Visiting Alcatraz

On a recent work trip to San Francisco I got to visit Alcatraz. It wasn’t nearly as creepy as it had been hyped – except the hospital wing. That definitely exceeded the creepy expectation.

The Internet wins

But you can’t take the internet away from the people. The internet doesn’t belong to Comcast or AT&T or Verizon or your local carrier or anyone else. The internet is us — it is the people who live and breathe and love and fight on it every day. The internet is the backbone of the economy. It is the foundation of the new (and old) media. It is home to hobbies and clubs and fools and dreamers alike; a million potential billionaires launching apps into the void. The internet is a basic, simple part of American life in 2015. It is freedom, and we deserve to be heard when our freedoms are under attack. – Nilay Patel


The FCC is reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act which means the government will regulate it like it does phone lines. This means, theoretically,  there won’t be any paid prioritization or fast/slow lanes on the Internet. That’s a good thing.

The best outcome, however, would have been one that broke up telco monopolies/duopolies and fostered real competition in the marketplace. I only have two options for Internet service at my house – CenturyLink and Vivint Wireless. If there were 16 options, the government wouldn’t have to get involved (I worry about stifling technical advances/progress – our country is already lagging behind the rest of the developed world) and the market could sort itself out.

Perhaps this victory is a lesser of two evils? Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m glad the telcos are throwing a fit. Serves them right.

First time trying yoga

I tried yoga for the first time today. I’m really bad at it.

But I enjoyed it.

OK. Enjoyed is a strong word. But I liked it enough that it’s now a recurring event on my calendar.

It’s painfully obvious (literally) how inflexible I am so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I was told by my coworkers/fellow yogis the class was relatively mellow. This frightens me a little.

Some of the stuff I could do – no problem. Like standing with my palms touching in front of my chest. And the last part where we laid on our backs on the mat and tried to relax in a dark room. Nailed that. But there were other parts that were more difficult. Like this.

No. I didn’t accomplish that. But I tried.

And I’m pretty proud of myself for trying something new – especially at work with my coworkers who had all done it before.

Someday I hope to be as good as this guy who has beef with that pumpkin.


Thanks Eric Ward for the photo.

Desk.PM is on sale

If you’re interested in a Mac-ified blog writing interface, check out I’ve been eyeing it for a while and now that it’s half off (Reg. $30) I jumped.

The whole thing is designed to focus on writing. So far, I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve been slacking quite a bit in the blogging areana lately. Why? A combination of factors.

1. Writing a blog post feels laborious

Sad, but true. I love writing, but the idea of sitting down and cranking out a blog post when all most people look at/share pictures feels somewhat like a wasted effort.

I need to remind myself that I should do this for me, because I enjoy it, and if anyone wants to come along for the ride they’re welcome to.

2. I became cynical

Also sad. Also true.I used to be into the social medias pretty hardcore. This was back in the day when people weren’t quite sure why everyone was talking abou Twitter. I’m pretty much off Facebook and only check Twitter due to a mix of boredom and obligation. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I feel like there’s too much “stuff” out there, so my desire to contribute to the stream of everything has waned considerably.

I never stopped writing

Just for the record, I never stopped writing – just switched platforms and goals. A year or so ago I wrote a book (you can read it for free). In 2014 I made 399 entries in my Day One journal plus many more in my paper notebook. I’ve started a new book that I may turn into a full-blown online course sometime. Plus, I’m writing every day at work.


This was my first post with and I think it’s going to be a good tool.



The iCloud solution: link storage to hardware

iCloud logo

There’s been some speculation recently about what, if anything, Apple is going to do with iCloud at WWDC next month. Here are the main complaints:

5 GB isn’t sufficient for anything

Yes, it’s free (gift horse, mouth, yeah, yeah) but the idea behind iCloud is that you’re supposed to be able to run your email, calendar, reminders off one account along with backups of all your iOS devices. 5 GB isn’t enough to store my email, let alone backups for the apps on my iPhone and iPad.

Upgrading still isn’t enough

Even if I wanted pay extra to back up a 64 GB iPhone, Apple doesn’t offer an iCloud storage option over 50 GB. And we’re supposed to back up multiple devices to iCloud?

It’s too expensive

Google just dropped the price of it’s Google Drive storage by more than half. Now, you get 15 GB free and if you need more, it’s dirt cheap:

Google Drive Pricing

(Prices are per month)

Compare that to iCloud which only works with Apple devices:

iCloud storage pricing

Apple doesn’t even offer an equivalent of Google’s lowest paid tier. If it did, at their current rate it would cost close to $200 per year compared to Google’s $24 per year.

For about the same amount as Apple’s 55 GB, you can get 100 GB on Dropbox:

Dropbox Pro Pricing

Different business models: services vs. hardware

Google sells hardware to support its services and Apple has services to support its hardware sales; the business models are very different. However, that doesn’t mean Apple can ignore providing reliable cloud services and rely on others (their competition) to do it for them. Quality issues aside, how can Apple (a hardware company) compete with the likes of Google and Dropbox (software/service companies)?

Tie services to hardware

Here’s my proposal: give every iOS device owner 2x the capacity of their device(s) in iCloud storage.

