What is the Internet of Things?

4 May 2016 Leave a comment
In the past, technology was relatively simple; you just connected your computer to the Internet and used it for your daily activities. However, technology became more advanced when mobile devices came into our lives, devices such as smartphones and tablets. These
devices put the power of desktop computers into our pockets. While far more mobile, these devices also brought their own, unique security challenges. The next big technical advancement is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things, often shortened to IoT, is all about connecting everyday devices to the Internet, devices from doorbells and light bulbs to toy dolls and thermostats. These connected devices can make our lives much simpler; for example, having your lights automatically activate as your phone recognizes when you get close to home. The IoT market is moving at an amazing pace, with new devices appearing every week. However, like mobile devices, IoT devices also come with their own individual security issues. In this newsletter, we help you understand what those risks are and what you can do to secure your IoT devices, your home, and your family.
Categories: security Tags:

Trim Scare

22 April 2016 Leave a comment

I’d done everything else recommended by the CG Method: toss out sulfate and silicone products, figure out your best washing schedule depending on my own hair’s needs and transition, don’t use a brush & only use a wide toothed comb in the shower (if at all), and scrunch with a t-shirt (instead of a towel) to dry my hair. I had done everything else, except get my hair trimmed.

The trim had me nervous. I knew I needed it – I had needed it for a while. Before, I’d have said something like, “I need less hair. Let’s lose the curls, but not so short that it spikes.”

Now that I have fallen in love with my curls, I had a (silly) fear that the curls would not come back, so I made a plan: Only cut half-an-inch off the tips, to get rid of the split and stripped ends that fray and add to my fuzzy mane plus a little off the left and right back corners to shape it up.

I went to Head Start, where I have gone for the past 5 years, hoping they might be understanding about my new curly head. keep-calm-live-curly

I walked in and she said, “Hi. I have never seen your hair that long.”
She asked about my curls and what I wanted. She listened, asked questions, and did what I asked. I left feeling very good about the experience – until I got to a bathroom and looked in a mirror, again. The cut was good and shaped well, and my hair was wavy, but there were no individual curls anywhere. I told myself it was due to her spraying it and pulling the hair during the cutting that separated the curls. It would be alright. Worse case, it would grow back. I put it out of my mind and went on with my day, avoiding looking in a mirror the rest of the day.

This morning, I conditioned my hair in the shower and scrunched it with a t-shirt. I stepped out and wiped off the mirror, then I grinned at myself. If anything, I might have had more curls this morning than before the trim. Before the trim, I could feel my hair slap my ears when I shook my head, today, I feel my curls brush against my ears.

 

Categories: health Tags: , ,

Curly Guy – Week 1

20 April 2016 Leave a comment

CG, Curly Girl, Curly Guy…. Get it? Good.

According to the CG Method, the first 1-3 weeks can be a “transition” as the scalp and hair get used to the change in washing frequency and product(s) used, mostly as the oil production levels out when not being stripped by sulfates and hair not being smothered by silicones.

I was rarely in the habit of washing my hair every day, preferring every other or third day between shampoos. My hair washing frequency was dictated by the point when I could not stand the oily state of my hair.

I have learned, from the book and online research, that the overly oily state of my hair was
mostly my fault: Washing with a sulfate shampoo stripped the natural oils and my scalp made extra oil to try to replenish what was lost.

co-washAfter dumping my shampoo, I went looking for something I could use that was CG friendly. After a false start trying something that made my curls feel wonderful, I found out that it contained a silicone, so I kept looking. Again, after much reading, research, and comparison, I settled on a Co-Wash – Shea Moisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser

Sunday, I co-washed my hair for the new week. Monday, I got up and my hair stuck out in crazy directions. It was curly, but I couldn’t go to work looking like a mad scientist, so I co-washed again. My hair was clean and wonderful. I went to work feeling better after a shower than I had in a long time. Tuesday morning came and my hair looked good-ish, but lacked the curly freshness of Monday, so not knowing what I could do, I co-washed again and headed off to work.

