Tuesday, January 3, 2017

I've Been Facebook Hacked

Did "hacked" come to mean something other than someone gaining unauthorized access to your account? I know kids these days have new words for everything, so I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss some of the hip lingo they're laying down.

I'm seeing so many people on Facebook lately claiming to have been "hacked" because their account is sending out posts/messages without their knowledge.

If you had been hacked, there are two possible scenarios:
1. Someone either figured out your password (you use your dog's name for all your passwords) or cracked it using what's known as a brute force attack (a program literally tries all the possible combinations until it finds the right one), or
2. your sibling/spouse/friend/ whatever finds out you didn't log out of Facebook when you walked away from the computer, and you don't notice until people start commenting on your post about how that sibling/spouse/friend is the best person on the planet (or that you pick your nose, depending on how kind that person feels at the time).

Here's why you don't see more brute force attacks on Facebook profiles: let's assume you have an 8-character password with 1 upper case, 1 number, 1 special character, and 5 lower case. That's 98,853,048,320 possible combinations. It would take 2hrs for a computer capable of trying 25 billion passwords/hour (that seems to be the average figure for brute force applications, and Facebook doesn't let you try that often). Adding even one more lower case character to your password adds roughly 48hrs to the cracking time needed. No one really wants to spend that much time just to get access to your Facebook account. Let's face it, all your selfies are on Instagram anyway.

So, in short: You were not hacked. On Facebook, that's known as permissions, not hacking. At some point in your Facebook journey, you clicked on something that gave another app permission to post on your behalf.

"But I didn't click on anything!" you protest.

Really?? This is Facebook, if you have a mobile device, you check Facebook an average of 14x/day. The average session is 20 minutes. Next to email and your web browser, Facebook is the most popular app. Almost 80% of smartphone users check Facebook within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. 62% of users check Facebook immediately in the morning. Somewhere along the line, you clicked on something.

You probably didn't notice because you just hit OK on the pop-up message that was between you and the video you wanted to watch, or the quiz you wanted to take so you could see what kind of spatula you were in a previous life and didn't see the fine print that said you give this app permission to post to your timeline. These "hackers" don't need to waste time breaking into your account when you simply leave the door open for them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Response to "Modest is Hottest"

Some of you may have seen the blog post from the Confessions of a Teenage Bride website. I've seen it shared on Facebook several times in the last couple of days. If you haven't, you really should go take a look because it's worth the read (find it here).

It's very interesting to read it from the woman's point of view, having tried the less-than-modest approach and comparing the two. There are two things I want to address in response to her article.

First: I hope the girls realize that the same guys who are checking them out as they walk down the school hallways in various degrees of immodest clothes are also making derogatory comments about you when they're alone together. I remember very clearly a time in high school gym class when a group of "popular" guys were in the locker room being very demeaning about a girl, who was part of their group outside the locker room, because of how she dressed. They weren't complaining, but they talked about her with the negative and vulgar associations you'd expect from the minds of grade 10 boys. When I hear the saying, "Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in the mud. You'll get attention, but mostly from pigs" I think of that group of boys. Nice to your face, but they'll use your back as a knife holder.

Second: I can't speak for all guys, I just know what I and the other guys in my group thought and felt. There are still those of us out there who really do think modest is hottest. Unfortunately, they don't make as much noise as the guys who are cheering and leering. Most of the time, because we're guys and have the social graces of a giraffe on roller skates, we don't know how to compliment a girl without coming across as awkward. "Hey, you look good all covered up like that" somehow just doesn't come across as a positive comment. Due to the general maturity level of that age group, if a guy were to express a compliment to a girl, there's a fear that others would see it as romantic intent. It was like that back when I was in school, and probably goes back to when the first boy asked the first girl out on a date. You talked to a girl, therefore you must "like" her.  

Psychologists at Princeton University (the reference escapes me at the moment, when I find it I'll put it in), where a group of men were shown images of "scantily clad" and fully dressed women while being given MRI brain scans (and yes, they did find something in there). When the men viewed photos of fully dressed women, the areas of their brains associated with people and feelings lit up. Researchers found that the less the woman wore in the photo, more of the men's brains associated with objects and tools was active.

