Wireless Security Note

In July, checkout our Computer-Hacking Demo by professor of physics and information technology, Joe DeLeone. He’ll set up a network, and a Windows 10 computer, and claims he can get into it in 5 minutes or less. He spoke here recently about wireless security; here are a few highlights from his talk (and my notes):

What is most secure? 

  • A wired connection (Ethernet to cable) at your home or office, because someone would have to physically connect in order to snoop and you likely only let people you trust near your computer
  • Documents and personal files that are stored in a location that is not always connected to the internet
  • Set up a separate password-protected wireless network for guests–most routers come with an easy  option for this with no added cost
  • Never give out your home network password, and make the password about 20 characters (a strong password draws from multiple character sets and doesn’t use common letter substitutions or words anyone could find in a dictionary)

Cellular networks are often more secure than wireless networks at this time. Professor DeLeone’s advice is to get one of those “unlimited” data plans and use it whenever you’re away from your home network. Every smartphone now has the ability to generate a “personal hotspot” to which your non-cellular devices can connect. He also recommends Apple products because they’re much harder to affect.

Tips for avoiding hardship:

  • Hotel networks are the worst because it’s very easy to be fooled without realizing you’re not connecting to what you want and the network itself could be compromised.
  • Never let your credit card out of your sight where someone could quickly photograph it. That’s you’re bank account. Restaurants are the #1 place for your information to be stolen.
  • Celebrate https because the S is for security and it encrypts the website you are visiting. Hackers could see what website, but not information processed while you were there.

Healthy security habits avoid the worst security risk: being “low-hanging fruit” or an “easy target:”

  • Click carefully and intentionally (clicking on anything and everything can burn through your luck)
  • Diligently install software and operating system updates (out of date often means known loopholes available for exploitation)
  • Do not download files you did not request (confirm with even known senders whenever possible)
  • Hover your mouse over web links and email addresses to see that they are what you expect and want before you click.


An Impromptu Poem About Imagination, the Internet, and You

Join me in imagination for a moment

Look past the instant gratification

Breathe deep with the concepts put forth

Considered or tossed in like pennies to a fountain

Some would say polluted or a mess

Others would say cultural and beautiful


The internet is one part intertwined with all else

Enough ideas to overwhelm as a hurricane

Forceful enough to carry away as a tornado

Calm enough to lull you to sleep

As a sailboat floats, sails ready to unfurl,

On a sea of ideas with a breeze of hope.


What will you realize today?

What will you express today?

What will you perceive?

What will you wish for tomorrow?

And will you come about to realize your wishes…


Personal Information Rights…

Many of my one-on-one patrons are very cautious of what information they submit on the internet. They may be interested in our June and July Tech, Talk, and Tea programs. Some one-on-one patrons aren’t very concerned with it, feeling like there’s no reason for them to protect what they consider relatively valueless digital assets. The other day I was doing my best to explain how one person’s “meh” is another person’s “aha…” I mean–what you may think is useless can often be exploited give the right tools, know-how, and ethical alignment.

Regardless of your stance, it’s interesting to see the European Union’s take on the news lately. They’re taking steps to ensure their residents have access to what, how, and where their personal information is used. Here’s are a few articles on the issue and how it may affect our lives in the United States, across the big blue wet thing:

CNBC: “US companies are not exempt from Europe’s new data privacy rules — and here’s what they need to do about it”

Wall Street Journal: “GDPR: What Is It and How Might It Affect You?”

European Union Press Release: “General Data Protection Regulation enters into application” 

If this topic is of interest to you, then I encourage you to check out the Crash Course YouTube playlist on what I consider a closely related topic: Media Literacy!


Think Like a Developer

One of the most common responses to my instruction is: how do you know this!

Now, I’m not a software developer, but I am a design and planning thinker, and besides a healthy dose of experience–*cough-cough* necessitated trial-and-error *cough-cough*–I think it’s helpful to trust that the person who designed what you’re using put what you commonly want fairly close by.

We like the sleek, simplified look, but also want to have all the tools we might possibly want there when we want them. The solution to your “how do I…” woes is often in one of the following ways to find more options:


  • Three lines (at top left or right)
  • Three dots (at top left or right)
  • Left arrow to go back to the previous screen (usually at top left)
  • On a computer: right click (the options depend on where the cursor is located)

So many people I work with feel dumb for not knowing or remembering to use one of these features, but I’ve seen pretty much everyone pause to think (sometimes for a while) when they need to find options. I attribute it to adapting to screen-logic, or moving between screen-logic and physical-logic.

What do you think?

Voice Assistant…

voice assistant is a fun, super-helpful, or somewhat annoying feature which many, if not most, smartphone, tablet, or computer users can explore. How it goes: you do something to indicate you’re going to speak, then you speak, then the device gives you information or vocalizes a response based on what you said.

