... on a pentesting platform. that became my main 'social network'!
It feels like the natural progression from my walking down the stack: In the last year I re-lived my history of a physicist in IT or an IT security specialist trained as a physicist. I investigated the security of embedded systems and sniffed network traffic - mostly related to monitoring and control of physical devices for 'generating' or storing energy.
I wanted to fill in gaps of knowledge, I turned to classic introductions to computer science, and I caught up on C/C++ and Python. But trying to hack systems is still another kind of skill: I had been a 'defender' for many years, explaining to others how to secure their systems, but I lacked the skills of an attacker.
After I had dabbled in forensics of unknown files and in using automated testing tools with modest success, I decided I want to learn this craft thoroughly. Or was it? Maybe I just want to play and see how far I can get. It was a surprise that I was actually able to hack the entry challenge for that pentesting platform. Fast-forward: I had hacked more than 80% of the active boxes.
My experiences there are both very humbling and very gratifying. Sometimes I struggle with even getting an exploit tool to run as I lack some basic knowledge of compile switches. But sometimes I discover I can leverage some things I didn't even realize consciously or ancient things buried deep in my memory. Who knew that ASP and VBScript would ever be useful again? And my preferences of Python and C++ (for non-destructive purposes) feels eerie now - I could not have picked the languages for my exploit tools better! My adventures with learning SQL Server a few years ago also come in handy, and what I considered my most unprofessional hacks turned out to be most useful: Stringing together 'applications' from scripts and compiles code in different languages, burying one into the other, not being afraid of loads of different quotes embracing each other. As a side effect, I am also more daring when it comes to my non-malicious code now: I have no problems any more to state publicly that I write an application in C# that adds VBA macros to Excel and executes them!
My immersion in this addictive platform also told me something about my learning preferences ... again. I had known it but it was not that explicit: I want to learn from solving problems. That was my intuitive answer once, when colleague had asked how I make myself familiar with new technologies, a freshly released operating system at that time. I replied that I try to solve one specific problem on that new system (involving X.509 certificates then) - and then expand my knowledge from there. I have pontificated about my love of reading textbooks and immersing myself in abstract theory, and this is not a contradiction: Hadn't I ploughed through the later chapters of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - the ingenious explanation how compilers and assembly works - I might not enjoy my attempts to create buffer overflows that much. Which is a topic I need much much more reading and playing with, by the way.
I know am saying the same things again and again and again - here, on my blog, and on social media. It seems my websites have run their course for the time being - I am not actively trying to search for new content to create, and I feel like writing articles that flow naturally, rather than writing semi-scholarly papers with code and data. So I am leaving this article here, on the site that nobody reads, as a hidden away note maybe.
Since 1997 I have been maintaining personal and business websites but I haven't joined the social media borg cube(s) before 2012. You can find a brief overview on all projects, that is a collection of icons plus some more or less funny comments here.
Here I try to keep track of why I am doing this, and I only comment on those pages or blogs who I consider a project of some sort.
My personal blog elkement.wordpress.com is where I finally try really hard to unite all the things again that have been scattered across different sites before, and across different parts of my life - probably of my very self. I am quite satisfied with the structure I have added in April 2014 - main 'category' pages that list individual posts.
This kind of structure is probably what I would have wanted to achieve by splitting my personal space into three distinct realms in 2002:
e-stangl.at: an ancient predecessor of the modern About page. It always got more serious than I wanted it to be - especially the German pages. But this is probably because I have outsourced the fun parts to the subversive site, and it might have triggered that idea that I absolutely have to run a bilingual site. I am still baffled by my on unwillingness to translate - I either write something in German or English, and only with utmost discipline I do translate it. I rather let it rest and write a different and only losely related version in the other language.
Before the Subversive El(k)ement had its own blog, it had its own site: subversiv.at. This was inspired from quotes from The Cluetrain Manifesto about subversive hyperlinks, and it alluded by weird split responsibilities as so-called corporate IT manager on the one hand, and as a supporter of subversive webmasters of 'non-compliant' sites on the other hand. Over the years I have added many layers of meaning to that.
I re-discovered the joys of playful nonsense, wordplay, self-referential comments disguising my ambiguous opinions. This can be seen as what later was to become Search Term Poetry and Spam Poetry. Today I re-use such poems from my blog and enrich them with German translations on the subversive site.
My science & technology site radices.net should focus more on content and less on my personal woes. I was not successful with respect to the latter. Started as a German-only page the effect of over-solemnity was probably worse. I think it did get better after I was done with soul-searching and heart-wrenching career changes - and writing about those with hindsight.
In autumn 2013 I decided this site should become home to the grey area between my interests and hobbies - e.g. as a amateur student of quantum field theory and dilettante science writer - and those parts of my professional life related to it. Translated to English I called it my Practice in Natural Philosophy tongue-in-cheek. But since I can't help but preferring to write about science an philosophy in English, the German site was / is more or less a link dump - using links from my English blog, and our German 'company blog' (see below).
I got hooked again on classical cryptography and IT security - and I finally want to start what I had had in mind but never did some years earlier: Finally 'curate' all my favorite resources, document interesting anecdotes, and in general give back something to a community that had helped my out so often - when I found the much-needed solution via the ultimate oracle, Google. So I at the beginning of 2014 I mainly updated the PKI pages.
But this was not for a German audience, but for an international one. My English blog postings on security are what I really wanted to write and these should be complemented by a Resources page. I finally did it - I turned made this website into a a bilingual, too. The English version hosts nothing but the PKI stuff, and thankfully radices means Roots and there is something like Root CAs. Totally coincidental as the original intention was to re-connect with my roots as a scientist.
My business page is where I / we pretend to be serious. However, our rather peculiar diverified portfolio as I like to call it, thwarts these attempts (hopefully).
I said we have a business blog (though it is not necessarily discernable as such). Here it is: punktwissen.wordpress.com. You can see our work there, sort of, and we use a story-telling approach (And I am trying now to use a sounding-like-business approach). These are the stories of us, the two settlers, who tell their stories about physics, renewable energy, and our related adventures.
The punktwissen blog is successor to the legendary z-village.net site, bringing news from the village at the end of the internet to the internet community. This page was maintained solely by Somebody Doing Anything Nobody Wants to Do - I was (am) just the programmer.
And there was a grand, 'corporate' version of the quaint little village, this was (is) EPSI - a prestigious middle European Think Thank dedicated to: Elementary research, painting blogs, collecting space and doing something.
Now you know.
All the other social media stuff is tangential, ephemeral and fleeting.
This has once been the so-called serious section of this site, holding the links to the articles full of soul-searching.
Meaning of life, true calling - you name it. See the non-translation of my graduation speech as a prime example.
Fortunately, the Lightness of Being a Geek has finally won.
A netizen is an inhabitant of the internet. Everybody knows that today. Back in the golden times of the internet a netizen had to be an expert. A navigator through a new world, a world that existed only for the technologically adept. It comprised dark corners and caves.
Dark corners do still exist today. If you want to explain to paranoid technophobes why the internet is cute and harmless despite cybercrime you ought to say: It is just like the real world.
So everybody is a netizen. If the Know Everything oracle (Google) does not find any content related to you - you might be something special.
You might be a Realizen probably.