I was really compelled with one of the recent episodes of The X-Files; I’m still surprised this show is back on TV and feels like it was never gone.

After looking on Wikipedia to decode the episode title, “Followers”. The episode is a shocking hour of how technology and the drive for automation changes the social dynamic. The first and last scene does mirror they two view points people are growing in this day in age.

I grew up in the 90’s as a child and it was an interesting time compared to now. I too fight between balancing using my phone and enjoying what most people would consider as analog. I’ve noticed the splitting phenomenon in a lot of people. People who want to engage in a slab of silicon and glass rather than see the beauty of the surrounding reality. In the first world, we have so much to give but we give in all the wrong ways. We get bored and seek the shortest of thrills and the quickest of problems. We have in many ways devalued hindsight and creativity to forge a better future.

Surely we live in an age where we entrust strangers, but isn’t technology more capable to be as strange? We live in likely the last era before computer learning evolves into sentience. As the show asks, what are we really teaching if we all teach our computer about our society. Giving it borderless freedom equal to ours, what will this computer teach us? I know the answer but I’m afraid of how it would shape our future.

For me, I will do my best to minimize what I can do for a smart phone and rely on a vetted human being. I don’t preach on destroying technology but I do embrace the human interaction and community. However I do think people should be growing to interacting face-to-face than face-to-Facetime.

The world shrinks as computers grow in our world, but what else shrinks is our ability to see others as people as well.


Editing Photos


I’m getting pretty good with my camera. I’ve managed to take some good photos of scenes and portraits recently. Summer’s almost over and I think I’ve shot over 1000 and uploaded only under 50. I personally learned a few things just by shooting. More importantly I learned to shoot the same scene about three times using different settings. I usually find a better shot through the three photos; better in a way of how it looks and the colours I’ve captured.

Ever since I got my computer (almost a decade ago now), I downloaded a nifty image editor called to replace Microsoft Paint. Out of the box, the program is an improvement on MS Paint and feels has more control familiar to Photoshop. Recently I’ve jumped into the forums to find plugins for the open-source application, trying to find stuff I can use for editing photos. The community did deliver, I managed to find a package of plugins which focused on photography. After installing the files, I’ve been experimenting with a few of the effects. On some photos I used more effects than some I tweaked the white balance and the histogram.

While tweaking and playing around with the photos, I’ve noticed a few things about my photos. The problem I have is I can’t take pictures of the sky without having shaded objects look dark and vice versa. So for me to take pictures of sunsets, the foreground would appear dark while I get white out if I focus on a subject that is darker than the sky. Even with this, I’ve managed to snap a few photos. In the future I might try and take pictures using Canon’s .cr2 format which is a RAW format. Hopefully my system with an upgraded GPU can handle it.

Oh yeah, I bought a 950 GTX. But that’s a post for another time.


Ironies Of The 21st

Lately, my city suffered service disruptions from the power company. Throughout the night, my lights were flickering like a rave. In my finite wisdom, I turned down the lights and continued to surf the net and charge my phone. After a good hour of playing video games, I went to scour the internet for services that would be useless without power or cellphone reception. Here’s a short list of things I found for my locale.

Bus Schedule

In a large city, you are bound to encounter public transit at least once. Most of the time, the system does keep all neat and efficient and have boards to tell you approximate bus times and the routes where the stop is located.

Assume you are ever connected to the internet and you look up everything on an app and public transit decides to knock off the paper schedules lined on each stop. If the wi-fi kicks out, you stuck with a pretty useless app to do anything at all, neat waste of space on your phone. If the power goes out, there is a likelihood (If you are on a data plan) the cell tower will be knocked out of power or service would be dodge since a small crisis.

Good luck standing out there in the winter wondering when the bus will arrive as you stare as you search for service.

“Keep updated at…”

A lot of businesses and services are using social media these days to link back to their website or link toward social media itself for additional information. Though I agree, businesses should be transparent and allow the clients and customers to view current shakeups and hiccups. However I found there are some are not really that important. On my Twitter account, I don’t usually follow services and business around my area. When I do, it’s usually on a appreciative level. If I go there often and I like what they do, they get a follow eventually.

