I can almost remember a time when the only credentials I had to remember was my pin number for my debit card. Once upon a time I was able to remember most all username and password (aka credentials) for my accounts. An email address here, online banking there, a social media site here. I had a pretty clever strategy. Each account had its own three part password. Part one were characters unique to the account. Part two was a special character like @ or #. Part three was a standard phrase and the same for all passwords.

Then I started reading about websites getting hacked and users data being stolen and used for evil purposes. That plus a ballooning number of accounts to keep up with led me to start looking for a better account management solution. A friend and fellow technologist suggested the application 1Password.

Here is the iOS Mobile App Home Page

Mobile App Home Page

You install it on your devices, back up the file in the cloud via Dropbox for example, and have the application auto generate a unique password from 4 to 50 characters. You have as you can see one Master Password to get into the application.

There is also a desktop application.

Desktop App Home Page

How’s that work? You input your account Master Password and get into the application.

Account Types

You have different categories of accounts. You can keep track of websites, apps, etc. You can also keep track of Credit Cards and all of your multiple personalities, err, I mean identities.

To use your listings you just scroll to the account. To add a new account, you click plus and add, just like you would a friend in your contacts list.

Account Edit Page

Then you can tell the 1Password application to generate a password based on the way you tell it to. Based on what they call a Recipe, which you choose. For example, you can have a short password with only lower case letters.

Editing Password for Account

You can have a combo of letters and numbers, use only numbers, or… you can choose to generate a password that is 50 characters long, includes lower and upper case letters that are pronounceable, or not, digits, special characters, symbols, and have characters repeat, or not.

Different Password

What is the downside? You will never memorize that sort of magnificent password. The upside? You do not have to. When you login to the service you copy your credentials (username and password) from the 1Password app and paste it into the fields. Better still you can sync your credentials across your devices. Using Dropbox I have my 1Password credentials data shared on my iMac, iPhone, and iPad mini, as well as on my wife’s iPhone and her iPad.

It did take me a few weeks to get things setup the way I wanted them but now I am using 1Password to generate and manage over 140 different sets of credentials, and counting. Now all I have to do is remember that darn pin number for my debit card.

Owen

Cutting Our Cord

September 18, 2014

There was a time when we watched a lot of television in our house. With a Toddler to keep up with we are now way below the national average which evidently is five hours a day if we are to believe what was reported by the New York Daily News.

2877784014_49e1b24606_z(Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/spin_spin/)

My wife watches less than an hour a day all while she gets in her daily workout. I watch about an hour a day in the evenings. We might also sorta kinda maybe watch an hour together after dinner in between bath and play time. As a result we decided to get rid of our cable and the bill that goes along with it. There is certain programming that we did not want to live without. With all of the options we were able to cobble together solutions that covered everything.

1. Netflix
2. Hulu
3. Plex
4. Tablo TV
5. ESPN3
6. iTunes

All of these combined might cost us $20 a month. Most of these are, or could be with a little negotiating, more or less free. I did pay for the Table DVR and OTA HDTV antenna but after that all of what I pull out of the air and record is free.

We have only been cable free for a few weeks. So far so good.

Owen

Preordering the iPhone 6 Plus

September 15, 2014

I should have taken his advice. He had been thru this before. ATT just does not do preorders for iPhones very well. At all. Not even close. In fact, and now I have heard this from multiple trusted sources, combined with my own experience, never ever ever preorder any Apple device anywhere but at the Apple Store Online. Ever.

image

Preorders were available on the Apple website on Wednesday midnight PST. Per normal servers crashed but people got in and got to order. I waited and preordered on the ATT website on Thursday mid morning. Rookie. I got a notice that my phone would be shipped around the end of November. The end of November? Really? I pondered the issue two days and on Sunday decided that I could do better. I called and canceled my preorder. The CSR said it would take two business days for my upgrade to be reinstated. Nope. In two hours I went onto the Apple Store app on my iPhone and ordered my new iPhone 6 Plus. The clincher? Shipping due around mid October. Not great but about 45 days sooner than ATT. Lesson learned.

Owen

Forty

April 29, 2014

April 29, 1974 was a good day for me. A lot has happened in the days in between then and now. I’ll spare you the details. Unless of course you were there for any of those days in between and you remember them all on your own. If so, feel free to celebrate with me by sharing your favorite. Or keep it to yourself. Your call.

