Stand and Deliver, Your Domain or Your Life!

This is certainly a first and maybe a sign of the times when the world of olde meets the modern world. A man armed with a gun, forced himself into some ones home who owned a particularly valuable domain name. The raider held the domainer at gun point, forced him to log in to his registrars control panel before attempting to make him transfer the domain name to a unknown third party. 

"Gunpoint

Long ago, Stand and Deliver, Your Money or Your Life was a staple of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin. I guess in modern times money could be gold, flashy car, mobile phones and these days recent additions include BitCoins and crypto-currency. Now it it seems common criminals have recognise the growing value in premium domain names.

Sherman Hopkins, 43 broke in to a house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the USA armed with a Gun. Instead of stealing Jewellery, Flat screen TV or a car. Instead Hopkins held 26 year old, ex-godaddy employee Ethan Deyo at gunpoint and attempted to steal an as yet not revealed by the police domain. 

A report in TheRegister says a reverse domain search revealed no valuable domains but did uncover the potential for domains to be protected by privacy which means someone, some how knew they owned a valuable domain protected by a privacy service. My guess is, this unknown third party is the someone who some how knew, it will be interesting to see what this domain is when its finally released. I mean this a domain that someone valued high enough to break and enter, hold at gun point and kidnap a man to obtain. 

Sherman Hopkins will be spending a long time in prison, for First Degree Robbery, First Degree Burglary and First Degree Kidnapping and won’t be a pretty prison either given the rap sheet. 

Average Speed Cameras on Busy Roads

I was reading an article about those crazy Dutch people, on the one hand very liberal with the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, Techno, but when it comes to driving they are very much the opposite. The latest idea is to use Average Speed Cameras or SPECS (for us) the type we often see around road works on the motorway with a 50mph limit but on provincial roads. This appears to include UK Equivalent of A-Roads.

SPECS Average Speed Camera

SPECS AVG Speed Camera

I did a little research and it seems the Dutch have a kind of similar system to us, only they have a version of the Autobahn called the Expressway for faster vehicles, along with Highway (Motorway) and Trunk Roads these are supplemented by the Provincial Roads, which which are a mixture of Major A-Roads (2+ Lanes) and Dual Carriageways. We in the UK are already taking this step with the Major A Roads such as the A14 and A40, but there are calls to introduce these on less major A-Roads, such as the A6. There are a few stretches between Manchester and Stockport, and Stockport and Hazel Grove which are of concern. One of them once had 3 speed cameras within 1 mile, which had an interest legal case where someone got hit by all 3 but argued it was a single speeding offence caught 3 times. 

The research has always shown that when people see a speed camera they often dangerously brake increasing the risk of causing a collision. This is part of the reason they are painted yellow, locations are listed, and in general police don’t hide when using speed guns. On a side note its worth noting the police mobile cameras get you up to 1 mile away, and only need an area the size of a door mirror to get you, so by the time you see them, they already have you. It has also been shown that many persistent and deliberate speedsters, will simply slow down for a camera and then leadfoot it right after. 

SPECS Cameras

A new type of camera were created called SPECS which are Network Cameras, oddly SPECS isn’t an acronym or anything and has no meaning, but its a SVDD (Speed Violation Detection and Deterrent) System which uses long range ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) tracking over the network of connected cameras. Specs on the A40 for example the cameras are between 950 meters and 5,198 meters (approx 1km and 5km) apart, so they aren’t always the same distance.

Inner Ring Road Manchester

Inner Ring Road Manchester

Its also been suggested that consecutive cameras are not always linked, and they can be randomly linked or clustered into groups. I’ve created a fake average speed zone on the Inner Ring Road in Manchester City Centre. If you imagine Red, Blue and Black are only connected to each other 24/7, and randomly Black Connects to Blue, and sometimes Black to Red and so on. This method is called Alternating Groups in a Many-to-Many Formation. This system I would say is to make it impossible to game the system, but also means its potentially possible you could get away with speeding if a situation like 6-7-8 existed, where 3 consecutive cameras are in  groups so aren’t connected.

There have been people who have used techniques convoys blocking blocking each others number plates at alternate cameras, so the systems evolved and the many-to-many connections makes this impossible. It won’t stop people trying their luck. A freedom of information act request has revealed that around 30% of all traffic cameras are not functional, due to damage or simply being switched off. The actual cameras which are off, are not published for safety reasons. 

This in theory means that on a major A-Road say the A6, if you were travelling from Manchester to Derby, which is about 60 miles with the vast majority being 30mph roads. You could pass 50 SPECS cameras, each one would calculate your speed over the last 1 to 60 miles depending on connections. If you passed Camera 1 in Manchester at 13:01:23 and suddenly you pass camera 2 in Adwick at 13:02:53, the system determins you drove at an average speed of 40mph between Checkpoint 1 and Checkpoint 2.

