Is Your Blade Growing Dull?

When I was in undergrad, I intellectually stimulated almost every day. Sure, there were the Saturday nights when the most intellectual discussion was how fast can we finish the beers at the track team’s party (shoutout to the homie Devon Smith), but regular days consisted of my group tossing around ideas about how we would take over the world while either eating in the cafe, working off our cafe eating in the gym, or making sure we still had access to the cafe/gym next semester by sitting in the library to keep our scholarship dollars rolling in.

I miss those days — the days when we dreamt and planned more than we worked ourselves into an apathetic torpor. Whether the goal was entrepreneurship or figuring out how we would climb the corporate ladder or improving the quality of life for others, we used our minds in an unconventionally imaginative fashion.  Their iron sharpened mine and mine theirs.

I still talk to (but rarely see) many from my circle, as many of us have gotten bogged down in the mundane and monotonous movement from Monday to Friday, only to pray on Friday for the weekend to move in the slowest motion possible and, conversely, for Monday morning to prey on us as hard as we pray on Monday for Friday. This is week in and week out. We do it for the bills and the insurance, the 401(k) matches and the paid days of sick leave, benefits which ultimately catalyze the very mental health days that we end up taking and retirement we long for (because I am convinced that I will never truly want to retire from a passion but I’ll be in a hurry to leave a job). Security holds many of us hostage, which is ironic, because our “security” only secures the prison we have chosen for ourselves.

Instead of security, we should reach for risk, which lies in having those around you  keep you sharp and hungry and thinking outside of the box that would become a cell were you to think inside of it. To keep from being a prisoner of habit, you must have friends with whom you can toss ideas around over a glass of bourbon on the rocks or a good game of Spades. Those who remind you that you are not the smartest person in the room. A circle whose skill sets don’t mirror yours but, instead, complement them. People who specialize in various fields so that, when one of their clients/friends needs help in your field, you’re going to be the first to get the referral.

Today, I charge you to reconnect with an old friend who once inspired you. Whether they pushed you to strengthen yourself spiritually, financially, physically, professionally, or otherwise, give them a call or shoot them a text. See when you all can get together for coffee or lunch or a drink after work. If they’re in a different city, find a time when you all can meet somewhere just to catch up. While I love technology, there is something magical about tossing ideas across an actual table and working through a problem face to face. In short, allow their iron to sharpen yours and do the same for them. It’s the only way you’ll get out of this stagnant stupor that “security” supplies.


Make sharpening your sword a priority.


ALERT: How to Fix a Major Security Flaw in Apple Mobile Devices

By Phil Plait

On Friday night, Apple announced a major security flaw in its software for mobile devices. And I do mean major—it left users open to a “man in the middle attack”. That’s pretty bad. If you used an unsecured Wi-Fi connection (at a coffeehouse, hotel, airport, etc.), this flaw could allow someone to interject themselves electronically into transactions you make on your iPhone or iPad, allowing them to access a lot of your information you thought was secure (like, say, credit card numbers).

This flaw has been around a while (and it looks to me like it was due to a cut-and-paste error in some code), but Apple just issued a patch that should fix it. If you use an Apple mobile device, stop what you’re doing right now and upgrade to the new version of the mobile OS—ZDNet has a good article with details.

(Update, Feb. 23, 2014, at 02:00 UTC: Apparently, this is worse than I thought. Ars Technica has details, but OSX apparently has a flaw in it as well. Yikes. Thanks to Brian McNett for the tip.)

(Update 2, Feb. 23, 2014, at 17:30 UTC: Well, this gets better and better. A lot of people are reporting that upgrading their devices are causing them to “brick”, that is, freeze up—if you can’t access that link, try here. That’s essentially what happened to me, as outlined below, so have a care.)

Nerd rage

It’s easy to do the upgrade (though your kilometerage may vary). All I had to do was plug my device into my computer, open iTunes, click the button for the device I just plugged in, and then looked for the button that says, “Check for update.” Click, and away I went. In your case, it may pop up an alert kickstarting this first when you plug the device in. Another way is to do it on the mobile device itself: Go to Settings, then General, then Software Update. It’ll help you from there.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple for me.

(Note: What follows is part overly detailed cautionary tale, part rant, and is particular to the problem I had. If you upgrade successfully, feel free to skip over this and just go play the weekly Slate news quiz instead. Do NOT take what I say below as advice; what worked for me might not work for you, as you’ll see. For all I know it’ll make your iPad dissolve or explode or slip into an alternate dimension. If you have a problem upgrading you can’t solve, I suggest using Google, or talking to someone at your nearest Apple store.)

Now having said that, I had some trouble upgrading. I have an iMac that’s up-to-date, an iPhone 4S, and an iPad 2. The iPhone upgraded just fine, and it took about 15-20 minutes.

The iPad upgrade, though, was something of a disaster. The device disconnected itself in the middle of the upgrade for some reason (I really don’t know why; I had it sitting off by itself on the corner of my desk; all I can think of is the cable got bumped). Interrupting the process is never good, and in this case it totally freaked out my iPad. I lost everything on it and it wouldn’t even show me my home screen!

Being an alpha geek, though, I had a complete backup stored on my computer, so I didn’t panic. I disconnected the iPad, reconnected it, and then reset it to the factory settings (which is just a button on the iTunes screen when you plug the iPad into your computer). I then simply restored it from the backup …

… which didn’t work. Oh, all my apps came back, but the only music that showed up in my Music app were a handful of albums I recently bought through iTunes. Last year I spent a dreadful weekend importing all my old CDs into iTunes, and those were gone off the iPad. Weirdly, they were still in iTunes on my Mac; they just wouldn’t sync with the iPad.

