Heartbleed bug tips for securing your accounts

The hole in OpenSSL known as Heartbleed supposedly affects up to a fifth of all secure web servers. Having such a large portion of the servers affected there is a likelihood that you might have an account that has been compromised. Filippo Valsorda is the 19 year old behind the code that allows you to test websites for the Heartbleed bug, dubbed Heartbleed test.

Heartbleed test

The Heartbleed test has apparently had more than 60 million queries since being released last week.  On reddit  ”FiloSottile” as he’s known has posted a few tips for anyone who isn’t very sure what to do with their internet accounts.

Another option to help determine that the sites you are visiting are safe from the Heartbleed bug is to install the Google Chrome extension named Chromebleed. The extension will alert you when you visit a website that has the Heartbleed vulnerability and hasn’t had their OpenSSL patched.

Chromebleed

Filippo advised that if Chromebleed or FoxBleed (Mozilla Firefox alternative), reports a vulnerability, to not log in. You should await an official statement from that site on its response to Heartbleed.

Vaccinate your kids if you want them to live

I’ve been meaning to write a post about having your children vaccinated. I took Cayden to get his latest vaccinations awhile ago and he was a boss! Watched the woman and everything.

There is still people out there that don’t believe in vaccinating their children which I find unsettling, even a Father had to go to court due to his partner not believing in immunisation. However he won, the kids vaccinated and now will be safer than those that aren’t.

The one that got me though was one that a friend shared on Facebook linking to this Mamamia article. It originates from tumblr with this post:

Anti-Vaccination 1

Then, an immunologist saw the post, and responded:

Anti Vaccination 2

They continued…

Anti Vaccination 3

Then, the final punch…

Anti Vaccination 4

Then they shut it down, the anti-vaccinators lost, and science prevails. However, not before one final post on tumblr.

Anti Vaccination 5

So there you have it. You should vaccinate your kids, otherwise they could become extremely sick, or even worse, die from completely preventable diseases.

By not vaccinating your children, you’re not only hurting your children, but reducing the herd immunity, therefore putting children that are too young to be vaccinated at risk, those that are immunocompromised, and those that are allergic to a component of the vaccine.

Microsoft kills off Windows XP support

Microsoft is counting down until they will stop supporting one of their most successful Operating Systems, Windows XP which they will stop supporting on April 8, 2014 along with Office 2003.

What Microsoft is doing is stopping user and security support for Windows XP which means as of April 8, it will be vulnerable to any new security exploits or 0-day attacks. As one of the most widely distributed Operating Systems, this makes Windows XP a perfect target for hackers.

Microsoft states on their site that “you should take action.” and “should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system”. I guess with the release of Windows 8.1 Microsoft is hoping to get all those users migrated across to their newest Operating System.

You can still use Windows 7 (there will only be security updates, no user support) until 2020. However come April 8, Microsoft will bring back the Start Menu to Windows 8.1 via an update. This was one of the griefs I had when trying out Windows 8.1.

The other option would be to jump ship entirely (I own a Macbook Air) and love it, or you could use Linux or something else. However the one option is clear: You need to upgrade from Windows XP.

Healthy work / life balance

When you work full-time with a job that has a rotating roster, it’s hard to have a healthy work / life balance with a Wife and kids. My shifts rotate so much that I can start work at 6 am, and have shifts that finish at midnight.

The hard thing is working around having good family time with Chell and the kids with my kind of work, when days off could be a weekday when the kids are at school. For example today (Saturday) I am working 0930-1720, then Sunday and Monday I am working 1320-2110, and have Tuesday off. Being the school holidays, this is okay as the kids aren’t at school.

You always try to put your family first, yet you still need to work to provide for them. In Townsville there aren’t many jobs that can provide the wages that I make on a normal 9-5 job, which is one issue that I am facing at the moment. The other issue is finding a suitable job in which I will be qualified for, or working in retail however having no retail experience you’re usually looked over.

So how do you maintain a healthy work / life balance? This is one thing I’ve yet to fully discover; it is something that does need addressing. I need to spend more quality time with Chell and the kids (weekends, football games e.t.c.). So I guess in the long run, something needs to change. The thing that needs to change is my job. I guess this is something Chell and I need to have a think about, and work out what will and wont work, and progress from there.

 

A very productive day

Yesterday I ended up having Cayden home from Daycare whilst Chell went to work. As most people know we’ve been going through a bit of a rough stage in which Chell wrote about. Now what I did today I believe lifted not only her spirits, but mine as well.

I ended up cleaning up the house, just general house work (vacuuming, mopping, dishes, clothes washing) e.t.c. to make the place nice and tidy. Then headed to the shops to buy some pots, soil and rocks to put some desert roses in that her Mum gave her.

Desert Roses

Desert Roses

Cayden helped pot them into the new pots and made them look all nice with the rocks, and I sent this photo to Chell and she loved it. They look good out the front of our house. Hopefully these ones don’t get stolen!

