Tech Post #6: Defensive Learning

Back in college, I got to know UNIX better because someone changed my “.profile” to 1-800-hot-sex. So when you log onto the system and type “who” to see who else is online, on the list of users is a girl named “1-800-HOT-SEX”. Hilarious!

Needless to say, in the span of a day I learned how to use vi, I learned about dot files, I learned to finger, I learned about environment variables- basic UNIX stuff, sure, but why learn it? Ah, those geeky boys really know how to make friends fast.

Well, it’s happened again- yet this time I’m going on the offensive. I’ve been getting some strangely anonymous and malicious comments on a multi-user blog I sometimes write for: I don’t think it’s my friend- who has a very derisive form of humor- but I’m not ruling him out.

In trying to identify this “anonymous”- is anyone really anonymous on the internet?– commenter, I’ve learned in more detail about nslookoup, whois, and traceroute. Sure, I’ve used those before but now I have far more of a purpose. And, it really helps the research for various espionage fiction projects, too.

Who writes anonymous emails? Those that think their opinion is important without context- that they contribute something with the vitriol of the invisible blanket, but without the confidence of standing behind their words. I hear a DJ say recently- “I come on the air every day and state my opinions, and that’s a lot harder than all those anonymous commenters out there.” I have to say he’s right- it’s like the reason to pick a pen name or not- it’s a lot harder to stand behind your history of bad writing and stupid opinions.

Back to sleuthing- my first method was to cross-check this person’s IP against the weblogs on both systems. Then, I did the whois/traceroute/nslookup- thanks to nameless Geek #1. Then, I figured out a few things, generally. It’s like CSI_ ascii style.

Last bout of lookup involved diving even deeper– thanks to anonymous Geek #2. There are basically a lot of things you can do given an IP. And, turns out, it’s a static IP.

Did you understand anything in this post so far? Then if you are, you’re a validated geek, and, for some of you, you get a glyph, like Lauren: “==”.