Safely Insecure

There’s something special about filling two monitors with terminal windows on Linux, then smashing the keyboard until you fill each black space with jargon. I digress, before I’ve even started!

Today, I focused on accessing Android devices (3 mobile phones) via the USB Debugging feature within the Developer Options found or unlocked on most Android phones. I was even able to rescue all the files off an SD Card I previously deemed non-functional. Once I’d used and reused the CLI program adb – freely available on Linux, Windows, and Mac – I then focused my energies on trying to get my PC to communicate with my laptop.

Side note: I’ve truly come to appreciate just how open Linux is, but with that, also the risks involved.

Did you know that your router very probably has something called Mac Filtering, which’ll let you strictly set which devices can connect to your network? Your ISP likely gave you information, perhaps on a little card, that has your router’s local IP address; use this in the URL field on your browse of choice, then supply the login credentials your ISP gave you, in order to change these settings. Fair warning though, some settings on routers can seriously mess with your Internet connection and may end up costing you time and cash to remedy the screw-up. Proceed with caution.

Setting a longer password, with uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols really does affect the security of that password. They don’t say it for funsies; it really does make it more time-consuming to crack. The longer and more obnoxious your wifi password is, the less likely anyone will sit outside your house for years in order to get access. You should be using the best encryption method your router allows for your wifi connection as well. While it helps to hide your SSID, it’s possible to see right past that with little effort, so I wouldn’t rely on it.

By the way, if you see an unsecure wireless network and think you might just log in to browse the interwebs for some much needed tweets and status updates, think again! These can be a very nasty trap. Commercially available networks can be different, but I’d still not trust a great deal to the offered free wifi of, say, McDonald’s.

“Get some work done, check your email or connect with friends. With free Wi-Fi at more than 11,500 participating restaurants, customers can access the Internet using their laptops or mobile devices at no charge. So grab a McCafé® Latte and log on. The Wi-Fi is on us!” – McDonald’s official website; link.

Notice the zero mention of security? This would suggest it’s really not that important to them, or perhaps they just don’t think it’s important to the majority of us. Either way, I’m concerned.

Ultimately, for the best security, use Ethernet cables and be done with wireless! Safe in the knowledge that the only way someone will get your data, is if they physically break into your home, which isn’t all that likely, unless you stick up a big billboard next to your home which reads, “Government secrets stored on servers inside this building.”

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!


Yes, it’s Long Distance

Being in a long-distance relationship kinda sucks. It’s bad enough having my own depressing doubts without feeling scrutinized by other people as well.

“So you’ve never met each other, then?”

No, we haven’t. I know it isn’t traditional. Does that mean it’s not important? That it doesn’t matter? Just because we haven’t met yet, doesn’t mean we never will.

We haven’t physically met, but that doesn’t mean we’ve not seen each other, heard each other, or even had a level of physical intimacy, albeit not in person. This is 2016; we’re long past the days of dial-up Internet.

“You can’t really love somebody you’ve never met.”

You absolutely can. You can develop a strong connection with anything. If Raj from Big Bang Theory can fall in love with Siri, then I can fall in love with a wonderful woman in another country.

While it’s not all Sleepless in Seattle, it can and does sometimes work.

“You don’t even know each other.”

You try talking to someone to whom you find yourself getting closer and closer, almost daily, for a year, and tell me you don’t know them. When you go through stuff in life together, talking about all sorts, of course you learn plenty about one another.

I’m not delusional. I’ve battled this beast before. I know there are things that come up if we do finally meet and end up living together. That, however, doesn’t make what we’ve experienced inconsequential.

Since the physical side of things is mostly not possible, you’re left with a chance for a rich, vibrant line of communication that even many married couples don’t have. I’d rather that, than a relationship based entirely on sex; a relationship in which we never truly connect.

“She could be a nutcase for all you know.”

So could you.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

Independent Living #2

Dealing with somewhat of a breakup is no blast, but dealing with that while living alone seems entirely different to me. I’m stuck alone, at home, with my own thoughts and feelings; I don’t like it.

Thankfully, I now have that EE broadband connection I mentioned in the previous entry. It’s good, at least for the money I’m paying. I’m getting up to roughly 900KBps download and 120KBps upload. As before, all I’m paying is £18 a month, which includes both the phone line and the broadband—pretty nifty, me thinks.

I’m very proud of myself for sorting out the gas and electric bills all by myself. I rang up Southern Electric and talked to a Scottish guy who walked me through everything. Wiki says: “Southern Electric is one of the biggest energy companies in the UK” If you’re curious.

