It’s Saturday, and that means it is time to clear out the links. These are articles I found interesting during the week, but either didn’t have the time or the inclination to write about then:
- The Lastpass Hack. One of the big security items last week was the hack of Password Manager “Lastpass” (which happens to be the password manager I use and recommend). There was word about how hashed Master Passwords may have been leaked, as well as password reminders. But as usual, Lastpass provided the best explanation on why and whether you should worry, and showed why people still don’t understand risk — In response to the question “Was my master password exposed?”, their response was:
“No, LastPass never has access to your master password. We use encryption and hashing algorithms of the highest standard to protect user data. We hash both the username and master password on the user’s computer with 5,000 rounds of PBKDF2-SHA256, a password strengthening algorithm. That creates a key, on which we perform another round of hashing, to generate the master password authentication hash. That is sent to the LastPass server so that we can perform an authentication check as the user is logging in. We then take that value, and use a salt (a random string per user) and do another 100,000 rounds of hashing, and compare that to what is in our database. In layman’s terms: Cracking our algorithms is extremely difficult, even for the strongest of computers.” In other words, what may have been exposed was a deep one-way hash of an already deeply one-way hashed password. You’re really only at risk if they could guess your password, and that comes from a dumb password reminder. Still, they recommended changing your master password. I did so, and I changed it in the few other places I use it (none of which are web accessble; it is for similar non-web application vaults).
- Going to Waste. We are an incredibly wasteful country. Two articles from NPR on that subject. The first deals with a grocery chain in Northern California, that has decided to sell “ugly produce” that would otherwise go to waste at deeply discounted prices. The second deals with a landfill of lettuce — salad tossed because it might not make it to market in time. In this time of drought, and considering the amount of water that goes into growing and raising food, we should work hard to make sure that all food, ugly or not, is put to good use. We have loads of families in need that could benefit from just-in-time delivery of fresh, but ugly, vegetables and similar food products.
- The Celiac Cry. I’ve been pressing this point for a while, but this article expresses it really well: why the gluten free fad dieters are a bad thing for Celiacs. People think they know GF, but don’t do complete checking and poison those for home it really makes a difference.
- Buying Music Is For Old People. This article really saddened me. It posited the notion that only old people buy music these days. The “younger generation” wants more and more variety, and they can get that by streaming their music from music services anywhere anytime. Of course, this is like AM radio of old, but we won’t tell them. The problem is that streaming doesn’t work everywhere, doesn’t cover all audiences, and tends to cost money (both subscriptions and data). It also puts what you listen to in the hands of the streaming services. No thank you. I’ll keep owning my music, making copies of my digital music as backups, and listening to it whenever and whereever I can.
- Architecture in the West. Two architectural articles. The first deals with interesting undiscovered architecture in Tucson. The second deals with another product of the 50s to go away: first it was drive-ins, not it is bowling alleys. There aren’t many left in the valley; Mission Hills Bowl is now gone. Bowlers will miss it.
- Sons!. My first live theatre that I saw on stage was the LACLO’s production of The Rothschilds, which I still love to this day. This week news came out that a revamped version is in the works.
It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time to clean out the accumulated links. As I’ve got about an hour before I jump into the Fringe, let’s get going:
- Saving a Dying Jewish Language. No, I don’t mean Yiddish. I mean Ladino. Here’s a neat article on how a Turkish newspaper is working to save Ladino.
- Kill the Lawn One of the big pushes here is LA is to get rid of the lawn. But what is really involved? Here’s a first-person account of an adventure in grass removal.
- Just Keep Building. Here’s an interesting article of local interest: 188 more homes are planned for Porter Ranch.
- I’ll Have it On Ice. If you know me, you know I primarily drink two things: water, and iced tea. Here’s an article about how iced tea became a thing.
- Just Cram It In. Airlines are a great example of an organization that doesn’t fully think out their problems… or perhaps they do. They want more revenue. So they institute check in bag charges. As a result, people start carrying on more, slowing boarding and not leaving enough space. Their proposal: make the carry-on bags smaller. This will force people to pay for checked luggage (which is what they wanted in the first place).
- Don’t Put It In The Fridge. A really interesting article on what fruit you should refrigerate and what fruit you shouldn’t.
