Useful font conversion tool

I was trying today to convert a Mac .ttc (TrueType Collection) font file to use on Windows 10 and came across Transfonter. This allows you to upload a .ttc file and it splits it up into individual .ttf (TrueType Font) files.

Oddly some of the .ttc files I transferred over were able to be installed directly without the need of this tool. Others it didn’t work so not sure what that is about but Transfonter took care of those.

Really tired of the Republican deception that “high crimes and misdemeanors” requires an actual crime. Unfortunately nobody seems to take the context of time the phrase was written into account. So frustrating.

Glad to see the New York Times endorsed my choice for the Democratic primary, Amy Klobuchar. I think she’s got a much better chance than Elizabeth Warren in the general election. Also interesting than they endorsed both women!

“Our collective privacy problem is not your fault”

Ran across this gem of an article the other day on Reddit. Privacy and technology is a big issue right now and this article does a wonderful job of, rightfully, placing the blame for current problems right back on the companies producing the software and devices we’re all using.

Happy New Year/New Decade!

So here we are, finally in 2020 and a brand new decade. Lots of expectations of myself this year, more writing being one of those things.

I’ve been reading a bit today and am always amused by those that seem to take issue with using dates as a means to mark events. Sivers is way off, at least in how he’s communicating this thoughts in that piece. What is wrong with choosing a date as a starting point if that helps you achieve your goals?

This particular paragraph really got me though:

The fourth Thursday in November is not when I feel most thankful. The 14th of February is not when I celebrate my romantic relationship. To force these celebrations on universal dates disconnects them from the meaning they’re supposed to celebrate. It’s thoughtless.

Why does it disconnect them from that meaning? What is wrong with saying “hey, this particular day every year we’re going to set aside for people to come together and give thanks?” It doesn’t mean that’s the only day someone has to personally give thanks. Humans have always marked days like this, its part of being the social animal we are. Nobody is saying these are the only markers one has to have personally. The article seems like nothing more than a bunch of sour grapes to me.


I never thought I’d see the day but today buying marijuana became legal in Illinois and people lined up in droves to get the stuff. Good. I have never understood the distinction between pot and alcohol. Hopefully more states will follow.

My State of 2019 – Conclusion

One thing I didn’t write about in the introduction to this series was why the theme of stability is so important. This year I’m planning on doing a deep dive into writing music and playing piano. I’m going to give myself the time to do something I used to love doing and that ended up taking a back seat to everything else. As I approach 50 I need to start taking some time for myself. That means removing distractions so I can concentrate on the things that are important to me.

And there are so many distractions, some of which seem to be to be mentally and emotionally unhealthy at this point. I have a fondness for arguing stupid things in forums. It is a complete was of time and something I need to stop doing. I also have a fondness for arguing in the comments sections of the various websites I read. I’ve actually gotten a lot better about that this year so at least I’m on the right track in that respect. As the end of the year approaches I’m taking a retreat of sorts away from the Internet. I hope it will help set me up for a good start to the new year.

Sitting down and writing this it became apparent to me that even in my attempt to start to simplify things there are still a lot of areas of complexity in my life. In a modern life, where there are so many things happening and our time and attention is being pulled in so many directions, I’m not sure the level of simplicity I can get to. I do know I can do better though and thats what the upcoming year is all about.

I hope what I’ve written here is helpful to someone else. It was a good exercise for me to take a look at these areas of my life and I hope it might help someone else in theirs. I hope that everyone has a happy, and safe, holiday season and a joyous new year.

My State of 2019 – Privacy/Security

There is a ton I could write about privacy and security on the Internet. We have all heard the stories of data breaches, hacks, etc. Let’s talk about some of the areas that I think are important.

Tools

There are definitely some very simple steps that most people can do to help immensely with their privacy and security on the Internet:

  1. Don’t reuse passwords

    This is the easiest thing you can do. Use a password manager like 1Password (my choice), LastPass, or Dashlane. These all enable you to generate strong passwords for your accounts and make sure that you only have to remember one, the login for the manager. They also autofill forms on websites, etc. Some, like 1Password, also let you store important documentation, credit card info, etc. securely.
  2. Run a malware/virus scanner

    I use Bitdefender Total Security on my Mac and my Windows machines. One of the things Bitdefender does that I think is important is protects your most used directories (like Documents) from ransomware attacks. If you’re a Mac user and think you’re immune to malware or viruses you’re wrong. Get a decent scanner.
  3. Use a web tracker blocker

    My personal preference is AdGuard. On my Mac and my Windows machine I run the system-wide version so I don’t have to maintain custom rules in more than one place. It also means that email gets the same protection. Some people might not be comfortable with that because everything flows through the AdGuard application. I trust them but you might not. If not just get the browser-based version that is free.

