Why I gambled on CUJO to Add an Extra Level of Security to My Home Network

•September 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

First off, … CUJO is not affiliated with Stephen King’s rabbid canine! What is CUJO… and why would I ever have one on my home netowrk? Well, as https://www.getcujo.com/press/ says:

What is CUJO?

  • CUJO is a plug-and-play, smart home security device that protects the connected home from the latest and most-sophisticated virtual intrusions such as malware, viruses and hacking techniques. CUJO uses self-learning technology to keep watch over computers, smart phones, baby monitors, TV’s and other connected devices by constantly updating itself to block new threats
  • Created by online security experts with extensive experience fortifying software and hardware against virtual threats, the company is situated to transform the face of cybersecurity.

 

Basically anything on your home network that grabs an IP address…. is a possible target for hackers. I have a large amount of internet connected “things”… at my house…. so I always try to do what I can…. to keep my syustems safe.

Some key things about the CUJO are:

Key Facts

  • Applies machine-learning security to protect homes.
  • Combines device and cloud-based security services.
  • Protects against malicious sites and home hacking.
  • Protects devices connected to your network: from PCs to thermostats.
  • Plug-n-play, no professional setup needed.
  • Developed in Los Angeles, California.
  • MSRP of $99 and $8.99 per month for service.

I first saw CUJO on Indiegogo… and paid for one right away. When it finally got delivered, I opened it up, plugged it in, and took off running. There are a few ways to setup CUJO….and I guess I did not choose the best way, but it was the easiest. Was I afraid to set it up and take time to master it? No! The choice for using the quick way was made for me by how my ISP sets up… or attempts to setup their networking hardware… and that fact that I assign my own IPs and do my own custom routing. When this type of setup is in effect, one must basically use the simple way. One thing I know for sure, Complex or Simple… CUJO is protecting my network.

There is an iOS App that notifies me if I am having an intrusion. When i have network traffic that is outside of learned parameters I can permit the new type of traffic or activity or stop it dead in its tracks. That is pretty awesome. I don’t recommend this for everybody, but I know what is on my network… and know what the hardware on the network is doing…or rather should be doing.

If I were to get an alert, I would look at it and no for sure if things were safe or if the network was at risk.

At any rate, for those that want to fully check out the CUJO appliance, click on this link and find out more:

https://getCUJO.com

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The Number One Thing I Hate About Office For Mac 2016…

•August 28, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Although MS Office for Mac is a far cry from Office For Mac 2008, there is still one thing that I cannot stand about it. Sure, unlike the 2008 version a huge document did not pop up…. pages and pages in fact… telling us how it was not compatible with regular MS Office for the PC… but there is a deep dark annoying aspect that is lurking in MS Office 2016 for Mac that makes me want to groan and sing…. not necessarily at the same time though!

I guess I have beat around the bush enough… my main pet peeve is that every time I open one of the programs, there is a huge BufFix download waiting to go! In fact, the bugFixes are usually so huge, it freaks me out and makes me delay working on what I am doing. On the one hand, bravo… Microsoft is keeping the Office Suite upgraded and fixing bugs that can cause data loss or leak data to others. That makes me happy. Still, when i am in a hurry… and a huge patch wants to download… shoot…. I may just click away…activate the download and not get my work done.

What to do…what to do? LOL.

I know that I am not the only person who feels consternation with this… my roommate is always having an explosion about this…. especially when he is in a hurry. Sometimes when one of the Mac’s i am using has this problem, I will give him the heads up…. “Hey Dave, you might want to open MS Word or something… there is a 3 GB update out there waiting to waste your time!” He is appreciative.. and usually does it before he needs one of the programs for something useful …like work.!

Well, I guess that the old adage that people can never be satisfied is true…. at least where this is concerned.

Chip and Pin, Pin and Chip, No Matter What You Call It, It Is A Failure! Enter Consumer Payments Done Right: Contactless payments (Courtesy of Apple) !

•August 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Starting in January 2016, I started seeing terminals like this below:

This European and Asian System has been used for years. While the system is supposed to be very hard to counterfit it does not mean that it cannot be counterfitted. It won’t be rolled out in the US in its complete form for several years. It seems that the American Public needs to have this new system hammered into its psyche.

