Fixing Our Pool Pump and Leak On The Cheap

Over the last couple of years, slowly and surely there has been an air leak into our pool pumping system.  Everything seem to point to the old metal pipes underground with the line pulling water out of the pool to the pump more probable than line pumping the water back in the pool.

This last month things got significantly worse and we'd need to do something.  There was just too much air in the line to pull water through the system to keep the pool clean.

We got a couple of quotes to dig up the old pipes and replace them.  You know you are in trouble when both quotes came back in the same large ballpark called "Unaffordable."  

I was curious of what type of portable pumping options there might be out there to keep things going until we could decide what to do.  So I started Googling. And then it hit me as I'm looking at these portable pumps -- I had all the pieces they had.  I just needed  to run the pipping where the leak was over ground.  It couldn't be that easy could it? Well, it turn out to be significantly easier and less expensive that expected.

Fixing-pump

My friend Gary listened to my plan and agreed to help.  I got all the parts and pieces at Home Depot for under $40; and Gary was able to take my plan and make it work in just under 2 hours.  We capped off the old pipe, hooked up a new line from the pump into the pool, tested it for any leaks, and even created a DIY safety lid out of spare wood.

The "re-mastered" system is working great, and I believe it will work long enough for us to figure out what we really want to do in the pool area and budget accordingly.  Thanks Gary!

 


TIP - Outlook 2013 Workaround for IMAP Test Account Feature

I ran into a "blocking function" in getting IMAP working with Outlook 2013 recently.  There is a feature in Outlook 2013 that requires you to Test Account Settings ... before an IMAP email account will be created the first time.  The testing is mandatory with no apparent way to turn it off.

It turns out that the IMAP server I was trying to connect to has a digital certificate issue that prompts via GUI a user acknowledgement to agree to use the certificate.  However, when you are doing a Test Account Settings  ... setup the first time the certificate dialog never comes up and the testing fails. A failed test means the account won't be created.

The work around I found was to create a working IMAP connection using my GMAIL account, and then re-editing the IMAP settings for the server that I wanted to connect to.  And in that case you can turn off the Test Account Settings option.


Recipe - Healthy Corn Dogs

Carson-steve-corndogs1

A while back (just after Christmas) Carson and I made our own version of the following corn dog recipe from the Skinny Fork called "Baked Whole Wheat Corn Dogs.".

We basically kept the main parts of the recipe but didn't do the following:

  • No Brown Sugar
  • No Paprika
  • No Cayenne
  • No Chili Powder
  • No Poppy Seeds

We also did half the recipe getting 6 turkey corn dogs and not the 10-12 turkey corn dogs if you follow the recipe.

They turned out great, but they did need a good helping of either ketchup or mustard depending on your taste.  Making them very plain and then seeing what we could do with them in the future was our plan.  

I think adding the spices/flavors would be good for anyone without picky kids. I also think these would be great with Hebrew National hot dogs or a pre-cooked sausage.

By the way, the picture above was the 2nd picture.  Here is the 1st picture with an expert photo bomb from Conrad --

Carson-steve-corndog2

 


How I Studied For & Passed The CISSP

I got asked the other day at work on how I studied to pass the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) back in Dec 2011. While I was relaying my experience, I made a few notes, and I figured it would be good to document the endeavor in a blog post.

AFC79C51-1617-4C5A-85ED-C70FE57E43BF

I think my main advantage was that I was able to get access to SANS Management 414 class via their self-study content using training dollars from work [direct link for more info].  While expensive, the 'do it on your own time' offering was much better for me than going to a class (which can also be expensive). 

One of the other key features that I liked about the self-study offering was there were seperate MP3s of all the sessions plus the online course review material.  This allowed me to binge listen to the audio content during my daily exercise, drives in the car, and while on travel (which happend about 5 times during my prep time before the test). The only bad news about all this 'listening' is that when I have a CISSP related nightmare I still hear Dr. Eric Cole's voice.

