Full Disk Encryption Please

Before I begin, please note that this blog article is focussed on macOS, modern systems, and not a powerbook from 10 years ago, or a Windows 10 machine. Sorry.

Let’s do this in two parts, one: Encrypt everything, this includes internal and external drives. And two: Have a backup duh.

Let’s start with the backup, it seems the most logical. I am sure I either have an existing blog article about this, or will write one in the near future. But it will come down to this: make backups! Perhaps at least get an external USB drive that’s fast and big, so you can have an automated archive from multiple months. Time Machine from Apple’s macOS can do it all for you. Any modern Mac system has a recovery partition and supports online OS installation. And for $50 to $100 you’re ready to go. Make manual backups as well. Don’t just trust Time Machine – just select what you never want to delete and store it on the external drive (or yet another one). Be paranoid, make a backup that you can store offsite. Just in case of a fire or theft.

Okay, assuming you care about your data and have a backup, encrypt your drives. In two parts: Internal drives and external drives. And at the least encrypt your external drives. They are easier to pick up by others, easier to forget, etc.

On macOS High Sierra for example (and older versions as well) you can just right click the mounted drive, select ‘Encrypt..’ and set a unique and strong enough password. Do not check the box ‘save in keychain’, either store it in a password manager like 1Password, or simply remember it. If you store it in the keychain, someone with your login can unlock keychain and get the passwords that way.

Ok, the internal drive isn’t a right click. You have to go to System Preferences and go to Security and Privacy. From there you can go to FileVault and turn on Full Disk Encryption.

The password for this is your login’s password. If your system will have multiple users (it should!) it will require you to enter those passwords as well. When it asks if you wish to unlock with iCloud or a recovery key: Please use a recovery key. Again, just store it in a password manager like 1Password as a secure note, so your other devices like another system, an iPhone or iPad can show you the key (and it’s stored in a safe place) or just write it down and keep it in your physical vault or something secure.

I think it’s fair to point out that encryption is important, and strong. You can’t just ‘can you fix it for me, I do not remember my password’, you HAVE to remember the password, and if you can’t then you MUST have that recovery key. So please do take this serious. Don’t be scared by it, but please be aware that you’re not just making a .zip file and can unzip it at any time. You’re garbling up everything for the right reasons and the only way for it to make sense is with a unique key that only you know.

What do we want to end up with?

A computer system that has full disk encryption turned ON for all the internal and external drives.

But it is scary!

Okay, what are you more scared of? Someone potentially having access to all your personal and private data, or turning on full disk encryption?

Have any questions, or want to get more information? Feel free to contact me and I’d love to help you improve your privacy and security. Encrypting your drives is one step towards less worries in the long run.

Something worth mentioning is wireless / bluetooth. If you have a usb keyboard and mouse connected to the built-in usb ports, things should be fine. But sometimes with non-stock USB keyboards and mouses, they might not get recognized. So please do have the Apple keyboard/mouse handy or a wired solution. Just in case.


Auto make directories for each month

Projects can come in any shape and form. From stuff for a friend, a screencast for tutorials, a blogisode or photoshoot. It doesn’t matter. They all have a few things in common: They take time to organize, because you have to import your data, process it, export it, archive it all and back it all up.

You’re literally wasting a lot of time doing simple and repetitive tasks. This blog article is to show you how to think outside of the box by using the command line interface (cli) to help you save time by being more efficient. And this one liner is the most simple example I could think of. Plus, I had to do this myself anyway.

Hopefully this little tutorial shows you how to think outside of the box and apply that creativity you have to improve your workflow so you can continue to focus on the content of a project, rather than the setup of a project.

Okay, what are we doing? We simply want to import data from a few devices that I took pictures, timelapses, videos, etc. with. To achieve this I have to have a directory for this year, with all the months inside of it. So I can make a directory for this project inside January, and start the import process.

Instead of wasting time manually creating all the directories one by one, hoping I am not making any typing errors, etc. I just use a small single line of code to do the work for me.

Here it is:

(IFS=';'; set -f; mkdir -- $(locale mon))

The result:


It’s not just 41

Boom, 40 in the pocket. Hello 41. Yep, holy smokes, I turned 41 today. (Happy Birthday Floris) “Thank you, thank you”. It’s indeed quite the achievement. But it’s not just about the age, it’s what it stands for.

Pssst, there’s an audible #blogiside video embedded at the end of this post 🙂

Being alone in life isn’t all that great, because life’s tough. rough, and unforgiving. But we fill it with those around us. Acquaintances, strangers that can become new friends, friends, who can become close friends. And of course family. Sometimes even a partner, for some a life partner. But it’s not just about that either.

At any age you have gained life experiences, you learned from trying a million things, and you figure out what you’re bad at, or really terrible at. What’s right and wrong, or what you’re good at, or actually have a talent for. And throughout life you learn from your mistakes, and you find happiness, .. but .. that’s not what this is just about as well.

