Thursday, December 14, 2006
And as happens every year, as I fit the paper to the gift and cut the tape just right, memories come flooding in. I've wrapped all sorts of gifts; gifts for siblings, gifts for student Christmases, gifts of hope .. and all kinds of feelings are associated with these Christmas gifts.
Gifts in my family aren't the super expensive type. They are meant to show that someone's thinking of them... I've had the most fun looking for unusual or quirky gifts. But I have never managed to master the art of choosing gifts for men. I usually fall back on stuff like socks, shirts and hankies. I think the males in my family are swimming in the stuff. But I do so like to shop for gifts...
Strangely enough, this year, I had some painful thoughts. There was a time I wrapped a gift for a friend who liked to shoot verbal arrows my way. One of those arrows still sting when I remember. But I tell myself that she was not cruel... but she was just feeling cruel that particular day. I wondered sometimes why she felt she had to be cruel to me. Haven't talked to her for quite a long time now. Life hasn't been kind to her.
But I always believe that each one of us have a metaphorical cup of sorrow within us. When we get more than we can handle and the cup overflows, we need to pour the pain out. Unfortunately it is the people closest to us who get the acid splashes. So when people hurt me, I think,"The cup is overflowing..." Yeah, I know... no need to tell me that I don't have to sit down and take other people's rubbish. But if you retaliate all the time, when will it ever stop? And most times, the offender realises his or her mistake and feels sorry. And in case you were wondering, when I can't take the splashes of acid anymore, I just go away.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
4 Things To Do Before 2007
1. Add up all the book receipts for 2006 till it comes up to RM700. If not, go buy some more so you can get the max deduction.
2. Been thinking of insurance? Well, my life insurance + EPF is way over maximum so no need to top up. But my medical insurance is still only around RM2000. And I don't really need any more.
3. Medical check up? I can deduct RM500 for this. Hmm, actually I really do need this. Ponder ponder ponder....
4. Tax residence planning? Non applicable.
Hey, I can do Thing No. 1 while I do springcleaning, right? Thing No. 3 can swirl around in my head.. but I wanna nag the hubby to go get one. I kinda want him around for at least a half century more...
When I was a teacher in La Salle, I'd start on the Christmas cards and gifts in mid November (right after school closes!). Polish up the necessaries like hair, bod, clothes ... clean up the spirituals (reflection and repentance.. lots of that.. heh heh!). Then it would be time to do spring cleaning (the most amazing bit would be scrubbing the driveway with soap and water!), dig up the Christmas tree and decorations, strings of lights..wrapping christmas gifts and hiding them. Someone would remember the carollers' visit at the last minute so we'd rush to bake cakes and buy packet drinks. Oh we had fun.
Then I moved to the office. Urgggh.
November would mean lots of meetings in KL or Malacca or Terengganu where I'd hear lots of carols in the shopping malls and gaze at huge (don't touch!) Christmas trees in hotel lobbies. At night, I'd be crunching numbers in Excel which would be a herculean task on my 12.1" laptop screen. December would be time for wrapping the year up and presenting our plans for the next year. There was one time my mum was surrounded by a saggy Christmas tree, recalcitrant tinsel and wild n woolly angel and santa decorations... she cried out,"Help help! I'm doing this all alone!". But there I was in my office clothes, hugging a humming notebook and dragging my bag of documents.. rushing for the door and thinking,"Help help! I'm late for the meeting!" There was one year when a meeting was held on the 27th of December! That meant that I had to be on a plane by 10 am on the 26th (only seat available cos nobody sane wants to fly that early on the morning after Christmas!). Then I spent the afternoon loitering in shopping malls miserable cos I was surrounded by happy families eating and laughing together while mine was far far away. That evening was spent in 'taklimat mesyuarat'.. yuk.
I expect this year (and all the years to come!) to be different. I expect it to be BIGGER BETTER
But then again, I'm a very flexible person. I can adapt to almost any situation. Unless my very safety is threatened. Then it's time to run! So now my mind is geared towards school and plans and targets and analysis...
2007 is going to be a great year.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Paint's still okay though rubber trims are already no longer rubbery. Too many years exposed to the sun. Plastic bits are already crumbly at the edges... time to replace. Cushion covers need replacing too. Some rusting spots and of course there's the skewed whatchamacalit that I need to replace that's causing my car to prefer to move to the left rather than straight ahead on the road. But that whatchamacalit is going to cost me at least five hundred of my precious little ringgits. But I shouldn't complain cos I did that to the car when I hit the bridge. Heh.
Time to replace the car?
But the engine's still good ... most of the major bits are still working fine. And whenever I think of blowing a five-digit sum on an asset (not!) that depreciates the moment you buy it, I always back away. I've never bought a brand new car.. it's always been a secondhand car for me and I don't think I'm ever going to change. I'd rather blow the money on something like a house. Hmm, come to think of it, I haven't got a house yet.
