Friday, November 23, 2012


Notes for Elders Quorum lesson on 11/4/12

History of Thanksgiving -wikipedia
  •           in the United States
  •           World 


Mosiah 2:19-22

Men are that they might have joy
-          gratitude is a weapon for that end

Alma 34:38

Sister Christensen (Mission mom)
-          Ingratitude is a form of pride
  1. Count blessings
  2. Pause
  3. Express faith
  4. Express gratitude for additional things
  5. Write it down

D&C 59:7,21

General authorities talked about it – Elder Oaks, Elder Eyring, President Monson

Count Your Many Blessings

Luke 17:11-19

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do you accept the Daemon?

Daemon, but Daniel Suarez I recently finished listening to Daemon, a techno-thriller by Daniel Suarez. As a regular listener of several TWiT network shows, I have heard about the book regularly through commercials. My catalyst for finally getting Daemon came this summer when Suarez released his latest book, Kill Decision. It seemed more than serendipitous coincidence that his newest book used my last job (signal processing on UAVs) for a topic, while his first book used my current job (blocking malware) for a topic. Thus I had to pick Daemon up, and once I picked it up I could not put it down.

Daemon begins with the death of Matthew Sobol, a fictional game designer. Sobol’s massively multiplayer online games brought his company wild success, and apparently left him with too much free time to think about the world order. He decided to change that order post-mortem by leaving behind a powerful internet daemon. The daemon intricates itself with the world’s information technology systems, obtaining immense power. The story follows many characters, some of which fight the daemon and some of which join the daemon. Both approaches provide thought provoking perspectives.

An interesting case study comes from the daemon’s takeover of Leland, a fictional multi-national financial company. Like many large corporations, Leland depends on a complex IT infrastructure. Recent cuts to the IT budget demonstrate the CEO and board view that infrastructure as an unfortunate operating expense rather than a core intellectual property resource. Those cuts produce vulnerable systems and disgruntled employees, which then facilitate the industrial espionage that introduces the daemon to the system. Once inside, the daemon moves laterally and vertically to compromise the entire system. The chiefs and board recognize the stranglehold too late, and the company becomes part of Daemon Inc. Fiction? Yes. Demonstrates real-world issues? Also yes.

Suarez makes several points through the book about technology and our society. Our world consists of largely monolithic monoculture of interconnected systems. We build layer upon layer on top of insecure technologies at the base. As we squeeze out each inefficiency, we make the entire system less flexible and more brittle. A relatively small number of us really know how the digital world works. Powerful people put their power into technology they do not understand or, even worse, misunderstand. Entire fortunes are made virtually and in the blink of an eye, without any produced good or service. All these set up an environment ripe for a cyber-parasite such as Sobol’s daemon.

Unfortunately, no silver bullet exists for dealing with these issues. Carnegie Mellon lead a study on ultra-large-scale (ULS) systems half-a-dozen years ago. Much excitement surrounded the initial release of the study, but it appears that the research area has languished since then. The study identified “security, trust, and resiliency” as a future topic of interest. Indeed. Those three compose a triumvirate for uptime, with each affecting the others. Any solution for one must consider the other two. Does your plan for server resiliency include security and trust? It should.

I really enjoyed Daemon, and highly recommend it. Many others feel the same way. A few complaints come from those who do not realize this first book only contains the the first half of the story. Picture reading Lord of the Rings and stopping midway through The Two Towers. Fortuitously, the rest of the Daemon story already exists in FreedomTM. I suggest getting both and then disappearing for a couple weeks to finish them. You will not regret it.

Need more info about Daniel Suarez and the ideas from his book? Check out these recent interviews for his Kill Decision book tour:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Please Help Frank Magori

I met Frank and his son a month ago. He has sacrificed so much and the workings of our country's adoption and immigration systems have hung him out to dry. He deserves the opportunity to provide for his son. A friend of mine put together this petition to help Frank out:

Please take a minute to sign the petition. Then, please take some time to market the petition as well. Share it, tweet it, email it, blog it, reddit it, pin it, market it! Frank needs all the help he can get here, including your family, friends, and social graph.
Frank Magori came to this country legally, and he paid taxes on what little income he’s earned. The Government came to Frank and asked him to adopt an infant and provide a loving home for a US citizen with serious health problems. He accepted the request, which forced him to leave school rendering his student visa obsolete. For eight years the Government has denied him the work authorization necessary to allow him to earn an income and provide for his son. As a result, Frank and his son were evicted from their home and are forced to live in a hotel using food stamps at taxpayer expense.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why it's awesome to work at Bit9

I recently had the pleasure of attending some instruction from retired four-star General Bruce Carlson. The material covered a number of things, including some important life lessons. He emphasized the importance of making sure you love what you do, saying something along the lines of: “my wife tells me I had a job, but I don’t remember doing a single day of work. I got to fly planes for a living.” I suspect some degree of hyperbole, but it still made me think about where I currently choose to earn my living. Not only do I enjoy working at Bit9 (CrunchBase Profile), but I feel others should know that so they will join the company if given the opportunity.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney's faith and my vote

A month or so ago I made a comment on Facebook about a campaign ad by Obama for America. At the time I felt that the Obama campaign attempted to call attention to Romney's religion in the phrasing of the ad. This sparked a rather lengthy discussion over the rest of the evening, during most of which I slept. After some initial good discussion of the actual point I made, the comments rapidly degenerated into a general discussion of Obama vs. Romney along party-line talking points. I should have expected that, but when I woke up the next day I had neither the time nor the energy to address the feedback. Now I do.

