About Chuck

Human being, geek, nerd, genuinely goodwilled individual.

Solving the VMWare workstation modules won’t compile issue

Having recently run into the issue wherein the VMware vmmon and vmnet modules “cannot be installed” in my linux workstation post-kernel update, I’ve come to find that there is a workable solution. Knowing in advance that I am going to have to re-do this every time a kernel update occurs, I finally decided to document the process for myself, lest I lose the links and tracking the whole procedure becomes frustrating once more.

First things first: The solution’s credit is owed to Michal Kubecek for his outstanding work on the code to correct what VMware cannot (or will not) in their install procedures. His VMWare-Host-Modules GitHub Repository is the source of much joy for this user. In fact, that code is how I can actually solve the problems I have experienced.

So now, for the solution or as those who can remember (and will likely enjoy):

Step One: The Larch

Yes, it does recall a time when men were men and sailed the seven seas in search of … err, sorry, that’s next week’s sketch.

The first thing to do is to go ahead and clone the repository for the vmware-host-modules to your local machine:

git clone https://github.com/mkubecek/vmware-host-modules.git

NOTE: This is the main branch of the repository, and as such, we don’t want to use this for compiling the actual modules themselves as our intrepid developer and author himself has advised us not to do so:

Branch “master” cannot be used to build modules, it contains only common

files so that changes in them can be merged into all other branches easily.

To get actual sources, checkout a “real” branch, e.g.
git checkout workstation-$yourWorkstationVersion

This correlates to VMware worstation 16.2.1 at present for me, so

git checkout workstation-16.2.1

After doing this, I need to ensure that I have the latest code so:

git pull

That does the trick, then it is a matter of ensuring that bison and flex are installed for building the modules on the system:

sudo apt install bison flex

Then all I need to do is the standard build procedure for the mdules: make, then sudo make install.

Once all that is done, my VMware Workstation should work again. If I could walk that way… that will have to wait for the next segment. Thus, we’ve come to the end of this week’s episode. You can expect more about the seafaring men of lore that sailed in longships to shores afar when we meet again.

Conversation: A lost art?

The lost generations to come

Technology was supposed to make our lives better. It was supposed to make communications better and give us the ability to express ourselves in a rational, thinking manner. The results at present do no lead me to believe that it is doing very well in the art of human interaction. Conversation seems to have become a dying art, lost to past generations. The age of information has become the age of an unrelatable world, that lacks empathy, understanding or the willingness to connect through conversation.

I do not know what will happen when people spend their lives trapped in a VR or AR world. Frankly, I’m not sure that world is one I would be able to understand as a viable human existence. In a world without conversations, there is no mutual understanding. There is no empathy, there is no soul in worlds where people do not converse.We risk becoming automatons without emotion and to what end? These words cannot convey context in a manner so refined and elegant as conversation. This is simply text on a page. I may convey some simple meaning, but this can easily be misconstrued, misused and misunderstood.

Human understanding requires the context of body language along with words, inflection, tonality and perception in order to convey intent. We have one of the most highly developed sense of conveying meaning through conversation, but are unfortunately destroying that through improper programming of the human species to become addicted to the screen versus the person. The screen is not the correct focus. We’ve become addicted to tools over an addiction to people.

I argue that this makes for a population that is literally afraid to converse with other humans. It’s awkward to have conversations with some folks. The widened eyes that appear when another human speaks to them in public makes me think that people will at one point run away when someone says ‘hello’ to them. Covid has not made things any easier for anyone, but the addiction to screens has exacerbated the problem of the lack of conversational skills to a degree that makes me wonder if love will one day devolve into two people texting each other in the same room,

It isn’t simply a problem of generations (though many may wish they could use that tired old stereotypical excuse meant to divide us), it’s a profound issue that prevents people from holding polite and interesting conversation; further, empathy is lost when there is only text on screens. One the greatest things in life is the ability to speak to others, for you can build a sense of camaraderie, empathy and partnership when you speak to others far easier than through a wall of text.

If the AR or VR world is supposed to offer meaning, that is even far nuttier than I can imagine. I see use as a tool but never as a full-on replacement for reality itself. Now, if the replacement keeps folks from destroying our world. that may be a good thing. However, I fear all we will achieve is that people will be so lost in some altered universe that they will fail to see their own demise whilst the planet comes to an untimely end.

We were designed to see, think, speak and react upon the stimuli of the real world. If we use technology to remove the real, we are using our tools to remove ourselves from understanding or even seeing the clues that should be guiding our actions.

If there is one thing that I would recommend to everyone, it is simply to try to connect with your fellow human beings. The world is a wonderful place if you can make yourself focus on seeing others and not denying their existence.

Free Yourself

One of my favorite bands from back in college was The Untouchables. They had this great vibe about them and the song “Free Yourself” still ranks as one of the happier songs of all time for me. if you want, the lyrics can tell you a lot about the concept of freeing oneself.

