MikeBD Musings of a 24/6 techie (Software Architect / Technical Manager) family guy struggling to find meaning, balance and strong design / implementation supporting excellent user experiences.

9Oct/060

Online Privacy

In my last post I pledged to overthrow the evil FalconPain from his perch atop the Metroid Prime Pinball leaderboard.

My battle strategy, should I want to include social engineering tactics in my warplan could have started with a quick web search. How easy the mighty can fall. In less than 5 minutes I had FP's real name and birthdate on my screen. That needed cross checking for verification but was very much contextually valid and I would say 85%+ likely to be the target of my conquest.

PEOPLE - WATCH WHAT YOU POST ONLINE. Sorry for screaming. But geez...

I like to play Canasta on Yahoo Games (let me know if you play) and as a public service I often warn people when they are revealing too much online. One unsuspecting opponent was shocked when I asked her how disturbing the noise was from the local airport. Her id included a part that I guessed was her zipcode. And so it was. I found a map of her region and narrowed her location to within a small area in < 10 minutes.

This day of personal publishing / blogging / online resumes has its advantages, but we must remember to not go over the line. At the very least, never display your birthdate in a public profile. Identity thieves and other scoundrels are on the prowl...

Not to mention, pinball wizards on a mission. So BEWARE!

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9Oct/062

Metroid Prime Pinball High Score – Pirate Frigate Single Mission

Updated: 2007-02-27

It took a few months and many attempts (glad I was not paying by the quarter, or is it loonie these days?). But - MISSION ACCOMPLISHED (where's my flight suit?).

Woo Hoo!!!

And not just by a little bit either, smacked it out of the park baby :)



Originally posted on 2006-10-09:

Metroid Prime Pinball High Score - Pirate Frigate Single Mission, originally uploaded by michaelbd.

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2Aug/060

Got me a new PC – part 2: command line fun + a sidebar on how timesheets suck

In part 1 - hardware / OS platform, I discussed the rationale behind purchasing a new PC laptop and configuring it with Windows as a virtual machine host and Ubuntu as a guest OS.

The unfortunate reality of my professional life for the last few years has been that I have spent most of my time in meetings or using MS Word, Outlook, Project and a series of horribly designed timesheet management applications.

Is there a rule in some obscure tome that precludes any usability testing on timesheet applications? One of these timesheet applications was so bad, that I built my own front end to it which quickly grew in popularity amongst the staff. I have enough trouble understanding why employees are made to suffer with the chore of recording their time in the first place. Any manager that is paying attention should be able to account for the time their staff is spending in enough detail to serve realistic enterprise reporting needs. Especially in companies that routinely expect staff to work unpaid overtime, it is counterproductive to force overworked employees to record a detailed accounting of their time. In the companies I have worked for, I have witnessed much more selfless effort contributed by teams that were not asked to keep timesheets than I have seen at other organizations.

My coding habit is crying out for some attention and that is a big part of why I recently changed jobs. When not using MS bloatware and attending endless meetings, any self respecting software developer spends a lot of time at a command line.
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2Aug/060

Got me a new PC – part 1: hardware / OS platform

I tend to go a long time between PC upgrades, generally preferring to plunk down for near-top-of-the-line systems / components and riding them for 4-5 years. My progression of PCs has gone something like: Commodore 64, Intel 386, AMD K6, AMD Athlon XP, Intel Core Duo.

I built the 386 and K6 machines myself from wholesale parts. The Athlon was sourced from the same wholesale vendor but I chose to let them put it all together for me. The new guy is a Dell Laptop. Seems I've come full circle on sourcing since the Commodore 64, I just hope this laptop will not go through as many power supplies...

The Athlon is still running Windows 2000 Professional, which is an install that was carried forward from the K6. The laptop has Windows XP professional. Both of these serve as host OS to VMware virtual machines that run various flavours of consumer Windows releases (for testing software development and installs) and Linux. VMware can be configured the other way around (Linux host, Windows guest) but I prefer to give Windows the native view of the hardware as it is more resource intensive.

With all the recent hype around the Intel Core Duo Macintosh machines, I was really tempted to go that direction with this purchase. I will likely need a Mac Mini or iMac in order to test web development on OS X. However, it just seems too soon to bet on the new Apple hardware, I think it needs some time to mature.
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6Jul/060

Two Choices

A welcome change from some of the forwarded e-mail chains I often receive, I thought I'd share this one:

Subject: Two Choices

What would you do? You make the choice! Don't look for a punch line; There isn't one! Read it anyway. My question to all of you is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. "I believe, that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child." Then he told the following story:
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