By TechnicalDifficulties

About this podcast   English

Technical Difficulties is a weekly podcast exploring the often perplexing and broken world of technology, design, and related disciplines, hosted by Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess. Rising from the ashes of their previous show Generational, it will likely prove as perplexing and broken as the topics they discuss.
In this podcast



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Sept. 24, 2014
− 080 − A History of Computing with Dr. Drang October 24th, 2014 Internet Archive Dr. Drang returns to explore his background in computing from the late 1970s to today. Along the way we discover what happens when you mess up a punchcard, what Linux was like in the early days, why he uses a Mac today, and his perspectives on the near future of computing. Our Favorite Internet Snowman Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 Dr. Drang is the pseudonymous and occasionally cranky genius-snowman-engineer behind And Now It’s All This. You can also find him on Twitter: @drdrang. We asked him to join us to discuss his personal computing history and share his thoughts on the future of Apple’s desktop and mobile platforms. NASA Dr. Drang didn’t begin using a computer until he went to college in the early 1980s. The lone computer at his high school was tied up by a data processing class, which was focused on teaching data entry via punchcards in a vocational setting. The computing world was at the dawn of a revolution. While the Apple II had been for sale for a short while at this point, the Commodore 64 wouldn’t be released until 1982. Popularization of home computing had just begun, and the Xerox Star offered one of the first commercially available graphical user interfaces for a cool $75,000 ($195,000 in today’s dollars). It was in this environment that Dr. Drang began his computing journey. Punch Cards and FORTRAN Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 3:35 Dr. Drang’s first exposure to computers was learning FORTRAN in an Introduction to Programming course his Freshman Year of collge. He believes he was one of the last people to learn computing via punch cards and Keypunch Machines. Wikipedia has a thorough write up of the IBM style punched cards. Autopilot Punch cards were quite unforgiving, and if you made a mistake on the keypunch machine you had to go back and re-punch the whole card from the beginning. The top section of the card would print what you were punching in ink, and below that the rectangular holes punched into the card would allow it to be read when pulled into the computer. Often the ink would run out and you couldn’t tell what you’d punched. For some advanced students that didn’t matter because they could read the holes. A Punchcard Before A Fortran Punched Card After One card was used per line of FORTRAN code, and they’d stack up in a bin. Then the cards would be taken to a special window where they’d be taken and run. Later (an hour or more later) you’d get the output back in stacks of folded printer paper. “You’d take them to the High Priests of the Mainframe Computer” If you discovered that there was a bug in your program, you had to go find it and repeat the process. As you’d probably guess, this process took a significant amount of time. “So you’d only get about eight mistakes a day?” Drang thinks that this process has possibly caused him to be more deliberate than he would if he learned computing in an interactive, terminal-based environment. He tends to write more before he tests. Since time on the Keypunch Machine was almost as limited as time on the mainframe, students purchased special pads of paper to write programs out by hand first. Dr. Drang used them for a while before realizing that they weren’t much more helpful than normal paper. Make Mistakes Faster Rich Siegel (of BBEdit fame) used to work for a company called Think Technologies, which made Lightspeed Pascal and LightspeedC for early Macs. They ran an ad with a tagline “Make mistakes faster”, because it was one of the first interactive IDEs that gave you feedback when it experienced a bug. There’s a nice interview with Rich on episode 36 of Debug in which he talks about his days with Th
Sept. 10, 2014
This week, we take a detailed look at why Gabe switched to and continues to use Introducing FastMail Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 FastMail(affiliate link) is an online email provider that is a compelling alternative to Gmail and iCloud (seriously?) mail. “That sounds like an accusation” An Australian company offering a paid service with a strong feature set (even if they are based in a Five Eyes country) their strong suit is their highly responsive support model, which uses real human beings. Types of Accounts Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 2:55 On their lowest plan, you can use one of several different preexisting domains, but you can pay more to use your own. At the time of writing, the pricing for FastMail personal accounts breaks down like this: $10/yr for 250MB of email $20/yr for 1GB $40/yr for 15GB $120/yr for 60GB You can also purchase more storage space as needed. FastMail Accounts FastMail supports several levels of individual accounts. Most of the difference between the individual account types can be chalked up to storage space allocation. If you need tons