Category Archives: Personal

Reflections On Frost

As I sit at my computer on this cold Vermont day, looking at the frost slowly melted by the Sun’s first rays, I began to think back over this long hiatus of not blogging, and how I had returned from Iceland safely, traveled to Canada to camp to lead a 10th grade school trip and made a number of weekend get-a-ways, from Montreal to New York to see Phantom of the Opera, to Seneca Lake for some lakeside fun.

Travels aside, I have been keeping busy, after returning from Iceland, I started working as a Research Engineer for a small cyber-security company which has kept be busy with hard challenges and learning almost constantly. I have also been working to finish my Masters degree from Clarkson, taking two classes this semester: COSI and an Independent Study with Tino about Darknets and their detection. For my COSI project, I’m working on creating a custom Ubuntu distribution that is more security-aware than the vanilla install (more on that later). I have also been getting into mountain biking since the purchase of my Gary Fisher, tearing up single track trails and biking through puddles and mud. Chelsea and I attempted to run the Quebec City marathon, but in the almost 90F weather, we decided after 20 miles to try again when it is cooler. While that was certainly a disappointment, 20 miles is still an accomplishment to be proud of, and it makes the marathon distance far less daunting.

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather and getting outside on these nice fall days,

Peace and chow,

Ranok

Long Time No Post

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, and to my devout readers I apoligize. As many of you know, this has been my last semester of my undergraduate studies, so I have been very busy over the past few months. This post will hopefully act as a dump of what I’ve been up to and what I will be doing until my next post.

Things I did:

  • Developed a method for calling parts of functions to minimize/obfuscate programs
  • Worked with Ryan on OSP to get a web based cluster management system integrated into the cluster administration page
  • Played with return-to-libc attacks and got them working on the latest version of Ubuntu Linux

Things on the horizon:

  • Working full-time for AIS
  • Traveling to Iceland for 3 weeks
  • Working on a computer security textbook
  • Running a marathon in August

It is very weird to me to think that today is the last day of classes for me as a traditional full-time student. I’ve been going to school since I was 5 and it is very weird to think that come August I will not be returning to the classroom as my primary past-time. I am excited to travel and get away from the normal swing of things for a while to reflect on the new changes in my life, and excited to begin working, especially due to the extra leisure time after work.

Peace and chow,

Ranok

Travel Report: Aruba

Many of you know that over this winter break from school, I traveled with my family to Aruba, a small island off the coast of Venezuela. I thought I’d write a brief report on my time there, and give some pointers for others who might head there at some point. Aruba is a nation part of the Dutch commonwealth, and thus the official language is Dutch, however most everyone speaks English (on top of Papimento and Spanish). The Aruban government has made it very enticing for Americans to travel there, everywhere I saw, the US dollar was accepted side-by-side with the Aruban Florens.
My trip was a bit on the short side (only five nights) so I mostly explored the area closest to our apartment at The Boardwalk, which is at the north-west end of the island. We booked our stay there, and as part of a package deal, windsurfing lessons and rental. The beach where the Vela windsurfing school was is just a short walk from the Boardwalk and along that beach are all sorts of other resorts and activities from sunset cruises to jet-ski rentals. Aruba is an excellent location for windsurfing due to its consistent winds of about 20 knots, year-round nice weather (mid 80s) and reefs extending out from the beach allow you to walk back if you’re a beginner. While most of my stay was dedicating to windsurfing, I did spend a half-day on a Landrover tour of the island, which brought us to a few areas off the beaten track which exhibit a far more rugged side of Aruba. The natural pool is very enjoyable, and the view is excellent. Additionally, the coral caves are a very different type of cave from the traditional, and are very neat to explore.

Recommended:

  • The Iguana Cantina – This Mexican cantina was very tasty, so good in fact that we returned a second time. I had the red snapper, which was an entire snapper fried, providing an excellent presentation. Between 5-7PM is happy hour, which means 50% off margaritas, sangrias and beers.
  • Gelato from Cafe Amici – There is a huge selection of flavors, and the gelato is very tasty, an excellent way to end the day.
  • Vela Sports windsurfing – The lessons and equipment I got from them was very helpful, and I was able to progress from the beginner lesson my first day to water starts and harnesses at the end of my stay.

Recommended with Reservations:

  • Moby Dick Seafood Restaurant – While the food here was very good, the service was terrible, and the portions left you looking for a second dinner, even though the prices were high.
  • ABC Island Tours – While the tour was a lot of fun, and I got to see parts of the island that were not very accessible, the tour did not go to all of the advertised locations, leaving much to be desired. I suggest verifying with the tour company prior to booking the stops.

