AT&T to lose 1.1 million TV subscribers as DirecTV continues nosedive

2019-09-13 Comments off

We subscribed to DirecTV for over 15 years, but cut the cord months after AT&T acquired DirecTV. There were some minor issues with the DirecTV Genie randomly skipping to the end/front of a recording, and it’s annoying when the service goes out when the weather changes, but AT&T was the death of DirecTV.

After the AT&T branding change there was a new $7 “TV Fee”, and EVERY month our bill changed. EVERY month. Five months in a row. Pre-AT&T it was $86 for the previous year, recently it’s varied between $90 to $103. The CBS black out and prospect of ever increasing fees by AT&T made the decision to cut the cord pretty easy. Also, a new roof – we didn’t want to re-mount the dish.

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Mueller Report

2019-04-18 Comments off

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election Volume I of II Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III

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Walk home

2019-04-17 Comments off

Walk home.  Testing links to Garmin Connect to see if I can automatically post activity.

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Walking to work

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I need the exercise, and it only takes ~35 minutes each way.


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Mount Holly Ride

2019-04-13 Comments off

Ride to Mount Holly, Smithville, and Vincentown.

Experimenting with new WordPress addin (Run Log)

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Venmo security concerns

2018-08-29 Comments off

I haven’t reviewed Venmo security in a long time.  Originally I took a look when my middle daughter was looking for an electronic payment service to sort out payments to roommates and friends in college.  At that time (2010?), Venmo appeared to be one of the best options.

That has changed – By default, all peer-to-peer Venmo transactions are public (except transaction amount).  Wired article, “Public By Default”, Hang Do Thi Duc’s site walks through the problem and example API output links are below.

I’m not sure what to recommend to replace Venmo, but I’m going to do a lot of testing over the weekend and post some recommendations.

Click here to see the last 100 transactions posted to Venmo (seriously).

It’s Time to Stop Sending Money on Venmo

Public By Default

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Apple design

2018-07-18 Comments off

This is an Apple Magic Mouse being recharged.  Apple is frequently hailed as a model of design.  This is a poorly designed mouse. 


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Backup hardware and software recommendations for family computers

Lots of people ask about backup and disaster recovery for family computers. I use an external USB/eSATA case and Acronis True Image software to image all my friends and family computers. Reference links below for the hardware and software.

The biggest value to me has been flexibility in upgrading drives, decommissioning a system, and migrating to another system. Also, if (and this has NEVER happened) my system were to be compromised, it’s not worth my time and I don’t trust recovery of a compromised system. I will just restore my most recent image and recover my data from the cloud. Also, for people with kids in college, there is one less thing to worry about when they are away at school.

My recommendations:
” Rosewill external USB/eSATA enclosure
” 2TB or larger, fast SATA drive
” Acronis True Image Software

NOTE – Acronis updates its software every year. I have leveraged inexpensive multi-pack upgrades they offer to keep current and install the software on the many family computers…

I like the Rosewill enclosure because it can handle any SATA drive (small SSD to full size SATA) and the cooling fan can be switched on/off as required. I used this enclosure to expand the capacity of my DVR in the past as well as an external and backup drive for my laptops, desktops, and lab equipment.

For backups, I have been using the cheapest 2TB drives I can get and I keep the drives for ~5 years (after that I don’t trust them). Next replacement cycle I might go to 4TB drives.

There are lots of other options, so I included recommendations from The Wirecutter below for portable and external hard drives for reference.

Acronis True Image

3.5 Inch Hard Drive Enclosure to USB 3.0 / eSATA

The Best External Desktop Hard Drive – Jan 2018

The Best Portable Hard Drive – Oct 2017

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Browser recommendations – performance and security

This is a post to answer some regular questions I get from friends and family. I’ll update it regularly as required.

First, I use an ad blocker. Sites don’t like you to block ads, but there are so many malicious ads out there that chew up bandwidth, slow my browser, and clutter my screen that I don’t recommend using a browser without an ad blocker.

The ad blocker I recommend is uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge browsers.

Browsers I recommend:
” Firefox Quantum – currently the fastest browser I’ve tested and it works on just about every site I use.
” Google Chrome – good general use browser, and any Google sites are optimized for use with Chrome.
” Microsoft Edge – taking a lot of abuse from the tech crowd, but it’s fast, secure, and my only issue is problems with some sites.
” Epic Privacy Browser – based on Chrome, it’s designed to be secure. If you want to make sure you’re secure, this is the browser to use.
” Opera – another solid, fast browser, it has a nice VPN capability if you’re trying to access content that’s blocked based on your geography (example could be BBC content).

Next, I use the beta versions of the Firefox and Chrome browsers. They are very stable, all the add-ons and extensions I have work with the beta releases, and I think they are less vulnerable to exploits if I’m on a ‘not so safe site’. Reference links for both below, they are generally referenced as “dev channels” (as in development).

Next, if you want to make sure your browsing session is as secure as possible, check out the browsers below. Epic Privacy Browser and Opera (built-in VPN).

The Epic browser is particularly secure, but may give you problems on a financial services site or some commercial sites because it’s locked down pretty tight.

Epic Privacy Browser (based on Chrome)


Chrome Dev Channel – I think you’re running 64 bit Windows, so pick that Beta Channel download.

Firefox Dev Channel – download the Beta version

Microsoft Edge

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Ajit Pai (FCC Chairman) is not our friend

2017-06-04 Comments off

We are watching the FCC sell out the consumers it is supposed to protect. Ajit Pai is the head of the FCC. He’s a smart guy, but he is not the friend of the consumer, he’s a former Communication Industry law partner. He’s selling Network Neutrality like he’s on an infomercial (it’s not what he says it is). Now they are proposing “direct to voicemail” calls.

My suggestion is to get a Google Voice account and configure it as the voicemail for your cell phone. It will automatically detect ‘SPAM’ calls and you have the option to block calls (or block all calls…).

Network World – technical background and reference links.

Consumers Union statement

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