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.

Hooked.

So ten days or so ago I proclaimed I was done with Twitter and had deactivated my account. Here’s where Twitter hooks you in; if you deactivate your account you have 30 days to reactivate your account. And that’s what I did.

However, I have not installed the app on my iPhone and I’ve opted to go with Tweetbot on my iPad Pro.

Here’s the thing. Cutting myself off from Twitter completely made me realize how many things I monitor through the service: CTA Train alerts, the National Weather Service (as long as it’s not compromised by the Trump Administration), and most importantly, the aviation adventures of pilot friends I’ve made over the years. In addition, I’ve been on Twitter since its early days and I have a good number of people I’ve met via the service over the years and unfortunately I don’t have any other way to get a hold of them.

Twitter has me hooked.

I’m still culling my followers list to make sure I’m not getting depressed the service and I’m not following it on the phone, so I think I can keep the chaos at bay.

I wish myself luck.

Corporate Independence.

One of the many thing I admire about my father is that he was self employed for the majority of his work history. As part of a family business, it was their hard work that determined whether or not there was going to be bread on the table. It was their decisions, investments and the like that determined whether they were going to make it or if they were going to fail. Considering that everyone had been able to retire (assumedly) comfortably, I would deem this endeavor as a success.

I have always wanted to be self-employed. Earl and I made a stab at this back in the late 1990s with our little fast food restaurant, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right place in my life at the time, among other factors, but I’m proud of the fact that we made a go of it and at least can say that we did it without ever having to declare bankruptcy after determining that the business was sinking.

I like the idea of corporate independence. This is kind of ironic, because I now work for a rather large telecommunications company and because of this, we are able to have a pretty good life these days. The bureaucracy of the corporation I work for is pretty minimal compared to others places that I have worked. At least it’s minimal in my neck of the woods or maybe I’m just oblivious to it all, because I tend to exist in my own little word without little intentional notice of what’s going on around me.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that one of the FCC commissioners is going to work for Comcast/NBCUniversal after helping push that huge corporate merger through earlier this year. This irks me for many reasons, one of them being that there was a huge conflict of interest going on there, but more so because of the control this large corporation has. I’m wary of large corporations having huge amounts of power, especially in their ties to government. I hope that many people feel the way I do about this. It’s one of the reasons that I am sad when I look out over this parking lot at lunch and I see one locally owned restaurant to the six chain restaurants within eyesight. When Earl took me to lunch the other day, we went to that locally owned restaurant. We once drove half way across the country and back, enjoying only the locally owned places. We gain a few pounds be we gained them happily. This corporate independence that I strive for makes me feel guilty when I go to Target instead of a local computer store to pick up a mouse and a pair of speakers for the computer, or makes me feel bad when I go to Lowe’s instead of to the locally owned hardware store.

I’m also starting to become wary of the corporate interests in the Internet. I always crow about how great Apple products are and I’m an avid user of Google’s calendar, reader and Gmail services. I actually like putting my life out here on the internet for others to observe and the like. I probably do it more than most people are comfortable with, so one would think that I don’t really care about the corporate backing behind many of these services, but the truth of the matter is, I do wear a tinfoil hat when it comes to using some of the “free” services. I know that Google is scanning my Gmail for keywords so that they can target ads at me. I know that there are tons of corporate minded folks on Twitter that know that I love Linux, I’m rather quirky in my thinking, I like to make witty remarks and that I have more than a passing obsession with facial hair. Facebook is no different, though I tend to behave myself a little more on there because I know which members of my family are watching at any given moment. Ignorance is bliss.

One of the things that bothers me the most about these ad-supported, “freemium” services is the fact that they are tied to advertising. I despise advertising. If Earl is running the remote control while we’re watching television and he neglects to fast forward through the commercials on “Private Practice” I silently become unglued. I know what products I want and how I want to obtain them, I don’t need constant reminders or suggestions to do differently. That’s why I’m trying to focus on corporate independence today. We are not going to Friendly’s because the telly told to, we are going to Nicky Doodles’ because they are locally owned and we want to give the local guy a chance.

I’m going to try to take a step and ween myself off some of the ad supported services I am using online. First order of business is Gmail. I’d rather pay for a service via a yearly fee that promises not to scan my email for keywords and gives me advertising versus having a few suggestions as to what brand of computer I should buy based on what I said in my email to my mother (who was struggling with her computer). I have found a suitable replacement; my jpnearl account was already forwarding to Gmail so I’m just going to turn the forwarding off and put a better spam solution in place. Next order of business will be Google Calendar. That one is going to be a little bit more of a challenge.

I have found myself driving the back roads lately and noticing a lot of empty storefronts in the downtown village areas as people opt to drive to the outskirts to the latest super center. This is kind of sad. I miss the days when you waved at your neighbor on the sidewalk instead of running in the other direction away from the television monitors hanging from the ceiling telling you what cat litter to buy.

I’m searching for a little more corporate independence. I hope that I am able to find it.

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Microsoft and NYS Election Law.

According to this blog entry (link), Microsoft is actively trying to get a relatively new New York State Election Law to be changed. This is pissing me off.

I was unaware but am quite happy to see that the Empire State has some of the strictest regulations in the country regarding electronic voting machines. One of the regulations is that the software must be “open source”, which means that anyone can take a look at the programming code that makes up the software and observe as to what makes the program tick. This removes any doubt about vote tampering through back-door and other unscrupulous means.

Microsoft doesn’t like open source software all that much; all versions of Windows and the vast majority of Microsoft programs are “closed source”, which means that only Microsoft knows what goes on inside their programs. This has made me nervous in the past, as I’ve worked for a computer company and I know what goes on inside corporate walls. The NYS election law requires that any software used on electronic voting machines must be “open source”, and that would include the Windows operating system that it’s running on. Microsoft doesn’t like that. Electronic voting machines would have to run Linux or FreeBSD (both open source, to the best of my knowledge) in order to comply with the election law.

Small wonder I stick to my aging Mac PowerBook G4 instead of using Windows Vista on my HP laptop.

My question is: why do we have to use electronic voting machines at all? The lever and flip the switch machines that we’ve used in New York have worked fine for a good number of years. Why this huge push to change to something else? They’re basically used just once a year, I’m sure someone somewhere could maintain and repair these machines for their annual duty.