“The schools would fail through their silence, the Church through its forgiveness, and the home through the denial and silence of the parents. The new generation has to hear what the older generation refuses to tell it.” — Simon Wiesenthal

As a formerly devout Christian, I often find it hard to disagree publicly with people I used to regard as brothers and sisters (particularly those who I wish were still close friends) over matters of faith. But perhaps one of the freedoms afforded by loneliness is a sense of free-agency — by not belonging to the flock, I am no longer beholden to its doctrines and social norms.

A topic I have been mulling over recently is the quandary of the American Church’s response to the recent Atlanta shootings. …

An awkward thing about starting a new career later in life is being at the bottom of the ladder with kids fresh out of school. More painful than the pay cut is the reminder that I’m playing catch-up, or rather, as my parents remind me constantly, that I haven’t made it very far in life yet. While these kids had a formal background in our field, I found my way here after a decade of meandering and experimentation.

I turn 30 in a week, and am on my 9th job since graduating college. When I was working in the ad…

If we aren’t wanted, then you can’t blame us for looking out for ourselves first.

‘Warrior’ from Cinemax.

Warning: the opinions expressed here may be unpopular/disconcerting and do not represent the views of my employer.

“To this day, I wake up at times, look in the mirror, and just stare, obsessed with the idea that the person I am in my head is something entirely different than what everyone else sees. That the way I look will prevent me from doing the things I want; that there really are sneetches with stars and I’m not one of them. I touch my face, I feel my skin, I check my color every day, and I swear it all feels…

Many of us are familiar with a concept called Moore’s Law, in which chip performance is expected to double every 18 months or so. This “law” is now more scripture than fact as improvements in chip performance have reached diminishing returns. A new problem that now surfaces is how the sheer volume of data that is produced, along with heavy processing of said data (for things like deep learning), puts tremendous strain on our finite resources.

You might argue that one could buy more cloud computing resources or on-site hardware (like graphics cards for mining rigs), but ultimately those are…

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in ‘The Founder’

I sometimes participate in an alumni Discord server, where we recently had a bit of heated debate regarding the value of our bootcamp program and what we wish could have been different. Two major themes were:

  1. The training on its own was not sufficient/rigorous enough to make us “job-ready” relative to the inflated expectations of the hiring market.
  2. The career paths laid out, “penetration tester” and “SOC analyst” and “Red Team” vs “Blue Team” felt binary in an industry that is filled with niches.

I would like to take some time to exercise some empathy on behalf of our instructors…

Most days I’m glad to have gotten out of my line cook position long before COVID-19 hit, but at moments I still look back in regret for leaving too soon. The bitter-sweetness of that time lingers in my mind, for better or worse.

Salaryman to Shokunin

Tired of the ad agency and startup environments where politics seemed to rule above competence, I decided to start looking at restaurant classifieds after nights of bingeing on Chef’s Table and Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix. I was interested in traditional Japanese restaurants particularly because:

Work Ethos

Even as a lowly assistant, Japanese chefs at…

Be prepared to spend a lot of time inside your thoughts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

After nearly 7 months of bootcamp, self-study, and job hunting, I’ve finally made it — I recently accepted a full-time role as a SOC (security operations center) analyst. The story I’d like to share though, is not one that you would expect to see on the brochure of a bootcamp program like the one I attended.

I went through hell obtaining certifications it has taken others years to acquire, spent thousands on top of bootcamp tuition for additional training/exam fees, all to land a gig paying $35k less than my previous role as a data analyst. …

Button Mashing

If you’ve ever participated in a CTF or have tried web application penetration testing, you might have come across a situation where a response must be made to the server in a limited amount of time. The more complex the exploitation process gets, the more unlikely it is that you’ll be able to send off the correct values within the expiry time.

Rather than simply attempting to copy paste faster, we can see this as an opportunity to use scripting to automate the process, which will, on top of speeding it up, make it scalable and less error-prone.

Example: JWT Token Exploitation


As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

In my case, I was tasked with attempting to brute-force a 4-digit multi factor authentication code for a lab from Portswigger Academy. This amounts to 10k possibilities (10 digits ^ 4) ranging from 0000 to 9999. On the surface this doesn’t look terribly hard, if it were not for the fact that:

  • Burp Suite’s Intruder tool is speed-throttled for the Community Edition, which makes fuzzing through all those values very slow. The lab will likely time out before you can actually find the right code.
  • I am currently too broke to…

Try Harder.”

That’s the advice that Offensive Security will give you when you’re attempting their lab environments and certification exams. It sounds condescending and unhelpful, but it’s actually crucial for developing your critical thinking skills and possibly more importantly, your grit. That “productive struggle” challenges you to push past your current limits, and trains you to keep digging deep as you progress in your journey.

But sometimes, you’re just really at a dead end. And that’s OK.

It’s good to have pride in ourselves and our abilities, but that pride can also be a stumbling block for our progress. The…

Kevin Huang

Words I Never Said

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