- Travel Tips. One last piece from the Times: Why you should carry two wallets when you travel abroad.
- Pen-is Envy. Get your mind out of the gutter: it is pronounced pen-iss, for I’m envious of this: Levenger’s L-Tech 3.0 Stealth, a serious fountain pen.
- I’m Free. I’m Free. No, I’m not. Lastly, Twitter will be lifting the 140 character limit (yay), but for messages, not tweets (boo)
Well, it’s late Saturday night, and I’m home from my first Fringe show. That writeup will be tomorrow morning — tonight, it’s time to clear out the links so we can make some news chum stew. Are you hungry yet?
- Windows 10 is Coming. Quick, get a Dixie Cup. OK, so it’s an old joke and in bad taste. But we’re talking Windows here. Seriously, if you have a Windows 7 or Windows 8 system, you might see a new little icon so you can sign up to get the latest and greatest Windows when it is released on July 29. You’ll have a year to upgrade for free. So I’ve got a collection of articles that I found of interest on the upgrade. First and foremost, there are a number of features that will not work or will be removed when (if) you upgrade. Second, here’s an article on what to expect when the upgrade happens. Supposedly, you’ll need to do a clean install. What I haven’t seen yet is how well the upgrade process works for an in-place system, or seen a good list of what other older software will not work. My advice: You’ll have until July 2016 to request the upgrade. I’d suggest waiting a good two months and letting everyone else be the guinea pig.
- Apple, are you listening? Having talked about Microsoft, let’s now talk about Apple. This week brought the news that Microdia will be selling a 512GB micro-SD card for around $1000 (and you can expect the price to go down as others start manufacturing, plus there are reminders that the extra-capacity SDXC format allows for up to 2TB cards. OK, Apple, here’s your challenge. Do you want to win back all the people that loved the iPod Classic for their music? Do you want to prevent these folks from migrating to any of the other large capacity players? Here’s a simple answer: sell an iPod Touch that can take a micro-SD card up to 2TB. Not only can folks store their music, they have room for loads of apps, and loads of photos (they will be grabbed by photographers). Think of all the money you can make backing that up to the cloud.
- Water Water Everywhere. Here are three articles related to water. The first explores how to find the control room for the Bellagio fountains. There are loads of facts in the article; my favorite was the following: “The water they use for the fountains is a self-sustained source that used to be used for the old Dunes golf course before they took it down.” I had read in another book on Vegas that Wynn bought the land for the Bellagio because it had its own springs. Speaking of piping water, when you hear Budweiser, what do you think of? I know, watered-down beer. Did you know in emergencies that AB doesn’t add the beer (of course, how would you know?). Seriously, those of us in LA know that AB canned water during the big earthquake. Well, with the recent damage in Texas, they switched to canning water as well. Lastly, I found a real good collection of stories at the Times on drought gardening.
- A-One. A-Two. If you are security aware, you turn on two-factor authentication whereever you can. But how do you do it? Here’s an article with information on turning on two-factor authentication on over 100 sites. In particular, it links to a step-by-step guide to turning on two-factor authentication.
- Illusions in the Air. Here’s an interesting (well, to me) discussion of Avatar Airlines, an airline that is too good to be true. Just like the recently panned (and rightfully so) Bitter Lemons Imperative (plus one, two, three), here’s an idea that might have sounded good on a surface read, but when you dig deeper, it is fraught with problems. This really goes to show why you need to think an idea out thoroughly before you put it on the net. [I didn’t earlier today, and learned my lesson]
- A Burnin’ Issue. OK, Grammar Geeks. Here’s one for you (h/t Andrew D): Which unicode character should represent the apostrophe? The answer is easy to get wrong, as the Unicode committee did. They chose ’ (U+2019), which is RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK (as opposed to ‘ (single quote)), as opposed to ʼ (U+02BC), which is MODIFIER LETTER APOSTROPHE. Why is this significant? The former creates a word boundary; the latter does not. Now you know why your capitalization routine changes it’s to It’S.
Here’s the rest of the week’s assorted news chum:
- Diversity, Take 1. When it comes to women and self-image, it is important to see oneself in the models. This is why large size models are important. However, whereas there is diversity of color in the skinny models, there’s a distinct lack of diversity in the plus size arena.
