LastPass Hacked

Posted June 16, 2015 by Gerald B
Categories: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Keychain, LastPass, OSX, security, technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

I hate passwords. I have too many accounts and too many passwords to remember. So, I resorted to using LastPass not too long ago for simplifying sign on services. Okta was another service I’d had the opportunity to use and I found the experience of both to be quite good.

Until this morning.

There is no substitute for a good, strong password portfolio + a regimen of deprecating them on a schedule. If you’re good at eating at least once per day, you should be capable of changing your passwords once every six months (if not more frequently).

Apple has Keychain. Google has Authenticator. I’m sure Microsoft has something (probably called Keychain or Authenticator because they’re too lazy to come up with their own product names). Anyway, the point is, picking one of these and electing for an extremely long factor passcode that is 100% machine generated is probably the best way to go. I, personally, like GUIDs with mixed upper and lower case letters mixed in PLUS another character in there somewhere such as a “!” (which I don’t use). But you get the idea. A password such as has a lot going for it:

!c40d2b17-42f8-4908-b341-F6538CBE997C

First it’s nearly 40 characters long. A human isn’t going to remember a randomly generated string of mixed case and letters very easily. That is a good thing. Nor is that person going to bother to write that sort of thing down or easily transcribe it to a friend or relative.

The one thing it sucks at now is it’s public and has probably been scooped up by some machine and folded into the crazy ass long list of passwords to try while attempting to brute force past a security wall of some kind. Plus all it’s variants. Don’t even waste your time recycling it.

But, that type of password is ideally suited to living in something like Keychain and probably forgotten. Easily discarded and reset regularly. See, we get attached to passwords. It’s the familiarity of the thing. A birthdate mixed with an address mixed with a childhood friend’s dog’s name. The problem with anything remotely like those… The cracking algorithms and raw compute power available today can make mincemeat out of those in nothing flat. The ability to recurse through all the variations with brute force velocity is astounding and only getting better and cheaper to do so.

Blockchain holds a lot of promise. If you’ve not been paying attention to digital security or alt digital currencies like Bitcoin… The Blockchain holds a lot of promise. A LOT! Our digital identities are at risk. Our state secrets are at risk. Our banking is at risk. Our infrastructure is at risk. Oddly enough, our flesh and blood lives are now inextricably weaved with the digital fabric of the world. We are cyborg in William Gibson’s finest sense of it. Wearables are an interesting aside.

What’s a netizen to do?

If you’re a Mac, like me I use Apple’s built in password generator. Follow these very simple steps:

1) Click on the Apple Menu (upper left) and select System Preferences

2) Click on Users and Groups

3) Click on Change Password. If it asks for iCloud Password, Cancel or Change Password… Choose Change Password. Don’t worry, we’re not changing anything. We’re just fabricating a new password for you to use elsewhere or at the very least showing how to do it at a later time.

4) See the icon that looks like a key? Click that and a small window like the one pictured below will show up.

LastPass GUID Keychain Blockchain

 

5) One of the first things you’ll see is the Type menu dropdown. I prefer Random. Pick anything you like. But, remember, anything resembling a word is going to be more easily cracked. Apple probably oversimplifies the Quality meter. Generally speaking the farther that meter is to the right, the better the password.

6) Next, change the length of your password. See how you can manipulate the quality and security of your new passcodes? And, it’s all built into OSX.

Well, this is all good and fine. We have a new, strong password generator in our pocket.

How do we put this into practice?

I’ll show you, in my next post (because I have to create screen shots and write against an outline I’m creating in my notebook – yes, pen and paper) how to go about integrating Keychain into your web browsing of secure sites AND using Keychain across Apple devices.

See, Apple’s already solved this problem and I placed my faith in a couple of companies because of employment policy. Well, screw that. Apple has more cash money and a declared interest in the security of the digital fabric. I believe them when they say it. Google, Microsoft… not so much. Facebook, not at all. Those guys are out to monetize our behaviors across a broad spectrum, not make our lives better.

Apple Watch Upgrade Path?

Posted June 3, 2015 by Gerald B
Categories: Apple, Apple Watch, iPhone, WWDC

Tags: , , , , ,

I had the bright idea to stand in line to get the first gen iPhone. That device was magical (sort of) in an initial sort of way. Pull that phone out now and hold it up to an iPhone 6. The magic is gone pretty much upon startup.

But, I’ve since bought just about every version of the iPhone up to the 4S which is where I stopped being so eager to lap up everything. The pace of annual updates had picked up. I soured on spending so much on two year contracts and being bound to a specific carrier and their particular stupidity. So, I have a 4 and 4S on pay-as-you-go plans with a carrier that has really reliable service in my home town. I was content until last night.

The Apple Watch has me wanting to re-up. (And there’s the key for Apple.) It would be a pricey step up to say the least. I’d not only have to abandon my 4S, but I’d nearly have to commit to a 6 or 6+ (unlocked, off contract) and buy a Watch.

