Monday, March 31, 2008

Luv Them Firewalls

I guess I'm one of those unsophisticated old fogies that block my kids access. Squid is down and 9-year old doesn't care that much and hasn't figured out he can just disable the proxy, but my 4 year old daughter's Internet addiction is is in full bloom on Mom's MacBook playing the Dora/Diego games and a year ago she ordered 2-3 seasons from iTunes before I figured out how to disable it.

The media, which all operate under direct or indirect state control, warn frequently about internet addiction when discussing technology's effects on youth. At the end of 2006, the media reported that the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League stated that more than 2 million children and teens were internet addicts. In 2008, the Xinhua news agency reported that 11% of youth ages 18 to 23 are addicted to the internet.

For God's sake for as long as she can remember she's see a laptop attached to her parents, so why shouldn't she be addicted too?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2nd Thoughts on Dell Laptops (based on Precision M65)

So I'm sort of a laptop snob. I don't care much for MacBook Pro's, let along their flimsier sibling. And Dell's well, I don't want to go there. But most of this experience is based on Latitude's and based on the Precision M65 I was issued this week, maybe I was overgeneralizing. First of all the [Nvidia] graphics are amazingly snappy and the display very crisp, but most importantly these guys are sturdy -- maybe even sturdier than my T-61. Plus, good port layout and even a real Serial port.

I didn't calculate the price difference (but I recently did between comparably equipped T-61's and a high end D-series Latitude, which was around 20% more than the Lenovo) but I'm guessing Thinkpad's provide better value.

BTW, although this box will remain XP only, I did boot up the Ubuntu Hardy Heron Beta and it worked great. Correct (1280x800) screen resolution and WPA worked like a champ on the Intel 3945 card.

Friday, March 28, 2008

So that is what "aspies" are?

I hadn't read Dailydave for a while but a reference to this craiglist entry has convinced me that I should read it more often...

I'm basically extremely lazy and I scope projects that take 4 hours of real work time for about 1-2 weeks since thats how long it takes to bring myself to work on whatever stupid project I'm assigned. I've been mudding against recently, I have to get the good eq. drops.

I work marginally well on teams. I dont have a problem with authority, I just dont view them as being authoritative. I am late to work constantly, but not _THAT_ late. I need at least $105k a year. I consistently order the most expensive drinks I possibly can get away with when the company card is down. I will even order drinks to then just pour out into the toilet or onto the carpet just to make the company tab higher.

I can program a variety of languages including but not limited to C, C++, a number of assembly languages, PERL, BASH, TCL and SPIN.

I cannot currently program ERLANG, SCHEME, PYTHON or RUBY but if required (which is highly likely if you think your company is a cool, hip and intelligent one), I can learn any of these languages in 2 days with fluent programmign ability with 2 weeks, as any real programmer can do with any language.

I'm an excellent programmer but many aspies (people with aspergers) can out-program me.

[snip boring stuff]

I have 10+ years in professional (PAID) computer security experience but the security industry is completely retarded now. So I don't want to secure your web apps, _AT ALL_.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Time Firefox3b4 and Google Apps Performance Increases

Up until now maybe spent an hour or so running Firefox 3, but since Ubuntu Hardy Heron (Beta) ships with Firefox 3 as its default, I've noticed huge improvements using Gmail and Google Reader, most likely due to the Javascript improvements.

Vi movement keys don't work in Gmail though! Sort of annoying.

Hardy Heron Beta on T-61: First Impressions

So I just tried the LiveCD version of the beta and am pretty impressed. Since I need to start fresh in a few days (start with Tenable next week) and I've been getting some annoying reiserfs R/O inode errors, will probably do the deed real soon now. As is the case with any Ubuntu pre-release several 100 package updates in the works.

Two of three boots worked just fine (the one that failed I was messing with volume controls while GNOME was booting, coicidence?). Among the differences I noticed: Firefox 3.0b4, a new Encryption, Desktop Effects worked perfectly, didn't try WPA. Sound (and volume controls, that are more OSX like) worked perfectly. Codec finder worked on the second time and was able to fire up Radio Paradise and listen to a stream.

