The primary way you identify yourself

“… your iPhone would become the primary way you identify yourself to the world. Someday the store cashier will see your face pop up on a screen when you are next in line because your phone will be transmitting your identity at all times. No more swiping credit cards or writing checks. If your actual face matches the face on the cashier’s screen, you’re good to go, and your payment preferences (credit or debit) would automatically kick in.”

“With your phone in your pocket your car doors open when you get near, the front door of your house opens when approach, your lights adjust to your personal preferences, and all of your online passwords do auto-fill. When your phone is with you, the world will continuously conform to your preferences as you pass through it.”

More ideas for Apple from Scott Adams »

Chrome Notebook

I was certain I had posted something about Google sending me a Chrome Notebook to try out but I can’t seem to find it [will update later]. After playing with it for a week I handed it off to George Kopp who kept it for a week and then last Saturday, Tom Piper took it. His excellent comments below.

Disclaimer: The first most difficult task is to set aside 32 years of self-contained computer experience (since my first Apple ][ 48K computer), and to stop using hand gestures on the trackpad to make things happen. That being said, I approached the Chromebook as a “new user” with a zest for trying out everything I saw.

Step 1: First impressions of this laptop are very positive. With a screen a little over 12″ diagonal, weighing in at just over 3 lbs, and a petite size of less than 1″ x 9″ x 12″, it feels like a solid package. The rubberized texture of the surface gives it a sense of stability which is easy to handle and carry around. The keys and trackpad are laid out well, and simple to understand.

Step 2: Hit the power button upper-left of keyboard, wait less than 10 second watching the colorful Chrome logo, and I am presented with an opportunity to select my local Wi-Fi network, and setup my Google-based login account, complete with a self-portrait . . . thereafter, I just select my picture, enter my password, hit Return, and I am instantly on the desktop. I am confronted with eight icons to choose from, which is very straight-forward.

Step 3: I start by double-clicking the YouTube icon. which takes me to the YouTube website in about 5 seconds. I select something under Most Viewed, and almost immediately am watching live action. Click on the left-arrow at upper-left, and I’m back to the YouTube menu where I select another . . . very quick response, but the sound on the unit isn’t very good. It’s time to move on, so I click an “x” in the upper tab, and return to the main screen.

Step 4: A double-click on Google Calendar brought up a week-at-a-glance view showing 7am-to-7pm time slots, and pre-posted holidays, plus a full-month minature at the upper-left corner. Buttons at the upper-right easily take me to one day, a week, a month, 4 days or agenda for all posted activities for the year . . . again, very fast. Edits a powerful with times, reminders, colors, guests, descriptions and more.

Step 5: Next, I tried GoogleDocs, which let me access and modify files I had previously posted. Simple and easy to do, little thought needed. I added the Scratchpad by clicking on the “+” next to the top top . . . neat little tool to capture and save thoughts while using another application. Gmail brought up a familiar screen showing email that I usually receive here . . . no surprises. GoogleTalk is my next tab opened, which appears that it will let me chat with another Google account holder, maybe even with video since I see a little green videocam silhouette (did not use this feature).

Step 6: Chrome Web Store is my next open tab showing lots of opportunities to get more programs, divided into descriptive categories. Popular Science (a hardcopy magazine I already get) was my first selection, which immediately appeared on screen and installed as a new main screen icon. Within 5 seconds of double-clicking, I’m in the animated magazine complete with movies and sound (adding earbuds improved the sound quality) . . . very fast access! I couldn’t resist installing Angry Birds (free) which played incredibly well. WeatherBug was my next installation (very fast installment) which worked great, giving excellent and quick information.

Step 7: Entanglement was my next tab to engage . . . cool music, with nice tutorial, but a little confusing, and very unusual game. I’m not much of a gamer, since this program, though intriguing, didn’t hold my interest.

Conclusion: The more I do, the more fun and engaging the experience with the Chromebook becomes. Overall, I found the response to be very good, the detail to be satisfyiing, the opportunities to be alluring, and the future to be full of possibilities (in spite of a trackpad that kept moving the cursor when I was trying to click on something). With a current market price of $430-$500 (Samsung at BestBuy), this device seems overpriced, but perhaps retail buying will get better with competition. In a fixed environment like an office, or at home (but not traveling), I could see real value in this unit.

Tom describes the battery life as “very impressive.”

UPDATE (6/26/11): Andy Small test-drove the Chrome for a week and shares his impressions.

Gmail accounts (not) hacked

UPDATE: “Google was not hacked, a company spokesman tells Fast Company. Some users wereduped into supplying passwords to fraudulent emails masquerading as trustworthy sources (known as phishing)–a very common occurrence.” More…

If stick a gun in the tellers face and make off with the money, the bank got robbed. If I call you on the phone and trick you into giving me your ATM pin number, the bank did NOT get robbed.