Okay, car, I fix you up some lah. You may not look as pretty and as shiny bright as some of the models on the road but at least I'm not going to land myself in financial hell.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I went on to more complicated stuff and had the greatest fun. But I found myself a fish out of water. Or is it a fish on land? There I was using email, setting up websites... even now, I am blogging and just set up a tagboard. But the majority of my IRL friends (same age and common interests) don't do the Internet. They don't email and they don't get what a blog is about. Worse, I keep setting up emailboxes for them and they keep losing their passwords. Some are okay. But they don't do Internet communication.
So my blog's not so much for communication... it's more for my personal records. The funny thing is my blog gets tracked down mostly by former students or ICT colleagues. As you've figured out, my closest friends aren't exactly ICT mavens. The Internet for them is a bother because they have to go through the hassle of booting up the PC and logging onto the net.
So I find myself mostly communicating with younger relatives and friends.
SK Kipovo's one of the schools involved in a projek rintis for the I-Board technology (basically converts a whiteboard into a touchscreen) and the synergy between the teachers, the students and the technology there is good enough to get the DG to drag all his big guns all the way from Putrajaya to Penampang.
So on the last day of October, officers swarmed all over SK Kipovo, the visitors to see what the technology was all about and the local education officers to smooth the way the path the very AIR in and around the school. I was the 'lucky' creature assigned the MC job. Do it well, you sleep well at night. Do it badly... hmmm, better start pondering alternative work choices. No lah.. ha ha .. just joking. But an MC can make or break a function. Say the wrong thing or mention the wrong name... or worse, leave out some big shot's name and the shiver down your spine may stay longer than you wish.
Personally I like feeling nervous before I begin emceeing. It makes me worry about my script, the list of VIPs' names, the microphone, the speakers, the rostrum, the tokens of appreciation etcetera etcetera ad nauseam. I even pass my script around to any and all who I can grab. But that nervousness has helped me prepare better. I may cause friends to run when they see me approach them with a script but well, what to do?
My emceeing at SK Kipovo was good. Best of all, the Sabah Director of Education said,"Good job."
Friday, October 27, 2006
I LOOOOOVE Malaysian silk and batik and everything else related! If I sit in any cafe, it will be to peoplewatch...or more precisely, clothwatch. Sometimes I am guilty of looking at the dresses and robes first before I look at people's faces. And in case my close friends are wondering, I spend more time gazing at the beautiful textiles than wearing them!
My ICT colleagues still remember the time when we went to Terengganu and I lugged twenty pieces of silk batik home. After I came to my senses, I sold them all off. This year I went to Terengganu again. Same story but on a lesser scale. Sold them off too. Well, I kept three pieces. Indak tahan juga. The thing is, when I look at the colours and the sumptuous fabrics, I just cannot help but want to bring them home. Then at home, I spread them out so I can admire them. Then once my sanity returns, I start looking for buyers. Never a problem that. Terengganu produces the best silk designs as far as I'm concerned. It's not that I can't keep them but my practical self won't allow me to do so.
But I'm not selling off the pieces with me now. Not yet anyway...
It's amazing how many useless bits of paper I can keep, thinking that maybe it will be needed or maybe someone will ask for info that only these useless bits of paper have. But most of the papers were of courses that had already been completed. Imagine having to print a one-page invitation letter for every teacher you invite to a course. So if you plan to have fifty of them, that would mean fifty letters to be faxed. After faxing the letter, the clerk would dutifully stamp the date of faxing on each letter which would be my proof of 'posting'. So if I have ten courses in a year, that would mean 500 pieces of paper. That wouldn't include the fax cover page and the extra copies of printed notes and stuff like that.
And that's how my paper garden grows every year.
So today.. well, actually YESTERDAY, I was extra ruthless - one copy of a letter for each course + name list and the rest went into the recycle bin. Yes we have a recycle bin in the shape of a discarded box top. Once it's full, the box top owner would tie up the papers and somehow make them disappear. As for the extra copies of notes... dump dump dump. Next year would always mean new updated upgraded shinybright notes. No matter how you try to reduce the paper and depend on Powerpoint slides, people still prefer paper to handle and scribble on.
Later in the morning, I will be going back to the office and I vow to demolish at least two boxes worth of paper. Minimum!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Now I've stuffed my PDA with almost 50 books and they save my life everytime I have to wait for something or someone. I get really edgy and fidgety if I have nothing to do, so having a book to read is restful on the nerves. Anyway when I get irritated, I get mouthy. And my mouth tends to move a few steps ahead of my brain. So the e-books save a lot of people a lot of grief. IF they grieve over my words lah..
