Captain’s Log: June 2022

first weekend

This was the sunny jubilee long weekend. In it I:

Destroyed a built in cupboard – I spent the Thursday smashing this down, and then had the rubble collected on Friday. I have now taken out all of the additions made to the house since it was built. I have uncovered all of the areas of broken floors and areas that will need replastering. I cannot build things, but I am very happy to destroy things! A step closer to getting a joiner/decorator to coming and fixing things.

Went to the shops – more than once actually. We generally order online and so it was nice to have a jaunt to the shops with the kids to get them involved.

Played board games – a quick round of Qwirkle with the family. We need to build up tolerance to game time as I would love us to play more often.

Played in the garden – we stuck a tent up for a couple of days and had fun using it to stay in the shade at the hottest times. Watched “Captain Nova” with the eldest in the tent. I have been routinely murdering bits of the garden over the last few months. Not enough to keep on top of it but enough to mean we can still use it as the lawn is not totally wild. On the Sunday I had a go at the more aggressive weeds/unwanted plants.

First Week

I went to see a live football game for the first time in a decade. It was Scotland vs Armenia at Hampden. It was fantastic to have a night out without the kids and to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen since my wedding. It helped that the game was a victory too.

second weekend

Went to a kids cellidh. Played games with the family.

I also watched Scotland get thrashed by Ireland at football somewhat inexplicably. It was a good time. But fairly low key.

third weekend

On the Saturday I dropped the youngest to their first ever birthday party for a friend that lives round the corner. The covid interrupted kids really missed out on things like this so it was nice to see them toddling back afterwards happy and loaded with a bag full of cake.

I asked the eldest what they would like to do with me for two hours and to my surprise the first thing they suggested was: “I want to take you out for a run dad. I will go on my scooter while you run”. In the spirit of saying yes to the kids more I did this and it was great. 30 minutes of that and then we played beyblades for 30 minutes ending on the final suggestion of chilling on the sofa watching some TV.

What I realised is I never really get alone time with either kid. It is sort of messy with both of them because they are at different developmental stages. What one wants to do is boring for the other and so it is always a messy time when it is me alone with both kids. I have taken the note and tried to ensure there are activities I do with each individually regularly. I have continued the exercise with the eldest, and the youngest still just wants to be tossed around the place a bit like a tiny acrobat.

On fathers day I was treated to a trip to Zippo’s circus. This was honestly brilliant. I was really up for it and the kids were mesmerised. The skill of the performers is amazing. What a fantastic show!

It is also notable because this is the kind of event I would not have dreamt of going to due to pointless and stupid anxiety that I have. I would have fixated ahead of time on nonsense. I am a lot better at pushing through and doing stuff anyway now, and every time I have it has always been excellent. Go see the circus when it is in town.

final weekend

On the Saturday I took my partner out to Golf Fang. In the spirit of trying something new. At 2pm it was a full blown raging nightclub but with mini-golf. I wasn’t prepared for the fact it really was a night club in the middle of the day. But there you are with music blaring out such that you cannot talk to your comrades surrounded by hen do’s spilling cocktails on each other.

I had a nice time. We then walked over to Mother India and had an excellent lunch from their lunch menu. It was excellent to have a meal out that was relaxed without the kids and to talk a bit about the optimistic future we want to be in.

On the Sunday the eldest took me out for a long run while they scooted. Later I tried to take the youngest alone to “The Unit”. It was rammed so we couldn’t get a table. This was aborted after the kid ran feral around the place for about 45 minutes.

short bits

Life:

  • Exercise – I have been doing jogging regularly for a while now. Getting back into it. Aiming for more than 100 quality active minutes a week I have now achieved that for a full 5 weeks. In the final week of this month my eldest kid has gone out with me on a scooter. Long may this continue. My resting heart rate is heading south even if my weight hasn’t changed I am fitter, happier, and sleeping better. Time to change it up by counting calories again too as the final piece of the puzzle.

Media:

  • Star Trek TNG – Obviously I have seen this before. But I started it again assuming Netflix UK will lose it too soon. I don’t much fancy getting another streaming service just to watch a program from the last century that I have watched 3 times before.
  • Babylon 5 – I am watching this again with my partner and we are up to season 4. I haven’t re-watched it since it originally aired and this is really an excellent show. Everyone should absolutely watch this.

Music:

I have made a lot of music of late. I believe that when you leave a job you should do so on a song. Whenever a colleague chooses to hack new clouds from afar I put something together when I can. There have been a few colleagues moving on.

My Main Man:

A legend leaves my team.

We are grey:

This is actually the first leaving song collaboration! Where the leaver made the backing track but asked me to “I dunno, add some words to it”. Maybe want to adjust your volume before starting it as it is loud:

Message Deleted:

This is the nonsense I had part made before “We are grey” was made. Figured I’d share what I had made anyway. The schtick here was accusing them of quitting the band as we have long term talked about collaborating. We finally did (we are grey) above!

