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The Panoramic Bay

This past week, my parents made the trip from coast to coast in order to visit Northern California and me. This was their first trip up here so we had a full week of activities planned. Napa/Sanoma to Pacific Coastal Highway to Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf to Golden Gate to East Bay to Muir Woods. We did it all or as much as we could in a seven day trip.

Thanks to the Android app, Pano, I was able to capture some great panoramic shots with my Android phone with ease. Click each image for the full size version.

Golden Gate Bridge

This is one of my favorite spots in the city and it is an even better site at night. Maybe that’s why I chose this location to propose.

The Seven Sisters

Maybe I should rename this the 8 sisters since my work with the panoramic didn’t go so well. That’s what happens when it is a beautiful day and you can barely read the screen on your phone.

View of the Bay 1

On our way up to Muir Woods, my first time, there was a wonderful lookout point where you could see the bay.

View of the Bay 2

Here’s a slightly better view of that lookout point from above.


This may seem quite touristy, but it is a really good tour and attraction. Also gives you a great view of the bay when you are on the island.

Muir Woods 1

It’s amazing that you actually need to take a panoramic shot just to get a full view of these trees. I was really glad that we made it here to view this wonderful site.

Muir Woods 2

Simply amazing.

Posted under Other

Ranking NFL in Reverse

The NFL season is pretty much over for most of the NFL fanatics. My season lately seems to end with one playoff game appearance and then done. Here’s hoping that next season will be different for my Falcons.

With the Superbowl a week away and general disliking both teams, I thought it would be fun to rank the NFL teams in reverse order, i.e. rank based on how much I hate each team. This sounds simple enough but there are those middle tier teams that I don’t really hate or love. Oh well, this should at least waste some of my time putting together as well as yours if you are still reading this.