Anyway, I've adjusted pretty well to the electronic books, considering how I can drool over crisp new printed pages. Aaah, nothing like a whiff of a freshly opened book. But I'm willing to trade in the whiffs for the easy access to lotsa books. Best of all, I can download a book within minutes of purchase online. No more waiting waiting waiting for the postman. And the bookstores in KK really REALLY suck.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I was utterly relieved to find that I was going to be transferred to a nearby school, SMK Kolombong. Will sleep tonight.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I will find out that I have been given a promotion. Good.
I will find out whether or not I stay in the office... but this would mean I will be low in the promotion rankings.
Or I am posted back to school as one of the principal's right hand men... this would mean I will be relatively higher up in the promotion rankings and will become a principal sooner.
I don't really care where I work as long as I get to stay in the Kota Kinabalu district. As long as I can drive to work from home and not risk falling asleep at the wheel. And school's a pretty neat place to work in cos you meet creative young people every day as opposed to the office. And the long weeks of holidays end of the year are pretty attractive too.
In the office, November and December always means long hours writing reports closing stuff for the year and planning for the next year. I always have to force holidays by booking holidays in places that make it impossible for my boss to cancel my leave.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
More than 25,000 senior teachers who are eligible for promotion under the time-based promotion scheme are in a dilemma.
They must now sign a declaration saying they are willing to be transferred to any part of the country, including Sabah and Sarawak, before they are promoted. These teachers, mostly women above 40, fear they will have to uproot themselves which will disrupt their family lives.
From an article in The Star, 10th October 2006.
Guess what, I'm one of those women but not yet above 40 lah...:)
But I face the same dilemma and so will every teacher once he or she is 'in the zone'. But if we don't sign that paper, we don't get promoted. And if we don't get promoted, we are stuck where we are. Is that good or bad??? Hmmm, I think this is indeed what they call a dilemma.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
So I console myself by surfing the gadget sites and hanging out in MyPDACafe.com. And by upgrading software in my PDA and downloading more pretty themes at PocketPCThemes.com and Pocket McDeb.
Well, I suppose going nuts over PDAs is much cheaper than going nuts over cars. That hobby cost me a bomb.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
It is so weird... In 1999, I was all ready to pack up and go. My destination was different. A few years in Singapore and then I would've gone on to Hawaii...or some other destination (but Hawaii was top of the list, thanks to Dr Hyacinth Gaudart). Then things happened and my plans changed for good. No regrets, though.
But I would love to know every bit that happens to Beth...
Monday, June 05, 2006
Pretty/handsome. Loves to dress up. Easily bored.
Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to
recover when hurt. Sensitive. Down-to-Earth.
----------FEBRUARY BABY --------------------
Abstract thoughts. Loves reality and abstract.
Intelligent and clever. Changing personality.
Attractive. sexiest out of everyone.
Temperamental. Quiet, shy and humble. Honest
and loyal. Determined to reach goals. Loves
freedom. Rebellious when restricted. Loves
aggressiveness. Too sensitive and easily hurt.
Gets angry really easily but does not show it.
Dislikes unnecessary things. Loves making friends
but rarely shows it. Horny. Daring and stubborn.
Ambitious. Realizing dreams and hopes. Sharp.
Loves entertainment and leisure. Romantic on the
inside not outside. Superstitious and ludicrous.
Spendthrift. Tries to learn to show emotions.
-----------------MARCH BABY --------------------
Attractive personality. sexy. Affectionate Shy and
reserved. Secretive. Naturally honest, generous
and sympathetic. Loves peace and serenity.
Sensitive to others. Great kisser. Easily angered.
Trustworthy. Appreciative and returns kindness.
Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up
feelings. Observant and assesses others.If you
repost this in the next 5 mins, you will meet your
new love in 8 days.
------------------APRIL BABY -------------------
Suave and compromising. Funny and humorous.
Stubborn. Very talkative. Calm and cool. Kind and
sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal. Does
work well with others. Very confident. Sensitive.
Positive Attitude. Thinking generous. Good
memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look
for information. Able to cheer evryone up and/or
make them laugh. Able to motivate oneself and
others. Understanding. Fun to be around.
Outgoing. Hyper. Bubbly personality. Secretive.
Boy/girl crazy. Loves sports, music, leisure and
-----------------MAY BABY -----------------
Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and
highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered.
Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings.
Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint.
Needs no motivation. Shy towards oppisite sex.
Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to
dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding.
Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good
imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves
literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislikes
being at home. Restless. Not having many children.
Hardworking. High spirited.
------------JUNE BABY -------------
You've got the best personality and are an
absolute pleasure to be around. You love to make
new friends and be outgoing. You are a great flirt
and more than likely have an a very attractive
partner. a wicked hottie. It is also more than likely
that you have a massive record collection. You
have a great choice in films, and may one day
become a famous actor/actress yourself - heck,
you've got the looks for it!
