Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Next week’s “UC Baseline” courses cover Windows and Linux, and I’m ready!

Photo: Joey deVilla and Steve Ballmer, who is wearing a Canadian flag hat
Me and Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer at the Canadian Windows 7 launch in Toronto, 2009.

Logo: UC BaselineToday marks the end of the second week of The Undercroft’s 5-week cybersecurity training program, UC Baseline. This week was a quick but in-depth (we each had a Cisco switch to configure) introduction to networking. Next week, we look at Windows and Linux from a security perspective.

I have some familiarity with the operating systems in question.

Photo: Joey deVilla, with his accordion, poses with Linus Torvalds, who is holding a pool cue.
Me and Linux creator Linus Torvalds at LinuxWorld Expo NYC 2000.
Photo: Richard M. Stallman and Joey deVilla onstage.
GNU/Free Software Foundation founder Richard M. Stallman and me at the CUSEC Conference in Montreal, 2009.

If you’re bored: When I was a Microsoft developer evangelist (they hired me from the open source/free software world), I won Stallman’s auction for a plush GNU gnu — and paid for it with my Microsoft corporate card. Here’s the story, titled Winning the GNU.

Current Events Tampa Bay

This Saturday: The Suncoast Developers Guild Conference — FREE and ONLINE!

Banner: Suncoast Developers Conference - Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Suncoast Developers Conference, a free online conference for developers organized by Suncoast Developers Guild, happens this Saturday, August 1st, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.! Register here to join in on the geeky fun.

The conference will be made of bite-size (15 minutes or shorter!) presentations by Tampa Bay techies and demos of capstone projects by Suncoast Developers Guild alums. Here’s the schedule, which is subject to update:

Time Presentation
10:00 a.m.
  • Opening ceremony
    (Suncoast Developers Guild)
  • Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!
    (Jason L Perry)
  • Will it Scale?
    (Robert Bieber)
11:00 a.m.
  • Demo: Smash Bros Combo
    (Kento Kawakami)
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Type System
    (Dylan Sprague)
  • Demo: Evolution X
    (Cody Banks & Abtahee Ali)
  • The Rubber Duck Pal Program
    (Daniel Demerin)
12:00 p.m.
  • Furry Friends
    (Colter Lena)
  • Demo
    (Trent Costa)
  • Don’t Crash! CSS-Modules in React
    (Dylan Attal)
  • How to start your own Coding Podcast 101
    (Vincent Tang)
1:00 p.m.
  • Pull Requests, and the Developers Who Love Them
    (Michele Cynowicz)
  • Demo: Rollerblade Buyers Guide
    (Abe Eveland)
  • Post Bootcamp Reflections: Rebuilding my capstone in React Native
    (Liz Tiller)
  • Create games, visual novels, and fast food dating sims (and learn programming) with Ren’Py!
    (Joey deVilla)
2:00 p.m.
  • Demo
    (Rob Mack)
  • “You do belong here” and other affirmations and ways to beat imposter syndrome.
    (Michael Traverso)
  • A Taste Of Docs As Code
    (Kat Batuigas)

Once again, it’s free-as-in-beer (and not free-as-in-mattress) to attend, and all you need is an internet connection! Register here.

Since opening their doors in the summer of 2018, Suncoast Developers Guild’s coding school has graduated over 100 students, and before that, they taught people to code in their previous incarnation as the Tampa Bay branch of The Iron Yard.

In another life, I was a developer evangelist who travelled across North America and I saw tech scenes from Palo Alto to Peoria. I can tell you that one of the signs of a healthy tech community in a small- to medium-sized city is a coding school that acts as a social/technical/gathering place. If your city had one, things were looking up for local techies. If not, it was a safe bet that the place was experiencing a brain drain.

Here in Tampa Bay, Suncoast Developers Guild fills that vital role, and it does so spectacularly. They’re a key part of the heart and soul of tech in the area, and it shows in their efforts, such as events like this.

Thanks, Suncoast Developers Guild! I’ll see you on Saturday!

Current Events Tampa Bay

Online workshop TONIGHT — “Hackathons — Who owns the IP?”