Captain’s Log: May 2022

first weekend

The first weekend was good. We had some neighbours round to break their Eid fast because the in-laws were in town and wanted to feed some new people. It was nice to finally have a house guest over to have a meal. I guess we have forgotten the skill during Covid and we were legally banned from doing so at the time we moved. I can see a BBQ in the future.

We also got the kids to the local parks and had a lovely stroll about in the sunshine.

another fecking health scare

After the in-laws left I felt the need to have a wee dram for the first time in a while. Long term followers of these posts will know I am at risk of starting to have liver disease so I essentially stopped drinking at that news which was over a year ago. I was away with the fairies after what was only a couple of pub measures.

Unfortunately I then started to have worrying pain in my back. I wasn’t able to work out if it was maybe muscular (from all the exercise or gardening I had been doing) or if it was perhaps the first sign that I really need to be super kind to my liver.

I was concerned enough that I called to book a GP appointment to be told I needed to wait about a week to get an appointment. I was pretty certain whatever I had going on would a) have resolved itself by then or b) I would have been rushed to hospital if things progressed. I was having some other symptoms and eventually ruled the liver out and focused on the kidneys. With my MD from Google it seemed obvious that it was likely kidney stones.

I always stay pretty well hydrated so it seemed nuts that I could have been dehydrated by such a small amount of alcohol to achieve that (and I was drinking water in another glass too).

second weekend

Friday on the second weekend I met up with “my longest serving friend”. We met in primary school and, while we live in the same city, have been exceptionally shit at meeting up. Partly because of family lives, and maybe also because of how nuts I have gotten over going places. Since I am working on that all the time when he asked if I wanted to meet up. I jumped at it.

Unfortunately when the day had spun round I was in the middle of what I was calling the kidney-stone saga. I didn’t really want to get on the train and head into town due to how much water I had been consuming that day to try and dislodge the fucker. So I was delighted when he wanted to drive out this way instead. I had a really good catch up and was very happy to see him.

Buoyed by my first night out in… Well. I think this year. I ignored the kidney pain with some ibuprofen and took the kids to Braehead to buy some summer clothes, and to harvest a list of aspirational toys to motivate them with. If we can see continued regular positive feedback from the school then kid A is onto a winner with a choice of something off the list.

third weekend

Friday after the kids were back from school we ate, played board games until there was a near riot and then watched “Sing”. For the first time that actually went pretty well. I could see us maybe braving a cinema again soon. The problem has been the youngest kid being unable to watch a film and therefore we just wasted probably £30 as both them and one adult will be pacing the foyer.

We went out to a park on Saturday morning and had an impromptu picnic. Great to see the eldest wowing local kids a repertoire of ancient jokes that every kid seems to be delighted to rediscover lol. I must have been tired as I pretty much slept through all of Saturday other than that. Bringing it back for some quality time watching the Eurovision Song contest followed by an hour or so of YouTube Karaoke. It was nice to spend some quality alone time with my partner.

On Sunday very little was achieved by me. Played some board games, tidied a room, and did some exercise. I am still keeping on at that as best I can. On the Sunday it was skipping rope in the garden and light jogging to the end and back of the garden. The skipping is proper exhausting but I need to get into it to maintain the spring in my (formerly) busted ankle.

fourth weekend

Weekend started with a play date for Kid A after school on Friday. Then we got on a train early Saturday morning (me fighting that anxiety!). Had breakfast in a little cafe near central station. Then we had a meander through the Buchannan galleries shopping centre ending on a pretzel before heading home.

On Sunday the missus hung out with her friend up from near London while I played with the kids. All in a pretty good one.

final weekend

A lot of pressure on this one. We had booked a babysitter for the first time in ages with the intent on going out and doing something on Saturday afternoon. We are so out of practice at being without kids that I honestly do not know what to do with myself. I may no longer be such sparkling mealtime entertainment after 8 years being locked indoors.

We saw Dr Strange 2, I had some minor anxiety for about the first 20 minutes of that before it settled down like it normally does. Then I sort of enjoyed the film. The cameos were pretty great and it cracked along at a nice pace.

There really wasn’t that much choice for restaurants nearby and so we ended up in Nandos. It was not the greatest meal time experience with the food being a poor effort for a chain that is normally reasonable. The layout of the restaurant was also a bit weird in that it seemed we were setup such that you were looking at someone from another table at all times. That is not normal for restaurants! It felt awkward basically staring down a stranger while you bite into dry chicken sheepishly!

