New Beginnings

Hey. It’s been a while. I was working on some projects for the past few months and then I was honestly just burnt out for a while. I had originally meant to post this a month or so ago, but I’ve just been lacking energy lately. Perhaps it’s the change of seasons, the adjustment to a new job, or my overexertion. Whatever the cause may be, I’m back now.

Thank you for the kind contacts during my absence. I do, in fact, read and respond to every relevant email. Whether it was helping a reader out with a forensic problem or discussing exploitation of keyless access systems, I enjoy talking with people. Even emails that just say “hi” are a pleasure to see in my inbox.

I hope you’ve been well. I’ve been out for a while, but here’s what’s been up with me.

The Bay Another Day

Although my partner and I were originally planning on moving to the Bay Area next autumn, we’ve had a change of plans. She still needs time to finish up school, so we’ll continue to be based out of Merced for the time being.

This is no problem for me since I’m in no rush to depart Merced and frankly, I quite like it here, though I do acknowledge that this is just a chapter of my life and not where I’ll eventually settle down long-term. Besides, the Silicon Valley tech scene seems to be maturing and the culture of last decade is no more, and I have no problems with missing the big tech boat.

Cost of living here is affordable and I have a nice lifestyle going on where I have ready access to the land to start a garden and a house to build a workshop, two of my summer projects this year. I live in a small, safe town and I’m able to just work on my own things without being bothered. I’m carving out a piece of the world that I’m happy with. I’m content with it.

A New Job

Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve had a career change. I chose to continue my career at UC Merced for the time being since I have no shortage of bobcat pride and am in no rush to move out, especially since the tech sector is in flames with mass layoffs and job insecurity right now – that’s a job market I’m not particularly excited to enter at this time.

At the start of this month, I became an IT Security Analyst II for UC Merced with the working title of IT Security Risk Analyst. I’ll be performing security risk assessments; taking ownership over some of our SIEM platforms; conducting security and vulnerability research on systems; doing pentesting engagements; providing security consultation and advice to the campus and to my team; reducing technical debt through automation and optimization; engaging in forensic investigations; and whatever else comes my way. So far, there hasn’t been a question I haven’t been able to answer “can do!” to, and the team has been super awesome and welcoming. I feel right at home.

Although I’ll miss the engineers on my old team, I’m excited to make a meaningful and sizable positive impact on UC Merced in my new role, empowered by my new team and new management to succeed and trailblaze. My peers on other teams within the Office of Information Technology are likewise really happy to see me move to a new role on a new team where I can be empowered to succeed.


Last March, I debuted a Badger One proof-of-concept at HackMerced IX as the primary event management system. The system design and electrical engineering took quite a toll on me intellectually, and I’ve been meaning to pick it back up again to start iterating the final stages of the product to push to market. I’m probably going to be picking it up again in July, and my goal is to push it to market next autumn.

In May, I’ll be making a workshop out of my garage. I’m hoping to be able to turn that space into somewhere I can do messy work like 3D resin printing, some light woodworking, model railroading, and any tinkering that’s too dangerous to do in my room. I’ll be cleaning out the garage and putting in a workbench, some chairs, tables, and shelves. I’m really looking forward to starting that project.

In June, I’ll be starting an automated hydroponics garden. I gotta fix up the backyard and do some light landscaping to prepare the area since it’s currently unkempt and the land is uneven. I’m planning on installing a series of solar-powered sensors and actuators in order to automate the cultivation of crops as much as possible. Of course, I’ll be making all my source open and available, and I’m probably going to start a blog series about that. I’m really looking forward to this project since it’ll give me an opportunity to start learning how to grow plants. Plus, it’ll also give me an excuse to design embedded systems and write code again – something I haven’t had much to do with for weeks now.


There are a couple of hobbies and skills I’ve been focusing on, or have been meaning to focus on, recently. I’m hoping to be able to devote more time to these since my new job is hybrid, so I’m able to reclaim a lot of hours by saving on commute.

I’ve been meaning to get back into journaling. I sometimes reminisce about my high school years by dim lamplight late into the deep, cool summer or summer-adjacent late nights, journaling with my fountain pens and writing volumes of thoughts. I have dozens of volumes of journals and scrapbooks from those days – the days when I had more free time and freedom – because I cherish recollections of the memories I’ll one day lose. Perhaps I should find time in the current chapter of my life to pay the favor forward for my future self.

I’m currently picking up stenography. Yes, steno-graphy – not stegano-graphy! Stenography is a different way to type that enables stenographers to type at over 200 wpm with ease. There’s no particular reason why I’m picking it up besides amusement. Of course, I still get to benefit from the utility of just being able to type absurdly fast. Maybe my blog posts a year from now will be typed completely using stenography. I’ve been practicing for a few weeks now, and I’m currently only able to type very basic monosyllabic words at 25 wpm. Baby steps.

The belt in lockpicking I’ve held has been orange for too long. I was hoping to become a purple belt by now, but I’ve let my skills become rusty by just not nurturing them; it’s consistent development that leads to mastery, after all. I’m hoping to have some more time this summer to improve my lockpicking skills and level up my belts. I gotta get a vise and camera setup though as well as qualifying locks for those belts, though. Maybe I’ll be a black belt by this time next year!

I’m intending on getting back on HackTheBox,, and CryptoHack, as well as continuing to do CTFs. I wish I could spend all my time doing them but work and life and all my other hobbies and things I want to do have made me a bit withdrawn from the hacker community in recent times. I hope to remedy that now that I’m showing signs on pulling myself out of a depression. More specifically, I hope to be able to find time, motivation, and joy in authoring writeups again; it’s been a while since I’ve done that, and I’ve been inspired by seeing my friend’s consistent energy for authoring quality writeups.


I’ll be at BSidesSF and DEF CON 32 this year. I’m looking forward to spending some time with friends and mingling with more people in the hacker community. I’m very excited to see the new DEF CON venue: the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you’ll be there, I hope we’ll run into each other! I’ll be handing out some stickers to people I meet and hopefully have no more stickers by the end of the events.


I’ll be making some updates to my website in the next few days. I’m going to be updating all the text, fixing a few UI/UX issues, and adding a new section for independent research. I’ve been craving the days when I did research. Although I won’t have the sophistication or guidance of a well-funded and well-staffed lab, I’m hoping to be able to create a space for myself to ask questions, run experiments, and share my findings. It won’t be serious or anything – I’m not trying to get published in a journal and it sure as hell won’t be considered a reputable source – I just wanted something fun to do on my own.


Well, that’s what I’ve been up to and what I’ll soon-to-be up to. I’ll see you again next week. Until then,

Happy hacking!