Reading Room – Memorial Day '15 edition

A travel weekend for me, and a long weekend for many of us, so plenty of opportunities to catch up on my reading list.
Surface Pro 3 Field Guide by Paul Thurott & Martin McClean, 0.09 draft version
Not a security book per se, it is helping me get the most out of what is quite possibly the best laptop I’ve ever owned. It is without a doubt the best tablet I’ve ever owned.
Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Kindle Edition) by Greg McKeown (Hardcover, Audible)
Again, not a security book. The concepts tie into my drive to simplify and declutter my life, professionally and personally.
As a leadership book, the concept of reducing your field of vision to what is truly important helps focus precious resources to the things that hold real value.

Echoing Click Bait

A friend pointed out to me that an article I shared was little but click bait. I admit to only skimming the content before posting. I do that.
Unless a URL I post on social networks refers to,, or one of my other sites directly, I apply cursory or less verification as to the authenticity, veracity, quality, security, or reliability of the data.
The journalist in me WANTS to vet everything I post via all the media. I lack the time.
What do you do? How do you not echo click bait?
Comment here or hashtag #askpvcsec on Twitter.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 after 2 Weeks

The Surface Pro 3 and I bonded since I brought it home. Core i7, 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM, and a fire engine red keyboard cover screamed “Buy ME!” in the Troy, MI Microsoft Store.
As an aside, when you go to the Microsoft Store in Troy, MI ask for Joe. Friendly, patient, knowledgeable, and the right kind of availability without hovering sets him up as my kind of sales associate or Microsoft-y or whatever they call their staff. Joe, well done!
This machine almost embodies my ideal:

  • Sharp, crisp screen
  • Snappy processor
  • Expandable storage in a micro SD card slot
  • USB 3
  • Mini Display Port
  • Responsive touch screen (something I’m still not sold on, more below)
  • Good stylus
  • OK keyboard cover (for $100+)

What is missing:

  • 16 GB RAM
  • Matte instead of glossy display
  • A right Control (Ctrl) key
  • A Menu key (I remapped Caps Lock to menu using AutoHotKey)
  • Less complicated & more foolproof touch interface/mouse emulation/virtual keyboard (more below)
  • Desktop and “Metro” app integration

Surprising items
I’m amazed at how much I like Windows 8.1. My pain points seem dealt with in Windows 10, so I’m looking forward to that. While this isn’t my daily work driver, I’m waiting for a more stable build before W10-ing this bad boy.
The keyboard (physical cover, not the on-screen) is surprisingly good. I miss the right control and menu keys as mentioned above. There’s room for them if the space bar shrinks and the arrow keys slim down.
Visio, Project, Office, and Visual Studio 2012 run well.
Some Metro-style apps like Nook & Kindle, NextgenReader, and Skype aren’t horrible.
Switching from OneNote to OneNote 2013 desktop works well. I recommend the move.
Microsoft cloud integration with OneNote, OneDrive, Office 2013, etc. is solid and stable.
Swapping Outlook 2013 desktop in for the default Mail app removes sharing functionality.
Skype runs better as a desktop app, though not with as sharp a look.
Evernote and Evernote Desktop do not share a common database.
The Windows key on the side of the display is inconveniently placed.
Only one USB port.
The LED on the power cord is BRIGHT – two layers of electrical tape to block it out bright.
No external battery option.
My keyboard cover trackpad seems to have an issue with the lower left click becoming stuck.
** Keyboard

  • Shrink left Control to “normal” size
  • Add right Control
  • Add Menu (on right)
  • Add right Windows (maybe?)
  • Shrink Spacebar
  • Shrink left and right arrow keys
  • Make Fn-Up Page Up and remove the F11 assignment
  • Make Fn-Down Page Down and remove the F12 assignment
  • Make Fn-Left Home and remove the F9 assignment
  • Make Fn-Right End and remove the F10 assignment
  • Assign, from F9 to F12:
  • Print screen
  • Scroll Lock
  • Number Lock (+ associated regular keys as number pad)
  • Insert
  • Make the function-key row the same size as regular keys
  • Add screen brightness controls
  • Make a second keyboard that includes a battery like the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2

** Bezel
Really, my only comment here is about the Windows button. If it becomes the right Windows key on the keyboard, retaining its current functionality but expanding its usefulness, I’m on board.
** Soft Keyboard

  • Add all modifier keys – Windows (Super), App (Menu), Alt, etc.
  • Gesture based typing
  • Modify the raise/lower/cancel

** Stylus

  • When one disables the touch screen, allow the stylus to use gestures
  • Add another configurable button, this one middle click by default

** Tablet interface

  • Do something useful with all that wasted space. It’s a wide-screen device!
  • Figure out a way to share data between the tablet and the desktop versions of the same app.

Observations from a Lounge

Not a security or leadership post. Just some general thoughts warranting capture. I can spot an American from a mile away. The shorts, the ill-fitting poorly worn clothes, the baseball cap, the general look of bewilderment are all telltale signs. I kept hearing this sound like sheep bleating. I and those sitting around me could not find where the sound was coming from. Turned out it was an elderly woman talking on her phone. That sound? Just her voice, apparently. MEX security triggers on the same three things in my bags: safety scissors, electric kettle, and travel power strip. I moved all three into a separate bag to speed things up. The screener was apparently determined to foil my plan. Next time, I’m putting these in a bin by themselves.