Security.

I’ve been watching security videos from this website AllThingsSecured.com. Josh shares some really good ideas here. In particular, I enjoyed his video on password security.

I use a password manager called Bitwarden. Instead of relying on my iCloud password manager/keychain, Bitwarden allows me access to a different random password for each of my online accounts and it’s available from all operating systems. It doesn’t matter if I’m using my Mac or iPhone, my iPad, my Windows gaming computer, or any one of the Linux computers I have scattered about. Bitwarden has a client for each of these, as well as plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. My accounts each have their own unique password, usually 24 to 30 random characters. I just click the icon when it’s time log in and off I go.

Not using the same password for every account is very important. Having “dictionary” words, or even a combination of dictionary words, is dangerous. Do yourself a favor and check out a password manager like Bitwarden. Another option is 1Password.

Now, to get really into the weeds on password security, here’s a guy I don’t know but he knows his stuff. It’s Josh.

Working From Home.

I’ve successfully worked from home over the past decade. When the pandemic lockdowns came about early last year it wasn’t really a change of working pace for me, as I just kept doing what I do from my home office. Others throughout the company were not familiar with working from home and so they had to make adjustments, but after a couple of weeks we were all communicating and collaborating just fine and all went well. In fact, our company found productivity actually went up during the pandemic. Maybe it’s because people realized that working from home allows for better pacing, less water bubbler chat, and reduced distractions.

Tech companies are now finding that many of their employees want to continue working from home. Some companies are not pleased with this and are coming down pretty hard on bringing people back to the office. I attribute this to a lack of management skill or creativity; in the tech world it’s pretty easy to determine the output levels of remote employees on your team. In team lead positions I’ve rarely had an issue that needed to be addressed and on the one occasion I had someone doing something they shouldn’t have been doing during normal business hours (trying to work and drive Uber at the same time), it was easy to figure out what positions must not have really been necessary to begin with.

I’m keeping an eye on the work from home policies of tech companies and considering their practices when making tech related purchases. I know Tim Cook from Apple wants folks back in that giant spaceship they built in Cupertino. They spent billions of dollars on the place. It’s a shame a sizeable number of employees don’t want to come back to being full-time in the office. And, reducing commuting time, and subsequently the carbon emissions associated with commuting, is better for the environment.

With the right attitude, creative leadership, and a clear focus, we can help clean up the environment by reducing commuting times and subsequently reducing carbon footprints. I’m hopeful many companies will reconsider outdated practices and do better with embracing Working From Home.

Secret Witchcraft.

After “Bewitched” ended its run in 1972, Elizabeth Montgomery made no further appearances as nose-twitching witch Samantha Stephens from the popular series. She was ready to move on and didn’t want to be typecast as the character. Lizzie went on to make numerous TV movies and enjoyed a successful career until her passing in the mid 1990s. Though “Bewitched” has been in constant syndication since it ended its original run, she rarely talked about “Bewitched” until fan interest in the show picked up in the late 1980s and early 90s, and books and the like started to appear around the subject. She was pleased with her performances as Samantha, but she didn’t want to be known as just Samantha. In the early 1990s she did agree to appear in a pilot for a reboot of the series. The new version was to be about a witch that lived in London, but the show never came to fruition.

Even though Lizzie was distancing herself from Samantha, she did appear in a run of Japanese commercials for Lotte Mother Biscuits, twitching her nose and doing Samantha-like magic. I guess she figured these Japanese commercials would never make it to the States. But courtesy of the Internet and Youtube, we can see Elizabeth Montgomery doing Samantha like things in the mid 1980s.

As a lifelong “Bewitched” fan, it’s fun to see Elizabeth doing her Samantha like gestures later in her life.

Clackity-Clack.

I’m always in search for the perfect keyboard. I type a lot for a living and I need to feel as one with the keyboard.

Since I do all my work on a Mac and because I’m a vintage computer enthusiast, I decided to get a “classic Mac” keyboard with the traditional clackity-clack sounds.

It’s a good thing I work by myself in my home office. Co-workers at adjoining cubes would have flashbacks to ‘Nam with the racket I make on a keyboard.

This keyboard is a delight. The keys are well spaced, the feel is exactly what I’m looking for: not too mushy, a positive response, and a good confirmation sound.

I bought the keyboard from Matias Keyboards. A little pricey but worth it. I’m quite pleased with the build and experience.

Random.

Notice there’s no wardrobe credits for Elizabeth Montgomery or Agnes Moorehead on this clip from “Bewitched”. The ladies in the cast all brought their own clothes to wear in each episode from the third season to the end of the series (unless a spell sent them back in time or something). At the beginning of the week they’d work out what they needed for the production that week, brought in their clothes, and the wardrobe department would clean and press the garments for Friday’s filming.

That’s all I’ve got today.

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Acquisitions.

