Thursday, October 17, 2013

Protecting Yourself from Facebook

What can you do about Facebook privacy?
Facebook privacy concerns us all...
It seems like everyone is worried about Facebook privacy these days.  At least everyone seems to be sharing, and by sharing, I mean copy and pasting statuses regarding some sort of privacy issue, from instructions to friends to uncheck notification settings to protect your privacy (doesn't work - see my other post about Facebook privacy settings here) to posting that their content cannot be used for <insert legal mumble jumble here>...

What really works?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Walleye and Shallow Water Fishing

I can't believe it's March already and in a couple months the ice will be melting and walleye season will be getting close to opening.  Although for me it's a busy time of year with the start of our tourist season, getting all the houseboats ready, it's also nice to have open water fishing to look forward to.  I love getting out on the water and doing some fishing.  So much, in fact, that a couple friends and I started an online fishing show to give fishing tips for the area.

Rapala, the staple for trolling shallow.
During our first few weeks we spend a lot of time hitting the shorelines for walleye coming off the spawning beds and hitting the shallows for the minnows to feed on.  Our target area is anywhere from 4 to 8 feet along the shoreline.  Just any lure won't do in that kind of situation, so we go with the trusty Floating Rapala, allowing us to get the lure up shallow quickly when we hit those 4 foot areas (or less if we missed our trolling run).  I've always run black and silver original and jointed Rapalas in the spring, but with the start of the show, I wanted to try and focus on using low cost alternatives.  My motto was "successful fishing on a budget".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Protecting Digital Data - Part 2

In my previous post we looked at the explosion of digital data coming onto our computers.  Photos, videos, movies, and games are all getting bigger and going digital.  What was a small part of our hard drive before has grown, and so have our needs for backup.  In this post we'll look at cloud based options, easy to use and share network options, and cheaper solutions for small data libraries.  With all the options before us, it shouldn't be hard to get a good backup system in place so you can avoid digital loss.

Online Cloud Backup
With services like Dropbox being around for years and everyone else getting into the game, cloud based backup is getting easier to find.  Microsoft launched Skydrive with Windows 8, Apple has iCloud, Google has Google Drive, not to mention several other companies offering similar services.  These services allow you to upload files to 'the cloud' and share them between your computers for easy access so you can always have your current project at your fingertips.  The ability to share with friends also makes these services a great tool.  Most services offer anywhere between 2-5GB for free and space upgrade plans with a monthly fee.  Dropbox will upgrade your space as you share the service with friends, both giving you more space and  bring them more users.  A few other achievements in the Dropbox list will net you a bit more extra space, the total free space you get get for friend referrals stands at 16GB now I believe, an incredible amount of space for a free service.  I've used Dropbox for a few years now and it has been invaluable for sharing video work between my partner and I.  If you are interested, you can try Dropbox here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Protecting Digital Data - Part 1

I've enjoyed years of watching the digital camera grow from a VGA capable camera that was bulky and wrote to floppy disks to my current (and almost antique in terms of cameras now) Sony A700.  As an amateur photographer, I've appreciated the ability to take nearly unlimited photos to practice getting the perfect shot.  I'm sure I have many thousands of photos left to continue to hone my skills.  Along the way, I've been lucky to get many great photos, and collected many not as great photos of rare nature sightings and special family moments that you just don't want to give up.  Eventually, a collection can grow very large, especially after years of shooting.  Add to this collection digital video and you've got a very large media library.  Sure, my dad's old video camera taped directly to VCR tape.  My old SD camera taped to mini tapes.  But now my HD camera is adding digital footage to my hard drive at an alarming rate, and much of it I need to keep around for potential video clips in different works. Newer DSLR cameras also allow taking video or photos with the same device, making the switch between photo and video while 'catching the moment' easy and convenient.

