Sunday, July 11, 2021

Shared WiFi Limitations for Consumer Appliances

I was recently reminded of the unpleasant limitation of consumer appliances, such as Kindles or HomePods, on shared (public or semi-public) WiFi networks.

These shared networks typically don’t require a network password (WPA - WiFi Protection Access). Instead, these shared networks show up with the label, “Unsecured Network,” under the network name (SSID). The priority of these coffee shops and hotels is to limit access to the general public ahead of the security of hackers who are guests at their venue. It’s a better user experience, albeit less secure, for a hotel to authenticate by asking each guest to enter their last name and room number than it is to manage and promulgate a WiFi password like consumers do at home.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution for a venue guest other than to access the shared WiFi network using their own personal hotspot, if their appliance doesn’t have a Web browser. For guests of the venue, it’s very prudent to use their own VPN client to ensure their unencrypted network traffic is not being sniffed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Joe's Old Fashioned Recipe

Cocktails (mixed drinks) became popular in the early 1800s. During the Civil War, the old fashioned concoction was in vogue and 40 years later, at the turn of the 20th Century, it was considered an "old fashioned" drink.

Although the old fashioned was a popular drink in the 1960s, it was virtually extinct by the turn of the 21st Century. Then came along the character Don Draper. Draper revitalized the drink, in real life pop culture, on the fictional TV show Mad Men. The series focused on the lead employees at a Madison Avenue advertising agency, hence Madison Avenue Men.

The old fashioned, in any of its variations, is a proper drink worthy, in caliber, of people I call friends.

1 sugar cube
2 - 4 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz rye or bourbon whiskey (I recommend rye)
1 cherry
1 small slice of orange with peel
A few ounces plain water

In a lowball glass, add the sugar cube, cherry, and orange slice along with a few dashes of bitters and then muddle it. Mix in either rye or bourbon and a few ounces of water. Serve on the rocks.

You can also try Don Draper's recipe.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sri Chinmoy Running Club

It's been awhile since I've had my heart rate above 200.
Last Saturday, I noticed about a dozen people running by my home. It wasn't a race; rather, it was a running club. It turns out this little running club has been meeting at the park, a block from where I live, for decades. And, somehow, after living here for years, I've never noticed them before. 

This morning, I decided to join them. There was a couple in their 80s who organized this small gathering of ten. The husband ran the course with us while his wife wrote down our names and finish times.

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy Peace Garden
I quickly discovered this was a Sri Chinmoy running club and most of the runners were students of his teachings. The age range was from the mid-40s to nearly 90 years old.

After our workout we had a small awards ceremony around a statue of Sri Chinmoy that began with us reciting My Morning Running Prayer. Following the short prayer the run times were announced and each person received some food and a sports drink. All this for ten people.

I'll be back. It's too easy, especially since we run right by my home.

Part 1: Rx at Amazon Pharmacy vs Kaiser Permanente

I tried out Amazon Pharmacy for the first time.

TLDR; The prices were exactly the same as my healthcare provider.


I ordered a prescription for a keto rash cream from my HMO (Kaiser Permanente) and received a little sticker shock when a 60g tube weighed in at nearly $60. In the past, this toothpaste-sized tube would cost me less than half that. So, I cancelled the prescription after seeing much cheaper options on the Amazon Pharmacy website.

I signed up for an Amazon Pharmacy account which also gave me the option to use a PIN for additional security – nice touch. I found the item I wanted (Fluocinonide), put it in my cart, and went to check out. Amazon Pharmacy asked me for the contact info for my dermatologist, which I provided, and they told me it would take a few business days to process my order.

When I hadn't heard anything a week later, I called Amazon Pharmacy's customer service phone number. It sounded like I was speaking to an American woman working from home due to occasional dog barking in the distant background. She dug into my account and said that Amazon Pharmacy attempted to contact my dermatologist several times via fax and phone with no luck. The phone hold times were too long, she told me.

I e-mailed my dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente with the Amazon Pharmacy phone number. A few hours later I received an e-mail response from Kaiser Permanente. They told me they called Amazon Pharmacy, spoke to Robin, and that my prescription was being processed.

The next day, I received an e-mail from Amazon Pharmacy with a price quote that exactly matched the price Kaiser Permanente quoted to me. I called Amazon Pharmacy to ask if I could order a smaller tube, but they said I'd have to contact my doctor to change the prescription. At this point, I realized that my copay with Amazon wouldn't be better than my copay with Kaiser Permanente and gave up on the idea of using Amazon Pharmacy. Instead, I e-mailed my dermatologist and asked for a prescription to be filled for half the amount, which was not a problem. The item shipped, with a USPS tracking number, at no additional charge from Kaiser Permanente.

While is was my first, and only, experience with Amazon Pharmacy I don't see how it would be a benefit compared to Kaiser Permanente which already provides free shipping along with a fully integrated system. Perhaps I'll try again, in the future. Don't fire Carolina!