“Now boys, it’s time to come in from playing outside and go to work.”
“Quip, you know having you repeating yourself like that reminds me of my cousin Jimmy D. who also had some speech problems. I’ll never forget the story he tells about landing his first job selling bibles door to door to the surrounding towns where we lived.
“Ol’ Jimmy D. has a stuttering problem, and the sales manager didn’t want to give him the job. Jimmy D. begged and agitated until the sales manager finally said ok, offering him a commission only position. That cagey sales manager figured that since Jimmy D. stuttered so bad no one would buy anything from him, but Jimmy D. agreed to the proposition.
“Well, that first week Jimmy D. is selling as many bibles as the number two sales guy, after two weeks he is selling as many bibles as his best sales guy, and after three weeks he is selling as many bibles as the whole sales team. Well sir, that old cagey sales manager hauls Jimmy D. into his office and puts the obvious question to him asking how someone with a severe stuttering speech problem was able to out sell all the seasoned bible sales guys. Jimmy D’s response was priceless, so I want to make certain I get it right.”
Andrew parroted Jimmy D., “Well mister sales manager.. I..I..I..go up to the house li…li..like you taught me and I knock real hard. When they answer the door I go into my sales routine and say I’m sel..sel..selling bi..bi..bles ma’am. Wou..wou..would you li..li..li..like to b…b…buy one or..or..or…would you li..li..like me to read it to you? And you know, mister sales manager, almost all of them want to buy that bible from me right then and there but couldn’t read it until later.”
Otto broke into a grin, but Quip was desperate to try and suppress his laughter. In the end they all erupted into a chorus of laughter. Andy did have a way of telling stories that was irresistible. They all took a breath, ready to refocus on the real task at hand.
“Come on, Andy, let me introduce you to ICABOD. Otto, if you want to come back after we’ve had time to take a look and evaluate, that works as I know you are busy.”
Otto left feeling confident that the boys could work together alone. Quip showed some of what ICABOD could do, and Andy commented on the capabilities. A while later they were both pouring over the satellite information trying to make sense of it. There was a specific sequence of data that Andrew was highlighting to Quip with all pretense of the country boy removed for the moment.
“Look at this, Quip! Someone is stealing transmission cycles as though they are a legitimate signaling end point. The content is fine but the ID markers are bogus.” Andrew pointed to the specific areas of interest on the screen. “This means someone has figured out how to get some of the communications satellites to carry their voice traffic. And look here! They have gotten into the proprietary signaling programming to turn off satellite tracking. Basically the satellite is being told, don’t look here, don’t track this and is obeying those commands! Wow, this communications expert is really good! For all intents and purposes the satellite works for this hacker.”
Quip watched with interest as ICABOD mapped out the scene from a low earth orbit or LEO. This was new data for ICABOD to maintain for future efforts, and Quip wanted it trapped as a correct reference in the library.
“Does that mean that we can’t track this hackers movements, huh? So now what?”
Andrew reverted to his good ‘ol boy routine and said, “Now young feller, I didn’t say we couldn’t follow the hacker. I said he told the satellite not to look in certain areas. But what your hacker here doesn’t know is that if you take all the non-mapped areas together, one after the other, you get a trail or corridor that starts at one end and ends up in another. Basically we have a map of the hacker’s path based on areas he didn’t want to be tracked in, but as we capture and store them rather than relying on the satellite’s historical data, that is exactly what he gave us.”
Quip realized that Andy’s observation was very astute. He also noticed the change in Andrew’s communication vernacular and recognized how he’d allowed his chain to be yanked. Later he would admit to Otto that having Andy on this assignment was a good idea. He was now also in a position to figure out how to yank Andy back, but for the time being he let Andy continue.
The consummate professional now, Andrew continued, “So it looks like the no-track zone begins here in the Chihuahuan Desert, yet ends here in the Cayman Islands. Since it is a straight line with rapid and consistently timed movements from one area to the next, I’d hazard a guess that it is an airplane. Most likely a twin engine since you wouldn’t want to go swimming if you had engine trouble. It looks capable of a cruise speed of about 325-350 knots. Probably something like a King Air or maybe a light jet.”
Quip was now annoyed with this much conclusion from Andrew ahead of his own evaluation, but ICABOD seemed to concur.
He was interested so he asked, “So how do you know just how fast this supposed plane has to be flying?”
Andrew, still staring into the 3-D ICABOD screen, said without looking at Quip, “Well, young feller, if you watch the time each of these zones is blocked out and take a distance reading for each and leaving some margin for error in each no-track zone, I come up with each zone being similar in diameter and each is in a no-track zone for the same period of time.”
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