Have you wondered why they started rolling them out in January 2016? First off… the Christmas shopping season was over. Can you imagine if the US economy dumped because of the forced insertion of this technology into our culture? People are having a hard time using it now… just imagine people trying to buy their Christmas presents with these things!!! Well, aside from a total consumer melt-down, think about this… due to the new laws passed by Congress… unless a retailer has a “chip and pin” system… if there is fraud… the liability shifts from the banks (who are charging up to 30% interests on some credit card accounts) to the retailer itself. Hmmm liability works wonders when it comes to social engineering our financial system!

Well, my first complaint is that the retailers have thrown the system out there without any training. New “C&P” cards were issued before current cards expired… PINs were given out…and nothing was said. People went into stores and saw the terminals above… and they did not know whether to swipe the card or insert it. All the retailers had a different story … as no two retailers have the same payment processing company. At one store you would insert your card only to be told that it was not ready and you had to swipe. At the next store, you attepted to swipe and got remonstrated by the clerk for not being smart enough to insert a card.

As as aside… any of you been to Walmart? OMG… when you insert your C&P card… it makes the most annoying raspberry sound… theoretically… Walmart does not want you to forget to grab your card on the way out… but personally I think it is just a hazing sound for being so stupid to buy eveything from Communist China and slit our own economic throats!

While the “C&P” cards are supposed to be more secure than the old “Swipe” and run cards, as I just mentioned, most of us are stymied about how to use them properly. Also, at the moment… the payment processors have only implement the chip part… not the pin part. With only the Chip part, people are still able to sign for their purchases. If somebody stole your “C&P” card, they could simply forge your name on the pad. Not much of an improvement really.

Most people are surprised that the new “C&P” cards are just as insecure and crappy for on-line purchases. You go to amazon… and an older magnetic stripe card works the same as a new “C&P” card. They are identical. If the old card could get scammed… a chip does not do anything for you and you are just as at risk as using the old card. Even when the new “P&C” cards swith to using PINs instead of signatures for their authorizations… I still don’t think I will be trusting their technology. A PIN number can be obtained through the theft of the card in the mail or obtained via social engineering.

Let’s shift to talking about ROLLOUT. The payment processors had a pathetically small amount of capacity in their data centers to process these payments. In the early stages, a simple purchase sometimes took up to a minute to complete. All the clerk could do was apologize while you secretly played the Jeopardy game show theme in your mind. One would think that the payment processors would have adequately provisioned their technology for the start up. I have to admit, that things got better around the month of March.

There is a big difference between the old style cards and the new “C&P” cards. The old cards sent very little data up to the processor… and they got a small confirmation back via the payment terminal. The new cards require multiple communications with the servers…. both up and down. While an average weeknight might not be bad to shop at Target, It may be a different story at Christmas Time 2016! Can you imagine being 20th in line at Walmart… all backed up… because each Chip and Pin transaction is taking 2 minutes? All the up and down traffic… and the fact that there is such a large holiday transaction volume… will upset customers everywhere! Ha ha… it is enough to make you shop on-line for your Christmas gifts this year! One can only hope that people who provision the payment processors with data connections and servers figure out what is going on…. and make sure that they have the capacity to handle a busy holiday season. Of course, a store like BestBuy has faster point-of-sale terminals than a “Mom and Pop” family restaurant does. It will all even out… hopefully.

So, if you have understood what I have said so far, you see that we are in for some tough times. Humans don’t like change and we got it once in January…. and more is coming when we ditch the use of the signature for a PIN. Is there a better way to handle paying for our purchases? I think so. The buzzwords are “Contactless Payments”.

www.investopedia.com defines Contactless Payments as follows:

Contactless payment is a secure method for consumers to purchase products or services via debit, credit or smartcards (also known as chip cards), by using RFID technology. To make a contactless payment, a person simply needs to tap their card near a point-of-sale terminal – leading to the nickname “tap-and-go”.

While I don’t advocate the classic style of Contactless Payments that enable “tap-and-go”… because if a credit card or ATM/Debit card is RFID equipped that brings on other security issues. I like the idea of using your smartphone to act as your payment vehicle. Enter Apple Pay !!!

www.wikipedia.org describes Apple Pay in this way:

Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by Apple Inc. that lets users make payments using the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone SE, and later, Apple Watch-compatible devices (iPhone 5 and later models), iPad Air 2, iPad Pro and iPad Mini 3 and later. Apple Pay does not require Apple Pay-specific contactless payment terminals, and can work with existing contactless terminals.

