Science & Technology

And Another Thing..

Next week I will be doing some (hopefully) intense training. Nothing physical mind you, I gave that up when I retired from the Army, all those years ago.(*) This is looking to be a 40 hour week staring at several computer screens, along with a tablet and phone, taking a Certified Ethical Hacker class. And before you ask, yes, this is a real certification course.

I have been watching some older versions of this training for almost 2 weeks, so I *think* I have a grasp of the basic context. I’m lucky that my employer allows me to sit at home and take the training remotely. It would be next to impossible to sit at my desk and concentrate on this stuff. The phone rings constantly, and no matter any signs you put up that say “In Training! Do Not Disturb” and such are ignored.

So, I’ll sit here in my PJs and particpate in the training. Since I won’t have much time for anything other than the class, I thought I’d just get the few little things running through my brain(**) out and turn them into electrons for your enjoyment.

  • Seems no matter which direction I’m driving, on-coming traffic always has priority. Very seldom do I get the “lead green”.
  • I’m not very familiar with Scotland’s football teams (those would be soccer teams here in the US), so I am unsure as to which team to throw my vastly overrated loyalty to. Please leave a comment with any suggestions. And be prepared to backup your choices!
  • Need recommendations for a PodCast manager/player for Windows and Android (and not iTunes). Thinking of giving Miro another look. I used it many years ago on a Linux box.
  • I am looking forward to finishing this class and doing a little more genealogy for a few weeks before starting the certification process. That may prove to be my undoing. I have avoided certification for years as I usually say that certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But this one sounds interesting.

Who knows, maybe this time next week I’ll be hacking into your email! Nah… ain’t no fun in that.

Peace,
B

(*) George Harrison’s All Those Years Ago
(**) Jackson Browne’s Cocaine

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Conference Time – 2019

Once again, I had the pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 Security Awareness Conference. This is the second year they’ve held the conference, and my second year of attending.  As usual, the wonderful folks at KnowBe4 put on a great conference.  I will admit that there were some things I thought were better last year than this year, but I will hold those criticisms for the email survey they will send.  I’m sure the problems I found were more related to me, and not the conference itself. I am by definition a “grumpy old man”.  The majority of attendees were probably younger than my kids. So, I’ll leave it at that.

I will mention one issue here.  One night there is a “customer appreciation dinner”.  No issue there, except for one like me with some severe social anxiety. This year there were almost 1000 attendees (up from only 300 or so last year). Before the dinner, there was an open bar (big plus in my book). My problem (all me, not the folks that set everything up), was that even with free beer, there were so many people in such a small space. The crowd noise was so overwhelming (added to my tinnitus) that I had to leave quickly. I only had 2 beers and went back to my room. My head was pounding, and the anxiety was so high, I’m surprised I didn’t have tears running down my face. I would have stopped and ordered food and drinks at one of the restaurants, but at $9 for a local craft beer that was not an option ( and the scotch/bourbon prices were way above anything I’ve ever seen before).  If I attend this event next year, I will go back to the Holiday Inn across the street.  Drinks and food prices there are much more reasonable.

ProTip:  In the Orlando, FL area avoid the Marriott World Centre unless you have big bucks backing you. Everything is extremely overpriced.

Of course, that is not what I came to talk about.  Let ‘s talk traffic.  Regular readers of this blog (both of you) know how much I hate traffic.  There are several posts about this already. For this conference I had to travel to Lake Buena Vista.  Basically, into the heart of Disney. If there is one thing I hate more than driving Interstate 4 (we used to call it the devil’s highway. Not it’s God’s Highway – because nobody else will claim it!), it’s Disney.

ProTip: Orlando’s Airport code is MCO. It stands for Mickey Controls Orlando. And they control much more than that. Their environmental policy sucks. They only bow down to the almighty dollar.

I-4 is undergoing a major “improvement”. They call it Ultimate I-4.  As in an ultimate pain in the ass. There are daily lane and exit changes. What once was a simple right lane exit, has now become, overnight, a left lane exit.

On Wednesday afternoon. It only took maybe an hour and a half to travel the 60 or so miles to the hotel/conference center.  The return trip home was a completely different story. Almost two and a half hours to make to 60-mile trip.  Why?  Because I-4 is a parking lot the majority of the day.  It just happens on different sides depending on the time of time.  Add in the Ultimate (pain in the ass) project, and most parts of I-4 are a parking lot most of the day. And since all the theme parks (Disney, SeaWorld, Universal, et al) are on the west side of Orlando, I avoid them at all costs.  I hate I-4 and Orlando beyond belief.  In fact I want out of #Floriduh in the worst way.  

