Category: technology

Wi-fi router and security

I’m in the market for a Wi-Fi router so I’ve been doing a little research. When I’m looking for new electronics, I almost always check what Wirecutter recommends.

I’m also a bit of an infosec enthusiast so I was somewhat surprised that a technology enthusiast site is recommending a router that uses a traditional means of updating the router firmware – connect to the router with your computer, download a file form the manufacturer’s website and apply the file manually. Sure, the TP-Link Archer C7 is fast and has a high range but security updates are critical. Most of us don’t think about our routers once we’ve installed them – unless it’s reboot them when they’re not working right.

So even though the TP-Link Archer C7 is recommended by Wirecutter, I’ll be getting an Airport Extreme when it’s time to upgrade my old router. The update process isn’t automatic with the Apple router but at least the router checks for updates automatically and notifies you it’s time to update the software.

 

Observations of an Internet Middleman | Beyond Bandwidth

This is a pretty great article.

Five of those congested peers are in the United States and one is in Europe. There are none in any other part of the world. All six are large Broadband consumer networks with a dominant or exclusive market share in their local market. In countries or markets where consumers have multiple Broadband choices (like the UK) there are no congested peers.

On Choosing Secure Passwords

I couldn’t agree with this more and if you’re not using a password manager at this point, then you’re just doing the Internet wrong.

I use 1password and recommend it. Yes, it’s pay but that’s good!

My default password generation recipe is 23 characters of upper and lower case letters. I use letters only in case I’m ever having to manually type the stupid thing on a touch screen.

There are still some passwords you have to remember. Obviously you need to remember the password to your 1password file! I also remember the password to my Dropbox account (and I use 2-factor authentication) because that’s what I use to sync my 1password file. I also changed my iPhone from a 4 digit PIN to a strong password since the 5s has the finger print scanner. It’s becoming harder and harder to pick good ones. I used the Diceware method of generating my passwords.

Again, I agree with all this:

Even better is to use random unmemorable alphanumeric passwords (with symbols, if the site will allow them), and a password manager like Password Safe to create and store them. Password Safe includes a random password generation function. Tell it how many characters you want — twelve is my default — and it’ll give you passwords like y.)v_|.7)7Bl, B3h4_[%}kgv), and QG6,FN4nFAm_. The program supports cut and paste, so you’re not actually typing those characters very much. I’m recommending Password Safe for Windows because I wrote the first version, know the person currently in charge of the code, and trust its security. There are ports of Password Safe to other OSs, but I had nothing to do with those. There are also other password managers out there, if you want to shop around.

There’s more to passwords than simply choosing a good one:

  1. Never reuse a password you care about. Even if you choose a secure password, the site it’s for could leak it because of its own incompetence. You don’t want someone who gets your password for one application or site to be able to use it for another.
  2. Don’t bother updating your password regularly. Sites that require 90-day — or whatever — password upgrades do more harm than good. Unless you think your password might be compromised, don’t change it.
  3. Beware the “secret question.” You don’t want a backup system for when you forget your password to be easier to break than your password. Really, it’s smart to use a password manager. Or to write your passwords down on a piece of paper and secure that piece of paper.
  4. One more piece of advice: if a site offers two-factor authentication, seriously consider using it. It’s almost certainly a security improvement.

Pretty much my view on Snapchat

It’s not 100 percent clear to me what’s working about Snapchat,” Brian Acton says. “Great, teenagers can use it to get laid all day long. I don’t care. I’m 42, essentially married with a kid. I don’t give a shit about this. I’m not sexting with random strangers. I send the ‘I love you’s in text. She’s sending me photos of our baby. These are memories. It’s not clear to me that being goofy with Snapchat necessarily creates that level of intimacy.

via WhatsApp: The inside story | Ars Technica.

In Beijing, the New IPhone Gets a Resounding ‘Meh’

I actually agree with this:

One employee of China Telecom (CHA), which has a partnership with Apple, declined to give her name but offered a theory on Apple’s diminished mystique in China. She says Steve Jobs was revered in China as a creative miracle. Now, she says, Apple is just an ordinary company controlled by businessmen.

via In Beijing, the New IPhone Gets a Resounding ‘Meh’ – Businessweek.

Boston Marathon: What if all personnel had gps enabled, personal dvrs?

In the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon I’ve been listening to the radio and reading about the bombings. One of the early reports described how one of the bombs was pretty close to a security guard who was scanning the crowd. If the bomber didn’t look suspicious  then there’s no reason for the security guard to remember the bomber at all so I’m not trying to fault the guard.

But what if all security personnel at the event wore a Google glass type device that recorded everything during their shift? What if these devices were GPS enabled and all of the video was download into a server and that data could then be datamined? For instance, show me all video from all devices that occured between 1:00pm and 3:00pm at coordinate X.

