A Break for Labor Day Weekend

Enjoy the weekend, all, and take a much needed rest on the symbolic end of summer.

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The Tech Life

Since last Friday, it has been the busiest work days in a very long time. After working nearly 15 extra hours on the weekend, on a customer call from 11pm to 4:30am last night, and very busy regular hours, it’s a (painful) reminder that working in this industry isn’t exactly peaches and cream. It can be a welcome challenge, but with family obligations, it’s always important to strike that right balance. I know there will be very busy periods, but whenever there is downtime, I do whatever I can to spend it with my family.

I wholeheartedly thank my wife for supporting me the best she can: making me coffee, making sure I have a good lunch or dinner, or going for walks together. I thank my son for giving me joy when I feel most drained. Most of all, I thank God and our Blessed Mother.

In this tech life, I must always remember who and what I truly cherish.

Understanding SSL: Part I – Introduction

One of the aspects of the Web that we (or rather I) take for granted is that “green lock thingy” on the top-left of my Google Chrome browser. If I were to click on it, while green, I get a “secure” feeling (excuse the pun) knowing that my client or browser connection is securely connected to a trusted server. This also means that my traffic to the server is encrypted and prevents a third-party from simply intercepting the traffic and “read” its contents. This encryption of network traffic is so fundamental nowadays that it’s difficult to fathom that popular sites such as Facebook did not offer secure connections when you logged in by default (hence during this time browsing Facebook on an open Wi-Fi network exposed you to potential credential theft and packet sniffers).

SSL, or Secure Socket Layer, is a general catch-all term for a secure client-to-server or server-to-server connection. Sometimes we will call a secure connection an HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) connection. HTTPS is merely the communications protocol used for secure communication. To add more wrinkles and confusion, today’s commonly used “SSL” is actually TLS (Transport Layer Security) which is a “modern” implementation of SSL. I actually didn’t realize this until now so – again – learned something new today.

Since it’s such a commonly used technology, there are tons upon tons of resources out there. Also because there is so much information out there, it’s overwhelming. So I like this Thawte page that gives a very high-level overview of what SSL is and does. I aim to explain various SSL-related topics as simply as possible so that I can better understand all this myself.

 

PlanetBravo

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Ok, I said I was going to talk about SSL┬áin my next series of blog posts, but before I do that (starting next week), I wanted to briefly mention PlanetBravo. Tonight was “back-to-school” night for parents and my son’s kindergarten teacher (yes, school starts next week). Aside from talk about the usual curriculum – religion, reading, math, and a host of other topics – there was mention of a new technology-based program provided by an organization called PlanetBravo. It remains to be seen how effective their program will be as this is their first year at St. Margaret Mary, but they’ve been providing technology-based curriculum for K-8 grades in Los Angeles for close to 15 years. They will engage the kids into modern tech, including teaching them basic programming and coding for the higher grades. Seems very cool and hoping this gives the kids foundational knowledge which they’ll need far more 20+ years from now.

This should be exciting for the kids and hoping this is successful for the school this year and years to come. Getting young Catholics into technology early is what we need for the future, especially as the world becomes more embedded in a culture of tech and social media.

 

A Busy Day and SSL Certs

It has been a longer work day than usual, so no real opportunity to blog today. However, I want to note that I’ve been learning much about trusted certificates (for SSL) so for the next series of blog posts I’d like to touch on this topic extensively. There was much misunderstanding on my part and writing about this will help to solidifying my knowledge. I hope it also helps others as well.

Black Hat 2017

My company is at Black Hat USA this week (would’ve been a great learning experience to attend since I’m still very green on security, but next time), looking to promote our tech to thousands of security professionals.

Perhaps have a little fun in Vegas as well.

Now in its 20th year, the desire to know and need security will only make the conference ever more popular. Some interesting news stories to note from BH:

A Crash Course in Linux

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Having worked in the Microsoft/C#/.NET space for almost ten years prior to my current job, I didn’t work with Linux and Bash all that much. I worked with Linux primarily as a hobby back in college. Of course, when you work in this industry, many skills can transfer over to different tech stacks. However, since my current position is primarily all about working with CentOS Linux and open-source software, I had to take a refresher before doing my interviews and supporting the platforms I’m working with.

For those who want to get their hands dirty a bit with Linux and Bash, I recommend Linux Journey. I had much prior knowledge working with Linux, so this site was more for “fine-tuning” my knowledge a bit, but if you want to gain a useful skill, this is the site to use – and it’s free! Don’t expect to be an expert overnight, but rather think of it as laying the foundation as well as gauging your interest in working with the most popular open-source platform on the planet (remember that Android is built off the Linux kernel).

It’s worth a try and it might be valuable career knowledge later on.