So yes.. I am trying not to be too harsh on that weekend. Given the cost of a babysitter, cinema, and a meal being somewhat astronomical it feels like you have to simply have the best time of your life in 5 hours. That is too much pressure and it is definitely a muscle that has atrophied. But… Here is the good thing. We did something (even if it was a tad disappointing) together. The commitment to do it and the desire to do that more is there.

short bits

Media:

  • Cobra Kai – I finally succumbed to the lure of nostalgia for Karate Kid. I am glad that I did because it hits an interesting tone and was fun to watch. It was nice to see Lawrence get fleshed out and I particularly liked the bit where they explained the original film from his perspective and it left you thinking that Larusso was the bully. Great. I have to mention how perfect the soundtrack is too. Am now stuck waiting on Season 5 having caught up.

Hacking:

  • I honestly did some of my finest work in May. I smashed three web applications in a row and was feeling rather great about that. Harvesting enough material to deliver multiple flash talks for colleagues too because there was at least something worthwhile in the way each project had gone. There has been a lot of new starters to work with as we expand the business and they have all been great to work with already making me feel more positive. Paired-hacking adventures are always more fun!
  • Then I was scheduled on a humbling Mobile application assessment where I had to graft and didn’t really get anywhere. Such is life. You always have things to learn. I was glad of my blog post on getting started with iOS testing from 2020 which honestly helped me getting back into the saddle to do battle again. As always I tried my best, learned a bunch of new things, but it felt like quite a come down from the month of ownage up until that point!

Music:

Still pushing myself to make new music most Sunday evenings. It is all keeping me entertained as I learn how to do all the things. As always I say things are a work in progress but realistically I never go back to a track and generally stop at the 2 hour mark with whatever I have cobbled together. Here is “Not my circus”:

Captain’s Log: April 2022

During the first weekend my partner had a friend up from London visiting so they went out and about leaving me with the kids on Saturday. This was really good because they were allowed to be without kids and to have a degree of spontaneity. They came home buzzing and it was nice to see.

On Sunday we went to the huge Victoria park in Glasgow and had a big explore around it. There are areas we had never visited before like the bit around the fossil grove. It is a wonderous area of natural beauty. Small. But really diverse in the trees. The kids had a lovely time bouncing off the little cliffs and running around in the trees. Then their friend became available again. So off they went spontaneously for a second adventure.

I enjoyed some extended video game time with the kids who are currently wanting me to play Dragon Quest Builders 2 endlessly. We all enjoy this but the days of me being able to play a game more than 4 hours are past! I eventually put it down and refused to touch it again that day.

The second weekend was written off. I was supposed to drive to the coast and see my parents. I think a hangover from the Covid that ran through the house last month I was exhausted and easily out of breath. The activity of the previous weekend was slow and deliberate in an effort to not exhaust myself. I was trying to push through and just drive away for the weekend but realised I really needed a lie down so cancelled it. I then spent the entire weekend lying down pretty much and felt much better by the end of it.

Easter weekend came around and I was feeling better. We do not know when we will find a builder for the loft conversion so we have started doing what we can ourselves. I smashed down an old wardrobe in the kids room, and built a bunch of Ikea furniture for my office. While still miles away from the goal of being tidy this has been excellent for my mental health. My office has nothing on the floor cluttering it up. My hobbies and work stuff are all at hand. So I have been inspired and made some music too.

Around about here in the month I popped a shell on a customer engagement. It has been a little while since I have had a less obvious vuln to play with. It was Java Expression Language (EL) and I think I will write a blog about that as it was fun.

For the fourth weekend we did the final trip to the tip dealing with the destroyed built-in wardrobe’s rubbish. The kids went off for a trip to the park with a babysitter and me and my partner got to eat a meal in peace al fresco in the sunshine. It was nice but could have done without the wind.

Pretty much all of Sunday was cleaning the house. One of the more depressing things about moving to this house is that it is exceptionally hard to clean. By tackling the storage issues we can finally expose enough floor to actually regularly clean it. Other than the regular quick clean. The house is starting to feel ready to actually live in which is nice.

The final weekend the in-laws flew in and we were treated to a flurry of cooked food. It was good but a little bit stressful since family staying is always going to be tense without enough space to give people alone time.

Media:

  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 – we really enjoyed DQB and this one is bigger and better. I really enjoyed it. The kids watched every hour of this over the last 3 months and it was nice spending that time with them.
  • Community – I have seen this show before but it is really really good isn’t it. Definitely worth the re-watch.
  • Parks and Recreation – first time for me watching this. It already feels like a nice comfy pair of slippers. Funny and ridiculous in the right places.

Hacking:

  • For work I hit a target pretty hard and achieved “root” on their server. It is still awesome to land a shell and demonstrate impact. I love my job!

Music

I made a track in an entirely different way. I took dialogue from a conference speech and cut it up to tell a story. Also working in my DAW (Reaper)

That was the month that was April 2022.