We reflect on what we do, on who we are. We ask ourselves where we want to go, who we want to be. And there are questions you can never answer at any age. But once or twice in your life you find out a few things about yourself, about the environment you live in, and learn about what’s important. And we enlighten through that process. We figure out what we want, what our path is. Who is important in our lives, where we stand, what we want to aim for. How hard we have to work to achieve that. And eventually that comes with internal happiness.

For me, that’s what today’s anniversary is about. Who I am inside my mind. Where my ‘soul’, if you wish to call it that, is headed to. What I feel in regards to happiness and all that good and bad stuff. It’s not just about being 41 today, or having been here forty plus years and feeling ‘that’s me checking off that I’m probably halfway there’. It’s not about those negative experiences, lost loves, missed opportunities or sleepless nights. It’s about that feeling of being free in my mind, feeling rich in my soul.

No matter what. How can I not realise and think back about everything that I have done, and everybody that I have known (and still know of course), from friends, family, to even my pets. From hobbies that I had, to places I have been. How can I not realise how far I have come and know what privileges I have despite all the setbacks and feeling imprisoned by my visual disability and all the shit that comes with it.

Life’s rough, tough, and unforgiving. But it’s my life, and I can ignore or take opportunities that present itself. I can walk a path or choose to step off the yellow brick fucking road. I can stay, or leave and change it all. And it’s only been forty years of playing in the crib, sandbox, schoolyard, attic, online in virtual worlds, and feeling nothing but inspired, creative, motivated, and ready to discover and learn more. …

… You can’t take that away from me Universe, because it’s not just about being 41 from this point forward, it’s about having beaten you at your own game.

Because tomorrow, I am doing it all over again.


Etsy is still great

Quite some years ago when eBay and Amazon started doing their thing and companies would jump in and start selling their stuff, and consumers started selling their secondhand stuff on Ebay etc. I always felt something was missing. Just a site for you and me, for my friend who sells soaps, my buddy who sells retro computer art, or an uncle who might sell his paintings. And in my eyes, that’s what Etsy was when it started on the Internet.

I have received a few gifts through Etsy in the past (thank you friends!) and I’ve ordered a couple every other year or so. And I just did it again! It’s just so great to see what people make themselves and are able to sell. Even if they only have five unique things, or they make custom hand made leather straps just to pay the rent. I really like it.

Gifting someone something that looks handmade, but is of quality, and is much more personal towards that person, and is a bit more unique than mass produced items is so much nicer.

Way way back in the day I would go to those little stores in Amsterdam just to find this sort of stuff, and now I can get it from all over the world. Okay, when it comes to popular sites there might be some abuse, or weird companies that shouldn’t be on there. Just like eBay and Amazon – but I find it way less to be honest. So far I’ve yet to have a bad buying experience (fingers crossed the few orders I just placed haha; did I just jinx it).

The reason I mention Etsy in a blog article is not to advertise them, I couldn’t care less where you buy your stuff, I guess, because this is more about thinking what to get your family or friends for their birthdays, Christmas, etc.

It’s always so tough to figure out what to get them, but if you just go through Etsy and you see little things that make you go ‘oh that is so my sister’, you can consider getting it, and I think you end up with a much more personal gift that makes an impression than a pair of socks or a coupon for a book. And if you find something that’s handmade it’s more fun to discover as you unpack it.

For obvious reasons I can’t divulge what I just ordered, but I wish I had the money to buy it all twice – I’d love to have those things myself as well 🙂

Oh oh, what I can share, some things I got were a camera strap made of leather, some awesome matching decal stickers for my iMac and old Powerbook, and I once got my sister a handmade recipe book that looked really cool.

Have you ever sold or bought through Etsy? How did that go? Let me know! I am @floris on Twitter, Facebook and mrfloris on Instagram where you can certainly find some pictures about Etsy stuff I will get, because I think this year I will use that site a lot more.


Re-watching Friends

Those who know me from the millenium change, might know why it’s a big deal that I am re-watching Friends seasons on Netflix.

That’s all.

Wow, it’s been a decade.



I am bad at tidying up

Yeah, sorry.. I just am. While I try to do better, it’s just not really happening.

Things that I am bad at: Following through. I have the best intentions, and I try to do well (I will get to that in a second), but I find out over and over again I just keep falling behind. I just don’t follow through well enough. Also, when my mind is focussed on one or two things, the last thing I want to do is stop and take a break from that and walk through the rain to the container and throw my trash out. I am simply lazy and selfish on that point.

Stuff I am okay at: Building up to make things easier for me. An example, I try to use the leftover packaging like little bags or boxes to put stuff in that needs to be thrown out or tidied up. I try to gather things up together so it’s easier to handle and collect it in bigger trash bags or like a closet.

Wait, I think I am confusing people now. Sorry! I am talking about both throwing the trash out and keeping the place clean, as well as tidying up and keeping things organized and visually clean.

What I’ve learned over the years: My limitations because of my eyes. This forces me to spread what I do over the day, and do it when I can. Without it affecting whatever else I am doing after it. No use spending an hour cleaning if I am then physically ‘done’ for the next three hours with my eyes and I can’t do other stuff that’s equally important.

