Monday, August 15, 2005

New Career?

I've been spending so much time with Visual Basic and VBA code lately that my love of computer programming has risen up and pretty much taken over . . .again!

The last time I felt this way was during my stay working at Falcon Cable TV companies. I made up numerous macro and design improvements to various spreadsheets while working there. I realized then that coding would be a fun profession, but I did not want to consider moving from one, relatively complicated profession--accounting--into another relatively complicated profession--programming.

Now, I realize that programming comprises many different areas, including a very large training component, which I know I enjoy and a creative component, which I know I enjoy and has rewards that seem to match the "Edison Gene" type of personality that I seem to have.

I guess the best next steps are to continue to use the books I've bought in Visual Basic and SQL and Access to create solutions to different problems. The more comfortable I get with Access and other database back ends, while learning to code in VB, the better equipped I'll be to work as an addendum to an accounting department. This is actually a fairly common type of worker in a mid-sized and larger company. There are persons who are exclusively tasked with adapting databases to various business aspects and creating an interface with them to allow workers to use the database.

We'll see. This job of doing extended temp assigments also seems to line up pretty well with this as a career path. It will be interesting to see if Pandora Kehoe can come up with an assignment which uses my computer skill enough. Of course simply using accounting skills is fun too! That's like doing puzzles. . .

Chris

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Since I'm buried writing code I ran into this!

Since I've been writing VBA code and SQL and working in ACCESS and EXCEL a lot recently , I have been reading stuff on developer oriented sites. This article in a developer site strikes me as interesting. Apparently a new way of combining Java and XML called AJAX (that's the non-proprietary or "open" version anyway) provides for background processes of fairly unlimited capability to be running on your client machine during webbrowsing. This could lead to the development of keystroke loggers and similar snooping devices for use in commercial websites.

Apparently it is not trivial to detect this kind of activity because there is no clear evidence in the embedded Javascript in pages. the XMLHttpRequest function can apparently create a conversation with the server while you are doing something else. . .like writing in Word, or entering info into a spreadsheet and so forth. . .

I'm sure the NSA will like this. . .

I guess I'll always be a little paranoid. . .wait! I'd be paranoid if it wasn't pretty obvious there are people out there watching . . .after finding out about the Clipper Chip and then ECHELON and so on, it's pretty obvious efforts are underway to eavesdrop on computer users at least in some ways. . .

My first thought is to keep a Network Analysis tool going all the time and try and figure out what any obviously suspicious conversations are going on in the "meat" of or the "wrapper" of the TCP/IP packets. Ethereal is a very nice FREE bit of software that allows you to monitor each and every TCP/IP packet. This log could then be parsed and so on... Hopefully someone with good parser writing skills will write a tool like this for monitoring our incoming and outgoing packets.

Hopefully whoever implements a keystroke logger doesn't go to the trouble of also writing built-in encryption making the packets unintelligible.

It may also be possible to squelch this kind of eavesdropping using facilities available in IP version 6. I'm still not up to speed on the specifics of the new protocol, but I understand that net location obfuscation is more difficult in that protocol.

Well don't write anything you don't want on the FRONT PAGE of the paper!

Chris

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