Wednesday, October 20, 2021

KF94 Masks for COVID-19

LG Airwasher
LG Airwasher
Previous post: COVID-19 Masks

While (genuine) N95 (USA) and KN95 (China) masks are still recommended, another good option is KF94, the Korean equivalent to N95 and KN95. Important reasons:

  • Readily available
  • Designed for extended wear
  • Inexpensive

TL;DR: New top recommendation: LG Airwasher KF94 Disposable Face Mask
Reasons:
  1. High filtration
  2. Good fit and sealing (excellent nose wire, adjustable earloops)
  3. Easy breathing and talking
  4. Lightweight
  5. Comfortable
  6. 3D shape (will not collapse onto nose or mouth)
  7. Does not fog glasses
  8. Inexpensive (reusable, replace weekly)
  9. Authentic
Honorable Mention:

Friday, August 27, 2021

Mini UPS for Modem, ONT, VoIP, Router

TalentCell SL3400 Mini UPS
With VoIP telephone service, battery backup of the modem, ONT (Optical Network Terminator, like a modem for fiber), and VoIP adapter are important to maintain telephone (and Internet) service during a long power outage (e.g., during an earthquake or other disaster, which can knock out cell phone service).

Unfortunately, conventional 110VAC UPS units won't provide extended runtime. (They are typically good for only 2-4 hours even with a small load.) What will work is a "mini" UPS designed to directly power 12VDC equipment; e.g., modem, ONT, VoIP adapter, and/or wireless router.

If you have a wireless router for your Internet service, either rented or purchased, while it may be able to share a mini UPS with a modem or ONT, it's better to put it on its own UPS so as not to reduce modem or ONT runtime.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Manage Passwords

KeePass Password Safe

Use a Password Manager on PC, Android, and more.

Because remembering passwords can be a huge hassle, many people make the mistake of using a single password for multiple uses. That's a really bad idea because if one use is compromised, which happens all too often, that compromised password can then provide access to other uses, contributing to identity theft and serious harm; e.g., your compromised social networking password giving bad actors access to your online banking.

The best way to protect against this risk is to use different, strong passwords for different uses, so the compromise of any one use affects only that one use. That may sound like a huge hassle, but it doesn't need to be: a Password Manager can easily generate and manage lots of strong unique passwords. Then you only have to remember one strong master password that you don't use for anything else. Your other passwords are safely stored in a securely encrypted file. You can also increase security with multi-factor authentication.

If you use more than one connected device (e.g., computer, tablet, smartphone), you can have your passwords available on all of them by storing your securely encrypted password file in a "cloud" storage service like Google DriveMicrosoft OneDrive, or DropBox.

Password Managers can be either proprietary or open source. The problem with proprietary is that privacy and security cannot be verified—you are instead relying on hope and trust, and that's not a good idea, as evidenced by weaknesses and compromises known and unknown. By contrast, open source software can be verified easily by experts and corrected or modified as needed or desired. So look for FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).

Note: Be skeptical of reviews and ratings, especially on the Internet. 
Most are not written by real experts. Many are just paid promotions. 
This site receives no consideration for its recommendations.

Best Password Managers (FOSS)

  1. KeePass. Limited native functionality, but rich in plugins and ports.
  2. Password Safe. Simple and basic. Written by expert Bruce Schneier.

Honorable Mention

  • AuthPass. Compatible with KeePass. Has potential, but suffers from teething issues.
  • Bitwarden. Slick, feature rich, and open source, but freemium and dependent on Bitwarden servers.

Better than Third Party

Resources

Strongly recommended. Do it. Today.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Security Cameras

Dome Security Camera
To protect yourself from bad actors:

  1. Deter. Encourage them to hit someone else instead.
  2. Defend. Make it harder for them to do you harm.
Catching bad actors after the fact is unlikely, and only rarely of much comfort or real value.

Thus the primary benefit of security cameras is deterrence, and to maximize deterrent value, they should be obvious. Even a fake security camera has deterrent value.
You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away.
You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.

Recommended Outdoor Security Cameras

These are professional grade cameras which have advanced Sony sensors with high resolution.

Recommended Memory Card

Note: This site receives no consideration for recommending these products.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Allergy Relief

Get Relief and Save Money with these Unbiased Recommendations 

There are so many allergy relief products on the market with extravagant and competing claims, often at high prices, that it's hard to figure out what really works and is still a good value. Part of the problem is that so many online recommendations are essentially just paid promotions. By comparison, no incentives, fees or commissions are earned from these recommendations.

Important Notes

  1. This is not medical advice. Check with your own doctor.
  2. Different products may work better for you. 
  3. Generics work just as well as branded but cost less.
  4. OTC: over the counter, available without prescription.
  5. Prices current as of May 2021.
  6. Buy online only from reputable major sellers because counterfeits are a huge problem.

Recommendations

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners.
All company, product and service names are used for identification purposes only.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Blood Pressure

Managing hypertension can help ensure a long healthy life.

Omron BP652N
Omron BP652N

Why It's Important

From the CDC: "High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death in the US. Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control..."

When your blood pressure is high:

  • You are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke
  • You are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease

While your doctor should help you manage your blood pressure on every regular visit, it can actually be more effective to keep track of your blood pressure at home.

