Friday, July 11, 2008

Good Luck Adam!!!

So, today was the last day of work for a friend of mine, and I just wanted to take a second to wish him the best of luck... He is leaving a successful career in Cisco Routing and Switching to pursue his MBA from the University of Chicago. I have worked the closest with him over the last 3 years, and we have done several projects together including (but not limited to, because I am sure I will forget some)...

Initial Phone System Deployment
Remote Phone Testing and Deployment
Wireless - He did most of this, but I added my $.02 :)
VPN Implementation
New site integration - the one I am still working on
Video Conferencing Deployment
New Building Expansion

It has been a busy 3 years, and while there were challenges I would like to think that we had some fun along the way :)

I did have the pleasure of taking him to his first Disney experience last year at Disneyland when we went to the Cisco Networkers Conference :)

Good Luck, and God Bless...

Here are some pics I had handy...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Crazy Project, Voicemail, and Passwords...

Good Morning Campers... It is 5:25 AM at the hotel I am staying at, and I woke up, because I went to bed at a little after 10 last night. Of course the internet is down, so I am typing this in TextEdit, and will paste to blogger later. I have been really busy with this project I am doing to setup a new site for the company we purchased last year. The good news is that I only have one more telco circuit to be turned-up, and I should be doing that today. The bad news is that every time I think about this project I get overwhelmed by the amount of work left to do... I swear I am losing hair, and going grey (or is it gray) over this one. You can read over at Dawn's blog about the great weekend we had over the 4th of July. It felt like we were trying to cram in all the family time we didn't have last week while I was traveling into the few days I had off, but nevertheless it was awesome.

I was reading my Google Reader last night, and there was a post on lifehacker about whether or not we should get rid of voicemail in the world... I am totally for the removal of voicemail, because I find that it is cumbersome to access, slows me down, and doesn't fit into "my workflow" (which is driven by email). We have people at our company that can utilize our voicemail system so rapidly that I can't keep up which is crazy because I am the phone guy. They know all the buttons, and are proud of the fact that they can speed through it. I, however, am just glad that we have Cisco Unified Messaging, so that my voicemail shows up in my email box. I can then have the phone system call me and play the message, or I can play it through my computer speakers. The only problem this causes me is that people tend to forget their passwords (because they don't use them), and when they go on vacation and try to leave an out-of-office message they need their passwords reset. On my cell phone I have switched to YouMail which I love, because I get a text message that a voicemail was left, and it tells me who called, the length of the message, and I can login to a webpage to hear the message instead of dealing with the cumbersome TUI (in telco speak that is Telephone User Interface). *stepping off soapbox about voicemail*

BTW - the internet just came up, but I am going to finish this post here, and then paste it in :)

The next topic is for my dear wife, and while some of you might think tech post, you might want to read this one... I spoke on January 3, 2008 briefly about passwords, and the application of the year for 2007 being Password Safe, however, a former boss of mine used to say something to the effect of, "I reserve the right to be smarter today than yesterday", so I am going to speak about another program here as well... This all started, because I was logging into our Credit Union website to balance the checkbook, and they prompted me that I needed to change the password. I tried my latest and greatest password that is "easy to remember", and it didn't meet the criteria, so I looked a little closer to the rules for their passwords, and it apparently didn't like the fact that I had the same letter back-to-back. So, I got frustrated opened my KeePass, and generated a password... KeePass and Password Safe are two programs that allow you to keep your passwords encrypted and secure, and is the only way to have super-secure passwords (unless you are super duper brilliant, and can remember 20 letters, numbers, and symbols jumbled together).

Let's talk about the types of passwords that you have these days, because I see them fall into two categories... The ones I need to remember, and the ones I don't... We all need one that we can remember which should be created by using the first letter of every word in a phrase (provided those letters don't form a word themselves), and also include a number or special character. An example would be taking the phrase "Joe is an excellent blogger and I enjoy reading his posts", and the password I would use for that is Jia3ba13rhp* (I substituted a 3 for the e's and a 1 for the I), and you can see that it is a pretty good password, but because I know the phrase it becomes easy for me to use. I would use this easy to remember password for logging into my computer every morning at work, my gmail account and/or securing my password database in KeePass, or Password Safe.

The other type of password is the one that you really don't need to be able to reference from memory, and therefore the more secure it is the safer you are. In fact, think about the number of websites you sign-up for with the same username, and password combination, and the fact that with a cool webpage I could get you to sign-up for my site with those same credentials, and now I can access your bank account, ebay, paypal, etc... I am slowly moving all my passwords to a password database to alleviate this problem. The password database is encrypted, local to you (I recommend backing it up to a USB Key regularly), and can generate super-secure passwords with the click of a button. So, next time you are at a web page ready to register with your old standby password, stop and think that now would be a good time to be smarter today than yesterday and get your password database going...

So, my wife needs to download one of them, and I recommend KeePass (versus Password Safe), because it has better "cross-platform" support, so someday when she gets a Mac she can just copy her database over. Once she gets that setup I can give her the cryptic, couldn't type it if she wanted to, password that is on our Credit Union account :)

If you are looking for a really techie post check out this post from Jason that I use to sync my password database from my work computer to my MacBook with ease...