Cleaning out the cobwebs …

When I find topics to discuss on this blog, I typically send myself an email with links for background.  If I haven’t blogged in a while, these emails languish and start to coalesce into a lonely bunch of ticklers.  So, with that in mind, it’s time to clean out the digital cobwebs:

“Go to Fail” SSL security issue with Apple products

In February, I wrote a flash entry entitled FLASH Update your iOS devices.  The issue is a “day 1” issue with the code that protects your sensitive data when interacting with your financial and other websites  There was a coding error in Safari that by-passed some of the critical tests that validate the site’s legitimacy.  This is a particularly nasty bug if you are on a public Wi-Fi network where someone can insert a man-in-the-middle attack by quietly replacing your bank’s website with a bogus replica.

What I didn’t include in the note was a requirement to insure that Safari on your Mac also get updated.  This issue is more troubling in that there were reports that older MacOS versions were not provided updates, including Snow Leopard (10.6.x) and earlier.

To test Safari’s security on a given device or computer (includingWindows running Safari), browse to https://gotofail.com/ from a Safari browser.   It will notify you immediately whether your browser has this issue.  If it does, use an alternate browser until it gets fixed.  I’d recommend Firefox by Mozilla.

LED light bulbs

With the manufacturing cessation of various types of incandescent light bulbs and the issues with compact florescent bulbs, the future of lighting seems to be in LED light bulbs.  The quality of both the light that’s omitted and the bulbs themselves has improved significantly, while the purchase price has dropped.  Though much more expensive than incandescent bulbs, the value is now there in terms of cost to operate and longevity.

Popular Mechanics published an article called Everything You Need to Know About LED Light Bulbs, which provides a good overview.

Cheats that will improve your life

I ran across an article entitled 41 Cheats That Will Improve Your Life by Emily Co of SavvySugar, published in Business Insider.  I’m including it because many of the “cheats” are technical in nature, but also because you might find even the non-technical interesting.

CNET is a good source for technical information and “how to”

I’ve been following CNET for well over a decade from their early attempt at Internet radio ( was an avid listener).  I ran across this story on Home Networking Explained, which is the first of a series on home networking.  These articles are thorough and interesting.  Though they have some technical depth, they are also approachable by folks interested in technology, but not gurus.

To reach their general “how to” page, browse to http://www.cnet.com/how-to/.  There is a plethora of topics explored.

What’s the best picture mode on your TV?

I can “talk tech” with the best of them, but when it comes to more artistic topics like how to configure my TV for the best picture, I usually refer to my daughter who is much more artistically enlightened.  However, when browsing CNET, I ran across What’s the Best Picture Mode, which should aid the artistically challenged.

The best web browser

Among technologists and non-technologists, the choice of which browser is superior to all others is a topic that approaches religious fervor.  This is because one’s browser preference is only in part  an indicator of its functionality (after all, they all do pretty much the same thing).  An individual’s choice is also an indicator of the user’s coolness, political standing (e.g., no self respecting anarchist would be seen using Internet Explorer or Safari), and technical acumen (e.g., Chrome is by far faster).

I’m not jumping into the fray, but here’s an article by Paul Lilly of MaximumPC that does entitled Best Web Browsers.

GMAIL encryption is mandatory

In 2010, Google made using SSL the default for accessing your Gmail account.  Effective immediately, SSL will be mandatory for accessing your account, either by browsing to their website or by using various email protocols (e.g., smtp, imap, pop3).  This is good news, in that it offers the same protection when your data is in transit that you get when you connect to your bank.  Regardless of whether you are using Google or some other service for your email, the connection should be encrypted.

Note that when Google says “encryption is mandatory”, they are only referring to the link between you and gmail.com.  The message is not encrypted when on their servers or when it is flying around the Internet.  So though it protects your messages from a public Wi-Fi attack, it does nothing to protect your message from being snooped on the wider Net.

Tech trends in 2014

I ran across this article in Mashable entitled 7 Huge Tech trends in 2014.  Many of the trends have been discussed and will continue to be discussed in this blog during 2014.

Well, that brings me up-to-date.  Time to delete a mess of pesky email …

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