Now, before this detours into a discussion of "dress modestly because boys can't control their thoughts", let me stop that train right here. Girls, the point behind modesty is NOT to prevent the walking raging hormones known as boys from having thoughts and urges they can't control. That's a cop-out on the part of the boys. The point to modesty is that you recognize your own worth. You deserve better than to have some guy's brain put you in the same category as it does a hammer or a wrench.

So, back to the original article. I argue that modest really IS hottest. Who cares how the lowest common denominator defines hot? You are worth so much more than that.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Big Secret

I think it's time I made a confession. I've tried to hide it for a long time, but I figure people are bound to find out eventually anyway and I may as well tell everyone. I am an introvert. There, I said it. Feels good to get that off my chest and not have to live under the deception of a double life. In case you missed it, this is the part where you act shocked and surprised...

Growing up, I thought I was just shy (and I probably had that going for me too). Now I understand myself a bit more and that it's all about where I get, or expend, my energy. I always knew I felt more comfortable with a small circle of very close friends than with a large group of good friends. I really enjoy getting into thought-provoking conversations, which is usually easier with people closest to me. Small talk is emotionally draining and almost painful to me, I've never been good at it and I'd rather actually talk about something than "shoot the breeze".

It gets annoying at work sometimes when I'm expected to mingle and "shmooze" during big events while I just want to eat and get back to my room. Not that I don't like crowds. Crowds are fine, unless I have to interact with parts of the crowd. If I need to clear my head, sometimes I'll go to the mall because it's easy to disappear in the crowd and be alone to think. The kids thought I was crazy last year for going to the mall on Christmas Eve for some quiet time.

I'll talk to people if I have something specific to talk about. I'm sure this comes across as being snobby sometimes, but it really isn't. Snobby would be thinking that I'm too good to associate with anyone else in the room, and that's not the case at all. Being an introvert is more about conserving my energy for interactions I find beneficial.  So rather than use up all my energy with small talk, I usually wander around and listen to other conversations, or just watch other interactions (and not in the creepy stalker way either).

Some people compare it to being in a hamster ball, but since I'm a geek I prefer to think of it as having my shields up. Some would rather beam down to the planet and check things out, while I'd rather stay on the ship and observe. Once I've confirmed that the conditions are favorable, then I'll lower the shields and join the landing party.

And here's a tip for all the extroverts out there, it really doesn't help when you poke the shields. You don't need to tell me that I'm being quiet any more than I need to tell you that you aren't. Being quiet isn't a bad thing, honestly.

Yes, I'm an introvert. I am more comfortable in my head than I am in a crowd. I can be alone in a crowded room, but that doesn't mean I'm lonely. I would rather talk about ideas than the weather. I know how to make friends, I just choose to make a few good ones. I find it much easier to write about what I'm thinking than to verbalize it. Sometimes I will "escape" to my phone just long enough to recharge so I can come back and deal with people again, even people that I really like. I don't understand how someone can be screaming mad and then seem perfectly fine only minutes later. I don't feel compelled to answer the phone when it rings, I may not have the energy to talk to the person on the other end. I don't talk to hear the sound of my own voice. If I'm not taking part in a conversation, it's because I feel I don't have anything to contribute.

Anyhow, my secret is out. I know most of you are shocked and didn't see this coming. I probably should've eased into this rather than just blurting it out like that.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Calgary Spartan Race

Like so many other painful exercise experiences, this one started out with Jesse saying, "I know what we should do..." This was back in January and we had so many great ideas of how we were going to get in shape and train. Running, treadmill, cross-country, hills, etc. All of those would've been a great help, if we had actually done any of it.

I actually did run a couple of times in January, which turns out isn't quite often enough to prepare for the Spartan. I kept up on my kettlebell training, and now I know a few areas in my training schedule I need to revise in order to survive the Kalispell Spartan in May.

So, how did the race go? The official results haven't been posted anywhere yet, but I made it out in about 1.5hrs. I should pause to mention my 14-yr-old son completed the hurricane heat in about an hour. Anyhow, it started out fine, I kept up a nice comfortable jog long enough to get out of sight of the spectators then decided that was enough. Up hills, down hills, up more hills, then down again. Here, take this cinder block down the hill then bring it back up again. Now try it with a sandbag, and we found a steeper hill for you.