Captain’s Log: March 2022

We started the month still recovering from a round of illness in the house in February. So an excellent start.

First weekend of March we got away to Balloch and met up with my brother and sister in law who were in the area on holiday. We haven’t seen each other in over 2 years so that was great. A good meal out at Slanj Restaurant which is a beautiful building and good food. Other than that we went to the rather excellent park around the crumbling castle at Balloch and the kids enjoyed going feral in a wide open space. The play park there is magnificent 10/10 would recommend and while they are occupied you can enjoy views of Loch Lomond and surrounding hills.

The second weekend was going to be a busy one for me. My partner was scheduled to go to London to see friends so it was on muggins here to look after both kids alone. I get anxious about that because a wee voice from nowhere goes: what if you collapse when in sole charge of two kids?

Well.. I have trained the eldest to unlock the door and get help from neighbours, and I have survived the worry a few times before. Take that anxiety! There is ever increasing evidence that things will be fine. Actually I wasn’t really thinking about this nonsense this time so I was in a better place mentally.

Unfortunately (on Friday 11th) she tested positive for covid by LFT test moments before leaving the house. Then a bunch of days later Kid A tested positive. This dragged isolation over two weeks. With kids going spare. All of us feeling “meh” it was a great time.

I had some annual leave when we were locked in. I used that time to do minor improvements to the house:

  • I installed a full run of compliant fire alarms.
  • I hung a fancy wall mirror.
  • I replaced the toilet seat (yea.. It needed it).
  • I built a new BBQ/Pizza oven for the garden.

Looky at pimping BBQ thing:

For the fourth weekend we were allowed out into society so we went straight to Blair Drummond Safari park and had a lovely time. Totally nailed it with the exact perfect weather and a long but eventually successful hunt for the fresh doughnut business (which has moved near the Dinosaurs). Not saying we only go their for the doughnuts, but definitely they need to happen.

In terms of exercise I was basically not at the races this month. I am learning to be kinder to myself by saying; we were sick, then covid trapped, and I now am still recovering from that. While I never actually tested positive I am definitely more out of breath than I was last month. So I have tried to ease back with walking again before getting the running shoes back on. The main thing is to ensure I do a little every day and then aim for fun weekends.

In the final week of March Kid A has managed four consecutive GOOD DAYS at school and home. This has never happened. They are trying things again (after being brave at Blair Drummond and doing a tonne of new things).

I have not felt this relaxed in a very very long time. If I can just get some exercise back on the agenda regularly I’ll be living my best life.

Media:

  • 24 Season 8 – I love 24. I think it is absolutely hilarious and dramatic and brilliant. I am not convinced I have seen Season 8 before though. Surely I would remember Katee Sackoff and president “Nixon” coming back for more villainy? Or it could be that I am just simply old enough to have forgotten it. I have definitely seen the movie set after it with Robert Carlyle in it (Redemption), so the chances are high I have forgotten Day 8. Which is… Kind of great. Because I got to watch it again a-new.
  • 24 Season 9/Jack goes to London – I finally saw this! It was everything I would hope it would be. The scene in Wembley stadium was particularly brilliant.
  • 24 Legacy/the one without Jack – I can see why this season was not as well received. It just seemed that literally everyone was endlessly incompetent. Which I do think is mostly true of most seasons tbf, it was just more acutely felt. Early doors this features my favourite ever terror cell that totally fucked up their own shit without any CTU involvement. I found it hilarious. Honestly bravo. They were the best. It had some great moments but it was also a little under baked I think. I wasn’t aware it only had a 12 episode run so I was sort of waiting for more when it just sort of ended.
  • Start Trek Enterprise – many people hate this series. I have always been a fan of it. You know that netflix can skip intros right? If you judge a series by its intro entirely then I think you might have missed some great shows. I think Season three with the Xindi is possibly the greatest single season of Star Trek as it has an overriding narrative with a mystery they are slowly piecing together. Then Season four is just criminally a short version of what should have taken 2 or 3 seasons to complete the narrative on.

Hacking:

  • After about 4 months Mitre hit me with CVE-2021-44082 for the Textpattern XSS to RCE finding. The patch and details were already out there on pentest.co.uk.
  • I posted a pentesting relevant blog on the physical security afforded by a Master Lock Key Box. I am in no way an expert on physical security. But I needed to crack the 4 digits to get one off a wall. Not going to lie, it was fun doing this. Doing things outside of your skillset is a great way to learn.
  • I met an actual colleague in person. This has not happened in a pretty long time. So that was nice. Dare I say I might try and open the door to folks again to come and work from my gaff once Kid B is in full time nursery. I’d like it but maybe nobody could take sitting on hard chairs for a whole day lol. So maybe a bit of prep for that, I have time.

That was the month that was March 2022.

