Security Pie

The ramblings of three security curmudgeons

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Luxury blinks

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The wine industry (as we are told) is in crisis. At a recent conference (Vino2010 in New York) a group of panelists discussed the future of luxury wine (see the excellent read at I, for one, am happy. Prices are falling. Not neccessarily for the uber wines, but very decidedly for anything else. I can walk into wine shops and pick up decent wines that in 2006 were asking for very unreasonable prices.

It is a buyers market, and picking the wrong wine is no longer a very costly mistake. It literally take me back to the 90′s, right before (and perhaps as) the asian and US markets conspired to jack up the prices of wines. Now that both the Asians and Americans lost their funding sources, they stopped paying exorbitantly for wine.

This is so good. The bubble has funded extensive knowhow in wines. How to extract as blockbuster a wine as possible from newly planted berries: and make a killing in the process. So there are many great wines out there. And they have no buyers, so some great ones sell for 30c on the dollar. Their future prospect is questionable: They may fold, they may redo their business model, who knows. But for now, run out and get them!

Now I do have to watch the calories, though…

Written by assafl

February 11th, 2010 at 10:28 am

New Alphabet Soup

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In a high-tech job (but also any other job) change requires to learn the new lingo. Like Obama, I like the change. I consider this fun (and I WILL change the world)

While I’m waiting for Assaf to create the next-gen soup, here is the partial list of abbreviations and their meaning I have to learn. In some cases, it takes me 20+ years in time…

Eat this alphabet soup to get  success

  • AUI : Attachment Unit Interface, originally connected to a MAU
  • MAU : Medium Attachment Unit, like a 10Base-2 transceiver.
  • XAUI : A 10G AUI, the X is the Roman numeral for 10; Data path is 4×3.125Gbps Lanes
  • XLAUI : A 40G AUI, XL being the Roman numeral for 40; Data path is 4×10.3.125Gbps Lanes
  • CAUI: A 100G AUI, C (you guessed it) being the Roman numeral for 100; Data path is 10×10.3125Gbps Lanes
  • MII : Medium Independent Interface, 4bit wide data path.
  • RMII : Reduced MII, the MII but with less signals!
  • SMII : Serial MII, the data path is reduced to one bit.
  • GMII : Gigabit MII, 8bit wide data path.
  • RGMII : Reduced Gigabit MII.
  • SGMII :  Serial Gigabit MII.
  • XGMII : 10G MII (this time the G made it in).
  • XGXS : XGMII eXtender Sublayer.
  • XLGMII : 40G MII.
  • CGMII : 100G MII.
  • MAC : Media Access Controller.
  • PLS : Physical Layer Signaling; for 10Mbps only, implemented the Manchester encoding.
  • RS : Reconciliation Sublayer.
  • PCS : Physical Coding Sublayer; e.g. 8B/10B.
  • MLD : Multi Lane Distribution
  • PMA :  Physical Medium Attachment.
  • PMD : Physical Medium Dependant.
  • IPG : Inter Packet Gap; Code words sent between valid Ethernet Frames.

See also the Broadcom glossary of terms.

Written by sharon

January 21st, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Posted in Food

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Confidence (The Other Approach to Risk Management)

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I have a passion for Risk Management. In my opinion it does not matter if one is managing information security or financial risk. If we watch closely we see that the financial guys aren’t the best risk managers (Assaf wrote about it many times…). One of less touched areas of risk management is related to food safety. Sure, there are plenty of regulations and mandates as well as different agencies including the CDC, FDA, USDA just to name a few, but overall there are too many health issues with food.

Take sprouts. Those harmless looking, healthy food are known to cause health issues.  According to this article:

Between 1996 and 2005, raw or slightly cooked sprouts have caused an estimated 1,636 cases of illness, or 40 percent of all food- borne illness associated with produce, according to the FDA. Though the number of cases has dropped substantially since 1999 due to stepped-up decontamination attempts by the industry, federal regulators say the current push is necessary because sprouts–a favorite among health-food enthusiasts–still pose a measure of risk to consumers.

Years later, we are still facing food- borne illness associated with sprouts.

Just recently the FDA and the CDC advised people not to eat raw alfalfa sprouts after at least 31 people were sickened by Salmonella Saintpaul infection.  According to the FDA, an investigation shows that the problem may be linked to contamination of seeds for alfalfa sprouts.

The FDA and the CDC note that suspect lots of seeds may be sold around the country and may account for a large proportion of the alfalfa seeds being used by sprout growers, and cases of illness are spread across multiple states.

