Tales from the Technoverse

Commentary on social networking, technology, movies, society, and random musings

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Out Is A Cybersecurity Problem

September 11th, 2014 · cyber-security

There is an interesting article about the Department of Defense database used to track security clearance revocations.

The article talks about a database which had been setup to keep track of those people who had their security clearances revoked. The context was to help in identifying high-risk individuals that might compromise security.

It is another example of how the problem with most personnel tracking is out-processing as opposed to in-processing.

The reason is pretty obvious.

The incentives to ensure in-processing works are very high. Usually the person involved and their organization cannot work or access the information needed until the person has been in-processed and is officially ‘in-the-system’. Therefore both informal pushing, from the person, and official pushing, from the organization, is in effect built into the system. In the usually conflicted world we live in where not everything is accomplished in a timely fashion, in-processing will get bumped to the top of the list.

Out-processing however is much less clear-cut in terms of priorities. Nothing automatically is stopped when out-processing is not accomplished in a timely fashion. Paychecks aren’t prevented from happening, employees aren’t prevented from going to work, projects are typically not negatively impacted. The bad result only occurs indirectly when it is necessary to utilize the system and the data turns out to be faulty or incomplete. By that time, fixing the database often proves to be so resource intensive that it never happens successfully.

The solution to this, to the extent there is a solution, is to build in negative results that cause organizationally damage if the out-processing is not completed in a timely fashion. This is so counter-intuitive that it rarely occurs. However, since out-processing deficiencies are one of the continuing problems in security architecture, it deserves increased attention.

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My Presentation to the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence

August 27th, 2014 · cyber-security, technology

I was invited to testify earlier today before the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence.

The Commission was established by the Maryland State Legislature to “conduct an overview of federal and state cyber security laws and policies and consider Maryland’s role in promoting cyber innovation and to recommend a comprehensive framework and strategic plan for cyber security innovation and excellence”.

I was asked to talk about trends I thought were important in IT Technology over the next 2-3 years, the cybersecurity implications of those trends, and to add my take on possible policy issues that the Commission might take a look at. As part of the presentation I was asked to give some background about myself (I noted that I was pretty much the most local person they would find, having been born in Washington DC and grown up in Montgomery County, while going to college at the University of Maryland College Park and then the University of Maryland University College.

My Presentation.



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Walk(ing) Off Wins

August 18th, 2014 · baseball, walking

So for the last three days (and evenings) Ellen and I have walked to Nationals Park from the Gallery Place Metro, a slightly more than two mile walk.

And each day (and evening) the Nationals have had a walk-off victory.

Saturday it was a double by Wilson Ramos in the bottom of the 9th, after the Nationals scored three in the bottom of the 8th, capped by Adam LaRoche’s two-run homerun, to tie the game 3-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sunday it was a sacrifice fly by Scott Hairston in the bottom of the 11th scoring Jayson Werth from 3rd. This was after Pittsburgh scored three in the top 0f the 9th to go ahead 5-4 only to have Werth (same guy) score the tying run in the bottom of the 9th after he had a pinch-hit walk to get on base.

Tonight it was a LaRoche homerun in the bottom of the 11th (again) to win the game 5-4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Most of the game it felt like the Nationals were trying very hard to lose this particular game, with the Nationals scoring two times in the bottom of the 7th and again the bottom of the 8th, but giving those runs back as Arizona scored two in the top of the 8th and had a homerun to tie it in the top of the 9th. Craig Stammen who pitched the top of the 11th loaded the bases with no outs only to get two strikeouts and then a groundout to escape without giving up any runs.

Tomorrow, we continue our baseball ten days (we go Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). However because of multiple commitments we will drive. If the Nationals lose you will know who to blame.

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Upcoming Panel on Wearables & The Internet of Things (IoT)

August 17th, 2014 · atarc, technology

It’s that time again for another ATARC (Advanced Technology Academic Research Center) hosted Summit. And when there is a summit, there is a research/academic panel that I moderate.

