I’m sick of hearing the “Venezuela” argument.

From: Google Maps

I am getting sick and tired of people pointing to Venezuela when talking about Progressive policies. It’s a very dishonest strawman when we’re not even asking for a Venezuelan system. Venezuelan would be government control of the means of production.

What we’re asking for is simple: Medicare for All, Tuition-Free Public College, a Federal Jobs Guarantee Program, and Universal Public Housing.

Medicare for all would save us between $17 Trillion according to a liberal study, and $2 Trillion according to a conservative study. Not only would it be cheaper, it would also lead to better results, as multiple studies have found. On top of that, private supplemental insurance would still be available to cover whatever the public system doesn’t cover (which, yes, would include some things). If every other developed country can do this, why can’t we? Are we really wasting so much money on offensive wars and defence contracts that this isn’t even possible?

Tuition-Free Public College would simply extend the tuition-free school system that we have with Primary and Secondary School and extend it to Public Colleges. Simple. The point is to get more skilled workers out there to stimulate our economy, after all if you give regular people the chance to really earn money, they will actually use that money. Private Colleges will still exist, as they do with Primary and Secondarys Schools, and the Private Colleges would not be covered with taxpayer money, just as it is with Primary and Secondary Schools. If Slovenia can do it, so can we. If we can afford to increase our military budget by $100 Billion, we can afford to set aside $80 Billion for this program.

A Federal Jobs Guarantee Program will not replace jobs in the Private Sector. Instead, it is a form of a Social Safety Net; they would provide government-contracted jobs and pay the worker the minimum living wage of their county. You would not get a raise in this program, as it’s only meant to pay you enough to survive, and yes, you could get fired if you refuse to do your job. But if you want more money, you would go to the Private Sector, probably after going to College. This would also set the stage for what to do when all our jobs are replaced with automation: Where do people work after that? It’s time we start thinking about what to do when all our jobs are automated.

Universal Public Housing is a new one, but it’s also pretty simple: A 2-Bedroom Apartment provided by the government. Believe it or not, it actually costs more to leave a homeless person on the street than it is to provide them a simple home, so that’s what this program would do. It would be nothing luxurious: 2 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom, a Livingroom, a Kitchen, and a Dining Room. Basically, a 2-Bedroom Apartment. If you want something better, again, you can turn to the private market.

Notice what all these programs have in common: Not a single one of them fully replaces the private sector. This is the difference between a Scandinavian system and a Venezuelan system: The actual thing we’re asking for is a strong social safety net. I know me personally, I could really use Tuition-Free Public College and a Federal Jobs Guarantee Program. I am glad for Obamacare because without it, my little sister may not actually be here today, but I want it to go further and cover everyone.

I’m personally not looking to move out anytime soon, I want to finish College and get a decent job beforehand, but if there was a need to, Universal Public Housing would be a very helpful program for me.

None of this fully replaces the Private Sector. None of this is Government Control of the means of production. None of this is a Venezuelan system of government.

You got that? If not, well, too bad, because we have the American People on our side. Every one of these programs are popular with the American people.

We can do this. We have the resources. We simply need to stop wasting it on giving more money to the rich and more war, like someone who can’t afford a decent house because they’d rather spend their money on the new iPhone and Netflix.

As Always,

-Keep Exploring

Public Service Announcement: 2-Factor Authentication is important.

From: Expert Reviews

There are two secure mainstream forms of 2-Factor Authentication: One that works with an Authentication app on your smartphone, and one that utilizes a hardware key. Both of these methods work very well in keeping people out of your account.

Most services that accept 2FA also provide backup keys in case you lose access to the smartphone or hardware key. I’d suggest you hold on to those as well.

Why is this important? It’s simple: Imaging you enter your password on a public Wi-Fi network, send it through SMS or Email, you are a victim of a Phishing attack, or the service you use is hacked.

Every single one of these situations can happen, and when it does, the attacker can get into your account and lock you out. No good.

I was a victim of this once. I don’t know how they got in my account, and it happened years ago, but it’s a wonder I still have access to my account today.

If someone manages to get their hands on your password, 2FA will keep them locked out.