Actual install and reboot went fine but after upgrading the packages, I ran into the same GNOME startup issue (hang). Basically you lose control over the keyboard (Caps Lock doesn't blink) but mouse is still active... weird. But rebooted and then went into the console and installed OpenBox, restarted gdm. This worked (non-GNOME) and then weirdly worked with Gnome, so perhaps this is a Nautilus/Metacity issue...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Funny and On Target But Still Depressed, Nonetheless

So I'm not ashamed to admit to voting for Dubya in 2004, mostly out of disgust for the Michael Moore and crowd, so based on this a strange logic, could I actually somehow vote for Hilary out of disgust for Hannity and Limbaugh?

It's conceivable.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First Strike: An Oldie But a Goodie

I know I saw this either in Basic Training or more likely in "Common Block" at Goodfellow AFB as motivation cross our zeros or slash our sevens or something..

My favorite line (From the young-ass 1LT in a missle silo), "so you gonna go out with me tonight... thought we'd check out the hacienda... maybe even let you treat?" Damn Zoomies always had it easy. Put their hands in their pockets. Of course Nerve agent or "Yellow Rain" (having grown up on Edgewood Arsenal and driven by all those barbed-wire encircled buildings with the funny smoke stacks) and the thought of wearing MOPP4 is a hell of a lot more frightening than instant incineration.

But the good thing about "the enemy" back in the day (if you buy this whole story) is everybody (or at least a few million) is a goner. Now it's like somebody pops a dirty bomb off in Alexandria or a suicide bomber visits the Las Vegas strip, you'll probably be fine, except your CSCO shares go back in the single digits or your 401k is toast.

I think I prefer MAD.

I wonder if kids these days even find this stuff compelling like I used to. Hell it scares me still. Certainly more than any 3 AM call.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Gmail account is Experiencing Errros

Over the last month Gmail seems to have gotten slower (and slower and slower) and it is not just my Powerbook G4 and Firefox.

Having had to maintain Internet-facing devices under high loads (although certainly not at the level of Google Apps) things probably suck right now for Google Engineering. Pagers going off. Firing up the conference calls. Troubleshooting routers, switches, firewalls, load balances, web caches, databases -- all the fun that is involved in keeping a mess of webapps running. Well blogger and google talk work so all is not lost. God bless them.

Now its back, I guess 20 minute outage isn't that bad for Beta app :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easy CentoOS 4.6 Network Installation

With a few exceptions (having to use Cisco Enterprise Linux for a project or two, and few torrid affairs with SuSE) ever since about 2001, I've been mostly faithly to Debian-based distributions. One of the things that has bothered me about RPM distros is the network installs, or lack thereof. Sure you can do it (I did on an old-world PPC Mac using YellowDog Linux) but it is not as straightforward as Debian network installs.

For me the only reason you'd use and infererior RedHat-based distros is if you had commercial products that required RHEL. Well now im in that situation, so CentOS 4.6 it is, and its not as hard as I thought.

  1. Find the boot.iso on one of the mirrors (it should be located in centos/4/os/i386/images/) I used
  2. Choose text linux at the boot loader
  3. Select HTTP install
  4. For the IP address enter the name of your mirror (I used and the path (/centos/4/os/i386/) and it should find everything you need
That's it...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Moin 1.6.1 Goodness

Just saw on the Python Cheese Shop that MoinMoin 1.6.1 is out. A little dated (looks like it came out 2/4/08) but better late than never, so I gave it a spin.

The most obvious advantage of this latest version (or at least starting with 1.6.0) is that the portable (i.e. non-Apache requiring) DesktopEdition is now standard so that the wiki is as easy to start as "python"

I've actually used this portable version a lot over the past few years. As a consultant, when I did SCADA (or webapp) vulnerability assessments, I would create a new wiki instance for each asssement. I had a template based on our methodology so I could easily record test results or capture information from the client. I could add screen shots, file attachments, you name it. To solve the offline, distributed aspects of wikis, is as simple as rsync and it was easy enough to connect to other wiki instances saved on servers using SSH port forwarding.

Here is the full list of features, but for me this are the big ones:
  • It is not not in PHP!
  • It doesn't require a relational database
  • It has a mature rich syntax
  • It is portable
  • Templates, templates, templates!
Basically the converse of these are why I hate Media Wiki (what is used by Wikipedia).

