revisiting a new firewall

Fri 13 January 2017

A few years ago I wrote about my new firewall. Let’s look at what I’ve learned since then.

First, you should know that I’m very pleased with the firewall. It continues to function smoothly. Debian upgraded from 7 to 8 without a hitch. I added a few …

modern cpus

Fri 16 December 2016

The fate of a modern desktop CPU is to sleep for hours on end, up until the point that it is called to leap into action for a few seconds. Later, it will be pushed to the limits of thermal overload for quite a few minutes or hours, along with …

Nintendo’s contactless brushpass and dead drops

Wed 30 November 2016

Nintendo’s 3DS pocket-sized game system includes “Streetpass”, a method of sharing your high scores, Mii avatars and other game information with random strangers who also have 3DS systems. That includes the levels designed by Super Mario Maker, which are a few megabytes apiece.

The swap happens anonymously and automatically …

IOT security: the key and the castle

Tue 22 November 2016

People just don’t take security seriously, because security is hard to understand and hard to implement and hard to maintain. We need a new way of “doing” security, and I’ve got an idea. Let’s go back to the notion of skeuomorphism: we use pictorial representations of real-world …

how to name your software product

Tue 22 November 2016

  1. Look up unrelated technology names from 10+ years ago. Make a list.
  2. Sort the list by an arbitrary criterion.
  3. Pick the name third from the top.

Alternate method

  1. Make a list of common English words that are 6 or fewer letters long.
  2. Google each of those words. Make a note …


Wed 09 November 2016

Why I am not moving to Canada (although I quite like Canada and many Canadians):

because the people of my country need me to help defend them. And I am not much of a hero, but I will try.

make the tweak, test the tweak, stop

Thu 03 November 2016

This may count as advice to myself more than anything else, but since I’ve given it repeatedly, I might as well write it down.

A “tweak” is a change to how a program looks or functions which is very small. It might be defined as the smallest change which …

technical escalation

Sun 30 October 2016

The purpose of an advertisement is to plant the idea in your head that you need or want some thing that can be purchased.

Having lived in such a society for a few decades, my now-instinctive reaction to a successful advertisement is to assume that I might want a thing …

ran out of cards

Wed 26 October 2016

I ran out of business cards a few weeks ago, and forgot to order more. Surely there’s another box around here? Yes, of course there was — left over from three headquarters moves ago.

And tomorrow I’m going to a conference.

Well, business cards are a waste of good …

infosec is simple

Thu 29 September 2016

Information security (infosec) is very simple and very hard.

Infosec is simple: there are only three steps:

  1. Figure out how you are giving information to people.
  2. In each case, evaluate whether you want to do that.
  3. Stop giving information to people who you don’t want to have it.

Actual …

the commonweal

Mon 26 September 2016

There are, to date, three books in Graydon Saunders’ Commonweal universe. They are not a trilogy, though they involve overlapping sets of characters in more or less linear timeflow — so it’s a series. The March North, A Succession of Bad Days, and Safely You Deliver are available on Google …

secrets of mutt

Mon 26 September 2016

mutt is a mail user agent, like Thunderbird or GMail. Unlike GMail, it is not tied to a specific mail service, and unlike Thunderbird, mutt does not have a graphical point-and-click interface. mutt runs inside a terminal (like xterm, iterm or just about anything that you can use ssh in …

printer advice

Mon 19 September 2016

Fall must be the season of printer buying, as people start up printers that they haven’t used all summer and discover that the $70 printer now needs $80 of ink. This is my advice for ordinary people, as of Fall 2016:

For black-and-white printing: Buy a Brother laser printer …

ten x

Thu 01 September 2016

In Peopleware, DeMarco and Lister write:

  • Count on the best people outperforming the worst by about 10:1.
  • Count on the best performer being about 2.5 times better than the median performer.
  • Count on the half that are better-than-median performers outdoing the other half by more than 2:1 …

trusted, not necessarily trustworthy

Tue 30 August 2016

In security nomenclature, “trusted system” or “trusted device” does not mean the ordinary usage. It does not mean “we think this system is trustworthy”.

It means “we have no choice but to trust this system”.

The two are not even remotely synonymous, and the difference has probably been literally fatal …

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