Captain’s Log: September 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. Working on it with stretches and am back to walking about a bit. Hit several 10k steps days in the month too.
150 active minutes per weekNowhere close. But I was closer than last month so positive.
1 technical blog a monthIt is written but waiting for the vendor patches which are in mid-October.
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 still don’t know how to use reaper but I have found the odd hour long slots to write and record some stuff. It is all rough and cringey but I guess you don’t get anywhere without practice.

Smiles
Cowboys Have Metaphors
No Manual

There was also a Webinar that I did for work where I ended with a song. I have linked to that bit of the video at the end.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity.
Panic AttacksSeptember was a very stressful month at times. We were ill in a loop after the kids returned to school/nursery. There were several negative covid tests and many many lost hours of sleep. As always. The panic attacks come when there is a lack of sleep. For the September weekend we got away some place. It was invigorating so I ended the month really probably the happiest I have been in a while. Hence the music getting made.

Other bits

  • Research – Vendor is releasing patches in October so I will be able to speak about this on various blogs next month. I have invested £99 in a bit of hardware just to go looking for vulns to mix up the target for the next time. That has not panned out great so far. It has actually been a pretty hard target given the limited number of features enabled and real effort being put into disabling all the androidy options that you would usually be able to flip on.
  • Work Stress – I had a very stressful time at work early in September where I put in an ungodly amount of hours over a week. I got the thing done so eventually feel good about it but living through it. But I was pretty close to burning out. I did get support from colleagues when I put my hand up so remember to work places where you can play that card and know you will get assistance.
  • 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 am not really getting the time for this it deserves. But it is good.
  • Television 1 – Deep Space 9. Really close to the end of it. There has been noise about Netflix losing various Star Trek franchises soon. Initially that seems to just be in the US but I guess the writing is on the wall. A fair amount of Netflix’s appeal to me is because it has ST properties. So lets see.
  • Television 2 – Man Down. I finally got around to watching it all. What a great show that was. Disappointed to not get a resolution to the cliffhanger ending. It made me seriously crave more Rik Mayall energy. His part in the first series was absolutely electric.
  • Family – First weekend we did play date on the Saturday then a nice breakfast at café. This was nice because I actually met some dad’s for a change. Usually I head along to the park for the exercise. But hey there I was debating whether a 36 year old Cristiano Ronaldo would have earned his transfer fee back in shirt sales already. I think yes. Kid 1 is getting to an age where they can almost watch a game of football with me staying up late to do so having survived the Scotland vs Moldova game.
  • Family 2 – We managed a long weekend away from the house. I am dubbing this the anxiety buster. After years of cancelled or hectic and horrible holidays we managed one where I mostly relaxed. I came back more positive and more able to sign up to things.
  • Car Upgrade – Got a new car stereo fitted. Because who knew that phones would be made one day in the future without Aux cables??? Had to join the Bluetooth revolution eventually I guess.

For those who stuck to the end. Here is the outtro song from the Webinar I did:

Yes that is majorly product placement for my current employer. But that was the gig. Technically I was paid to write a song there so I am now semi-professional.

That is the log for September.

Captain’s Log: August 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. Working on it with stretches and am back to walking about a bit.
150 active minutes per weekNot found an exercise I can get done with my ankle like this. There is quite limited availability for swimming pools atm due to covid and my exercise bike would put pressure on the ankle. Waiting on a referral to see whats what with it. Though just at the end of the month I got back on the bike as the ankle had felt better for several days.
1 technical blog a monthIt is written but waiting for the vendor patches.
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 played with Reaper a bit more. But no completed songs. I still don’t know how to use DAWs because I am fairly chaotic and have zero sense of timing.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity.
Panic AttacksI have been well clear of panic attacks. Probably because I mostly got sleep when sleep was good to be got. But to clarify I feel a sense of dread literally every time I go to do something. It is exhausting to push through that sometimes but I always drive home happy and singing from every jaunt out.

