The last few months

It doesn’t take long for me to forget how long it’s been since I did one of these posts! Here’s a quick update.

What I’ve been doing

Coding: I’ve actually been coding after almost 15 years! We needed to rewrite a custom URL handler to automatically open a member account based on incoming phone number. I’m surprised how fast I picked up VB.Net as I stopped developing just as .NET came on the scene. I forgot how fun it can be! I was able to repurpose a custom screen-pop application for our call center to work with a new contact center solution. My next trick is building powershell routines to keep the user and contact lists updated as the app doesn’t support SCIM user creation.

Cord cutting My wife recently left her positon, so we’ve been trying to downsize our discretionary expenses. Entertainment is a bit part of that expense, so I’ve taken the leap and dropped internet TV in favor of using an HDHomeRun box with the Plex Live TV services. I still need to experiment with how to best record TV shows, but the live TV works well enough. Bandwidth is the biggest issue with antenna placement the next. I’m still experimenting with these. I’ve also jumped on a few deals for older DVD’s and BlueRays to build up a legal movie collection. I’m still working on a solution for sports.

pfSense I’ve come into a few extra hand-me-down PCs, so I’m going to try again to setup a pfSense firewall. My main concerns right now is not getting the full throughput on my fiber connectivity, so I need to run some tests first. More on this as I experiment more.

Writing

Patch Tuesday updates for all! – Unstable Path – It’s patch week…like every other week.

Reading & Listening

Technology

CIO who dropped VMware 18 months ago now very pleased • The Register – Yet another story about how Broadcom is shooting itself in the foot and driving vmWare into the ground.

Security

LastPass Employee Targeted With Deepfake Calls – SecurityWeek – “In our case, an employee received a series of calls, texts, and at least one voicemail featuring an audio deepfake from a threat actor impersonating our CEO via WhatsApp,” LastPass says.

Special Edition: Chris Krebs, Alex Stamos and Patrick Gray – Risky Business – Excellent discussion on supply chain sovereignty! I highly recommend infosec nerds take a listen to a new spin on an old issue.

How it Works – Knocknoc – Interesting tech that I heard about on Risky.biz. Allows you to open ports and access services behind SSO that don’t typically support it.

iOS 17.5 bug undeleted sensitive photos—even on devices you no longer own – The Mac Security Blog – Oops Apple! One of the better descriptions of this issue. And another reminder to think twice before you click that pic.

Windows 11 to Deprecate NTLM, Add AI-Powered App Controls and Security Defenses – MS is putting some needed fixes into Windows 11 security.

Financial

U.S. Economy FAQ: Rising Insurance Prices, Stuck Inflation, and More – The Ringer – This discussion of what’s driving inflation rates contains a great explanation on how inflation is tied to the national debt.

Powershell

Invoke-WebRequest or Invoke-RestMethod? – Truesec – Simple answer – Invoke-WebRequest gives you the complete unfiltered results, where Invoke-RestMethod returns just the results in a custom PSObject.

How to use Invoke RestMethod in PowerShell — LazyAdmin – Great summary on how to use the Invoke-RestMethod in Powershell, including new features in Powershell v7.

Science

Britain says it is developing a radio-wave weapon that can take out a swarm of drones for just $0.12 a shot – This would be far more effective than trying to shoot down a drone.

Quantum networks are closer to reality – The Verge – Amazon is dabbling in quantum networking? I’m not sure what this gets us that current fiber technology doesn’t. My vision for quantum networking is instant communication across any distance, similar to Three Body Problem sophons or Eve Online’s fluid routers.

Ancient viral DNA in the human genome linked to major psychiatric disorders – Could viral DNA explain why humans develop these mental illnesses which appear to go against evolution?

Blogging

How and why to make a /now page on your site | Derek Sivers – If you have a blog, create a /now page and let folks know what you are up to!

sites with a /now page – A collection of /now pages.

Tools

ThomasKur/M365Documentation: Automatic Microsoft 365 Documentation to simplify the life of admins and consultants. – This project is a life saver for documenting your Intune configurations.

jordanbaird/Ice: Powerful menu bar manager for macOS – Awesome little tool to collapse your Mac menu bar icons to only display what you actually need until you need them.

Patch Tuesday updates for all!

Server racks on fire

Updates for March/April

Leadership: My employer decided to honor me with my first official leadership spotlight post! I was also blessed with the opportunity to participate in a fraud and cybersecurity panel during a recent CCUL Upstate Chapter Meeting.

Intune: I’ve been working on my out-of-the-box experience for iPads and MacBooks. I have been fairly successful in with my iPads using specific device configuration profiles, but these aren’t working so well on Macs. Software deployment for Macs is also sub-par, so I’ve been falling back to my current solutions.

Broken Shortcuts: Apple shortcuts has a bug which strips links from the Make Rich Text From tasks (More Info: Adding Rich Text to Note no longer works in iOS 17 : r/shortcuts). This broke my ability to draft my compilation posts in Apple Notes I’m bypassing this by writing directly to a Markdown file in my Shortcuts iCloud folder. My hope is this should work from both Mac and iOS as it has in the past.

Home Automation: I have been using Scrypted to link my cameras into Homebridge, but I am not able to get my smart motion notifications to work. Nor am I able to get my doorbell audio working bidirectionally. Scrypted is great otherwise and I would recommend it for anyone with compatible cameras. I’ll experiment with using Homebridge’s FFMPG plugins again.

Please stop trying to monetize me while I read! I don’t like Medium and other blogger platforms – they seem to be built for profit and drive you to subscribe either to the author’s newsletter or the service by limitingthe number of free views per month. I feel like this is going to backfire in the long run.