I'll start with the original comment. My colleagues from the University of Utah immediately pointed out how much of a leap I had made, and I admitted that fairly quickly. My main concern was that this represented a oblique line of attack going forward. It appears that the concern was misguided. More significantly, it appears that the Romney campaign is using the "belief" heavily in its campaign. If Romney wants to "believe in America," I think it's fair for Obama to talk about Romney's core beliefs as they relate to America. There is still some nuance there, but I expect the official rhetoric to stay clean on the aspects of religious beliefs.

That lead's to the question of what significance a candidate's religion should play in a political race. Does it matter what Obama's preacher teaches from the pulpit? What does it mean that Romney is a Mormon? I think that the answer to both of those questions depends on an individual's religious convictions. How I feel about it may not be the way others feel about it, and it definitely doesn't necessarily represent the way people "should" feel about it. Below I'll discuss my thoughts.

Really, the comforting side in most conspiracy theory arguments is the one claiming that anyone who's in power has any plan at all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life Lessons

Sometime during my LDS mission in McAllen Texas, I started collecting catch phrases which represented philosophies and ideals I held. I kept them on a 3x5 card (I kept everything on 3x5 cards during my mission) and eventually created a nice laminated version of the catch phrases. It served as a great reminder for myself, but couldn't really help anybody else.

I tried writing down explanations for a friend while he was on his mission, but the process was tedious and slow. I sent him one that was only about a third of the way done. Since that time I have added even more phrases, but I decided to try and expound on them again for my little brother. He is now serving a mission, and even though I missed passing it on for both my other brother and my sister, I wanted to get this done for my third sibling. My goal was to get it to him by his hump day. I missed that by a couple weeks, but still got pretty close.

I have copied the list down into this post (below the break). I don't live all of these ideas all of the time, but I think they sum up what motivates me and how I try to act. The list is open ended, with the latest one just being added a few weeks ago:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Priesthood Responsibilities

Notes for lesson I led on 8/5/2012 in Billerica Ward Elders Quorum

Brother Harrison’s SS comments: death by powerpoint poisoning, too much material

Progression of recent 1st Sunday lessons:

  • April - General Conference
  • May - Priesthood ordinances
  • June - Honoring the Priesthood
  • July - Individual worth
  • August - Priesthood responsibilities - General Conference, Stake Conference, August Ensign
  • September - Real church growth
Continuing the theme. Summarizing and re-emphasizing. Amazing how it works out. . .

Emphasize what to do, as opposed to what to not do - Blacklisting and whitelisting in the gospel
Pendulum - last time I taught
Beacons of Gondor - “Lift where you stand” by President Uchtdorf. D&C 107:99 (apostles about to leave on missions)
Bishop from LesMis - Sacrifice, worth of souls D&C 18:13-16 (asking about Melchizedek Priesthood)
But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!
Doing what we need to do

3 Ne 27:27 (disciples seeking direction later) - Know > Do > Am - How do we increase the “Am” bar?
"People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach." - Elder David A. Bednar

Abraham seeking after the priesthood - Abraham 1:1-3 (Father trying to kill him)
What is the priesthood? Why do we have it? How do we use it?
D&C 84:20 (Joyous reports at returning from eastern states missions) - “the power of Godliness is manifest” - Moses 1:39
D&C 84:19
D&C 84:33-40 - Oath & Covenant of the Priesthood

The War by Ken Burns. American Anthem by Gene Scheer and performed by Norah Jones
All we've been given
By those who came before
The dream of a nation
Where freedom would endure
The work and prayers
Of centuries
Have brought us to this day
What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?

Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Billerica Ward Preparedness and Self-Reliance Fair

My church congregation is having a preparedness and self-reliance fair. Lots of great resources, including nutrition, personal finance, and do-it-yourself maintenance.

Saturday, June 23rd. Tables open at 9:30 am. Classes begin at 10:15 am. Light lunch will be served. Nursery available; 18m -7.

Billerica LDS Building
70 Concord Rd
Billerica, MA 01821

Monday, June 4, 2012

Choose to be happy

Happiness is a choice. Why choose to murmur and be unhappy? Forget not to be be happy now.

Anybody can be a critic.

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends... Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." - Brad Bird (via Anton Ego)

We have the freedom to choose. Do you want to choose to be the bitter critic or the inspiring artist?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A quick note about Flame

Maybe you've heard about the Flame malware in the news lately and how it evades all known antivirus. Turns out that Bit9's Parity software stops it. Nice to work for a company with such a great product. More information to come on Monday!