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A blog dedicated to truth, justice and the pursuit of all things geeky....



Last Build Date: Fri, 06 May 2005 20:46:08 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2005 Q. Wade Billings
 




Fri, 06 May 2005 20:46:08 GMT

The BOFH Official Archive

I came across this site a little while ago as I was surfing around. It is not only funny as Hell, it is frightening as I know a couple of these types (Rusho, you are the BOFH).

I passed it around to my team as a primer on how NOT to run an customer focused Operations center.





Fri, 06 May 2005 20:31:07 GMT

Experian Interactive acquires Lowermybills.com in a 330 million dollar cash deal

As many of you know, I am the IT Operations Manager at Lowermybills. We were recently acquired by Experian Interactive in a all cash deal for 330 million dollars. While I will not be buying a Porsche anytime soon, I did finally achieve one of my goals, that being a .com payoff!

For those of you interested, you can read all about the acquisition and the reasoning behind it here





Tue, 19 Apr 2005 21:41:59 GMT

T-10 days until Tiger is unleashed!


I placed my pre-order for Tiger this morning, and I can not wait until that black shiny box hits my desk. I am actually thinking about throwing a Tiger release party (for the four MAC users here at LMB) and totally geeking out!

I used to get this excited about new Windows versions, but then came ME.... oh, the pain, the pain!





Tue, 19 Apr 2005 21:37:43 GMT

Happy new pope day!


So, it looks as if the Catholic church has a new leader. I was hoping for a more progressive cardinal to be chosen so issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception could finally be debated and discussed, but alas, we have a ultra conserative at the helm once again.

Well, as a Western, Protestant, Conservative, Evangelical Christian I don't really give a f**k :).







Sun, 20 Mar 2005 21:08:40 GMT

There is no place for business in politics

There is an article in today's (3/20/2005) edition of the Salt Lake Tribune, which attempts to analyze Governor Huntsman's management style. It appears that he is trying to treat state government as he would one of his businesses. While I agree with some of his approaches (dismissing entrenched department heads etc.), I fear that ultimately it is an approach that is doomed to fail, as the public sector does not play by the same rules that the private sector does.

Phil Windley attempted to introduce proven private sector methodologies into the IT departments of the state, and all it got him was a long walk on a very short plank. The major issue at work here is that there are a large number of people in government who possess "institutionalized power". This power is derived from the fact that they have been in their positions for years prior to the entrance of any newly appointed leader, and they know that they will be in their positions for years after the leader's departure. They have learned that if they drag their heals long enough, they can out live their new boss(es), and go back to the status quo once they are gone.




Tue, 08 Mar 2005 19:39:24 GMT

A couple of new products of interest I had the opportunity yesterday to meet with two companies, each with very compelling stories to tell. The first was CipherTrust, makers of the IronMail appliance. The next was Intergrien, they make a enterprise monitoring and data integrity application called Alive(tm). IronMail is an email gateway, which performs the obligatory SPAM and AV filtering, but their strength lies in their decision algorithms, which allow the appliance to intelligently route and secure mail. For example, let's say that I am Joe user, and I am sending sensitive sales information to a business partner of ours. Now lets say that the recipient knows nothing about securing email, but does know that if the email was to fall in the wrong hands, it would materially damage their business. Normally, I (being he sender) would inquire about the various encryption techniques, and which one(s) the recipient supports. In this case, the recipient is unable to provide me with that information, and this is where IronMail's intelligent MTA comes into play. Based on criteria that I give it, it is able to walk a decision tree and attempt delivery using industry standard methods (i.e. PGP, TLS/SLL, S/MIME etc). Once it has found a method, which is agreed upon, it sends the message using the agreed upon method. If no agreed upon method is found, then it sends an unencrypted message to the recipient letting him/her know that there is a sensitive email waiting for them on a staging server, and that they can follow the link via SSL to retrieve it. What this in effect accomplishes is it makes the often times troubling process of sending secure email almost a trivial operation. It takes the user/recipient out of the picture, and is able to handle all of the decision making on its own without having to know a whole lot about the parties involved. The next product I was introduced to was Alive from Intergrien. On it's face, Alive appears to be just another monitoring tool in the same vein as HP Openview or Quest Software's Big Brother. Once you get past that first impression, you quickly come to appreciate the work and technology that has gone into making Alive what it truly is. A little history here; I was first introduced to Intergrien's technology when they were called CreationPoint. In fact, when I joined LMB, CreationPoint was managing the production website for us, and was using the first generation of Alive to do so. In essence, Alive is an "agent-less" tool which using standard's based API's (i.e. WMI, DMI, SNM etc) can interrogate and gather a rather impressive amount of data from any element on the network. It then feeds this raw data into a number of patent pending algorithms, and actually "learns" the normal mode of operation for each element. Once the application has "learned" your environment, it then sets (and allows you to set) low and high water marks based on what it has seen, and the current dynamics impacting the enterprise. For example, here at LMB we have a pretty predictable traffic pattern week over week, the only thing that upsets this pattern are large media buys, which can increase our traffic by as much a 4x. Now, Alive would (should) be able to instantly adapt to the increased traffic, reset its low/high watermarks, and alert you to anything that is considered "out of bounds". Beyond the alerting/metrics gathering functionality, there is also a robust transaction/work flow tool that learns how your application works, and is able to point out bottlenecks to you regardless of what layer they are in. This is the Holy Grail for us, as we are constantly struggling with our application performance and how changes to the framework/application impact it. I am hoping to bring both of these vendors back in for an opportunity to "proof of concept" each of their solutions to see how well they will perform in our environment. I will chronicle my experiences and results in fut[...]