My Personal NFL Reverse Rank

32) New Orleans Saints – I can’t even begin to describe how much I hate this team. They could lose every game of the regular/post/pre season and I’d walk away with a smile on my face. Divisional rivals for years. Their recent success doesn’t make it any more fun as I have to hear about them everywhere.
31) New England Patriots – Not sure if it is just the Patriots or Tom Brady that make me hate this team so much. I don’t like any of the players. This could be similar to the Yankees approach where we hate them because they are good….No. I’m not going to accept that answer. I hate them because Tom Brady is a punk.
30) New York Jets – Again another team that I simply hate as a whole. I’ve liked maybe 1-2 players on the roster in the past but not true any more. And the more they run their mouth the more the hatred comes. Interesting to note I have 2 of the AFC East within the top 3. Theme? I doubt it.
29) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFC South rivalry appears yet again. Thankfully their implosion of a season was fun to watch, it doesn’t make that early season loss to them hurt any less. And they have a Superbowl win during a time when they had a horrible coach that I now have to somewhat listen to during Monday Night Football. And why does Gruden get a Quarterbacks corner? He hated every quarterback he ever had. He’s the Steve Spurrier of the NFL.
28) Washington Redskins – Terrible owner. Money blown every season and somehow they are still profitable. I don’t get it. Every year is the “it” year for them and they can barely make it to the break even point, if that.
27) New York Giants – Fans that are obnoxious. Writers that write crap like this. They have the fourth best Manning (I’ve never seen the mom play so I’m not sure if Eli should be moved lower). Every year they threaten to fire everyone but yet make the playoffs and this year to the actual Superbowl. They have Danny Ware (ex-UGA) but calling him DJ Ware just makes me sick. Of course this is funnier if he actually prefers that name.
26) Dallas Cowboys – This is the year. Definitely the year the Cowboys break through and return to the glory of America’s team. DOUBT IT! Why do I have to keep hearing this? They fail and fall apart. Owner is entertaining but needs to drop the ego and GM responsibilities. I did give them some love for taking Keith Brooking off the Falcons’ hands but can’t save them from this spot on my list.
25) Philadelphia Eagles – Yes, this is the NFC East section of my countdown. “Beast of the East”? Yeah right. Dream team was just as funny. I’m a Falcons fan and many might think that makes me root against Michael Vick but not true. I believe he served his time and deserves another chance. But the fans of Philly just don’t accept the talent that they have. They hated McNabb for years and I’m certain any other team would have loved to have him. Andy Reid makes them a contender each year but even he is hated. Call me when you have a team that didn’t have back-to-back winning seasons until after 42 years.
24) Green Bay Packers – Brett Farve….I hate that guy. Enough said.
23) Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll is who can be thanked for this spot. Wasn’t a fan of his while at USC and he’s not changed much while in the NFL. The only saving point for this team was the wonderful playoff win over the Saints with the Earthquake Run.
22) Arizona Cardinals – They bounced my Falcons from the playoffs but I can blame that more on Keith Brooking (BECAUSE I CAN) than anything else. I love Larry and think he is one of the best but everything else about this team just rubs me the wrong way.
21) Oakland Raiders – Owner really stands out as the reason. Also their fans are living in the past more than any other team I know.
20) San Francisco 49ers – Old division rival from the NFC West days though I still can’t understand why Saints and Falcons were listed in the West. This may be my new home city but it doesn’t mean I have to love this team. Before moving out here, I would have ranked the 49ers higher but they are slowly growing on me. When they move to Santa Clara, I’ll probably increase my dislike but only time will tell.
19) St. Louis Rams – Old division rival from the NFC West days. And….and….I don’t know. Not enjoying a team who can’t seem to stay in one spot (LA, St. Louis, wherever is next)
18) Minnesota Vikings – This is due to the 1998 season matchup in one of the greatest playoff games of all time, at least for my team. Watch NFL films and you’ll see the sideline reporters and Vikings staff chatting about the Superbowl plans when they hadn’t even played the game. Too bad they lost and ended up just making plans for ordering in while the Dirty Birds were on their way to….a bad showing.
17) Cincinnati Bengals – A coach that can’t win. A team whose facilities should just be the local jail cell. And an orange that burns my eyes with each viewing.
16) San Diego Chargers – They fired a coach who won 14 games in a season. They are always on the “this is our time” list but fail miserably. But man do I love those powder blues. San Diego Super Chargers!
15) Chicago Bears – I despise many things about this team but the Superfans always make me laugh.
14) Denver Broncos – I’ve disliked this team to the days back of the 1998 Superbowl (Go Figure), but I was rooting for them at times this year. I hated Tebow in college due to another rival, but I find myself cheering for someone who doesn’t have the skills needed but tries so hard that he makes all of the others around him to work just as hard.
13) Jacksonville Jaguars – Welcome to the portion of my list where I don’t really care about this team.
12) Tennessee Titans – See reason above.
11) Kansas City Chiefs – A team I don’t get to see that often but still find myself rooting for rather than against.
10) Buffalo Bills – Slick looking uniforms this year and a fan base that doesn’t give up. Even when the human body shouldn’t be outside in the cold they are still there every game.
09) Carolina Panthers – No true hatred for this division rival, but Cam Newton could make me begin disliking this team again.
08) Detroit Lions – Shocking as it may be, I don’t like Stafford, but I like everything else on this team. I’d move them more on the likable side of my list if they changed the game plan to just throw it up to Calvin Johnson.
07) Pittsburgh Steelers – I like the blue collar aspect of this team and the thought that they just want to run the football. Also hard hitting defense is fun.
06) Cleveland Browns – A team that loses this much just can’t be hated. They even had their team ripped away from them but their fans stayed loyal.
05) Houston Texans – Not sure what I truly like about this team. They aren’t great but they keep coming back each year getting better and better. Schaub, ex Falcon, does help along with any team that selects any other player over Reggie Bush.
04) Baltimore Ravens – Another adopted AFC team thanks to a friend living near the city. I like the attitude of the defense and the coaching staff. I don’t really want Flacco to succeed at making the Superbowl before Matt Ryan but I root for them to crush those higher on this list when possible.
03) Indianapolis Colts – This team makes it at this spot simply because of Peyton Manning. If he’s gone, then my liking this team will definitely change.
02) Miami Dolphins – This is my adopted AFC team. In years where they are bad, they are fighting until the end and never giving up. The team had the greatest QB of all time, Marino. And they are constantly putting Sanchez and Brady in the ground which is good enough for me.
01) Atlanta Falcons – There should really be no doubt that this would be the team I hate the least since it is my beloved team. Here’s hoping that in 2012 we actually do RISE UP!

Hmm….that went differently than I had originally anticipated.

Posted under Sports

Amazon Music Downloader and Shell Script

Well I’ve been away from this site for a long time and this is not exactly my planned first post back, but I created something I found useful today so I decided to share it.

Recently I’ve been purchasing my music from Amazon. Running a linux environment at home, downloading music from the big names can be quite painful. However, Amazon has done a great job to address this. It is fairly simple but I wanted to go just a little farther with the help of clamz and a simple script. clamz is a downloader program for the Amazon music store. It works great, but I’m always forgetful when it comes to what actually to place in the command when trying to run it.

Here’s my shell script. It’s pretty basic as my shell script skills are not well developed, but hey, it works.

