I bought a pair of shoes at the Salvation Army last week. It was the last thing I bought from that store before it closed. I guess I didn’t realize it was empty when I rolled into the parking lot yesterday. As I sat in my truck, I waited for a moment, sipping a Frappuccino. I watched a man wheel another man in a wheelchair. The automatic door swung open on an empty line of white walls with nothing on them. The pictures were no longer hanging, and racks of missing clothing revealed the floors were white.
It looked more like a clinic, or a place where people go to get well, a hospital with no beds, from what I could make out. A man just inside with a blue apron on sent the customers back to their car and they wheeled out, on their way, past this old, dead building. They didn’t need this place anymore. It served no purpose to them.
You wouldn’t know it from looking at it that it was closed, but you never could really see into that place. The windows were mirrors that reflected light onto cellophane back in a crackly, flashbulb hue. I could never really see into the store front, but I always assumed it would be open. I don’t know why, but it makes me think about how sad it is when your favorite stores close, sadness that turns into a mystery of why a place came to be, or how it was ever there in the first place.
This sad wonder only adds myth to the legend of a place long gone. So often it is that when we look up at the stars at night we do not see the light of today, but rather light centuries back, pushing into reverse, into being the days of Abraham Lincoln or some dead saint. What we hoped would always be there is not but ancient dust reflecting back for your eyes to behold, at least for a moment.
And I think about the times I was there, what I bought there that has provided meaning and significance to my life, and the life of things. What I can know and see I can buy, and that says a lot to the testament of belongings. That I can still wear that T-shirt with the rainbow color bars in the shape of an Apple icon says something. I bought that shirt there, and I think it’s the smartest thing I’ve ever bought for various reasons: because it’s a dead logo; Apple discontinued the colored bars apple design in 1999; because I still place value on the Apple brand; and much of what I have purchased in the past five years, excluding my education, has been Apple products. Because I think that what I buy makes me a bit cooler than who I am, it’s the wonder in a disgruntled realization that makes me who I am; not me, actually.
What we can see in things is a testament to the reality of now, how in computers we can have a second sense. With the use of subtle instruments, one can monitor connections, crossing other networks into the great unknown. For this week’s research, I examined three computer monitoring software devices: Wireshark, Pandora FMS, and Angry IP Scanner.
Wireshark is a free, online network monitoring tool usable on either a Linux, PC, or Mac operating system (Hak5, 2012). You can inspect data passing through your interface, whether it be Ethernet, LAN, or wireless radio (Hak5, 2012). Wireshark can open and decode the data packets in the TCP/IP layer (Hak5, 2012). Administrators can determine whether the data is being sent securely, and, conversely, Wireshark can be used by hackers on an open network or company computers (Hak5, 2012).
This monitoring tool shows much of what a network traceroute will show: the flow of traffic, where data gets congested, and in which node the data transmission stops (routergods, 2014). Wireshark offers a feature called Interface List, which displays which devices are sending packets and analyzes the data (Hak5, 2012). You can view the source IP address; view by modes, i.e. by monitor mode, which shows you all traffic that the Wi-Fi adapter can receive, in addition to the IEEE 802.11 headers or radio information, or promiscuous mode, which allows the network adapter to capture all traffic that network, above and beyond the traffic sent to its own network address; also filter information by very specific parameters, including by website and update data using real time (Hak5, 2012).
Contrasting Wireshark with Pandora FMS, the two are different in several ways. Pandora FMS lets you create a network agent, which is lets you independently view and monitor activity from the network of your choice (Pandora FMS, 2012a). What’s quite different from Wireshark is Pandora FMS compiles useful and visually pleasing charts, graphs, reports, and predictive diagrams based on current and future data (Pandora FMS, 2012b). This feature makes the information sticky and reusable for corporations and small businesses whose IT department may depend on such vital information. Pandora FMS costs nothing and allows you to keep track of applications and communications, sends alerts based on specific events and send notifications to administrators (Pandora FMS, 2012a), and is a cross-platform option that runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows (Pandora FMS, 2012a).
A third type of network monitoring tool is Angry IP Scanner, which, in contrast of the previous two options, is free and requires no installation (Rajaram, 2012). It is an executable file that can be executed from a USB flash drive. By definition, IP scanning allows you to scan a network to locate network devices and other nodes on a network (Rajaram, 2012). The main purpose of using IP scanning software is to find out whether or not a specific node is active on a network (Rajaram, 2012). Scanning involves pinging an IP address, port scanning, and gathering specific information (Rajaram, 2012). The following information can be found using IP scanning: status of node, dead or alive; packet round-trip time; host name and domain names using DNS reverse lookup of the IP address; NetBIOS information; operating system type and version; TCP ports opened on a node (Rajaram, 2012). Angry IP Scanner can be used to monitor one’s own devices, and also as an offensive tool to prey on unsuspecting open ports of other networks.
So much of life is mulling through the detritus until we salvage meaning, which has been the key to unlocking so many unknowns. The unknowable variable in any constant is your own mind, so taking comfort in a thing relieves some of the angst and fear of all your own, unexplored space.
My shoes are printed space. There is a photograph of the Milky Way that was printed onto this pair of Vans with white soles and black laces. I stare at them now and lose myself in them, staring into my own shoes as if they have the answers that I can stare into like an abyss and retrieve something, make up for the lost time of my misspent life, travail into my imagination and bring back someone’s favorite hat or a misplaced set of keys. Sometimes I like to think there is a missing plane of existence that everyone hops into and out of, intermittently, through the ages, and this place is for everyone, leaves no one out, and rebuilds something that is not there.
Hak5. 2012. How to Capture Packets with Wireshark – Getting Started. Retrieved from
Pandora FMS. 2012a. Pandora FMS – Video Tutorial – 02 – Monitoring setup. Retrieved
Pandora FMS. 2012b. Pandora FMS – Video Tutorial – 05 – Remote access. Retrieved
Rajaram, Kevin. 2012. How to use Angry IP Scanner. Retrieved from
Routergods. 2014. Wireshark Certified Network Analyst Class #1. Retrieved from