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Use the Duo Plugin for Improved WordPress Password Security

Do you use WordPress for your corporate web presence or personal blog? How valuable is the content you’ve created and published? Securing that content requires a multi-pronged approach… making sure the software is up to date, servers are patched, unnecessary features are disabled, etc.

Duo Security provides a free WordPress solution which can help in the password /login security department. In addition to using a “good” password, implementing a Two Factor Auth (2FA) login process can provide strong authentication for your website.

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An end user Duo account is free and can be used with a number of services including WordPress. Installing and configuring the plugin can be done in under 10 minutes.

Just because the service is free for end users doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable or secure. In fact, Duo Security offers paid plans and solutions for business, but a
personal account offers a really rich set of features. WordPress was the first application I protected using Duo I now use their 2FA to protect several other services I use regularly.

Step one is to sign up for a free account at Duo http://duo.com. Once you’ve signed up you have the option to download and install the Duo app on your smartphone. I recommend the app as it provides the easiest second factor authentication mechanism.

Next you can install, configure and activate the Duo plugin from within WordPress… a few screenshots of the process are included below. The most difficult part of the setup is being able to copy and paste. 🙂

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Addressing customer requirements

In the sales process customers often have a wish list of features/ expectations they are shopping for. Those range from “must haves” (hard requirements) to “nice to haves” (soft requirements). Understanding and addressing those is a key responsibility of the sales team.

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Recently I went shopping for a new vehicle. I wanted something offered capable, under $30,000, preferably 2 doors, light colored, and dog friendly. Now for me “I went shopping” means first I did 6 months research reading reviews, looking at product specs, reading forums and looking at an assortment of aftermarket parts and modifications.

I narrowed my choices down to two vehicles. A Nissan Xterra (last model year) or a Jeep Wrangler 2 door. Plenty of differences between those two options for folks who are familiar with them, but each scratched a certain set of itches for me.

I tried to buy an Xterra first. Drove 90 minutes to a dealer who said he had the model and color I wanted (white)  on the lot. Got there and he didn’t actually have it. Shortest visit to a dealer ever.

2 hours later at the Jeep dealer… They had 3 Jeeps left on the lot that met my criteria. 2 door, no power anything, hard top and the gearing ratio I wanted. Only problem? I had the Henry Ford color option to choose from. I could have any color I wanted as long as it was black. Black in Texas is not a popular color choice… which probably explained why the last 3 Jeeps of the model year which met my other criteria were all the same color.

Meet my new black Jeep….

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Cool story bro… What’s your point?

When I drove onto the Jeep dealer’s lot “light color” was one of my hard requirements. I live in Texas, it’s currently 102 degrees at 11AM. I didn’t want a dark colored Jeep and with dozens to choose from in my area was no need to move off of that hard requirement. I’d eliminated dark colored Xterras from consideration and had passed on speaking with Nissan dealers who said they had dark ones in stock (but not white).

But when I got on the lot, the sales rep took the time to listen to what I was looking for and found a way to make it work. Hard requirements are sometimes not as hard as we might think in the sales cycle. It’s important to understand what is behind requirements you may not meet 100% (or at all). What is the customer really asking for when they say that a product “must integrate seamlessly” with another product? What is a customer looking for when they ask for “a single pane of glass” solution? Take the time to understand how the customer will use the product, how it will be supported internally and how it will be maintained over time. Really understand the requirements so you can best demonstrate how your product meets the customer’s real needs and will integrate into their environment.

One last note on customer requirements. Once you’ve shown them that you take their requirements seriously, don’t miss the opportunity to show the customer some of your unique and compelling features and explain to them the business value that they provide. Customer requirements can be fluid, if you can add your strengths to the customer’s perceived needs for a solution it helps position yours as the best choice when it comes time to buy.

Bullet Journal with OneNote

onenoteiconOver the years I’ve used a number of different systems to track information and keep organized. Currently I’m utilizing a new system which incorporates the basics of the Bullet Journal system in a digital format using Microsoft OneNote 2016 and Microsoft Outlook 2016. I’m calling the system OneBullet.
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There are a number of reasons I went with a digital version rather than the traditional hard copy method.

The two primary reasons?

The first is the search capabilities of the digital format. Search allows me to add large quantities of data (web page clippings, emails, phone numbers, etc.) and have it all accessible via quick search. When some projects can span months or years running out of physical space or needing to flip through dozens of pages to find information is just not an efficient system for me.

The second is that I am notoriously hard on physical objects. And when I’m out on search and rescue activities I am doubly so. My well encased mobile devices tend to do alright (even if they do stay behind when I’m doing swift water rescue activities) and when I have to utilize pen and paper I use a special waterproof notebook. Most of that handwritten information is privileged and never makes it back into my personal journal as a result.

