Hello! I'm Defron and this is my blog.

Data Privacy Day: Passwords

Part One in a five-part exposé for Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day: Smartphones

Part two in a five-part exposé for Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day: Web Browsing

Part three in a five-part exposé for Data Privacy Day

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Data Privacy Day: 2014 Edition

It's once again January 28th, which means it's once again Data Privacy Day! This is a great day to read up on privacy matters, check your privacy settings on various websites, see what web and mobile apps are doing, etc. Below various relevant links along with my own articles from last year's Data Privacy Day.
  • MyPermissions has shortcuts to the permission and privacy settings for many popular web apps. They also have a mobile app for alerting you of when new apps are getting info from your account.
  • It's a great day to visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation and read up on the latest privacy concerns and what you can do to protect yourself. The last year saw huge violations of privacy by various government and non-government organizations. The EFF is all of our friends in fighting for our privacy.
  • Android 4.3 users had the option to more easily review app permissions and selectively allow them via App Ops. Unfortunately if you're running 4.4.2 you can't any longer (hopefully the feature gets re-added in the near future)
  • Google released an official Device Manager for Android that allows you to locate, lock, and wipe your lost phone. Less third-party apps is always a good thing and it's free. Losing your phone is a huge potential privacy problem.
  • Facebook privacy settings are always changing, and facebook is still a big part of many people's online presence. Lifehacker has a great writeup on Facebook Privacy.
  • A comprehensive guide to passwords by me.
  • Most of us have a smartphone, and it usually holds a lot of personal info. Keep it safe.
  • Keeping things private on the web is no easy feat, but here's my guide on it.
  • Keep private information secure by encrypting it.
  • If your network is compromised, everything you do on it is potentially compromised too. Here's how to keep safe on networks.
Remember to spread the word about Data Privacy Day. Awareness is step #1 and the more people aware of Data Privacy Day, the bigger of a success it can be and the better off everyone can be.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What's So Good About A Tablet?

Aka: I Got A Nexus 10

At the beginning of this year, I bought myself a Nexus 10, specifically the 32 GB model. I have long been an advocate of the tablet, but had yet to get one. Why? It wasn't that I didn't want one, but rather that I was waiting on the wrong company. I kept waiting for Asus to get their act together in terms of quality assurance, but with the botched release of the Transformer TF701, I finally realized they weren't going to. As such, after the holiday season, I went out and got the Nexus 10, and have been quite happy with it since then.

Tablets Are Better Than Laptops

This has basically been the foundation of my argument since tablets first started getting popular. For the vast majority of tasks, tablets outperform laptops by a significant margin. Tablets, generally speaking, have a better battery life. They also are lighter, more portable, and for your standard daily tasks, I'd even argue that they are faster than your average laptop. The Nexus 10 has a unique feature of having front-facing speakers, meaning that sound clarity and quality on it outshine, not only most other tablets, but even most laptops too.

The Internet Has Made Everything Equal

XKCD covered this a little over 2 years ago. It's pretty true, especially for most of us most of the time. Email, communication, even productivity and office suites all exist in our web browsers these days. Needing a specific application from a specific platform is getting rarer and rarer for most people. Obviously this isn't the case for everyone, but it is for many people. Also, I think for many of us technology people, we have another option: remote desktop and administration.

It's actually because of remote access that I think I am able to enjoy my Nexus 10 as much as I do. Just this last October, Microsoft released an official RDP app for both Android and iOS. There have been many RDP apps before it (I personally have used Jump Desktop, which I still like and offers some advantages over the official one by Microsoft), but what makes this official app unique is that it supports RD Gateways and RD Web Access. On the Linux front, NoMachine is readying for a release of NX for Android and iOS. Currently there is an alpha build for Android users available for download. I personally am looking forward to trying this out soon. Of course there is the standard fare remote desktop apps, but I'm a DIYer and generally untrusting of the cloud. Through any of these, you can access, not only the programs of your desktop, but also the raw power of it, from wherever you need it.

10 Inches is Big Enough

OK, bigger is better, but not when it comes to portability. This is actually why I don't think I could ever use a laptop as my main computing device: 15'' or 17'' isn't comfortable to me. However, for Android, combined with the full screen only style of tablets and the App switcher, it works. On the go it works quite well, in fact. I have relatively small hands. Combined with the auto-correct, I have been pretty comfortably typing out this entire blog post on my tablet. I plan on getting a Bluetooth keyboard in the long-run, mainly to help with sshing a bit more comfortably, but this works quite well once I enable the PC-style keyboard layout. I do my heavy lifting on my desktop still, but when I want to be lazy, I can just use my tablet and read or surf the web without getting up.

Obviously this isn't for everyone. The hardcore on-the-go gamer won't be able to do it, but most others can. A designer type can remote in and access much more powerful equipment to do multimedia editing when on the go, and those in need of Windows software even when on the go can get the Surface Pro. For these reasons I feel that tablets are better than laptops, and I am quite enjoying mine, and that's what's so good about tablets: they're better than laptops for most people's needs. If you have been on the fence about a tablet, or are lugging around a laptop everywhere you go still, I say give a tablet a shot as your go-to mobile device and set up some sort of remote access to your desktop.