Beating a Master Lock (key box)

I moved house a while back and the place came with one of those Air BnB style key boxes on the front made by Master Lock. There was nothing in the handover about it and it was likely that it had belonged to the previous previous owners as it looked unloved for a long time.

It has kept me up at night a little worrying about previous owners coming back, or someone turning up and guessing the codes to get keys. It has been on a rather long todo list to get into it.

There was a recent break in across the street so I have been thinking more about it. I was sticking a memorable to me 4 digit code on it and then checking on it periodically. This morning I found someone had changed the digits significantly. So that meant someone was very likely messing with it recently. The task leapt a few places to top priority.

Turned out it took me, a complete moron with no physical security experience, approximately 15 minutes to get into one of these… Using chopped up top trumps cards. Here are my weapons:

The theory is nice and simple and fully explained at the video below:

It is a little concerning that it was this easy to do so. I am also curious as to what would happen with insurance if we were robbed by someone who obtained a key and then used it to rob us. Isn’t there something about it not being a break in? I am not sure.

PS: for the terminally curious;

  • There was nothing inside it.
  • The code was likely a year of birth.

Why is this potentially really bad?

This is bad because these devices are used a lot in situations where the vulnerable or elderly need regular in-home care. If they struggle to get to the front door, or they are a fall hazard, then these can be fitted to enable the visiting care staff to gain entry. The good they do is undoubted!

Additionally what springs to mind is the AirBnb scenario. Many of these devices are used on short-term lets. Not only are these often vacant. There are usually web interfaces telling someone when they are empty.

What to do?

I would consider using these devices anyway. Because it is orders of magnitude better than sticking a key under a plant pot (like people otherwise do). But be realistic that this is not impenetrable and that it probably needs additional deterrents. So the classics of having gravel on the path to the door, a security light that comes on, and a camera if you are getting serious.

I am no expert in physical security so I am interested in other ways to mitigate the risks that are cost effective. I would also say that in the bulk of break-ins such subtlety is not even attempted. They just smash glass and open something. It is simple and works.

Take care

Captain’s Log: February 2022

February was a curious month. I was buoyed by no longer feeling significant pain in my sore foot/ankle and was enjoying doing 3-4 morning jogs back from the school run. I could feel myself getting fitter and it was awesome! So I was sprinting into the month full of optimism.

Then, as tends to happen, there was a bout of illness in the household. As is tradition it happened over a long weekend that I had engineered by taking some days off work to be with the kids on half term. We went to a swimming pool for the first time in ages and then over the next 4 days we all eventually cracked and gave way to Norovirus symptoms. It was pretty horrific. I have never vomited with such force in all my life. 10/10 can recommend, go for the experience.

It took about 10 days for me to return to action and to sustainably be able to keep food down. Not gonna lie. I absolutely smashed the Uber Eats button about 10 times in 3 days after I could finally eat.

Now as we get into March I am tentatively back to exercising. The work engagement is busy and stressful and I am looking forward to two speaking opportunities during what happens to be Scottish Cyber Week.

In February I started watching Season 8 of 24. Because… I love 24 and how absurd it became. I was not entirely sure that I have seen season 8 so I have been cracking on with that. Also rewatching Star Trek Enterprise.

As a result of losing approximately half of the month I haven’t really got any photos so this months image is essentially a magnetic play toy that entered the house. I can recommend it the kid and I have had a lark making faces.

Captain’s Log: January 2022

This year I do not have a table load of targets to hit. It is much simpler. Get fitter, and be happier. For me one definitely leads to the other.

Ever since a kid was born that I was responsible for it was impossible for me to find the time. My health, both mental and physical, clearly took a lot of dents since. I have periodically gotten back to exercise and always felt way way better. But… Then I had a run of bad health which kept knocking me back by immobilising me for weeks and months at a time. These were not training injuries, just things that happened.

Progress is not a straight line. I tell myself that a lot now. Before we could all walk we fell a million times. So now I just tell myself that each attempt is the direction of travel. Travel always has delays :D.

The thing holding me back in 2021 from doing the same thing was an injury around March. I really did not want to risk injuring it further because I had been immobilised a few times in the previous years. That really, really, really sucked. So I rested it and went to the GP when the pain hadn’t gone after a few months.

I have seen a physio in December 2021 who set me right. I have slowly worked stretches, bounces, and now jogging back in. By the end of January I have jogged back from dropping kids at school most days for about three weeks. I have to make that journey. I am now making it work for me. It is a much healthier choice.

The result is that I have significantly reduced the pain in my right ankle/foot. I am getting fitter and the endorphins are helping me in literally every area of my life. So here is to feeling like me again. It took a while.

Slight gear shift

A love note to lost friends. My friend Rintu Basu sadly left this mortal plain early in January after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was an absolutely top guy. Smart, caring, kind. Free with actually useful advice that was delivered in a way that you listened and could accept.

