Author: brucelcampbell

Conference Time

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 conference in Orlando. (Official hashtag: #KB4Con18). This was without a doubt the best tech conference I have ever attended. Not only were there absolutely dynamic speakers, all attendees were treated to the best food!  I’m talking some of the healthiest stuff I have ever seen at any conference.

I’ve mentioned KnowBe4 before. This is the vendor we use at the city to train, test and generally harass our end-users (OK, maybe not harass). (KnowBe4 website) With just a small part of their product, I can train my co-workers on the latest ways the “bad guys” try to use social engineering to do well, bad stuff. I will admit that I enjoy sending out simulated phish emails. Why? Because it shows me where are weak links are. And this gives me the means to do targeted training to make our city network, and by association everyone’s home PC/Network, that much more secure. I don’t do it to shame someone or hold it over anyone’s head. Since I have been an instructor of some sort for very many years, I use this primarily as a training tool. But on to the conference itself.

Other than the hour plus, each way, drive on I4 (A.K.A. the devil’s highway), and being in Orlando (way too big and crazy for me), everything else went beautifully. The folks at KnowBe4 went above and beyond in this, their first ever conference.

The opening keynote speaker was Kevin Mitnick, or as he likes to call himself “The World’s Most Famous Hacker”, a title he lives up to. If you don’t know who he is, take a moment to read his Wikipedia page, even if it a bit light on his history. Kevin gave us many demonstrations of current hacks, all of which arrive via an inconspicuous email. And all of which are very nasty. But the one hack that scared me the most was when he showed how Google’s two-factor authentication (2FA) could be hacked. Google has always been one of the toughest to crack since they stay on the cutting edge of all technologies. As a big user of many Google services, this is troublesome.

MVIMG_20180517_182225.jpg

Me and Kevin Mitnick

The keynote speaker for the next day was Frank Abangale. I have to admit that I did not recognize his name. But once I heard his story I knew how he was. Here is his Wikipedia page for you to educate yourself. Frank is considered one of the foremost experts on imposters and forgery. Steven Spielberg made a movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Tom Hanks as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. I have not seen this movie, but I see it available on Amazon Prime so I will correct that error very soon. And if I caught his reference, he was also the inspiration for the TV show “White Collar”.  His family story and subsequent talk on how to keep safe with online financial sources was very eye-opening.

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Myself and Frank Abangale

Another fantastic speaker was Roger A. Grimes (he wants you to know he is not related to the Canadian political figure with the same name), the best-selling author of several tech books. KnowBe4 even included a copy of his “A Data-Driven Computer Security Defense” in the big ol’ backpack they gave every attendee. The big takeaway from his two talks was the point that you have to determine what your biggest exploitable problem is, and fix that first. Common sense, which as we all know, is always in short supply.

One thing that I really was happy to see was the inclusion of women speakers. KnowBe4 has several women in executive roles throughout the company, and that makes me very happy. Since I have two granddaughters, one of which is very interested in the sciences, I fully support women (and really anybody) in STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics). One of the first questions Wifey® asked me was if there were women presenters. I was so very happy to say yes!

There was one thing missing though. No vendor room. Every other conference I’ve been to there is always a room for vendors. Not only can one make some great contacts with products and services that one doesn’t know about, vendors always have cool swag (freebie gifts). I’ll have to check with my manager, but I think a conference is how we found out about KnowBe4. It may not have been in the vendor area, it may have been word of mouth from another attendee (word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertisement).

Sorry, this is such a broad overview, but I could write about ten pages if I covered the entire 3 days. All I can say is “I’m ready for KB4Con19!”

Peace,
B

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I Call Shenanigans

Floriduh is supposed to be “The Sunshine State”.  Not this week.  And I really need it to be. I have a PC Security conference in Orlando starting this evening and running through Friday evening. To save my employer a bit of money, I picked a cheaper (by half price) hotel, just down the street from the hotel where the conference will be held. The plan was to park my truck and walk back and forth. I did this for two reasons, one, I don’t want to have to pay the parking fees at both hotels, and second, the walk will replace at least some of the missed elliptical time.  Not to mention, I doubt an Uber driver will want to pick up that short of a trip (0.3 miles according to Google Maps).

