June 28, 2012

A Couple of Things While I'm Thinking About It

Firstly  1Password is having a sale for the next week.  In honor of Canada and US Independence Days, they are giving all buyers a 30% discount.  If you've been on the fence about whether or not to use a password safe, check them out.  They are on Mac (desktop and iOS) and Windows.

****

I had been meaning to read this article from Ars Technica for a few days now.  I finally got to it and it's excellent.

The highly productive habits of Alan Turing

If you get to number 4 you will see he was the original GTD man. 

We were lucky to have him for a time and he made the world a much better place.  We should have had him around for years longer.

***
That's it for now. 

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June 26, 2012

Out of Chocolate

The title about says it all. I mean, how do I run out of chocolate? It's not like I don't go past the store every day. You'd think it would be easy to remember. But no, I only think about it when I'm in my kitchen looking in the cupboard. Yes, I need a GTD list for my kitchen. All I have to do is make the tiny effort to enter the item on my iphone. Maybe if I had Siri...

***

Colorado is in the midst of a huge wildfire. Here's a photo that has been tweeted several times tonight. Very scary. I hear they are evacuating the Air Force Academy students. Send prayers or good vibes or any other thoughts and well wishes their way. They could use it.

***

Once again I am astounded at the number of bruises I get while out sailing. I have no idea what I do to get these, but there they are. My arms and legs look like they've gone a few rounds in a karate tournament... I haven't done that for years.

***
So college football will finally have playoffs in 2014.  I'm waiting for everyone to start complaining about that too.

***
Now here's one way to be sure any intelligent life forms will give us a very wide berth.

Your Tweets to be beamed across space.

Yeah... if you've ever looked at the public twitter stream and all your brain cells did not immediately commit suicide, you might think this would be a good thing.

Yes, I tweet. That doesn't mean I think it's a good way to get in touch with any alien life out in the great beyond. If they ever figured out what the hell it all was, they would either kill us all immediately or completely ignore us.

***

Aw - gee... seems like "scientists are just like us"

Math is tough for scientists too.

Who writes this stuff? Us magazine?

***
In MA we've had a baby bear who really loves the Greater Boston and Cape Cod area.

Wandering Bear Caught Again

He's even got a twitter account (of course!) 

@BearSwimmer

***

And let's end on yet another idiocy perpetrated by Facebook.

Looks like FB once again pulls a fast one.

Facebook Changed Everyone’s Email to @Facebook.com; Here’s How to Fix Yours

I'm not sure why they thought it would be okay to not only change contact emails but also publish those email addresses to people's fb pages even if they had the original email hidden. 

***

I think that's all the excitement I can take for one night.

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June 20, 2012

Because Everyone Should Read This

Yes, you heard me - everyone.  Go read... but be sure you are somewhere you can laugh like a lunatic in privacy.  Yes... it might be a good idea or they'll be calling out the guys with the hug-me jackets to come get you.  Oh and one more thing - a box of tissues would not be amiss.  I did laugh until I cried. 

Damn the Euphemisms and Full Speed Ahead


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Got a Smart Phone?

The latest and greatest scare tactic to part you from your money is now hitting smart phones.

Beware Scare Tactics for Mobile Security Apps

Okay you read it right? Well, stop here, go read... I'll wait.

Now you skimmed it, you saw the word "android", and decided it's not a problem because you have an iphone...

Here's the deal. This is being served up via the browser.  This means it could hit your phone or tablet no matter which mobile platform you use, no matter what sites your browse.  Yes, "good" sites have ads and reputable sites have served up malware ads.

It's a scam of course. Please do not click on anything, do not give them any info, especially credit card info!  But you don't even want to give them your email address.  Hijackers should get nothing from their efforts.

With an iphone you can shrink it to a tile and then close it. Not sure what the android platform offers but would assume something similar.