of mail storage then you’ll need to pay for it. The FastMail web app allows multiple accounts, with fast access to any account right on the landing page. There’s no real reason to logout before accessing a different account. I’ve also used the business account from FastMail. It’s a nearly identical experience except for two differences: There’s an option so email between employees on a business account stay on the FastMail servers. As an administrator, you get control over granting, locking and archiving employee accounts. I have not used the Family plan. It allows you to combine multiple personal accounts under one bill but you also get the option to share contacts and calendars as well as administer and monitor accounts for the kids. For the security conscious (and who isn’t these days) you can set up Two Factor Authentication. FastMail has a very sane view of security, which is evident in its communications on the subject. They do everything possible on their end to maintain the security of your email but take care to point out that without using email encryption software such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) or [Secure/Multipurpose Internet mail Extensions S/MIME), webmail remains flawed from a security standpoint. A good indication In reality, webmail is as private as a postcard, and efforts to claim otherwise are disingenuous at best. As FastMail’s security page points out, Hushmail turned over unencrypted email to the U.S. Government when served with a court order, in accordance with their privacy policy. Take note of this, a privacy-oriented email service stores your unencrypted email. I much prefer FastMail’s take on security than one that can’t really deliver what it promises. With their robust featureset, and a quick webapp, Gabe thinks FastMail actually can make email fun again. “I actually really love email” So Many Email Accounts Let’s clear the skeletons out of the closet. Over the years I’ve used AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail for email. There have been many more through various university accounts. It’s almost all out of my reach now. But for the past 5+ years I’ve primarily used my own domains for email. That makes it mine more than any other service. I highly recommend owning your own domain and getting an email address on that domain. Your email address will always be yours and you can point it to a new email provider, usually with little effort. The FastMail Web App Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 5:22 Gabe started off with FastMail by using regular email apps and connecting through IMAP. Eventually the FastMail Web App won him over, with its speed, design, and liberal use of keyboard shortcuts. FastMail Web App on the Desktop The FastMail Web
Aug. 1, 2014
View the show notes on our episode page. Add this URL to your podcatcher to subscribe to the full-notes feed: Gabe and Erik are joined by friend-of-the-show and new audio producer Bob VanderClay to discuss pens, paper, notebooks and why we can't seem to transition to an all-digital workflow no matter how many notebooks we throw in the wood chipper. Why Paper? Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 “Hope I can do two things at once” For Bob, it’s an issue of reliability and speed. Bob sketches out software architecture, and tends to keep his notes around even though he doesn’t refer to them much. For Gabe it’s about the specific problem to be solved, and planning or meeting notes still lend themselves to paper. Gabe considers his notebooks as essentially garbage, to prevent thinking about them as too precious to use. After he’s done, Gabe dismantles his notebooks and scans them. What Kind of Paper? Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 4:41 Field Notes Our original 48-page memo book available in four varieties. Each book measures 3-1/2” wide by 5-1/2” tall and is bound with a rugged three-staple saddle-stitch process. MSRP: $9.95 Manufacturer’s Page Amazon (Affiliate) “Do you take the shells of your dead moleskines, dry them out and hang them on the wall as trophies?” Scanning Episode We’ve done a scanning show before. If that interests you, then check it out “Yeah, I throw them around the yard to ward off other notebooks” Bob prefers plain loose-leaf paper (no lines). Gabe likes dots on the page. Erik likes grids. Moleskine Reporter Notebook The Moleskine Large Squared Reporter notebook has a cover that flips opens at the top, 24 detachable pages at the back for quick notes on the spot and can be used both horizontally and vertically. MSRP: $15.88 Manufacturer’s Page Amazon (Affiliate) Field Notes Field Notes aren’t good because they are small or because they have modestly high quality paper. They’re good because I have a bunch of them and feel ok wasting pages. Having easy access to small notebooks changed the way I used paper notes. I previously coveted high end (and more expensive) hardbound notebooks and their preciousness made me conscious of how I used them. But Field Notes are available for about $3 per notebook on Amazon (I like the black dot grid but many other styles are available too). These aren’t the cheapest notebooks you can find, but you don’t want those. They’re a nice compromise between quality and quantity. Beer Field Notes… Mmmm. grid+lines I use two types of paper (willingly). The first of these is Doane Paper, which I use for any day-to-day writing. I love this paper. It offers a great middle ground between paper with grid-lines and the usual lines of ruled paper. grid+lines Appropriately, “grid+lines” is Doane’s tagline. Depending on the product, the paper is either 70lb or 60lb recycled paper, that is a nice, bright white. It actually seems like it would be too bright, but I really like looking at it. It’s something intangible, I guess. I always liked the idea off a pocket notebook, but in practice, they always ann