But no… There is a big low-pressure system off our west coast and big high-pressure system off the east coast. And between the two of them, we got nothing but rain.  As one of the weather guys on a local channel posted:

 

thisweek

Thanks to Brian Shields of WFTV for the image (and no I didn’t ask permission)

 

So I guess I’ll be paying double parking fees…

Sheesh!

Peace,
B

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Heaven & Hell

Many, many years ago, and in some ways in a universe far far away, my mom had a sign in her office. She was the bookkeeper/admin person for a nursing home. So the sign was very fitting.  As best I can remember it went like this;

In life you only have two things to worry about
You’re either sick or you’re well.

If you’re well, you have nothing to worry about.
If you’re sick, you have only two things to worry about,
You’ll either get better or you’ll die.

If you get better, you have nothing to worry about.
If you die, you only have two things to worry about,
You’ll go to Heaven or you’ll go to Hell.

If you go to Heaven, you have nothing to worry about.
If you go to Hell, you’ll spend all your time meeting old friends
you’ll have nothing to worry about!

So, don’t worry, right?  If only it was that easy!  But, then again, I don’t believe in either Heaven or Hell.

Hope you enjoyed this totally useless post.

Peace,
B

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Music Habits Tag

My wonderful friend Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine (you should go read her blog for some great book reviews and recommendations) tagged me for this post.

So, to start off, thank you m’lady.

As with any tag type of post, there are rules. Why are there always rules???  But here they are:

RULES:

  • Tag the creator (did that)
  • Thank the person that tagged you (did that too)
  • Answer all the questions (will do next)
  • Tag 3 other bloggers (gonna be tough…)

DO YOU DOWNLOAD SONGS OR STREAM ON APPS LIKE SPOTIFY, WINK?

I do both.  I have premium accounts on both Spotify and Pandora, plus an Amazon Prime account.  My music comes from all over. I do download some of my Spotify playlist to listen to at times. Spotify limits downloads to just over 3000 songs, and my current playlist is much longer than that, so I can’t download all of it.

WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT FAVORITE SONG?

No way I could limit myself to one favorite song. Whatever could be listed as “my favorite” will change depending on many factors. And since I’m stuck in the 60’s and 70’s (with just a little of the 80’s thrown in), all my favorites have become “classics”. Which is funny, since when I was a radio DJ (so very long ago) we called it “Album Oriented Radio” (AOR). I don’t consider myself a “classic” by any means.  But, “No Reply” is my favorite song by The Beatles, “Stars” and “As The Raven Flies” by Dan Fogelberg, “Wild World” by Yusef/Cat Stevens (his music saved me during the troublesome years of High School), “Into The Mystic”  by Van Morrison, “John Barleycorn Must Die” (Wifey® hates this song) by Traffic, and I could go on and on. I won’t go into the Blues side of things.

LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince (did you know he wrote it?) is currently playing.

WHO ARE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITES?

This list could go on and on and on…

  • The Beatles, of course
  • Dan Fogelberg
  • Yusef/Cat Stevens
  • Any combination, or solo venture, of Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood
  • Any combination, or solo venture, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Bruce Hornsby (with or without The Range)
  • The Hollies
  • Van Morrison
  • Joe Cocker
  • Heart
  • Joe Bonamassa (especially when teamed with Beth Hart)
  • Tedeschi/Trucks Band

HAVE YOU BEEN TO ANY CONCERTS?

Way to many to list here. Heart (three times), Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Crosby & Nash, Blue Oyster Cult, Firefall, Alabama (when I was a country DJ).  And the list continues.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS?

I play guitar (about 50 years now), both electric and acoustic, but prefer acoustic. I also play around with harmonicas. I’ve been told I have a very nice singing voice too.

DO YOU PLAY YOUR SONGS ON SHUFFLE OR CHOOSE A PLAYLIST?

I create my own playlists, then shuffle it.

NAME ONE SONG THAT YOU ALWAYS SKIP WHEN IT COMES UP ON SHUFFLE

Since I create my own playlists, this doesn’t happen often. But, like Kiersten, I will always skip “Stairway To Heaven” and anything by Skynyrd. Way too much air-time when I was younger.

