I’ve Gone Virtual

I doubt that few reading this will have much of a clue what I’m about to talk about, and fewer more may care, but it’s a lot of fun for me. It’s a story about learning, tinkering, and forever evolving. It really all started about 25 years ago when I built a couple web pages back in the early days of the Internet, and has culminated in me more or less having a small farm of servers running in my 676sqft condo. Along the way I’ve learned a LOT of things, and the beauty (or, brutality) of it all is that I have done it all on my own. Self taught. I’ve fallen more than a few times, but with failure comes an opportunity to learn.


You’re Probably Doing Backups Wrong.

If you care even a little bit about your digital life, you should probably read this and think about it. What do you have on your computer, your phone, or in “the cloud”? What’s on social media? What’s on some CD you burned 20 years ago? Is it pictures of your wedding, or your child’s first steps? Maybe it’s a copy of your thesis that’s taken you 2 years to write. Or, maybe it’s a picture of your wang, at a moment when the sun was JUST right, and somehow this is the most triumphant and proud you’ve felt in the past decade. Three cheers for toxic masculinity.

What would happen if all of that was permanently deleted, right this moment? No warning, nothing. Gone. Would you be sad? Would it change your life? Would it make life harder? Would your business be in jeopardy? Are your passwords backed up? What about your browser bookmarks that you’ve spent 10 years curating? Poof. I’m going to tell you how to prevent this.


The New Text Message Scam

Have you realized there’s a serious lack of emails in your inbox from Nigerian princes claiming you’ve magically inherited $7,285,51, but all you need to do is pay the processing fees to get the money? That’s no shock as everyone knows of those scams by now, even Grandma. If scammers are going to pull one over on you, they’re going to have to change up their tactics. And, they have.

The essence of a good scam is rooted in a couple of things. You want the victim to feel a sense of entitlement, you want them to feel a sense of reward, and you want to promise them

The latest scam revolves around a little social engineering to get you to reveal your 2FA keys. It’s actually pretty brilliant, and sadly I can see a lot of people falling prey as it’s so simplistic. Any good scam is at it’s core, and this one is incredibly well designed. Here’s how it goes down.


I Just Lost All My Data, But It’s OK.

The inevitable happened to me today. I had something fail, and it’s wasn’t just a “little” something, either. My Synology DS1515+ NAS just won’t power on. This is the device that houses basically all of my data. I’ve got it configured in a RAID setup (I’ll talk about this more later), but the actual device just is dead. There was a power outage earlier today in a good portion of the city and I powered off my units before the battery backups were drained. When the power was restored, everything came back up but my NAS. The thing is, I’m sitting here very calm and not feeling panic in the least because I know I’m going to be OK.

But this wasn’t always the case. About 7 years ago I lost a TON of data. Basically everything. All my photos, music, movies, documents. It was a mess and I was devastated. I’d built a NAS on Ubuntu and had 5 drives in a RAID configuration – only 3 drives died and I had no idea until it was too late. I still have that server and there’s a reasonable chance I can recover a good portion of my data, but it’ll be $2500 and frankly I’ve been OK with that data loss. But, I learned a very valuable lesson and I’ll never let it happen again.


Schools Spy On You.

Chances are that you, one of your children, or at very least someone you know is taking school classes online. This number has obviously exploded with the pandemic and basically the entirety of the world’s schooling being virtual, however at this point we’re more or less “back to normal”. Prior to the pandemic there absolutely was e-learning software out there, but for obvious reasons they’ve become far more prevalent since March 2020.

Enter Lanschool. A program initially developed in the 80’s, but really went into the modern era in 2018 with their “Lanschool Air” version. Think of their classic program as being a parental control program on a computer, but their “air” version being exactly the same only it’s completely remotely administered. Oh, and it’s also got a really cool feature that allows the “teacher” to have complete control over the user’s computer. Yes that’s right, they can secretly enable microphones, the webcam, have full access to view, edit, and deleted your files – heck, they can even add ones of their own! They can log all of your keystrokes, meaning that they can even record all of your usernames/passwords, or credit card information, all in the background. Simply put, Lanschool is a completely evil tool and you need to be aware of what you’re giving someone access to if you’ve got it installed on any of your devices.

Obligatory “Work” Picture

Here’s Some Food



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