Recommended Reading

Every so often, Bill Gates publishes his reading list, which is always pretty interesting. They are also usually pretty high-brow, which is ok but not perhaps what everyone is looking for.

I have my own humble list, but they are books I really think are essential:

  1. The Barefoot Investor – this is an Australian book that gives very sound money advice. It is very practical for Australians but the general lessons are applicable (with some research) anywhere. Vital reading for everyone from 15 to 90.
  2. Factfulness – a book to help you read and think past the vested interests that are killing our ability to discuss world issues and solve them.
  3. The Driver in the Driverless Car – describes our future based on technology innovation. Parents need to read to guide their kids, and kids need to read to understand where the careers of the future are. Spoiler – it is not being a driver.

I found each of these a relatively easy read and hope you will too.

Passwords and Security!

I just finished registering some new tools this morning, and like nearly everything these days the company asked me to set up a logon for their site. I now have 603 logons (more or less) for different sites. I suspect most of us have many, perhaps not that many.

I was asked for a password. I thought it might be useful to people to know how I manage this. First of all, I have a few rules:

  1. I try not to reuse passwords on different sites. We see so many examples of sites being compromised, I want to eliminate the risk of say my power tool company being hacked and giving up a password for my Internet Banking.
  2. I use complex passwords, usually 16 characters including upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. I get these randomly generated so there is no pattern to guess.
  3. I don’t write the passwords down anywhere someone might easily access them.

So how do I manage 600 or so passwords? I use 1Password. There are a number of tools like this, this one has a family plan that lets five family members share a subscription. 1Password runs on computers, tablets and phones, which means you always have your (encrypted) passwords and other key personal details with you. I have a recovery code printed in my safe at home, which also means that my estate could access all my information when that is necessary.

The best thing about 1Password is that it can automatically fill in a logon form on a web site, so you don’t need to remember those hundreds of passwords, and you can even use biometrics (like fingerprint) to open 1Password.

I really recommend using this process to minimize your risks of being hacked.

Networking at the Beach

We moved to New Zealand from Singapore at the end of 2017. I already knew Internet access in New Zealand was more expensive for less speed than I was used to in Singapore. What I didn’t know was that when our subdivision was built, our section was bypassed by the then Telecom New Zealand and we had no access to wired Internet. Fibre won’t be coming here for quite a while, and Chorus (who now look after wiring for Internet) quoted us more than $8000 to install copper wiring!!!!! Needless to say I declined.

For a year we have been surviving with a small 4G hotspot from Spark which costs $45 for 4GB of data. This was ok while we were traveling a lot, but not a good long term solution.

When we came back last November, we discovered Skinny Broadband. We signed up and have been using a 120GB plan since November, and we are really happy. It is quite fast (not as fast as fibre), comes with a fairly capable router that can be configured and extended, and best of all has no contract. For beach users who aren’t here all the time, this means you can stop the service when you are away and restart when you are back (in monthly increments). Skinny use Spark 4G but with compression to speed things up, and you can buy 60GB, 120GB, or 240GB. We are using 120GB which has worked well for us so far.

Contact me if you want some advice.

Starting a new local business

I retired from the corporate world in November 2017, and moved to Waitarere Beach from Singapore.

Since moving here, I have been really impressed by the quality of the local businesses that I have been able to use, particularly local tradespeople, like the plumber and electrician.

Supporting local businesses is something I really care about, and when a few people asked me for help with their web sites or technology, I decided it make sense to start a small business to help others with their technology needs.