The Dark side of 2FA

Screenshot 2014-12-05 10.12.59Ok maybe Down side, is better than dark side. But there’s a suck for sure.

I’m a big proponent of 2 factor Authentication (2FA). While not the most convenient, with cyber attacks happening more and more frequently I’ll take the inconvenience over having to fight to get my bank account back, etc.

A few weeks ago I got a new iPhone. Like many it was iPhone 6-mas, and my time had come.

I picked up my phone, restored from an iCloud backup and went on with my life. Until I tried to login to my blogs (work and personal). WordPress uses google authenticator, which is nice, because many sites can use it, so you don’t need some type of app for each one (except name.com who uses another app, more later).

To my surprise you don’t simply use the app from a new phone (despite it being a complete and in my case encrypted back up of the previous device). My auth credential didn’t work. I had no idea why. I tweeted and thankfully someone pointed out having the exact same issue and mentioned being lucky their old phone was around. Mine was too, so I powered it up.

Thankfully I was able to login, delete the old credentials and establish new ones on my new phone.

The worst part is that wordpress doesn’t provide a “I don’t have my phone” type recovery option. Had I erased my phone, I’m not sure what I would have done. I lucked out. My payment processor Stripe, at least has a “Reset my pwd/credentials” option which is a nice nuclear option in this type of scenario.

Not so much with my name.com account. They choose to use some other pass key style app, which is fine. Since I don’t login often it didn’t occur to me to hop in before wiping my phone a few days ago… Of course I went to login because i got a domain expiry notice, and now I’m locked out (no option for “oops my phone is no longer tied to the right credentials”) and waiting for support to reply to my email.

I’m still pro-2FA, and I understand the underlying reasons these things work like they do, but at the same time if we want the average user to get on board, we need to have better recovery options, so that when a phone is lost, etc someone isn’t locked out of something that could be immensely vital.

So, I went to Hong Kong

IMG_0046

My travel journal.

tl; dr;

Had a great time, I’d go back. Their mass transit is amazing.

Long but I hope a good/interesting read.

I went for two reasons, Tom had asked me to go with him (he was attending a conference), and I figured I’d see if Hong Kong had an iOS community and would make for a good 360|iDev city. Sadly Hong Kong, won’t be a 360|iDev city. In talking with a few developers I learned 2 things; 1. there aren’t a ton of developers, let a lone iOS developers. 2. Developer is looked at like “Oh you couldn’t be a doctor or a banker”

Tom and I went to a pre hackathon intro to iOS Meetup, he helped, i hung around. The turn out was good, lots of newbies, lots of kids, but neither was a demographic for bringing 360|iDev, and sadly, neither is a group likely to immediately be in the market to attend 360|iDev Denver.

That’s ok though, that was part of the trip, and while not opening a new door, it certainly was informative, and I met some really cool folks.

The other part was tourism. Tom had a conference but i was hanging out.

Hong Kong island is pretty awesome. Think LA or Manhattan times 20. There’s no skyline, like those cities have, no visible change from low to high rises. It’s all high rises, everywhere.

Food.

We had some really great food (You can see my yelp reviews here). We only had one meal that was completely Meh. Everything else was good or great.

Lodging.

View from the executive lounge of the Renaissance Harbor View.

View from the executive lounge of the Renaissance Harbor View.

We stayed at 4 different hotels. Mostly out of necessity of our plans. First was the Renaissance. Very nice hotel. With points come privilege, we enjoyed a tasty buffet each morning on the executive level, which had amazing views out to the harbor.

After a few days there, we headed to Sha Tin. Basically a suburb to the north. That’s Where Tom’s conference was. After 1 day we both decided it’d be better if he trained in from Central vs. staying there, so we canceled the rest of the stay at the Courtyard Marriott Sha Tin, and booked at the JW Marriott in Central. I wanted the Renaissance, but they were booked. The JW is of course amazing. For what it costs (I used points) it had better, heck my phone even knew my name. Sadly we were only at the JW 2 nights before resuming our original plan. We wanted to make sure to see the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, so our last 4 nights were at the Mira Hotel. Each hotel was packed with friendly welcoming staff. Each room was very nice, with ample plugs (and the Marriott brands offer complimentary power converters in the room).

Kowloon.

