R.I.P. Bruno Nov 19th 2013

On the morning of Nov 19th we lost a valuable member of our family. Our 13 year old bulldog Bruno had to be put to sleep. He started having an extended seizure and there wasn’t much to do at the pet clinic except keep him sedated. It was time to say our goodbyes.

Even though he had arthritis, could hardly hear or see toward the end, he was still humping his stuffed gorilla the night before like an adolescent alpha male. He lived a long life full of love, delicious home-cooked meals, and giant stuffed animals. He was loved by everyone, and will never be forgotten.

Here is a video of Bruno doing what he does best. Eating, you wouldn’t even know that he is a million years old…

I Love You JCVD

I don’t know what took Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg or Jean-Claude VanDamme such a long time to finally break into commercials but, after such a long time of not seeing my favorite action star, I couldn’t be happier.

Update Holy Shit

This video was only released on Nov 14th, these are the youtube stats on 5:40pm Nov 15th. This is a commercial that 10 million people have seeked out to watch. Volvo didn’t even have to pay to place it anywhere. People really love JCVD. But for real, as far as an advertisment goes, this is an outstanding success.

Grand Theft Auto Adventures

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My favorite homey Franklin (dressed in a full basketball uniform) just finished eluding the police after going on a knife-sponsored killing spree in front of the movie theater because it was closed and I really wanted to watch “The Loneliest Robot in England.” I found myself in the rich hilly part of Los Santos and I thought maybe I would drive to the top of the highest cliff and drive off for no good reason. My ascent was interrupted by a man in the driveway yelling at his wife. Apparently they were having a lover’s quarrel and she was busy throwing all of his clothes and belongings out of the bedroom window into the driveway.

The gentlemen didn’t seem at all surprised when a black guy with blood all over his basketball uniform stepped out of the horribly smashed (and bloody) Lincoln. Instead he told me he was sick of this shit and wanted a ride to the golf course. Hm yeah ok get in. During the ride he was telling me something but I was too busy driving down the side of the cliff side trying to keep the car from flipping over to pay attention.

He thanked me for the ride and invited me to play golf with him… Sure why not, YOLO right? So there I was, Franklin in full basketball gear teeing up for my very first game of golf. I ended up +3 after nine holes, not bad at all for first timer! I got back into my beat-up car to get back to whatever I was doing… What was it anyway? I couldn’t find the way out of the parking lot and accidentally drove into the golf course. It was really fun driving my car as fast as I could through the rolling hills of the well-kept course, obviously I couldn’t resist running over as many golfers as possible. I wondered if I could find and run over the guy I just played golf with… Maybe I already did… These white-boys, they all look alike right?

Inevitably the police were called and we had a pretty outstanding chase and shoot out on the green of hole 6. While watching the death animation it bugged me that for some reason media coverage isn’t included in this game. You would think once a chase/killing spree lasted long enough news vans and helicopters would start coming to scene of the crime… Oh well, maybe GTA6.

Woke up at the hospital, stabbed the first person I saw … with a crowbar. Stole a car and proceeded to drive aimlessly on the sidewalk.

What was I doing again?

Slim Your Wallet

For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with not having anything in my pockets. Of course, that isn’t usually possible because generally I always had to have my wallet and keys in my pocket. In the early 2000s when everyone started getting a cellphone I was resistant. One of my primary barriers to entry was the distaste of having ANOTHER thing to store in my pocket.

Now I have three things: wallet, keys, iPhone. I cannot live without these three things, so I have to cope with heavy pockets. I can’t do much to adjust the weight and heft of my phone and my keys (I assure you I keep them very slim). My wallet, however, I do have full control over. I’m adamant about keeping a streamlined wallet. Why doesn’t everyone? When I see people pull out a giant brown brick (from their BACK pocket no less) I am shocked, and often angry. Why are you keeping all your crap in there? Why do you have such a huge wallet!? It is time for a wallet audit. Look at what I have in mine.

My wallet from BellRoy has exactly 5 items in it.

  • Drivers License
  • Debit Card
  • Credit Card
  • Key Card for my building of employment
  • Swiss Utility Card

Sometimes I put cash in it also, but I almost never carry cash anymore. It has no folds, three slots and that is all I need. Every time I put it into my pocket I get excited about how thin and light it is. It is easy.

First thing is first. You probably need a new wallet. Listen to the good people at Bellroy; you need to dump the trifold piece of garbage. All that extra leather is the problem. You should only need a card sleeve and nothing more. Then it’s time to look what is inside.

Credit/Debit Cards

If you have more than 2 credit/debit cards in your wallet you are living your life incorrectly. You could probably stand to cut some of those cards up and throw them away. You need a single debit card and a single credit card with you at all times. Leave the rest at home for your online shopping or whatever the hell you keep them around for.

Gift Cards

Do you have a Target gift card with $2.51 left on it? You have that $25 gift card for the Crave you have had since your birthday three birthdays ago diligently waiting for it’s big day to shine? Those useless cards take up a ton of space in your wallet and hardly ever get used. Here is my pro tip, keep the various gift cards in your car glovebox. Generally you will always be taking your car to the gift card’s rightful home anyway. Same with punch cards.

Change

Change is for kids. You have no business keeping change in your wallet. Weight to value change is totally horrible. Dump it in the tip jar, or put it in your car. Once a year you can cash it in and get a smooth $20 out of the deal.

