About the Target Attack
For those who might be interested in what really happened during the recent Target retail attack, where information about 40 million credit cards was stolen (including mine), here’s a really interesting article from Security Week:


In a nutshell, the attackers used a RAM scraper to pull credit card information that was stored “in the clear” within memory.

And yes, I was issued a new card because of this whole fiasco.
DevIgnition 3 Bigger Than Ever
DevIgnition 2012, now in it's 3rd year, was a smashing success! It's grown into a one-day, double-track conference with 170+ attendees. Many thanks to SAIC for helping us host this awesome event!
Elevator Up, Please!
Space travel is dangerous and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Find out about an alternative way to reach orbit that is rapidly becoming feasible and may eventually change how we view our world.

Science Fiction and the Real World
Interplanetary Hunter - by Arthur K. BarnesIt's clear that there's not a lot of respect for science fiction.

Despite the fact that 9 of the top 10 movies at the worldwide box office are science-fiction; and 18 out of the top 20; and 26 out of the top 30 movies. And despite the fact that science-fiction-related books appear regularly on the New York Times best seller list.

Well, I think that's wrong...

Scheduling Talks for a Conference
I've been a co-founder of two successful and profitable conferences, RubyNation and DevIgnition, now heading into their 5th and 2nd years respectively. In this time, I've learned a little bit about scheduling talks at a conference. Come find out the logic behind those conference agendas!
Some Thoughts on the Internet
Last Wednesday, my Verizon FIOS Internet connection went down for the entire day. What was amazing to me was how much this impacted me. High-speed Internet access is ubiquitous nowadays; we don't even really think about it unless it's absent. When it's not available, you begin to realize just how much the Internet has pervaded every aspect of our lives.
Happy Ryan Reynolds Day
Today I managed to catch up with Theresa Kattula on her self-proclaimed mission to promote today as "Ryan Reynolds Day" — since he was just selected by People magazine as the sexiest man alive. To celebrate, Theresa created Ryan Reynolds paper dolls for some of the women in the office, with clip-on attachments for abs, a power tie, a Green Lantern uniform, etc. Here's Theresa, hard at work:

It's Time for Rails to Grow Up
This is a great, 5-minute presentation from Jeff Casimir, recorded at the Ignite RailsConf event in June of this year. What I really like about it is that it sums up how I feel about Rails. I think it's time for the Rails community to grow up.

XKCD on Period English

For more amusing content, check out the XKCD web site.
Organizing and Running a Conference
For the last three years, I've been fortunate enough to work with a great team of people to run a successful and profitable technical conference called RubyNation. This conference is an annual event, part education and part entertainment, that promotes the Ruby programming language. As you might expect, I've learned a few things about how to organize and run a conference over the last three years. I'm going to share some practical tips and suggestions about how to organize and run a relatively large-scale public event like a conference.
At the Crossroads
It came to me a while ago that I had come to a crossroads in my career. This isn't the first time that this has happened. Like everybody else, sometimes you reach a point in your career where you need to decide what direction you want to go next. Read further, and gain some perspectives on what you might do when you next find yourself ... at the crossroads.
How to Get Your Conference Proposal Accepted
I've been part of a team running a technical conference called RubyNation for the past three years. It's been a successful conference all three years, both in terms of profitability and its reception by conference attendees. This wasn't entirely an accident. We worked hard to make sure we had high-quality speakers with the kind of content that would be attractive to our intended audience, as well as making sure other conference aspects were addressed - e.g. - venue, food, equipment, etc.

This experience has given me some insight into what it takes for an individual to secure a speaking engagement at a conference. I'll provide tips on how you can making your speaking proposal more attractive to conference planners, thereby increasing your odds of getting accepted as a speaker.
Multi-Shots: The Web's Newest Craze
My friend, Don Anderson, is a talented graphic artist and photographer. He recently started a side business called Clonimation doing custom photo shoots to produce what's generally referred to as a "multi-shot." An example multi-shot featuring my 135-pound Lab-Rottweiler, Bentley, is shown below:

A Multi-Shot of Bentley Keener
Anatomy of an April Fools Joke
I'm one of the founders of the RubyNation conference, which is scheduled for April 9 - 10 this year. Since the conference date was so close to April 1st, and since so many people were actively viewing the site during the run-up to the conference, well, we couldn't resist throwing in an April Fools joke. Surprisingly, it worked extremely well.

RubyNation Web Stats

We got a major traffic spike when Matz, the creator of the Ruby programming language, re-tweeted about our April Fool's joke. Find out more about our online joke on the the Ruby community.
Puzzle Solving and Corporate Culture
There's a new tradition at MetroStar Systems. It started when someone left a 1000-piece Christmas puzzle in the lunch room at MetroStar's headquarters in Reston, VA. It quickly became a collaborative effort with many employees participating in solving the puzzle. Now, it's simply become expected that when one puzzle is solved, a new one will soon magically appear in the lunch room.

