Monday, December 31, 2012

Most Popular Programming Languages of 2012

Although unscientific, some interesting data from Carson McDonald … #2012:

The following information represents all responses for the #code2012 tag on twitter that was started by @deadprogram. Compare to last years: #code2011


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Microsoft Office Needed to Work at Google

From John Callaham … Irony alert: Microsoft Office skills needed for some of Google's jobs:

Earlier this week, we reported that Google's Amit Singh, the head of their Enterprise division, believes that the company can get 90 percent of the businesses that use Microsoft Office to start using their own Google Apps products for their productivity software needs. It's an ambitious goal, but before they achieve it, they might start looking into hiring people in their own company that have skills in Google Apps.

As points out, Google has a number of currently open job positions that require people to have some experience in using various Microsoft Office software. Just one example is listed on Google's job website for a new Insights and Innovation Analyst in the Partner Solutions division. Under "preferred qualifications", the job listing states:

3 years experience analyzing large data sets; proficient with analytical and presentation tools, including Excel (mastering pivot tables, graphs, and functions) and PowerPoint.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Facebook Paid 0.3% Taxes on $1.34 Billion

From Kenneth Thomas … Facebook paid 0.3% Taxes on $1.34 Billion profits:

If you are as cynical as I am, I know you are not surprised that Facebook paid Irish taxes (via Tax Justice Network) of about $4.64 million on its entire non-US profits of $1.344 billion for 2011.* This 0.3% tax rate is a bit below the normal, already low, Irish corporate income tax of 12.5%.

As with Apple, Facebook funnels its foreign profits into its Irish subsidiary. 

Wireless Coverage Maps

Interesting stuff from Benjamin Kerensa ... The Shocking Truth About Wireless Coverage Maps

Awhile back I blogged about some excellent crowdsourced coverage maps available to customers of major wireless carriers and today I put together this infographic on the state of coverage maps provided by the carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The inaccuracy of coverage maps does not just exist with major carriers but it’s also a problem with smaller carriers too.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

IT Career Resolutions for 2013

Good list from Rich Hein … 9 IT Career Resolutions for 2013:

here's our list of nine career-related resolutions to make for 2013.

1. Work Better to Understand My Industry

2. Build a Career Map

3. Update Your Resume

4. Build a Personal Website for Your Brand

5. Create or Refine Your Social Profiles

6. Build a Social Network

7. Improve Your Follow-Up Skills

8. Personalize Your Cover Letters

9. Expand Your Horizons

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Learning Offensive Security Skills

Security hacker humor  My other computer is your computer

Some great info from Raphael Mudge … How to Milk a Comp Sci Education for Offensive Security Skills:

Recently, a poster on reddit asked how to get into offensive security as a student studying Computer Science. Before the post was removed, the poster expressed an interest in penetration testing or reverse engineering.

I studied Computer Science at different schools (BSc/MSc/Whateverz). This is timely as a new semester is about to begin and students still have an opportunity to change their schedules if needed. 

Offensive security is multi-disciplinary and people come into it with different backgrounds. Any background you master will equip you to become a useful contributor. Studying Computer Science (or even having a degree in the first place) are not the only path into this niche of security.

If you want to milk your Computer Science education for offensive security skills, here are my tips.


You should learn to program in a systems language, a managed language, and a scripting language. Learn at least one computer architecture really well too.


Python and Ruby are the preferred scripting languages in the security community. I lean towards emphasizing Python over Ruby. There are a lot of great libraries and books [12] on doing security stuff with Python.

If you want to tinker with the Metasploit Framework, your best bet is Ruby. Ultimately–pick a project and use that as an excuse to master a language or tool. This is how you will acquire any skill you want (during and after college).


Take an operating systems course and the advanced OS course if you can. Usually these courses require you to work in a kernel and do a lot of C programming. Knowing how to work in a kernel will make you a better programmer and teach you to manipulate a system at the lowest levels if you need to.

After a good first course in operating systems, you will know how to program user-level programs, understand which services the OS provides you, and ideally you will have modified or extended a kernel in a simple way.

Take a compiler construction course to follow up with an architecture course. By the time you get through architecture and compiler construction, you will know assembly language for a specific architecture and how to use a debugger really well.