Then I noticed my videos were gone as well; I have a few I made on my iPhone and camera that I’d moved over to my iPad, and they simply weren’t there (though again, they were in iTunes, and marked specifically to be synched). Nothing I did would sync them back!

I poked around a bit, and saw that in the Music tab for my iPad on iTunes, my Playlists were checked to be synched, but the other lists (Artists, Albums, etc.) were not. Curious. I checked all the boxes listed under Artists, and resynched the iPad to see if at least they would get moved over.

Voilà! All the music showed up (including the other lists). Not only that, all my videos did too. They were not there before, and then they were. I have no clue why, so I assume it was gnomes (who will, no doubt, jump right to Step 3).

I’ll note that I’ve been using computers a long, long time (the first machine I ever used was a PDP 11 in case you’re tempted to get into a “well, I started off using a blah blah blah” war with me), and stuff like this makes me fairly irritated. The original OS error looks like an honest if terrible mistake, and I’m sure some coder at Apple is having their head handed to them right now over this. But it’s when I try to use my stuff as a human being that I can feel my blood pressure rise. Windows, Mac, it doesn’t matter; the interface between human and computer seems to be getting more difficult, not easier. And I’m not pleased I had to spend hours diagnosing this when I have better stuff to do, like write about anti-science and politics and generally things less irritating than computer nerdery.

I don’t know if my iPad upgrade problem is common or not, though one colleague at Slate also had the same thing happen (and he has an iPad 4). I’d hate to be an Apple genius right now; the phone calls will be flooding in, I’d wager.

As it happens, my iPad is getting pretty long in the tooth, and it’s time for me to replace it. I was leaning toward getting the shiniest new iPad (I do like much of the way it works), but this has given me pause. I guess I’ll be hitting the Interwebs and looking at reviews of what’s out there.

Thus endeth my tale of iWoe. I certainly hope things go more smoothly for you, BABloggees. And as a final note: Whether you use Apple, Windows, or what-have-you, I do suggest getting yourself a VPN. I’m not sure it would’ve helped in this case, but I find it very useful indeed when I travel. Obviously, computer security is a major issue. Our privacy online is getting eroded away and having beefed-up security is simply A Good Idea.


Source: Slate

5 Tips You Should Follow for Smartphone Security That You Don’t

Though there is no immediate threat posed by losing your cellphone or someone hacking into it, the long-term impact that it could have on your livelihood is worrisome to say the least.  Losing your phone could damage your credit because of whatever personal information you have on your notepad app or it could lose you your job because you had company secrets in an email that has now be blasted all over the Social-Mediasphere.  I mean, if President Obama’s Twitter can be hacked, I’m sure you’ll want to try to secure all your accounts.  This being said, as young professionals, we should be taking all necessary precautions to hedge against that.  Here’s an article by Elisabeth Leamy regarding ways to do just that.  Take heed and implement whatever is practical to you.

I carry a little computer with me everywhere I go. Think I’m a geek? Guess what? If you have an iPhone, Android device or any other smartphone, you do, too. Phones have become computers, so we need to become as security conscious about them as we are about our desktops and laptops.

PHOTO: Protect your smart phone from hackers, identity thieves, crooks and creeps.

If you do banking via your phone, multiply everything I said above to the Nth degree. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about any of this — I’m a bit of a technophobe — until my friend Adam Levin of brought it up. “Our sensitive personal data is the new thief’s currency, the new gold,” said Levin, “and we need to manage it with the same level of attention as we would give the entrance to a bank vault. Our personal data is, in fact, the gateway to everything we own.”

Here are Levin’s best tips for protecting your smart phone — and everything you do on it — from hackers, identity thieves, crooks and creeps.


Lock your phone.

Yes, it’s a pain, but we should all be using the locking features on our phones so that if they’re stolen, our info isn’t readily available to the thief. So set one of those 4-digit passwords, and make it a good one. Not the unimaginative 1111, 1234, 9876, etc.


Install security software.

This one really got my attention. Anti-virus software for a PHONE? Yep. I’ll let the techies at places like CNet and MacWorld guide you to the best ones. This is particularly important for Android phones, less so for iPhones, because Apple’s software is less often targeted by scammers.


Don’t save financial passwords.

In other words, when you get that prompt that says “would you like to save this password for next time,” it’s OK to use that for your log in to the Cute Kitten Chatboard, but NOT to your bank interface. If your phone is stolen and a thief can get through your initial security (such as not locking your phone), then they can get into your bank account.


Install track and wipe software.

If your phone is stolen, it’s ultra handy (and fun, in a revenge sort of way) to be able to track where the thieves have taken it, so maybe the authorities can even get it back. On the other hand, if the “search” option doesn’t work out, you should also have the “destroy” option. In other words: software that can automatically wipe your cell phone of its contents remotely. Just make sure you back up your phone’s contents to your computer and this will work just fine.


Don’t use the same password for everything.

The bad news is you should never, ever, ever use the same password for all your accounts. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to have a unique password for every single interface. Here’s Adam’s practical advice: use different passwords for different “environments.” So one for financial, another for social networking, a third for email, a fourth for retail, and so on.

I have always had an “important” password and a “junk” password. Not good enough! I knew my lazy-shortcut-for-somebody-who-can’t-remember-what-day-it-is-not-to-mention-a zillion-passwords would come back to bite me someday! Gotta go. I’ve got some updating to do. Sigh…

Source: ABC