Defusing in person

My name, and my department’s name in general, gets thrown around a lot at work. We have a bit of a reputation as the can’t-do guys.

Professionalism dictates I not go into specifics about what kinds of things we reject or disapprove, but if I were to explain them, no security professional would disagree with me.

The other side of the argument, of course, is that the system still does its job the way it’s supposed to do and the system cost a lot of money. Here’s a story of a tense situation and how we were able to come to an understanding. Read the full post »

The wrong way to reboot a server

In my day, I did plenty of hardware maintenance in the field. In fact, the only time one of my bosses ever saw me working, I was swapping out failed memory in a server.

“How’d you know it needed to be done?” he asked.

“It told me.” That’s why I always loved HP Proliant servers. My boss looked confused at my answer but didn’t ask me to elaborate.

But not all of my field maintenance always went quite so smoothly. Read the full post »

Off to the World Series.

Years ago, probably sometime in 2009 or 2010, a coworker asked me when the Royals would be good again. I estimated 2014, based on the age of the serviceable young players they had at the time and the age of the prospects they had in their farm system.

By 2014, I estimated that Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer would all be productive major league players, and that would give them a chance. A whole lot of other things would have to go right though, and the window of opportunity would be short, because modern economics wouldn’t permit the Royals to keep all four of them together as long as the Royals of yore kept George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae and Willie Wilson together.

Objectively, it sounded plausible. But did I believe it? Not really. I’d been denied too many times. Read the full post »

Why you should avoid home warranties

Consumer Reports advises not to buy home warranties. (Scroll past the horror stories to see the general advice why.)

I agree. I’ve bought four home warranties and never got half my money’s worth. The last one I bought will be the last. Read the full post »

Attention St. Louis: Two shock jocks don’t speak for Kansas City, or for the Royals

I noticed a lot of St. Louisans were rooting for the Royals, then, suddenly, they turned into die-hard Orioles fans. That’s odd, especially considering the Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns, who left town in 1953. That’s like Kansas City rooting for the Oakland Athletics or Sacramento Kings.

Then I found out two Kansas City shock jocks, Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison, ranted and raved about St. Louis for about an hour one day, and a bunch of St. Louisans took it seriously.

Whatever.

OK, so Kansas City has a couple of guys with no class on the radio. So does St. Louis. What town big enough to have more than one radio station doesn’t? But let’s talk about class for a minute. Read the full post »

Statistically predicting successful marriages

I make my living by trying to statistically measure and present the security of a computer network. The month I started, it seemed nearly impossible. Today it’s merely difficult. So I loved this story about trying to apply statistics to something even more difficult: marriage success.

The strategy to take is to look at the risk factors, then do what you can to minimize them. In my case, we went 6 for 7. And I can tell you we felt the difference as the factors related to earning power declined over the years.

Read the full post »

HP splits in two.

Don’t you feel like trying something new
Don’t you feel like breaking out
Or breaking us in two
You don’t do the things that I do
You want to do things I can’t do
Always something breaking us in two –Joe Jackson

After years of buying up companies, HP is splitting up. While that’s probably more prudent that exiting the desktop PC business, which is another idea they flirted with in the past, it’s anyone’s guess how this is going to work out.

But it’s what all the cool kids are doing, so it’s what the investors want, and that means HP is going to do it. Read the full post »

The meaning of “That’s what speed do.”

You’re probably hearing Royals fans say, “That’s what speed do” a lot. With games on the line, they tend to slap the ball, get on base however they can, and score however they can, and that’s what the line refers to.

The origin was a game on July 27, 2013. Jarrod Dyson led off the 12th inning with a ground ball to Gordon Beckham, who bobbled the ball. Dyson was credited with a single.

“That’s a single,” Dyson insisted after the game. “That’s a tough play. That’s what speed do. If you can’t handle the ball, put it back in the glove.”

Dyson knows speed. He once tagged up and scored the game winning run on a popup to shortstop. Read the full post »

How to succeed as an IT contractor

I met a young IT contractor a little while back. His talent was sky high, and his potential was matched only by his rawness. It’s not my place to go into great detail about that rawness, but one thing I noticed about him was that he had a very self-defeating attitude about him.

Several times he started a statement with, “If I don’t get fired,” or something to that effect.

It occurs to me that perhaps my experience as a contractor would be helpful.

Read the full post »

CMD.EXE and its shellshock-like qualities

“So did you know there’s a Windows version of Shellshock?” a coworker asked the other day.

“What, Cygwin’s bash?” I asked.

“No, in CMD.EXE.”

I thought for a second, back to some really nasty batch files I’ve seen that do goofy stuff with variables and parenthesis and other reserved characters. Suddenly it made sense. Those cryptic batch files are exploiting the command interpreter to do things that shouldn’t be done. Then I smiled.

Read the full post »