May 2014

Drinking at Security Cons

by Bill Brenner May 29, 2014 Well-Being

A friend from the security community, Rob Fuller, has written a post about drinking at conferences. It’s an activity I engaged in with abandon until I decided to quit drinking on New Year’s Day 2010. His post reminds me of what the transition to sobriety was like in conference settings. I drank my way through the first few RSA conferences to cope with nerves. You could drink all you want for free at the vendor parties,…  [Read More]

It’s Not How Far You Have to Go, It’s How Far You’ve Come

by Bill Brenner May 28, 2014 Dealing with life

No matter how much we’ve grown, no matter how far we’ve come, we insist on beating ourselves over the strides we have yet to achieve. When it comes to self-loathing over one’s vulnerabilities, I’m about the best there is. But I’ve worked hard to break myself of that, because the truth is that I have come a long way since the days when I was owned by my OCD, anxiety, fears and dark impulses. Do…  [Read More]

When We Err, We Learn. When They Err, They’re Idiots

by Bill Brenner May 27, 2014 Uncategorized

A good friend from the security industry, Eric Cowperthwaite, recently caused some debate with a blog post about security breach victims getting demonized for failing to prevent break-ins. Other industry friends disagreed. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. Mood music: Let’s start with Cowperthawaite’s key point: In the information security community there is a tendency to blame the victim first, rather than the criminal. And as soon as that starts to work, much of…  [Read More]

“Why Are You Religious?”

by Bill Brenner May 21, 2014 Spirituality

A security industry friend and self-proclaimed atheist asked why I’m religious. She ‘s surprised that there are so many religious people in an industry built on a foundation of technology and truth, of only believing in what can be seen and proven. Specifically, she asked: I want to ask you why you’re religious. It’s odd. I’ve been in tech for almost 20 years, and infosec seems to have the highest concentration of religious people of any sub-section…  [Read More]

6 Things Every Graduate Should Know

by Bill Brenner May 20, 2014 Lessons from the past

Graduation season means a rush of news articles about famous commencement speakers and their words of wisdom. US Secretary of State John Kerry just gave one, as did recently fired New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. David McCullough Jr., longtime Wellesley High School English teacher and son of one of my favorite authors, gave one of my favorite commencement speeches of all time last year when he told graduates they’re not special. Much is made of…  [Read More]

We Need Our Critics

by Bill Brenner May 15, 2014 Uncategorized

A friend sent me a graphic that hits home, given that one of the realities of being a writer is that people will regularly disagree with you. Mood music: The Disagreement Pyramid, a play on the Food Pyramid, puts the most constructive criticism at the top of the pyramid, illustrating its rarity. The most common type of comments fall to the the bottom of the pyramid — the destructive, useless comments. Created by Loudacris, the pyramid…  [Read More]

Binge Eating, Heroin Overdoses and Suicide

by Bill Brenner May 14, 2014 Uncategorized

My first full-time reporting gig was for The Stoneham Sun newspaper, part of what was then Community Newspaper Company. (It’s now Gatehouse Media.) It was a fun job, giving me a priceless education in local politics, public safety and criminal court proceedings. But in some ways, it was the darkest year of my 20s. Mood music: It was a year of vicious binge eating, 80-hour workweeks for little money, depression, anxiety and the suicide of my best…  [Read More]

Fire Drills Are Foolish

by Bill Brenner May 13, 2014 stress

From a safety perspective, fire drills are important. If your building is on fire, you need to know how to escape safely. Then there’s the other kind of fire drill, where high-pressure managers project their stress onto others. Mood music: I worked for guys like that. I’ve been that guy, too. Nothing good comes from it, and good people get hurt. Example: In 2000, I was assistant editor of The Eagle-Tribune‘s New Hampshire edition. My…  [Read More]

5 Reasons We Should Give Monica Lewinsky a Break

by Bill Brenner May 12, 2014 The stormy past

Monica Lewinsky is back in the news. Sixteen years after she became a household name for her relationship with then-President Bill Clinton, the former White House intern has decided to speak out in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Mood music: You’ve heard about the blue dress, the oral sex in the Oval Office, the attempt by Republicans to impeach Clinton over the affair — specifically his attempts to cover it up. Lewinsky addresses those…  [Read More]

When Work Becomes Everything, This Happens

by Bill Brenner May 8, 2014 Uncategorized

As someone who takes work very seriously, an article on LinkedIn by Jeff Haden really hit home. The man in his story had a life in which the personal and professional were so tightly wound that he lost all hope when the business ran into trouble. For me, family and friends come first, and I know I’d have all the support in the world if I ever ran into trouble on the business side. But there…  [Read More]