And an awesome tip: I’ve mentioned this in other blogs before: Through one advice by Adam Savage. Each time I walk back and forth between rooms, or I get up.. I pick something up if my hands are free. Getting a drink? Get up and pick up the old mugs and bring them to the kitchen. At least that’s done.

But, sigh, .. but despite it all, knowing my weaknesses and knowing my strengths in this regard to cleaning and tidying… I still fall behind. I just pile up on dishes, pile up on trash, pile up on stuff that needs to be put in their place, and whatever.

So this blog post is to publicly shame myself I guess, and to promise myself I will do better. And oh .. 2017 was already better than 2016. I made progress. I apply what I learn. But it’s far from perfect. So it’s time for me now to find this post next year and go ‘aw yeah, I did better in 2017 than the years before’ and hopefully have a nicer place to live in.

Maybe that’s why this blog is not as in-depth as the rest and maybe tomorrow there won’t be a blog. I might just walk away from the iMac and tidy up and throw things out instead. There’s certainly no blogisode for this blog article, because right now I am feeling motivated to publish this and clean up my desk a little bit.

Hopefully this post motivates you to think about how you are in your life when it comes to your work and living space and maybe reconsider how you keep it clean and tidy. Oh, got any tips? Follow me on twitter/facebook and let me know! (I am @floris).


Lazy, chilling out, movies and pizza

“Hey Siri, set my lights to pizza night” -ding, “okay”, as she replies from somewhere the lights change to chill settings, and I finish ordering my pizza.

Yeah, there’s not a specific blog article for today. I am being lazy. On purpose though. I just want to celebrate the new year, this first week, and have a bit of peace and quiet before my birthday and other upcoming stuff.

It’s all about bad food, but oh so good food. And cozy warm feelings, despite the harsh weather outside reminding me it’s the winter season. No cleaning, no tidying up, no dishes, no throwing the trash out, no bills, no checking of the mail, no phone calls, not accepting skype calls or reading messages. Just some tv series, movies, maybe some wine, and a few slices of pizza.

I slept in, woke up, turned around and just went back to bed after feeding the cat.

I plan to do the same again soon.

Movie’s over? TV season finished? Pizza’s gone? Okay.. maybe I will dress up really warm and go for a walk, come home to a hot shower, some light reading, and back to sleep again.

Sorry real life, you have to wait until tomorrow.


Minecraft Changelog

Yeah, I am still a kid inside, I like to play Minecraft. It’s fun. I like the concept of a world where you can break and take, place and change every block from top to bottom and make it your own. It’s the 16-bit version of the Matrix, and I have 24/7 access to it. But .. to be even more in control over this and give others a place to play: We run our own server. (yay) And as always with techy stuff, things change, so we keep a changelog. Well, to be honest, I try.

Psst, sorry for going off-track right away, but there’s an audible blogisode video at the end of this text, in case you rather listen than read.

This blog article is about keeping track of smaller and bigger changes that you can share with the public, on projects that you’re working on. Be it a game server or a website you’re running. Or maybe a do it yourself project at home or the garden you’re working on. We now live in a world where we tweet from the toilet that we had a great taco last night. But I rather try to be a bit more constructive and inspirational than that.

Not only is it handy to just keep track of things that you are doing, back to talking about Minecraft again, it’s nice to have a history of what you’ve done and how far you’ve come with it. Our server isn’t perfect. It’s not profitable. It doesn’t have hundreds of users on it. But it’s our server. And regardless of the amount of players, I like to take it serious enough to help me guarantee that me and my friends can do with it as we please.

When we have a call together we have the questions like ‘when did we do that? 2012? I don’t even remember!’. That’s why I started keeping track. I spoke with a few people and tried to put words to paper. (I will link the history thread in a second), and I’ve started solving this problem for the future when another five years pass, by keeping the history thread up to date and making a yearly changelog file with even more details.

And the benefits are huge! Not only do we collectively have a record later where we can see what happened in which year. Indirectly we keep better track of the plugins we’ve been and are using. Making it easier to ‘restore’ it if we decide to move it to a new computer, or if we take it offline for a few years and start it up again in the future. It is less buggy, it runs more stable. And as tech gets better we can do more with more features as well. And a lot easier. Stuff that we only dreamed off in 2011 when we started are super easy now, making it just a joy to (eh, for example) go back to older builds and continue our gameplay again, improving on what we made.

A changelog also gives me overview, it gives insight into what’s going on, where we are with the server, and what might be upcoming. Getting things done means it’s ready for the next thing. And end of 2016 when I started one for 2017. We went from an outdated server that was offline a lot to a modern solution with support for the latest Minecraft version and the server basically being online 24/7.

Oh, before I forget, another great benefit is simply that regular players can come online and check the forums to see if there’s anything new that we perhaps haven’t announced in the game. Yep, that bug is fixed now! Oh cool, that world is now open. Oh sweet, we have a new feature we can play with.