Once you get addicted to wikis it is hard to stop, so you start taking notes in wiki format with your text editor even if you don't use a wiki.

Full Circle?

Life is full of surprises.

Twenty-five years ago (in the last gasp of the Cold War) if you'd told me that in first months of the new Millennium, I would make footprints in the fresh February snow in one of Stalin's secret cities and enter the courthouse to adopt a Russian toddler (the thick iron door ominously slamming shut, as we entered) I would have have laughed at you. Likewise, if you told me I would someday lift off on a China Southern 737, bound for Guangzhou, from the city where Chairman Mao studied philosophy, with a scared 13-Month old Chinese daughter, looking forward to the comforts of the White Swan Hotel.

Twenty years ago (as I was close to graduating from high school, in a town I did not like, where I'd only lived for less than a year, where I couldn't wait to leave) if you had told me that I'd be back there in twenty years with three kids and I wife of almost 15 years, I would have said no way in hell would I ever move back. Why, oh why would I do that?

Ten years ago (fresh after the Smurf attacks of 98, after just embarking on my network security career as a junior *NIX instructor for a government contractor in San Antonio) if you had told me that ten years later I'd be doing network security training again four employer's (and almost same multiple of my salary) later, I would not have known what to say.

Five years ago, if you had had told me that I would someday be able to rattle of the names and dosages of commonly prescribed neuroleptics, and would have the seen first hand the effects (both good and bad) of stimulants, anti-depressants, and mood stabilizers on a child of mine, I would have said you were the one that was crazy.

A year ago, if you had told me that I would be blogging with my 3 month old asleep on my chest, his mouth open (having inherited my allergic genes, the humidifier droning on) I would ask what miracle brought this about?

* * *

Life is uncertain. The future is full of surprises. For all the apparent familiarities of time and space, with each turn around the labyrinth, it is not the same. You were not here before.

Life is a free fall. Immediate control is an illusion. At best, you alter the angle (if not the rate) of descent--or maybe your perspective on the horizon.

Simple choices have unforeseen consequences. Big decisions are unreal and awesome, impossible to comprehend.

* * *

In the coming months, we prepare to move East, to the land of the Chesapeake and the Catoctins -- a move which somehow feels unnatural, like turning back the clock, like flowing against against History.

East? It was always the West where you thought you would end up.

After all, who returns home without good reason?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Vote for Irony

As opposed to creepy stuff like choir thing or other parodies.

Air America Caves on Wright Controversy

I don't think it was just because of all the stand-in (Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller are all off the air) but, yesterday, I was amazed at the condemnation of Pastor Wright's remarks by all these Lefties.

Some of this may only be pragmatic (Air America radio hosts are generally pro-Obama and they don't want their guy to lose) but Randi Rhodes talking about the need for "separation of church and state." Don't mix politics and religion? What planet are they on? Obviously, these folks have never stepped in the doors of mainline/Liberal Christian denomination with any focus on social justice, where politics does show up in sermons. While the Episcopal Church is my primary (and most recent) data point, I believe this also applies to Liberal (i.e Reform/Reconstructionist) Judiasm as well based on our experience of briefly attending a couple of Reform Temples in Austin and San Antonio.

I really don't see why everybody is hyperventilating. Critique of American hubris or blind support of Israel/sympathy with the Palestinian cause, examination of consequences for short-sighted American foreign policy, etc. is fairly common fare in Liberal churches. Engagement with politics and culture is not (and should not) be taboo in the Church. Spritual growth is not (and should not be) about telling you what you want to hear. It should challenge and interrogate your faith. Otherwise what is the point?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

With Supporters Like This...

Say isn't that guy on the left (the one with the white Tee and stocking cap) in 30 Rock?

I'll just say its a stroke of genius to be able to come up with videos like this that somehow seem to be parodies of themselves.

Pen Test Sins (Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa)

DaveG goes to confession. I'm not Catholic but close enough.

What I've been guilty of:

1) Time Management - most of effort is in the first and last 20% of the project, the terrible middle 60%

4) Over-Automation - spending half the project writing new tools (more fun writing fuzzers than running them!)

