It's a pain to remember passwords and change them all the time. That is why many people don't have good passwords or a routine where to change them. Some sites force you to change them which cause complaints and restarts the cycle of easy-to-guess passwords or Post-it notes beside monitors. With the massive and scary Heartbleed security breach it's a reminder that you shouldn't wait to make things more secure.

One of the best Heartbleed explanations is from XKCD which shows how someone can exploit the bug and get all sorts of information that they shouldn't be able to. With access to a username and password someone can get into your accounts. So if you've stored your credit card info to make things easier, someone can buy stuff using your account. They could post things or use that account to get other information or change the identity that is there.

While it's important to be up to date with all of the standard security measures, most of us aren't. There are things that I haven't done because I didn't have time, but now it's time to get serious. The first thing to do is to turn on two-factor authentication wherever you can. You already do this with some things. Having a PIN number with your bank card works that way. You need the card and the PIN to be able to log in. Online, the most common two factors are a password and a text message. When you log in to a site a text message is sent to your phone and on the site you type in the number that was sent. In that case someone would need your username, password and phone to log in. Not all sites have two-factor authentication, but if they do you should turn it on today. That improves the security of what you do online dramatically.

The password challenge is still the biggest factor and the biggest pain. Sometimes when creating an account on a new site you are in a rush and just want to get it done, so you use the same password or a simple password. That's a weak link. If you repeat a password it makes it a lot easier for someone to get into all the accounts that you have, so you need to have different passwords for everything. In the early days of my internet use I had a little black notebook where I wrote down the IP addresses of the sites I visited (this was before the web and DNS) along with the usernames and passwords for each site. Now I use 1Password from Agilebits. It's on my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, and my iPad. It securely stores all of my usernames and passwords and it can generate secure passwords too. That means it can make passwords that are safe and keep track of them. The desktop version also allows you to do a security audit to let you know which passwords are weak, which are duplicates, and which ones are older. The great thing is that you don't even need to remember them as you can copy and paste them when you log in.

1Password is cross-platform with Windows and Android versions along with browser plug-ins, so you can easily capture, retrieve, save, and generate new passwords wherever you are. You can store notes and other information in it securely as well. I keep track of the information and serial numbers for software that I have purchased in there. It makes everything much easier. The mobile version for iPhone and iPad has a great web browser that gives you access to your usernames and passwords on the go, so you don't even need to copy and paste on your phone.

While it takes time to set all of this up, it is time well spent. Now is the time to get serious about security and to make sure that you're safe. It's a pain to have to do it, but it's much better than having to try and recover your accounts or explain that your account was hacked. Lock it up safely and securely to make the online world a better place.

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AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesweb
Mary Poppins photo by Timothy Richard Photography

Mary Poppins photo by Timothy Richard Photography

It's been a long time since I'd seen the Disney film adaptation of Mary Poppins and I hadn't seen the more recent Disney drama about the adaptation, but when Neptune gave me a chance to see their new production I eagerly said "yes". I decided to stick with my memories as preparation for seeing the musical Mary Poppins), which premiered in London's West End a decade ago. While it's been many years since seeing the film, it's surprising how musical childhood memories can come back. The new production is gorgeously staged with clever sets and scene transitions along with enjoyable musical numbers and classic songs. It's a lot of fun.

The basic story is simple with an uptight banker father and former actress mother who struggle to find a nanny that will stay with their challenging children. Mary Poppins appears magically and becomes the favourite nanny of the children. At the heart of the story is striking a balance between fun and responsibility. Most people won't be going to see the message, but for the music and dancing, and that is quite enjoyable.

Stage plays are a nice change of pace for me and the thrill of seeing live performance along with the various effects and scene changes make for a nice night of legitimate theatre. With a musical the cast needs to act, sing, and dance to make the whole thing work and it does very well. Heather McGuigan is delightful as Mary Poppins with great timing and a beautiful voice. She is the energetic heart of the play and won me over as soon as she appeared on stage. The narrative frame is provided by her friend Bert, played by Kyle Blair who dances around the stage and the rooftops as a painter / chimney sweep who enables the show to keep moving while the large sets are reconfigured.

It's a large cast that keeps everything moving with some great set pieces and colourful costumes. The stage filled with singing and energetic dancing that kept me entertained. It's a massive undertaking with the number of people on the stage along with the clever effects and flying. When adapting a musical with a cinematic sister, there are additional pressures to match the more well-known film. With this production it works well as they have magical effects and props that remind you of the film without feeling like a direct copy. The video projections provide great visual enhancement to the story and keep things interesting for the whole show.

At the curtain call the audience were on their feet as the assembled cast sang the central song, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, again. The perfect way to wrap it all up. While the songs and situations were familiar to me, this is a great way for new generations to discover the story and have a fun night out at the theatre.