- Diversity, Take 2. Another area of diversity of getting women on panels. Gene Spafford has written about this in the Computer Security arena, and Dr. Lipstadt has been highlighting articles about the problem in the Jewish community. Here’s another call for men to give up their seats for women on panels.
- Short Term Rentals. Short term rentals — translation, airBNB — has been in the news of late. Here’s an interesting article about the problem of short term rentals in Berkely, and how it is hurting the housing market.
- Cooks Stuff. Good news: Surfas in Culver City will be moving, but won’t be closing.
- UFOs are Real. I know. They make jerky in Baker, CA. Next thing you know, they’ll want to build a hotel.
- Why You Should Serve. Here’s a great article about why you should volunteer at your synagogue.
For a change, a chunk of this week’s news chum formed a theme: they all relate to things that are going away, or coming back:
- Coming Back: The Cassette. In my youth, I spent hours and hours engineering cassettes of my vinyl collection. Now I just put all my albums on my iPod, and cassettes have all but disappeared. But have they? It appears the lowly cassette, just like vinyl, is seeing a comeback.
- Going Away: The CD. As analog forms come back, physical digital forms are disappearing. Here’s an exploration of how the decline of the CD occurred. Short and sweet summary: The record companies were more worried about recordable CDs than they were about the growth of the MP3 market, to their detriment.
- Coming Back: Old Technical Devices. Want to keep that old technical device running (I know I do)? Here’s an article from the NY Times on how to do so.
- Going Away: Movieland Wax Museum. Actually, more precisely is “went away”, but the sign is still there. However, even that might be going away soon.
- Coming Back: Skymall. Yes, that source of everything odd is returning.
- Going Away: Jewish Delis. The closing of Solly’s in Van Nuys prompts that age old question: Is the traditional Jewish Deli disappearing from the landscape, due to both price and the move away from unhealthy meats like Pastrami and Corned Beef?
- Coming Back: Shuttle Fuel Tanks. The last remaining shuttle fuel tank will be coming to the California Science Center to complete the shuttle display.
Another week has come and gone, which means I have another week’s worth of links to share. I’m sure you’ll find something of interest. Let’s do this one old-style:
Saturday, and time to clear out the news links before a busy weekend. Hopefully, you’ll find something of interest in these:
- “Whiskey is for drinking but water is worth fighting over”. Four interesting articles related to the drought in California. Anyone who has used an automated toilet has run across the first waste of water: Phantom Flushing. Here’s an op-ed that opines that we should go back to non-automatic flushes, which will save water. The next scourge: unmetered households. Here’s an article about how a few communities are using a loophole in the law to fight water meters and keep their flat rate. The third scourge: bottled water. Want that Crystal Geyser that is advertised so heavily? Siskiyou County Water. But here in LA? We’re conserving so well we don’t need additional restrictions (for now).
- Death of an Icon. Two articles related to the death of the Riviera. The first is a really nice piece about the last days of the Riv. The second is an opinion by Penn Jillette (who is doing his part for Vegas history by selling “The Slammer”) about how what is built in Vegas blows up in Vegas.
- Art is Revolting. No, not in that sense. I mean standing up for their rights and fighting back. At first, it was the intimate theatre community. Now, the entire USC First-Year MFA class has quit. They say it best: “We are a group of seven artists who made the decision to attend USC Roski School of Art and Design’s MFA program based on the faculty, curriculum, program structure, and funding packages. We are a group of seven artists who have been forced by the school’s dismantling of each of these elements to dissolve our MFA candidacies. In short, due to the university’s unethical treatment of its students, we, the entire incoming class of 2014, are dropping out of school and dropping back into our expanded communities at large”
- Death is Complicated. Here’s another complication: How do you keep up your websites after you’re dead? After all, you can’t pay the bills, you can’t update the registration, you can’t update the site. But they might be a vital piece of web history.
- Coffee May Be Bad For Your (Financial) Health. Do you drink coffee? Do you drink Starbuck coffee? Do you use the Starbuck app? If you said yes to all three, disable auto payments immediately.
- Coloring Your View. The infamous dress is back. More specifically, there’s an interesting science report about how the environment we work in colors our view of how we color the dress.
Save your mom from the drudgery: here’s some tasty news chum stew to chew on while visiting mom: