FlowCrypt review

Looking through some chatroom records, I came across FlowCrypt, a Chrome and Firefox extension that adds easy PGP encryption to Gmail. Since it is supposed to do pretty much what my own PassLok does with Gmail, I loaded the extension and took it for a spin. Unlike other products in the same space that are receiving lots of attention (ProtonMail, Virtru, etc.), FlowCrypt impressed me. It’s a shame it isn’t better known. In this article I offer you my clearly biased but perhaps richer than usual review of this extension, and compare it with my own PassLok for Email. Read More

The four 4-string close harmony tunings

One of the appealing qualities of the ukulele is that it sounds “sweet” to many people. Perhaps this is why it became so popular in Hawaii, from where it spread to the rest of the world. Musicologists explain that this perceived “sweetness” is the result of close harmony, made possible by the 4th string typically being tuned one octave higher than it would be normally. In this post, I delve into other re-entrant tunings (some already known, others not so much) that can be applied to a ukulele or similar, with sound samples. Perhaps there’ll be some that appeal to you. Read More

An inexpensive guitar/uke Midi setup that works

This may not be for every amateur musician out there, but I’m sure there are some that have felt quite frustrated over the apparent inability to have a guitar or uke that will sound like anything else (for a reasonable budget) and still be playable. Sure, you can always add a Fishman or Roland Midi pickup to an electric guitar for a lot of dough, only to find that they work well only for fingerpicking but not for strumming (the essence of uke playing) because of lag or inability to pick up every single string. Well, I think I finally licked it, and quite inexpensively. You can see it at right. The yellow tape on the “strings,” which is quite optional, is a simple tactile aid so I can use only strings 1 through 4 for ukulele playing. Read More

The XI century ukulele

The old chicken and egg problem, with music. Chances are you already knew that the ukulele, that little guitar that people use for accompanying Hawaiian and pop music, as well as a lot of pieces from the Tin Pan Alley era, was born in the late XIX century, when some Portuguese luthiers landed in Hawaii. So obviously the ukulele derives from the guitar. But did you know that before guitar existed there was an instrument that looked very, very much like a ukulele? See what the angel in the picture is playing. Read More

How to write a song

I’ve written six songs within the last week or so, keeping a full-time job and living an otherwise fairly normal life. I don’t claim they are any good, only that they were surprisingly easy to make. In this article I give you a blow by blow account of how this happened, the tools I used, and the process I followed. Maybe you’ll find something that will uncork your own creativity. Read More

Australians, use PassLok!

I’m not Australian, but I can’t help putting in my two (US) cents’ worth on the current debate over the “Assistance and Access Bill.” My point is that the bill has no teeth since it is possible for any citizen (terrorist or not) to use encryption that the bill will never be able to control. It has been possible for years and will remain so for the foreseeable future. So might as well drop the bill and do some productive business. Read More

How to measure string tension easily

They say that “high tension” strings pull harder on the neck of a guitar than “normal” or “light” tension. You have tested tension with your fingers and indeed some strings seem to have more tension than others, but how much, exactly? How can I tell whether the tension of one of my strings is too high or too low? I’ve run into this sort of discussion in several forums (like this one, or this other one, or still this one) and nobody seems to have the answer, yet you know that “your fingers tell you.” In this article, I translate that qualitative method into one that will give you a pretty accurate number, and explain the math behind it. Read More

Split secrets by hand

They say that the formula for Coca-Cola is split among the company’s executives, so that a certain number of them have to get together in order to reconstruct it. The same is true of the nuclear launch codes, which require several persons to agree. I just ran into a clever way to do this with pencil and paper, and couldn’t resist improving on it. Read More

4 cool features in SynthPass

This post is motivated by Aaron Toponce’s comment on my previous article on the release of SynthPass. Rather than giving a short reply, I decided this was the opportunity to explain certain features of my recently released SynthPass password generator. In essence, the comment said that password generators will never be appealing to consumers because of certain flaws emanating from their very nature, which are aptly described in this article, entitled “4 fatal flaws in deterministic password managers,” published November 2016 in Tony Arcieri’s blog.

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