All this can lead to a rather large pile of precious data.  As cameras take higher quality photos, file sizes increase and the problem becomes one that must be faced by even casual photographers.  In my computer repair hobby business, I've seen a lot of issues, from dying or dead hard drives, to one of the more common issues in our area - lightning strikes coming in through phone lines and causing damage to one or more components.  Viruses used to be a big issue, but now most computers ship with antivirus and users, of Windows systems at least, are used to using antivirus to protect themselves.  Remember to keep your antivirus up to date! Even with this protection, things can go wrong.  How can we protect against data loss due to unforeseen software or hardware issues?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spam, Spam, Facebook, and Email Spam

Everyone loves to be in touch, but nobody really likes spam...  Except maybe Monty Python's Flying Circus...  Facebook can be a downpour of spam emails every day if you let it.  I'm going to show you how to shorten the list to a trickle each month.  Remember, only follow these steps if you don't like hitting delete on numerous emails a day from Facebook - that's what real email spam is for!

First off, we need to get to you account settings.  In the upper right of Facebook, you'll see your profile picture, name, 'Home', privacy, and a gear.  Apparently the gear makes all Facebook work, and it's where you find such things as the ability to logout (who'd ever want to!?!), privacy & account settings, ads, your apps, and the ability to use Facebook as any of the pages you administer.  You can see I could use Facebook as myself, Fish Temagami - my online fishing show fan page, or Leisure Island Houseboat Rentals, my business page for our houseboat rental business.  Using Facebook as one of these pages allows you to comment and like interests on behalf of your page.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blocking Facebook Game Alerts

Facebook can be a great way to stay in touch with friends or reconnect with old ones.  The only problem is, as your friends list grows, you're bound to start getting a plague of game notifications.  So and so wants a something or another in Whateverville.  Join your friend playing the newest Facebook game.  Hey, somebody just played this in that!  And soon you'll find your news feed is nothing more than a pile of game notifications with a random piece of actual news you want to read.  Hey, let's face it, those can be hard enough to find without all these crazy notifications, right?

There are several methods you can use to block Facebook game messages, but some of them still let certain messages through.  An example would be to turn off a friend's game notifications in your news feed (hover your mouse cursor over your friend's name, then hover over "Friends" button in the window that pops up, then click settings and uncheck "Games" from the list of your friend's activities that you'll be notified about.)  This can help, but I've found that apps can get around them by posting directly to your wall about your friend's activity.
Target the App Center...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Agricola All Creatures Big and Small - First Play

My wife snatching the horse for her farm.
Take your hand off the horse I was going to get!
Gwen and I finally got to sit down and enjoy the first of our three games from Christmas.  Abby was asleep for a short afternoon nap, so we picked Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small for a first play.  The box says a game can be played in about 30 minutes, and given it was a first play and it took just over an hour, I would say that is a fairly accurate estimation, since it included briefing the rules.  Rules are nice and clear, and they encourage play of parents with children, suggesting one parent team with a child against the other parent, letting the child choose two of the three actions and giving input on how to build the farmyard.  The box says 13+, but I would think this method would allow a child much younger to play and learn the game.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Facebook privacy starts with you...

If you are on Facebook long enough, you're going to see a friend's status start something like this...
Have you ever received a phone call saying you just won a cruise?  Got an email saying you won millions of pounds?  Will get thousands of dollars for forwarding a message because you're helping some software company test tracking software?  Have you ever been the victim of a practical joke?

What follows this statement is a list of instructions of what they would like you to do to help them keep their privacy, and it MUST be done by you (sometimes upon threat of becoming an ex-friend)!  They suddenly have no control over their account privacy settings because Facebook configured it that way.  Ok, stop...  Let's think about this a minute.  Does Facebook really want to upset people like that?  Hmm, they did force Timeline on us despite much outcry...  Alright, maybe they could be that dumb...  Back in our post, the last request is to copy said post and paste the message to your status and post it and the poster will be kind enough to help you out in the same way.  Thanks, you're so kind!  But then, you just followed the message, right?

Inspiring creativity in my two year old...

My two year old loves to be creative.  She's far more creative than I was at her age I think.  Much has changed in the 35 years that separate us as far as activities go.  At that time, computers definitely didn't fit in your hand, where Abby has shown me how to do things I didn't even know I could do in her little paint program on my Samsung Galaxy Ace.  Ok, she's left me with more than one puzzle to try and figure out how to reverse, including disabling my Swype keyboard...  But it's fun to watch her not be afraid to push buttons and learn.  Ok, replace fun with frightening and you'll have a better picture of my feelings at times.

