August 2006

August 31, 2006

Last Full Day in Jakarta

Categories: Travel

I'm sitting at the Microsoft office in Jakarta right now getting ready for an interview and some more presentations. It's nice to be back on the corporate network at high speed. It's a nice office (all of the subsidiary offices seem nicer than ours in Redmond.)

Yesterday was kind of a lost day for me. I went back to the conference in the morning, but by lunch, I wasn't feeling well and went back to the hotel. Even after taking a nap, I still felt bad, so I skipped the closing dinner and party. I was up and down in a haze, watching bad TV.

Fortunately, I feel better now. OK, they've come to get me for my interview. Time to go.

Posted August 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 30, 2006

day 2 in Jakarta: Show Time

Categories:

I completed my talk at the Bellua Cyber Security conference here in Jakarta yesterday. It went OK, but I admit it wasn't my best presentation ever. It took some doing to get things going to begin with. I showed up early (since I was the first speaker) to get setup. For once, my machine was working perfectly, projecting on the big screen flawlessly (not always the case when running a pre-release operating system). I didn't need a network cable since we had prepped the machine run the whole thing offline (tip: don't run demos online at a security conference. Someone will try to hack you during the talk just for shits and grins). That turned out to be a good thing since there wasn't network connectivity at the little podium.

However, I did need electricity, of which there was none usable at the podium. I asked about getting an extension cord run to the podium; this seemed like a difficult request, compounded by my poor skills in Bahasa Indonesia (that's the language they speak here, if you didn't know). They suggested they run the slide and demo from the sound mixing table (not possible to teach them the demo in the few minutes I had) or that I do my talk from the mixing table (yeah, not going to happen). Fortunately, Subhan from the Microsoft subsidiary was with me and was able to help convey my desires.

Eventually, a staff dude shows up and starts taking apart a plug assembly, cutting wires, and trying to splice them into something under the stage. Fifteen minutes before my talk, he was doing the neatest possible job of taping over the wires on the stage, cutting off  the protruding edges with an x-acto knife and so on - but still no power. I started calculating if I could do my entire demo on battery power (never a good idea, especially as an unknown in front of an audience). Even when someone else showed up with a huge extension cord, he kept at his science project. Finally, he disappeared under the stage and then *poof* - there was power.

Once the talk started, I introduced myself and started into a self-deprecating joke about how we flew the Microsoft company jet to Jakarta and then showed a photo of an Imperial Star Destroyer. Crickets. Then I turned around and looked at the screen. A/V guys hadn't switched my laptop connection on, so I was standing in front of a bright blue screen. I asked the guys to show my content (since I was the speaker and all, it seemed like a reaonable request) and retried the joke, but it's a lot less funny the second time. I got a few courtesy giggles, but otherwise nothing. The energy from the audience went downhill from there. Thank goodness Jessie Burns from iSec Partners was in the front row nodding and reacting. I wouldn't have been able to tell if the mike was on otherwise. I shouldn't make excuses, but it's incredibly hard to do a high energy talk to a dead room. Anyway, the third party feedback afterwards seemed positive, so I guess it wasn't a total disaster.

Right after my talk, I did an interview with the Kompas, which I understand is the largest local paper. It was a bit awkward as the reporter's English was only OK and again, my two words of Bahasa (terima kasi - thank you) were insufficient to explain the benefits of IE7 and Windows Vista. Subhan came to my rescue again, bridging the interview. Hopefully, some of the key points will get across anyway.

Subhan, me, Sarah, and Dorian with the Praetorian Guard

Afterwards, we hung out at the Microsoft booth for a bit (where our local office had arranged for two guys in gladiator suits to march around to emphasize Microsoft's security work I guess. The Pax Microsoft?) and then I had lunch back at the hotel (crazy good and big Chinese meal) and then came back for some of the afternoon talks. They were pretty good; I thought Raffy Marty's talk on visualizing security data was especially interesting (showing graphical views of firewall log data to detect trends like port scanning quickly).

