Sports Day

world_series_2016Yesterday was an all-sports day in our household.  I don’t think that has ever happened before.  First was the Packer game, around 3pm.  Watching this game after having watched the first four World Series Games of this year, that the Cubs are in, was pretty interesting.  I never really noticed how fast-paced a NFL game is until now!  Wow, I was missing great plays all the time, as I got up for quick breaks and did other things during the game.

Prior to yesterday, NFL games always seemed slow and drawn-out most of the time with just a little action and good plays sprinkled in-between.  But after watching 4 MLB Word Series games it now seems so much faster, it’s amazing.  I can do all sorts of things–even run a few short errands–during MLB games and still miss very little worthy of me rewinding the DVR.  I’m not complaining, that’s just the pace of the game I guess, I’m just comparing the two.

It seems kind of weird just to be doing that though–watching baseball and football at the same time… It just seems wrong for some reason.  Certainly watching sports all day, from 3pm to 11pm, can’t be a good thing, but I guess it’s a rarity, so it makes sense.  The only reason I’m watching the World Series anyway is because the Cubs are in it.  With my mom and I having been big Cubs fans “way back when”, I’m sure she’s watching now, just as I am.  The Cubs haven’t been in a World Series in 108 years though, which is also a mind-blower, and shows you just how rare it is for them!

Both games were pretty entertaining, nonetheless.  The Packers ended up losing by one very frustrating point, but the effort was certainly there, especially with an unusually long list of great players out with injuries.  The Cubs did great with yesterday being Game 5 of the Series.  If they had lost, the Cleveland Indians would have won the series 4-1.  Since they won, making it 3-2, we now go to a Game 6, which they play tomorrow evening.  If they win that, it’ll be 3-3, and there will be a final Game 7 to determine the final winner of the Series.  If they lose tomorrow, Cleveland wins the series.  I’m excited to see what happens.

Thriller

My favorite Michael Jackson song (and video) is “Thriller”.  I memorized the Vincent Price lyrics years ago, for some reason, and recite them occasionally during haunting seasons.  Here they are.  See if they jog your memory.

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’alls neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller
The evil laugh that Vincent Price does at the end of the poem & song is great.
Happy Halloween!

All Hallow’s Eve

It’s coming up fast.  Trick-or-Treating…haunting season is upon us.  I’ve watched a few scary movies–including Stephen King’s IT–to get in the mood, and remind me of what all the creepy clown crap is about.  Silliness is all.  At least it’s a distraction from this presidential election mess… now THAT is scary!

Kevin stopped trick-or-treating a couple years ago, so we have no more kids to walk through the neighborhood begging for candy.  Kinda sad, actually.  I really enjoy seeing everyone in costumes, out walking around, having a good time.  Especially Christmas Lane in Kenosha.

These days, with no more kids to take out trick-or-treating 🙁 I like to take Socks out, in-costume, and walk through Christmas Lane during trick-or-treating, just to enjoy seeing the costumes and decorations all around.  Since we live only a few blocks from there now, it’s an easy walk for us.  So that’s what Socks and I will be doing this year, on Halloween, 5pm-6pm.  Trick-or-treating is 4-6, but I get off work at 4, so I can’t get there until 5pm.  It’s sad it’s only 2 hours now.  I remember it being a much longer period of time most other years, going well into the night.  But with all of the safety concerns with kids out in the dark, they probably feel it’s much safer this way.  But I just don’t see why they can’t have it start a few hours earlier, so it’s longer, and still have it end at 6pm, when it starts getting dark… Maybe there’s not enough people home from work to hand out candy if it was earlier…?

Professional Sports

As you might know from reading my blog, I’m not much into sports.  I never learned the rules of football or had any interest in playing it, and you can tell by my blog’s “Categories” list that there’s nothing “sports” anywhere in it.  But I used to be a big baseball (Cubs) fan when I was a kid.  My mom was a huge Cubs fan and we’d often watched their games together.

Since my mom passed away, I hadn’t given the Cubs a second glance, but Sandy and her family got me a little interested in football though–particularly the Packers.  Her brother Dennis (aka “Bear”) was a huge Bears fan along with her brother Mike, which she, her dad, and her brother Rick are all Packers fans, so there’s some healthy football team rivalry right there within the family.  After watching a few games and learning some of the tech involved, I found it someone more interesting than I remember it being.

