Dead Lost

It was a early June when it began.

The new tough guy came around our crew to bully and belittle. It didn’t work well as he was less than five feet tall, bald and had a bad case of potbelly with a side of Jersey voice. We all watched as he tried to win us over with his overt and downright unethical behavior. He was a lickspittle at heart, a racist on the side and overall a problem waiting to happen.

TrackstoNowhere

When he would walk beside our cubicles, trying to look over the top to stare down at each of us, we would blank our faces with contempt, not even giving that rodent a rat dropping to chew on. He made no decision. The contemptable nasty harpy like individual above him gave out his marching orders. He failed miserably even at that. There came a point where one might have even felt a brief bit of pity for this wretched thing. But even that was denied.

The tough guy tried to bear false witness against members of that stalwart crew and was rebuffed by those smarter and more able.

Eventually his failures began to outpace his ability to blame others and started landing at his feet. His intolerance, his small nasty views, they all came back to haunt him. Until one day, he found himself alone.

Without anyone to bully. A small man in most ways. Contemptible to many, irredeemable to any but perhaps the creator.

Karma,

Thou art so sweet…

Skull and Cross Bones

I just read Liz Ryan’s article “The Worst Thing A Job-Seeker Can Do” on Linkedin. The title would lead you to believe that the Job Seeker might be going about things the wrong way. Looks can be deceiving.

Read the article. It is spot on. Then go back to your cubical and engage in self loathing / depression that cubical life leads to.

Wow.

That was negative.

Yes it was.

But it was also true (And you know it).

I could sit here, a keyboard commando typing away, complaining about all that is completely fubar’ed in the many loathsome soul crushing corporate environments. But then what is the point. We all know that in many many corporate IT environments, the management is like a bad episode of Dilbert. There are the occasional director/manager/VP/etc that shine like stars in the empty light polluted sky. But IT management is typically not IT personnel, have little people skills and come from the University of CYA style of management.
It begs the question, why don’t senior IT personnel go into management within these plague ridden diaspora hostels? It is my opinion that when you take time to consider what you will be required to do, when you are told to set aside your values / ethics / good judgement / common sense, it is just easier to stay doing what you know you are good at. Keep your head down and hope the wastrels don’t notice.

I have a friend from a previous employment stint that does exactly that. He keeps his head down, performs excellent work while onsite, when he is sick at home, when he is on vacation and even during the loss of a family member. He is even tempered, slow to pass judgement and liked by all that he works with. He would make a great manager.

When a management position became open, he wasn’t even considered.

Life is too short to work for these “ne’er-do-wells”.

Liz has it right. Don’t be a sheeple (although she said Sheepie). Be a person. Find a place to work where you like what you do and who you do it with. Where your contributions are seen and praised. Where it is not just a job to endure, but a place you are excited to get up in the morning and work at.

Making a great salary is good. It does make the misery of a particular work place slide down your throat a little easier. But after a number of years, even money doesn’t make it better. So take Liz Ryan’s advice and go where you really want to be before everything begins to sound like burnout.

Freedom.

</sarcasm>

(also posted on Linkedin)

Time to burn…

I found out a little over a week ago that my youngest brother had passed away (died). In the middle of a job search, spending the money to catch an airplane to Alaska didn’t seem like the best thing to do, however I felt driven to do so.

You see, I like what I do and I like to work. I’ve often thought nothing of spending 50 to 60 hours or more a week on a project. Driving it to completion. On time, under budget with time to spare. These are the type of thoughts that passed through my mind on the plane. I’ve never been to Alaska. But a lot of my family (Grandmother, two brothers and a sister) have chosen to live there. I’m not sure what spurred them to move to the north snowy lands. In Texas it is hot. Yesterday, today and tomorrow it will continue to be hot. Winter in Texas is just a cool breeze we get for six weeks each year. Not really cold enough to need a coat. At least not by Alaska’s standards.

HiveCity-13-ORIGINAL-DrawAlaska is beautiful in an almost indescribable way. Kind of like Colorado but with cleaner air and less hippies. My brother was forty four years old. Pretty young to be taking the final walk. Both my father and sister have long since departed this busy world. So now it is down to just me, my brother Steve and my mother.

I said that I like to work. I really like what I do. I was fortunate and found “Information Technology” as a career in the Novell heydays. Then came along Microsoft, Linux and Unix, Programming, Security and so many other fun things. Married for 25 years with two kids, my life has been pretty busy. Work has used up a large chunk of it. At times, the work / life balance has been slanted quiet a bit toward work. The big problem with that is you can’t go back. My brother Ron came to my daughter’s wedding a couple of years ago and we had a grand time. But I never did make it up to Alaska to see him and all of his successes. He was an accomplished real-estate agent with Keller Williams, a motorcyclist, bicyclist and all around generous person to all he came in contact with. But during his life I never seemed to have the time between a my great Network Security career and family life to visit him in Alaska to see him in his successful career.