The reason for this post though, is to discuss the need for individuals to be authentic and free themselves from the need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps. One of the saddest things in life to see is to watch another human being make themselves miserable trying to live up to someone else’s idea of who they should be. That never works out well.

Sure, we all have people who provide inspiration for us, they help us think better or realize our potential. We may aspire to living up to their words, their deeds or their successes. However, when we forget that they too are or were human beings, we set aside the reality of the person for the ideal of the concept of who they are or were. I’ve yet to meet a person who makes no mistakes. A perfect person as a human being is as likely as having ten thousand identical snowflakes. It simply isn’t reality.

We should not think that a single quote from an individual is the sum of their being. It is my belief that when a person takes a single quote as anything more than inspirational, they devalue the being who spoke that quote. A single statement does not a human being make. There is a whole novel in being human, the story of a life is far from perfection. When we reduce a person to one statement and then idolize that as some form of absolute truth, we lose the value of the life that created the expression of those words.

In the last few decades there has been a tendency to take a famous person’s quote and magnify this as if it were the sum total of the being themselves. That saddens me as there is so much more richness in their story than a single quote that may resonate with others. Is it fair to reduce a life to a single quote? I think not. You may disagree, but it simply isn’t even an effective trailer to the person as a whole.

Perhaps it is my makeup, but to me the only value in a human quote is that it represents an inspiration to myself. Something within the words strike a chord in my being, but it isn’t the sum of my life or mind, it may inspire me, but it isn’t a sign of sycophancy where I must shout it out loud or post it for others to admire. Instead, it can be used to inspire action. It may provide a boost to a conscious process or drive a goal within myself. For in that, there is value.

Where the best of each of us exists its when we can exercise our own mind and spirit to derive the best outcome for others. We aren’t the sum of our favorite quotes, but rather beings that can think for themselves. In that spirit, the best comes from the whole, the independent mind that thinks through decisions and seeks the proper outcome for all. Selfishness is the enemy of love, it is the ruin of the independent mind that exercises its knowledge to build a better world.

I’d like to ask one favor of people, consider that a single quote does not create the life story of a person. There is so much more on their canvas, and when you focus on that leaf in the tree, you miss the forest of their existence. Everyone has the potential to do good, but only when we come from a place of love and respect for one another will you truly achieve success. We must appreciate the diversity that creates that ecosystem as a whole.

You will only become a whole being when you can consider that there is a much greater story to be found when you take the time to ponder where the inspiration takes you on your journey. Life, after all is not a destination. That is a known outcome. It is the journey along the way that makes us what we are, and only by thinking for yourself will you ever truly be free.

Have a nice day. Don’t worry, be happy!

The Internet Hate Machine

The internet was supposed to be a place to empower people , to give them access to knowledge, allow them to think and discuss reasonably ideas and differences without resorting to the extremism that has become too commonplace today. Instead of helping us to create a better society, it has devolved the quality of conversation from the intellectual to the banal, crass and horrific extremes of polarization.

If it were not so, we’d have a unified nation versus a nation spoon-fed a daily dose of constant hatred of anyone of anything that is a different idea than some want them to acknowledge can exist. The “both sides do this” argument is no excuse for the behavior, it is still unacceptable in a civilized society. We owe ourselves better ideals and a life free from the consumption of hatred in the daily diet.

I’ve been getting emails, articles and posts from the so-called social internet that would make anyone believe that the world is about to end tomorrow if they were not capable of critical thinking. Of course, there are those who are willfully ignorant of facts, and choose only to see the world through the myopic vision of their world-view, but that isn’t a person who will ever change their ways. It’s sad, but the facts are that there will always be the willfully ignorant among us all. We just have to move on from trying to change their minds and accept that they choose to live in their cave versus come out and do anything to change their world.

I have a particular dislike for the political emails from the parties of today, not because they are political, but because they remind me of a former lover, turned manic-depressive, arrogant narcissist that would shiv you in the back at any moment and won’t go away. I’m not kidding here at all. A sample of these headlines would give a clear view of the emotional manipulation that is used every day to drive people toward the one goal that they sender is after: your money.

