Category Archives: blog

My Thoughts of Glass Almost a Year In

Recently Google published an article on how not to be a “glasshole.” In the article they listed a few do’s and don’ts regarding proper etiquette. The fact that Google published this concerns me. Reading this insults my intelligence; no really, it does. Why does Google, for its highly beta program need to tell people how to be socially acceptable?

New Glass explorers are becoming very loud in their belief that Glass should be everywhere, and get outraged when someone has a problem.  Maybe I’m just jaded, or was in that camp and forgot, but I’m trying to be respectful of new technology.  I don’t think Glass is a right.   If we get an update, then hooray, but we paid to be in an extreme beta.  If Google thinks that Glass is a failure, then they will stop the program.  Unfortunately, you paid the money, and they delivered a device.  That is it.  There was no expectation of updates or new revisions.

I’m not a developer, but I do want to call myself an advocate. My whole purpose was to see how glass, or any wearable technology can make my life easier. Glass hasn’t done it for me yet, but I can see potential. I go around answering any questions from people. Mainly I want to make people comfortable. I want them to see the positives, rather than the recording aspects that make people so nervous.

Now that I have had  Glass for just under a year, I forgot how I was when it first launched. Maybe I’m exactly guilty of what I’m trying to rail against, but the recent crop of explorers seem more vocal in their insistence of wearing glass to places they shouldn’t.

I don’t take off Glass in the bathroom. I don’t see a need. People talking on cell phones are more intrusive than me using the bathroom. I guess that is my one personal issue. At work, I was approached and asked to remove glass. I felt attacked. I felt that people didn’t trust me. I am the computer science teacher. My job is to get students excited about technology. My students are excited. I have the highest enrollment the school has ever had. I am also a professional; it says so on my union card. I am not allowed to photograph students, with career ending consequences if I do. Knowing that, why would I do something I shouldn’t? Not only that, people that were complaining ,did not ask about the capabilities. People listen to the news, and there aren’t any positive articles regarding glass.

I would never wear Glass to a movie theater. There is no reason to. You should not be doing anything else other than watching a movie. Likewise, I don’t wear glass to the doctor’s office. I have in the past, but was really careful to make sure I didn’t offend someone. Privacy is important, therefore, I do not want to make it look like I’m doing something I shouldn’t.  The goal is to use personal responsibility when debating of whether Glass is appropriate.  When people have asked me to take it off, I ask to talk to them about it.  Usually I will ask if I can show them how it works.  If they still feel uncomfortable, then I will take it off, and respect their wishes.

Glass is supposed to help us get information fast, and easy. The goal is to not try and force a use for it. If it is easier to get the job done on your phone, then do it. The new explorers in my mind are forcing actions that it is not. If you cannot talk in the space you are in, then pull out your phone and send that text message. Don’t annoy others because you HAVE to use Glass.

Glass is a beta product. It isn’t for everyone. Yeah it is the new hotness, but I try to explain to people who want to know that this is either an expensive toy, or a completely new development platform. It isn’t a finished product, and you shouldn’t expect it to be ready for commercial release. Send your constructive criticism to the Glass team.

Glass Explorers are supposed to be advocates. If you want Glass to succeed, positive news must be shared. Being creepy in public does not set a great example. Remember, our goal is to show that this is a useful product. Be smart about it. We are supposed to take the negativity and show people the future of wearables.

The customer service with glass is phenomenal. Once you have Glass, they treat you very well. They listen to the complaints, they fix issues that you caused, and they are overall pleasant. Their communication to current Glass owners is very good. They care about all the explorers.

Recently, they’ve decided to stop the monthly updates. Back in December or January they said that February will be the next update. Well February came and gone, but they did tell us they were sorry, and we wouldn’t be disappointed. This got people upset. They have shown that they care about providing support, so a delay shouldn’t be the end of the world.

I want Glass to succeed.  I want to be a part of a community that wants to try new things and advocates for them.  I want to be a part of the future.  I do not want to be lumped into a category of people who feel like they have the right to violate peoples’ privacy.

