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DevCentral Top5 11/06/2009

While ramping up for "The Next Big Thing" continues amongst the DC staff, there is much to talk about in regards to content that's happening in the here and now, not just in the eagerly awaited future (with jet-packs and stuff…). DevCentral has seen its share of cool content this week, as it does every week, so let's talk about what needs talking about. Bringing you everything from TCL strings to a philosophical discussions of when vs. where and which is more important, I'm here with my Top5 picks for the week. And here they are:


When Is More Important Than Where in Web Application Security

In this post Lori was as insightful and informative as ever, discussing why being timely is more important, in general, than being perfect when it comes to application security. It's a pretty simple concept to me. When it comes right down to it, no one really cares where you solve a security problem, they care about when you solve it. It's well and good that you want to argue that things should be solved at the app layer vs. the WAF, but if I can provide a solution in 10 long is it going to take you to patch every single application for even a miniscule security flaw? I agree just as much with Lori's reminder that WAF and app security models shouldn't compete. They are complimentary in the war against attacks, not mutually exclusive, and should be treated as such.

Every time someone tries to tell you which method is more "proper" or "correct", though, I'd ask them just how much they care about being proper in very real terms. How much is it worth in terms of hours (or days) of their application being exposed? At what point is it worth trading 20, 40, 120 hours of being exposed to a known exploit for an ounce of being "proper", which is already debatable at best, as opposed to getting the fix in place in a fraction of the time? Lori being insightful and informative isn't anything new. She knew she had a solid point to make and I tend to agree. What she didn't know was just how timely she was in setting the stage for her point to be illustrated, but we'll get to that in a moment. They call that foreshadowing, I think. I can tell you're on pins and needles.


20 Lines or Less #31 - Traffic shaping, header re-writing, and TLS renegotiation

Behold, your suspense is relieved! I unveil before your very eyes the payoff to Lori's unintentional setting of the stage. But how, you ask, does the 20LoL tie in with the When vs. Where of App Security? Via the much discussed TLS renegotiation vulnerability that has been burning up the net, of course. When a security measure as deeply rooted and common as TLS encryption is found to be susceptible to attacks, there is much to talk about, and talk they have. It turns out that via a man in the middle attack would-be ne'er-do-wells have the potential to insert information into a renegotiated SSL connection. This is very bad. What's very good, however, is that a user from the DevCentral community drafted a simple fix, at least in their deployment, the very next day. That's the power of iRules. Agility at its very finest, if I've ever seen it. We could debate all day where the best place, technically speaking, to implement the fix is. Or we could just fix it in about 10 minutes of coding and another 30 minutes of testing, and be done with it. That's just one of the rules in the 20LoL, of course. There are two more very cool examples of iRules doing the cool things they do in less than 21 lines of code. Check them out.


iRules 101 - #16 - Parsing Strings with the TCL Scan Command

Jason digs into the amazingly powerful yet often overlooked scan command in his latest contribution to the iRules 101 series. The scan command has some pretty staggeringly powerful capabilities to parse strings in an ultra efficient manner. It takes a little getting used to but it's definitely a command that has potential beyond what's obvious at first glance. Jason does a good job of breaking down some of the options and giving clear examples of not only the command itself but how you might use it in the context of an iRule. Very cool stuff, and worth a read for any current or would be iRulers out there.


Operations Manager Debugging Part I: Top 10 Tools for Developing and Debugging Management Packs

You've been hearing a lot about the Management Pack lately. That's not likely to change, especially if they keep putting out not only consistent, timely releases with new features, but awesome documentation and commentary along the way. Case in point, Joel Hendrickson put up a blog post this week about his Top 10 favorite tools for the kind of debugging he ends up doing often times as a member of that team. Whether or not you're directly involved with the Management Pack, this is a very cool list. It's interesting to see him walk through each tool, what it does and in some cases how he uses them. I'm always a sucker for hearing a geek talk about … well … being a geek, and that's just what Joel's up to in this informative post. Take a look for all your code debugging needs.


pyControl Just as Happy on Linux

In response to the many questions asking about pyControl and whether or not it's viable as a Linux solution to iControl programming, Jason put together this tidy little post that not only answers the question (yes, by the way), but shows you just how to get started. This was a cool reminder to me not only of how awesome the pyControl project is, but of just how easy it can be to get started digging into iControl and all the cool things that it can do. With just a few commands, outlined in Jason's post, you can have an environment up and running, ready to start developing. I'm even more excited to see what's coming in pyControl2, whenever I get a chance to play with that. But that's a post for another day.


There you have it, five picks for this week that you just really should not miss. As always, don't be shy with your feedback, and check out previous versions here:


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More Stories By Colin Walker

Coming from a *Nix Software Engineering background, Colin is no stranger to long hours of coding, testing and deployment. His personal experiences such as on-stage performance and the like have helped to foster the evangelist in him. These days he splits his time between coding, technical writing and evangalism. He can be found on the road to just about anywhere to preach the good word about ADCs, Application Aware networking, Network Side Scripting and geekery in general to anyone that will listen.

Colin currently helps manage and maintain DevCentral ( He is also a contributor in many ways, from Articles to Videos to numerous forum posts, to iRules coding and whatever else he can get his hands on that might benefit the community and allow it to continue to grow.

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