I am imagining the joy of him meeting Paul Mason (who we sadly lost over a year ago now) and having a conversation. The two of them were big big characters and into so many overlapping things that I know they would be a riot together. It seems absurd that the two didn’t know each other.

It has reminded me that we all eventually leave our friends and loved ones some day. If we can manage to trigger 1/10th of the love and respect these two have then we will truly have lived and loved well.

So I am going to get fit not because that’ll mean I live forever. But for certain my time here will be more fun. Living for you lads too so I need the extra energy.

Captain’s Log: December 2021

December was mostly a roaring success. I started to feel more like the me of old. I enjoyed time with my family and my partner. It was honestly a great end to the year. With a blip of being ill via Covid Booster in the last week of work. But C’est la vie. Progress isn’t a straight line and roads all get bumpy.

Time for the sort of monthly/annual summary:

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayThis was a target I set 12 months ago. After I had managed a full 365 days of doing 10k steps a day. It seemed like a minimal increase and one that was entirely achievable. Having moved myself so regularly in 2020 I was ready for massively increased activity and to finally lose weight again. Sadly I hurt my foot/ankle in March and I never really recovered. This was dead from the first quarter basically.
150 active minutes per weekThis was the “real” target for 2021. Yea I had done raw movement but now I wanted to structure genuine exercise back on a regular basis. I did manage this from December 2020 until the “injury”. Then it was unachievable while I adopted a strategy of resting up until the pain went away.
1 technical blog a monthI started 2021 with about 8 posts in draft and figured I would just put those out. When I delved into it some of the posts were now more-or-less irrelevant as the technologies were pretty much retired, dwindling, or when I googled found others had been quicker at posting the ideas. If we substitute this ambition for “do more security research” then I definitely managed that.

I was involved in three research projects which generated 17 CVE vulnerabilities blogged out of my employers website. There has been a slow down at getting CVE numbers issued by Mitre noticeable in the back end of 2021 which has held my final disclosure posts up.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures on Saturday mornings.
Record five songsI have definitely managed this and then some. So well done me. Still got many years of learning to do here but it really helps to set aside time to make music.
OSWEReplaced this with sitting an exam that work needed me to do. One attempt was aborted last minute due to waiting on a kid’s negative COVID test meaning I could not travel to sit the exam. I did get to sit the exam in December and as I am writing this I await the result.
Panic AttacksDecember was an excellent month. So lets start with that. I got a lot more sleep than usual. I was far more relaxed as a result.

However, I did have one panic incident. This was triggered by the stress of travelling to London to sit the exam. I knew this one was going to come because I have been stuck in the house so long. The thought of getting on a plane was low key terrifying me for months. So obviously I had some proper white-knuckle terror moments after I checked my bag in at Glasgow airport. I just wanted to get in a taxi straight home and write off whatever was in my bag. You can make your own fight or flight joke here because I certainly have! It is plainly ridiculous to the cold logic engine which normally runs my brain.

I called my wife who talked me off the ledge. I splashed some water on my face and I took it one task at a time. As predicted the flight was actually fine and, as always, the journey home was an absolute riot where I felt none of the ill effects.

If we talk about the entirety of 2021 then I had fewer and much less impactful bouts than 2020. This is because I have coping strategies and I am exposing myself to triggers to challenge the absolute nonsense that is going on in the silly part of my brain. I think the trend will remain downwards in 2022.

Other bits

Audiobooks – still plodding on with the Shoal series. I have completed Nova War, and have moved on to Empire of Light. As I have gotten back some mobility I have been able to walk around listening to audiobooks. This has massively helped improve my mood. I listened to several hours of this on my trip to London.

Television 1 – Babylon 5. My partner (probably a bigger nerd than me) had never seen B5. So I halted my re-watch around season 3 and started it again with them in the evenings. It has been really nice seeing them predict the plot twists several times and use their fantastic talent of spotting any jobbing actor that has ever been in Star Trek within moments regardless of how heavily made up they were in either show. This is an honest to god super power! Sometimes the voice is enough. It is amazing.

Television 2 – Star Trek (Original Series). Such melodrama. I live for the musical cues. Episodic content where every character resets between the end of one show and the next week is kind of jarring in the modern age. I cannot get over how Ltd Uhura had her ENTIRE MEMORY ERASED in one episode. They start to teach her basic skills and by next week she was totally over it! If you have any example of a character being reset harder than that I would love to hear it!

Video Games 1 – Wolfenstein: the new colossus. What a wild ride! I am only a few hours into it and have massively enjoyed the story. It is absolutely nuts.