A bunch of the speakers and organizers went out for sushi together afterwards and then to a good vodka bar called Red Square. This is apparently only fun bar in Jarkarta since a bunch of the folks I was with had been there the night before and we're apparently going again tonight. Good times (as Dorian would say). I'm only sorry we missed the lounge band here at the hotel. We saw them the night before; they were surprisingly good (really). Maybe tonight or tomorrow...

OK, time to go to the conference again.

Posted August 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 29, 2006

Day 1 in Jakarta

Categories: Travel

I'm sitting here in my hotel room in Jakarta getting ready for my talk in 3.5 hours about the Security Development Lifecycle and IE7 at the Bellua Cyber Security conference. I think my demos and deck are all set (knock on wood), so now it's up to me to deliver. I'm up first, right after the keynote speech by the Minister of Communications and Information of the Republic of Indonesia. I just got a text message though that due to the Minister's schedule, my talk got pushed back half an hour. Oh well.

Yesterday was my only free day in Jakarta. I slept OK well given the time change but was awoken just before 5:00am by the very loud call for morning prayers blaring outside the hotel. I was up anyway (sorta).

I had hoped to do some sightseeing and shopping, but we got a late start due to incredibly slow service at the hotel restaurant. Fortunately, the coffee was very good (not surprising since we're on the island of Java and next door to Sumatra) and the breeze on the deck at the restaurant was comfortable.

 We did eventually manage to get some shopping in at a big discount mall called Mangga Dua frequented by locals. This was seven floors of twisty passages, all alike, chock full of little clothing, purse, watch, electronics, and DVDs. The prices were slightly higher than Beijing for clothing but way, way less for DVDs and purses. It was kind of a weird place. There were these super creepy mannequins in many of the shops and the popular snack stand was D'Corn where you can get cups of sweet corn with your choice of toppings ranging from butter to caramel to tuna salad. Having just had my late breakfast, I skipped the D'Corn. Maybe next time.

Mangga Dua shopping mall    D'Corn menu sign    Creepy mannequin

Traffic in Jakarta is typical of my experience in developing nations, where the lane boundaries are merely widely ignored suggestions, scooters dive in and out of traffic, and vehicles are inches apart on all sides as they crawl through traffic. Add that to my normal dysfunction around driving on the left side of the road, and I died a thousand deaths in the car on the way to and from the shopping. they manage to do it somehow.

The food has been OK so far - nothing to blog about, although admittedly I've been lame and have only eaten the hotel (something I almost never do). I'll have to reach out and find some real local treats.

OK time to get dressed and head off to the conference.

Posted August 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 28, 2006

Cool Shotgun Video

Categories: Random cool stuff

This is a hot video of the Beretta Xtrema2 shotgun. The exhibition shooter in the video is simply amazing. He tosses clay pigeons everywhere and smokes them. He tosses golf balls out and signals which way he'll knock them (with a shotgun, mind). And, at the end, he shoots 12 rounds in 1.73 seconds (which is almost like a machine gun).

Normally, a 12-gauge shotgun can kick quite a bit when you're shooting. I have to lean in a bunch and hold it tight against my body to keep it under control, so the one-handed and upside-down-over-the-head shots in the video really impress me, both about him and the gun.

It's worth checking out just to see how good this guy is.

Xtrema2 Demo Video

Posted August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

On the Ground in Jakarta

Categories: Travel

Dorian and I made it to Jakarta safely, although getting out of the airport and to the hotel was an ordeal. First, there was the hour line to get a visa. Then, there was the hour line to have someone else check the visa they gave me in the previous line. Fortunately, after two hours, our bags were out already plus the customs line was short. We found our hotel driver easily and then proceeded to drive into a big traffic jam.

About 45 min later we got to the hotel. As the car entered the hotel drive, we passed through a security checkpoint where they used mirrors to check under the car and opened the trunk and passenger compartment doors. I was simultaneously relieved and worried by this security treat. I'm glad they're doing it (since they clearly think there's a risk) but concerned since there were a bit cursory about it (I guess they don't consider the hotel Mercedes a threat, but maybe that would be the strategy...)