My gas bill is £24 a month, and my electricity bill is £16 a month. That’s £480 a year, which definitely floats my boat. In time, I might be able to lower that, but I’m not too fussed because apparently I can get back any amount I overpay, or stay in credit for those colder days.

I finally got a cooker, fridge-freezer combo, and washing machine for just £540, but due to a grant I was lucky enough to get, all I really had to pay was the £40. They were delivered and installed for me, so I didn’t have to do anything but wait.

I have had one problem with the washing machine, but it’s really just the noise. The walls and floors here aren’t too grand, so if I run the washing machine at full RPM (rotations per minute) it goes ballistic, as though it’s trying to take off!

The first time I used the washing machine at 1600RPM, it rumbled the whole damn place so badly I was genuinely concerned about the woman living below me. Not too surprisingly, the same issue goes for upstairs.

Luckily, I tried a “mixed” setting today, which goes at 50 degrees, at 800RPM as opposed to 1600RPM for 60 degrees. Although it was still noisy, it was absolutely quieter and not that rumbly, so I consider that a success.

It’s an absolute joy having the whole fridge to myself, and not having to worry about someone stealing my food. I don’t have to cram my shopping into one sodding shelf; it’s such a relief.

I’ll get there eventually, it’s just going to take a little while longer.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

Sleeping Dogs Lie

This is a pretty messed-up tale that is sadly true; you’ve been warned.

Years ago, over a period of a month or two, I began talking to a troubled young girl on a mental health support site who claimed to be going through something utterly horrific I daren’t share. The paternal and/or sibling-type side kicked in and I tried to offer some support.

After finally calling the police to get them to go see her because I was lead to believe she were in severe danger, I discovered it was actually all fake and that she was in-fact fine. You hear about these stories, but it just so happens that I experienced it.

Much later, I got privately contacted on a website by someone claiming to have worked with her and that she was in-fact very “unwell” and in hospital for her anorexia. Apparently she was going through some sort of episode; reliving unpleasant crap that did happen to her some time ago.

I believe this so-called professional, at a hospital, found her diary in which she mentioned me, and felt it right to let me know the score. We talked briefly via private messages, but by that point I wasn’t keen on revisiting such a memory.

Honestly, I washed my hands of it. It was all insane and not something of which I want part. People need not do crap like that; they have no idea what it does to those that care. Trust issues ahoy.

Looking back, now much older and wiser, I should have left well alone, but I was going through a very rough time as well, and I was no doubt naive.

Remember, you can’t help everyone; I learned that much.

When the police came to my door and explained, my heart sank; I felt so foolish, upset, and angry. I didn’t even talk to my father about it in any great detail, although he had a good idea what happened. I locked it up for a long time, and I still don’t talk about it; despite this post, I’m not sure I even want to start.

I had nothing to do with her when the police got back to me. I said absolutely nothing to her and that was it. I still have no idea what was real and what wasn’t; honestly, I don’t want to know.

I was going to take that to my grave, but screw it, it’s been long enough. Maybe—hopefully—somebody somewhere can learn something from it. I sure as hell learned plenty.

Thanks for reading.

Thank you Mental Health and Invisible Illness Resources for sharing this.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

Behind the Screen is a Person

To specifically say it’s not OK to get angry at people online, is maybe saying it’s OK to get angry at people offline; if that’s the case, what’s so special about online? Is it that I can’t grab the little fucker’s necks until their head pops off like a cork out of a bottle? No, that can’t be it.

Behind the computer screens are real people with thoughts and feelings, just like you. Some people forget that. That said, it’s probably true, at least to a point, that you shouldn’t get all that wound up over people in general; it’s wasted energy and potentially unhealthy. Unfortunately, I’m only human.

I’ve got too many reasons to be angry, but I’ll keep the violin  and self-loathing out of this. You probably don’t care for sob stories. There’s always someone worse off than you, right?

I’m angry at myself a lot, for things I’ve done, for things I’ve let happen, for my feelings, for my thoughts, and God only knows what else. I am my own worst enemy.

I’m jealous of people like my best friend who can be so blasé that almost nothing bothers, bugs, or at all rubs him the wrong way.

Earlier on, some power-hungry mod on a forum for a game on Steam bans me for flaming, when I was civil, logical, and essentially not flaming, while the other lot were profanely raging at each other; eventually, the mod or “developer” realised their mistake, made no apology, but at least said they’d lift the ban, except they didn’t; annoying.

