Streaming made easy

One question I am consistently asked over and over again on my youtube channel is ‘How did you make this?’. The easy answer – I recorded a video of my screen and myself at the same time! The hard answer – I used specialized software to record my screen, a video camera to record myself, a microphone to record the sound, a green screen in the background, specialized lighting, and then video editing software to edit the video and finally publish it.

So as you can see, streaming and recording a video takes a lot of work. It involves specialized software and hardware. It takes a lot of time. But its fun. I love it. If it wasn’t a passion of mine I would not be doing it.

To learn about the software and how to get set up check out the following video which goes through the entire process:

Here are links to the hardware I recommend for streaming:

Logitech Webcam – https://amzn.to/2KLOXrK

Blue Yeti Mic – https://amzn.to/2Z8XaLS

lights – https://amzn.to/2H4pTeg

Green Screen – https://amzn.to/2Z3hQ7R

Is Fortnite appropriate for kids?

My son, 8 yrs old, is begging to play this game (fortnite). Apparently he is the only kid in his class that is not allowed to play it, which is ironic considering I am probably the only parent in the class that plays it! Having said that, he will finally be allowed this Oct when he turns 9. I believe he is finally ready. But no way is my 6 yr old allowed. He is not ready. He is not mature enough.

My biggest suggestion to parents – please monitor each game your child wants to play. Here is my 5 point plan for monitoring a specific game:

  1. Ask your child if its appropriate
  2. Google the game and check out some reviews
  3. Look at the game website and/or app store to read the description
  4. Check out the game rating
  5. Play the game yourself

Honestly, I can do all of this in 20-30 minutes. Yes it takes up my time but its well worth it. I have to block about 20% of games that my son asks to play. I enjoy games so I don’t mind learning about them. Plus I can talk to him about the game and see what it is about it that interests him. Check out the following video where I discuss Fortnite and how it is/is not appropriate for kids:

Text to speech software

This is a topic I have had a lot of interest in lately. Text to speech is not really a new technology (I used it in the 80s) but its gotten significantly better. Additionally, people want to use it for professional products (ie elearning). Narration is an expensive cost in an elearning product so a good voice could help to really save a lot of money. So is it good? Well, at this point its OK. There is some software out there that really isn’t terrible and some that hasn’t improved since 1985. Overall I am excited to keep trying it out and see if it gets better over the next few years. Here are a few videos I have created which go through some of the current software on the market today. You can be the judge and jury: Would you use it?

2019 Security Recommendations

My 2019 Annual Security recommendations. These are recommendations I think you should follow to help keep your data and privacy safe online.

Browser: Firefox – Its open source and is the backbone of tor for a reason. I much prefer firefox to any other browser. Chrome is a close second but I do not like that its not open source. I only use Firefox for email and sites where I login otherwise, I use the next site listed as most secure for all of my searching, research, googling, etc. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/

Most secure browser: Tor. Tor is designed for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing. TOR blocks your ISP, the government, etc —humblerise.com. from seeing what you are doing online. It keep everything you are searching very secure. Researchers, journalists, the government, and criminals all use tor when they want their tracks to be private. The bad thing about Tor is that its slow because its rerouting your data and some functions on various websites won’t work. https://www.torproject.org

Mobile Browser – Firefox and Firefox Focus are my preferred go to browsers. I mostly use firefox focus 99% of the time. Focus is really fast and simple. If you want more privacy, there are various tor browsers for the web https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus

Security add on for your browser/Adblock – uBlock – works for firefox and chrome and keeps away ads and other nonsense. This helps many pages load faster too. It will also prevent youtube ads. This is my goto addon when I install a new browser. https://www.ublock.org/

VPN – Cyberghost and others like NordVPN. If you are using a program like Kodi to watch TV/Movies you better be using a VPN. I used to solely recommend cyberghost because they were the cheapest quality VPN but now many others have dropped prices and offers sales/discounts. Its so much about which company but rather that you have one. When you use a VPN you entire computer is hidden from your ISP vs tor which just hides the tor browser. A VPN is a must when using public wifi like at a hotel or starbucks. https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/

Email: Protonmail – Anonymous email. Doesn’t track you. Keep your data/emails private and safe. https://protonmail.com/

Malware/adware – Malwarebytes – its free and very powerful. I use this every few weeks to check my machine. I recommend using this whenever your computer is acting slow/funky. Please consider buying the full version to support them. https://www.malwarebytes.com/