Collaborative Puzzle Solving
Playing With Microsoft Surface
Microsoft Surface is a new, horizontally-positioned multi-touch computer first introduced in 2007. Through a combination of software and hardware, it features gesture recognition capabilities that allow multiple people to use it at the same time. I had a chance to play with a Microsoft Surface at work, and I have to admit that it was pretty cool.

Microsoft Surface
Is Hulu Just a Glorified Tivo?
There's a paradigm shift that's impacting the entertainment industry, and it's already changing how, when and where we watch television shows and movies. For example, I watch most of my movies and television shows on my Mac laptop, either via a download from my Tivo, a show on Hulu.com, a DVD or a downloaded video. Despite this, I don't think the entertainment industry is evolving fast enough, and I think they run the risk of alienating customers (me being one of them, of course).
A Costly Calculation
I find myself singularly unimpressed by the technical competence of the world's financial market. I recently purchased plane tickets for an international flight and was surprised to see a $50 "transaction fee" on my bill from British Airways. Admittedly, I live in the United States and I was buying tickets from a British carrier, but still, a $50 charge for an automated electronic calculation that converts dollars to pounds? I understand that credit card companies are now doing the same thing. The problem that I have with this is that there's no intrinsic cost associated with the transaction — no time involved, no physical goods changing hands, no people involved. It's just plain and simple digital robbery.
A Little Inspiration
I'm always designing things, mostly software programs in one of a couple different languages. When you spend a lot of time doing the same things, it's easy to slip into a rut without realizing it. Something that I find useful to combat this is to look at interesting designs in other totally unrelated fields.

House on the Ocean, a unique design
The Online Office
My team at MetroStar systems is trying to do something a little different. We're trying to do everything digital. Everything that the team does should be sharable online. Find out more about our experiment in team collaboration.
Happy July 4th, 2009!
Somebody sent me an email with this picture. I thought it summed up the meaning of July 4th by juxtaposing celebratory fireworks with the graves of the many soldiers who made our freedoms and way of life possible.

July 4th, 2009 - Fireworks over Arlington National Cemetery
New Version of KeenerTech is Now Live
A new version of KeenerTech.com, designated as Version 3, is now live! KeenerTech.com is now a Rails 2.2.2 site, replacing the previous version which was an ASP.NET site. Additionally, the site is now hosted with WebFaction on a Linux system instead of being hosted on a Windows-based system. Most of the differences are internal, where the web site functions much more smoothly than before, with content management facilities far in advance of what the old version had. Visually, the biggest difference is that the web pages are wider, allowing more scope for the content.

It's all functioning pretty well, although I'll probably still be working out a few kinks for the next few days.

Pop Quiz: Why Does Verizon Suck?
The graphic below shows my download and upload speeds in megabytes per second from Verizon FIOS. Can anybody guess why I think Verizon's FIOS service sucks? At least for me, anyway. Hint: I'm paying for the 20/5 plan, which means I should get 20 Mbps download speed and 5 Mbps for the upload speed.

My personal Verizon download speeds
2007 Web Design Survey
The prominent web design site, A List Apart just published their 2007 survey of web design professionals. Find out more about their results.
Glasgow Airport SUV Crash
It's eerie watching TV and seeing today's terrorist SUV crash at Glasgow Airport. I've spent a lot of time at Glasgow Airport, and the scene was instantly recognizable to me. In fact I was there just a little over a month ago.
Secrets of the Great Pyramid Revealed
An architect reveals his theories regarding the construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu via a 3-D animated presentation on the web. Very cool stuff!
What Is an Expert?
What does it mean to be an expert in a technological field such as web development?
How to Have a Web Site Outage
Sometimes, no matter what kind of backup plans and recovery plans you come up with, you still end up with an unexpected outage. Here's one lovely scenario that I recently encountered.
On Being a Rails Expert
There's been a lot of hype lately about a new technology called Ruby on Rails. What does it really take to be a Rails expert?
Harnessing the Power of XML For Your Business
There's a lot of hype about the usefulness of XML. This article cuts through the hype and explains some of the major advantages that XML offers for businesses.
Overly Secure?
Security is a good thing...usually. But sometimes you can take security too far.
Software Testing: A Forgotten Art
Solid testing is one of the hidden ingredients of successful web sites. This article on software testing as it applies to web sites and web-based applications was created for a small web consulting company.
Let's Go Orbital
Learn about a new class of web site that's sure to change our understanding of real estate, satellite imagery and privacy.
Extreme Short Stories
The November 2006 issue of Wired Magazine includes an interesting feature on extremely short stories. Specifically, they asked a bunch of writers to come up with striking "stories" in only 6 words. Well, this sounded like a fun exercise, so I decided to try my hand at it.
The Horatio Factor
A different perspective on the controversy surrounding the Horatio Alger Street Fair in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Horatio Alger Jr. was the prolific 19th-century author whose "rags to riches" stories helped popularize the American Dream.