Category Archives: Useful Stuff

What to do now that Heartbleed is forcing you to change all your passwords

Two-thirds of all sites have potentially been bleeding your login and personal information. If you’re like most people, you’ve been using the same email address and password for most sites, so now you’re really screwed. Now seems like a good time to take some steps to protect yourself.

Use More Than One Email Address

I have a longer post that I wrote several years ago ( Five Email Addresses), but basically you need an email address for people, for work, for money, for shopping, and then everything else. That way a hacked account on some third rate site won’t immediately put your bank and credit card accounts at risk.

Use a Password Generator and Keeper

There are a bunch of these like 1Password and LastPass that will allow you to generate strong passwords (20+ characters made up of mixed-case letters, numbers, and symbols) and remember them for every single site. You can sync them across multiple computers and devices, so you really don’t have an excuse for using the same weak password for every site.

Start changing your passwords, but judiciously

Since the news broke a number of sites have already patched the vulnerability; others were never at risk from this particular hole. Still, there may be sites out there that are still vulnerable to Heartbleed. Changing your password on any of them would still leave your account vulnerable. Check to see if your favorite sites are on Mashable’s hit list or test them yourself at


Here are some loopholes you can use to get out of paying taxes. These really work! I’ve been using them for years.

  • Buy a house using a loan – Don’t pay taxes on all your income like some kind of low-life renter; subtract the interest you are paying from your income as if you had never earned it.
  • Get married – Only sinners pay full taxes on two incomes; legitimize your relationship and benefit!
  • Have kids – Other people should not only see and hear your children, they should take on some of the tax burden, too.
  • Get health insurance through your job – Only the foolish buy their own health insurance using after-tax dollars; be wise and get yours pre-tax through an employer.

There are other loopholes, I’m sure, but these are the big ones. Try these first and see if they work for you.

Image CC BY jpellgen

Tips for getting around London and Paris

We recently went to London and Paris and took several modes of transportation: plane, taxi, Tube, bus, private car, Eurostar, Metro, bus, RER, the Heathrow Express, and, of course, lots and lots of walking. Here are some tips.

Use Your Smart Phone

First of all, get a data roaming plan or SIM card for your smart phone to use. It’s expensive, but well worth it to be able to find a great restaurant a few blocks away, figure out which bus will take you back to your hotel, or just get you oriented.

Mobile System Maps and Trip Planning

In London, use the Transport for London site on your smart phone to find Tube and Overground maps, route trips, or even call a cab. Unfortunately there’s no official app, but a number of third party apps are available.


In Paris, use the official RATP app from the iTunes App Store or Google Play for Metro, RER, and bus system maps, route maps, and route planning.

Paying your Fare

In London, get a rechargeable Oyster card to take the Tube, Overground, and buses. Oyster users get a significant discount on bus fare over single ride tickets. Tube trips within a zone are around 2GBP, but more expensive multi-zone trips are fairly common. Bus trips are a little over a pound. Money stored on the card remains on the card (my card still had a few pounds on it from four years ago). If you ever plan to return to London, you can dump all your leftover coins onto your Oyster card instead of carrying them around.


In Paris, things are a little less straightforward. RATP offers single ride tickets and multiple-day Paris Visite passes for riding Metro, RER, and buses. Which you choose depends on your needs. The multi-day Paris Visite passes make sense when you intend to take 4 or more trips a day, but start by getting a 10 pack of single ride tickets. If you are getting in to Paris in the afternoon or evening, you don’t want to “waste” a day by buying a pass right away. If you think you’ll end up taking the bus more than the Metro, getting a pass will let you easily hop from one bus line to the next.

Mode of Transportation

In Paris, consider taking the bus instead of the Metro. I’m slightly biased in favor of riding trains, but in Paris the Metro stations are full of long corridors and stairways, which is painful when you’re lugging around a kid and kid accessories (like a stroller). The city’s buses can often take advantage of dedicated bus and taxi lanes to cut through the traffic effectively, and the view out the windows is often more interesting and pleasant than the dark Metro tunnels. Moreover, the greater frequency of stops can actually get you closer to where you need to go.

In London, the absence of an all you can ride option like the Paris Visite pass makes jumping bus lines impractical. The breadth of the city is also such that you’ll probably opt to take the Tube or Overground to get around more often than the bus. In the central parts of the city, congestion and the lack of bus lanes can slow traffic to a crawl, making the bus less desirable. That said, if you can figure out a single bus line that will take you to where you want to go, it’s probably more cost-effective than taking the Tube.

Express Trains

In Paris, use the RER to get to some of the farther-flung stations within and outside of the city. This system is separate from the Metro, but accessible through some of the same stations. Depending on where you want to go (Charles de Gaulle, Gare du Nord, Disneyland Paris), RER might be a viable or preferred option. The cost is slightly higher than the Metro if traveling to an outer zone, so be sure to get a special ticket for the RER. You’ll need it to exit the station.

In London, consider the Heathrow Express if you’ll be anywhere near Paddington Station, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and going to Heathrow. Trains depart every 15 minutes and only take 15 minutes to get from Paddington to Terminals 1 and 3, and Terminal 5. Tickets are pricy, but the time and aggravation savings may be worth it.


Between London and Paris, the Eurostar gets you between St. Pancras station in London and Gare du Nord in Paris in just over 2 hours. Much better than schlepping it out to the airport, going through security, and paying too much for the pleasure of being a sardine in a can. Buy tickets in advance to get bigger savings.

Damn. Dropped my iPhone.

From a design standpoint, I really dig how the iPhone 4 looks, with its front and back glass surfaces, wraparound metal band, etc.

From a practical standpoint, it sucks. I can’t count the number of times I’ve placed the phone on a flat surface only to have it slide off. The thing is like an air hockey puck. Fortunately it’s usually only fallen a few inches, so no harm done.

But it’s also slipped out of my hand a couple times when I’m pulling it out of my pocket. One time I had my earphones plugged into it, which basically slowed it down enough so that when it hit the ground it only chipped one corner of the back glass.

On Sunday I wasn’t so lucky:

Yep. There’s a crack running from one corner of the back glass all the way up to the camera.

I have the Apple iPhone 4 bumper, and I do use it, but normal 2.5mm jacks and the older 30 pin connectors don’t fit, so I’m constantly forced to take it off if I’m not using the supplied earbuds or 30 pin connector. In this case, I took it off on Saturday to play podcasts in the car through the auxiliary input and dropped it Sunday at the Brentwood Country Mart.

Fortunately for me, I was able to schedule a Monday morning appointment at the Genius Bar, where the nice Apple Store Repair guy replaced the back glass for free (normally $29). I also bought a new case from Amazon, which shouldn’t have the same issues as the Apple bumper.