The package included printed slides for all the material (sync'd online to the audio feed): [Domain 1 - Information Security Governance & Risk Management; Domain 2 - Access Controls; Domain 3 - Cryptography; Domain 4 - Physical Security; Domain 5 - Systems Architecture & Design; Domain 6 - Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning; Domain 7 - Telecommunications & Network Security; Domain 8 - Application Security; Domain 9 - Operations Security; Domain 10 - Legal, Regulations, Compliance, & Investigation], and a copy of the following book - "CISSP Study Guide" by Eric Conrad, Seth Misenar, Joshua Feldman. Also included was a series of pre-tests both online and paper and then a full practice test that was online.

Other books I used for reference included:

Once I went through all the material one time via MP3/Slides, I then deteremined when there was a class about 16 weeks/4 mouths in the future and signed up for that one.  I found it very useful to have a target date on the calendar to motivate me to block out time for studying.  I then spent every Off-Friday from work and ~4 hours each Saturday and Sunday studying the material up to the test week.  The test was on Tuesday and I pretty much studied full time Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the test.  If my math is correct that was about ~250 hours of studying (not including the MP3 material listening which I continued doing during my exercise, driving, etc times up to the test).

In addition to the study reference material above, I also took a great deal of practice tests.  If there was a test I could take I took it. My prevous experience getting a Windows OS certification and Security+ was that there was a ton on of value in reviewing as many questions as possible. This turned into a a pretty detailed stats tracking on how I was doing and where I needed extra focus.  Here is the "final" view of my spreadsheet tracker I setup in Google Docs:

Cissp-test-tracking-1Cissp-test-tracking-2

The other thing I did that really helped was that any question I missed during any of the tests I took and turned it into a 3x5 study card.  I also kept the cards organized by the 10 major topic areas of CISSP.  This helped me really focus on studying the areas that needed the most work.  By the end I'm pretty sure I had 400 cards, and on the day of the text all I did before the test was drill through those cards.

What about the actual test?  Yes, it was very hard. Definitely the hardest test I've ever taken. I was the last one to leave taking up all but the last 5 minutes before the scheduled end time.  I don't know how well I did other than I passed.  And since that was the goal -- mission accomplished!

If you have any additional questions, comments, etc. then please let me know.

[Originally written on 2/24/2012 but updated 2/23/3014]


Can you get a Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M to work with Windows?

Fujitsu-scansnap-s510mThe short answer is "Yes."

I was able to get a S510M that is marketed towards to Apple Mac users to work on Windows 7 by loading the latest ScanSnap software for Fujitsu for the S510.  Once loaded and patched to the latest version, hook up via USB to the Windows 7 computer.

When I did this I got an error that no driver was available, but I went to Computer > Manage > System Tools > Device Manager and right mouse clicked on the Unknown device for the scanner. Choose Properties and then the Driver tab.  Click Update Driver ... and then manually select the Fujitsu S510 driver to apply to this device.  You should get a warning message saying it might not work but say OK.

Once that drive was applied to the Device the S510M (with S510 driver) showed up in the Imaging device area and scanning worked without any issues.


Quote from John Brown's Body poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

My friend Mark Horstman readily shares that his favorite part of John Brown's Body (Poem) by Stephen Vincent Benet is ...

If you take a flat map

And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,

The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.

The science of war is moving live men like blocks.

And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.

But it takes time to mold your men into blocks

And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies

Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,

They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,

And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.

It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,

But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow

To move, when they start they take too long on the way -

The General loses his stars, and the block-men die

In unstrategic defiance of martial law

Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

Very powerful, thoughtful, and meaningful words that have now become one of my favorites also.

I recently noticed that Mark (who is co-host of Manager-Tools.com) read this part of the poem in a Career Tools podcast entitled How Not To Multi-Task (Part 2).

I took the liberty to edit a version of just the poem from the podcast.  It is going in my Monday motivational playlists and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Tip - Subscribing to Twitter Accounts in Google Reader

NOTE: As of October 16, 2012 the official Twitter API turned off RSS options per this article.  What I wrote here doesn't work anymore.