So how exactly do these systems work?

When using an app like Google Authenticator, what happens is every 30 seconds, a new code is generated. Every time you log in to your account, you have to access the app to see your time-sensitive code and enter it in the field in question.

However, nothing is transmitted between the server and your client. Instead, when setting it up, there is an agreement made between the server and the client what equation is used, which includes an encrypted private key. The equation also uses the current time as a seed.

This means the code is generated by the app through the equation at that moment, and when you enter the code on the website, the server goes through the equation itself and checks the code. If it matches, the server lets you in.

This is very likely a very simplified explanation as to what happens. All you need to know is it’s secure, and keeps bad people out of your account.

Hardware keys are a bit different. How these work is, when set up a public and private key are generated and stored onto the key itself. When you try to sign in to your account, the website waits for the hardware key to send in the packet that it expects, and when received, will let you in. This is actually more secure than apps like Google Authenticator, but the actual keys cost money.

You see, you can’t just use any old USB Drive. This would be insecure. Instead, you need a specialized key whose sole purpose is to get you into your account. Typically you would need to press a button on these things so it knows you’re actually physically there, or some may actually include a fingerprint sensor that is needed before telling the website to let you in.

However, I think you all already noticed the issue with this:

What happens when you lose the key? Or it stops working?

When you set up Google Authenticator, what usually happens is the website will give you a set of backup codes. These are important, store them somewhere. With hardware keys, you can take two routes:

  1. Purchase a backup key.
  2. Use Google Authenticator as a backup.

The important thing is Backup, Backup, Backup. You should always keep a backup of everything you need. It may seem inconvenient to do, and it is, but you’ll be thankful when you lose access to whatever you were using before.

Now, another important note:

Unless it’s the only option provided to you, never, ever, ever use SMS as a 2FA method. Not even as a backup.

SMS is an inherently insecure form of communication. You should never send anything important through SMS. Ever.

However, if SMS is the only option, then at that point it’s simply better than nothing. Just know that there are actually things people can do to get access to your phone number with just information most people would be comfortable sharing.

Another important note is the security questions: Never, ever tell the truth on these. Always use them as a backup, but never tell the truth. Enter an answer that nobody, not even your closest friend, not even your significant other, would guess that you’d enter.

Yes, these security systems are important, and you should take the time to use these on accounts that are important to you. It is recommended that you change your password every 3-6 months. The best way to do this is through a password manager like Lastpass.

Lastpass will generate passwords for you and store them in a method that is so secure that only you can access it. You set up a master password, of which the only way to get access to Lastpass is said master password. And yes, use 2FA on Lastpass as well. This stuff is important. Lastpass is not a sponsor.

As Always,

-Keep Exploring

An Open Letter to Google: Why does the Pixelbook exist?

Image From: PCWorld

Dear Google,

I love Chrome OS. I really do. It’s fast, does everything I want it to do, and is affordable. But it feels like you are forgetting just who the target audience of this Operating System is for: People like me, people who need nothing more than a Web Browser and the occasional Android App.

On October 4, 2017, you went ahead and released something that makes no sense: The Pixelbook. Now, that’s not to say the concept is bad, I want you to produce a nice and decent device running your own software. I’m still waiting for the Pixel Watch, after all.

There’s just one problem: It’s overpriced. I’m not talking about in terms of hardware, I’m talking in terms of software. What can a $1,000 Chromebook do that a $300 Chromebook can’t do? Open more tabs? If I’m going to spend that much money on a laptop, I would want one running Windows 10 or macOS High Sierra. Or, at least, a fully functional Linux Distro.

I know there’s the obvious example of Google Assistant… that’s not lost on me, the Assistant and Pixelbook Pen were the things that made me consider maybe getting this laptop. However, Windows has Cortana, and macOS has Siri. Am I really going to spend an extra $700 just for the Google Assistant and support for the Pixelbook Pen? Not even the pen itself, that’s an extra $100.

No. No, I won’t, especially knowing that Google Assistant will be coming to more Chromebooks in the future.

This just seriously shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what your own Operating System was made for: The average person, one who doesn’t need anything more than a web browser and a couple Android apps. Again, someone like myself.

