The Golden Braid

Weaving Wonderful Worlds

Agile. The path of least resistance.

For those interested in learning, re-learning, expanding knowledge, or those just curious by nature the following lectures are very simple to digest. The primary focus is on using agile programming concepts in a simple environment (read; Python, Subversion, cygwin/unix) . A brief look at on the homepage the lecture listing will give you a healthy idea of what is covered.

Software Carpentry (Version 1122):

The Problem Many scientists and engineers spend much of their lives writing, debugging, and maintaining software, but only a handful have ever been taught how to do this effectively: after a couple of introductory courses, they are left to rediscover (or reinvent) the rest of programming on their own. The result? Most spend far too much time wrestling with software, instead of doing research, but have no idea how reliable or efficient their programs are.

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June 29, 2006 Posted by | Agile, Programming | Leave a comment

Confirmed: SMART cars coming to USA

I have wanted a SMART since I saw a review of the roadster on Top Gear. I take that back…I’ve wanted an efficient “zippy” car forever, whether or not the SMART is that car remains to be seen.

Digg Text:
“DaimlerChrysler is going to announce tomorrow that the SMART car will come to the United States in early 2007. That’s the word from three major newspapers citing insider sources! This comes after months of speculation. ”

read more | digg story

June 26, 2006 Posted by | technology | 3 Comments

WinFS is Dead. Long Live Vaporware!

Well that's it… one of the most anticipated development projects in Chicago or Whistler or Blackcomb or Longhorn, has finally been rolled out of Windows outright.

To summarize, the surviving portions of the underlying technology will be included with the next releases of SQL Server (codename Katmai) and Visual Studio's ADO.NET (codename Orcas). The features will make their way to Windows when they are "mature" enough.

I wonder if this had anything to do with the recently elevated security concerns over SQL injection attacks. The WinFS security guy did seem a bit jumpy in the Channel 9 coverage of the Bluehat 2006 security conference.

Anyway….For the official politically spun low-down on the situation
What's in Store : WinFS Update:

June 24, 2006 Posted by | technology | 2 Comments

Weeky Brain, Part IV

Sorry it has been a while. I was out of town last weekend and received a last minute rush project at work…you know how the story goes.

Pushing ahead. Here is where I am this week:

I got the dev. server up and running. I had to brush up a bit on my subnetting, but all turned out well after that tiny bit of frustration. In case you're curious how the config turned out; I did wind up running two daisy chained NAT/SPS routers behind a Hamachi VPN with software firewalls on all clients. You may call it overkill, I will continue to call it a fun excercise in paranoia. The next step is implementing a traveling key-drive encryption set up which will eventually replace all but on-site admin logins once the site goes live.

I did choose XOOPS for a CMS manager, but I fear I will not have the time to sit down with it in the next few weeks. It does look promising due to its native technologies, but I can't say I've done much more than read the basics.

I need to do some fact finding on Squids (the cache servers, not the sea creatures). Which reminds me, I did get to pet some sharks and sting-rays while I was on holiday…that was a riot.

June 18, 2006 Posted by | CMS, Daily thoughts, Security | Leave a comment

Can a service be “Too Interactive”?

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Internet firm Tiscali has suspended its music sharing Juke Box and accused the European recording industry of being “virtually impossible to work with”. It took the move after it was told to remove the service’s search by artist.” – BBC News

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June 8, 2006 Posted by | technology | Leave a comment

Exploring XML Encryption

Two part series from IBM on implementing XML encryption per the w3c.

read more | digg story

June 4, 2006 Posted by | encryption, Security | Leave a comment

Weekly Brain, Part III

I will do a quick follow up on some of the things I've figured out in the past week.

* The whole Bill Inmon DW2.0 idea is good in theory, but I hesitate at the thought of implementing an entire architecture at once. ETL is almost necessary until a scenario like this has been perfected. To me it all still seems a bit rough around the edges.

* I need to set up a temporary web server to play out a few scenarios. I haven't done something along these lines since the days of seperate Apache/PHP/MySQL installs. From what I understand the situation is a bit easier these days with the incredible amount of Open Source solutions. I'm still trying to decide between XOOPS and Plone. I'm looking for something flexible with strong file storage & collaboration features, yet simple enough for the un-initiated.

* I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do for security considering this is just a temporary dev project. I think I'll just setup the server on a spare box between a pair of shotgunned NATs. I'm not sure if I'm willing to invest the time in setting up an SSH or VPN solution. Now that I think about it, maybe I should look at just setting something along the lines of a private Hamachi server. Any objections?

* I finally broke down and learned some Python & Ruby this week. They are very easy to pick up if you are familiar with basic programming concepts. If you are just starting in your endeavors, I would strongly suggest either of these languages as a fundamental launch pad.

May 29, 2006 Posted by | CMS, Daily thoughts | 1 Comment

UK Government Seeks Power to Demand Encryption Keys

A new law proposes to allow UK police to request the master key for encrypted files. Anyone who refuses to comply with the request can be imprisoned for up to two years. In a terrorism investigation, that penalty can be increased up to five years of jail time.

read more | digg story

What if the encrypted message contained a dialogue on over-throwing the prime minister? Boy would those guys faces be red…I'm sure the world would have a good chortle then. I have a better idea, we should throw the lot of them in jail for using a door on the privy. The "powers-that-be" need to watch you take a wee, it's one of those national security things.

Go back to bed citizens!

May 21, 2006 Posted by | encryption, Privacy, Security | Leave a comment

Weekly Brain, Part II

As a follow-up to last week's post, here is my weekly brain:

* There are some interesting LIFO/FIFO simulation tools out there, I wish I had some time to review a few of them. I may have to eventually, but for now it is a mere curiousity. Does anyone want to recommend one?

* The great space-time trade-off. Specifically I'm looking at the optimal balance between creating a transactional database with dimensional query speeds. What factors do I need to examine (obviously price points for physical storage, processing speed, etc.) My current assumptions lead me to believe it is cheaper to build a traditional mirrored data warehouse and ETL all data over. How would this be accomplished in a distributed system?

* Why does anyone ETL these days anyway? I think Bill Inmon is on to something with the whole DW 2.0 movement. Anyone care to explain how one would leverage metadata in a situation like this? It honestly is a new concept for me so I haven't given it much thought.

May 20, 2006 Posted by | Daily thoughts, Data Warehouse | Leave a comment

Self-Study Course in Block Cipher Cryptanalysis

This is an amazing course put together by Bruce Schneier. Everything you need to prep for that job in CTU; and it's free, of course.

read more | digg story

May 20, 2006 Posted by | Privacy, Security | Leave a comment