Misc

The Equifax leak, and what you need to do about it.

Perhaps you are – let’s face it you likely ARE – impacted by the leaked consumer information by Equifax. Or the fact that the contact information they give us goes to a bogus number with no viable help offered. And that if you go to their site for remediation you are opting out of arbitration.

One article said – “In retrospect, we find it surprising that it wasn’t multi-trillion lawsuit in light of the galactic stupidity exhibited by a company whose server apparently had zero firewalls from the internet and where any hacker could get access to the most confidential information available….” One commentator put it, “In retrospect it seems like a really dumb idea to give three random companies access to the entire financial records of every American.”

Let’s forget about what a hellhole these huge companies send you to with their “customer service” lines, which are very well documented, or how evil it is that the executives sold their stock in Equifax before news of this leak – which was deliberately kept secret – got out.

If you want to lock down or freeze your credit – and that seems to be the consensus recommendation out there – you can. Below are the four agencies you’ll need to get in touch with. (I put site links in there even for hollow/404 sites just in case they become available later. Right now at least a few are not functioning well, likely due to high call volume and general jerkiness.)

Mail These Two:

  1. Experian – https://lnkd.in/gxuAehg (note this didn’t work, I had to send it in via mail)
  2. Equifax – https://lnkd.in/gvBWrEq (didn’t work, I tried 1-800-684-1111 and got a busy signal. 1-888-766-0008, “system error”. 866-447-7559 – 1 – this is just a receptionist that will give you the Equifax info. In short, mail it in. )

Call This One:

  1. TransUnion – https://lnkd.in/gCyFZP9 (didn’t work, had to call in to 1-800-680-7289 and go thru steps for credit freeze)

Yay, A Functioning Website!

  1. Innovis – https://lnkd.in/gFmqtVb (worked, free)

 
 

You’ll note, two of the four above required mailings. That’s actually OK for us as we want as much documentation as possible for safety and/or a big ol’ class action lawsuit. Be particularly careful with TransUnion as they’ll want you to sign up for their service which – surprise! – will charge you $19 a month for eternity.

Hope this helped. Now I have to cancel my TransUnion “service” (which I never asked for) thru my credit card, manually. I also went to this site to request a free credit report (you get one annually) from 3 credit agencies.

I need to send another letter to Equifax, on the opt out. I want to sue these guys, VERY badly.

Experian Form Letter – Opt Out

Equifax Consumer Services LLC, Attn.: Arbitration Opt-Out
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, GA 30348

The letter needs to include your name, address, and Equifax User ID, as well as “a clear statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration.”

 

Experian Form Letter – Credit Freeze

Here’s a form letter you can use for Experian:

Experian Security Freeze

P.O. Box 9554

Allen, TX 75013.

 

(date)

 

Please put a security freeze on my information.

 

 

Information:

  • Full Name: ____________________
  • SSN: ________________
  • DOB: ________________
  • Current Address: ________________
  • Previous Address: ________________ (if less than 2 yrs above)

 

Enclosed: $10 payment (if in Oregon), copy of drivers license, copy of utility bill / bank statement

 

Equifax Form Letter – Credit Freeze

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, Georgia  30348

(date)

Please freeze my credit.

  • Full Name: ____________________
  • SSN: ________________
  • DOB: ________________
  • Current Address: ________________
  • Previous Address: ________________ (if less than 2 yrs above)

 

Enclosed: $10 payment (if in Oregon), copy of drivers license, copy of utility bill / bank statement

For the amount you’ll need to pay, see this site: What are the security freeze fees in my state? 

See “Acceptable Forms of Identification for Verification“.

 

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A few thoughts on success.

Hey all, it’s been awhile so I thought I’d write a few words.

I had someone new to Microsoft call me up today and ask me for some thoughts on how to succeed here. I hung up after chatting for a few minutes about time management and learning to say no – modesty – and how to work in larger teams. It’s a topic that is interesting to me – as every company has its own dynamic (one that spills over into the technical arena) – and I often find myself wondering if I could improve in this area.

If you haven’t already read the Four Agreements, I would highly recommend it. It’s one of those short books that’s really easy to overlook. Besides the Bible, I can’t think of another book that’s had such a high impact on my life, for the better. If you want to make a successful career though – it’s hard to give better advice than the following:

  • Be Impeccable with Your Word. This means if you say you’re going to be somewhere or do something, you keep your word. It also means you need to be very careful with what you say yes to. A modest person knows they have limitations, and they’ll be careful not to overload themselves. (Something I’ve had to learn the hard way a few times in my recent assignments!)
  • Don’t take anything personally. Everyone is the hero of their own story and their actions – while sometimes senseless to us or worse – always make sense in their own personal universe. Do your best in working with others to be accepting, to listen first and understand (reflect back actively what they’re saying so they know they’re being heard). Once you understand their point of view and motivations, it’s much easier to work towards a compromise that satisfies both parties.
  • Don’t make assumptions. We assume that others think the we think, feel the way we feel, judge the way we judge. The only way to keep ourselves from making assumptions is to not be afraid to ask questions. And we keep asking questions until we understand clearly. Until you know – this is what I want, this is what you want. The unstated becomes clear, no secrets.
  • Always do your best. This means trying your damndest at everything you take on, and doing it without distraction. Now, your “best” is a relative term – it doesn’t mean perfect, and your best will vary from day to day. Some days just getting up and responding to emails is “your best”, on other days you’ll be a worldbeater and knock down walls. Don’t try to solve problems in a low state. We all have ups and downs due to low sleep, stress, personal problems etc. As my good friend Jim Caballero once told me, “people are the only thing that matters”. I’ve rarely regretted the way I’ve started or left a position, but I do regret many times falling short in my interpersonal relationships. That thoughtless exchange of words with a coworker when I was feeling a little down, the meetings that did not go well, etc. Many times when I am low on sleep now I try to avoid one on one meetings – so I don’t have to spend the following day mending fences I’ve broken down!

 

I’m definitely not holding myself up as an example in any of these things! But I will say – over the past two decades – learning by experience how to apply these four points has made a huge difference in a smoother, less bumpy career and a higher ceiling. It’s been said that we get hired for our abilities – we get fired for our personality. True words! So keeping in mind that old saying “the tongue is a fire” – guard your words, be careful with your words (especially those committed to writing – emails, Facebook, etc), and show empathy. You’ll get more done and will be happier doing so!

Talent is Overrated.

This is a review of Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. I highly recommend this book, it got me to think about my work – and how I go about my work – in an entirely new way.

Check out this video of the great Jerry Rice. Jerry is widely considered the best ever to play the game. His records for total receptions, touchdowns, and receiving yards aren’t just #1 in each category – they’re ahead of the runner up by almost 50%. It’s likely no one will ever beat them.

The odd thing is, Jerry is widely understood to be lacking the one quality agreed to be the essential quality needed for a wide receiver – and the one that can’t be bought. Speed. Jerry Rice was never a particularly fast runner. So how did he stay so dominant – until he retired at 42 years of age?

 

The answer is practice, hard practice. His offseason workouts were legendary. Jerry Rice and his trainer realized that three things were necessary to excel at his position – running precise patterns, evading defenders (outmuscle, outjump) and then outrunning them after the catch. So his offseason workouts focused on that. He did precision running of routes and worked on his hands to help with reception. Trail running helped him change directions on a dime. And his legendary Hill wind sprints helped give him explosive acceleration. He did this 6 days a week, in the offseason. His trainer would not release his regimen to people that asked –afraid they would try it, and hurt themselves. That workout helped him excel beyond his more talented competitors.

Above is a snapshot of Shizuka Arakawa at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Notice about 1 minute 30 seconds in this video what she does:

This is her famous signature “layback ina Bauer” move. This is an incredibly difficult movement – a backward, almost double leaning back that leads to a three jump combo. She spent 19 years of practice on this, and it’s likely that she fell almost 20,000 times trying to execute this. Onto a very hard, unforgiving surface.

Above are three album covers by the Beatles. If you’ve ever listened to Help, or any of their other first three albums – they’re pretty average. Something happened though about the time Rubber Soul came out. (Besides LSD and Timothy Leary!) At this point – and Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book Outliers – they had put about 10 years, or 10,000 hours of practice, in starting with those famous Hamburg days where they were playing multiple sets a day. Their music made huge leaps.

The book makes an excellent point that the one thing most people believe about talent – that you have to be talented to make it, and that if you aren’t born with it you’re out of luck
– is wrong, dead wrong. With enough practice, and hard work, you can achieve greatness.

 

But Jerry Rice and the ice skater we mentioned earlier would tell us – hard work by itself is not enough. Both of those athletes learned to practice specifically on their craft in a very planned way. They stayed in a middle zone.

Mr Colvin pointed out studies done where we learn best in a middle zone – where we are challenged, but just out of reach of our current skills and abilities. Think about a teenager learning to drive. At first, we’re terrified – totally out of our depth. That’s the Panic Zone. We’re so out of our known experiences here that we’re a danger to ourselves and others – which is why there’s so many accidents for kid below the age of 24. Then we start to put things together, over time, where we match book learning with real world experience. That’s the optimum point -where we really start to excel and thrive. For most of us, we then move on to the comfort zone, where our abilities plateau. We’re good at driving at this point, but no better – just average. Definitely we’re safe at driving but not good enough to be a NASCAR driver. At this point we’re not reaching our potential.

The key is to stay in that challenging middle zone, where we are always trying to refine our technique or abilities according to an ability. See this graphic below:

Notice above – this is for trained classical violinists, specialists that have been spending hours in individual practice each week since the age of 5. You’ll notice – although the best (genius level) violinists practiced just as much as those considered better, what set them apart was the consistency. They sunk almost 2000 more hours than the level below them. Instead of just slogging along, they practiced what the author calls Deliberate Practice:

 

So the book calls out some common traits of forward thinking organizations.

 

This led me to do some thinking about my own life. I often think of my favorite author, Norman MacLean. He wrote two classics – A River Runs Through It, and a second book published after his death on the 1949 Mann Gulch fire called “Young men and Fire”. Both are classics, and outstanding. I always feel a sense of loss when I read these books, because there’s only two of them. What if he had started to write earlier than his late 60’s?

