Weekly update, June 22, 2020
Welcome back, internet friend!
Howdy internet friend and welcome to my weekly update post! Thank you for taking the time to check this out. In this weekly update (as usual) I’ll be sharing what I did last week both professionally and personally. Because different folx come to the site for different reasons, I’ll be using big header tags so you can clearly see what is what and you don’t end up reading about what happened on my Animal Crossing island if all you care about is my programming journey. So without further adieu, lets get on with it!
Black Lives Matter!
I am going to keep this section short this week. Not because I don’t think it is important - I kept this here because I really believe it is important. However, I am not going to suggest any additional books or authors this week. Instead, I would encourage you to go out and find Black authors and listen to them! Do some research and go listen, but actively listen. Be an active participant in the listening, not a passive recipient. Be engaged, try to do some work, and just be quiet and listen! Juneteenth was last week, if you are not familiar do some research on that subject. If you are familiar, just spend some time this week listening and not talking! Now that I’ve shared a little on the BLM subject, I want to share with you a bit more about my week last week.
Last week was pretty good for me professionally. I conducted my first network penetration test in roughly six months. This was great because I got a chance to re-familiarize myself with the procedures my firm uses for network penetration testing, which led to the discovery of a few new techniques. If you’ve read this blog before or met me in meat space (even briefly), you’ll know that learning is one of my absolute favorite things! So having the opportunity to get paid to learn a few new tricks was a dream! Except for the report writing at the end, I was in hog heaven! I’m kidding - I actually don’t mind writing reports.
I also started making more progress in my journey to learn the Go programming language last week. I’m starting to get a feel for some of the patterns in the language, particuarly around error handling - which is something Go does really nicely. I like that most error handling happens immediately, rather than as an afterthought. If you immediately handle any errors when they are throwing, you should have an easier time when it comes to debugging your program, at least in theory. If I am way out in left field on this, please feel free to at-tweet me because, as I mentioned above, I appreciate the opportunity to learn.
Speaking of learning, I want to throw out a quick plug for Black Hat Go (and before you ask, I’ve never met the authors and I’m not being paid to write this). While I am planning on a much longer “Zero to Hero” type post for my Go programming journey, I will say that I am finding tremendous benefit in going through the book, “Black Hat Go” (hereafter referred to as BHG). I think it is important to mention that I had to spend a few months getting up to speed on the basics of the language, as I would not say that you can just pick up BHG with no experience in the language and just jump in. I have also spent the last few years teaching myself Python and Ruby, so I was not coming in to this experience with zero programming experience. I also want to mention that (once you have a firm grasp on fundamentals) the book very quickly gets up to speed with practical examples and valuable code. I think it will absolutely help me get to where I want to be, as far as having the skills required to build some of the tools I’ve been wanting. I’m specifically thinking about a subdomain enumeration tool, but I bet by the end of the book I will have a number of other cool tools I can share with the wider public. While it’ll probably be a few months before I share the “How I taught myself Go” post, I thought I would share a little early insight now.
This week I begin my next four month project management engagement at work. Six months ago I wouldn’t have figured that I would like these type of opportunities. However, I’m starting to discover that my unique skill set gives me advantages in these types of engagements. For example, I have an understanding of what is and is not possible given certain time constraints. I previously worked at an MSP and understand both how important patching is, as well as how difficult it can be to do it right. I hope that my empathy-based management style will be a good fit for the client - although I suppose only time will tell.
Finally, this is my last week at work before getting a week off. I’ve not taken any time off outside a day or two of sick leave this year, and I am really looking forward to getting a solid week off. I will do my best to continue the weekly posting tradition next week but I might be without stable internet. So if you notice I miss the weekly update next week, it’s because I’m moving. I will mention that even if I don’t have stable internet, I am still going to do my best to tether my phone to my laptop so I can at least give y’all a brief update next week (because it also makes twelve weeks in a row with a weekly update) but if I am unsuccessful, now you know why!
Last week was also really good for me personally. As you may be aware, yesterday was Father’s Day. I don’t have the best relationship with my father, but my boy and I get along great! We spent the day yesterday playing the new Minecraft Dungeons expansion (we both love it, but for different reasons. He loves Minecraft and I love D&D, and this game is a nice combo of the two.) After two days of grinding we are both level 21 and starting to get some pretty nice gear! One thing that investing in this new game has done is finally distract me from Animal Crossing, which I will elaborate on a little further in the ACNH section.
Turning back to some other personal stuff I did last week, I managed to do some cool stuff on Sunday. Each Sunday for the last few weeks I’ve been spending a few hours hanging out with Acetolyne. Usually we work on HTB (www.hackthebox.eu, a platform for learning network PT skills), but yesterday we just chatted on Discord while I spent a few hours working on an essay. What is the subject of that essay? Thank you for asking! I started working on an essay on my parenting philosophy, which seemed like an appropriate thing to write on Father’s Day.