  • “We’re packing our bags, it’s over!” (Really? Do you promise? I’ll help you pack)
  • “He/She is furious!” (And that affects me how exactly? Don’t care here – go away)
  • “They’re destroying X” (Pick your value of X, it is all bullshit anyway)
  • “You don’t support Y?” (Again, see the statement about X…)
  • “Why haven’t you answered us?” (Umm. maybe because all you want is my money and aren’t doing jack all except making yourself rich by taking money?)
  • “You didn’t vote for (the person you did vote for)?” (Shame on them – they still think I’m a dupe)
  • “We can’t do X without your money” (Nope. You can. That’s why we elected so and so – to actually do something)
  • “We’ll be gone if you don’t…” (See the first answer)
  • “It’s over, no one is voting for…” (Voting is over, it’s time to get your ass to work)
  • “They are killing babies…” (No, but admit it, you don’t do shit when people are actually born, now do you?)
  • “The government is bad..” (Well, as long as no one restores the rule of law, that’s a fact. So get to fucking work and restore the rule of law where no one is above the law.)
  • “If we don’t A, then B will happen…” (Again, get off your ass and earn your pay. Anything else is just bullshit. Do your work, we’ve done ours.)
  • “So and so has outraised us by…” (Really, you think I care? Money should not be the dominant factor in politics. The big mistake was allowing that to happen at all. It only breeds corruption – period.)
  • “We can’t negotiate…” (Agreed, you suck at it. The only way to negotiate things in government should be transparently, on camera, with the nation having insight as to the BS that is being said.)

That’s the first part of the problem: money is buying the laws and government in our republic today versus the people having the elected represent us. The elected officials are beholden to their owners/financiers versus the actual voters. We see you clearly, and we know when you don’t represent all of us. Corporate money is the biggest mistake we’ve ever allowed into politics.

Then there is the media, which also is owned by corporations (just about six corporations in reality). The media is also responsible for fueling mistrust and hatred, allowing it not only a ‘social media’ but the funded fake news of hate machines that spread lies and mistrust of the American form of government. Democracy in a Republic is built for every man and woman, regardless of the creed, color, sexual orientation or any other point of descriptive difference. Money destroys that democracy as the government is bought and paid for by owners of wealth. It makes the system an oligarchy which does not listen.

To all those thinking that screaming is the way to change things: nope. The way to change things is to change our system in a way that does not reward incumbency. We need to abolish the political party system as it stands and make people run on their record. What did they accomplish for the people that they represent versus what BS lies or divisive statements they make to hold onto their power versus actually working for a living?

A modest proposal

Here’s something we could do to build a much better America that actually wasn’t programmed to destroy itself.

  • Limit elections to only a two or three month period when they will actually occur.
  • Prevent any rallies or communications about any election by law except to just that period.
  • Limit the dollar amounts campaigns may raise or use during a campaign to use money for the people and not just the electioneers and their lifestyles.
  • Make it a crime to spend any more than the agreed amount per elected office – putting everyone on equal footing.
  • Once the amount is spent – the campaign is done. No more ads, no more appearances, no more flooding life with propaganda. We’ve seen it, it’s over.
  • Make candidates stand on their own values. Removing the party labels makes them not able to associate themselves under some false label. They have to be themselves, not a “party hack” who uses the ‘party line’ to hide their real selves.

If we did this, then those who are in office would have to be responsible to us and not their ‘owners/financiers/backers’ who do not represent the people at all, just a narrow view that supports a small minority of the population.

I’ve already been accused of ‘wanting to destroy free speech’ with the ideas, but that is likely one of those people who want that money over the sanity of making the system work for the people. I can’t see any reasonable argument for keeping things the way they are, it is driving a wedge in the middle of our republic for the sake of a few miscreants who make money their god.

If we truly want change, we need to consider a radical rethink of how things work. Do you want to be programmed for hatred, or do you have a better society in mind? I know that for me, the better society is the answer. I’m also not so naive as to believe that there are not those that wish for our destruction at home and abroad. They only win if we succumb to the addiction to hate. that addiction actually causes you physical harm and takes years off of your life. It’s up to you to choose whether you wish to live and do better or die and be smug in your hatred.

Have a nice day, don’t worry, be happy!

Solving the TTY resolution problem in Pop!_OS

One of the main problems I’ve had with using Pop!_OS has been the configuration of the TTY resolution. Since Pop!_OS does not use Grub to start the system, older solutions to alter your TTY resolution simply didn’t work. I could barely see the login screen due to an entirely too small resolution when using the CTRL+F2.. etc shortcut.

Digging around, I knew there had to be a way to do this. Several kind folks suggested that I use the command sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup which was very nearly correct. I blame myself for the poor choice of words when trying to explain the issue. It’s not their fault I couldn’t ge what I wanted, it was my explanation saying that the fonts were huge. Not the best ways to say that the resolution on the console wasn’t working for me. (facepalm there)

Anyway, because this will recur for me, I want to store the solution for anyone else who might need it (and I know I will in future).

First, you need to identify the resolutions that will work for your environment. For this, you will need the package hwinfo in order to determine what works. If you don’t have it installed, you can do this through the command line:

sudo apt install hwinfo

Another method, if you’re more of a GUI person:

sudo apt install synaptic

Once you have synaptic installed, you can search for hwinfo and simply allow the dependencies to be resolved for you.

