Uncharted Waters


July 22, 2014  4:24 PM

Wait a minute. What did Kevin Mitnick actually do?

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Security

Picture of Kevin MitnickHe was arrested twice for computer crimes and wire fraud. At the time of his second arrest, he was on probation from the first, caught by a large multi-agency dragnet including the FBI.

The actual term in the FBI press release was “manhunt”; he has been called The World’s Most Famous Hacker.

Let’s review a few interesting facts about Kevin Mitnick:

1) Kevin stole computer programs, including the source code to VAX/VMS and an early portable phone system – for his own personal use. He did not offer the source code of VMS to Microsoft; he didn’t cut and paste multi-threading code to be used in a different OS. He didn’t create his own operating system, or even use his extended knowledge of VMS to offer his support services for the OS.

2) Mitnick did not destroy any software or systems; he didn’t inject any viruses or trojan horses into existing systems, there was no denial of service involve.

3) Mitnick did not financially benefit from any of his computer hacking. He did not steal any bank account numbers. To pay for room and board, he had traditional jobs, even when he was on the run. The only financial crimes I could find involved stealing phone calls from mechanical (not computerized) telephone switches, and, in his youth, stealing bus fare from a paper-punch card system.

So he didn’t damage anyone else, he didn’t steal money from anyone, and he didn’t use the code he stole from to generate revenue that belonged to someone else.

What did Kevin Mitnick do, exactly?

Continued »

July 22, 2014  3:56 PM

Crowdsourcing for software testers

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

The world of crowdsourcing for for software testing is pretty small. There are two big players, maybe 3 if we’re being generous. The business model of crowdsourcing is something like a freelance body shop on crack. Software companies, usually small-ish or startups, approach crowd source providers to get testing for a flat or hourly rate. The crowd source company spins up a  bunch of testers to work on the project. The client gets a bout of quick software (and bug reporting) testing, the testers get paid a little bit for each accepted bug, and the crowd source company makes the difference between what the client pays and what they pay out to testers.

There is a new crowd source company called Testlio changing the rules for how crowd sourcing is done.

Continued »


July 16, 2014  10:56 AM

The Newest Microsoft Memo

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Microsoft CEO Satya NadellaIt was almost exactly a year ago that Steve Ballmer issues his last “State of Microsoft” address, something we covered here at Uncharted Waters (twice!).

A year later, Microsoft has a new CEO, Satya Nadella, and Nadella has his first company memo, titled “Starting FY15 – Bold Ambition & Our Core.”

What does the memo say, and what does that mean for industry, individuals, and, Microsoft’s 127,000 people?

Today I’d like to talk about two major themes of Nadell’s memo, in plain English. Continued »


July 16, 2014  10:13 AM

Starting freelance: Rate negotiation

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

As long as I’ve been doing tech work, I’ve always had a day job. Day jobs have some benefits, like insurance, taxes, job security, paid time off, and a place to go 5 days a week. With that comes a loss of personal freedoms: the ability to choose your projects, potential to work from home or travel if that is what you like, and most important to me, a variety of work.

I want variety in my work; I don’t want to have to go through 5 layers of management to get a day off. I’ve been slowly working my way toward a freelance life and have learned a few lessons about negotiating a rate along the way.

Continued »


July 9, 2014  12:30 PM

How I get ready for a conference talk

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

Not just how I get ready for a conference talk, but how I have been getting ready for my first conference talk.

Conference season is in full swing in the software world. For the past few months, I have been spending a little time each week preparing for my first real conference talk at CAST 2014. I’ve done a talk at my local software testers group here in Nashville, and facilitated events quite a few times now, but for me, this is the real deal. The conference isn’t till mid August so I’ve got a little time and some work to do yet but I’ve learned quite a few lessons so far.

2014_CAST_Banner

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July 8, 2014  8:31 AM

Continuous Delivery Envy (And A Bonus!)

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser

Apple logoI was on vacation in Luddington, Michigan and my iPhone ran out of space.

That’s not a huge problem; I deleted some photos and some apps, and then clicked to install an operating system update. Applying the update should apply the patch and also delete any obsolete code, right?