This topic came up in a recent one-on-one technology session. The patron had Bixby, but he also has access to the Google Assistant. We didn’t get into the comparison much, so here are four different vocal assistants including the two available on Samsung phones.


If you have a different system, or want to see what the companies are advertising their products can do, then check out these quick links:

Apple’s Siri: https://www.apple.com/ios/siri/

Samsung’s Bixbyhttps://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/galaxy-s8/intelligence/

Google’s Assistant: https://assistant.google.com/#?modal_active=none

Amazon’s Alexa: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202083830

Microsoft’s Cortana: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cortana

Apple’s Dictationhttps://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203085



Kids Recording Jokes!

A Couple of Nick’s Jokes:

A Couple of Travy’s Jokes:


I got to record jokes with these awesome kids, Travy (2nd grade) and Nick (3rd grade) during a visit to the Hornby Town Hall! I was there to lend library books and/or boost computer skills, but you never know what you’ll find at the library (even when it’s mobile). I started out doing all the clicking, but by the end they knew exactly what to do to take turns recording and playing back jokes, and we had a good time.

Have you ever recorded jokes with kids? It’s a great little activity, available on pretty much any mobile device, that can engage a couple kids for a good 15-30 minutes. I found jokes through grandparents.com, but a quick search online or at your local library will probably turn up a trove of pun-ny and corny treasure.

Once Upon a Library Visit…

What memoir books of ballet dancers do you have?

Well, the patron already read or is in the process of reading all but one book from the  selection we have at our fingertips… or by delivery from our library system.

Maybe I could find you an article; how about you have a seat for a moment?

Stock photo from pgbsimon at Pixabay

Then I learn she’s interested in famous 1920s ballet dancers specifically, one of which is her favorite; she even got to take a class from her once.

I find a Wikipedia page listing female dancers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_dancers) which helps me to spell the names of ballerinas which are rolling off of her tongue beautifully.

A Google search brings up numerous newspaper and magazine articles, I print out three: Wendy Whelan, Alexandria Denisova–no, Danilova, but an Alexandria Denisova is on the list too.

The woman is in awe and delight at the search results.

“No books?” she asks.

“How does this…” she marvels at the computer.

I begin to explain about the system of cables that transmit information all across the world and that I could show her how to look up articles for herself if she’d like that. And she did take our card with great interest.

I like to say that technology fits into each person’s life differently. It would seem that it hadn’t found much of a place in her life yet, or maybe it had, just then.


HeritageQuest Census Records

Recollection can be so delightful: today a couple of patrons asked about genealogy services. I directed them to our HeritageQuest subscription service for their particular question about census records.

Looking back on their visit, I remember fielding a call from a call-in patron who ask for census pages listing members of a household. She was looking to jog her memory on the name of someone who lived with a relative of hers in… I’m not sure what date it was, but it was a long while ago. I remember that I managed to find the family under the year she had given me, but it took looking through pages and pages. I don’t recommend using the techniques I did, but I was reminded that you can access these neat handwritten records and that it can be exciting!

The patrons today were looking for anything and everything about a generation of this woman’s ancestors, when they lived in Corning. They found a fair amount of information using our HeritageQuest subscription, though they also commiserated with me about some of the aggravating aspects.

What is HeritageQuest anyway? It is a genealogical search resource owned by Ancestry that includes scanned Census data 1790- partial 1930, Freedman’s Bank data, U.S. Serial Set and more. Our access is funded with a generous grant from The Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes.

Local History.JPG

Here’s a small sense of what the census pages look like:

The handwriting is hard to read at times but it is digitized for the most part so you can also look through a typewritten listing.

Here’s an article at research.gov about at least some of the digital census records.

Streaming Video?

Yes, yes, the library has a broad selection of streaming video content through Overdrive; definitely check that out here.

If what your really wondering about is which service you should opt to pay for… then there are review websites. You can find a lot just by searching the web. I often reference PCMag because they seem reputable and they come up quickly on a Google search, but there are others like ConsumerReports (to which the library has a subscription), or newspaper articles like NYTimes.

I’d like to highlight a review website because a woman named Liz bothered to reach out to me to bring an article from reviews.com: reviews.com/tv-streaming-service.  I very much appreciated her email in part because, not a week earlier, a patron had inquired about Fire TV versus CBS All-Access in our one-on-one session. Serendipity, right?

Reviews.com is “a small group of obsessive consumers with a passion for the truth, and the desire to find the best.” I’m impressed with them because 1) they secured a big domain name like reviews.com, but 2) they review stuff without obnoxious advertising strategies. I’m also delighted by the thorough explanation of the review and process, and the recognition of multiple bests–multiple perspectives. So, yes, this is a shining review, and yes it in no way represents my public library’s view, but I still think it’s worth a visit to Liz’s website. Their list of reviews goes on and on.Reviews.JPG

What do you think, is reviews.com #Quality Service?