September 28, 2005

Is It Working?

I think... maybe... my network is finally working properly. It only took about 4 days, many changes and multiple reboots... but my connection has now been active for the ENTIRE morning!!! This is a wonderful thing people. Up until this morning - the connection time would last all of 10 minutes at the most - sometimes as little as 30 seconds.

Well, I guess I should say - the connection I'm talking about is a VPN through the office. I don't run direct to net... so it was really the VPN that kept crashing - not the cable modem. Ah the joy of modern technology. Anyway - trust me on this - I need the VPN up and going to get anything done. The constant reconnects were stopping everything dead in the water.

Now maybe I can actually get some work done! And even some blogging. How exciting is that!

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 05:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 12, 2005

Six Dumbest Ideas...

Marcus Ranum - noted computer security guru - has an essay describing his Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security. It's not too tech language based - so give it a read, you may learn something... especially the Hacking is Cool section. I say that section, because this is one that those outside of computer geekiness will really understand the best.

I do quibble with a couple of his points.

From section #2 on Enumerating Badness

Now, your typical IT executive, when I discuss this concept with him or her, will stand up and say something like, "That sounds great, but our enterprise network is really complicated. Knowing about all the different apps that we rely on would be impossible! What you're saying sounds reasonable until you think about it and realize how absurd it is!" To which I respond, "What about the title 'Chief Technology Officer' are you earning if you don't know what your systems are running and/or being used for?"

I work for a small company... very small... nearly as small as you can get. WE have complicated issues with applications and email. I can NOT imagine the mind boggling web that large companies face on a regular basis. But let's not even talk about large companies - let's go with small and medium companies.

The quite real issue is time and money. Yes, a small or medium company should be able to have a handle on things - just because of their size.... but their size also plays against them. The issue is and always has been money. It's a sad fact of life that companies need to make money to stay in business. I often see computer security people who can't quite grasp the fact that this is a HUGE component of what goes on in a company. You have to have someone (at least one person) on staff with the expertise... and they have to get the cash to implement - either through paying other workers to do security work and get the system into shape or to buy products that support your security scheme.

While it's all well and good to say - well, without security, you've got big problems, many companies will accept the trade off because it's not economically viable for them to do security correctly.

The second point - and this is an even bigger one - that I disagree with is under Educating Users # 5...

When I was CEO of a small computer security start-up we didn't have a Windows system administrator. All of the employees who wanted to run Windows had to know how to install it and manage it themselves, or they didn't get hired in the first place. My prediction is that in 10 years users that need education will be out of the high-tech workforce entirely, or will be self-training at home in order to stay competitive in the job market. My guess is that this will extend to knowing not to open weird attachments from strangers. [emphasis mine -- ed]

Ummm... thus speaks someone who deals with computers at a tech level day in and day out... This will not happen... period! To depend on people outside of the high tech areas to learn about this stuff is just asking for trouble. He even says at the beginning that you can't teach some people about attachments now, why is he then turning around and expecting a great leap in knowledge just because you have younger users coming into the system?

Most people don't know about the dangers of what comes at them through email... nor do they care! This is like someone in the 1940's or 50's saying - well, everyone should know about fixing cars. I see people buying them, but hey they're older and it's understandable that they don't know about motors. Young people are learning about cars early and when they start taking over, they'll be able to fix all these things themselves.... Didn't happen did it! Not only that, but now it's to the point that people hardly ever work on their own cars - they have it done by mechanics - too much requires specialized tools and can't be done at home - except by real mechanical geeks. I think for computers to be secure - the movement must be in the direction of the user NOT being able to do something dumb (like clicking a bad attachement) and killing the system and it will have to be done on the computer side - not the user side or it will never work.

Overall Marcus has made some extremely valid points - but there are a couple of areas where he definitely shows he is a true geek... good thing because he's a font of information. As they say --- read the whole thing.

Hat Tip Slashdot

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 06:15 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 09, 2005

Up and Running

Okay - the last few days I've been having connection problems... which I've been kinda hoping would just "go away". But I finally had to report them to my DSL provider - Covad. They have always been outstanding in providing service and connection up. If you ever are deciding on which DSL provider to use - I've had excellent service from them and can recommend them without hesitation! Anyhow, as I said, I was having connection problems. My DSL was sporadically dying. One minute it's there and looks great - next - pffft totally gone.

I got on the phone and they were able to determine that the problem was with a wire going to ground somewhere, which means they had to put out a service ticket to SBC - our local provider. SBC has 24 hours to make their call and try to fix it. This was at 7pm last night.

Imagine my surprise when the first guy shows up at about 9:30am - I truly was expecting it to be about 4pm!!! He was there about an hour and determined that the wire coming into the house was being pulled down and the disconnect was coming from there. We have buried lines in this neighborhood and apparently when we had the yard resloped a few years ago, it put extra pressure on the phone line - eventually it started to pull free. He was able to fix it quickly and I was back! Woo Hoo!

Then about an half hour after the first guy left... a second guy shows up. I said - hey it's fixed! He was very nice and we chatted a bit (a former Marine!) and he checked the line - because he had to. Now he's filled out the paperwork and is off and away. So, I suppose I will now have a good connection for the next 2 weeks (one hopes!).

Major Kudos to SBC for getting someone out here in a very timely manner! Great service deserves to be appreciated - especially since we tend to complain LOUDLY over poor service.

In this case - a tiny bit of public THANK YOUS to Covad and SBC for doing a terrific job!!!

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 08:53 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 08, 2005

Hello.... Helloooooo....

Earlier tonight my DSL started acting up. It's sporadic - which is very annoying. It seems that there is a wire somewhere (likely outside) that has "gone to ground". Ah what fun. I only need this connection to work for about 2 more weeks. Wouldn't you know that the first real problem I've had with it - would happen now!

So far I've lost about 5 comments at different sites - get it all typed in and... nothing - connection is gone.... I give up in disgust. At the moment all the pretty green lights are on and look very nice. Although this could change in an instant - even while I type this. Unfortunately, the phone company has until 6pm tomorrow (their 24 hour window) to come fix the problem. I have no idea what my connection will be like until then. Let's just hope it can be easily fixed or I'm going to have a fun 2 weeks... I may have to buy time at Barnes and Noble. If I have to sit somewhere I'd rather be around books than in a restaurant (Panera is free - but then I'd eat!). Starbucks is great but I'd be bouncing off walls from the caffeine... Books are better.

As it is - I'm annoyed enough about all the problems in buying a house - I do NOT need this right now. Just found out today that there are high levels of arsenic in the water... this is very bad - can it be fixed? I'm sure there's something that can be done - but how easily... maybe we'll find out more tomorrow. But as I said, I really didn't need DSL problems right now. *sigh*

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 06:13 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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