Photo: Brett C.J. Britton

Here’s the TLDR:

  • What: An online workshop where Tampa Bay’s best-known tech lawyer and IP attorney, Brent C.J. Britton, will talk about the intellectual property issues surrounding hackathons.
  • When: Tonight! As in Thursday, July 30th, 2020, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
  • How/Where: This Zoom meeting.

Let’s face it: The purpose of many (but not all) hackathons — even if it’s not the primary purpose — is to promote one or more tech company’s wares or services, or to act as a scouting exercise to find new talent. This is especially true when a hackathon is organized or sponsored by a for-profit company and especially when they encourage or require you to use one of their products, services, or APIs.

What if you participate in a hackathon held by a for-profit company and your idea is a really good one? Who owns it?

This workshop will be led by Brent C.J. Britton, local IP/techie lawyer, and generally the first guy I run to when I face some kind of intellectual property issue (and yes, I have, when a copyright troll was getting up in my business).

Check it out tonight!

Here’s Brent’s bio:

Brent Britton is the only graduate of the prestigious MIT Media Lab to become a lawyer. Brent holds degrees from the University of Maine, the The Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Boston University School of Law. He is Managing Partner for the Tampa office at De La Pena & Holiday LLP, where he advises companies on emerging business and technology law, intellectual property, complex commercial transactions.


Brent is the author of Ownability, How Intellectual Property Works and one of the most interesting and entertaining speakers in the Tampa Bay area on Startups, IP and related matters. He is recommended on Linkedin by a futurist as: “Visionary, pragmatic, insightful and full of life with a capital L”.

Process Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from UC Baseline’s “Networking 101” class

Here’s my daily view for seven hours a day for the next little while, as I’m part of the inaugural cohort of UC Baseline, the 5-week cybersecurity training program from Tampa bay’s security guild, The Undercroft:

Tap to see at full size.

Last week was devoted entirely to the “Hardware 101” part of the program. Here’s a video summary of what happened that week, and Yours Truly’s in a fair bit of it:

This week is “Networking 101”, which is all about how the bits gets transferred across wires and air to our hardware.

One of the exercises is making our own Ethernet cables. I can do it — just, very, very slowly…

Tap to see at full size.

We spent a good chunk of time setting up virtual LANs on our individually-assigned Cisco Catalyst 3750 programmable 48-port switches (alas, we don’t get to keep them), hooking up our Raspberry Pi 4 boxes (which we do get to keep) to them, and wiring our VLANs together via trunks:

Tap to see at full size.

It’s a strange world, where IOS doesn’t Apple’s refer to “iPhone Operating System” — part of my usual stomping grounds as a developer — but in the world of network administration, it’s Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System:

Tap to see at full size.

This is way outside my normal experience with networking, which I do at the application level, where I deal with data structures like arrays, dictionaries, base64-encoded data, and maybe the occasional data stream. This is the world of packets, frames, switching, and routing. I would still probably ruin a server room if left in charge of it, but after this course, I’d ruin it less.

do have a refreshed generalized concept of what happens at the lower levels of the network, and that’s the important thing for me and the sort of work that I do.

Tap to see at full size.
Humor Programming

Me, with my calls to print() vs. you, with your fancy debugger

print() (or printf()) works for these pros…

…and it works pretty nicely for me, too.

Process Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

The UC Baseline cybersecurity course at The Undercroft — Begin week 2: Networking 101!

It’s Monday, July 27th, which means that I’ve completed the Hardware 101 portion of the 5-week UC Baseline cybersecurity training program offered by Tampa Bay’s security guild, The Undercroft! Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve posted so far about my experiences…

We’re now on week 2, which means it’s time to move to the next module…

It’s time for Networking 101, which takes up the next five days! This should be fun.

In anticipation of this week’s lectures, I thought I’d repost these two “cats and networking” pics…

Photo: A stack of seven interlocking baskets, each with a cat. From top to bottom, the cats are labeled: Application, presentation, session, transport, network, data link, and phyiscal.
The OSI network model, illustrated with cats.
Photo: A stack of four boxes, each with a cat in it. The cats are labeled, from top to bottom: Application, transport, internet, and network interface.
The TCP/IP layers.
Hardware Process Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

Scenes from Days 4 and 5 of the “UC Baseline” cybersecurity program at The Undercroft

Day 4 of the Hardware 101 component of the UC Baseline cybersecurity program was all about security for the enterprise, which naturally included topics such as servers. Not everyone in the class has had the opportunity to tour a server room or data center, and this was their chance to see these machines up close.