# Date:       2011-12-10
# Author:     Benjamin Trice
# Reference:  http://heroinc.org/?p=2428

echo "************************************";
echo "* Start Amazon Music Download v1.0 *";
echo "************************************";

echo "What directory should be used to store the downloaded music files?"
echo "";

if [ -d "$MUSICDIR" ]; then echo "Directory exists."
else mkdir $MUSICDIR;
echo $MUSICDIR " directory created.";

echo "What directory contains the .amz file provided by Amazon?"
echo "";

clamz -d $MUSICDIR $AMAZONDIR/*.amz

echo "";
echo "END SCRIPT";

As you can see, all it does is utilize the clamz script with some additional friendly user input to download the files. Like I said, I’m lazy and forgetful at times and this just makes it easier for me. For those not knowing how to use the script, follow the following steps:

  1. Download and install clamz via the link at the top of this page. Follow its instructions for installing it. Your current linux distribution might already package it so try your repository if you are not comfortable with the clamz instructions.
  2. Save my shell script with a file name of “startAmazon”. You can change the name if you want.
  3. From the terminal window type the following command:
    chmod a+x startAmazon

    If you changed the file name, then the command will need to be changed as well. This command will make the file executable.

  4. Perform the following command in order to be able to call the script from any directory.
    sudo cp startAmazon /usr/bin/

That’s it. Now you can run “startAmazon” from any directory when you are ready to download your music quickly and easily. I doubt I’ll make any updates to this script unless there are changes to clamz. Enjoy!

Posted under Linux

Extended Vacation

Well, seeing how I haven’t posted here lately, this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. :-O

Due to work and my upcoming wedding/honeymoon there’s no light in the tunnel for free time to post. Therefore, I’ll be taking an extended vacation from Hero Inc. until October or after. Please no tears.

Thanks and I’ll see you when I return.

Posted under Other

This and That


So this is what my website looks like? I’ve been away from it for so long that I actually forgot about it. That can’t be good for whatever readership I might have had or have.

Anyway, let’s see what’s been going on since my last post dated May 2, 2011.

Welcome to the summer of superheroes. Throughout the summer a new or returning set of characters will be filling the silver screen. Yes, I plan on seeing them all and so far I’ve been doing good with Thor and X-Men: First Class already checked off. Next up is my eagerly anticipated Green Lantern. I know others aren’t that hyped but I am. I’m not 100% excited by the look, but certain pieces of the recent trailers really lead me to believe this one is going to be fun and good. Now I just need to find a 3D IMAX near me as this is the first film that I believe 3D will actually help its plot. Then I’m off to Captain America, Cars 2, and Harry Potter. I’ll be broke by the end of it all.

It’s Wedding Season! Yep, most of my time….wait that’s not right. Most of my fiance’s time has been spent planning the upcoming wedding. I’m just trying to keep up and help where I can. I took over the Honeymoon planning. Sounds like fun but not really. I’m super excited about our end location (can’t state here until she finds out later) but trying to book hotels and make sure flight schedules work out can be hectic. I can’t even imagine what the true crux of wedding planning is like. My head would probably explode. Regardless, it will be a very special time for the two of us and I’m really looking forward to it.

I wasn’t that excited after the NFL Draft because of what my Falcons had to give up to get Julio Jones, but I’m getting more excited each day. I need the season to start and start now. The lockout must end so I can see free agency. I then need to hear about practices and see some of preseason competition to learn more about the new players. Then I need a season where I get to see this Madden style offense where we just score and score often. Let’s go FALCONS!!!

This week on Tuesday, Duke Nukem Forever is going to be released. I was a fan of Duke Nukem 3D back in the day so I’m really looking forward to this one. I really just need a funny, pointless video game and Duke Nukem Forever seems to fit the bill. If you’ve never played, just think of a more “mature” version of Doom or Wolfenstein. I’ve been hoarding some gift cards since Christmas so what better time to drop them. I’m also taking 2 days off from work (had to get rid of some available vacation days before the end of the year) so I’ll be holed up in my room playing video games for a 4 game weekend. Man that sounds relaxing. Just wish that IGN hadn’t released this review. 🙁

This past week was E3 and Nintendo’s presenation. I was extremely excited about this one as I knew it would show the new gaming system. Well, I was not left disappointed by the Wii U. I was sold on the name at first as it is a play on Wii 2 as well as “unique” and a wii for you. Then they showed the video of what the Wii U can do and I was blown away again. I don’t know why I’m shocked when Nintendo innovates but sometimes I’m shocked at how creative they can be to achieve it. Sure, all of the “hardcore” gamers will complain for about a year until Microsoft and Sony due the same thing. It’s happened with every console since the N64. Nintendo innovates and others copy. See analog stick, rumble pack, motion controls, etc. for examples. Overall on the Wii U, the graphics look great. The gameplay is creative and fun. The launch titles are diverse. My bank account is already preparing for this one next year.