I personally like keeping track of some Twitter accounts (especially security related ones) using Google Reader.  Unfortunately, I've found lately though that Twitter keeps messing with RSS urls, and getting subscribed without errors can be hit and miss.

Here is my understanding of the current format as of this posting ...

If you have a Twitter account like @johnswayer that you want to follow in Google Reader.  Then take the following main URL (twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/) and add <twittername>+.rss -- for example:

"https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/" + "johnhsawyer.rss"

Becomes:

 "https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/johnhsawyer.rss"

And use that for the subscribe url.  I usually use a text editor to this (Notepad+ on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac).

Did I get this right? Did Twitter change this already? Is there a better way?  Leave a comment or send me email and I'll update this post.

 


Simple AppleScript to Open A URL From A List In Text File

One of the reasons I've always liked using an Apple Macintosh is AppleScript.  I know there is PowerShell on Windows but I don't find it as easy to just solve a problem as seamlessly with AppleScript.  

Here is an example ...

I have been subscribed to an email feed from DefenseLink that gives you pictures taken by DOD photographers.  However, the links get messed up (BLOCKED) by the anti-malware software on the mail servers at work.

So I take the messed up URLs and save them to a text file.   Then I run this script when I want to review the pictures:

property myURL : ""

tell application "TextWrangler"

activate

select line 1 of window 1

set myURL to contents of selection

delete line 1 of window 1

end tell

tell application "Google Chrome"

activate

set myTab to make new tab at end of tabs of window 1

set URL of myTab to myURL

end tell

Pretty easy.  Meets my needs. Solves a problem.  Good deal.


Reducing Drag - SD-CF II Card Adapter

I recently purchased a Compact Flash (CF) adapter that holds an SD card.  The one I got was: SD-CF II: SD to CF Type II Adapter (Supports SDHC MMC) from Amazon for under $20.

Extreme-CF-adapterThe reason I got this was to reduce some drag that was holding me back from taking my camera when I went out over the last couple of months.  Before the adapter, I had a standard CF Type II card that worked great, but I had created a work flow issue when I moved to my current workspace location at home.

Moving to the new space gave me an opportunity to set up my computer with no USB hub, card readers, etc. (ie. much cleaner and less cluttered).  However, now to get pictures off the camera I had to get out the adapter and hook up several USB cables.  Ugh.

But then I realized my main system has a built-in SD card slot so the adapter streamlines getting the pictures to my computer.  Pop the card out of the camera, take out the SD card, and then put it in my computer for upload.  Simple.  Less drag.

Here is a picture (also on Flickr in a larger format) that I wouldn't have taken without this tweak: 

Cactus

Anyone else have any other tweaks or gear recommendations that have reduced drags in their systems?  Let me know if you do!


Ambient Information Display with Google Chrome

For a while I've been doing a little bit of ambient information testing DIY style by loading up webpages that I want to see information from and then automatically moving through the tabs after ~20 seconds.  

These sites are loaded on an external display and then running in the "ambient" background most of the day.  I have been accomplishing this using Firefox and an add-on called Tab Slideshow.

Ambient-device-displays

Ambient information displays and displaying information in a meaningful way seems to be a growing area of interest within new products and computer science research circles.  The new version of Windows 8 is going to have some of these features that Microsoft has already brought to Windows Phone.  

There is also a company called Ambient Devices making alarm clock size devices that show you what you want in a very customizable way.  Another major player in this market is chumby with a complete line of options including support for Android.

Today, I was wonder what options were available for replicating this DIY browser approach with Google Chrome. In Firefox, I've been using the feature Full Screen after launching Tab Slideshow. There is a similar feature called Enter Presentation Mode in Chrome which seems to do a better job IMHO of getting more of the computer out of the display.  

To get the tabs you want to autmoatically cycle through there appears to be three plugins to check out for Chrome:

I think I'm going to start with Resolver - Tabs and see how it works.  Anyone have any other suggestions?!?