Travel, Code, and Engineering
on May 3, 2015 by Kurt Tomlinson
A burglar recently broke into my brother's house. They stole some jewelry and electronics including a camcorder with videos of their baby daughter. Hopefully they backed up those family memories to a safe place.
This event made me start thinking about what if this had happened to me? What would I care about losing, and how can I protect myself?
The worst case scenario would be if someone stole my laptop/phone, and gained access to my email account. I've had the same Gmail account since 2005, so my entire life is stored there. Every online account I have uses that email address for password resets. My email probably has enough information in it to get access to my banking, investment, and social networking accounts.
I've already enabled 2-factor authentication on my email and several other online accounts. (And I suggest you do the same for all the sites that support 2-factor authentication.) This way, even if someone steals my passwords, they can't access any of my accounts without my phone (by generating a new PIN) or my computers (which are already authenticated and don't need a PIN).
To prevent thieves from accessing my email, I've added a password to my phone. Currently it only asks for the password after 30 minutes of inactivity. This has three benefits: 1) if I'm mugged, the thief won't even know it is password protected if I've used it recently, 2) it's unlikely the thief will get much data off of it before setting it down for 30 minutes and getting locked out (everyone sleeps, after all), and 3) I don't have to constantly enter my PIN every time I want to use my phone.
On the computer side, both my laptop and my desktop are encrypted with BitLocker. BitLocker is dead simple to use, and I highly recommend you enable it on your computer if you have it. The way I have BitLocker set up, it asks for a password before booting. Until this password is entered, the data on the hard drive is completely inaccessible even if the thief puts the hard drive in another computer!
Finally, I encrypted my phone today. I don't know how much data is accessible on locked but unencrypted phones. Regardless, that data is now safe, too.
The window of opportunity for a thief to steal my data is very small. If my desktop is unplugged, then he can't access my data. If my laptop is turned off (which happens in about 1-2 hours due to its excellent battery life), then he can't access my data. If my phone is left alone for 30 minutes, then he can't access my data.
If you're like me and you stay signed in to all your online accounts, then you can't afford not to encrypt your phone and computers. If you don't, then why bother having passwords on any of your accounts at all? They don't matter if the thief steals your laptop that is already signed in!
Photo of Bletchley Park by Katherine
on April 26, 2015 by Kurt Tomlinson
One technique I find extremely useful when writing a letter, essay, or research paper is to search through the paper for a portion of a word. Suppose I'm interested in finding a section of my paper that uses the word "converter", or maybe it was "conversion"? I don't remember, so I hit Ctrl+F and type "conver". This brings up both "converter" and "conversion".
Unfortunately, Korean words are represented by syllable blocks, and each block is a single Unicode character. The Korean word for Korea is two syllables long and six letters long: 한국.
The find functions in both Google Chrome and Notepad++ treat syllable blocks as letters, not groups of letters. If I search for "하" in either application, the word 한국 isn't highlighted despite containing the character sequence "하" as its first two letters. (If you're wondering, here are the six letters individually: ㅎ ㅏ ㄴ ㄱ ㅜ ㄱ.)
This causes a bit of a problem when searching through Korean text. For example, it's impossible to find all forms of the basic Korean verb 하다 (to do) because many of its forms share no important syllable blocks at all: 합니다 (do - formal), 해요 (do - polite), and 할 거예요 (will do - polite).
Photo of Sejong the Great by Katie Haugland
on April 19, 2015 by Kurt Tomlinson
I had initially intended to describe and comment on the various types of market orders, but I think this post functions better as a simple bulleted reference.
Photo of New York Stock Exchange by Brian Glanz
on April 12, 2015 by Kurt Tomlinson
The Korean word for live fish is 물고기 (mul-go-gi). When you break that word down into its parts, you get "물" (mul = water) and "고기" (go-gi = meat). Literally translated into English, the Korean word for "fish" is "water meat". That sounds appetizing, doesn't it?
The word for dead fish, what you'd order at a restaurant, is 생선.
Photo by Chris Combe
on April 5, 2015 by Kurt Tomlinson
There are times in all of our lives when we'll be somewhere we don't want to be. At work, in line at the grocery store, at a funeral. Often when we find ourselves in these situations we begin to resent our current situation. This resentment puts us in a bad mood.
If you can find a reason to want to be where you are, then you've taken the first step toward having a good day. When you think, "I want to be here because...", you're forced to fill in the blank with something good. Being forced to think of good things makes it hard to be upset. Thinking hard to fill in that blank makes you realize that even in bad situations, there are still some good parts to be appreciated.
At a boring job, you can realize that on some level you do want to be there. If you didn't you'd have quit. Think of why you're there and what you're gaining and appreciate what you're getting from your job. Do this no matter how little you're compensated. In line at the grocery store, remember that you didn't have to grow the food you're buying. You didn't even have to worry about if that food would be in the store when you got there. That's pretty awesome. And at funerals, be happy that you had the chance to get to know the deceased. It's sad to lose a person that made your life better, but being at a funeral means you had the good fortune of having that person in your life.
Sometimes it's exceedingly hard to find a reason to want to be where you are. Everything is going wrong and you're trapped with nowhere to go. In these cases, thinking probably won't do much. You'll need to act. If you come up empty when trying to finish the sentence "I want to be here because...", try changing that sentence to "I'd want to be here a little bit more if..." Fill in the blank with something you can do something about, and do it. The action doesn't have to be huge. As long as you're doing something, you're making your life better. And as long as you're making your life better, you have something to be proud of. (Seriously, this could be as small as polishing your kitchen sink, if you have one, or smiling at a stranger and having them smile back.)
The best part about wanting to be where you are is it benefits others, too. By improving your situation you often improve the situation of others. If not, you're at least putting yourself in a better mood. Everyone loves being around people in good moods. It puts them in a good mood, too. So do yourself and everyone else a favor, and want to be where you are.
Photo by zeitfaenger.at