The Day the Internet Went Down

The IT guy burst into my office!

“Do you have a router or switch somewhere in here that you just hooked up!” He exclaimed, stopped short to catch his breath.  I showed him the only router to my knowledge, but it had been there for years and shot me a crossed look for pointing out something so obvious.

He explained to me that someone had hooked up a wireless router somewhere in the building, and it was bringing down the entire network.  Somehow the router was redirecting all IP addresses to a dead end local IP and no one could get any outside network access.  I had actually been having trouble getting online today, but I managed to find other work to do while it got sorted out.  I’m usually more productive when technology isn’t working so I didn’t waste time reporting it.

Knowing the risks of an open WIFI connection, I was on board and entirely concerned about this problem.  Was it a rouge agency trying to steal our secrets or was it a quiet secretary who wanted to hook up to a wireless router and enter time cards outside in the mild spring weather?  Either way, an illegal unsecured line was out there, opening the door for a security breach to any common passer-by.  It’s the equivalent of a bank putting their safe in the parking lot and leaving the door open all day and night!  The perpetrator would meet an end with extreme prejudice.

I pulled out my company issued Blackberry just as the IT guy was doing the same.  A glimmer of realization overcame us both as we turned on our smartphone wifi to follow to signal strength bars to the source.  We split up, a trick we learned from Scooby Doo, and began to search the building for the rogue router.

I passed through cubicles waving my phone back and forth through the aisles.  I was whispering, “Here Linksys…  Here Linksys Linksys Linksys! Come here boy!”  I could only guess that the IT guy had a similar mantra.

My awareness of the drone of office conversations, the occasional shout of “can you get online?” and phones ringing went by the wayside as I focused in on finding the source of that signal.  I wanted to be the one to find it and become the office hero.  Office acts of vigilante/heroism often end in a promotion, a lapel pin, or some kind of special keys.  I saw a wifi bar jump so I dropped to the ground to maintain stealth.  I began to crawl.  My crawl was a bit hobbled and I had to use my right elbow since I was still regarding my phone as I searched the office.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my back!  Had the corporate spy sensed we were on to his plan and shot me in the back?  In seconds I had gone from office hero to office martyr?  Or was the woman’s scream indicative of the fact that the secretary had just tripped over me, pressing her knee sharply in my back, and falling on the floor next to me.  She picked her self and her papers up and started to ask “what the hell I was doing {crawling on the floor}” I pulled her to the ground and silenced her by putting my finger to my lips.

I pointed to my phone and the wifi signal bars. She acted as if she had no idea what that meant and started to ask questions.  I again shushed her with a finger and pointed forward down the aisle.

We began to crawl.

Being low paid off.  I saw the signal bar on my phone jump to full strength and looked into the opening of the nearby cubicle.  Down on the floor I saw it!  A brand new black and blue Linsys router flashing it’s menacing green lights at me.  I looked up to the name plate on the cubicle opening.  “Roscoe!”  I cursed under my breath.

I moved to grab and remove the rouge router but the secretary caught my shoulder.  She shook her head, a reminder that nobody goes into Roscoe’s cubicle.  I had not anticipated that Roscoe would be present, either, as he should have been out on a sales call.  I looked up and saw Roscoe with his wild red hair jamming out with a pair of headphones, silently mouthing the words to his favorite 80’s hairband music.

We tried to devise a way to unplug Roscoe’s illegal equipment.  I did not have the authority to simply charge in and begin demanding answers.  I wasn’t in my department anymore, so stealth and subterfuge were critical.  We tried waving a half opened Snickers bar (famously his favorite) in his office to lure him out, but to no avail.  I looked for a place to unplug his power, but it was protected under the desk.

We tried hooking the router with a coat hanger but Roscoe rolled his chair over the hanger.  He noticed the bump that his wheels rolled over and looked down.  We hid behind the wall and I saw my end of the coat hanger disappear into his office.

I heard Roscoe throw his headphones to his desk as he cursed.  He rounded the cubicle wall and found the secretary and I on our knees, looking up sheepishly.  I stood up and got ready to get tough with Roscoe when a *CRACK* broke the silence.

All eyes looked up behind me. I joined to see the IT guy holding a pellet gun, leveled at Roscoe’s computer. “Next one goes through the Visio Roscoe!” Exclaimed the IT guy.

I noticed the menacing lights on the router had been snuffed out and router parts were scattered under Roscoe’s desk. There was a shout from across the office. “Oh my lord! I can read my email again.” Then from the other way, “I can see the internet again! Everyone let’s thank the IT guy!”

I tried to tell everyone that I had found the problem first but my voice was drowned out by cheers and huzzahs for the IT guy. Everyone hoisted him on their shoulders and began to carry him out of the office, still cheering for getting the internet back on.

When they carried the IT guy through a low doorway he fell off the shoulders and broke his neck. The he died.

Roscoe laughed in triumph and jumped out the window. We thought he was doomed as well, but soon he was shooting upwards in the opposite direction, flying to the clouds with his jet pack.

“Roscoe!” I cursed and shook my fist.

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QR Code Fun

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Try it

These QR codes (Quick Response Codes) are on everything now.  If you’ve scanned one with your smartphone camera once, you probably haven’t bothered to do it again because it took you to a website that you didn’t really care to see.  Oh look the code on my shampoo takes me to the full Johnson & Johnson site that I can’t read on my phone!  Hey when I scan this code on the cologne ad in the magazine my phone overheats and resets!  Cool!

