Weekly Wrap 175: Lots of security, lots of productivity

[Update 14 October 2013, 0800 AEDT: As foreshadowed, “The Week Ahead” has been fleshed out with the current version of The Plan. However there’s evidence to suggest that this might change again later today. Update 15 October 2013, 1915 AEDT: The plan has changed again.]

Not the ASD: click to embiggenMy week Monday 7 to Sunday 13 October 2013 was relatively busy, although more on the research and information-gathering side rather than the final output side.

Podcasts

  • Corrupted Nerds: Conversations 6, being a chat with Michael Smith, head of Akamai Technologies’ computer security incident response team (CSIRT) about distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Articles

I also wrote my usual column for ZDNet Australia, The Full Tilt, but we’re currently waiting on a decision as to whether the planned headline is, um, pushing the boundaries.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Wednesday I went to a lunchtime briefing by Unisys at Wolfies Restaurant at Circular Quay — apparently it doesn’t have an apostrophe — where the food was lovely and the weather was gorgeous. They paid, of course.
  • On Thursday I went to the annual conference of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, where I was fed and watered. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd gave me a branded shirt. Watchguard Technologies Inc gave me a novelty USB memory device (4GB) packed with PR material.

The Week Ahead

The exact shape of the week will depend upon news arriving overnight, so I’ll add in the details tomorrow morning.

On Monday I’ll be mapping out the coming three weeks or so, including preparing some of plan for getting to Melbourne for the Breakpoint and Ruxcon hacker conferences. On Tuesday I’ll be continuing that work towards Melbourne and writing a piece for Technology Spectator that’ll due to be published on Thursday Friday.

On Wednesday I’ll be setting up the framework for another Technology Spectator yarn, as well as writing my ZDNet Australia column for Thursday.

On Wednesday I’ll be heading to Sydney for a lunchtime briefing by Dasault Systèmes about their new SolidWorks thingo, setting up the frameworks for Technology Spectator and ZDNet Australia stories en route. I may stay in Sydney overnight, depending on several factors. If I don’t…

On Thursday itself, I’ll be heading to Sydney again for a lunchtime briefing by NEC and Telsyte, staying overnight until Friday for a tour of the Pacnet data centre and some personal stuff.

There’s more in the schedule than that, of course, but they’re the relatively fixed pegs upon which the rest of the schedule hangs.

The weekend is currently unplanned.

[Photo: Not the ASD, photographed at the annual conference of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) in Sydney on 10 October 2013. The signage for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), formerly the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), seems to have gone astray…]

Weekly Wrap 174: Newcastle, new events, new venues

Newcastle City Hall: click to embiggenMy week Monday 30 September to Sunday 6 October 2013 was dominated by my trip to Newcastle for the inaugural DiG Festival and Conference. Both the city and the event were well worth it.

I’ll be writing about the DiG Festival for Crikey today, so watch out for that, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say later.[Update 2000 AEDT: And here it is.] I’ll also be writing about Newcastle, because I have many thoughts.

Articles

I also wrote a 1000-word piece that’ll appear in a printed magazine that CSO will be handing out at some events between now and the end of the year.

Podcasts

None, but there’ll be a new Corrupted Nerds in the coming few days.

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

Monday is a public holiday in NSW, but not in Victoria, so I’ll be writing my story on the DiG Festival and Conference for Crikey and, perhaps, a piece that I’ve kept on the back burner for Technology Spectator.

I’m keeping Tuesday empty for some personal reasons.

On Wednesday I’ll head to Sydney for a lunchtime media briefing by Unisys, and I may stay overnight because on Thursday there’s the annual conference of the Australian Information Security Association (AISA). [Update 8 October 2013: Confirmed, I’ll be attending the AISA Conference and staying in Sydney until Friday.]

Friday and the weekend are currently unplanned.

[Photo: Newcastle City Hall, photographed at around 0730 AEST on 3 October 2013.]

Visiting Newcastle for DiG Festival

DiG Festival logo: click for official websiteThis coming Wednesday I’m catching the Shitkansen north from Sydney to Newcastle for the inaugural DiG Festival and Conference: digital plus interactive plus green technology.

I won’t repeat the event’s own website. You can read that for yourself. The key days are this coming Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October 2013.

