Posts Tagged Work

Setting up a New Company

My parents exposed me early to self  employment. Working with them, (cleaning office buildings) I learned allot about all the many soft skills needed to be/run a company. From billing, scheduling, client communication to the actual work involved…it takes a ton effort to keep it all afloat.

Tamara had a recent idea for cool product; A Tissue Box cover idea. After running a product test pilot at Etsy, it seemed that the market existed. The real key came about when we found a custom fabric supplier.

While Tamara worked on the actual item design and production, I started on a website that incorporated a order, fulfillment and shipping method. In the past, we had used a full blown website ( to receive and process orders but the effort involved is dumbfounding. This time I tried a WordPress based theme that had some basic Content Management Database (PHP 5.0) built in.

After 36 hours of work I came up with We had liked the name SnotBots but SnotBot is a PrOn site…. so we adapted to Snotty to avoid any issues.

We used a great graphic designer Tyler Tinsley and he came up with a super logo design. We also used Frank to help us with some product design and marketing advice. Both have helped us in the past with some other designs.

In the future we hope to get official licensing from an unnamed company but that is a bit further than we have ever explored.

Have you started a company and how do you keep it afloat?



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6 Months at GSB

It seemed like a long time but it has finally come to an end. I took a six month contract to sys-admin the Portland office of a high end law firm, Garvey, Schubert and Barer.

The work was challenging at times but mostly focused on helping the Attorneys by making sure they had the computer/electronic tools needed to get done what they needed to get done. Sometimes it was hardware, often software but always customer based, which included training.

Initially, I was intimidated to step into an office with a number of unknown systems (document management, meta data scanners, email based voice mail and others) but the systems we well thought out and I had a great support from the head office in Seattle.

Here is where I spent the last 6 months.

GSB Desk

It was more than worth it….and we get to go on vacation!

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A common issue with well used computers is virus and malware. One of the best tools out there now is the almost mythic MalwareBytes. This free tool does an amazing job at finding many of the threats on a computer. Having said that, after a full on infection of any Windows computer, you can never trust that OS install again. A Windows virus can hide, go stealth or drop seeds for later infections. Most malware writers are becoming better at writing their code so that we may never know that the password to our bank account was just captured and transmitted to a Moldova programmer. There is a another option for scanning your machine to a deeper level but not having to rebuild your OS. I call this solution “Out of OS scanning”.

Out of OS tools are tools you can use right from bootup, outside of Windows. With these tools you can scan for virus/malware, work on disk sizes/partitions and even boot up a Windows install, all from the safety of your USB memory stick. Many techno monkeys have bootable ISO (linux) disks that help them repair OS’s but you cant always have a stack of CDs with you. This brings us to SARDU.

SARDU is an open source tool that easily allows you to create a multi boot tool with many many ISO images…ready to boot…from your USB Memory stick. This include some of the best anti-virus tools available, since you an never trust just one AV. The great thing about using a USB memory stick is that updates stay on your stick and wont have to be downloaded again!


I will document the steps I used to create this Swiss-Army-Knife USB tool;

  • Visit this link and download the SARDU Fix Multilanguage.rar file
  • Extract SARDU into a named folder and run the exe
  • When you run the program, you will see the graphic below. You may need to select english from the language dropdown but the program is really easy to figure out, even in Italian!
  • Click on the application you want to download and you will be sent to the download site. Be sure to download the ISO
  • Put all the ISOs into the ISO folder in your SARDU folder. I only downloaded 5-6 tools that I will use, to keep the install small
  • Shut down SARDU and re-run it to prime the app. Now just click “Crea USB avviabile“.
  • You will need to select a FAT32 formatted USB stick and allow a few minutes for SARDU to do it’s magic

One thing I didnt like is that the WindowsPE only links to the tools to create the ISO’s. Best to bit torrent BARTPE but I am not sure if you can link the PE to the SARDU install. Let me know if you figure out a way.
I found this tool at a great (if not ad swamped) blog “”.

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Yubikey quest

I hope to use the blog a bit more to document not only travel but practical issues and data. Unfortunately, most of the practical data I deal with would be categorized as nerd stuff.

First off, I want to explain the issue that will dominate the coming years when it comes to internet technology: Security and Encryption.

Security is an issue that is only lightly understood by most. Our bank has a username and password, Paypal has another password, Gmail or Yahoo has another password. We store these passwords on sticky notes on our monitor, have Internet Explorer remember them or use a password manager. Keepass is the best (open source) password manager.

Unless you use a password manager, your passwords are usually in this form; “GoReds!” or “1983Win!”. All of these passwords can be cracked easily using new methods that are advancing quickly. The only password you should use for anything (even hotmail or yahoo) should be alpha numeric and longer than 16. Example: “k43uLK823JHjkasdFFf2fas43”. I probably just irritated you but it is true. Any “easy to remember” password can be cracked easily.

So, let’s just say that you want to secure your back account, investment account or Gmail with a gnarly password. How can you do this, without having to write it down for anyone that can read a sticky note to learn. As stated, I use Keepass but I wanted to show you another method.

Yubikey is a product that was made by Yubico. They are currently on version two of the device and the prices have come down enough to justify getting one. I sent Art B one so he can test it in parallel with me.

Here is the device:

yubikey_and_cc It is quite small, extremely durable and looks similar to the new minimalist USB drives.

Here is a great article if you want to learn more about it’s practical nature. “ReadWriteWeb

I am going to focus on the questions that I had to find answers for.

  • How much does it cost? $15-25
  • Where can I read a simple “What is this doc”? Here
  • Is the unit water proof? Yes
  • Where can I find the config utility? Here
  • How can I use the static password option without messing up the OTP? Here
  • Where is the instructions? Here (not the best documentation I have read)
  • Are there real world services I can use this with now? Yes
  • What is a static password? Wikipedia
  • What is an OTP(one time password)? Wikipedia

More and more services using offering OTP authentication services. Google, OpenID, osCommerce, MediaWiki and Salesforce are just a few who currently use Yubikey. Below is a quick video on how to use Google with your Yubikey.

How will I use my Yubikey?

I will start with the static password config and as I get confidence in the product/concept move toward Google Apps.

One issue that I have yet to resolve is the reduncancy variable. What if I loose my OTP token?

Let me know if you find value in the “nerd stuff” or only want to read travel stuff.


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Metereader Special Report

I work for a client that reads the water meters for many different cities in the Northwest. The readers usually use Honda Scooters to travel between the different meters. This solution results in alot of exposure to the Oregon weather.

During a quick stop in Buenos Aires between Uruguay and Salta, we saw what might be the solution to reading meters in the rain.

This little two seater was being used by the Buenos Aires police but I bet we could import some and retrofit them for reading meters!

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