Posted
AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriestheatre

If you've tried changing something you to do to be healthier, you've probably used an application or device to assist you. What was once an obscure and fringe market is now mainstream. A whole range of tools and techniques are now available to help you change your behaviour. Being able to keep track of what you do and how things change over time is one of the best ways to develop the habits that you want to have.

Devices like Fitbit and applications like Lift make a big difference in my development and maintenance of different behaviours. It's fascinating to get a glimpse into how to design to change behaviour. In Stephen Wendel's comprehensive, research-based book, Designing for Behavior Change, he gives a solid overview of the most effective ways to make change happen. While it may be too detailed for someone who is casually interesting in the topic, I found it very interesting. If you are doing just about anything were someone needs to take action, it can provide great advice for creating interactions that result in achieving goals.

One of the refreshing parts of the book is in how there is an ethical component. Behaviour change can be seen as a way of manipulating people, but Wendel comes back to developer responsibility often. Those who create software need to be ethical in how they help people change. The book isn't targeted at someone who is making the next Farmville, but someone who is working to make the world a better place.

The casual writing is interspersed with colourful diagrams reinforcing the ideas in the book. It's a great place to start if you are working on a project where you need people to act. It is a productive way to find practical methods for honing the process that you'll follow to get started. If you need to go deeper, it provides a comprehensive overview of the research in the field, so you can explore the ideas and research in greater depth. While I don't have any immediate plans to develop something, I have a deeper understanding of how the tools that I love work now.

Posted
AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesbooks

I'm lucky to have some wonderful friends and when it comes to talking about films and Hollywood and how the industry and pop culture intersect I know Kendra (@halifaxfilmgal on Twitter). She is the ultimate film fan and while her primary means of online interaction is via Twitter, the 140 character limitation means that you don't get to have more extended snarky discussions of films. So before the Academy Awards this year you'll get to read through some of her picks and mine and we'll see how accurate they are. But it's all meant in fun and hopefully it will provide you with a bit of entertainment too.

The Academy Awards are a strange thing and in a perfect world they would not be around. The whole thing is a bit strange, but the great part and what I love about it is how it enables a conversation about films to begin. But usually the conversation revolves around the people that we see on the screen and the actors are a very important part of the whole process. But most of it isn't concerned with actors, but with stars, so it's not really about films most of the time. It's part of the marketing campaign for films where subtlety and craft are not always recognized. The bigger things seem to stand out with major physical transformations of actors being highlighted more than a performance with a solid emotional core. The same seems to occur with direction and many of the technical categories. While the names of the categories include "Best", it's a very subjective thing, so it's really "What Most of the People Voting Agree Upon". That is why predicting what will win can be a bit of a challenge, and probably one of the reasons people enjoy watching the show.

The Independent Spirit Awards nominations are overall more to my taste in terms of films, but they're not as popular as the Academy Awards. But that niche is much more suited to my sensibilities. It's also where a lot of the categories are filled with films that make sense to me for being recognized. But the Oscars have a longer history and are wildly popular and a lot more people have an opinion about them, which is why so many people share their opinions about what the Academy chooses.

Over time people usually don't remember a lot of the winners. Maybe the nominees, but not so much the winners. Just looking through who won last year made me realize how I forgot about some films and didn't remember ones that won. When you look back 5 or 10 years some of the films are completely forgotten, while others that were nominated seem to be much better. It's fascinating how some films seem dated rather quickly, but other films seem a bit too early.

Ten years ago the big winner was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which won in many categories including Best Picture, Directing, and Editing. It's a running joke about the length of the ending of the final film in the trilogy, and I wouldn't hold it up as an example of a film that wisely cut things in the right way. For Actor it was Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog, Jude Law in Cold Mountain, Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, and Sean Penn in Mystic River. Over time I would say that Bill Murray should have won, but it was Sean Penn who took home the award. Goodfellas lost out to Dances With Wolves for Best Picture, Director, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay in 1991. People like Dances With Wolves and it's easy to understand why something that is more challenging to watch like Goodfellas wouldn't be chosen. But with the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that Goodfellas is one of the top films out of Hollywood and by Scorsese. Here are the picks we have for the major categories for the 86th Oscars:

Best Picture

Kendra

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win:12 Years a Slave

A year in which it's legitimately difficult to choose a clear winner from three films doesn't happen very often. Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are all acceptable winners in a weaker year but I think the Academy will side with the majesty of Gravity over the heavier subject of the devastation of slavery.

Chris

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

I may be overly optimistic, but there is a real opportunity for the Academy to make a statement with Best Picture this year as a partial corrective to the somewhat embarrassing history of cinema with pro-slavery films forming a major part of it. If past patterns hold, something absent of politics like Gravity should win, or a flashy, but mediocre film like American Hustle could be the compromise. Over time I think that Her may be seen as the most significant achievement of the year though.