It’s also a lot easier for me to start another server based on the template(s) that we’ve created now, and it’s a lot easier to back things up more regularly. Together with a protection plugins it’s also easier to roll back abuse from griefing players, etc.

In other words, just thinking “huh, I should perhaps tell people what I am updating on the server, maybe with a changelog or something”, resulted in a fantastic year of playing Minecraft with my friends. And I made new friends as well! Welcome new players 🙂

Ok, let’s link to those threads: First of all, I run a community with Nikki and Mikey on, and we’ve merged our 1MB MC website into it, the URL redirects to the sub forum on it.

More about our Minecraft server (and how to play on it)

Our history thread (and what’s next)

And finally, the changelog (from 2017 and 2018)

Okay, I hope this information gives you a bit of insight on how I run my little Minecraft server for my friends. And hopefully it makes you think a little about keeping a record of sorts for your projects, and for your own reasons.


Tidying up 8TB worth of external drives

Way way back in the day my friend’s dad was quite familiar with how computers worked. He showed me how to open his beige case up and point out the individual components. I had no idea what he was talking about. But two things stood out to me, and since he said it I never forgot those words: One, if you can get more space, take it. And two, you will always run out. Stay organized and back it all up.

Over time I was introduced to a variety of computer systems and their operating systems. From Atari to Gateway, from Apples to Dells, desktops, laptops, netbooks, powerbooks, iPads, iMacs, .. and in 2017 I was able to do finally upgrade my old 24″ iMac from 2009 with a 27″ iMac from 2017.

Not only did this upgrade come with a much improved Intel CPU, and other faster internals. The screen went from an old fashioned 24″ to a 27″ retina 5k, and the internal drive from 640gb slow spinnable parts hard disk to a new Nvme 1TB SSD that’s significantly faster. Of course, the ports on the back went from USB2 to USB-C/USB3, which really helps as well. And the latter, that’s what this blog article is basically about.

Because from way way back in the day all the way up to this new SSD drive, I’ve had many drives. And because I’ve been quite picky with the ones I bought: They actually lasted! On top of that, my policy on how to deal with data apparently has helped as well. Which is: Each time I need a new drive, try to either buy one that’s dramatically faster, or if it’s for storage, then dramatically bigger. And get the data off of the oldest, smallest, slowest drive and then destroy that one (after it has served it’s purpose of being an ‘extra’ backup drive for a while. Any drive of course that shows any sign of breaking down is getting destroyed without remorse.

Okay, that brings us to today. The new iMac is here, and I’ve familiarized myself with it. And in the last six months I’ve been saving up to buy a few SSD drives (on the cheap) and a few usb-c and usb-3 cables (to sata3 adapter) to help me quickly connect these old(er) drives to the system. Excellent! It really works well, and I am very happy about that.

One extra thing that I had to do is split the dozen of drives in three piles: These are big and fast, these are new and faster, and these one or two are just terrible and have bad sectors and are falling apart.

The last pile I went through, got the data off of them that I wanted to keep, checked the data’s integrity and backed it all up. Then those drives were destroyed. They were too small to be used for backups, and too unreliable to be used for projects. To name a few things.

The pile of drives that were new and fast I’ve tested. The best performing ones I’ve put on the usb-c connection, and the bigger and a bit slower ones I’ve put on USB-3. The usb-c connected drives I basically consider internal secondary drives and I don’t remove those. They are quiet, all SSD as well, and I consider them part of the system. The other ones on USB-3 I consider media. This also means I can unplug them if needed, or at least unmount them. Sidenote: The usb-3 drives are pretty quiet, so it’s fine to have them on the whole time. Unlike the 4bay that I am mentioning next.

And that left me with 1 free usb-3 port, and a pile of drives that are older, slower, and of different sizes. And they certainly do not need to be connected all the time, or mounted all the time. In fact, they might contain data I don’t wish to have linked to a system that’s always on the Internet. My solution was easy: A four drive bay external usb-3 enclosure. And nothing fancy, no need for hardware RAID, etc. I really just wanted to put those four drives in there and have them mount, so I could access them. And it worked. It’s not too expensive (around 90 euro), and all my old 3.5″ drives mounted just fine. They sure are noisy though, geesh. But that’s okay. It’s a solution to a problem, and I only incidentally need access to those drives.

Assume everything is connected at the same time. All the ports in the back are occupied by external hard drives and SSD drives. What do we have?

Well, an internal 1TB drive, and on the usb-c ports I have both SSD, they’re 240gb and 525gb (my first time machine). Then the 3 usb-c ports have my LaCIE 500gb drive, my extra backup drive of 320gb that’s basically a clone of the LaCIE drive. And a 2 TB media drive that’s being used for projects, clips, photos, and what not. Yep, that’s already the first 5 TB of data.

The last usb-3 port has the four bay enclosure with inside it three 1 TB drives, and a 750gb drive. There you have it, the last 3, making it a total of 8 TB on this system.

