Category Archives: Personal

Open Mind = Infinite Potential

As I have been running various organizations I have detected a key trend that I think delivers a critical insight. I find that people who are open to have their perspective changed are able to adapt to our changing technology world much better than those that are not open to changing their mind. Most people listen only to information that supports their current views. This is intellectually lazy and a sure road to obsolescence in any fast moving environment.
I have always been eager to hear views contrary to my own and am excited at the prospect of someone overturning my world view. I do defend my current thinking vigorously so it is not easy to get me to come over to the other side of an issue, but it is possible.
Based on this, the best advice I can offer to anyone wishing to rise to the top of the IT field or any other is to allow others the chance to change your mind. Maybe you think Native Clients are overrated, or the Cloud is a passing fad, but you should actively seek those that challenge those views.

Thoughts on Voting

As the Presidential elections draw closer here in the US, I have been having conversations with a number of people who do not vote and in many cases have no intention of voting. I found this attitude baffling at first, but have grown to understand that it comes from a lack of understanding of the true cost of this attitude.

For example I was talking to a young man who I have known for many years and he revealed that he had no interest in voting. He did not think it made a difference. I quoted Mark Twain by saying “The man that does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read”. I said to him that I found that statement to be profound and felt that by the same token the man that does not vote has no rights beyond the man who lives in a society that does not let him vote. In this way not voting does a disservice to all those who have fought and died to guarentee that right for US citizens.

To the assertion by my young friend that voting does not make a difference I have the following warning. Our political system is ever more cynical. This means that those in power cater to those that can give and take their power and that means blocks of “likely voters”. If you belong to a demographic that is not seen as likely voters then you can expect your views on your issues to be ignored at best and at worst for the tides of legislation to actively work against your wants and needs. The only cure for this is to vote regularly for equality starts with the vote.

As a war veteran of the US Army, I feel that voting is a sacred duty that all citizens are bound to fulfill and the only greater sin against our democracy than not voting is hindering the ability of a citizen to vote. I hope my words here have motivated some to vote and others to abandon their support of any measures that limit participation in voting in any way.

To Egypt and All My Friends There

I have talked to many of you over the course of the past week and have been cautious due to the fact that I was concerned for your safety. A failed rebellion is a painful thing especially when it is not known who will lead the aftermath.

Now that I see the resolve in my friends there I know that this is not a rebellion, but a revolution that deserves the support of all of us who have ever had their country ruled without democracy.

I wish I was there and could stand in the streets with you, but know that you are in my prayers and I am proud of each and every one of you. Good luck and may you win the day and your destiny In Sha Allah!

Change of venue

Most of you know me from Criticalsites or NTP Software since those are the two companies with which I have been associated for over a decade now.

This post is to tell you all that while I am still doing work with both of these companies they are now my clients rather than my employers.

CriticalSites and NTP Software have always been closely connected and with the huge success that NTP Software has been experiencing over the last couple of years, CriticalSites has shifted gears to be more of a services arm for NTP Software and has stopped taking on new clients that are not NTP Software clients.

I wanted to get back into development, training and security consulting work full time and so while I keep both NTP Software and CriticalSites as customers, I have left on the best of terms to pursue my interests through DTS.

DTS offers many of the same services that CriticalSites used to offer to New England companies. Some of you know that I actually started DTS before I co-founded CriticalSites and while not always my primary focus, it has been in business since 1994.

For many it won’t make any difference other than the company name on my name tag at conferences, but I figured it was worth a post to keep people updated.

Back to blogging

A very good friend of mine reminded me that I have this blog that I have been neglecting and I must say that he is right. It is easy to fall out of a habit even one so important and I think in my case it has been that I always want to write really interesting things. The problem is that really interesting things is a really high bar and is almost always a matter of perspective.

Consider this the warning shot that I plan to come back to this blog and write about all aspects of technology and software development. Security when I have something to say, but overall there is alot left unsaid in the name of keeping the blog on topic.


New games all the time, this one is Blog Tag.  Don Sorcinelli tagged me via his blog and so now I am to write a blog entry that reveals things about me that you wouldn’t be likely to know and then tag others.  I will do the first part to the letter, but will only tag a single individual instead of five.

Here goes:

 – I was a pacifist until the age of 9.  After that I went rabid and couldn’t be confused for a pacifist by anyone who has met me since.
 – My nickname in High School was “NATO”.  Even my teachers called me that.
 – I was an avid fan of Battlestar Galactica and still have my trading cards.  I just can’t get into the new series, but I have watched it and it is good, but the Cylons should be obviously mechanical.
 – I still don’t watch war movies set in the Gulf.  Tried, doesn’t work well.
 – My mother was a Roman Catholic Nun for 2 years before she decided it wasn’t the life for her and left.  Moral of the story is that I was brought up very Catholic.
 – I served as an altar boy for over 3 years.  Father Foley was the kind of priest from the movies in the 50s, not from movies to come.
 – I drank at least a 6 pack of Coke everyday until later in 1991 when I quit cold turkey.
 – I like most music except Jazz.  I prefer Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, The Eagles, Charlie Danials and Pink Floyd (varied to say the least).
 – I watch MASH whenever it is on and I am home.

I have more, but you will have to buy me a drink (Ice Water) to hear it ;)

I tag Duane Laflotte.  He has now been tagged by both me and Don.

Erik Kurilla might be portrayed by Bruce Willis

In a personal topic post (which are fairly rare here I am proud to say) a while ago I reported that a classmate of mine from West Point, Erik Kurilla was wounded in Iraq and gave some details.  I had to post a follow up especially given the news that Erik may end up being portrayed by Bruce Willis in a planned movie about the unit that Erik commanded in the troubled town of Mosul.  The London times has further details and while it is still somewhat speculative, I personally think that this would be a very cool thing.