Other bits

  • Research – Waiting on a vendor to patch vulns before I can toot about the next batch.
  • 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 am not really getting the time for this it deserves. But it is good.
  • Television 1 – Deep Space 9. This is probably the 3rd time I have started watching it through. This time I am seeing it through the lens of racism. The whole show seems to be about hating the Cardassians at the start. Even from Miles who is supposed to be an enlightened Human member of Star Fleet.
  • Family – Still working on fun for family, fun for me and my partner, and fun for me. Not doing too badly at it. We have been out and about more for food. To a few museums. It has been pleasant. We even made it to a swimming pool in Glasgow for the first time this year. It has been impossible to book slots all summer. When they stopped taking bookings we rocked up at 9am to be told there was an hour to wait and we were entirely unprepared for that. So it was a victory to finally get into a pool.
  • Family 2 – With the return to school we have gained a less stressful work-life balance (aside from odd drop off and pickup times). My partner (and primary child herder) has enjoyed a few weeks of afternoons free of childcare and has thoroughly and deservedly chilled out. The much delayed thinking about returning to work is now back on the cards. It is rarely spoken about how childcare can be monotonous and unrewarding for some people. But because of love, and covid, they have stuck ably to the task for years beyond the age nurseries would take the kids. Not to be a martyr, but because we believed it was right to do it this way for us. That has come at a cost to our mental health at times. The last time there was light at the end of this tunnel lockdowns started and punched that back down hard for over a year. Living a life waiting for time to tick is exceptionally hard.
  • Pentesting – I found a target with “.svn” folders and used svn-extractor to get the win.
  • Housey stuff – Most weekends this August we do about an hour of tidying up as a family and get the place pretty decent. Many hands make light work and all that! That is what this months featured image is about. The fact we were tidying stuff regularly. As a result I was also able to do some of the DIY tasks and get things variously recycled, gifted, or out of my life for ever as appropriate. My home office has had a re-orientation and I am considering getting a second desk for “hobbies”. We have also paid for a new floor for the kitchen and are waiting on an installation date. It will be great to finally be able to mop a surface. I could rant for hours about how this house has broken flooring everywhere but I won’t.

That is the log for August.

Captain’s Log: July 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. I have basically given myself a free pass and seen my health decline as a result. Now I am back to doing more exercise. Mixing YouTube videos with the kids and other activity. I have seen my steps back up to around the 10k a day mark. This is progress but it is slow. Then right at the end of the month my ankle has started hurting again. Time to get a GP involved.
150 active minutes per weekStart of July was a nightmare in terms of hay fever. I figure better cardio health is probably a good tool for bad days. So I have resolved to increase this again. Now the battle is getting what fitbit determines to be “Active Zone” minutes. Several times I have been out murdering parts of the garden dripping with sweat only to find that hour didn’t count. Logically I was definitely working hard. Not sure how to be measuring this now.
1 technical blog a monthI have failed to achieve this.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures in and around the house for Saturday mornings.
Record five songsI did not make anything ready to release. I have acquired a new DAW (Reaper) but have not had time to go through any tutorials for it. This is in the wake of Audacity going to the dogs and because I never quite got along with Ableton Live Lite which I have used before. I have done a lot of playing guitar in the garden but have not recorded anything.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity.
Panic AttacksI had the start of a panic attack after gardening and probably reacting badly to all of the pollen. When you cannot breathe that is a good time to start a panic in my opinion. I got over it pretty quickly.

We went to Edinburgh for a weekend and the start of the drive definitely had me feeling the panic rising. This is possibly because I have not been further than 3 miles all pandemic. The hotel was worryingly about 5 degrees C hotter inside than outside in a heat wave. I have sensitivity around being too hot and if I cannot cool down then I am not really able to relax. Eventually we did what we had booked before we arrived and then checked out as soon as possible and went home. The thought of a second night not sleeping in the furnace of a room was not great.

