Captain X-Ploit: The DMV Dilemma and David’s Dastardly Deceptive Disguise.

The Adventures of Captain X-Ploit:
The DMV Dilemma and David’s Dastardly Deceptive Disguise.
– Part 2 of the epic chronicle –
Captain X-Ploit vs. The Law

After standing around in line for about ten minutes Ted stared at David and said, “So… got a plan?” David looked back and replied, “Oh… I’ve had one since we got here, I thought you just liked waiting in line.” Ted looked a bit nonplussed, but before he could ask if that was a joke, David had begun to walk to the front of the line saying something to the people who objected. Ted couldn’t hear because he had fallen behind, bu the crowd seemed to not have a problem with him moving though. He wondered what David had told them.

He didn’t have to wonder long because at the front of the line David proceeded to walk up to an open window and say “Greetings Miss, we are inspectors here to test your abilities. You have been considered for a promotion, I’m sure you’ll do just fine, this is just formality.” Grinning the lady said “Really? I can’t believe it! I thought surely Jane would get the promotion, not me.” David smiled back and said “Yes, we did consider Jane and your boss did say you were an incompetent hack who couldn’t do the simplest task without messing it up in the most extravagant manner possible.” Her face transformed to a look of sheer hatred. “Rick said that?” Ted, eager to help David, interjected, “Indeed. I believe he referenced some sort of slug indigenous to the sewers, when we inquired about you as well.” David shrugged and said, “Well none of that really matters. You will have the rank to tell him off if you complete this simple task.” The lady nodded enthusiastically, “Ok, I’m up to it. What do I do?”

David cleared his throat and said “We’ve put your computer in ‘test mode’ so that nothing you do after this point will really be saved. This is entirely for testing purposes. You understand?” The lady nodded and David continued, “Ok, now pretend someone died. Would you be able to change the status on their profile?” The lady looked confused at first but then quickly said, “I see where this is going. Oh! I’ve always wanted to work at the morgue, I sure can do that. Who did you want me to change?” “Oh, I don’t know, it really doesn’t matter… why don’t you use the president and vice president for test subjects.” David said grinning as if the idea were an inside joke. The lady gave a courtesy laugh and said “Ok, sure thing.” After poking away for a few seconds at the computer she said “There we go. If this were real they would be marked as ‘deceased’ in every computer worldwide now.” David, mostly looking at Ted, remarked, “I’ll bet the news would catch that in a matter of minutes.”

He looked back at the lady and said brightly, “Congratulations! You got the promotion! Tell you what, I know a big part of every promotion is giving your old boss what for. Why don’t you go do that right now, there’s nothing he can do.” A look of pure ecstasy ran across her face. Ted chimed in, “Might I suggest you utilize the stapler in a manner that would result in his tie being permanently affixed to the desk? I know I’ve always wanted to do this to him.” He said, pointing at David who retorted, “Hey now! I’m sure calling him an incompetent slob will do just fine too.” The lady started to laugh and said “Yes, but it has less style than what the tux man said.”

A few minutes later:

David and Ted were sitting on a bench watching the lady being escorted out by security. Ted looked at David and said “I’ll admit, my friend, that was greatly enjoyable. However, I don’t quite grasp the necessity of getting her fired as well as manipulating her to our own devices.” David responded, “She would obviously have found out soon enough that she hadn’t gotten a promotion, but now she won’t even be allowed on campus, let alone to correct the error she just created in the system for us. There’s no hope of anyone stopping us now.” He trailed off, watching the lady screaming, just admiring his handiwork for a while, before he turned to Ted and said, “We’d better go watch the news until this breaks and see how they are going to handle the reelection.”

The Prurient Public Pager Privacy Peccadillo

Got a pager and the cell phone too
color contacts with the sexy attitude
From Oh My Goodness by NB Ridaz

Riddle me this, Batman – when do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy on a pager? I always thought the whole purpose of a pager was to violate your privacy by drawing the attention of strangers when it beeps in public. Apparently I was legally incorrect because the answer to the aforementioned rhetorical riddle, according to the Ninth Circuit Court is: when the pager is issued to you by your employer and they fail to have clear policy, or have conflicting policies on pager use. Say what?

Okay, lets start at the beginning with this tale of the Prurient Public Pager Privacy Peccadillo. This post in the Electronic Discovery Law blog lays it out thusly [emphasis mine].

In the summer of 2008, the Ninth Circuit held that a city employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy as to personal text-messages sent from his city-issued and city-owned text-messaging pager.  The court further ruled that the employee’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when his supervisor read those text messages, after requesting transcripts from the service provider.

