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.

Custom Excel Function For Next Highest Prime Number

I’m still having way too much fun on Pastebin.com. Below is a formula I started while working out, but ended up getting a little more fancy after I tried to clean it up to run quicker. It calculates the next highest prime number after a given number (example: =NEXTPRIMENUMBER(100) = 101)

There are some regular Excel Array formulas that can be used to test true or false on integers being prime, but they are limited to testing values matching row counts, so no higher than 1.05 million (boring!). I did run into a weird VBA bug where I discovered the vba Function MOD ALWAYS converts its values to LONG parameters. I discussed this a little on Stack Overflow as this became an issue when trying to do bigger numbers.

Anyway, check this out if you’re bored or if you’re dying to know what the next highest prime number is after 10 trillion (it’s 10,000,000,000,037). It does this calculation in under 4 seconds on my laptop. Initially it was taking about 5 seconds to do a billion, but I cleaned up some redundancies, and it’s pretty good now. If anyone can enhance (using EXCLE vba), I’d be curious to see.

Best Method for LastRow/LastColumn In Excel

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve just started messing around with PasteBin and so I’ll post something I put there.

I think the most common beginner VBA question is “how do I find the last row of a sheet?” There are dozens of answers out there, but there are better ways to accomplish this. In my opinion, the best way is below using the below VBA script which I’ve turned into a formula you can paste into your file and get your answer. My post includes text stating why I believe it’s better. Other methods are vulnerable to uneven columns, usedrange being out of sync, or filtered rows. Using the FIND method avoids a lot of confusion.

This particular formula has some if statements so if a user selects an entire column or columns, it will return the lowest row in that range.

Excel should have this function!

 

Tony Robbins Book On Awaking Giant

I breezed through Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins while driving for an hour. It was interesting to read this after just finishing The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck . Quite a different approach to life of, “YOU CAN BE GREAT AT ANYTHING!” vs. “You are who you are, just accept it and pick your battles carefully….”

I did think Robbins was on point about attaching pain or pleasure to experiences. Other than that, I was mostly neutral on the book. Not negative, just kind of thought “meh, I guess” while reading. I returned it to Audible.

I Am A Believer in Not Giving A Fuck!

“Even if you get run over by clown car and get pissed on by a school bus full of children, it’s still your responsibility to interpret the meaning of the event and how to respond to it.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck is a best seller for a reason. I finished this in a single day while waiting around at the Nashville Airport. Author Mark Manson delivers fantastic insight on the journey called life in a refreshingly inelegant method. I’ve read quite a few “life” books the past few months (see other posts) and I’m guessing Manson has read most of them also  He did a great job of cherry-picking a lot of great philosophies and succinctly piecing them together in a comprehensive and entertaining book.

I recognized material from philosophers ranging from Alan Watts to Budah, and ideas from books such as Man’s Search For Meaning to The Charisma Myth. The author discloses that he read 50 non-fiction books in 50 weeks before writing this, so he has a strong wealth of information to pull from. He’s also well traveled and offers some different cultural weaknesses that modern America may be dealing with.

One of the newer insights this book offered me was challenging people to think how they want to suffer in life, as opposed to how they want to be happy in life. This is pretty ingenious if you think about it because no matter what you do, there will always be conflict. Like the famous song, “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” each path you take will lead to problems. The question is, which struggles do you wish to endure? Do you want your life purpose to be a parent or a business person? Both have problems. Interestingly, he mentioned to keep this in mind when picking a spouse because, “this is the person you’re going to have a lot of fights with.” That’s quite pragmatic.

A couple other less serious elements about the book I liked…

The Wire was mentioned twice!

The author admitted to taking LSD.

He highlights the lunacy of the characters in Romeo And Juliet (I love doing this also).

He trashes political correctness.

He points out how colleges try to suppress speech and coddle students too much.

He recommends playing life like a card game. I’ve always felt that a good analogy. You can’t control the hands you get, but you can control how you play them.

Anyway, I obviously recommend this book to anyone looking for a good modern “life philosophy” book. It’s entertaining, not too long, and full of a wide variety of good advice.

 

I, Woz A Terrific Read Showing The True Genius At Apple

I, Woz is the best book I’ve read thus far in 2017. I ripped through this 9 hour, 12-minute audio book in two days. Steve Wozniak’s autobiagraphy, especially the beginning, shows the internal thinking of a truly gifted mind and all the joy and curiosity it entails. I’m guessing that Wozniak really did write most of it, as the language definitely possesses his signature “stream-of-consciousness thinking”, prankster humor, and unmodest declarations of how awesome his work was, without really seeming arrogant. “Hey, it was the best, nobody had ever done anything of what I did…!”

A week earlier I finished reading Elon Musk Inventing the Future, and compared it to the Steve Jobs Biography. The Jobs biography gave clear examples of how brilliant Wozniak was, but uafter reading this, I consider Wozniak to be, the most admirable man to come out of Silicon Valley.

