Online Security Tips

OnlineSecurityIn the last ten years, many of us have embraced technology and use it daily in our lives. We use phones, email, websites, and home automation. We access these services using online services secured by usernames and passwords. A hacked Twitter account may be no big deal. A hacked banking or home automation account can have more serious consequences. Whether it be Twitter or Bank of America, I recommend good security discipline. Here are some ways you can achieve this.

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Home Automation And Security

HomeAutomationSmallHome automation systems include security features such as locks, door and window sensors, motion detectors, cameras, water sensors, thermostats and smoke detectors. There a lots of options available and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices are announced every day. Be careful to check out the security or the devices you install in your home - some will be secured properly, and some will actually open your house up to hackers. I use a Nexia Home system. I have used Nexia Home for years, and added devices as they have come on the market. I can control it with my phone or with Alexa using my voice. I like this system because the devices connected to it are secure and the hosting platform (which has a montly fee) is secure. 

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Get Rid of Junk Mail

clearcutforestEvery year, over 100 million trees are cut down and processed to create junk mail. To put that in perspective, that's the equivalent of clearcutting all of Rocky Mountain National Park every 4 months. It's not just trees that get destroyed, the whole ecosystem of the clear cut area is destroyed along with the trees.

Some of us find junk mail annoying. We didn't ask for it. Yet it arrives each day relentlessly. 

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Your Public Library Is A Gold Mine

SFLib02When I was a child, I used public libraries to borrow books on a fairly regular basis. During high school, I relied on the high school library, and occasionally went to the university library nearby. In college, I used the several university libraries available. In my first job, the firm I worked for had a larger architectural library than the local university, and had hired their senior librarian. Alas, later in life, I rarely visited libraries, preferring to visit bookstores like Borders, instead. I purchased books I wanted to read, and over the years, I developed a fairly respectable personal library of over 2,000 books and 150 audiobooks. That's a lot to move around and keep track of.

In my effort to own less stuff, I donated my personal library to several public libraries. This was made possible by the Amazon Kindle, and cloud storage. The Kindle is a nice reading device and the ability to have my entire library available on the device was a big plus. And it was consistent with my efforts to go "paperless".

Are public libraries still relevant in 2016 and beyond? Yes!

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My Favorite Technology

amazonechoI often get asked about my favorite technology, toys and why I selected them.

A note about my feelings about stuff: It is much harder to get rid of stuff than it is to acquire it. I wish I knew this when I was in my twenties! I would have acquired much less and politely declined gifts from family and friends!

My lifestyle is different from most people I know. I am a 'cord-cutter', meaning that I don't have cable TV. I just have an internet connection and a few services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. I don't have a 70 inch TV in the living room. If I want to watch a movie on Netflix, I view it on my 30 inch monitor in my study, running off my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. In fact, the Surface replaced two desktops (one at work, one at home) and two laptops (one at work and one at home) and an iPad. That's five pieces of tech I don't need to worry about any more. And I get along nicely with just the Surface Pro 3 and a smart phone. I like Windows 10. It works well, and can be secured with some effort.

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Backup to the Cloud

dropboxIf you are going to go paperless in your life, you best be backed up when you do. Since there's no paper backup filed away in case the hard drive fails, the building burns or the flood happens, 100% reliable backup becomes crucial.

Years ago, in my quest to go paperless at home and in the office, I researched all kinds of alternatives from USB hard drives to tape to DVDs. Each had their problems with failures, difficulty of use, and practicality. For a while, I used two Maxtor 300 Gb USB hard drives. One would be online and backing up every night, the other stowed away safely in the fireproof computer media rated safe. Much to my amazement and disappointment, the drives continuously failed. After several returns and replacements from Maxtor, I determined a) that these drives just aren't meant to be run for a week at a time every other week and b) Maxtor makes crappy drives, and finally c) perhaps this is the reason Maxtor is no more...

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