Tuesday, through still more reading, I alleviated my concern of “over-conditioning” my hair (okay, laugh it up, but having never conditioned my hair before this, I just didn’t know.) Additionally, I found out that many other “curlies” seek something that they can apply, spray or spritz to their hair on the 2nd or 3rd day to revive their curls, too.

Since I don’t, typically, move a lot while asleep, I made a concerted effort, Tuesday night, to smooth my hair against the pillow before I went to sleep. This morning, my hair was mostly in the right places – nothing sticking straight up – so a few spread-finger fluffs to wake up my curls and I was ready to meet my day.

I’ve only been at this for a week, but my transition, probably helped by my not stripping my hair every day, is going pretty smoothly. I still need to get my long needed trim, but I’m thinking that I just need that – a trim – instead of a chopping of everything that even looks wavy.

I’m not looking to get crazy paying all this attention to my hair, but like anyone, I want my hair to look good.

Categories: health Tags: , ,

New Hair Day

16 April 2016 Leave a comment

Call me late to the party. Call me short-sighted. I have now opened my eyes and am ready to face some truths.

My realization started when we buried my father. It is still painful thinking back to that day and the preceding 2 months. He went in for his second knee replacement. Following a very successful surgery and first physical therapy session, he lost consciousness, never recovering and finally passing 72 days later, a month before his 76th birthday.

My father was regarded by most people as the “real” Santa Claus. His full belly, bushy natural beard and white hair hanging to his shoulders added to his demeanor to complete the picture in a lot of people’s minds as what constituted Santa and Dad embodied it all.

Following the burial, I got busy and though needing a trim, I just didn’t get my hair cut. As my hair gets a little longer, it gets a lot thicker and curls on the ends, despite my best efforts all my life to eradicate the curls. (Thanks, Dad). My 49th birthday came and went and still I didn’t get the needed trim. By this time we were in the throes of trying to sell our old house. I kept putting off a haircut until after the house sold.

As my hair continued to grow, the long hated curls came into full bloom, moving past the curly tips and a consistent wavy to my hair and developing into loose curls all over my head.

Getting dressed one morning, I was looking in the mirror and wondering what I could with my new-found “curly-ness” to make it behave. I did the only thing I could do on days like this, I washed it to get it to lay down and brushed it flat before heading to work.

Later, researching what I could do with my hair, I happened on references to a book called Curly Girl: The Handbook, having been recently updated. Intrigued by a chapter in this book for men with curls, I picked it up and gave it a quick read.

I was shocked to find out that I wasn’t as ecological as I thought I was. I, of course, knew about the sulfate poisons in laundry detergent and had not used them in years, but I didn’t think of the same things being in my shampoo. I was informed that Sulfates were as bad for people as they were for the environment and unnecessary.

The book opened my eyes and I found curls in my mirror to be cherished and celebrated, instead of being cut and “chemmed” out of existence. I am finding the courage to not fight my nature as a curly head.

I have tossed my sulfate ridden shampoo, actually going no-poo until I can find a curl friendly sulfate free shampoo, for those times I really need a good hair cleansing. The rest of my family had already gotten this message, it seems, as they had switched to Wen, dumping their shampoos over a year ago. Okay, I’m late to the party, but give me enough time, and I’ll figure it out.

I’ve said NO to Sulfates and YES to my natural curls.

Categories: health Tags: , ,

Writing 101 Day 10

16 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice.]

 

This will sound odd to a lot of people, but the special occasion was eating out. There was not one particular food, but the rarity of eating at a restaurant.

 

I did not see us as poor or rich. I thought we were just like everybody else, at least until I was in middle school. Dad traveled a lot for work, so he would drive out early Monday morning and return sometimes very late Friday evening. Many early mornings, in the dark small hours, we would be in the car dropping or picking Dad at the airport. On the weekends, we would do all the normal chores around the house and yard. Additionally, we would spend weekends at my maternal grandparents’ farm, where we would plant and weed, then pick, shuck, peel, cook, can, and freeze anything that came out of the garden. Also, we burned wood in the fireplace, at home, so we would spend most winter weekends and some in the late fall on the land around the farm cutting, chopping, stacking and restacking wood to keep us warm through the cold times.

