I Went to Prison for Good

On March 26th, 2019 I went to the California Correctional Institute, a supermax state prison north of Los Angeles.  I was there for cause – a good cause.  I was volunteering as part of a “Prison Entrepreneurship Program” that is an employment, entrepreneurship, and personal development training program that helps the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated to become successful, legal entrepreneurs and employees.  The program has been around for over 15 years with at least three different organizations in different parts of the country operating.  Graduates have an exceptionally low 7.5% three-year recidivism rate (compared to the national average of nearly 50%).

I was there for the entire day with about 50 other business leaders in a room with 65 inmates, or “Mavericks” as the program calls them.  In order to attend the event, the Mavericks had to apply to the program and complete all the coursework and attend all the classes.  Nobody who applies is turned down, but they must do the work in order to continue through the program.

Because I was just there for a single day I don’t know what all is involved in the coursework, but the Mavericks had spent months preparing for the day by learning interpersonal skills, public speaking, basic business concepts, writing a resume, doing practice job interviews, creating a business plan, writing their life story, and learning how to approach everything and everyone with a positive attitude and energy.

Continue reading “I Went to Prison for Good”

I was a DEF CON Virgin

Last week I got to experience the DEF CON hacker’s conference in Las Vegas for the first time.  If you aren’t familiar with the conference, it is one of the world’s largest hacker conventions, and this year was its 25th annual convention.  DEF CON is considered an “underground” event because it is community driven and doesn’t have any major corporate sponsors, yet it attracts roughly 30,000 people such as computer security professionals, journalists, lawyers, federal government employees, security researchers, and students from all over the world.  You can read more about the event here:



I’ve attended over a hundred IT focused conferences in my life, but for some reason DEF CON never made my list.  I don’t know why I hadn’t attended before – I guess I never really “got” the community.  But this past year I read “Ghost in the Wires” by Kevin Mitnick and gained a much better understanding of what makes this community unique, so I decided to add DEF CON to my list. Continue reading “I was a DEF CON Virgin”

An iPad and Mickey Mouse

This month, my wife Mary and I took our two kids, Ethan (eight) and Lauren (six), to experience all that Disney and Universal Studios have to offer in Orlando, Florida. This was our fourth family vacation to the Sunshine State, so at this point, between our other trips and my wife’s research, we are pros at running the Disney gauntlet.

However, the one area that always seemed to be stressful was the arrival at the Orlando airport and subsequent transportation to the resort. After a flight with kids, the last thing we want to do is spend time in lines waiting for taxis, shuttles or rental cars. So this time I decided to prearrange a car via Town Car Now. Since there were four of us, the cost wasn’t much more than a shuttle or taxi, and the promise of having a car waiting upon our arrival sounded like just what we needed.

Continue reading “An iPad and Mickey Mouse”

Mobile LAN Trip Report

 We are back from our West Virginia rafting trip.  Normally that wouldn’t warrant a post on a blog about technology.  However, what we did on the way there and the way back makes it relevant.  You can read the details of our plan in this post:  http://blog.timrettig.com/2009/07/09/another-trip-another-crazy-project/.  In short, we connected our van to the Internet, provided minute by minute picture updates to a public website, and setup video conferencing between our vehicles.  Here is how it went down:

Mobile Internet Access

We setup a laptop in the van with a Verizon aircard and then used Windows to share that connection via wireless between the users in the van.  We also had an AT&T aircard, and a couple of people tethered to their phones.  We have been using aircards for years, but not this extensively, not over this terrain, and not as a mobile shared connection. 

Mission control in the van.

As expected, our only issue was data service.  We had service from both Verizon and AT&T and both services had major outages on our trip from Cincinnati, OH to Fayetteville, WV.  We knew we would have occasional drops, but we didn’t expect Continue reading “Mobile LAN Trip Report”

Another trip, another crazy project

Tomorrow our company departs for our annual rafting trip in West Virginia.  Rafting down the New River is a blast, but the road trip there and back is rather mundane.  So to spice things up, we have decided to have some fun along the way.  We have decided to turn our caravan into a mobile network.  We are planning on using the Verizon data network as our primary link, and the AT&T data network as a backup.  We will use a laptop to share those connections among the passengers via wireless 802.11x.  Our caravan consists of a 12 passenger van, and a smaller “chase” vehicle.  We should be able to share our wireless network between vehicles.  That means we should be able to video conference between vehicles as we drive down the road.  We haven’t quite figured that part out, but we will do that while on the road. 
A network on the go.
A network on the go.

Our mobile network will provide minute by minute image updates to a public website.  We will also be tweeting, using the hash-tag of #lansol so you can follow us.  I will be updating my blog with more information about our network as we travel down the highway.  I will provide the link to the website once we depart.  We also plan on providing GPS updates about our location.  We depart about 1:30 EST, so check back then! 


Arrival in Barrow

 We arrived in Barrow this evening.  We flew in on an Alaskan Airlines jet that is half cargo and half passengers.  Being that is was a jet, it was a much nicer flight than I had been expecting.  I was expecting a much smaller prop plane.  Here is a nice picture of the terrain that surrounds Barrow:
Alaskan Tundra
Alaskan Tundra

Once we arrived, we got our gear, piled into the pickup truck and drove to our “hotel” to check in.  The hotel is actually just some shipping containers joined together into a building. Continue reading “Arrival in Barrow”

Let the Adventure Begin!

I have made it to Anchorage, and we don’t have to sleep at the airport!  I am at a hotel near the airport to catch some sleep before we catch our next plane to Fairbanks, and then on to Barrow.  So far the trip has been uneventful.  The only thing of note was the great Salmon burger I had at Allan’s Seafood in the Seattle airport.  Much better than I expected!

No Hotel in Anchorage?

I was reviewing my travel itinerary for next week .  On Monday I fly out of Cincinnati in the evening, layover in Seattle, and then arrive in Anchorage just before midnight Alaska time.  I then fly out of Anchorage on Tuesday afternoon, layover in Fairbanks, then onto Barrow.  I arrive in Barrow Tuesday evening.

So I am missing a hotel Monday night in Anchorage.  I have almost 16 hours between flights.  I sent an e-mail to find out what the plan is.  Hopefully it isn’t to sleep in the airport.  I have done that before in a snow storm, and it is no fun!  I don’t remember sleeping in an airport being listed on the release I signed?  http://blog.timrettig.com/2009/06/07/scariest-release-form-yet/