Tag Archive: internet

Encrypting your information to protect it from prying eyes – The Hindu.   Excerpt

Gnu Privacy Guard is an open and free encryption standard that works on the idea of Public Key Encryption


“If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.” – Philip Zimmerman


Several people I know feel that Internet surveillance is not a cause for worry when your general activities conform to known laws and social norms. Some even argue that the success of projects such as Loon compensate for Google’s unethical snooping and the subsequent profit it engenders


While the recent Prism controversy was being debated, I happened to read a 1991 essay by Philip Zimmerman, creator of the PGP standard.PGP, Pretty Good Privacy, is an encryption standard that helps you make data and communication unreadable by anyone but the intended recipient. Last updated in 1999, the essay, ‘Why I wrote PGP’, is profoundly relevant 14 years later. The mindsets of governments, it appears, does not advance as quickly as technology.


Zimmerman justifies the use of encryption by everyone when he asks: “What if everyone believed that law-abiding citizens should use postcards for their mail? If a nonconformist tried to assert his privacy by using an envelope for his mail, it would draw suspicion. Perhaps the authorities would open his mail to see what he’s hiding. Fortunately, we don’t live in that kind of world, because everyone protects most of their mail with envelopes. So, no one draws suspicion by asserting their privacy with an envelope. There’s safety in numbers.”


Cryptography is already highly restrictive in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Iraq. Zimmerman believes that popularising cryptography will help prevent other governments from criminalising it.Unlike the patented PGP, Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) is an open and free encryption standard. GPG works on the idea of Public Key Encryption (PKE).


What are keys?


Keys are like ciphers; they rattle up your plaintext message and turn it into gibberish before it is sent. To understand PKE, imagine a scenario where you are receiving some gifts on your birthday and you don’t want someone who intercepts the packages to open them. So you give each of your friends a copy of the same padlock and ask them to lock their gift with it. When the gifts reach you, you unlock the gift packets with the only copy of the key that can open the padlock. The padlock, in a PKE system, is called a public key; it can be published on the Internet so that everyone can use it to lock (encrypt) your messages. The key in the PKE system is called a private key, known only to you, and used to decrypt your messages. Before starting to encrypt with GPG, you would have to create such a keypair. The general size of a key is about 2048 bits, and it would take a computer, making 1 million guesses per second, about 1.5 million aeons to break a key.


Besides encrypting your information, GPG allows you to create webs of trust on the Internet. A web of trust is a small circle of people who know each other and use encryption to communicate with each other. This personal kinship between communicators provides an additional wall of security since it dispels any fears of key impersonation. Traditionally, GPG has always had an elegant and popular command line interface that is still in use. There are also several graphical front ends for GPG, available free of cost, that provide services ranging from key management and authentication to encryption. Some examples are wija, Seahorse and Kgpg.


Several email clients such as Evolution, Enigmail and Mutt that use GPG make encryption very easy. GPG is available for free download at http://www.gnupg.org/. The website also provides comprehensive information on getting started with GPG and being aware of the measures to be taken to keep your keys safe.

Excerpt   from Furniture for the Private Person –

We now know that hackers can spy on us through our web cams, and the NSA is reading our texts, emails, and listening to our personal phone calls. It’s enough to make anyone paranoid, pushing the most private people to retreat further into their bubble. Designers have tapped into our desire for seclusion, sometimes with extreme results, as our list of design objects and furniture for the intensely private person reveals. As the traditional work space model shifts and our need for security and solitude changes, these designs offer a bit of quiet and peace of mind.



“Privacy in the office is becoming rare. We felt that people needed a place to escape and have a moment to relax, focus, and have some personal time — to send a text, use a tablet, make a call, think,” Mike Simonian of Mike & Maaike said of his Windowseat. The design was inspired by memories of playing inside a cardboard box as a child.


This minimalist desk, inspired by seashells, allows you to retreat into a bubble that offers privacy without sacrificing light and style.


Nick Ross designed this clever confessional furniture, which allows you to chat with your friends about those texts you sent last night, without the prying eyes of the NSA.


This curvy television and privacy canopy is pleasing to look at and functional.



As coworking becomes more popular, design studio TILT is ready to meet the needs of those requiring flexibility and privacy. Their Quiet and Call furniture pieces were created in collaboration with staff and patients at a London hospital, but the simple furniture can be easily transported anywhere you need a tiny hideaway.


James McAdam designed the Safe Bedside Table. Made from birch, maple, and leather, the all-in-one self-defense unit has a removable leg and top surface that acts as a club and shield.


Art Lebedev Studio invented the labyrinthine Defendius security lock. Don’t be surprised if people start rejecting your dinner invitations.


No one will know how the hell to open the Tout Va Bien Cabinet to get their mitts on your private stuff. The bas-relief is stylish, but somewhat threatening when viewed from certain angles.


The Antoinette chair, from Cate & Nelson, is a discrete seating area that doubles as a room divider. The translucent fabric offers just enough privacy without appearing completely standoffish.

Veasyble designers Gloria Pizzilli, Arianna Petrakis, Ilaria Pacini and Adele Bacci create wearable objects that provide instant intimacy in any environment.

Completely disappear in Joon Soo Kim’s Hand on Chair. The chairs connect with magnets to create the ultimate safe spot.

NU-OVO, from Italian architect Paolo Maldotti, is a mobile pod that can be placed indoors or out for a lockable personal retreat.


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I Failed ………

What to do when there is a break in a habit we have/are tried/ trying  hard in forming ? . Found this article apt , as I am struggling to re-form an old habit after a  break . Hope this helps me

Excerpt from I Failed By Leo Babauta

It’s a feeling deep within your heart, one you try to ignore, of heaviness. Of dread and discouragement. Of sadness and guilt and collapse.

I feel this heaviness in my chest when I fail.

It can make me feel like crying. I feel lonely and I want to give up. I want to fall on a bed and shut out the world. But that doesn’t work, because the feeling follows me into bed, and actually intensifies until finally I have to get out of bed to try to escape it.

Failure can hurt.

People get this idea about me, that I am successful and disciplined and gurulike. I’m successful at life, but not in the way people imagine. I’m not disciplined. I’m certainly no guru. I fail, all the time, and the heaviness can come in small doses or big waves, unpredictably.

What do I fail at? Let me count the ways:

  • My diet — I eat healthy most of the time, but I overeat when there’s an abundance of yummy food in front of me. I mostly remove that food from my life, but I can’t avoid social situations where the food is right there. When I overeat, I feel fat and bloated and bad about myself.
  • Procrastination — I’m actually much better at beating procrastination than I used to be, but sometimes I put off things I don’t feel like doing, for days. I’ve figured out this is because the task has a lot of barriers to actually starting, like needing certain conditions or information that I don’t immediately have.
  • Mindful parenting — I’ve made a lot of progress in being a more patient, compassionate father, but there are times when I snap and lose my temper. It’s not horrible, just not great. I always feel bad when I get mad at the kids.
  • Expectations — while I’m much better at holding loosely to my expectations, I still have them, and still feel frustrated/disappointed when people or situations don’t meet them.
  • Simplicity — I’m not as minimalist as I once was. I still have far, far less than most people, but I allow myself to buy things more than before. Also, I now have an iPhone — it was a Father’s Day gift from Eva. I resisted getting one for 6 years, and now am one of the masses.
  • Internet — I use the Internet for work, play, reading, learning, etc. I’m on it more than I should be, and sit too much (though I’m pretty active compared to the average person).
  • Learning — I dropped learning languages and programming and other things like this, mostly because I’ve found I just don’t have enough time to seriously learn stuff and still do the other things that are important to me.
  • Yoga — I really need some flexibility, and love yoga because it’s meditation and flexibility and a workout all rolled into one. I have not consistently done yoga despite being challenged by my friend Jesse.

I failed at all these things and more.

What Can Be Done

What can you do when you have the heavy feeling of failure in your heart? It’s not always so easy.

The answer, of course, is action. That’s not always easy because when you have the heavy feeling, you don’t feel like taking action.

You take the action anyway. You take it because you know if you don’t, you feel worse, and eventually your life degrades to the point where you don’t respect yourself anymore. You take the action anyway.

