Loving the new job

April 15th, 2014

Thursday marks my second week at the new job and, boy, what a difference it is from my last job! I actually have fun at work. No one micromanages me, no stupid mind games are being played. People don’t come into work seemingly to delight in making someone else’s day miserable. Night and day.

Two weeks into my job and I’ve already earned the trust of my colleagues. I’ve already jumped in and begun solving problems. I’ve even offered house-hunting advice to those new to Raleigh. It feels awesome to work someplace that appreciates my contributions.

Above is a photo I took of my team last week. Looks like a fun group, doesn’t it?

Your Clever Password Tricks Aren’t Protecting You from Today’s Hackers

April 15th, 2014

Good password-choosing advice from Lifehacker. Bottom line: if you can remember your password it isn’t good enough.

Our passwords are much less secure than they were just a few years ago, thanks to faster hardware and new techniques used by password crackers. Ars Technica explains that inexpensive graphics processors enable password-cracking programs to try billions of password combinations in a second; what would have taken years to crack now may take only months or maybe days.

Making matters much worse is hackers know a lot more about our passwords than they used to. All the recent password leaks have helped hackers identify the patterns we use when creating passwords, so hackers can now use rules and algorithms to crack passwords more quickly than they could through simple common-word attacks.

via Your Clever Password Tricks Aren't Protecting You from Today's Hackers.

N&O runs dedication story a week late

April 15th, 2014

In about ten minutes, a group of people will converge on the entrance to the Walnut Creek Greenway near the Worthdale Community Center. They will wait around in the rain until they become bored for a dedication ceremony that has come and gone, and sloppy editing on the part of the News and Observer is to blame.

Sunday’s Midtown Raleigh News carried a front-page story on the greenway dedication, stating the ceremony would occur Tuesday at 4 PM. The problem is that the ceremony took place last week. The story was correct when it ran a week earlier in the N&O but somehow it landed in Sunday’s Midtown edition without being updated to show the ceremony already took place.

I love the N&O’s spotlight of Raleigh’s parks. I called for more coverage in the past and still think Raleigh citizens value their parks highly enough (and they have invested enough in them ) for parks to merit media coverage. That said, inaccurate coverage might do more harm than no coverage at all.

I wish the N&O would work just a little bit harder on fact-checking its local coverage.

Heartbleed Bug

April 9th, 2014

While many news outlets were blathering on about the end of life for Windows XP, a huge hole in OpenSSL was discovered. OpenSSL secures a huge percentage of the Internet, meaning many of the sites you use have had their security compromised.

These revelations, while painful, are very much necessary to create a more secure Internet.

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging IM and some virtual private networks VPNs.The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

via Heartbleed Bug.

Bonus link: Bruce Schneier on the Heartbleed bug.

Sticky switcheroo: FDA cracks down on honey labeling – Health – Boston.com

April 8th, 2014

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the fake honey claims in some foods. Looks like I got my wish!

Have you been duped by a honey poser?

Companies have been selling sugary, sticky honey blends on grocery store shelves for years, adding syrups or sweeteners not made naturally by bees, but hiding their fraud on the packaging under the label “honey.” This food fraud also applies to foods that list “honey” as an ingredient. You might not be getting the real thing.

The Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines Tuesday that will require companies to label any honey that is not pure, or even food containing this honey, with “blend of sugar and honey” or “blend of honey and corn syrup,” depending on the ingredients. This policy change is the result of organizations like the American Beekeeping Federation and other honey associations petitioning against the common food industry practice of misrepresenting “pure honey.”

via Sticky switcheroo: FDA cracks down on honey labeling – Health – Boston.com.

Healthcare still sucks

April 7th, 2014

Now that I’m in a new job, Kelly and I spent some time this evening picking out a healthcare plan. Wading through a lot of boring-as-shit details boiled it down to the plain fact that insurance companies suck even more than they used to.

What kept popping up is this whole idea of “coinsurance.” Who came up with that? Basically if you get hit by a bus and the bills top $1 million, your broken, tire-track-covered ass is on the hook for $200,000. And that’s with insurance! “With friends like these,” right?

Healthcare is still broken and the industry is still playing everyone for suckers. If there’s ever a market that is screaming for more regulation – the kind with real teeth that stands up to these kinds of horseshit shell games that are still being played – healthcare is it.

