Welcome to August.

While I am writing this, I am chilling in a hotel with my daughter, Mila, waiting for my wife and the little man, Andrew.  We are going to the beach for a week with my wife’s family, and it should be the bomb diggity (who says that?).

Look  at this house – I am super pumped to spend a week here.

That being set aside, what is going on… well, Mila and I spent two weeks at my mom’s place with Paul, and while it was comfortable there, mom and I no longer see eye to eye.  She wanted to bond with my daughter, but didn’t spend any time getting to her level.  Rather, she used her guilt tactics on my 5 year old to drag her to places she didn’t want to go.  It got so bad, that Mila would not be alone with my mom.  My mom and her husband are boomers who I don’t see eye to eye with politically, spiritually, and emotionally.  So we left early.  I couldn’t keep my daughter there any more.  I think we are going to take a break from spending any time together like holidays, etc..  I’d rather spend it with people that are warming, and just full of gratitude and appreciation.  I just don’t understand what she is living for.

Well, I am still vegan  except for the last couple of weeks, and I feel awful.  I got to get back on the bandwagon, do some running, and watch what I put in pie hole.  We’ll get back there.

As far as OSCP, I am losing it.  I can’t study right now as I am acting manager for my boss and things are insane.  It’s going to be nice to go back to my day job – I think I will pick back up OSCP studying in the AM.  I haven’t given up.

I still heart Illenium, Melodic Bass, Future Bass, Melodic Trap, all that music.


2019 is a wrap!

What happened this year to me?!?!

  • My wife and I introduced Andrew to the world.  Yay!
  • I attempted my OSCP.  I’ll keep going on this.  I really want this cert so bad.
  • I reignited my love for books.  Right now I am reading Talking to Strangers.  Malcolm Gladwell has really opened my eyes to crazy biases we as humans have on strangers.  Be kind to your fellow stranger, peeps.
  • I had a think week – inspired by my man, Bill Gates.  It showed me that I can, with a shit ton of will and time, pass the OSCP.  But I should focus on my little man and my career at the moment.  So that is what I have decided to do.
  • Hung out with friends.  Brad and Kasia in some pretty fun cabins, got to know my co-workers outside of work a bit, and hung out with neighbors.
  • Volunteered with Bsides Charm city and DC and competed in Pros vs. Joes.  I felt much more comfortable with the competition this year than last year.
  • I went camping with my daughter at Bull Run Campgrounds.  It was really fun!  I think we will do this every year, for sure
  • Traveled to Montreal and Mendoza with the family!  Both were awesome experiences and we had a great time.  Montreal more than Mendoza, but both of them the whole family was together and that was really nice
  • Went to NYC and Baltimore for work.  Nothing too far away this year.  I think RSA in San Francisco is on the docket for next year.

So… what are my new year’s resolutions?

  • I am going to go vegan in January.   A little kid and his mom in DC convinced me.  I am also really unhealthy weight wise and I think trying vegan for not only the health benefits but respecting the planet, animals, and myself needs to be in order.
  • Meditate more.  I love meditation and it helps.  Even if it’s non-guided, I pledge to spend four days a week meditating.   Even if its for 5 min.
  • Focus on work for the long stretches.  I have some days where I have hours at a time to myself.    These times, I need to plan out what my goal is that day and do a Pomodoro for at least 2 hours (4 rounds).  This will keep me in step and not so worried about those big projects.
  • Be more extroverted.  I ruminate about saying the wrong thing, or not speaking up so I just don’t.  Then when I have to, it’s bad for me, but really, not all that bad in hindsight.  When I was a teenager, I thrived on relationships.  I need to be better at reaching out to people and saying hi.  We all need friends.
  • Couch to 5k.  Finish it.  I don’t want to put any more barriers around that other than I think if I run a routine three times a week, that should do it.  Once I finish out the program, sign up for a 5k and stay in shape for it.

Okay, that is it, people.  See you in 2020!!

Root. On an active HTB. Woot!

Okay, so through working at the box for the most of yesterday and this morning, I friggen got user and root flags for Postman on HTB.  I am not gonna lie, I did reach out for a push or two through the HTB Discord Channel, but no major hints were given, and through a bit of perseverance, I did it. Yay!  Upwards and Onwards!

