Time To Patch Your Krap

Tricky as it might be to exploit, as far as internet security vulnerabilities go I’m not sure it gets much worse than Krack. Thankfully Carin and I are above buying shit like kettles and cookie jars and socks that require connectivity, so we’re probably good once we Windows Update the computers, upgrade the iPhones to iOS11 and our ISP pushes a fix to our modem. But boy, what a mess. One that, no matter how good we all are about patching, could very well screw up the internet in all sorts of fun and exciting ways for years to come. Good times.

A VULNERABILITY IN Wi-Fi encryption has sent the entire tech industry scrambling; the so-called Krack attack affects nearly every wireless device to some extent, leaving them subject to hijacked internet connections. In terms of scope, it doesn’t get much worse—especially for the Internet of Things.

The extent of the Krack fallout remains to be seen. Security analysts say it’s a tricky vulnerability to take advantage of, and major platforms like iOS, macOS, and Windows are either unaffected or have already been patched. But given the millions of routers and other IoT devices that will likely never see a fix, the true cost of Krack could play out for years.

Whatever advice you may have heard for dealing with Krack, only one actually has tangible benefit: Patch your devices. (You can find a running list of companies that have provided one here.)

If you have an iPhone, Mac, or Windows computer, you really should patch right now. If you have an Android device, an update’s in the offing, though it may take some time to reach you if you have anything but a Pixel or Nexus. But after that, you’re all set! Those are in good shape.

But your router? Your security camera? Your internet-connected garage door? Get comfy.

Follow Me. A Short Film About Every Internet Video Making Goober You Ever Did See


Whenever I hear a person described as an “online influencer”, “internet celebrity ” or “thought leader”, I can’t help but think of somebody just like this geek right here. Seriously, this movie is all of them.

A stay-at-home dad and self-proclaimed “internet celebrity” ignores an obvious addiction to social media, and attention from strangers, while embarrassing his family with his cringeworthy behavior and the hack “content” he creates.
Cast: Will Sasso, Justina Machado, Demi Adejuyigbe, Jacy King, Laird Macintosh, Samantha Velez, Marcel Nahapetian

Netflix And Audio Description Ease And Satisfaction Survey

I’m not a Netflix subscriber so I can’t really help out here, but if you are and can, you have until September 20th to take part in a survey on its described video offerings.

Sara Brennan, a Masters student at the University of Montreal in the Vision Sciences program, is exploring the ease and satisfaction of use of the described audio description available on Netflix. She is looking for blind individuals who are users of screen reading software to learn more about their experience with online television watching.
The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes and is completely voluntary.
For more information, please see:
• In English, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KL3CPXX
• In French, https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/9JFWKFX

Save Snopes

I was not expecting to check my email and see an email from Snopes entitled “We need you!” but that’s what I saw in my email yesterday. I guess they had a company providing them some services who has now gone rogue and is basically holding their site hostage. They’re looking for donations to cover the legal costs of fighting this battle. Snopes is pretty much the first place to go to debunk the garbage that flies around email and social media. It would be a terrible loss if it closed ever, but especially now.

Here’s their letter.

SNOPES.COM COMMUNITY: WE NEED YOUR HELP
Snopes.com in Danger of Shuttering
Dear Readers,

Snopes.com, which began as a small one-person effort in 1994 and has since become one of the Internet’s oldest and most popular fact-checking sites, is in danger of closing its doors. So, for the first time in our history, we are turning to you, our readership, for help.
Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we’ve had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.
We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.
Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.
As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online. It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can. (Our suggested donation is $10, but if you can give more please consider doing so — every little bit helps.)
We need our community now more than ever, as it is only through your support that Snopes.com can remain the community and resource we all know and love.
Sincerely yours,
Team Snopes

If you want to donate, here’s the Gofundme link. Every little bit helps.

Let’s save Snopes. I want to be able to send my dad to a credible source next time he tells me that my computer is going to blow up or the grocery store is full of dead animals or the like.