 

Because Dad traveled all week, staying in hotels and eating out all the time, what he really wanted, when he came home, was a home-cooked meal. We, rarely, ate out.
When we did, whether fast food, because we had a coupon, or some sit-down restaurant, it was always a special time.

Categories: series Tags: ,

Writing 101 Day 9

16 June 2014 1 comment

[Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View

For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park.

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.]

 

Chapter 1: The Man

 

“If I can just undo this button, and loosen my tie, I’ll be more comfortable,” I say to myself as I stand next to the car.

I glance at my watch, wondering if I’m late or early. The watch shows 12:15, just as I hear the chime tower ring once. I look around and see her, standing at the sidewalk intersection, watching me. I give her a quick wave and almost jog the two dozen steps to her. Bending over a little to kiss her in greeting, she hesitates a second and then lifts her chin to meet my lips. I think, “She has always been a little uncomfortable with public displays of affection.”

 

She begins walking, away from the chime tower, into the park. I fall into step beside her. Normally, my strides are longer than hers, but I match her strides so we can walk easily together. We walk for a minute in silence, just enjoying our time together. As busy as we both are, we get so few opportunities to just spend time.

 

Rounding a curve in the path, I notice an old woman sitting on a bench in the shade of a large oak tree. Though the weather is warm today, the leaves are beginning to fade to gold, red, and burnt orange. A month earlier it would have seemed out-of-place, but the small red sweater the old woman is knitting could be for a grandchild or pet. How thoughtful and loving of her to put her time and energy into such a wonderful gift. The old woman looks up as we approach. She reminds me of Aunt Mabel. The woman looks familiar, but I cannot place her. Maybe I have seen here in the park before.

 

As we walk past the woman, my love sees her but then returns to her thoughts. I reach out and take her hand as we walk together. Intertwining our fingers, I give her hand a little squeeze, and noticing that she seems bothered, ask, “Honey, You seem like something is bothering you. Want to talk about it?”

 

At first she doesn’t answer, only walks ahead. After another dozen steps, she pulls her hand out of mine and walks a little faster. Chalking it up to public displays again, I don’t give it any thought, but hurry to catch up with her. She stops at a chunky fence post. The fence surrounds some historical marker. I catch up to her and she turns to me.

 

Since the hesitant kiss when we met, this is the first time she has looked at me. She looks at me for five seconds before she starts speaking. There is something about the look in her eyes: determination, resignation, compassion, that tells me everything in one big chunk. I know she is speaking, explaining, but I cannot hear the words. I want to remember her face, but everything starts to get blurry and I cannot seem to catch my breath. The ground doesn’t feel real anymore. Maybe, I’m dreaming and I will wake up at any moment. That’s it! This is all just a dream.

 

Everything goes from blurry to dark, and I think, “Good! I’m waking up now.”

 

Chapter 2: The Woman

 

Seeing him drive up and park, I panic.

“Why did I ask him to meet me at the park? I don’t think he has seen me, yet. I could, just, leave and call him to say I was held up and we will talk later. He’s getting out of his car. I have to leave. It has to be now! Go!”

 

I will never know why I didn’t leave. I love seeing him. After all this time, he still thrills me with a glance. I don’t think I have ever told him how much I enjoy being with him. Whether we are watching a movie, driving someplace, shopping, or just sitting in the same room reading books. I, simply, adore this man.

 

Lost in the thought, I delay and he sees me. I cannot leave, now. His face breaks into a huge smile and he waves a little wave as he walks up, almost jogging, as he unbuttons his top button and loosens his tie. I, really, should leave. We should do this in private, but as I’m thinking of how to explain this, he leans over and puckers his lips. After a second more, I tilt my head back and accept the peck.

 

“Well,” I mutter, “We’d better get going,” and I walk down the path. It takes him a second to catch up with me and falls into step with me.