    Safari and Firefox both have pretty extensive tracker blocking built-in. Use it.
  4. Do regular backups of your system both on and off-site

    I think of this from the standpoint of data security, but I don’t mean security against attackers, just making sure I am able to restore important data at any moment. It is important to do both on and off-site backups! If you only do on-site and there is a fire you could easily lose important things. Pay for Backblaze. It is worth every penny for your peace of mind. It is pretty much set-and-forget and just does it’s thing in the background.

    At a bare minimum do an on-site backup. Get a cheap external hard drive and use Time Machine on the Mac or Windows 10 Backup and Restore. At the very least you’ll have something if your machine crashes.

Practices

I’ve been concentrating on tools for the most part but there are a couple of simple things to do as well that don’t involve installing any tools or spending money on them. These are all easy practices to follow:

  1. Don’t ever respond to emails that ask you to click to a website and enter a password. If it seems fishy call the company in question and find out if the email is real or not.
  2. Look at who the email is from. If it says its an email from Microsoft but the return email is yourealoser@wellstealyourinfo.com you can be pretty sure it’t not really from Microsoft. Again, if the email seems fishy don’t respond!
  3. Don’t install web browser extensions you don’t need.

There is a lot of crap out there that will hijack the browser. Don’t install anything that doesn’t have a bunch of good reviews and that seems suspicious.

Data Brokers and Opting Out

One last thing, do yourself a favor and go here. The amount of data out there on you easily available for a small price is truly astounding. One of the things I did in 2018 was go through a bunch of sites like Spokeo and remove my listings. It was a lot of work but worth it. There are services like DeleteMe from Abine that claim to do this work for you at a cost. I can’t speak to whether or not they are effective because I did the work myself. But Abine also provides a nice DIY Guide to the most common data brokers and how to remove your listing from them.

For me privacy and security have been very important so it’s been the one area in 2019 that I don’t need to worry about moving forward in 2020. My routines have already been stable in this area and I will continue to practice good privacy and security practices moving forward.

My State of 2019 – Fitness Tracking and Health

Walkmeter and Apple Watch

I’ve been using fitness tracking on my phone since iOS 4 when Apple finally started allowing, even though limited, background processes to run. This allowed apps to finally receive GPS updates without needing the phone to be open. The best app I found, and continued to use up until this year, was Walkmeter by Abvio. It has always been a power user application with almost unlimited configurability and reporting. For years I have used it while out running or walking to track my progress. That changed though when I got the Apple Watch.

Even though Walkmeter supports the Apple Watch (though now via a subscription for “premium” features) I found myself using the built in workouts and Activity application on the phone more and more. This has continued up through the Apple Watch series 5 that I bought when it was released this past Fall. I have continued to import data into Walkmeter, and paid for another year on the subscription, with little need. I just am not using it. The built-in workouts and Activity app meet my needs perfectly (probably the only one of the built-in iPhone apps I can say that about). Apple really seems to be hitting the health market pretty hard with the latest watch and it’s showing in the related applications. So in April of 2020 when my subscription for Walkmeter expires it will be the first time in a long time that I won’t be renewing.

Headspace and Calm

Another important area for me this past year has been mental health. With help from Headspace I started a relatively regular meditation practice near the middle of 2018. When my Headspace subscription expired I wanted to try something else because I just didn’t find Headspace to be helping much. Andy Puddicome really does a great job in the Headspace meditations but he relies a lot on visualization which I have never been good at. I felt like I wasn’t getting anything out of the sessions even though I can see that a lot of people would because Andy is great. But it was time to look elsewhere and this year I switched to Calm.

Calm was recommended by a friend who had been using it for awhile. He raved about the Sleep Stories feature and given how good the rest of the reviews had been I gave it a try with a free month he was able to send me. It is exactly what I was looking for.

The number of mediations is huge, spread across many different areas like Anxiety, Sleep, Stress, etc. There is also a new Daily Meditation every day but I haven’t used that as much. Sleep Stories are great and I have used that feature on many occasions when I’ve had issues trying to get to sleep. I have found it a bit funny though because two of the actors reading some of the stories were on Game of Thrones. Odd to hear Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) reading to me in quiet, calming voices urging me to get to sleep.

So, in 2020 the plan is to stick with Calm and try to keep a regular, if not daily, meditation schedule. Given the stability theme for the year I think that will be an important thing to have in my pocket for when things inevitably get a bit crazy.