I Just Missed The Heathkit Generation

23 Jun , 2008  

This weekend I rebuilt two of my computers. One has a power supply problemand the other is my Windows Server 2008 system I use for testing software andtrying stuff out. I tinkered for hours rebuilding those two systems. Part of itwas verifying the problem was actually the power supply, and the rest was justme rerouting this cable or that, moving drives around or just plain goofing off.I’ve always been a tinkerer like that. I used to drive my dad completely bonkersbecause whenever he got some new tool, gadget or electronics doodad, I’d take itapart to see how it work and then put it back together, er, most of the timesI’d put it back together. It was just cool to see how things worked.

Though I don’t generally build PCs for work, I do in the lab, often tryingout some new processor, graphics card, or what have you. Its just something Ilike to do. I kind of caught the PC building bug when I started building PCswith my son, Phill, who now does PC work and support for his vocation. But Ialso realize those "building" tendencies go back even further.

When I was a kid, I had chemistry sets, microscopes, and breadboardelectronics kits, the kinds where you could wire up a basic radio by connectingwires to the spring junction pegs. In high school I got into hi-fi stereosystems. I really studied up on all the different manufactures and models,frequently being able to spout out the wow-and-flutter of this tape deck, thewattage of this amp, or the signal-to-noise ratio of some other gadget. A lot ofentirely useless factoids that most people had no idea what I was talking about.

One thing I missed out on were Heathkits. Heathkitswere those electronics kits for building stereos, AM/FM radios, ham radios, andlots of transistor-based electronics test gear gadgets. As I remember, they didn’t havechips but only used transistors… the analog version of electronics, the stuffyou used a soldering iron to put together. Maybe they had computer chips lateron, I don’t know, but they stopped making kits in 1991. I was a bit young forHeathkits and then skipped from stereos right to my first computer, the Apple IIPlus. The Apple II was my Heathkit, like Star Trek TNG is for generations afterthe classic Star Trek.

Like some people wish they would have learned the guitar when they wereyoung, for some reason I wish I had put together at least one Heathkit.Sometimes it’s okay to have a something like that which you never got today. IfI’d made a Heathkit, then there would probably be something else I wishedI’d had a chance to put together.

Podcasts, Security

Podcast #”I Can’t Drive”55 – NAC Attack

20 Jun , 2008  


Welcome to podcast #55. This week Alan and I are joined by security practitioner Jenifer Jabbusch (JJ) who also blogs at Security Uncorked.

Jennifer took a real liking to 802.1X early on, became a believer, and now regularly implements 802.1X for her customers, which course has expanded into NAC as well. It was great to have her on the show so we could talk to someone who does this work regularly, rather than Alan and I who simply create the products and like to blab about implementing it.

During the podcast we talk 802.1X, NAC, the analyst’s views on NAC (JJ has some pretty blunt thoughts on this one), and a company called Rohati.

Alan and Richard Steinnon have been going at each other recently about Rohati. Just looks to me like Stiennon is back to his two favorite hobbies; ranking on NAC (because he’s still smarting about that Gartner IPS doomsday prediction), and finding any opportunity to poke Shimel in the eye with a stick. I’m amazed at how little true innovation there seems to be in the security industry these days and I have my doubts about Rohati being more than a fancy "layer 7" inline proxy-like device. Looks like another group of Cisco ejects creating a product four years ahead of Cisco’s plans so they can sell the company back to Cisco! It’s worked in the past so why not do it again. Rohati’s not something I think’s going to take the world by store, but hey, that’s why we have blogs and podcasts so we can debate this stuff.

And as usual, Alan and I are up to our crazy antics on the podcast. Thanks to JJ for putting up with it too. Enjoy the podcast and please drop us any suggestions or questions at

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Raising Your Game – Inspiration From Those Around You

3 Jun , 2008  

Playing_at_secc_2I had an interesting and wonderfully enjoyable time this past weekend. Manyof you know that I’m a guitar enthusiast, and am particularly partial to FenderStrats and playing weekly at my homechurch. I also took a vacation day recently to help with a non-profit Isupport, called The Kingdom Project, recording a CD for my friend Ike Elliott.This past weekend another good friend and top-notch bass player, Skye Perry,asked if I would sit in and play at his home church in south Denver. They seatsomewhere around 2,000 so it’s a larger venue than I’m regularly accustomed. Itwas a very fulfilling experience, and I took away a lot more with me than Iexpected.

I could go into ideas I picked up about rehearsals, organizing, techequipment, etc., all of which were valuable, but the overall theme I walked awaywith is the value of raising your game. In this case, it wasn’t about showing anew group of people that you’re some hot shot guitar player dude, here to rip a bunch of speedy licks from the fretboard. Moreimportantly, it was about showing that you could come in, play together wellwith a group of unfamiliar musicians, bring the things you uniquely can offer,and serve the goals of the group you are supporting. For me to do that in thissetting, meant I had to raise my game, both as a guitar player and as a teammember.

I had to raise my game for several reasons. First, Skye had talked me upso I’m sure they were expecting someone who could do more than just sit in… Ihad to really make a contribution. And I didn’t want to let Skye down, who isvery well respected by his fellow band members. Based on Skye’s recommendation,I didn’t have to audition, which says a lot. Next, I don’t get manyopportunities to play at other venues, so I really wanted to make the most of itand give it everything I could – I really wanted to do my best. Last, I wasstepping into someone else’s well functioning team and it took a healthy amountof preparation to be able to play at the level expected and support my fellowteam members.

That experience made me think… what if I approached every day that way.Whether participating on a team I’m familiar with or trying something new, Ialways try to do my best work, but I have to be honest and say there are manytimes when I fall short of my own expectations. My experience this weekendtaught me that you can be inspired by the situation, the people you are with,the event, the surrounds, the purpose, or any combination.

I always look for the good in people, the unique things they bring to a givensituation. You can be inspired by people you work with in almost any situation,and sometimes you just have to look or just be open for those opportunities topresent themselves. When you aspire to live up to or surpass a given situation,shared goal, team or project, it gives you even more fuel to raise your game.And consequently, raising your own game may also raise the game of those aroundyou. My thanks to everyone at SECC. Ilearned a lot from that experience.