Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wayne Coyne gave me flu



I don’t want to turn this blog into a series of gig reviews, but since I have been blogging regularly I have been to two notable gigs.


This week’s was the Flaming Lips, a band I first came across in 2000 and saw at the John Peel tent (then the new bands tent, amusing considering that they formed in the early 1980s) when they played their monumental album The Soft Bulletin. If you don’t own it, buy it.


Also buy Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from 2002, still an absolute concept classic. This was viewing number five of The Flaming Lips and this time they were promoting and played seven tracks from the most recent album The Terror.  Listening live perhaps not their best work, but they still do it their way with confetti and elaborate stage sets, and an especially loose musical style among the five piece.


What was notable about this show was that it came the day after the Oklahoma tornado, the band’s home state. Singer Wayne Coyne opened with a ten minute speech on the impact on the band, and admitted that had anything happened to anyone they would have cancelled the show.


What was also remarkable was that this was the second night they were supposed to be playing at the Camden Roundhouse, however Coyne’s cold had caused the previous night to be postponed by a week and left a half-well Coyne to struggle to hit the high notes and constantly drinking Ginger Beer. Must remember that remedy.


Generally he seemed to cope pretty well with the illness, apart from during the song ‘Do you Realise’, as close to an anthem that the Flaming Lips are ever going to get, that Coyne had a coughing fit and left the audience to sing two lines for him.


The band finished, they were great and I will continue to see them as they come to the UK.


However heading home I started to feel ill, considered cancelling meetings the next day and staying home. Ever the survivor, I got up and headed into central London for two conference calls, a face to face meeting and a evening event with a PR company. During the second call, I won’t lie, I felt like shit. It was this at this point I realised I had to call off the face to face as I probably looked like a wreck, and also the PR event which sadly combined a trip up the Shard.


I made it into work on the Thursday and now it is Friday, I’ve come off the lemsip and flu tablets and am left with an earache and that post flu feeling.


So I am blaming Wayne Coyne for my illness this week, which is not bad thing. Getting germs from someone you admire and like perhaps make things slightly better, but I will treasure the Coyne cough and germs spread over the Roundhouse audience at the ‘The Most Important Gig Of All Time’. Wayne’s words, not mine!


‘Enjoy a drink with Dan’

The Tom Cruise film Minority Report gets a lot of reference in my day job.
Whether it is Tom Cruise’s collation of Big Data, the concept of preventative measures or the general whizzy technologies on display, it’s becoming known as a vehicle of reference.
However one area of the film, where members of the public are identified by retinal scans and directly promoted and marketed to, seems to not be a million miles off either. In the film (I’ll avoid spoilers, having been given one for Skyfall in a recent Guardian interview) Cruise’s character walks through a shopping mall and is greeted with personalised messages as he walks through. Extreme measures later in the film help avoid this.
On my daily commute I am now confronted by adverts for Coca-Cola who have adopted the slogan ‘enjoy a coke with Family’ for the larger bottles and specific names for the smaller 500ml bottles.
Now I am not that paranoid to think that this is direct marketing on a Minority Report scale gone mad, instead what Coca-Cola have done is to get people to  buy the bottle that bears their name or a friend/colleague and present it to them. No bad thing, unless you don’t like Coke of course. It’s still a souvenir, and you can use the drink to clean coins with I suppose.
To date I have only seen one with my name; a Coke Zero (what they trying to say?) advert on a bus, while the digital advert doesn’t contain my name.
So while I am not paranoid enough to think that this is targeted now, could it be in the future. If it was in Minority Report it could be, after all, there is the word ‘fiction’ in the genre.
Update: I wrote this on the tube this morning. The photo above appeared about 10 minutes after I had finished writing this, I am now even more paranoid.

My view of The Vaccines



Last week was the first time I had been to a concert since several musicians had followed Karen O’s lead in condemning mobile phone filming.


The plan I had for the tone of this article is different from what I am writing now as I was pleasantly surprised to find that rather than facing a sea of screens, I could spot very few.


I don’t know what the view of the band I saw, The Vaccines was/is, but if it did ring true with the mixed-age audience then they listened and obliged.


In case you missed the story, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer called for an end to filming of concerts on phones. Among the responses to this were from ex-Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters, who said: “I would never turn on a cell phone at any musical event. It would seem to me to show a lack of respect to and care for fellow concert goers, or for that matter the artist.”


Meanwhile Frank Turner said on Twitter that he understood ‘people wanting to take pics at shows, do it myself, but often see more cameras than faces’ and ‘if something’s worth remembering, the human brain does a great job of that for you’.


I share with Karen, Frank and probably many others. Yes I saw people taking photos (and as you’ll spot, I took the photo which appears in this article) and I don’t have an issue with a few snaps. However I do have an issue with people who film an entire song on their phone.


I recall many concerts where someone will film a song and sing along with it, my thought usually being ‘isn’t their voice going to be all over the recording’.


For example, when watching The Cranberries last year people did just that during Linger. I’m sure that clip is stagnating on YouTube as we speak.


In a previous example to what Karen said, I saw Metallica in 2007 where James Hetfield told the audience to put their phones away and almost all did as they were told. Well you wouldn’t argue would you?


I think the message here is take a photo, upload it if it is good enough and enjoy what you paid your hard earned cash on.


