Thursday, April 24, 2014

Drivers: Don't "creep" towards bicyclists!

Riding into to work this morning, I encountered an all too common event: I have the right-of-way, I'm in the intersection and a car who does NOT have the right-of-way starts.... creeping in.

I'm sure the driver is creeping into the intersection because they want to save that 1/2 a millisecond after I've cleared the intersection to enter it.

Please do not do this!
  1. As a cyclist, it is impossible for me to distinguish between you seeing me and thinking it's okay to creep into the intersection and you not seeing me and starting your move into the intersection.
  2. What if you sneeze, cough, or your foot just slips on the throttle and it goes from creeping to fast acceleration?
  3. As I usually ride with 1-2 other folks, and you're stopped when one of them passes and then you start creeping - I really don't think you see me. I am the slowest in the pack, so there is often a small gap (about one car length - which is NOT enough space for you to pull through).
  4. Bicyclists are going faster than you think.  Or slower. It depends on the rider. Pay attention, please.
When this happens, I will yell (I've already dinged my bell as I approached the intersection).  Do NOT rev your engine in response. See #2 above.

I'm lucky that much of my commute is on quiet neighborhood streets and trails, but I've even encountered the "creeper" in parks!

Please just stay stationary as bicycles pass you. Look at them so that they can see your eyes and know you see them.  If your windows are darkly tinted and I can't see you - I don't know that you saw me.

The worst creepers are those who are clearly playing with their phone or radio (ie NOT looking).  While it's illegal to play with your phone while stationary, if you MUST do it - please have your foot on the break.

Right now, my regular trail is closed due to construction on the new SF 49ers Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, so I have to ride through a parking lot for a park/tennis courts/golf course/ACE Train/SF 49ers construction (yes, that IS the official bike detour).  That is scary enough. Drivers not stopping at the T intersection (which is a 1 way stop - I do not have a stop sign) is pretty scary, especially when they are large construction trucks or employees running late.

There is always a Santa Clara police officer there, but he seems to be on break as he's always at the far end of the parking lot where the bike trail begins again and not where everyone is running their stop sign and revving their engines at bicyclists.

Be careful out there, y'all! :-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Congratulations to Radia Perlman: Inductee to the Internet Hall of Fame

Radia Perlman was just inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame asa pioneer in Internet technologies.  Radia also frequently shared her genius with the security teams as well at Sun.

She's a brilliant and fascinating person that I've always been very excited to work with. I know many of you have worked with her in the past, so I wanted to share this with you.

Ms. Perlman has been such an inspiration to me and my area of focus.

Line in the Sand: Metric Century Here I Come!

As many of you have been following my troubles with my leg injury (and everything that stemmed from that) and keeping my asthma and PIC in control, you'll know how big of a deal it is that I've signed up for the Marin Century for this August!

Bicycling is an important part of who I am - I am excited to get back into training mode!

Okay, so I'm just signed up for the metric (62 miles), but that will be the most that I will have cycled since I injured myself in 2010.  Who else wants to join me? I miss riding with a group of friends and even if you can't do the ride, let's get together for summer rides or virtual training. Who's in?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kevin D. Mitnick: The Art of Intrusion

The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and DeceiversThe Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers by Kevin D. Mitnick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book that reminds you, in several different ways, of the importance of defense in depth. A few of the attacks were vague (as warned of by the author who collated the tales), and others just lacked relevant technical details. For example, "the outfit was running a Sun workstation, which is familiar ground for every hacker." - which type of hardware? What was the OS level? Was it unpatched? Still, the stories were entertaining.

My biggest gripe with the book was the lack of date ranges. The book was published in 2004, so I know they're all older than that - but with very few exceptions, I didn't know if an individual tale was taking place in 1992 or 2002. This makes a difference for understanding what types of attacks were being used and how relevant such an attack would still be today.

An overall fun read - not condescending to technical readers, but also provides details on the subject matter for a non expert. My friends and I did get some pretty good discussions out of a few of the stories.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Oracle Solaris Cryptographic Framework: Now Fully Validated!

It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Oracle has received our FIPS-140-2 certificates for the userland Solaris Cryptographic Framework as well!

I wrote in December about receiving our certificates for the kernel side.

These new certificates, certificate #2077 for Intel and SPARC64 processors and certificate #2076 for SPARC T4 and T5 processors, completes our story for FIPS-140-2 Level 1 validation for Solaris 11.1.

This was a long and difficult process, and I am very proud of the team of engineers, program managers, testers and documentation folks who made this all happen.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Hotel Rating System: Stars are not sufficient!

Here's my first stab at a more complete hotel rating system, let me know if I'm missing anything. It's not in a great "checklist" form, yet, but I tried to put more explanations in.
  • Quiet room - 15 points possible (yes, this can be negative)
    • If the hotel is in a city, near an airport or busy highway: do the windows sufficiently block noise?
    • There should be no gap under the door. If the hotel can fit the bill or GOD FORBID a newspaper UNDER your door, you will not be able to get sleep. -5 if there is a gap big enough for a bill, -10 if a newspaper could fit.
    • If there is an adjoining room, is the adjacent door relatively soundproof? I should not be able to hear my neighbors speaking in normal voice tones, nor be able to identify the TV show they are watching. -10 if this adjoining door is not sound dampened.  Hint: hollow core doors are NOT acceptable.
    • Are the pneumatic closers on the bedroom doors quiet or result in door slamming?
    • Are hallway floors dampened? For example, with carpets or rugs. Or, do you have an echo chamber?
    • I'd better not be able to hear the ice maker. Put those things in a closet or only in the lobby.
  • Wifi/networking - 15 points available
    • If you advertise yourself as a "connected" hotel or mention "high speed Internet in the room" - you MUST have wifi. Wired only is not acceptable.
    • I should be able to read email, twitter, facebook and other web browsing without significant delays or drops. The hotel should reasonably expect 2 connected devices PER ROOM. If you're hosting a technical conference, assume 5 connected devices per room.
    • I should not have to type "I agree" to your terms and inane services more than once a day.  Who do these "agreements" actually protect?  Couldn't the hotel just post a notice on your key card and save me the annoyance?
    • If I pay for 1 day of network access, that needs to be 24 hours from when I pay for it - not 24 hours from when I checked in.
  • Clean room - 10 points available
    • Pillows should not be dusty/musty.
    • Blankets/duvets/comforters should be clean.
    • Spare pillows/blankets should be stored in bags to keep dust mites out.
    • Other items are assumed to be clean.
  • Environmental policies - 10 points available
    • If you have signs up in the room saying the sheets are only changed every 3 days and towels left hanging up will not be changed: is your cleaning staff aware of these policies?
    • Does your cleaning staff leave 1/2 used amenities (like soap and shampoo) or replace items every day? (I once had a maid cleaning my room while I was there throw out a bar of soap that she saw me open and use once. She knew it was new, because she had just thrown out the "old" one.)
    •  Do you have cream, sugar, sweetener, etc - packaged separately or in a "combo pack" that gets thrown away if one item is used?
  • Well lit room - 5 pts
    • Mood lighting is great, except when I'm trying to find that black charging cable.  You should have a ceiling mounted light in addition to bedside and table lamps.
  • Counter space in the bathroom - 5pts
    • Fancy designer "pedestal" sink? Subtract 20 points. I need somewhere to put my toothbrush, face wash, contact lenses, makeup, etc.
  • Easily accessible outlets - 5pts
    • Can't be filled with your devices, nor "worn out" (loosey goosey so that plugs just fall out)
  • Usable shower - 5pts
    • Shelves to put things like mini shampoo and conditioner, that don't just slide off and hit my feet.
    • Good water pressure, high enough to get my head under.
    • If shower curtain is properly employed, I should not get water everywhere.
  • Amenities - 5pts
    • Coffee pot in room?
    • Shampoo, conditioner *and* lotion? (Note: "Shampoo plus conditioner" is a joke for people with long hair).
  • Pillows and bedding - 10pts
    • Some people love feather pillows, but I'm allergic so foam should be readily available (in the closet in a sealed bag).
    • Some folks love a squishy pillow, some need more firm. If there are 4 pillows on each bed, at least 2 should be firm and 2 soft.  All four the same is going to leave 50% of your guests unhappy. 
    • Duvet/comforter/blanket should NOT be made of feathers, unless alternatives are readily available (calling to front desk is okay).
  • Desk/task chair - 5pts
    • If you're advertising yourself as a business hotel, you should have an adjustable hight/pitch chair.
  • Hair dryer - 5 pts
    • 1 point if you only have the super compact ones that eat long hair in the most painful manner
    • 4 points for full sized hair dryer (okay if it needs to be requested).
  • Sufficient mirrors - 5pts
    • Assuming that one person might be wanting to do things like blow-dry their hair while someone else is using the toilet, have a mirror outside if the bathroom
I have a whole separate rant on disabled rooms as well, from traveling with disabled relatives (I'm sure their list would be longer):
  • Disabled people like nightstands, too, as they also wear glasses, have a cell phone, etc.
  • Disabled rooms should be available with a second bed for a care taker, who is not necessarily their spouse.
  • Disabled people have things like toothbrushes, glasses, contacts, makeup, etc, too - give them counter space in the bathroom!
  • Disabled showers should drain and not run over, as it turns out people with disabilities don't like water every where and all over their stuff, either. 
  • Are the doors to and in the room easy to open for someone who may not have "normal" muscle strength and agility?
  • Remember: you can meet the letter of the law and still have a completely unusable room for both those with physical disabilities and those without.  Would you want to sleep in this room?  Could you take care of an elderly or disabled relative in this room?  If not, rethink your design.
    • An example room in the Travel Lodge in Bath, UK: no counter space in bathroom, no nightstands, no closet (just a rack, as apparently they didn't think disabled people could open a door?), an extremely heavy fire door (but they could open that thing?), no tables in the room and no suitcase rack.  We took furniture from the lobby to give my folks somewhere to put medication, glasses and phones to charge that wasn't the floor.
Any additions to either list? Would you weight other items more heavily?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Running with Monsters

Running with Monsters: A MemoirRunning with Monsters: A Memoir by Bob Forrest
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bob Forrest is an interesting guy - always on the sidelines, many times almost famous, nearly a rock star, nearly a husband, nearly a father. You might know him as the interesting guy with the strange hat and glasses from Celebrity Rehab. I've heard him interviewed by Dr. Drew Pinsky several times, and I know that their friendship goes way back to the darkest days of Forrest's drug addiction.

Forrest's tale is wondrous and twisted. As you read, you keep thinking: this time, he'll make it! If his friends and super-addicts The Red Hot Chili Peppers can do it - why can't Forrest?

Forrest's story takes you deep into the world of the severely drug addicted. You experience the highs and the lows with him, the close calls and the tragic events. I felt Forrest's confusion over his parent's relationship as well as his terror when things went south (again and again).

What a remarkable life Mr. Forrest has led.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was there were not enough breaks in the text. The stream of consciousness would keep going deeper into the rabbit hole, with no good "stopping place". I like to usually read a chapter or section of a book every night before bed, but often found myself not picking this book up because the chapters were long and without clean breaks. That is something that really could've been fixed in the editing, as Forrest's ideas definitely had places where a chapter could've ended before starting the next tale and still kept the flow. Otherwise, this would've been 5 stars.

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