Here’s what I do:

  • I take a breath. It’s not the end of the world to fail. I just need some space, some distance. I need to see the problem in perspective. When I do, I realize that the failure is pretty minor in the grand scheme of my life, in the grand scheme of the world of lives around me.
  • I reframe the failure. Someone once said there isn’t failure, only feedback. That means the failure is just a point of information, a part of the learning process. I like to say, it’s not a failure of me as a person, just a failure of my method. Which means I need to change my method.
  • I change the method. If the way I was doing it didn’t work, I need to find a new way. What can I do differently? In some of the cases above, I added some accountability, asked people for help, or looked for inspiration. In some of the other cases, I haven’t changed the method yet, to be honest.
  • I take the first step. The problem can be overwhelming, because quite frankly we can’t solve any of this stuff overnight, or even in a few days. We can, however, take one step, right now. One tiny step. And that’s all that matters.

Take one step. Any step.

It lightens the heart. It shows you that things aren’t insurmountable or impossible. It starts to dissolve the discouragement and sadness and pain.

The single step you take today is the antidote to the soul-tearing effects of failure. It helps me, every day.

Computer vision syndrome

Boot up your health – The Hindu.

Excessive use of computers can lead to major damage of the body, sometimes beyond repair.

Prolonged working hours, wrong sitting posture and constant keyboard use leads not only to strain in the eyes but also to severe nerve and bone injuries. Motion is the lotion for the joints. Movement and activity circulate joint fluid and promotes cartilage health and bone strength. Sitting for more than four hours daily combined with poor posture can lead to degenerative joints, which affects knees, hips and spine.

One of the major nerve injuries caused due to excessive computer use is repetitive strain injury (a stressed limb caused by a repeated movement done the wrong way). One example is pain in the wrist because of excess keyboard use. Tendinitis and Carpal tunnel syndrome are other major problems caused by excessive strain on the nerves.

While using a desktop, make sure that the wrist is kept straight while typing as bending narrows the space available for the tendon and nerves and puts pressure on them. The elbow should be positioned at approximately 90°.

Cradling the phone to one’s ear while typing also contributes to neck and shoulder pain.

The furniture should be based on ergonomic design. That means the chair’s back rest should end above shoulder level. Also, the chair should have the facility to adjust height and lumbar support too. An unsuitable chair also contributes to poor posture, such as slouching that puts pressure on the spine.

The height of the chair should allow one to rest the feet on the floor with knees bent at a 90° degree angle. While typing, arms should also bend at 90°. While resting the back the angle should be at 110° and slightly tilted back.

Prolonged use of computers can also cause strain, fatigue, irritation in the eyes and blurred vision. These symptoms are collectively called Computer Vision Syndrome. 

There are some simple steps to avoid this problem. Blink frequently to keep the eyes hydrated as constant staring at the screen can lead to severe dryness. Besides, keep eyes closed for 5-10 minutes every one hour to reinforce the tear film. Reducing the glare of the monitor also helps. Make sure you do not sit too close to the computer.

Moreover, working with a light screen background with dark typefaces is easiest on the eyes. It is great to take breaks by looking away from the screen for ten seconds and standing up every half an hour to do other work while giving the eyes a rest.

Quick tips

Keep the wrist straight while typing and the elbow at a 90° angle.

Don’t cradle the phone on one shoulder while typing.

Sit up straight while working; don’t slouch or lean forward too long.

Blink frequently to prevent dryness in the eye.

Close your eyes for at least 5 minutes every hour.

Look away from the screen every 10 seconds to give your eyes a break.

Related articles


The ability to juggle work is a standard job requirement.

Researchers have another name for this supposedly desirable skill, however: chronic multitasking.

If this sounds more like an affliction than a resumé booster, that’s because research has shown again and again that the human mind isn’t meant to multitask. Even worse, research shows that multitasking can have long-term harmful effects on brain function.

In a 2009 study, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass challenged http://www.coroflot.com/alankar_vishal/InfoGraphics262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected that frequent multitaskers would outperform nonmultitaskers on at least some of these activities.

They found the opposite: Chronic multitaskers were abysmal at all three tasks. The scariest part: Only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling to Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.


Multitasking is a weakness, not a strength. In 2010, a study by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency Inserm showed that when people focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task.

This suggests a two-task limit on what the human brain can handle. Taking on more tasks increases the likelihood of errors, so Nass suggests what he calls the 20-minute rule. Rather than switching tasks from minute to minute, dedicate a 20-minute chunk of time to a single task, then switch to the next one.