The summit is the Federal Mobile Computing Summit, my panel is on Wearables & The Internet of Things. The Summit will be August 19 & 20, this coming Wednesday and Thursday,  at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC, my panel will be August 20 at 3:25.

It looks to be a great panel:

  • Jeff Boleng,  PhD, Research Scientist, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ralph Broom, Mobility and Security Engineer, representing GSA
  • Peter Dewar, Director of Information Technology, District of Columbia Retirement Board
  • AJ Jaghori, Chief Innovation Officer, Open Source Software Institute & CEO, Solebrity.me

We will be discussing what we think will be key developments in the coming near-term future relating to wearables as exemplified these days from Google Glass and Fitbits, to how to use such devices within a Government agency. We will broaden our discussion during the course of the panel to look at the more general topic of the Internet of Things, still another development that many claim will ‘change everything’ (as so many things have done in recent years).

If anyone has suggested questions I should make sure we discuss feel free to submit them as comments or send them to me directly at dmintz@atarc.org.

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Treeless Mountain

August 15th, 2014 · Entertainment, movies

Most mornings I walk on an elliptical walker in the basement and watch movies (or TV shows) from DVD’s from my over Netflix queue (now over 400 DVD’s long).

Many of the films I watch are foreign films. I find them interesting both because I feel I gain a bit of knowledge about the country the film is from and indirect knowledge through thinking about how the film maker/director/writer told their story, often having to sort of sneak the messaging through local censors.

One major difference between many of these films and modern American ‘big’ films is the relative simplicity of their storylines, meant in a positive sense. American films seem to have lots of stuff going on, with the films cutting back and forth between multiple, complicated plot lines. In many of the foreign films, or at least the ones I most enjoy, there often is really just one story, with much more lingering shots even when there is less frenetic action.

I just finished a film like that, Treeless Mountain, http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/treeless_mountain/. This is the story of two young sisters, Jin, who is six, and Bin, who is perhaps three or four. The two actresses, each only a year or so older than their part, were found by the writer and director, So Yong Kim, the first in a school and the second in a foster care facility. Their single mother leaves them to seemingly try and work out something with their departed father and they areleft with their Big Aunt. The mother tells them to put coins in their piggy bank and when it is full she will return.

The story is a simple one, slow moving as I mentioned by American standards. The director is able to bring out really wonderful performances by the two girls and leaves us with an emotional tale of having to grow up and deal with the sometimes difficult aspects of life while still young. I very much enjoyed it, for those interested in a wonderful story, and one not based on a DC or Marvel comic book (though I like those also), I would highly recommend it.

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A New Lesson From Our Last Walk

August 5th, 2014 · family, walking

As I have written previously, Ellen and I pick a local park to walk in every couple of weeks.

Earlier this week, we went to Black Hill Regional Park, http://www.montgomeryparks.org/facilities/regional_parks/blackhill/. Black Hill is really nice, Little Seneca Lake is there, the trails go in and out of forests. I suspect we will go back there again in coming months. In the fall, I am sure the shoreline is beautiful.

I told Ellen that in a different life if I knew I was going to be walking around parks, walking generally behind my power walking wife, in the early morning; that when I was much younger I would have more strongly considered a taller person to marry since in that case she would have taken care of more of the spider webs that we walk through. Ellen pointed out that even so she got rid of most of them even at her authoritative but shorter stature.

It is always good thing when each day brings a new lesson, even if the lesson cannot be necessarily acted upon.

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Federal Cloud Summit Panel I Moderated

July 17th, 2014 · cloud computing, technology

I moderated a panel about the Future of Cloud Computing July 9 at the Federal Cloud Computing Summit.

The three excellent panelists were:

  • Amol Deshpande, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland,
  • Grace Lewis, a Senior Member of the Technical Staff, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon, University, and
  • John Messina, a Computer Scientist, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Each of them had a slightly different focus which made the conversation pretty interesting.

