Jan

24

When I set up Adept Technologies, I needed to set up my own cell phone account.  So naturally I had to decide what type of phone or smartphone to get.  I bought a Palm Treo 755p, with service through Sprint.  Some of you are probably cringing already, but I’ve been telling friends since I bought it that it’ll be the last Palm I own. Not because I don’t like them, but I do think that Palm’s lost it’s edge. With the reports today that Palm is going to be closing it’s retail stores by the end of the month, I’m more certain than ever that this is true.

What happened to Palm? I’ve been a user of PalmOS devices for the better part of the last 10 years. I’ve carried a Palm V, a Palm Vx, a Treo 600, 650 and now a 755. For much of that time, there was a certain cache involved with having a Palm device.  I still recall the breathless reviews of the first Treo 600’s as “the thing to have”.

But Blackberry came along, and the iPhone, and the Nokia n95’s and soon there’ll Android, and I think Palm just failed to keep up. And the tech community believes in keeping to the Code, that’s for sure. Fall behind and you get left behind.

And to make matters worse, there’s the choice of Sprint as well for my service. *sigh*

I had misgivings right from the start about buying a Palm for this go-around. The primary reason I didn’t choose something like a shiny new Crackberry, like my friends have, was my familiarity with the Palm, and all the software that I already had after a decade of using them. Things like: a cryptographically secure password management tool (STRIP) with an established database of all the passwords I use; and time tracking software (with it’s share of annoying bugs, I grant you), that I’ve used for years to keep track of client billable hours.

So I went ahead and got the Palm. But it wasn’t that warm, giddy feeling I’ve learned to associate with new technology purchases. It was more melancholy, and I knew as I bought it, that it was the last Palm-powered device that I’d likely own. It felt in a way like Autumn, when you know that the days will soon be frigid and short, and you want to hold on as long as you can to what you have now.

Palm may manage to pull it off with a new OS (if they ever manage to ship it), but I’m not counting on it. And while the tech community is fickle, and might line up behind a new Palm OS (if they ever manage to ship it), Palm’s base of support continues to erode as the new devices attract all the neophiles. That new OS will have to be pretty good…

Anyone have a recommendation on what to get next?

Jan

23

Dearth of Privacy

January 23, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Over at Gizmodo, there’s this article on searching people who are pulled over for traffic violations:

In a recent academic paper, South Texas Assistant Professor Adam Gershowitz explains that because many traffic violations are arrestable offenses, just as a cop could search your pockets for drugs, said cop can also search your pockets for a smartphone and go through all its contents.

And so, privacy takes another step backwards in the face of technology.

The founding fathers never created a right to privacy. There’s the whole “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” bit, but to our everlasting chagrin, there is no guarantee of privacy in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

It’s not fair to beat the founding fathers up too badly about this, I suppose. They lived in a world where the technological ability to do the things we can do today were never imagined. Why, even a few years ago, the very idea that the security organs of governments could monitor every email, every packet of information on the Internet, and every phone call were far-fetched. But this is the world we live in today.

And a depressing thought is that the people in the United States seem increasingly to be content to sacrifice their rights for an incremental increase in security. Even the ones that are in the Bill of Rights. Where’s the outcry when we use National Security Letters to secure information without a search warrant, and without judicial review?

Security, however, is an illusion: all you’ve done is to give up your rights without a fight. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the quote “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”, and although while I agree with the sentiment (although to be fair, there is some controversy surrounding the matter), we can’t just go quietly along with every incursion into the should-be right of privacy, or soon there will be none left.

So make sure to lock your cell phone. Because your glovebox can’t be searched if it’s locked, then your phone can’t be searched if it’s locked, right? And while our rights trickle away, taken by those who were sworn to protect them, I’ll go back to ranting in the void.

Jan

23

I found WordPress (the nice little blog package you’re reading this in) and have been very impressed with it. It’s got nice clean lines, and it has the blog and comment mechanisms built right in. I’m very happy with it. It also seems to have a robust community of people supporting and building plugins.

But I’m less than happy with the main Adept Technologies site (www.adeptechllc.com).

WordPress allows you to create your own pages other than the blog itself, and I’ve been considering taking all those other pages over there, and moving them here instead. To get an idea of how that would look, you can just take a look at the main WordPress site, which I believe is doing the same thing.

What do you guys think?

Should I incorporate the main Adept Technologies site into the WordPress Blog?

  • Yes (100%, 1 Votes)
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Total Voters: 1

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Jan

22

Comments now turned on

January 22, 2008 | 1 Comment

Okay, I straightened around the configuration so my many readers ( 😉 ) can now post comments. Fire away!

Jan

22

I noticed today that Infoworld has an article about Apple and their increasing market share.

“However, malware researchers and industry analysts warn that as the sheer number of Apple end-point devices in use worldwide rise, so will the security concerns tied to the company’s products.”

This brought to mind a comment when I was doing my graduate school work. One of the professors at a presentation I was making on the Morris Internet Worm remarked that “Maples don’t get Dutch Elm Disease.” The point being sometimes diversity is good.

Sexual reproduction in nature evolved for a reason. Populations evolve with different gene pools, and those gene pools are recombined and remixed with every individual that comes along (if you’re doing it right…). That helps them survive attacks from bacteria and viruses, and also to provide them with that occasional mutation that gives them the edge to survive. Just take a look at the evolution of drug-resistant germs in order to get a view of this process in fast-forward.

Windows-based computers used to be the primary targets of all kinds of malware, and still are due to their popularity. But as other platforms become more prevalent, then they suffer the fate of rising above the radar: they become targets in proportion to their popularity. While the Mac can claim some resistance to these sorts of attacks (justifiably, I think) based on it’s *NIX heritage and the better compartmentalization of permissions, that’s at least partly irrelevant. The theater of action has changed.

Today, malware hides in application space just as much as in the OS space. And that’s a much more difficult problem to solve, as the number of applications is obviously bigger than the number of OSes on which they live. All it takes is for one developer to make a mistake in his code to create an opening through which malware can pass.

The days of blithely dismissing malware for today’s darlings (the Mac, the iPhone, and all those other highly connected devices) are numbered.
Update

Speak of the devil… Malicious MMS worm hits Nokia handsets

Jan

21

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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