Some trolls get on my nerves, not necessarily because of the content, but because they are so pathetic that they have nothing better to do than sit around and hurl abuse at people online; it gives them some sort of sick pleasure to see others in pain. I’m supposed to shrug that off, aren’t I? Well, most of the time I do, but it only takes a bad day and one sadistic individual to change that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no ogre who’ll ragequit from anything the moment something doesn’t go my way—I’m just tired, which usually makes these sort of things worse.

I don’t exactly like being pissed off, but it turns out I’m pretty damn good at it; apparently that makes me weak.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

Swatting is All the Rage

What’s swatting? It’s when a pathetic piece of human waste uses someone’s personal details to call the police, as a prank, then make up horrendous crap, sometimes causing a SWAT team to be sent out to the person’s house, in all their brute, heavily armed force.

Just picture a young child happily playing a game like Call of Duty with his friends and streaming over Twitch when suddenly he hears banging on the door and angry shouting, shortly before a group of well-armed men charge into his bedroom and point loaded weapons at him; he got “swatted.”

I had no idea this was actually a thing; that those silly little trolls hiding behind their computer screens are actually weak enough to bring it to the real world in which children are at high risk of getting a bullet to the head, same goes for the families in general, and even animals such as dogs. What if a SWAT team decides a dog might be a threat because it’s defending its owner? Well, that’s a bullet to the little dog’s heart. Goodbye Dogmeat. Therapy for the traumatised family.

This has to stop—It’s absurd that it even got to this point.

Here is a YouTube video of Koopatroopa787 telling the public about his story of when 10 police officers came knocking on his door and ended up pointing several AR rifles at his family, including a little 10-year-old boy, his brother, all thanks to some malicious nobody behind a keyboard.

People need to know, for the safety of their families and themselves. Be very careful what you share with strangers online. Do you stream on Twitch? Make sure you’re safe about it. Be very wary with whom you share your address, your phone number, and even your IP. In-fact, if you’re a particularly big name, you may wish to follow in the steps of YouTube sensation, boogie2988, who also has some solid words to share on the matter.

On the bright side, one such swatter, Brandon Wilson, also known as Famed God (I know, could that sound any more pretentious?) aged 19, is facing 5 years in prison for swatting, and for making financial threats towards his victim’s banking and social security account, as well as saying that he would put the poor person’s father “in dept for life.” Brandon’s charges are known as follows:

  • Two counts of computer tampering.
  • One count of intimidation.
  • One count of identity theft.
  • One count of disorderly conduct.

Apparently, “3 other states are looking at this guy and may throw additional charges his way,” says Richard Masucci. Justice is wonderful, but it is a shame a mere 19-year-old lad, barely a man, is so messed up that he could do something so horrible.

TwT doesn’t even remotely have enough readers to massively help with the awareness of such a grave issue, but every little helps, right? Please share this post with your friends and family so that I’ll have at least done my part in raising awareness and hopefully deterring would-be “swatters.”

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

My Virgin Media Login over Firefox – Connection Unsecure

I’ve seen this issue around the interwebs. You set to log in to your favorite website for ordering various bits or bobs, or perhaps fancy doing some online banking—BOOM—Firefox tells you that you’re insecure! Granted, I have some personal issues, but telling me I’m insecure is a bit rude.

Today, this issue appeared with the login page for My Virgin Media, Britain’s number one Internet Service Provider offering fantastic speeds over a solid fibre optic cable—no phone line necessary. For £28.50 a month, and a £49.50 installation fee, I’m getting approximately 6.9MBps download speed, rated 50Mbps; that’s six point nine megabytes per second. Sadly, like many ISPs, I’m not offered a very good upload speed, but roughly 390KBps is just enough for some acceptable streaming over Twitch, and for some decent online gaming. But what good is such a fantastic service if we want to log in and are then told our connection isn’t secure?

Oddly, this problem only seems apparent for us Firefox users, a browser which, according to Wiki, has, as of July 2015, “between 12% and 19% of worldwide usage of users,” with Chrome, for some reason, being the top dog for the majority of the users across the globe. I’m not sure what changed to make Chrome so popular, because previously, it was all about Firefox!

I’ve just spoken with a Virgin Media techie, by the name of Ian, and he claimed that he’s “unaware” of such an issue with My Virgin Media or Firefox, but oddly, later goes on to say that he can “definitely remember” a few occasions in which Firefox has “flagged something as a false security concern,” and that he has already “had chats and calls in the past” with others claiming that “our website doesn’t use the best security protocols.” So which is it? I now wonder.

