Category Archives: Off-Topic

DSL Hell

I am a CenturyLink DSL customer in Seattle, WA. CenturyLink advertises 1 Gig Internet, but in our neighborhood, 10MB is all that is available.  Countless inquiries to customer support and tech support have not identified a soul who knows if or when faster DSL is coming to my neighborhood.

Often, the DSL is so bad that simple tasks such as loading web pages often times out. Speed tests typically show < 1MB of download speed. Here is a typical test from earlier today.speednot

CenturyLink techs have been out to the house numerous times. I’ve tried several different modems. I’ve bypassed my internal wiring altogether. Nothing they have done has made any difference.

I am a work from home (WFH) security consultant. However, on bad days, WFH is more like “wait from home”. Some days it seems like a miracle if my VPN connection stays up for more than an hour.

Here in Seattle, my only choices are CenturyLink for DSL and Comcast. CenturyLink has had two years to get the DSL service working right. Comcast, you’re next. My neighbors all say their Comcast Internet rocks and is really fast. Let’s hope so.

Reno, Nevada

I am visiting Reno, Nevada after quite a long absence. I’m here to speak at a professional event on the topic of human factors and data security (in other words, why we continue to build unsecure systems).

My IT career started here in Reno, with on-campus jobs in computing (operations and software development), and later in local government, banking, and casino gaming. Each job built on the last, and I gained positions with greater responsibility, creativity, and rewards of various sorts.

ImageI buried my young son in Reno – it seems like many lifetimes ago. He was my first stop. Time is a great healer – you’ll have to trust me on this one, if you have recently suffered a big loss.

I looked up a couple of long-time friends, but waited until the last minute. They’re probably busy with their own lives today.

Done with my coffee stop and time to check in to my hotel. My talk is tonight, and then I’m back on the road tomorrow with other stops in the Pacific Northwest.

The end of an era of East Side living / working

I relocated to the Seattle area in mid 1993 and took a job in Kirkland. From 1993 until 2013, I have worked for three different organizations and reported to work in Kirkland, Redmond, and Bellevue. These are three cities in the area known to locals as “the East Side” – meaning the East side of Lake Washington, which separates Seattle from these other communities.  For about ten years, I lived on the East Side as well. Today I live in Seattle.

Starting today, I am neither living nor working on the East Side, but living and working in Seattle. My daily sojourns to the fair city of Redmond are over and likely to never recur. The prospects of my returning to Redmond, even for a visit, are slim. Even towering Bellevue will see me perhaps twice each year.

I’m back, after a year off

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After teaching the UW Information Systems Security certification course for two years, completing CISSP For Dummies (3rd edition), CISA All-In-One Exam Guide and CISSP Guide to Security Essentials, I was burned out and needed a year off. I didn’t do any public speaking either, which means interrupting an eight year run speaking for SecureWorld Expo in Seattle and other cities. But, I needed time for my family and for me.

Earlier this year we purchased an RV and spent about 40 nights in it all over Washington State, including American River, Whidbey Island, Vasa Resort, Ames Lake, Alder Lake, Riffe Lake, and Kitsap Memorial State Park. We spent much of this time with good friends whose company we enjoy very much.

My wife and I went on several motorcycle rides, although none were overnight trips as I had hoped. Still, we were blessed with great weather and safe riding.

One one particularly nice weekend day, I took a very early morning ride up Mt. Rainier, arriving at Paradise Lodge at around 8am. There was practically no traffic on the way up the mountain – the entire two lane highway was mine.

After writing twenty-two books in ten years, my list of honey-do’s around the house was growing, and I got a lot of things done in this department.

We have also become parents – of four lovely society finches that are the offspring of a mating pair we purchased last year. We also have zebra finches, parakeets, quail, and an african weaver. None of these others have had chicks yet, but we’re still hopeful.

We also had an exchange student from the Czech Republic stay in our home for a year. She arrived in mid August 2009 and returned home in July 2010. This was a great experience for everyone. She was a member of our family and she participated in everything we all do together.

Today I completed the draft manuscript for a book on security technology that will be published in December or January. This was a short project that took just a few weeks.  Today I met with my literary agent to plan the next five years of my writing. My business manager and I are both quite excited about the next few years.

While I took the year off of bookwriting, I was still involved in some other things. I’m a member of the Cloud Security Alliance and contributed to its Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing V2.1, and am a member of the Cloud Security Alliance Certification Board. I also earned the CRISC (Certified in Risk, Information Security, and Control), a new certification offered by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), which I’ve been a member of since 2002.

Time Magazine – Google Earth mystery solved

Time Magazine Google Earth mystery photo

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Time Magazine recently ran a “Top Ten Everything” series of articles. One of the series is entitled “Top Ten Finds on Google Earth“.

Finding number three is an interesting array of geometric shapes within a rectangular area on the ground, shown here.

Time Magazine reports that this was found on a military base in England. Military officials called it a motorcycle range and is apparently not saying any more about it.

I immediately recognized the pattern.

It is the standard template used by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for its rider training drills.  Various parts of the painted patterns are used to guide riders through different maneuvers that simulate different situations while riding on roads and highways.

The course shown in the Time Magazine article is the same layout as the course I took at Cheney Stadium’s parking lot a year ago, and also the same as the course used at the Church of the Nations in Tacoma. “On the ground” photos of an MSF training course with the same layout can be seen below.

(off-topic) LinkedIn Miata group

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Announcing the creation of a worldwide Miata enthusiasts LinkedIn group.  Click here to join:

The LinkedIn group is just that: no discussion, no e-mails, nothing else.  Just a “merit badge” on your LinkedIn profile to show that you are a proud Miata owner.

My Miata: 1991, silverstone, 1.6L, hard top, 65,000 original miles (in 2008), Clifford alarm, Pioneer CD, otherwise all original.

Our 91 Miata, Mt. Rainier in background, day after we bought the car

Our 91 Miata, Mt. Rainier in background, day after we bought the car, 5 miles from home

I say “off topic” because I usually write about data and business security and rarely talk about my personal life. Today I just can’t help myself.  🙂

One thought more than any other keeps me awake at nights… how much longer do I have?  We each owe a death; there are no exceptions.  But, O God, sometimes, the Green Mile seems so long.

The Green Mile