It also means you could pass camera 1 in Manchester at 12:00, then camera 27, nearly 30 miles away, at 12:50 and the system would know you had speeded. Should this happen, one would hope camera 27 would check your data points between 1-27 since you may have taken a different road which a greater speed limit. However the potential for this sort of system does exist, and the Dutch maybe about to implement it. 

 

SPECS Camera image by DeFacto, Map by Google Image, modified by Steven.

Reuse Amazon Prime Day 2017 Boxes

I don’t know about every one else but I had a heap of boxes from Amazon, including a somewhat surreal incident where Amazon delivered a Russian Doll inspired series of boxes. I always reused the Amazon Packing Paper, often as note paper, or lining paper for paining / spraying and sometimes even as packing paper again, I just roll it up, rubber band it and its there when I need it. I also reuse the boxes but can’t reuse the packets sadly.  

Amazon Prime Day Packing Paper Rolls

Amazon Prime Day Packing Paper Rolls

This prime day Amazon gave me a Russian Doll Box. The largest Box had 2 x 6ft SyncWire MicroUSB, 100ft / 30m Expanding Hose Pipe, 2 hair conditioner products and 1 slightly smaller box. Inside the slightly smaller box was 1 case of Reflex Nutrition Protein Coffee, Perspi-Guard 50ml, Beard Oil, and other toiletries. Inside the larger of the 2 smaller boxes was 2 more cases of Reflex Nutrition Protein Coffee, in the smallest box was an Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Fire Stick and a few small items. I kind of wish I had taken photo’s of it as it were truly surreal. The Amazon Echo was in separate box on top of the other boxes. 

Amazon Packing Paper

I reuse this stuff for all sorts. Mostly I use it for notes and masking paper. If I’m drawing, painting, spraying or anything like that, I use this to mask off areas. Like I’m going to do some swirl marks on he car, so I purchased some Hycote Clear Lacquer also from Amazon Prime Day. I’ll use the packing paper with low-tac tape to protect area’s around where I’m working.

I also use it when doing messy tasks or when my sisters kids are over being messy. It can just go directly into the Burnable Skip at the Recycling Facility or if not too messy into the Local Authority Paper Recycling bin. 

I have also used it as wrapping paper for posting packages, and reused as packing paper for padding too, going full cycle. 

Amazon Boxes

Amazon Prime Day Packing

Amazon Prime Day Packing

I reuse the smaller A4 Paper size boxes for home storage. The biggest boxes I use for Charity Donations, whenever Amazon send me the large boxes (Approx 20″ x 30″), I have a sort out and fill it with Charity Shop items. 

My purchase of an Amazon Echo means my old small bluetooth speakers are no longer required and only worth £10 on ebay, but I can Gift Aid them to the local Animal Rescue Charity. The FireStick means I can donate my old NowTV box which I paid £20 for with 6 month entertainment pass, but is now only used for BBC iPlayer and 4-On-Demand, that can go to the Charity Shop too. 

Its well worth donating your old items which are often replaced by Amazon orders to Charity, use the Amazon Boxes as the Impetus to have a sort out. Everyone has a cupboard or drawer or something which needs sorting out, the Amazon Box is your proverbial kick in the ass to get around to it. 

Failing that, the Amazon Boxes work well for packing and storing your goods, or shipping gifts to friends and family or back to the seller from other places (as if you shop anywhere else). 

Charity Shop Bound

I am visiting the Charity Shop on Monday with a Pressure Cooker, Now TV box, Bluetooth Speakers, while I was sorting the Pressure Cooker out, I decided to get shut of a load of plates which were bought for a family event but not used in years. This lead to more kitchen sorting out and now I have filled the medium and large Amazon boxes.

After the Charity Shop, its on to the recycling facility to get rid of 3 bags of rubbish, then I have to get to cleaning and touching paint up which all this sorting revealed.  

Now its your turn to make use of those boxes rather than just flatten them and recycle them. 

Who Let The Dogs Out, Who?

There is talk of a law coming in UK Wide, which is already (I believe) in force in Wales, where dogs must be properly secured within the motor vehicle. This law will not only apply to dogs but to any and all animals, which must be safely secured for every journey. Obviously there will be some leeway for emergencies, and mistakes but I wouldn’t expect too much leeway. 

Rules 57 of the Official Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving, or injure you, or themselves if you stop suddenly (aka Crash)”. Having unrestrained pets in a vehicle is putting drivers at risk of being distracted. There is no official penalty (at this point) for this offence within the Highway Code or Law of the Land, should you be pulled up (currently) or cause an accident you would be charged with “Driving without due care and attention”.