The rope net bridge wasn't bad, then we came to the monkey bars and the three attendants lied to us and said we were half-way done. Not nice. The trail portions had a lovely view of the Calgary industrial section right off Blackfoot Trail. Very inspirational to see all the back hoes and large machinery.

The over/under/through walls were fun, for me. Barb was cursing me as I stepped over the first one.

The 8' Wall was a challenge. "No, the white side is for the men". Huh?? What white side?? All I see is mud everywhere. Why not just say, "Guys on the right, girls on the left," that'd be easier. The ability to press a 32kg kettlebell did nothing to help me pull my sorry carcass up and over the wall. Thankfully Jesse took pity on me and gave me a boost.

Go over and balance on some 2x4s to make your way through another obstacle. Fortunately my legs are long enough I could straddle across two planks, which made it easier. Get to the tires, flip it over... then flip it back (memo to me: set one of these up in the back yard).

Scaling the wall was pure evil. The foot holds were caked with mud and the hand holds came to what seemed like my waist, but were probably a bit higher. I have to admit I didn't even try on that one. Fortunately I'm tall enough to hit the bell at the end while standing on the ground. I'll do the 30 burpees later.

What started out in the hurricane heat as a nice mini pond was by this point a mud bog. And it smelled like farm mud too. Great, time to do another obstacle with shoes weighing about 50lbs each now thanks to all the accumulated mud.

Barbed wire wasn't bad. Neither was wading through the water afterwards. The A-frame rope climb was challenging due to the lack of traction, but I managed to get over.

Almost done the race? Well, this seems like a great place to put the first water station. Seriously people, look at putting a few more of those in next time.

The vertical rope climb? Umm, no. Not going to happen. Jesse made it look easy. Trevor did awesome in the hurricane heat, but I just didn't have it in me. Add 30 more burpees to my tab. I'm good for it, trust me. I'll totally do those later.

Spear throw went well. DJ gave me some great pointers at our family reunion and I got it on the first try. The fire jump at the end was a joke. I saw photos from the Kalispell Spartan where they had burning logs that everyone had to jump over. In Calgary? A small pipe running off a propane bottle. Really?? It seems like you're just calling this one in.

The Spartan guy with the padded staff was fun. Tristan (my nephew) took his Spartan down during the hurricane heat. I'm not saying he managed to evade the staff. I'm saying he squared off, asked Mr. Spartan if he was ready, then took him to the ground. I opted for a less confrontational approach, but did make the Spartan move out of my way. Next time, I would LOVE to get a bunch of guys together before the finish line and do a proper haka (check YouTube for some NZ All Blacks rugby games) before we charge the Spartans and their little padded Q-tips.

So, for those of you who may be considering a Spartan Race (and I'd recommend you give it a shot at least once), here are some training tips. Don't think of this as advice from an expert, but rather as "I really wish I had done this to get ready."

1. Legs. Work them like there's no tomorrow. Then work them some more. Squats, lunges, jumping squats, jumping lunges, box jumps. I got up to doing 32kg squats and lunges, and probably should've done more sets each time. I tried doing jump squats with a 20kg kettlebell, which was a pretty good workout and would've helped even more had I been consistent with them. Carrying the sandbag down the hill and back up isn't so much about upper body strength as it is about getting your legs to take you back up the hill. the cinder block pull was tough too, but not quite as bad as the sandbags.

2. More running and cardio. I'm curious to see how someone with a very heavy cardio routine would do in the Spartan (and I'm not being a smart alec here). I think there was about 300m of actual flat course, so I'd like to see if all the spin class/body pump/ marathon training would really help. I'm going to try more hill sprints, cross-country running, running/burpee combos (run a lap, do some burpees, run another lap, do more burpees, etc.). It'll help my endurance, plus it might ease my conscience slightly over the outstanding IOU's I have on those 60 burpees. I need to make hills my friend because I hear the Kalispell Sprint has more hills (and is about a mile longer) than the Calgary Sprint.