DO YOU PREFER PLAYING SONGS ON SPEAKER OR LISTENING IN EAR/HEADPHONES?

Speakers when I can, but usually earbuds (so I can turn it up to 11 and not bother anyone).

IS THERE ANY POPULARLY PLAYED SONG THAT YOU DON’T LIKE?

Don’t know. I tend to avoid what passes as “music” these days (and get off my lawn, you damn whippersnappers!!!)

WHERE DO YOU USUALLY FIND NEW MUSIC?

My sons recommend artists to me now and then. Some I have added to my playlists (Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman etc..).

DO YOU LIKE SONGS BASED ON TUNES/BEAT OR LYRICS?

My hearing is basically shot. (See the headphone question) So usually the melody and counter-melody are what catches my attention. I like acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies the most.

NAME ONE SONG THAT YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO.

“American Pie” by Don Mclean. A great story in a song. (But I totally agree with The Hokey Pokey).

I TAG:

America On Coffee

LittleFears

Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to tag 3 people.  But as Meatloaf sings “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”. (See what I did there?)

Peace,
B

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Two More Observations

Yeah, I know.. Two posts in one day? Just who the hell does he think he is?

So on the way home tonight I saw a very funny sight. The car in front of me was a hatchback Volkswagen. I don’t know the exact model since all the identifying items had been removed, but not the big VW logo. The car had been lowered, with the usual too wide wheels and tires, and had the standard exhaust work so fond of the “street racer” types. All it really does it make it sound like Wifey’s® battery operated corkscrew. Yes, we have a battery operated corkscrew. But only for Wifey’s® wine, my craft beer has no need of a corkscrew. I do, however, have at least seven bottle openers all throughout the house and porches. Gotta be prepared you know.

So, back to the story.  On the rear window of this silly little vehicle someone (or someones) had written in the dust (I doubt anyone could see out the window it was so dirty) “Sleepy Boyz” and decorated it was four very large penises. The occupants of the vehicle seemed to be totally oblivious to the artwork. I wonder if the dirty deed was done while someone was passed out in the car.

Needless to say, I was laughing at them the whole time they were in front of me.

The second observation is once again, a personalized license plate.  But this one I actually liked. It read “NONUKES 1”. I actually hope there are more of the “No Nukes” folks out and about. That is something I can agree with.

So, in honor of “No Nukes”, here is “Plutonium Is Forever” by John Hall from the 1979 “No Nukes” concert. I have that album somewhere….

Peace,
B

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An Observation

So, this morning on the way into work, I saw a personalized license plate on a car (and we all know what I think of folks with personalized plates), that said “SORARE 2”.  I read that as “So Rare 2”. Which begs the question, if you are “So Rare” how can there be two of you? Wouldn’t that be “Kinda Rare” or “Just A Bit Rare”? I wonder how many more “So Rare” folks are hiding in plain sight.

But in reality, all I wanted to do was post a video, and I needed something to open with, so I thank the “So Rare” movement.

The video I’d like to post may just be a bit rare to some.  It’s from 1970, which was like a lifetime ago. The singer is one of my favorite female artists, Melanie. The song is “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)”.

The song came about after Melanie was one of only three solo female artists to play the Woodstock festival. Although she was basically an unknown at the time, the crowd so enjoyed her music they lit up candles, lighters, matches, or whatever they could to show their appreciation, and that inspired this song. I especially love the opening of the song. It has, to me a least, a very Celtic feel. Plus Melanie’s voice is so cool.

So here it is;

Peace,
B

And remember, please don’t leave comments on Facebook or Twitter, please leave them below.

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A Case For Charity

So on the way home from work this afternoon, there were two people on two different corners asking for help.  The first one was your basic down-on-their-luck looking person, with a sign that was basically illegible. The second guy though had a great sign, “I need a beer” was all it said. Now that is a concept I can get behind (although I am currently on day 6 of no beer while I try to get my cholesterol and triglycerides under control, again).

I don’t bring these encounters up lightly. I take the homeless problem seriously. Especially among my fellow veterans. But today, I couldn’t help these folks. I have basically stopped carrying cash.  Not that I’m afraid of getting mugged, but because an ATM card is just too convenient. There really isn’t any reason to carry cash. Or is there?

