than usual. I’m still eating better than I was earlier this year and have seen the benefits of lowering the carbs and sugars in my overall diet. I can’t remember the last time I had fast food, and I’m totally OK with that!


And finally, here’s a little bit of food trivia I learned about this past week. Did you know Wolfgang Puck lived in Indianapolis? In fact, Indianapolis was his first American home, and he worked here for a couple of years in the ’70s. He still has a presence in Indianapolis with a Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Indianapolis International Airport (IND).

At the age of 24, Wolfgang took the advice of a friend and left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.

https://wolfgangpuck.com/about/

Enjoy the next to the last week of 2021, and Look for our year-end recap next week.

2021 Week 48 – You ARE Being Watched

I took some time over the long holiday weekend to finish a book I had started a few weeks ago and promptly start another related one.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an eye-opening tale centering around a late 20-something NSA contractor who exposes the US Government’s mass surveillance system created after 9/11. Love him or hate him he brought to light the vast data collection of US citizens by their government.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald starts up with his interview of Snowden while he hides in Hong Kong before his trove of documents is released to the public by various medial outlets. Meanwhile, Laura Poitras films a series of interviews for her documentary Citizen Four. It goes into incredible detail about the surveillance systems in use around the world, by many countries, and details just how far they have gone to invade your privacy.

If you have any interest in this kind of stuff it’s well worth your time to seek out these books or at least watch the full documentary (available on YouTube with Ads (that will track you, haha)). It will chill you to the core and make you think about what you do online going forward.

As I wrote earlier this year everyone needs to be using a Password Manager application. My favorite continues to be Bitwarden. The free version is more than enough for most people but the $10 paid version adds some advanced features and helps support the development. Getting started with a Password manager is NOT difficult and is NOT a good excuse for NOT using one. Bitwarden for Beginners is a great place to start.

NordPass just released their annual Top 200 Common Password list. It shows what people are actually using to secure their private data as well as how long it takes to crack and gain access. If your password is on the list you should assume your accounts have been compromised because you probably use the SAME password in multiple places. The benefit of a Password Manager is that you can use a different, unique, password for every account and only need to remember ONE (secure) master password/phrase. The tool generates and documents the login details for you.

Another security tool you should consider using, especially if you use your devices in public, is a personal VPN account. This tool encrypts your traffic and protects you from anyone wanting to access your data. Sounds a little overkill but it’s not uncommon for someone to sit on a public network and watch for unsecured traffic to exploit. In fact, as far back as 2013 AT&T and Starbucks encouraged it! My personal favorite is Private Internet Access (PIA) which works on all devices including your phone and tablet. An annual subscription is $39.99.

I think that just about wraps things up for this week. It’s hard to believe 2021 is 90% over & we’re getting ready to settle down into the winter months. At least I have a stack of books to go through while hunkering down inside for the next 3 months. See you next week!

The Truth About Thanksgiving

I always love digging this out every November. Enjoy!

2021 Week 15 – Batter Up!

arena athletes audience ball

Baseball is back! I played baseball for many years before I moved to Indiana and have followed the Cincinnati Reds since I was a kid. When Major League Baseball (MLB) went on strike in 1994-95 I just stopped watching. I’ve attended several Indianapolis Indians games over the years since then but I never got back into the MLB. I found myself watching a Reds game the other day & actually enjoyed it! I’m now back on the bandwagon rooting for the Cincinnati Red Legs.

Remember that Cargo Ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal last month? There have been some funny Internet memes as well as canal simulators that came out of the mess. One I quite enjoyed allows you see the actual size of that ship compared to everyday objects on Google Maps. Like this one comparing the Ever Given to Lucas Oil Stadium:

And it even showed up in the Microsoft Flight Simulator game

Fishers has a new(ish) Mexican restaurant near the Geist Marina. El Lago (meaning “The Lake”) has been open about a year and quickly became our go-to place for dinner. The prices are great, the portions are huge, and the quality is amazing. My favorite is the Burrito Choriz which has chicken and steak cooked with onions, covered with cheese sauce, Mexican sausage, shrimp and pineapple. Served with rice or beans. For $13 you can’t beat it! I recommend the beans, they are really good and obviously homemade, as is their salsa.

Finally, some good news for the Castleton area. It was posted on the Indianapolis Reddit they’re finally making progress on the Saraga International Grocery that was reported in the IBJ back in 2019. I have some concerns bout the other asian markets in the area (Patel Bros, Asia Mart, Viet Hua, and One World Market) being able to compete with Saraga but I welcome the addition to the area. It’s about as close and Indianapolis is going to get to a Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati.

The Future is Now!

This is a pretty amazing robot that can do some incredible things.  I’m very impressed how it can navigate rough terrain and the way it can reset itself after a fall.

These machines are getting more like humans every day!

Porter Ranch Gas Leak Plugged

Follow up to a post from the end of December.  Looks like they finally were able to get the Methane leak contained.  No telling what the long-term environmental impact will be or what the 5,000+ displaced families are going to have to deal with.

Nearly four months of environmental contamination and civic disruption in Porter Ranch came close to an end Thursday when work crews pierced the underground casing of the damaged Aliso Canyon gas well and started injecting it with a mud-like compound.

Source: Road to recovery begins in Porter Ranch as gas leak is halted at last

Huge Methane Leak You’ve Probably Don’t Know About

Big problems in Los Angeles after an underground containment system failed and started spewing Methane at an incredible 110,000 pounds an HOUR!  Even worse, containment efforts have failed and it’s estimated the leak won’t be stopped for months.

More info here and here.

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