And I guess that’s it. Let’s see how long it is now until my next posting.

Posted under Games, Heroes, Movies, Other, Sports

2011 NFL Draft Recap

The weekend is over and so is the 2011 NFL Draft. It started as expected with the predicted picks going in the expected directions. It all seemed like it was going to be boring thanks to the lockout and inability to trade players….

…Then the 6th pick in the draft happened.

Player Description

Julio Jones
Julio Jones
WR, Alabama
Round 1, Pick 6 (6 overall)

The Falcons started the Draft at the 27th pick and decided to not stay there long. In my previous post, I stated I wasn’t in favor of trading up for A.J. Green. That’s a good thing because we didn’t offer enough to get Green. Instead, we have Julio Jones. My mouth was stuck open with amazement as I saw the trade begin to take place and the pick was made. Then I saw what we gave up to move up to the 6th slot (Atlanta’s first (27th overall), second (59th) and fourth-rounder (124th) and also Atlanta’s first- and fourth-round selections in 2012).

That’s right. In one single night, I saw the 2011 and 2012 NFL Draft for my dirty birds. Even Roddy White agreed when he tweeted “Well we got julio jones I’m excited…Well I was wrong we give up our draft.” It was a heavy price, but in this single trade we announced to the world that we want to win and win now. We are not building for tomorrow or a few years. We are here for today and now it is time to win. With Jones joining our offense, I expect even more teams to be afraid to face our point machine. I’m just wondering if I’ve now seen the death of my favorite 10-12 play drive offense.

Sure, our major need was DE, but I agree with the explanation given by TD and I trust our front office. Our trio (Blank, Smith, Dimitroff) did what no one else could do and provide back-to-back winning seasons and make a franchise into something it never was before, relevant.

Suggested Nicknames:

  1. The Don (a.k.a. Don Julio)
  2. Lurtz (I know this one is bad, but I can’t help but see the similarities)
  3. January Jones (I reserve this name for his stint and play that will be evident during the month of January)

Akeem Dent
Akeem Dent
ILB, Georgia
Round 3, Pick 27 (91 overall)

I’m always one for adding more depth to our dwindling/non-existent Georgia players, but Dent didn’t seem to fit our team need. He plays the ILB role and we needed more depth at OLB due to the age of Mike Peterson and potential departure of Stephen Nicholas. Coy Wire is another potential player leaving the team but I still believe depth at OLB would have been better when filling the need.

But Dent is not afraid to attack and make a hit. He’s also a good tackler. Some reports have stated he has played the OLB position in the past so he could be a versatile addition to the LB core even if he’s most notably known for being an ILB.

Jacquizz Rodgers
Jacquizz Rodgers
RB, Oregon State
Round 4, Pick 6 (145 overall)

When I saw this pick during the weekend, I didn’t like it. I loved it. One of the other needs going into the next season was at speed RB. Norwood has been injured too often and will probably be gone by the start of the season. Therefore, it is time to try to bring in someone new. Rodgers could be that guy. He’s not super fast, but he is quick and in the NFL quick can get you yards and touchdowns.

Watching him in college (not sure how that happened, possibly a bowl game), but I was mesmerized by his speed and lack of height. I mean, this is a kid that will look up to veteran Brent Grimes, literally. However, this isn’t the first time the Falcons have been using an undersized RB to get something “dunn” on the field.

Suggested Nicknames:

  1. The Quizz Show (Who’s the guy that just blew passed your defense for the gaming score? Answer: J. Rodgers)
  2. Q&A (Sticking with the Quiz theme on this one)
  3. Mr. Touchdown (From his days of playing HS in Texas)

Matt Bosher
Matt Bosher
PT, Miami
Round 6, Pick 27 (192 overall)

This was another pick I questioned for two reasons. First, who drafts a punter not named Ray Guy in any round other than the 7th? Second, we are already set at the Punter position with Michael Koenen, who only 2 years ago set the record for least return yards in a season.

But Bosher not only punted at Miami. He also was a FG kicker and can be potentially verstile at many kicking positions. Worth the pick? Maybe not, but Matt Bryant isn’t around forever and sometimes it can be nice to have a kicker available for a single team for several years. Yes, I’m stretching on this one, but I needed something to say.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
OG, Fresno State
Round 7, Pick 7 (210 overall)

Offensive Lineman are always hard to talk about because no one really knows who they are until the screw up. Umm….then let’s look at what ESPN has to say. “Durability is a concern for Jackson and he has physical limitations, but he does have good size potential to go along with an outstanding combination of intelligence, awareness and toughness.”

Not exactly what I want to hear, but I’m not really looking for Jackson to be a full time started. My expectations are for some rotational work or simply depth at the position. If we get that, then I’d say we have value in the pick.

