It’s time to let USB drives go the way of the Dodo…

… because they are insecure in a fundamental way that currently isn’t defendable or fixable.

UPDATE: I’ve edited the section dealing with alternatives after some further research.

Here’s the background:
Worse yet, you see in Article #2 above that the exploit is IN THE WILD AND FREELY AVAILABLE.
So what are we supposed to do? The alternatives are simple:
  • Use Cloud services.
    - Such as OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc.
    – The downside is that you have to be connected and allowed to reach that service to get your files.
  • Use other storage media.
    – The SD card family (standard, mini, micro, etc).
    – The first downside is that SD cards aren’t supported by everything.
    – The second downside is that, hands down, USB is the current ruler of connected media.
    – The third downside is that SD cards also have a controller chip inside and eventually those might be co-opted like the USB controller chips have.
  • Use storage media that has a different physical interface.
    – FireWire is a good example.
    – Unfortunately, the same issue exists here because drives using this cable standard have controller chips too.
  • Use storage media that ha no physical interface.
    – WiFi Drives are currently a decent alternative but are not intuitive enough for everybody, and open up a whole different can of worms.
If these things aren’t feasible then you can still purchase brand new drives from “big box” stores (BestBuy, TigerDirect, etc.). Just be aware that you’re potentially in the same boat as if you had an infected USB drive. Infected drives infect the machines they are plugged into, and infected machines infect USB drives that are plugged into them. As of right now there’s simply no “protection” for this type of infection.

Gems in the most unlikely places

I wouldn’t call myself wildly successful. At least, not by the terms my professors and peers would use. Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty good at what I do and I love my hobbies; but I think every successful person desires “more”. Usually that “more” is different for everyone, but sometimes? Sometimes that more is the same for everyone.

I ran across this gem this morning when I should’ve already started my workday… but I simply had to share. I hope some of the people that I know and love get as much out of it as I did and will.

I encourage you to read it, but realize two things:

  1. The author is performing a philosophical brain dump.
  2. He is “talking” as he talks to himself.

The topic is Failure, and how to avoid it.

The post is quite long and author goes into a tangential digression in the form of many stories. The anecdotes are competing though, and the “one-off” parallels to my own life/career/way-of-thinking (as I like to call them) resonate deeply. Surprisingly, the first one that hit me was “G) HUMILITY”. He wasn’t talking about arrogance in general, but the effect of entitlement (in any shape or form). I got caught up in the local rat race about 2 years ago and had forgotten how much I felt (and still feel) the same way.

Anyway, here are the author’s ten suggestions (the content in parenthesis are my comments):

  1. Honesty (with yourself)
  2. Help (you’re going to need it)
  3. People (stop associating with those who are only burdens)
  4. Realism (know that you’ll make mistakes and fail along the way… but above all, keep pushing, striving, moving forward)
  5. 1% a Day (work to improve yourself everyday, however that means to you, but everyday)
  6. Ideas (you have them all the time; write down at least 10 a day)
  7. Humility (you are entitled to NOTHING; instead, focus on achieving)
  8. Learn (however you like to do so, and never stop)
  9. Play (you must; for example, even a saw needs to be sharpened on a regular basis)
  10. It Doesn’t Matter (treat triumph and disaster just the same)

I’ve got to get to work now; I hope this gives you something to think about today. 😉

Sometimes I simply need a good laugh.

This gave me one this morning. 😃

“The only real thing that people need to accept given a duel with a Tyrannosaurs Rex is that (pause of emphasis) you will die. You will die… SOON.
- Jon Davis, Marine

Original question and answer at

My thoughts on Women in Tech

Let me be honest: Some of my best ideas were either started by or honed through conversations with my fiancé. I find that I have to keep a notebook handy just to make sure I don’t lose gems she doesn’t even know she’s dropped. And she’s no where near a coder; in fact, some people probably wouldn’t consider her a techie at all.

[SIDEBAR: Those who have known me long enough know that my love affair with the Visual Studio IDE was started by a woman named Sara Ford.]