Hearing Wozniak talk about Steve Jobs just made me dislike Jobs even more than I already did (which is saying something). That man was bipolar, manipulative, inconsistent, narcissistic and not even that technically smart. Wozniak doesn’t even try to make him out as a bad guy, but he can’t exclude a couple key points that show a dark side of the former head of Apple.

Wozniak was smarter than pretty much everyone, and yet incredibly kind too. He threw concerts and gave away money to friends just because he felt the deserved it. One painful point was hearing how he gave up a bunch of shares of Apple to some dirt cheap rate to UK hedge fund guy he’d never met because he said he would months before. Wozniak felt he had to honor his unconditional promise even though the guy undoubtedly would have disappeared if the stock had plunged in value.

Yet the biggest value for me was just hearing Wozniak’s life motto. In so many words, he gives the advice that many successful people deliver. Do what you love, have passion, and really dig deep to understand something when you find that passion.

He made one point that hit pretty deep with me. Wozniak feels lucky that he was at the forefront of the PC age as his skillset was just right for that period of history. He also provides other illustrations of people living in the right place in history such as Ford at the start of the automobile. Then he went on to say that if you ever feel like you’re at the beginning of a technological revolution, that you feel you can contribute to — go for it.

I swear I felt he wrote that specifically for me to read this exact week (I know he didn’t, but it felt like it).

I am far from a Wozniak, but I do possess some technical skills. For years I’ve been fascinated with Ethereum and blockchain technology in general. I have been ranting to any poor soul who will listen how this technology truly could be the biggest technical game-changer since the internet. Ironically this week, Ethereum crossed the $50/share threashold — more than 80 times its inital value when it went live. While I don’t push it as an investment, this is quite frustrating that I didn’t dive deeper into it than I did. If I would done the braver thing of put my professional life on hold, took up a role in a startup as a developer — I likely would have felt more fullfillment and amazingly would probably be wealthier.

To be fair, I feel grateful to have regular work which I don’t think isn’t terrible. In fact, I think it is reasonably fulfilling! Yet it’s not something I’m really that passionate about. I work for a big corporation (which Wozniak also advises against!), and this blurb of the book about being at the forefront of a major technology got me thinking if I need to make a switch. The blockchain technology is still in its infancy stages so there’s still plenty of time to be a part of the inital movement.

Something to think about. If my employer reads this, I’m just kidding ha ha. Just trying to be prankster like Wozniak… ha ha…!

Elon Musk Book Inventing The Future Challenges Jobs And His Biography For Silicon Valley Greatest

I was not that familiar with Elon Musk before reading Inventing The Future, a biography up through his life in 2013. I knew a little about Tesla and Space X, so I started the book with a clear mind. Not very far into reading, author Ashlee Vance starts making comparisons to Steve Jobs. This was particularly interesting to me as I was a huge fan of Walter Isaac‘s biography of Biography of Steve Jobs. I personally am of the opinion that Steve Jobs’ wasn’t as admirable of a legend that many make him out to be, which Isaac’s unbiased account offered compelling evidence to support.

As a result, reading this book on Musk morphed into a comparison of four people for me. The objectivity of writing styles between authors Vance vs. Isaac, along with who was the more admirable Silicon Valley tycoon of Jobs and Musk.

Ultimately I felt that Vance’s writing was slightly too favorably biased towards Musk because it contained a tad too much unsolicited commentary about what great things Musk had accomplished. At the same time, this may not be fair because I think that Musk definitely is an incredibly more admirable individual than Steve Jobs was, and thus there are far more favorable things to say about him.

If one accepts all the evidence that author Vance offers, then Musk is an incredibly inspiring story of a man who has willed his way to success through sweat, pain, and relentless drive.

Unlike Jobs, Musk was an extremely talented technical resource. He was widely recognized as a proficient coder with a strong aptitude to problem-solve.

Unlike Jobs, Musk has always had a compelling case of a firm vision for every effort he has attacked. “Our objective is to go to Mars,” or some amazing yet very clear directive. Jobs’ visions were quite scattered and maddening to his team who had to pivot based on whatever juice Jobs had scoffed down for breakfast.

Unlike Jobs, Musk has endured some true suffering in life. Before Elon came to North America with almost nothing including a place to stay, he experienced a difficult childhood filled with bullying and emotional abuse. As an adult has endured tremendous setbacks of nearly being broke, having a child die, divorce and several other painful experiences. To anyone who thinks their life is tough and they can’t persevere, Musk offers an inspiring case of success.

Unlike Jobs who founded products that were destined to hit the market within 5 to 10 years in some form of another, Musk created two, maybe three product markets that it’s conceivable we may not have seen for 50 years or more. A private space company was simply unheard of and there hasn’t been much success in the battery and solar industry besides Tesla and Solar City.