Cliff Matthews
Cliff Matthews
DE, South Carolina
Round 7, Pick 27 (230 overall)

Well, it took seven rounds, but the Falcons finally addressed the defensive end need. This is not the spot you want to fill it, but here we are. Even with my constant viewings of the SEC, I don’t really remember much on Matthews so I will have to default to ESPN’s short piece of analysis “Matthews has the upper-body strength, active hands and motor to provide depth at left defensive end in Atlanta’s 4-3 scheme.”

For the overall grade, I’m going with a C-. With the large amount given up for Jones, I must question the overall draft. If it were not for the Rodgers selection, I’d probably go with an F, but I also have to grade based on production and Smitty, TD, and Blank have delivered. The grade also could have been worse due to the great draft that Tampa Bay and New Orleans had. I’m still swearing over the brilliant first two draft selections by both teams. Sorry Carolina, I can’t give you any respect until Newton shows me his potential reward.

And on a final note, I did find the selection of James Carpenter funny. Mainly because his own coach couldn’t believe it.

UGA Note: The following players were taken in the draft from the University of Georgia.

  • Clint Boiling – Cincinnati Bengals (no one looks happy to go here)
  • Shaun Chapas – Dallas Cowboys (Nice selection)
  • Kris Durham – Seattle Seahawks (I hope he has a nice career there)
  • A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals (again, no one is happy)
  • Justin Houston – Kansas City Chiefs
Posted under Sports

2011 NFL Draft Preview

This is the week. The week that I wait with anticipation once the post season of the NFL ends. This is the week of the NFL Draft.

However, this year is not like my years past. This year is marred by the NFL Lockout and labor situation. Uncertainties are in abundance and that kills the fun that is the draft. Sure, players will be selected, but the surprises will be fewer and far between because no players can be traded. I won’t be sitting in front of a TV responding with “What the crap? New England just traded pick 187 for [Amazing Player A]. How do they continue to do that?” No, this year I’ll be watching and saying “Wow, [Team A] just selected [Player A]. That could be an interesting fit.” See the difference in inflection and tone? It’s just not the same.

Regardless, I’ll still be present to find out just who my Atlanta Falcons choose to take with the 27th overall pick. In my eyes, our following needs are:

  • Defensive End – Where’s the explosive player for the Defensive Line that will play opposite to the “Predator” version of John Abraham? With Corners that can cover when given smaller windows of time, it is now time to address ways to get after the QB. Looking back on the bigger losses of last year, it was our inability to get the QB to the ground that caused us to give up so much and achieve little.
  • Offensive Line – There’s age on the line at certain positions and the line has played above its capabilities long enough. Time to improve upon it and protect Matt Ryan further. Sam Baker is not becoming the franchise lineman that was expected. With better protection, Ryan can keep his eyes up and down field for that deep pass.
  • Running Back – Michael Turner is there, but he’s not really the “Burner”. He will pound away at you during the game. Same for Jason Snelling, but where’s the speed? Norwood has been plagued by injuries and will probably be gone before the season begins. The other undrafted selections on the team and practice squad are not the solution.
  • Wide Receiver – This one is only in my eyes due to the reading I’ve been doing leading up to the draft. All the talk is on Defensive End or a Wide Receiver because the Falcons need more speed on offense. Not sure on people discussing the replacement of Michael Jenkins. Jenkins is not a speed receiver. He has a niche job (blocking WR) to perform and he performs it very well. He also is a clutch player in several situations when in previous years Roddy White was unreliable. Are we then looking to give up on the recovery of Harry Douglas? Are we willing to waste a first round pick on a potential slot receiver? Not sure I like that cost when other needs are present.
  • Cornerback – I’ve also heard grumblings on this one as well. I’m going to dismiss this one early in the draft since so much money was spent last year on Robinson. Grimes has come into his own and would excel by a better defensive line that can get to the QB and cause bad decisions. Nickelback would make sense to anyone who watched the Packers/Falcons post season game. Again, maybe in the late rounds. We have a few potentials from last year’s draft that need some time to grow.
  • Tightend – Time to name the heir to Tony Gonzalez? The talk of retirement in the next year or two has made several name this position. With this not being a big year in the TE department, I’m going to leave this one with minor priority.

