Good Kids Book: “How Much Is 20 Trillion” err excuse me “A Million”

As the US National Debt zooms passed the $20 trillion milestone this month, I thought it would be a good to recommend a book that I enjoyed when I was little, How Much Is A Million? This is a great book for little kids to illustrate how big some numbers are. Frankly, it’s a good book for grownups to read too.

Quick… without cheating, take a guess at how big these figures are:

  • How far would 1 billion US sized dollar extend if they were lined up like a road?
  • How long is 20 trillion seconds?

Answers are at the end, but suffice to say these big numbers are hard for grownups to fathom, and little kids don’t do much better.

In 2008 Hillary Clinton tried to backtrack on her claim of being under sniper fire by saying. “I say a lot of things — millions of words a day — so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement.”  

Ignoring my favorable or unfavorable opinion of the former first lady, this really bugged me. Here she is talking about misstatements, and then says something, from a numbers perspective, that is completely absurd! Taken literally, this would mean that she speaks more 23 words per second all day long. Even if you don’t know exactly how many seconds there are in a day (86,400), I would hope that you know there’s less than a million!! And the fact that she said millionS. Somebody get her this book!!!

Anyway…

Answers to the questions…

1 billion dollar bills would stretch around the world — 4 times (97 thousand miles).

20 trillion seconds is a really really long time… 634 thousand years.

Downgrading Utility Of Limitless Chrome New Tab

For about 5 months I have been using a Chrome extension called Limitless as my default “new tab”. During installation, Limitless requested my GMAIL credentials, which I I declined to provide. It works fine without them. However, in light of the recent Equifax data breach, I was curious to see what exactly Limitless was asking for.

As I suspected, the extension wants the ability to have total control of your email. Specifically:

View, manage, and permanently delete your mail in Gmail

At this point, alarm bells should be ringing loudly in people’s heads if they are entering in an active gmail address. Limitless’s privacy policy can loosely be interpreted as, “Even though the NSA, Equifax and Ashley Madison can’t keep their data secure, you can trust us and every employee that works for us now, or in the future, because your privacy is important to us! 🙂 ”

They do state that data is stored locally, and looking at their code, this appears accurate. However, they also state they may change this policy at some point in the future…

Sure, you could use a dummy gmail login, or none at all. However in principle, I’m tired of extensions asking to be trusted with information they simply cannot guarantee to remain secure. So I changed my feedback to negative 2 (out of 5) on chrome store and am going to drop the extension completely.

To be fair, Limitless is just one of MANY extension offenders wanting total access to your email. The point of this post is just to encourage people to drop these extensions, even if you don’t provide or even if they are semi-useful. If Limitless adjusts their policy I’ll change my Chrome extension feedback and followup with this post saying so.

As a side note, I feel like the “new tab” extension market is kind of weak. I may tinker with making my own. Maybe I’ll call it “LIMITED” as in the amount of data I’ll seek to collect from users!

Of Course Equifax Got Hacked!

Why is anyone shocked that another data breach results in millions of people’s information falling into the hands of criminals? Stated differently, if Ashley Madison, LinkedIn, and the NSA can’t keep their data secure, what makes people think a credit score entity is going to perform any better

I don’t know the specifics of this Equifax hack and I don’t really care. If I had to guess, I’d say probably inside job. For people that think their data is secure because they trust sites like “Google” they are looking at it the wrong way. A better question is, “do you trust every single employee at Google who has access to your data?” The answer is the same as what the NSA would say if asked if they trusted all of their employees (even before Mr. Snowden left the country), of course not!

The only thing that really matters in this situation is will the public recognize the need for blockchain technology and zero-knowledge services? Steller examples include LastPass, SpiderOak, and Signal all can face data breaches with a much stronger level of confidence because even if someone gets every bit of information on their servers, it is highly unlikely anything useful could be leveraged from it.

We live in the digital age. Signatures made with pens that my 6-year-old could mimic effectively is not security. Entrusting your data to corporations that have human employees, and have human errors will ultimately have data leaked. Hopefully, today’s painful lesson will beef up the requirements to take security more seriously. It’s really pretty easy, trust no one.