One More Into the Breach

Posted by Keith McMillan

January 21, 2008 | Leave a Comment

So, here we go, yet another voice in the blogosphere.

The intent of this particular outpost in the net is to discuss software development and security. With your kind indulgence, I’ll also probably wander off track occasionally to visit the latest gadgets, but I’ll try to stay related to software development or security, I promise. Just a word about the name “Ranting in the Void”. Being passionate about security, it seems like occasionally you find this huge problem, you wave your arms and jump up and down, and nobody really cares. Sometimes it feels like you’re ranting in the void.

Just a bit about me, Keith, to give your an idea who your host is. I’ve been developing software now for 20 years, with a particular emphasis on system security in the last dozen or so years. I cut my teeth in the 1990s working for the then-regional-telephone-company managing their provisioning and network monitoring systems and developing software for them. I moved to a regional consulting firm in the 90’s and 00’s, and there I got a chance to stretch my legs a bit, eventually sitting for the CISSP exam and passing it on the first go. I’ve maintained a deep involvement in the day-to-day business of writing good software, but have also developed a suite of skills that ranges from project management to requirements to testing and mentoring. Which is why at the end of 2007, I decided to start Adept Technologies, my own firm providing just such services.

As to my outlook on the whole development process, you’ll find I’m a pragmatist: I believe you pick the tools out of the process toolbox that help you get the job done. Said another way: all those things you’re doing that aren’t software (such as business cases, deployment plans, whatever)? They have to pay for themselves. It costs you time and money to keeping up, say, a business case for your product. But if nobody ever asks for it, reads it, or otherwise notices it, what have you accomplished? Nothing other than a waste of your time.

On the other hand, if you spend all your time in meetings and on the phone, explaining to the powers-that-be why you should have funding for your project (or why it should not be cut), then perhaps you need a business case, because it will save you the time of explaining it over and over.

There. See? Pragmatist. You pick out tools that help you get your job done in the least amount of time, with the least effort. The set of tools that you need are as individual as the job you’re trying to accomplish, I’m afraid that one-size-fits-all won’t cut it.

I’m a Java programmer and architect by training and long experience, having come from the C and C++ world (anybody remember cfront compilers for C++? Didn’t think so…) although I’ve got some experience with C# .Net as well, and I find the languages very similar, similar enough that I believe I could be successful with either. I know that some people (sometimes it seems like most people) have strong feelings one way or the other, but once again, you use the right tools for the job, eh?

I adopted the nick Trouble Consultant because I believe I provide three valuable services: I keep you out of trouble by benefit of my experience; I help you get out of trouble once you’re in it, by applying the right tools to get you back on track; I cause trouble when there isn’t enough of it already. Okay, two valuable services.


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