Ian continues: “I’m afraid I’m not qualified enough to confirm this but what I will say is that if this was a real security concern our Website wouldn’t be allowed to remain open. If the protocols need to be updated then I’m sure our IT department are looking into this.”

Ian then provides me a link to a thread on the Virgin Media forums, and a link to a workaround from September, this year. I suspect any workaround of this nature will merely trick Firefox into thinking it’s secure, but that still leaves a dirty thought in my mind: what if it’s actually not secure? Being paranoid about security can make browsing a challenge at times.

Thankfully, Ian understood my security concern, stating that you “can’t be too careful these days especially over the Internet.” Well said, Ian.

Taking a look at the suggested thread which discusses this issue, a commenter by the name of Sololobo reminds us that this is our ISP, on which we “depend” to “help ensure” our “online security.” Too bloody right. If we can’t even trust our ISPs then what hope in hell do we have of being at all secure online? At the bottom of the thread is a post by site admin, James_W, who tells us “this information has been passed on to our security team for analysis.” That was, however, over half a year ago.

Annoyingly, I’ve actually had this issue with PayPal in the past, and even my bank’s website, but I seemed to have resolved that by tweaking Kaspersky Internet Security. It appeared that Safe Money was somehow interfering with Firefox’s certificate checking system.

Imagine walking into your local bank only to have a member of staff tell you that you should “probably know” that “this bank isn’t secure.” Sure, that’ll make me really comfortable.

Being insecure sucks.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!

The Toll is Being Taken

It feels like I’m doing nowt, but in my lame defense, I do lots on my computer, such as dealing with this blog, studying up or practicing my German, games for fun, reading guitar tablature, watching stuff on YT as though it were a TV, and so on! But it’s just not outside, it’s not ‘proper’ social stuff, and it’s not exercise which is giving me a case of cabin fever. I’m sick of being stuck indoors most of the time, and I’m worried about the potential side effects of being so, both mental and physical.

I’m off to my dad’s in about 10-15 minutes as he rang me up offering one of my favorite home-cooked meals: mince ‘n’ tatties. That’s mince and potatoes, to you lot who aren’t familiar with the Scottish lingo.

I’ve had a lot of stuff roaming around my skull lately. I’ve been feeling empty and alone. I miss having someone. I hate that the idea of having someone freaks me out. The idea of the stresses that “having someone” brings is equally stressful.

I discovered I’ve put on weight, despite not looking as bad as I had thought, and even thought I’d lost some body fat. I had hoped that meant I’ve just put on muscle, which I suppose I may well have done, but I’ve also gained body fat which is pissing me off. It’s my own fault, really. All the crap with moving here through some of my best laid routines outta whack and I’ve just really struggled to get back into the game, as it were. I’m not eating all that badly, really. In-fact, I’m not sure why I’m gaining given how little I eat. I assume it’s the lack of exercise. There’s so much to the subject of fitness that I could be here for ages trying to figure out what it is or isn’t, but the fact remains that I need to sort my shit out.

I’m Just so frustrated and pissed off with myself. I worked so hard to lose so much weight and to gain muscle, but if I carry on feeling so defeated and keep lacking willpower, I’m going to end up back at square #1 and that scares the crap out of me, because I felt completely and utterly rubbish the way I was; I just gave up.

With my mental health crap, things always go up and down. I’ve been ‘strong’ for a while, blasting through some tough challenges, and I guess I’m just going through a down phase. I’m not a manic-depressive, but it’s a similar idea, just not so exaggerated as I assume it is with a manic-depressive, or Bipolar Disorder as I think they call it now.

I got offered to join in on another interview for potential support worker staff. I’m anxious about it, whereas I was a hit last time and apparently very good at it. I’m wanting to go, minus the usual anxiety making me apprehensive, but I’m also concerned that my sleeping pattern is going to get in the way as usual. I was doing very well with my sleep, but lately it’s gone bad, thanks in part to the idiot upstairs, my stupid OCD, and well that’s about it.

I haven’t posted too much in a diary fashion, about personal stuff that goes through my head and/or heart, but I’m going to try to do that more, on the off-chance it’ll be insightful or interesting to you, plus it might help me gather my thoughts.

Off I go to get ready for an awesome munch.

Keep up to date with Taut with Thought’s Twitter page!