Category Archives: tech stuff

How I Can Read your Old Text Messages; Pictures and all

If you paid any attention to the internet over the past few days, you’re aware of a pretty big celebrity hack.   A lot of blame has been passed around, Apple and ICloud, the celebs themselves, and others.   The thing is, Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence are different than you in one important way in this case:  more people want to see them naked, than want to see you naked.

What you do on your device with your significant other is your business.   If you put it on someone else’s server, there’s always the chance it could get out.  Doing a bit of research, it’s really frightening easy.   Follow me here.

Let’s say I’m a creep and I know you.   Maybe we work together, see each other at the local bar, or say hi at the gym.   I can stalk you on Facebook.  Come on people, we all do it…you know EXACTLY how much info there is about you on Facebook.  I find your profile, and you’ve locked it down pretty tight, except for your email address.   It’s a gmail or yahoo address.  Safe bet, you’ve reused that address for multiple logins.  Maybe iCloud?

Time for me to get to work.  Head over to iCloud, put in your email address and say I forgot your password.  SCORE!   I get taken to your security questions.   Mother’s maiden name?   Back to Facebook…look, your mom is your friend and she uses her maiden and married names.  You also tagged a picture at the family reunion with your uncle, who has the same last name your mom used to have.   Next question iCloud?   Street you grew up on.  Hmmm….where does Mom live?  Lets try that.  No luck…any #TBT pics?  “Me and the Fifth St crew, circa 4th grade”

I’m now into your entire Apple account.  With a couple of free tools online, I can download and open all your backed up phone and ipad files.  Those texts you sent to your SO late at night, and didn’t delete till the morning?  I got them.  Those pics you deleted.   Yeah, iCloud backed them up before you could delete them.   And what’s this?  Your contacts list?   Sweet!  You have some hot friends and I have all their email addresses now.  I also NEVER needed your password.

I use iCloud as an example, but Google, Dropbox, they’re all similar.

It’s called Social Engineering and the best passwords and security fail time and again.   Kevin Mitnick, a famous ‘hacker’ used to have a great trick to get into company networks.  He wrote a little program that created a login id for him on their network.   He put it on a floppy disc with the name “salaries.xls” or something similarly irresistible. He’s go to the company, talk to a secretary, security, anyone he could find and ‘accidentally’ leave the disc behind.   Soon, he was in.

How do you protect yourself?

First, like I said, you’re probably not Kate Upton.   Not as many people are trying to hack your stuff.  You can breathe a little easier.

Second, use 2 factor authentication.  Most services offer it, and what it does is give you a second level of security.  With iCloud, it sends a code to your phone or ipad that you have to use to complete the password change or recovery process.  It’s strong, but not 100% foolproof.

Third, don’t ever put your information in the security questions.   Put someone else’s.   Got a best friend, share security questions.  Got a favorite celeb?  Use theirs.  If you’ve got a great memory, make one up out of the blue:  Frothingsloshenton.   Nobody is going to guess that.

Fourth, be prepared for the worst.   There’s ALWAYS the chance someone’s going to get into your stuff.  Don’t reuse logon ids too much, and definitely not with financial stuff.  Yeah, its embarrassing if Reddit sees those ‘zesty’ pics you sent to your boyfriend, but it’s a real problem if someone can get into your back account and start making transfers.

Finally, accept that privacy is changing and you have to change with it.   If someone wants to break into your house, they’re going to, no matter how many locks you have and how great an alarm system.  Does that mean to never leave the house?  No.   Just be smart about how you secure your data and services.   You can’t eliminate the risk, but you can do a lot to lessen it.

For more ways, and another horror story on securing your online account, check this out.


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We need to Own our Technology Again!

When I was a kid, Radio Shack was the coolest store. I didn’t understand most of what I saw, but there were parts for electronics and computers and stereos all over. You didn’t have to buy a computer, you could BUILD IT. Keep in mind, this was the late 70’s and early 80’s when the homebrew computer movement was still alive to a degree. People just knew how to do things like solder and measure amps and volts and manipulate them to make LEDs glow.

Quick, how many people under 50 do you know, who even own a soldering gun?

Sad isn’t it? I know the world has changed and computing has changed, but look at what’s happened to us! 30 years ago, if your radio broke, you either fixed it yourself or took it to someone who could. If your phone breaks today, what happens? Judging by the number of people I see with cracked screens, you suck it up and live with it till your contract is up. There are places that will do the repairs. often for a sizable amount. We’ve chosen to either live with it or dispose of it.

I ran into this decision last week when my iPhone stopped charging. Paying $600 for a new one was out of the question. I could get my old 3G up and running and have a phone for the next 6 weeks. I could do without. I could get the charging port replaced for about $100.

I didn’t like any of these. So I hit up YouTube and found this video.  Wow…that looked so easy!    I hit Amazon for some parts, new charging port for $5 and a new batter for $20, plus the tools.   For less than $30 I’d have the parts to replace my charger AND my 2 year old battery that never seemed to last long enough.   But, could I do it???

Yup.   Took about an hour, but the phone was back up and running and working just as it had been.  Charges, has a better (still not great) battery life, and reaffirms to me that our electronics should NOT be disposable.

