I don’t want hackers, Google or the government watching what I do online

My topic of interest recently has been using https to encrypt my internet connections to improve my security and privacy.  I’m at the point in the process where I’m still accumulating questions faster than finding any answers…

There are several different aspects of https that I’m interested in.  The most important aspect is protecting my emails from mtrad.com & gmail.com.  Getting ssl working for mtrad.com probably has the most unknown & challenging issues involved.  I need to get an ssl certificate, which I’ve never had to do before.  Setting up ssl for mtrad.com also means that I’ve got to figure out ssl for my other domains and websites as well as how a new ssl certificate will affect cpanel and whm on my server. An additional wrinkle is that I need to do this through Servint, my hosting provider so that they will support ssl on my server in the future.  I’m not sure how much I expect ServInt to do vesus taking care of stuff myself.  But I’d like to delegate as much as possible to Servint.  😉

I’m hoping that protecting my gmail  is just a matter of selecting “Always use https” in my settings.  But I need to test it and consider what else I need to do to assure security.

For my website, I need to install a ssl certificate. implement https service and configure WordPress to use https for all admin pages. Then I need to research what’s needed to support https everywhere.  That includes checking out caching plugins  to see if one performance plugin is a better fit than others and learn how I need to configure it to work properly with https everywhere.

Last but not least, I need to figure out how to use https everywhere on my computers, especially my laptop.  I want to encrypt my net connections so when I’m on a public network, like at Starbucks, hackers can’t listen in on me.  I also want to encrypt my sessions on facebook and tumblr to reduce the chances that hackers can get enough info to hack my account.

If you have any resources, ideas, suggestions or questions, please include them in the comments for this post.  I look forward to learning all about https, ssl certificates and https everywhere…


My Secret Advantage inTechnology

Before the Internet spoiled us all with the promise of limitless information available at our fingertips, I had a secret advantage over other techies that allowed me to exhibit expertise in a wide range of technical subjects…  I had a huge library of technical books… and I am a good reader.  So whenever I was presented with a  question about virtually anything, I could say “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you with the answer”.  And if I didn’t know the answer off-hand, I could look it up in one of the books in my library.  And if the answer wasn’t in any of the books in my library, I could zip down to the bookstore and find a book that had the answer.

The stroke has wiped out my technical library and I have become dependent on websites for learning about things I don’t know yet.   The problem is that websites generally focus on sharing what someone knows, rather than fully covering a topic.  As a result, the coverage of topics on websites is much more uneven and spotty than in books.

So how does someone create their own “secret advantage” ?  It’s very simple actually – just invest in a library of books that cover the subjects you’re interested in.  But the question is how to do it without breaking the bank.  In building my technical library, I became skilled at finding books that covered the areas of topics that I was interested in. I paid attention to which publishers published useful books and which publishers didn’t.  I learned how to identify how a book covers a topic – how much of the topic the book covers and how detailed.  Also how advanced (or not) the discussion was which usually identified how much understanding of the topic the reader was expected to already have under their belt.  While I am willing to invest in building a library, I don’t want to waste time and money (and space) on books that aren’t useful.

The idea is to find the best (most useful) book on a subject.  Beyond knowing publishers and writers, you have to sit down and read the book to see how well it covers the subject. Since it’s impractical to sit in a bookstore and read a whole book, I’ve developed a method of evaluating a book based on seeing how well it answers a question that I already have.  This is a good place to start because if a book answers one of my questions, it’s likely to also answer others.  I can also evaluate how accurate their answer is and how well they write.  Well, at least how well I understand what they write.

It would be really, really helpful if the on-line book retailers had a way to do this kind of evaluation over the net.

I need to explore the web for resources that would help me evaluate books.  The book sample features on amazon and barnesandnoble.com didn’t include enough of the books I looked at to answer my questions, which was disappointing.

If you know of an on-line resource that could help find and/or evaluate technical books, please share it with all of us in a comment to this article.

Until there is a way to find and evaluate technical books on-line, I’ll keep going to local bookstores where I can get books in my hands to evaluate how well they match my needs so that once again my technical library is a (not so) secret advantage for me.

Tame Your Email Inbox

Configure your email client to automatically move messages that aren’t urgent such as sales receipts, automated action notices and discussion group messages to folders so they can be dealt with in the appropriate time-frame.

Tune your spam filters to make sure they are getting rid of as much spam as possible.

Each day, go through your inbox from top to bottom and for each message:

  1. If you can deal with the message in 3 minutes or less, open the message and deal with it.
  2. If it will take longer than 3 minutes to deal with the message, move it to a “pending” folder.
  3. If you need something or someone before you can completely deal with the message, move it to a “pending” folder.
  4. Once done with a message, delete or move it to an archive folder.

And what to do when it gets out of control…

Once again, your focus is to re-establish control over the size of your inbox so you can manage it going forward:

  1. Move all the messages from your inbox to a new folder.  I usually name it something like “reset” followed by the date so I instantly know when my inbox was cleared.
  2. Send an email to all of the senders of emails still in your inbox, if you can actually figure out who they are, to warn them that your inbox has overflowed and if they haven’t gotten a response by now, it’s not likely they will get one.
  3. Resume your daily regimen of going through your inbox from top to bottom and leaving it clean.
  4. If/when you have time, work on your “reset” folder like you do your inbox.  If a message still has value, move it to the “pending” folder or an archive folder. Otherwise, delete it.

Tweaks For Gmail

Testing… testing…  Is this thing on? <thunk> <thunk> Ahh, folks, I’m still testing my gmail stuff so the article isn’t quite ready.  I’ll update it as soon as it’s done.   It should be soon…

Uhh, this article must be cursed.  Today I was trying to test creating filters and the “create a filter” link had disappeared!  Others have reported seeing (or not seeing) the same thing.  And the Google help is not very helpful about it.  More info when I learn more…

Thanks for your patience.


Personal IT, everyone needs it but who has it?

Before the stroke, I was the IT expert for family and friends.  Some time after getting home from the hospital, I realized that I don’t remember how to care for PCs and other computing equipment like I used to.  Now I’m like everyone else.  How do they handle keeping their computing environment going?

So, now I have to learn how to keep PCs and networks running (again.)  At least I used to know how to.  That means I know I can do it.  I just have to figure out the how.  🙂

First order of business is to find some mentors who can teach me and be a sounding board while I explore alternatives.  I used to have a bunch of friends in the business who had different expertise and we helped each other with  stuff that we knew that others didn’t know as much.  here was always at least one who could help me with a problem. But being out of circulation for 3 years means that I’ve lost contact with everyone – even if they know I’m not dead.  I guess I need to start emailing and calling old friends and associates.

IT is not that difficult.  You just need to be patient and solve problems. But it helps to have mentors that can help you with stuff you haven’t seen before; folks who can tell you when you’re on the right track or when you should try something different.  Maybe we can mentor each other.  As I re-learn this IT stuff,  I’ll post about it.  And if you know something, you can share it with all of us in a comment or guest post. TIA!  Not in the medical sense, in the Internet lingo sense for “thanks in advance!”  🙂