Receipts

I hope in 2013 you have found a better way to store receipts than to keep them in your wallet. I have seen people with just STACKS of white receipt paper in their wallet. They are eventually going to file them all or something. First off, you need to learn about the internet. All of your credit card swipes are recorded and you can easily view them all, along with the date and location. If that is TOO easy for you, then you can take a photo of them on your phone and store them with DocuScan or Evernote or one of the hundreds of other apps.

Business Cards

This is a special case because it really depends on your business. I personally have no need or desire to have any business cards in my wallet. However some of the people I work with need to carry about 20 of their own, and collect a ton from other people. For the people that NEED to deal in business cards, I suggest finding another storage solutions such as: a card holder, laptop bag, or briefcase.

For those of you who don’t have a need for business cards, but still have a bunch in your wallet, I wish I could slap you in the face. Take them out and throw them away right now. If you get a business card you want, take a photo (assuming you have a smartphone of course) and add it to Evernote or whatever service you use.

Membership Cards

Things like gym memberships and AAA memberships cards you can most likely just leave in your car. Or you can keep a photo of them in your smartphone!

Trash

This next category needs little explanation, things like: buttons, paperclips, ticket stubs, bandaids, photographs, notes, and whatever else you have, throw it away.

Let’s go into some real-life examples of me auditing the wallets of my friends.

This is my friend Brian’s wallet. Look at all of that junk he could easily either throw away or keep in his car. There is no reason to junk your wallet up like that! Also notice his wallet is a bi-folder, all those extra layers of leather are almost doubling it’s girth. SLIM UP BRIAN!

Another of my friends Stephen. He has a TRIPLE FOLD wallet. That is so many unneeded folds giving it tremendous girth. In addition he is carrying 6 credit cards. I can’t imagine he needs all of them with him at all times. I bet some of them haven’t been used in months. As usual the regular amalgamation of gift cards, punch cards and business cards need to be removed.

Are you motivated yet? Perform a wallet audit today and send me the before and after pictures. I want to see them.

Memorable, Strong, and Unique Password Generating System

Ever since Evernote was hacked and the password database compromised, I started getting concerned about my passwords being broken and my accounts hijacked. I took a serious inventory of my passwords and I didn’t like what I saw. Although my “master password” was long and secure, it was the password I used for way too many accounts… Access to one of those accounts meant I was vulnerable to having my bank account accessed. But how can anyone remember more than one truly “secure” password?

I committed to finding a solution that was memorable, secure and different for every site I visit. I stumbled upon a popular xkcd comic about password strength. It made me think.

The good news is, I can use phrases to make secure passwords, which can in fact be easy to remember but hard to break. But unique for every page? That is still a challenge… Then I remembered hashing technology. You can feed anything through a hashing algorithm to get disgusting-looking secure passwords like these:

  • b0905560869cbcaad7870eed80bf0a8a78c6e631
  • 137519e625ff10d62383e3452f5d03792cb8e452
  • 05023df71bbae6fbd874300fe43da5de254c4772

If you didn’t already guess these are SHA1 hashes. Try it for yourself. How does this help? Well now I can use a systematic approach to coming up with password phrases, like these (add capitalization and punctuation for added security):

  • alexkrasny password ebay
  • alexkrasny password amazon
  • alexkrasny password wellsfargo

Then I run these phrases through a SHA1 (or whatever) hashing algorithm to get long, disgusting, impossible to remember passwords. This solves all of my problems! Easy for me to remember. Hard for people to guess. Different for each site.

People will say SHA1 hashes aren’t even secure blah blah. Well let’s break it down. There are two ways your password can be found and broken.

  1. Someone guesses it.
  2. A major website gets hacked and the hashed password database is compromised.

In the case of a human guessing those absurd hashes? That would be nearly impossible. It would take a quattuordecillion years (that isn’t made up)! Even if someone KNOWS you are using a SHA1 hashing system, they still need to guess the pass-phrase. The beauty of this is you only need to remember a single pass phrase “my password at X” and it creates a unique password for every site. Even if someone somehow sees the hash, there is no way they could get your pass phrase out of it.

In the case of a major password database being compromised? Well if that is the case, the hackers can still crack your password. Hacking a hashed password database is actually almost identical to simply guessing your password except they are guessing thousands at a time. The hackers aren’t actually inputting passwords and either getting it right or wrong. They are hashing a guess, and comparing the hash to the database and seeing if it matches. If it does, it replaces the hash with the pre-hashed password. The whole process is well explained in this comprehensive article on Ars Technica about password hacking.

Although the article does make it seem like passwords are hopeless, the key takeaway is, if the source password is complex, it will be hard to crack. Hackers will likely stop cracking the database before getting to the most complex of the passwords.

Because you are already inputting a hash as your password, and then the website in question is RE-HASHING it, your source password is actually very long and complex. Of course if a website you have an account on get’s hacked, it’s a good idea to change your password. In the LEAST you can be comfortable knowing that only a unique and specific password is in danger, not your entire life.

As for password management, I am a huge fan of the LastPass extension. You just add it to your browser and it stores and organizes all your passwords. Whenever you add a new one, or change one it asks if you want it recorded. Just make sure you have a secure password for your LastPass account! Also make sure to read the great password management tips on Penguininitiatives using a KeePass and Dropbox system.

Do you have a better system? I would love to hear about it! Please let me know in the comments below.

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New Year Success

Investing in Vests

I have a vested interest in investing in vests.

~Alex Krasny