I am actually okay with having an on-brand notebook with a stylish look costing a little more than the average Chromebook. I really am. Plenty of people are willing to spend hundreds more on a product that’s just as good as another just because of a brand. But it’s usually not a $700 upcharge on brand alone. Maybe $200-300, and that’s a steep upcharge for a laptop that was built for the sole purpose of browsing the web.

The fact of the matter is, a Chromebook does not need an Intel Core i5 processor. It just doesn’t. A Chromebook with a Core i5 or a Core i7 can do 90% of the same tasks as a Chromebook with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor. I would know. I’m using one right now, as I’m writing this.

Yes, I get the occasional hiccup, but overall it’s much faster than the $800 Windows 10 based laptop I got from my High School and used for 4 years. If that $800 Windows 10 laptop was an $800 Chrome OS laptop, it not only would have served me quite well, but it could work for more than a decade. And guess what? I used it, primarily, for the Browser: Google Chrome. In fact, the only programs I used were programs that could be replaced with web apps. Even the AZMerit Testing Program could be used on a Chromebook.

So my question to you, Google, is this: Who is the Pixelbook for? Who would benefit from it? Why does the Pixelbook exist?

Now, I hear you’re going to add support for Linux apps in the near future. I commend this move to allow people with Pixelbooks to take further advantage of their faster system, but this is something you should have done before releasing a $1,000 Chromebook. If this device was $400 or less, I would probably be using it right now, and benefiting from Google Assistant. Those who already got it as it is right now are not benefiting from the extra processor power at all.

You need to remember who Chrome OS is for. Your recent ad attacking Windows and macOS for their error message issues, a problem that was solved long ago by both parties, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of just what makes Chrome OS stand out. Yes, it’s true we get less error messages, but that’s because we don’t use the same applications. Yes, it’s true your system isn’t as prone to malware, but that’s because it doesn’t run executables. Yes, it’s true your system is much faster, but that’s because it’s literally just a Web Browser packaged into an Operating System.

Once again, 90% of what can be done on a Pixelbook can be done on my own Chromebook. The only exceptions include a feature that is coming to my notebook soon, and support for a $100 pen that I will not be getting, instead opting for an AmazonBasic Stylus which, while not as feature-filled as a Surface Pen, Apple Pencil, or Pixelbook Pen by any stretch of the imagination, serves my purpose of taking notes in school quite well.

The only thing I substantively benefit from with Android App support is Pokemon TCG Online, NES Emulation, and Microsoft OneNote. That’s it. That’s all I need. And that’s why I use a Chromebook.

I don’t need an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor for that.

Sincerely,

Marco Salin

The EU’s Fine on Google – My Thoughts

Image From: CNN

I think I should begin with the fact that my opinions of this $5 Billion USD fine slapped onto Google by the European Union is ever-evolving. However, here’s my opinions based off my understanding.

Google bundles the Play Store with a bunch of Google apps, but the ones particularly in focus are Google Search and Google Chrome. Now, I personally use both services on a day-to-day basis… I have a Chromebook, after all, and use Chrome on my iPhone 6s. Of course I personally benefit from these apps.

However, I also believe in a free market economy with reasonable legislation. I am writing this as I’m listening to Episode 390 of the Android Central Podcast.

The arguments brought up are as follows:

-Google Search is utilized in many aspects of the core Operating System. Many of its features would be broken if this app was just removed.

-Google Chrome is used by millions of apps in the Play Store, Twitter being one of them… removing Chrome would brake all of them.

Now, there are a lot of nuances to this issue that I’m not going to get into right now, however these are the core pieces of the system. I am not going to argue that if you remove these two apps it won’t break the system. It will. Android’s ecosystem was built around these systems.

However, the problem is simple: Both of these apps are proprietary.

Android was built to be an open-source Operating System. It was built to be customizable in a million ways by the end user, even if they wanted to go as far as to root their devices and flash a whole new firmware onto it. This is part of the reason I like Android. However, it’s not like Google can’t make some moves to fix these underlying issues.