What To Know

  1. Most of the many devices on the market are not validated for accuracy.
  2. Validation standard is ±10mm hg, which is seriously unhelpful.
  3. Stick to established brands with a reputation for accuracy.
  4. For best results, take 3 consecutive readings at 1 minute intervals, and average them.
  5. Supermarket and drugstore machines are often not maintained for accuracy.
  6. Doctor's office readings are often too high (white coat hypertension) or too low (masked hypertension).

What To Look For

  1. Accuracy.
  2. Automatic (rather than manual) operation.
  3. Ease of use.
  4. Flexible, comfortable cuff with good fit.
  5. Quiet, gentle operation.
  6. Averaging of 3 readings.

Recommended Devices

Recommended Reading


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Google Voice Ringtone


Beta, thy name is Google.

FIX: Google Voice using Notification sound instead of Ringtone on Android

If you use Google Voice on your Android device, and
incoming calls are not using your desired ringtone, then
here's how to fix the problem:

  1. Open phone Settings.
  2. Select Apps & notifications.
  3. Select Voice (in All apps if not visible).
  4. Select Notifications.
  5. Under OTHER, select Incoming call.
  6. Expand Advanced.
  7. Select Sound
  8. Select desired ringtone sound (which should then play) and close Settings.

NOTES:

  1. Sound will still show "Default notification sound" (a bug), but correct Ringtone should now play.
  2. Verified with Google Pixel 4a 5G (bramble) running Android 11. May not apply to other versions.

YouTube Videohttps://youtu.be/LzIIM-coqls



Sunday, January 17, 2021

COVID-19 Masks

UPDATE: Genuine made in USA NIOSH approved N95 masks now available:

Face masks are a crucial part of minimizing the spread of deadly COVID-19 infection, but poor, fake masks have flooded the market and are a huge problem, thanks to incompetence of the Trump administration, which:
  • Failed to update early temporary mask guidance. (Ordinary cloth masks are not terribly effective.)
  • Provided little guidance to consumers on how to obtain affordable high-quality masks.

The good news is that genuine, affordable, high-quality masks are now readily available. The bad news is that it's hard to distinguish good from bad.

  • The best masks meet the USA N95 standard, but those are still in short supply.
  • Good alternatives are those that meet the comparable Chinese KN95 standard.

How to Tell Genuine KN95 Masks

  1. Manufacturer appears on the FDA PPE EUA list.
  2. Masks (not just packaging) are branded with a China KN95 standard:
    • Medical: GB19083-2010
    • Non-medical (but still effective against COVID-19): GB2626-2006, GB2626-2019

How to Avoid Fake Masks

  1. Manufacturer does not appear on the FDA PPE EUA list.
  2. Masks are not branded with a China KN95 standard (listed above).
  3. Masks claimed to be GB19083-2010 but "non-medical" (since that is a medical standard).

Tips

  • Best filtration is melt-blown fabric in a multi-layer sandwich.
  • Carbon filtering is not effective against COVID-19.
  • Avoid masks with valves, because they are less effective against spreading infection.

Genuine KN95 Masks

  1. Powecom KN95 Protective Face Mask (10-Pack) (white)
  2. Chengde Technology KN95 Face Mask 20Pcs (white)
  3. ChiSpi KN95 Face Mask 20Pcs (colors)
  4. ChiSpi KN95 Face Mask 60Pcs (white)
  5. Hotodeal KN95 Face Mask 40 PCs (white)
Disclaimer: Provided as public service, accuracy not guaranteed.



Friday, December 25, 2020

YouTube Music Playlist Shortcut

Google giveth and Google taketh away.

Play Music, originally Google Music, was mature and pretty good. There was really no reason for Google to create YouTube Music and shut down Play Music, forcing a painful transition on users, other than its own organizational convenience (but I digress). 

Part of the pain for users is that (as of this writing at least) YouTube Music doesn't work as well as Play Music, particularly for those using it for cloud storage of uploaded music more than for paid streaming. One of the more annoying issues is that some (not all) video playlists get mixed in with audio playlists, making it harder to navigate audio playlists.

The YouTube Music app for Android, which suffers from annoying pauses even with strong mobile signal, makes things worse by having no way to create Home screen icons for specific playlists, either by widget or by shortcut. (The Play Music app had a widget for a specific playlist.) Fortunately, there is a way to work around this limitation, but it's not obvious. On Android:
  1. Install the Website Shortcut app.
  2. Open YouTube Music in Chrome browser (not the app), and navigate to a desired playlist.
  3. Scroll up to 3 dot overflow menu at right end of Chrome navigation bar to Share that page to Website Shortcut:
    1. Add the Playlist name in the Label field.
    2. Select a custom icon (e.g., artist photo) if desired (otherwise it will be the YouTube Music icon).
    3. Create Shortcut, and install the icon on a Home screen.
Now that Home screen icon can be used to launch the specific playlist (in the app if it's installed rather than in Chrome).
  • A good way to organize these playlist icons is to create a Playlist folder on the Home screen.
  • Another way is to add a Home screen just for music playlist icons.
  • This same technique works for artist, album, contributed playlist, search, anything that can be shared.
The reason for using Website Shortcut is that Add to home screen in Chrome just creates an icon that launches the app, not the desired playlist.

Enjoy!