………..Original post below…………

From the Post Tech blog: “Google said Wednesday a hacker in China obtained access to hundreds of Gmail accounts, including those of senior U.S. government officials, military personnel, Chinese political activists and journalists.

The company said it recently detected the security breach and stopped what it described as “a campaign to take users’ passwords and monitor their emails, with the perpetrators apparently using stolen passwords to change peoples’ forwarding and delegating settings.”

Gmail is all I use. But any site can be hacked. So when Google offered the 2-step verification option, I immediately signed up.

So if they have my password, they also need my iPhone. Bullet-proof? Probably not.

Advanced sign-in security for your Google account

I love most things Google. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Reader and most of the tools and services they’ve come out with (Wave and Buzz notable exceptions).

If someone hijacked my Google accounts, they’d have to take my belt and shoe laces. So I was eager to try their recently announced 2-step verification process. From the Gmail blog:

“…it requires the powerful combination of both something you know—your username and password—and something that only you should have—your phone. A hacker would need access to both of these factors to gain access to your account. If you like, you can always choose a “Remember verification for this computer for 30 days” option, and you won’t need to re-enter a code for another 30 days. You can also set up one-time application-specific passwords to sign in to your account from non-browser based applications that are designed to only ask for a password, and cannot prompt for the code.”

I’ll have a better feel for this in a few days but I’m willing to put up with a little extra hassle to know my account is safe.


With more 120 logins and passwords to keep up with, a post-it note on the side of my monitor just doesn’t cut it. As for using one password for ALL of my accounts… I won’t dignify that with a comment. This little (6 min) tour doesn’t begin to do justice to 1Password, the Best of Category.

iPads just what the doctor ordered

That clipboard your doctor used to carry around is getting replaced by the iPad. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Emergency room doctors are using iPads to order lab tests and medication. Plastic surgeons are using them to show patients what they might look like after surgery. And medical residents are using them as a quick reference to look up drug interactions and medical conditions.

Since Apple’s iPad hit the market in April, doctors at Chicago area hospitals are increasingly using the hot-selling tablet as a clinical tool.

Not only does the iPad allow doctors to view electronic medical records, wherever they are, it also gives them a way to show patients their X-rays, EKGs and other lab tests on an easy-to-read screen. Plus, it’s lighter and has a longer battery life than many laptops, making it convenient for doctors to take on rounds.

Within the next month, the University of Chicago Medical Center plans to provide iPads to all of its internal medicine residents, expanding on a pilot program launched earlier this year. Similarly, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood has given iPads to all of its orthopedic residents as part of a pilot program.

Other doctors are buying their own iPads and using them to interact with patients. At U. of C., for instance, plastic surgeon Dr. Julie Park uses her iPad to show breast-cancer patients what they might look like after reconstructive surgery.

Another hospital that has embraced the iPad is MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island. Once doctors there learned that they could access the hospital’s electronic medical records with the iPad, “it went through here like wildfire,” said Dr. Richard Watson, an emergency room physician at MetroSouth. “At least half of our staff here in the emergency room has their own iPad and carries it and uses it.”

Though the iPad provides a portal to the hospital’s electronic record, patient information isn’t actually stored on the device. And both the iPad and the hospital server are password-protected, lowering the chances that sensitive data could be swiped from a lost or stolen iPad.

Dr. Eric Nussbaum, MetroSouth’s emergency room chief, said the iPad also solves one of the problems created by switching from a paper-based record system to an electronic one: having to go to a desktop computer to order lab tests or type in notes on a patient.

“With this, I’m back to the convenience of being in the patient’s room, talking to them and plugging in my orders right then and there,” he said.

If you’ve spotted the iPad in the medical wild, let us know in the comments.

Secure login

I’m reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. The final book (Larsson died in 2004) featuring Lisbeth Salander, ” the best hacker in Sweden.” I’m not spoiling anything by sharing this passage of what has to be one of the more secure log-in’s:

“She started by going to a website that advertised rather uninteresting pictures by an unknown and not especially skilled amateur photographers named Gil Bates in Jobsville, Pennsylvania. Salander had once checked it out and confirmed that the town of Jobsvile did not exist. Nevertheless, Bates had taken more than 200 photographs of the community and created a gallery of small thumbnails. She scrolled down to image 167 and clicked to enlarge it. It showed the church in Jobsville. She put her cursor on the spire of the church tower and clicked. She instantly got a pop-up dialog box that asked for her ID and password. She took out her stylus and wrote the word Remarkable on the screen as her ID and A(89)Cx#magnolia as the password.