Other bits

  • Research – Having cleared the Fedena stuff I finally went hunting for more CVEs. As part of a team at work we have found 10 new CVE worthy vulnerabilities in another bit of Open Source software. The vendor has been responsive (result!) and hopefully I can turn this around in way less than 12 months to disclosure like Fedena was. There is scope for a blog and a talk at DC44141 for September IF they can get the patches out in time.
  • Euro 2020 – What an amazing tournament this was. I really enjoyed it. Scotland’s cameo showed we needed a striker but that is life. Our players have experience now so lets go for more qualifications.
  • Audiobooks 1 – as I have picked up the exercise and steps again I have finally completed Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. This was really entertaining and had some nice ideas in there. I am now a couple of hours into the second book in the series.
  • Television 1 – Deep Space 9. This is probably the 3rd time I have started watching it through. This time I am seeing it through the lens of racism. The whole show seems to be about hating the Cardassians at the start. Even from Miles who is supposed to be an enlightened Human member of Star Fleet.
  • Movies – We watched Parasite. It was a fun couple of evenings (because parents can rarely watch a film in one sitting).
  • Family – I have made an effort to ensure each day has fun for me, fun for me and the kids, and fun for me and my partner. I think the pandemic really had done a number on my happiness. This seems to be the way to go. We went on a trip to Edinburgh (the first time I have gone more than 3 miles since lockdown 1). This was largely a success.
  • Outside 1 – We travelled more than 3 miles for the first time since lockdown 1. We went to Edinburgh to see the Ray Harryhausen exhibit. I thoroughly recommend it if you have enjoyed any of his movies growing up. It has many models that made me go *squee*. Highlight of the trip for the kids was a go in a swimming pool at the hotel. This was a great weekend because I didn’t have a major freak out and this is progress. It gets easier as the kids get bigger.
  • Outside 2 – Last weekend of July we went to the Glasgow Science Centre. This is always a joyous experience and you should also give that a go. The soft play part on the middle floor is closed (probably because Covid would make that a nightmare to police). There is still oodles to see and do. We gave the cafe a go and rate it pretty highly.

That is the log for July.

Captain’s Log: June 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. I am out of this game for the foreseeable.
150 active minutes per weekI am not getting “active” minutes (on the FitBit scale) on the exercise bike to the same degree I was from jogging. But I am doing 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. I am going out for walks with the kids and gardening at the weekends. None of this is seemingly counting on the FitBit scale.
I am working on getting back to activity it feels closer.
1 technical blog a monthSuccess. I documented the basics of attacking an internal network using Responder, Hashcat, Metasploit, Bloodhound and CrackMapExec. Giddy thrill of apparently this being shared by threat actors enough to wind up in threat intelligence feeds. Which is bemusing for entry level tooling and techniques that have been around for years.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures in and around the house for Saturday mornings. Counting down the days until I get vaccinated and feel willing to goto visitor attractions again like the world class museums in Glasgow.
Record five songsI have recorded heaps of short ideas. Mostly on the guitar sat out in the sunshine. Some of them I can see me converting into 2-3 minute items.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity.
Panic AttacksI have avoided them again this month.

Other bits

  • Research – I was not able to talk about this last month but the Fedena research finally came out. My team and I found seven vulnerabilities in this school management software. It took over a year from discovery to posting. This was picked up by the daily swig, which was nice! Getting clear of this has given me a boost to go find some more bugs. The technical details for the authentication bypass CVE-2021-27980 are out for reading. Or just the short video of the PoC:

  • Euro 2020 – I cannot adequately put into words how excited I was for this. I barely watch football these days but I just love these tournaments. The fact that Scotland were at the party just made it all the more exciting. The build up to the first game was fantastic and I was singing through the entire game. It doesn’t matter that Scotland exited early. We actually played pretty well. I would say that was pretty much the tale for our tournament in the end. We played well. We created chances. But we couldn’t take them and that was the end of that.
  • Audiobooks 1 – technically still on Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. A good bit of Sci-Fi. But without much exercise or walking occurring these days my time has been limited.
  • Television 1 – Star Trek Voyager. I have completed this and it honestly stands up quite well. Last time I watched it there were far more episodes I wanted to skip. This time I was ok with most of it. Some excellent Star Trek in here.
  • Television 2 – Brooklyn 99. After voyager I fell back into season 7 of this. What a lovingly made show this is. Captain Raymond Holt going badass over his fluffy boy being kidnapped is a total highlight.
  • House – We booked someone to come replace the bathroom sink and they have not done so yet. We have sort of been stuck waiting on that as we are trying to do things in a set order.
  • Garden – Has paid out strawberries twice already this summer. I have had horrific hay fever (the worst I have ever had) but I have still been able to murder the lawn appropriately so hopefully I will learn to get that done more effectively to minimise the impact. I have been out the back in a Darth Vader style breathing mask but that didn’t actually reduce the symptoms after cutting the grass. Answers on a post card (or comment) welcome.