3. Upper body. Pull-ups are my kryptonite and I need to get better in this area. The wall climb, rope climb, and scaling the wall, would've been easier with more (okay, any) pull-up ability. If you have access to a rope climb, take full advantage of it.

4. Work the core. I'm not sure exactly when I used my abs during the race, but I can sure feel them now. More kettlebell sit-ups are on the menu.

So, there it is. Despite all my grumblings at the time, I did enjoy myself. And I eventually took off the medal too. I seriously contemplated leaving it on... forever. I just turned 40, and this is the first medal I've ever received for anything sports-related. Participation ribbons in Jr. High track don't count. I did something I never thought I could do and I went past what I thought were my limits. Now I'm actually planning to run. I've signed up for the Resolution Run 5K in Lethbridge on New Year's Eve. I'm taking training more seriously. I even started drinking water (anyone who really knows me just gasped in shock).

See you in Kalispell on May 10, 2014!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time To Get Serious

Okay, so last month I signed up for the Spartan Race in Calgary. What is the Spartan Race? This one is 5km (3 miles) with around 12-15 obstacles. Not the "watch out, this spot of ground is uneven" kind either. Watch the video on the home page for a better idea. You watched the video? You're wondering what breed of insanity possessed me to get me to sign up? I blame Jesse, he made it sound like a good idea. 

So far, I'd have to say my training has been sporadic at best. I can't seem to get my sorry butt on the treadmill to get in some running. And let's be clear here... it's not like I was at one point a diligent runner who is now getting back on the horse. Running and I have never really seen eye to eye. If you see me running, there's a good chance there's a sale on ice cream in the immediate vicinity. Of the 3 miles, right now I can do one lap (1/4 mile) before cursing whoever first decided to start running recreationally. Seriously, what was he thinking?? That's also the point where I start to feel like I'm running in Ronald McDonald shoes and I just hope that when someone eventually finds my body I've managed to fall in a somewhat dignified pose. The reality is more along the lines of the CSI team coming in to see the treadmill was set to 2, then trying to look professional as they laugh themselves to tears. We'll see who's laughing as they try to draw the chalk outline on the treadmill while it's still running... 

The strength training part is easier to get behind. I take my kettlebell with me on the road so I can workout in my hotel room. Truth be told, I spend too much time in the mirror amazed that I can actually see my own triceps (it's still a novelty for me, I'm fairly sure I didn't actually have any until just recently).

There are 16 weeks (and 2 days) left until race day (Aug 17), which means I need to consistently put out some miles on the treadmill each week or they'll be carting my sorry carcass off the course while some poor EMT trainee is trying to figure out how to use the field defibrillators. In his defense, that flatline beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep sound has to be distracting. 

So, my plan is to help push myself a bit by reporting in regularly each week on how many miles I've completed while making sure I keep up with the strength training portion. I do 30 minutes on the treadmill and try to get a bit farther than I did last time (which is about 2 miles) with the intent of working my way up to actually running for the whole 30 minutes. 

Okay, let's be honest. When I say "I do 30 minutes", what I mean is "the two times I've actually used the treadmill since January, I did it for 30 minutes." Right now it's called "Run for 1 minute, walking recovery for 9. Repeat." I think that would make for a very successful fitness program, don't you? Not the kind you'd see in the health club. No, this beauty would be reserved for the late-night infomercials. I figure if people buy into the idea that Zumba will give you chiseled abs and pecs that could deflect bullets, then this will be a huge hit. I just need to find some guy with arms the size of my thighs and 2% body fat to endorse it and I'll be rolling in the royalties.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Strange Conversations

If you've read any of my posts here, you've probably determined I have a very odd sense of humor sometimes. The weirdest things will just hit me as being funny, and the people around me don't seem to find it as amusing as I did. I don't know if I should feel pride or remorse, but it seems I have passed that on to some of my children.

The other night, Terina asked for an example of a prison sentence. I'm not sure what was going on in her mind at the time, but just as I was about to answer I saw the all-to-familiar look on her face of "I should've rephrased that, because now he's going to say something goofy..." 