Anyone who is in this field, wow.  There is so much to learn that I don’t know, and it’s amazing to me to get in the chats and on the web and pour over the articles, cracks, and loopholes that some of the brightest people in this field have come across.  It takes major perseverance and sometimes that quick trip to the bathroom for an ah-ha moment that leads you further down the victory hole.

I have also been listening to another book by Cal Newport – So Good They Can’t Ignore You.  I haven’t gotten too far in the book to quickly start picking up things that resonate with me and give me some clarity on how I need to look a bit more at what I am doing here.  I was always in the mindset of “learning to love what you do rather than following what you love”.  Cal iterated this in the book by basically throwing shade on people who follow their passion.  Simply being that many of us don’t know our passion or think we do, only to ask “is this really what I want out of life?”

I go back to work from Parental leave on Monday.  I haven’t been there for a while.  I want to bring about the “craftsman” mentality to my work – basically, it doesn’t matter what you do, just, as the words of Steve Martin – be so good they can’t ignore you.  I aspire to, every day, work towards this.  I have spent so much of my life caring about what people think.  I also have thought to myself – “I tried the OSCP once, so now I can add it to my resume and people will be lining up to ask me to come to be a pentester for them.”  I am so naive sometimes to myself.

I will stop caring so much about the meetings, the reflection of whether or not I have imposter syndrome, and just focus on the Deep Work of crafting myself into a better me, a more skilled me.  This is my modus operandi.  I will have two bars – one on getting better and more skilled at the policy/risk work I do for the government, and one on working at my technical competency through HTB/PentesterLab.  Then onto VHL, and then circle back to the OSCP, or maybe just get the eJPT.  (Why not?)

All this while adding exercise to my life (running in the AM with Sandy, the family dog, FTW) and being a good father/husband/trance addict.  Yeah, so I think Trance Junkie Podcast will have to wait till the kids are more independent and I can do simple things that don’t align with moving the bar forward for me.

I want to thank God and my wife for helping me find some clarity throughout this week.  Continuing to meditate and practice will help me move myself to where I want to be in a year.  What does that look like?  Well, it’s most likely not an OSCP cert, but it is someone who has moved the bar significantly closer to that cert, someone who is more confident at his job, and someone who continues to be amazed at the existence of his children.

My Co-op Work with CFMS

A couple of weeks ago, I was recognized in the Christian Family Montessori School’s Wednesday envelope for helping the school with their computers, printers, and network.

CFMS has a parent co-op to help keep the costs of school down. I get to make sure things are running smooth. Such as:

  • Activating network ports
  • Securing their passwords effectively (.xls -> LastPass)
  • Getting the main printer to work on Mac, Win, and Chromebooks
  • Cleaning up old computers so they are able to run quicker
  • Migrating users from one computer to another
  • Migrating the school email to Gsuite, porting over old email
  • Ensuring connectivity to shared drives

It has been nice to sometimes reflect on the little things such as helping with basic IT that makes me feel like I know some things as I push forward to learn more in my PenTesting journey.

Update with a path forward…

For the last few days of parental leave, I will have some opportunity to reflect and decide if I would like to continue my OSCP journey. As of right now, the answer is yes. If others have done it, why not me? I think it’s pretty common to take a test, and if you fail it, flail around a bit before getting your grounding. I feel like I have regained some grounding and have a path forward. There are a few rocks on the path, but it’s a path none the less.

I have 6 days – between now and Saturday where I will have some time to myself to do some deep work and deep thinking about my professional competency. I am going to not only use this time to reflect on that but also do some minimal fasting, exercising prayer, and meditation. I have a few habits that I need to place a stake in the ground on (little things) and work on my path forward with studying. I am inspired to do this through Bill Gate’s think-weeks, and also a book I listened to called “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport. Cal is a computer science teacher at Georgetown University, and he book spoke loads to me.

I have really been thinking about the amount of time that I take studying around OSCP. Things like Bash, Python, Linux, and Powershell. I think if I do that, I will never get to the actual pen-testing. I needed something structured, and just doing Hack the Box/VulnHub wasn’t structured.