----------------JULY BABY --------------
Fun to be with. Secretive. Difficult to fathom and to
be understood. Quiet unless excited or tensed.
Takes pride in oneself. Has reputation. Easily
consoled. Honest. Concerned about people's
feelings. Tactful. Friendly. Approachable.
Emotional temperamental and unpredictable.
Moody and easily hurt. Witty and sparkly.
Not revengeful. Forgiving but never forgets.
dislikes nonsensical and unnecessary things.
Guides others physically and mentally. Sensitive
and forms impressions carefully. Caring and
loving. Treats others equally. Strong sense of
sympathy. Wary and sharp. Judges people
through observations. Hardworking. No difficulties
in studying. Loves to be alone. Always broods
about the past and the old friends. Waits for
friends. Never looks for friends. Not aggressive
unless provoked. Loves to be loved. Easily hurt
but takes long to recover.
------------AUGUST BABY ---------------
Outgoing personality. Takes risks. Feeds on
attention. No self control. Kind hearted. Self
confident. Loud and boisterous. VERY revengeful.
Easy to get along with and talk to. Has an "every
thing's peachy" attitude. Likes talking and singing.
Loves music. Daydreamer. Easily distracted. Hates
not being trusted. BIG imagination. Loves to be
loved. Hates studying. In need of "that someone".
Longs for freedom. Rebellious when withheld or
restricted. Lives by "no pain no gain" caring.
Playful. Mysterious. "Charming"
or "beautiful" to everyone. Stubborn. Curious.
Independent. Strong willed. A fighter.
------------SEPTEMBER BABY ---------------
Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends
to regret. Attractive and affectionate to oneself.
Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic.
Consoling, friendly and solves people's problems.
Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and
caring. Suave and generous. Usually you have
many friends. Enjoys to make love. Emotional.
Stubborn. Hasty. Good memory. Moving, motivates
oneself and others. Loves to travel and explore.
Sometimes sexy in a way that only their lover can
---------------OCTOBER BABY -------------------
Loves to chat. Loves those who love them. Loves
to takes things at the center. Inner and physical
beauty. Lies but doesn't pretend. Gets angry
often. Treats friends importantly. Brave and
fearless. Always making friends. Easily hurt but
recovers easily. Daydreamer. Opinionated. Does
not care to control emotions. Unpredictable.
Extremely smart, but definitely the hottest AND
sexiest of them all.
---------------NOVEMBER BABY --------------------
Trustworthy and loyal. Very passionate and
dangerous. Wild at times. Knows how to have fun.
Sexy and mysterious. Everyone is drawn towards
your inner and outer beauty and independent
personality. Playful, but secretive. Very emotional
and temperamental sometimes. Meets new people
easily and very social in a group. Fearless and
independent. Can hold their own. Stands out in a
crowd. Essentially very smart. Usually, the
greatest men are born in this month. If you ever
begin a relationship with someone from this month,
hold on to them because they're one of a kind.
---------------DECEMBER BABY ---------------
This straight-up means ur the most good-looking
person possible... better than all of these other
months! Loyal and generous. Patriotic. Competitive
in everything. Active in games and interactions.
Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in
organizations. Fun to be with. Easy to talk to,
though hard to understand. Thinks far with vision,
yet complicated to know. Easily influenced by
kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having lots of
ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to
delay. Choosy and always wants the best.
Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to
joke. Good debating skills. Has that someone
always on his/her mind. Talkative. Daydreamer.
Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Abiding.
Able to show character. one guy/girl kind of
person. Loveable. Easily hurt. Prone to getting
colds. loves music. pretty/handsome. Loves to
dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows
emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt.
Friday, June 02, 2006
I was worried that he might cling to me.. but no, not Dylan. The minute he saw the colourful murals on the buildings, he dashed from the carpark right into the school area. Went from mural to playground to another mural... and one of the murals was 3D.. cars popping out of the walls! Good ol' Dylan didn't waste any time... and Mummy was left chasing after him. And of course his minders' first question was "How old IS he?" He only turns three end of June but he already looks a strapping five. This is one boy who's not going to waste time crying after Mummy... too many new experiences to chase.
Good for him.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
The queer thing is that I'd already completed the form more than a month ago. All I had to do was spend about 5 minutes online. Why do I do this to myself every year? Hubby steamed about it... HE sent his by good ol' snail mail ages ago. Luckily the World Cup could distract him a bit.
I think the LHDNM officers think we are idiots.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
the focus would be on critical subjects such as Mathematics, Mandarin, Physical Education and English, for which there was a shortage of teachers.
So what happens when you don't have a 'critical subject' option? Switch? ICT is not on the list so now I am imagining an ICT optionist learning how to throw a javelin so he can switch options. Hmm, the way you grip the javelin is actually similar to the way you grip the mouse. Just change the angle... and the javelin goes between the index and middle finger.