The first thing that popped into my mind was, "Don't drop the soap." I thought that was better than trying to explain, "Aghhhh, I've been shivved!"

"Daaahhddd, not a sentence you hear in prison...

The fact she knew that's where I was going with it gave me a small sense of hope. Now, any time a prison sentence comes up, she starts giggling like a crazy person. My work here is done :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Facebook Qualification Test

Are you or a family member new to the world of Facebook? Or maybe you’ve been on for a while but haven’t taken the time to really familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of Facebook. To make your life easier, and to keep you from annoying all your Facebook friends, I’ve put together a short test to see if you really should be on Facebook. If I had the power, I’d make this mandatory before anyone could get an account.

Question 1. You see a photo with the caption "Click Like and comment ___ to see what happens!" Do you:
A. Click ‘Like’ and comment ____ (whatever they said to comment) because you can’t wait to see what happens
B. Ignore the photo. You’re not going to fall for that
C. Get your friend/sibling/child to do it from their account so you don’t look stupid.

Unless your answer was “B”, congratulations. You just fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is "never get involved in a land war in Asia", but this one runs a close second. It doesn’t matter if the photo is a cute girl, a house claiming to have ghosts, or a cat with a bad attitude, I can’t emphasize enough that NOTHING is going to happen to the photo. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Rien. Bupkiss. The only thing that happens is everyone on your friends list now knows how gullible you are.  

Question 2. You see a "Share if you [hate cancer/love your mom/ like babies]. Ignore if you like Satan" photo. Do you:
A. Share the photo, but only to a select group of your friends
B. You want everyone to know you [hate cancer/love your mom/ like babies], and you don’t want your friends to think you like Satan, so of course you share the photo.
C. Ignore the photo and keep scrolling.

The correct answer here is C. Way to walk on the wild side! Do everyone a favor and let the photo go away. The same applies for all "Like in 3 seconds" photos. If C was not your answer, all your friends called to say they're going to jump off a cliff and asked if you were coming.

Question 3. You see a link for a free [Costco/Starbucks/Walmart/etc.] $250 gift card. All you have to do is click on the link and share it with your friends.
A. Free money! Sweet! I’m sharing that with everyone I’ve ever met, and then a few extra for good measure!
B. Ignore it. It’s probably fake and I don’t want to take the risk of making my personal information available to anyone smart enough to set up a phony webpage.
C. I’ll just click the link, but I won’t share it with everyone. It’s only fair since no one shared it with me.

You chose B? Congratulations, you’re absolutely right. These links are set up with the sole purpose of  harvesting and selling your personal info. You can also expose your friends, even if they don’t click on it. By giving these sites access to your profile, you also give them access to your friends list. Say it with me, "If it sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam." Think about it for a second. These companies are not charitable organizations. They don’t stay in business by giving away large amounts of free product. How long do you think Costco/Walmart/etc. would stay in business if they were handing out $250 gift cards to anyone who clicked on the link?

Question 4. Oh look, an app which will show you who has visited your profile.
A. I’ve heard about these, they sound a bit fishy. I think I’ll pass on this one.
B. Heck yah! Sign me up for that one! 
C. I’m going to check out a reputable source, such as FaceCrooks, to see what they have to say.

This was a trick question as there are two acceptable answers. C is the preferred answer, but A is also acceptable. If you chose B, your friends are now cursing you for dragging them into yet another scam while gift-wrapping all of your personal information and handing it over to people who want to sell it. Burn this into your memory now, “Facebook does not allow developers to access that information, so anyone claiming to show who is viewing your profile is scamming you.” Write it on your hand, put a sticky note on your monitor, attach electrodes to your temples, jumper cables to your ears… whatever it takes.

Question 5. Sweet! Facebook/Microsoft/Some random organization is going to donate $1 towards cancer research/ puppy rescue/ sheltering battered seals/ for each like on this photo! You:
A. Click “Like” and forward it to everyone on your list because this is so awesome.
B. Not only am I going to click “Like”, I’m going to make 5 other fake Facebook profiles so I can Like it more than once.
C. Change my newsfeed settings to hide the friend who passed this along because social convention frowns upon physically beating them until they realize the error of their ways.