She got a dialog box with the text [Error–you have the wrong password] and a button that said [OK–try again]. Lisbeth knew that if she clicked on [OK–try again] and tried a different password, she would gt the same dialog box again–for years and years, for as long as she kept trying. Instead she clicked on the ‘o’ in Error.

The screen went blank. Then an animated door opened and a Lara Croft-like figure stepped out. A speech bubble materialized with the text [WHO GOES THERE?]. She clicked on the bubble and wrote Wasp. She got the instant reply [PROVE IT–OR ELSE…] as the animated Lara Croft unlocked the safety catch on her gun. Salander knew it was no empty threat. If she entered the wrong password three times in a row the site would shut down and the name Wasp would be struck from the membership list.”

Which reminded me of this password (to the CIA database) from the novel, Bangkok Tattoo:

AQ82860136574X-Halifax nineteen [lowercase] Oklahoma twenty-2 BLUE WHALE [all uppercase] Amerika stop 783

Put it in the vault with 1Password

I keep up with a lot of passwords. Between WordPress, Twitter, flickr, Gmail, FTP accounts, etc for company and client websites (and my own)… 200+ logins. You have to have a secure way to manage all of this.

I’ve been use an app called Wallet for the last couple of years but recently purchased 1Password (on the solid recommendation of my Mac mentor, George).

I won’t attempt to list the features. There are too many and I’m still new to the program. But it’s as beautiful as it is functional. All my stuff is sync’d via the cloud so I can access from all of my computers and devices (iPhone, iPad, etc). Everything in one place, behind some really good encryption. They make it easy to be smart about my data.

1Password costs about $40 but it’s worth every penny. Mac and PC.

RTNDA Guidelines for Social Media and Blogging

Several Learfield (the company I work for) employee are members of the Radio and Television News Directors Association, so I was pleased to come across their recently published guidelines for social meida and blogging. A few snippits:

“Social media and blogs are important elements of journalism. They narrow the distance between journalists and the public. They encourage lively, immediate and spirited discussion. They can be vital news-gathering and news-delivery tools. As a journalist you should uphold the same professional and ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness, transparency and independence when using social media as you do on air and on all digital news platforms. “

Ahem. This is where it would be tempting to remind some of my colleagues how ferociously they fought the very concept of blogging.

On Accountability and Transparency:

“You should not write anonymously or use an avatar or username that cloaks your real identity on newsroom or personal websites. You are responsible for everything you say. Commenting or blogging anonymously compromises this core principle.” [Emphasis mine]

“Be especially careful when you are writing, Tweeting or blogging about a topic that you or your newsroom covers. Editorializing about a topic or person can reveal your personal feelings. Biased comments could be used in a court of law to demonstrate a predisposition, or even malicious intent, in a libel action against the news organization, even for an unrelated story.” [Emphasis mine]

Reporters who forget that second point could face dire consequences.

Image and Reputation

“Remember that what’s posted online is open to the public (even if you consider it to be private). Personal and professional lives merge online. Newsroom employees should recognize that even though their comments may seem to be in their “private space,” their words become direct extensions of their news organizations. Search engines and social mapping sites can locate their posts and link the writers’ names to their employers.”

“Avoid posting photos or any other content on any website, blog, social network or video/photo sharing website that might embarrass you or undermine your journalistic credibility. Keep this in mind, even if you are posting on what you believe to be a “private” or password-protected site. Consider this when allowing others to take pictures of you at social gatherings. When you work for a journalism organization, you represent that organization on and off the clock. The same standards apply for journalists who work on air or off air.”

I don’t belong to RTNDA (or any association, if you don’t count the Order of the Fez) but I like these guidelines. Sort of, “Everything You Need to Know About Social Media You Learned in Kindergarten.”

Western concept of Self

John Burdett’s second novel, Bangkok Tattoo, was as good as his first (Bangkok 8). Both stories are set in (you guessed it) Bangkok, where Thai police detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep solves bizarre murders. Sonchai is a devout Buddhist and the plot is laced with Eastern religion. I especially liked this description of the Western concept of Self:

“…a ramshackle collection of coincidences held together by a desperate and irrational clinging, there is no center at all, everything depends on everything else, your body depends on the environment, your thoughts depend on whatever junk floats in from the media, your emotions are largely from the reptilian end of your DNA, your intellect is a chemical computer that can’t add up a zillionth as fast as a pocket calculator, and even your best side is a superficial piece of social programming that will fall apart just as soon as your spouse leaves with the kids and the money in the joint account, or the economy starts to fail and you get the sack, or you get conscripted into some idiot’s war, or they give you the news about your brain tumor.”

Ouch. The wannabe geek in me also enjoyed this password to a CIA online database:

AQ82860136574X-Halifax nineteen [lowercase] Oklahoma twenty-2 BLUE WHALE [all uppercase] Amerika stop 783

Won’t even fit on a Post-It note.