A (mostly) In Depth Review of Mailfence

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A few weeks ago I wrote an article about Regaining Your Online Privacy where I discussed various tools and services you can use to ensure your sensitive information remains confidential and protected. In the article I mentioned several e-mail providers known for their privacy and security measures. One such provider is Mailfence. Incidentally, I have been using their service for nearly two months and felt their service worthy of an in-depth review. As you will read in my post about regaining one’s online privacy, I barely scratched the surface on Mailfence as a product & company, who have engineered an e-mail platform to be reckoned with.

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Regaining Your Online Privacy

For years I’ve advocated the user of numerous tools and/or services individuals and households can use to bolster their online privacy, but I’ve never written about them. I’ve heard a lot of people saying “We live in a post-Snowden era”, which is true. But what does that mean and how do we regain even the tiniest bit of privacy?  Earth’s reaction to the Snowden revelation varied. Many individuals already believed this type of state sponsored surveillance had been in place for many years, and this only confirmed their suspicions. Some were truly shocked. Others still live in a state of denial. One of the many things to come from the leaked information was an increase in the number of services designed to block ads, encrypt your connections to websites or services, and not log where you’ve been.

Let’s go over a few of them!

Note: Under no circumstances am I an expert in cryptography, network security, nor am I advocating the use of any security/privacy service mentioned in this post, this blog, or anywhere else on the internet to conceal your illegal activities on the internet.

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Trip Report: Vegas & Denver – January 2016

Stardate, 69527.6. The Mad Man attends the symphony. Tonight’s special?

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If ever there were a video montage designed to testify to what it is to be human, this would be the one. The show, produced by some immensely talented individuals and expertly performed by members of the Czech Republic National Symphony Orchestra, is an amazing look at 50 years of Star Trek. Beware, your emotions will be brought out for some playtime before being put back on the shelf with your Star Trek collectibles.

When we bought tickets, we ordered a VIP package which netted us a free poster signed by the maestro, an invitation to Sound Check, followed by a Q&A session with the maestro. We had an idea of what the show was about going in, but we were wrong. I (incorrectly) believed they would project scenes, often pivotal, engaging, popular, or of battles on a huge screen above the orchestra and playback the music from said scene. Instead, they have cut, pasted, recomposed, and done everything to create a movie, just about 2 hours long, telling the story of Star Trek, through 50 years, 710 episodes and now, 14 feature length films, while capturing every moment that captures us to this day. The film and accompanying orchestral production are amazing, to say the least.

Below, some video from the sound check.

Now, on to vacation!

Since I was deprived of a vacation last year, due to almost falling down a mountain to my doom while visiting the terrible country of St. Thomas, we are making up for it this year with another trip to Vegas. I love Vegas, the history, the glamour, the food – oh, the food. Though I don’t drink or gamble, I still have a great time. The only problem? Getting there. Ent’re Delta Airlines.

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Product Review: Backup Solutions

Caveat: by no means is the Backup Solutions application/service a product designed for consumers. The software is best designed for use in the business/enterprise sector. Sure, a SOHO user could use the service, Backup Solutions won’t turn you away. Just don’t expect to store terabytes of data without difficulty.

After my dip into the waters of poor customer service that is BackBlaze I found myself needing a new online backup provider. Over the years, I’ve rolled my own backup server, used Amazon’s own AWS, Microsoft Azure, and various other services. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to code scripts, create a working GUI, or putz around at a command line to upload files and folders. Sure, there are clients that do this out of the box, CloudBerry Lab makes some fantastic applications for those DIYer’s!

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I survived septoplasty, turbinoplasty, and endoscopic sinus surgery. So can you!

As some of you may recall, a few years ago I began having a lot of dental work. I needed a lot of work and decided to get some implants in the lower right of my jaw. One thing I didn’t tell many is my Oral Surgeon had located what looked like a tumor in my left sinus and recommended a ENT Doctor evaluate it further. I later found out it was a mucous retention cyst. A lot of people have these and have no idea, for the most part, they aren’t harmful.

However, in the same ENT appointment, I confirmed a suspicion I have had for a while – I have a deviated septum. It was the only explanation for my inability to breathe all these years, and possibly for me being such a loud snorer. On an unrelated note, I had just had a MRI of my brain and the imagery revealed my turbinates are also enlarged, contributing the problem of nasal aspiration.

Without getting too ‘medical-termy’, turbinates help warm the air as you breathe in, keep your nose moist, among other things. Your nose cycles every 6 hours (roughly), as this happens the turbinates swell with blood. In most people, the nasal passages shrink a little, but you can still breathe through both passages. In mine, they couldn’t get the smallest endoscope up my nose. My nasal aspiration was very restricted. Finally, I opted for surgery to fix the deviated septum (septoplasty), reduce the size of the turbinates (turbinoplasty), and endoscopic nasal/sinus surgery (to remove the tumor in my left sinus cavity).

If you’re in a situation like mine and have considered surgery but aren’t sure, I hope this well help.

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Overhauling my home network with gear from Ubiquiti Networks

As the Internet has become more pervasive, the routers we place in our homes have evolved to keep up with the ever growing demands of our phones, tablets, and IoT device families. Unfortunately, for me, they aren’t evolving fast enough and if there were ever a time to shout “Get off my lawn you whippersnappers!”, now would be it. It would seem the consumer and even small business flavor of routers have led to nothing but frustration and disappointment for me.

