Monday, January 30, 2006

Navigation and Networks

OK. I’m buying SatNav.

After leaving the house at 06:15 this morning, I very quickly lost the route that I’d printed out from the RAC site (difficult to read the paper when you're driving in the dark!), eventually found my way onto the Inner Ring Road, but then missed the turning for the A1 and ended up in the murkiest depths of East London before I realised my mistake. Consequently, I had to navigate my way back and ended up stuck in virtually stationary traffic on the North Circular for half an hour. All with an uncomfortably full bladder! Talk about a painful morning!

I eventually found my way onto the A1 (I don’t think I have ever been so happy to turn onto a road in my life!) and, in the end, only missed around twenty minutes of the course (which in terms of missed curriculum means ‘nothing’.) I did however miss the second breakfast I’d been planning, as a bowl of cereal at 05:30 wasn’t going to see me through until lunch, so I had to make do with a cup of coffee and two Bourbon Creams. (OMG! This is beginning to sound like an episode of Acorn Antiques!)

The course itself is fascinating; it’s a Hands-On style of Network Security taught by a company which does a lot of network forensic work for the police, indeed the course is taking place at a police facility near Bedford. It’s a fairly detailed look at the tools and techniques that can be used to breach your network’s integrity, how to detect them and generally how to make it difficult for hackers to do their thing. By the same token, it’s also a fairly reasonable course on the basics of hacking and, as a result, we have all apparently been background-checked before being signed on to it! Hmm... I wonder what it says in my file...?

Security is an area of IT that I would love to be involved in; I suppose it has a certain James Bond thrill to it (without much risk of actually getting shot in the line of duty) but while I think I would be technically able to do the work, I’ve never had the obsessive fire for the subject that makes a good network security guru, so I’ve never put in the graft to acquire worthwhile experience. I’d rather spend my time being less geeky, so I guess I’ll never be the one that saves the Internet from the Bad Guys, but I expect that I’ll be able to make my company’s corner of the Internet that much more secure as a result of this and then – who knows?

One interesting point that came out of today was the talk about intuition and seeing patterns and predicting from them. Later, over coffee, someone asked me which hotel I was staying in (there are two cheap Travel Inns fairly close to the centre which are recommended.) I couldn’t remember the name, so described it as ‘the one that has WiFi’ (As only one of the two does.) Sure enough, all except one other delegate was staying at the same place for the same reason. (The odd guy out was staying at a B&B because his company was too cheap to even shell-out for a Travel Inn!!) For all that we value our individuality, we are predictable creatures at the end of the day…

Hehehe… sitting in my hotel room, checking my work email via the wireless Internet access, I was asked to clear some files from my area on one of our servers in Adelaide, Australia and, sitting here in my hotel room, with no physical connection to anything, I logged in and did just that. I still get a childish thrill out of being able to do that! Right, off for dinner!

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