In “honor” of sitting in the parking lot also known as I-4 for the majority of my Friday afternoon into the evening, here’s “I Can’t Drive 55”, because I don’t think I ever got above 45!

Peace,
B

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P.S. We’re under 6 days for #Scotland2019

The Joys Of Internet Browsing

Over the last few days, I have been noticing an increase in posts on social media complaining about how this or that website isn’t working like it’s supposed to. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes on the web this is something we’ve all experienced (you do realize that the “www” part of a website address stands for World Wide Wait, right?).

First, let’s get some terms explained so everyone will understand.

  • URL – Uniform Resource Locator. This is what you see in the address bar of your browser. Such as “https://facebook.com”.
  • Internet Browser – There are many to choose from. Most Micro$oft Windows PCs will have Internet Explorer (also called IE), or the new (and terrible) Edge. Apple (MAC) machines come with Safari. Others include Firefox and Google’s Chrome. There are other browsers as well, that those are the bigger players.
  • Internet Cache – Also called Browsing History. When you visit a website, small portions of the site are kept on your local computer. This helps speed up subsequent visits to that website. For example, if you visit a certain website on a regular basis, let’s say Google, a copy of the Google logo may be stored on your PC so you don’t have to download it every time you visit. This was very helpful back in days of dial-up internet connections.
  • Cookies – Small pieces of information stored locally to help (but not always) with various aspects of web browsing. An example would be settings for the way you prefer to see news items. Some websites allow you to customize what you see when you get to their page. Amazon does this. Even though I do not have my password saved on my PC for Amazon, when I open the site it still has my name and preferences stored. But to purchase anything, I have to enter my password. So cookies can be good. But just like real cookies can hurt you (see expanding waistline in the dictionary), not all cookies are helpful. Some track your browsing history, allowing for targeted ads to appear on other websites.  Ever search for a product then see ads for that product (or competitors similar item) on another site? That’s tracking cookies at work.

In my 20+ years of IT experience, I have found that 75% or so of all “the webpage won’t load” or “why can’t I see this part of the webpage” problems are not the fault of the website itself, your internet provider, or the fact the Mercury is in retrograde. It’s almost always something corrupt in your cache.

So what to do?  Well, if you’re using a Windows PC the very first thing you should whenever there is something wonky (very technical term) happens, is reboot the PC. In reality, Windows PCs should be rebooted about once a week. Rebooting a Windows PC fixes a great many problems. And they really should be wiped cleaned and reinstalled yearly. But that’s another post. Mac and Linux users usually don’t have that problem.

If the problem is internet related, then you should clear your cache, or browsing history. I won’t go into details on how to do that. There are way too many variables for me to cover, and I can’t be responsible if you make a mistake and instead launch nuclear missiles. Hey, stranger things have happened.

Follow this link to Lifewire for some basic instructions. They have better lawyers, you know, just in case those missiles start flying.

If that doesn’t seem to help try this. A wonderful site Down For Everyone Or Just Me? has a great tool to see if an internet site is truly down. Just enter the website (i.e. google.com) and hit the big blue “or just me?” and it’ll tell you if the site is hosed.  Quick question; you do know that words that are (usually) blue and underlined are clickable? And they’ll take you to another webpage? Right? Just making sure…

All these tips will work no matter what kind of PC you’re using.  Folks on mobile devices (phones or tablets) may have different steps to take.  Google whatever Operating System your mobile device is running (only two big choices here – IOS for iPhones and such, or Android for damn near everything else) and your browser. It would be something like “clear cache IOS # Safari” or “clear cache Android # Chrome”. The “#”‘s stand for the version of your Operating System. If you’re not sure which version you’re running, you’ll have to Google that too.  We’d be here until the stars burn out going over all the different versions.

I hope this helps you in some small way. But I’m sure, like all tech notes, it’ll just leave you with more questions.  So feel free to ask questions in the comments below. It does require you to enter your email address, but I don’t keep track of any of that. It will write a cookie (remember those?) to your device so that it will remember you if and when you come back. You will come back, right? Please?  Of course, you can leave comments and questions on my social media, but I prefer you ask or comment here.  Links are below.

Peace,
B

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P.S. The jury is still out on whether or not Mercury being in retrograde effects internet traffic.