Friday, September 23, 2016

Hacking Your Hotel, Part 4

Tip #4: Hack Your Coffee

Why would you spend the time cleaning your hotel coffee maker only to brew the substandard coffee packet that typically comes in most hotel rooms?

The Upgraded Coffee Coffee Cartridges come individually foil wrapped to maximize freshness. This makes them the perfect travel companion. Some hotels even have Keurig K-Cup machines in their rooms making a perfect cup of mold-free, mycotoxin-free coffee only a button push away.

Even if your hotel does not have such a machine, you can still have great quality coffee using your hotel coffee maker, two cups and the Upgraded Coffee cartridge with a trick I learned from one of Dave Asprey's videos.
  1. Empty coffee grounds into first cup.
  2. Use coffee machine to heat water.
  3. Add hot water to first cup.
  4. Let coffee grounds soak, stirring and tapping the cup on the counter periodically.
  5. After a few minutes the grounds should have settled.
  6. Decant the freshly brewed coffee into the second cup leaving the "mud" in the first cup.
  7. Enjoy.

For further ways to hack your coffee, see my post regarding Bulletproof Coffee. With a good night's rest and a good cup of coffee, you will be ready for whatever your travel has brought you to do.

Stay well engineered,

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Identity and Digital Security

With Apple and Google doing their best to control what content is put on iTunes and Play respectively, we may have been lulled into a false sense of internet security. While Microsoft is by far the largest target, Mac has been gaining popularity and long standing belief that Mac OS is not susceptible to viruses, is just no longer true. No matter what operating system you are using we should be forever vigilant, but in the end it is just a matter of time before a breach will occur. Here are some tips to avoid breaches in internet security and how to ensure you can quickly recover from it.

1. Get an Antivirus

While not all antiviruses are created equal, and no antivirus is 100% impregnable, it is your first line of defense. Some higher regarded antiviruses are NortonMcAfeeTrendMicro and Avast. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have used these in the past and all have their strong and weak points, good and bad features. All of them have Android and iPhone versions as well.

2. Do Not Click, Close

This next tip is simple enough, but hard to remember when an issue arises. If a suspicious popup appears asking you to click on something, do not do it. There is an old Windows keyboard command for closing a window. Pressing the [Alt] and [F4] keys simultaneously in Microsoft Windows will close the active window; that is [Command] and [W] for you iOS users. For most smart phones, I believe you just need to long press your home button and swipe to close. It might not hurt to reboot your computer or mobile device just to sever your internet connect and clear your cache.

3. When in Doubt, Power Down

If you find yourself facing a never ending supply of pop ups, or someone else remote controlling your desktop, your best choice might be to power down. For Windows and iOS devices, press and hold the power button until the power shuts off, typically 10 seconds. Most Android users can try pressing the power button and volume down simultaneously until their phone reboots, while iOS users can press the power button and the home buttons simultaneously. If you act quickly, your data is likely safe on the internal memory, but you may require a third party to help you retrieve it depending on the damage.

4. Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords contain upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols in a unique combination that is not a word recognizable by a dictionary. This includes family names, pets names, street names, favorite teams, food or anything that could be related to you. For more on strong passwords, check out the Master Lock Vault website.

5. Use Email with Two-Step Verification

Two-Step verification is simply that it requires two credentials to login. These are typically the answer to a secret question and your password. In the event your account is locked out, an email or a text message will be sent to verify it is you that is attempting to access the account. I am in the process of transitioning from an ISP provided email address without 2-Step Verification to an online email address that does.

6. Use the Cloud Confidently

Many people are uncertain about the cloud. However, the easiest way to steal people's digital information is to steal their phone or computer. Furthermore, phones and computers can easily be damaged in a disaster like a fire or hurricane. Most cloud storage has 256-bit encryption. I am not a Computer Science guy, but bits can be 0 or 1, so two choices to the 256 power? That is a lot of passwords to try by brute force. It would take the fastest computer in the world years to break a strong password.