If you read down in the article, Brian has more tips for safe browsing on your smart phone (which includes all tablets). I agree with him. You have to be thinking when you are browsing. Using your brain is the best way to keep crapware off your systems period.

Better yet, go read this

Krebs’s 3 Basic Rules for Online Safety

He's a smart guy and he knows what he's talking about.  It's worth a few minutes of your time to read these articles as they may save you hours of grief later. 

Happy surfing - mobile or otherwise.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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June 19, 2012

Authenticate Yourself - with slight updatey goodness

Authentication - Part 1

I've been dragging my feet on this for quite a while (over a year which is quite a bit of time).  Today I finally set up Two Factor Authentication on my Google account. 

When it was first introduced, I was waiting to see if it would all go wrong.  After all, new stuff fails all the time in unexpected ways.  Then after a while I was simply paranoid and figured I didn't have time to unwind the mess if I locked myself out of my own email.  Thus I let it ride and ride. heh. 

Of course I'm not at a hugely high risk of having my account compromised.  I don't log in from public terminals.  I don't use the same password everywhere. I don't do any app that wants my email password to "tell all my friends".   Yada, Yada, Yada.  It doesn't make me totally safe, but safer than a goodly number of people.

Then I would forget about it because it was too fatiguing to keep trying to remember it.  For some reason something reminded me today and I decided to look into it more closely.  It looks simple enough... but I'm always looking for the catch. The thing I will forget until I get into the middle of something and suddenly I'm stuck. 

I watched the video a couple of times and then took the plunge.  And... it all worked beautifully. I have to say I was shocked. 

The premise, for those who don't know: you log in with your username/password then you get a second screen and have to enter a special 6 character number sent to you by google.  You can have google either send this number to you via a text message or they can call and give it to you via a voice message.  (there is a time limit of course so you have to be ready to enter the number when you get it).

Once you are logged into the website portion, you can set up a special password for any of your applications that need to access google - so Outlook, Mail.app, Picasa, iphone mail, ipad mail, etc etc.  They go over all of it.  The only surprise was the G+ app on my iphone - that actually does the Two Factor Auth instead of the special password.

They even give you special numbers you can print and save them for an emergency.  If you need to get things changed but don't have your phone or you're traveling in a foreign country that kind of thing.  

Last of all, if you have a smart phone, they have an app that will generate these numbers with or without an internet connection. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not... can't decide since it's fairly easy to lose your phone.

However, this makes it very easy to de-authorize a phone or tablet or laptop if it is lost. 

So I would give this a "yes" if you have a google account.  Watch the video a couple of times. Have your cell phone with you (or your landline if you want to do a voice number - you are not supposed to use google voice for this!!!).  And turn it on.  You do have to reauthorize your home computer for web access every 30 days, but this is far better than trying to get help from google if your account is compromised.  The apps do not need to be reauthorized unless there is a problem.

*** UPDATE: when setting up a mail program, hang onto the password they give you until you have done a test send/receive of an email.  With gmail you have to authenticate to get mail and to send mail so make sure you've done both and saved the password in both places or you'll have to go back, revoke the current password and do it all again. Just a minor annoyance.

***

Authentication - Part 2

Here's an iphone tip I just heard recently.  I can't remember where (drat - because I like to give kudos to people who have good tips!)

Using the simple passcode of a 4 character pin is pretty trivial to overcome, but who wants to be typing in a long passcode on that bitty keyboard?  Next best thing on an iphone (and who knows it might work on androids too).  Go into Passcode Lock in your settings. Turn off the Simple Passcode.  Now when you turn on the Passcode Lock, go to the numbers and enter a number longer than 4 characters.  That's it.  When you go to unlock the phone, it will give you only the number pad because you only entered numbers.... just more than 4.  It's marginally safer than the simplest of passcodes and easier to type too.

Those are today's safety tips.  FWIW.

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June 15, 2012

This and That for the Weekend

File this under: Ick!