Well, whatever it may be, there will no longer be guaranteed jobs for teachers beginning next year (and in fact, some graduates are already hanging around...).
Friday, May 12, 2006
Don't like your life? Fix it already!
2. You take out your frustrations on others, especially those with less power than you.
A bully, plain and simple.
3. You judge people by the stuff they wear, the money they flash...
First impressions are important but shouldn't stop there.
4. You think too much of yourself
Guess what, your feelings aren't the most important thing in this world.
World's spinning... watch out or you'll get left behind!
5. You look down on others for whatever reason.
Today's loser can be tomorrow's winner. The final judgement only comes when you check out of this world.
6. You have a bias against others; whether colour, creed, preference or just appearance.
Keep an open mind... Life's best revenge is to make you fall in love with that man you just rejected for his appearance (after which he doesn't want you anymore!) or have you meet that woman you dissed for her background in an important boardroom somewhere...
7. You don't do things because you are afraid of what people may think.
Up to a point, people's opinions matter but not so much that you paralyse yourself.
8. You choose friends for what they can give you.
And what happens when you can't give them what they want?
I am still finetuning this list... suggestions welcome.
Now I realise that whatever cages we are in, what matters in what's in our minds. For we are never truly free and outside cages. The cages can be monochrome blacknwhite, psychedelic strobes whatever... but still cages all.
So I suppose the question for anyone would be "How do you like your cage?".
That made me wonder how such a 'little' creature can change my life so much. My priorities are all listed out beginning with DYLAN. Defere comes a close second ... and jostles for first place sometimes. And I REALLY know for the first time how mothers can kill for their children or be killed. Scary? Not at all.
So after Dylan's all comfortable and as sweet-smelling as his breath, he lies down on his pillow, tucks his little hand into mine and goes to sleep. But of course now I'm awake, first thing I do is get a mug of java. Now I can't sleep. So I go on the net.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Well, it was a holiday and Dylan was sound asleep at an unusually early time (thanks to his workout in the swimming pool!). The VCD was a bit jumpy (thanks to same little boy) and I had to polish it a bit on my jeans. But when I managed to view the film in two stretches from start to finish, I was left marvelling all over again at how well Jane Austen can put a story of human relationship together. Yes, I know... it wasn't her book.. it was a flashy movie garnished with beautifully dramatic characters and glorious scenery... but it was still her story. Knightley gave a pretty good interpretation of Elizabeth Bennet's sense of independence and of course, Macfadyen gave just enough smoulder to his enigmatic and yet vulnerable Mr. Darcy. I'm glad there was no hint of wimp. Too many wimps in today's world...
My favourite book of Jane Austen's genre is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and still remains Jane Eyre but Pride and Prejudice comes a close second. Hobbling behind is Sense and Sensibility. But it needs to be stated that Shakespeare's works have no comparison, as far as I'm concerned. Every time I read his words, new meanings and understandings leap out and I see different colours and shades. Every time. Not many authors have that capability.
Of course the cinema helps a lot... it is amazing how easy it is to teach literature in class if a particular tale has a film counterpart. I was almost afraid to show the BBC version of Macbeth to my class of randy Form Four students...the Lady Macbeth was a bit on the lascivious side. But they seem to have survived the exposure pretty well.
Well, all I can say is... give me more Keira and Matthew!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
The Evil Twin - The Newest Dangerous Thing People Do on the Internet That Doesn't Seem Dangerous at All
We all do lots of things on the Internet without giving them much thought. And unfortunately as you'll see, that can be a big mistake.
In this issue and the next, we're going to talk about 7 things that don't seem dangerous, but can cause real problems.
Today our guest is Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. Anne is a Professor of Internet Law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose, and the President and CEO of the Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy. You can find her sharing her wisdom and wit (and she's very funny) at the immensely popular Aunty Spam site.
Audri: Welcome, Anne! I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me today -- this is a really great topic that I think will benefit ScamBusters subscribers a lot.
Anne: Thank you, Audri! It's absolutely my pleasure!
Audri: Let me begin by asking: what do you believe is the newest, most dangerous thing people often do on the Internet that doesn't seem dangerous at all?
Anne: Believe it or not, Audri, it's using public wifi hotspots. Well, not so much the hotspots themselves, Audri, but the inadvertent use of evil twin hotspots.
Note: Click here for the answer to 'what is wifi?' and what's a 'wifi hotspot?'
Audri: A lot of our readers don't know what an evil twin is. Can you explain?
Anne: Sure. Simply put, an "evil twin hotspot" is a hotspot that mimics a legitimate public wifi hotspot, such as those to which you may have access at your local Starbucks or bookstore.