The book stresses being able to accept mentoring and feedback, and the value of failure – practicing deliberately and steadily making improvement. I will start following these steps in following my writing goals.

 

 

 

 

Appendix – Jerry Rice’s workouts (from NY Times article)

Rice’s six-day-a-week workout is divided into two parts: two hours of cardiovascular work in the morning and three hours of strength training each afternoon. Early in the off-season, the a.m. segment consists

The workouts are the key to Rice’s longevity and endurance. They are brutal because they are so long. And there is no question that they pay off. When he sprinted up the middle and outran the San Diego secondary for his first touchdown in Super Bowl XXIX, he felt the accelerators kick in. When he separated his shoulder only to return to the game and then actually run over a Chargers player, that’s when the weight training came in.

“I never have an easy day,” he said, “because there is never an easy day when the playoffs begin.”

It is what Rice says now — sitting on a bench with ice draped around his shoulder — that may symbolize the man more than anything. “I have to fight for everything,” said the man who came out of Mississippi Valley State, a Division II school. “I always have. I have to prepare myself every year. There is always some young guy who thinks he can take me. And then when the day is done, he realizes he can’t.

Even when I was younger, people were waiting to see if I was a fluke. And I proved time and time again — through hard work — that I was not. Now, as I get older, people are looking for me to slip. They are waiting for me to lose a step. That hasn’t happened and I will get out of it before it does. If anything I’m faster and better than I have ever been.”

of a five-mile trail run near San Carlos on a torturous course called, simply, The Hill. But since five vertical miles can hardly be considered a workout, he pauses on the steepest section to do a series of ten 40-meter uphill sprints. As the season approaches, however, Rice knows it’s time to start conserving energy — so he forgoes The Hill and instead merely does a couple of sprints: six 100-yarders, six 80s, six 60s, six 40s, six 20s, and 16 tens, with no rest between sprints and just two and a half minutes between sets.

For the p.m. sessions he alternates between upper-body and lower-body days. But no matter which half of his body he’s working on, the volume is always the same: three sets of ten reps of 21 different exercises. Yes, your calculator’s right: That’s 630 repetitions a day.

Portland 2016 DevOps day – wow, thanks!

Guys, had SUCH a blast last Friday at the DevOps roadshow!

Here’s some pix. I really owe Monu Bambroo, Derrick Cawthorn and the amazing Donovan Brown for coming down and buying out their time to spread awareness of DevOps and the answers we have here at Microsoft for this sea change.

If you’re interested in more, give me a holler. We do have that workshop on “DevOps Fundamentals” that in three days goes through setting up a complete release pipeline – way cool!

 

Some link goodness for you:

  1. Donovan’s site: http://donovanbrown.com/ Search for DevOps. There’s something for everybody at this site. For example, here’s a post describing how he went about setting up a demo for a group in New Zealand using Docker, Ubuntu Linux, Visual Studio, Selenium, etc. Way cool! There’s another good link here for how Deployment Slots play into your DevOps pipeline, another on “how many vendors does it take to implement DevOps?”, triggering a rollback based on user feedback during a release, where Powershell DSC fits in.

 
 

  1. Dave Harrison’s site is here. www.driftboatdave.com. I’ve got some links here on “All Happy Families Are Alike“, “Devopoly“, “Cats and Dogs Living Together“, and “The Five Dysfunctions of DevOps“. These are lengthy but put together will give anyone a good overview of the Phoenix Project and Visible Ops.

 
 

  1. Last, may I recommend Channel 9? Here’s a 12 minute intro with Donovan Brown,  and an excellent three part series on Release Management – Part 1 (overview), Part 2 (RM architecture), and Part 3 (release pipelines). Outstanding, and will give you a nice overview of what we covered during DevOps Day in setting up Continuous Integration and build pipelines.

     

 

 

July 15th Premier Roadshow on DevOps – coming your way!

 

Way cool – at long last, we’re hosting a DevOps half day conference right here in Portland on July 15th!

 

The agenda below is set to change and we have some exciting guest speakers on their way. Get in touch with me and we will add you to the list of invitees!

 

Agenda:

  • Building a 3-Phase roadmap to sanity – and getting out of firefighting
  • Defining DevOps For YOUR Organization
  • Release Management Plain and Simple – Which Tool is Best?
  • Metrics Make It Happen – KPI’s You Can Use to Track Progress and Drive Success
  • Puppet, Chef, Octopus and Visual Studio – Better Together

 

As a movement, DevOps has now replaced Agile as the key factor in getting software builds out the door faster and safer. This workshop will help you define conditions of success for your organization and lay out a practical roadmap to change management. We’ll discuss features and advantages of leading DevOps tools and how to make sure your org culture and people can use these to best advantage to drive value and repeatability.

 

How to Register:

Contact:
Dave Harrison

Microsoft Premier

dharriso@microsoft.com

 

Note: This program is in high demand and registration is on a first-come-first-serve basis. You will be placed on a waitlist if the seminar is full.

Snacks and coffee / tea will be provided.