I don’t need to be in the know of a new product or a pre-order I will likely never want to purchase. If it’s really good, I will follow until I have to throw you overboard because this ship only has so much cargo room before you are no longer needed.

Back to services like say your power, phone or ISP; this makes me giggle a little bit. If the power goes out, you can’t check for the latest information on the power company’s website on a desktop. If you’re experiencing a service disruption from your ISP, you’re boned because you don’t have access to the net to find out what’s going on; and don’t bother calling the phone company either if you own a cellphone.

By then you are literally stuck in the dark. That is enough information you will need for the time being.

All the money in the world

This goes closer to the new technology to remove plastic cards out of our lives by having phones you can tap to transfer funds.

You do realize how much power you have on a phone right? On idle, you get about 12-24. Once that screen is active you are looking at 2-6 hours. This is all assuming certain setting are in play and you do not own a battery pack to carry more power.

Indeed convenient to have a all you plastics and accounts on your phone in a “super high tech encryption that is 100% hacker proof”. But what if you suddenly need to go on a shopping spree? There are days where I personally made purchases about 12-15 hours apart. As a person who doesn’t obsess on charging my phone, I keep her on sleep until I need her. In reality, the only benefit you get our of a consolidated electronic payment method is really just convenience while sacrifice availability. Better to have it on you than there but your cellphone is dead.

One last thing…

In the end, the best conveyance of funds and communication is just what we already have and not the electrical gizmos they’re trying to sell. People say I’m a bit nuts to have cash on me. You never know when you enter a place that’s “cash only”. I lived in the digital age before the digital age; we used coins on payphones, paid by either credit, debit or cash and we still have them around because of it’s popularity and ease of use (Probably not as much as payphones).

Regardless how emerging technology makes everything convenient, there will be some that would complicate your life when you rely on them the most. Call me old school all you want; but I want to be flexible so when one thing fails, the other will have my back.

Before my laptop dies and until next time, paper and plastics will always be more reliable than photons and electrons.

Have and Have Nots–Internet as a Utility

In a recent article by CNET, The United States of America is considering the internet into an public utility. As the free and openness as it sounds; the past history of the country when it comes to freedoms and the control of freedoms and rights, it makes me wary about the future of the internet from it’s humble origins to a controlled space.

The appeal of the internet in its infancy was the idea of sharing information from anywhere in the world. One person from Britain can talk to someone in Japan, an observatory in Hawaii can compare results with another observatory in Switzerland; a mother sending a video of her child’s first steps to he husband. The internet, much like the telephone, is a communication tool. In it’s essence, voice and digital information is just data; how you interpret the information and if you understand, it is data. Under this argument then yes, the internet should be a utility because it connects our society together; much like power, water, sewage and telephones.

What worries me since this news is coming from the United States is the past attempts to spy upon it’s own citizens and other countries in “the interest of national security”. Every country has it’s own right to be suspicious of itself and others. However in my opinion, there are certain things the government shouldn’t be mandated to monitor. I’m mostly referring to information that was not necessarily consented to the government. Of course, they can place the end user license agreement to include all information you send can be scrutinized. In the best interests, it does sound like an opportunity for all to have access to the internet but at the same time it worries me with regulations, it would dilute the economy of the internet into a corporate melting pot; much like TV networks. The hardest would be keeping the internet open and equal to all without hindering or disrupting service. The past year and decade has proven there are forces at work trying to push back the internet to something more controlled and centralized. It starts with the minorities like pornographic sites.

This is something I hope in the new year, people will continue the fight for an open and free internet. Indeed the internet would benefit as a public utility in many ways in many countries; at the same time, the governments which choose this should not regulate and it’s not the responsibility of the internet or the companies that provide the service.

See you on the other side, readers!