However, it is really an Internet gateway which has been set up by a hacker hoping to trick you into connecting to the Internet through them.
When you access the Internet through this "hotspot," the hacker is logging everything you do and type, including your passwords and other sensitive information.
Audri: What exactly are the dangers of evil twins?
Anne: Once having trapped your sensitive information, such as account numbers, user names, and passwords, and knowing at which websites you entered that information, the person behind the evil twin hotspot can gain full access to bank accounts, credit card accounts, email -- anywhere that you went on the Internet while connected through their evil twin.
Audri: I think our subscribers can definitely see the dangers here! Can you give us an example?
Anne: Yes. Just last week I was sitting in my local Starbucks, where they offer wifi hotspots from T-Mobile. In order to log into a T-Mobile hotspot, you must have an account with T-Mobile, for which you must pay.
Even though I don't use the T-Mobile hotspots, I always check (with my laptop) to see what wifi hotspots are available at any given location because, well, that's part of my beat.
Sure enough, users at that Starbucks who opened their laptops and searched for a local wifi Internet connection were presented with the option of "T-Mobile Hotspot," as they should be, but were also presented with a second option, called "Free Wifi from Team WiFi," which I am 99% certain was an evil twin (and indeed Starbucks confirmed that there was no special offer going on which would have otherwise explained that second hotspot).
Now, notice a few things about this second, uninvited hotspot. First, it uses the term "free wifi." Who wouldn't want to use that, especially compared to the T-Mobile hotspot, where you have to pay?
Second, though, note the friendly and familiar sounding "Team WiFi." By using familiar terms for their evil twin, along with telling people it is free, they are making it very easy for an unsuspecting user to go ahead and click and connect to that evil twin. In fact, users may just think that it's a special offer from the T-Mobile Hotspot people.
Sure enough, Audri, this evil twin caught some people. As the gentleman who was sitting next to me got up to leave, after being on his computer for quite some time, I asked him whether he had logged in to the Internet while he was there.
When he said that he had, I asked him whether he was a T-Mobile user. "Oh no," he replied, "they have a free wifi hotspot set up here."
I advised him that it was almost certainly an evil twin, and that if he had done anything online while logged in through that "free" hotspot which might have compromised any sensitive information, he should take immediate measures to remedy the situation, such as changing any passwords he had sent while logged in.
At this point your readers may be wondering why I didn't alert the authorities. And this is why user education is so very important.
There really was nobody for me to effectively alert. I could have called the police, but they would not have had the resources to even figure out where this evil twin was located, let alone to figure out who and how it was being done. The best thing I could do at that point was to let people know not to use that hotspot.
Audri: That's a really important point, and in fact, one of the reasons we started ScamBusters. Often, understanding the principles behind scams is about the only real protection you have.
For example, it's not enough to know that Team WiFi (specifically) may be an evil twin. This name probably already has changed by the time you read this. But by understanding this evil twin scam, subscribers can be careful and make sure they don't compromise their personal information.
Moving on: can you explain in a non-technical way how evil twins work?
Anne: Basically someone sits nearby with either a laptop hidden in a backpack or under a coat -- or they may even be sitting there with the laptop in front of them, pretending to work.
But that laptop is really set up as an Internet server which has been programmed to announce itself as a public Internet access point.
This is essentially how legitimate wifi hotspots are set up as well. The difference is that the evil twin has additional software on it that is designed to capture all of the data from the Internet traffic that goes through it.
If you send unencrypted text, the hacker will be able to simply read it.
But even if you send something that is encrypted, such as a password, it isn't very hard for the hacker to figure that password out.
Anne: First of all, some hacking software can install a virus that actually records keystrokes. Second, there is plenty of software out there designed to crack many types of passwords.
In fact, Aunty Spam wrote just last month about a website where you can plug in an encrypted password, and it will decrypt it for you.
That sort of encrypted password is exactly what the evil twin will capture.
Audri: So what that means is that you're not completely safe if you use encrypted passwords.
How widespread is this problem?
Anne: Nobody really knows for sure, but I can tell you that I hear about instances every week. In one recent infamous case, someone walked into an IT conference in England and walked around with a live evil twin in their backpack, and caught several people. At a conference full of Internet security experts!
Here's a related question we got this week: can you tell us what is "email sniffing"?
Anne: Email sniffing also involves interception of data, but it is typically a situation where one person is sending and receiving email on a network, and another person on that same network is intercepting the email data.
Audri: How can our subscribers keep their email safe from sniffing?
Anne: For the average user, the safest thing to do is to use a secure webmail service. For example, both Hotmail and Gmail services use a secure protocol.
For users who must access their work email while on the road, and because there are so many different enterprise email systems, the user should work with their IT department to ensure the most secure access.
Audri: How can you know if you're connected to an evil twin?
Anne: Well, of course, that's the lion's share of the problem. You can't, really.
