Account Reset Terror

Email subjects on emails from the end of last week:

I expect more emails like this over the next week. Only the last one — the blog post from my former employer Automattic — reflects a company taking appropriate steps:

We checked the accounts of 600,000 other users whose email addresses were included in the list. Since these users were not immediately vulnerable, we did not reset their passwords or send emails but will be enabling a notification in their dashboards so that they can assess the security of their passwords at their leisure and with all of this information in hand.

It is frightening that “over 100,000 accounts for which the password given in the list matched the password”. That is over 14% of the gmail address that matched. Still I’m not sure that justifies the other service provider wholesale resetting all the gmail addresses that match.

I have accounts on a large number of services. It feels like I’m now regularly getting more required password reset emails and “If you didn’t make this request, it’s likely that another user has entered your email address by mistake and your account is still secure.”

Are IMDB and Etsy’s approaches good? Does it help customers?

Are real solutions to today’s authentication challenges on the horizon?



My start date at Joyent was Monday, August 19, 2013. At the end of this week, I’ll have been at Joyent for nine months.

Writing this post after nine months is a coincidence. The impedance for this post is actually my colleague Deirdré Straughan’s Joyent Retrospective.

The video is a “retrospective of the videos [Deirdré has] done in the last few years”. The video is wonderfully playful. Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill appears to fidget along to the music.

The experiences highlighted in the video are the real gift. Deirdré links to all the the videos (with the exception of the internal meet-and-greet ones). Deirdré has done an incredible job leading Joyent sharing so much of its technical expertise.

Watching Joyent Retrospective brings to mind the journey I’ve been part of here. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I really had no appreciation of the depth and pragmatic uniqueness of this team and technology. No company compares to Joyent in density of expertise in Infrastructure as a Service and as a product. This team has deep, deep, strong roots and continues to execute on its vision.

Inspired, Uncategorized

A better ride in the big city

Julia is sick, so I had to return her heavy photography lighting today. I was naive to the amount and weight of equipment that professional portraiture involves.

I was happy to take an Uber for free when I used PayPal as payment for the first time (expires Nov 28, 2013):

If you don’t have an account, you can get another $10 credit using my referral code:

I’m relieved I didn’t have phone a taxi company only for one not to show, or to try to hail down a taxi. I’m too old for white-knuckled rides through the city.

I don’t use Uber much as I like to walk and use public transit. When I do need it, I’m very thankful for the service.

I’m terrible with names of people, addresses, and locations. Uber makes me feel more comfortable navigating San Francisco. I can enjoy San Francisco more. Uber is easy and it works.

Also, as a technology professional Uber inspires me.



One Year and Ten Months Without Pants

I finished reading The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun Thursday night. It’s already one of my favorite books ever, but I’m obviously incredibly biased here!

It’s weird to read a book covering a big chunk of your own life. I was employee 10 at Automattic and worked there for five of the best years of my life. I was there for most of the time that Berkun was, though it felt like we were at opposites ends of the company. I left Automattic about six months before Berkun left. I wish I had this book to read while I was at Automattic. It would have shaped my thinking!

Of course, this is going to be my favorite Berkun book, but there is a huge awkwardness of it all — are there other business leadership books of this style? has anyone pulled off keeping themselves in it? Berkun comes off as machiavellian, when I don’t think he really is.

There is a real reason why all autobiographies are incomplete, and great biographies either burn relationships or are written about the finished and the dead.

I’m eager to hear and read Automatticians, “formermatticians”, and other insiders thoughts on the book, particularly expanding on or challenging the history and stories of Automattic that Berkun shares. Don’t get me wrong, the insights that can be applied regardless of how Scott’s experiences and perspective align. The book is fully of incredible project management and business leadership insights that will stand on their own through the tests of time.

It’s only been a week since the release, but I haven’t seen any reviews that really expand on the history of Automattic.

I do really enjoy how mdawaffe, aka Mike Adams, ends his post “Seven Years Without Pants” with:

I’m pretty sure the party was only the eighth time Scott and I had ever met in meatspace (a.k.a. “real life”). A good friend, my former boss, and a formative teacher of mine, Scott and I have only ever seen each other eight times. If you don’t understand how that’s possible, read the book.

I’ll update this article with online discussions from insiders as I find them.


  • Evan Solomon in “A Two Year Old Conversation Shows Up In a Book”

    I think [letting someone be employee and reporter at the same time is a] mistake. It puts employees in a difficult and ultimately lose-lose situation to be unsure whether conversations are private or public. It doesn’t bother me much that Scott was frustrated by my communication style, but I don’t think it’s his place to share that frustration with the world any more than it would be my place to talk about my current colleague’s personal habits at work without their permission. I would consider doing that a clear violation of trust.


  • none so far


  1. Raanan Bar-Cohen

    “A bit surreal to read about your own work, and I’ve found over the years that all my colleagues have a great work ethic.

    What I like is that Scott hits on a point that I find very true — which is that companies that have big audacious goals such as ours, and give employees freedom to define the methods of achieving them – tend to attract people who are passionate and love what they do. And that combo tends to result in amazing outcomes and companies that have a culture that attracts fantastic talent.”