These days they project the yellow first-down line onto the field… On TV it looks like a painted line on the field, but the players can’t see it in real life.  With moving and switching cameras, this still works so great, it amazes me.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.  There’s a lot of new gear used all over the field, but you have to look closely and catch those moments to get a glimpse at it.  The on-screen details are another huge piece of tech, showing all the details of the game and/or play in progress, player stats, and just about anything else you’d want to know.

I now wear a Packers jersey on their game days, kind of a ritual thing… If I don’t wear it, they’ll probably lose their game and I’ll feel guilty for not supporting them, and Sandy will blame me.  It’s all in fun, but sometimes I just have to wonder, just a little…

This season, with the Cubs in the Word Series, I’ve been watching those games as well, and I’m finding the same fascinating tech improvements throughout, just like pro football.  You can see the speed of every pitch in the game on-screen as well as the status of men on base (or not), the balls and strikes on the current batter, etc., etc., etc.  I even learned that some players are playing with a “new style” of uniform.  I remember all of the players having their pants tucked into their socks and all having long socks almost to their knees.  The “new style”, however, seems goofy.  They wear their pants long, not tucked in at all, and even past their heels!  As they play, some of them are walking on the bottoms of their pants!  To me (and to one announcer who pointed it out) it seems like that could cause a problem with gameplay, but there it is, even in the World Series, and everyone treats it like anything else.

So far in the series, the Indians and Cubs are 1-1, both having won one game.  We’ll see what happens Friday night in game 3.  I’ll be watching.

Password Anxiety

Raise you hand if you suffer from P.A.D. – Password Anxiety Disorder.  Ok, put you’re hand down, you look silly.  Seriously, this could easily be a thing.  A lot of us have it.  And security everywhere is constantly getting strengthened and the rules always changing to adapt to the ever-increasing rate of hacks and security issues.

This puts more demand on the end user (you), forcing you to have to change your password to comply with the new rules, and and often requiring you to change your password much more frequently, making it even MORE difficult.  Having so many logins and passwords on so many different systems then presents another problem:  No one can remember all of their logins and passwords – there are simply too many!

So what to do?  You’re not supposed to write them down, but people do, having no other options.  Keeping them all in a digital document is bad because, if that document ends up in the wrong hands it opens the possibility of attack to every single system you had access to.  If you make all your passwords the same, so you can easily remember, that also puts a risk on every system you have access to, should that one “master password” somehow get into the wrong hands.

Today’s society is very complicated this way, and it’s only getting worse.  To help with this problem, there are several “Password Manager” applications available that can manage all of your logins for you.  This, again, can present another risk, since all of these applications require their own login, and if THAT gets into the wrong hands, it again opens up possible exposure of all of your logins to all of your systems to the attacker.

But, in my opinion, using a secure password manager is a much better option then writing them down or storing them in a simple document.  Preferably you’ll want to use a password manager designed and actively maintained by a reputable company that hasn’t already been attacked, and one that uses very good encryption to protect your private information.

And, of course, this top-notch security doesn’t come without a price.  All good password managers cost money–either by subscription or a flat fee.  They offer a free trial period, so test out a few if you want to, then choose what works or seems to be the best for you.  But there are some that offer a decent feature set in a “free” version, so you’d have to try them out to see if what you need would require a fee, or if you can get by just fine using a free version.  Here’s a good comparison of all of the current password managers available.

Many of them try to make it as easy as possible by offering add-ons for popular browsers, which–when you’re logged into them–can automatically populate username & password fields on any web page for you.  This can make things pretty painless in most cases, but requires the cooperation of whomever designed the website to as well, in order for things to work smoothly.  Some sites, for example, do odd things with logins, including having your username on a separate page that your password, or displaying the login boxes in a non-standard way, which might throw off the “auto-fill” function your browser add-on uses, resulting in the form field being left blank.  Usually, if this happens, there’s still options available to you to manually either force it to fill a field on the screen or for you to view your login information and either type it in yourself or copy and paste it in.  Either way, it is definitely better than having a printed or digital list and doing things manually.  If you’re willing to pay a little to have another service store your information and keep it secure.

There are plenty of good features in many of the services listed in that comparison, so I’ll refrain from recommending a specific one, but I will say that I do use one of those listed in that article, and their review of it appears to be quite accurate.

Just also keep in mind that using pretty much any of these password managers will add a bit more complexity to your logins by adding options for you.  Some will find this easy to adapt to, others will find it just more confusing.  But if nothing else, they’ll reliably store all of your login information for you in a pretty safe place.  Just don’t forget the username and password you use to access THAT service, however, or you’ll lose access to everything all at once!