I’m never much of a Boxing Day kind of person. The one time I went to buy something on Boxing Day, the lines were very long and the stores were very crowded. Let me just say, for all the risks, the rewards are few.

The first and last time I ever went out on Boxing Day was back when I picked up my Blackberry Playbook, at the time it was half off because the company wasn’t making much of a profit of them. So I though it would be a good time to snag one at a very low price. So I went out of the 26th at five in the morning. At first walking along the darkened empty streets seemed eerie as a few passing cars come and go on a large avenue. Human silhouettes indistinguishable to the eye as I briskly paced myself on a December morning. As I approached the downtown  shopping centres, I could hear people talking as the bright lights of the square gleamed the pavement with everlasting light. Already I could make out a few rows of people standing outside stores.

The line to the store I had my eyes on spanned up the street and around the corner for another block length. As opening was upon me, people began to fill the stores; moving the line as they entered. By the time I was inside, it was packed and hot. Chaotic movements jolted me back and forth like a violent wave. I checked the time when I paid for my new tablet and found it was almost 8. Two hours of waiting and one to wade through the bodies to get something that was worth under 200. Though a bargain, it was still stressful and chaotic.

For though boxers of Boxing Day, good on you because you can do this every year to catch some deals. For those curious of cheap wares, heed a warning from me. Don’t buy anything from Boxing Day that you really want. Seriously, dedication for a small material object is not really worth the stress. If you are planning on buying something on Boxing Day, I would suggest finding something you would like to have but wouldn’t be disappointment when it’s out of stock. You can either choose the long early line or sleep in because no worries, right? It’s not like you really want it that bad. When you get there it would still be packed with other customers, just calmly walk through to what you want to buy and pick it up, go straight to the cashier and calmly walk out. And there you go, one item with less hassle and stress compared to what I went through.

This year with my gaming channel, I really wanted a new pair of headset and a new hard drive. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really muster for the challenge. After going through this once, I just couldn’t deal with electronics stores being packed with people. It’s not really much of a hardware upgrade, my hard drive is running low on space but I can manage. As well, my headset is kind of getting old and in a deteriorating state; but it’s not worth the $20 I could save on Boxing Day. Like many things in my life, I can wait. I can wait to find what I need and want because I’m fine with what I have now. I think that’s where I will end off the last blog post of 2014.

Until next time, see you on the other side!


P.S. I did buy one thing on Boxing Day. One pizza.

Formality v. Functionality–Big Twitter apps

[Starts 3 paragraphs in for those who want my review, thought you liked a good story…]

It’s not a surprised I use Twitter more often now to promote my blog and YouTube channel. I’m usually on there to just find something to read or have something short to get off my chest rather than posting it on my blog with under 140 characters. For a awhile when I started my blog, I wanted to be able to spread my message out there in the simplest form. Mainstream or some way to broadcast to the world, “I wrote something, might be nice to give it a read.” I started using Twitter as a media prerequisite to learn about the world and the culture I live in, over time the account went into disuse until I started my blog. First impressions, Twitter wasn’t the best place for a 19 year old. I was on it because my teacher wanted me to be on it so classroom censorship was a tough deal breaker when you have something to say but your account is restricted for media studies only. The turn around when I started this blog a few years ago a way to document my thoughts and activities. As I began to grew a skin around blogging and microblogging, I decided to use an application to be a hub for all my Twitter needs. At the time, I just read up on applications and reviews; most of it in jargon. So rather than just reading a review for the pick, I just observed what everyone was using. Most of the time, it was TweetDeck and HootSuite.


For the past couple years, I’ve used TweetDeck on the basis of popularity. It was most commonly used when I was lurking at hashtag threads. When I first got it on Chrome, the interface was simple to master. One simple login screen later, the application went to work by sending me feeds from my own Twitter. Soon after, found the Search button to find other hastags to follow and after that was able to organize to what I wanted to see and not see certain posts. But that’s just one camp out of many to simplify the experience.