 

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The Sad State of Passwords Part 3: A Letter to Webmasters About Authentication

passwordmanager

I’ve said over and over, the best password is one that you don’t know, and is so incredibly long and complicated that you need to write it down. That is what security people have always recommended, yet for whatever reason people are still using insecure passwords. Mainly because websites impose so many restrictions to what a password can be. These same restrictions the hackers understand, and will use against you, or the site.

The problem is two-fold. First, entering data into a smartphone or any small keyboard is time-consuming. Having to go back and forth to where the password is stored, writing a character or two at a time (due to its complexity), will cause anyone to give up. You can not have secure and convenient. Using a password manager is inconvenient, but much more tolerable if the process was made easier. Second, websites in order to be more secure, are banning password managers from filling in the fields, or not allowing copy and paste. While, preventing these two actions make it more secure in a perfect scenario, where the average person understands this, the reality is people want access to their stuff NOW! By lifting these restrictions, and pushing password managers, you will increase security.

The new recommendation is to use a password manager. Let the password manager create, store, and fill in the password. Set it to create the longest nonsense it can. So difficult, you won’t remember, nor write it down. All of this is in addition to using a second form of authentication, however, the password is the most important part.

I spent a lot of time explaining managers here: http://chaimtime.com/2012/07/25/the-sad-state-of-passwords-part-1-use-a-password-manager/

I’ve drafted a letter that I want people to email to any website that refuses to allow a password manager from doing their job. I’ll leave it editable, so that people who are much better writers than I am can add to it.  Hopefully, this will be a catalyst for everyone to email the webmaster and forcing a policy change.

To Whom It May Concern:

I appreciate the security imposed by the site to keep my information safe and secure, but may I offer a few suggestions.  My suggestions are based on technical support inquiries I’ve been getting from less tech savvy and security conscious people.  I understand that as a business you have to weigh security versus convenience, but I don’t think the security you implement is acceptable enough to warrant the inconvenience

I’ve been a proponent of password managers to fill in credentials.  Your website will not allow the auto complete of username and passwords.  Password managers allows people to create passwords to your current website password restricts easily, and fills it in automatically.  They also make it easily to remember the change when needing to change passwords.  Allowing the automatic filling or copy and pasting means people can create more secure passwords with less inconvenience.  Allowing copy and pasting makes entering credentials on a smart phone much easier.  If you want people to use your app, you need to make it easy to log in, and keep user data secure.

Thank you for listening to my suggestion.  I am open to discussing this with you, or your security team.  I believe that this is a simple change that will allow a better experience on your website.

Your Customer,

 

As always, please comment on the Google+ Post below:

 


Photo Sharing, My Child, an It’s Privacy: Rambling On

photo_sharing_logos

Even before my son was born, I was stuck with the dilemma of how to show everyone who wanted to see photos, the photos I took. I’m a very security minded person, and the last thing I want to do is put my son in the public eye. It is fine if I do it, but my son, should have at least a choice. Children born in the Facebook era, are in the public spotlight from when they are born. By the age of thirteen, when they are finally able to use the internet, most of their milestones have been publicly documented (including the answers to their security questions).

I am really against all the moms and dads that lost their individuality because they want to everyone to see photos of their kids.  I’m friends with the adults, not the child(ren).  I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I when there are facebook extensions to remove baby pictures, I think it cross the line into a ‘thing.’

With security being the enemy of convenience, I have to manage both.  I need to make it easy for people to access and easy for me to post, but I make sure it is secure.  I don’t want the photos easily accessible by people I don’t want. Rolling my own photo service makes viewing photos a burden, but I control who sees it. Using an ubiquitous service makes it easily accessible to all, but not secure. With all the public services, I am aware that nothing will do everything what I want, nor will they not be stealing my (child’s) information.

The other issue that I have is I don’t want all my ‘friends’ seeing the photos.  I only want a certain subset of them (close friends and family) to see the photos.  On an aside, I find it strange by how many people want to see baby photos.  Maybe I’m weird.  I understand babies are cute, but I don’t need millions of photos.  I really want the control. Control is more important that simple.

