Thank you, Jerry Pournelle

Longtime computer columnist and science fiction author Jerry Pournelle died on Sept 8, 2017. I count Dr. Pournelle as one of my influences.

I was never a big sci-fi fan, so I’ve never read any of his novels. I really enjoyed his computer journalism, however. He was a tech curmudgeon, and he was blunt, but frequently that was what we needed, especially in those early years when computers didn’t work as well as they do today.

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Using Adsense with WordPress

I first started using Google Adsense sometime in 2003 or 2004. But using Adsense with WordPress isn’t completely straightforward. So here’s an easy, concise guide to using Adsense with WordPress, including within your content.

I’m not a full-time blogger. I’m a computer security analyst by day, and blog part time. I went to journalism school in the ’90s in hopes of landing a job that doesn’t exist anymore. Some of what I learned about printing magazines applies to modern blogging. Some of it is subtly different. I don’t need to make a ton of money blogging, but I don’t blog to lose money either. There are an awful lot of bad people with bad motives making a lot of money online off sketchy or downright dishonest content. I’m writing this so the good guys can learn what the bad guys know, and make a little money too.

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Whatever happened to Dr. Thomas Pabst?

Whatever happened to Dr. Thomas Pabst?

In 1996, Dr. Thomas Pabst, a German MD then living in England, created a web page where he talked about motherboards, video cards, and a then little-known phenomenon called overclocking. Dubbed Tom’s Hardware Guide, it spawned a long list of imitators, creating a new industry: PC hardware enthusiast sites.

In 2006 he sold the site and walked away.

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Robert Rayford (Robert R): AIDS in St. Louis in the 1960s

Robert Rayford (Robert R): AIDS in St. Louis in the 1960s

The sad story of Robert Rayford (aka Robert R), the first documented victim of HIV/AIDS in the United States, shows that if timing had been a little bit different, the AIDS epidemic could have happened a decade earlier than it did, and its epicenter could have been St. Louis instead of New York. His story raises some uncomfortable questions. How did HIV end up in St. Louis, of all places? And why did it stay local to St. Louis rather than becoming an epidemic?

His story made me uncomfortable, and sometimes that’s how I know it’s time to dig in a bit more.

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Change a headline, go to prison

A former journalist whose track record includes being fired from the Tribune Co. and from Reuters is facing two decades in prison for giving the hacking group Anonymous credentials to log into a Tribune web site and change stuff.

Anonymous changed one headline, and it took about 40 minutes for someone at Tribune Co. to notice and change it back.

It reminds me of something that happened at the newspaper where I used to work.

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How to mitigate MS15-078 or future Microsoft font driver vulnerabilities

Microsoft rushed out an out-of-band patch, MS15-078, to deal with active exploits in their font driver yesterday. Since pushing out patches takes time, my boss asked me what we could do to mitigate the issue in the meantime.

The biggest threat, by far, is exploit-bearing fonts being downloaded from web sites. Ideally you only install trusted fonts from trusted sources locally on your workstations, right? If not, I suggest you start that practice as well.

You have a couple of options when it comes to blocking fonts in browsers.

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Tricks for giving presentations at work

One of my peers–he does exactly what I do at work, but for Unix machines while I cover Windows–asked me for some tips for giving presentations after he gave a presentation last week. I’ve presented a couple of times myself, and from the feedback I received, I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself, so he asked for my feedback.

I gave him a few tips that have served me well over the years.

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