April 16, 2013 § 7 Comments
|Giant Iguana rests on its laurels|
NEXT 52 WEEKS, UP THE ANTE? Maybe drive around for awhile and think about it.
How about you? How often do you transport yourself by means other than a car?
We’re off to China! Hoping for bicycling inspiration.
April 13, 2013 § 10 Comments
“Our teapots are broken, our rocking chairs smashed, and our bicycle tires all blew up when we crashed…” from Horton Hears a Who
There’s bicyclist in town who sports an impressive set of safety gear: front and rear helmet lights, a headlight, tail light (all lights going, day or night), reflective jacket and vest, reflectors on the fender, reflectors on the spokes of his wheels and on velcro ties around his ankles, all topped off with a flag. I’m tempted to ask if this was because of some kind of bicycle trauma that he doesn’t want to repeat, or if he just likes gear.
Not that I blame him.
There was a time when I avoided safety equipment. It felt like a bull’s eye. Come on cars, here I am. Come and get me.
Reflective material, however, has risen in my estimation …
… especially when someone else wears it. Illumination in a drizzle, before dawn or at rush hour, is good.
“We are here, we are here,
we are here, we are here!” (Horton’s Whos)
Week 49: walked 1x, bicycled 2x.
Week 50: bicycled 3x.
Week 50: walked 1x, bicycled FIVE TIMES. End date: April 15. Grand total: 124, TWENTY in the bank.
April 5, 2013 § 18 Comments
OK, ‘fess up. Do you use the same password for a gazillion different websites?
Not long ago, I got a bunch of e-mails from people I follow on Twitter warning that my account had been hacked. Seems “I” was sending diet tips far and wide, and people foolish enough to click on “my” link got hacked too. Ouch. I hardly even look at Twitter, just signed up to see what the buzz was all about. I clicked on one little thing, something about someone trying to find me (I know, how stupid can you get) and boom, off my password went to some hacker in Russia or China, who sold it to a ponzi schemer.
How many other sites was I using the same password for?
I know, I know. It’s a pain in the you-know-what to have to remember and/or store a bunch of “secure” passwords. Who wants to go digging every time you buy a book, or read the New York Times, or check whether the electric bill is coming out of the checking or the credit card account? Nobody does. So what do over 60% of us do? Use an easy password over and over and hope for the best. Not. Good.
TWELVE MILLION pieces of personal information were illegally sold in the first quarter of 2012. Once your password is compromised by a security breach at, say, LinkedIn (June ’12), Twitter (May ’12) or eHarmony (June ’12 ) you are TEN TIMES more likely to be a victim of identity theft.
OK, OK! Say this to ourselves ten times: Buying, selling, saving, paying, transferring money? EVERY SITE NEEDS ITS OWN PASSWORD. A GOOD PASSWORD. Do you know what happens if your identity is stolen? Your g-mail account gets hacked? Months of misery. You might as well pull your fingernails out.
DO NOT DESPAIR. Shoring up the walls is easier than you might think.
What is a good password? Pop quiz — Pick the safest password:
Answer? It’s (B) YourDogEatsPoopandBeans
A good password is one that is hard for hackers to guess, and easy for you to remember. v2@t56Bbl_!*2dd is impossible to remember and believe it or not, easier than (B) to hack. Why?
Length is more important than gobbledegook. A hacker’s software tries out random combinations of symbols or dictionary words. The more symbols you use, the more combinations the software has to try out, and the longer it takes for it to crack your password. Weeks. Years. If it takes too long, the hacker gives up and goes fishing for easier prey.
Hide your passwords in a secure system, aka an “open source [free] password manager” that can be stored online and on your computer. I use Keypass and store it in Dropbox, so it’s accessible on my phone and computer. The only password I have to remember is for Keypass (Setting that up is another post, but it’s not hard).
The important thing is this: change your passwords. Use lots of different passwords. Make them long. Go ahead, be silly. Use words you can remember. Vary them for different accounts by changing the order of the words or adding numbers to the beginning and end. Use at least 15 or 16 letters. Make it fun.
Считать, что вы хакеры!
(Take that you hackers!)
I am quite possibly the last person on earth who should dispense advice about technology, so your additions, subtractions, corrections, scoldings and of course, accolades, are welcome! Acknowledgments to my daughter Grace who, as a computer science major, is living proof that the apple can indeed fall far from the tree. Thank you dear one.
March 26, 2013 § 24 Comments
It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.
It is prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long term and severe damage to the natural environment.