I’ve decided to use Google+, not because I’m a fanboy. I decided because I think Google took the right approach in sharing. The circle concept has been very successful, and from privacy settings were apparent from the start. People who want photos can get it, and those who don’t won’t. The photo editing has only been getting better, and the album view has really improved. I can also share out of Google+ without a hassle. I can take an album and set permissions to only people with said link.

Not to mention that Google Glass integrates very well with Google+.  The photos get backed up, and easily allow sharing from all my devices.

Dropbox has also emerged as a competitor in a different way.  I give family a link to the shared folder.  In the meantime, any photo my wife and I upload we stick in dropbox.  My family can then see all the photos.  I can sort of do the same with others, but it gets to be cumbersome.

If you have spoken to me at all regarding my social networking habits you know that I am not a fan of Facebook. I’ve gotten to a point that I some photos, some public knowledge information, and almost no details about myself. I purely use it for Facebook Messenger, and to keep in touch with friends. I don’t have my favorite books, or movies. I don’t have more than a handful of photos. I reject most tags of myself, and refuse to allow anything other than some innocuous posts. I just don’t trust Facebook. There were always security and privacy concerns that have always rubbed me the wrong way. With that said, I don’t want pictures of my child on there.

Because I have to use Facebook if I want my friends and family to see my photos, I will link the G+ album to a Facebook post. It is the easiest way of posting on facebook, but leaving it without content. Facebook to my knowledge doesn’t scrape the photos of a link.

Twitter is just not an option. The feature set does not allow albums.

Instagram also has the same problem as twitter.

Flickr was an option, and a decent one at that. However, I was never a Flickr fan, nor are any of my friends. Plus the pro account, costs money. So while Flickr should be the obvious choice, nobody, not even me uses, Flickr. So many years of neglect, didn’t help either.

My personal site was an option, but there is too much overhead for me. There is too much work for me for a photo here or there.

After rambling, it is important to remember that I want to keep the photos and exposure of my child as controlled as possible.


Credit to Motorola for Their New DROIDS

droidmini

I’ve got to give some credit to Motorola, the non Google Motorola.  They have picked a marketing campaign, and stuck to it.  They have released a set of three phones every August, for almost three years.

Started with the RAZR, than the RAZR MAXX in November/January of 2011/2012

Then the RAZR M (Mid-range), RAZR HD (Higher end), and the RAZR MAXX HD (High End) September 2012

Now they have released the RAZR Mini (Mid Range), RAZR MAXX (higher end), and RAZR ULTRA (High end) slated for end of August.

All three years, they have come up with three phones, and have updated them quickly.  Motorola has also focused on problems such as battery life.  Also, they realized people want stock, and have moved towards stock as much as possible.

I’ve always had luck with Motorola phones.  I may be the only one, but my Droid X was always updated timely when it was relevant. Anyone with the above phones have always been happy.

The only negative is the root ability.  I’m hoping that these newest phones come with an unlockable bootloader.

The odd out phones have been neglected, and not recommended.  Droid 3 and 4 were both ignored.  The Droid Photon 4g I never heard from again.  These phones were released off cycle, and only appealed to a handful of people.

As I’ve been doing, please comment on the G+ page here:
https://plus.google.com/107779029598075532555/posts/ffpkmTiquqD

Privacy Concerns With Google Glass

source: Nobel Ackerson

source: Nobel Ackerson

If you know me personally, you know that I’m a very public person. I am also a very private person when it comes to certain things. Having the right to privacy, whether you choose so or not, is something I want to always have regardless if I choose to or not. If I choose to be engaged in social media, it is my choice, but I have to make sure that I only invoke my right (or lack) of privacy, and not anyone else’s.

When I take photos, I NEVER tag people in the shared album. I always ask the people, even if I can share the album. While, I assume, I’m in my right to tag someone, out of respect I don’t. What I assume is safe to post, may not be for everyone.