Sat, 05 Mar 2005 00:18:11 GMT

Mr. Huntsman... WTF?

So it appears that the Utah state Governor and Legislature are getting back into the whole "morality vs. technology" arena again, only this time, they are trying to get ISP's to block sites which are deemed "harmful to minors".

One wonders who will be the body that will determine the "harmfulness level" of these sites. I know that Utah used to have a "porn czar", but lost her due to budget cuts. I fully expect that legitimate sites such as pflag.org or contraception.net will be label as "harmful" due to their subject matter and will be blocked as not to warp the innocent children's (or anyone else for that matter) little minds.

All I can say is that while California is not perfect (have you seen who we have for a Governor?), you can at least rest assured that the government is not going to try to dictate morality to me or my family





Wed, 02 Mar 2005 23:25:57 GMT

HB109 Passes in Utah

I came across this posting the other day about HB109, the Utah bill to consolidate the IT departments into one, central office. It made me laugh due to the conspiracy theories it attempts to put forth.

Here, read it for yourself





Wed, 16 Feb 2005 15:39:12 GMT

Transparancy in the workplace While I was working for the state of Utah, I wrote the following blog entry. I have had opportunity at my current employer to revisit my thoughts on this topic. The interesting thing is they have not changed one bit, in fact my demands from myself, as well as from my team/peers, to work transparently has streghtened measurably. Here is the orginal posting: As I was lying in bed last night trying to go to sleep, I began to contemplate what it meant to work transparently. I see it this way, as a worker you fall into one of three categories: Transparent, Tinted or Opaque. If you are truly working transparently, then outsiders know exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it as well as where and when it will be completed. If you are working tinted, then outsiders may have some idea of what you are doing, but they are not quite sure of why, when or where you are doing it or what the outcome is expected to be. And finally, if you are working opaque, outsiders have absolutely no idea about what you are doing, not to mention the why, where or when. Working opaque means that a person is working in a complete communications vacuum, while working transparently means that you actively seek out opportunities to communicate your challenges, contributions and successes with fellow co-workers. Let me give you a real world example of this. What got me started thinking about transparency in the workplace was a report that I heard on NPR (I am a huge fan of NPR) earlier in the day. The subject of the report was a NASA Engineer had sent an email to his supervisor three days before the terrible break up of the shuttle Columbia warning NASA of a potential problem. He stated that he was concerned that since they had lost the tire pressure readings in the left side landing gear, that there may have been a hull breach. Unfortunately, this warning never made it to Mission Control, and hence nothing was done to investigate this issue further. Now the Engineer was working transparently, as evidenced by his willingness to send the email warning of a possible catastrophe to his manager, but unfortunately his manager was working opaque. While this situation is somewhat extreme in that people lost their lives, similar scenarios play themselves out each and every day all over the World. I realize that there are situations or jobs that require you to work opaque, such as working with information that is sensitive to personal or national security or to the competitive health of an organization. I am not naively suggesting that everyone throw the windows open wide and let the Sun shine in helter skelter, but what I am saying is that if you do not have a defined reason to work opaque, then you need to reevaluate why you have chosen to work that way. Here is another example of where the difference of working transparent versus working opaque came into play. While I was at the State of Utah, there was a very talented programmer who was directly responsible for key mission critical systems, and was working opaque to the detriment of the entire organization. This particular Engineer did not produce detailed documentation about the systems that he had created or the programs that ran those systems. He preferred to work with a very select group of people, that were themselves working opaque, so the problem was compounded by that fact the there was not a transparent avenue to see what he was doing. Because of his opacity, the rest of the organization suffered through many issues that could have been prevented if only this Engineer would have chosen to work transparently instead of opaquely. The reason I even point this out is to bring up the fact that we have a choice in the way we approach our job duties and co-workers. We can either be open (transparent), guarded (tinted) or secretive (opaque) in [...]




Wed, 16 Feb 2005 15:28:17 GMT

SHA-1 has fallen!

What is the World coming to?

Read about it here