I’ll focus on the 27th pick as the later rounds are a crap shoot. The biggest hurdle with this pick is “Who will be available?” Our NFC South enemies will be looking for the pass rushing specialist as well so they might be possibly targeting the same players as we. Therefore, the DE we want and need might already be off the board. Names I’ve been seeing lately for the Falcons are:

  • Justin Houston, DE, University of Georgia – A UGA player. I should be thrilled, but I’m not. Sorry UGA fans. Houston is a great player but he will be switching positions somewhat here and I question the true power and speed for the type of player we need. I just don’t want another type of DE that we already have in Biermann or Davis.
  • Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa – This is probably my top pick if he’s available. Injuries in the senior season led to his fall on draft day, but he’s still got the other skills I covet for the position.
  • Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson – Another great DE that’s falling due to injuries. Do we take due to some potential fears or do we have faith that we will bounce back from the injuries?
  • Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland – Well, I know he’s fast on returns, but I’m not looking for a return man. I want a speed WR. Smith nails that. But I just see a composite Douglas and Jenkins in Smith. Not a bad combination by any stretch, but not the force I want/need on the field at the moment.
  • Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh – I love the previous Pitt prospects (see Larry Fitzgerald), but again not a fan of the WR selection here unless its best available pick. The highlights I’ve seen make Baldwin more of a cross between White and Jenkins. We don’t need the same players we have. We need something better.
  • Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame – Here’s the heir to Tony G….maybe. Again, see my notes above on this pick. I’m just not feeling the “draft to fill replacement” on this team just yet. We are still drafting to build to win.

As for the other Draft expectations? Well…

  1. Who will be this year’s cryer? Part of me wants to say Nick Fairley just because I don’t like him that much and he’s fallen down the boards for various reasons (including character issues). I’m going to shoot for the stars and say Cam Newton. Everyone has the Panthers already drafting, signing, and starting him but I’m not sure if I completely believe it just yet. I don’t believe Newton is the star that a team should be built around (see Vince Young and Tim Tebow). If he drops from the Panthers, he could continue to fall and shatter his superstar view of himself.
  2. Biggest surprise? I’ll go with New England actually keeping its picks and making a selection in the first round. With no players to trade, Coach Bill might just keep what he has and make a selection.
  3. Will Oakland make another reach of a pick? I’d actually be surprised if they did as they seem to be heading in the right direction. However, the world’s oldest man is still leading Raider nation so they have that going for them.
  4. Will the NFL Lockout hurt the NFL Draft? Of course not. People will still watch and then we will hear reports about how the ratings were slightly down from last year but still about the same thus stating that we all just want football so get the deal completed today.
  5. And yes, I plan to make this two years in a row enjoying a Double Down during the draft.
Posted under Sports

Recovering from Hacked Gmail

This morning started like every other morning except for the fact that I noticed a strange email from myself to myself (work email). It seemed that I had emailed myself and a few other people that started with “B” from my address book. First response? Oh crap, my gmail account was hacked. Sure enough, a few minutes later as I logged into my account I saw about 20+ emails. Half were mail delivery failures and the other half were all my wonderful friends informing me that I sent something in error or the simple truth I already knew which was my account was compromised.

Thanks to a quick Google/Twitter search, I saw that I was not alone in the matter. Therefore, I wanted to provide some details on what I did to minimize the issue overall.

First, I tried to see the extend of the breach in my gmail. Based on the emails that I saw, it seemed that the hack essentially spammed my entire contact list (about 250+ people). I quickly emailed my first group of people (family as I just didn’t have the best faith for them not to click on anything I sent). Then I selected my entire contact list and began to compose a generic email to the masses. Hopefully I could catch enough people in time before they clicked on the link. I didn’t get to everyone in time but most people were, thankfully, aware of what the email could have been so they ignored it (probably like they did for any other legitimate email I had sent them before).

With email sent, next item on the list was to change my password. Yes, as a “security professional” I know that I should change my passwords every 90 days and make them difficult to guess. I had the second part of that requirement down. Just not the first. I had been using the same password since my first use with Gmail. Yes, I was asking for this to eventually happen.

With my password changed, I took the next steps to see how I could prevent this further from happening. Here are some additional steps I took. These don’t guarantee that I’ll be hit again but at least it will help.

How Can I Check if My Account Has Been Compromised?
At the bottom of your gmail account, you will find information on the last known logged in session (last time someone accessed your account).

If you click details, a pop up window will appear providing the last several locations where an account was accessed. I would suggest becoming familiar with this list so you know what is out of the ordinary. Google will inform you sometimes when an account was accessed outside of your normal locations, but you cannot always trust Google to catch it. In my case, when I looked at the list I noticed instantly that the location of Spain was listed. Not a normal location for me to access my account since I’m a standard US resident. Some of the locations may not be familiar to you but these could be based on you connecting to your account from a phone or some other means. This is why I stress to become familiar with this list.

How to Change Gmail Password?
Because of the new Google toolbar, this was not the easiest for me to find at first. Maybe I was just frustrated by the terrible start to my day.

