post

My Podcast Archives

A family listening to the radio in the 1940sIn the CTD Podcast Archive, which I just cleaned up and posted, you’ll find 47 podcast ‘shows’ that I recorded from May of 2005 through March of 2007. Yes, I still podcaster after 2007 but did it over at Minnov8.com and, as of this writing, we’ve done 400 shows and just ended that podcast as of April 8, 2017.

I’m pretty certain, however, that I’ll be podcasting again since I enjoy it so!

One of the reasons for this archive is that I’m a family historian and I love storytelling. The more I’ve learned about my ancestry in the late 1700s to early 1900s, the greater my desire is to have heard any of them tell me stories about what was on their mind. Though my podcasts vary greatly and aren’t always stories, one can still get a good sense of what was on my mind while I was recording them.

Hope you enjoy these and let me know if you think I should start podcasting again!

post

The Mystery of the Lexar SSD

It was a dark and stormy evening as I walked the aisles at our local Eden Prairie, MN Costco store. Imagine my delight at discovering a display selling a Lexar 512GB solid state drive (SSD) for only $124.99! Not only was this an unheard-of price for such a tiny little drive with a big capacity, the next-closest competitor last week was Samsung’s T3 500GB for close to $200 (available here at Amazon for $197.99).

When I got home I immediately tried it out and experienced the amazing write-speeds from my SSD iMac to this external SSD (44GBs transferred in just over 4 minutes). My wife took one look at it and said, “I want one!” so I went back the next day to buy one and they were all gone (and there were at least 50 available when I bought mine the night before).

No worries,” I thought. Figuring I’d find them online I searched and searched and searched. The only place I could find them were on eBay from some miscellaneous seller with lukewarm reviews (at a higher price too) and I’m not about to do that.

This is the smallest, high capacity external SSD drive I’ve seen yet.

Unable to find any of these drives anywhere but eBay, I finally tweeted to @LexarMemory to see if they could solve the mystery of these apparently unavailable SSDs and point me in a direction where I could buy one:

I connected with tech support and essentially received an “Um…I dunno” but a bit more information was revealed about these SSDs being available “in a limited number of stores.” With my experience working as a manufacturer’s rep in consumer electronics in the late 70s and 80s, it is highly likely that this SSD’s Costco appearance was a dry-run to see how this drive, at this price-point, would sell.

Based on how quickly these drives sold out this test was most certainly a success. That said, I’d strongly suggest that LexarMemory get a move-on rolling these drives out at retail since Western Digital just announced this tiny SSD drive (in three capacities: 256GB; 512GB; and 1TB) and they are a much more recognizable hard drive brand than Lexar.

post

Is PharmacyChecker Worth Using?

UPDATE on Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Previous Updates
My wife and I are self-employed U.S. citizens and, as someone with individual insurance, we pay retail U.S. pricing for our prescriptions and definitely want to save money! Every year we expend literally hundreds of dollars more per prescription than Canadians do and we intend to shift our purchasing to a legitimate Canadian pharmacy.

One of the online checkers, one that apparently Google and Yahoo use for results, is PharmacyChecker. But I’m not sure I can rely on PharmacyChecker for due diligence on our behalf. Let me explain why.

After coming across posts at PharmacyCheckerBlog I went to PharmacyChecker and put in one of our prescriptions. Up came a listing of “PharmacyChecker Approved” outlets along with pricing which looked amazing.

I randomly chose to go to one of the sites and clicked on GlobalCare Rx. Examining all of their FAQs and poking around the site I grew suspicious (as I always do when there is no “About Us” or who is behind a website) but kept poking around…until I saw on their homepage that step #3 said, “Recieve your medication” with the word “receive” misspelled. There is NO way a legitimate site would allow a misspelled word like that on their homepage (at least my 250+ website clients would not!) so I poked around some more and discovered that:

  • GlobalCareRx registered this site with Privacy Hero, Inc. in NA whom I called…but they wouldn’t divulge who is behind the site.
  • Global Care Rx hosts their website (with thousands of others, no doubt) at Websavers in Canada.