I hope this provides some helpful information for those looking for an escape from the cold. If you have any further questions feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to reply.

Peace and chow,

Ranok

P.S. An obligatory photo of my windsurfing:

My windsurfing

Hurry Up and Slow Down

Now that I’ve had a chance to settle into my new apartment above Misty Hollow on Market Street, and I have all the needed utilities, I thoughts I take a break and reflect on my first two weeks of my senior year. My schedule this semester has me in class for 11 hours Monday and Wednesday, and practically without class the other week days (I do have class every few Saturdays). This schedule is requiring some work to get used to, either I’m feeling rushed to make it to my next class and keep everything straight (philosophy to statistics) or I’m wondering what to do with all my spare time. I have however found a few things to keep myself occupied on my off days, I’m working for Clarkson as a campus photographer, shooting lots around the area for brochures, the website or mailings. This is a great way for me to practice and improve my photography skills and work with a professional! I will update my Flickr when I have some great shots, so keep checking it out! Of course I’m also still the co-director of COSI, which has a large amount of interest this year, and I’m hoping for good things to turn up. naturally I’m still working on my baby, OSP (a post on that soon). Lastly, I’ve joined the Potsdam Rescue Squad, and am enrolled in the NY state EMT course, which I am enjoying, and excited to become a more useful member as my knowledge grows.

Well, I think that about covers all in my life for the time being.

Peace and chow,

Ranok

Summer Recap

For those of you who didn’t know the reason behind my two month long silence, it was because I headed to northern Ontario, Canada for the summer to lead canoe trips. I plan on returning to the USA in the next few days, so before the memories fade too quickly, I thought I’d fill everyone in on my experiences, in a hope it would spur others to share as well.

I’ve been working at Langskib for three years now, the past two as an assistant trip leader, and this most recent one as a full trip leader, which I have learned is a big step up in terms of responsibility and freedom. Not only are you allowed to choose your route, and have the (pretty much) final word for your trip, you are the responsible party for 6-10 young boys on your 10-20 day trip through the Canadian wilderness. Not only can it be very stressful thinking of all those parents blindly putting their faith in your good judgement, it is also a uniquely powerful position to help shape the young boys that go on your trip into compassionate, strong men.

This summer, I led two trips, an Excalibur (10-day) trip consisting of 10-12 year olds and a Viking (20-day) trip of approximately the same age group. The first trip was dedicated to pure fun, and feeling comfortable in the woods, which can be an unsettling place for young boys who are accustomed to the hustle, bustle and creature comforts of the suburbs or a big city. On that trip we took our time, packing in fun events whenever we could on our trip to Maple Mountain, the second highest point in Ontario. The view from the top was worth the journey, and provided a very real view of how far we had gone, as Langskib was only a blot on the horizon. After returning to lake Temagami, we embarked on a treasure hunt in a large 12-person Voyageur canoe, culminating in a feast with all the other Excalibur sections.

My second trip, still fresh in my mind we started on the same route, north to Maple Mountain, however, upon reaching the summit, we instead looked west, in the direction we were to head for the next 15 days. We then climbed the golden staircase, which is a number of portages around beautiful waterfalls on the north branch of the Lady Evelyn River. At the top, we arrived at Katherine Lake, where we were met with a float plane laden with provisions for the duration of our trip, as soon as the floats had left the water, and the engine noise had faded to a low drone, we were again reminded of our remoteness, and that all we had to pull us through was each other, a group of 10 11-13 year olds and Dave and myself. From Katherine, we started heading home on the south branch of the river, a widely known route that is both beautiful and very rugged. There are portages down steep rock walls, campsites just above waterfalls, and some fun whitewater to boot. We took our time and ensured that safety was our number 1 priority, closely followed by having fun. At the bottom of the river, we did a portage known as the Diamond Death March, a 4 kilometer trck ending in about 800 meters of marsh and mud to your hip. I had been fearing disaster on this portage, for it is one of the three famed portages for its challenge. However, I was astounded at how smooth the day went, and how the kids were able to push themselves through limits they had set for themselves, and feel very accomplished at the end. Our last push home was through a route called Satan’s Gate, a trail of about 5-12 portages through deep mud to arrive in Sharp Rock Inlet (where Langskib resides) just 1 km west from home. Having our last circle as a group within sight of Langskib was a truly memorable experience.

As I leave, I say my good-byes to all my good friends on staff, and begin my return to civilization, always an interesting experience. Starting on the 24th, I am starting my senior year at Clarkson University, on the Potsdam Rescue Squad and trying to stay active. I look forward to reconnecting with old friends, and hearing their stories once I am safely back across the border.

Peace and chow,

Ranok