Let’s start with Google Search. Yes, it’s true that it’s integrated into many parts of the Android Operating System. But why should Google lock this up? Android does have a built-in settings app. Why not include a “Preferred Search Engine” section there?

Services like Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Ask, Yandex, and more should be allowed to integrate themselves into the OS. If programmed properly, you would be able to install DuckDuckGo and select it from the Android settings; from then on any part of Android that relied on Google Search would now rely on DuckDuckGo.

I understand 90% of users would not make this switch. But if we’re going to use that as an excuse to not make this change in Android P or Android Q, we might as well abandon Android OS for “Chromephone” devices. Chrome OS was designed completely around Google Chrome and Google Search in the first place.

Next, Google Chrome. You know how on Twitter, when you open a link, it stays within the Twitter app and loads the webpage right then and there?

That’s not because Twitter inserted a Mini WebKit Browser into their app. It’s using a Google Chrome API to load up the website. Yes, it’s very functional and keeps the app working.

Why can’t I change that?

I am able to install a whole new Web Browser (Such as Firefox, Opera, Edge, Puffin, and more) and I am able to set this as a default web browser. But Android also has an Open Source web browser that, for some reason, get’s replaced by Chrome when a phone gets loaded with the Google Play Store.

When you set a default web browser, however, all that does is make it so that when you click a link in an app and it needs to launch the web browser, the default browser is what’s launched. This is expected behavior, after all. On my iPhone, I can’t do that, so whenever I click a link it goes to Safari, despite the fact that I use Chrome. WHY CAN’T I SET THIS??!?

So… why is the API that apps like Twitter uses to get a mini web browser placed inside Chrome… instead of Android? Wouldn’t it make more sense if when the mini web browser loads up, it loads the default web browser you set?

Maybe a browser would need to program itself to be capable to be “Hooked” into, and would need a separate “Hooked Browser” setting in the Android settings. I would actually be okay with that. I would actually want that.

Maybe I prefer to use Chrome as my default web browser and Edge as the Hooked Browser? Who knows. This should be an option.

And of course companies like Samsung would be free to load up their devices with whatever web browser they want to. Maybe the average user would replace it with Chrome. Maybe the average user wouldn’t touch it.

But for the users that would, this should be an option. Again, Android is meant to be an Open Source Operating System.

I understand that the Google Play Store is a proprietary app. This was my initial response to the situation. I was on Google’s side. But maybe Google could do a little more to make their system a little more open. Maybe, just maybe, there should be competition in the App Store market. Competition is, after all, always good.

Maybe there should be more freedom in making forked versions of Android and still being allowed to load it with the Play Store. Maybe Amazon should be allowed to place the Play Store in Fire OS (not that they would).

In the end, however, I still am of the belief that the $5 Billion USD fine is a little much. Is a fine warranted? Yes. Look at the further nuances of the issue, and there are plenty of anticompetitive practices put in place. However, I still think the fine should be lower.

The EU complains that Google hooks Chrome into their Operating System, but Apple does the same thing. I know there’s a reason Apple’s situation is different from Google’s, but the fact is they are doing the same thing. Do you know how many times I click an Amazon link, and it redirects me to Amazon, only to redirect me to Safari? THIS IS SUPER FRUSTRATING!!! It’s not just Amazon, either, but that seems to be the biggest culprit.

I should be allowed to set a default browser in iOS. If the EU is going to fine Google for preloading Chrome into every device with the Play Store and having apps hook themselves into Chrome via their API to make the argument that removing Chrome would break millions of apps a valid argument, I think they should do the same to Apple. Yes, I get there are legal nuances that makes this legal for Apple to do, I get it, but I feel Apple’s practices are very anticompetitive in many aspects.

I want to use Chrome. I can’t set it as the default browser. I want to use Google Assistant. I can’t replace Siri. I want to use Android Messages. iMessage is the only SMS app that’ll work. I want to rent movies from Google Play Movies, or purchase music from Amazon, or purchase a book from Google Play Books, but all of this is locked down so I have to use iTunes to do all this. By the way, all the prices are marked up there.

You’re seriously going to tell me this isn’t anticompetitive practice just because iOS isn’t the majority Operating System in terms of Market Share?