I have an iPhone that lets me use Apple Pay…and I have an Apple Watch which lets me use Apple Pay as well. Why do I like Apple Pay so much? Simple… security. Due to the “secure enclave” built into Apple Pay compatible iPhones and Apple Watches, nobody can get to the actual data. The phone has to be authorized via fingerprints and the Apple Watch won’t make payments until it is in contact with human skin and a secure code is entered into the watch.

www.wikipedia.org explains why Apple Pay is so secure:

The service keeps customer payment information private from the retailer, and creates a “dynamic security code […] generated for each transaction”. Apple added that they would not track usage, which would stay between the customers, the vendors, and the banks. Users can also remotely halt the service on a lost phone via the Find My iPhone service.

To me, if you keep information from the retailer/e-tailer then if they get hacked… my financial information does not get put up on the auction block with that of millions of other customers.

I have to admit, I fought using Apple Pay… but tonight, I gave it some thought. That is why I am writing this blog entry. I registered my cards for Apple Pay and my banks that I use support it. I am giving it a go… if you have the tehnology too, are you going to try it?

If you have comments on this blog entry or found this useful, please leave a comment.

Am I mad that I just bought an Apple Watch and the newly updated Apple Watch “S” and the upgraded Apple Watch 2 are due in September?

•August 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

No! First off, I got my current 1st Generation Apple Watch “used”. It was very affordable… and it will still run the vastly improved WatchOS 3. For a used watch… it came in PRIMO 1st Class shape…. and I have really gotten used to it. I am getting so that unless i have to, I hate pulling my phone out of my messenger bag or even grabbing it off my desk and unlocking it. Last Friday I left my watch at work and although I told myself that if I was out and about nearby, I would stop into the office and grab it (yes, I use it that much) I decided to wait until I went into work on Monday to grab it. LOL. It was the first thing that I did when I sat down at my desk. I had left it on the charger. I have three Apple Watch charge cords… one for home in my bamboo wood Apple Watch / iPhone charger station, one in my car, and one at my desk… so I won’t get caught off guard.

Is the concept of an upgraded 1st Generation Apple Watch Appealing? Yes it is. Who does not want better water-proofing and a faster 10 NM lithographic process CPU? Funny thing… the upgraded version (which I refer to as the Apple Watch S) might sell for the same amount of money as the original (before the discount that they are currently offering). I got my watch for a very good price… so even if the new one goes for the new price… I got such a great deal for my old price… that I am still happy for what I paid for it!

What about the new Apple Watch 2? Well, the 1-Layer glass is sweet… and a radio is cool… and a GPS is cool…. and a bigger battery is cool… the size has not changed. The CPU is more powerful and smaller, but with the new additions of a bigger battery paired with the radio and POWER HUNGRY GPS… I don’t really know what you are getting. It would be nice to take the Apple Watch “solo”…and guide myself around with just the watch…. but one thing that most people don’t get is that I don’t mind grabbing my phone with me. It goes where I go…and it is just something I automatically grab.

This afternoon, when I went to lunch, I was in the elevator going down to the building lobby. I was wondering how my dad was. My phone was in my pocket … and I wanted to call him. I brought my dad up and dialed him. I was talking to him on the watch (albeit tethered to my iPhone 6+) and was doing really well. As I walked to my car, I auto started my Chrysler 200S with the key fob. As I reached for the door, my bluetooth in the car…took over from my Apple Watch… and I sat down behind the wheel and kept on chatting. I did not miss a beat. After I hung up and I was close to picking up my friend Miguel, it occurred to me how Sci-Fi-esque this whole concept was. It was actually pretty darn amazing… and I did it so effortlessly.

Look, I got it. People need the best of everything. If people like my friend Miguel are holding out until it has its own GPS… that is fine. I just hope that nobody expects me to stop using the original Apple Watch… as it is very useful for me. If the Apple Watch is something that you would never wear (due to fake Apple Culture, or whatever) that is fine. You can strap some Android Gear onto your keester and keep on…keeping on. After all, where Apple Watch or Android Gear is concerned, using either of them is not a CRIME! (YET!)

Why NOW is the time for me to have an Apple Watch…

•July 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

http://www.apple.com/watch/

When I first heard about the Apple Watch, i was curious about how it was to be implemented. I was disheartened that it was so expensive. Since I was an owner of the original iPhone, I was used to the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS overpowering it. I told myself that I was not going to buy a first generation Apple Watch… and fall into the same old routine. I hated that newer apps would not run on the older first generation iPhone technology… and that I was constantly falling behind in capability as compared to those who had the lastest hardware.

I found out…that instead of a feature loaded 2nd Generation Apple Watch being released within a year’s time, the watch was pushed off to (what some believe to be) September 2016. This watch won’t have the FaceTime that everybody is CRAVING… it is only going to be a watch buffetted by a faster processor and some improved electronics… not the Dick Tracy Style watch that all of us have been waiting for.

Dick Tracy functionality is coming… but the pundits say that it won’t be for another year… perhaps September 2017. Since these new watches are bound to be even more expensive that the current first generation Apple Watch… I decided to enter the race… and buy one. I found one at a fraction of the cost on eBay. I was so lucky that the used watch I got was in near mint condition. I outfitted the Apple Watch with Bamboo wooden Watch Charger, a bumper case to keep the watch from being banged up and a tempered glass screen protector. All three of these were had for less than 20$.

Today was my first day with my new Apple Watch… and it fits and suits the way that I use technology very well. It helps me get access to the many things that pop up as notifications…e-mails, messages/texts, etc.

I took to the watch very quickly and within my first day, I see that it is very easy to operate. I enjoy using it and I find it very useful. I have had a bit of a strange time sifting through the apps that are available in the Apple Watch App Store. I am disappointed that there are not more than there are… but I am sure that more are being written every day. (I found a good little Facebook App for the Apple Watch called LittleBook. It works for those moments when you want to see a more complete picture of your Facebook activity.)

The current version of Watch OS is 2.2.2. In September a more compelling version of Watch OS will be released… version 3.0. I think that the new API’s (Application Programmer’s Interfaces) will encourage more interesting Apps to be written. Version 2.2.2 is pretty solid right now… and I can hold out until Watch OS 3.0 is available.

I think that the Apple Watch Experience will only get better. I have a few friends who have Apple Watches and they said I would love it. How did they know? LOL. 😉 I guess they were right… as I am not an Apple Watch FAN! Of course, people will say that I love the Apple Watch because I am an original Apple FanBoy… but I say no. i like the way that things like the “digital crown” work…and how the software is well thought-out. I think the way the hardware is designed…and the vision with which the software is developed… yield a very satisfying experience.

I can finally accept my place as a proud Apple Watch owner… and look to my friends and say… “what have taken all of you so long?”.

Why was my 1TB Hybrid Hard Drive On My Mac Book Pro OVER 27% FRAGMENTED?

•May 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just a quickie… I was shocked the other day when Drive Genius popped up a warning telling me that my 1 TB Hybrid Drive was over 27% fragmented. How did that happen? !!!

I did not stay freaked out for long… it is a “hybrid” drive after all!

What is the big deal? Well hybrid drives are mostly a regular electro-mechanical system… a bunch of spinning drive plattens with a magnetic coating on the top and bottom of each. A read/write head assembly passes over the areas reading and writing as needed as the disk spins. An armature moves the drive head in and out along the disk. Also, a hybrid drive has a small Solid State Drive (SSD) component.

It is the SSD part … and the integrated heuristics in the drive electronics that interface with the computer that is the culprit. It is all as designed. As I use different programs, the heuristics watch to see what I am using. They do this to load the parts of files (File blocks) into the faster SSD memory, for faster reference. As I used different data or programs, the heuristics track different usage patterns … and they move files back and forth between the normal part of the disk and the SSD part.

All business as usual… but over the course of a year…. I guess that the drive became fragmented enough to trigger Drive Genius’ threashold for defragging. 😉

It seems to me that defragging is a small price to pay for the incresed read access to what I am running…. especially when it helps to save time by making applications load faster.

Sometimes I am too clever for my own good… LOL. I simply defrayed over night… and when I woke up… my computer is back to its peppy self again. My oh my, do my applications load quickly! I recommend that if you are going for a replacement drive… to check out a hybrid drive. They are really awesome!

Why Do Big Companies Do What They Know is Wrong To Our Accounts And Services… In The Name Of Helping Us?