Performance note: The internal SSD is the fastest, obviously. The usb-c ports are 10gbit, giving the really fast external SSD their best performance possible at 6gbit max. The usb-3 ports are 5gbit, but have older hard disk drives, at 6gbit, but of course at 5gbit max. Not that they can reach those speeds, but I thought it was worth mentioning it.

Why do I have it like this? Because this is what I can afford. We’re talking 150 bucks in enclosures and cables, versus a hardware RAID nas on Thunderbolt 3 with 2TB ssd drives etc. Something that’s too expensive, obviously.

Fine! What kind of speeds are we talking about? Well, the internal drive has read speeds of around 2500, the external ssd around 500, and the older drives around 100. The point is 50% performance, and 50% access to my data. Before this setup on the old system, I had a couple of usb ports with only 2 external loud enclosures, on usb2. And it was a terrible experience to make backups, and to do anything with the data. Now I have every drive connected to the system, and I can tidy things up. And whatever I don’t use daily I can just unplug. And the drives that do need performance are performing really well. Not only that, if I somehow get a 2TB sata3 drive, I just unplug the 240 and there we go, done.

Anyway, let’s move on to the tidying up of all this data.

My desktop finally has all those drives mounted, so first thing I did was change all the passwords on the encrypted drives to something new (so it was no longer a guessing game anymore since I never write these passwords down). And I made sure every drive that wasn’t enjoying full disk encryption is certainly encrypted now. At the same time I was also renaming them, giving them some tags, and simply making sure I know what’s on which drive predominantly.

I wrote down what type of data I might have, media, documents, music, you know, the works. And I’ve decided where to store what, how, and why. And just took it from there. No more ‘organize this folder’ directories spread all over these drives, but a central point where I can dump that and go through it. No more img_41.jpg files all over the place, but moved to a central point, organized by year and type (personal, private,.. etc) and if it was part of a project, properly organized and moved to the projects. All that sort of stuff.

But you can do that for days, weeks, probably years. Because, eight terabyte really isn’t a joke. It’s years of data, from 1995 onwards, even if it are just 3 files. Or a backup .zip from 2006’s old powerbook. A server .tarball.gz dump with databases and web server files, that’s encrypted and needs to be moved to the right place (and maybe there are 17 backups of it that need to be figured out). Not to mention checking file integrity, corruption (and avoiding it). While dealing with older and newer file system types.

At the same time the current system is trying to index all of this data, and keeping track of it. As well as backing it up on Time Machine, or at the least, I have to also back it up manually because I can’t depend on just that automated backup system from Apple.

I know, it doesn’t have to be finished tonight. And throughout the years I’ve attempted various times to address this problem. Now with this current solution of a faster system, more i/o with faster transfer speeds, and better ways of handling bigger data or massive amount of .txt files, etc. It’s a lot easier. And with all these drives mounted, there is overview as well. It’s no longer on a per disk basis.

That’s actually the other reason I write this blog article. To kind of show the importance of knowing what data you have, and to let you think about storing it, backing it up, organizing it. Letting you think along with me if you might have 3000+ pictures that need to be deleted, or.. moved to a project folder. What’s public? Personal or private?

Oh, let’s talk about that. Since a year or so I’ve moved more towards a system where I consider public data on my system stuff that I can just grab and share on social media, with friends or strangers. It’s already been vetted by me basically. Then there’s personal data, maybe that’s not really public, like a picture of my family dinner. But I can still share that with certain people. Like my family members or close friends. But maybe I would have to think twice about sharing it on the Internet or whatever. And there is private data. That’s just for me, my eyes only. By default this is where everything goes. Unvetted, so to speak. These can be screenshots of things I buy online, to personal conversations that are backed up (like an email thread or staff forum discussions) – things that aren’t meant to be shared with others.

This is a system that works pretty well. Everything that goes onto the computer one way or the other is by default private, until reviewed and considered public or personal. An example: You and I have a chat session over lunch about your new website. I give some pointers, we draw a couple of things on the iPad, and we take examples of the web for inspiration. This ‘concept’ data goes into the projects section, is considered private. There’s no big secret here, but it’s obviously not meant to be shared online. It’s your site in development, that’s nobody’s business. A project can always have an _export/ folder with _public/ content that eventually made it to social media after a private chat: “let’s post a sneak peak on instagram? sure!”.

Okay, so I have years of data, spread over various systems, loads of duplicates, loads of backups, and some of it is private, some of it is public. It needs to be tidied up. Now I can. At least, I can make a start, and I can do it a lot better.

And who knows, at some point in the future all these drives get replaced with a 10 TB external drive, giving me all those external ports back again. But at least I know what I will be putting on it. Oh, and if you want to help me out get to that point: Feel free to give me a personal gift of some money to save up for it, or perhaps the drive in question. I am always open to improving my tech stuff.

Back to tidying up, I’ve distracted myself long enough writing this blog article. And the backup has completed transferring between a couple of drives. It’s time for me figure out what to do with this archive of backups before I move on to the next thing.

