Encrypt Your Gmail/Yahoo/Outlook/iCloud Emails

Use Mailvelope to send and receive encrypted email. Uses PGP encryption, the same method Edward Snowden used to reach out to reporters in 2013. When used properly, with the private key protected, there is no known successful direct attack against PGP. Most attacks focus on indirect methods such as stealing a password, keystroke logger or snooping over someone’s shoulder.

1) Install Mailvelope on Chrome or Firefox
2) Create a public/Private key for yourself
4) Collect your friends Public key and import them to your Mailvelope Key ring.
5) Message away with complete privacy.

Always remember to lock your computer, and don’t share your private key or give anyone access.


Long Live The Lords Of Discipline

Yesterday Pat Conroy died at age 70. He appears to have died of cancer, which to me is a bit of a relief that he didn’t go out more like Hemingway. Conroy was very open about some depression he experienced and suicidal tendencies in his family. Regardless, the author produced several books that I consider terrific.

Most notably to me was The Lords of Discipline I enjoyed so much, it’s essentially embedded in my DNA as it ranks as one of the most enjoyable reads in my lifetime. Granted, I read it in high school, and the characters may now seem cookie cutter if you’ve seen a bunch of movies or books since its creation in 1980. However it’s easy to overlook the flaws as the writing is fantastic, the humor is suburb, and the emotional roller coaster is real.

The main character is a person that I think “coders” could appreciate. He experiences a brutal military academy with a critical perspective that many decentralized thinkers may appreciate. Logical questions about military training such as, “Why learn to march in unison?” or  “Why humiliate new members?”

The book also dives deep into young male emotions including friendship, honor, deepest purpose, love and challenging institutional establishment. Considering that the main character is a basketball skinny white guy with a wise-ass sense of humor, it’s no surprise that it was easy for me to relate to him. Yet people who don’t share my bias have often enjoyed this book, so I’d recommend it to virtually anyone.

Important to note that this is fiction. Conroy did go to the military school mentioned and followed a similar path as the main character, but the grand events are mostly made up. I don’t typically read fiction, but this one is worth it.

One of the best quotes: “Evil would always come to me disguised in systems and dignified by law.”

He’s written other good ones. If you want to read one of the most entertaining first chapters of a book, consider opening up The Great Santini. Also good was My Losing Season, a non-fiction book about the writing The Lords of Discipline.

RIP Mr. Conroy, thanks for your gifts to the world!

Atlas Shrugged Book Review

I read Atlas Shrugged in college, and it definitely ranks as one of my favorite novels. Growing up in a liberty-leaning household, a lot of the material was not new to me. However, for people who aren’t as exposed to liberty and especially entrepreneurs, this book will strike a cord with you that is not often heard. Common themes such as the “evil of profit” and how “the greater good” always seems to involve your pocketbook being emptied are addressed in this.

Amazingly this book is over 50 years old, and it still paints a very accurate picture of how bureaucrats and central authorities attack businesses, often with smiling, “I’m here to help” mentalities.

This book is a little long, and the author definitely deviates a little on some unrelated topics about sex that is kind of interesting, but could have been excluded in order to keep the book under 900 pages. There’s a speech that goes on for over a hundred pages that essentially retells the message the book already articulates, thus the reader can likely scan this without missing out on much.

If you tend to lean socialist and want central authorities to plan out people’s lives, this book will either change your mind, or make you angry. I have a hard time seeing a communist being able to actually finish this book.

In college, I was bombarded by all kinds of socialist material. I had an economics professor who said all prices from food, home to gas, ultimately need to be regulated by government. Ignoring how insanely oppressive this belief is (why can’t two people voluntarily decide what something cost?), this novel provides a much needed alternative perspective that impressionable college kids should be reading.

As I’m typing this, part of me wonders if a new type of book like this needs to be written for a new generation. Maybe I’ll add that to my to-do list when I have an insane amount of free time, which will probably be in 2040.

Anyway, if you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, I would encourage you to do.

The Secret Race is a Phenomenal Book

I just finished The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton. Awesome book especially considering it came out ahead of Lance Armstrong’s confession. I think I speak for a lot of current and former competitive endurance athletes that never had any doubt that the majority of cycling racers during that era were doping.

It’s really interesting reading Hamilton, who most regarded as a genuine nice guy, detail his journey from being a clean athlete into total doper.  The book doesn’t aim to make you feel sorry for him, but just simply understand how he arrived where he did.

Armstrong who by most accounts that I’ve read, and even two of my own personal experiences, is an abrasive egomaniac. Especially when you consider how much he aggressively tried to sell himself as a clean athlete and attacked those who challenged it. At some point during Lance’s career, he should have just stopped attacking his accusers and just said, “I have never tested positive on performance enhancers.” The accurate statement would have been boring and would probably have created a more sympathetic perception of him now.

Hamilton includes a couple fun analogies of guys being on EPO, “It’d be like you were in a weight room, and you saw a guy lifting an insane amount of weight, with one hand, and everyone acted like it was normal.”

Apparently he and Lance often yelled, “Not normal!” during races for guys that were racing abnormally well (I’ve adopted this phrase for fun moments with my 2 year old when something fun happens like a garbage truck knocks over a trash can — NOT NORMAL!)

One other thing that fascinated me was Hamilton’s discussion on weight. It was only for about half a chapter, but he says (I’m paraphrasing) , “I would rather have taken weight decline of 1-3% of his body weight over any performance enhancer!”  The sad reality is that being really really thin, allows you to run/cycle really really fast. This creates a tough dilemma for a lot of amateur athletes and especially their coaches. It’s pretty easy to turn a blind eye to potential health concerns of an athlete while she’s crushing her competition.

“How can she be unhealthy, she’s doing great??”

Definitely worth reading for people who like sports, cycling, tough life choices, or even just conspiracies.