For the first time in 15 years, my family doesn't have a website to call their own. In January 2000, I registered the domain Bryansplace.com. This was the first website I ever built outside of work and it became a sandbox for me to express my interests as well as a way to seek personal growth. From handwritten HTML pages into Frontpage to a number of CMSs, the software and content at Bryansplace evolved as my life evolved.
Bryansplace.com was the website where my girlfriend and I announced our marriage to the world. As a married couple, we eventually publicly announced the birth of our son via the site. This domain was the site where I talked about camping, computers, and my latest beer recipes. It wasn't all about me either. My wife showcased her photography for the first time online via Bryansplace. This was also the website my son learned how to navigate the Drupal content management system and talk about his gaming skills. Bryansplace.com was synonymous with "family news". Despite how much I valued the domain, last week I unceremoniously killed the website.
Over the years, I've made it an unwritten policy not to sensationalize bug fixes and security vulnerabilities in content management systems. While there may be great interest in such stories, I believe such stories have a tendency to cause more harm than good. When sensationalized, such articles tend to cause customers to address security concerns with emotion instead of logic which is never a good thing. So, when the security vulnerability known as "Drupageddon" broke and Drupal developer Bevan Rudge posted "Your Drupal website has a backdoor", I knew this story was going to eventually reach mainstream media. In the meantime, I've been struggling on how best to write this article and what story need to be told.
For those that don't know, Drupageddon is the highly critical SQL injection vulnerability in Drupal 7 core and was fully disclosed by the Drupal Security Team in SA-CORE-2014-005. Since the dawn of time when databases were introduced to websites, SQL injection vulnerabilities have been discovered and in the majority of cases when found are patched by their developers and system administrators. What makes Drupageddon particularly nasty is the vulnerability can be exploited by users not even logged into your site (in Drupal they're called anonymous users). Worse, if you didn't update your site quickly enough, your site may still be compromised even after applying the fix (in Drupal 7.32 or later versions).
After spending most of my years years in grade school working hard on experimental science fair projects and not receiving a ribbon, I finally gave up and wrote a "non-experimental" paper on the history of computers in the eighth grade. Despite the paper being weak even for eighth grade standards, I finally won a ribbon (third place) in the school science fair. Remember, this was the early 1980's and everyone was still fascinated with the then new concept of computers entering "everyday" life. Why am I going down memory lane? Well I came across an article on the 60th anniversary of ENIAC [via news.com, broken link] the "first" computer built which of course was mentioned in that paper of mine some 25 years ago.
Though, only to find out after reading the article, ENIAC wasn't the first computer and it really didn't do a whole lot. They just had a good public relations department that explained well to the American audience what role the computer would play in the future. If you read the article you'll find (not included in my excerpt) that the PR people went so far to include the placing of flashing light bulbs on the computer console so that people had something to look at besides vacuum tubes and switches. Still, you have to admit it was an amazing engineering achievement despite needing a good marketing campaign to go along with it.
Not long ago, my wife retired from the Air National Guard after having previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps. With 24 years of military experience, those that serve are almost always bound to walk away with a story or two to tell. This is one of those stories. In January 2006, Karen was given the opportunity to fly in the backseat of an F-16 (General Dynamics Fighting Falcon). Below, in her own words is what Karen experienced during that flight. She originally wrote this on our family blog that we're shutting down, but I felt compelled to make sure her story lived on within the contents of this blog.
Since retirement, Karen has become an accomplished photographer and is currently employed by a local capital investment group.