As for The Vaccines, well they were bloody excellent. Only two albums in and they played the O2 arena, which meant that it was not full. But the mixed bag of revellers (including a 60 something couple next to us and a Brownie troop in the seats) loved every minute.


There was some filming, but the rate at which they played their 80 minute set meant you had to have one heck of a trigger finger to catch them. Maybe that’s the answer – musicians, over to you!



Infosecurity Europe and B-Sides London 2013

I admit that my last blog about the week of Infosecurity Europe and B-Sides London was a bit ranty, and a week on from the end of those shows, I figured it would be good to reflect more rationally.

So while my infosec period really started a few weeks before with PR approaches for meetings, the week itself began with some of those meetings I decided to go ahead with. The first was with Neustar, with whom I enjoyed a rather magnificent pub lunch here and talked about their DDoS report, which I thought was pretty insightful.

I followed this with first meeting with BeyondTrust CTO Marc Maiffret. I first met the company a year before and with him raising his profile, we naturally talked about vulnerability management and the company’s direction. This article remains in the ‘to be written’ pile. In the evening I had the choice of social events with Eclat PR or HP, and as the former was a few steps away from where I was, I went for it.

What I found was a distinct lack of journalists, plenty of HP execs and thankful PR people. What I got was execs representing the security brands of HP and some insight into how they are being bound together; again one for the ‘to be written pile’ but should prove interesting for fans and users of Arcsight, Tipping Point and Fortify.

So the first day of Infosec began with me meeting with Tripwire for breakfast, where we mainly covered the recent acquisition of nCircle and quite frankly, where they had been since Gene Kim left and they were acquired by Thoma Bravo.

Without turning this into a food blog, I went here and it was magnificent, but then it always is. I was also delighted to bump into a fellow security journalist here, whom I saw pretty much every hour of the next three days.

Into Infosec and I attended the first of two talks on APTs, this by Cassidian and the other by AhnLabs. For the rest of the day, I squeezed in meetings with infosecurity luminaries Jack Daniel, Amrit Williams, ChrisBoyd and Amichai Shulman, while spending more time getting out of the press office (it ain’t easy being so popular) than actually writing any of these up. You can see how shows normally work for me can’t you?

In the evening I not only attended, but opened the annual SC awards and hosted a table with my colleague Carolyn and some brilliant people, including Javvad Malik who turned up with two blogger awards (presented earlier in the evening) and Brian Honan, who added the SC Magazine Information Security Person of the Year award to his blogger award. Laying the two down with the blogger award on top though, we’ll remember that one… J

If you want to know what my memories are of the SC awards, the answer would be few. Not because of alcohol consumption, but because it went past so quickly. I arrived early for rehearsal, spent half an hour trying to connect to the wifi (so I could live tweet the awards) and got locked in the disabled toilet. Classy! The full details on the winners can be found here –

The next morning, after four hours sleep, saw me meet Forescout for a bloody good breakfast (here if you’re interested) in Sloane Square, before I went to the wrong Kensington Town Hall for B-Sides London. After a painful bus trip (crying babies on a sweaty bus with me tired and probably slightfully hungover, nice) got me to the other KensingtonTown Hall for B-Sides London.

As I arrived late, I missed David Rook/Security Ninja’s apparently brilliant talk on his company’s application security story, hope to see this another time. However arriving while talks were taking place did allow me to see a few friends on the exhibitor/lunch floor, namely Thom Langford, Nik Barron and Sir Jester, whose name I’ve forgotten again!

Into sessions, and Javvad’s talk on building a brand was excellent, as were the other talks I attended by Candid Wuest on sophistication of malware and Gavin Ewan on social engineering. I guess B-Sides gives me a break from infosec in that as a journalist I am seeing a different crowd speak and socialise, I get time to write and the main thing is the networking with a new crowd. I attended B-Sides last year as well as other cons such as Brucon and Irisscon, and they offer something different from the norm.

Sadly I didn’t make it to the rookie track or any of the workshops, and apart from sticking my head into the main hall, I was primarily in the smaller hall upstairs, but it was good to see some well known industry figures.

Into Wednesday night, and I attended FireEye’s party (brilliantly hosted across the road from B-Sides London) and for fear of too many late nights in one week, I avoided the B-Sides afterparty and on my way to the bus stop, and walked past Andy Barrett, who I am still officially to ‘meet’.

Into the final day of infosec, and I again had a silly early start but incredibly worthwhile meeting with Dinis Cruz talking all matter of security issues, from problems with technology to training.

Heading back into Earls Court, I again attempted to file copy in record time before meetings with Sourcefire and AhnLab, in between seeing a very interesting talk by Juniper’s Bitar Nawaf on fingerprinting attackers to identify them by metrics.

Through a combination of shuffling sessions and meetings, I managed to find some time to hit the infosec floor and see a few well known people, including vendors, analysts, journalists and the general spokespeople. I managed to make time to hit the show floor at RSA USA in February, and it is a shame not to see the exhibition area at a show, mainly because you get an appreciation of what some vendors do, see what the security executives see and catch up with people.

At 4pm on Thursday, Infosecurity Europe was closed and I will not lie, after all the work that went into it, I was a little disappointed. After all, after working like a madman for three days and finding time to write stories, I was back to normal.

So that was my week. You may ask why I met those particular people and why I attended those sessions? Well the truth is I picked what looked interesting and I hope what I produced was interesting.

These were my views on last week, if you want to read more there are some really good perspectives on these sites: