Weekend Update, July 23, 2020

So, um, yeah...

I'm not sure there would be much point to a full recap of the last nine months. In many ways, my life during that time has been the same as everyone else's: lock-down since March, though we can get out a bit since summer. I wear a mask, I haven't been to a bar in months, my social life is primarily online. In some places the streets are on fire and for others things have been pretty bad. Life is scary, but life goes on.

After my last update, I attended the third annual Wild West Hackin' Fest, which as usual was a fantastic event. While I was there I met a hiring manager from BSI, the British Standards Institute. They had recently bought a state-side penetration firm called AppSec, and they were hiring. After I got home from the con, and a few phone calls with BSI AppSec, I accepted my first penetration tester role. So, for me, working from home full time started in January, for which I am thankful. I had a few months to adjust before lock-down.

I only worked at BSI for less than six months. While I feel I was successful there, and I was treated well, I had a difficult time fitting in with a group that was more of a bench than a team. Our work was in almost all cases solo, which is not my bag. In May I was approached by a former colleague who had recently joined a company going into growth mode, and he asked if I would come aboard as Staff Engineer at Large, doing work much like I'd done in the past, working with Kubernetes, DevSecOps, and developer advocacy, while bringing my application security chops with me. After a week of phone calls, I agreed to make the move, which is where I am today. Fully remote forever, I'm about seven weeks in and I'm having a great time. I may write more about this soon.

Bees, gardens, hacking, hobbies...


My last bee journal was optimistic, but shortly after my post the hive was robbed by surrounding colonies. After two days of carnage for which I had no solution, the hive was silent. This was very sad for us for about a day, but this is also the way of things. We shook it off, took the event as a learning experience and moved on. This year we revived the old hive and added a second. They seem to be doing well, honey production is under way, and both colonies seem quite lively. More to come.


As per usual we planted two gardens in the front yard and one in the back. My wife put a ton of effort into soil building since we'd had a couple of pretty rotten years recently. We planted the usual tomatoes and peppers, but this year we rotated other crops, planting squash and tomatoes further up the hill and adding several rows of onions and beans. We've planted perennial herbs, garlic (which I still can't seem to get the hang of) and our first tomatillo plant which is enormous and absolutely beautiful. We've already harvested several pounds of green beans and a grip of squash and zucchinni. Tomatoes are coming in well, as are the tomatillos. I've also got several plants of a more recreational variety growing in pots in the back yard that I'm hopeful will yield. There are also six sunflowers that have grown taller than me, though they haven't flowered yet.


During the first part of the shut-down, work got pretty slow. My employer decided to have me enroll in Offensive Security's AWAE program to get my OSWE certification. Oh! I haven't mentioned that in addition to pursuing penetration testing as a profession, after WWHF I signed up to take my CISSP! I studied for a number of weeks, less so during the holidays, and ultimately took and passed my test at the end of January. For the first time, dig me, I'm certified.

So, anyway, I spent about a month studying for the OSWE, but this got put on hold with the job change. While I don't see myself necessarily going back into testing, I do value my skills in application security, so I decided to resume my studies after DEFCON SafeMode the second week of August. Just this week I renewed my lab time and maintained my testing date of October 1. With my wife and youngest starting back to university about that time, I'll have plenty of time to focus on my own studies and to try to nail that test. Try harder!

By now, everyone who cares knows that DEFCON is cancelled! While this is a tremendous bummer, the show must go on remotely! A huge number of people are working very hard to give us a free, online version of DEFCON to enjoy, and for this I am grateful. I've purchased my badge, which this year is a magnetic audio cassette, and I intend to dedicate the weekend to participating as much as I can. I'm way excited, I think it's going to be a great time.


Our weekly game night decided right away to go virtual. We all bought and downloaded TableTop Simulator on Steam and I subscribed to as many of our favorite games as I could. Since going virtual we've only missed two weeks' play! I've continued to buy paper games during this hiatus from physical contact, one because I love them and want them to feel normal, and two so that I can contribute to keeping my favorite local game store open. My LGS is once again open to the public, with masks, so I have gone down to visit a couple of times since.

Many of my other hobbies have really fallen by the wayside, despite what my other updates suggest. The pandemic has at times been pretty hard on me, as it has for all of us, and for a few months now I've had difficulty getting motivated to do much beyond what was needful, and watching TV. I bought a 3D printer this past winter which, though getting a lot of use at first (and printing many mask strap extenders for local nurses) and prompting me to start learning CAD, has sat dormant for weeks now. I have RasperryPis, new and exciting wifi hacking gear, and many other toys gathering dust.

This is starting to pass, however, as some fog within me has started to lift and I find myself interested in things again. I've been lucky that thus far I've been free to choose how I react to the state of the world. Many have not had that luxury. I've got a list of fun things that I can do from the safety of my own home. I have friends and loved ones who keep in touch with me every day. I have a lot to be grateful for. Best keep moving.