There is a very legitimate privacy concern over glass, when it comes to being in a place where cameras and recording devices are prohibited. In these places recording devices are banned. you don’t need to make another law specifically for glass. it is assumed that any recording device will be prohibited. The goal of Glass is to push the limits of technology. It is not a new way to spy on people. if Google didn’t put a camera, people would complain that it didn’t have a recording element.I believe that Google Glass is a huge milestone in technology. I believe that is a net positive gain for convenience. Remember Google’s mission statement / company policy is “do not evil.”

I will say that people are not paying the all this money to show us the very worst part of Google Glass. They have a vested interest in making a positive impact. I bet all the Glass toting population are very nice people who want to see this technology become mainstream. If the rumored iWatch has Siri that must mean it could also be a recording device. Are we banning watches?

The violation of one person’s privacy rights (implicit or implied) is a huge concern. The underlying issue is that the technology has already been given a stigma of being something that it is not. I am not going to walk around recording everyone. Just because I have a recording device doesn’t mean I’m going to use it for nefarious purposes. Those same devices have existed for years, but somehow we trust the user. We trust the user because we have the same technology, and understand how it works.

When you talk to someone who doesn’t understand what Facebook is, we hear the same privacy invading rhetoric. “I don’t like ‘the Facebook’ because it [Facebook] steals our information.” It very well could be true, but the evidence used, is not based on fact, but on rumor that someone told them. This argument also comes from the same people who won’t give you their address or phone number out of privacy concerns, but will friend you on Facebook ten minutes later.

People are already trying to pigeonhole Glass into a category of spying and video recording mainly because that is all they know.  We don’t ban pencils because someone can stab someone with it.  The fear of the unknown, has been led to the forefront. Just like any new technology, without real analysis, the cynics are going to complain about everything. How about we focus on real privacy concerns rather than potential recording in public places. I don’t hear complaints that your ISP just hands over browser history with only a governmental request. What about the data leakage that occurs when your friends play FarmVille?  You do know, Zynga, by virtue of your friends playing the games, has access to your Facebook account?

Let’s address the problem when it comes up.  Until then, let us all marvel in the new technology.  We have much bigger problems than some people looking funny who may want to take your picture in public without your consent.

Wanted: Friends; Requirements: Be Friendly

friends2

After my last post asking for a way to contact you, I thought about what friendship is.  Recently my friends have been moving away, and I’m left looking to add to my core set of friends.  It got me thinking about what I want in a friendship.

To be honest, there isn’t a checklist to be my friend, but rather a mantra:  ‘Just Be Friendly!”  All I want is someone who understands what friendship is, and acts friendly.  If someone calls, return their calls in a timely matter.  If they ask for your opinion, give it to them.  If they want to hang out, hang out with them.  I understand we are all busy, or have other obligations, but a good friend will explain to them, rather than hide behind the dreaded “I’m busy.”

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My Healthy Resolution for 2013

 

Exercise Apps

I know this sounds cliché, but 2013 NEEDS to be one of looking to the future.  We talked on the podcast about our resolutions, and mine once again was to lose weight.    It is true that I didn’t achieve the weight loss I desired, but I did achieve other milestones, notably, running a 5 mile race, completing a tough mudder.

So why did I fail, and why is this year different?  Well the first answer is easy, I got lazy.  I did so well the year before, I thought in my hubris ways that I can eyeball weights and portion sizes of food.  I always found an excuse for something.  I walk everyday, but I don’t push myself.  I drink 8 cups of water, and say I’m doing well, however I should be drinking more water.  I gave up (diet) soda, but replaced it with more sweets.  I did everything right, except I sabotaged myself.

So why is this year different?  It isn’t different in the sense that I think I’m finally ready to really try.  I know what to do, it is just a matter of executing the plan.  That starts with accountability, paired with small goals to show progress.

If you want to follow along with some or all, this is what I’ll be doing to become more healthier:

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Thirty Day Challenge: No Soda September

At the end of August I came across this post on Google+ talking about for the next thirty days the author was going to cut out soda, and then sugary drinks. If you want more information click here for the talk by Matt Cutts on the 30 Day Challenge. I have had a long-standing addiction to diet soda, and that if someone else had the same problem, I too, could try for 30 days to cut diet soda out.