Active Directory administration, configuring Cisco routers and firewalls, using hacking tools, and other practical system administration skills are not usually covered in a CS curriculum. Be ready for this. If this is what you want, there are some good programs on Systems Administration and you may want to consider a switch.


If you get through the foundational material and find yourself hungry for more, try to arrange an independent study. I like independent study. It’s a chance for you to work on your own and produce something to prove you’ve acquired a skill or mastered a process. If your independent study produces open source or a useful paper, you may find the independent study boosts your career more than an academic transcript ever will.


Since you’re interested in offensive security, here are my two suggestions:

NYU Poly offers an Application Security and Vulnerability Analysis course. All of the lectures, homework, and project materials are available on the website. If you want to learn how to find vulnerabilities and write exploits, you could work through this course at an accelerated pace and spend the rest of the semester on a final project.

Syracuse University publishes the Instruction Laboratories for Security Education (SEED). This collection contains guided labs to explore software, web application, and network protocol vulnerabilities.

SEED also has open-ended implementation labs to add security features to the Minix and Linux kernels. If you ever wanted to write a VPN, develop your own firewall, or try a new security concept–these labs are a great start and any one of them could seed an independent study project. These labs were designed to provide a challenging end of course project. Two of these would make a very interesting semester of independent study.

Photo by sfslim -

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Handbook of Applied Cryptography

Handbook of Applied Cryptography

CRC Press has generously given us permission to make all chapters available for free download.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Google, Motorola, and the Future of Android

Some interesting thoughts from Steve Kovach …  It's Becoming Abundantly Clear That Google Doesn't Want To Share Android Anymore:

Now we have a report from the Wall Street Journal that says Motorola and Google are working together on a new smartphone that will launch next year. The so-called "X Phone" project will be completely separate from the Droid phones Motorola makes for Verizon. 


The move marks a big shift for Google. After denying it intends to get into the hardware business, Google appears to be doing exactly that by using its own hardware company to develop a new smartphone to its exact specifications.

This should also scare the pants off Samsung, HTC, LG, and others that rely on the free, open-sourced Android operating system to make phones that compete with Apple's iPhone. If Google and Motorola make their own phone together, they're instantly turning other hardware manufacturers into competitors, not partners.

And what's to keep Google from restricting the use of Android from its competitors, leaving the latest and greatest software features for its own hardware built by Motorola?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The NSA, iPhones, iPads and Juice-Jacking

National Security Agency Seal

Really fascinating stuff!

Neal Ungerleider …How America's Spies Use iPhones And iPads:

Years ago, when spooks and government employees needed a secure smartphone, they turned to Research in Motion's BlackBerry. Times have changed, however. More and more government agencies are capitulating to the fact that their employees prefer Androids and iPhones. Even the National Security Agency (NSA) has adopted to changing times. Fast Company recently discovered that a copy of the NSA's security guidelines for iOS devices (PDF) is online and publicly available.

The unclassified NSA document, written by the Mitigations Group of the Information Assurance Directorate, is intended as a security recommendation manual for network administrators in the government and law enforcement sectors. Although most of it is written in a mixture of bureaucratese and dry technical manual styles, it provides valuable insight into iPhone and iPad spy capabilities and what the ubiquitous devices can do.

NSA employees are specifically worried about iPhones being hacked and converted into intelligence-gathering devices. A long section on risk mitigation warns on outsiders turning on “hot mikes” inside phones, of remote camera activation, of GPS location data being used to spy on users, and for spoofing credentials. While the NSA notes that iPhones are less susceptible to Bluetooth attacks than other smartphones, they are susceptible to exploitation via email spam and cellular networks.

While most of the NSA document reads like a standard best practices checklist, one thing stands out. The NSA seems to feel that human behavior on the part of an iPhone user is the biggest security liability--and endless suggestions are offered to mitigate the risk. One of the biggest risks for iPhones, according to the documents, is being plugged into an unsecured outlet for recharging. Security experts such as Brian Krebs have warned of the (possibly hypothetical) risk of "juice jacking"--rogue charging kiosks at airports or conventions secretly copying data from a victim's phone. As a precaution, the document recommends “provid[ing] additional AC outlet chargers” to users.