This morning I saw this article: This Is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like (from WIRED via Nuzzel). It outlines a small sliver of the issues concerning women in tech. Said bluntly, there is a fount of mental and literal wealth tied up in the women we regularly interact with. In keeping with points raised during the keynote at Tampa Code Camp 2014, we owe it the community (and ourselves) to encourage them.

We need to encourage our female acquaintances, coworkers, friends and family who are in tech — both implementers and facilitators — to be as vocal and visible as possible in their respective bailiwicks. Doing so doesn’t cost us anything more than a passing mention when we see them… maybe 5 total minutes per person? And even that would be spread out over time. Think months or years.

The harvest that could come out of something so inexpensive, however, is priceless.

Just my 2¢.

Lumia Cyan Update Available for the 1520!

NOTE: Special Thanks to Paul Thurrott for being the willing guinea pig.

If you haven’t heard already you’ll have to go though a few steps to get it. It turns out that *ALL* 1520s have Bitlocker already turned on and there is no way to turn it off. Which means that you’ll have to downgrade your phone back to Windows Phone 8.0 using the Nokia Software Recovery Tool. That *WILL* replace the firmware and wipe out all your data. Hopefully you’ve previously had Backup turned on and your stuff is in the cloud.

During the process I hit a snag when the Recovery tool wasn’t able to reconnect to my phone after successfully downgrading it… so I wasn’t immediately able to reconnect properly to any of my backups.  TO BE CLEAR: If I had been able to reconnect my phone to my Wi-Fi and log into my Microsoft account BEFORE the timer on the Recovery Tool had ended I would have been able to restore my phone. So the “problem” above was entirely due to user fumbling… and it would’ve been nice if Nokia had given me a bit more time on the timer. ;/

I decided to try a hard reset (since I didn’t have anything to lose anyway) and *duh-duh-duh-dah!* there were my available backups. It took about 20 minutes to do the restore but it worked… with the exception that I had to re-enter nearly all my email account passwords (and I have a LOT with extra-strong passwords).

It appears that many of my personalized settings (lockscreen, theme, glance, etc.) weren’t restored but I don’t really consider that to be a problem.

Long story short — (so far) I’m happy with the result despite the bumps and bruises.  ;)

Here are the instructions for how to successfully downgrade from the Develop Preview then upgrade your phone to Lumia Cyan:

If you need to hard reset your 1520, here’s how to do that:

Have fun!

American Journalism, oh how far you’ve fallen

It’s amazing (and very sad) to watch the downfall of American “journalism”. #smh.

I’m calling it “journalism” because that’s what they insist on calling it. I mentioned “American” because I don’t regularly visit other countries so I can’t speak on the quality of their news. What I do know is that the major purveyors of news in this country have apparently sold their journalistic integrity in order to ATTEMPT to stay relevant to NEW readers.

You know, “generation ‘N'” and the like. The same kids who aren’t reading the news anyway.

For a while now I’ve been becoming more and more jaded with the landscape and priority of retorted news. If it isn’t death, murder, destruction, sports, politics or the weather then it probably won’t be reported. The prattling that the New York Times peddles as “journalism” gives me hives and makes me itch to the point where I want to pour bleach into my brain and scratch my eyeballs out. We won’t even talk about CNN.

This is getting long-in-the-tooth, so let me finish up by saying that I really hope the people who SELL NEWS will go back to the glory days of true investigation, caring about the intellectual impact of their product and making a difference in our lives… Rather than focusing on how many retweets they can get on Twitter.

The scariest thing I’ve heard in a long time…

… Especially since it is an article about how Target Stores figures out how to market to you.

“Habits aren’t destiny — they can be ignored, changed or replaced. But it’s also true that once the loop is established and a habit emerges, your brain stops fully participating in decision-making. So unless you deliberately fight a habit — unless you find new cues and rewards — the old pattern will unfold automatically.

“We’ve done experiments where we trained rats to run down a maze until it was a habit, and then we extinguished the habit by changing the placement of the reward,” Graybiel told me. “Then one day, we’ll put the reward in the old place and put in the rat and, by golly, the old habit will re-emerge right away. Habits never really disappear.”

The rest of the article is here.