Best Director

Kendra

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Should Win: Steve McQueen

Cuarón has the momentum and the DGA, this usually translates into the Director Oscar. However, nothing would make me happier to see McQueen win. A small part of me still wishes Scorsese could have this Oscar because Wolf of Wall Street is actually a better film than The Departed.

Chris

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón

Should Win: Steve McQueen

The consensus is that Cuarón will win and while Gravity is an amazing technical achievement, the film itself left me cold. Steve McQueen took a challenging topic and infused it with humanity and created memorable scenes and performances of power and permanence. Scorsese and Payne are also two directors operating at the height of their powers with films that expand their oeuvre in interesting ways.

Best Actor

Kendra

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio

One word - McConaissance

If I was the Academy, I'd have a three way tie and give them each the Oscar. Ejiofor broke my heart. Leo was his manic best in the most fun performance of the year. McConaughey has the momentum, the 40lb weightloss and the prevailing winds in Hollywood really like to hand an Oscar to an actor that successfully reinvented himself. Call it the "Travolta Factor."

Chris

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey

Should Win: Chiwetel Ejiofor

The key to winning an Oscar for acting isn't subtlety, so physical transformations and more extravagant performances tend to be rewarded. Matthew McConaughey was solid in Dallas Buyers Club, but he was also solid in Magic Mike and many other films so he deserves an award. But Chiwetel Ejiofor has been turning in great lead and supporting performances in indies and dramas for over a decade with little recognition. With 12 Years a Slave he's starting to get the recognition he deserves, but I'm afraid he won't be taking home a little golden statue.

Best Actress

Kendra

Will Win: Cate Blanchett

Should Win: Amy Adams

It's all about Cate this year, no matter that Amy Adams was the heart of American Hustle and of Blue Jasmine's lowly three nominations, this one would be the most deserved. The only question that remains is whether or not Woody Allen's name will actually be mentioned out loud.

Chris

Will and Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett is utterly compelling in Blue Jasmine and formed a fierce core to a film that could have been much less than it was without her.

Best Supporting Actor

Kendra

Will Win: Jared Leto

Should Win: Michael Fassbender

Fassbender's vitriol personified slave owner might stay with you forever but Leto's feisty Rayon is everything one could require of a supporting actor. He made McConaughey better just by being there.

Chris

Will Win: Jared Leto

Should Win: Michael Fassbender

Fassbender forms the core of Steve McQueen's two previous features and like Hunger, he appears later in the story, but is vital to the way it all unfolds and opposite Ejiofor it makes for some compelling and unforgettable scenes. Jared Leto was solid with a physical transformation thrown in as well, so that provides an edge for him.

Best Supporting Actress

Kendra

Will Win: Lupita Nyong'o

Should Win: Julia Roberts

If I were an Academy member, I would have voted for Roberts for an absolutely fierce turn in August: Osage County even when all the attention was on Meryl Streep but in this category Oscar voters love the new and beautiful giving tragic, heartbreaking performances.

Chris

Will Win: Lupita Nyong'o

Should Win: Sally Hawkins

The Academy seems to like rewarding great work from younger actors in the supporting categories and Lupita Nyong'o is amazing and will deserve her award. But a fantastic and often overlooked component in the success of Blue Jasmine is Sally Hawkins' performance opposite Cate Blanchett. She's the anchor that provides the counterpoint and springboard for the heights that Blanchett reaches.

Best Original Screenplay

Kendra

Will Win: Her, Spike Jonze

Should Win: Her

Jonze created a riveting fairy tale of a future we're not that far away from where technology is invisible and you can fall in love with software. How could we not want to honour a screenplay for that? Her has the best chance here since it's missing from Director and Actor and has too much competition in Production Design.

Chris

Will and Should Win: Her

Her is a deceptively clever film by Spike Jonze that is kind of set in the future, but is very much in the present, summing up the zeitgeist of the time in a way to tell a simple story about moving on. As I've said before I think that as time goes by the recognition of Her will grow. While it should be recognized in more categories, the Screenplay category is often where more innovative work is recognized.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Kendra

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

It's hard to choose between Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave here but since I still think Gravity is the likely Best Picture winner, Adapted Screenplay might be an official apology statue given to 12 Years a Slave since Captain Phillips, while admired seems to have a better chance in Film Editing.

Chris

Will Win: Philomena

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

In another year Philomena would probably receive more recognition, but it's a fascinating story that makes you feel good, and if 12 Years a Slave receives a lot of other awards, this is a category that could provide a nod to a more traditional film that deals with issues in a human way.

