I’ve been a BlackBerry user since 2007…nearly a decade. Transitioned from the original BlackBerry OS which required reboots weekly to BlackBerry 10 which just worked. My current phone is a Z10 and I’ve loved it. Smooth interactions, easy to navigate between applications, has the ability to make great phone calls, has the Hub, and doesn’t sell all of my data to advertisers. I was hoping to pick up a Passport but apparently AT&T owns the phone and it will never come over Verizon. So now I’m left with picking up either an iOS or Android device. I’d consider a Windows phone but Verizon doesn’t have a great selection of those phones and picking one feels like picking another dieing OS.
iPhone has one big advantage, most of my family uses them. I could do Facetime with the family and have a selection of top quality applications. The OS hasn’t been seeing the best quality since version 9 came out, ZDNet even wrote about it last year, which is a bit disappointing since they spend so much time make the phone look beautiful. It honestly seems like the company is pushing their software division to deliver an unfinished product knowing the diehards will deal with the bugs. They have promised to focus on delivering a better quality OS as was mentioned here on 9TO5Mac, but we’ll have to wait for the release later this year to see if that promise comes true.
And then there is Android. The OS has been receiving some good updates to improve battery life, security enhancements, and provide developers with a way to make professional looking applications. Basically, it has been slowly getting up to par with iOS. There is still a proliferation of low quality/questionable apps on the Play Store but that doesn’t mean they are all bad. The fact that BlackBerry now makes the PRIV which takes the best of Android and BlackBerry 10 and melds them together is a big plus. BlackBerry does message handling better than any other device I’ve used and the virtual keyboard with the swipe feature is an efficient beast.
Hmm, unless BlackBerry ports over their Hub app to iOS I think I’ll plan on picking up the PRIV. Great camera, beautiful screen, BlackBerry Hub and DTEK, should have the latest Android OS by the time Verizon releases it in March, and the fact that it has expandable storage is a huge plus. Fine, I admit, I’m still a BlackBerry addict.
It is three weeks into the new year and how many of us are still being loyal to our resolution? Hopefully whatever was picked for this year is obtainable and not something like winning the PowerBall. Each year I tend to pick a personality trait and something health related as my goal for the year. Usually it is something generic enough that by the end of the year I have no real idea on if the goal was actually accomplished. This would leave me not feeling too bad about the goal at the end of the year but I also felt that I really hadn’t changed. So last year I decided to try something different.
I’ve never really enjoyed salads but knew I needed to start eating healthy. There was no way I could just dive in and start eating a salad everyday so I made it simple. Each week I would eat one salad. If I missed a week then I would double up another week to make it up. To add another level to it I teamed up with a coworker who decided to give up smoking. I made a deal to myself that as long as he kept to his goal I had to keep to mine, no matter what. There really is no tie in between our goals but I knew that if I add another person to the mix then I will have a better chance at keeping my goal.
2015 has come and gone and I have had at least 52 salads and my coworker didn’t smoke once last year. Now that we’re in 2016 I’ve upped the ante and now have to eat two salads a week. Nothing exciting, but with any luck I’ll not only get myself to enjoy salads but will also get to the point where I don’t need goals to keep me eating healthy. It will just become a habit.
Earlier this month HBR IdeaCast had a podcast covering ways to keep your goals. I suggest listening to it, at 20 minutes in length it isn’t going to take up much of your time. Check it out at HBR IdeaCast, Achieve Your Goals (Finally). Some of the advice they gave were to keep the goal were to be specific about what you want to accomplish, be flexible, try replacing a bad behavior with a good one, and be prepared for temptation. Putting these strategies together should help you to keep your resolution this year and end the year on a success.
It feels like every few weeks or months I get an email about one of my accounts possibly being compromised by hackers. Instead of waiting for the company to send out an email about the data breach there is a way to automatically have your account tracked by haveibeenpwned.com. The website might not sound like the most legitmate place but it is. Users can search their login names or setup an automatic alert so they can be notified when the account is found in a data breach report.
Adding every account or login might be a bit tedious so focusing on accounts that have personal or financial information would be the best place to start. If you are a developer there is even an API that can be used to search the database.
I’ve had a number of family members ask about whether I have any recommendations for an everyday laptop that is under $500. Something that can easily handle the normal rigors of Microsoft Office and the Internet and doesn’t feel cheap. After getting one for my wife I let them know that the Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5717SLV is a top choice. The touch screen is beautiful, has a full numeric pad, has enough weight so it sits nicely on your lap, and is as smooth as butter with 8GB of RAM and a 1 terabyte harddrive. The current promotion has the laptop listed at $449 instead of the original price of $749. When I originally purchased the laptop it was at $549 which I thought was a great deal so getting another $100 back later when it dropped in price was a bonus. As it currently stands my father has also picked one up and my sister-in-law is looking at getting one too.
There has been a lot of talk about adding backdoors to electronics and secured communications lately. Politicians and intelligence officials say it is the only way to gaurantee we can thwart terrorist attacks. It has gotten to the point where governments are looking to force companies into designing weaknesses in their products. The BBC has a couple of nice writeups; Paris attacks: Silicon Valley in the crosshairs over encryption and Can the government ban encryption.
Now don’t be mistaken, I realize this isn’t an easy issue to deal with. On one hand you don’t want child pornographers, terrorists, or human traffickers to have the ability to hide their digital tracks. There should be a way to lawfully get access to the evidence. If all commercial encryption had backdoors then there wouldn’t be any problems. Get a warrant, request the data through the backdoor, and voila, all secrets are exposed. But how do you guarantee privacy online when all secrets can be exposed?
Some people will say this is fine. They have nothing to hide so they aren’t worried about the police or government having access to their digital life. But the issue isn’t having nothing to hide, it is having the ability to keep your personal life private. Moxie Marlinspike has a great article on Wired.com from 2013 that goes over this exact concept.
This route also has another problem. It assumes that the criminals will knowingly use products that have this insecurity. Why wouldn’t they just use a known secure security algorithm like public key encryption to keep their information private? They could easily use standard communication applications like SMS or email and still encrypt the message before it is sent. The algorithm is simple to implement, anyone with a high school diploma and some basic coding skills can impement it in a matter of a few hours.
So what does this leave us with? How can we thwart criminal activities? Human intel still works. Creating custom malware and viruses to install on their electronics has been a proven method. Realize, once a freedom is lost it is hard to get back; as each piece of privacy is taken we get closer to 1984.