This nerdy idea has been bouncing around in my head for a few days and I hope typing it out will make it stop. 😉

Why I’m still going to use Flickr

I saw today that Instagram has a new new updated, TOS and now they have no intention of selling your photos. We can all rest easy and keep on posting pictures of our sushi on Instagram, right?

I realize in the grand scheme of things this is a pretty trivial issue. They provide a free service and in exchange they get to show us ads and make money. It's a pattern we've seen a few times now including Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I'm growing to really dislike this model. When we submit ourselves to this type of model we're giving up control of our content. If you've been using Facebook for years, they have a lot of your information and they're just one TOS change away from using that content however they like or making it all public by default or any of the other annoying things people on the Internet have rage about.

I'm no longer going to post pictures to Instagram. I'd rather pay Flickr to get rid of the ads if I'm honest (the new Flickr app is pretty good too). Plus, I like the model where I'm the customer and not the product. It's the same reason I have a self hosted blog and why I'm trying to use App.net.

 

Why I’m an iPhone Fanboy

iPhone 5 Unboxing and Comparisons (via iLounge)
iPhone 5 Unboxing and Comparisons (via iLounge)

I’m an Apple fanboy. I love their products and their philosophy about user experience. Recently, I’ve engaged in a couple of unsatisfactory conversations with my friends about why I prefer Apple products. It’s also not too uncommon to get some smug comments from Android users. Hey, I get it…  Apple fanboys are pretty smug and annoying too. I try real hard not to be one of those types but I do want to explain why like Apple products.

My first smart phone was a BlackBerry Curve. I thought it was a pretty great phone. I could surf the web (kind of), I could read ebooks, I could check Facebook , Twitter and Email all while on the go. It was the best thing since sliced bread and I was forever hooked on smartphones.

Jen and I upgraded to the Droid X on the day they launched and we were in geek heaven. The Curve seemed old and obsolete in comparison. The Droid was faster and had that awesome and large touch screen. We were both (and still are) Google fans as we used a lot of their services and we continue to do so today. I loved that we could customize the Droid until our heart was content. We could even load a custom ROM and really customize everything. I had my Droid X setup exactly the way I wanted it.

Even though I was completely happy with my Droid X, I had never tried an iPhone. How could I say that the Droid was the best if I had never tried an iPhone? It was with that thought that I decided to get the iPhone 4 when my upgrade was available. I’ve now been using my iPhone for a year and I can say for me, it’s the best phone. Here are the specific reason I prefer the iPhone:

  1. It’s been a little while since I used Android but the battery life on my Droid X wasn’t very good. I understand that the newest Android phones are better in this regard than my Droid X.
  2. The apps seem better and more stable. I have much fewer crashes on my iPhone than I had on my Droid X. Additionally, when new, major versions of apps are published, they usually come out on iPhone first (Waze and foursquare come to mind). Additionally, there are just more and better apps for iPhone. I agree that more doesn’t always mean better but in my experience, the apps are better. Tweetbot is hands down the best Twitter application available on any platform and it’s not available for Android.
  3. User experience. When I’d hear Apple users say this, I’d kind of roll my eyes but I think it’s true. The user experience is just… better. I think of it like a BWM or Mercedes compared to a Chevy or Dodge. On paper, a Chevy has 4 wheels, the same horse power and nice leather seats but there is just something about how the BMW/Mercedes is built that just makes for a nicer experience than driving the Chevy.
  4. The aftermarket accessories market is much bigger and better for iPhone than OEM Android phones simply because there are more iPhone handsets than specific Android handsets. Maybe there are more Android users but how many different handsets are there? Motorola, Samsung, HTC and Google just to name the big players. How many iPhone 4/4s users are there compared to Nexus users are there? Is there anything even remotely like the Magellan ToughCase for an Android device?

The transition to the iPhone wasn’t painless but I was determined to make the transition so I just had to adjust my expectations to match how the iPhone worked. I couldn’t automatically upload my photos to Flickr in the background with the iPhone for instance. This irritated me a great deal at first but I finally found an app that allowed me to sync by just opening the app. That app, CameraSync has since added the functionality to automatically upload photos based on a location (when you arrive at home for instance).

I still think the Android has a better notification system. I liked the indicator light and the persistent notification icons in the upper left corner. The iPhone notification center comes close to being as a good as Androids… good enough that it doesn’t matter. I also miss the tighter integration  with Google Voice that the Android devices have. The Google Voice app on the iPhone is good enough that I can deal though.

So there you go. I like the iPhone because I think it works better, there are more and better apps and there are more and better accessories. Your mileage may vary.