Deshpande has been doing research into how to do big data analytics using clouds, optimizing data management, and figuring out how to manage operations in clouds to meet performance standards. Lewis focus on the issues of small clouds which she referred to as cloudlets (and which I called baby clouds). Messina is working on the next version of the very important NIST cloud reference architecture and has been active in working with other countries on international standards associated with clouds.

When I have moderated or been on panels dealing with this subject in the past much of the discussion was focused on the user interface to services being provided in a cloud. This panel however spent a lot of time with the issues that went on inside a cloud or between clouds. For example Lewis mentioned that the future is not going to be on mobile cloud computing (mobile, e.g. smart phone, to cloud) but rather will be on the development of intermediary capabilities that will sit between a mobile device and the cloud to improve the overall experience. Messina said that 80% of all cloud services will be consumed by other cloud services.

For another take on the panel, here is an article in fedscoop.

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What I Learned From My Birthday This Year

July 11th, 2014 · family, Firefly, Serenity, washington nationals

As many of you know my birthday was earlier this week.

Most of the day of my birthday I spent working on responding to discussion posts and grading midterm papers for the graduate class I teach at the University of Maryland University College. During the day I talked to my two wonderful daughters. I spent a weekend with Miriam, joined on Saturday by Ellen, seeing Broadway shows, movies (including Serenity, of course), an improv show, and wandered around New York City; my pre-birthday birthday. This coming Monday I will go with Ellen and my other daughter Tamar to see a jazz saxophonist at Blues Alley, Mindi Abair, my post-birthday birthday.

Of course I also received many Facebook and Linkedin Happy Birthday’s. One in particular stood out from someone I only met once. She worked at the FAA in Oklahoma City. I had lunch with her and a number of other FAA staff there, probably around 2007. She wrote that she had been thinking of me and the fact that I introduced her to Firefly, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(TV_series), and Serenity, all of which she loved, and noting that if I was interested in watching Nathan Fillion, who played the Captain in both, that he was in Castle (which I was aware of, but appreciated being told). More on this shortly.

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Federal Cloud Computing Summit Visionary Panel – Tomorrow July 9th

July 8th, 2014 · amarc, cloud computing, technology

I will be moderating a panel about the Future of Cloud Computing at the Federal Cloud Computing Summit tomorrow July 9th at the Ronald Reagan Building starting at 2:45.

It should be a great panel with professors from the University of Maryland College Park, Amol Deshpande, from their Cloud Computing Center and from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Grade Lewis. Our third panelist is a Computer Scientist from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who is working on the next version of the NIST Cloud reference architecture as well as being active in developing International Standards.

It was interesting in talking to the panelists in preparation for tomorrow. Much of the conversation, a bit to  my surprise, focused as much on what is going on regarding the architecture and performance IN the cloud compared to the interface TO the cloud. Topics like cloudlets, clouds of clouds, federated clouds, and a statement that in the future that 80% of all cloud services will be consumed by ‘other’ cloud services will be discussed tomorrow.

The agenda can be found here.

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Being The King

July 3rd, 2014 · theatre

This morning, Ellen asked me to keep my shower short (scheduling issues).

My response was that since I was the man, and thus the King, of the house, I could do whatever I wanted. In over thirty years of marriage, I am not sure I have ever experienced such out-loud laughter from Ellen, a reaction I am not convinced was entirely deserved.

Of course, over the last weekend during my visit with my older daughter, Miriam, in New York City, we saw the current Pippin revival (I highly recommend it) and I guess there are lessons there about being the king or wanting to be. As Pippin says when asked (in the original but not in this version) about how he feels at the end. “Trapped, ” he responds, “but happy”.

Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that this afternoon Ellen and I, at my request, will go to see The Fault in Our Stars at which I expect to cry. A sensitive King.

I kept the shower short.

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