The relevant facts are as follows.  In late 2001 or early 2002, pagers were issued to city employees, including the police department.  There was no official policy regarding text-messaging on the pagers.  The City did have a general “Computer Usage, Internet and E-mail Policy”, however, which made clear that the use of city-owned “tools” was limited to business and that “use of these tools for personal benefit” was a “significant violation” of the City’s policy.  The policy also reserved the right of the City to monitor use and stated specifically that the email system was “not confidential”.

An informal policy governing the use of the pagers developed.  Specifically, the practice was that if employees went over their allotted character limit each month, they were responsible for paying the overage. [A police officer] repeatedly accrued overages.  Although the details of the conversation differ, the parties agree that [the officer and his supervisor] spoke about the overages.  [Supervisor] claimed he told [Officer] that he could pay the overages to prevent an audit, but also stated that the text messages were public records, subject to audit at any time.  [Officer] claimed [Supervisor] told him that if he didn’t want his messages read, he should pay the overage fee.  Regardless, [Officer] paid overage fees for exceeding the character limit “three or four times.”

In August 2002, [Officer] and another officer exceeded their limits.  Subsequently, an audit of the pagers was ordered to evaluate the possible need to increase the character limit.  Transcripts of the messages were obtained and read.  Thereafter, an internal affairs investigation was initiated to determine “if someone was wasting…City time not doing work when they should be.”  The investigation revealed that [Officer] had repeatedly exceeded his character limit and that many of the messages were personal and often sexual in nature.  [Officer] and those he was messaging with sued the City for violating their Fourth Amendment rights.

The District Court found that [Officer] had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his text messages.  The court further found that the reasonableness of the search turned on the purpose for which it was undertaken.  Because it was undertaken for purposes of determining a proper character limit, and not to uncover misconduct (as determined by a jury), defendants were absolved of liability.

The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that “the Department’s informal policy that the text messages would not be audited if he paid the overages rendered [Officer's] expectation of privacy in those messages reasonable” and noted that the formal usage policies were not the “operational reality” at the department.

So what we have here is a failure to communicate. Or rather way to much information-free communicating going on. First you have the City with their “Computer Usage, Internet and E-mail Policy” as opposed to an actual text-messaging/pager policy – because hey, pagers are just like computers, internet and e-mail, right? Then you have the supervisor telling officers that if you go ever the character limit you can pay to avoid an audit. Add to that an officer who decides that since he’s paying for those extra characters they might as well spell out something naughty. And finally you have the City deciding to do an audit to “evaluate the possible need to increase the character limit” by reading transcripts of the messages and then deciding to launch an Internal Affairs investigation to determine “if someone was wasting…City time not doing work when they should be.” Yeah – one of those kill two birds with one stone deals. This kind of sneaky “since we’re here anyway, we just though we’d violate your privacy” behavior really chaps my hide and I’ve written about it before here, here and here. Apparently the Ninth Circuit Court agrees.

Regarding the reasonableness of the search, the court determined that although the purpose of the search was reasonable, its scope was not.  By way of example, the court noted several alternatives to actually reading messages that could have accomplished the goal of determining the need to raise the character limit, including allowing [Officer] to count characters himself.  Accordingly, the court determined Appellants’ Fourth Amendment Rights had been violated.

So there you have it. Another blow struck for privacy and the Fourth Amendment. But if you think that this means your pager traffic is actually private here in “operational reality”, I have a message for you: U R A moron.

Captain X-Ploit: Bills, be damned we have to save the world!

The Adventures of Captain X-Ploit:
Bills, be damned we have to save the world! ~ Homeless Ted
– Part 1 of the epic chronicle –
Captain X-Ploit vs. The Law

Our protagonist and his new homeless friend in a tuxedo were sitting face down at the corner table of the Skylight Deer. The countless empty cups of BloodShot cast about the table were a testament to the difficulty of the problem they faced. “Ugh, I feel like punching a leprechaun… let’s go over this one more time. What are the requirements?” asked David not bothering to lift his head from the table. Ted responded in kind “They are prosecuting you on the presumed terrorist law. Once marked as a possible terrorist you can be held indefinitely without bail or hopes of escape, only direct word from the president can release you. The only catch I can see is that they can’t arrest you without cause, meaning you have to actually break the law, like when you were ‘speeding’. The problem with that is if you don’t break the law or exploit the system we have no show. If the new host fails, which to be honest I think she will, Captain X-Ploit gets canceled and the Earth is destroyed.”