Using the hwinfo package, you need to determine the best resolution that will work with your monitor using the command:

sudo hwinfo --framebuffer

This will give you something similar to this:

hwinfo output

Looking at this, I can easily see that the resolution that I wanted 1920x 1080 at 24 bits is available to use.

From there, it is a simple matter to edit the console default in nano to present the proper console:

sudo nano /etc/default/console-setup

This presents you with the proper code here:

Console setup with resolution added

Note: If you do not add the proper bit setting, the display will not change. Lesson learned, add the setting.

I hope this helps someone else out (besides myself) as the default resolution was simply not useful for my textual needs in context.

Have a nice day, don’t worry, be happy!

Security: what do we really value ?

It seems that breaches in information security along with ransomware and other malware attacks are openly ‘celebrated’ by those who stand to gain the most. What saddens me about that fact is that while we can easily celebrate those who ethically crack software, the real heroes go unheralded and under appreciated. Nation States seems all too willing these days to invest in the cracker who can break into systems, and this should be disquieting to say the least.

There are rich rewards available to those who can find vulnerabilities in software, to ‘expose’ the problems (hopefully before they are widely shared) in software that affect the underpinnings of our daily lives. Just ask any bug bounty program recipient what drives them do the work. The bigger the issue, the larger the payout. They have a strong financial imperative to do such work and thankfully, they do it well.

It strikes me as oddly out of balance with what we need to secure systems though. When do the good guys that have to do the hard work of securing the systems actually get the appreciation they deserve? What is their ‘contest prize’ for preventing issues from occurring ? Where si the X-prize for preventing, stopping or mitigating attacks? Do we properly incentivize those who have to do that work, or are we only going to pay people to break into systems rather than securing them?

Please understand, I think those bug bounty programs are necessary and important. I would never advocate against that work, as it is a must in today’s world. However, where I think we miss the boat is in the necessity to build a vulnerability-driven model without building out the same for defense mechanisms and systems. The real unsung heroes (and often underpaid as well) are those that everyday respond and prevent the problems that otherwise disrupt and possibly destroy businesses, reputations and yes, lives.

It’s one thing to prove you can break into a system, quite another to prevent, defend and/or mitigate attacks. Imagine BugCrowd, HackerOne, Synack, Cobalt or others, but instead for defense. I don’t mean new software or devices so much as a prize for using devices, methods and systems to respond to active attacks.

There is a BlackHat convention and celebration, but what if there were three teams actually charged with an actual attack in a simulated environment. One team to setup a network and its systems, one to attack, and one to defend. Each year, the networkers could setup to a current standard, the attackers and defenders would have a set amount of time to run their plays and the regular attendees could be users on the systems. The system would have randomized emails and browsing (simulated) to setup traffic flows and then the two competing teams would collaborate to uncover or avoid the other. Each would have to either protect or defend the system. One key piece of evidence would have to be extracted (proof) or prevented from being gathered to ‘win’ the game.

If you really wanted to make it interesting, you could reverse the roles for each team after a round of play. This would force teams to be creative, show a bit of knowledge in both offense and defense in order to win the game. This would require creative thinking and make the system teach quite a bit more than just “breaking into” systems.

Know that sounds like a bit, but it would likely be far more useful than just paying a prize to ‘break in’ to systems. That requires a single failure in security and while it sounds glamorous, it isn’t the desired outcome of what we should want from systems and security. It only takes a can of spray paint to tag a wall. Painting a mural is far more difficult, as there has to be an artistic vision. It would seem to me that each operator should be as versed in defense as much as offense in order to bring the team together. A healthy balance of styles and knowledge should be required in order to ensure you’re doing what can be done.

Just some random thoughts from a guy on the current state of where we’re at in the software field. It seems that the headlines will be the attention grabbing break ins, vulnerabilities and other mishaps, but the real unsung heroes who prevent such efforts on a daily basis drudge along, often underfunded and unheralded. We should be building a better future with more security for systems with all the enthusiasm we seem to have to spare for attackers.

Have a nice day. Don’t worry, be happy.

Presumption : almost always wrong

We all know the adage that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me: ass|u|me. The adage is meant to warn us not to assume intent of others when viewing actions, communications or decisions. It’s a fair warning, because text cannot imply the intent in the same fashion as the recipient perceives that message. It is in fact, one of the easiest things to twist into a meaning that was never there, never intended and certainly not even contemplated.

William of Ockham, a Franciscan friar and theologian, posited an idea that was true then as it is now. Popularly known as ‘Occam’s (sic) razor’ – the law of parsimony or the idea that entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. This is commonly paraphrased as the simplest explanation is often best or closest to the truth.

Given the rather acrimonious state of the current world, it seems that principle is often thrown out of the window – tossed aside in an effort to divide from within. People actively presume the worst or jump into hyperbole in order to ‘make points’ that are lost on the audience when they presume some sort of evil intent in any (and often every) action. It isn’t hard to find these examples, a simple viewing of social media, any feedback forum, or any open forum where someone can provide feedback will prove that the complaints far outweigh complimentary feedback.

Maybe it is a by-product of the age, maybe it is a by-product of our current system, or maybe critical thought in education is simply not getting to the point of really communicating the need for emotional intelligence. I am not certain what the problem is, but I do know that there is a large group of people that believe living unfiltered and with anger in their hearts is somehow going to make things change – they seem to think that presumption can be shared as ‘proof of intent’.

I disagree, as I know that people are complex beings and will have differences of opinion. I know that messages are tested and floated as experiments as much as anything else. It would be nice to understand every message’s clear intent, but we should never presume that intention. This is why it is best to seek first to understand. If you do not understand, ask questions to derive intent. This is why no one should design in a vacuum if they expect their product to succeed.

We all know or have examples of products, tools and technologies we use that we question a choice as made. That doesn’t mean it was done to make things wrong or to cause discomfort, and it doesn’t signal evil intent. Although, if you talk to some folks, the first reaction is to launch into a rant about how stupid this or that choice was, or how everyone in that company is to blame for their perception of the state of this thing X.

It simply isn’t so, someone made a choice because they are human beings and because we don’t know their processes, pressures and decisions that are forced upon them. It isn’t very human to fail to seek to understand those choices, decisions and timelines. Every company has the time-to-deliver an MVP on the table in the digital world, and budgets, people and timelines are things that change constantly.

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t ever expect perfection from anything built by humans (or computers for that matter, they were designed by humans after all). I expect reasonably good enough to be functional and get shit done. That is what it is meant to do, solve problems. Code and product do not have ‘intent’ unless there is some written manifesto by the developer saying that their product is intended purposefully to ruin everyone’s day, you can’t presume that is the intent. Well, you can, but you’re just wrong.

The same can be aid to be true of opinions; when they presume intent without seeking to understand first, they’re coming at the issue from preconceived notions. If I don’t like X and I go to every forum that discusses X and denounce it and everyone who discusses X as evil, then I am to blame for being pigheaded and a troll. That isn’t getting shit done, that’s being an arsehole.

What we need to get shit done these days is to learn about that word that we all need to revive: compromise. If that word can’t be used to understand and work on our differences, someone, somewhere will falsely presume intent and nuke us all. Tolerance, understanding and compromise are far too little taught in our system. Critical thinking and seeking to understand what someone means are the best outcomes for all concerned.

If there is anything I hope that we can all share, it is the intellectual curiosity to understand that diverse thoughts can provide unique ways of solving issues. When we fail to listen first, ask questions and derive answers to first understand intent, then we are not learning, thinking or caring for the human beings at the other end of the conversation. There is no perfection in life, there are only attempts to work and cooperate with one another. If we approach each other with humility, humanity and understanding, we won’t presume intent.

If we start from that premise, we can’t be stopped. The we can build partnerships with meaning. I know many won’t agree, but if you’re a reader, I hope you can understand where I come from is a place of seeking first to understand without judgment and without presumption.

Till next time folks. Have a nice day, don’t worry, be happy!

On Citizenship and Stewardship

There are a lot of thoughts that occur to me that I never get to write about. Usually because life, work and the pursuit of trying to make things better is often primary to all other events. However, given the sour state of everyday American life, it has become clear to me that people are being made to feel rather angered, disconnected and falsely entitled. The one thing I always heard when growing up was “the world doesn’t owe you a living” – which translated to the reality that you have to go out and earn a living if you want to live, and you have to do your part to make the world work.

So while it may seem that we’re living in two different realities and worlds, the reality is that we share this land with fellow citizens of the same sovereign nation. We have obligations as citizens, and I think it helps first to remember what a citizen is within the context of the American experience.

A citizen: A citizen is a participatory member of a political community. Citizenship is gained by meeting the legal requirements of a national, state, or local government. A nation grants certain rights and privileges to its citizens. In return, citizens are expected to obey their country’s laws and defend it against its enemies.

American citizens are generally law-abiding, and I would argue that for the most of us, we don’t celebrate, comprehend or tolerate those that do not abide the laws of the land. There are laws that need to change, and that can be done through the peaceful protest against those laws, the rights of petition and the power of the vote. Every real American believes in the right to vote and the power of the American democratic system. We do not believe in denying people the right to exercise those rights, nor do we applaud those that do. It’s simply un-American to want to deny someone their inalienable rights to freedom and the power of the vote.