The other large one I seen and heard about was HootSuite. Only largely came to me from large app review sites and users from organizations. I was really hesitant at first to ever try it. Today, let hesitation be damned! Setting into a new application isn’t always easy if you’re like me, why move on to something else when one works perfectly? After creating an account through HootSuite, I was greeted with a stark dashboard similar to the TweetDeck app. Along with an approximate sidebar for your options. So how do they fare against each other?


After spending a few hours on HootSuite, the similarities begin to fade away. Both platforms offer multi-account support, so you can monitor each Twitter profile simultaneously. Each can create tabs based on criteria such as retweets, favourites, and hashtags you wanted pinned as a tab for easy reference. TweetDeck and HootSuite provide a simplified interface to ensure ease of use, so you know where to go and how to do certain Twitter-y tasks. Unfortunately this is where TweetDeck ends it’s list of goodies.

HootSuite offers more than just connectivity to Twitter. It provides a way to be connected to other blogging and social media websites like LinkedIn, WordPress, Facebook and mixi (Hell if I know what is mixi). Along with account aggregation, it has an array of enterprising features such Assignments to help business consolidate their media efforts. As a Pro and Enterprise user, you have access to team organizations to help with assignments. With organization, you would want to see the team’s or your brand’s performance in media; so they have analytics to help form a report on your media involvement through all your accounts or just particulars. Along with it’s organizational faire; it boosts a range of in-app applications such as a YouTube app to view and share through your HootSuite, which most apps are trying to advertise the same view and share feature if not trying to enhance the in-app experience.

As a Personal user, I found the program fairly restrictive. Most of the features your listed as Pro feature which required a $8.99 (assuming US currency) per month payment for use. The only things I can really necessarily do is add apps within an app and just view counters of my tweets and followings with analytics. As a personal user, the only redeeming quality is a list of followers and a list of people I followed; which is easily accessible but really unnecessary at times. Like this feature already available on TweetDeck and on Twitter itself, it’s analytics is par if not worst to the online solution already provided by Twitter. I’m a free user on both, but getting additional data from Twitter for free. Though if I was a business, I would agree HootSuite might contain some insight through it’s own analytics but would not necessarily change my behaviour within social media. The auto-scheduler is a nifty touch if you want to send out tweets at a particular time. However this feature is best removed to prevent people with spam accounts from filling threads with their wares. Unlike Tweetdeck, it feels more geared towards businesses than it is for individual users. With it’s suite of analytics and in-depth monitoring, it’s a improbable choice for a single user like me.

What I found interesting is the load times and the refresh rates. Upon loading up each application, I found TweetDeck to be much faster. Though if you have a speedy connection, you won’t feel it. As a person who uploads video to YouTube, it’s noticeable. I can only speculate what is going behind the scenes, but this slowdown makes it very regrettable since it feels not optimized for lower connection speeds. On HootSuite, you can set refresh rates to as close to 2 minutes for each tab within the application. On TweetDeck, you can set it to almost real time in a margin of a few seconds if you have a slow connection. While TweetDeck can update in the background, Hootsuite seems to stop updating when you’re not in the Chrome browser tab. Along with update angst, the way it personally handles hashtags does make it easier to read since it gives you a brief amount of time before the dashboard tab refreshes. Good thing if you are watching a keyword or tag with a lot of frequent users.

Each application has features gear towards a niche user. Enterprising and business prefer to see things by the numbers while your average Jane and Joe want to just post and share. As a personal user with very little social outreach, it would be preferable to stick with TweetDeck by Twitter for it’s simplicity. Simple doesn’t always mean better, simple means in this case I get what I need and I don’t really need it to be any better. If I was a social media specialist or a community manager for a large organization with multiple accounts, I would say HootSuite is the way to go to provide the means of easy consolidation; but would not jump on board too quickly on analytics.

Overall experience for both, restrictive on HootSuite where features are blocked and load times are slower when connection is slow. However it does provide a sense of additional control through analytics and aggregation. Where are TweetDeck is simplistic with little to no load times. However remains to be seen if it can handle business.

