Who Am I?

TL;DR

I'm Khürt Williams, born in the Caribbean paradise of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which became its own nation in 1979. My early years were an island-hopping adventure through the West Indies, thanks to my father's banking career. This diverse cultural tapestry shaped me into a proud West Indian, with a special fondness for Antigua and Bequia. Emigrating to the US in 1986 for university, I eventually became a US citizen in 1992. I'm a craft ale enthusiast, preferring local breweries over mainstream options, and an information security professional with a deep dive into blogging, web development, and photography. My family is my bedrock, having lost my father in 2019 but supported by my mother, wife, and two children. My career journey, from multimedia R&D to leading my own security consultancy, reflects my passion for technology and security. A self-taught programmer and Apple geek, I cherish my early days of computing, leading to my current expertise. Photography, a lifelong passion, captures the essence of my observations, while my love for science fiction and comics fuels my imagination.

Longer

1966 I was born in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Saint. Vincent and the Grenadines became an independent nation from the United Kingdom on 27 October 1979, at which point I became a citizen of an actual country for the first time in my life.

 Khürt Williams
Khürt, Bequia, circa 1972

My father, Cooper Williams, was a banker, and following his career path, we moved around between the islands. During that time, I lived in a few other West Indian islands, including Saint Lucia and Barbados, where my baby brother was born, and Antigua & Barbuda, where I spend my early teenage years. We could easily travel and live between these island nations because of their membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Khurt, Shane and Bruce, Bequia |

My early childhood (the mid-1960s to early 1970s) was between a rented home in New Montrose in Kingstown, St. Vincent, and the Barclays Bank house in Port Elizabeth, Bequia. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in La Pompe.

I don’t recall the dates, but we lived in Castries, St. Lucia, for a few years before I turned 11. In the late '70s and early '80s, I lived in Antigua and Barbuda during my early teenage years. In 1983, my family moved back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where I finished high school and completed my O-levels and A-levels at the St. Vincent Grammar School. For a few months, we also lived on Saint Kitts and Nevis. I experienced a different West Indian culture on each island, influencing who I am today. I consider myself West Indian with no particular allegiance to any island1, although I have a sweet spot in my heart for Antigua and Bequia. My family emigrated from St. Vincent & The Grenadines to Flushing, Queens, in 1986 to attend university, and I became a citizen of the United States of America in 1992.

Khürt Williams
Khürt and Shane | 1972 | Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner

I love drinking craft ale and freshly brewed coffee. I buy fresh beans from a local organic fair trade retailer and brew at home every few days. I grind the beans myself and brew using either a French Press or Chemex pour over with an Able Kone filter. I don’t drink Starbucks.

There are two excellent craft ale breweries within 15-20 minutes in the local traffic of my home. Between Troon Brewing and Flounder Brewing, I am privileged to have some highly-rated New England style IPA, American Pale ales, and porters. Conclave Brewing is a little further out is Conclave Brewing, which makes super delicious, and The Referend Bier Blendery, which produces spontaneously fermented ales in the Belgian tradition. I don’t drink Budweiser, and I rarely buy retail.

I’m an information security professional, Apple geek, web developer, and avid photographer. This weblog is where I share my incoherent and random thoughts and rants about technology, photography, coffee, diabetes, and life. I started blogging regularly around October 2001, bouncing between platforms (Radio Userland, Blogger, Moveable Type, etc..) before settling on WordPress circa 2004. I taught myself to build Linux servers, compile Apache and OpenSSL web servers from source code, and install and configure MySQL. All because of my desire to make secure and high-performance WordPress websites. I taught myself PHP and JavaScript to complement my Perl website development work.

Family

I lost my father in 2019 to Lewy Body Dementia. Mom is retired and living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She relishes the beautiful weather and the companionship of her friends and family.

In 1996, I married my college sweetheart. Together, we've raised two children to adulthood. My eldest, a Rutgers University graduate, lives at home, while my youngest, having completed her Master's degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is now married.

Career

Since beginning my career in 1994, my first few years were dedicated to multimedia research and development in low-bit rate video encoding at the David Sarnoff Research Center. I also engaged in intion and full-st systems integration web application development consulting in the ensuing years. As a consultant, I worked with various clients2 from 1998 to 2002. I developed web applications for various financial and pharmaceutical companies during this period, using technologies like Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP, PostgreSQL, JavaScript, jQuery, C and C++.

In 2002, I pivoted towards application and systems security. My expertise expanded to include vulnerability management, penetration testing, log management, security awareness training, security architecture and design, identity and access management, governance risk, compliance, and internal advisory roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Since 2013, I have led my independent consultancy, Monkey Hill, LLC, specialising in security architecture. I've conducted security architecture assessments for notable clients2.

Computers and Programming Languages

My computing journey began with a Commodore VIC-20 in 1981, a birthday gift from my dad. It progressed through various platforms: Commodore 64 (1983), DOS PC (1986), Windows PC (1990), UNIX/SunOS/Solaris (1992), Linux (1994), and finally Apple Macintosh (2005). I spent countless hours mastering Commodore BASIC on my VIC-20 before moving on to the Commodore 64. My first DOS PC came at Drew University in 1986, followed by a Windows PC at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1990. At the University of Michigan in 1992, I discovered UNIX, sparking an everlasting love. In 1994, I assembled my first Linux server using Slackware floppy disks. My Apple journey started with a Mac mini in 2005, seduced by its blend of a user-friendly GUI and a Unix OS foundation. This led to acquiring a MacBook, an iPod Touch, and an iMac. I discarded the MacBook after buying the iMac. I favoured a standard keyboard, mouse, more powerful CPUs and larger screen. The iPad's 2010 release was irresistible, followed by an iPhone in 2012 and an Apple TV. In 2022, I switched out the iMac for a Mac Studio and Studio Display.