And for what?

Do I really want to send little drawings to anyone? No. My heartbeat? Nope. Are there any “can’t live without apps yet?” Um, no. Then why on earth would I want to just chuck all that dough out the window for a gen 1 product? Again!

I don’t have a good answer.

That’s about the most ridiculous thing I could have said. But, it’s precisely the answer. I’m not even interested in the Sports version. I’m more interested in the experience. I liken it to my going to the top of the World Trade Center in 1981. I was there. It was there. We hooked up and I had a great view for an afternoon.

Is this what Apple has become? Less a device maker. More of a desire maker? An experience.

The Swatch watch I have is about the size and heft of an Apple Watch. It has a good number of complications, a swanky faux leather wristband and a kick ass dial. I love that watch. Guess what? I don’t wear it except when I’m “going out”. I don’t wear it at work. I do wear it to work, though. I don’t wear it around the house. It’s a true accessory.

However, I can tell you I’m tired of my phone being such a large (physically and metaphorically) distraction. I do like the promise of being able to trim down the distractions of the day. Can a first gen product deliver on that?

Upgrades Concern Me

Like I said, I’ve bought a lot of Apple iPhones and iPads. AAPL likes that. AAPL thrives on precisely that.

But, I don’t want to buy a Watch 2s or a Watch 6s years down the line any more than I want to replace my Swatch.

So, what is the upgrade path? Is it like Tesla’s sedans and it’s going to be on the software updates for a good long period? The upgradeable car has a nice allure to it. That doesn’t jibe with the APPL year-over-year need for predictably innovative/lucrative product cycles, though.

How does this Apple Watch thing play out as a product line over the years? Because I don’t really want to buy this one and then find out next year they’ve added iSight and FaceTime hardware or Thuderbolt or some sort of wet neural networking that gen one can’t get. But, you know what? I don’t think most people think that way. It’s priced low enough (as Apple’s Items of Desire go) that things will turn out okay for Apple.

I suppose WWDC will be particularly interesting this year. Still, I wrestle with the whole first gen commitment and how long the danged thing will be relevant. What’s it’s lifespan? When does Apple stop supporting Gen One? These are the things blocking me… a (weary) early adopter.

GASP! Tim Cook is human!?

Posted October 30, 2014 by Gerald B
Categories: AAPL, Apple, technology, Tim Cook

Tags: , , ,

Who the hell coulda guessed THAT!? Tim Cook just came right out in front of God and everyone and admitted he’s… human!

Welcome to the party Mr. Cook. We proudly admit you to the human race. We accept your (misplaced) fondness of Auburn football. You must be one helluvan uncle. And furthermore, what you do with your private moments is your’s (not our’s). Keep doing what you do so well: inspiring us to be the best we can be in all our endeavors. We’re rooting for you and the company you love as dearly as we do.

SEO Tools on Mac? Doubtful

Posted October 27, 2014 by Gerald B
Categories: Apple

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I love Macs. You can tell from this blog, right? But, SEO on a Mac is just not feasible so far as I can tell. I’ve tried. It sucks.

So, some will probably say… you just don’t write well for the search engines. That’s might be true. There’s so much more involved than writing though and getting your geek on and tuning your site for device responsiveness and zippy downloads. It’s not ALL just content. Matt Cutts can say that all. day. long. There are other ways to:

1) get your site noticed by Google, Bing, and all the other indices out there quicker than just “waiting” to be discovered; and
2) to rank stronger and faster than will happen organically and certainly than would happen with content alone;

and it’s not going to get done with a Mac. :( Yes… that makes me sad to even type it.

You can create content like a fiend on a Mac. That’s what all the ads say, right? You just can’t promote it like a fiend (without using Windows emulation software anyway).

So, I’m on a crusade to prove that notion wrong. If anyone has a really good tool for SEO that’s native to the Mac (and I mean better than Kontent Machine and GSA and Scrapebox and the like) please let me know. I’d love to test it out and sing the praises of worthwhile tools. Take it to the comments folks. I’m all ears.

“I Only See My Wrist”

Posted October 22, 2014 by Gerald B
Categories: AirPlay, Apple, AppleTV

Tags: , ,

Colbert surely twisted the shiv in Cook’s gut with that one. “I Only See My Wrist.” That was the money quote that day. Classic Colbert.

Yes, yes: Everyone’s waiting and anticipating the Apple Watch. Except, maybe, me. I do so enjoy being the odd one in the bunch.

I’ve played the latest Apple keynote through three times + the iPad Air 2 intro video this morning. I’m still perplexed at how the Watch fits in.

If THIS is Apple’s answer for the TV remote I’m not sold. Yet. I reserve the right to be sold later. But, just now, I’m not buying.

