With all the press about the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability in the news, you probably don’t need another recount of why this is a big deal. If you’ve been following closely, you’re probably a bit freaked-out, and at the very least, have checked with all your online account providers to verify they were not vulnerable, have already addressed the issue, or are actively working on it. You’ll want to follow their instructions, and change your passwords if they were vulnerable, are fully patched, and have changed out their certificates. If you haven’t yet caught-up on all this, I’ll wait…then I’ll brief you on the added layer of security, called Two-Factor Authentication, you can add to your Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts to help insure that, even if your passwords are forcefully acquired by some d-bag baddie, your accounts remain safe.
For the uninitiated, AX is short-hand for autocross. “What is autocross?”, you may ask. Autocross is a timed motorsports competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a course (usually) laid out with traffic cones in an open space, like a parking lot or an unused airport runway. As with other forms of racing, there are different competition classes defined based upon capabilities of the cars (read: modifications) and their drivers. Typically, events also include a “Fun” class for those coming out just to enjoy the experience. Autocross events are usually associated with car clubs, like the Sports Car Club of America (Solo®) or the Porsche Club of America (other manufacturer-specific clubs exist as well), and as Spring erupts, the AX season begins.
Most Android devices, Smart Phones and tablets alike, come with some built-in capabilities for automating different types of tasks. Useful lifestyle enhancers, like being able to set periods of time where notifications and sounds will not interrupt your sleep, turning off audible notification during a meeting, or replying automatically to incoming text messages when driving are all typically covered. The problem with most of the default tools I have used is that they are unable to handle real-world edge-cases. For instance, I may want to mute my sound and disable my notification LED for all applications after 11 p.m., turn them all back on at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday, wait until 8 a.m. When I am traveling, I might want my device alarm clock to set when notifications are turned back on instead of waiting for the pre-defined time for that day. Additionally, I may want to prevent my phone from ringing during my sleeping hours, but allow certain folks to ring-through, because when they call off-hours, it is usually an emergency…or someone from whom I wish to hear regardless of time-of-day. Enter the Android utility, Tasker.
As part of my work to update the website look-and-feel, close off some old server infrastructure, and reduce service provider costs, I moved wittzend.com to WordPress.com as its new platform. I had used WordPress as a blogging platform on-and-off for years (most recently, for the now defunct “WET Pod Foo” podcast), but always on my own servers; the old “download-install-maintain” bit. The one downside to self-hosting, having to keep up with a seemingly endless stream of security updates, is handled automatically for you if you allow WordPress.com to host the instance. Since this is a hosting arrangement Witt’z End Technologies has been encouraging others to look at when building new sites, it seemed appropriate to use the opportunity of consolidation to follow that advice for this site. Along the way, I found some issues that required creative work-arounds to get the exact look-and-feel I wanted from a theme…without having command-line access to edit the core files directly.
Smart Phones have become so big in our lives. Like everyone else, I have become dependent on my little, red Droid RAZR for all manner of communication, but there are still some things that require a bigger screen…watching movies, working with presentations (when the laptop isn’t near), and reading Kindle books. To fill the utility chasm between the versatility of my mobile and the power of my laptop, a tablet is a perfect choice. Up until this month, I used a Motorola Xoom as my tablet of choice, but no more. There’s a new sheriff in town.
As someone that was openly critical of Windows Vista during its short reign as the flagship Microsoft product, mostly due to my experiences bailing out friends and clients that had gone down the unhappy upgrade path from XP Pro, I feel it is important to give praise where it is due. I have been using Windows 7 on for about four months now, and I must admit that it doesn’t suck. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it enough that, when it came time to invest in a new workstation class machine for some of our development work here at Witt’z End Technologies, Windows 7 Professional was the obvious choice of operating system. Those that know me well, know that is about as close to an endorsement as I will ever get, so do not take it lightly.
I am lucky enough to have several computers with which I work and play. Some of my machines are dual-boot with Windows, but all are running a Linux distribution of some flavor. I used to swear by Gentoo, have had periods where I favored Fedora(and other RedHat Linux derivatives like CentOS and Scientific Linux), and have experienced so-so times with Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Slackware over the years. It wasn’t until I acquired a LenovoIdeapad S10 for a pet project I’m working on for my niece that I really thought it worthwhile to evaluate yet another Linux distribution in search of that perfect end-user experience. After literally stumbling upon Linx Mint in my search for optimal configurations for the S10, I am very happy that I gave it a shot as the primary OS on my new toy.