Even my favorite grocers, Trader Joe had to recall my favorite Nature’s Choice Alfalfa Sprouts.

But now, we can all rest assure.  They always test the product. Where were you during the Salmonella outbreak?


March 2 2008 – It has been confirmed that Trader Joe’s are recalling plastic containers of sprouts due to them possibly being contaminated with salmonella bacteria. The recall was announced 1 day after sprout growers reported that bulk shipments of sprouts maybe contaminated.
The company, based in California has stated that they have not received any reports of people becoming sick from eating the contaminated vegetable.
The product is “Nature’s Choice Alfalfa Sprouts” sold in tubs at Trader Joe’s stores in California and five other western states, and has expiration dates of March 9 or earlier.
The sprouts were packed into their plastic containers by J.H. Caldwell and Sons warehouse in Maywood, L.A.
Consumers are being urged not to eat any of the effected product and to throw it away.
The recalled product codes are 202182, 202192, 202202, 202212, 202222, 202232, 202242, 202252, 202262 and 202272. The code is printed on the side of the containers and on the back of the plastic bag.

The point I’d like to make is that risk management is a never-ending story process. One should understand the associated vulnerabilities (e.g. sprouts can contain Salmonella) review the business process and add the necessary controls (e.g. test for Salmonella), adding compensating controls if necessary.

At least now I have more confidence. I know that they ARE testing. Good to know.

Written by sharon

July 28th, 2009 at 11:46 am


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One of the best things I like the most about living in Silicon Valley is the opportunity to explore so many cultures and different behaviors. Working with great people from all over the world I can learn to see myself in different light. The other day I made a comment about acting more aggressively in a specific area to achieve a business goal.  Then, someone send me the following note:

Act more aggressively than normal? ;) We are Israeli based after all! LOL

Speaking of which…when I went to Jaffa during my last trip, I tried several times to walk into some basic “deli” type places that looked like they had amazing food. At each one it sounded like the guy was yelling at me in Hebrew but I couldn’t understand the menu… they “yelled at me” and motioned for me to get out of the way so the next person could order. I was intimidated and eventually walked out of each one until I got back to the hotel…  It was quite funny!

I know what he was talking about…

Written by sharon

June 3rd, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Food,identity,Travel

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Swine, Pistachios, Alfalfa

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The government is now asking people to avoid eating raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends that contain alfalfa sprouts, because of possible salmonella contamination.  According to the FDC press release, 

Initial investigation results trace the contaminated raw alfalfa sprouts to multiple sprout growers in multiple states. This suggests a potential problem with the seeds used, as well as the possible failure of the sprout growers involved to appropriately and consistently follow the FDA Sprout Guidance issued in 1999 . The guidance recommends an effective seed disinfection treatment immediately before the start of sprouting.

To me, this whole issue sounds like a classic case of malfunction with the risk management process: I’m not an expert in food safety, but I know few things about risk management. From reading the last reports, it looks like someone in the FDA should start to enforce better controls on food manufacturers.  We can’t change our diet because someone forgot to read a manual from 1999. 

Written by sharon

April 27th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Green Coffee

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Drinking coffee for a good cause… 


Well, if you believe everything you read on the internet. According to the Guardian, Coffee is next in line as biofuel source: 

Coffee grounds — currently wasted or used as garden compost — could become a cheap and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel and fuel pellets….. Scientists at the US-based University of Nevada, Reno, used an inexpensive process to extract oil from the leftovers of making espressos, cappuccinos and other coffee preparations from a multinational coffeehouse chain.

Great, now I need to watch for the coffee machine and thieves.

Written by sharon

February 6th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Food

Tagged with


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So yesterday we went for dinner at The French Laundry, an upscale restaurant located in Yountville in Napa valley. It is widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world, and definitively the best in the bay area. It was an exquisite dinner, with great company, good wine*, and excellent food.

And the most interesting dish just happened to be on the Vegetable Tasting menu. Very interesting indeed.

Hmmm. Delectable meal. Hmmm.

 It was a dish labelled: Chickpea “Croquette” – Sweet Peppers, English Cucumbers, Sesame Seed Yogurt and Eggplant Confit. Now Larousse Gastronomique defines a croquette as a “small savoury or sweet preparation…… Croquettes are shaped into corks, sticks, balls or rechtangles. They are usually coated with breadcrumbs, plunged into very hot oil and fried until they are crisp and golden…”.

So why is a Chickpea “Croquette” interesting to a group of Israelis eating at the French Laundry?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by assafl

November 17th, 2008 at 9:09 pm