If we think about it, we also understand that we are all immigrants to this land, with the exception of the indigenous people who were here when we landed upon the American continents. Everyone not initially from this hemisphere is a child of an immigrant. Every single migration has empowered America and enriched that melting pot with new ideas, culture, food and language. There is always something in that equation that ends up building something better than what was and showing us what can be. Everyone came here because of the dream and every bigot today was once a part fo the underclass of America. Only those born into wealth were given a silver spoon, the rest of us have to struggle for a living. We recognize that our strengths are not borne out of a fragility and inability to assimilate differences, but rather from our innate ability to desire to learn and diversify thoughts and habits. Imagine how dull life would be if all you ever ate was the same meal every day. Variety breeds strength, homogeneity breeds defects and weakness (ask any geneticist, botanist, doctor, etc.). We need diversity and we need immigrants to strengthen the country.

Citizens also have an obligation to pay their taxes. That system is a bit of a game for the wealthy at present, and should require serious reform, but it seems that the more lawyers you can afford, the less you pay. Arguably, if you benefit from living here, you should be willing to pay for the defense, the common good, infrastructure, a decent society that cares for its citizens and all that comes from having a working government. If your sole goal is to ‘break’ the government, then you really aren’t acting in the interest of the people, now are you? As a married person, I pay at the single rate, even though that is not required. I want my country to succeed, and I want to live in a decent society that has meaningful laws that serve the country as a whole. I prefer to have roads, bridges, buildings, and equal access to opportunity for all rather than a crumbling heap aging into an empire of rust.

Citizenship also means that I learn to tolerate those who disagree with my views, as long as they do not act violent or threaten the lives of others. Those freedoms end at the tip of your nose as do mine. You can tend to your beliefs as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. Acting out in a normal society is the act of a fool, and the learning commences when there are actual consequences for actions. There is no excuse to succumbing to our baser instincts and attacking others because of who they are; your failure to tolerate is not another’s obligation to allow your bigotry, violence or vitriol.

We wrote a Constitution to guarantee freedoms to all Americans. A citizen of this country should believe in the words of the declaration of independence as much as the Constitution and strive to achieve those values. It is within our grasp to do so; if only we exercise the god given utility that we were all born with: our brains. Thinking is a critical part of being a citizen. If you don’t think, then you aren’t engaging in the dialogue so much as a diatribe. There is a significant difference and understanding what that means is the difference between espousing any idea and truly understanding the consequences of that thought.

As I watch this world seemingly lost in madness, I wonder how many people stop and actually think, “Am I being a good citizen here? Am I trying to find solutions or just make a mess of things? What could I do better?”

That is the final part of the piece that seems so often lost in conversation these days. The idea of why we think about things, and that is stewardship. Stewardship is taking care of something like a large household, the arrangements for a group or the resources of a community, or in our case, our country and its citizens. An example of stewardship is the act of making wise use of the natural resources provided by the nation and its people.

If we looked at the ills of our 21st century society, we’d have to think that we have left people behind. From a technology perspective, from an education perspective and from an opportunity perspective, we can and should do better. The wealth gap is killing cultures left and right in America, not because of the lack of willingness to change, but largely because of access to change.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, this has been coming since the last century. It happened so gradual that many of us were taken aback at the changes without understanding the forces that drove them. I recall in the 1970’s the constant upheavals of layoffs and manufacturing losses to ‘cheap foreign competition’ – because the “American worker is lazy” we were told. In the 1980’s the decimation of the independent oil and gas industry due to ‘cheap and plentiful oil’ lead to a marketplace flood and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, companies and opportunities. Waves of migration led to the financial industry becoming the dominant industry of the late 80’s through early 2000’s. The wipeout of the healthcare industry in favor of corporate insurance and healthcare destroyed access to rural healthcare – wiping out hospitals, doctors and local practices. We’ve seen call centers sent abroad, our credit history sent overseas and all sorts of loss throughout the industries we developed, built and brought to life through the hard work, sweat and blood of the American worker. It’s been on a continuous roll throughout my life, but it always had one aspect that remained constant. The real beneficiaries were not the workers, but those that could exploit their labours.

Today, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. My company treats me as a human being, I do work that I find interesting and challenging, and my family is okay. All of this is good fortune, and a blessing. It has not always been so, but that is not the point of my writing. The point of my writing here is that today I do ask myself, how can I make the world a better place? What can I do to act in stewardship to help others?

I can’t be the only one that questions the things I do. It is not easy to not feel like there is something more that can be done, a change made here and there, however small, that can put a bit of positive energy out there to deflect the negative energy so often touted as the state of the world. We all feel overwhelmed at times and I know that it only changes where there is a sea change of realization that we all share the same planet, the same resources and the same goals. Everyone should want to leave this world in a better shape than we found it. That is stewardship, marshaling the better nature of ourselves to work toward real progress.

