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Month: May 2013

Evernote Introduces 2 Factor Support (and more)

Evernote Introduces 2 Factor Support (and more)

I’m a big fan of 2 factor security for critical information stored online (in the “cloud”). After the attempted hacking on Evernote back in March, I made the following resolutions regarding the security of my online data:

Clearly this issue has made me re-consider aspects of my own approach to information security, and has reinforced others. I recommend that everyone do the same, and take at least the following actions:

  1. Use only reputable services that provide 2-factor authentication for cloud storage of personal, sensitive or confidential data;

  2. Have a personal password management policy that includes never re-using passwords, and never using dictionary passwords. Use of an app like 1Password, LastPass or similar may help.

At the time I wrote that post, Google and Dropbox were the main services to have implemented 2 factor security, and it’s been pleasing to see that other services have commenced implementation of 2 factor security, including App.net, Apple [1], Facebook, Fastmail (my email host of choice) and Twitter [2], and most recently, Evernote.

I was initially disappointed with what I first read about Evernote’s 2 factor security implementation because the first blog post I read indicated the implementation was SMS based. However, on reading Evernote’s blog post I saw they indicated a choice of SMS or authentication with Google Authenticator.

Evernote implements 2 factor security, and more

I’ve set Evernote 2 factor up using Google Authenticator [3], and am delighted that my major online services have at least begun implementation of 2 factor support. Fastmail, Evernote and Dropbox are the most important for me, and they each have good 2 factor support. The main piece still missing (for me) is iCloud, although the data stored there is less security critical.

Evernote’s implementation works well, but is only for Evernote Premium users at this time. A couple of important things should be borne in mind when implementing it (or for that matter, any 2 factor security system).

  1. Ensure that you have updated the corresponding app (or apps) on every device before implementation; and,
  2. Save the backup codes provided in a secure repository (print the out or save them in a secure location like 1Password).

Evernote’s latest security updates also includes a couple of additional things (available for all users) – Authorised Applications (and the ability to revoke access remotely) and Access History.

Hop to it. With this implementation, Evernote (the best online repository of stuff) is now even better.


  1. So far, Apple’s implementation seems to be a bit of a lame duck, because it doesn’t seem to do very much. I’ve not actually seen it request a code since the initial setup, and it doesn’t seem to be connected (at this time) to iCloud or the iTunes/App Stores.  ↩

  2. Twitter’s implementation has been quite critically received, primarily because authentication is by SMS and doesn’t allow multiuser capability (like Facebook).  ↩

  3. I have moved away from many of Google’s app and services. At the time I originally wrote this post, I was using Google Authenticator, but now use Authy instead. It’s a nice little app for the job (update 29/8/13).  ↩

Put your Mac to sleep from afar…

Put your Mac to sleep from afar…

As a trainer and presenter, I often set my Macbook Air up in classrooms and conference venues. When I go to lunch or another break, I often wonder whether I remembered to lock my Macbook Air.

This post today from MacSparky (@MacSparky on App.net and Twitter) provides a wonderful little automation that uses Drafts on iOS, Dropbox and Hazel on the Macbook Air.

So I can now be sitting at lunch, and type a command into Drafts, and as long as my Macbook is online, it will go to sleep a few seconds later.

A great automation tip from MacSparky!

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows – The Wrong Platform for Presentations?

Windows PCs should not be used for Presenting

One of the best events I get to go to every couple of years is OZTeK, a conference that focuses on the science, technology and mentality of diving on the cutting edge. It’s even cooler (for me) that for the third time this year, I was one of the MCs of OZTeK.

With a variety of the world’s best speakers in diving, including the likes of Jill Heinerth, Simon Mitchell, Michael Menduno and many others, I consider OZTeK to be a TEDx of tec diving. The presenters are fantastic, and have wonderful stories to tell. As with all presentations everywhere, the quality and style of the supporting media was varied.

Consisting mostly of PowerPoint slides and some supporting video, some of the media actively supported and added to the stories, and some were neutral. Unfortunately, a small number even detracted from the presentations. What was cool was that a few presenters chose to ditch the slides altogether, and instead just spoke. They had good stories, and were clearly passionate about those stories.

I give a lot of presentations, and these days am doing more and more of them from my iPad. My MacBook Air continues, however, to be my main presentation device. What I like about presenting from the Mac is that once you’re in presentation mode in Keynote, the Mac gets out of your way. I would be loathe to use a Windows machine for presenting these days, and my experience at OZTeK only reaffirmed that. You see, Windows machines (provided by the contracted AV company I believe) were used in the conference rooms for presenting.

The biggest problem with Windows is that it is an interuptive device. Windows machines, the Windows OS and Windows applications are often attention seeking little suckers, popping up left, right and centre, craving for you to do something. Or nothing. But at least talk to it, or it will do something anyway.


On several occasions, the little popup bubble shown on the right popped its head up. This one isn’t too bad, because at least it doens’t stop the presentation running. To be fair, notifications in OSX (using Growl or Notifications Center) do much the same. In all cases, these can (and should) be turned off. Especially if you use notification centre for other things, like emails, iMessages, etc…

With Windows, however, the default setting seems to be for the system to automatically download the update (and aren’t there a lot of Windows updates) and for many of these updates to require a restart. Which it also does automatically, although at least the system is nice enough to give you a warning.

Restart coming

Problem is that it will kick you out of what you are doing – even if you are presenting. In presentation mode. You, the presenter, are talking away and start to notice some of your audience giggling. You turn and see the screen. You rush over to hit the “Restart Later” button, because it seems that mostly you have 60 seconds to do so.

Presentation machines – Windows, OSX or even iPads – need to be setup so that once in presentation mode all notifications are automatically blocked from popping up and interupting. And they should never be allowed to kick you out of what you are doing.

With Mac OSX and iOS devices, turning off notifications is quite easy. With Windows, the interuptiveness is deeply embedded in the architecture. It is possible to turn things off, but (in my experience) the process is like the little boy plugging the holes of the dam with his fingers. After plugging 10 holes, things get interesting. And there’s always another hole.

So, as a presenter, I would suggest that you present from a device that allows you to turn off all interuptions. Of course, some notifications might be exceptions – you would want to know if you’ve got a critical battery issue, and you and your audience might want to know if the Centers for Disease Control announce a zombie outbreak.

In my opinion, Windows PC’s are not the right device to present from.