Overall I did enjoy this book. As mentioned, I would have liked to get a little more balanced commentary on some of the pro’s and con’s of Musk’s life. The author tries to do so by interviewing some disgruntled employees but their voices seem less common than those offering tremendous praise.

Lastly, Elon Musk is a Burning Man enthusiast, so he’s clearly way cooler and more admirable than Steve Jobs.

 

Man’s Search For Meaning Review

I had heard quite a highly favorable reviews of the book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl. The book was a short, but inspiring read about each person finding their purpose to live. Founder of logotherapy, the author essentially says that a man must fulfill his deepest purpose, to find meaning life and the will to live on. There were lots of good quotes from various philosophers. One that stuck with me was Niche’s, “He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how.

One quote that wasn’t in the book, but has always stuck with me and seemed to encompass a lot of what this book was about was from the movie Flight of the Phoenix which says, “I think a man only needs one thing in life. He just needs someone to love. If you can’t give him that, then give him something to hope for. And if you can’t give him that, just give him something to do.”

The book challenges the reader to reverse the common question, “what is the meaning of life?” to instead ask, “what is my meaning for life?” It points out that even in suffering their is meaning, as he illustrates with his concentration camp experiences.

While I’ve never experienced anything like a concentration camp, when life has kicked me in the ass in the past (as it does everyone), I think it might have been good book to have. Presently I live in a town I’m not that fond of and every day I wish I could move to dozens of other cities. However, I’m here for the benefit of my kids — they like it and it works for their situation. While I don’t think my life comes anywhere near the definition of “suffering,” it is nice to know that my frustrations on my location are going towards a greater purpose.

I’d encourage any man or woman who is trying to find a why in their life to read this, or anyone who just wants to read a popular book that likely will come up sometime at a cocktail party. This book has been around forever, and for good reason.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters Details How to Raise Pioneers, Not Princesses

I had mixed opinions on Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. As a father with a daughter, and growing up without sister, this book had a vast amount of insightful information. I think all dads subconsciously know there’s a lot to protect your daughter from, and I’m pretty sure this book covered all of them.

Almost to a fault, author Meg Meeker overwhelmed the reader with a variety of risks facing girls today. So much so, that it become hard to understand what to focus on. In short, the book advocates to be that stereotypical dad who cleans his shotgun when boys come over, and gets all in his daughter’s business. The risks presented with regards to STD’s, eating disorders, depression and a slew of other issues offer a compelling case to be that dad.

At the same time, a good portion of this book was stories of parenting, and I got the feeling the author was cherry-picking the most egregious examples to drive home points.

I could also tell there was a not so-subtle Judeo-Christian agenda, which was confirmed in the later chapters when the author encourages everyone to practice some form or Christianity or Judaism. She justifies this with statistics illustrating church attending families raise less at-risk kids, but I might question the cause and effect nature of these statistics (i.e. does Church make daughter’s strong, or does the family that spends time together on Sundays seeking deep meaning in life make strong daughters?).

At one point I became pretty annoyed with this agenda during an example where the author details some high school girls going out partying in Mexico, and “shamefully”, one of the girls danced and drank with an older man who was married! Nevermind she didn’t know he was married, or why that’s objectionable behavior to dance with someone.

At the same time, there was a lot of good advice and it was refreshing hearing a book, performed well by Coleen Marlo, that idolized the role of a father. Here are a couple key points I logged:

  • There are two types of girls: Princesses and Pioneers. We ultimately want our daughters to be pioneers so that when things get rough, they dig into their own soul to solve problems and don’t look for someone to save them. Sons too for that matter!
  • We also don’t want their happiness attached to their appearance, which they’ll already be subconscious of. Thus comments that continually say, “you’re so pretty” may incorrectly give the message that our approval of them is stapled to their looks. I call my daughter “pretty girl” a lot, so I guess I need to cool off on that.
  • Have firm rules on what’s okay and not okay. My Pretty Girl Pioneer is pretty strong willed so there will be battles to come. And…
  • The fights will come! When they do, remember women like to test men’s resolve by throwing them off balance. Daughters will do the same. This was also discussed extensively in The Way of the Superior Man where women want to see if men really are committed to fulfilling their deepest purpose in life. So while she may slam the door at you grounding her, her respect for you holding to your guns improves.
  • Don’t spoil your kids with two much stuff. I personally need to work on this. My son is all about toys and “stuff”.
  • Have her back, and don’t throw the, “You should have known better” comment out when things go bad for her. You never want her to regret calling you in times of despair.
  • Be present. This one was tough to read about since I’m on the road a lot, but spending time is key. It doesn’t always matter what you’re doing, or even if it’s that much fun. Just being around, talking and listening helps her.

Anyway, as I said, I felt the majority of this book was worthwhile, but definitely found myself at odds with about a third of it. It’s probably a book every father with daughters should read just to arm yourself with events to come.