I’ve expressed interest in getting a Raspberry Pi for some time now. My co-worker told me today he wants the RaspberryPi 3 Model B+ which just came out yesterday (fittingly on “Pi Day”). It’s perfect timing, in a way, since I’ve considered getting one for hobbyist projects to get my son more interested in programming and hardware. Since there is native support for python, it’s another way for me to get more hands on experience with the language. More importantly, it’s not too expensive – that’s key. The low cost of entry is a powerful incentive. Tech can be very exciting when it’s easily accessible and those of all economic brackets can afford it.

I’ll mull over it some more, discuss further with my wife about a potential purchase, and think about potential projects. My son will certainly enjoy the projects he can work and get involved in. I’ll hope to have some follow-up posts about my experience with this diminutive computer and the ideas I’ve been working on.


Threat Hunting in Brief

Having worked in cybersecurity for over a year now, there is still much I don’t really know about. For example: threat hunting. I lack knowledge in what higher tiered threat analysts do, so I read up a bit on the concept of hunting for malware and security threats in a network. It’s a short read, but a good summary nevertheless.

Consumer Tech: BMW i3 REX

This is a unique “review,” as a car doesn’t really fall under the category of typical consumer tech. However, in this case, since this is a car packed with bleeding-edge technology under the hood, I wanted to share my impressions of the i3 after nearly two weeks of driving it, primarily in bumper-to-bumper traffic to and from Santa Monica.

To be more specific, my wife and I decided to lease a very slightly used (a little over 300 on the odometer) 2017 BMW i3 Rex (shorthand for Range Extender) as a second vehicle for our household. I have a personal preference for BMW, so this is our second such car (the other being a 2017 X1 that my wife is currently driving). I owned a second-gen Prius back in the day, but this is my first time driving and owning an all-electric vehicle – the experience is definitely different. It has an official electric range of about 114 miles. In reality, it could be less or more depending upon a variety of driving conditions and factors. For example, I could get about 150 miles or more on just the battery alone if I strictly commute to and from work. It does have the added safety of a two-cylinder gasoline engine; its sole purpose is to generate electricity to recharge the battery when it reaches a particular threshold (around 5% of battery life left). I’ve had to tap that reserve once so far, but more on that later.

It is a fun car to drive. It’s not typical BMW styling (interior or exterior), but it drives like one. It is rear-wheel drive, giving it a sportier drive. Even more amazing is that it is fast. When driving on “comfort” mode, you certainly feel the power and acceleration even though it’s rated at a modest 170 HP. Despite the form and narrow tires, it is surprisingly stable and corners very well. Don’t expect miracles – it does not drive like your typical sedan or SAV. Come with the right expectations and it’s a very pleasant driving experience. I haven’t tried other EVs to compare (even though I flirted with the idea of getting the Chevy Bolt), but I really, really like this one.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a standard gasoline engine built-in, dubbed the range extender, which adds an additional 70 miles of range or so. You’re looking at close to 200+ miles of range with a fully-charged battery and full gas tank. The purpose of the gas tank is to continually provide power to the battery when it’s critically low; it doesn’t attempt to fully recharge the battery as it goes idle at a full stop. It’s designed to mainly give you a lifeline to get to the nearest charging station. My salesperson told me that most i3 buyers get the range extender version. Until charging stations are more prevalent and plentiful it’s a no-brainer to have that peace of mind. This will change in, I say, in five years.

Speaking of charging stations, since we live in an apartment, we don’t have at-home charging (we can probably request it, but the increased cost of rent and our electric bill will nullify any savings). Rather, we get a complementary free year of charging at various stations (I heard from a co-worker that Tesla does a similar incentive with multiple years or the life of the car even). There is a “DC Fast” charging station nearby that almost fully charges the battery in 30 minutes. Doing so for free (for a year), that’s a big plus.

My family and I really enjoy the i3. Those looking for an EV (other than a hard-to-get Tesla Model 3) at a mainstream price can’t go wrong. The Chevy Bolt is another viable option, but it feels like more of a traditional hatchback with an electric drivetrain. I would say the biggest setback for getting an EV is the relative lack of charging stations. Having to wait at least 30 minutes (and sometimes 4-5 hours) isn’t practical for a lot of people. I’ve managed to figure out my “charging strategy,” but many don’t want to think too much about fueling their car. Do NOT get an EV without thinking about the trade-offs compared to a hybrid or traditional gas car. You might end up regretting the purchase. Thankfully, it worked out for us.

Links of the Week for 2/22/18

Some links to share in the world of tech and security:







Consumer Tech: Apple HomePod

Our household is home to a few Alexa-enabled devices. We use them mainly for a couple of light switches, listening to the radio, or playing Jeopardy. They do the job pretty well, but the overall sound quality for our first-generation Echo leaves much to be desired (Our Echo Dots aren’t worth muttering in terms of sound quality as it’s not one of their selling points). Since my household also uses Apple Music, the lack of integration is glaring and inconvenient.

Enter the HomePod. I’ve been anticipating this device since its announcement because not for its Siri-integration but because it focuses on sound quality and is integrated – naturally – with Apple Music and our iDevices. I didn’t get the HomePod for automation; I got it primarily for music. While Siri pales in comparison to Alexa as far as function, its audio prowess is second-to-none for the size and price.

I’m not an audiophile (I wish I could be, but that’s one very expensive hobby), I appreciate good sound quality. For example, 24-bit/192 KHz FLAC files played back on a compatible player with my 14-year-old Audio-Technica cans is quite sublime. So for $349, the HomePod seemed like a good fit considering the Apple integration. If you have a mixed device household, then you’re better off with other similar smart speakers.

Disregarding all the hype and marketing, is the sound quality really that good? Having not experienced higher-end setups in a very long time, by itself the HomePod is on another plane than the Echo. Apple somehow, via a combination of fancy software and hardware, gave the HomePod the ability to provide the best audio output based on its physical placement and the kind of music played. As a single speaker playing stereo-based output, there is a feeling of a wide soundstage and clarity in a condensed size. Once Airplay 2 is released as part of a software update, it’ll be interesting to hear how two HomePods sound to give true stereo separation.

I highly recommend the HomePod for audio quality alone. I think too much focus has been placed on its Siri-integration, which to me mainly a conduit to getting music played back the way we want it. For home automation, I’m sticking with Alexa and our Echo devices – I’m playing with strengths and weaknesses of each device.

Overall, if you’re in the Apple ecosystem and enjoy excellent sound quality (especially subscribed to Apple Music), then the HomePod is a great device. Getting it, however, for home automation as its focus is a mistake. Get another device instead.



There are many, many types of malware, but tonight was the first time I heard of the term “scareware,” even though the term isn’t exactly new. The tactics used by shareware are primarily social engineering of the end-user so “scare” them into buying into a scam. Think of seeing a pop-up that says you must buy this software product or else your PC bursts into flames, or something. It sounds to me like some glorified phishing scam. Nevertheless, social engineering is a powerful lure for many end-users who unfortunately at times can and will bite.

Be careful out there.

Python Crash Course

One of my tech related goals this year is to learn and immerse myself in python. It is a highly human readable and flexible language used in a variety of industries. In my field, it is often used for scripting installs and automating tasks, but it can do so much more than that. If there is one language for a beginner to learn now, it is python.

There are tons of resources out there, but one book I like so far is Python Crash Course: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to ProgrammingI’ve considered renewing my Pluralsight subscription to learn more interactively and visually, but considering the cost of it per month or year, I’ve it is best to make small investments in learning until you’re ready to spend big money. This has been a good start and I hope to spend the first half of this year becoming proficient in the language.

The second half of the year, we shall see…