Don’t believe me? Give them a try on Chrome:



Until next time, follow me on Twitter?

Grid Style Ciphers And Such Security…

Recently I read a WordPress blog about hacked email woes. I think I should share my experiences with it and some techniques to prevent it. After the first time when you feel your privacy is violated, you usually would want to find the solutions that would solve it. Usually, we take the easy routes to get it done. Easy routes are cheap and less time consuming, however they’re probably quick solutions to probably a few small small problems in your security.

Lets start with account security, this is pretty much anything requiring a user name and password. Though not sure if everyone does this, but it seems those that assume the same username to all their accounts fairly much allows a bit of consistency with password insecurities. Especially if it’s those people who have your user name across multiple service, they can just easily search up the username and if they crack the one password for that; they’ll get them all. If you are those kind of people who keep usernames the same and keep shuffling the password, that’s a good plan. However do note it is recommended to keep a different password for each account; from my point of view in out interconnected world, this might be hard. Consider we all own probably 2 or more email address as well as miscellaneous services like online banking, online games, and various accounts requiring an account and password; this approach would require a minimum 20 password you have to remember by heart. Eidetic memory would be the only ability you would need for this, however most of us don’t really remember those passwords that well and usually try to brute force their way onto their account by cycling through passwords or just resetting the password which would defeat the purpose of having the password in the first place. To reduce the amount of passwords to use or even cycle through, I suggest prioritizing your accounts into categories.

Getting Started

First you are going to need to think about all the possible passwords you can create. Don’t pen them or type them out; use your mind and figure out which ones are going to work out. To find out which one’s are going to work out, you have to know what kind of restrictions you have on your password from the service you are going to use. Sometimes the service would want you to have numbers and letters while some would go the distance and ask for numbers and letters with one letter capitalized. Most of the time, numbers and letters will do fine and dandy. Now in your head, find things you know that people won’t know. These could be important dates, lucky numbers, names of pets, and certain random facts you know of yourself that others don’t know or would not be able to guess. From this stack of keywords and numbers, we have the most secure passwords; lets call these Alpha Phrases for now.

Now think of things people might know in person only; sports teams, political and religious affiliations, inside jokes, names of those people and so on. The bulk here will be our Beta Phrases.

Optionally, think of common words and numbers you could use in a pinch. These could reference to games, movies, books, dirty jokes, et cetera. This will be our Pool. These should be easily recalled at anytime but would make the least secure passwords like “asdf”, “root”, “admin”, “1234”, and “password”. These phrases suck when combining with themselves but would make a minimal password when combined with a Alpha or Beta Phrase.

Priority Tier System

This is how I normally put my things together online to keep it from getting compromised. This system varies depending on people’s influence and usage.

A priority based system would require is pre-planning in terms of how you will classify your accounts. Basis of this blog, I’ll demonstrate with a 3 tier linear system. Linear because each priority does not interact with the one succeeding or preceding itself. However if you are part of a business or a person who has grey zones, read the non-linear area of this section.

The highest priority should be assigned to accounts that will contain real life consequences in the event that your account is breached. Under this priority I would recommend using a combination of two or more Alpha Phrases to ensure security. This should make it impossible for someone to break into the account and would protect your assets like a bank account or a business email. Each account here should have it’s own unique password.

One down is moderate, passwords should be quick accessible but hard to guess. So the bulk of these passwords would be Beta Phrases, you can sneak in a bit of the Pool in there if you want it. In my opinion, this contains personal and social media. This is the area where you wouldn’t mind an accidental breach or doesn’t have a physical loss, don’t cry over spilt milk and all that. You can be a bit more lenient in using a password twice, try and not overdo it since people might find out.

Low priority are the accounts that will get lost so the passwords won’t make a difference since it’s kind of just something you made to check out the service. This is things like IRC and forum accounts unless you are a forum moderator or an administrative figure. Which case, these are things may be consider moderate or high depending on popularity of the service you are working with. As a normal user, likely you will only need to mix a couple Pool phrases together. The accounts listed here are the low of the low so you can literally have one password for all the accounts.