David raised his head a little with a dawning realization, “Wait… Mr. Prez can remove me from that list?” Ted nodded and responded “Yes, but let’s face it, the odds of him listening to you are a million to one.” David shook his head, “Hmm… Shame, I kind of liked that guy. Oh well, if it has to be so be it.” He stood from the table and was half way out the door before Ted had caught up to him. “What? What are we doing? What has to be?” David smiled and turned and looked at ted smile breaking to grin he said “Ted my friend… we’re going to have to go ensure the death of the President.” Ted thought he had either misheard or David had lost his mind. “We can’t kill the President!” Ted said. David continued to smile, “Who said anything about killing him?” Ted’s face was the picture of utter confusion. David decided that now was not the time to be cryptic and so an explaination was in order. “Ok, so here’s the thing, we need to make you president…” “Me!? You really have gone insane,” Ted interrupted. “But we can’t make you president without doing three things first. One we need to remove the president and vice president from office to force a new election. Two we need to get you on the ballot. Three we need to make sure you win. One is easy enough, we go down to the DMV and convince them to mark both the president’s and vice-president’s records as deceased. The DMV, being so painfully slow, offers great advantage to us because only a man such as I could get to the front of the line in a single life time. Meaning the president, if he wishes to reclaim his life, will have to go to the DMV and wait in line.” Ted’s eyes finally glimmered with understanding. “He’d never do that. Anyone in his position would sooner die for real then deal with the DMV.” David nodded and continued, “Exactly. So all we have to do is get to the front of the line, convince whoever is there to change the records and bada-bing bada-boom the seats are open. The tricky part is going to be making sure you’re the only one on the ballot so we don’t have to wait for an election.”

About 15 minutes later:

David and Ted were standing outside the DMV. The line for the DMV wrapped around the building three times over and what looked to be a digital sign from the early 80s read “now serving number: 03” They pulled a number and read it “You are number #706,871.75”. “Hmm… I wonder why we’re .75, how many 1/4ths of people are in the line?” David wondered out loud. “Oh, each number pertains to the expected hour of wait time.” Ted explained. David nodded and said “oh, that makes sense, too bad the average human life time is only about 680,652 hours.” Ted nodded then paused, “Wait… you knew that just off the top of your head?” David gave him an odd look and said, “No, but I do know the average life span is 77.7 years, so I just did the math. Now come on, focus, we have to figure out how to get to the front of the line before we die. We only have…” pausing for a second, looking up and squinting, “…444,132, hours till we’re 77.7 and thus statistically at risk of death.”

TO BE CONTINUED!

So it’s good to have David back doing what he does best – exploiting the system. Even if it is for the amusement of Truman-esque reality-show loving extraterrestrials. This exploit promises to be a hum-dinger: putting Homeless Ted in as President without a bloody coup or even gaming voting machines. The plan uses the system against itself or more precisely the DMV against the rest of the system to avoid all that other nastiness. There are several clever references here that bear pointing out. First is the DMV. Guess who the DHS wants to administer the “Real ID” program. If that doesn’t give you pause you aren’t paying attention. Second is the plan to “ensure the death of the President” by essentially stealing his identity and changing his records to “deceased”. Or rather not stealing his identity and social engineering those who have control of the records to do it for him. Extreme? Outrageous? Unbelievable? Not as much as we’d like. And how about that “presumed terrorist law” where you can be stopped by the police for a minor infraction like speeding and then held as a terrorist. That could never happen in real life, right? Think about it.

Captain X-Ploit:
The concept of fans is still alien to me

The Adventures of Captain X-Ploit:
The concept of fans is still alien to me. ~ David Stone
– Part 7 of the epic chronicle –
Captain X-Ploit vs. The Bills

David found himself speeding down what was no longer a road. It took his brain a few seconds to register that he was now driving on the inside of what looked like a giant cargo bay of some alien ship. He slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop in the middle of the bay. Getting out of the car he looked around.

The cargo bay held several large, metal, crates, a couple of small plane like ships, but for the most part was completely empty. The walls were covered with blue glowing symbols that looked entirely alien to David. His eyes caught an opening on the wall, it looked almost like a door but it wasn’t symmetrical like most doors, it looked for lack of a better term like a giant S.

Walking closer to the “door” he realized it lead to a hallway. The hallway was contrastingly dark as compared to the almost blinding light that flooded the cargo bay. As he approached the “door” he saw signs of movement and life from inside the hallway.  Stopping he squinted trying to make out the figure. It looked like a man but, not a man. It was tall and gray with big eyes. A sense of unease struck David as he gazed directly into those giant black eyes.

The alien without pause walked steadily toward David. Paralyzed with confusion David stared dumbfounded. At this point the Alien was less than five feet from David. Its lip-less mouth opened and to David’s shock words poured forth. “David! I’m your biggest fan! Oh my God, can you sign my face?”

About an hour later:
David found himself in the cockpit of the ship surrounded by about fifty aliens. The cockpit was a rather large room with control panels along the window that was blacked out at the moment. His biggest fan who he now knew as “glorbass” had guided him to this room and was now standing beside him as a group of shocked aliens encircled them. The Captain of the ship had stepped forward and was just about to explain what was going on.

