Mid 2011 Update

Sun 31 July 2011

Over halfway through 2011, so it's time to revisit my goals again. I really should post more often.

Personal Website

pwnguin.net consistently gets more than a thousand hits a month. That's enough that I can start adding A/B experiments on the most popular pages. I've added some ads to blog posts to see if anything there gets unusually good revenue. Still haven't published that bit on using grep to solve NPR's Sunday puzzles, but someone did admit to doing so on air! Need to add awstats.js to the templates, to better complement Google Analytics.

I also set up an AdWords account just to try it out. I got a $100 coupon but had to call them to redeem it and it's an awkward conversation since they want to set up a campaign themselves when I don't really have anything in mind yet. It's quite expensive what they set up, but I think I can come up with a cheaper campaign once I've got more clue.

In June I set up openLDAP and tied some of the easier systems in. For a while I was worried, as my free SSL cert provider was compromised. But they came back online shortly before my certs expired and I've got it rolling. I also set up IPv6, but I'm not really using it for anything other than IRC at the moment. KSU won't be IPv6 ready for quite a while it seems, and IPv4 allocations are basically running on empty.


Not much done here. Right now we mostly meet on Wednesdays for informal lunches and sometimes discuss Linux. Ideally, I'd establish a Friday Night fight (for open source gaming), and monthly tech presentations. But before I get that off the ground, I need to set up limesurvey and gather opinions. A work in progress, but I'm hardly the only slacker here.


Strange goings on lately. We're having difficulty hiring and retaining system administrators. As I chat with the existing ones, I learn more and more peculularities that drain their time. Like, scripts to copy out of LDAP instead of directly relying on it. Anyways, they're having trouble getting a big enough applicant pool to convince Affirmative Action to allow them to hire two people, and the recent turnover roughly matches the rate at which they can hire, which leaves them constantly understaffed.

I did catch several Google I/O videos in June, though as you might expect, most were really about using Google's platform than building your own. Lots of Android and Chrome WebGL stuff--only two videos related to Identity Management. So I did spend some free time reading some papers on entropy and passwords, especially during the move last week when I was without net access at the new place. I'll probably start up a new category and see about getting on Planet Identity once I've got a few posts up.

Beyond papers and presentations at home, I picked up several books on Java and a book on Kerberos from the research uni, and helped out a bit with our new password change page. Right now it takes users 3 tries to choose a valid password, and some people up to ten. This is on par with published research on usability, so when our system doesn't improve things, we'll know why.

Personal finance

Beyond those goals, in July I pretty much focused on finance. Nobody in the department recieved raises that I know of. So I've located a new place with a roommate. Took quite a bit of effort to organize all the movers and cleaners, but I estimate I've saved about 3k annually.

I also get garage parking, a larger kitchen, a closet in the bathroom, and access to Tivo / Netflix. The new place is much further away, and in the destruction path of Tuttle Creek Lake. I located a site on lake levels that might make it worth setting up nagios for so I can write and deploy a scraper for it.

In other news, I figured out why my student loan split in GNUCash is always wrong. Simple daily interest formula is not possible to represent at the moment, although I've filed a uservoice request. I'm also trying out the future transactions and cleared / reconciled features. It's actually pretty nice to schedule a bunch of recurring transactions and have them show up 30 days before they occur. Although creating transactions ahead of time doesn't work so well for 403(b) contributions. I also converted from XML to the sqlite backend, but it turns out the schema's a bit ugly. I was really hoping that since it has a postgres option I might be able to build some python reporting webpages, but it's not as trivial as I'd hoped.

The future

Next quarter, I'll continue integrating apps with LDAP, and maybe selfhost openID. It turns out there's nothing in Debian yet for this... Also outta set up nagios or something to monitor items of interest. And, I should probably fix my self-hosted Mozilla Sync server.

I've also got some posts in draft for the Identity tag that I can finish up and post. There's been some commotion from Mozilla about solving authentication I could reflect upon. On the wbe analytic side, I'll run through Conversion University and try some A/B testing.

I'll also probably start up a subsite to sell my used games with. I've found good sites to sell on already, but finders fees and shipping eats into the better prices, so having a URL I can point locals at might save me and local buyers hassle.

I also need to learn about HSAs and such before open enrollment. Our offering looks pretty good, but I know a guy who caught unaware of a new change regarding OTC drugs and his FSA.

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