It’s the Saturday after RSA Conference 2015. I spent most of Friday sleeping and have been off balance today. I know from past experience that depression is next. Not clinical depression, mind you. It’s more like what seasoned conference travelers call “ConFlu.” Mood music: I actually call this Coming Down the Mountain Syndrome, and it arrives every year like clockwork. In my industry RSA is one of the biggest conferences of the year. Months of planning…  [Read More]

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Today — April 19, and tomorrow, April 20 — we have a trio of tragedies to remember. Full disclosure: I’m about to steal liberally from Wikipedia. April 19, 1993: Waco, Texas The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, and ended violently 50 days later on April 19. The siege began when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), accompanied by several members of the media, attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel,…  [Read More]

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When Life and Death Dance on Eggshells

by Bill Brenner April 15, 2015 Life and Death

I mentioned yesterday that my father is bedridden and that things aren’t looking good. I’ve lost count of how many times in the last four years we’ve gathered as a family, thinking he was at the end. Each time he’s bounced back, like some unseen force keeps pulling him back for a few more rounds. Mood music: When I visited him last Sunday, he was too tired to talk much. He just wanted to sleep….  [Read More]

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When the Worry Machine Takes You to Dark Places

by Bill Brenner April 14, 2015 Dealing with life

My father and aunt aren’t doing well. Dad is bedridden, a series of strokes and heart attacks having taken their toll. My aunt is in the hospital unable to do anything more than utter a stray word after having her own stroke. And so continues a sick game, where we try guessing how much longer they’ll be with us, who will go first, etc. That’s the game I’m playing anyway. When you’re like me and…  [Read More]

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Packing for #RSAC 2015: An OCD Case Study

by Bill Brenner April 13, 2015 OCD

At the end of the week, I’ll be packing for five days in San Francisco, where I’ll write about the goings-on at RSA Conference 2015 and Security BSides. When you have OCD, packing a suitcase is as ritualistic as the compulsive hand washing you’ve heard about. Mood music: Before I had the OCD under control, packing was an all-day affair. I’d line up all my clothes and accessories in order of the days I planned…  [Read More]

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The Women at RSA Conference 2015

by Bill Brenner April 7, 2015 Infosec

Renowned writer Violet Blue recently noted that the speaking agenda at RSA Conference 2015 includes only five women and only one of which is a security practitioner: 25 RSA keynotes. Of the 5 women, 1 has “security” in her bio (she works @ RSA), 3 are there to talk about children. — Violet Blue ® (@violetblue) March 27, 2015 At least one person on Twitter felt it was an unfair observation; that there’s nothing wrong…  [Read More]

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The Burden of Being Upright, Part 2

by Bill Brenner April 6, 2015 Mental health

I’ve written a lot about the frustrations that come with trying to be a good man when you carry so much baggage. The burden of being upright is something we all carry, but it’s really been weighing on me of late. Mood music: This isn’t a pity party. But I’ve learned over the years that listing my issues and what I’m doing about them can help put them into perspective for me and can encourage…  [Read More]

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Crosses Suck. But It’s What We Do With ‘Em That Counts

by Bill Brenner April 5, 2015 Faith

Crosses aren’t nice things. We all have them. But they make us who we are. Mood music: Jesus carried his Cross to redeem the world. The way we carry our Crosses define us. We can complain that we are victims and that God is cruel. Or we can carry our Crosses like Jesus did, and turn adversity into strength. We can learn from our suffering and strive each day to be a blessing to others….  [Read More]

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The Drama Over Drama

by Bill Brenner April 2, 2015 security drama

Recently, someone in the security community opined that she’s not a fan of hugs at security conferences. The pro-huggers didn’t like her comment and used social media to say so. Also recently, the folks running RSA Conference decided to ban so-called “booth babes.” That led to a very long debate about sexism vs. freedom of expression. Mood music: In both cases, someone in the crowd yelled a word that’s been used so much that it’s…  [Read More]

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Metal Made Me Smarter Than I Appeared

by Bill Brenner April 1, 2015 Heavy Metal

I was never considered a particularly smart kid. I didn’t care much about my school work and was written off by some teachers as a waste of space. But according to a new study about smart kids listening to heavy metal, I was apparently just pretending to be stupid. Mood music: A study of more than 1,000 of the brightest five percent of young people found that intelligent teenagers often listen to heavy metal music to…  [Read More]

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