Geneva Conventions, 1977 Amendment, Article 35, Protocol 1
In a hospital in Fallujah, Dr. Samira Alani records new cases of birth defects and cancer. She’s seen a sharp increase in the number of miscarriages and babies with birth defects like hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”), neural tube defects (“open back”), extra limbs, tumors, elongated heads and other deformities, some that don’t even have a name. Since 2009 she’s recorded 699 cases of congenital birth defects. The numbers are highest in areas that were targeted in bombing raids.
What’s the cause? Studies point to depleted uranium, lead and mercury left behind by bullets and bombs.
A toxicologist writes: ”Our research in Fallujah indicated that the majority of families returned to their bombarded homes and lived there, or otherwise rebuilt on top of the contaminated rubble of their old homes. When possible, they also used building materials that were salvaged from the bombarded sites.” She and other scientists tested hair, teeth and blood of children living in areas bombarded in 2004 and found elevated levels of lead and mercury in children with birth defects.
With no official system for registering cancers and birth defects, and no support from the Iraqi government, Dr. Alani works pretty much alone, documenting a tragedy. “I will not leave this subject,” she told a reporter. “I will not stop.”
The war in Iraq might be officially over, but its legacy will haunt us for decades.
March 17, 2013 § 7 Comments
February 27, 2013 § 14 Comments
While perusing the Internet for the answer to a burning tech question, I came across the title Apple Heads, referring to people who spend a lot of time futzing with Apple devices. Guilty as charged. Gonna’ learn how to work this thing darnit.
Here’s a gem. Have trouble figuring out why your iPhone Notes don’t sync to iCloud? Uh huh. Never mind that we could just write a note on actual paper, and ‘sync’ it by carrying it around in a pocket. True Apple Heads eschew paper and time. Don’t give in to feeling stupid. We are not alone. Check online. Thousands are dying to know how to do this. Seems we set up iCloud, turn it on, and just wait for the magic to happen.
It doesn’t happen because notes created when iCloud is “off” are private. This is good. Nothing is private on the Internet, so iCloud makes you think about what you want public. Maybe (like me) you don’t remember making notes with iCloud off, but try this anyway. The fix takes less than two minutes. Promise.
1. On the iPhone, go to Settings, then iCloud, see if the switch next to Notes is “on”. If not, hold your finger on the button until it switches to ‘on.’
Still in Settings, go to Notes, Make iCloud the default account.
2. Open and compare your list of Notes on iCloud with your iPhone Notes. Find a note missing on iCloud? Open it on your phone. Tap the icon at the bottom of the screen that looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it.
February 8, 2013 § 18 Comments
Once upon a time, not very long ago, this was the technological wizardry of my dreams:
Time moves on. For my birthday this year: an iPhone 5. This is wonderful! Right? …
All heck broke loose. Many, many things that I thought were more or less fine suddenly needed immediate attention. My brain filled up and froze.
If you’re under thirty you probably haven’t read this far, but if you have, no need to read further. This is for the really, really tech-shy, who nevertheless want to keep their hand in the game, or at least a pinky finger.
FIVE RULES FOR TRANSITIONING FROM A 5+ YEAR OLD MAC + FLIP PHONE, to an OSX UPGRADE + iPHONE:
1. Find a tech savvy friend or loved one willing to volunteer as a resource. Offer them something sublime in return. This must be a person who does not eye-roll and who is willing to answer questions when you’re ready to ask them. An expert can talk themselves blue in the face, but if you don’t know a browser from an operating system, you aren’t going to understand a word. Make a few mistakes in the presence of an understanding person and you get an idea of what the questions are, and are then better equipped to hear answers.
2. Buy, or check this book out from the library. Especially for those of us who grew up reading, it is a comfort to hold in your hands and it is full of helpful, understandable information.
3. When you sit down to work on whatever part of the upgrade you’re working on, set a timer for one hour. At the end of the hour, get up, do something else, even if you are about to go out of your mind with frustration. Everything is easier after your brain has a chance to let things set. The iPhone, by the way, comes with a nice timer, ready to go.
4. Have faith. Everything you need to know is (a) in your friend or loved one’s head; (b) in the Dummies book; or (c) on the Internet. The trick is finding the right words so the questions make sense to someone who knows the answers. If you find yourself on some obscure page or “forum” where people are throwing around language that puts you to sleep, stop. Take a break, rephrase your question and find a source that makes sense to you. It’s out there.
I’m not out of the woods, but should have everything figured out by 2014. Hopefully my new iPhone won’t already be an antique.
How about you? Are you upgrading? How is it going?