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I have received many comments about the Anyfeed Slideshow; there is a bug in the present version I intend to work out with an upcoming release. We’ve had company since a week before Christmas; between that and work I’ve had no free time to hammer out anything productive. I have not forgotten about you! Many apologies for the delays, I will do my absolute best to get that out A.S.A.P.!

No Comments Written by in Anyfeed Slideshow at 7:05 am

Jan 24 2011 Cityscape Photography

Since I’ve been old enough to appreciate photography, cityscape photography has always been one of my absolute favorites. I love architecture and the contrast large buildings provide against your standard fare of houses and supermarkets. There’s just something about it that screams civilization! If you were lost in the jungles of Africa, thus searching for other people and happened upon a village of huts, you have succeeded. If you should instead see a skyscraper not far from where you are, however, you’ve won the lottery!

As one would imagine, growing up in small town Mankato, Minnesota didn’t leave many opportunities for cityscape photography; at least in the scales I’ve found more interesting. When I learned my close friends Aaron and Michelle had secured a top floor suite at a downtown San Jose hotel, I practically begged them to let me in with my camera! As convenience would have it, the windows in their room opened, and one was missing the security latch that limited how far open the window could slide. How perfect is that! As a result, I took a panorama and a night shot (I would have done a night panorama, but sadly forgot to bring my tripod); both are below.

Here’s to hoping more opportunities like this one arrise in the future! Many thanks go out to Aaron and Michelle for providing the opportunity!

No Comments Written by in Life at 6:37 am

Many of us when considering how to protect ourselves from a physically external threat against our personal computers would usually consider the following steadfast solution:

  • Password everything
    • Use passwords that are difficult to guess (unrelated to our lives, jumbles of letters and numbers, etc)
    • Never use the same password twice
    • Always use mixed case letters, numbers and symbols
    • Ensure the password is at least 8 characters long
    • Never use whole dictionary words anywhere in your password
  • Keep Daily Backups
  • Keep Your Computer in a Safe Place

These rules generally keep us safe in the information age; but I wonder if we didn’t think our clever plan all the way through. What if an unpleasant sort of person might sneak about and steal away our computer? What if they also were to take our backup drive? What then?

Well, here’s what happens.

  • If you’ve passworded and encrypted your operating system…
    • If your data is worth it, they can still get it.
    • They reformat your laptop and re-install a pirated OS on your computer. It’s easy .
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are slim to nill.

  • If you’ve only passworded your operating system…
    • They can still easily get your data.
    • They reformat your laptop and re-install a pirated copy of OS on your computer.
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are slim to nill.

  • If your OS doesn’t have so much as a password on it…
    • They get your data with no difficulty whatsoever.
    • They usually sell your laptop as is, sometimes even with your data still intact!
    • Your chances of recovering the laptop at this point are actually pretty good!

So really, the question comes down to this: What’s more important to you? The privacy of your data, or your hardware?

Privacy

If the privacy of your data is more important, then keep this in mind. Generally speaking, once someone has physical access to your computer, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to prevent them from accessing your data. Encryption slows the process, it might stop a few, but if your data is worth having, nothing can stop someone from pulling it from the physical machine. With that in mind, don’t carry that data on your laptop if it’s so important! Keep it on a flash drive and tuck it away in a safe. Nuke your browser history and cookies after you browse the internet, or use Firefox and plug-ins that help you do that more easily.

If you’re concerned about ensuring you don’t lose your data, you might keep online backups. It’s all the rage, and there are lots of different companies already offering services for around $5.00/month.

Once your mobile system is free from the things you’re terrified of others seeing, your main concern is retrieving the hardware should it be stolen.

Hardware

In this day and age, one can easily use services to track the location of an individual by IP address. There are many companies that provide this service, and many programs have thus been made to take advantage of these services. If you were to install one of these many, many, many, many products, you could get an exact location of where your laptop is the next time it’s turned on. You could use software to take a picture of the thief in action. These products, however, assume the thief is able to log into and make use of your system. After all, if you can’t get into someone’s laptop, how much fun it is to stare at the lock prompt, asking you for a password you don’t know? At that point, you’d just wipe it and start with a new OS, wiping away all of your security. Useless.

So, am I saying you should leave your computer with no password? No. That’s not a very good idea at all. …but it sure couldn’t hurt to make a guest account with just enough to get your thief to use the computer for a while so those wonderful products tell you what s/he looks like, and where s/he is.

Not convinced of this method yet? Well, this gentleman certainly presented a great case.

1 Comment Written by in Amusing,Security at 1:24 pm