Antivirus – Honestly, windows defender that comes on your machine is probably good enough. Its all I personally use. Now on my wife’s machine I use Avira – Its free! She tends to need extra security! https://www.avira.com/

Firewall – I don’t use a firewall anymore now that windows defender does the job for me. But if I were to need the extra protection, I would use Zonealarm. A firewall is designed to stop all traffic you don’t approve to and from the internet – https://www.zonealarm.com/software/free-firewall/

Annual Security Recommendations

I have described computer security a number of times in my blog. Now I am going to discuss some of the tools that I recommend this year for you to use. Here are my recommendations:

Browser: Firefox – Its open source and is the backbone of tor for a reason. I much prefer firefox to any other browser. Chrome is a close second but I do not like that its not open source. I only use Firefox for email and sites where I login otherwise, I use the next site listed as most secure for all of my searching, research, googling, etc. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
Most secure browser: Tor. Tor is designed for those times when you don’t want anyone to see what you are doing. TOR blocks your ISP, the government, etc. from seeing what you are doing online. https://www.torproject.org
Mobile Browser – Firefox and Firefox Focus are my preferred when I am connected to VPN, otherwise I use various versions of TOR for mobile which can be found in the app stores for android/ios. Firefox focus is the best but it may be too limiting for some so Firefox is the next best. Focus is really fast and simple. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/focus
Security add on for your browser – uBlock – works for firefox and chrome and keeps away ads and other nonsense. This helps many pages load faster too. It will also prevent youtube ads. https://www.ublock.org/
VPN – Cyberghost. There are tons of good vpns but I like that this company offers a true free version. If you are using a program like Kodi to watch TV/Movies you better be using a VPN. https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/
Malware/adware – Malwarebytes – its free and very powerful.  https://www.malwarebytes.com/
Antivirus – Avira – Its free! I also think Windows defender that comes free with windows is decent.  https://www.avira.com/
Firewall – Zonealarm – https://www.zonealarm.com/software/free-firewall/

Physical stores are going under: Why I don’t blame technology but I blame a bad business model

It’s easy to say ‘well they can’t compete with online prices’. Except in many cases they can. Take large chains like Walmart, they can compete with online prices and they do, however, they still don’t want to admit that they should. What do I mean by that? Well if you compare prices of walmart.com and amazon.com you will see that the prices are nearly the same. Now, if you go to a walmart store you will see that their prices sometimes vary from their online website. Thus a $50 item in store might be $40 online. Sometimes they are the same but many times not. Walmart will price match their own online site – but now you have forced the customer to work for the better price by getting a manager, going to customer service, etc. – essentially adding time and frustration to their shopping experience. Why should they have to do that when they could just order the product online to begin with and get the better price?

You see trying to get the customer to pay top dollar at the store isn’t a good business model anymore. Its at the point where people just assume that the store will charge more so its easier to just order online without even comparing. This is where big box stores are losing out and why they are closing. Their theory is that people will come to the store and buy the product without price checking…and sure some people might do that, however, with all of these closings of stores like walmart, sams club, and target, its pretty clear that this line of thinking does not work. Its a bad model. Its not sustainable and if they want to stay in the game they need to change.

How can stores solve this problem? Start advertising that they have the lowest prices and that they are comparing with top online sellers to ensure their prices are the lowest. Then people like me would have no problem going to the store and feeling confident that what I was buying was the correct price. Walmart could easily start by just automatically having the same price online vs in store. Smaller stores can do the same too. People enjoy going to stores but they need to do a better job with their prices or they are done. Technology didn’t create this problem, technology is solving a problem that worked against the customer.

Why are offices boring? Why do we still embrace this cubiclife?

This is a really interesting question. Why do offices look like the one in the picture above? Do these increase productivity? No, in fact, most research shows that offices that are comfortable increase flexibility (see research on sick building syndrome). So why do we still have these? Why are they still being built? It’s a good question and I think the answer is that its what we know. Its easier, doesn’t take as much thought/planning, and it utilizes space well. It’s easy to purhase used cubicles in Houston. However, we need to start to get away from this type of thinking and start focusing on making the place where a worker spends 40+ hours a week as comfortable as their home. And I don’t mean adding a plant, hanging a picture, or a slogan to an already boring cubiclife (what I call working in a cubicle). I mean adding couches, making the office colorful, making the office comfortable, and cater to various types of working styles. I see this trend in tech world but other industries still aren’t catching on. I see workers dressing business professional and sitting in a grey office cubicle all day and I can’t help but cringe. So come on companies, loosen up. Let workers work the way they live and see how much productivity increases.