This process has worked pretty well for me so I’m going to dedicate a series of blog posts to how I have it set up in the event others are looking for ideas or have suggestions.

Sync your Airbnb calendar to Outlook

How to sync your Airbnb listing’s calendar to Outlook 2016

I’d been manually entering dates for guest stays in my Outlook calendar when my girlfriend said offhandedly that there should be a way to sync the calendar with Outlook (she’s a tech genius). So a quick search of the Googles and I had it up and running in under 5 minutes.

Here are the steps adapted from an Airbnb KB article:

Calendar exporting

Calendar exporting lets you view your Airbnb calendar on an external calendar that supports the iCal format. To export your calendar in iCal format and add it to your external calendar:

To export your calendar

  1. Go to Manage Listings on airbnb.com
  2. Click Manage Listing and Calendar for the listing you want to edit
  3. Click Availability Settings in the top-right corner of your calendar view
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  4. Under Sync Calendars, select Export calendar
  5. Copy and paste the Airbnb calendar link into your iCal applications

The KB article doesn’t list the steps for adding the calendar to Microsoft Outlook 2016 so I have included those below.

  1. Navigate to your calendar folder in Outlook 2016.
  2. Choose Open Calendar from the Ribbon Bar and select From Internet…
  3. Paste the Airbnb calendar link into the URL box and click OK.
  4. Click to add the new calendar in the My calendars section (may be named unknown calendar).
  5. Right click the calendar name to rename it if you choose.
  6. You can click the left facing arrow on the calendar which is added to the view to “merge” that calendar with your default calendar. Don’t worry the events are still separate and won’t overwrite your work free/busy.

Seriously, Sonya is a technical genius. I’m a very lucky man.

Life is short…

… build stuff that matters.

Being on sabbatical gives you time to reflect on what is important to you. I’m not going to claim I wouldn’t like a job that paid a million dollars a year, because I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if you happen to be hiring. But being happy in what you do and who you work with is just as important as how much you make.

Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR). Volunteer means you get paid in long nights and hot dusty days. But the level of enjoyment it provides to me is immense. It has helped improve how I deal with stressful situations and exposed me to new personalities and experiences.

But I didn’t start working with them until after I’d left my employer and taken some time off? The question I had to ask myself was “why not”? It was something I had thought about doing for years but I never got around to it. It wasn’t that I was too busy before (sure I was busy, but not so busy I couldn’t have given up an hour or two a week for meetings and an occasional weekend for training). But still I didn’t invest the time.

Upon reflection I think there were really two reasons.

Reason 1: I wasn’t able to leave work behind.
Reason 2: I didn’t feel like I had anything to contribute.

Life is short, build stuff that matters isn’t just about a career or product. It’s about relationships, connections, and a difference in your community. Work matters. And it should. But it can’t be the thing that prevents you from building stuff that matters in other aspects of your life. There has to be an off switch for even the most dedicated employee. The other aspects of life have the opportunity to fuel and inform your work life, but if you spend all your time with your rev limiter at the red line those other aspects of life never give you the opportunity to find another gear.

As for being able to contribute…. you never know what you have to offer until you show up. Whether that’s in a relationship, work or as a part of your community. Maybe all you have to offer is a small thing (taking attendance at a community meeting for example)…. but that small thing matters. Show up and try. Because life is short and you won’t build anything if you’re not willing to at least show up first.

A Tin Man in Mysore

Tin Man

In February a new yoga studio (shala) opened in Austin, Texas and on opening day I tentatively dipped my toe into the Ashtanga pool. Four months later I find myself in Mysore, India studying with Saraswati, one of the best known and most beloved Ashtanga Yoga teachers in the world.

And you may ask yourself
Well… How did I get here?
Once In A Lifetime — Talking Heads

At this point I have been practicing in Mysore for two weeks. I’m surrounded by some of the the strongest and most graceful yoga practitioners I’ve ever seen. And I’ve come to understand that each of them steps onto the mat each morning ready to confront their own limitations, battle for their own gradual improvements and to breathe.

I came with no real expectations, just grateful for the opportunity. Two weeks in, I can say with certainty I’m glad I made the decision to come and I’m looking forward to continuing my practice.

ekam inhale

“The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.”
– T.K.V. Desikachar

Ekam (एकम्) is a Sanskrit word which represents the ultimate oneness. A mystic concept, which like many such concepts, could be the topic for an entire book. Ekam is also the number one and so “ekam inhale” represents the first breath of this blog.