The Apple TV IS the undisputed battleground of tomorrow and Google, Microsoft, Amazon, everybody is going to be vying for the choice spot at the digital nucleus of the family. It simply makes a ton of sense.

In my house, Apple’s already won that battle. They don’t need to fight for the right to be my remote (I keep finding the damn things in my couch!). How many of those have I purchased as a replacement only to find it later? I AM looking forward to the day Apple gets it’s head out of the clouds and unveils the potential of the Apple TV: home security, home automation, home communication, home entertainment… Hell, Apple HOME right?

So, while Apple TV is coined a “fascination” of Cooks and technically a “hobby” of Apple’s… Why is Apple Watch being billed as something entirely Full Born? Shouldn’t Apple Watch be at the Hobby 1.0 stage? No? Hmmm. So, I’m left scratching my noggin wondering if Apple TV is going to be rechristened as something entirely different at some point. And billing it as something less than what it is to become is distasteful to Tim Cook. Possibly. I wonder if Apple TV will simply be discontinued. We consume so stinking much content on our iPads these days don’t we? It’s intimate. It’s personal. It’s a private window into whatever is going on. Five people can be watching five different things. AirPlay bridges the sharing gap nicely (Kudos Apple! Nailed that one). So, Apple TV doesn’t need Watch to make it a complete product. Apple TV needs a better interface and a better solution for content access. And, perhaps THAT is the rub. Apple TV is a “hobby” until Apple can perfect the user experience. Maybe they feel they have the Watch 1.0 experience pretty nicely tailored. At least well enough to warrant “non-hobby” status. I could hop on board if that’s the rationale.

Apple TV could be so much better. So much nicer. If Apple IS about a delightful experience, Apple TV falls short of their expectations and deserves the arm’s length relationship it has with mothership Apple.

REVIEW: My First 5 Minutes with OS X Yosemite

Posted October 18, 2014 by Gerald B
Categories: AAPL, App Store, Apple, Apple/OS X, feeds, firefox, iOS, iPhone, iTunes, Mac OSX, MacOSX, OSX, RSS, Safari, technology, ZFS

Tags: , , , , ,

Holy Caw! This beast is… SLEEK.

I didn’t think I would like the non-skeumorphic icons. I’m not crazy about them on iOS. Yosemite will probably carry me over that hump.

Right off the bat I was concerned about app compatibility. We’ve all been stung by that with these updates. Yet, here it is 30 minutes in. I’ve launched all my go-to apps and I only have 8 requiring update via Software Update. Yet, they launch fine, docs open, save, reopen. Try THAT Windows!

I’ll run Yosemite for a while on this production machine before I take anything else past Maverick. But, there’s plenty of reason to appreciate the polish Apple has applied to this latest version of OS X.

First impression of the UI is the login screen after installation. That’s a really nice “Hello”. Very subtle. Very beautiful. Very elegant. Very… Jonny Ive (honestly).

Next, and particularly impressive, is Safari. I’ve nearly exclusively moved over to Chrome (and Firefox for one very specific site cpanel). Safari hasn’t factored for a long time in my daily use except on iOS. Th new OS X Safari *may* lure me back across the aisle. Realistically, I doubt that… I have too much configuration invested in Chrome at this point to really seriously a permanent move. Kudos to Apple for getting their browser tight and right though. (fwiw, I still miss RSS)

There are so many fresh new nooks and crannies to explore. I’m genuinely looking forward to this one. Those who know me well, know I just plunge into these updates with a reckless pursuit to see what’s waiting on the other side and know the price for that will (usually) be picking up the broken pieces of busted apps and such. And, usually, that’s apparent within the first thirty minutes. Judging by the stability, ease of migration and lack of core apps misbehaving I have to say right now, barely 10 minutes in this is going to be one of the easiest updates I’ve been through of all the OS X releases. It does make me wonder what Yosemite Server must be like. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Which also makes me wonder about ZFS implementation (or lack of) in Yosemite. More on that later if there’s anything to pass along. A boy can hope :)

ERROR: Pages Can Not Be Opened While It Is Being Updated

Posted October 3, 2014 by Gerald B
Categories: Apple

Problem is was (yes, I solved it) Pages ISN’T FLIPPING BEING UPDATED! C’mon Apple…

A restart was of no help at all. The Apple Store app says I have no updates in progress and nothing needs updating. So…?

UPDATE: So, my fine netizen friends, the very simple solution was to isolate my computer from the internet. In my case, that meant turning off wi-fi. Restart (yet again) and relaunch Pages. This time Pages launched beautifully, without complaint and as expected even after I reconnected to network services. FYI, I’m running the latest version of Maverick and all the Apple productivity apps (Keynote, Numbers, Pages) as of Friday, October 3, 2014.

A very simple solution that seems to not be documented anywhere (useful). Yet again, I’m here to help. I’m a giver :*


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