Step in PentesterLab. It’s 30 bucks a month and structured. I really like the fact that there is a public profile where I can show the certs I managed to get along the way.

Woot! It’s some direction!

I read a bit about it, and even though it’s a bit more web app pen-testing than OSCP which does cover web pen-testing. but also really focuses on network pen-testing, I really like it. I have done the intro labs and working through *nix currently. To pull in more network pen-testing and the full methodology, I plan on doing a retired HTB machine walkthrough and an active machine on HTB daily – till Sat. I will have to re-assess once I am back at work and don’t have as much time to myself.

I have also been using this blog more like an emotional dump of my studying. This blog really was more for the technical aspects that I was working through on the OSCP, so I will gear it more to that moving forward. No one really cares how I feel all the time. 😛

Once and if I pull some substantial time into PentesterLab and HTB, then we’ll chat about the OSCP.

On to the work!

Studying on Parental Leave

Look at this guy – him and I bonded together yesterday. My wife went back to work, and I chilled with him for the day. I gotta tell ya, he did really well on his bottle. It was honestly day 1, and he is starting to get the bottle down.

My little man!

Which leads to the next thing. So I am on parental leave till November, and I was hoping that I could get some studying in with this dude. Well, I need to be patient with myself since that’s not going to happen for a while – at least till we get used to each other. So, yah, it’s going to be slow going with OSCP again. I haven’t signed back up for the labs, which is good. There is a lot I can do without them and I once the labs are up, the clock is ticking to get them done.

I really , really want to pass this exam. I have to say though, I have already been really learning a lot, but I have a long way to go to pass. I think I can do it.

I wake up around 3 every morning!

Wazzup peeps.

I love waking up so early. Sure, sometimes I get a little sleepy, but nothing a cat nap (when I can get it in) won’t fix. So what do I do? Well… I am glad you asked.

  1. First thing, coffee. Who the hell can function without that dark source of life bearing drink
  2. Then it’s onto studying. Sometime. Like, today and yesterday I goofed a bit (oh man, Pihole is so friggen awesome)
  3. I meditate for about 10 minutes + the lesson somewhere between studying and 6 am.
  4. Around 6 am, I go for a jog. In fact, after I get off here and finish up this post, it’s onto running
  5. Come back, make lunch for Mila and chill with the fam

Then I go about my day. I have to say, it’s awesome. I get things accomplished and have some time to myself. Who needs sleep am I righzzzzzzzzzzz……..

Finally landed on the Surface Laptop 2

Well, the Matebook X Pro didn’t fair well to a dual boot with Kali and Windows.   I think it had something to do with the weird 3000×2000 resolution and the fact that grub couldn’t understand that to boot into an installer for Kali.  I tried working on different grub commands, but eh, I did so much that I couldn’t get the machine to boot back into the original install.

So I took it back to the store and decided VM only – no dual booting.  I mean, OSCP is set up to work within a VM, all my practice books are with VMs.  So VM it is – and I need a good supported VM app, so Windows with VMWare Workstation was the way to go.  I also wanted a laptop that will last, so I put up the extra cash for the new Surface Laptop 2.  I am happy so far.  I do wish it has a USB-C as the MXP did, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.  Back to studying!

Greetings from Cambridge.

I am writing to you from Cambridge – my sister in law is a freshman here at Harvard, and it’s parent’s weekend.  Here’s a pic of her and my daughter 🙂  I had an opportunity to step into CS 50, which is the largest core computer science class that Harvard has to offer.  It was awesome.  The teacher was animated, clear, and descriptive.   I want to come to Harvard and get at CS degree now!

Here, they are introducing databases.  The one thing I love about Harvard is the inspiration it brings – which leads me to my Bsides event, which was awesome.  I learned a lot from the CTF, and I need to learn more.

I got to the game late, so I didn’t understand the team’s strategy.  Hell,  I didn’t even understand the board.  But a few reddit posts later, I think I am good to go for my next one.  I think I am going to play some CTFs online.

Oh, and work approved my OSCP tuition – so its on.