“You see, David, we have come to prepare Trustonia. You see although still #1 it appears to be slipping in ratings and we are here to retool in hopes that we won’t lose our coveted #1 in the universe spot. You know how it goes. The new generation wants sexy.” David nodded comprehendingly. “Well you’ve probably noticed phase one of our plan, we increased the temperature in Trustonia by about 30 degrees.” Now at ease David smiling said “oh, that was you then?” “Indeed,” replied the captain. “Our studies show that hot places hold the highest concentration of people that our target market enjoys looking at and laughing at.” David was beginning to understand, “and those types people would be?” “Why old people and girls on the verge of going wild, of course. Earth women are the sexiest in the universe and we hope to exploit that to higher ratings. You see Captain X-Ploit is not appealing to the 20 somethings and the 60 somethings. We want to change that. The old people like laughing at the young girls going wild and the young like to laugh at the old. Works out great for the show.”

David stopped to think for a second, had he heard correctly? ‘Captain X-Ploit’? he’d never heard that name before. “Wait your show is named Captain X-Ploit?” The alien nodded and said “well ‘The Adventures of Captain X-Ploit’ to be precise.” The obvious question then passed his lips, “who is Captain X-Ploit?” The alien laughed then said “why, you are my good man! Your escapades have entertained the entire universe for about six years now.” The alien’s face got serious and he paused before ending by saying “That’s why it’s such a shame we’re going to have to kill you now.”

“KILL ME!?!?!?” David squeaked.
The captain nodded and said “yes, sadly they are going to arrest you, look.” He pointed at a portion of the wall that was apparently a screen because it started to display a dark lit room with a round table surrounded by people in dark suits.

There were six men sitting around the table one of them David recognized, his jaw dropped as the face and name clicked “HOMELESS TED!!!” he yelled. The aliens motioned him to hush and watch. The obvious head of the table said “Ted, do you have any reports on David’s doings this week. Ted stood up and said “He stole some coffee and bagels as usual. He then proceeded to go home and take a nap.” The table erupted with gasps of fear. One man let out “Dear God, what does he hope to do with those items?” the head of the table silenced everyone.  “I believe it is more than obvious at this point he is planning on building some sort of weapon of mass destruction with those bagels and that coffee.” Ted interrupted “Wait people, I’ve been watching him for a while, and well this might sound crazy, but what if David was just hungry and thirsty, what if David just wanted that stuff for himself?” A grim look came across the head of the table and he yelled “Ted… that kind of dangerous talk could destroy our country. You’re fired! Get out of my sight.” David suddenly understood how “Ted” became “Homeless Ted” as he left the dimly lit room with round table. The head of the table pointed a finger at a fat man whom David did not know and said “James, start making plans for David’s arrest.”

“I understand the arrest part, but I don’t understand why you would kill me. Wouldn’t that kind of end your show,” David inquired. The captain shook his head “Well, thankfully we planned for an event like this. You see 6 years ago we cloned you, after several… modifications, we had our new star. Sadly this all came about too soon so we had to abduct her and force grow her to the age of 20 so that she could work for our show. As for killing you, well sadly you’ve seen too much, we would fear the observer effect now if we were to send you back to earth.”  David’s jaw dropped at this point and he couldn’t really focus on his impending doom all he could think about was… “Cloned me?” he let slip. The Captain nodded and pushed a button on one of the consoles, then in the middle of the room a pillar which David hadn’t taken much notice of slide down revealing it was not a pillar but a tube, and inside floated what was clearly a 20 year old version of the girl who had given him the crayon.

As if in answer to David’s silent thought, “could this get any weirder” in burst none other than Homeless Ted. “I don’t care what you think there is no show without David. You kill him and this girl fails. You’re dooming the earth!” Ted shouted, “Yes, we’ve considered this Ted that’s why we asked you to try to defend him in that room, and as you recall you failed.” The Captain exasperatedly responded. “Yes, but what if you put both David, and Sara on earth, and gave David one last chance to see if he can work his way out of this. That would be one hell of an exploit and one hell of an episode if he could. Plus since he knows he’s in danger he’ll have that much more incentive to figure it out.” David raised his hand and said “I like this idea.” The captain began to consider the proposal. It was clear by the look on his face that they had won. As they were being let go of the space ship they were told to expect to see Sara within the week so they’d better prove the show deserved two hosts. “This had better be one hell of an exploit, guys.” They said as they were particle beamed back to the street both of them in David’s spiffy new cop car.

Closing Thoughts from Nicholas: I will be back full swing soon with the exploits I hope. It’s surprisingly hard to progress the story and keep them up. Thankfully David is a champ and seems to be able to do it. I just wanted to also let all my fans know if you want up to date news on the series or maybe just want to get to know David Stone, check him out at his facebook,  he LOVES friends and to hear from fans.