That is the log for June.

Captain’s Log: May 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. I am out of this game for the foreseeable.
150 active minutes per weekWeek 1 – No.
Week 2 – No.
Week 3 – No.
Week 4 – No.

I am not getting “active” minutes (on the FitBit scale) on the exercise bike to the same degree I was from jogging. But I am doing 20 minutes at least 3 times a week. I am going out for walks with the kids and gardening at the weekends. None of this is seemingly counting on the FitBit scale.
1 technical blog a monthA cheeky wee post about XSS. Nothing too fancy. But highlighting that the techniques I blogged about a while back still pay out.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures in and around the house for Saturday mornings. Counting down the days until I get vaccinated and feel willing to goto visitor attractions again like the Transport Museum.
Record five songsI recorded a song for the Euro2020 campaign called Singing and Swinging. I knocked out a cheap video over the bank holiday weekend so that it can be shared on YouTube. The video is under the table.
OSWEI’ll be honest I think this is a Winter time activity.
Panic AttacksI didn’t get to full blown panic attack. But I did medically need sleep one day at the end of May. Kids were just popping up at random times of the night. I also did rather a lot of things in the evenings into the wee hours too many nights on the bounce. It settled down after I finally got some sleep.

Singing and Swinging

Other bits

  • Audiobooks 1 – carrying on with Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. A good bit of Sci-Fi. With the school commute removed, and me no longer grinding out 11k steps a day otherwise I have barely touched the audiobooks. I should rethink my life!
  • Television 1 – Star Trek Voyager. I have not rewatched this in ages so it was a natural thing to give another go. I like it and think the performance of the Dr in particular stands out.
  • House – We finally got new windows installed having waited something like 6+ months. We moved at a point when you couldn’t get people to quote let alone fix anything. So this has been a massive boost. A new boiler has also gone in this month. I want to tackle at least painting everything now while we tread water for years waiting on the real work that I have to save up for.
  • Open Source – I got feedback from Daniel Card that my CVE-Offline project was out in the wild helping the Cyber 19 volunteers secure healthcare during covid-19. You never know where open source projects go or how they help. So this has been great to learn.
  • Research – [REDACTED BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT GOT THE CORPORATE BLOG POST OUT YET]. A bit of a tease I know.
  • Bank holiday weekend – I really needed this one to be good, and it really was. I BBQed twice. I did some gardening (well I murdered a bunch of stuff and trimmed things). I went for a walk in some trees with the kids. Did the whole “look at me I know things” stuff when Kid B walked through stinging nettles and I used a doc leaf to sort it out. Started a log fire in the garden at night and sat talking to my partner into the wee hours. It was a really relaxed long weekend and I just want more like it. I feel like we have been low on joy for a very long time and we are getting back to it.

That is the log for May.

Captain’s Log: April 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle in March. I am out of this game for the foreseeable.
150 active minutes per weekWeek 1 – No. But I now have an exercise bike which I am starting a new journey on.
Week 2 – No.
Week 3 – No. Kids returned to school so I was walking rather than exercise.
Week 4 – No. Back on my bike now that school routine is established again.
1 technical blog a monthI sneaked out a wee post on enumerating RDP settings using PowerShell and release rdp-enum.
Support my partner to exerciseThey stopped asking for this and I now am just taking the kids on wild adventures in and around the house for Saturday mornings. Counting down the days until I get vaccinated and feel willing to goto visitor attractions again like the Transport Museum.
Record five songsI have recorded a mountain of partial songs. I just go sit in the garden and batter something out. Nothing quite fit for release this month.
OSWEI have not prioritised it this month.
Panic AttacksA clear month really. A few dicey moments but not full blown panic.