Now in life, nothing fits into boxes the right way so for those that aren’t too sure what is what I’ll help you how with exceptions and rules to help you through in sorting accounts and assigning passwords. If your account links to other accounts, that linking account must be secured higher than the other accounts. So lets say you have an personal email to forward email, that forwarding email address’ password MUST NOT be used again since it’s directing information to other emails. Same goes for gaming accounts where you’ve collected ultra-rare gear in and social media if you are a social butterfly. So they’re like semi-high priority but not really when you don’t want to use it anymore.

The only thing you would have to worry about in this system is any passwords that are shared since if one gets compromised, then it’s likely the other would get hit pretty hard. Also if you don’t have a diverse pass phrase pool since someone could can just guess it. Any case, change you password after you think one of them is compromised and try and avoid using the same password.


Another approach is to construct a cipher, a method to conceal your written work. Depending on what you use as a cipher it can be super easy or super hard. You can use a grid of 260 squares arranged in a 26 x 10 grid and fill each grid with a random character from A to Z and 0 to 9. Based on a phrase or a number, this grid should hash out a sequence that should consist of numbers and letters. You can use it like a map. First you establish a set of rules. easiest one off the top of my head is a mnemonic like “I love those adorable puppies.” So “I” has one letter, so look in the square in I1. “Love”, four starting with “L”; L4. And so one until you have a sequence from the phrase. Usually online services require a minimum of 8 characters so your phrase should be at minimum 8 words long.

Simpler cipher is to get yourself a letter, like a rejection letter from a college or university. Pick a number, then just go through the letter puling out a word or number that happens to fall upon every n times, where n is your count number. You can substitute it with letters so you can take single characters in words. It might take longer than pulling words but as long as you remember the count and keep the correspondence, you can always refer back to it. It’s antiquated but as long as it’s difficult, password’s safe.

Take it to the cleaners

Not too sure what it’s called but it just wipes temporary data off your computer. I personally use CCleaner by Piriform, it deletes all the temporary history from all my browsers and for a bit of flavour I have it clean out my Start menu and certain programs that need to be deleted. Even without programs, you can delete it too but it would be quite hard to know what’s junk. The point to it is to get rid of anything weird that’s inside a file that’s either sending or receiving information that you don’t want sent, such as what you’re typing in as a password. This is only a temporary measure but it’s a start of a two prong attack to rid your computer. Having some anti-virus protection helps a lot if it program has an active scan feature to let it check incoming data for malicious material like a worm or something. When I get nervous, I usually use CCleaner then run a full scan followed by another run with CCleaner to make sure it’s all cleaned up. Probably the first one isn’t necessary but it never hurts to try.

Nuke it like North Korea (too soon?)

If you have exhausted all methods into removing malware off your computer, there is a last resort but sometimes comes at a heavy price. Reformatting a hard drive would be a hard thing to do considering the size and collection of stuff you’ve accumulated. Best you can do is save as much as you can before you wipe the hard drive clean and start over. Usually all operating systems now have some feature to allow you to wipe the hard drive. I have two methods of wiping my computer if I had to, CCleaner has a feature to allow a full hard drive wipe and I have my two operating system boot discs. Be careful when you do this and change your BIOS to allow boot up from a CD or USB, whichever medium you keep your boot disc on. This should be a the last course of action, but it’s necessary if you want a virus free computer.

At Day’s End…

After all this stuff, online systems are vulnerable to attack. Certain companies are good at keeping up with security holes, some not so good. I know for a fact my Hotmail account was compromised server side since before they fixed it, my Junk folder would always contain 100 messages every day about random products and services I don’t want to know about. Sometimes no matter how hard you make those accounts hard to break into, sometimes it’s just something out of your control and you have to accept the fact that the service you trust can be so incompetent. In which case, it’s time to find a new service to replace it.

Stay safe and stay secured, everyone. See you next time!