When we pulled up to the hotel, we went through another security check where they wanded our bags (but they didn't really dig around much) and then went through a metal detector. I guess we'll have to do this every time we go in and out of the hotel. Wahoo.

Time to unpack and get a beer (yes, I'm blogging before I've even had a beer - can you believe it?)

Posted August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In the Taipei Airport

Categories: Travel

I'm in the business class lounge at Chiang Kai Shek International Airport here in Taipei, waiting for my connection to Jakarta. The lounge isn't too bad as far as these things go. In particular the food in't too bad (Dorian Orr, my travel partner from Microsoft's security team, keeps going back for meat baozi - humbow for the Seattle folks).

The fun surprise was a game room filled with XBox 360s. Dorian proceeded to kick my ass at Dead or Alive 4 (he's vicious with Christie, the white haired snake-style fighter gal.) That was a nice way to kill some time during this four hour layover.

The Eva Airways flight from Seattle to Taipei was uneventful. I mostly just ate and slept (story of my life, I guess). It wasn't as lux as Air New Zealand or even Northwest, but the flight attendants were cute, so there's that.

I had hoped to post this from the lounge, but I am unable to connect to the wifi network. I tried it in both IE7 and Firefox, but their site fails. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to get another bao. Another hour or so and it'll be time to board.

Posted August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2006

How I Travel

Categories: Travel

I'm getting ready to leave the house for my 2:00am (!) flight to Jakarta. As I packed my bags, I noticed all the things I carry based on my experience travelling for work and thought I'd share the list.

For the flight

  • The Economist and Scientific American: These are great travel reading because they are lightweight, content heavy, and disposable. It takes me a long time to get through these magazines, which is perfect. Once I'm done, I can recycle it vs. having to carry it home. I used to carry books, but I found they were way less convenient.
  • Noise cancelling headphones: I usually bring Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, but if I'm pressed for space, I'll bring the smaller Sennheiser PCX250's. I like them both, but the Bose just sound better and keep the noise down better. (I should have just bought the Bose first.) You don't realize how loud an airplane is until you wear noise-cancelling headphones. It's amazing what a difference it makes in how I feel at the end of the flight. The only downsides (esp. with the Bose) are that my ears get hot, and I look like every other person in business class (everyone has the Bose headphones.)
  • Cashews: I like having a small bag of nuts to snack on in case I get a bit peckish. I never trust what I'll get on the flight. Plus I never eat nuts at home because the kids are allergic, so it's a bit of a treat. I used to carry water too, but I guess those days are over.
  • Medicine bag: I keep a small baggie with Aleve, diarhea pills (because even a short flight would be disastrous in the event of a problem), cough drops, and Claritin.
  • A pen: This is a good thing to always have anyway, but on international flights you need a pen to complete the immigration paperwork. I seem to always carry a rollerball pen, which I know is a disaster waiting to happen as the pressure changes, but I like them.
  • A little flashlight: I usually have one of these anyway, but a flashlight is invaluable for finding stuff that rolled under the seats, invariably when the cabin lights are out.
  • My computer: Of course. I'll also usually have a second battery or the power supply (or both). I've found that TabletPCs are great on the plane because you can work in tablet mode, even in domestic coach with the seat in front of you reclined. Normal laptops get squished.
  • My clothes: Obviously, I'm wearing clothes, but I'm pretty deliberate about what I wear. I wear stuff that won't wrinkle much like wool or some of the wrinkle resistant stuff. My pants will have pockets big enough for the ticket (so no jeans). I'll almost always wear a dress shirt with a breast pocket for tickets, id, immigration paperwork, etc. I should wear slip-on shoes too, but I don't.

For the hotel room

  • More cashews: I like to eat a little before I go run in the morning; a big room service breakfast isn't what I want. I also sometimes get a little hungry late at night. It's nice to be able to eat a bit.
  • Wireless network router: If I'm travelling with other work colleagues or if I have more than one computer (like a work machine and a demo machine, I'll carry a Linksys Compact-G wireless router. It's very small and has four wired ports too. It lets me share the internet connection among the computers as well as transfer files between machines.
  • A travel alarm clock: I never trust that I'll set the hotel alarm clock correctly or that the front desk will get the wakeup call right. I have this slick little analog clock I got when I visited Apple a zillion years ago. You rotate the face to increment or decrement the hour - very easy.
  • The Squid: There are never enough power outlets near the desk, especially for someone carry two computers, a phone, two cameras, and a wireless router. The Squid is the perfect power strip. I also throw in a 3 prong-to-2 prong adapter just in case.