Other bits

  • Audiobooks 1 – carrying on with Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. A good bit of Sci-Fi. With the school commute removed, and me no longer grinding out 11k steps a day otherwise I have barely touched the audiobooks. I should rethink my life!
  • Television 1 – Star Trek Discovery Season 3. Bravo to the makers they have really turned it around. While I didn’t hate STD season 1 and 2 I would say I was not in love with it. We didn’t get enough about the crew and the almost singular focus on one character was not working for me. It is Star Trek. I want some aliens. I want some exploration of humanity through the prism of different cultures. Maybe I like Season 3 because I have given up on that dream to some extent? Season 3 has been a breath of fresh air and we actively WANTED to watch the next episode. It was well done.
  • Television 2 – Titans. Oh wow… A DC property that isn’t just needlessly moody. With characters I know little or nothing about going into it. This show has been keeping me going on my exercise bike adventures. Like when I had a treadmill, I get a lot of TV shows watched while I exercise. I ran every minute of Sons of Anarchy, 24, and various other programmes in the past.
  • Game 1 – maquette. A PS Plus title of the month. It is gorgeous on so many levels. The sound track is sumptuous and the mechanics of the puzzles is so damn cute that your inner 5 year old will make you laugh. You honestly will.
  • Game 2 – Final Fantasy VII (remastered). I never played this before. I will start with that. Another PS Plus title which I would otherwise have not chosen to play. The story seems like it is going places. The kids are watching as I play along because of all the whizzy lights and swords and such. It is not a true open world because of the age of the title. You are very much on rails for the duration but it is going down well with me. Update: I finished this over the early May bank holiday before I got the post out. It was worth the time but suffered from massive cut scenes at times.

That is the log for April.

Captain’s Log: March 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a dayI hurt my ankle. I do not know how and cannot recall a slip or anything I was just suddenly in lots of pain walking one day. So.. At day 452 since I started going for 10k steps a day my run ended. I needed to rest it up.
150 active minutes per weekWeek 1 – Yes
Week 2 – No – ankle injury and sore throat so I took a week off.
Week 3 – Ditto on the ankle.
Week 4 – Ditto on the ankle.
1 technical blog a monthI managed 2 short but useful posts that I will need to refer to in future.
How to use letsencrypt with python HTTP services.
Solving a pentester’s pesky proxy problem.
Support my partner to exerciseWeek 1 – Yes
Week 2 – No – they actually smashed their goal and didn’t need me on the Saturday.
Week 3 – Yes
Week 4 – Yes
Record five songsSince I was inactive I had more time and I actually have made a song. Well almost. It is not finished. I had a DAW to try and learn and fancied trying some layers because that is all new to me:

Whatever – version 3

The vocals will be re-recorded sometime when the kids aren’t asleep in the next room, the lyrics are already different on paper, and there is a 3rd verse from a different protagonist to be expected. But still.. Been happily listening to it today on a loop.
OSWEI have not prioritised it this month.
Panic AttacksA clear month really. A few dicey moments but not full blown panic.

Other bits

  • Audiobooks 1 – carrying on with Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. A good bit of Sci-Fi.
  • Television 1 – Star Trek Discovery (catch up Season 1 and 2). My house loves Star Trek. So we watched this when it came out. We sat down to consider watching season 3 and realised; we cannot remember a damn thing that happened. Like literally nothing. So we decided to re-watch Season 1 and 2 first. It is definitely different to previous ST series. It is not necessarily good or bad that it is different. I feel a bit like I really don’t care about any of the characters at all and that the plot is too heavily reliant on the lead character instead of there being an ensemble to draw on. Rewatching it again was like watching it for the first time for us. It was definitely a chore at times. Then we finally got to Season 3. It was like a breathe of fresh air. Suddenly it was way more exciting and we were happy to watch the next one as soon as possible!
  • Television 2 – Away (netflix) – I like a bit of sci-fi but I also have a soft spot for content imagining our near future with basically the technology we have but an increased will to use it. This series was pretty decent in that category. Some good acting performances. A nice distraction. I wanted the next episode when the season ended. But so far this is likely to be something I entirely forget in a few weeks.

That is the log for March. It is sunny outside and I have some days off. Excellent.