July 11, 2014
Potatowire finally leaves the crib, joining Gabe and Erik to discuss command-line text editing with vim. We learn how he started, why he uses a forty-year old text editor, and some cool things you can do when your hands never have to leave the keyboard. This is weird This is a strange episode for me. Usually I am the guy who comments from outside the conversation, and I am often the one who stitches the links and asides together with narrative. In this case Gabe and Erik asked me to come into the conversation as it happened, rather than afterwards. This also meant that I had to listen to my own recorded voice, which I usually try to avoid. Anyway, what follows is a long discussion about Vim and the terminal. I am very strong proponent about Vim, but I try not to browbeat people about it, since I know that it works best for me, and not necessarily for everyone else. Though it should be. Damn it, that slipped out. Also, if it seems like my attention occasionally wandered, my kids came home during the middle of the recording, and my daughter, in particular, thought she ought to have my undivided attention periodically. I am not a professional. Introducing Potatowire Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 “I like my friends online where I can keep an eye on them.” The story about how I became so fascinated by Vim and the command line is not terribly glamorous or interesting. I think Dr.Drang has a much better story, leaving aside some of the great material that exists from the formative years of these tools. Like many kids, I liked video games before I liked computers, and in my case, the two first became connected by the Commodore 64, which was both computer and game platform. It wasn’t really great at either function, but I didn’t know that. I loved Jumpman and Popeye, and that even caused me to dig into the Programmer’s Reference Guide to try to write my own game. Memories I may have stunted my programming growth by starting too young though, because I didn’t go back to programming again until college. It was also in college that I really realized that the command line lurked there underneath the surface of all that pretty GUI. I don’t remember what I was trying to do, but I was having some trouble accomplishing a task with the wonderful computer that I had been given, and the guy who lived across the hall from me asked me why I didn’t just do whatever it was in DOS instead of in Windows 3.11. I dug in a little, and the command line had me hooked. Similarities If a friend of mine hadn’t done exactly the same thing to me freshman year in college (and provided me with a lot of advice over the next few years) I’d be a much less capable computer user today. Fast forward to 2004, and I had a little extra money that I excitedly plunked down to buy a PowerBook G4 1.5 17”. It was a revelation. As I poked around this new-to-me OS X I discovered the hidden settings made possible by defaults write. I was in love with the command line all over again. The management regrets the error I said that I bought my new Mac in 2007, but I meant 2004. Was there something else that happened in 2007? My computer use took another leap forward in its evolution when I read a post on O’Reilly’s Radar, which has since been lost from both my mind and my bookmarks, about this editor called Vim that I really knew nothing about. This was interesting, but nothing really changed for me until I read Steve Losh’s post about Coming Home to Vim. I thought it was wonderful and compelling and I switched text editors on the spot. Section Links MacVim Dr. Bunsen - The Text Triumvirate zsh and Oh-My-Zsh Vim tmux Learning about the tools Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 11:36 tmux - The Terminal Multiplexer Tmux is a terminal multiplexer. That didn’t mean much to me when I was first told that either, but the idea is that you can have multipl
May 24, 2014
What's Living in Gabe's Closet? Library of Congress Intrigued by Gabe's frequent mentions of his Network Closet, Erik asks some tough questions. Why put the closet in the basement? Why all the extra ventilation? What happens when you run out of red printer ink? The answers may disturb and frighten you. A Closet of His Very Own Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 Erik digs into the history of Gabe’s networking closet. How did he decide to build his own, and why? When this podcast was newly re-launched, we discussed how to wire a house for ethernet. This topic has come up periodically, but now it’s time to learn a little bit more about the center of Gabe’s wired house. “I have a wife” And Gabe’s wife doesn’t like nerdy hardware out sitting around. Weird double entendres aside, Gabe has always tried to isolate his networked and nerdy equipment. When you put a lot of running electronics in one place, however, they produce a lot of heat. For that reason, he thinks you should install vents at the top and bottom of your network closet if feasible. It may also make sense to add a temperature sensor too, but beware. Home automation can be a slippery slope. “Like quiet and awesome mode?” Having a network closet also means you can put your noisy devices in the one room and it will still be quiet enough that you can record a podcast. What’s in there? Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 5:04 The network closet is likely the center of nerd necessities. For Gabe, his closet contains: 8-bay 1813+ Synology with seven drives Mac Mini 24 port Network Switch Network-based Printer Scanner Toolbox and Cables 3 UPS “The Dobermans bring it up” Nobody touches Gabe’s Network Toolbox. The Toolbox One of the primary uses for my network closet is to gather together all of my networking and computer tools in one place. No one goes in there to look for tools so I’m all but guaranteed to find what I’m looking for when I need it. I love this little red toolbox. It’s all metal and built solid. The cantilever design keeps every compartment visible while it’s open but closes up to a compact little carry along. My favorite tool is a simple multi-bit screwdriver by Channellock. This little driver is solidly made and has a variety of reasonably useful bits. But when was the last time a normal driver bit was useful for a computer? That’s why I have a set of micro drivers and the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit. If you need to pull cables between floors and through walls, it can be a real pain to get it started. The Wet Noodle is a nice little find but kind of expensive for what it does. However, after you save yourself hours of pointless cursing at a hole in your ceiling, you’ll be happy to spend a hundred times what this item costs. Here’s a rundown of various other tools I’ve hidden away: Wire crimpers and cutters Wire Strippers Punch down Ratcheting crimper for RJ45 plugs Network cable tester Aviation Shears A good quality but inexpensive knife Diagonal Snips Needle Nose pliers (get several sizes) You can get a kit full of reasonably good quality tools for making network cables and connectors. Flashlights Boy am I a sucker for a good flashlight. I have some nice flashlights that can cook a turkey, but the one I use the most around the house is my Joby tripod light. It has flexible legs and magnet feet. It also takes standard batteries so I’m pretty much always ready to go with it. I upgraded to the more powerful 125 Lumen model from my trusty 65 Lumen model that my toddler now loves. Gabe’s network closet was actually planned, so he has the benefit of having it on an independent power circuit, and it stays pretty cool naturally, since it’s partially underground. He also used slatted doors on the room to maximize the ben
May 10, 2014
Fed up with their Apple TV, Gabe and Erik talk about Plex and the Roku Media Player. They cover what Plex is, how it works, and the advantages and disadvantages of pairing Plex with the Roku. Authorizing… Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 The discussion begins (as so many episodes do) by relating the challenges of the leading solution in the field: in this case the Apple TV. “The problem is you’re trying to pull a very large file from a very distant place” “And we’re spoiled” Choosing Plex Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 2:02 What is Plex? Plex is a media management application with server and client components. Since its early days as a fork of the XBMC Media Center, it has grown to a cross-plaform service which includes a cloud component. Serving your Files The Synology is a terrific NAS but it’s not the only server to provide an easy setup for Plex. On the Synology it takes a couple of clicks to add a Plex server. Once it’s up and running, the Plex server is controlled through the same web interface as from any other Plex server. The Plex server on the Synology runs well enough but large MKV files had a noticeable lag when loading. I think the default RAM configuration on a Synology is too small to run all of the standard file sharing services PLUS a Plex server. Using a Mac Mini as the Plex server provided a better experience. The files all still lived on the Synology NAS, so that rules out disk performance or network streaming as a bottleneck. One primary benefit of the Plex server running on the Synology is that it starts at boot and all of the files are available at any time. On the Mac Mini you’ll need to setup some scripts and cron jobs to check and remount the NAS if the Mini reboots. I’ve ordered more memory for my Synology since I really just want the Plex server running on my NAS. I don’t really want a Mac Mini media server. Let’s Talk about the Roku Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 10:27 Metadata Several years ago, I was using XBMC on an Xbox (the first one, not the new One–that’s not at all confusing, Microsoft), and I loved the way it displayed so much information about my movies and shows, but its crawler wasn’t as robust as it could be. I dug in a little, and saw that the best crawler (installed as a plugin) used as its data source, and I learned to follow the recommended file-naming conventions and manually edit the xml files (gross) when there were errors. This made everything look the