I am doing this for a few reasons. First is that I wanted to share what I’ve learned in my few years of being a Dad. Second, I wanted to spend time formalizing my thoughts on the subject of parenthood. Third, I think there might be some benefit for other parents out there in reading my thoughts on the subject. Fourth, I wanted to make one of my Father’s Day traditions every year to revisit the essay and see how my thoughts on parenting have changed over time. Finally, treating it as a living document means that when my son is old enough to understand what I am trying to say, he will have better insight in to me as a human being and not just as a parent. When he can see the thought process that goes in to how I make my decisions, perhaps he will have a better appreciation of who I am as a parent and what I hope to accomplish. If nothing else, he can at least see where I am coming from when I make my decisions and parent him the way I do.
As with so many things I’ve done as a parent, I know that this might not be normal. I’ve also sat my son down and had a heart-to-heart talk with him about how I can be a better parent. I take my job as a Dad very seriously and I want to be the best I can be! One way that I can do that is to take time to ask my peers (my wife and son) how I am doing in my job as a parent. I shamelessly stole this idea from peer performance reviews at work. If there is anything I am doing that is really wrong or problematic, they can tell me and I can work on fixing it. This isn’t easy - no one likes to be told when they are not doing a good job, particularly when it is something as important as parenting. However, if you really want to get better at something, you have to be willing to have hard conversations and do the difficult work. Being a parent isn’t easy - I don’t think anyone ever claimed that it was. If you want to be the best at something, it requires constant work and reflection. While you may be a great parent today, if you let your guard do you can start to slip.
I could keep going on this subject, but I will just end here with this note. In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my post about my parenting philosophy. If you’ve been intrigued by what I’ve written so far on the subject, check back here in a few weeks for the full article. If you don’t care about parenting at all, that’s cool too! That’s why I make it nice and easy to skip around. Speaking of skipping around, let’s talk about Animal Crossing!
As I mentioned briefly above, I have not been playing much Animal Crossing for the last two weeks. This was the second week in a row (for example) that I did not buy turnips. Two weeks ago I tracked the prices all week with the intention of putting them in one of those applications that tracks your turnip prices. However, I realized that the effort required wasn’t equal to the return in value. Which is a polite way of saying that the game is starting to be less fun and doing stuff like tracking turnip prices 2x a day was contributing to that.
Isabelle has told me a few times that the people on my island aren’t happy because there are too many trees. To wit, it can take up to an hour on some days just to gather all the fruit on my trees. From what is supposed to be a fun game, spending an hour a day doing chores was starting to feel more like work than fun. So I am taking a little breaking from the stalk market and dialing back how much ACNH I’ve been playing. I’m sure I will come back later, but when I’ve got three million bells in the bank it doesn’t make much sense to keep grinding every day and playing the stock market. How rich does one need to be? How rich does someone have to be in a video game?!
So for those reasons, I’ve been dialing it back with ACNH. Two weeks in a row without buying turnips. I’m just going to be content with how much money I’ve got right now and try to come back to ACNH a little later. I don’t want to burn myself out on the game and I’ve been going pretty hard on it every day for the last few months. It’s like that old saying, “if you love something, let it go.” Speaking of dialing back….
Dialing back from Twitter
You may have noticed that over the last few weeks, I’ve been way less present on Twitter. This is for a few reasons. First, I want to continue making space for BIPOC and to not just keep spamming folx on Twitter with my crap. I’ve also noticed that my mental health has been much better than last few weeks of not being on Twitter nearly as much. This makes me sad because I really appreciate the platform. It’s a great place to read the latest news and to find out what’s happening in InfoSec - all in one place. However, it is also really hard to be constantly bombarded by negativity. From the Coronavirus to the racists feeling comfortable enough to espouse their bullshit in the pubic square, Twitter isn’t always the best place for me to be. So I’ve spent substantially less time there over the last few weeks and my mental health has improved. Your mileage may vary but if you are finding yourself sad and panic scrolling Twitter for hours a day, I would politely suggest trying something different.
Since spending much less time on the platform, I’ve been feeling much more happy and connected with my family. Consider changing it up if you find yourself panic scrolling for hours every day. I managed to spend much more time programming last week because I moved my phone upstairs. It wasn’t enough to have it on the other side of the room, because I would go stretch and next thing I know I’m doom scrolling again. Don’t be like I used to be - try to learn to manage your time on the birb site and you might find benefits as well. I know I did!
Finally, let’s try to end on a positive note! Here is my weekly list of awesome people you should consider following, to make your time on the birb site just a little better!
People to follow
Here are some tech and non-tech people you might consider following.
Martin Luther King III - The son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bernice King - The daughter of Dr. King
@cetolyne - great friend, awesome programmer, super helpful!
@blenster - cool maker, very positive, well worth a follow!
@GWeessies - very smart person doing interesting research!
Marley - first place champ! Marley is one of the best on Twitter!
Null Coder - another awesome person to keep an eye on!
That’s all for this week, internet pal! I hope you liked this weekly update and if not, well, sorry I guess? I would say I will try harder next week, but I always do my best in these posts and if you don’t like this one, I doubt you’ll like the others. Either way, I hope you have a nice day and an excellent week!