Photo by DonkeyHotey -

The Hybrid Cloud is Coming

So what is a hybrid cloud? According to What Is:

A hybrid cloud is a composition of at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud. A hybrid cloud is typically offered in one of two ways: a vendor has a private cloud and forms a partnership with a public cloud provider, or a public cloud provider forms a partnership with a vendor that provides private cloud platforms.

Top Five Cloud Predictions from Greg Ness:

1) Hybrid cloud will enter the hype cycle as enterprises cross the process chasm between private and public clouds and data centers.

2) Amazon will experience intense pricing and functionality competition and hybrid cloud leadership will be up for grabs. 

3) Retail colocation players who do not embrace hybrid cloud operating models will face margin pressures and will cede market leadership to those who do embrace and thrive on hybrid cloud.  

4) Debates about public versus private cloud will be rendered meaningless. 

5) There will be a flood of hybrid cloud startups and extreme “hybrid cloud” makeovers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Public Speaking Tips

Great advice from Neil Joglekar … Tricks to better public speaking:

1. Don’t give a presentation - have a conversation

2. Speak in your voice and style 

3. Tell personal stories 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Red Tape

The Grammarist on Red Tape ...

In modern usage, red tape refers to the inefficient bureaucratic rules and procedures that prevent timely action. The figurative idiom comes from the old practice within governments, including the British one, of bundling official documents and bounding them with red tape, ribbon, rope, or string. The practice dates to the 16th or 17th century, and the figurative expression is nearly as old. The earliest instance cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1736, but it was not common until the middle 19th century.

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Photo by preservationgal -

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Android Exploit

Emil Protalinski ... Samsung Exploit Could Give Android malware Access to User Data:

The brilliant minds at XDA Developers have done it again; this time, a user by the name of alephzain claims to have discovered a vulnerability in multiple Samsung devices that gives access to all physical memory. The potential is huge: attackers could use malicious apps to wipe data and brick devices or, more likely, quietly access user data.

Photo by Darcy McCarty -

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Transistor

Dylan Leckie ... Celebrating The Transistor and Disruptive Naval Research

On Dec. 16, 1947, while most Americans were preparing for the Christmas holiday, three physicists were locked in their laboratory, hunched over a work bench, constructing a peculiar gadget that would forever change the world. The transistor — the Bell Laboratories invention built by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley — would become ubiquitous in the future world.

Since its invention those many years ago, investments made by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have extended and improved the transistor technology developed by Bell Labs. This month, which marks the 65th anniversary of the first transistor, ONR officials remember the invention and are reflecting upon the organization’s contributions to the evolution of the transistor — a technology regarded by many as the most significant scientific development of the 20th century.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf -

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nice Overview of Airplay

From Jonathan Wylie ... An Educator’s Guide to AirPlay on iPads and Macs

AirPlay is a technology that Apple baked into their more recent devices to allow them to wirelessly mirror the content of one screen to another. This content can be music, movies, or other multimedia content. A teacher, for instance, can use AirPlay to wirelessly present their lesson to a class or demonstrate an app, while students could use it to share their work with their peers.

Photo by Kimb0lene -
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Friday, December 14, 2012

YouTube Search Encrypted ...

... but streaming video not encrypted. Hmmm ... could lead to a false sense of privacy.
From Martin Sauter ... Observation: Youtube Is Now HTTPS - But The Streams Are Not

When I watched a video on Youtube today I noticed that the page's URL was Interesting, I thought, it's encrypted now! If the streams are encrytped too, that would have interesting implications for video caching and compression servers in some mobile networks as they would no longer be able to compress and scale videos.

So I ran a quick Wireshark trace to see if the streams themselves were encrypted, too. However, they were not. An interesting implication of this is that the user might get the impression that the session is secure. But as the videos are sent in the clear, it's actually not secure at all. From the outside, it is no longer possible to see what the user is searching for, but which videos are streamed are still visible and can be cached or modified or simply blocked.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Certificate for Soft Skills?

An interesting idea. I'm not sure how it will work, but this is something employers always point to as lacking.
From Paul Fain ... Grading Personal Responsibility

Grades earned by many students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will soon factor in “soft skills,” such as whether they show up for class on time or work well in groups. And next year the college will issue workplace readiness certificates alongside conventional credentials to recognize those skills.