Captain’s Log: February 2021

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

TargetSummary
11k steps a day5 miles of steps. Every single day.
150 active minutes per weekWeek 1 – Yes
Week 2 – Yes
Week 3 – Yes
Week 4 – Yes
1 technical blog a monthI missed this in January (which seems mad when I had several drafts almost ready to go). So in February I put out two:

Verifying Insecure SSL/TLS protocols are enabled
Pentesting Electron Applications

On track for that. I have a few other ideas for coming months.
Support my partner to exerciseWeek 1 – Yes
Week 2 – Yes
Week 3 – Yes
Week 4 – Yes
Record five songsI have not prioritised it this month.
OSWEI have not prioritised it this month.
Panic AttacksI never actually got to the state of disruptive levels of panic this month. I got pretty close. I had a fairly stressful project to work on at the same time as home schooling while maintaining the daily and weekly exercise tasks. This had me doing some pretty long days which definitely made me stressed. I just knew better when to go and take a lie down. All hail the hour nap.

Other bits

  • Audiobooks 1 – I completed Dune by Frank Herbert. This was a great listen and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Audiobooks 2 – I have started Stealing Light: Shoal, Book 1 by Gary Gibson. This was a recommendation and so far I am not far into it. It is painting an interesting universe for mankind’s future. There is a species that pops up to other sentient species and goes: We can give you a bunch of technology and help you colonise this region of space which is yours. In order to get this you agree to not do X, Y and Z. Which creates a dependence on the Shoal corporation. So far it is some pretty decent Sci-Fi which shows despite the advancement of time we remain just as seedy.
  • Television – I have loved South Park for years. I haven’t been keeping up with it for over a decade. With a bunch of episodes being added to Netflix I have started to catch up. They are masters at talking about issues in an interesting way. You don’t have to agree with everything they say to enjoy it. But it is worth remembering how great this show is (once we get past the initial seasons which were mostly fun but entirely juvenile).
  • Television – A while back I started watching Babylon 5 again when I realised I could get it on Amazon Prime (not free). I watched the show when I was clearly too young to understand it. For some reason I didn’t complete the full watch through even though I was enjoying it. I picked it up again and mid season there was an announcement that the content had been upgraded to HD. This makes it even more watchable. The writing is amazing and the cast do some fantastic things together. It is truly amazing that this was made pre-streaming to be as layered as it is. You had to wait a week for another episode, and they would sometimes not have a thing pay off for years. Now that you can watch this back-to-back I intend to and so should you :D.

That is the log for February.

Captain’s Log: January 2021

A new year has begun.

If we go back to two years to 2019 for a moment. I was diagnosed with a medical condition that is prone to immobilise me periodically for around 2 weeks. There were a few bouts of that. I also had some unrelated chest infections, tonsillitis, and a run of bad health that went through the peak of summer until December 2019. I had been pretty miserable and had seen my weight increase due to the lack of mobility.

By Christmas eve 2019 I had been on medication to control my condition long enough for me to get back to walking around. Sick of the misery I set myself a goal of doing the 10k steps per day that Fitbit offers as good minimum level. Through lockdowns this became an absolute mission but I got it done.

I got through my self-set 2020 challenges, and now I have to ask what next?

I have set some health, lifestyle, and hobby goals for 2021.

Lets get Spectabular!

I am going to introduce you to the table of the six labours, and one thing I need to track monthly:

TargetRationale
11k steps a daySlightly more than 2020. I have increased the number because this should take me over 4 million steps for the year which sounds like a thing. Really I am aiming to do 5 miles a day or greater than 1,825 miles in the year.
150 active minutes per weekThis equates to 22 active minutes every single day. I will get there with a mix of jogging, cycling, using a kettle bell, using my stairs to step exercise, and anything else that comes to mind. This is the REAL target for 2021.
1 technical blog a monthThe main focus of cornerpirate.com should always be technical content. As I will be posting my captain’s log entries once a month it makes sense to at least post something technical every month too.
Support my partner to exerciseI do not live in isolation. It is clear that my goals are only possible because of the love and support they provide. They created swathes of space for me to do so by looking after the kids and putting up with me going out at all hours to mine steps. There should absolutely be quid quo pro on this. They want a Saturday morning every week to be child free for a couple of hours to then do some exercise themselves. Totally onboard with that!
Record five songsI can play guitar. I can sing reasonably badly. But that hasn’t stopped me increasingly putting out content. Usually cover versions thrown together with little skill in a single take. I don’t even practice before hitting record. I do not know the lyrics. I am reading them on screen and playing the chords as they come on some tab or other. Why not try writing some new songs myself and putting a little more effort into it? It is rare for me to get the time to do so meaning that starting with five over a year should be achievable. Looking forward to learning how to use the kit I have collected rather than going “fuck it audacity and the mic that I used for conference calls is sufficient”.
OSWEI have pretty much no certifications to show I am even half way relevant or decent as a penetration tester. There are techniques that I need time to practice which are right there in the course material for OSWE. I am committing here to buying the lab access and using it. It is likely that I will be harvesting some of the technical blog posts based on the learning I do for this. I may or may not go for the certification. But for me I suspect the lab exposure and cost of many many evenings will be beneficial overall. If it looks like I can get a decent run at the exam than I might give it a go.
Panic AttacksThis is not a goal. This is just something I want to note happened or not in a given month. Gathering evidence as to their frequency, triggers, and impact. My logical brain is saying based on 2020 that these happen after a run of poor nights sleep.
Six Labours and One to Track