You Need Good Passwords. Go Make Yourself Some

I got an email today about one of Carin’s old posts. You’d be amazed how often that happens, but that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, this one was about a password security tester she linked to a few years back that would tell you how long it might take for somebody to crack your existing passwords. Eric happened to see it and thought he’d let us know about a similar service his company built. Not only will it check the security of the passwords you already have, but it can also, based on criteria you can set with a few checkboxes and a slider,generate you as many new random ones as you need. Feel free to head on over here and play around with it.

Not content with merely pointing out you need a better password, here at Cloudwards.net we’ve put together two handy little tools. The top one is a password generator that will allow you to create a new password which should be able to withstand even the most determined attacker. The one below will let you know if your password is strong enough and mainly serves as a help when deciding to change it.
As we have no desire to actually know your password, the tools are entirely browser based and will not store whatever you have entered. You can play around with the settings if you like, as there are plenty of options for you to mess around with. Though we do recommend that you use plenty of special characters as well as alternate upper- and lowercase letters, you can decide that you’d prefer something that’s easier to remember over something that’s secure.
On top of that, there is also a nifty slider that lets you play around with the length of the password (longer always being better). Between the different character options and the length slider, you should be able to create an unhackable password that will withstand the efforts of even the most savvy cybercriminals.
We hope these two tools help you stay safe out there, if you have any questions regarding protecting yourself online, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Which Black Sock Goes With Which Black Sock .com

Would anybody care to enlighten me as to who the target market for this $190 batch of internet-connected socks is? Because I’ve got nothin’.

That video is in what sounds like German, so if like me you can’t see what’s happening you’re not going to get a whole lot out of it. But there’s this, which tells you everything you need to know assuming the words $190 internet-connected socks wasn’t more than enough.

Calf socks classic with Plus+: Probably the smartest socks in the world

Probably the smartest men’s dress socks in the world: Our classic calf socks can now communicate with your iPhone as all Plus+ socks have a communication button.
Start out by ordering a Starter kit of 10 pairs of black calf socks Plus+ and your own personal Sock Sorter to translate between your socks and your iPhone.

Imagine your phone could communicate with your socks. Your phone would know:

  • which socks belong together,and could help sort them out,
  • how often you have washed your socks,
  • when your socks were produced,
  • when you ordered your socks
  • and

  • when your socks were dispatched.

Your iPhone can also tell you if your black socks are no longer properly black and help you buy new socks.
This is something we dreamed about and we have made the dream come true.

That’s so sad. Though not quite as sad as knowing that somebody someplace is buying them, I suppose.

Only two of these features would be remotely useful to me, and most folks wouldn’t even need the second one.

Quickly and easily knowing it’s time to order new socks before I run out? Cool. Everybody could use that. And as a blind guy, it is handy to know which socks go together. That’s a real pain in the ass sometimes. But fortunately it’s a problem I can already solve for free, not to mention that this batch of socks are all supposed to be the same colour anyway, are they not?

Nobody’s going to listen, but I’m going to say this one more time. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I *can* reach over and stick my finger in this outlet, but I *shouldn’t*, because it would be painfully stupid. Kind of like a wiFi cookie jar, or an app that tells you when to drink water or yes, electronically sorted socks.

RealDonaldContext: A Built-in Tweet Fact Checker Because America’s President Lies A Lot

If you can’t quite bring yourself to remove Donald Trump from your internet entirely, now you can at least ensure that you’re getting a somewhat more accurate presidential experience by installing RealDonaldContext, the Washington Post’s new Chrome extension and Firefox add-on that will allow you to fact-check his tweets.

What a world we live in when one of the country’s biggest newspapers feels it necessary to do something like this.

GM Just Launched A Car Sharing Service In Kitchener Waterloo

I won’t be using this on a regular basis myself since the world still hasn’t come around to the idea of giving driver’s licenses to blind people, but I can absolutely imagine giving it a go when we have far away visitors who can drive but don’t have a car or can’t bring it with them. Car-sharing service Maven makes its Canadian debut in Waterloo Region

Maven is a keyless system. Users reserve a car using their Apple or Android phone and the app both unlocks and starts the vehicle via Bluetooth connection. A gas card is kept inside each vehicle. Prices start at $7 per hour for a Chevrolet Spark and range up to $15 per hour for a GMC Yukon.
“The beauty of Maven is it’s a completely keyless operation,” said Hassani. “We’ve got brand new vehicles. We’ve got the best vehicles you can imagine.
“All our cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a free Wi-Fi hotspot in each vehicle with unlimited data. [There are] OnStar safety features that nobody else can touch. So, it’s a premium product, a premium offering, nobody else comes close to it, and with really strong price points.”