Either enforce the same rules on everyone, or don’t have them at all. I don’t support double standards.

As always,

-Keep Exploring

Welcome to Screenbones!

As you can see, I have completely replaced my older website with this whole new design. I have decided to move this website to a differing direction, more towards blogging. As you can see, my posts that came from the former Screenbones Ego website are now here, and I do still plan to continue to make Ego posts. This website is still a work in progress, however, so you’ll see my new plans very soon. It may include a combination of Google AdSense and Patreon.

Thank you for checking out this website.

On YouTube?

So, I want to try getting back on YouTube.

However, there are a lot of things holding me back. Considering I’m a millennial (or, at least, whatever it between millennial and gen z, I was born 1999) in a lower middle class family, it’s not like I can just purchase a high-quality camera and editing rig. I will be working minimum wage, or close to minimum wage, when I finally get hired by someone (minimum wage is $10.50/hour right now, headed to $12/hour by 2020).

Of course, I can always use WeVideo to do simple editing on my Chromebook as a short-term solution, however I would need to get an upgrade at some point. The short-term solution would be easy to do a classic gaming channel, however I want to run a tech channel, and a politics channel with Julian, plus I want to eventually move to more modern games on various consoles.

So, here’s the question:

Should I start the gaming channel and run a Patreon for growth? Should I start messing around with RPG Maker and finally release a full-fledged game? Should I do both?

I could also launch a podcast with Julian, however we were never very good at keeping something like this up. Do you think, being out of school, this would be much easier to start up? What kind of podcast should I run?

However I end up running things, growth will take a while. Patreon may end up being my main form of income for Screenbones. Should I make my first game free? Should I start with a smaller game?

These are the questions. Where do I start? Where do I go from there? What’s a reasonable plan for growth?

As always,

-Keep Exploring

Is there really not a market for something like iGoogle?

iGoogle was an internet dashboard. The idea was simple: You’d set it as your browser’s homepage, and every time you open it up all your information would be there. Of course you have the search bar, but you also have the weather, Gmail, an RSS Feed, maybe a few digital pets, Google Calendar, a countdown, and whatever else you would need. Maybe Google Classroom or Google News. Your YouTube Subscription Feed?

It’s such a genius idea that it’s curious that this kind of thing didn’t catch on. Why don’t we hear about dashboard sites more often? Why doesn’t Windows or Chrome OS have something built-in for this? Why is there no universal standard for creating web widgets?

iGoogle was launched May 19, 2005. It was discontinued November 1, 2013.

The reason laid out was “the unforeseen evolution of web and mobile apps and the erosion of the need for the site”. But… how does this make any sense whatsoever? How is a homepage that gives you all the information you may need in one place not something people would want? For crying out loud, why isn’t there an app for THIS?

Now, of course, there do exist iGoogle clones. However, none of them are really any good. I still have yet to sign up for one and stick with it the same way I enjoyed iGoogle.

I still long for a single homepage that lays out all the information I need. I would have Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keep, my YouTube Subscriptions, an RSS Feed, a digital fish tank, a weather app, hopefully Google Assistant, and maybe some others on that dashboard. Before May I would have had Google Classroom listed there, as well.

Is this really not something people see potential in? Is this really not something ANYONE wants? Not a single person?

As always,

-Keep Exploring

What a Chromebook can, indeed, do.

So I’ve been using a Chromebook for about a month already, and I pretty much love this device. I honestly haven’t found a lot of things I could not do that I wanted, with the exception of Minecraft (and I could probably find an APK somewhere and use a guide if I really wanted to).

The fact of the matter is, the majority of what you’d need a computer for is available on the World Wide Web, and most of the few exceptions are also available as an Android app.

Continue reading “What a Chromebook can, indeed, do.”

Sean Hannity Attacks Ocasio-Cortez By Presenting Her Platform Riddled with Popular Policies

Hello, all!

I just had to write a post on this because this is absolutely amazing! Sean Hannity of Fox News decided to try an attack Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Progressive candidate that just won the Democratic Primary in New York, by sharing to his entire audience her platform RIDDLED WITH POLICIES THEY SHOULD LOVE!!!

