slowly turning to penguins

So Long IT, Except Not Really

Wow! How long has it been since I last posted? It’s been a hectic half year, and now it’s time for a little introspection. I’ve changed careers, in a sense, to embark on some new things. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve spent a long time in the trenches of enterprise IT. It’s been fun and rewarding, and by no means a bad experience. That being said I have noticed myself growing a bit stir crazy of late.

So, what am I doing exactly? While I’ve left my role as an IT Architect and moved to the dark side. That is Software Development, although I’m still doing IT to an extent. I’ve always worn multiple hats, so why should this be any different.

It will be interesting to be on the other side of the IT/Software relationship though. I expect I’ll have a good deal more to say on that dichotomy…

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get some posts out on some of the things I’ve been playing with lately. Should be some fun things to talk about around Hadoop, R, MongoDB, Moodle, Juju, and MaaS. That is if I ever find more time.

Vendors: Don’t Be a Dick

This post is probably going to feel a bit ranty and may have a bit of profanity, so if that annoys you I apologize and you might want to read something else for a bit.

Vendors, I’m calling you out! Stop being dicks!

Don’t get me wrong, I understand you can’t run an IT endeavor without the vendors. Even if you have a crack team it’s all but inevitable. You’re going to run into some industry specific software, audit requirement, or the like that will force you to engage a vendor. Do we really know everything about every niche solution the organization requires? The entire thing can’t effectively be DIY. When dealing with vendors though, it’s important to know that they are not your friend, and can actually be harmful.

I’ve been in the field a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve seen vendors attempt to bribe employees (fail and succeed). I’ve seen vendors outright lie about their features or competitors. Vendors have circumvented business processes for procurement. They’ve harassed employees, sabotaged careers, and even bypassed whole departments. It’s a cut throat world, but here’s a tip; if you’re doing those shady things your time working with me will be short.

Two Factor and Lastpass

You need multi-factor authentication. Passwords are no longer good enough.

How secure is your password? If we’ve learned anything over the years on the Internet it’s this. You shouldn’t trust your password. It has probably been compromised. Even if it hasn’t, you might as well treat it as such. These are strong words, but it’s not an illogical stance to take. How good are your password practices? Do you mix case, use alphanumeric characters, spaces, or symbols? Is your password over 14 characters long? Do you change them on a regular basis? Do you recycle them? Is it based on a dictionary word or known item from your life?

Chances are you are not doing at least a few of the points above. Which is why for years I’ve been an advocate of password managers. I’m presently using LastPass, which is the genesis for this post. I’ve used quite a few of these in my day (most recently kwallet and KeePassX. Some are better than others, but almost any is better than nothing. LastPass, however, has particularly impressed me. So what makes it so special, and how can it help keep us more secure?


This blog is now Solarized!. I made the change today, after having already moved to this color scheme in my shell, editor, etc… I’m really enjoying it on my desktop, so I thought why not the blog? The color scheme is supposed to help reduce eye strain while maintaining nice contrast of content. That sounds about right for me, living in this sea of florescent light powered cubicles.

I elected to use the light variant of solarized for the blog content and scheme and use the dark solarized variant for code snippets. I think it’s working out kind of well, but probably needs some tweaks.

The link above has all the gory details, whereas I’ll keep this post a short one and just dump out the gist of the color scheme’s SASS CSS.

Happy Hacking!

Chrome Frame

So having spent some time fumbling around in octopress, I’ve made my first modification. Internet Explorer is a constant source of pain when theming websites. As this is my personal blog there isn’t really a reason to be particularly friendly to Internet Explorer, and so I thought why not prompt my visitors to install Chrome Frame.

Chrome Frame effectively replaces the rendering engine of IE with Google Chrome through a plugin for IE. In effect users who install it are now running Chrome, and as such are treated with properly working CSS/HTML5/JS support. Which now means they can see my nicely rendered 3D logo all in CSS courtesy of Mark Otto. Wonderful, but how to get my visitors to install Chrome Frame?

Hello World

The site is live on Octopress, which I recently moved to from Jekyll. It actually wasn’t an easy process, but this was mostly my fault. Once I realized I had no clue what I was doing with Ruby everything went much smoother. I’ll need to throw a more detailed post on the ordeal and some of my thoughts for moving. I’m going to avoid a howto because there’s already plenty of great examples for it (though I’ll be sure to link them).

Hooray for a live blog again.