This reminded me of an encounter Wifey® and I had outside a local store a week or two ago. As we were leaving the store a young man with his family, significant other, and two small children were asking passers-bys for help.  The gentleman was wearing a clean Subway restaurant shirt and hat leaving to believe that he had a job. Of course, Subway, and similar fast food jobs are usually part-time minimum wages deals. And we all know that a single person, let alone a family can’t live off of minimum wage. I guess it’s obvious I support the $15 an hour minimum wage initiative.

As usual, neither of us had any cash and told them we couldn’t help them. But as we were pulling out of the parking lot I realized I did have a credit card for that store. I could have taken them into the store and bought them at least something that would satisfy at least part of their need. I will admit that I was almost in tears because I failed to help another fellow.

And that leads me to another story (yeah I know, shut up already).

Many years ago, when I did call myself a “Christian”, which I no longer do, this happened at the church we attended.

It was while I was setting up for a Wednesday evening Bible study/reflection time (I was on the soundboard as usual) when a down-on-his-luck gentleman approached me asking for money.  Well, this time I did have some cash on me. I gave him all I had, a whopping $5. After the guy left one of the members of the church, a deacon no less, said to me “Why did you give that bum money? You know all he’s going to do is buy beer with it!” My reply and one I still use to this day when I asked the same question was “Well, what the hell did you think I was going to do with the money?” Basically, I gave the guy my beer money, but I knew I had some more beer at home.

And if I had any beer at home today, I would have given the guy with the beer sign a beer or two. Share and share alike!

I’m sure some folks reading this (there is somebody reading this right?) will disagree with my view on helping folks that are not as fortunate as themselves. And while, as I said, do not call myself a Christian, I believe the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels (and I don’t think they are exact quotes, or if the human Jesus even said anything close to the words) are a good guideline for behavior towards our fellow humanity. Especially in regards to what is usually termed the “least of these”. To me, that means anyone on the fringe or outskirts of society. From what I’ve read of the New Testament, they tend to use the terms widow, orphan, poor, and occasionally refugee. In today’s world that would mean (to me at least) the homeless, the LGBT people who have been rejected, the refugees that have come to live with us (in or from ANY country, of ANY race, creed, color etc.), the indigenous peoples and ALL the other people of color, women, I could go on. But that’s another post.

My dear-ol-mother used to try to stop me from helping folks when I was younger.  Her favorite phrase was “Charity starts at home”. But then the question becomes; “define HOME”.  Going back to the Bible, even Jesus was asked a similar question, “Who is my neighbor?”, his response was the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you don’t know that parable click here to read it.  Of note on that parable is the Jesus Seminar released a book several years ago Sayings of Jesus” where they examine the sayings attributed to Jesus in the four Gospels. This parable was one of the few that all the participants agreed was a very probable saying from Jesus. (OK, I promise no more Bible references. I’m not a Bible scholar.)

No matter your belief system, I bet in some “holy” book you will find a varient of the “Take care of the ‘least of these'” command. I know you will find it in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qu’ran because I’ve read all three.

So what are your thoughts on helping today’s “least of these”? I’m not just talking money. It could be time spent with people in the hospital or an assisted living facility. Or visiting people in jail. Helping at a homeless shelter, a food bank, the list goes on. I admit, that I fall very short in this area. I try but fail. So for me, it’s usually a monetary donation. But when I was underemployed, it was time.

So do you do anything to help? Even if you don’t (no judgment here), leave a comment on your views on this subject. I welcome any open and thoughtful discourse. However, I do reserve the right to delete any derogatory comments.

Peace,
B

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My Attitude

So today, while at a doctor’s appointment (don’t worry everything is fine), I saw this note taped to the inside of the exam room door.

“Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
there’s something good in every day
because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last
and it’s not true that
it’s all in the mind and heart
because
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
it’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
the reality
creates
my attitude
it’s all beyond my control
and you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
today was a good day

Now read from the bottom up”

The poem was not attributed to anyone, so I’ll give the credit to the worlds most renowned author ~ “Anonymous”.  I’m telling you, that guy (or girl) gets way too much credit.