I have said it before and I will say it again here. If some Beyonder with the power came to me and said “Sign here and I can guarantee you will have exactly 40 more years to live, but only 40. What’s more, you can go back and live your 40 years from any point in your past forward.” My answers would be (1) ‘Where do I sign’ and (2) ‘I will start my next 40 years starting today, thank you very much’. Thing is, the last 40 have been just about as good as I could have hoped for. In fact, better. Still, I am way more excited about the next four decades than those past at this point in my life. No Beyonders have come calling, but just the same, here’s to the next 40!

40

Owen

Since the end of 2013 I have had the concept of daily ritual on my mind. Call them habits, routine, or otherwise, the more fixed, the closer these get to what I would consider ritual. The internet provides a formal definition that works as well as any. A ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Choose the definition you prefer and follow along.

I have always thought myself their creature. Good and bad, routine provides definition and structure. They provide outline. Over the next few months I intend to share a series of posts on the topic of ritual. Specifically my own, focusing on those that are more or less fully defined. Some I am sure will seem banal. Others may surprise. In the end I hope they will persuade you to consider your own daily rituals in new light.

Here is the first.

In September 2011 I wrote about giving up coffee for the umpteenth time. In that post I wrote that I have an on again, off again, relationship with coffee. After our son Henrik was born Linda and I took a three month leave from work. We both went back to work afterwards, which left us with a childcare decision to make. Linda and I both work from home, which made what we now call “child care in three shifts” possible. I start work at 6:00 AM. Linda watches Henrik in the morning. Child care comes in mid morning and stays until 3:00 PM when I get off work. I watch Henrik. Linda gets off work at 5:00 PM. Rinse and repeat.

I wanted a way to drink one strong cup of coffee a day, but no more. I wanted that cup to be fantastic, but at the same time be too much work to even want to make a second cup. Here is what I came up with.

(1) Water. 16 ounces. Microwave 3 Minutes.

I heat the water in the microwave 180 degrees. I use a Pyrex 2 Cup. This dude is the a very handy utilititarian for lots of small jobs.

pyrex

(2) Beans. 32 grams. 5 Minutes.

I figured out real quick that the most important aspect of great coffee is great beans. I tried a few different grocery brands that were okay. Then I found a local source of freshly roasted beans at Crate Coffee. I dropped by the shop one afternoon, had a half hour conversation with the owner Jeff about my current process, and bought a pound of beans. I try to buy my beans every other Friday. Jeff buys his beans from a local Phoenix roaster who roasts the beans on Wednesdays. That is about as good as one can hope to get.

3152399890_8c35a17297 Photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle

Note: How do I get 32 grams? Weigh your beans with a food scale, mister.

Food Scale

A word on bean grinding. This is where the five minutes fits in. Linda gave me a ceramic hand grinder for Christmas. This adds a few extra minutes to the ritual but is well worth it. The ceramic burr takes only a few minutes but gives you mostly perfect “grounds symmetry”. Not sure that is an actual term or not.

(3) Steeping the Grounds. AeroPress. 4 Minutes.

This gets its own section a part from step two because there are so many methods. With this I have been experimenting. Started with the French Press and have now moved to the AeroPress. I have experimented with both at the same time. It took me a few weeks but this is my current process. I pour the water slowly over the grinds in the AeroPress chamber. I then stir the mixture with a spoon. I then put the stopper in the chamber to create a vacuum and let the mix steep four minutes. I then press into a coffee cup. Here is a video of Gwilym Davies showing you how he does it.

AeroPress

(4) 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil, 1/2 tsp Butter. ~1 Minute.

If you like cream, go for it. For my taste, this mixture of oils is better. I start with a refined coconut oil, not the unrefined stuff, which quite expectedly tastes a bit too much like coconut to me.

While my water is heating, I measure the oils into a Magic Bullet cup. When the water is ready, I pour a few ounces into the cup to start to melt the oils. When the coffee is done steeping I pour the coffee it the Magic Bullet cup and buzz it up for five seconds, pour the finished product back into the coffee mug, and enjoy.

magic bullet

Just one cup. Now you know how. Now you know why. Give it a try and let me know how things turn out won’t you?

Owen