Unlike the previous days, we did not attempt to dismantle and then reassemble the servers — this was a “look, but don’t touch” sort of lesson.

We also had a guest lecturer who gave us a pretty thorough walkthrough of the sorts of things involved in an enterprise server/data center setup, some of which went way over my head. I don’t see a sysadmin/system architect role in my future, but it might not hurt for me to do some supplementary reading on this topic.

Day 5 was the final day of Hardware 101 and started with something that I’ve always been terrible at: Making networking cables.


We also spent some time looking over all sorts of intrusion devices, such as the incredibly cute “Pwnagotchi”, a Raspberry Pi Zero-based device that “listens” to wifi chatter to feed its machine learning program in order to figure out wifi passwords.

It uses an e-paper screen, which is quite legible and consumes little power.

It’s incredibly small:

Here’s a Pwnagotchi beside a U.S. quarter for size reference:

A great way to steal information to gain access to people’s accounts and systems is to set up a fake wifi hotspot at a place that offers free wifi, such as Starbucks. That’s what the Wifi Pineapple is for — people connect to it, thinking they’re connecting to Starbucks wifi. You route their signals through to the real Starbucks wifi, but you’re the go-between, and can “see” everything that your marks are sending on the internet: the data they’re passing back and forth, including stuff like user IDs and passwords:

Here’s the actual unit:

Here’s a wrist-mounted device for performing wifi de-authentication attacks:

It sends out a signal that causes devices currently connected to wifi to disconnect. You could use it in tandem with a Wifi Pineapple to force people to disconnect from the real wifi and then connect to the Pineapple instead, enabling you to read their internet communications.

If you really want to “sniff” all the wifi traffic in the room, you’ll want one of these — a high-gain antenna system hooked to a network interface controller (NIC) that reads signals in “promiscuous mode”, a capability that’s disabled in most NICs. In promiscuous mode, you can capture all wifi traffic instead of the bits of data that you’re authorized to receive. It’s a good network diagnostics tool — and it’s also useful for getting up to no good:

And finally, the Shark Jack. Plug it into someone’s network, either via the ethernet jack or USB, and it will execute scripts to get a map of the network or even deliver a payload somewhere onto the system:

It’s basically a real-world version of the device that Tony Stark slipped onto the command console of the SHIELD helicarrier in the first Avengers movie (it’s at the 0:44 mark):

I may have to invest in one of those bad boys. For research purposes, you understand.

We also had a guest lecturer who delivered a very thorough and informative presentation on getting started in cybersecurity. I’ll have to post notes on it later:

And at the end of the day, we were each issued our very own Raspberry Pi 4 Model B’s!

These were the Labists versions, and I have to say, I prefer their offering over Canakit’s.

Here’s what the board looks like:

It has some pretty impressive specs, especially when you consider that it retails for under $100:

  • Processor: Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC, running at 1.5GHz
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • “Hard drive”: Micro-SD card slot. This model comes with a 32 GB card
  • Networking:
    • 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wifi
    • Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE (low energy)
    • Gigabit ethernet
  • USB ports: 2 USB 2 ports, 2 USB 3 ports
  • Video: 2 micro-HDMI ports, with support for 4Kp60 video
  • Other ports:
    • Raspberry Pi 40-pin GPIO (general purpose input/output)
    • 2-lane MIPI DSI display port
    • 2-lane MIPI CSI camera port
    • 4-pole stereo audio/composite video port

It also comes with a pretty nice case…

…a power supply with an actual on/off switch on the cord, and not one, but two micro-HDMI to full-size HDMI cables…

…heatsinks and a fan, plus a screwdriver…

…and a micro-SD card and USB adapter so that you can use your standard computer to download an OS…

I spent some time over the weekend noodling with it, and wow, is it a fun computer to play with!

We’re expected to use it for this week’s classes, which make up the “Networking 101” portion of the UC Baseline program. I’m looking forward to it!