way I wanted, and life was good. Somewhere around this time, I started to run my media center on a Mac Mini, which allowed me to start using MPEG encoded movies (the Xbox hardware had trouble decoding anything other than AVIs). This switch to the MPEG-4 format meant smaller file sizes (storage wasn’t especially cheap then) and the potential to utilize atoms to store the metadata in the video files themselves. The nice thing about this is that I never had to worry about what happened when a file which was renamed by iTunes or whatever, because the file itself held the data, including its “album art”. Initially, I manually set this at the command line using AtomicParsley, but soon enough, I wrote a script to do the heavy lifting for me. The next sea change for me was when I got an Apple TV and saw how television show purchases made through iTunes had better season and episode data than the DVDs I had ripped and encoded, with a fuller episode summary. This led me back into the atoms and I learned about what Apple was adding to the defaults. Fortunately, some smart people were there first and this fork of the original AtomicParsley project was able to write the Apple additions. It was a little hacky then, but this fork is well-maintained, and the process is much easier now. At this point, you are probably thinking that the word “easier” shouldn’t be in the discussion at all, bu
April 26, 2014
− 074 − Home Automation with Bob VanderClay April 28th, 2014 Glucksman Library Bob VanderClay returns to discuss the ultimate topic for Technical Difficulties: Home Automation. We touch on several popular tools, including Hue, SmartThings, WeMo, and Nest. The Ultimate Topic Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 Home automation is a troubled topic that exemplifies pretty much everything that’s broken about technology these days. “Or everything that you can broke” Like any technology early in its adolescence, the various manufacturers in the industry are trying to appeal to a broad audience, but in doing so they are presenting a wildly differing, and often incompatible visions of ideal home automation. Luckily, the rise of mobile technology and improvement of IFTTT-style API bridges have made it more possible to unite these disparate systems into a somewhat coherent whole. This week, friend-of-the-show Bob VanderClay rejoins Gabe and Erik as they revel in their home automation triumphs and bemoan their tragedies. (Re)Introducing Bob VanderClay Bob VanderClay You might remember Bob from Episode 032 where he discussed blogging platforms. Bob worked as a developer for NASA, ETS, BAE, and the US Joint Forces Command, before moving into the private sector. He’s currently Erik’s partner at high90 where he develops web applications for the multifamily software industry. A Litany of Disasters It’s probably best to start with a short overview of where everybody is coming from. The table below highlights the systems we’ve used, loved, and hated over the years. Sonos Logitech Harmony Ultimate Nest WeMo Synology Surveillance Station SmartThings Hue GE/Jasco Smart Switches “It went back into the somewhere box.” Smart Switches and WeMo Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 3:34 In theory, the dream has always been to have your smart home be wired into the walls. We’d be able to interact with everything the way we’re used to, but could also do it more awesomely with technology. Unfortunately, that remains more of a dream than a reality, as “smart” wiring options have proven anything but. Gabe’s experiences are sadly typical in this arena. So Many Options X10 has been around since the 70’s and has become the defacto standard for wireless appliance controls. One advantage of X10 modules is that communication can occur over the home power lines. Many X10 controls rely on wall-warts and lightbulb adapters but the most severe issues with X10 are caused by interference with the signals between devices caused by appliances and wiring. Insteon, Z-Wave, and ZigBee followed on the heels of X10. Insteon is a proprietary technology that is widely available in the US and works as a mesh network over a combination of power line and RF. ZigBee is based on the 802.15 standard and also works as a mesh network operating without a single master control. Z-Wave operates as an RF mesh network in the 900MHz range. Z-Wave may interfere with sub-GHz cordless phones, if those are still around. Interestingly, the Open Z-Wave project aims at making an open standard free of expensive development kits. This has already resulted in a Raspberry Pi daughter board. Hobbyists One of aspects of this industry that I find fascinating is the work that goes on in the parallel hobby electronics industry. There have been wireless communications tutorials like this one online since 2008, and individual chipsets can be had for as little as $10. Versions of the Xbee, even directly supports the ZigBee protocol, but general 802.15, Bluetooth, and
April 10, 2014