Oh, if you have some computers, some hard drive, and no idea what to do. Hopefully this post can help you get started. If not.. contact me. I am sure we can talk about your personal situation and I’d love to give you some personal advice on what hardware to get (if any) or on how to get your data organized. And please, on macOS, just right click that external drive, select ‘encrypt’ and give it a password you don’t forget (and don’t have to share with others). It’s the first step to show that you actually care about your personal data.


Having a Sam day

Okay, bare with me on this one. Because this might be a bit strange to some that know me, but .. I might be offline for an hour or two. Hold on!.. hold on! I am okay! Don’t panic.

I am going to have what I like to call a “Sam Day”.

Psst, if you don’t want to read this all and instead listen to this second blogisode, check out the video at the bottom of the page 🙂

Samantha, a friend of mine, has this company called ‘SamCoaching’. Which is about helping each other make career choices, etc. One of the things that she does that stood out, is something that I try to apply once in a while.. For a couple of weeks she goes offline on purpose, to step away from tech and social media and such.

Well, actually. I try to think about that myself and then purposely decide to turn off all my devices. Maybe once a week, once a month.. sometimes once an hour. I just need to unplug from the Matrix. Let’s link to her page if you’re interested in more info, (but then come back ok? :p This blog is about ME ME ME).

Let’s quote her: “Your online should help improve your offline” (something along those lines). And I agree. Your offline life shouldn’t suffer from being online the whole time. Instead, what you do online should simply help you with your offline (stuff). Am I making any sense? Well, it makes quite a bit of sense to me.

Anyway, she encouraged us on her Facebook a couple of times in 2017 to just go offline for a few weeks. And I ignored that. A few weeks? YEAH RIGHT .. I am far from being able to do that. But I didn’t really-really ignore it. If you have been following my blog over the last couple of years you might have read about this topic a few times. I’ve mentioned that I just want to go for a bike ride, a walk, or just turn off my tech stuff, and go enjoy doing offline things.

But .. I can do it much more right? And more on purpose, .. longer? The new year seems like a great excuse.

So yeah, today I am having what I have noted on my #todo list as a ‘sam day’. It simply means that I try to put my tech away, I turn on do not disturb or even airplane mode and just stop caring about notifications and social media replies. And all that stuff that’s just so distracting. A little me time for a healthier mind isn’t a bad thing, and instead of sitting down behind a computer for an hour, .. walking for an hour helps me physically as well.

And sure, I can’t do two weeks, like I said, I socialize online, I teach myself things online, I help others online with their stuff, .. all sorts of things: Tech is important to me. Walking away from that means I feel a tiny bit more unhappy throughout the da… wait, am I? How the hell am I supposed to know? I don’t actually stay offline long enough to find out. This year I want to find a balance that works, for all those reasons. And Sam’s that great mental reminder. Oh, and she said she also calls it SamCoaching once in a while and sam is from samen (together), so I guess I have to go offline and socialize there a little more as well.

Here we are, online, writing this blog. But, when I went to bed last night I turned off my devices, and I left it off when I woke up. I took a few hours to tidy up the place and play with kittycat (She’s @SashaPurr on Twitter by the way), and I only turned on my phone to start an hour long podcast. Which I listened to while having a walk outside.

Remember 2016? It was such a lovely day to go for a bike ride.

What do we have this year?

So yeah, it wasn’t the most wonderful walks of all. But it was nice to listen to some podcast and not think about social pokes, or items on a todo list or anything like that. And the audio was a great distraction to make time fly. It made walking easier. I can’t wait to do it again soon.

Maybe Sam didn’t mean it like the way that I apply it, but .. using my tech to get me online to get a podcast downloaded that I could listen to offline to be more offline. That worked for me. :p

Surely this one hour this year is nothing compared to what the Spring and Summer seasons might be when it’s even nicer to go for even longer walks, but it’s a start.

“Hey Siri, set a weekly reminder to have a Sam day”. And maybe eventually I’ll make that a daily thing.


I cannot stress enough: password manager

Because people hate reading, I will just simplify this and then get into it a bit deeper.

1- Get a password manager, and use it!
2- Use unique, long and strong passwords (with a couple of exceptions) with 2FA.
3- Stop coming to me if you don’t listen, I am tired of solving your stupidity.

Psst! This blog post has a unique podcast style audible version at the end. You don’t like reading? Check out the video!

Yes, I am being rude, but I continue to receive weekly requests to help people out with their account problems online. And while I love to help my family and friends, it’s not needed. I am literally wasting my time. Because despite that I harp on this over and over again: You still use the same easy to guess password everywhere. Or you simply don’t use a manager and you can’t even remember which email you’ve used to sign up with in the first place.

And how do I solve this problem for you? I hack you. Basically. And it’s not even a hack. I just go online and check known sites where they have multiple gigabytes of databases with your email address in it. And trust me: It’s in there. If the password is old, I just wait two months, because another big site will leak their data and we have the newer one.