I like packing my stuff into little bags to keep things organized, but I'm too cheap to buy the fancy bags made for this. I use the bags they give you business class that have the socks and eye shades in them as well as the tons of ziplock baggies.

Oh, crap, time to leave for my flight. See you on the other side.

Posted August 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

August 25, 2006

IE7 Release Candidate 1 Shipped!

We made the RC1 build of IE7 available for download today. Yippee! This is the near final release of IE7 for XP class operating systems. At this point, we'll only fix big big bugs before we release (sometime between October and December, depending on feedback.)

Go get it now!

Posted August 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 17, 2006

Please Install Security Updates

Oh, please oh please install the security updates from Microsoft and any other vendor whose software you run. I've just been talking with a bunch of users who are experiencing problems with a major website. Looks like if you have the latest updates from Microsoft, there's no problem, but of course, these people weren't updating their computers.

It's so easy. Visit http://updates.microsoft.com and click the Express button. Even better, if you see a choice that says something about using "Microsoft Update" choose that; this will update most of your Microsoft software including Windows and Office. Pick all of the automatic options to make it even easier.

It's a dangerous world out there with lots of bad people who want to break into your computer. We fix tons of security issues as well as reliability problems in these updates. It's definitely worth keeping up-to-date.

Posted August 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Trying out Windows Live Writer

Screenshot of Windows Live Writer as I wrote this post

I'm writing this post using the Windows Live Writer beta. This is a client application that hooks up to various blog services and allows a more word processor like. Normally, when I write my blog, I use a web form and have to hand-code a bunch of HTML to do things like lists or images. Live Writer makes all that easier.

The setup couldn't have been easier. I just gave it the URL for my blog and my username/password. It figured out what blog software I used, and it imported all my styles and categories automatically. When I write this, it uses the styles from my blog, so I can easily see how everything will look. There's even a view that shows the draft post injected into my blog, so I can see it context.

The spell checking will be a huge plus too. Right now, background spell checking (you know, the red squiggles) doesn't appear to be working, but I'm sure it will be before release. The build also has some bugs; it crashed on me on my Vista box at work and lost my post. Life in the fast lane, I guess.

Still, this seems awesome. The UI is straightforward and clean. I can't wait to try it out over time. Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

Posted August 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 14, 2006

Request: Parenting help

Categories: Kids

OK, I need a little advice from the blogosphere. Andrew (9) came home and told the following joke that he learned at camp today. I need to figure out a response.

so, a duck walks into a courtroom.
judge: "what's your name and why are you here?"
duck: "My name is quack, and i was sent here for blowing bubbles in the pond."
The judge shakes his head and sends him away.

another duck walks into the courtroom.
judge: "what's your name and why are you here?"
duck: "My name is quack quack quack, and i was sent here for blowing bubbles in the pond."
the judge shakes his head and sends him away too.

a third duck walks into the courtoom.
judge: "let me guess. your name is quack quack quack and you were sent here for blowing bubbles in the pond."
duck: "no, my name is bubbles, and i was sent here for blowing quack and quack quack in the pond."

Andrew told the joke, but he didn't get it and asked us what it meant. I'm pretty sure Michelle's response of running away while holding her napkin over her face and then laughing out loud for minutes in the bedroom was not the right one.

Thoughts?

Posted August 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

August 11, 2006

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

bacon.jpg

I love bacon. I mean I really love it. Good American bacon - the crunchy kind, not that flabby stuff you get in other countries. At the risk of offending entire religions and regions, I think much of the unrest in the world is because too many people don't know the joy of bacon. Almost no one who has tasted bacon would willingly blow themselves up or start shooting at someone else. Bacon is worth living for.