So, I liked the poem, and I hope that you do too. Let me know what you think about it in a comment. (And for those that are reading this on FaceBook, please don’t leave a comment there – I won’t see it.)

Peace,
B

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DNA Testing – What Can You Learn?

So just what does a DNA test tell you about your heritage?  You may have seen the Ancestry DNA commercial that’s been all over (at least my) TV lately. I tried to find it on YouTube, but couldn’t. It shows a young woman who has discovered a long-lost relative using their DNA testing service. It even goes so far as to imply that she not only found this ancestors name but that he had blue eyes as she does.  All from a DNA test? Not likely. What it doesn’t tell you is that you need a lot of hard genealogy work to find these kinds of things out.

I have had my DNA tested by both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. Surprisingly, the results were very similar. Both give my heritage as very “Scottish”.  As a member of the Campbell group on Family Tree DNA, I have found that my DNA just might POSSIBLY point to a Pictish lineage.  For those that don’t know who the Picts were, they are considered one the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. They are basically made up of the Celts that came across from what we would call Germany today, Vikings that come from the northern Scandinavian countries, and the people who came across from what we call Ireland and then north up to Scotland. This shows just how impossible it is to be of “pure stock”.

Bruce's ethnicity

As you can see, my results from Ancestry DNA show a varied makeup.

The image above somewhat supports the findings from Family Tree DNA. My main groups do point to the historical makeup of the ancient Picts. But, since the Picts did not leave any written records of us to study, we can’t be completely sure.

But what does it prove? In all honesty, it doesn’t “prove” a damn thing. Without some genealogy work, it will never tell you much.  I have done a bit of work at Ancestry chasing down my family tree. I have managed to solidly confirm the Campbell line back to the 1860’s or so. I just may have a lead going back to the 1780’s or so, but have not been able to confirm it. Ancestry does have very fine resources such as US and UK census records. How much access you get depends on how much you’re willing to pay.

Unfortunately, all the matches I’ve found through DNA testing have not been on the Campbell side. I did have one gentleman who matched my DNA (up to 37 markers) exactly. But he will not answer my emails to see how we are related.

I would like to call your attention to this page; “Two Lies And The Truth About DNA Testing”. The big take-away for me from this blog post was;

I want to stress that DNA Testing is of little value to anyone except yourself if you don’t do the genealogy research to back it up and share it.  A common complaint among testers is that the test result is wrong.  That’s probably a misunderstanding. Genetic testing is pretty reliable.  What isn’t so well-known is that people traveled, sometimes quite a lot, even back to ancient times. Our genes have been mixing through migrations, marriages, immigrations, wars, and conquests for as long as we have been here.  If you believe it to be wrong, prove it. But don’t forget to study up on world history first.

Source: http://blog.ancestorcloud.com/2017/05/19/two-lies-and-the-truth-about-dna-testing/ 

And from this blog;

Alva Noë explains at NPR:

Shakespeare’s kid probably had 50 percent of his DNA; his kid in turn, on average, a quarter, and so on. Within 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread out and recombined so many times that it doesn’t even really make sense to speak of a match. Putting the same point the other way, each of us has so many ancestors that we have no choice but to share them with each other… The truth is, you have your history and your genes have theirs.

So basically, trying to say some famous person is related to you without doing the genealogy work, and only relying on a simple DNA test, is impossible.

I’m not telling you NOT to do DNA testing. I just want you to know that the test alone will not answer most of your questions. Wifey’s® results from Ancestry gave her what she wanted. She wasn’t looking for a long-lost relative. She only wanted to see the “mix” of her heritage. But no, I will not post her results. That would be TMI. Hell, I don’t even use her name on this blog, why would I give you her DNA makeup???

One more consideration. What happens to your DNA test results? Family Tree DNA does not share your results without your consent. Can’t say the same for most of the others.

In the end, ask yourself why you want to do the test. Is it for health reasons? Trying to fill out, or start, your family tree? Just curious (as was Wifey®)? For whatever reason, read the fine print before you do the test.

And remember, your results may very well vary between companies. Take your results with a grain (or maybe a shaker) of salt.

Peace,
B

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