Our Caribbean Border

Good reporting on how Puerto Rico is an important border for stopping drug smuggling.

Is Your CPU Spying on You?

If you have a Windows or Linux computer, that’s 3 or 4 years old, your computer may have some code which can be activated remotely, whether it’s on or not.

To see if this code is on your computer and to download a patch, click this link: https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/27150

Computer Security

I recently discovered ThioJoeTech, a YouTube channel, with short, useful videos on personal technology. Above he talks about his experience getting hacked by someone in China. Fortunately, he got everything cleared up.

He also suggests creating super strong passwords. What’s good about the video below is he explains with reasons I’d never heard before. All his reasons make a lot of sense.

On Computer Security

I’ve got a few tips for computer security after my last class on the topic. These are tips anyone can use.

Try the browser Codomo, which is fast and was designed for security. The website states that it’s a fast browser (which has been my experience) that offers top notch security against malware (that’s hard for me to determine).

My teacher uses LastPass to save her passwords, which is a free service to manage passwords. She is clear not to recommend it for fear she could be sued, it seems. (At her old school no one at the Help Desk could touch a student’s computer because they might be sued. (Geez. Our litigious society certain harms us.) I’ve started using it and like the ease of generating long passwords that are hard to crack yet easy for me because I don’t have to remember them.

You know how when you take an interest in a site or article often you have to register your email, yet you don’t want to give them your email and thereby start a long term relationship and you’ll be hearing from whatever company almost daily. My teacher mentioned that you can use 10 Minute Mail, which is like Trash Mail. You open an account to get an email address to give to a service you’re a bit interested in. 10 Minute Mail is just that, an account that allows you to give an email to a site, get verified and then forget about this address which will be deleted after 10 minutes. I like 10 Minute Mail better than Trash Mail, which requires you to provide another email address.

Also, I’ve now subscribed to the Consumer Reports’ webpages on Internet and Computer Security. They’re quite comprehensive and I can’t constantly search possible problems to stay up-to-date.

Urumqi Security

I was aware of the unrest and problems in Xinjiang before I went to Urumqi, but I wasn’t prepared for all the check points and security measures that are part of daily life in Xinjiang.

Hong Shan Park

Hong Shan Park

Occasionally, the Uighurs who’d like to separate from China take violent action. The Chinese hold the extremists or freedom fighters depending on your perspective responsible for a car bomb incident in Tianamen Square, a deadly, coordinated knife attack at a train station in Kunming, a bombing at a market in Urumqi and attacks lasting two days in Kashgar.

When I arrived in Urumqi my taxi from the airport had to get gas. This was my first taste of the security measures. The driver approached the gas station and stopped by a guard post. Then he motioned for me to get out of the car as he opened the trunk with my bags. All this was pantomimed so I was worried it was a scam, but no. This was normal procedure. I got out and was directed to a bench covered to keep the sun and rain off the waiting passengers. Only the driver can go to the pumps after passing inspection. A few minutes later the taxi re-appeared and I could go back in.

At the hotel I had to put my bags through an X-ray before I could check in. This would become routine.

Tank in a parking lot

Tank in a parking lot

When I visited the major park downtown, I was surprised to see a SWAT team outside the entrance. They were there every time I passed. After going through a metal detector and putting my bag through the X-Ray, I entered. Inside there wasn’t the usual joie de vivre. Some people had finished tai chi, but you didn’t see much dancing, badminton, exercising or martial arts. They had a lot of amusement rides that you paid for, but no one was on them. I did see a group of 4 soldiers marching through the park and later 4 police who were more like sauntering. In a few spots soldiers were posted to keep watch.

To take the air conditioned buses, you have to go through a security check and open up your bag. I learned you can’t bring water through the bus security. You can’t bring on lighters or yogurt. It’s in the 90°F+/36°C so I didn’t want to surrender my water each time I took the bus so I wound up finding ways to hide it in my bag, which was doable since they didn’t really think I’d be a terrorist, which a very safe bet. Still it’s such a pain.

Another Tank

Another Tank

I went to a Burger King one day and by the entrance they had a desk with a riot helmet, riot police shield, and wand for metal detection. I saw the same thing at a bookstore too. I never say a guard behind the door at any place, but think that perhaps these are props to keep people in line.

After awhile it just got to be too much. By mid-afternoon most days, I’d just get so tired of going through  security checks. I don’t know how people take it day after day all the time.