November 13, 2016



I lived in the small city of Jamestown from 1987 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1991. This little city sits near the southwestern corner of the state and is home to a couple of famous people, including Natalie Merchant and the group 10,000 Maniacs, but probably more famously, nearby Celoron is birthplace of Lucille Ball.

The city plays up its connection to Lucy in a big way, with many areas of the downtown area devoted to Lucy. This is a development since my days of living there; back in my day there was hardly any mention of Lucy in the area. A few bawdy stories from the natives, but that was about it. One of the bright spots of Jamestown is that, despite the downtown being situated on the side of a fairly steep hill, the downtown area is still quite walkable. Walkable cities are wonderful. More cities need to adopt this and move away from Urban Renewal blunders of the 60s and 70s.

I’ve passed through Jamestown on a couple of occasions over the years but yesterday I drove all over the place, looking at mobile homes I lived in near the Pennsylvania border, going by my old apartment high up on the hill by the airport and the like. The city seems to be in better condition than when I lived there in the late 80s and early 90s. Things seemed a little brighter.

Passing through there made me realize how much I’ve changed in nearly 30 years. I still knew my way around and I felt comfortable getting from point A to point B while driving the area, but I’ve done a lot of growing up since my Jamestown days and it feels great. I definitely have no desire to ever live there again but maybe I’ll pass through again in the future.

One of the interesting things about that part of New York State is that with it being 400 miles from what folks thinks of as “New York”, it has absolutely nothing in common with the Big Apple aside from the state designation of a postal address. Jamestown feels like a midwestern town. Many of the residential streets are still made of brick. The pace is slower. The accent is (thankfully) completely different. Natives say “pop”. I think because of its distance from the focus of New York State, many of the roads are in really rough shape. Driving on a nearby expressway in the Jeep at 55 MPH nearly knocked my Wrangler apart; I had to slow down to keep the Jeep on the road from all the patch pavement laid helter-skelter along the roadway.

Small wonder I saw a huge number of Trump/Pence signs and never saw one sign for Clinton/Kaine.

It’s not that Jamestown is rabidly anti-anything, at least based on my experience, but it’s more that Jamestown, much like the rest of rural America is looking for change.

Maybe they’re just sick of feeling forgotten.


With the upcoming changes in Administration (basically, everything) coming up in the next couple of months, I’ve accordingly kicked my online paranoia ways up a notch. I’d like to share the additional security measures I’m taking to make sure my online presence is safe.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that my credit card number had been stolen again. This was disheartening because I take many measures to make sure I keep my financial safe. I use Apple Pay whenever possible, as Apple Pay uses a “bogus” credit card number during the transaction, never revealing my real number. I keep my cards safe in my wallet, I never write down the number and I always make sure I have a secure connection when I’m entering my transactional data for online purchases.  Since my credit/debit card is the one used for our family’s monthly recurring payments (online music, iTunes, etc), it’s out there much more than the other cards in the family. Nevertheless, my card number was stolen and I was issued another card earlier this month. I am keeping track of every site where I enter my card number.

I have added a couple extra layers of security for my online presence:

  1. I now use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, service whenever I’m away from the house. My service of choice is PrivateTunnel ( There are free options available if you want to try them out.  Basically, a VPN encrypts your network traffic from Point A to Point Z. This makes it more difficult for others to sniff and log your network traffic when you’re on a public access point. My first and foremost rule, regardless of where I am (home, cell service, whatever), is that I am using PrivateTunnel whenever I am entering financial data online. There is a yearly subscription model that’s pretty affordable.
  2. I now use Boxcryptor for my “sensitive” Dropbox activity. If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, it’s a service that maintains copies of your files in your Dropbox folder in the cloud and seamlessly syncs them with all of your devices.  If I put ReadMe.txt in my Dropbox folder in my Mac, I can access it from any other computer (using a web browser) or grab it from my iPhone, iPad or any other computer I have registered with the service (Mac, Windows, Linux).  So I had a Linux computer, the contents of my Dropbox folder would be the same on all three computers with little effort from me. The issue is, the security is a little weak for my tastes.  Boxcryptor is a service the encrypts the data in specified folders within the Dropbox (or similar iCloud Drive) environment. Dropbox is storing encrypted data, not regular data, which makes it nearly impossible for others to access without your password. Like PrivateTunnel, Boxcryptor ( is available with a pretty reasonably subscription model.
  3. I have instituted stronger, dissimilar passwords for all my accounts. They all use special, upper case and numeric characters, and all are at least 15 characters in length. My password for my Boxcryptor vault is 26 characters long! Remembering these passwords can be a bit of pain so I use 1Password ( from AgileBits. Earl uses the same program. My passwords are synced amongst my devices and the software makes it wicked easy to remember my passwords, use them when necessary and keep them secure. My only struggle with the software is to remember putting my passwords in the app and/or letting the app recommend passwords for me. After 35 years of having to remember passwords, it’s difficult for me to not remember them and rely on a software product. I highly recommend some sort of password management system for everyone so that we all use stronger passwords that are difficult to crack.
  4. Last, but not least, I am evaluating a new email service called ProtonMail ( ProtonMail uses encryption to store your email (similar to Boxcryptor explained above, but applied to the actual mailbox on the server) and if you exchange email with another ProtonMail user it’s automatically encrypted end to end. I’m still exploring this service but so far I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen.

I’ll admit that I’m completely paranoid when it comes to being safe and secure online. The idea of people sharing accounts or email addresses or whatever completely boggles my mind and makes me a bit crazy. I believe in preaching about computer security and sharing my knowledge when I can. 

Stay safe, be secure and happy surfing!