His second tip: “Don’t be a sucker for email.” The average professional spends about 23 percent of the day emailing, studies show. Inspired by that statistic, Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleague Stephen Voida infiltrated an office, cut 13 employees off from email for five days, strapped heart monitors to their chests, and tracked their computer use. Not surprisingly, the employees were less stressed when cut off from email. They focused on one task for longer periods of time and switched screens less often, thereby minimizing multitasking.

Mark and Voida encourage business owners and their employees to check emails a few scheduled times per day and turn email notifications off the rest of the time. Adds Voida: “Quick questions are often better asked face to face or by phone, where they don’t add to the huge amount of email we’re already dealing with.”

E from brainpickings

  • http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/03/anais-nin-on-emotion-and-writing/         Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.


  •  http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/08/anais-nin-unfamiliar/        Educators do all in their power to prepare you to enjoy reading after college. It is right that you should read according to your temperament, occupations, hobbies, and vocations. But it is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar, unwilling to explore the unfamiliar. In science, we respect the research worker. In literature, we should not always read the books blessed by the majority. This trend is reflected in such absurd announcements as “the death of the novel,” “the last of the romantics,” “the last of the Bohemians,” when we know that these are continuous trends which evolve and merely change form. The suppression of inner patterns in favor of patterns created by society is dangerous to us. Artistic revolt, innovation, experiment should not be met with hostility. They may disturb an established order or an artificial conventionality, but they may rescue us from death in life, from robot life, from boredom, from loss of the self, from enslavement.

  •    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/24/anais-nin-global-village/  –    on the Dangers of the Internet (1946)    Even more interesting than the striking similarity between what Nin admonishes against and the present dynamics of the internet is the fact that she essentially describes Marshall McLuhan’s seminal concept of the global village… a decade and a half before he coined it.

    The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions. This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters. meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked. This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.

  • http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/12/14/how-to-avoid-work/No matter what your age or condition or experience, the sooner you find out what you really want to do and do it better, for that’s the only way anyone can avoid work.
  • http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/01/anais-nin-journals-paris-vs-new-york/                          Relationships seem impersonal and everyone conceals his secret life, whereas in Paris it was the exciting substance of our talks, intimate revelations and sharing of experience. People’s last concern is with intimacy. No attention is given to friendship and its development. Nothing is done to soften the harshness of life itself. There is much talk about the ‘world,’ about millions, groups, but no warmth between human beings. They persecute subjectivity, which is a sense of inner life; an individual’s concern with growth and self-development is frowned upon. The ivory tower of the artist may be the only stronghold left for human values, cultural treasures, man’s cult of beauty.

love songs and Horcruxes – The Hindu.            http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/love-songs-and-horcruxes/article4493435.ece

………………………..The Internet is powerful. It might just be one of the most powerful tools that mankind has created. In an age where we put a price on water and extra oxygen, the Internet still belongs to everyone, and no one. Sure, you need money to access it but, once you are in, all the goodies in the mini-refrigerator are yours. ………………..

……………when a person wants to live forever, he uses dark magic to split his soul and put a part of it in an inanimate object; this is called a horcrux.This way, if he does die, the little bit of him in a pencil or a rock or a ring lives on…………………………….splits his soul in several little bits just to make sure that things don’t go wrong. This is all very well, of course, but the bit of his soul in his own body keeps depleting and he lives in several places at once.

………… people get addicted to their choice of virtual drug………………………….. how dissatisfaction can creep in when your life is suddenly thrown into a virtual rat race, with all its good and bad bits under scrutiny, mostly your own. I’ve been one of those people. I will probably be this person again………………..T.S. Eliot, in his very famous, very quotable poem, ‘Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, said, “There will be time, there will be time. To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet…” I don’t think even he knew that, decades later, he would still be hitting bull’s-eye.

How to stay creative etc.

http://zenhabits.net/fb/ –    Walled-in: Life Without Facebook

http://zenhabits.net/7y/ Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years




If you are striving for simplicity in life then you probably know everything there is to know about decluttering your work space, your house, your garage, your closet etc. However, one area that needs even more uncluttering efforts is your lifestyle.

