Fires

Running around fires makes you feel good because you’re solving problems and you’re busy. But you’re not solving problems. You’re dealing with the unsolved problems that caught fire and need your immediately attention.

If you were solving problems, you wouldn’t be fighting fires, you’d be watering down dry wood and putting matches away. Look for potential fires. Stop them before they start.

Defriended

I have been off Facebook for a few months now. I have thought about it for a long time. I am friends with a lot of people on the site. There are a few people who I 1) care enough about to follow their lives and 2) can only connect with them through Facebook.

Some people have blogs. Others I can keep up with on Twitter or Instagram. For the rest, I do miss keeping up with them and their hijinks with their kids.

And I haven’t found a good solution for them.

I want to reopen my Facebook account so connect with those few people. If I do, I am going to go through my list and unfriend most of the people there. (Unfriend is such a harsh word. And they use it purposely.) We are not Facebook Friends™.

My biggest problem with Facebook is the endless striving for more! More people, more connections, MORE FRIENDS!

When I deactivated my account, its first solution was to suggest that I connect with more people. As if that was the problem… Not enough friends.

If I reactivate my account, I am going to pair the list down to those few people. I know Facebook will continue to show me friends of friends and people they think I might like. And people who commented on a post they made one time.

I don’t care about their family members.
I don’t care about their friends.
I don’t care about their co-workers.
I don’t care about…

I care about the people I care about enough to friend. The End.

And that’s the problem with Facebook. There’s no money in it for them for me to keep my social network small. And that’s where we disagree.

Facebook is not important enough for me to fight that fight. It’s not worth my time to keep fighting Facebook’s interests.

Most importantly, I haven’t missed it. I haven’t opened the browser or downloaded the Android app since I deleted it back in October. It’s not a part of life I find missing.

Do I want to reopen that door?

Doors

My anger was a cage and the cage had no door.
Strangeness by Alex Armstrong

This should be how I describe my teen years. I was an angry guy with a lot of emotions and thankfully I found poetry and industrial music as a way to process them.

I often think about how close I could have come to really ruining my life with the fuel of rage. I am a big guy and I was then. At 6’5″ and north of 260 pounds in high school, I could have channeled my anger into something far darker than Trent Reznor, black lights and filling notebooks with words.

One day I found myself out of the cage, unsure sure of how I’d got there. Only one explanation accounts for all the facts. I had invented a door, and the key that fit in its lock, and let myself out.

That door had a name. It happens to be the same name as my wife. The key took longer to forge, but it was a fire my wife started and the perspective she provided allowed me to work the forge and smith a key that fit the lock of my anger.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my wife, Annie. I am thankful for the perspective she brought me then and the love, support, affection and humor she continues to bring me now.

I do not know where I would be without her, but I’m sure glad she’s here.

NIST updating password recommendations

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

(Full story is behind the Wall Street Journal’s pay wall.)

You’ve used P@ssw0rds like this for years. It’s what NIST recommended for the Federal Government in 2003 and major corporations and universities picked up the guidance and set their password requirements to match.

Mr. Burr, who once programmed Army mainframe computers during the Vietnam War, had wanted to base his advice on real-world password data. But back in 2003, there just wasn’t much to find, and he said he was under pressure to publish guidance quickly.

He looked for some real-world data to see what people were doing.

He asked the computer administrators at NIST if they would let him have a look at the actual passwords on their network. They refused to share them, he said, citing privacy concerns.

Given there wasn’t much research into the field of password security and no real-world password stockpiles to pull from, he did the best he could.

With no empirical data on computer-password security to be found, Mr. Burr leaned heavily on a white paper written in the mid-1980s—long before consumers bought DVDs and cat food online.

Now there is better password data available. Have I been Pwned currently lists 3,999,249,352 accounts from 228 websites. My own data has been breached over a dozen times including by our own government

The truth about passwords is we’re bad at passwords. I am terrible at passwords. That’s why I’ve used 1Password to keep my passwords secure. I don’t know most of my passwords because they are nonsense and very long. I know a single master password.

Given this new data, NIST is updating its recommendations which will slowly be adopted by the government and companies as it did originally.

Long, easy-to-remember phrases now get the nod over crazy characters, and users should be forced to change passwords only if there is a sign they may have been stolen, says NIST, the federal agency that helps set industrial standards in the U.S.

Academics who have studied passwords say using a series of four words can be harder for hackers to crack than a shorter hodgepodge of strange characters—since having a large number of letters makes things harder than a smaller number of letters, characters and numbers.

This XKCD comic explains the math behind cracking these types of passwords. I look forward to leaving the P@ssw0rd days behind and welcome the correct horse battery staple.

Password requirement comic from XKCD.

Facebook discovers telepresence?

Facebook is testing a feature that would allow the camera to automatically scan for people in its range and lock onto them, one of the people said. For example, the camera could zoom onto a painting that a child brought home from school to show to a parent away on a business trip. Facebook has also been developing a 360 degree camera for the device, but people familiar with the matter say it’s unlikely to be ready in time for the initial launch.

Source: Facebook Is Working on a Video Chat Device – Bloomberg

This is nothing new in the telepresence space. Cisco and Polycom have similar technologies available. The technology is impressive and useful in conference rooms to tell who is speaking.

Bringing this technology into the home was an obvious step. If (and I say if because anything speculative doesn’t exist yet) this device exists with the facial tracking software will be useful for chatting at home.

Facebook is behind it so people are going to scream about that. And they’re not wrong. Google and Facebook are advertising companies. They thrive on personal information so they can sell that information to companies who want to sell us stuff. (And doing a poor job from the looks of ads I’m being served.)

There is a big world of data yet to be exploited and Facebook will do their best to exploit it.