  1. On the top right corner of the gmail screen is a new Google bar. Click the cog.
  2. Select “Mail Settings”.

    Gmail Mail Settings

  3. Click the “Accounts and Import” tab.

    Gmail Mail Settings

  4. Click “Change password”

The instructions from here are pretty clear.  Google will even provide you with visual queues to the strength of your password.  Please try to follow these thoughts on the creation of this new password:

  • Password should not be easy to guess
  • Password should not be an incremental value from the previous password
  • Password contains a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters
  • Passwords should be closer to the max number of characters that the password field allows.  I.E. if it allows 6-8, then try to make a password closer to 8 than 6. The more characters and complexity of the password, the better.

How To Change Password Recovery Options?
This step is important if you ever forget your password. It is Google’s way of providing a secondary method for retrieving a password.

  1. On the top right corner of the gmail screen is a new Google bar. Click the cog.
  2. Select “Mail Settings”.
  3. Click the “Accounts and Import” tab.
  4. Click “Change password recovery options”

Gmail Recovery Options

From here, you are given 3 options: Alternative Email Address, SMS Messsage, and Question Response. I suggest using all 3 options given to you.

What Other Gmail Settings Should I Review for Hacking?
Gmail has a few helpful settings for allowing one to control different areas of your account. However, these are areas that others can use as well once your account has been compromised.

  1. On the top right corner of the gmail screen is a new Google bar. Click the cog.
  2. Select “Mail Settings”.
  3. Click the “Accounts and Import” tab.
  4. Verify that no new items have been added or modified under “Grant access to your account” and “Send Mail as”.
  5. Click the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab.
  6. Disable both POP and IMAP.

Steps 5 and 6 are optional, but they can be potentially another way for someone to retrieve messages from your account. As I don’t use a desktop based program (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.), I don’t mind disabling these options.

How do I setup 2 Factor Authentication?
First, what in the world is two factor authentication? Well, it is another way to verify the person attempting to access a site is who they say they are. This is performed by requiring two forms of identification: 1) Something you know (password) and 2) Something you have (a code). For those corporate work professionals, you would be familiar with this through the use of RSA tokens.

With Gmail, this means that when I login to my account from a computer, I provide my password and a code that is generated for me on my cell phone. It works even if I don’t have access to the data network and I always have my phone with me. I know what you are thinking though. I have to enter a new code every time I login? Well, yes, but you do have the option to tell the computer to remember you for 30 days. In 30 days I’ll need to enter a code again. Simple enough. Annoying at times, but worth it so I don’t have my account hacked and several high ranking bosses at work receive the spamming emails.

  1. On the top right corner of the gmail screen is a new Google bar. Click the cog.
  2. Select “Account Settings”.
  3. Click the “Using 2-step verification” link located under Personal Settings / Security (right side of the page).
  4. Follow the steps to setup 2 factor. They are pretty straight forward.

Note: 2 Factor Authentication is not setup for all Google Apps (Picasa, Google Talk, Mobile Gmail, etc.). For these applications, you will need to setup application specific passwords. This is also very easy to do and can be found following the same steps above but click on “Authorizing Applications & sites”. With this change, you can revoke access to applications at any time which provides better security protection as well.

Posted under Internet

Collabtive Help 2

[Translate to Italian]


Due to the positive feedback I have received from several readers for my previous work for Collabtive, I decided to take the time to perform a few more updates. These new additions are completely user facing as I discovered the emails were not as clear to all users as they could be.

These latest updates provide the following changes:

  • Create Task Email to Person Who Assigned Task – Includes task name, description, and completion date
  • Create Task Email to Individuals Assigned Task – Includes task name, description, assigner name (with email link) and completion date
  • Edit Task Email to Individuals Assigned Task – Includes task name, description, and completion date
  • Close Task Emails – Includes task name and description

Here’s a quick view of how an email will look with the recent changes. The text will be different depending on who is receiving the email and the type of event that took place (create, edit, and close).


A new task has been assigned to you.

Task Information
Task Name: Solve World Peace
Task Description: Discover the best way to solve world peace and do it.
Assigned By: Humanity
Completion Date: 20.02.2011

Once the task has been completed, please login to the Collabtive system and acknolwedge the completed task by closing the task.

For those interested, follow the instructions below to update your environment with these latest changes. If you have not updated your environment based on my information from my previous post, then perform those steps first before making these changes.

  1. Download the files I modified on February 20th, 2011.
  2. Update your Collabtive directory with the following files in the appropriate location:
  3. For those not using English as the default language, the following additions need to be made to the appropriate lng.conf file:
    • taskassignedtext
    • taskassignedfooter
    • taskassignertext
    • taskassignerfooter

Enjoy the latest updates and post comments if you have questions.