Reading

Career

The Curse of the Senior Software Engineer – Dmitry Kudryavtsev – This post resonated with me. I faced the same issue once my wife and I decided to move when my stepson graduated high school. (Can I speak more about this?)

Gen-Z is shunning college to take up traditional trades like welding and plumbing they say is far more satisfying and which doesn’t incur huge student debt | Daily Mail Online – My advice to my kids has been exactly this: find a trade, take the 2 year degree, then figure out life from there. I loved what my MS in Cybersecurity taught me, but it wasn’t worth the money I’m paying on it.

Industry News and Trends

After 114 days of change, Broadcom CEO acknowledges VMware-related “unease” | Ars Technica – I’ve been reading more Reddit posts and industry forums discussing huge increases in license renewals and poor support. This is mirroring how Broadcom destroyed Symantec during their acquisition. Folks are looking for alternatives like Nutanix, Proxmox, Azure/AWS, etc. What I don’t hear folks talking about is going to Hyper-V.

Microsoft is confident Windows on Arm could finally beat Apple – Microsoft could very well be faster than Apple’s M3, but the UI has a long way to be as clean and functional as macOS.

Introducing Google’s new Arm-based CPU | Google Cloud Blog – Google is rolling out their own custom silicon to support their own cloud and AI initiatives.

Mac Tips

Disk Utility now has full features for managing snapshots – The Eclectic Light Company – I discovered this neat feature only after reformatting my full backup drive.

Police warn of thieves using wifi-jamming tech to disarm cameras, alarms | KTLA – I feel like this is old news considering how many security cameras are wireless. Running CAT5 isn’t that hard or expensive, and it’s well worth the extra expense.

Health

A diet high in ultra-processed food is linked to a greater risk of many diseases : Shots – Health News : NPR – I’m not surprised by the findings here. The food industry has moved to faster, cheaper ingredients at the expense of consumers health.

From the strange files

Mysterious Drones Swarmed Langley AFB For Weeks | The War Zone – What’s happening here?

Remapping iTerm arrow keys

I’ve struggled to navigate the command line since switching to iTerm2, but Marius’s post about remapping the arrow and delete keys fixed that issue.

Go to Profiles > Keys > Key Mapping to add/alter the mappings listed below:

ShortcutCommandActionSend
⌥ ←Jump to start of wordSend Escape Sequenceb
⌥ →Jump to end of wordSend Escape Sequencef
⌘ ←Jump to start of lineSend Hex Code0x01
⌘ →Jump to end of lineSend Hex Code0x05
⌥ ⌫Delete to start of wordSend Hex Code0x17
⌘ ⌫Delete entire lineSend Hex Code0x15

Windows Server 2025 Announced

Microsoft announced Windows Server 2025 along with some great features! Can we say hotpatching??

Server maintenance gets faster and easier, for a price: Windows Server 2022 can upgrade directly from Windows Update. Microsoft also introduced Hotpatching for all versions of Windows 2025, but this requires Azure Arc to be enabled and have an active subscription.

Active Directory gets some love: A new functional level introduces scalability enhancements such as larger pages and support for over 64 cores. There are also several security improvements to the LDAP and Kerberos and the ability to prioritize replication.

NTLM is on the way out: Windows will now support local Kerberos authentication and provide a Local KDC feature.

Several storage enhancements: Improvements for NVMe, Storage Replica performance enhancements, and ReFS native Dedup and Compression.

Hyper-V gets better GPU support: You can now partition GPU resources, or assign GPUs to an HA pool. Hyper-V is also getting dynamic processor compatibility, allowing you to have multiple processor generations within the same cluster.

File Servers Improvements: Microsoft is rolling out SMB over QUIC for secure access to corporate file shares without a VPN.

These are just the highlights that I picked up after watching the last Ignite session: Introducing Windows Server 2025!

How a tiny Pacific Island became the global capital of cybercrime | MIT Technology Review

Despite having a population of just 1,400, until recently, Tokelau’s .tk domain had more users than any other country. Here’s why.
— Read on www.technologyreview.com/2023/11/02/1082798/tiny-pacific-island-global-capital-cybercrime/

(From How .tk Became a TLD for Scammers – Schneier on Security
— Read on www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2023/11/how-tk-became-a-tld-for-scammers.html)

Meross Smart Wi-fi Garage Door Opener

I’ve been having trouble controlling my garage door using the MyQ integration in Homebridge. The MyQ plugin would randomly stop working until I restarted the Homebridge server. Then it stopped working after the most recent plugin update. I tried several fixes from Reddit that didn’t work, so I gave up and started using the MyQ app again. The MyQ API calls used by these plugins are proprietary, and it looks like MyQ doesn’t want any 3rd parties utilizing it. So no more telling Siri to close my garage door until I fix it.

I stumbled across the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener (MSG100HK) in one of those Reddit posts while trying to fix my old setup. I’ve been happy with the other Meross HomeKit devices I’ve purchased. Meross integrates nicely with Apple Home, and they have a good price point. This device is no different – it lists for a bit less than the MyQ devices do.

The Meross opener operates differently from the MyQ setup. Everything is wired to your door opener, so there are no batteries to replace. There is also no programming a new remote with your door opener, making almost any garage door opener compatible with Meross’ opener. Installation took about 30 minutes including taking down the MyQ. Adding to Apple Home took about 30 seconds and did not require the Meross app.

My experience with the Meross opener is better than MyQ. The opener responds nearly instantly to open/close commands. There is also no warning beep or flashing light when you trigger a door close. It works just like the button on your wall! I recommend the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener (MSG100HK) over a MyQ device.