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Hickory Chip is a Site Devoted to: Coding. Building. Breaking. Fixing.

I’m me and this is my blog. Hickory Chip is devoted to writing code, building stuff, breaking all the things, and fixing what’s already broken. My passion is for information security, but I am an application developer by trade.

Who am I?

Before I started working professionally in Chicago, I majored in Philosophy, played baseball, went to a lot of concerts, managed a pizza place, helped replace a black tar roof on a high rise in Denver, repaired sewers, detasseled corn, canvassed for PIRG, and started but didn’t finish a M.A. in Philosophy at Colorado State University, where I had the privilege of studying Environmental Ethics with Holmes Rolston III and Animal Ethics with Bernard Rollin.

English: Templeton Prize winner Holmes Rolston...

Holmes Rolston III. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the summer of 1997, coincidentally right around the time Jerry Garcia died, I came to the realization that I was almost 27 years old was racking up student loan debt and I still didn’t have a plan. This was a bad thing. I decided to leave CSU, go back to Chicago, and get a fresh start.

What do I love

My dad remembered that when I was a kid I loved baseball, math, and computers. When I was in third or fourth grade, if there wasn’t a baseball game going on at the neighborhood park, I would spend hours tapping away at the TI-99 writing programs in BASIC that I could run and save to cassettes. With that in mind, he suggested I enroll in a six month continuing education program at DePaul University called the Computer Career Program. To this I owe my career and so much more. In those six months I learned what I needed to know to get a job as a mainframe programmer writing Cobol programs that access DB2 data and run in batch mode submitted with JCL. Sixteen years later and I’m an applications developer and architect working on enterprise web applications written in Flex, Java, and Cobol with DB2, Sybase, Oracle and SQL Server databases. I’ve been married to the love of my life for almost 15 years and we’ve been blessed with three beautiful children.

College of Computing and Digital Media.

DePaul CDM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why Security?

A few years ago I decided that while my career was going fine, I wanted to know more. I wanted a deeper understanding of computers, systems, networks, languages, algorithms. I knew programming, but I wanted to learn computer science. I went back to DePaul and enrolled in the MS Computer Science program. The next five years I spent working full time, raising three children, and getting more out of school then I could have imagined. It was all the geeky, nerdy, techy, 111s and 000s, computer architecture, heaps and stacks, assembler, C, bit manipulation, so much goodness. It was data structures and algorithms, asymptotic runtime analysis, lists, queues, trees, hash tables, maps, sorting, searching and graphs, everything I wanted to know and I was soaking it all in. After a number of foundational classes, I started finding out what I was drawn to. I loved disassembling and debugging code to find planted ‘bombs’ in my Computer System class, I loved writing network level code to implement my own web server, client, and distributed agent in my Distributed Systems class, and I loved the challenge of staying up all night to get my Java implementation of a complex Data Structures and Algorithms assignment finished. Trying to decide what classes to take next, I looked for more opportunities like I described above. I chose Cryptology because I knew the algorithms would be even tougher, and I took Network Security because I wanted to learn more about TCP/IP. After those two classes I was hooked. Network Security II, Software Security Assessment, Software Security Architecture, Secure E-Commerce, Information Security Management and I’m one class from earning my MS in Computer, Network and Information Security instead of Computer Science. Along the way I configured a home honeypot, hacked PHP applications downloaded from SourceForge, used VMWare to create a virtual network lab on my laptop, configured firewalls, ran nmap scans, used Wireshark to sniff packets, learned about Anonymous, the RBN, card scammers, script kiddies, COBIT, SANS, OWASP, Schneier, etc… etc…

Information Security Wordle: OWASP Guide to Bu...

Information Security Wordle: OWASP Guide to Building Secure Web Applications and Web Services (Photo credit: purpleslog)

So… what is Hickory Chip?

Hickory Chip is what’s next. I’m no longer in school, but I’m still learning. Hickory Chip is where I can explore topics, do research, learn, report, and share information that hopefully someone else may find useful or beneficial. I will focus mostly on security, but not exclusively. I love math and math games, I plan on spending time exploring and writing about Python, Perl and Ruby, I will write about web development and architecture in general, I may even write about the Blackhawks, White Sox, or the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead.

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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