Dire Consequences

This comes with Nine (9) Penalty Points and up to £2,500 Fine, and should it be an extreme or serious breach, you could be forced into a compulsory ban, and forced to get an extended re-test of both theory and practical test no matter how long you’ve been driving. If you haven’t already been subject to the New Drivers Act (2 year probation period) you would then become subject to that for a further 2 years.

This would put you a new driver with 9 points on your provisional, once you pass, it would only take 3 points to put you up to 12 points and another ban for 3-6 months. You would then need to do another re-rest. It would be a horrible situation to be in.

Even if you wasn’t banned, 9 points would put you 1 offence away form a ban, or if you already had a speeding/red light/mobile phone offence it would result in a ban too.

This isn’t even the worst of it, if you cause an accident or are in an accident which is caused by an unrestrained or unsecured animal / pet, the odds are very high your insurance could refuse to pay out. 

Basic Guidelines

There are some basic guide lines for when travelling with pets or animals within a vehicle.

1, Don’t allow your pet to ride with its head hanging out the window, its potentially dangerous and cause injury.

2, Ideally keep your pet in the rear of the vehicle with a barrier net

3, Always carry a large bottle of water (5 litres, £1 from most supermarkets) in case your pet overheats and needs to be rapidly cooled down in an emergency.

4, Keep a water bowl and water available for your pet.

5, Use Sun Shades on the windows when its warm/hot, and the sun is bright.

6, Never leave a pet in a hot car.

7, Don’t feed your pet within a few hours of travelling to avoid car sickness.

8, Pack your pets favourite toys, or blankets to give your pet a sense of familiarity.  

9, Consider carrying a pet first aid kit for emergencies. 

10, Never drive with the Pet on your knee or the drivers side of the vehicle. 

Dog out of Car Window image by freestocks.org.

Grenade Hydra-6 Chocolate Charge

Grenade Hydra 6

Grenade Hydra 6

In my ever growing pursuit to make the protein numbers up in my daily marco’s, I’m always swapping things, adding things and dropping things to make it all work. I have been having a Micellar and Iso/Hydro Whey mixture just before bed for ages to add a slow trickle of protein to feed the muscles while I sleep.

I mix Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein with either Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey or Gold Standard Isolate Whey which were my go to products, but the results aren’t amazing. I have tried Extreme Milk Chocolate and Double Rich Chocolate and various others along with Chocolate Supreme Casein and the flavours as stand alone products are good, but when mixed they are not quite meshing together.

Think of it like mixing Heinz Beans with supermarket own, they won’t quite mix, its the same idea with the proteins.

I decided I needed a properly blended version with the same flavours adding to both by machine.

The Taste Test

I opted first up to try Grenade Hydra-6, its a 50/50 mixture of Micellar Casein Protein and Isolate Whey Protein.

I were a little surprised by the taste, it takes like, you know how you get chocolate cookies which are pale creamy in colour, and you get cookies which are dark chocolate coloured, they taste more like the darker colour cookies. I’m not talking about like Oreo cookies taste, but maybe that colour, its definitely a chocolate chip cookies taste. You can taste a few pops of different chocolates which are very nicely blended.

Its a little thicker than just Hydro Whey or Isolate Whey due to the casein, which is thicker and grittier normally, but the Whey smooths it out and makes a nice shake. The casein I think is a darker chocolate taste. Its really smooth without being blancmange like, some I have tried end up almost like a blancmangey-porridge and stodgey.

One of the points I really wanted to point it, I mix my shakes up in advance, and often they separate, and look lucky. The Grenade Hydra-6 doesn’t separate, least not in the 6-8 hours between my mixing and drinking. This means you could make up 2-4pt in a milk bottle and keep it in the fridge for a 24-36 hours to save having to wash your shaker constantly.

Authenticity

Grenade Plastic Seal

Grenade Plastic Seal

I bought this one from Amazon, and when buying from Amazon, I only buy directly from Amazon mostly because you’re dealing fully with Amazon and their A-Z Promise is rock solid. I however still always check authenticity and the date printed on products I buy.

Not that the dates are the be-all-and-end-all with protein powders. At a recently body building show, I were talking to a rep from a huge multi-national protein company and he were saying as long the powder is kept dry, sealed and stored at a constant temp away from sunlight it should be good for a year over expiry easy.

Either way I always check the plastic seal, Grenade, Optimum Nutrition (the 2 products here) both both a printed/branded plastic tamper-proof seal on the neck. This increases the seal but is also the first step to ensuring its not been tampered with or counterfeit.

Next, once you remove the seal (in ON’s case) or break the seal (in Grenades case) and unscrew the lid, you come across a hermetic sealed cardboard lid sealed to the bottle which ensures freshness and a further guarantee against having been tampered with or counterfeit.