 

“Is he making fun of my short legs? Why is he shortening his steps to match mine? I know I’m short. I’m doing the best I can.”

 

“I don’t want to do this, here, but we are here and it needs to be done. He wouldn’t forgive me if he found out from someone else. Well, he, probably, would forgive me, but I could not forgive myself.”

 

Walking along the path, I sense him look up at something. Looking up I see Mary, Aunt Mabel’s friend, sitting in the shade on a bench, knitting something. I think it is a red sweater for, by the size of it, Mary’s granddaughter, Krystal. I wonder, for a moment, if Mary knits a red sweater for Krystal every year, because their Christmas card, had the baby in a red sweater. Mary looks up and catches my eye. I cannot hold her gaze and look away.

 

He reaches out and takes my hand, “Oh God, I have to get this over with.”

 

After a few steps, he squeezes my hand and I cannot stand it anymore. I pull my hand free and jog away.

After only a few steps I feel my lungs begin to burn and swear at myself for not keeping in better shape. After a few more steps, I stop to lean on the fence surrounding the monument to the fallen, gasping for breath. It only takes a few seconds before I hear his big feet pounding up behind me.

 

He asks me if there is anything wrong and did I want to talk about it.

 

Railing inside my head, “Anything wrong?! Only everything that could have gone wrong has and you don’t know it yet, but you are, really, never going to forgive me. Even if I told you that, you would disagree, but you’d be wrong.”

 

I turn to him and trying to keep calm, I take a second, then summoning all my love, I look into his eyes. Before I can speak, his eyes fill and overflow with tears.

 

I lay it out for him. Part of me thinks while my speech, so well rehearsed, continues without much thought, “Was I that transparent? How could he have known? Oh, God!”

 

His tears run on and a sob squeaks out before he collapses, landing in a heap in the grass.

 

Chapter 3: The Old Woman

 

Thinking to myself, “Finally, I have some time to work on this sweater. Last month it was so hot that I could barely touch the yarn, but next month could be too cold for me to enjoy the sunshine and do this thing for my angel.”

 

“The leaves are changing again. Every year, with only a few exceptions, it is the same thing: A month of nice weather in between the deadly heat and the bitter cold. Maybe, I should think about moving to Arizona. It would be nice to see the kids more than twice a year.”

 

A young couple come into view. The man, loosened at the collar, but otherwise his suit looks clean and pressed, is following after a pretty young woman, her yellow sun dress is cheerful and her sneakers are white and clean. I glance at my knitting, it would not do to get distracted by gawking at other people and make a mistake.

 

After checking that my fingers are doing fine on their own, I look up at the young couple again. Nearer this time, the taller man is taking short steps so that he can stay beside the much shorter woman. After a moment, I realize that these people look familiar. Looking down at my knitting, I think it over for a moment and realize that the woman is Julie, Mabel’s niece. They come close, passing in front of the bench where I sit, but as I catch Julie’s eye to say hello, I pause. The look in her eye and the way she is walking tell me that something very wrong.

 

The man, grasps Julie’s hand. Though I can tell she cares for him, the contact makes her very uncomfortable. Within a few steps, she pulls away and runs up the hill toward the monument.

 

Mabel would not would not forgive me if I didn’t try to help, so I wrap up my knitting and put it in my bag. Standing, I hurry up the path after the couple. After a minute, my old legs bring me within earshot of them, standing by the fence. I slow to a normal pace, willing to walk past if nothing turns out to be, actually, wrong.

 

As I approach, the man asks Julie a question. Her shocked reaction fades into a muted expression, like that of a newscaster reporting on the day’s horrors. As I approach, I begin to catch words, “sorry… just happened… didn’t know how to tell you… hope everything is going to be alright….”
The man began crying the moment Julie began speaking, and after only a few seconds, he simply collapsed on the ground. As I rushed the last few yards, I caught the last word Julie said, “baby.”

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Writing 101 Day 8

13 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.]