Abby packing a picnic in her tackle box.
How to inspire her creativity though?  I want to give her the best experiences I can for her childhood, and I WANT to be a part of it, be it doing puzzles with her, having a picnic, and the like.  I don't want to be one of those deadbeat dads that leaves their kids in front of the TV to be raised.  It rather frightens me how zombified she becomes when the TV is on and she's watching a show she loves.  There's no distracting her.  She's pulled right in.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Initial thoughts on Village, Agricola All Creatures, and Small World.

Well, I've gotten all the boxes open now from our Christmas games I mentioned last post.  I have to say the overall quality of the pieces in cardboard and wood, plus game boards have been great as expected.  Small world has loads of cardboard pieces, and the other two have their fair share as well.  Agricola has the standard wooden pieces like its larger counterpart, and Village comes with a large assortment of colored wood pieces as well.  I was a little disappointed by the size of the 'cubes' in Village.  They are pretty small, and because of that, will likely be easy to lose.  I would have preferred something about twice the size, similar to those in Agricola.

Z-Man Games' Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small packs a lot of pieces into a small box, and as such, I didn't expect a lot of ability to organize.  They have two ziplock bags of wooden pieces, plus 4 cardboard forms of punch outs.  No problem, and I don't think there will be any major setup issues.  The rules aren't lengthy, and I expect that this will be a fun go-to game for my wife and I when we have a little time to play.  The regular version is always fun, and our only lament is the time it takes to set up.  I'm hoping they caught the same magic in this smaller version.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

German Board Games make the best Christmas Gifts...

Every Christmas Gwen and I try to get a game we can play together.  We don't spend lots on each other, but would rather get something that will help us spend time together.  We were first introduced to Settlers of Catan many years ago and our games closet has had less and less room in it each year ever since.  Last year was the first year we missed out on the tradition, so we made up for it this year.

Board games make a great pastime because not only do you get to exercise your mind, you get to have fun doing it while enjoying the company of others.  We've introduced our youth group to them and so far we haven't found anyone that dislikes the games we've introduced.  There's a German board game out there for everyone, from the complex to the simple.  I love introducing people to good board games and have given them for birthday and Christmas presents.  People seem to shy away from board games these days - they don't give enough entertainment and are boring is often the claim.  Most are thinking of the golden oldie standbys like Risk, Monopoly, Sorry, Clue, and the like that have been around for years and at least one lies in every family closet.  Once introduced to the new breed of board games, people realize why there is a growing interest in board games again.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Family and Hobbies DO mix...

Park along the shoreline at your favorite fishing spot in your houseboat.
Parked comfortably at a campsite.
Two years ago we took a vacation on Lake Temagami where we live.  Why go away when you are already in the most beautiful place around?  We packed up the family on one of our houseboats at our family houseboat rentals business.  We headed to Cross Lake and found a nice secluded campsite and started to relax.

Yes, I had an work to do while out there, but it was fun work.  That was the first year I had decided to start a small web series on fishing in the area.  We're almost finished cutting all the footage we took that summer, and it has been a fun ride.  So fun we videoed more episodes this summer...

The Start to a Blog

I've long thought about starting a blog.  I've thought about starting a lot of things.  The problem is time.  As a father to a wonderful two year old girl, I want to spend time with her and help shape her into the wonderful woman I know she can become.  I already have many projects already on the go.  And yet...  A Blog.

Kayaking with Abby
Often I find myself wanting to write something about a day's events, or some thought that weights heavy on my mind with no avenue to do it.  I suppose that's where this blog will come in.  Who am I?  In a lot of ways, nobody of importance to any of you.  I'm just a guy that loves his daughter, fishing, computers and technology, photography, playing with video, gaming, and most of all, God.  While I may not be important to any of you, I know I am important to God, because He sent His Son to die for my sins, something I am thankful for each and every day.  Because each and every day I realize that I am so very far from perfect...

So you'll probably see ramblings on many of these subjects...  Will they be important to you?  Maybe not.  But if the ramblings of a geek fishing dad can help anyone, they'll be here.