  2. Beau Lebens
  3. Andy Peatling
  4. Interview by Krista Stevens

    Berkun: I was most surprised to rediscover that it’s the fundamentals. If you can build trust, provide clarity, and hire well, every other obstacle can be conquered. My story in The Year Without Pants follows how I tried to achieve those things despite a decade age gap, 100% remote workers, radically different culture, and more, any of which would be terrifying to most managers on their own, including myself.

  5. Alex King

    I found Scott’s story to be interesting and self-aware; an introspective and honest account of how his team operated. I am fortunate to be friends (or at least friendly) with many of the people mentioned in the book. Scott’s characterizations of them, their personalities and humor struck me due to their accuracy with my own experiences. This made it easy for me to fully embrace what I was reading.

  6. Paul Maiorana
  7. Hugo Baeta
  8. Lance Willett

Matt mentioned “This news comes in a fun week generally: Scott Berkun’s book about Automattic is out today and getting rave reviews” in More Tiger Secondary.


What topics around Automattic and the business are you most interested in learning more about?


A Year at, The Book

The Year Without Pants

Today, The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun was released.

I’m ecstatic that there is a book sharing experiences and insights based on the most incredible workplace I’ve ever worked “at”, Automattic, working for the most inspiring and inspired boss Matt Mullenweg. This is your chance to get inside the magic of Automattic, a fully distributed team — everyone works from home! — and learn from one of the best leadership and (software) product development authors, Scott Berkun!

Berkun became one of my favorite authors after Matt Mullenweg recommended Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation to everyone at Automattic. It is among my favorite books. Berkun is the most readable author I’ve found and he doesn’t waste a word — like no one else, I felt my time was valued.

Family commitments meant I never got to attend any of Berkun’s workshops, or am fully appreciated now, really meeting him. It also felt let we worked at opposite ends of the company.

I’m six chapters in to Without Pants and thoroughly enjoying it! I’d already recommend you pick it up too!

Pedant, Software Testing

First bug logged

Image of pages of log book with moth taped to it.Sixty six years ago today on September 9, 1947 the first *actual* computer bug was logged. A moth was lodges in a relay of a Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator computer at Harvard University.

‘Well, the entry (“First actual case of bug being found.”) shows that the term was already in use before the moth was discovered. Grace Hopper also reported that the term “bug” was used to describe problems in radar electronics during WWII.’ ~James S. Huggins

‘American engineers have been calling small flaws in machines “bugs” for over a century. Thomas Edison talked about bugs in electrical circuits in the 1870s.’ ~Smithsonian

‘A software bug is an error, flaw, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways. Most bugs arise from mistakes and errors made by people in either a program’s source code or its design, or in frameworks and operating systems used by such programs, and a few are caused by compilers producing incorrect code. A program that contains a large number of bugs, and/or bugs that seriously interfere with its functionality, is said to be buggy. Reports detailing bugs in a program are commonly known as bug reports, defect reports, fault reports, problem reports, trouble reports, change requests, and so forth.’ ~Wikipedia

My first career related job was an internship in the spring of 1998 at Pacific Forestry as an Entomology Assistant working with Bill Riel on mountain pine beetle infestation and impact models in JavaScript and epidemic simulation in Delphi. Bugs don’t get any more real than beetle infestations.

My career has continued to center around quality assurance and advanced technical support (triaging severe bugs). Twelve years later I’m still incredibly satisfied by helping improve the quality of solutions and systems through early and detailed identification of technical and usability issues. It is a great outlet for my cynicism and pedanticism, helping me relax, appreciate, and enjoy the emotional natural world.

20130922 update I noticed today that lists Andrew Nacin‘s title as “Entomologist in Residence”. It’s awesome that the title tradition is being continued. While I was with Automattic, my title, given to me by Matt,  was Digital Entomologist.


Hungarian Notation in SmartOS’s pkgin

As I mentioned, the other night, was my first time logging in as root to a SmartOS instance on Joyent Public Cloud.

I immediately discovered a new package manager for me to learn, oh boy. I first used RPM in 1997. I’ve installed RPMs on AIX, used yum on Yellow Dog Linux (RDL) and much later Red Hat. On the Mac I’ve used fink, port, and most recently homebrew. There was even a time that I was very impressed by the myriad flags of ebuilds and portage — Gentoo, really was (is?) an incredible community with the best documentation.

Coming from RPM, dpkg + apt felt like magic, and it has stayed my safe place. At times I’ve been a power user, though I’ve never created or maintained my own packages except very briefly with YDL.

It felt like I had already tried them all, but here I am faced with pkgin.

# pkgin se git
[ A long list of results ordered reference ASCII. Why reversed! ]
# pkgin se git | wc -l
# pkgin se git | egrep "^git"
gitweb- Web interface for GIT repositories
gitso-0.6nb9 Gitso is to support others
gitolite-3.5.1 Gitolite allows you to host Git repositories easily and securely

In frustration, I googled, scmgit-base. Hence the title of this post. It’s going to take me some time to come to like pkgin.