Showing posts from April, 2010

Iron sharpens Iron

Do you have those conversations with others that leave you motivated, stimulated and encouraged. Where there is a meeting of minds and from the discussion new ideas and opportunities are generated. Amongst these are some precious moments indeed. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

More hype at the political hustings

With less than ten days to the UK general election the political mud slinging is becoming more febrile with attacks from all parties against all parties, their leaders, the media etc. Whilst this is normal and all part of the great game, no one political mantra, mandate or motivational speech has yet swayed me. Whilst my personal politics probably aligns with the centre of British politics, my personal view is that the party that represents this has never been a serious contender during my voting life. To this end I will happily admit that I have been a floating voter looking at the local candidates, their political party and gauged what I feel may be the ‘right thing’. Not that this is an exact science. Listening to all the reports, the rhetoric and reviews. I will be very interested to see what may happen. Where in the past a change from one party to another was inevitable, now I can see a situation where the national mood is weary and wary of each party and concerned at whom

So what is on the idiot box tonight?

Sixteen months and the Idiots Lantern still has not been missed by the Smith household. Please don’t get us wrong, we have not totally isolated ourselves from mammon and taken any rash oaths against technology. We were becoming increasingly annoyed at the low standard of programmes, the constant repeats, and general banal content available. We had a good ‘cable’ package, but this, did not satisfy. With high speed internet, we found we were selecting the programmes we wanted to watch, when we wished to view them and not bothering with our HDD / DVD recorder. Each family member has a computer. So, we ejected the goggle box and moved to on demand entertainment. The result is, instead of watching more television, we watch considerably less, listen to more music, radio etc. Most weeks we are now out at least three times a week and the teens tend to watch less. We do rent DVD’s on occasion and will buy those that are of considerable interest. No more than any one else. At this curr

That was the week that was, was it?

Talking to someone about the prevalence of the MP3 format, I recalled a birthday party (mine) in the late 90’s (1998 to be exact) where I built a media centre [way before time] and had Winamp shuffling a range of personal MP3 files. From my perspective it was nothing particularly spectacular at the time, MP3 files had been on the Internet for some time and most teccies I knew had been using this file format for some time. So, consider my amusement that nearly all the users had not heard of this file format and had not used any of the tools available at the time to download these (or convert their CD’s as I had done). Now over ten years later, a little older, maybe not so wise. Everyone is using MP3 and similar format devices, from phones to home entertainment systems and car stereo players. What may be an area of geeky enterprise at the moment, often through marketing, cost, adoption and availably becomes a second nature tool. So what is next? Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitt

Ash to Ash Cloud ...

Now having my first meeting ever, cancelled as a result of ‘volcanic activity’, I would say the limitations of excuses [sic reasons] have taken a new meaning. Ok, fair enough, not a lot we can do, the planet does, as the planet always has done. If anything, it is very capable of teaching us who is in control, and one can safely agree that the apelike creature is not (in control). Somewhat agnostic over the debate on the global impact of our species, one is very aware that we are judged to be at least 200+ years into the anthropocene epoch. Volcanoes erupting are a constant, they will dump a considerable discharge, and this will enter many systems, the impact tends to be short term, the damage extensive but overcome within a generation. Carbon emissions have steadily increased year on year for at least 100 years, instead of recovery there is adaptation, not necessarily for the better. What ever happens the planet will adapt and will survive. But what happens to ourselves, this i

Counting, swimming, splashing, mind wandering.

Yesterday one was participating in a 5 kilometre swim for charity, after a while of splashing, counting, swimming and remembering to breathe when your head is above water your mind has very little to do except wander. At this distance, your mind gets plenty of chance to do this. Have you ever considered how you manage your own learning? I am not minded to doctoral students, undergrads or college kids. This is a question for everyone. How do you manage your learning? Consider that we are a species with an insatiable desire for knowledge, either individually or as a collective. It is in the nature of all to learn, from sticking objects in our mouth as infants to detailed analytical scientific research. A great deal of research focuses on ‘learning behaviours’ but tends to forget that we simply desire learning. It may be shrouded in studies of motivation, but what of learning we do for the sake of learning and self fulfilment. So ask your self this question, what new can you learn

At last ... and about time too, Microsoft at the Open University

Now this is where you may begin to see my ‘true colours’, yes I work with Linux technologies, yes I work in partnership with Cisco Systems but I also use (and abuse) Microsoft Server technologies. As a member of the course team for Linux (T155) at the Open University, I am also a member of the TM128 Microsoft Server Technologies course, ready to start on the 1st of October 2010. As a 30 point (or credit) course, it is split into three parts ... Block 1: Networking and Server Fundamentals provides a sound grounding in the basic principles of computer networks and server technologies. Topics covered include protocol models and layering; IP addressing; basic network design; network devices; Windows server technology and operating systems.   Block 2: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration comprises Microsoft online courses and associated texts that cover configuration of IP addressing, DNS, DHCP and