US National Archives We're thrilled to welcome Helene Wecker to the show this week. Helene recently published her debut novel The Golem and the Jinni. On the show, Helene discusses how she got started as an author, her approach to writing, and some of the tools she uses to bring her stories from concept to reality. Meet Helene Wecker Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 Helene Wecker is the author of The Golem and the Jinni. Recently nominated for the 2013 Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Award, the novel tells the story of a group of immigrants (both natural and supernatural) living in New York City at the turn of the last century. US National Archives Helene got her start in the Marketing and Public Relations field. Seven years into her career, she decided to stop writing about other people’s awesome projects and start working on her own instead. Having written Doctor Who and Star Trek fanfic in high school and leaning on some additional experience in creative writing classes, Helene chose to pursue a career writing fiction. Perhaps leaning towards the Type A side of the personality spectrum (no comment – pw) she was talented enough to graduate from the prestigious Master of Fine Arts Degree program at Columbia University in New York. Welcoming Helene Wecker At the end of Technical Difficulties 67 with David Sparks, Gabe ressurected a Generational feature he calls “Tell Me About Something You Like.” In it, Gabe told us about a great book he had just finished. On his recommendation I made it my next audiobook, and Erik added it to his Kindle library. Well, it turns out that the author herself heard the mention and after Gabe saw this, he was able to arrange this interview. Though we were all a bit starstruck, Helene proved to be a gracious and wonderful guest. We think you’ll agree. NIAID On being published Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 9:38 Among the benefits of Helene’s Columbia MFA program were the annual mixers which allowed students to interact with literary agents. While these events didn’t offer any guarantees of representation (much less fame, fortune, and a show on HBO), Helene was able to make a connection with someone who could offer some guidance. Over a period of four to five years he helped her refine the novel and stay on track, eventually becoming her agent and helping Helene sell the novel to HarperCollins Publishers when it was roughly half-complete. Library of Congress The Basis for the story Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 19:49 The Golem and the Jinni is a story that interweaves Jewish and Arab American traditions and mythologies amidst the backdrop of New York City in 1899. Ensuring that a novel with such distinctive themes rang true required Helene to conduct exhaustive research and pay careful attention to the “rules” of the world she was creating. Fortunately, Helene had access to family traditions from both cultures as well as the Columbia University library. That being said, making a golem and a jinni believably walk the streets of The Lower East Side and Little Syria requires an immense amount of good old-fashioned hard work – far more than just a quick viewing of Funny Girl. Maronite Church Eastern Orthodox Church Judaism Caution Erik’s lack of appreciation for the romantic charms of Dearborn, Michigan does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the management. Library of Congress Fitting Research into a narrative Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 32:50 When a story expands to the length of a novel, a line needs to be drawn somewhere between fleshing out a tale’s detail, and writing a textbook. And what about the characters? A world needs a full cast to feel real, but nothing feels like more of a cheat to the reader than when the author’s hand can be seen dro
April 8, 2014
Have you ever had to reset a password? Have you ever forgotten the new password after you reset it? Gabe and Erik share their password struggles and talk about how they're trying to solve them, mostly with the help of 1Password. View the show notes on our episode page. Add this URL to your podcatcher to subscribe to the full-notes feed: Have You Ever Been Forced to Reset a Password? Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 We all know passwords are important. Sure, they’re important. But they’re also boring, and sometimes it takes a security blunder by one of the critical links in our online systems to make us remember to pay attention again. Consider this episode a reminder, too, and do some housekeeping. Explaining Passwords One of the hardest things to do is to explain password security “best practices” to an average “Alice” or “Joe”. I’ve tackled the discussion about changing passwords with my family and they look at me like I suggested they change their first name. Passwords are looked at like house keys. As long as you keep them in your pocket, there’s nothing to worry about. But I try to explain it more like, a valet car service. You give them your key and then you have no idea what they do with it for the other 99% of the time you have a relationship with them. The Applications This is not one of those times when we are going to recommend a whole host of possible apps for you to try. All of us use 1Password, and I bet this is true of most of our listeners too. The AgileBits have created a great app that is well-supported and available on most platforms. More than that though, they seem to have a great mindset towards security, and they take the time to educate the masses on their site. All of this usually ends the app search before it begins. 