I will complete this table each month to add a bit more brevity and structure to the rather chaotic approach used last year. Starting from February I should get away with much shorter blogs as a result.

How did I do in January?

Now into the meat.

TargetSummary
11k steps a day5 miles of steps. Every single day.
150 active minutes per weekDone.
1 technical blog a monthA couple of drafts in progress but the day job put this on the back burner.
Support my partner to exerciseWeek 1 – Yes
Week 2 – Yes
Week 3 – Yes
Week 4 – Yes
Week 5 – Yes (though contested by my partner I wasn’t fast enough in getting a kid ready to leave the house on time).
Record five songsI have not prioritised it this month.
OSWEI have not prioritised it this month.
Panic AttacksA clear month.

The Good

  • Board Games – I discovered that someone at the school had taught my eldest how to play chess. We had tried for years to play board games but their lack of patience and attitude to losing at anything was too explosive and caused fights. I bought a compendium of old board games and made the time to play just with them regularly. It has been great fun! I can see they have a logical brain when they are not exploding about losing. Seeing them mature is beautiful.
  • Music – Having setup the Piano over the keyboard over the holidays, and procured a poster which shows the chord shapes, I have been able to belt out a few songs in the evenings. Since I have never had a lesson or loads of time to do this before it has been nice. I am happy mucking about like this. My goal clearly isn’t to master the instrument. Simply to have fun and this has been great.
  • Health – I have lost weight. I am just not terribly interested in the number this time. The focus is the exercise goals and maintaining those and the results will continue. Or not. But I will be healthier regardless of my mass. In most things I find data and statistics comforting. Somehow weighing myself is a mixed bag as it can be as demotivating as it is motivating. Trying it differently this time and not going for weekly weigh ins.
  • Audiobook 1 – I listened to Sandworm by Andy Greenberg. I found this very interesting and should be the kind of book you can recommend to non-infosec humans. It is well delivered. The pace is expertly done.
  • Audiobook 2 – From there I moved on to Dune by Frank Herbert. I would like to state for the record that I didn’t listen to Sandworm (which is a reference to Dune itself) and then decide to buy Dune to listen to. That would be far too logical! I had actually been meaning to read Dune for many years. I had bought it on Audible before I was recommended Sandworm. I let the recommendation jump the queue and was laughing when Sandworm was revealed as a reference to Dune. The audible production of Dune is excellent and is the first I have heard with additional music. It isn’t quite a radio play version but is definitely acted more than just read.

The Bad

  • Maybe not “bad” really. This one is actually a bittersweet. One of my team decided to move on to pastures new to continue their career progression. This is always both a sad and a wonderful thing. Sad because you won’t be talking to them every day anymore. But also wonderful because everyone needs to eventually move on. They were definitely ready to do so. Even though I will miss our wide ranging phone calls that always started “I have five minutes” and ended up an hour later with us both much happier for the exchange.

Captain’s Log: December 2020

This is the final Captain’s Log of 2020. I think I will keep doing this monthly but go me. I have managed this for 12 straight months.

The Good

10k Step Challenge – I have plodded 10 thousand steps a day. Every single day for over a year. The vast majority of that in a locked down flat. It has been a grind at times. But I am happy I have done that.