Oh, and my opinion of UnitedHealthcare hasn’t improved any, either.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson at NCSU

April 3rd, 2014

Hallie and Travis with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Hallie and Travis with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

When I got word that Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was going to soon be speaking at N.C. State, I was determined to finagle some tickets. It seemed to be an impossible task, since he was speaking in the tiny Hunt library auditorium and it was mainly a College of Sciences event with few tickets available to the public. Even so, through a friend with close ties to the school I found out the time that the hundred or so general-admission tickets would be distributed online.

Learning that each registrant would be allowed just one guest, I got Kelly to join in my ticket quest. When that moment arrived – the second it arrived – Kelly and I were madly refreshing our browsers, waiting for a link to register for tickets. Somehow the stars aligned and both of us managed to put our names in the hat before the ticket window closed within three minutes!
Read the rest of this entry »

Are hackers killing Yahoo email?

March 31st, 2014

A number of my friends who use Yahoo.com email addresses have been frustrated by spam emails that appear to be sent through their accounts. A look at the actual email headers reveals the emails do not actually originate from Yahoo:

Return-Path: yahoouser@yahoo.com
X-Original-To: Mark Turner
Delivered-To: Mark Turner
Received: from smtprelay.b.hostedemail.com (smtprelay0206.b.hostedemail.com [])
by maestro.markturner.net (Postfix) with ESMTP id 9E6FEC81102
for Mark Turner; Sat, 29 Mar 2014 05:13:05 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from filter.hostedemail.com (b-bigip1 [])
by smtprelay01.b.hostedemail.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 9EE0D2D2A15;
Sat, 29 Mar 2014 09:13:06 +0000 (UTC)
X-Session-Marker: 536861776F6F64406265782E6E6574
X-Spam-Summary: 10,1,0,,d41d8cd98f00b204,,:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::,RULES_HIT:41:72:355:379:539:540:541:542:543:590:962:96
X-HE-Tag: pets27_36a824eacc042
X-Filterd-Recvd-Size: 2630
Received: from bex.net (unknown [])
(Authenticated sender: Shawood@bex.net)
by omf06.b.hostedemail.com (Postfix) with ESMTPA;
Sat, 29 Mar 2014 09:12:55 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: 120dcf1f0409$188b32c6$8c62fe50$@yahoo.com
From: Yahoo User yahoouser@yahoo.com

… but the damage is done. Read the rest of this entry »

Snapping up talent

March 30th, 2014

I just heard that a certain open-source software company based in downtown Raleigh sometimes takes six months from when it gets a job applicant to actually hire that applicant. That’s crazy. How can a company think that a top job applicant has that kind of time to spend for a potential employer to get their act together? What makes a company think that an applicant is still going to be around six months later?

I spent three months between losing my job and getting a job offer and you know what? It sucked. It was three months of suck. When someone wants to make a move, they often don’t have the luxury of spending half a year for a potential employer to get going. I appreciate being thorough and making sure things are a good fit, of course, but six months is an insult to any job applicant.

I contrast this with my most recent job search, where the HR “talent acquisition team” always responded promptly to my questions and treated me as if I was important to them. That’s the way it should be done. Any company that doesn’t make a priority of hiring good people will soon find itself in trouble.

Saffron Technology moving headquarters to Silicon Valley after raising $7 million | Technology | NewsObserver.com

March 24th, 2014

As if to prove my earlier point, the N&O reports local startup Saffron Technology is packing up for the West Coast – not for more favorable taxes but for the West Coast’s “wealth of talent.”

Wrong again, governor.

Saffron Technology, a homegrown big data analytics software company, plans to shift its headquarters from Cary to the Silicon Valley after raising $7 million in new funding.

Despite the move, CEO Gayle Sheppard said she expects the company’s 12-person Cary office to double in size by the end of the year. That would keep pace with the growth of the overall company, which she anticipates swelling from 20 to 40 employees in 2014 thanks to the new round of funding.

“We should not think of this as leaving Cary behind by any means,” Sheppard said. “I see that operation as an important part of our future. Terrific talent there.”

Nonetheless, Sheppard said that moving Saffron’s headquarters to Silicon Valley was designed to help it recruit the “wealth of talent” on the West Coast.

via Saffron Technology moving headquarters to Silicon Valley after raising $7 million | Technology | NewsObserver.com.