UPDATE NOTE (2011-02-27): I just realized there was an error in the close task functionality and emails were being sent to the user that has an ID of 1. I’ve updated the code referenced in this post to include a fix for the getAssigner function. Please let me know if you run into any additional issues.

Posted under Internet

2012 Falcons Season Preview

Is it 2012 already? Ummm…..no. But with the way things are going in the Players vs Owners CBA discussions, I wish it was. It seems that there might not be a 2011 season…or much of one anyway. Therefore, I turn to the year 2012 and my expectations, predictions, and possible insights.

2011 Recap
Will there be a season? If so, full or half or quarter? No one really knows but here’s how I see a full season actually going. Currently, we are slated to have played the following teams (home teams in bold):

  • Green Bay
  • Chicago
  • Minnesota
  • Detroit
  • Jacksonville
  • Houston
  • Tennessee
  • Indianapolis
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina
  • Tampa Bay
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina
  • Tampa Bay

When I first look at this list, my first thought is “Crap, this is going to be tough.” Then my second thought is “We won the NFC South last year. Crap.” Say what you want but to me there are always absolutes in the NFL. They are the Madden curse does exist and the NFC South champ does not repeat the following year. New Orleans was hot on our trail in 2010 and 2011 wasn’t much different. Tampa Bay also surged ahead to show that the South is where the NFC powerhouses reside. Not within the NFC Least…I mean East.

Falcons end the season 9-7. It’s enough to make the playoffs as a wild card. It’s a let down for many but I’ll take it as Matt Ryan gets his first playoff win. Sadly the run ends in the second round. Four straight winning seasons, I’ll take it.

Now if there is no real season and replacement players are used, I’m looking for my replacement dream team to be led by D.J. Shockley and Herschel Walker. Like I said, dream team.

Nike Just Does It
2012 will bring new changes. Not just with player personnel. 2012 is the year that Nike will be taking over uniform operations from Reebok. Now many are fearful of this change, me included, and these fake mockups that were released previously as well as any of the Nike combats that college football has seen just makes it worse. But there is nothing we can do about it at this point, so let’s start with the positive thinking and the pro what-ifs.

Thanks to my buddy, Will, and his photoshop capabilities as well as Fraser Davidson with the original Pro Combat template (so I’m told), I present to you the new uniforms for the Atlanta Falcons 2012.

Nike 2010 Falcons Uniform Concept
Click for bigger image.

The images are great, but let me explain the concept completely.

  • Home – We have grown accustomed to the Falcons wearing red at home, but after the introduction of the recent throwbacks, I wanted to make a change to black. The socks and stripes from that throwback will stay as well as the white pants with a red belt. TV numbers (not shown in image) will be on top of the pads while the Falcons logo will be on the sides of the sleeves. I used Uniwatchblog’s idea of the compression sleeves as a nod to the old longer sleeved uniforms. I also chose to change the Falcons to the red helmet as there are so few red helmet teams and it just helps the logo pop so much more.
  • Away – The same thoughts for the Home jersey went into the Away one, except that I went with the white.
  • Secondary – Most hate a secondary uniform but I’m not one of them. If we have the option to go “bolder”, then let’s do it. Red was once the prominent look. Now it is a special occasion thought. I used the old red jersey as a point of reference. It is probably hard to see in the image but the red jersey also uses the gray pants.

Now we get to the 2012 opponents. This list could change, but this is what we have as of today.

  • Dallas
  • Philadelphia
  • NY Giants
  • Washington
  • Oakland
  • Denver
  • San Diego
  • Kansas City
  • NFC West
  • NFC North
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina
  • Tampa Bay
  • New Orleans
  • Carolina
  • Tampa Bay

This list is no laughing matter. It could be just as bad as the 2011 schedule, but I’m going high and say we are thrown an easy schedule. We end the year at 14-2. The two losses are to the New Orleans Saints. It pains me to say that, but read on for the revenge.

Verdict & Expectations
14-2, eh? Well that’s just fine. In the playoffs we meet up with the hated Saints. Backs against the wall. All doubters in tow. Except that this time we plow through. We take the win that matters most and move on to the Superbowl. I don’t want to predict further as we are still so far away, but that’s where my mind stands today.

I have faith in this team that currently exists today and I see potential where so many others do not. Draft choices Weatherspoon, Jerry, Douglas, and Meier will all return from their injuries stronger than ever before. TD’s choices shine the way they were meant to shine as all signs of previous injury are nonexistent. The team has a whole becomes just that, a team. The previous heartaches in the playoffs bring the unit together and other teams in the NFL begin to fear those birds of the south.

The season starts in 573 days. Have your tickets ready?

Posted under Sports