While several people have been great about my tweeting about this I have to give a special shout out to David Carson. In September I was at a low point as I was sick. I pithily put it out to the universe on Twitter that I was going to just lie down but they dropped a dash of encouragement at the exact right moment if you want to read the thread here:

Thanks to David I got the whole year done and so this video of the final steps on Christmas Eve is in part his responsibility:

150 active minutes a week challenge – December bit hard so my active minutes basically fell by the wayside as I focused on taking care of my family picking up some slack. We will get back to this after the chaos dies down in the new year. I have to set some new targets.

Audiobooks – A recommendation from the Stephanie Hill over at Ascent Cyber was to check out Social Engineering: the science of Human Hacking written by @humanhacker. I have never been into social engineering. I see its value (which can be huge) and understand the basics. Listening to this audiobook has removed some of the fog of war from the social engineering map and has been a worthwhile use of an audible credit. I would recommend it.

Weegiecast – I was invited by fuzz_sh and zephrfish to go onto their Podcast WeegieCast. This was my first ever podcast. It was fun. Though I think some bits of it are clunky now I have listened back to it. I am new to being recorded saying stuff so please forgive me. If you want to hear it then you can get to the links to it via the tweet thread linked below:

Christmas – with the miserable 2020 coming to a close it is worth taking a moment to grab hold of anything that is good and pure. We are each here for whatever time we have in this life. With whatever skills we can learn. Within whatever capabilities we can train our bodies to deliver. Some start with a shittier deck of cards but the player can overcome the odds in some respects.

2020 has had many of us walking up to the edge and peering over into the oblivion. Christmas serves as a circuit breaker for me most years where I unplug. This year I went for it. I ate rather a lot of ALDI’s Christmas related sweets and chocolates (you really should go there as zee Germans really know their confections). I haven’t been to a work Christmas do in years as I cannot travel so actually the remote nature was a nice change of pace:

Whatever this view on Teams is we had a Christmas bash of sorts

Genuine Blog Posts – In December I dragged three actual blog posts out of my drafts folder:

I do enjoy blogging about technical things and that is the real mission of this blog overall. So December was actually a productive month for this site.

Music Time – I know I spam you all with this shit all the time but I do enjoy recording music even if it is on a mobile phone.

  • Rudolph (the Red Team junior) – I was asked by two groups of lovely people to make a sort of novelty Christmas song which was actually pretty good to be asked for! Neither actually panned out but as it happened I delivered a report and had a spare 30 minutes to bash out a version of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer over lunch. I think it is notable for featuring me using several layers (not a hallmark of my silly ditties). Two guitars with different tones, my mouth drum :D, vocals, and even jingle bells via my Christmas Jumper’s embedded bells. Yes the pun is “SamT” instead of “Santa/Samty Clause”. Sam T is our Director of research and I love him:
  • Merry Whatever – Appropriate for new years. A couple of points here. I have never had a piano lesson in my life. I got a keyboard about a year ago but quickly found out I had to hide the power cable or the kids basically refused to do anything BUT discordant noise experiments at maximum volume. Therefore I haven’t actually had time to practice. I bought a poster with the common Piano chords on it and fired into that early on Boxing day to achieve this:

In 2021 I can only guarantee more stupid songs because I get a kick out of them at least.

The Bad

A panic attack (late on Christmas Eve) which ensured I was exhausted for Christmas Day. Nothing much to write home about here I am getting ever better at spotting them coming, dealing with them in the moment, and recovering from them.

The kids didn’t sleep great so by the time I was downstairs with them at 7am I was a total mess of a human. Yelling at them for stupid things such as not eating their breakfasts etc. To be fair it is the biggest fight we have – around them not bloody eating. It just takes on a rather ludicrous dimension when you just want to get through the fucking meal to play games or do absolutely ANYTHING else. I’d look forward to a session of hammering molten nails through the tips of my fingers, if it just meant I didn’t have to fight over the next three bites of toast!

Seriously this was clusterfuck of a day. But after a full nights sleep I declared Boxing Day as Christmas mark 2 and we had an excellent time.

Highlights of the month

Panic attack and my behaviour aside the Christmas break has been amazingly refreshing. I haven’t had a computer turned on until right now on New Years eve to finish up this post. I never “unplug” like this. This has been good.

Happy new year and we’ll meet again.