Advertisers in business offices are constantly doing high-fives every time their Land-O-Lakes website gets a hit from a curious butter code scan.  I noticed that politicians are also trying them out on their giant coupon sized junk mailers. Every inquisitive “what’s this thing do” scan could lead to another voter that hates them for tricking them into going to their website.

qrcodeI’ve ignored these codes because I’ve been fooled more than twice and taken to a useless website.  But the codes are actually quite useful, when used by creative people who aren’t trying to sell things to you.  Anybody can make a QR code for free and have it point to a website, text, phone number, email, video, contact info, or even a location on a map.

Games

They’ve already done QR games at nerd-cons, where you have to run around and scan the codes and try not to stink too bad. Each code is a certain amount of points. Scan the most points and you’ll be going home with a giant stuffed animal and a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Scavenger Hunt

Create a scavenger hunt using clues, location tags, phone numbers, etc…

Better yet, propose to your future wife with a QR Code scavenger hunt.  A quick Google search doesn’t show that anyone has gone on the Internet and bragged about doing this yet.  You could be the first person to do something original. (The first guy to do this gets a punch in the nuts)

Also possible and yet to be done: the extremely elaborate ransom where a kidnapper confirms the money has been dropped in the log when the code gets scanned. (Not recommended!)

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Battle Zone Leaflets

If the enemy is carrying their smartphone around and curiously scans the code on a leaflet dropped by the Air-force, they’ll receive detailed instructions on how not to get bombed by an F-18.

Also, now the military knows where you and your phone are at all times and when you go to play Farsi Words with Friends, you’ll share the virus with your allies, creating a distributed network of secret enemy locations.

Spread Viruses

Show off your new QR virus and ruin people’s phones. Drop them off at local businesses as a way to lower productivity.

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Public Restrooms

For a good time scan this code.  Make a sticker of your phone number QR code and put it in a bathroom stall.  If someone is looking for a good time, they’ll scan your code and you’ll be talking in no time!

It’s also good for leaving your phone number at a bar (ladies).  Nothing will guarantee a quicker call-back (or raised eyebrow) than slipping one of these in a guy’s pocket.  But if he’s playing hard-to-get or if he didn’t like you, it might get posted in the bathroom stall.

Artificially increase your web traffic (like a jerk advertiser)

Scan the code below and share it with your friends.  Print this page, cut it out, and tape it to things.  Glue this over a politicians’  dumb code, put it on gas pumps, or stick it on milk cartons at the grocery store.  Come back again and again.

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Please don’t post it in bathrooms…

My Life as Pacman

WazeIf you’re going to be driving around all day for work, you might as well make a game out of it.

I’ve been using Waze for the past few months while I drive.  Waze is a navigation and mapping game for your GPS enabled smart phone.  It gathers data based on driving habits of users to build their map network.  The fun part is that you can update real-time data such as the location of the police, traffic jams, or accidents.  If you’re wondering why traffic is backed up for 20 miles on the highway, fire up Waze and see if anyone else is on.

But that’s all boring stuff because there’s points to earn!

When I first fired up Waze in December I saw a candy cane at the four way stop down the street.  I didn’t know why, but I needed to get that candy cane.  Sitting on the couch, I zoomed out to see if anyone else was about the get that candy cane.  There was another “Wazer” about 150 miles away.  I jumped in my car at midnight to capture the candy cane before anyone else could.  When I drove over it, a message popped up on my phone saying that I had collected 500 points!  Sweet!

Since I was already about I began looking for other things to collect.  I saw a snowflake 2 miles away.  The clocked glared at me – 12:14AM.  Just a bit of time. It was a work night.

When I ran over the snowflake I found 50 points deposited to my account.  A measly 10% of my earlier score.  I see how it is, Waze, get me hooked and back off the gas pedal.  Well I was hooked and I wasn’t backing off my gas pedal.  I saw another delicious candy cane about 15 miles north in the next town surrounded by a few snowflakes.  Another Wazer could pop on at any moment and take my candy cane!  I went on.

And I went on.  When the sun began to rise I decided that I had collected enough points.  I reached for my phone and nearly burned my hands from burning up the processor all night.  The battery was nearly dead but I was the newest and fastest up and comer in the Waze community.

Just a few more miles...

Since that day I figured out Waze’s scheme.  They put down cookies (which also earn you points) all over the road to encourage you to collect GPS data for their maps.  They put down treats, (today they are cupcakes) to encourage you to drive off the beaten path to collect this extra GPS data for the less traveled areas.

So the world is now a giant Pacman game and if you so choose, you can play the star.

The normal dots only garner you a few points but far out number the treats.  I found out the hard way when I first saw a cupcake off the highway.

Not wanting lose out on see how many points a cupcake gave, I turned the wheel hard left when I was on the highway.  Some cars honked.  I jumped over the median and crashed through a fence.  When I got through a very rude person’s backyard, I pounced on the cupcake that was sitting in the road a few houses down.

As soon as I collected the cupcake, I heard that very familiar Pacman Power Pellet siren!  Then I saw 3 ghost cars coming towards me.  Stupid ghosts, their lights were flashing on top so I knew that I could eat them for points as well!  I hit the gas and ran into the closest ghost car.  I know the first ghost is like 200 points, but you get double points for each one after.  I tried to get more of the ghosts but my car wouldn’t go anymore.

People got out of the ghost cars and told me to surrender.  Crud.  My Power Pellet must have ran out.

Power Pellets don't last long enough...

It turns out that the Waze game is a little different that real life Pacman.  When you run into a flashing ghost you end up getting put into the Pacman Ghost pen for a few days before they take you to Pacman court.  I can’t wait until I get to go to Pacman court because they said they’ll give me my phone back so I can see how many Waze points I earned today!