As part of my never ending quest for personal growth, I have maintained a personal journal for many years. I usually grab a snapshot of how I look for the day and write a paragraph or two of how the day went, where my mood was, that sort of thing. For this activity I’ve relied on Day One, available of Mac and iOS devices, to accomplish this feat. When I first started using Day One there was an option to sync using iCloud; later on they moved to a subscription based plan with encrypted storage on their own servers. I’ve gone with this subscription for the past year or two. I’m not a huge fan of subscription based software but I was pleased enough with Day One so I paid the yearly fee.

Today Day One announced they had been acquired by Automattic, the same company that owns WordPress (the software that powers this blog), Tumblr, and some other things. This acquisition gives me pause. I’ve been becoming less enamored with WordPress as time marches on. What was once a very fairly simple blogging experience has turned into something a little too convoluted for my taste. WordPress has thrown a lot of bells and whistles into the platform and the experience is starting to feel “bloated”. Plus, I’m really sure WordPress would preferred my hosting of the blog on their website instead of using the standalone version that I use today. I don’t want to trust my information to a third party like that. This blog turns 20 years old in August. That’s a lot of data. In fact, I’ve been looking for a different solution for the blog and hope to migrate to a faster, less cumbersome experience by the celebration of the aforementioned anniversary.

I’m a bit concerned WordPress will start to add bloat and unneeded “features” to the Day One app, so without an evidence of changes on the horizon I’ve started looking for a replacement. I’m currently looking at Diarly, which stores information in Apple’s iCloud instead of relying on yet another syncing service. This approach involves putting a lot of faith in iCloud, but if any tech company is worthy of my trust, it’s Apple. So I’m going to give Diarly a try for the next week and see if I enjoy it.

I wish Automattic all the success they seek with the acquisition of Day One. I’m just not sure I’ll be part of that success.

Perky.

Lauren Tewes was very perky in her credits shot in the third “Love Boat” movie, the first to feature her character, as well as Gavin McLeod playing Captain Stubing.

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Brave.

The vast majority of users of the software we write for work use a Windows computer. Our applications are all web based; the “casual” users tend to use Google Chrome as their web browser, the more technically minded users tend to use something else, mostly Firefox but once in a while we’ll get hit by a one-off like Opera or Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft recently announced the impending end of support for Internet Explorer 11. Our applications haven’t worked on IE 11 in years, it’s just too weird of a browser, but we’ll occasionally get hit by a user that has IE set as their default. They’ll see weird results from our applications if they see the application at all. We usually steer them towards Google Chrome.

Microsoft is going to redirect their IE 11 users to Microsoft Edge, their web browser that is based on the same code base as Google Chrome. For the most part, if it works in Google Chrome, it works on Microsoft Edge.

I develop software on a Mac. Apple wants me to use the built in Safari web browser. While this is a very nice experience, it does not replicate what the typical user experiences. I have Firefox on my work Mac to make sure things I write work well in that arena, but I was hesitant to install Google Chrome on my Mac.

A quick aside, I did install Microsoft Edge but did not perform as well as I had hoped it would.

Enter Brave.

Brave Browser website screenshot

Brave uses the same codebase as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge to render web pages, so if it works on Chrome, it works on Brave. But the better thing is, Brave is focused on privacy. It has an Ad-blocker built in. It let’s you select your search engine of choose at installation (rather than digging through preferences panes). I always opt to use DuckDuckGo.

So far Brave has performed as expected and then some for my web development and surfing needs at work. If you want something that behaves like Google Chrome but better, I recommend checking out Brave.

20.

Twenty years ago today was the final episode of “Star Trek: Voyager”, the episode “Endgame”.

Captain Janeway has always been my favorite captain in the entire Star Trek experience. “Endgame”, while seemingly cut short at the very end, is probably one of my favorite final episodes of any of the series.

Technology.

I admired this refrigerator at Home Depot. The refrigerator at home is probably the weakest link in our otherwise very well appointed kitchen; being the geek I am I would really love to see our kitchen have a state of the art refrigerator with a touchscreen.

The rest of the family is not on board, especially with the extra expense.

What’s the purpose of having a touchscreen in the kitchen? Well, with all of the automated gadgetry we have spread throughout our new home, having a centralized location to control all this stuff, without having to scream at the nearest Alexa or Siri device, or whip out our phone, would be nice. In every incarnation I’ve seen of “fully automated homes of the future”, touchscreens are everywhere. Touchscreens are a natural way to interact with various devices of technology, and with all the open space on a refrigerator door, this location makes sense.

The family is not buying it.

The touchscreen in question is basically a large Android touchpad. I don’t know a lot about it, though I’m planning on doing more research on how well it works, how it operates, and the added cost to the device.

We might end up with touchscreen mirrors instead.

The family is still not buying the idea of a touchscreen in the refrigerator. Yet.