All our possessions are just a reflection of our inner self. If you are simple and organized inside then you will not have any problems keeping your desk clutter-free or surviving with just half of your wardrobe. On the other hand, if your thoughts are a mess and your habits are as far from being healthy as a cow is from flying then your house will reflect the exact thing that is going on inside of you.

Cleaning up your lifestyle is an essential part of bringing your life in balance. Get rid of everything you do not need, add something thatyou are missing and here you go: a perfectly balanced life right in front of you!

  1. Clean up your language. Every day we speak, communicate, sometimes yell, cry, whisper, joke, write, read and of course we use language for all these activities. Conversation is a huge part of our lives and while one conversation can cheer you up another one can totally bring you down.
    Our tongue has tremendous power to influence the way we feel, act and live. Pay attention to how you speak. Do you cuss often? Do you often say things you do not really mean? Do you hurt people with your words? Do you hurt yourself with your words?
    Simplify your language by saying only things that you mean and things that matter.
    It is amazing how much more balance you can bring into your life by watching your language:

    • Foul language reminds me of fast food. Almost everyone knows that it is not healthy but some people just keep doing it because they are used to it. Cussing and vulgar language can be acceptable in a variety of settings ranging from locker rooms and bedrooms to situations when you have just dropped an iron on your foot. However, making it part of your daily language simply does not make any sense to me. By learning to control your language you will also learn to control your emotions.
    • You will show respect to your loved ones and learn to handle conflicts better if you just watch what you are saying. I know that sometimes anyone can get a little hot-headed and say something like “I always knew that you are a loser!” “My mama was right; I should have never married you!” “You care only about yourself!” It hurts to hear things like that, especially to hear these things from a person you love. Many couples can enjoy a more balanced relationship simply by learning to control their tongues.
    • Stop using negative generalizations like “I always fail,” “Things never work out for me,” “I can never be a creative person,” “I am just not lucky.” Focus on things that are positive and ignore any remarks that you might hear from people around you. A lot of times you are what you say.
  2. Clean up addictions. “Addiction is something bad related to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or gambling.” Is it what you are thinking? While these addictions definitely have to be cleaned up from your lifestyle there are others that seem harmless at first. It can be Internet, food, TV, video games, work, shopping, you name it! You can identify addictions in your lifestyle if you look at all activities during your day. Is there something that you just have to do and you feel a constant desire to do that? Maybe you’ve heard from your friends or relatives that you spend too much time doing … but you ignore those remarks constantly.
    Addictions tend to suck up your time and money and they leave you feeling empty, low on energy and not satisfied. Be honest with yourself and if you identify signs of addictions in your life make an effort to get rid of them.
  3. Clean up priorities. Priorities are a wonderful thing to have but not when you have too many of them. I don’t think they have created a superman or superwoman serum yet, so if you want to feel balanced you need to make your choices. You can’t be a perfect parent, build an amazing career, make tons of money, spend a lot of time with your friends, work out daily at the gym and have enough time for self-growth and hobbies. Some things have to be at the top of your list while others can be left behind (at least for a while.) When youchoose the right priorities everything will fall in place and you will feel satisfied with the choices that you make in life.
  4. Clean up your diet. What you eat affects how you feel, how much energy you have and how healthy you are (of course!) I believe that a clean diet can benefit both body and soul and bring your mind in balance with your body. Here are a few steps to clean up your diet:
    • no fast-food
    • eliminate highly-processed foods
    • add as much fresh produce as possible
    • go organic if you can afford it
    • read labels (do not buy anything with trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), high fructose corn syrup or long lists of chemicals that you cannot pronounce)
    • try to cook most of your meals from scratch using only healthy ingredients
    • eliminate sugary drinks and drink as much water as possible.
  5. Clean up your goals. Goals are similar to priorities. When there are a couple of goals in different areas of your life you can manage them without sacrificing your sanity. When your lifestyle turns into an endless to-do list then you feel out of control and out of balance. Focus on the things that matter the most right now. Set up a goal and break it down into smaller steps and tackle it just one step at a time. Reevaluate your goals after comparing them with your life priorities.

A well-organized and clean lifestyle is like a perfectly organized house. Living like that is easy, comfortable and enjoyable. It is a huge step to your overall life balance.

Keep it balanced!