 

Walking toward the front door, the windows reflect the midday back to me. The cars sit in their slots, silent, baking in the sun. Averting my gaze from my own eyes, knowing why I’m here, I feel a little embarrassed, but press on, opening the door for a woman leaving as I’m arriving.

 

She mutters her thanks as she glances in my direction, not meeting my eyes, but returning to the phone in her left hand as she walks the three steps, before checking her coffee as she steps off the curb returning to her car and her life. Watching her go, her blonde hair, wrapped in a tight braid laying across her left shoulder sports a crimson ribbon at the tip, catching the afternoon breeze. The breeze catches a scent, whether from her shampoo or perfume, I do not know, but the scent reminds me of wildflowers and clean sheets drying in the sun.

 

Turning back to the door, seeing no one else leaving, I pass into the comparative dimness of the cafe. Though I am expecting it, the scents of brewing coffee, steaming milk, and the wake of her recent passing, assault my nose.  I turn to the left and find a seat in the corner, outside the view of the staff behind the counter.

 

Slinging my red backpack off my shoulder, I sit in the brown leather chair, the leather creaking and rustling in that comfortable, familiar way only leather can. The seat is warmer than I would expect. I wonder, to myself, if the blonde sat in this spot. No one is sitting near nor keeping an eye on the chair, as if for a friend, so I settle in, pulling my white Chromebook out, laying it across my lap. Trying to keep my eyes away from anyone else, I pull out my headphones, don them and plug them in. No one has to know that they are for the camouflage. I suspect people will not notice me, if they think I cannot hear them. All situated, I lift my eyes and, meeting no one’s gaze, survey the room.

 

To my right, in the opposite corner along the near wall, a man and woman sit across from each other. The man, his black hair salted with silver, is dressed in tan khaki slacks and a light blue Oxford shirt, white tee peeking out at the collar. His sneakers, white and clean, almost disappear under the edge of his own leather chair. Leaning forward to the edge of his seat, his expression is happy and cheerful, the edges of his salt and pepper mustache turning upwards above his smile. Her strawberry blonde hair, hangs down, loose past her shoulders, hiding her eyes and all of her face except her chin. Her soft yellow spaghetti tank top accentuates her curves, as do her tight blue jeans. In opposition to his leather sneakers, she wears navy converse sneakers with white laces. Their conversation, muted by my headphones, is playful and they seem to be enjoying each others’ company.

 

Looking across the cafe, over the top of my glasses, two people sit apart. Each appears to keep their own thoughts, not aware of much around them. In front of me, across the space, sits a mature man in his 50s or 60s, from the uniform grey shading of his hair and beard. He appears, at first glance, to be a teacher or professor, though he might just affect the model scholar. His sneakers are worn and well used by comparison of the other man, as are his jeans, beginning to fray at the cuffs. His white shirt appears freshly cleaned and starched, with no hint of stain. He sits, absorbed by the book and without any visible drink. Unable to discern the title of the book, it is interesting that he reads ink printed on dead trees, instead of a computer screen, tablet, or phone, reinforcing the traditional scholar impression.

 

To my left, along the opposite wall, sits an apparent student. Her computer lid faces me, so only her eyes and hair are visible from behind the screen. Her chestnut hair is highlighted by auburn streaks. Though she tosses the mass of hair over her right shoulder, an errant dark auburn curl sneaks out and bounces near her left ear as she types. Once, she pauses and looks up, as if to catch someone spying on her, though she looks toward the older scholar, so she does not catch me looking. Her brown eyes seem to sparkle with mischief for a moment, before she returns to her work. As she returns to her typing, I steal a glance, noting her over-sized teal shirt with white block letters hanging off her shoulders and the ubiquitous athletic shorts popular with college girls. The shorts, grey and teal, match the teal in her shirt and her black converse high-top shoestrings. She sits on the plastic chair, one leg crossed and tucked under the other, the remaining foot, swinging to an unheard beat.

 

For several minutes, no one joins our troop. We sit and keep our own thoughts. I type and wonder, as I finish this, if anyone observes me as I do them.

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