Video Games 2 – Football Manager 2021 (not the latest one). I do enjoy spreadsheets and I have certainly got my monies worth out of this over the last 12 months. I have a save game where Scotland won a Euros championship about 4 years from now. Lets hope life imitates that save game 😀

Family – Kid A has been improving their behaviour by virtue of finally maturing. Progress is not a straight line and we are still getting frequent calls from the school about them. But there are more good days than there were before. The penny is starting to drop. Kid B is now showing a hilarious and much more chilled personality than Kid A. They are very different beasts.

House – planning permission and drawings all done for a loft conversion so we are going to have to find building companies to give us quotes. Finding trusted partners to do projects is always the real challenge. We are fighting whatever Brexit nonsense RE: materials and labour so the project might be dead before it is off the ground if the prices are out of range.

  • Plan A is “top down” – loft conversion. If the quotes are reasonable. Otherwise…
  • Plan B is “bottom up” – the ground floor is an absolute mess and we can get significantly better living conditions by replacing the kitchen and bathroom which we definitely have the budget for. Annoying that the home report lied so hard about the condition of the place that this is now necessary to replace floors that are marked as “category 1 – Excellent”.

Health – saving the biggest bit for the end. I went to a private Physio twice before Christmas. I had been waiting several months for a GP referral to land before resuming exercise. I had put on weight due to inactivity and it was making me more miserable. The Physio has confirmed that the pain is now most likely because I have rested an injury too long and allowed that area to atrophy. A few stretches and exercises chucked my way and I have already significantly reduced the pain. The main thing I needed was confidence that resuming exercise was not going to risk further injury and I was told categorically this was not the case. So I am taking baby steps back to jogging which is an activity that always improves my physical and mental health enormously. I have been given a green light to do the thing I wanted to. I am already seeing early results and cannot wait!

Regards

Captain’s Log: November 2021

This month was remarkable for the joy of walking again! It is truly a simple pleasure to be able to go places. Last month I broke a toe and it is now ok to walk again.

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI am not really aiming for this as I recover from the various injuries. I have managed two or three 10k steps a day per week this month which is a step in the right direction.
150 active minutes per weekNowhere close. But I managed about half from the walking. A huge improvement from a month of being stationary. My mood and everything is so much better.
1 technical blog a monthFinally published research via the work blog covering 10 CVEs in OpenCMS 11.0.2. These were found in collaboration with my colleague Sam Moore. I also published a Proof Of Concept for the ClickJacking vulnerability which resulted in admin level access.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures on Saturday mornings.
Record five songsI have probably recorded more than 5 songs for the year. So lets smash that goal this month.. *woo*.

I am making it a pretty regular hobby now. Considering upping my game with collaborations, or maybe biting the bullet and getting singing lessons and such. I have never taken it seriously but it is kind of fun.

I have not practiced playing guitar so often in my entire life and can feel lots of gains.
OSWEThis was a personal goal. I was asked by work to pursue another exam so this is probably not going to happen. If we are honest I am getting the joy of studying and improving my technical ability anyway. So this has changed to be “study to get better at the technical side”. I have been smashing through some more stacks so it is paying off.
Panic AttacksNovember was a pretty clear month. One or two moments where I needed to remember to hydrate and rest.

Other bits

Panic Attacks– I have not been on a train in years. The last time I did, I had a panic attack. Now I know that it was entirely unrelated in my conscious mind. But it is undeniable that I have chosen to avoid trains since. It was very unpleasant to be stuck on a train for 3 hours panicking back at a time I had no coping techniques at my disposal. I do have tools now. Soooooo… I went on four different trains this month. Not going to lie. There was definite uneasiness on the outward journeys. But I *always* came home smiling and full of the joys of life. Exposure therapy in action. The image for this post shows my face on the way out and back on my first trip.

Audiobooks – still plodding on with the Shoal series. I have completed Nova War, and have moved on to Empire of Light. As I have gotten back some mobility I have been able to walk around listening to audiobooks. This has massively helped improve my mood.

Television 1 – Doctor Who was back with a bang! On Halloween an opener to the Flux story line left me thirsty for more. Then this month it continued to deliver joy. It was nice to properly watch this with the kids. They have mostly sat there politely and let us watch it.

Television 2 – I watch all of Kim’s Convenience this month. It was joyous. Let some of this into your heart.

Public Speaking – I did a talk at Edinburgh Defcon for the firs time. I always figured I would be drinking beers in Edinburgh when I did. But… It was good to get off the fence.

Video Games 1 – Hollow Knight has been a bit of an obsession the last 2 months. I have sunk around 60 hours into it. I was attempting to get the PS4 trophies and also generally just loved getting lost in it. The platforming was joyous, the art gorgeous, and the boss battles challenging. I could have completed the story much faster but I kept hunting around for more to do. I am letting this linger on and refuse to end the story until I have done the fools challenge.