Of Lap Dogs and Lattes

****
If you have 18 minutes, here is an outstanding TED talk by Mikko Hypponen a very highly respected computer security guy. I understand his frustration with trying to take down the culprits, I don't think we'll see a world wide effort at any time in the near future. However, this is great stuff to know about and it's a fun presentation too (a few blasts from the past)



****
I saw this headline

Officials probing gas spill in Boston

And I got this picture in my head of a bunch of guys crouching around a puddle of gasoline on the ground, poking it with pencils. Sorry, couldn't resist.

****
Because who wants a robot that breaks when it crashes?

Insect-inspired flying robot smacks panes sans pain

That's right, soon we'll have flying robots that can hit stuff then get up and fly again.  What could possibly go wrong?

***

That's it for now. Time to start the weekend!  Have a great one.

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June 14, 2012

Patchy - Patchy

Microsoft has released its monthly patches.  Java has released a huge patch recently (I found I did need to keep Java on my machines because of a printer that uses it - irritating).  Also Adobe Flash has updated.  Check on all of them on your system if you have Windows machines.

Apple sent out the Java patch just yesterday.  And Adobe Flash updated although flash updates through the browser rather than through Apple.

So there you go.  Check your updates and be sure they are done.  This makes you and others safer since it keeps your system from being easily hijacked by known issues.

As for me, I've been patching work computers which is tedious and about like watching grass grow, but it must be done and has to be supervised.  Such is life in computerland.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 10:10 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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June 08, 2012

It had to come eventually I suppose

Click and Clack are retiring.

I have loved listening to Car Talk for years now.  I can't remember exactly when I first heard the show, but they've been a fixture on the radio every Saturday morning for 25 years. 

With the advent of podcasts, Car Talk took on new life for me.  Now I wasn't having to tune in at a special time, I could grab the podcast and listen during the week. Excellent!

Over the years they have brought so much fun and laughter to so many people.  I'm sure there were days when they didn't feel like being  funny, but the show went on.  Those of us who have loved the show will always be happy these two guys decided to pick up a radio microphone and start talking.

They will continue on in reruns and the reruns will be funny, but it won't be quite the same as knowing a new show is coming out the next week.  I wish them both a wonderfully happy retirement with many a relaxing day.  These are two guys who can truly say they have contributed to making the world a far more fun place to be. Thank you so much for all the wonderful laughter.****

****I know they'll never see this, but it's always a good thing to add to the general good wishes headed out into the world at large

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June 06, 2012

LinkedIn Woes

Today is LinkedIn's day in the spotlight of computer security. Not a joyful day so far either.

First we have a tweet from Brian Krebs

Still no confirmation from LinkedIn, but it's a good idea to change your password now if you use this service


So if you use LinkedIn - go change your password. If you are using the same password for your email account - change that too (to a DIFFERENT password than you are using for LinkedIn please!)

They are still trying to confirm whether or not something happened.  But changing a password is easy to do and less bothersome than finding out later that someone did get your password and is now causing trouble for you.

Then to continue on this same theme I saw this at Ars Technica

Your iPhone calendar isn't private—at least if you use the LinkedIn app

I had heard a while back that the LinkedIn app was sending the login password in the clear.  Since I don't use LinkedIn enough to have an app for it, I didn't bother thinking much about that bit of info.  Now it seems the app is doing even more fun stuff.  It is scraping your calendar for information even if the calendar item has nothing to do with LinkedIn... awesome!

I would say - give LinkedIn apps a wide berth for a while.  Even if they are Android apps.  They are looking at iphone apps, but just because no one is talking about the Android counterparts does not make them safe. 

Yeah, not such a hot day for LinkedIn. 

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:17 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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June 05, 2012

WWII in Real Time

I just found they are tweeting WW2 in real time. Yesterday it was the evacuation of Dunkirk. If you want to follow, or just go read every once in a while, you can find them here

@RealTimeWWII

Of course they linked Sir Winston Churchill's most famous speech.

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 08:05 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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