Preparing to Teach

August 31, 2010

Giving presentations or talks can seem like a daunting task and many struggle with how to get started. There are a couple of techniques I have developed over the years that help me get off the starting block. The first and most important for me is to set aside the PowerPoint in favor of good old fashion pen and paper. When researching for a brand new class, I start by brainstorming and just jotting notes onto a pad. The following graphic is from a single page of notes as I was preparing to teach a class called “Even Geeks Can Speak”.

After I have reached a point where I think I have enough (or way) too much material, I will then start breaking what I have found into topic blocks. Again, pen and paper work for me.

This gives me a good visual on different areas I can cover and a good starting point for organizing my thoughts as I start to develop my slides and student material. Using the topics, I can then create topic slides in PowerPoint. In the example below, I used a large red circle to make the topic stand out.

These topic slides will eventually be hidden from the actual presentation but as I put the class together, I can easily scan and edit my topics.

As you can probably see from the slide examples, I shy away from using bullets in my presentations. In upcoming blog posts, I will expand on how good clean and simple visuals can be used to make your presentations “pop”.



DSI (Digital Summit International) 2010

August 31, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the 1st annual, DSI conference, in Las Vegas Nevada a couple of weeks ago. With the exception of the 114 degree temp outside (I know, it’s a dry heat) the conference was a blast. Great guest speakers and a very good vendor showing made for an enjoyable, educational experience. The conference organizers, Dorothy, Jake and Dave bent over backwards to make sure everyone was taken care of. The talent that was in attendance, both in guest speakers and students was fantastic and I spent a couple of long evenings just talking and getting to know some really good people in the audio / video arena.

I can’t wait until next year!



exFAT 1.5

June 1, 2010

Additional information available in embedded tables.


PDF Reports – Part II

May 21, 2010

Continued from PDF Reports posted earlier, I decided put together a graphic of what it is I’m trying to accomplish with the Acrobat Portfolio (container) project. The below graphic depicts a workflow were the main analyst report and associated supporting documents are all contained within the Portfolio. All the exhibits, which would be generated by the various computer forensic software programs, would remain outside the container connected by a link from the main Exhibit report. The next flow chart I am working on will graphically show how all the documents would be hosted within the Portfolio container

Thanks – Steve

By the way, on a side note, I made this graphic using Goggles new “Drawing” program. Easy to use but fairly simplistic at this point (as apposed using Photoshop 🙂


Upcoming Engagements

May 20, 2010

I’ll be presenting the material found in the exFAT paper at:

Summerlin, Nevada
26 May, 2010 1400 hrs
* This will include a hands on exercise throughout the presentation to help illustrate the behavior of the files system.

SANS Forensic and Incident Response Summit 2010
Washington, DC
9 July, 2010 1050 hrs
* This will be co-presented with Robert Schullich, ISO



CS5 64-Bit and Plug-Ins

May 7, 2010

I installed CS5 this past weekend. So far, so very good. The noise removal and the HDR improvements are significant. More on this later but just wanted to give a heads up for Mac users going from CS4 to CS5. One of the biggest improvements is the 64-bit support. My very unscientific tests so far have impressed me with the speed of the application. The item of note is that CS5 installs by default to 64-bit, which means you may loose some of your plug-ins. I have little doubt companies making various plug-ins will soon support Photoshop in 64-bit mode but in the mean time, if you want use of your plug-ins, you will have to change CS5 to start in 32-bit mode. You can do this by navigating to the Application folder>Adobe Photoshop CS5 and then Control-clicking on the Adobe Photoshop CS5 application. Click on “Get Info”. Click on the radio button to have the application open in 32-bit mode.

Hope this helps – Steve


PDF Reports

April 30, 2010

I have been working for the past couple of days on creating a good, easy to use reporting system using PDF. For years now, I have been using an html report that when opened looks like a web page and from the main report you can easily navigate to the exhibits, list of the media examined and a glossary of terms. Works well but PDF files offer far more security. A digital signature can be added to all the pages, including the exhibits as well as the ability to lock down your files so they can’t be copied or printed.

I have been testing this option out since v7 of Adobe Acrobat. I stopped testing v7 when I found the links in my reports were dropped from the second layer down. Even though I could re-create the links by hand in Acrobat, it wasn’t very practical when you had hundreds of files to re-link. Testing on v8 indicated they had fixed this problem and preliminary tests showed all my links stayed in place. My problem now was end user, ease of use. Not all of the agents or detectives I was supporting were as comfortable with navigating hundreds of files in a PDF window. One of the main reasons I used html reports is because it was for the end user, it was very simple and easy to navigate. Not so much with this pdf report as I was finding they usually got lost after following the various links.

Along comes Adobe v9 and Portfolio. Basically, Portfolio lets you create a container that gives a very nice graphical front end and interface to your PDF reports. A home button and full path display let the user find where they are at during any time of the viewing process.

I’m still in the early stages of learning and testing but it looks promising. The only problem I have had so far is the same problem I had during testing of v7 in that my links are being dropped on conversion to PDF. The only thing I’m doing differently during this test is that I am using a Mac and Mac version of Adobe Acrobat. I am throwing this early testing out there to see if anyone else has tried this and how it has worked for them. I plan on continuing my testing on both the Mac and Windows platform and will re-post my findings.

Hope this helps – Steve

Portfolio Editor

Layout Options

Welcome and Header Editor (for Splash Screen)

What user sees when they open the Portfolio