How is that even possible? Simple: Websites don’t always anticipate their success. They start with an idea, put a user system to it, apply basic authentification and then go through stages of upgrades and updates. But security isn’t being taken serious. They think encryption is fine. Well, sure, it can be. If you don’t store the decryption keys on the same system. They get hacked, and yep, the hackers just decrypt the data using the key provided by the company itself. Or, they only use an old hashing system. Their developer thinks md5/sha1 hashing is ‘good enough’, but it’s so outdated you can just look it up on a rainbow table (as they call it) and match a hash to a known entry. There are numerous examples like this. And trust me: malicious users target popular sites. And they do get in. Ask Facebook, ask LinkedIn, ask Twitter, ask PayPal, ask your bank for crying out loud.

It’s annoying, and it’s harder, and more time consuming to have different passwords for various sites with additional layers of security, and extra encryption or hardware keys for two step authentification, or an app on the phone for two factor auth. But sorry, it’s what is needed.

Who cares! I got nothing to hide. Is that a challenge? Want me to tell your husband who you’re actually talking to on Facebook msg? Because you use the same password on a gaming website that stored their passwords in plain text? Want your boss to get copies of your emails about your political opinion (where you’re not holding back because you think you’re talking to a brother or whatever) and your email password is the same as that LinkedIn password from a few years ago? Imagine how long malicious people might have already been inside your accounts and you haven’t even noticed. Just waiting for you to share your credit card details with your dad who needs help online.

Stop scaring me! Sorry, I am not. It’s the reality of the world we live in. And malicious people don’t care about you – they care about your identity, your PayPal login that’s linked to your bank with a 50,000 credit limit. They care about your business account for insider information to make stock choices that can ruin your boss’ company and make them rich.

Ignoring it is fine, as long as nothing happens. But don’t call me anymore please to help you out when it goes wrong. I’ve done it for so long and by now the Internet has matured enough that it’s mainstream to every generation. All our operating systems are online, with in the cloud features, syncing, family sharing, etc. Your grandma on her iPad watching Netflix.

When something happens now, I just want to say: You knew this, you’ve chosen to ignore it. Please contact me before anything happens – so we can talk privacy and security and help lower the risk of compromise, lower the damage, help you stay in control a bit more.

So 1. Get a password manager. They’re much more affordable than the damage from a stolen identity. And they are cross platform these days as well. Get a family account, so you can help yourself and your family members. Just write down in a login the name of the thing you signed up on, the url to find it, the username you created, which email you signed up with. What password you set, which security questions and answers, write down those 2fa backup codes, if you can turn on 2FA and note down that you have 2fa turned on or off.

2. Most password managers hook into the browser, you can just copy paste long, strong, unique passwords of 32 characters of shit and never remember them. You have an app that works and does it.

Which app? 1password (from agile), get the stand alone version.

3. If you do desire to get some help, I’d love to help. I have no problem giving you security and privacy advice on the Internet. I am always open to help share what I have learned myself.

Oh, and you’re so perfect? No, my details are out there as well. Because I sign up on loads of sites and they all get compromised and have their data leaked online – nothing I can do about that. But I moved to 1Password, and use 32+ character long strings – and I change them every 6 to 12 months. And I’ve been using a password manager for years now. Which is why it’s such a surprise to me that you haven’t yet. I blog about this every year, I tweet about that every year. I post warnings on Facebook, every year! When are you going to finally take your online presence a bit more serious?

(Don’t get me wrong, in case of a compromise or data leak you are not at fault, you’re the victim, but instead of panicking if your password that’s now public is going to be a problem, you should ‘only worry’ and you should only have to change it knowing it didn’t affect your banking, email, business accounts, etc)

How to get 1password? I want to be clear, many password managers out there use their own site for sharing the vault with your data. I am utterly against that. Agilebit has changed in the last year to a subscription model and I am not too happy about that. I want the vault on my systems and my systems alone. There’s no need to put it on Dropbox, iCloud, or Agile’s own servers. No matter if I hold the decryption keys and they claim they’re the best in the business. I’ve learned to never trust anybody. (Thank you Steve Gibson “trust no one” TNO) But 1Password is the only one who does properly secure the data you enter in the vault. And their apps work on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, .. and they still sell the standalone version.

They’re hiding it on a phycologically ugly old page away from their frontpage. But you can get it here:

However, they do sell the subscription model if you trust that. You will have more convenience of them handling a lot of the backend, but in exchange you give them your data in a vault to access through the web as well. What you do is your choice, but this year I still recommend to sync local over your lan with the standalone 1Password version on a Mac and with iOS.

One reason I am against giving them my vault is when they said (not a direct quote) “it doesn’t matter if we get compromised, if the malicious people have your vault they still cannot get into it”. Yeah.. famous last words. Who cares if I am the only one with the master password, and that they cannot get into it. That blob of data is still my whole life – every account and bank details, credit cards, etc that a malicious person has a copy of. I want to know there are 3 copies, one on this mac, one on my iPhone and one in my mind. Go with the standalone.