While C may be a little extreme (but not by much), you get the idea. This has been around in one form or another since email was publicly accessible. Those of us old enough to remember being excited about moving from a 486 to the Pentium will remember the “Bill Gates will give you money just for forwarding this email…” It was meadow muffins back then and it’s meadow muffins now.

Question 6. I need to set up a profile photo. Which one should I use?
A. How about a picture of my favorite cartoon character.
B. Can’t go wrong with duck face!
C. A family photo with all my kids/siblings.

While your opinion may differ from mine, I’m a strong believer in A as a profile photo. If cartoons aren’t your thing, maybe a favorite movie character or sports star. “Lemme e’splain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up…” First of all, there’s no excuse for duck face. None whatsoever. If you’ve even considered it, you should drop your computer, mobile phone, or whatever you’re using to browse the internet into the bathtub right now. There needs to be a Darwinian equivalent to natural selection in cyberspace so the duck face would be weeded out of the gene pool. Second, call me paranoid but I’m just not a big fan of having my photo accessible to everyone with a browser. I’m fine with the photos I can regulate by restricting them to friends only, or even to a select group of friends/family, but I have never used my real photo on my profile.

Question 7. Holy cow! Farmville is the best game ever! I should:
A. Send a game invite to everyone I know, and keep inviting them until they sign up too. They’ll thank me later.
B. None of my friends will join, so I’m going to go to the game’s fan page and ask random strangers to be my friends so I can play with them too.
C. Assume that if my friends wanted to play, they’d already be signed up.

If your answer is C, let me thank you on behalf of all your current and future friends. I would (almost) pay money if Facebook had a “Don’t send me game requests” option in the privacy settings. I must admit I went through a phase where I obsessively invited friends to whichever game I was compulsively playing at the time. I did try to restrict the invites to those I thought would actually play, but I still have moments of wonder and gratitude that more people didn’t unfriend me.

Question 8. Vaguebooking should be:
A. Encouraged!
B. Grounds for immediate Facebook account termination
C. Avoided like the plague dipped in anthrax

If I have to actually tell you C was the correct answer, you're not ready for Facebook. I'd also accept B for full marks. While you may not be familiar with the term ‘vaguebooking’, you recognize it when you see it in action: 
  • “I’m so [angry/sad/embarrassed/frustrated] right now!” 
  • “I’m not going to do THAT again!” 
  • “I can’t tell anyone the news…” 
While your first instinct may be to respond in order to request clarification and further details, you MUST resist the urge. Replying only encourages more vaguebooking. You can't extinguish a behavior while you're rewarding it. Are we clear? Do NOT reply to vaguebook status updates.

Question 9. I saw a post that says I have to post this message as my status to protect my privacy and if I don't, then anyone can use anything I post without my consent... a bunch of legal talk and something about UCC 1-103 1-308. I should:

A. Copy and paste that as my status like there's no tomorrow! I'm not taking any chances.
B. See if any of my other friends are posting before I jump on the bandwagon.
C. Take 2 seconds to type in "UCC 1-103 1-308" into the search at Snopes.com to see if this really works. "Facebook privacy notice" would also be an acceptable search phrase.

I really hope you answered C. If you are sitting there wondering, "What is snopes?" then stop reading this and go spend some time browsing their site. Seriously, you should have it saved in your browser favorites. Remember, when you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to the terms and conditions. No status post can change that or magically make you immune to consequences. In short, if you don't want people to view it or use it, DON'T POST IT!

So, if your total score was less than 9/9, you are not yet ready. May I suggest you spend some time studying on FaceCrooks, or go to Snopes and type "facebook" in the search. Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list. I can't think of all the ways you could get into trouble on Facebook, but I felt this was a fair representation of several common themes. Even the experienced Facebook users should regularly check their privacy settings, as the "powers that be" like to change things without informing the users. For example, there's a good chance the email address in your profile is a "_____@facebook.com" address, even though that's not the email you entered. Not sure which settings you need to adjust? Here's a link to a comprehensive guide from your friends at FaceCrooks.

Now, don't let me catch you clicking on bogus links/apps or "clicking Like and commenting '2'" on any photos.