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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category

9
Dec

Reduction in the legal spam.

The majority of the legal spam that I’ve been recieving has been from major marketing mailing list managers. Unsubscribing from each company’s email campaign is a futile game of whack-a-mole. So I directed my efforts on the source of the email. Here are the steps I’ve used to get a perma-block on my email address for now and future email campaigns. I’ll be glad to add more if you know of any, hit me up in the comments.

 

Constant Contact:

Instructions:

Send an email to: Support@constantcontact.com

Subject: Permanent block

Body of the message: Please prevent any of your current and future customers from sending me emails through your service.

Submit and wait for a confirmation. I had a response in about six hours with a positive acknowledgement.

 

Mailchimp:                        

Visit: https://mailchimp.com/contact/abuse/

Instructions: fill in your full name and email address. For the required section labeled headers, simply enter “no headers”

Reason for report: Please prevent any of your current and future customers from sending me emails through your service.

Submit and wait for a confirmation. Mailchimp support responded in about an hour with a positive acknowledgment.

21
Feb

Trust is Everything.

We spend so much time working toward a goal, delivering on an expectation, that it becomes business as usual. People trust me to do my job, I trust others to do theirs. Together we make great teams, great divisions, and a great company for our customers.

In the last two weeks, two major companies have lost my trust. One, Anthem, an insurance company, that had 80M customer medical records stolen and the other Lenovo, a computer manufacture, that installed software on their consumer laptops and desktops that intercepted TLS/SSL encrypted traffic using a self signed encryption certificate and embedded it into the operating system.

I trusted these companies like I know my company’s customers trust us. How can we prevent becoming the next untrustworthy company?

For Anthem, the problem was not following the basics of data security. Encrypt your data at rest, in flight, and protect your keys at all cost. Restrict data access to only those who need it – and ONLY the data they need. What a logistics nightmare to coordinate that among the entire company’s applications – but not as bad as the nightmare they’re living with now.

Regardless if you store your data in a colocation with insane physical and electronic boarder security or your own onsite datacenter with James Bond proof security – thieves don’t have to get out of their underwear to make off with a billion dollars with of data.Screenshot 2015-02-21 20.25.54

Lenovo had a simple task of maintaining their tradition of building computers that people want. Someone made the decision to install some extra software (presumably for profit) on their consumer computers that gathers “We thought [Superfish] would enhance the shopping experience…“. I call bullshit – the software was harvesting their customers data by decrypting encrypted browser traffic using a “Man in the Middle” attack. Lenovo decided to make an extra dollar and deceive their customers into thinking the lock on their browser actually meant they were secure. It took five months for the word to get out on the Lenovo malware, but in the week it hit the media – I’ve read about it everywhere. I’m watching LNVGY to see what happens when the stock holders finally figure out what this means.

It means companies large and small that buy one or thousands of their products in bulk may begin to question the integrity of Lenovo. If they installed privacy busting malware into their consumer goods – what kind of nefarious tricks were in the latest ThinkPad or X laptop in my business? Is my CIO’s bank account going to be hacked, company secrets leaked to a Lenovo partner in China, or my laptop used as a portal for Chinese hackers to run rampant in my network? A secret decryption chip and hook into the network hardware to leak secrets back to home base? Sure, it’s far fetched… or is it? Stranger things have been dreamed up.

Anyone can prevent these – stand up and say something. Call out bad ideas for what they are. Identify security risks when you see them. These are what makes great people, great. They take on the challenge  instead of letting the big sleeping dragons sleep. Eventually they’ll wake up, on their own or with the help of someone, and lay waste to your kingdom.

4
Mar

Google Voice

A year ago I converted our landline over to Vonage. It was about the same price as our existing landline from a CLEC, but brought with it more features and a pretty cool advantage of sticking it to the man… or at least that what the Vonage commercials let you believe.

Fast forward to this month. I’ve dumped Vonage, mainly because they couldn’t fix a simple problem of routing a call to my in-laws’ house across town who also had Vonage. We also have cellphones with unlimited voice and texting, so the landline wasn’t really necessary anymore. I did want to keep our home number, so I hit the Google and found a great resource on how to “port” my home landline number to Google Voice. There are a ton of resources from others online who have done it – so I won’t copy their hard work. I’ll just let you know I used an AT&T GoPhone for $25 to get my number away from Vonage.