Both the Plastic Seal and the Paper Lid are part of the authenticity, fake products virtually never have these touches, be sure to check. You will also notice the lid is also embossed or relief printed with the companies logo or name, and the print is crisp and clear.

Password Security Tips

Failed Login Attempts Steven

Failed Login Attempts Steven

I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of passwords but I have always followed some basic rules. Rules which a few websites have found causes issues for their systems but more on that later. I was recently discussing passwords with a few people and they were moaning “These days you have to have capital letters, numbers and punctuation and more craziness, different passwords for each site and how do you even remember them all.” to which someone said “I used the same password for everything, a pets name (pronoun) and and a date near enough for them”, it was bizarre. Most agreed that they used a similar formula to the above, so Spot1966 or something. 

The similar formula being a Name or Word followed by a Date, usually Year, which makes it so easy to work out and should a system be compromised which has stored more information you could be in trouble, if they get your password and email its double dodo. This prompted me to write this article with my unique take on the matter.

The above image is the login attempts for my blog, I don’t know what time frame WordFence tracks if its weekly or monthly, but that’s with the login page being hidden, not standard, with captcha enabled and a hidden field. Without those steps it used to be 1,000s of attempts. Password Security is Important.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to assume your password is Password, and show you how to evolve this into something really hard to crack. I wouldn’t recommend using password by the way even with how hard we’ll make it to guess.

Custom Language

I work on a basic set of rules which makes up my own custom alphabet, which incorporates L33t Speak, Text Speak and Abbreviations (Ininitialisms), and mash them into a mnemonic or sorts. I don’t mix and match them as I go, I chose a set of rules and stick to them. Its hard to explain without telling you my exact combination so I’ll give you a character map of sorts, lets start with an alphabet.

Hacker Screen

Hacker Screen

L337 $p34k

A = 4 or @
B = 8 or 13
C = { or (
D = l) or I)
E = 3 or £
H = I-I or l-l (i or L)
I = ! or l (L)
K = I< or l<
M = lvl or /\/\
N = l\l or IV
O = 0 or ()
P = []o or 9
Q = O, or &
R = 12 or l2
S = 5 or $
T = 7 or -l-
V = \/
W = \/\/ or []v[]
X = >< or *

You’ll notice I have used Uppercase i and Lowercase L, or ) and }, other times I have provided 2 different options 4 and @ for A as an example. Choose 1 and stick to it, otherwise you’ll end up confused, and forget your own unbreakable password.  

Password can now be 9@$$VV012I) in full L33t speak or 9a$$w0rd in a sub-set, or P@$$wOrd, thats a capital P and Capital O, like I said pick and choose which letters you want to change, and use them every time. I would suggest 2 vowels and 6 consonants, so in Password I chose AOPS to change, so I would always change AOPS in other words too. 

One issue I had was, one website I used didn’t allow special characters as the first letter, so my password started with an $, it caused so many problems with half the website accepting and half not. The password were so complex not even the system accepted it heheh 😉

Initialisms

This is where the magic happens to take your password to Password 2.0, the next level. These are nearly unbreakable passwords, and they employ an old learning method called Mnemonics and Initialisms, that is a sentence shortened to an Initialism, you should be careful not to let your mnemonic/initialism become an acronym, you don’t want it pronounceable. 

I often chose a quote from a film or a poem, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” for example. This would give you Arbaonwsas (Google this, its known, don’t use it) which is already a bad ass password (but maybe in some word lists), now lets L337 speak it to the next level. 

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet = Arbaonwsas = @[email protected]$@$ = @12840IV\/\/$4$

Make it as complicated as you wish, you may have noticed I switched from @ to 4 for my letter A, that’s because I chose to use @ for Capital A and 4 for Lowercase a just to make it even harder. Remember your new alphabet, use it. 

Text Speak

You can throw a little Text Speak in too, I generally only use a few pieces, just to mix it up. If my Sentence or Quote has the words Are, You or says OK or similar, I will employ some text speak like:

Are = r
You = u
OK = k

You Talkin’ To Me ? You Talkin’ To Me? = Ut’2m?Ut’2m? = U7’2IvI?U7’2IvI?

Try your own, I always try to not choose something that’s massively popular and go for someone from a film or book I enjoyed and then L33t it, Text It and Mnemonic it up to the next level of unbreakable password. 

Hopefully this has been helpful, I have included some random words below to help you get the idea. 

Angel = @ng3l
Coconut = C0c0nu7
Steven = 573v3N
MobilePhone = M0b1139h0n3
Speaker = $p34ker
Laptop = L4pt0p
Mother = M07h3r
Sports = 5p0rt5
WordFence = W0rdF3nc4
Twitter = Tw177er
WordPress = VV0rd9r3ss
Computer = C0N\9u73r

Really make it as complicated as you wish, take a peak at Ashley Madison Password List and be sure you don’t use similar names. 

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