•May 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I get really annoyed. What ever happened about contracting with somebody for service… and then acting like Ron Popeel…. you know… the maker of that Rotisserie Oven…. the one where you can “SET IT, AND FORGET IT” !!!

I don’t care what you are doing now a days. If you contract for cellular service, high speed internet, a security system for your house… nothing is as easy as it used to be.

Take my high speed Internet Service Provider… let me refer to them as “Dim Dwelling”. You know who they are. I contracted for High Speed Internet… a certain bandwidth for a certain amount of money. Easy Peasy? No, exactly the opposite! See, when I got the new cable modem installed when I kicked it up to their hypersonic speed cable modem…. you know… the higher Bits/Sec throughput of my network traffic… Suddenly crap did not work on my internet.

What happened? Well a few years ago… the technician installed the new hardware… and things were working out. I was able to have some fast traffic. The next morning I woke up… and not a single internet related object in my house…that relied on Dim Dwelling… was working. I called up… and got relayed half way around the world… lets just say …that Dim Dwelling had a THRILLA IN MANILLA with my name on it. After trying to transliter a gal’s Tagalog/English into something I could understand, I asked her to forward me to a number in the United States of America…she complied…and I got a real cool guy that was about 20 miles from my house… ha ha. He told me that it was Dim Dwelling’s policy to start up all people on their cable modems… with a free routing service…. their cable modem would act as a router. Because it was doing this… without my permission, none of my multiple routers in my house would work.

People try to blame me for having multiple routers, different servers, NAS devices, servers, security video and all that routed the way I want to do it. I maintain my own systems…. and I want my traffic… on my side of the multiplexed IP address… to route as I see fit…not what some Jack Knob sitting in a Dim Dwelling Ivory tower wants to do.

The guy was excellent, turned off the routing of the cable modem…. (that is…activating ‘bridge mode’ for you techies out there)… and put a note on my account. I was once again… fat, dumb, and happy… my routing was being handled by equipment under my direct control…and in my physical house.

Zoom into Friday night… there I was… streaming video into my 24” iMac (Lassie Come Home – by the way… ha ha….) and suddenly… my whole network goes dead. My cable modem resets….. all my routers are in fault mode… and nothing works. A quick call to Dim Dwelling…and they say that everything is now fine…. I reset my routers, and bang… I am back up and running. I then finish my movie…. go to bed…. and when I wake up in the morning… I have a repeat performance.

I was so mad… I called up Dim Dwelling…. and got some buttocks Jester from Djibouti. I asked specifically if he had turned on the cable modem to route my traffic and he would not answer me. It appears that he was routing my internet traffic…for my own good! Argh! [By the way… did you know that the capitol of Djibouti…is Djibouti !!! LOL] He ignored me…and finally after having asked to be routed to the US for help…was told that “NO” he would not route me to a US Call Center. He said that they would do the same service for me that he was…and that it was not cost effective. I responded “what….? They going to lie to me too? !!!”

Grrrrrr…… finally I asked why he would not answer my question…. and never admited to turning on the routing capability to my cable modem, but when I said I was going to call up Dim Dwelling and complain… he told me that he just reset my cable modem…and he was assuring me that it would all work. We ended our phone call…. after making an appointment with Dim Dwelling service for Wednesday…. and…I tried to activate my routers. I had to do hard resets on them… and I waited for 30 minutes with the cable modem turned off… and voila…. le cable modem marche bien (it works!).

My main point is… why…when the customer requests something…that the stupid people at the company…. go against notes in your account…and does…what is had documented that you don’t want done?

They say that modern life is tough… well, it is tough…and getting tougher … mostly due to DOUCHEBAGS such as these guys at Dim Dwelling !!!

If I could get another service for high speed internet at my address…. I would. AT&T U-VERSE doesn’t count: the county gave them permision to dig the shit out of my yard and to wire my house for their shitty ass fiber…. no thanks AT&T…. I ain’t jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, bitches!!!

Sometimes when you have an IQ over 100 … and you are forced to deal with people who are just … for whatever reason… incompetent… it can drive me crazy. Most of the people who read will ead this… know my pain, feel my pain, and are getting heartburn right now remembering how Dim Dwelling has screwed them over too!

This just goes to show one thing… I am leary of anybody who does anything…. FOR MY OWN GOOD !!!