Film Editing

Kendra

Will Win: Captain Phillips

Should Win: Captain Phillips

There's great work to be admired in all nominees in editing this year but keeping the story tight and tense in Captain Phillips gives it the edge.

Chris

Will Win: Captain Phillips

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Captain Phillips constructs a tight, tense story that keeps you on the edge of your seat and that's why it will probably win. But with 12 Years a Slave the structure and varying rhythms manage to make the journey bearable and powerful in an often subtle way.

Production Design

Kendra

Will Win: American Hustle

Should Win: Her or American Hustle

I hope the old white guys don't pick Great Gatsby. I can live with American Hustle but would prefer the more subtle but brilliant Her.

Chris

Will Win: The Great Gatsby

Should Win: Her

The old white guys are going to pick The Great Gatsby or maybe American Hustle. Subtle production design that contributes in an essential way to the story in the way that it does in Her becomes invisible when Academy members cast their ballots.

Foreign Language Film

Kendra

Will Win: Great Beauty, Italy

Should Win: The Hunt, Denmark

As always a lot of great foreign films didn't make it to the final five, but I can live with either win here with slight preference given to the quietly devastating Hunt. Go Mads!

Chris

Will Win: The Great Beauty, Italy

Should Win: The Hunt, Denmark

I've only seen The Hunt, but it was one of the best films of the year with a performance from Mads Mikkelsen that really should have been also recognized with a Best Actor nomination.

Original Score

Kendra

Will Win: Gravity or Philomena

Should Win: Her

Her is the only nominated score that impressed me out of these five. I'm guessing it won't win.

Chris

Will Win: The Book Thief

Should Win: Her

I'm guessing here since the scores didn't stay with me that much except for 12 Years a Slave and Her, but I'm not one of the people voting, so I'm thinking that there may be some recognition for John Williams again.

Original Song

Kendra

Will Win: Let it Go, Frozen

Should Win: Let it Go

Happy from Despicable Me 2 comes close in the cute factor but no song was better than Let it Go from Frozen. Plus who doesn't want to see Robert Lopez be only the 12th person in history to win an EGOT Grand Slam of show business (EmmyGrammyOscarTony).

Chris

Will Win: Let it Go

Should Win: The Moon Song

I'm going with the crowd here again in a category that is a remnant of the days were every film had a song or two in them to provide a break for folks when they watched the film. The Moon Song is actually the only song I've actually heard of the nominees and I like it, but it's a perplexing category to me.

Documentary Feature

Kendra

Will Win: The Act of Killing

Should Win: The Act of Killing

If the Academy is in "feel good" mode then we'll see 20 Feet From Stardom here, leaving the more interesting and devastating Act of Killing out in the cold. Someday in a perfect world, AMPAS will fix the Documentary category and force members to actually watch all the nominees.

Chris

Will Win: 20 Feet From Stardom

Should Win: The Act of Killing

It was a good year for documentaries and for the first time I was able to watch all of them before the awards. While I hope that The Act of Killing is recognized for telling a powerful story in a unique way, 20 Feet From Stardom is easy and fun and I don't think that the Academy enjoys too many challenges in one year.

Cinematography

Kendra

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win: Gravity

I have yet to see Philippe Le Sourd's work in Grandmaster, said to be the closest competition for Emmanuel Lubezki here but since Lubezki's already won the ASC Award as well as a pile of others for his work on Gravity it's hard to see how he could lose. ...Besides, have you seen Gravity!?

Chris

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win: Inside Llewyn Davis

With last year's winner being Life of Pi, I don't hold out much hope for the skillful capturing of light and performances to evoke a mood as opposed to computer-enhanced motion capture, so until the category is divided between actual cinematography and computer-enhanced, it's a cold technical achievement that will take home the award.

Visual Effects

Kendra

Will Win: Gravity

Should Win: Gravity

Gravity might as well have been nominated 5 times in the FX category, all others are irrelevant except for Pacific Rim which isn't even here. ...Besides, have you seen Gravity!?

Chris

Will Win: Gravity

Should Have Been Nominated: Pacific Rim

Without the effects there isn't really anything there when you look at Gravity. The best combination of effects and visual storytelling to me was the unnominated, but oh-so-fun Pacific Rim.

Animated Feature

Kendra

Will Win: Frozen

Should Win: Frozen

In the absence of Pixar, it's all about Frozen. I'll eat a snowman if Frozen doesn't win.

Chris

Will Win: Frozen

Should Win: Gravity

The smoothest, best animation of the year was in Gravity, but Frozen is the film that everyone loves for this, so that's what I'll go with too.

That's all we've got and now all that is left is to watch the show, eat the snacks and share some snark on Twitter.

Posted
AuthorChris Campbell
Categoriesfilm