My phone never returned from the update. Instead, it came back with an image indicating the phone needed to be plugged into iTunes. I was away from my laptop for July vacation, so I was entirely out of service for two days. After that, when I plugged the phone in, I was told that the Mac needed to restore the phone from backup.

Despite a dearth of popular press coverage, googling tells me this was not an isolated event.

Sadly, I’m afraid we can expect more of this. Today, I’d like to talk about how to prevent it at our companies.

Continued »


July 3, 2014  2:18 PM

Kaitlyn Weatherbrain’s New Economy

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Amazon, Books, economy, jobs, Publishing

The Treacherous Journey of Kaitlyn Weatherbrain (Book Cover) My daughter, Kathleen, just released her first book:  The Treacherous Journey of Kaitlyn Weatherbrain. The book is available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle edition, starting at $2.99. Here’s the description:

When Kaitlyn Weatherbrain decides to take a vacation with her two best friends, she isn’t prepared for a race across a strange planet to stop an evil villain. Luckily, Kate and the rest of her new-found friends happen to have superpowers. With their powers, futuristic technology, and a little bit of luck, the friends hope to overcome their villain and his nefarious boss, who plan to take over Earth. Can they save their home and families in time? Are their powers strong enough to avoid getting crushed by the giant robot?

Katie completed the book at the end of November, on paper, as part of National Novel Writing Month. For the next six months she typed in her manuscript into a computer, edited the work, then spent June formatting it to fit the right typeface. At the end of the month we adjusted the book to fit a 5″x8″ word template, uploaded the document to CreateSpace, and followed the process to get the book published.

Ten years ago her ‘book’ would have ended up on the slush pile of a dozen agents. Twenty years ago the ‘book’ would have been printed and punched and stuck into a three-ring binder to hand out at family reunions, or, perhaps, photocopied and mailed to relatives at Christmas. Today, it is on Amazon.

The amazing thing?

Katie is eleven. Continued »


July 1, 2014  11:21 AM

So you want to scale your team

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

You have a team of developers and they have been doing such a good job that you need more of them so they can do more of what they’ve been doing. But your test team is just barely keeping up with things as they are and you only have so much budget to go around. This is a good problem to have, but it is still a problem. If you absolutely can not hire more folks that specialize in testing, there is still hope. There are a few options you can consider that might help you to continue producing that same good software with a minimal staff.

Continued »


June 25, 2014  2:33 PM

The Continuous Delivery Backlash

Matt Heusser Matt Heusser Profile: Matt Heusser
Continuous delivery, DevOps, IT, Mobile

My Phone Wants to upgradeIt’s been two weeks since I have upgraded my computer. It has eighteen applications asking to upgrade — plus the operating system.

And that’s just my phone.

What’s worse is that I need these updates, or at least some of them. My current version of iTunes gets “stuck” and shows the cover art of Jackson Browne on every song occasionally, while twitpic crashes every time I launch it.

Meanwhile, on my WindowsXP machine, Adobe Acrobat is struck in an update loop. Every time you update Acrobat, it asks to update again.

Then there’s Turbotax, which asked to update, reloading a 50MB file, literally every single time I launched it this February, March, and April.

How did we get here?

Too many companies took delivery ideas from the web, like continuous delivery, (or “CD”) and tried to apply them to the desktop, without considering the context.

This may be leading to a backlash against continuous delivery, at least for applications. Before we get to that, though, let’s have a little history.

Continued »


June 17, 2014  10:43 PM

Royal rumble: Nest VS Honeywell Lyric

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

I like home automation and smart home gadgets a lot. But mostly, I like gadgets that are dead easy to install, will save me a little bit of money over time, and make life a little bit easier. That doesn’t seem like to much to ask.

A new smart thermostat is about to appear on the block: the Honeywell Lyric. I have had a Nest in my home for about a year now and have really enjoyed it.  The Lyric seems to have some similarities but also some key differences that will set it apart. Amazon is currently listing the Nest at $249 and the Lyric for $279, quite expensive for a thermostat, so I wanted to see how these two thermostats compare feature by feature.

Continued »


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