There is one thing I’d argue for the next decade or so that will make a difference, and that is to provide access to broadband (real broadband, not some watered down version of broadband) to the nation as a grid, or utility. We need to invest now to be able to be the agents of change for the future. We could find the next neuroscientist, the next oncologist, the next humanitarian that delivers peace through having access to education. All of that sound lofty, but we are currently creating hubs of inequality through the lack of access to opportunity without the equal access to the world.

As it stands, moving even a few miles from my present location would mean that I could not work remotely as I would lose access to resources needed to be able to do my job. If it’s impossible for me, imagine someone living in a rural community that depends on some form of access but will never have it. That’s unacceptable as a nation. If we want to lead the world, we need to lead ourselves out of our current rut and start thinking about our stewardship of this nation. Do we want a better outcome for our children and their progeny, or will we be so selfish we allow ourselves to be swept aside due to our inability to think beyond our navels?

As for me, I know where I stand. I’m not in favor of my destiny being one of watching people fail to utilize their brains and simply searching for their victimhood over finding solutions that empower us all. It’s time to start thinking positive thoughts, and remember that there is no “us” or “them” unless you choose to be the problem instead of the solution. Change only occurs when you decide to make it happen. You can make a change if you really want to, and that is the best outcome for all.

Firewalla Gold: My review of the Home Firewall Device

TL;DR: The Firewalla Gold is the best in breed model of the Firewalla devices for internet security. It was purpose built to allow for traffic speeds in excess of today’s 1 Gb/sec standards for Fiber to the premises at present. It isn’t cheap at $418 USD, but for a device built for those inclined to have better insight into their traffic with controls, it is the best-in-class I’ve seen.

Disclaimer: I have no interest or ownership in Firewalla, other than being an owner of the devices themselves. As a consumer, this is my opinion of their product.

Home Firewalls have long been a tool that I have both desired and implemented. I’ve been using them since having a 14.4K modem connection to the Internet was considered fast. They haven’t all been shining examples of well-developed software. Many worked ‘fair enough’ but very few worked at a scale that made them workable for my tastes. There were always issues with the software firewalls, and they don’t prevent the ingress/egress of data so well.

Some software based firewalls dropped off the markets when it was discovered that they weren’t actually there to prevent access, so much as there to facilitate the spread of malware to the consumer market. I won’t name those, but needless to say I do recall that happening in the dark world of phony software provided to users.

The router based firewalls within most internet devices are mostly useless. The Stateful firewalls provide little in the way of configuration, and even less in terms of actual insight into your traffic. I’ve used a lot of tools in routers, but they all lack the comfortable access control that I wanted. At least until I ran into the Firewalla series of devices.

Oh. I’ve run some of the more familiar tools and I would never attach a device to any network without some sort of protection for that device. Some firewalls are extremely noisy, requiring lots of time to adopt and adapt to your patterns in order to facilitate the proper rules you require. Some presume you’re too busy to do anything and just grant access to everything. None really did what I wanted until I found the Gold.

I’ve always dreamed of the firewall that could do some simple things:

  • Allow me to know what is connected to my network
  • Allow me to decide if a device should be trusted and/or granted access
  • Block unwanted traffic (we get a lot of this traffic everyday!)
  • Stop any device that connects to my network from traversal
  • Stops ads without needing additional work
  • Allow me to approve/remove access to devices as needed
  • Allow me to group devices and apply rules
  • Send me a notification of a new device gaining network access
  • Send me alerts/alarms for my network
  • Work with my mobile device

Well, I found such a device in the Firewalla Gold. It checks all of those boxes and more. It has both a web interface and a mobile interface. Better still, it is not a fixed deployment, instead, the developers take a very agile approach and deploy continuously to the devices. If you are like me, you can choose to opt-in to the Beta test program and review the work-in-progress and have early access to new features. You don’t have to do any extra work other than opt-in because the updates are pushed to your device.

If you read the above and started wondering, how do they do that with a web interface on the device and not go slow? The secret is in the way that they deploy the updates. The Firewalla developers have built a system that delivers in the cloud so that they aren’t doing massive push out when a new feature is made available to the web UI. Instead, a user signs in from the mobile UI using a QR code and authorizes access to the purpose spun-up VM for that instance. Features exist on that VM when needed, and are spun-down when not in use. That is brilliant, as newer features can be delivered much faster to users. I can attest that the team are delivering many new features to their users. This feels like a product that delivers on the promise of what I have wanted for a very long time.

For those wondering what the Web UI looks like, here are a few screenshots:

Main Dashboard
Traffic Insights

What is even better than all of this is that the WebUI is not even the best UI for the system. The mobile application has every feature that the system allows:

  • Active Protect
  • Ad Block
  • DDNS
  • DNS over HTTPS
  • Data Usage
  • Device Port Scan
  • Family
  • Firewalla Web
  • Network
  • New Device Quarantine
  • Open Ports
  • Routes
  • Smart Queue
  • VPN Server
  • VPN Client

You can even see which entity is actively probing your network (and being blocked). I am constantly amazed at how brazen some of these actors are, even going so far as to proclaim that they aren’t actively trying to harm your network, they’re just innocent researchers and if you don’t wish to be probed, just send us your details and we won’t (and if you buy that, I can sell you some ocean view property in the center of Death Valley).