1Password 1Password gives you the security you need in today’s online world without slowing you down. 1Password makes you more productive while simultaneously increasing your security with strong, unique passwords for all your accounts. Price: $24.99 Developer’s Page App Store There are, however, some other apps to consider, if you aren’t interested in 1Password for any reason. Dashlane Dashlane is the best, free password manager and secure digital wallet for your iPhone, iPad, and other devices. Price: Free/$19.99 per Year Developer’s Page App Store LastPass LastPass is the last password you’ll ever have to remember. Once setup you’ll have your login and password data on your PC and your iPhone/iPad seamlessly synced via a Host Proof Hosting method which does not allow LastPass (or anyone else) access to your sensitive data. Price: Free/$12 per Year Developer’s Page App Store For edge cases The first password app I ever heard of and used was KeePass, which is still likely the best choice for the open-source crowd. It is also a good choice for a universal solution, since it has unofficial ports on virtually every OS. It has also been around internet forever, as in it was there when Lifehacker was still good and before Merlin became sick to death of talking about GTD. As to universal access to yous passwords, there is also the somewhat hidden gem of 1PasswordAnywhere, which allows you to view your data in a browser window. One gotcha that can affect those of us on IT lock-down is that 1PasswordAnywhere unfortunately (wisely) does not support Internet Explorer. Creating Good Passwords Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 3:49 Perhaps the best lesson on password strength can be found in a cartoon. xkcd: Password Strength Of course, xkcd is not your average webcomic, and Randall Munroe is not your averagewebcomic author, so the truth found here should not
March 20, 2014
How do you read these days? Gabe and Erik talk about the devices and apps they use for casual and serious reading. View the show notes on our episode page. Add this URL to your podcatcher to subscribe to the full-notes feed: You Do Much Reading? Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:00 While we’ve already delved a bit into books on previous episodes, reading is a subject that can take a conversation in any direction. For people of a certain generation, reading often connotes a book of one sort or another, but the 80s generation may be the last to make that connection. With the ever increasing popularity of hand-held computers, you no longer have to know what you want to read, only that you want to read. Gone is the now-ancient requirement to literally “pick up” a novel, history (chemistry?) book, or magazine. Casual Reading Listen to this section on SoundCloud: 0:57 Reading on the web used to be as simple as opening up Google Reader and browsing through your (thousands) of feeds, but the RSS landscape is a little less clear these days. Syncing After reading an exhaustive set of reviews there may not be a clear winner, but since Gabe stuck with Feedbin, I think it is probably the best choice for the otherwise unconvinced. I chose a fourth option by quitting RSS altogether. I may go back someday, but for right now, I visit a handful of sites manually (while carefully avoiding others) and haven’t missed any big news yet. I do continue to miss subtweets, however… What the RSS market comes down to now, really, is selecting a client and then adding in the feed syncing afterward. All of the top Reader replacements have easy OPML import and export, and all of the top clients support multiple sync services. This is a pretty sane way to operate overall, but a little more innovation wouldn’t hurt either. Feedbin A fast, simple RSS reader that delivers a great reading experience. Price: $3 per month Developer’s Page There are many great RSS clients available for iOS and Android, and the decision likely comes down to preference in the end. Most of the audience has probably been using Reeder and Mr. Reader for years now, anyway. Reeder An Elegant RSS Reader for iOS. Price: $4.99 Developer’s Page App Store Mr. Reader Mr. Reader is a powerful RSS News Reader for your iPad that synchronizes with popular services. Price: $3.99 Developer’s Page App Store Press Press is a simple and elegant Android RSS client for popular syncing services. Price: $2.99 Developer’s Page Play Store More on Press Most of our users have an all-iOS device stable, but for those who use Android I highly recommend Press by TwentyFive Squares. It has quickly become my favorite mobile RSS reader on any platform for its elegant design, intuitive functionality, and speed. My favorite feature is double-tapping on an article to bring it up in Readability mode, which is handy for sites without full RSS feeds. It also handles XKCD image titles gracefully, which has lately become a primary yardstick by which I measure RSS apps. When I’m reading feeds on my iPad, Press is the app I wish I was using. Gabe has given up on desktop RSS apps, but Erik is still clinging to the dream. He uses ReadKit. Readkit ReadKit is a full-featured read later and RSS client that supports services from Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, Pinboard, Delicious, Feedly, Fever, NewsBlur, Feedbin and Feed Wrangler and has built-in RSS capabilities. Price: $6.99 Developer’s Page App Store The Chromebook I’ve been
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