16 GB iPhone? 32 GB iCloud storage.
Also have a 32 GB iPad? Add another 64 GB for a total of 96 GB.

This would give users enough space to completely back up each of their devices and have room left over for apps to use. It also makes buying a more expensive iPhone/iPad more compelling because you aren’t just getting more storage on the device, you’re also getting 2x the storage in iCloud.

Of course, what I’d really like to see is them blow everyone out of the water and offer something like 500 GB for free for everyone. I don’t think that’s going to happen. At best, if Apple decided to tie iCloud storage to hardware, I’m guessing they’d give you the same capacity of your device + the 5 GB they offer now for free with options to upgrade.

What do you think they’ll do? What do you think they should do?

P.S. A word on lock-in

Currently, iCloud isn’t the type of service that makes me think, “I could never leave Apple because my life is in iCloud.” Because iCloud is so limited in so many ways (including capacity), I use cross-platform applications and services instead (Flickr to back up all the pictures taken on my iPhone, YouTube to share videos, Google Drive for all my documents). Does iCloud offer all those features? Yes. But I can’t use them because, for example, sharing four family videos takes up a gig of my iCloud space.

Why is that important? For each service I use that’s not iCloud, makes it that much easier to try something other than an iPhone.

How to create a safe, memorable password in 5 minutes – UPDATED

Konami Code

With all the (well-deserved) hubub about the Heartbleed SSL security flaw which impacts 2/3 of the Internet, I thought I would share my method of generating safe, memorable, unique passwords.

There are only four steps. Don’t over-think them. This process should take less than five minutes.

How to create safe, memorable, unique passwords

Step 1. Pick a number. Any number. (Except that one.)

The year your favorite state entered into the union, numbers that spell out something funny on a phone keypad, your ideal outdoor temperature, whatever. Just make sure it isn’t easily associated with you. No phone numbers, addresses, SSN, birthdays, etc.

I’ll use the year Oregon was founded: 1859

Step 2. Pick a phrase

It could be a famous quote, song lyrics, or something funny your family always says. I’ll stick with the patriotic theme and go with “One nation under God.” Now, shorten/abbreviate the phrase:


I’ll go with the first one since it includes a number: 1nuG

Step 3. Identify the service

Pick a phrase that includes the name/type of service this version of the password will be used for. Then shorten it:

I heart [service] = I heart Facebook = IhF

[Service] is the best = Facebook is the best= Fitb

I always use [service] = I always use Chase Bank = IauCB

I’ll go with the first example: IhF

Step 4. Pick something that can rotate

It can be anything that’s sequential and easy for you to remember: colors of the rainbow, ages of your kids, cities along a specific route, etc. This is so you can easily create a new password when you need to without going through the whole process again.

Sticking with my Oregon theme, I’ll do cities down the 101 highway.

Example: Astoria.

Put it together

Taking my results from Steps 1-4 and adding a symbol between them, my new Facebook password would be:


Using the same methodology, I can then use a similar (but not identical) password for my other accounts, too. Here’s an example of what my Twitter password could look like:


Whenever you need to create a new password (every six months, a Heartbleed-type security bug, etc.) you can just swap out the rotatable element. The next time I need to reset my password, my new Twitter password could become:


The result

There you have it. A very long (21-character) password that uses symbols, numbers, and letters (upper- and lower-case), is unique for each of your accounts, and is easily updatable. It’s pretty easy to remember, too. By the time you go through and update all your passwords for your different services you’ll have it down pat.

Bonus: if anyone nefarious ever looks at it, it’ll seem like complete gibberish.

Adapt as needed

Take the process and make it your own: change the order of the steps, do a shorter version (some sites limit the number of characters in your password), or pick entirely new steps. Tweak what you need to make it work for you.

Need a hint?

Instead of jotting down the actual password on a sticky note next to your computer (NOT SAFE) you can write down the mental process you used to generate the password.

THIS: Oregon, patriot, service, road trip.

NOT THIS: 1859.1nuG.IhF.Astoria

That should do it. Like it? Find a flaw in the method? Let me know in the comments.




Mac user? Here’s a simpler way.

Apple will generate and securely store unique passwords for all the sites you go to online using iCloud Keychain. All you have to do is remember a single master password. It syncs from your desktop to all your iDevices so…yeah. Not a bad option if you use Safari and don’t want to be bothered with tracking a bunch of passwords.




Through a series of fortuitous events, yesterday I was introduced to LastPass. After listening to an hour-long podcast about it, I’m convinced it’s super secure and a good place for my passwords. I changed nearly all my passwords yesterday with the LastPass password generator which creates and stores crazy-long/complicated/awesome passwords and stores them in a vault that only you have the key to.

How secure is it? Why would you trust LastPass with your passwords? Because even they don’t have your password. Everything is hashed (encrypted) multiple times using 256-bit SHA security on your machine, then it’s sent to their servers. That means if one of their employees is compromised by a secret, still-in-existence underground arm of the KGB, or if some teenager in China manages to get to your information on their servers, they won’t see your username and password. They’ll see something like this:

256 SHA Hash

I may to a follow-up post on it later. Either way, you should check it out and give it some consideration.

Image courtesy of Pixel Fantasy.