Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Saturday News Chum: Lastpass, Food Waste, Celiacs, Music, and Sons

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jun 20, 2015 @ 11:37 am PDT

userpic=lougrantIt’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.



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Saturday News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jun 13, 2015 @ 1:45 pm PDT

userpic=observationsIt’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:


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Saturday Stew: 10, 512, H20, 2, 0, and 0219

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jun 06, 2015 @ 10:48 pm PDT

Observation StewWell, 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.


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Saturday News Chum Stew: Diversity, AirBNB, UFOs, and Volunteering

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 30, 2015 @ 3:22 pm PDT

userpic=observationsHere’s the rest of the week’s assorted news chum:


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Coming and Going, Going and Coming (And Always Too Soon)

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 30, 2015 @ 2:48 pm PDT

userpic=old-shieldFor 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:


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The Week’s News, in a Tasty Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 23, 2015 @ 3:12 pm PDT

userpic=lougrantAnother 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:


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Saturday Chum Stew: Water, Vegas, Revolts, and Death. A Typical Week.

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat May 16, 2015 @ 12:29 pm PDT

userpic=observationsSaturday, and time to clear out the news links before a busy weekend. Hopefully, you’ll find something of interest in these:


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Sunday Stew: Women, Stains, Sex, Jazz, Food, Hotness and Bedrooms (A Mother’s Day Mix)

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun May 10, 2015 @ 1:00 pm PDT

Observation StewSave your mom from the drudgery: here’s some tasty news chum stew to chew on while visiting mom:


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