True and good computer security is an interesting balance. You have to come up with good solid security rules and procedures that are livable or your users will not follow them.

It’s a lot like speed limits. If the speed limit sign is sane, say 50 MPH for a section of highway that has edged into a town, most people will follow it. But if the local town council gets grumpy that “people speed too much” and set it to say 15 MPH, no one will ever follow it.

A lot of geeks refused to acknowledge the human factor in security. It should be acknowledged and understood as a parameter of the whole system.

Thinking of security as purely a technical problem also produces false solutions and false security. XKCD has summarized it in two panels better than any white paper has done in 50 pages:


From “15 Reasons why Mr Rogers was the best neighbor ever:”

Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first. Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, “God loves you just the way you are.” Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.

Simple gifts!

My thanks to whomever at Grados designed a pair of headphones that can reproduce bass without blasting your ears out. I needed fun and bouncy this morning and am now jazzed.


I think today is one of those wonderful days where the weather messes with your head and you just can’t seem to turn the brain on. It probably didn’t help that we had a new coworker and that IT didn’t have a phone, login or computer for him. For about half the day he entertained himself by talking to us.

For a while I gave into distraction and did some brainless work. Some days are just down days.

Now I’m over at music and the cooler weather has banks of clouds hugging the ridge on the far side of the valley as the sun sets over it. It’s a beautiful sight.

A part of me thinks I should use this down time for productive work. But another part of me thinks I should just zone-out and enjoy it before the need to concentrate on music.

I think the latter idea will win.

I find myself teetering on sort of a soft-edged burnout. I’ve hit the wall hard before and this isn’t that bad. But I think maybe a few vacation days are in order. It’s been a marathon on my current day job project and the finishing line is within sight. (Probably by the end of this month.) Not sure if I will rest now or after that.

Anyway, off to watching the sun drift around towards Japan.


Enough of Ranty Mc Rant-Rant in the last post.

If you have a young nephew or cousin or such, I think this is one of those perfect gifts for a kid. Hell, it was a perfect gift for me:

It is a hollowed out coin. A real coin with a spy pocket. Much like the famous hollow nickel used by the soviets.

I am amazed with mine. Fully closed you cannot see the seam. It is beautifully made.

Instead of a microdot or paper message, the half dollar can apparently fit a micro SD card. I’ve yet to try that with mine but want to.


Dear Mr. Sales Engineer at my company…

Two thoughts I wish I could share with the sales exec at my company:

#1) When talking to a room full of your coworkers, don’t exclusively thank another sales engineer for “completing $difficult_project” when about 75% of your audience did the heavy work on that project, including late nights coordinating with international customer reps, etc.

#2) Is it a requirement of a sales team to sell something we do not have? My company has several products completed, some in partial completion, etc. Why are we pitching and planning most heavily on projects that haven’t even gotten off the drawing board where there is a large market for existing products we have? Is it just boring to sell what we have and know?

I’m not going to do the usual engineer mistake that “my opinion reflects all of reality.” I know there are a lot of things out there I would never buy that will sell billions. Looking at the tech hurdles and a push towards integrating everything into social networking, I wonder if we’re really moving in the right direction at times.

A dark corner of my mind seems to wonder that because we have a new exec staff they are very keen on creating “new product” they can then point to as their work to make this company successful. The trouble is that the market we are in is becoming almost a utility. Utilities are not sexy, but they make scads of money and we have the market cornered. If we go through the motions of reinventing the wheel, our software will be buggier a while, our reputation may go down, and that “cornered market” may not be anymore. I really think we should focus on being good and efficient at what we do.

Ah well. Probably a traditional engineer vs sales view.

Sue Sue’s Studio…

It’s kinda fun to have the shoe on the other foot.

For I don’t know how long now, I’ve been dragging Sue (and others) out to the concerts and sometimes rehearsals I play.

Band rooms, music groups, and concert halls have a feel. There is a personality. The sound of instruments warming up. The dry wood and rope smell of a theater. The smell of cork grease and valve oil from the instruments. The audio reflections of a room designed for sound. These are things I know and are comfortable with. It’s like putting on a comfortable old coat. I know when you walk in that I belong there.

I am familiar with this. Sue is not. She patiently deals with me leaving early to concerts to warm up. She lets me walk her into stage doors and occasionally will go to rehearsals for carpooling to other things.

This weekend, Sue moved into her studio. And for once, I was the one in tow. I was carrying stuff into her new space. The lighting was good, the walls were designed to reflect ambient light. The space was spacious and quiet. The flooring was wooden and spattered with paint. You could smell the paint. You could smell the clay and chalk. It was a room that breathed art.

And I got to be the one unfamiliar with things. It was a very cool feeling. But what was really nice was seeing Sue walk in there and settle in there. She was instantly more relaxed and comfortable. She was back in her old coat and enjoying it.

I hope this works out to be as good as it looks like it might be.


Nothing quite derails a night like getting a phone call from work on something that has to happen emergency-right-now.

It’s doubly annoying when you find out they could have told you about it 2 days ago.

New Hotel for FC

tilton‘s post about the new hotel seems to be grabbing a lot of discussion.

Love it or hate it, FC outgrew its hotel probably about 5 years ago. Convention hotels seem to come in two flavors: “yes we have convention space” and “OMFG HUGE.” Making that leap from the smaller to the larger is scary. I got to be a part of that with AC. Of course, you are giving up everything you know about a property and also giving up the history of a working relationship. That’s a pain, but financially, it’s even scarier. Many times that leap-up is betting on growth you don’t have stats or plans on. You have to brace to potentially lose money a few years before fitting into the new property. In the back of your mind is the very real worry that “if this is a mistake, it will kill the con.”

That all being said, I’ve already seen people worried about downtown being more dangerous. That wearing ears and a tail would be a “red flag in front of a bull,” etc. I figure I can update and quote my reply from that thread here:

I work and have lived in the area where the Freemont hotel is. (I work by the HP center, and lived on 8th street two blocks south of the college. I used to walk directly through the Freemont to get to work.) I regularly eat my lunch around the Freemont. My favorite coffee shop is in the hotel

Downtown is not bad. During the day it’s downright charming. There are some awesome places to eat. Like with any small city downtown, after about 9pm, the streets roll up and there are some homeless shuffling around.

Most of the “trouble” people worry about centers around the south side of the college and San Pedro square which have a lot of homeless and bars that bring out gangs respectively. Both of which are 5 to 7 blocks away.

I think the whole “waving a flag” idea of it being dangerous is a bit overstated. Especially when you remember the Freemont is all but attached to a convention center that hosts Sci Fi, Anime cons, gaming cons, etc.

As an exmaple: A few months ago there was a “walk a mile in her shoes” feminist rally in the square in front of the hotel. It featured many local men wearing womens shoes as a photo op for the newspaper in support of womens rights. That day there were people wandering around downtown in womens shoes all day. I don’t think ears and a tail are going to cause a riot.

I have been to both Pittsburgh and downtown SJ, and looking at where they are situated, I think that SJ Freemont might be a touch safer that Pittsburgh. In both cases you’re only a few blocks from bad sections of town. But it really is the same situation for both: nice end of a small city. (Curiously, in both cases you’re also two blocks from the municipal orchestra.)

Food downtown will be interesting, as it is now. There are some INCREDIBLE restaurants downtown. But considering your average furry is a college student, I don’t think they’re all going to want to hit the Asian fusion joints.

Johnny Rockets, the Flames over by the MLK library, Peggy Sue’s down by Adobe, Peace of Pizza by the college and a few others might make up for it. It’ll just take a year or two for folks to find them and learn the layout.

I think the real potential disaster in this, is that this means the German furs would be able to easily walk to the Beer Garden over by the post office. No one knows where that might end. 🙂


dnapalmhead found a growing morphic tiger video!

I haz a happee.