Newsletter #4 – Worthwhile gifts, MFA / password managers, and books

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Worthwhile gifts

Before I start, Christmas / birthdays / anniversaries / other important events != giving gifts as the primary focus in our house.  With that said, my wife and I have been reflecting on the gifts that we give to each other or other people.  For our kids we’ve been looking into more “experience” type gifts.  This could be a bowling night out, art classes, tickets to a kids musical, etc.  So far this is working well and helps our kids not to become consumed with “things” but instead making memories.  It helps that we take lots of pictures and then upload them to a digital frame that rotates through pictures from past years.

For my wife and I we’ve been looking into gifts that give both of us more time to spend with each other or help keep us in the moment.  I’ll share some examples.

  • Smart home garage door opener – auto-closes at night if accidentally left open, provides peace of mind when going to bed.
  • Cordless Dyson vacuum – can move from room to room and vacuum in half the time it used to take with corded, heavy canister-style vacuum we previously had.
  • WeMo smart switches for lights – we are slowly helping our 2 older kids learn to turn off lights when they leave a room.  In the meantime the ability to turn off all the basement lights without needing to go up and down the stairs while cooking dinner / feeding baby / doing ten other things is a big help.  I think I’ll be adding more of these over time to other rooms.

 

MFA / password managers

Another worth-while gift that you can give to your family / friends / coworkers / etc. is the (strong) encouragement to turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) and use a password manager.  I’ve recently read two interesting articles online that highlight the need to secure your digital / online accounts:

  1. Your Pa$$word doesn’t matter
    • In majority of credential theft scenarios, password doesn’t matter as bad actor can obtain them
    • Don’t focus on password limitations, instead implement MFA and threat detection processes
    • If using password manager, then max out the length of password
    • Use of MFA reduces credential theft by 99.9% [this was enough to cement my thoughts]
  2. All your creds are belong to us!

Regarding a password manager, I registered the majority of the accounts that my wife and I share (Netflix, banking, mortgage, retirement plan, etc.)  If she needs to access them (heaven forbid if I were in a coma, passed away unexpectedly, or similar) she would need to access them.  By using a shared password manager (currently Lastpass family plan) those shared accounts can be accessed by either of us.  For any accounts that aren’t shared (personal email, etc.) my wife is also the emergency contact who can gain admin access in the event that would be needed.  Overall this gives both of us more peace of mind about planning for the future.

 

Books

Reading (blogs, online magazines, books, etc.) can introduce you to new ideas and keep your brain active to help you boost your creativity (see newsletter #2).  In the past few months I’ve had the pleasure to read (still in progress on the 3rd one) 3 books that have had a profound impact on me.  I want to share these with you in the hopes that you read them, incorporate their ideas into your own life, and if you feel moved to do so pass them along to others.

  • Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box
    • We “put ourselves into a box” when we let our own emotions or thoughts obscure our view of other people.  We can get out of this box and see others clearly when we shift our attitudes.  The applications of these concepts can apply to family, work, and other relationships / environments.  I highly recommend this book and I plan to re-read this again in the future.
  • Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
    • Excuse the language in the title of this book, but this book has profoundly changed the way I see my own work and the work of others.  As we as a human race move towards more automation and less reliance on manual labor the rise of BS jobs has increased.  This book goes into the history and current state of jobs, how people as a whole value their job / life, and ways to address the changing nature of jobs in the future.  I’m still internalizing many of the ideas brought up in this book but can see this making large changes to my life / work.
  • Be the Master (4th edition)
    • I am 2/3 of the way through this book but wanted to list it as well.  Be the Master focuses on how to become a master (does not mean a “know it all” or “expert in everything“) in your career and also how to share that with the next generation of workers.  You may have heard of many of the concepts discussed in this book, but Don does an excellent job of succinctly reviewing them and sharing stories / analogies to illustrate all of the points.

Do you have any worthwhile gifts (or books) that have made an impact for you?  Please share back if so.

-Frog Out

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