June 2015

Dad Was a Survivor

by Bill Brenner June 29, 2015 Family

Note: This is not Dad’s official obituary — just my tribute to him. Thursday we gathered by Dad’s bedside to say goodbye. He lived for three more days. That was Dad. He was a survivor, tougher than leather and stubborn to the last. Around 3 this afternoon, his journey finally ended. Mood music: The last two months with him were a gift. By the end, nothing was left unsaid. He knew how I felt about him and I knew…  [Read More]

Thanks for Everything, Aunt Marlene

by Bill Brenner June 23, 2015 Family

Marlene Brenner died yesterday at the age of 68. She was my aunt — my father’s younger sister — and I owe her a lot. Mood music: Aunt Marlene was a constant presence in my childhood. With my siblings and grandmother, we’d go on trips to the White Mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. Many a family meal was had at her house in the Point of Pines, Revere, which was a quick walk from…  [Read More]

On Skipping Security Cons

by Bill Brenner June 15, 2015 Infosec

On Twitter last month, friend and fellow infosec professional Marcus Carey suggested industry peers place too much importance on conferences: There is no way these people that speak & appear at every conference should be taken as serious practitioners of their craft. — Marcus J. Carey (@marcusjcarey) May 15, 2015 One can take the tweet several ways. Mood music: Some might say he’s criticizing conference organizers for roping in people who spend all their time…  [Read More]

Vincent Bugliosi Inspired My Work in Journalism, InfoSec

by Bill Brenner June 10, 2015 News

Vincent Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson and his family and then detailed the case in his book Helter Skelter, has died at age 80. Indirectly, I owe some of my career trajectory to him. Mood music:  I’ve chronicled my interest in the Manson case at length in this blog. Those posts capture the mental health issues that led to the crimes, as well as my own OCD-fueled obsession with the case. But Bugliosi’s…  [Read More]

The “I’m Surviving” Checklist

by Bill Brenner June 9, 2015 Coping tools

I’ve learned that in times of disorganized thought, depression and anxiety, it’s good to make lists. Want to squeeze out all your negative thoughts about people? Make a resentment list. Need help getting your diet in order? Write a daily food list, also known as a food diary. Feeling overwhelmed by work and family responsibilities? Make daily to-do lists to stay on top of it all. Mood music: Life has been pretty chaotic lately, and…  [Read More]

Big Dumb Politics

by Bill Brenner June 8, 2015 Political discourse

Here’s yet another example of the broken political system in the United States. It’s not enough to disagree with people and have a respectful debate. Nope. When we disagree with the other side, we resort to Facebook memes like this: This one comes from the left side of politics. The suggestion is that if you’re a Republican, you’re a racist who hates everything sane in the world. I know a lot of conservatives, and I…  [Read More]

The OCD Diaries in the News (UPDATED)

by Bill Brenner June 8, 2015 Adventures in writing

Update: Here’s an audio interview I did for the Standard Deviant Podcast a couple weeks ago… Episode #1 – Bill Brenner on security journalism, airplane hacking, OCD and heavy metal “Bill Brenner: 3 Books that Changed My Life“: By Jennifer Minella — In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry includes picks from journalist, writer and podcaster Bill Brenner. “In the Right Frame of Mind“: Man’s blog…  [Read More]

Uncle Jacob

by Bill Brenner June 3, 2015 Family

I knew there were heroes in my family. My maternal grandfather fought in some of history’s bloodiest battles and lived to tell us about it. But I never knew my Uncle Jacob. Not until a box of photos and service awards came into my possession. Mood music: I always knew my father had two deceased uncles. My grandmother would show me her old family scrapbooks all the time when I was a kid, and I…  [Read More]

Why I Don’t Separate Personal from Professional on Social Media

by Bill Brenner June 2, 2015 Personal Growth

In the world of social media, I’ve seen a lot of folks try to keep their work and personal lives separate. For business, people use LinkedIn. Facebook is for friends and family. But I never even tried to do this. Here’s why. Mood music: I used to think it was possible for me to put on different faces for different crowds. I could have my family face, reserved for when I was at home or…  [Read More]

Just Admit You Were Wrong

by Bill Brenner June 1, 2015 Adventures in writing

When you passionately push opinions, it sucks to be proven wrong later. It’s happened to me plenty of times, and I’ve learned to simply correct the record as I go. Doing so keeps me honest. What follows are posts I’ve done here and in my work-related blogs when I’ve had a change of heart. The lesson: When you’re wrong, just admit it. It’s the right thing to do, and it will keep your credibility intact. “The Women…  [Read More]