2017 Tech - Moving Forward

Submitted by john on Wed, 04/05/2017 - 14:28

Rant TimeThere is quite a lot of thought that goes into the tech items that I use. That combined with my expectations of modern technology closes a lot of doors on things that most people think is good technology. Here are some examples of why I choose the electron consuming items that I do:

First, I expect real time communications. If my email can be received on the other side of the planet in a few seconds, then there is no excuse for any processing time for anything. Processing time means that either the computer is not scaled to the task properly or human involvement was needed in the process. Take my bank for instance. They are also an insurance company. I fired the insurance company and had a balance of $150. I paid it internally from my bank account and the funds were taken out immediately. The balance didn't update to $0 for 3 days. WHY? Is it the bank account? No it isn't and I will tell you why. I went to Menards to get building supplies for my new office and bought too many drywall screws. Once the project was completed, I had 3 extra boxes of drywall screws so I took them back to Menards to get a refund for the excess supplies. This came out to a total of $16.44 that would be "put back on my card" as they put it. I agreed to this and completed the transaction and signed the receipt for the return. As I was walking to my car 3 minutes later I received a push notification through my banking phone app that $16.44 was deposited into my account from Menards. Hold on now. That was WAY too fast to have human interaction so it must be automated. There must be an API call or something that happened automatically that made this seem instant to me. 

My wife and I are very busy and my 4 children need our attention. My wife is working in the ER somewhere, God knows where since she travels, I am in an office cube typing up a storm and chewing through code, my oldest daughter is working her fast food job and attending college classes if she isn't at a friends house, my high school age daughter needs a ride, food ordered, and money for something, my son needs things for boy scouts, and my youngest (although not given a communication device yet) still needs to be talked about by the rest of us. That conversation usually is "I am on my way to the daycare to pick up the little guy." So, how do I rope all this together? Well, I have tried a bunch of different solutions. My boss made a statement that I absolutely adore and that is "Everything sucks. You just have to find the one that sucks the least." So, I am on a mission to find the technology to establish real time communications with my family with us all spread out and that was Apple. Droid just sucked a little too much for this. Don't get me wrong. I loved my droid phone and it was great for me. But it was a nightmare for my wife. She is a nurse with no spare time on her hands and doesn't want to tinker with settings and tweak her phone to work the way she wants. She needs something that will hit the ground running and does exactly what is expected. The real selling point was the amount of times I backed up contacts with Droid and restored them and ended up with duplicates or ones you just can't get rid of because they are stored out in Google land. Every time I sync with Google I get sad because it brings in contacts I can't seem to shake of people that have passed away. I don't want to see my grandmas contact in my phone. That sucks. When we switched to Apple, icloud.com was the selling point. I had an exercise of logging on with our newly created AppleID and entering all the contacts we wanted. Yes, my wife had a fit because she doesn't have time to do this all the time but I talked her into it once, and once was all that was needed. The proof was in the pudding when we upgraded from iPhone5 to iPhone6s and logged in. All of our contacts were there. All of our notes were there, the only thing that wasn't for me was my chat history but I was fine starting over. My wife, not so much. I had to restore her phone from her iPhone5 backup to get her history for chat. Still, not too bad of a process. I have everyone joined into a family plan and I have a FAMILY-CHAT group for announcements where everyone needs to engage in the conversation. My kids now have real time communications via chat / phone / facetime with us and it is glorious. 

Second, I don't want to be a mechanic that drives a beater that barely runs. If I am fixing everyone elses computers, phones, TVs, etc.. I don't have time for mine. So, I made the up front investment for a Macbook Pro. It has native BASH, native SSH capabilities, and has lasted from 2012 when I got it used (Late 2011 model) and I have no intentions of replacing it any time soon. I have moved my wife to a Macbook Air. The kids are using HP laptops and they are showing their age. The home lab is a beefed up set of rackmount servers running ESXI all behind a franken firewall monster. We have 1GB fiber coming in for an uplink and everything couldn't be looking better. 

Here is my get with the times soap box. 

1. Everything should be using SSL. There should be NO plain text protocols anymore. There is no excuse. SSL certs are free now with letsencrypt. 

2. Everything should be real time. If there is a human involved in the process, start automating that off if you can. This is banking transaction, voting, medical information, medication ordering, and so much more. 

3. Embrace online shopping with Amazon and Ebay and other sites. Malls are dying slowly. Outlet stores will hold on for a while then as shipping closes in even more, those will eventually die too. 

4. Phone calls. If you are calling from a number I don't recognize talk to my voicemail and identify yourself. Don't leave your number, I already have it. If I tap your number, it will call you back. If you fail to leave a message I will block you permanently. If you call from another number in the same phone block I will block the entire region code. If I feel like you are an important number to have I will create a contact and answer your next call. If I detect that you spoofed or masked your caller ID, I will permanently block you. Phone calls are cheap with advances in VOIP. An 800 number doesn't make you official. It did in the 80s and 90s, but now scammers have 800 numbers too. I block all toll free numbers. Call me from a real phone number with caller ID if you want a chance to talk to me. 

5. SMS is an option to talk to me. Businesses, check out twilio. You can send business text messages to any phone and have your desktop software talk to me. I can also ignore or block text messages so be sure to be official. Establish an SMS key on your web page that I can identify you by. Like redcloud and use it like this. 

"Hello, this is Janet from XYZ company. Our codeword is redcloud. Do you have a moment to chat?"

I would reply right back with, "Yes, or No" 

6. Emails. I am getting to the point where I don't like talking over email that is not encrypted with PGP. I have a key. Look it up and use it. If you send me an encrypted email the email background is red, my dock icon is bouncing, a sound alarms me, and I get a growl notification. If you want my attention, encrypt your message to me and I assure you your message is being read. 

7. Entertainment and IOT items. All the TVs and other items are not on my local network, they are in their own vlan and control is the only thing allowed through the firewall. I did this because my Visio TVs were doing some shady crap on my network. So I created a separate network for poorly or shady coded internet devices. 

8. 2 factor on everything. Different passwords for everything. And I am closing accounts that have password length limits. Especially when those limits are below 16 characters. If there is an 8 character max for passwords... ACCOUNT CLOSE.. I want nothing to do with them. Already, my username and password are all over the internet because other companies have no idea what information security is. 

9. Encryption at rest. Yes, I am encrypting everything. E V E R Y T H I N G. I wish everywhere and everyone else would.

Out of all the devices and we have many, we have 2 devices that have Windows on them. Those are my daughters laptops. My son installed linux on his laptop and has been rocking that flawlessly. I do have a couple virtual machines with Windows just for labs and stuff. Other than that, I have been much happier not dealing with Windows in my home. 

That is about it for my update. I am sure I missed things. But, meh.