The best defense is a good offense, meaning take precautions to ensure that you don't connect to an evil twin in the first place.
Audri: "The best defense is a good offense" is one of my favorite sayings. :)
Is this a serious enough problem that some people should simply not use wifi? If so, who?
Anne: People who don't feel competent to identify the wifi spots they know and trust, or to distinguish other hotspots from those trusted few, should probably think twice before connecting.
If it's so important that you can't wait until you get home or back to the office to check from your regular connection, then it's probably too important to risk sending across an un-secure and potentially malicious wifi connection.
Audri: Let me ask you two questions on related topics: Is there anything you can do to protect yourself when you're not at home or are traveling? What about people who live in large cities -- how big an issue is this for them? What should they do?
Anne: By definition, this is an issue which is most likely to arise when you are not at your home or office (unless your workplace offers free public wifi!).
It's extremely unlikely that someone is going to create an evil twin of your home wifi.
People in big cities may be more likely to encounter evil twins than, say, people out in rural areas, but only because of numbers, not because rural hackers are any less sophisticated!
Audri: Are there any rules of thumb that could help our subscribers protect themselves?
Anne: As to how best to protect yourself, first and foremost, check your wifi settings on your laptop!
Is your computer set to search and automatically log on to the nearest wifi hotspot? If so, that's a recipe for disaster. Change that setting!
Audri: I bet most people didn't know that, Anne.
Anne: Second, whenever possible avoid sending sensitive information from public wifi locations. The more important the information is, the less chance you should take with it.
If you really must conduct financial business from public wifi spots, such as if you are on the road a lot, either use a credit card with a special limited line of credit, or use a debit card in which you keep only as much money as you are willing to lose if someone compromises your data.
Finally, really scrutinize the sites through and to which you connect. If something doesn't look or "feel" right, it probably isn't.
And make sure that any page to which you connect and through which you have to transmit any sensitive data really is a secure page (look for the little key at the bottom of your browser or whatever your browser uses to indicate "secure").
Audri: This is great advice. Is that what you do every time you connect to a public hotspot?
Anne: <laugh>...no, I actually avoid all of these problems by connecting my laptop to the Internet through my cell phone.
Many cell providers now have unlimited Internet access rate plans, and with the higher speed cell data networks, while it's not as fast as a wifi hotspot, it's plenty fast, and they haven't been cracked yet.
Audri: Can you summarize what action steps should our subscribers take so they don't become vulnerable (or become less vulnerable)?
Anne: Yes. Be careful. Be cautious. Be wary. And be aware.
Audri: Thanks so much, Anne! I think we'll stop here and finish this interview in next week's issue. I really appreciate you sharing your advice on the problem of the evil twin hotspot with our subscribers. Stay tuned..
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
But Death doesn't care. Death stalks our footsteps and we all know he's there and we all know he will come for us one day. But when he comes too fast too soon, we are unprepared and family members are left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. It's all right if one has lived a full life and lived a full cycle ... you've either got grandkids with your nose or your temper or grandnieces and nephews who remember you for your lavish treats (unlike mummy and daddy who scrimp on the chocs and fries!). But when you haven't even seen your child walk on two feet.. and heard his or her demands for 'Barney! Barney!'...
And all the platitudes don't make any sense.
But I could be next...
Friday, March 24, 2006
But best of all, I managed to catch up on sleep lost and find my glow again..
Thanks, GITN Sdn. Bhd. for sponsoring such a great meeting. Govt officers would never have seen even the lobby!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Ya I know ... what's the big deal? But no matter how you prepare or tell yourself it isn't a big deal, it IS a big deal. And there is something unsettling about being interviewed by other adults that make you want to cringe at the idea of making a fool of yourself.
So I didn't make a fool of myself. I may not have been greeted with tears of joy and celebration but I had a good time at the 'chat session' with Dr. Sharifah Bee and Dr. Kassim.
Cos I didn't make a fool of myself.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Well, maybe only the English teachers will weep.
The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service, at a hotel in Asia, which was recorded and published in the Far East Economic Review:
Room Service (RS): "Morrin. Roon sirbees."
Guest (G): "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."
RS: "Rye..Roon sirbees..morrin! Jewish to oddor sunteen??"
G: "Uh..yes..I'd like some bacon and eggs."
RS: "Ow July den?"
RS: "Ow July den?...pryed, boyud, poochd?"
G : "Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please."
RS: "Ow July dee baykem? Crease?"
G: "Crisp will be fine."
RS : "Hokay. An Sahn toes?"
RS: "An toes. July Sahn toes?"
G: "I don't think so."
RS: "No? Judo wan sahn toes??"
G: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means."
RS: "Toes! toes!...Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?"
G: "English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine.Yes, an English muffin will be fine."
