I like to write

A writing portfolio can be tough to maintain, as links tend to change over time. Instead, I've decided to share a copy of some of my contract work here, as well as some of own personal writing.

In need of some fresh technical content?

Trust, but Verify

In 1983, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were awarded the ACM A.M. Turing Award “for their development of generic operating systems theory and specifically for the implementation of the UNIX operating system.” In his acceptance speech, aptly titled “Reflections on Trusting Trust,” Thompson presented a now infamous hypothetical design for a backdoor attack in the C source code compiler that would render login security obsolete and, by its own design, be nearly impossible to detect (if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking some time to so, as it is a fascinating read). While Thompson’s speech largely consisted of a detailed explanation of exactly how this attack would work, the moral of his story reflected on the inherent need for trust in the software industry. In his words, “[y]ou can’t trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No...

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The Ins-and-Outs of Package Management

It’s hard to remember a time before package managers. A time when software arrived on a set of floppy disks in the mail or a compact disc in the back of a catalog. A time when finding software online meant visiting a half-dozen shady websites that may or may not have been responsible for the three thousand search bars installed on your web browser. A time when you had to just trust the integrity of software distributors, because what other choice did you have? Okay… maybe it’s not that hard to remember. Finding and installing new software used to be such a chore that the concept of real-time patching for consumers was laughable. What company could afford to deliver minor updates to consumers in a timely manner? For that matter, how could they incentivize users to even install those updates? As internet speeds increased, and access became more ubiquitous, many...

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The Linux (R)evolution

I first discovered my passion for computers on the day my dad brought home our first family computer nearly 20 years ago. While it would be a few more years before that passion turned into an obsession bordering on insanity, the desire to create things out of intangible bits and bytes was irresistible. Little did I know, this same instinct was one that fueled the personal computing revolution that had already been raging for the past decade (and more). In those previous ten years, the world went from the first laptops and the World Wide Web to pocket computers and Wi-Fi, and while Microsoft and Apple duked it out over whose feature-packed operating system was better, there was a third contender that was built for—and by—computing hobbyists with that same drive to create. It was years ahead of the curve. Not Just a Hobby On August 25th, 1991, Linus Torvalds...

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Apple, Updates, and You

Just over a year after the launch of Microsoft Windows 98, Apple Computer released the next and final version of their “Classic” Mac OS operating system, Mac OS 9. In typical Apple fashion, the months leading up to the release of OS 9 were marked by increasing hype, aggressive marketing, and the occasional shot across Microsoft’s bow. Dubbed “The Best Internet Operating System Ever,” Mac OS 9 introduced multiple user accounts, the Keychain, and a direct integration with iTools, the first iteration of what is now known as iCloud. All of these features are still around today. But, not to be outdone by their friends in Redmond, one of the most subtly impactful new features included in Mac OS 9 was one that Microsoft also recently introduced: automatic software updates. Thanks to improvements made to the operating system’s TCP/IP functionality in Mac OS 9, automatic updates were billed as way...

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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Microsoft Windows Updates

In the summer of 1998, Microsoft released the next version of their flagship Windows operating system, Windows 98. While Windows 98 is often remembered as the operating system that defined desktop computing for the majority of users in the late 90s, it included a particularly unique feature that changed the way Microsoft was able to release updates. Originally introduced as a web application within Windows 98, Windows Update offered some additional customization for power users that was not available within the distributed operating system. This included things like new themes, games, driver updates, and optional applications. The initial intention of Windows Update was to provide free add-ons for Windows users. Over time, however, access to beta programs, security fixes, and critical patches were included as well; such as a fix for the now-infamous Y2K bug that plagued systems of the time. In the 20 years that Windows Update has been...

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