Monthly Archives: February 2020

Captain’s Log: February 2020

In keeping with noting down the good and the bad briefly each month here is February.

The good

  • Managed the 10k steps a day challenge for another month. Some days it was hard and other days I was way way over the minimum. Energy levels returning. It was particularly challenging given the run of epic storms battering the country limiting outside time but we got that done folks.
  • Integrating a little weight lifting and pushups (standing up vs a wall for now) into the mix which have a major effect for me personally when burning calories. Trying to make that habitual as well. Picked up a kettlebell towards the end of the month and it really kicked my ass. Primo bit of kit that and I would highly recommend.
  • Prepared a talk called “Intro to SQL Injection” for Glasgow Defcon. With January having gone great, I saw that there was no speaker booked and figured why not challenge myself to pull something together over a weekend. Vulnerable LAMP stack created, application and slides pulled together without fuss.
  • Delivered said talk. Despite a few niggles about the venue layout and the microphone it seemed to go down well. Met some new legends (EHBEHCEH, KathrynMcBain, and laughingFalkor), and saw some returning legends for the first time in ages (wintervirus). Nobody seemed offended if I go for more advanced SQLi next month. So committed to doing round2 in March!
  • Went on holiday to a log cabin and had a genuinely relaxing time (despite the best efforts of storm Ciara making it a little leaky).
  • A colleague had a big test and not enough time to fully smash everything so gave me an absolute open goal of an RCE to play with. Not entirely trivial to get working but I managed to get a webshell, then reverse shell out of it at least and get some good onward findings. Felt good 😀
  • Prepared a talk called “Intro(ish) to SQL Injection” for AbertayHackers after having my presence demanded by Casual_Unknown and akhanhack following what I call my triumphant talk at G3C in 2019. Triumphant because I went for joy, and folks came out smiling. Unfortunately see The Bad section below 😦
  • I have used a FitBit to track my sleeping pattern in 2020. Fortunately or unfortunately I have no data from 2019 when all I can tell you is “living permanently awake and on high alert” which was unhealthy. By now I have a graph showing sleep quality if not duration improving. In a world of incremental gains I am saying this is definitely the most positive change to see. It is very likely the result of appropriate hydration in the daytime, and the moderate exercise.
  • Continuing to utilise childcare to get more time with my partner. As the kids get more independent it is absolutely vital to stop the vicious holding pattern we had established where a parent was always on duty.
  • Finally, over in Audiobook land I listened to almost all of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain. I say book. It is clearly a series of lectures with indicative interviews with patients recorded for you to listen in on. It is helping me have the language and critical thinking required to take 2020 Pirate to a better place.

The bad

  • Cancelling for said “Intro(ish) to SQL Injection” talk the morning off. Woke up. Kid was sick and my partner was sick. It made me feel absolutely awful to cancel something.
    • In raking though the positives at least more of the content for DC44141 in March had been completed earlier than I would have.
    • At least I wasn’t cancelling because I had some mad panic attack or anything.

Highlight of the month

  • My kids are getting a much better version of their dad. While I have always been present and have tried my best. They are getting a more energetic, less sleep deprived version. I am importantly far less shouty than 2019’s immobile and permanently in pain shitshow of a father.

Captain’s log: January 2020

After entirely writing 2019 off as not happening, I resolved to have a better 2020. Turning things around takes planning and effort. Here is the January log.

The good:

  • I walked more than 10,000 steps every day. Establishing a new baseline for my physical health after protracted periods off my feet in 2019. A resting heart rate a few beats per minute lower is not to be sniffed at.
  • I spoke to lots of friends and family on the phone in the evenings to help me through the 10k steps challenge. Reconnecting a bit with good people I had let myself get isolated from was great.
  • I drank water like it was going out of fashion.
  • I kept booze to a few special events when I was out with colleagues or with my wife.
  • I made sure I went outside every day even if it was a walk around the block.
  • I attended my first “hackathon” at work and was blown away by the joys of simply being around some utterly lovely people. Listening to colleagues talk about things they have been researching and then a spot of directed bug hunting was brilliant.
  • My hackathon efforts found a modest vulnerability in a wordpress plugin which I disclosed to the developer and ended with my first ever CVE reference. Go me.
  • I had some study time due while I prepared for an exam. I refreshed some app testing skills and delved into a few techniques I hadn’t had time to catch up on before. Studying is good for the soul.
  • I signed up to audible and listened to my first book in roughly 30 minute chunks walking to go get coffee whenever the sun poked out from the clouds.
  • I travelled solo on a plane twice without freaking out about it. The whole experience of travel had become stressful over recent years. So getting back in the saddle was uplifting.. Get it? Planes.. sky… uplifting?? Hard to please some people.
  • I sat and most likely failed an exam (but I won’t find out until February). I had a lovely time preparing for it, an uplifting journey, and actually really enjoyed spending a day hacking stuff that was vulnerable. It is in the good column because overall it was positive, and now I will know how to prepare for the next attempt if it is necessary.
  • Patrick Stewart returned as Jean-Luc Picard. It was like meeting an old boss you love for breakfast (which I also managed this month, and which was also delightful). Two episodes deep the show is going strong.
  • Dr Who returned with a flurry of brilliant episodes which generally entertained.

The bad:

  • A panic attack while sat about to eat dinner with my colleagues the night before that hackathon I mentioned.

I clearly but politely said “I am off folks” and then spent the rest of the evening breathing cold night air. Speaking to my partner on the phone and playing guitar in my hotel room. It worked. I calmed down. Improving my ability to cope with and recover from the situation is important.

Probable cause of panic? Take your pick. The restaurant was insanely hot. I had spent a long day socialising pretty hard which, when you work from home is pretty rare. I had driven a long way to be there. I was all out of my routine etc etc.

Highlight of the month:

  • I had an actual proper date with my wife without the kids. The time when we could not achieve this is coming to an end. We can spend some time together alone which is great. This could be life altering. We had such a laugh and enjoyed a nice meal.

I feel like the year has started well.