It is interesting to see the nation state actors probing (some are better than others in hiding it) networks, but that is to be expected when we have so much spam that they can use to hide the traffic. CAN-SPAM was clear in the title, they CAN spam you after all.

I pair the Firewall Gold with my WiFi and have a lot less worry these days. I’ve tested it by checking device access by allowing a device to have WiFi access to my network. It doesn’t do much for the intruder, there is connection in the form of an IP, but that device is quarantined and not going anywhere. No amount of effort works to move out of quarantine unless granted by the admin. After all, that’s what it is there for to control ingress,access and egress.

If you’ve got the funds, then I recommend the device for the technically savvy. The Firewall Gold can handle traffic up to 2.5 Gb/sec. It’s my future-proof device as speeds and bandwidth increase. This is software delivery with real agility and I am impressed.

It has my vote for Consumer cybersecurity product of the year, and I am a hard person to impress.

Well, that was awkward

So, if you’ve ever thought of taking one of those personality tests, it can be eye-opening. Sometimes it is downright awkward. Not as in embarrassing, but just revealing that image you can’t truly see in the mirror. It’s the reflection of who you are (if you can answer honestly and not try to game the tests to what you want others to know), and it hits close to home.

I want to dissect the results, because well, it’s me, it’s who I am. According to whatever metric this measuring, the result was that my type is a 1w9 which is according to the Enneagram is called the Optimist.

If you’re a friend, I’d just ask for feedback on what you see here. Does this fit your understanding of my personality?


1s look to live in a perfect world and work hard to make themselves, everyone and everything around them better. They are reasonable and conscientious beings who have good self-control, to the point that they are able to exercise restraint on their own impulses, emotions or desires.

Whatever they do, they do it to the best of their ability, based on high levels of professionalism, competence, principle, honesty and integrity. They are disciplined, organized and are often very hard workers. They are passionate about the idea of making the world a better place for everyone and take their work very seriously. They are prepared to give everything to a cause they believe in.

Avoidance compulsion

1s try, often subconsciously, to avoid internal anger at all costs. Being perfectionists directed by morals and ethics, they have a voice inside their head that criticises everything wrong that they do. They try at all costs to avoid mistakes that would put their competence and trust in doubt.

Center of attention and motivation

1s’ attention focuses on the environment, which they look to improve. They pick up on the imperfections and are naturally inspired to rectify them. Thus, they pay a lot of attention to detail and look to maintain very high standards.

1s are motivated by developing the quality of what they do and are always looking to improve. Their actions are based on their norms, morals and principles. They feel the need to live in an honest way and are always pushing to improve themselves, others and everything that surrounds them.

Vice and defense mechanism

When their compulsion takes over (to avoid mistakes), 1s’ ego pushes them to their vice: resentment: to correct all the mistakes they encounter in order to get closer to perfection. They thus have internal anger because to them nothing seems as fair as it should be, and in the same way their defence mechanism: reaction formation, pushes them to suppress this anger with great effort, because to them it is a lack of self control.

If they judge their temptations to be the cause of their anguish, they will do the opposite of the latter: if they are tempted to soften their workload, they will work harder. When their compulsion takes over, they can become irritable and critical towards those who do not respect their high moral standard and their need for organisation and structure.

In harmony

When they are in harmony with themselves and manage their compulsion, 1s are conscientious, dedicated to what they do, responsible, honest, trustworthy and helpful.

They are at ease when everything is running in an organised manner and follows the rules. Especially when things move forward faster than expected.

Then, they reach out to their integration type (type 7), and the latter’s positive traits are incorporated into their own behaviour. This way, they can become more joyful, fun and spiritual. They become more creative, less conservative and more open to anything new.

In imbalance

In the grips of their compulsion, 1s can become inflexible, irritated, too critical, rigid and suppress their emotions. If the situation doesn’t sort itself out, they lean towards their disintegration type (type 4) and the negative traits of the latter are incorporated into their own behaviour.

In this way, they fold in on themselves, feeling misunderstood, and believe that their efforts go unnoticed. They fall into a sad mood, thinking that they made an effort for nothing.


The neighboring types of type 1 are types 2 and 9. The “wing” is the neighbouring type that seems to have the greatest influence on the base type.

  • 1w9s are more relaxed, natural and objective but can also be more stubborn and detached.
  • 1w2s are warmer, more helpful and empathetic but can also be more manipulative.

I invite feedback from those who know me. Honesty matters and useful criticism helps. See a lot of this as true, but then I am very hyper-critical.