Once the number was in AT&T Wireless’ database – it was ripe for porting to Google Voice. Another $20 to port it. So now I’m 1.2 months worth of Vonage to get my number to a cloud service.

Exactly 24 hours after I paid my 20 bucks, Google emails me and let’s me know they have it. Two days later, Vonage send me a goodbye email. I still changed my method of payment over to my empty Paypal debit card so they couldn’t charge me beyond my last month.

Now comes the tricky part. Fooling your family and friends.

By default, Google Voice will screen your calls. This means that anyone that calls you will get the Google Voice attendant asking “After the beep, please state your name… BEEEEP” then the caller is put on hold while GV rings you and announces the call. It’s quite an ordeal if your grandma calls you and has no clue what this chick is asking and why?

Update your contacts in GMail and/or Google Voice. Make sure the numbers are correct and group your friends into a friends group, family into a family group, etc. Then you can set up group based rules. Like family rings right through – no screening. Friends ring my cell during the day and only Google Talk at night.

Oh, and if you need to make outbound calls from your home number – use the Google Voice app on your cell, calls inside the US are 100% free and it only uses data. You can even call from your browser if you have a decent headset or use your laptop as a speaker phone. I pay about $4/mo to Skype to let me call from my tablet, computer, or cell to landline phones – Google Voice is going to save me the $4 now.

Total savings: $4/mo Skype, $39/mo Vonage Unlimited… so $516/year… which pays for one of my extra iPhone lines outright.

If I ever need to light up my home landline again, I’ll just get one of these.

17
Sep

In the groove

Getting back into the groove at a new job, new list of tasks, new home schedule, and for once – a true training schedule to get me back on the road to good (better?) health.

I’ve signed a five page NDA that is scares me to type anything more work related than the words “work related” so my posts will typically be generic if they discuss VMware or my new employer TDS Hosted and Managed Services (TDS HMS). And anything I typically share – will always be available somewhere else already published and approved the marketing… okay with that out of the way, here we go.

Visi, Team, Vital Support Systems, and OneNeck are all owned by TDS. With a big toolbox of resources and a roster of some of the smartest and battle hardened folks in the business – I’m honored to be onboard with the crew leading up their new cloud IaaS product ReliaCloud. And for those who ask, no that is not me in the NOC photo this time. I honestly tried to find the photo but wasn’t successful. Internet Wayback Machine to the rescue… which goes to prove don’t let marketing photograph you – you’ll never get it off the internet. 🙂

And with that, I’m wrapping up a lunch hour post and hope to add more meaningful entries in the near future.

1
Apr

My new whip.

As a technology professional, I typically have most of the equipment I need provided for me by my employeer. My laptop for the last four years has been a trusty ThinkPad T400. Upgraded over time to its final configuration of a 256GB SSD (FDE) and 8GB of ram. The T400 has been my trusty whip through power outages and daily VMware Workstation labs – it carried the brand name well. Lenovo support and quality is still top notch.

With that said, my family has grown to a few Macs and I’ve grown to love and envy my wife’s MacBook Pro that I got her for Christmas. During a weekend trip to Chicago for our 15th anniversary, we stopped at the Apple store to get her MBP a hard case – and I was oogling the laptops there. She had finally had enough and convinced me to order a 15″ MBP, no it wasn’t that difficult. I wish the Apple store had stocked the high resolution screens or I would have walked home with one. I was a little disappointed at the insane charges Apple tacks on for memory, but a quick search on NewEgg resolved that issue.

I scored a 2nd power brick at BestBuy for $35 (open box) and a DVI adapter.

At work I work mostly in the boot camp partition that I run Windows 7 64bit natively. However, I love using VMware Fusion to run Win 7 from bootcamp when I’m in OS X. It’s a great way to keep all my options on the table. I dare say, even if I couldn’t run OS X on this laptop – the build quality and features like the backlit screen and magsafe power connection – it more than a value for the laptop cost.

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