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Xperia Z1, SlimKat and Pimped Kernel

I upgraded from the Xperia Z to the Xperia Z1 awhile ago. It is an amazing device, however it took Sony awhile to fix the bootloader unlocking issue, however that is fixed now and custom kernels and ROM’s now work! As I’ve done before, I will post my current setup.

Device: Sony Xperia Z1 (16GB Black)
ROM: SlimKat (Weekly Builds)
Kernel: Pimped Kernel
Apps: Pimp My Z1

First I have to thank Louis Teboul for an amazing kernel and tweaking application (and all the other devs that made this possible).  As you will notice I’m not running Cyanogenmod 11 anymore. There isn’t anything wrong with CM, however I couldn’t help flashing updates everyday. At least with SlimKat it’s a weekly release cycle.

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Stopping smoking and health benefits

So I decided it’s time to stop smoking, again. There are a few reasons behind this move. I have to get surgery sometime this year, so becoming healthy before hand (need at least 6 weeks of non-smoking) is the main driver behind this decision, money is second.

I thought that I would just post some quick facts about stopping smoking to remind everyone (including myself) of the benefits. I did print out this poster too, and there is a female version as well.

  • In 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop back down to normal.
  • In 8 hours the carbon monoxide (a toxic gas) levels in your bloodstream will drop by half, and oxygen levels will return to normal.
  • In 48 hours your chance of having a heart attack will have decreased. All nicotine will have left your body. Your sense of taste and smell will return to a normal level.
  • In 1 month your blood pressure returns to its normal level and your immune system begins to show signs of recovery.
  • In 6 weeks your risk of wound infection after surgery is substantially reduced.
  • In three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing problems will dissipate as your lung capacity improves by 10%.
  • In 1 year your risk of having a heart attack will have dropped by half.

So, from stopping smoking I will have immediate health benefits. If I stick to it, long term benefits too. I just hope the mood swings aren’t too strong. I will just have to stay optimistic and buy lots of chewing gum.

If you’re looking at quitting smoking you should check out quit now for more information to help.

 

Google Play Store 4.6.16 helps stop accidental in app purchases

If you happen to have kids, or you yourself may have come across the scenario of accidentally buying certain things within an application, only later to find out you’ve been charged for something that you didn’t want. Google’s newest Play Store update permits you to stop this by opting to want a password for each in-app upgrade. It’s going to not really stop you, however hopefully it’ll cause you to stop and think about the purchase.

The latest Google Play update permits you to make a choice from the default 30-minute purchase window, and a brand new setting that needs your password with each purchase. There are multiple other additions to version 4.6.16, such as batch install (my favourite), also a new settings and help menu, and security verifications.

You can wait for Google to push the update to your Android device, or head over to Android Police to download the APK.

Android 4.4 KitKat; death of the sd card?

Earlier versions of the Android Operating System prior to 4.4 KitKat allowed applications to read/write to almost any area of your removable storage (sd card), given permission. However since Android 4.4 KitKat you can no longer do this.

Many people feel that Google may be intentionally working towards making sd cards obsolete as to promote Google Drive (which they recently cut their pricing earlier this week), however Google says there are several reasons that the changes were made.

A lot of users still prefer expandable media, but Google has been making the move away from sd cards for quite awhile now. Apple customers have never had expandable storage, and iDevices seem to be for the most part alright.

I don’t have an sd card in my Xperia Z1 (which is running KitKat), and I think with the mobile data plans in Australia you would be pushing it to backup all your media in the cloud without WiFi. For music I use the MOG service, which is unmetered data on both the Telstra mobile network, and home internet services.

I’m wondering how you store your media? Do you use the cloud or sd cards or maybe both? Since the changes to KitKat, how do you feel about what you can do with expandable storage?

Please vote on my poll and leave a comment below.

Update: I found a neat little program that alleviates this issue, however root is needed. The application is called SDFix: KitKat Writable MicroSD which is available in the Play Store. However since I don’t have an SD-Card in my Z1 I cannot comment if it works or not.

What is your preferred storage method?

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What is there to blog about?

Alright so I guess this is a call to arms as to see what people out there want to read about or know about. Some people know that I also have Austech News however I’ve managed to neglect the site and am more focussed on this blog now.

Instead of cross-posting tech related information from this blog over to there (which is bad for SEO) I figured I may just do a permanent redirect from Austech to this blog. This way I can post about things that happen in my life, and tech-savvy stuff too.

I guess you could say this site has evolved from a “personal” blog to an “all round” blog, since I’ve written reviews for products and post about other things too.

I guess I am at a cross-road now, I think I know what I want to do with Austech, and it would be more beneficial for you, the readers to focus solely on this site. It would be hard letting go of a domain that I have owned for many years, however sometimes we all need a change.

So what do you think? Would you like to see more posts on here about tech-related stuff and personal stuff? What would you like to see me post about? Please feel free to leave some comments so I can get a better understanding of what it is you would like to see.