​Having done supply chain software work in a past corporate life, I am VERY aware of the sensitivity to temperature ranges of shipped pharmaceuticals. Not only do any of us need to trust that an online pharmacy isn’t shipping something from some guy’s garage where he put milk powder in some capsules, I need to know that care is given to HOW something is shipped…so it isn’t sitting in some truck overnight freezing and, by the time it’s delivered, the prescription drug is now actually inert and of no use. Fortunately there are some smart people addressing this exact issue.

While the percentage I agree with what Trump doing is about 0%, this is one area where I hope his disruptive-grenade-throwing tactics make an impact.

I just reached out to Henry Harvey at Pharmacy Checker and asked him to please inform me as to why I should trust PharmacyChecker.com for displaying legitimate, trusted and “verified” sources.​ Hopefully he will reply and/or comment here on this post.

post

The Greatest Technology Invention in Human History

Can’t recall when I first heard this, but was listening to some tech pundits at a show and the moderator asked the panel, “So what do you think is the greatest technology invention in human history?” Each panelist answered until it got to the last guy who said, “the toilet.”

This conference was just after my family and I had returned from London and had toured a castle. In it was a room that, during the 1300s, royalty went in to and sat down on an outhouse-like hole to perform their bodily functions. The hole went all the way down several stories to who-knows-where. Even the tour guide helped us appreciate how important have a waste-collection system was and to the kids said, “Imagine if you didn’t have a toilet in your house today!”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes in the importance of sanitation in saving lives (and giving a quality of life!) and sponsored this delicate video to stress the importance of this device and the sanitiation systems it leverages:

post

What's Next? Burning Books?

This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted by DonkeyHotey from a Creative Commons licensed photo by Michael Vadon’s Flickr photostream

Watched Trump’s speech to CPAC over lunch and he slammed the media like always…but this time it was much, much worse. Then, about an hour ago, this news story came through: White House blocks CNN, New York Times from press briefing hours after Trump slams media and yes, I went ballistic since the White House barred news outlets, such as CNN, the New York Times, Politico and the Los Angeles Times, from entering the press room! BuzzFeed is permanently blocked, too.

Make no mistake: This is Steve Bannon behind this who is egging on Trump in an attempt to delegitimize mainstream news so the nutjobs behind InfoWars, The Washington Times and Breitbart News are put forth as THE legitimate sources.

Yes, I’ll make everyone’s favorite comparison: Joseph Goebbels would not only be proud, he would have stolen from Bannon’s playbook (especially since Bannon stole from Goebbel’s!).

I got so goddam mad that I went online to subscribe to The Washington Post. We already support the New York Times and the Minneapolis StarTribune digital editions, so I just bought a year of digital of the Washington Post and they have a print edition iPad app as well as their digital edition one which is cool.

If you care at all about the future of our country, subscribe NOW to The New York Times or The Washington Post. We need real and actual news (vs. Trump and his clown’s bullshit) from reputable news organizations and we ALL must support them.

post

Resources for Learners

As a lifelong learner I’m always on-the-hunt for good resources online and I just came across a new one I wanted to share with you: Everlearners and their page of learning resources here.

I’ve yet to find a link to a resource I did NOT like, but my personal favorites are:

Enjoy!

post

Facebook's HUGE Gaping Security Hole

To say I was stunned to discover StalkScan today is an understatement. It’s value proposition is simple: enter the profile link of someone on Facebook….anyone…..and have instant access to all of their private data!

That’s right, everything like photos, videos, posts, friends, political parties, everything. I suggest you immediately do these two:

  • Send a tweet to @facebook and to CEO Mark Zuckerberg @finkd and let them know what you think
  • Fill out this form when you’re logged in to Facebook and complain.

While I am well aware that privacy and security online is an illusion, Facebook has has a history of doing a horseshit job protecting us. Let them know that you think so too.

Once you put in someone’s profile URL, you have instant access to all of these choices!

post

You Are Dead. So Now What Happens With Your Digital Life?

There is no easy way to say this but here goes: You are going to die and so am I. It is not a matter of if we will die, but rather when.

Now that fact is out of the way and on the table, what is going to happen with your digital life when you’re gone?