But I will say that apart from the conference program itself, I’m interested in catching a few glimpses of the city. It’s been three years since I visited Newcastle to speak at the National Young Writers Festival, and four years since I looked around properly and wrote my Letter from Newcastle. So of nothing else, there’ll be an observational essay about that.

There’s a strong-looking conference thread about the future of online payments — could the fact that Commonwealth Bank is a major sponsor have something to do with that? — and I’ll be writing about that for Technology Spectator. It’ll be a nice follow-up to my recent piece about Westpac’s $2 billion invisible bank. And I’m sure I’ll be writing about other things for other outlets.

If you’re in Newcastle at the time, don’t forget to say hi. I plan to stick around until Saturday afternoon.

The ghost of Octobers past

Three posts in a row from my ABC Radio spots? That’s too many. So until I get around to writing something original, how about we ponder some previous Octobers when I used to write a Letter from Newcastle, or about antlers, or just the random thoughts from an altitude of 11,700 metres.

Three years ago I even managed to tweet some interesting observations and compile them into blog posts. But these days Twitter has completely taken over the role of recording my personal life and this website has, I think, suffered.

I used to post long, thoughtful essays. Now, such essays tend to be about the things I write about for money, and published elsewhere — and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that I’m possibly becoming typecast as a “tech writer”. But between writing several pieces a week for money and maintaining a high-volume Twitter stream, there isn’t time or energy left for much else.

My other podcast The 9pm Edict has disappeared. So has my little video program Stilgherrian Live. So have presentations like the one I did for PodCamp 2007.

Have I got the balance right? I think not.

That’s not all I’ve gotten wrong this year. But I won’t wallow in the mistakes here. Or at least not now. I’ll merely note that perhaps I do need to disconnect more, provide more time for reflection. And maybe those thoughtful essays will reappear.

Talking war reporting, in Newcastle this Saturday

I’m making an unexpected trip to Newcastle this Saturday for the National Young Writers Festival, where I’m part of a free panel called No Man’s Land discussing war reportage.

War correspondence is undertaken by all parties involved in conflict. The NGO’s [sic], the military groups, and hopefully the civilians via a free press. This panel is an introduction to how these stories find their way to us.

The other panellists include people with some first-hand experience. Freelance photojournalist Ed Giles, who’s worked across the Middle East and Asia since 2006. Sierra Leonian journalist Olivia Boateng, who fled with her children. One child killed, and her family scattered, Olivia spent 5 years in a refugee camp before being granted refugee status. And there’s author and academic Debra Adelaide, who currently teaches the Creative Writing program at UTS.

I’m replacing Patrick Gray, producer of the Risky Business podcast on information security. Supposedly I’ll be talking about how all this changes in this new high-bandwidth networked age. Or how it doesn’t change.

No Man’s Land is this Saturday 2 October 2010 at the Elderly Citizens Centre [shoosh!], Laing Street, Newcastle, from 2.30pm to 4pm. It’s free, and you don’t have to register. Just rock up. And you can buy me a drink afterwards.

The National Young Writers Festival is all part of the grand This Is Not Art festival. It’s a great time to visit Newcastle. I went last year and wrote this Letter from Newcastle.

Letter from Newcastle

Photograph of newly-built apartment and signage reading Harbour Lifestyle

“That ‘This is Not Art’ thing this weekend, it’s like a fucking freak show walking past,” says the old guy in the yellow-tiled front bar of The Clarendon Hotel.

It’s just gone noon on Saturday. Apart from ’Pong and I having a burger and beer, he’s the only customer. His worldview of what Newcastle‘s Hunter Street should be like is challenged by the stream of paste-white black-clad comic fans, straggly-bearded eco-hippies, random hipsters and nose-ringed alternagothpunkteendykes strolling past the boarded-up shopfronts.

Noticing a skinny guy wearing yellow overalls and a torn red-striped t-shirt, our frowning drinker puts down his VB. “Hey, is there a circus in town? Because I can see a clown”, he calls out to the barman.

The barman smiles politely, but says nothing.

“Hey, is there a circus in town?”, he mutters, and takes another sip. He looks out at the soulless office buildings that replaced the landscape of his memory, in silence.

Yet these weird out-of-towners, with their experimental robotics, knitting and YouTube mashups, have brought more life to this industrial city’s ailing heart than any grandiose “development” plan.

Continue reading “Letter from Newcastle”