RS: "We bodder?"
G: "No...just put the bodder on the side."
G: "I mean butter...just put it on the side."
G: "Excuse me?"
G: "Yes. Coffee, please, and that's all."
RS: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin webodder on sigh and copy....rye??"
G: "Whatever you say."
G : "You're very welcome."
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Well, I don't need to sleep, do I?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
*digs in bookshelf.. found book... Social Methods for Research..*
The tiny mouse in the corner : You dead mon.
But it really pisses me off when I sound off to other people (the ones giving me more work) and they just say,"Hey there are two of you right? Why hog the work all to yourself?" But what do you do when work you ask the other partner to complete either is stuffed under the table or gets messed up big time? So like an idiot I worry about the repercussions and decide to never mind just do the job yourself. I used to keep quiet but after last year, I just couldn't take it any more and began unloading on others. One good thing came out of it... other people began seeing what was happening and stopped unloading work on me.
But I just ended a week of chasing deadlines and tried a bit of work sharing with the guy. Guess what he does? He did a bit and disappeared for about three hours. By the time he came back, the guys waiting for the data were beginning to rumble and I had finished a chunk of the work. So he did a bit more and the next thing you knew, he was gone. Pffft ---- whistled down the wind! Hey maybe he thinks I love staring at Excel files and sort through piles of paper and make loanshark-kinda calls on the phone. Yeeeeaaah, he was making me happy...
Why am I so unlucky? But if only he would polish his work ethic ... in other terms, he is an ideal partner. He has gobs of know-how and speaks English like a first language (for a Malaysian). He's entertaining and knows how to have downtime. Just that he needs to think about priorities at work. I used not to care about it... you know, never mind - sporting ol' me. But sporting ol' me just woke up thinking maybe I'm stupid ol' me.
Monday, March 06, 2006
This time, I nodded off at the wheel and hit the sharp base of the small Putatan bridge just after the traffic lights. Luckily I have steady hands and I kept the car moving. Owwwch, the beautiful melody of the slap grind rip of rubber and steel rim on the road... every note symbolised a chunk of ringgit leaping out of my wallet. Worse, I was on the fast lane and a few hundred metres AFTER the curve. So while waiting for the tow truck, one car managed to rear-end another. I was waiting at the nearby bus stop (the sight of the trucks barreling towards my tiny auto made me scramble out to seek refuge elsewhere) and tried to hide behind a sapling while the two car owners battled it out.
But I realised something good. There are plenty of kind people out there on Malaysia's demolition derby highways. One man stopped at the bus stop to tear off a leafy branch so that he could put in on the road a few hundred metres from my car. He wanted to warn other motorists. It was only as he was leaving that he saw me. I made sure to thank him. And two other drivers stopped to offer to change my tyre for me. Change a tyre in the middle of the fast lane??? Bad bad bad idea. I was not having a good samaritan's life on my conscience.
So today I have no car to use and am waiting for the workshop guys to call me up. Probably to ask me when I can mortgage my house so that I can pay them... sigh... double sigh.
Double worse, a colleague took off without telling me and we had something to plan together. Basket. More baskets. (No swearing during Lent.)
Friday, March 03, 2006
Nfer Research Areas http://www.nfer.ac.uk/research-areas/
Taylor and Francis Journals http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Someone put a virus in my office PC... and I brought it home to my home PC which has the latest antivirus signature files. Being the efficient creature it is, it healed 6 of 17 infected files and deleted 11 files that it couldn't heal. I KNOW KNOW KNOW it's better deleted than causing trouble and spreading trouble and making mini BRONTOKs... but I still feel sad...
And I don't know what's going to happen with the files in my PC that I'm going to scan with AVG. Well I don't have original software so I must be satisfied with AVG. Good AVG. Smart AVG. Clever AVG. If only it didn't kill files so efficiently...
I hope all of you update your antivirus software at least once a week. You do, don't you?
Friday, February 24, 2006
I can't live without my PDA, broadband connection, notebook and mobilephone, those ubiquitous symbols of You-Are-In-Tune-With-The-RatRace (come on feel free to disagree with me!). I just love Simon Cowell (he is so deliciously nasty! - no, I don't agree with a lot of his comments). I voted in Malaysian Idol and Akademi Fantasia... it was like an obsession! AND I BLOG!
Yet at the same time, before I enter a hotel room, I invariable 'ask' permission from unseen inhabitants to stay for a while in the room. When I walk in the jungle, I don't throw stuff, pluck flowers or leaves or make comments should I see anything unusual.. These are all taboos ... cannot offend the jungle inhabitants.. again, unseen most of the time. I never leave baby clothes outside at night so that no-one disturbs the baby's rest. After attending a funeral, I cannot meet anyone at home until I have taken a shower and changed my clothes.
SO... oxymoron I am.