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Helena 2010
buzzed, B&W
hairylunch
Back in Helena for Thanksgiving this year, and wandered down to Firetower as tends to be part of my annual pilgrimage. It's nice to have wifi again - Jake and Lisa have graciously welcomed me into their home, and provided a room and bed for me, but a series of unfortunate issues keeps me from accessing their wifi.

They have an original graphite Airport, which only supports WEP, an older, deprecated form of wireless security. WEP keys are fundamentally hexadecimal keys, meaning they only consist of numbers and the characters a through e, and exactly 10 or 26 characters. Because most people want to use passwords that are not exactly 10 or 26 characters, and would like to use the rest of the letters of the alphabet, individual manufacturers generally perform an internal conversion of a regular password or passphrase (e.g. "this is my password") into the 10 or 26 character hex equivalent. Unfortunately, this conversion from a password to hexadecimal characters is not standardized, so each manufacturer just implemented their own way of doing it. (WPA and WPA2 avoid this as their specs include standard for converting from standard characters to hexadecimal.) Apparently the Airport lets you determine the hex password if you access it via the admin software (the Airport is a bit unusual from most wireless routers in that you need to use special software to manage it, rather than containing a web interface to do so). I've sort of ended up in the "donut hole" for using an Airport. To get the hex equivalent password, you need to login via the management software. Jake has a Mac, running OS X 10.6.5 but even though the Airport compatibility table shows that the 4.2.5 version of the management software will work with OS 10.4 and newer and will work with the graphite Airport, it actually doesn't work in OS X 10.6. Because of this, there's no way I know of to access the router, meaning no way to figure out what the hex equivalent of the password is. The closest I've come to figuring this out is this command line software, but I have no idea how to compile it - looks like it might be Matlab code?

The other technological issue I've run into is getting this email from AT&T this morning:

Our records indicate that you are using a substantial amount of data while roaming in areas not directly served by AT&T. As a reminder, the Terms and Conditions of our data plans (including unlimited plans) provide an "off-net usage" allowance each month that is equal to the lesser of 24 megabytes or 20% of the megabytes included in your plan.

Our systems have detected that your current off net data usage just reached 100MB for this billing cycle. To help you manage your data usage while roaming outside the AT&T footprint, we have updated the banner on your device's screen to read "Off Network" when you are using another carrier's network. You can also view our data network coverage map here: www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer

It's interesting to note that hte coverage viewer shows data coverage in Helena. Fortunately, it doesn't seem like I'll be charged extra, and this is mainly a warning type email. (I also received a text message with a warning about this too).

In any case, the trip's been good. Got in to town Wednesday, ran some errands, and went to Blackfoot (my favorite brewery) with Lisa. Met up with Jake, Sarah, and Shannon and Grant for dinner at Silver Star, and finished with a trip to the Gold Bar. Thursday was a walk around Mt. Ascension, Nick and Kelly's arrival, the traditional turkey feast (and our annual stating what we were thankful for, courtesy of Sarah), and another trip to the Gold Bar. Yesterday we ate leftovers, did a bit of Black Friday shopping, hiked up Mt. Helena, another trip to Blackfoot where we met up with Mel, the Festival of Lights parade and the lighting of the firetower, Miller's and Karmadillos, and again the Gold Bar. Today's been low key, with breakfast at my favorite Helena restaurant, the No Sweat Cafe, a trip to the farmer's market that's at the fairgrounds (mainly a craft fair), and now Firetower.

It's been a bit more low key turkey day than usual, with several familiar faces not around (Steph K, Steph W and Greg, Justin, Christine, etc), and our meal was only about half the size of years past, with only 10 people. We've also seemed to have lost a step - while we're still going to the bars, we're not closing down the bars, and some of us *cough*Kelly*cough*puke*cough*street*cough* can no longer hold down our liquor. It seems we're getting older . . . still, great times, and I'm looking forward to seeing Steph K (and hopefully Christine and Troy) as well tonight . . .

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I'll have you know that I can hold my liquor, though admittedly it's to a lesser degree than in the past. I just can't hold my food when I stuff my face on Thanksgiving. Now the world knows.

Hah . . . all 2 people that read this know :P

Not to mention everyone that reads this was probably there . . . ;)

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