Video Games 2 – Wolfenstein: the new colossus. I somehow missed that this came out. The story is absolutely WILD. I am surely not even half of the way into this and it is such a roller coaster. I write this after a very powerful scene. The plot twist was absolutely brilliant.

Family – I played a lot of board and card games with the kids. We went to the park several times. Their granny visited. The eldest had some play dates. I taught my eldest literally everything I know about playing the piano, then we jammed! They are getting good at singing and hopefully getting confidence from it. We put the Christmas decorations up together. It was all rather nice.

House – We have tried to get builders to quote for an attic conversion. Not many have come to view the project. None have as yet delivered a quote. We still have no idea if we can even afford to do this. I have gone with doing smaller things myself regularly to feel progress. This month we built a new cabinet for the kitchen and finally gained the counter space and storage we needed to put all of our kitchen stuff into the kitchen. The next project will be to sort through the things in the kitchen so that they are to hand where they should be. This will be a big change.

This was mostly a great month.

Regards

Captain’s Log: October 2021

First, a highlight. I recorded a wee video which should speak to parents everywhere:

I was waiting for paint to dry with the front door open for air flow when I made this. As a bonus the neighbours have left me alone since!

This was a month marred by breaking my big toe on my left foot. It was sore but I have had worse. The featured image is the first day I managed to brave putting a shoe on. I have now healed up and am raring to start a bit of walking again.

Here is how I did in the new condensed table format.

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my right ankle in March so this took a backburner. I started October getting back to decent mobility. Then guess what? I broke the big toe on my left foot! A temporary set back. By the last week of October I was able to walk about without flinching so I am hitting November with delusions of walking around again. I need to. I have put so much weight on with all these setbacks.
150 active minutes per weekNowhere close. The broken toe really made this impossible.
1 technical blog a monthI sneaked out a short blog post about finding missing patches in .net applications where you don’t have the source code.

There is also one that is still ready and waiting on some CVE references to get assigned.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures on Saturday mornings.
Record five songsI have probably recorded more than 5 songs for the year. I am making it a pretty regular hobby now. Considering upping my game with collaborations, or maybe biting the bullet and getting singing lessons and such. I have never taken it seriously but it is kind of fun.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity. I was due to sit an exam this month so I took on the Portswigger Academy labs for a while. I really appreciate that these labs existed and that they are available for free. I still have lots of them to get through but I might actually do that exam instead of OSWE.
Panic AttacksThe start of October was pretty brilliant. I was getting back into the zone. I was sleeping, I was eating right, and exercise was in the right direction. The foot injury had the possibility of dragging me into depression but I chose to tell myself it was a brief delay and it worked. It was a tough month but I weathered it well.

Other bits

Audiobooks – still plodding on with the Shoal series. I am at Nova War. Without massive stretches of the day where I am walking about outside I did not really get the time for this it deserves. But it is good.

Television 1 – Deep Space 9. I finished this again. There are episodes that need to start with “warning; contains Gul Dukat and Kai Winn kissing”. Still a very entertaining show. Some really amazing episodes.

Television 2 – Watching Another Life season 2. I am completely bemused as to what happened in Season 1. There was no recap and me and my partner in crime were significantly confused. It is a good show. I love that the aliens are clearly Scottish “Ach-aye-ians”? You cannot hide that from me.

Television 3 – Doctor Who was back with a bang! On Halloween an opener to the Flux story line left me thirsty for more.

Television 4 – I re-watched Kimmy Schmidt. An excellent show. Lots of laughs in there and yet they covered quite a lot about mental health and inclusivity too. Honestly joyous.

Family – Unfortunately my foot injury happened the day before I had days booked off for half term. Instead of jollies I ended up with my foot up and yelling at the kids to please stop hitting it (which appeared to be their chosen activity) ! Classic. Then when I was back to a bit of mobility there was a cold/flu that ran through the family sticking us in several staggered periods of isolation awaiting COVID tests. It was a very tough week the one before Halloween. I upped the interaction with my eldest by getting off the bench and playing the Pokemon card game several times. With my partner being ill I was doing a lot of extra things and it was challenging.

House – I have started doing small DIY projects in the house. One a week. I have stared at damage I am capable of fixing for the entire 12 months we have lived here. The problem has been we know there will be a massive building project (attic conversion) and anything I do will likely get destroyed then. It has been depressing since the chances are a decent building firm will be booked into 2022 or 2023. In finally accepting that. I have decided to do minor patching and decorating myself. It is certainly making me feel better about the place. The plaster work is so bad that if we ever properly “do” a room, we are going to need it to be ripped back to brick and plastered before anything is done. Until doing that everything is just mucking around.

That is the log for October. I am looking forward to November. All the bad luck is officially over because I have decided it is.

If you have kids. I wish they eat their food for you.