As a veteran of the first Gulf War back in 1991, I don’t as a rule watch movies about either the current war in Iraq or the one I fought in, but I will certainly make an exception if this comes to fruition.

While I wasn’t very close to Erik at school, I did know him well enough to know that he is a true leader and just the kind of guy you want in charge when things get tough.

Physical Defense

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently about the physical protection of his home.  I have a bit of a reputation as a gun enthusiast that is somewhat earned.  What surprised my friend and got him to urge me to post this entry is that my advice was a surprise to him and something he admits he had never heard before from anyone.

The issue wasn’t computer or even company security, but security at home.  How do I protect my family in a world where convicts escape, kids kill and home invasion is a common occurence?  I do have weapons including an AK47, but they are not ready at a moments notice.  I have kids so I have bolts out and disassembled, ammo stored away from the weapons and trigger locks (in the case of the AK there is a cable locked through the barrel).  I can’t just run and grab one of these weapons for the defense of my home and that works since that isn’t my plan.  We have 3 dogs who average about 70 pounds each and should they alert me to a problem I am most likely to grab my paintball gun or a wooden sword to join the fray.  If I confront an intruder in my house with a paintball gun then there are several advantages.  I won’t be having rounds going through walls and hurting my family or pets, I won’t be causing a fire or water damage with paintballs, but if I put 20 rounds into someone at close range they will be down.  Anyone who has played paintball knows what I mean, especially if they have been hit from 10 feet or less (not recommended).  I live in NH which means that I am unlikely to be prosecuted should I kill someone invading my home, but why make killing the person a goal?  I view it as impossible for a court to convict someone if they choose an obviously non-lethal weapon especially when given more deadly alternatives.

I know this seems to be off the topic of security as it relates to technology, but if you have been reading my posts you know that I don’t see a distinction in most cases.  Security is security.  I would welcome your comments on how this concept (well recieved by all I have discussed it with) might apply to technical security.  I will reserve my analogies for now.

Where is the Sacrifice?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I am renewed in my frustration that the US government hasn’t called on the population to buckle down and conserve energy.  In light of the Hurricane relief effort it would be, “Save energy and put the money toward relief causes”.  During WWII the population was involved in the efforts of the nation at war by being asked to do everything from conserve fuel to collecting scrap metal.  Is the government so skiddish that they are afraid we will revolt over any show of “weakness”.  Troops overseas (I can say from personal experience) feel more supported when they know that the people back home are making sacrifices to help them accomplish their mission.  My voice may not be enough, but I would like to call on every American to do two things that I have already undertaken myself in the wake of a massive natural disaster which occurred while my country fights two wars (don’t tell me that it is over, I have friends over there).  The first is to give to the agencies that are aiding our countrymen in the gulf coast.  That is a no brainer I think, but it bears repeating as often as possible.  Second, bite the bullet and cut down on energy consumption beyond what the price at the pump would make you do already.  I am sick of us being held hostage to OPEC and having a huge trade imbalance that is made up almost entirely of foreign oil.  People who support our troops should put their comfort where their mouth is.  It is easy to show a flag or talk about support, but maybe ease the burden a bit by buying a fuel efficient car or skipping a trip when you can.

I seem to be writing more and more about politics and commentary on our state of affairs.  I will be sure to mark these posts as personal, but I am sick and tired of loud mouthed “Patriots” who drive the biggest gas guzzlers you could get.  Maybe they haven’t thought about it, maybe they are just exercising their rights.  My opinion is that they are selfish and being as unpatriotic as you can get.

End of Rant.

Wounded in Iraq

A classmate of mine from West Point, LTC Erik Kurilla, was wounded (shot 3 times it seems) while serving as a combat commander in Iraq.  While I rarely (almost never) bring personal stuff into my blog and as you will see I will weave this a bit toward my favorite subject of security, but I felt I had to say something here.

If you read the writeup it is pretty amazing when we read that, “The Commander of Deuce Four, LTC Erik Kurilla, was shot three times in combat yesterday in front of my eyes. Despite being seriously wounded, LTC Kurilla immediately rejoined the intense and close-quarter fight that ended in hand-to-hand combat. LTC Kurilla continued to direct his men until a medic gave him morphine and the men took him away.”.  I haven’t seen Erik for a while, but he is a stand up guy who has always been very serious about every mission he gets.  If I am reminded about any lesson here it is that when we get a setback or even a catastrophe, we have to keep our heads and not make it worse.  If you flail, you fail.

Being in the service helped me immensely in dealing with security because it is the same mindset (though the military consequences are much more intense I have to admit).  You have to re-evaluate every time the situation changes and that could be minute by minute.  Erik could easily have just rolled over once he was hit and let someone else direct the battle or do the fighting, but he determined that he was still required and still able (though God knows how) so he made the call. 

My info says that Erik is OK and is already back stateside.  It was not my intention to stir up political debate with this post, but to show the kinds of people I look to for my inspiration when I think about protecting resources.  I believe that the wars we fight will and are extending into cyberspace faster than most people think.  Ultimately the courage to do the harder right rather than the easier wrong is easiest to find when we are reminded regularly of the immense sacrifices and miraculous bravery of people like Erik Kurilla.  I am proud to know him and regret that I haven’t seen him in so many years and didn’t get know him nearly as well as I would have liked while we were at school together.

Erik, get well soon and thanks!