5) Sloth - let the junior guy do the boring work

6) Stagnation - Cisco, anyone?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Are you a contractor?

From a Wire episode I haven't seen yet. My wife sure knows how to find the best YouTube videos.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Debian Moin Updates Out, Still Waiting on Ubuntu LTS

Looks like the Etch updates have made it out. I've been too busy/lazy to update my VPS box since the Moin vulns were disclosed and was thinking about migrating away from the built in package on my VPS box but I'll wait another week to see if these show up in Ubuntu LTS.

Best Omar Caper So Far

So we finally started on Season 3 (switched back to Netflix from Blockbuster Online, yes there is a reason Blockbuster is in trouble) of The Wire and its always a pleasure to watch how Omar and crew trick various drug dealers. In this episode one of his ladies (dressed like a nurse) wheels (as in chair) Omar into one of Avon's stash houses pretending to be a "brother Earl" from a VA hospital..

- Yo, all due respect, but this right here is a Barksdale joint, man.
- Do tell,

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It is pretty simple

I'm not so sure of the generational consequences if the Clintons manage to scuttle Obama in the coming weeks and months
If this promise is eclipsed because the old political system conspires to strangle it at birth, the reaction from the new influx of voters will be severe. The Clintons will all but guarantee they will lose a hefty amount of it in the fall, as they richly deserve to. Some will gravitate to McCain; others will be so disillusioned they will withdraw from politics for another generation. If the Clintons grind up and kill the most promising young leader since Kennedy, and if they do it not on the strength of their arguments, but by the kind of politics we have seen them deploy, the backlash will be deep and severe and long. As it should be.

but I do know that voting for McCain (no matter how much he contorts himself it all that he was not in the 2000 campaign and while an underdog) or, more likely, another year skipping out on the election (like 1992, 1996, 2000) is no sweat for me. And the same goes for the dream team (the arrogance of the Clintons, on this is too much to take) for if Obama were to VP (pick Hillary as VP) all his hope & change will have indeed turned out to be hot air.

However, the amusing thing is the number of folks on the Left (my data being the shows on Air America I listen to during my commute or when shuttling between data centers during the day) that are absolutely pissed about the Clintons.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Must be a lot of Obama calls to Texas

So I entertained the idea of calling Texas for Obama but the link is unresponsive. Must be a lot going on down there. Yet another reason it would be good to be back in Texas.

Talent, Retention, and the 18 Month Window

As I was catching up on my business feeds like Tom Peters when I ran across A Focus on Talent

I found it interesting that the majority of senior leaders (92%) rank hiring the right talent as important. I totally agree that hiring the right people is critical to the essence of business, but I also believe that there is a gap when it comes to retaining the people that are hired. Equal attention must be given to existing staff.

Can you recall how excited you were your first day on the job and how exhilarating you thought things would be? Do you still feel that way now? Are you doing work that truly engages you, are you sufficiently challenged to tap into all your talents, and do you feel that your opinions and ideas are valued?

The culture that organizations create has everything to do with how people feel in the organization. Time, money, and effort can be spent hiring the right person, but if the same amount of energy is not put into creating and sustain the right culture, it is like playing a slot machine—you waste a lot of money trying to get a few wins.

I was chatting with a friend of mine who I worked with at Cisco earlier in the week, who left about the same time I did. He has been through another largish hardware vendor, a startup, and is now back in a different BU. We were joking about the "18th Month" magic window after which that "new job smell" is thoroughly extinguished. And I though it was just me.

While "tragedy" is probably too strong a word, it must certainly be frustrating for 1st level managers to be on the front lines seeing the impact of choices made by their bosses or other factors outside of their control.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Sweet Heresy of GNU/kFreeBSD

mfranz@gutsy61:~$ ssh root@

root@'s password:
Last login: Sat Mar 1 13:30:50 2008 from
GNU/kFreeBSD debian 6.3-1-486 #0 Fri Feb 15 22:53:48 CET 2008 i686

The programs included with the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
debian:~# uname -a
GNU/kFreeBSD debian 6.3-1-486 #0 Fri Feb 15 22:53:48 CET 2008 i686 i386 Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual CPU E2140 @ 1.60GHz GNU/kFreeBSD