While the iPad is my primary portable device, the Mac Studio is indispensable for photo editing. As an app enthusiast, I frequently review iOS and OS apps on this blog.

I have also engaged in Raspberry Pi projects, enjoying its status as the smallest and most affordable Linux server I've ever owned.

I started with Commodore BASIC in 1981, learned Pascal in 1986 during a Drew University computer science course, and taught myself awk/sed/bash in 1992 and Perl in 1997, followed by PHP in 2001 and JavaScript in 2002. I took Java and Objective C courses in 2001 and 2010 but didn't use either language. While I still write small scripts in bash, Perl and Python, I last wrote code professionally in 2013.

Science Fiction

I've always been passionate about science fiction, particularly cyberpunk, though I don't often discuss it on my blog. My site's name, Island in the Net, is inspired by Bruce Sterling's 1988 novel, "Islands in the Net." This story, filled with data pirates, mercenaries, nanotechnology, and post-millennial voodoo, envisions a future where the Internet can overthrow governments and shape history. I find its foresight remarkable.

Superhero comics and graphic novels were a big part of my life growing up. My younger brother and I amassed an extensive collection of Action Comics, DC, and Marvel Comics. I still treasure a small collection of DC graphic novels. My love for Japanese animation began in graduate school, leading me to attend my first FREE "not a con(vention) convention" in 1994, hosted by Animania, the Japanese Animation Film Society at the University of Michigan.

These days, I find myself drawn more to the immediacy of streaming television than reading novels.

Photography

My photography adventures started circa 1987 when I took a fine art photography course at Drew University. I bought my first 35mm film camera, a Pentax P3 with an SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2 lens. I started "abusing" Kodachrome, Ilford HP5, and Tri-X Pan 35mm film. I developed my negatives and made prints in the campus darkroom. At that time, I sheepishly admit I shot anything and everything. I put the camera away during my graduate school years and didn't pick it up again until 1999, when Shaan was born. I bought a Sony DSC-S70 digital point-n-shoot camera in 2000 when I realised how much we spent developing and making prints of Shaan's early years. I didn't approach photography seriously until 2006 when I bought a Nikon D40 and kit lens. I had exhausted what was possible on my point-n-shoot digital camera. I strongly desired to learn the basics of exposure and composition. I stuck with Nikon, upgrading to new bodies every few years, until 2018, when I could no longer resist the lustful 1970s retro design of the Fuji X series cameras.

Just before the pandemic, I pulled out my Pentax, shot a 35mm Kodak Ektar 100 and Ilford HP5+ cartridge, and realised I missed some aspects of film photography. It mainly was nostalgia for my early childhood days provoked by the passing of my father. He and his older brother Clifford were avid photographers. During the pandemic, I bought a few 1970s-era Minolta cameras and lenses and started exposing new and old film stock. I initially sent the cartridges off for developing and scanning. Eventually, I bought a scanner to reduce cost. The film photography hobby is much more expensive than digital.

I photograph mostly street scenes, landscapes and wildlife, especially birds. I'm an avid photographer, and if the weather suits me, I spend my free time outside, increasing my knowledge of landscape and wildlife photography. I prefer natural light, but I'm comfortable shooting anything that interests me: documentary photography, long-exposure photography, architecture, and bird photography. I do almost all of my editing and exporting from my Mac. As far as gear goes, I use a few cameras and lenses:

  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • Fujifilm X-T3 digital ILC
  • Minolta XD-11 35mm film SLR
  • Nikon N2020

Most of my images are shot with the Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 R WR, Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lenses and Fujinon XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR lenses or a small collection of 35mm manual focus lenses.

  • MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2
  • MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7
  • MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8
  • Asahi SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4
  • Asahi SMC Takumar 5mm f/2

Auto-immune diseases

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Type 1 (LADA) diabetes, an autoimmune condition. I'm adapting to this life with an insulin pump and GCMS. I sometimes share articles on my diabetes technology.

In 2018, I was diagnosed with Graves' thyroid disease, a type of hyperthyroidism and in 2019, with Grave's eye disease. Living with it was tough, leading to a thyroidectomy at the year's end. Despite this, Graves' disease continued to impact my eyes, necessitating orbital decompression surgery a year later.

History

I remember attending a presentation on open-source software by Richard Stallman. I remember getting my first computer, a Commodore VIC20. I remember learning Commodore (Microsoft) BASIC and writing my first video game. I remember when I upgraded to the Commodore 64 and floppy storage. I remember getting my first IBM-compatible DOS PC, an Epson with one floppy disk and a green CRT monitor. I remember buying and installing a 2400 baud modem to dial into the bulletin board system (BBS). I remember using WordPerfect to write all my term papers. I remember learning Pascal and writing my first text editor.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 433 other subscribers.

  1. Oh. I have to admit I have a special place in my heart for the islands of the Grenadines, especially Bequia. 
  2. See my LinkedIn profile for details. 

6 thoughts on “Who Am I?”

  1. I think the bigger issue is that it’s commonly known that Elseiver and others are essentially minting money and not adding as much value to the process for what they receive. They could afford to drastically cut their prices and still make more than comfortable margins while creating more competition and innovation in the space. Their business model is a complicated tangle that includes non-disclosure agreements to University subscribers preventing them from discussing their rates with their peers to prevent better competition. A quick web search on the topic should unearth loads of articles and even government testimonies about their (and other major publishers’) competitive and problematic business practices.

  2. The tough part is working together to narrow down the shows that you watch (and share) together. It’s never as much fun when you watch one thing while your significant other is watching something else somewhere else.

Comments are closed.