We spread Ron’s ashes at Flat Top mountain in Anchorage Alaska. It is windswept, cold and beautiful there. I could not have picked a more beautiful place for him to rest. My sister’s ashes were spread there also.

Ron was loved by many many people.

Take the time. Chose to spend it with the people in your life that matter. Brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. Friends and loved ones. TIme burns like a candle until it is all gone. Then it’s over and nothing can bring it back. Through this, my brother Steve and I have reconnected and this time I intend to stay close with him.

With time to burn.

Follow the yellow brick road

It will take you where you want to go. 

That’s what they told us anyway. As we sit here late at night struggling through a problem that is more of a symptom of decisions made in haste. The Citrix administrators are on the phone with support and about to call in their favorite consultants. Meanwhile, we perform packet captures on the firewalls, examine the F5 for problems and watch upper management pace outside out cubicles. 

Our management prefers to be called “leadership”. Yet they often do the opposite. Pitting groups against one another for project funding. Often ignoring looming problems that would rise like a leviathan and smash them against the rocks of ignominy. 

The consultants arrive late, set up in a cube and start troubleshooting. Four hours go by and the consultants have brought no value to us. They speak in generalist terms. We know they are lost. They know they are lost. They don’t seem to notice that we know they are lost. Time continues to roll by with no end in sight.

Management meeting are held every couple of hours to update statuses that don’t change. Everyone is tired and cranky. There is no end in sight. In another conference room manager, director and group leaders gather slinging mud against the walls and each other, hoping something will stick. Late into the night this goes on.

Two tired days later, it  has been determined that not enough resources were dedicated to a massive monolithic application upgrade the affected the entire multimillion dollar non profit organization. Management had previously made the decision that the upgrades were not required. Time, space and physics be damned they said.

Yet somehow it did matter. Follow the yellow brick road…

Time out

I was fortunate. A timeout came my way.

I could choose to feel that old familiar panic or I could decide that this is an adventure. A timeout adventure. I was able to go take a class I have been wanting to take for some time. It was difficult and it was fun (and I am now a certified instructor!).

I am looking outside the box for my next gig. I have had time to think it over and want to find something where my contributions actually help the bottom line of the organization. Where I can stick to my ethics and not be held in disregard or contempt. In the past I have listened to Dave Ramsey talk about the customer you can’t afford. This is the customer that you will loose concentration, money, time and effort on. I think that there are employers like this also.

We all need to make a living. More excitingly, we actually get to choose where and who we work with. We can start our own business. Succeeding wildly or failing spectacularly. Either way it is your choice.

Years ago, I used to program in C. I haven’t been active with C since 2001. I am taking it back up (fast!). I still use Perl for my programming, but I am going to use C when I need something bare metal and fast as hell running.

Yes the timeout is kind of fun. Too bad it will end soon…

A line in the sand

Where do you draw the line?

Between upholding what you know to be ethical (moral) choice and going along to get along (read – not losing your job). In the last twenty years of my career I have faced this choice many times. I would like to say that I have taken the high road each time. But that wouldn’t be true.

These days I am simply not willing to sacrifice my values on the alter of other’s bad choices.

This doesn’t come easily. I’m married, have several car notes and am planning to retire (eventually). But I am not willing to give up my values simply for a pay check. It is a hard choice not giving in to the anxiety that comes with entering a job search when your over fifty. To not give in to the misgivings that haunt you when your feeling down.

FURY

Diaspora Part 1

  Poison

We walk alone in our want… 

As security practitioners we often find ourselves alone in seeking to protect the organization that hired us for that purpose. At cross purposes with our masters, we are often told to make do with less, accomplish more and not talk about the problems we see, lest we get taken to task for our failings. It doesn’t look promising from my view.

I have observed many organizations with a weak security posture. This isn’t because they are bad people, it is just not considered to be important enough within the organization to spend capital dollars on.

Much corporate infrastructure grows in an organic way, rather than as a master plan. Technologies are purchased, configured and installed, but then forgotten until there is a problem. 

Compliance check boxes have been completed. Audit and compliance folks are happy. Never mind the fact that the organization has HIPAA / PCI / NPPI / etc data exfiltrating. Not that they would be be able to detect the data loss even if they noticed, due to not having the infrastructure in place to detect the loss and the failure of the IT management to have authorized the DLP (data loss protection) solution to stop data exfiltration.  

All is good.

Remember when the Jcaho Accreditation team comes in for an audit, don’t call any P1 outages. Hide that computer that normally sitting in the OR and please do not let them talk to anyone in the InfoSec group…