7. Never Give Any Personal Information Over the Phone

Despite all the advances in technology, people still fall prey to the phone scam. I never give information over the phone to people I do not know. If my account is past due, I will politely inform them that I will take care of it online. If my account has been compromised, other than to confirm which recent purchases that were not mine, they do not require anything further from me to cancel my account and send me a new card. Even providing your date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number could be enough to.compromise your identity.

8. File a Complaint

Internet Crime Complaint Center has links to Internet Crime, FBI anti-terrorism and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children complaints. If you have been the victim of an internet related crime, you can report it through the links found on the IC3 website.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hacking Your Hotel, Part 3

Tip #3: Hack Your Environment

I am sure you have spent a sleepless night or two on account of a room that was too hot, too humid, or so dry that your nose would not stop running. In nature, the sun goes down, the earth cools down and excess humidity presents as dew providing the perfect environment for sleep. Replicating this environment in a hotel room is critical for obtaining good sleep when you travel.

Hacking Your Humidity

Most humans prefer around 70% humidity. Many hotels have dry air, certainly in the winter. Some even have poor bathroom fans, so hacking the humidity in the room is as simple as turning on the shower for 20 minutes. As Dave Asprey showed in his video, some bathroom vents might need to be blocked temporarily with a piece of tissue.

In the case of humid climates, the air conditioning and shower may make the room too humid. In this case, may require you turning on the heat for a little bit, but that may require you to gain control of the thermostat.

Hack Your Temperature

Whether your aim is to raise or lower the temperature in your room, it will require that you have access to it. Some energy conscious hotel chains now have motion sensor thermostats, which are about the useless device for people who do not toss and turn or wake up frequently in the night. Thanks to the internet, you can usually find ways to get into manual or VIP mode. I am all for reducing energy usage, but you can have more impact with how you ser your thermostat at home and my sleep comes first.

With the temperatyure and humidity to your liking, you should have fewer issues falling asleep and staying asleep.

Stay well engineered,

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

External Brain, Part 2

One of my very first posts was about my first steps toward creating my "external brain". Everyone has different bandwidth, but everyone has their limitations. Storing your information digitally allows you to choose what you will spend your energy remembering. Locally stored files are not easily indexable, searchable or shareable. Digital files are.


Evernote is your digital filing cabinet in the sky (cloud). Notes are organized by Folders, which work more like binders, and Tags, which work more like folders with cross-reference capability.


Notes can simply be text, or contain attachments like photos or documents. You can type your text into the app, clip it from your web browser, or you can forward an email to capture the text. You can attach just about any file. Text in photos are searchable as are Microsoft Office documents, if you are a Premium subscriber.

Folders and Tags

I recommend limiting the number of folders to a dozen or less and tags to as few as you can manage. The search function in Evernote is pretty robust, folders and tags just help you get to frequently used data more quickly.

Upload, Upload Some More

What is really unique about Evernote is that they restrict you monthly upload size, not your total account size. Basic users can upload 60MB of content per month for free. Plus subscribers ($34.99/yr) can upload 1GB per month. Premium subscribers ($69.99/yr) and Business subscribers can upload 10GB per month.

Evernote and Email

Your Evernote account comes with an email address, so you can easily send information to Evernote through your email client. You can use "@" on the subject line to specify the target @Folder. You can also use the "#" symbol in the subject line to specify the target #Tag. One tip about emailing Evernote: The notes look better if the email is in Rich Text format; the HTML format emails become double spaced in Evernote.


A brief word about security. Evernote has a 256-bit encryption so your data should be quite secure, provided you have a strong password, consisting of at least 10-20 upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols.

With so much to gain with Evernote for absolutely free, you really have nothing to lose. Just take a few minutes to think about the fewest number of folders that can contain all your data and the fewest number of tags you would want to search or link similar documents with and you will be ready to make serious efficiency gains with Evernote.

Stay well engineered,

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.