2016 ⇔ 2017

The end of the year was spent in Shanghai and Thailand.

I was able to knock two things off my bucket list:

  • Visited Shanghai Disneyland – which means I have now visited every Disney park in the world.
  • Got certified (along with my girlfriend) for open water diving.

Shanghai Disneyland just opened in June, so the park is pretty sparse. Not many rides. Tron is fun, but their version of Pirates of the Caribbean is amazing. Line jumping was out of control. There are signs all over the park and in the maps / guides telling people not to jump line. Yet they did anyway. It quickly became pointless to argue.

Diving was great. Went to New Heaven Diving School in Thailand. The entire course was open water – no training in a pool beforehand. The sights were amazing. Sadly, I missed one dive due to seasickness. But I was able to do all remaining dives and get my certification.

Diving in Thailand

What has been really tragic, though, is that just days after we left, the island was hit by a massive monsoon. Forty-eight straight hours of rain flooded most of the island.

2017 is here. And soon, the world will look very different than it does today. If you want a meta-view of The Media and what’s going on in the world, follow Dan Rather on Facebook. You won’t be disappointed.

Happy New Year, be good to yourself. Make 2017 the year you get serious about your online security.

New Year’s Beach Party in Thailand

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Was Thinking Something Similar The Other Day

Found this on reddit recently.

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The Beginning of the End for Patent Trolls?

Beautiful! But will holding lawyers responsible for the legal fees incurred by the defense start an unforeseen trend in non-patent troll related cases?
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Social Engineering and You

Even if YOU are consistently vigilant about your private information, other people’s sloppiness can be catastrophic for you.

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Ransomware as MLM Schemes

Because holding your data for ransom wasn’t enough, now hackers want you to infect your friends’ computers for them.

It’s a twisted, evolutionary step in both ransomware and social engineering.

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Hollywood Begins Embracing Realistic Portrayals of Hackers

Cory Doctorow recently wrote an article on the trend of Hollywood portraying hackers in a more realistic fashion. He cites Mr. Robot as an example of how hacker’s really work – through social engineering, white paper analysis, etc. Gone are the days of an on screen hacker typing a few commands and shouting, “I’m in!”. We now see the long, methodical process that goes into hacking and the societal weaknesses they exploit in the process.

Online privacy and security takes a multi-fold approach. Make sure your software is secure, but at the same time, make sure you’re not opening yourself up to exploitation by sharing information with the wrong people.

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NIST Guidelines for Password Administration

The US National Institute for Standards and Technology has formulated new guidelines for password administration, including doing away with both password hints and password expiration. It’s an interesting read.

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crypto-ransomeware

Ransomware has been hitting users – both individuals and large corporations. And not just Windows users, either. There are known ransomwares for Mac OS X and Linux as well.

The best protection is not to get infected in the first place. Use anti-virus programs with active monitoring.

Also, make sure you have multiple, secure backups in place. If you do get infected, you can restore from backup.

Read more about preventing and recovering from ransomware hits here.

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A New Job

After nearly three years with the JET Program (or JET Programme for those speaking the Queen’s English), I have taken a new position as a lecturer and technology specialist at International Pacific University in Okayama, Japan. Posts will be few and brief while I get started in this new position and move to my new residence.

In other news, the cherry blossoms are out in full strength this week! A gorgeous time of year in Japan.

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New AI Feats Just Keep Coming

A novel written by artificial intelligence made it past the first round of judging in a Japanese writing contest.

One interesting thing the article says is that the AI was given words, sentences, guidelines, yet it wrote the story autonomously. That seems somewhat contradictory to me.

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