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Forget the word “should.”

After talking with another former classmate/newsroom-mate, I wanted to bring out the highlight from yesterday. I’m not saying this would have saved Brian, but it was life-changing for me, and I’d say there’s probably a 10% chance it can be life-changing for you, too. If you’re one of the 90%, it’s more likely to be merely helpful.

The problem is the word “should.” And while I generally think striking words from the English language is a bad idea because language control is thought control, this is one instance where I don’t think thought control is a bad thing. “Should” is a club that we use to beat ourselves up with far too often.Read More »Forget the word “should.”

Just reach for it.

I lost a college classmate this week.

We weren’t close, so I didn’t take it as hard as some of our newsroom-mates undoubtedly did. But at the very least, as a human being with a soul and with two kids, I feel bad for the wife and two kids he left behind. It shook me up enough that a couple of my coworkers asked me Wednesday morning what was going on. I told them.

“Don’t try to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense,” the smartest guy in the room said.Read More »Just reach for it.

“Why do we have a server named ‘Vicious?'”

My first non-food service, non-retail job was working desktop support for my college, the University of Missouri-Columbia. They were doing a massive computer upgrade and needed some part-time help. When they realized they’d found a journalism student who knew PC hardware and already knew OS/2, they cut the interview short and showed me around. I started work the next day.

My job was, initially, to unbox a few hundred IBM PC 330s and 350s, install network cards and memory, then install OS/2 on them. We had room for me to set up about 10 of them at a time, on long folding tables on opposite sides of a long room. It was lonely work at times, but I got to work with computers, and they were paying me $8 an hour. I liked it better than retail.

After a few days I had enough time to watch the boot process. OS/2 had a facility called Configuruation, Installation and Distribution (CID), similar to Microsoft’s unattended installation that appeared in later versions of Windows NT, that automated much of the process. An administrator configured machines in advance, and then when build time came, I booted off a floppy, entered a computer name, and the process pulled down what it needed from the network. After 30 minutes or so, we had a functional machine. CID probably saved a couple of hours of repetitive work. On this particular day, after I got nine machines going, I watched the 10th go through its the CID process. I noticed the machine kept addressing a server named \\VICIOUS.

Read More »“Why do we have a server named ‘Vicious?’”

“They were bored and wished they had a job.”

I was catching up on security podcasts this week, and a brief statement in one of them really grabbed me. The panel was talking about people who steal online gaming accounts, I think. The exact content isn’t terribly important–what’s very important is what this person found in the forums where the people who perform this nefarious activity hang out. What she found was that there was one common sentiment that almost everyone there expressed, frequently.

They were bored, and they wished they had a job.

There was about a 30-second exchange after that, but I don’t think it’s enough.Read More »“They were bored and wished they had a job.”

An inside peek at a newsroom

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Holleman and his editors had to dodge some strange accusations this past week. These ranged from Holleman catching his editors sleeping, to amazement that his editors “allowed” him to write something they agreed with.

My longtime readers will know that prior to becoming Security Dude, I graduated from journalism school with the intention of eventually becoming a magazine editor. In the meantime, I spent a lot of time paying my dues writing for a daily newspaper. I’ve dealt with a number of editors. And they’ve dealt with me. Although I’m considered a moderate now, in the 1990s my now-moderate views qualified me as a conservative. My editors were always more liberal than me, so we had some disagreements.

Read More »An inside peek at a newsroom

Welcome, Tony’s Kansas City readers

Thanks to Tony’s Kansas City for the link this morning. Tony noted that “Security dude reminds us that Google Fiber could kill the software industry.”

That’s an interesting spin. I do think it will affect the software industry–but so long as Kansas City stays at the forefront and the rest of the country is content with being a technological backwater, the effect will be minimal. But “kill” is an awfully strong word, even if every major city in the country were to get affordable Gigabit Internet in the very near future.

I say that because of what I saw in college.Read More »Welcome, Tony’s Kansas City readers

The LCMS won’t be able to work out its differences in the dark

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a journalism professor say, “Don’t ever do something you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.”

It’s worse today. In the 1990s, the news cycle was hours long. Today, with three major cable news channels and the Internet, the news cycle is minutes long, and marching toward real-time.

That’s the problem with Dr. Matthew Harrison’s hope, reported in the Post-Dispatch, to handle the LCMS’s Sandy Hook Vigil controversy “[Internally,] well out of the public spotlight.”
Read More »The LCMS won’t be able to work out its differences in the dark

How to maximize a Computer Science degree

Yesterday an interesting question popped up on Slashdot, asking for an alternative to a computer science degree for an aspiring web developer. He complained that what he’s learning in class doesn’t relate to what he wants to do in the field.

Assuming that by “web developer” he means someone who can code stuff in ASP and/or PHP with a database backend and do stuff in Javascript–as opposed to a designer who just does HTML and CSS–I think he’s best off staying where he is and asking better questions.
Read More »How to maximize a Computer Science degree