Really good article today in the New York Times about this exact topic: Is Your Digital Life Ready for Your Death?

You’ve probably thought about what will happen to your finances, your possessions and maybe even your real estate when you die. But what about your Facebook account? Or your hard-drive backups?

ACTIONS TO TAKE
The NYTimes article gives several practical actions to take and they’re easy to do:  [Read more…]

post

EFF: Encrypting the Web

Each year I donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) but did more in 2016 than ever before. You should donate too since they’re the ONLY digital legal watchdog that’s protecting our cyber rights!

post

Steve's Security Tips For Keeping Your Stuff Private

While discussing cyber security and online safety with clients, family and friends, I’ve had several of them ask me for guidance on how to secure their communications and web activities. While a thorough examination of all the detail surrounding privacy, security, and good online habits could be the length of a book, let me give you some of the basics along with a few links to learn more.

There are several reasons you should care about whether your online, digital communications and web surfing are private:

a) Tracking: Ever wonder how Facebook knows you just shopped for Corningware at Amazon and suddenly the ads on Facebook are displaying other bakeware companies? Would you be surprised to know that nearly all websites you visit set a little digital file called a “cookie”—a file that can prove to be very beneficial most times—but that some cookies are set by third party companies that do nothing but track ALL of your website visits (and much more) everywhere? 

b) Are You Naked on Public Wifi? If you ever connect to a public Wifi hotspot, you should know that it is trivial for a Wifi hotspot to be spoofed and you might have already inadvertently connected to it! There are also packet-sniffers that can view any unencrypted traffic going back and forth between your laptop or device and the Wifi router and some blackhat hacker can view it.

Want to see how incredibly trivial it is to create a man-in-the-middle attack and spoof a Wifi hotspot? Then read this article which should scare the beejesus out of you (it did me). It’s called Maybe It’s Better If You Don’t Read This Story on Public WiFi and its tagline is this:

We took a hacker to a café and, in 20 minutes, he knew where everyone else was born, what schools they attended, and the last five things they googled.

If after you have read that article you are still logging on to public Wifi hotspots without using a VPN, please comment below and give me your argument as to why you think it’s OK to get online with public Wifi and no VPN. I’ve yet to hear a single, valid reason why someone shouldn’t connect securely.

c) Government Surveillance: You’ve undoubtedly heard about Edward Snowden who revealed the vacuum mass surveillance apparatus in place by the National Security Agency and that they’re are scooping up ALL metadata about who called whom; what websites you visit and searches you perform; what texts you send; who your Facebook/Twitter and other friends are; what photos you post; and much more.

As a preview to what might very well happen here in the U.S. under a Trump administration, a new law just passed in the United Kingdom and it will give you a taste of what is probably coming to America…and soon…and why we all need to be more diligent about our privacy and security. The UK Now Wields Unprecedented Surveillance Powers — Here’s What It Means spells out what we could expect in the US in the near future:

The UK is about to become one of the world’s foremost surveillance states, allowing its police and intelligence agencies to spy on its own people to a degree that is unprecedented for a democracy. The UN’s privacy chief has called the situation “worse than scary.” Edward Snowden says it’s simply “the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy.”

The legislation in question is called the Investigatory Powers Bill. It’s been cleared by politicians and granted royal assent on November 29th — officially becoming law. The bill will legalize the UK’s global surveillance program, which scoops up communications data from around the world, but it will also introduce new domestic powers, including a government database that stores the web history of every citizen in the country. UK spies will be empowered to hack individuals, internet infrastructure, and even whole towns — if the government deems it necessary.

It is also probable that both the UK and the US will take steps to ban end-to-end encryption (one reason I use more and more services outside the US) and/or legally force companies to insert backdoors in their software so law enforcement can get in to the computer or device you own, especially without having to secure one of those pesky search warrants. It’s actually a lot more ominous than that, but writing much more about it is beyond the scope of this post.

Are you scared now?

You should be. I am, and I stay abreast of all of this every, single day. Read on for some specific tips and tricks to stay safe online.

Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream…and a few scared internet users

[Read more…]