Writing in Markdown with Typora

In an earlier post called A Novel Approach to Writing, I presented my setup for creative writing using the Atom text editor and Markdown files. Since then, I’ve found an even better writing program called Typora. And while it’s not open source (or even out of beta), it’s such an amazing little program that I couldn’t help but write about it.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I’m not affiliated with Typora or its creator.

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Freedom

“DSCN8449”by Yuen-Ping aka YP is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What does freedom mean to you?

Freedom is the ability to pull yourself away from things that limit your potential. Freedom from obsession, from doubt, from criticism (both self and from others), from social norms and expectations. Freedom is an escape from the artificial worlds we build around ourselves and the impositions that we place on ourselves because of them. Freedom is the permission to be who and what we truly are: not as people or citizens, but living, breathing, thinking, and feeling animals.

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Please, Use a Password Manager!

“Locked Padlock”by Twjst is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Troy Hunt posted an article on poor password protection practices (try saying that fives times fast), resulting from an analysis of a major corporate data breach. Some of the highlights were:

  • 93% of passwords are only 6 to 10 characters long
  • Two-thirds of passwords are reused across different services
  • Over a third of passwords can be found in a common dictionary

This is bad news for two reasons:

  1. Lots of passwords are easy to guess
  2. If an attacker guesses a password, chances are they can use the same password to access other services

The key is to use passwords that are long, complex, and difficult to guess. The challenge, of course, is that the harder a password is to guess, the harder it is for us to remember.

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Easy Adware and Malware Blocking on Android

Letter box in brick wall.

Digital ads are a disaster. While ads themselves are a legitimate and often necessary source of income for service providers, the way they’re delivered to users can be downright malicious. On mobile devices, ads have been shown to drain battery life and surreptitiously deliver malware, without the content providers even being aware of it. Until content providers can get their act together, it’s up to users to protect themselves.

In this post, I’ll present a convenient, root-free way of blocking ads on Android devices using free and open source tools.

tl;dr: download Steven Black’s hosts file and the Vpn Hosts app from xfalcon.

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No, Millennials Aren’t Killing Open Source

I came across an article about the lack of interest in open source software among younger programmers. And while I think it’s an important topic and worth discussing, I think the article misses a few important points about who millennials are, how we were affected by changes in computing and why so few of us seem to care about open source.

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The Hidden Dangers of Self-Help

Wanting to better yourself as a person is a noble and admirable endeavor. As humans, we have the power to think critically about our actions and our behaviors. More importantly, we have the power to change them. This insight and desire for change is a core tenant of what we call “the human experience”, but it’s also a core part of our suffering. As someone who is actively working to overcome my own faults, I want to take the time to look into the idea of “self-help” and how it can actually be damaging when applied in the wrong ways.

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Showcase: Using PixelMaestro to Control an LED Matrix on an Arduino Mega

This past week saw the release of PixelMaestro 2.0, and with it, a bunch of fixes to device communication and control. You can now plug in any Arduino-compatible board with an attached LED strip or matrix and start controlling it in a matter of minutes. Not only can you send commands to it in real-time, but you can upload complete configurations and store them in EEPROM for long-term storage, even across reboots. This was possible in previous versions of PixelMaestro, but now it’s even easier.

This post demonstrates some of PixelMaestro’s new device integration features and example sketches.

PixelMaestro on an Arduino Mega
Controlling an LED grid on an Arduino Mega using PixelMaestro

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Digital Wellbeing: How Google Wants to Get You Off of Your Phone

Google’s Digital Wellbeing app found its way onto my phone yesterday, and it’s an interesting new app. Unlike most apps, which fight to hold your attention as long as they can, Wellbeing is all about getting you off of your phone. For a company that amassed its fortune on clicks and views, this seems counter-intuitive. What exactly does Wellbeing offer, and can it actually help you spend less time on your phone?

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The Three Cs: Confidence, Creativity, and Compassion

Most of us experience at least one major shift in how we perceive the world. Whether it results from a traumatic event, or from the natural aging process, at some point we find that our old habits no longer serve our current needs. For me, one of these shifts happened earlier this year.

After taking some time to reflect on the experience, I set about summarizing my thoughts into a set of simple guidelines. These guidelines are meant as a motivational tool to keep myself focused on the things that are the most important to me. I called these guidelines the Three Cs.

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