Anyway, I am going on a tantrum (and I can! this is my blog, *scoffs*)

There are a few exceptions to my preaching, when it comes to unique and long strong passwords of a billion characters, etc. The master password. Your Apple ID, .. stuff that when you think about it you can NOT copy/paste from a password manager. Through examples: You can not get a copy of your Apple ID from the password manager if you can’t download the app on a new device. You have to login to your Apple ID to download the app in the first place. (Yes, there are ways around that obviously) And you can’t get a copy/paste of the password managers’ master password because you need to open the app first. Duh moment here!

In those cases I do recommend to either apply common sense to create something that you know and others can’t brute force too easily. Avoid mega complex long strings that you can forget, because you shouldn’t forget those important passwords. But of course, these passwords obviously do matter, they are the access to so so much more. Your Apple ID should be strong and unique, but not too complex that you can’t figure it out. So either have it also on the app on your phone so you can read it from the screen and still semi easily type it over, or write it down somewhere and store that in a safe place.

And I can get technical here, because there are more of these situations: Start your computer (you need a bios password), your operating system loads (you need to login to your account), you mount a hard drive (it’s encrypted, you need a password for that), and you need to get into iCloud (your apple id is needed a lot), and your password manager (has a master pass you need). After all that, you’re ready to get into your email finally.. PFF, but let’s keep it simple. I know almost nobody cares about their precious data they don’t back up (yes, I judge all of you!) so nobody has a strong computer login, almost nobody has full disk encryption, and nobody has a bios password set. So I am sticking in this blog post to your master password and the apple id. (if you’re on windows, you’re in a whole different world of pain, please please use a password manager).

Anyway, my point was that there are a few exceptions. And that managing your online presence isn’t easy or convenient. But it’s a lot easier than problem solving.

Wow, made it to the end! Thank you for reading, and despite my cynical look on things, or my negative attitude: I mean well. I want you to not be a victim of data leaks and account compromises, and I could go on for hours – but it starts with taking your online presence serious and using a password manager.


About a dozen Pringles boxes

Surely enough I’ve mentioned this on at least social media, if not on my blog somewhere: I find creative ways to save up a bit of money. In the past I’ve simply created a second bank account for saving up for my iMac. I’ve also bought little mini box with layers in it to put stickers on to have goals to save up. And this time around I’ve gone a little crazy: Pringles boxes to the max.

Pringles has those cylinder shaped boxes for their chips. And throughout 2017 I’ve been buying their smaller versions and kept them for a Dutch Sinterklaas project. That’s over now. And I have the boxes left over. Perfect. Now I can start saving in them in 2018. Voila, it’s 2018 now.

A year has 12 months, I have 12+ boxes, it’s meant to be (angel music starts playing).

They’re a messy pile on my kitchen table so I am not going to include a picture of it, you have to use your imagination this time. But basically they will end up in my closet or something with a bit of paper in them with a goal. And that’s it. When I get home I check what money I came home with and spread that around those boxes. Slowly saving up for those goals. Cheating isn’t possible. I can’t put 10 euro in one box knowing what’s inside it, because I want it more. Nope, the papers go in the boxes folded, the boxes go randomly in the closet. And throughout the year I just put the money I come home with in it.

Maybe I end up with just a euro in 12 months from now, but my aim is a bit higher.

Why so many boxes? Because it makes me realise I need ‘more’ pieces of money to be able to fill up more boxes. Just one means I can be mentally content with just dumping in the 10 or 50 cents and forget about it. Maybe keep the 2 euro in my pocket for bread the next day. Nope, not now. Now I put the 10 in one, 50 in the other and the 2 euro in the third. Just how it is. Tough luck for me.

Why am I so stupid doing this? Because saving is tougher and tougher, and I have tried to lower my bills, be more aware of electricity and water / heater usage, and all that. But in the meantime everything gets more expensive; Making saving money even harder than the other year. I don’t mind struggling a little bit, but only if there’s something at least at the end of the rainbow. And I don’t mean a bigger bill. I mean a few boxes with some extra cash in it.

What am I saving for? Whatever! Lunch with the family, a birthday party, Christmas in France riviera, a new pencil, or some paint for the bedroom. It doesn’t matter. My todo/wishlist is big enough and only growing – and surely not getting any less.

This also forces me to mentally be more aware of what I spend, how I spend it, and when I get home after spending money that I don’t spend the leftovers the day after but that I use it for more important things at the end of the year.

And if this means I can’t buy the bread tomorrow, maybe that will make me buy cheaper bread, or at least buy smarter on my groceries. A box of rice maybe, instead of potato wedges. A bottle of lemonade or box of tea, instead of two cans of cola. Heck, it might even be better for my health that way as well.

So yeah.. I might have a closet somewhere with little boxes filled with coins and paper money by the end of the year. The hardest part is that when I need money for super serious things and bills like rent, that I don’t touch these.. They are considered to be input only.

“Hey Sir, set a daily reminder at 5 pm to save a bit of money”, “ok, but Apple already has all your money” DAMNIT SIRI