Located in Asheville, N.C., A-B Tech, as it is commonly known, has developed a template that helps faculty members determine how to incorporate eight primary workplace expectations into grading, including personal responsibility, interdependence and emotional intelligence. Soft skills should count for 8 to 10 percent of grades in courses that adopt those guidelines, college officials said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2013 - The End of Cassette Recorders?

Sony still makes cassette recorders? Who knew!
Sean Buckley ... Putting the cassette to bed: Sony to discontinue handheld tape recorders in 2013

The Walkman's retirement wasn't quite the death of the cassette tape, but the format's final days aren't far off: Sony's calling it quits on the tape recorder. Final shipments for the company's TCM-400, TCM-410 and TCM-450 cassette recorders are due early next year, marking the end of the product line.

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Photo by INDEED -

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scapy: Interactive Packet Manipulation Program

Neat little application …. Scapy: a powerful interactive packet manipulation program:

Scapy is a Python program that enables the user to send, sniff and dissect and forge network packets. This capability allows construction of tools that can probe, scan or attack networks.

In other words, Scapy is a powerful interactive packet manipulation program. It is able to forge or decode packets of a wide number of protocols, send them on the wire, capture them, match requests and replies, and much more. Scapy can easily handle most classical tasks like scanning, tracerouting, probing, unit tests, attacks or network discovery. It can replace hping, arpspoof, arp-sk, arping, p0f and even some parts of Nmap, tcpdump, and tshark).


Scapy also performs very well on a lot of other specific tasks that most other tools can’t handle, like sending invalid frames, injecting your own 802.11 frames, combining techniques (VLAN hopping+ARP cache poisoning, VOIP decoding on WEP encrypted channel, ...), etc.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Macalope on the Surface RT

Two mythical beasts discuss Microsoft's new tablet ...

MACALOPE: Uh … OK. So … how’s it going with the Surface RT?

WINOTAUR: Great! Couldn’t be better. We’re well within the standard deviation on our sales projections.

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Saturday, December 08, 2012

Whitespace Spectrum

Nice primer on whitespace spectrum from Ben Ward ... Whitespace Spectrum

Whitespace spectrum is a new way of offering large amounts of spectrum where the owner currently doesn’t or can’t use it. Opportunistic spectrum sharing allows swathes of TV and other spectrum currently lying unused to be accessed by users on a geographical and temporary basis (eg. in a specific location for a couple of minutes or months) by using coordination databases rather than auctions and long-term ownership. This spectrum has characteristics ideal for the Internet of Things and wireless sensor networks - long range, low power, good penetration, good bandwidth.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Smart Wi-Fi Routers

Interesting development from Bill Ray … Wi-Fi routers able to manage bandwidth by app are offered:

The latest wi-fi routers know which applications are asking for wireless connectivity and can prioritise those that matter while still letting data trickle to those which don't.

The technique, which maker Aruba calls "AppRF", looks at the packets to work out what each wi-fi client is doing, allowing the enterprise to decide which applications get priority access - so the busy BOFH can throttle the executives' video conferencing while ensuring his Call Of Duty pings remain low. Encrypted comms, such as MS Lync, are fingerprinted and so can be equally controlled even if the content of each packet is obscured.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Monday, December 03, 2012

An Addiction to Games ...

… can be very powerful! Anonymous says FML:

Today, my husband quit his job as a university professor and picked up the graveyard shift at a rat farm so he could have more time during the day to play World of Warcraft. FML

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Supporting Department Chairs

From Kathlene Collins … a little long, but if you're in academia and are or may one day be a chair, so good info. Supporting Department Chairs:

People don’t become academics because they aspire to be department chairs, but every department needs one – and perhaps never more than in these economically challenging times. Many chairs complain that they receive no training and no support – even as senior administrators frequently fault chairs for not doing enough.

On Wednesday, November 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern Inside Higher Ed presented Supporting Department Chairs, a one-hour webinar focused not on blaming chairs, but on supporting them. Experts from The IDEA Center, which provided a range of training and evaluation programs for chairs.

Click here to download the slide deck for this presentation.


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