Kowloon, is all the worst parts of Beverly Hills, the garment district in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and maybe 16th St Mall in Denver. High priced, up market stores everywhere, watch stores (by brand or ‘sells them all’) every other store front, every luxury brand had at least 3 stores. Annoying hucksters selling watches or tailoring services, and snobbery and euro trash everywhere. Where Hong Kong was bustling with business and life, Kowloon was bustling with Tourists. The Mira was a very nice hotel, but swank. Lots of mirrors and mirrored surfaces. The in house bar was intimidating chic, and the fancy restaurant was FANCY. The food was good though, and the staff amazing).

We ended up spending most of our Kowloon time, elsewhere. Really just one day was spent wandering around Kowloon. We did go to the History Museum and see an amazing history of Hong Kong exhibit, which went from pre-history to the departure of the British. It was amazing.

Overall though, Kowloon just didn’t have much that was interesting. The Temple St. Night Market was cool, but basically a flea market. Lots of crap electronics, knock offs, and clothing. Lots of food stalls and such.

We did stumble onto the filming of a TV show or movie. Suddenly there’s cops everywhere, and people with their hands cuffed behind their backs, and bags on their heads. It took a second to see the cameras. That was neat. It’s funny that they filmed right there without closing the street or anything. That’s how they roll i guess.

Hong Kong DisneyLand.

IMG_0053Unless you have extra time in your travel plans, skip it. It was a hair below “OK”. Not just a small park, which it is, but it felt like a pale shadow of a DisneyLand, or even a knock off. We did end up spending the entire day there (starting around 11a) but that was mainly because Tom wanted to see the fireworks display (they sucked).  I was told the plan is to expand gradually and avoid what nearly happened to Euro Disney, makes sense. Maybe in another 5 years the park will be awesome. There’s some HK specific stuff, and the food was way better than what you’d get in Anaheim, but beyond that, really it was meh, at best.

Hong Kong Island.

The highlight of the trip was here. The island is insane. Huge buildings everywhere, lots of small food stalls and restaurants. The best meals we had were all in Central, whether well known fancy places or hole in the wall local favorites. Getting around was cake, whether walking (lots of raised sidewalks, and bridges make getting around easy, or taking the MTR or double decker light rail bus thing. Victoria peak, walking along the water, the ICC (with immense Apple store), everything we did in Central Hong Kong was fun.

Occupy Hong Kong.

IMG_0214We knew this was taking place, but weren’t sure how close we’d be or what was going on. Turns out we were close. The JW Marriott was in Admiralty where the bulk of the protest was happening, and a few times we walked right past or over (via raised sidewalks) the protest area. It was interesting to see, so many tents and barricades. While we were there the police were getting ready to kick out the groups, and one night a few of them broke through a side door of the gov’t building they were in front of. Overall it seemed fairly peaceful, but we weren’t there when the planned eviction was going to take place.

 Transportation.

Just about everywhere I go outside the US and a few places inside (Chicago, NY) I get very jealous of the mass transit options. The only times we took a cab were when there was no train or when we were in a hurry (so, in total 3x). Otherwise the MTR was amazingly useful. Stations are everywhere, connections to other lines abound, it’s the model of what I’d love to see here. Want to go to Boulder from Highlands Ranch? Take a line into Downtown, transfer to the boulder line, done. Fast, inexpensive, easy, low stress.

Even trying to get around with luggage isn’t too terrible, you’re restricted to taking lifts much of the time, which are slow and usually small and cramped, but totally doable.

I’m very jealous of Hong Kong’s MTR. Denver especially should look to what they’re doing. There’s certainly good models stateside, The “L” in Chicago, Metro in DC, etc. Heck even LA has managed to implement subways, Los Freakin’ Angeles. And Denver Still has almost useless (except for commuters) light rail that YAY! now goes to Golden.

Obviously miles and miles of subway isn’t an overnight thing, but man, the benefits are amazing.

Culture.

IMG_0239I Debated adding this, I hate generalizing about culture, but well, it was pretty universal in 11 days of being in Hong Kong. For one thing personal space is a non thing, understandably, the residences are small, the trains are croweded, etc. That’s actually fine, especially when I tower over most others, and have weight on my side, I need some room, start wiggling to make space, problem solved.

Selfies EVERYWHERE. Old, young, male, female, they had selfie sticks. Yes that’s a thing, that’s what it’s called. They were everywhere, HK Disney, MTR stations, the street. We saw people on the steps to big buddha primping for a selfie, that didn’t even include big buddha. It was a little ridiculous. I know it’s very well stereotyped (asians love taking pictures) but man it was very supported. We saw people focus so much on the perfect selfie the missed the thing that was happening.