There’s movement out there:  The Makers.  In a lot of ways, it reminds me of what I thought Radio Shack was…a bunch of people buying cool looking parts to make their stuff do even cooler stuff.  What it really is, though, is owning their technology and not being afraid of it.   Most of us took basic electronics in school, and promptly were encouraged to forget it because Mom and Dad were NOT going to let you crack open the VCR or brand new computer running Windows 3.1.  Schools don’t offer much more…unless your on a vo-tech plan.

Heck, if it weren’t for my Dad and 7th grade wood shop, I wouldn’t know how to use a table saw, router or drill press.

Ok, I’m trailing from my point.    Not everyone has the courage to crack open their phone and fix the insides.   But more of us should.  It’s not difficult; the internet makes it easier that it would have been 30 years ago (no circuit diagrams to figure out.)  If you don’t want to, you should know someone willing to.   There used to ALWAYS been that guy who could fix radios and toasters, etc.   Where are they now?

Break the upgrade cycle.  Break the disposable device cycle.  Break your device and learn how to fix it.   You’ll be a better person for it!





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“App-y” Days are Coming

This may sound conceited, but a lot of things come easy for me.   I challenge myself and am generally pleased with the results, review, and see what I can do better next time.  Mud runs, wine and beer making, I’m never perfect the first time, but I get better.

Coding is a whole other ball of brain-burning, eye-gouging, face-melting-like-someone-just-opened-the-ARK, wax.

I can read it, I can follow it and see what’s going on.  Don’t ask me to write my own.  I struggle getting past 10 PRINT “Sean”  20 GOTO 10.

Not a big deal, as long as your brain doesn’t see cool app-ortunities (groan) at least once a week.   I have 3 right now that are screaming from within my head to get out.  It’s nice that they overpower the other voices, but they’re still annoying.  So, I have to learn IOS development (I’m an Apple dude…no hating on Android or Windows…one thing at a time.)

For 2 years I’ve struggled through numerous books (I like the Head First and Big Nerd Ranch books) and tutorials on  Then, 2 weeks ago I found a tremendous deal on a Udemy course.  What’s better is a friend started taking it too.  (best text message ever:  “(expletive deleted) coding!  Live and die, mostly die, by the semicolon.”)

The classes on Udemy are really solid, and I love the way concepts are introduced.  Some stuff throws you right into coding and says “we’ll explain later.”  Others give you all the syntax but little context.   Udemy, for me, is finding the right mix; build something, write some simple code.   Make one screen, add a text box, add a button, add a field.  Hook up the button to change the field to whatever you put in the text box.   Basic feature I’m sure I’ll use 1000 times.

So, I’m excited.  Watch a couple of short videos each day (there’s over 300) and take notes on what’s going into my first app.   Not going to say a lot about it just yet; saving that for a launch page and introductory blog post.   Since I want to launch by late summer at the LATEST, the wait shouldn’t be too terribly long.

Smart I am, but I am not a developer yet.   You can bet I’m going get there, this year.

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Testing out the WordPress app


I gotta post something more than tech and how this site is being built. Here I am kicking the tires on the WordPress mobile app for iOS.

Pic, check

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November 23, 2013 · 2:08 pm

Site Updates

I hate my toolbar.  Just going to put that out there now.   I want you to click Family Fun, and get everything I post about Family Fun.  But out of the box WordPress doesn’t let you.  You can make a menu, set up categories, put posts into categories and have them accessible from the menu.  Go hover on Tech Stuff and see what I mean.  A second Tech Stuff appears.   I don’t want you to have to hover.  I’m that kinda’ guy…you know?

Anyway, got some books, some online tutorials and I’ll crack this nut.  Part of this learning how to customize the templates and make the site I want.

2 updates tonight.  About and Tech Stuff now have landing pages.   More to come!

~ Sean

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The Tech behind Seannanagins

This site has been stirring around in my head for a while.   I’ve launched a few blogs in the past and got bored really quickly.  I can’t talk about just one thing;  I’ve always got 10 things running around in my head.

So in the past few weeks I started building this.   I had 2 real choices, Squarespace and WordPress.


Slick and gorgeous!  I mean, seriously.   I had a site that looked so much better than this does (so far) in about 2o minutes.   Triva:  The Hawaiian shirt header was meant for the Squarespace site.   The downside is that it’s pricey: about $200 a year.  Granted, you get more than what you pay for.


Some stats say that WordPress runs 1/6th of the sites on the web.   It’s a mature, popular, well documented and supported application.  It’s also free, but you gotta have a server to put it on.  It also doesn’t have the beautiful templates that Squarespace has.

The decision:

1: It’s November.  Christmas is coming.  Do I really feel like racking up a $200 bill for a year of who knows what on the internet?

2:  I’m so intrigued with learning something new.  I catch onto tech pretty well.  As cool as Squarespace is, WordPress skills are marketable.

3: I like the story:  Geek buys 2 domains and build a really cool website, while documenting how he built that site.

4: Lifehacker.  They ran this deal.

5: This is an experiment.  With the Lifehacker deal, one extra domain and WordPress, I’d be in the hole about $30.

WordPress was the only choice.




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