Diet soda was my addiction.  Drinking a 2 liter bottle in a day wasn’t a challenge, but normal.  When I would go to Costco, I could fill up a 20oz cup 3 or 4 times without even realizing it.  Going out for dinner, I would ask the waiter to bring my two cups of soda first with my meal.

When discussing weight loss, people usually state the extremely obvious in an attempt to feign interest.  Weight loss is a touchy subject, mainly because you are bringing to the foreground people’s insecurities.  I don’t know too many people who are happy with their appearance.  The first thing people tell you is cut out soda.  I don’t drink regular soda, mainly because it is too sweet.  Soda has 120 calories per 8 ounce serving (250 calories in a 20 ounce bottle).  I explain to them that I drink diet soda; to that they say “It isn’t any better for you.”

The idea that diet soda isn’t better or worse than regular soda is an interesting idea.  It has zero calories, but it is made with sugar substitute.  So while High Fructose Corn Syrup is still artificial sugar, it is better for your than aspartame or Splenda.  On one hand, I haven’t read evidence that it is unhealthy for you (as is it detrimental to your health), but putting chemicals in my body is something that I rather not do.  What I did read is that your body tastes the sweet, and craves more.  Craves to the point that you end up over eating later to try to get the sugar that the artificial chemicals did not provide.

On a related note, are diet juices just as bad as diet soda?  In this case, just to break the habit, I’ll tackle this question another time.  To go from all diet soda and crystal lite to just water will be almost impossible, so I want to overcome one challenge at a time.

The hardest part of #NoSodaSeptember were two parts.  Part 1 was kicking the habit. The habit of carbonation was easily substituted with Seltzer.  It was jolting at first because of the lack of taste.  It did fulfill the carbonation element that I was craving, and with some will power the flavor craving went away.  Part 2 was understanding that buying drinks outside of the house became harder.

Water costs more than soda outside of your home.  Remember tap water is free, however you are paying for the bottle and colder temperature of the water.  So when a can of soda is $0.75, and a 16.3 oz bottle water is $1.00, you fiscally want to purchase the soda.  The (non) diet sugary drink was even more money, so that was an easy choice.  When you are at the fast food restaurants, they hand you a cup.  You have to look for the water option.

The hardest change was at Costco.  Getting my hotdog and soda was commonplace.  I had to train myself to get the lemonade.  In a future thirty-day challenge, I will cut out all artificially flavored drinks, and stick to seltzer and coffee.

The first week was the hardest.  I had to plan everything to make sure I didn’t get in a position that I was thirsty and lazy to the point that I would just give in to temptation.  Once that first week ended, the rest of the month was easy.

It is now December, and I haven’t had a sip of soda (diet or otherwise).  I don’t want to moderate my intake because I think that will with me justifying drinking more.  If I keep my limit to zero, I can’t say, just one more.

The best part of the thirty-day challenge, was that it was only for 30 days.  Thirty days are thirty days, and not some amorphous number that we can’t quantify. You can see the end if the challenge is something that is unfeasible.  If you succeed, then continue with it.

UPDATE:  I owned the SodaStream machine, and have tried many of their flavors.  I will agree that their syrup is probably healthier than others, however, the idea is the same.  While I have no actual studies on the negative effects of diet soda, even slightly healthier is something I don’t want to deal with.  It is like saying this cigarette or drug is better for you than others.  30% healthier is still not healthier than not having the product.

 

Should You Buy a Nexus 7

The TL;DR answer is YES*. Yes, only if you want to use Google. If you insist on keeping your yahoo, aol, hotmail, or your other email account, then this may not be for you.

*The longer answer below:

Before reading, I want you to know that I currently own and use, an iPad 2 with 3G, Kindle Keyboard with 3G, Galaxy Nexus LTE, Motorola Xoom 4G, and an HP Touchpad. My parents currently use the Xoom and the Touchpad, but I’ve had extensive time with each.

I am not doing a review on it, but rather telling you what I like. If you want reviews, you can go here, here, or here.

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