They have no concept of waiting in line. Yes there’s lines everywhere, but it seems totally ok to at least attempt to cut the line. Maybe you’ll get scolded, but maybe not, so they just walk up to lines and try to merge in. It seemed the acceptable responses included saying something (No idea what, but it was never very confrontational) maneuvering the line cutter out passively, which seemed to be perfectly ok, or simply letting them cut. It was very interesting.

 

So there you go, some random slightly organized thoughts on my two weeks (ish) in Hong Kong. Thanks to my pal Tom for creating the reason to go.

Good Conference Wifi

A friend of mine in the industry posted this this other day. On reading it I was a bit insulted. Nothing is ever cut and dry and conference tech certainly isn’t.

At 360|iDev this year the wireless was I’ll admit, craptastic. I had outsourced the wifi because the hotel wanted nearly $20,000 for what they called the mid level (Non streaming, non VPN or something like that level). Thats not including the rest of the AV quote.

Eric says there’s two factors in good conference wifi; the desire to deliver a great experience (which I’d also argue in the scope of things wifi is not a major part of that), and the desire to spend the money to make it happen.

There’s a third factor, budget. 360|iDev is about $300-500 less than his event. It’s also in Downtown Denver, where hotel lunches run at a minimum $50/person. My AV and internet options came down to $47,000 or $13,000. One was in my budget (previous years events came in around $11,000, so that’s what i planned around), the other not even remotely. Not just ‘not in budget’ but would have put 360|iDev 2014 firmly in the negative. Since my sole source of income is my conferences, taking losses is something i shy away from.

Was i bummed the wireless was crappy at 360|iDev, hell ya I was. Will i strive to be better next year, damn right, I’m even planning to spend considerably more than I’ve ever spent on it. Do i think a conference is less awesome because of the wifi? It’s never entered my mind. When I’m at a conference I’m there for the sessions, yes it’s inconvenient, but I’ve never left thinking “I’ll never be back, i couldn’t tweet during that session.” Also, the few times I’ve really wanted wifi at a conference were because the content was lame, I’d rather solve that problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the value of wifi, and like I said, I’ll be working harder to make next year’s better than this. But when I’m thinking of attending an event (something I plan to do more of this coming year) whether their wifi was awesome or not, is about as important to me as the color of the hotel carpet. Ok, maybe a bit more important than that, but not much.

My point here isn’t actually about wifi, it’s about claiming something is universally easy and those that don’t do what you do, are doing it wrong. I could easily argue that if you’re sessions aren’t technically deep and sending attendees home with usable new skills, you’re doing it wrong. Or any other biased, “the way I do it” assertions.

Dear @HBO I want to give you money. You too NBC and CBS, even you Fox

Was going through my Drafts, and found this, started in May 2011. 

Figured I’d post it now, given that both HBO and CBS have woken up to the vast amounts of money they were leaving on the table, by ignoring cord cutters. I find it hilarious, that about the time I started this Draft, the President of CBS, was convinced Cord Cutting was a fad, and that no they’d never offer their content online. How times change.

— Original Post —

I’ve been thinking on this topic for a while now. I love TV. I’m not sitting around watching Real Housewives of Atlanta or anything, but I enjoy good TV.

This came up because HBO has started airing Game Of Thrones. Based on the awesome, and hugely well written serious of novels from George R.R. Martin.

The problem is I don’t have Cable.

No problem, HBO has HBO GO… Well actually… HBO GO is only for cable subscribers. Uh what? So people who are already paying you, can watch online, but those who aren’t already paying for cable (you know the untapped audience, the potential new customers), get no love. Worse yet, there’s only 3 cable providers that work with HBO GO.

 

The Solution? Well that’s tricky. There’s always Bit Torrent, but that’s “illegal”. There’s waiting for the season to be on iTunes, or in Netflix, but that’s pretty crappy. Avoiding spoilers, etc is hard the longer you have to wait.

I’m sure there’s some 30 year old stupid agreement in place, but here’s how it should work, and how HBO and CBS, et al could get more viewers.

Sell the content a la carte. Why not? I’d pay comcast a la carte, tho I’d rather pay the people making the content. Sure the cable companies need to find a model that works with this new paradigm, but really, that’s what needs to happen anyway!

So why not? Why shouldn’t I pay for the 1 show on HBO I want, and the 10 other shows across a few networks that I love, and not pay for CNN, Lifetime, etc.?

 

Where’s the iPad fit in?

I saw this post, and it really echo’d thoughts and conversations I’ve had lately about the iPad.

