noun: skills in many areas. a little of this and that.

PSA Newsletter 12: Privacy, Security, Automation!

Tech Recommendations, Credential Security, and More...

Heads Up!

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If you're concerned about bad actors recording you via your webcam, the easiest thing to do is to use a webcam cover. I’ve used these in the past and have good experiences with them. However, please try to avoid putting pressure on your closed laptop lid with a screen cover installed, as it can lead to a cracked screen if there isn’t enough clearance between the top lid and the palm rest. [1]

Security is an invaluable free tool for determining if your identity or login credentials have been leaked or otherwise found on the internet. After receiving spam, I usually check that email address against HIBP. [2]


No automation tips this go round! Check back next time!

Head's Up

23andMe confirmed on December 4, 2023 that personal data belonging to approximately 6.9 million users, or half, of its user base were stolen. This was accomplished via a credential stuffing attack, which is when a bad actor uses credentials that were previously stolen from a compromised website to check other websites, in this case 23andMe, for use of those credentials. This should be yet another wake up call to NEVER reuse passwords and usernames on different websites. [3]


Q: I'm looking for a fast and rugged external drive. Do you have any recommendations?

Yes indeed. Below are a few of my personal favorites:

Combine a Samsung (or your SSD of choice) with a StarTech SSD/HDD enclosure and you get a MIL-spec rugged external drive. I have two StarTech rugged enclosures and they live up to the hype. What makes this a better deal than purchasing an external rugged SSD is that you can swap out the drive inside the enclosure, the port is covered, protected from the elements, and there is no built-in cable to eventually fray or otherwise get damaged. Paired with a USB Micro B Super Speed to whatever-end-you-want (USB-C or USB-A) cable, this is a fantastic external rugged drive that will last years. [4] [5]

Q: I'm in the market for a portable solar battery and panels. Know of any good deals?

I purchased the Jackery Solar Generator 1000 a few years ago and have been consistently impressed with its ability to deliver reliable power when needed. On a bright cloudless day, I've charged it from 0-100% with the included solar panels in about 8 hours. Check your power requirements before purchasing, but this thing can run a large beverage fridge for almost a day, so it got my vote. Bonus: I spent well over $1200 for it. As of this writing, it's at $949. [6]

The Jackery 300 is a 293 Watt-hour battery with a handle and a bunch of ports. If you have another unit, such as the aforementioned 1000 series and solar panels, this will charge incredibly quickly. If you don't and just charge it from the wall for use while camping, drone photography, or other outdoor activities where you'll need power, it'll work just as well. [7]