But, it can be a real challenge to cook bacon well. Frying it is a mess. Microwaving has inconsistent results. Plus, neither scales well to the large amounts of bacon needed for a big brunch (or just me on a Sunday morning.) The secret is to bake the bacon in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C or gasmark 7)
  2. Take a large cookie sheet with a lip and cover it in aluminum foil. I like the wide heavy duty stuff that can cover the tray with a single piece.
  3. Arrange the bacon on the sheet without overlapping.
  4. Bake for six minutes.
  5. Turn the cookie sheet around 180 degrees.
  6. Bake for another 4-7 minutes depending on your oven and how crispy you like your bacon.
  7. Lift the bacon out with tongs and set on a plate covered in paper towels. I dab the tops with another paper towel too.

Result: piles of perfectly cooked bacon for your dining pleasure.

Here are the cool bits about this recipe:


  • All of the bacon grease is in the pan on top of the foil. Once it cools down you can lift out the foil and throw it all away. No mess. Better still, you can spoon out the fat to scramble eggs in (because what goes better with hot bacon than eggs scrambled in bacon fat?) Beet greens or spinach stir fried in bacon fat with crumbled bacon on top is delicious too.

  • The turning around part is the magic move. Most ovens don't heat evenly. By turning the tray around, you ensure all the bacon cooks evenly. It's really amazing to me how evident the heat variation is when you see the bacon.

  • If you want more bacon (and who doesn't), stick more cookie sheets in the oven at the same time. You can do tons at once this way with no additional time and minimal additional effort.

I've read a variation of this recipe that recommends putting a wire rack in the cookie sheet to keep the bacon out of the fat. I tried it. The results aren't any better, the bacon sticks to the rack, and the rack is a mess to clean up. Stick to the simple solution above.

While I'm at it, I'll put in a plug for Niman Ranch bacon. This is the real deal. Thick cut, smoky, and meaty, this stuff is made from happy, pesticide-free, free range pigs that lead productive, satisfying lives and died in the prime of their tastiness for you and me. Oh man, this stuff is good as is everything from Niman Ranch. Go get some today (Trader Joe's carries the stuff as do other good stores.)

Mmm, salty, rich, crunchy, and meaty. What's not to love?

Posted August 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (135) | TrackBack (0)

August 10, 2006

Tips on Making a MacBook Run Windows

White Apple MacBook

I gave in to my need for geeky retail therapy a few weeks ago and bought a white MacBook. It's a lovely machine (although it runs really hot), and OS X has a lot of things I like. I enjoyed messing with Dashboard widgets, doing fun transitions with Keynote, and enjoying the lovely screensavers. But the thing I really wanted to do was run Windows on top of all that OS X fun stuff.

I started with Parallels Desktop for Mac, a virtual machine that runs Windows like an application within OS X. The trial installed easily and everything worked really well. I especially liked the swooshy 3D transitions between OSX and Parallels when I ran Windows in fullscreen.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting Windows in Parallels to connect to the Microsoft corporate network, so I resorted to running BootCamp to dual boot the MacBook into Windows. Apple did their typical smooth job with BootCamp, even though it's still in beta. BootCamp first asks you to re-partition the disk into Windows and Mac drives; the interface for this was simple and elegant, nicer than PartitionMagic on the PC side and certainly better than the nothing we offer in Windows. They then ask you to stick in a blank CD to burn all the drivers you'll need in Windows to run on the Mac hardware.

After that you reboot onto the Windows installation CD and start setup. (There were some weird messups here with the Mac not ejecting CDs at the right time, but otherwise no prob). After setup and first run you stick in the driver CD, run setup and everything is great.

I was able to join the Microsoft corporate domain and then the wheels fell off. There was no way to type ctrl-alt-delete to log in. (The MacBook doesn't have a Windows "delete" key.) I hooked up an external USB keyboard, logged in, and tried to figure out how to proceed. With some almost correct help from the web, I discovered I could use remapkey.exe from the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit (a free download from Microsoft) to remap one of the keys (I chose the right Window/cloverleaf key) to "delete". Now I could log in.