There’s been a lot of “You shouldn’t upgrade”, “You need to upgrade” articles about the iPad Air 2. I’ll say this, moving from an iPad 3, to a Air 2… WOW. Money well spent. Will I move to an Air 3? No. 4? probably not. 5 or whatever is next? Likely. But that’s the cycle the iPad fits in for me.

I’ve talked to a few folks (friends) that almost never touch their iPads. Their iPhone 6/6+ or Macbook Air do the trick. Each is light, sufficiently large to do things, sufficiently small to not be a burden.

I use my iPad several times a day. Whether it’s catching up on interesting things to read at night, playing a quick(ish) game of Tower Madness or Blockheads, or remotely managing the various Macs around the house, i use it quite often. When I travel, add in watching movies/TV and reading comics. I take meeting notes, do some writing all on my iPad. It’s invaluable to me.

I’d leave my laptop at home before I’d leave the iPad. There have been a few trips, including my trip to Amsterdam, where i left my laptop home, and just used my iPad with a keyboard.

After I got my iPad Air 2, Nicole inherited my iPad 3, which put her iPad 2 up in the air. I thought, “You know what, I bet it’d make an awesome appliance. Find a place to mount it and i bet there’s something cool i can do with it around that house”

I see now, one major issue in the “Where’s the iPad fit?” question. 

I couldn’t find (haven’t given up yet) a single awesome use for the iPad 2 in our house.

  • Nicole uses her iPad as a cook book, so that’s out, it’s the most obvious, but she has no need for a dedicated cookbook iPad
  • I thought, you know it’d be cool to mount it near the TV running Apple’s remote app. Control my library and AppleTV. Especially for parties and such, or just geekiness. Apple’s remote app is ass. When it connects, it’s slow. Usually it doesn’t connect. When connected to the AppleTV, it can’t see home shares, the only media it has access to are TV/Movies in the cloud, and iTunes radio and Match. Not as awesome.
  • Big ass Nest control for the upstairs. Doable, but silly beyond believe.
  • Picture frame, also doable, though i could buy a single purpose device for less money.
  • Home Automation is another obvious answer, and one that is still in the maybe category. Mainly because we just don’t have that much HA gear, so other than the nest, not a lot to manage right now.
  • Security monitor, I have toyed with cameras and apps, for both in and out of the house monitoring, but not sure that warrants a dedicated device
  • Weather/news station in the bathroom. We have a little RF driven weather station, an iPad seems a bit much.

I will say my biggest disappointment is with Panic’s Status Board. (I’d link to it, but don’t waste your money at this point) I bought it, i even bought the HD TV upgrade. I assume it flopped because while Panic makes awesome products, i don’t think they’re set up for product evangelism. Status Board needed a thriving community of panel makers, and to the best of my knowledge they never supported that. Plenty of sites aggregated panels, but without the “love and support” of the mothership those efforts quickly fade. Status Board would be the perfect tool for an iPad on a wall somewhere, but I don’t see that happening. I may start looking into pulling together data sources of my own to wrap in Status Board panels, but won’t lie, i was hoping for a little more out of the box.

Do you have an iPad that lives as a device in the home? What do you do with it?

Just Vote

I don’t really care who you vote for, though I certainly hope you align with me :)

Really though, i don’t care. I care about Americans being so apathetic we sit around, bitch about political ads, bitch about whomever is in office, and then come voting day, we’re “too busy”, “Don’t care enough, the other guy’s gonna win anyway, the news said so” etc. We’re often our own worst enemy.

On Columbus day I saw tweets going around about taking Columbus day as a national holiday and giving it to Native Americans (which is certainly better than Columbus day) but the one I liked the most, make Election day a national holiday. 

Remove the biggest excuses for low turn out.

Until that happens, though, it’s on us. I’ve voted in every election since I turned voting age. I’ve asked to leave work early, I’ve waiting in hour plus long lines. It’s important to me.

I wish my voice carried more weight, I wish we put .. well all things, above who can spend the most, maybe someday we will. Maybe when voter turnout nationwide is closer to 90% than 60% (honestly I was surprised it was that high) the will of the people will matter.

All that to say, please vote. If you live in a state (Like CO) with mail in ballots, you have NO EXCUSE. You’re a terrible, person, and worthless ‘merican if you couldn’t even put a stamp on an envelope or go for a walk and drop the ballot in a box. If you have to go to a polling place tomorrow, I sympathize, but still urge you to do it. You may not think your vote/voice matters, but it’s hard to ignore a chorus.

GO VOTE.