@ Gadget Show Live

On (and off) over the last few days I have been participating with others from the Faculty and Corporate Marketing at the Open University in presenting our ‘wares’ at the Gadget Show live. Quite the geekfest, in the world of gadgets and technology, this is a definite place of annual pilgrimage. Speaking to many varied and interesting souls at our stand and situated by the ‘exposed computer system’, I have found the many and varied interested in what we have done with a reasonably old personal computer and a current version of Ubuntu Linux (9.10). Personal interest has been noticing ... How many adults are aware of Linux but “were afraid to try” The number of children who have never heard of, or have been exposed to Linux The occasional ‘expert’, young and old who is impressed by what we are doing at the Open University with Linux and other technology offerings. The computer is a pretty sight ....   

A short word on Linux ....

In my many alter-egos I chair the course production and presentation of T155 Linux: an introduction at the Open University in the UK. Annually the Gadget Show a 'Five' television show hosts a live event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. As is the norm for events like this many organisations attend to present their wares, the Open University being no exception. The following link connects to a short 8 minute press interview regarding Linux in general. Listen!

Doing the math, things don¹t add up for Digital Freedom in the UK

An avid follower of the current Digital Bill that has gone through the house of commons. A sense of dismay not only at the fact the bill has passed the current reading, more my personal anger at the apathy displayed by members of parliament, keen to canvass for their seat rather than intervene on a bill that is not only unworkable but will allow government to make victims out of victims (those who have been hacked and are unwittingly hosting an illegal download, will be targeted). Taking a look at who has voted (see ) and equally interesting is the fact that the link on the Parliament site has seemed to have moved [not that I am paranoid but ...]. The ‘noes’ listed about 47 making it around 215 involved in the vote, therefore in a parliament of 646 at least 430 were absent from the vote. Personally I am not angry at those who voted ‘aye’, for whatever their motives, they expressed a view and are prepared to be on the

Watch the twittersphere

In spite if the rhetoric prevailant since new years day the UK electorial system kicks in the moment the present incumbent seeks permission from the monarch to dissolve parliament. Following the media and my somewhat patchy understanding of the process, the starting flag is waved and the hype escalates until the 6th of May. Putting aside my cynical inclinations (which one must admit are nice to have in a democratic state) i intend to follow the Twitter feeds of the major and sensible contending parties and twitter commentary. Now you may ask as to what useful purpose this may serve. With some pundits already critical of politicians trying to "engage" with the younger vote (something I could have been considered a long time hence) the interest is in what information is being shared and the frequency according to date. May have to pipe into a file format so any tips will be greatfully considered. And importantly see if they are talking to the youth are making a genuine attempt


Sitting in church during a time of reflection over the easter weekend my mind wandered (as often inclined) to the significance of ressurection. Technology offers many benefits, one being the ability to search my bible for any given phrase and connect different passages. Looking for mentions of ressurection the fact that struck me in the gospels and Pauls various letters is the struggle by many 2000+ years ago to accept the idea of ressurection. Christ challenged the Sadducees with this and Paul challenged the Corinthians amongst others, Now with 2000+ years to improve on this, many are still challenged by a critical element of faith. Lacking the wisdom to offer any answers, the one question i ask is "what would faith be without the hope that Christs ressurection offers?"

Ethical Hacking .... Is it?

If you want a group of security geeks to get hot under the collar and watch them physically split into two factions, then the best metaphorical grenade to lob into any discussion is the subject of ‘ethical hacking’. You invariably get one camp who are anti, maintaining a view that you not get ethical muggers (or similar). Then the others, who feel that you understand how to secure any system, you must demonstrate a strong understanding of how to break a system. With certifications now available in ethical hacking and some organisations refusing to recognise these, the debate will continue. But, ask yourself this, if you are to be a successful network security professional, what level of ‘renegade’ skills do you need. There is an adage exploited by Hitchcock, ‘it takes a thief, to catch a thief’. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor

What is the minimum security skill in ICT

Without going into too much commercial and academic detail, today I was in the process of creating an assessment for our current CCNP ISCW course. Irrespective of Cisco programme developments, academia moves at a unique pace, where change occurs in epoch based cycles. I cannot share anything about my thoughts regarding this assessment, for totally obvious reasons, but can reflect on the wider subject of assessment of a security discipline. In an discipline that is constantly changes, new exploits and defence mechanisms are continuously evolving, you have to consider the important questions: How can education in ‘security’ reflect current practice and trends in ‘security’. Are the skills being delivered in ‘security’ enough to prepare students for the demands of ‘security’. What is a the minimum skill required to ensure that someone is competent to maintain the security of any system. Big question, me thinks. Andrew Smith Follow me on Twitter: @teraknor