I then set out to add a right mouse button (Macs only have one mouse button on the trackpad, although their zippy touchpad driver on the Mac side allows you to use two figures on the pad to indicate right mouse -- very slick). Yes, you could use shift-F10 to get context menus, but I think that's not very convenient. Instead, I found a scriptable input mapping utility called AutoHotKey that allowed me to write a logon script that remapped the Enter key (really the numpad Enter key) to right mouse.

To create the script after you've installed and run AutoHotKey:


  1. Go to c:\documents and settings\all users\start menu\programs\startup

  2. From the File menu, choose New and click AutoHotKey Script. (Normally, you could right-mouse in the window, but you don't have a right-mouse button -- which is why we're building the script!)

  3. Name the file something like "Mac stuff".

  4. Select the new file.

  5. From the File menu, choose Edit Script.

  6. At the end of the file, type "NumpadEnter::RButton;" (but without the quotes).

  7. Save the file and exit Notepad.

  8. Double click the file to run it.

Now, everytime you boot into Windows, you'll have a right mouse button!

The MacBook runs Windows well and there's something perversely fun about using a Mac at Microsoft. Not that I'd know. Michelle made off with the MacBook as soon as I got it working on the corporate network and is using now as her daily driver for work. Oh well.

Posted August 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

August 9, 2006

Anthony's Homeport Race

Categories: Photos

Boats at the start of the Anthony's Homeport Race

Last Friday evening, I got to shoot the Seattle Yacht Club/Anthony's Homeport sailboat race here in Kirkland, like I did two years ago. This time, I didn't have any committee boat responsibilies; I just had to shoot. Along with my colleage Cyra, who is another avid shooter, we got to run around the course in a chase boat taking photos and video of the boats. Sunava, another friend from work, helped on the committee boat. Hard to beat that.

After the race, we watched a little drama unfold at the dock as a huge Argosy tour boat tried to dock at the shallow end of the public dock. I guess they finally got it in, but it wasn't at all obvious that they were going to make it (check out the photo after the link.)

Once all that was done, the committee boat and chase boat folks enjoyed a nice dinner at Anthony's. I have to admit, I kind of poo poo them since they're a chain restaurant, but the food was pretty darn good. I should give them a chance more often.

It was another lovely evening on the water. Click here to see some of the better shots.

Posted August 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming talk: Bellua Cyber Security in Jakarta

I just finished making my travel arrangements to Jakarta (that's in Indonesia for the geographically challenged) where I'll be speaking at the Bellua Cyber Security conference August 30-31. Seems like most of my international travel lately has been to Southeast Asia/Oceania - not that I'm complaining. Maybe it's time for me to find a speaking gig in Spain or Italy next...

In any case, I've never been to Jakarta before -- any tips? If you're headed to Bellua, let me know!

Posted August 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

August 6, 2006

Michael's first fish

Categories: Kids

Michael's first fish

There's a little lake (really a big pond to this old Minnesotan) near us with a public pier. According to a guy we met there last year, the action at dusk on worms is pretty good, so I took the boys fishing after dinner one night this week.

Sure enough, the stranger was right. As soon as the bait hit the water, we were getting taps and nibbles. The fish were pretty small relative to our hooks, so we mostly were feeding worms to the fish, but Michael (6) managed to catch his first fish (and our only landed fish of the evening).

It was a juvenile large mouth bass -- very pretty really, but tiny. Michael, of course, was delighted. However, he didn't want to throw it back, wanting to take it home and eat it instead (he loves fish). He didn't get the whole catch-and-release thing. The whole time he was whispering, "Eat the hook and die, fishies."

He scares me a little bit.

Posted August 6, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

August 1, 2006

Congrats, Dad!

Categories: Random cool stuff

Congrats to my dad who hit a hole-in-one today! I was a 165 yard par 3 on his home course. It was his fourth hole-in-one. I'm still waiting for my first hole-in-one. Of course, I probably need to play golf once in a while to improve my odds.

Anyway, good job, Dad!

Posted August 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)