A few days ago, the air interface on our Linksys WRT1900AC router died.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘air interface’, it refers to the wireless radio inside of the router or wireless access point (WAP) which broadcasts the signal your laptop, phone, and/or tablets use to connect without wires. It comprises layers 1 and 2 of the OSI model, physical and data link.
The router was a few months older than the 1 year warranty it was given. We have no idea why it died, it’s well ventilated, never abused (physically, of course), and generally performed well. We had been contemplating moving the router to the center of the house for better WiFi coverage, but really, it’s been solid. Nice for a Linksys product. But, all that glitters is not gold and we’ve been without WiFi for nearly two weeks. Before you ask, no, it’s not brought our family closer, in fact, we have wires everywhere. It looks like a data center exploded.

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Product Review: RainMachine Touch HD-12 Sprinkler Controller

Home sprinkler systems haven’t really advanced much in recent decades. Unfortunately, the controllers are still as cumbersome and tedious to program as a VCR (for those who remember). A few months ago, a single attempt at running the sprinklers resulted in a complicated process based in trial and error. Sorting out which setting would begin which zone and for how long was maddening. I’ve tried to program it many times over the years, only to have it either not save or revert to factory defaults. It’s confused everyone who has tried to use it, and as a result, the sprinklers are rarely ran and the lawn often looks like the Klopek’s lawn in The Burbs.

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, A Mattress Shopping We Go – Part 2

Attention: This post has been updated to reflect new information regarding the errand service who attempted to scam me. The new information is at the bottom of this post.

Where, oh where to begin. Ripped off, nearly scammed, bought a new mattress, and almost lost it on the way home. Sounds like the type of movie they’d air on Lifetime.

After my fall in St. Thomas, my back and shoulder were injured. The L3 and L4 vertebae, or rather, the discs in between them, were toast, and I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with my shoulder. Awaking from the mattress I purchased some months ago left me in excruciating pain. When I would walk, the nerve running down the lower left of my back into my though would cause muscle spams, walking felt like I was being electrocuted. Anytime I tried to move or rotate my shoulder more than 90 degrees, the pain was horrendous. I could feel a muscle or tendon clicking as it moved over bone. Sitting, as I do working from home was equally painful. I could never find a comfortable position, and utilizing a keyboard or mouse only made things worse.

Fast forward a few weeks, I see my Doctor, Orthopedics, a Physical Therapist and have a MRI. Turns out I have a mild back injury which will require physical therapy, and mild tendonopathy of the something or other in my shoulder, which *may* require surgery. Lucky me! /sarcasm

During consultations with my various healthcare providers, they all recommended I purchase as firm mattress. Great, I thought. I just bought that nice (somewhat expensive) soft and cushy bed a few months ago, now I have to go through this all over again.

After the anxiety settled, I knew what I would do. I’d buy a mattress from IKEA. If you recall from Part 1 of the now “series” of mattress posts, I was originally going to buy a IKEA mattress but decided against it due to lack of available information on product quality, reliability, and longevity. However, with having to buy a new mattress less than one year from a previous purchase, cost was the number one concern.

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Trip Report: Regal Princess Cruise, 3-15 to 3-22, 2015

Addendum: March 24, 2015: This is the fourth edit this post has undergone. In this iteration I intend to clarify a few things, and provide a new layout for my thoughts & opinions.

First and foremost, when I posted this on CruiseCritic, under the title “Regal Princess – And then I nearly Died”, my post was met with the following replies:

  • One thank you – which I appreciate!
  • Numerous posts describing how this blog post was full of nothing but negative comments.
  • Numerous posts accusing me of utilizing reductio ad absurdum, hyperbole, exaggeration, or simply lying. If you are a CruiseCritic member who found this post and remember my original post – you may have noticed it disappeared. This was at my request to the Moderators.
  • Second, the story told in this post is in no way exaggerated or hyperbole. It may be worded in a way which reads as over-dramatized. Often that’s the way I write. If you don’t like it, click here to return to sanity.

My opinion is my opinion. It is formulated based on my experiences with particular situations. If I seem biased at some parts, it may be because I am. It’s human to allow an experience to influence your opinion of something. I’m not a professional journalist, I have no creed which states I must offer unbiased opinions/statements in my writings. After all, this is my blog.

Originally most of the below text was written while in my stateroom, Lido 103 on the Regal Princess sailing March 15 to 22, 2015. As I have edited it several times, that is no longer true.

Because there are people who aren’t able to dedicate the time or effort needed to read the original post in it’s entirety, I have summarized the thoughts into sections.

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Product Review: Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard for PC

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Behold, in all it’s glory, the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard for PC. If it looks familiar, it’s because it was inspired by the (now discontinued, but not forgotten) Apple Pro Keyboard:

Of course, the Matias Tactile Pro PC is for, PC, and doesn’t feature the Apple keymaps. That doesn’t mean the Tactile Pro isn’t channeling the ancients. In the short time I’ve owned the Tactile Pro, apple-pro-keyboardit has provided one of the best, if not THE best typing experience I’ve had the pleasure of enduring in many years.

As it happens, I’m an analyst by trade and spend a lot of my time at a keyboard for work, as well as pleasure. Before purchasing the Tactile Pro I was using a Microsoft Sculpt Desktop and was generally pleased with the keyboard, quite pleased with the mouse. There were a few issues, though. For example, the keyboard couldn’t keep up with my typing speed, and often missed letters; “ghosting” they call it. Additionally, the split caused my right wrist to be sore some days, especially after long hours in spreadsheets. This was due to the hyper-extending of 2 fingers on the right hand, since I have small fingers.

A long day coming arrived, and I had to shop for another keyboard.

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