The company currently has five vehicles — a Chevy Spark, Malibu and Cruze, a GMC Yukon and a Buick Encore — stationed at its Waterloo Region outpost, located in downtown Kitchener off Charles Street West, just across the street from Communitech.

I Had No Idea That All This Stuff Was On Spotify

I’m a big Spotify fan, though sometimes I don’t use it as much as I’d like. It’s already more than worth the subscription price based on the huge selection of music and comedy, but it just got a little better now that I’ve discovered that you can also use it to stream classic novels, short stories, poetry, basic language lessons, classic speeches, meditation exercises and coolest of all for me personally, old radio shows.

Before TV, there was radio drama, and it was glorious. Fortunately, a lot of old radio shows have been saved and are still available for your listening pleasure. You can listen to some sci-fi greats like George Orwell’s radio version of 1984, multiple volumes of the Twilight Zone radio show, and some of Isaac Asimov’s best radio works, like Hostess and Pebble In the Sky. You can also find some great mystery shows like Dragnet, and some vintage superhero stories from the likes of the Blue Beetle. If you’re looking to laugh, I personally recommend the Baby Snooks show.

I wonder how much of that stuff you’d have to listen to before it starts messing with your Discover Weekly or if whatever magic is responsible for features like that filters it out.

If The News And Social Media Are Driving You Bonkers, Maybe Some Of This’ll Help

The news is terrifying. What a shitty place the world is. I’m afraid to go online or turn on the TV. I can’t take it anymore.

I’m hearing these things more and more from people lately and with every mass shooting, bombing, racist incident, protest, Brexit and whatever the fuck is going on in the United States it only gets worse. I’m not sure there’s a one size fits all approach to staying absolutely sane in these times, but there’s some good, common sense advice here that some of you probably need to see.

I have been getting very emotionally caught up in the Internet lately. It hasn’t helped that there has been terrible tragic news on a regular basis and everyone seems to have a strong opinion about it. It also doesn’t help that our country’s election cycle is a circus and someone affiliated with a candidate who is about to lead our country says something stupid or wrong. I’ve felt this trickle down to the point where I’ve started to dislike people I actually like… because of the way they respond to the news cycle online. It’s making me depressed. I know I should “unplug” and be the smarter, patient, understanding person that I want to see in the world, but as a coach and parent, it is also my job to be able to respond to what my kids ask me about the news cycle, and the opinions that they hear. How do I balance this without letting it get to me? Is there any way to be plugged into the world without getting incredibly overwhelmed and saddened by it?
Who isn’t feeling this way lately? Without even clicking through to read articles, the headlines on the front page of CNN.com can feel like an assault. Add in all of the unsolicited (crazy) opinions about these “news” items from people you love on Facebook, and it can be a heroic feat to even look at the internet most days. So, first of all, you’re not wrong to feel this way. This is a very normal, universal response to the current state of things. Here’s how to manage it.

You should read the whole thing if you need it, but the TLDR version basically goes like this:

  • Just because somebody posts it doesn’t mean it’s news. We get information faster than ever before, and an awful lot of it is garbage. It’s perfectly fine to not make time to read it all.
  • Along that same line, pick a non-garbage source or two, get what you need to stay reasonably informed from them and don’t bother with everything else.
  • It’s ok to not know everything about everything all the time, even if you’re the person people tend to come to with questions. Saying you don’t know now and then isn’t a crime.
  • Twitter and Facebook have mute and block functions for a reason. Use ’em.
  • Find comfort in your like-minded friends. Bitch to each other, complain to each other, make fun of the stupid imbeciles that have driven you to this point together.
  • Be a little selfish. It’s ok to unplug and focus on yourself now and then, especially if the alternative is hating everyone.

Like I said, it won’t solve all of the problems (Trump is probably still gonna be here when you come back), but something is certainly better than nothing.

Good luck.