So let’s sit here and examine the platform that Hannity describes as “downright scary”:

Continue reading “Sean Hannity Attacks Ocasio-Cortez By Presenting Her Platform Riddled with Popular Policies”

I actually like my Chromebook

Hello, all!

Today, I want to talk a little about Chrome. Specifically, Chrome OS. Chrome OS is an operating system that is literally meant to be just Google Chrome, but it does allow you to download Android apps from Google Play.

The thing is, this thing is actually decently fast. Like, unless I keep my computer on for weeks on end without rest, it doesn’t slow down by much. It’s always ready when I need it, and I can manage documents even when offline thanks to Google Drive’s ability to work offline.

The only thing I could find I couldn’t do that I wanted was to play PUBG and Fortnite. To some of you, that might be a dealbreaker. For me, however, that’s just fine. I primarily use this device to manage spreadsheets, read books, maintain YouTube Playlists (particularly Watch Later), and I’m beginning to start playing Naruto Online.

Believe it or not, this is stuff that was really annoying to do with my Windows Laptop provided by my school. It always slowed to a crawl by the time I was done with half the day, Google Play Books did not work at all, and forget about trying to use YouTube.

Windows 10’s Bluetooth system does not work at all. I’ve had the thing Blue Screen when trying to use Bluetooth, and sometimes it would suddenly drop the connection. Once that happened, it would take nearly an hour just to try and fix the connection, and YouTube would take nearly half an hour to get working.

This is an issue I have never run into on this Chromebook. So long as I remember to turn off Bluetooth on my iPhone, all I got to do with turn them on, wait for the headphones to appear in the Bluetooth menu, and connect. Done deal. No need to worry about it.

I thought this device lacked the keyboard shortcuts I enjoyed on Windows when I first got it, but I eventually learned this is not the case. Alt+Tab works, there’s a lock button on the keyboard, and the FN+Left/Right arrows for Home and End can be accomplished by holding the Search+Left/Right. Caps Lock also continues to exist, all I have to do is press Alt+Search. In fact, my favorite new shortcut is the ability to swipe to the left or right with two fingers on the trackpad to go back and forward; I use it all the time without even thinking about it!

Basically, there’s practically nothing I miss. The only thing I miss is DOS Emulation and Minecraft, and let’s be honest, this is not a deal breaker. I will likely soon be able to play Fortnite as it’s coming to Android soon, and Naruto Online is a pretty good MMO to waste my time with.

What about video editing? I haven’t really had the opportunity to do this, however, I will likely be doing this with WeVideo Unlimited, which is $5.99/month, and will be way better than Windows Movie Maker.

As for managing my main website, I will be able to do this as this Chromebook comes with a text editor that already comes with most of the features I enjoyed with Notepad++ on Windows.

I will not be doing video game production for some time, however. I will be focusing mainly on brushing up my video production skills.

As you can see, this Chromebook is able to do practically everything I want it to do. The best part? It’s about as fast as I want it and it wasn’t too expensive. It’s even a convertible, so I can use it in Tablet, Tent, or Display mode should I choose. The resolution may be 1366×768 (Still HD, but not Full HD), but the screen is small enough to look sharp at that resolution. I even grabbed a Material Design wallpaper, which looks amazing on this thing.

I absolutely love the touchscreen on this thing, too. You never realize you need it until you have it.

So should you get a Chromebook? Unless you’re a gamer or a professional video editor (who needs something like Premiere Pro to get your job done), I’d say absolutely. There isn’t much you can’t do on this thing. In fact, even if you’re a Retro Gamer, there are a decent amount of emulators on the Google Play Store that works fine enough.

I am currently using the Acer Chromebook R11, which is available on Amazon for a list price of $299 and is eligible for Prime Shipping. Click Here to check it out.

And for the record, there is no reason to get a Pixelbook. It is $999 for the lowest model and $1,649 for the most expensive model, and that’s without a Pixelbook Pen ($99) or Preferred Care ($249).

The only downside to this device is that there isn’t a dBrand or Slickwrap Skin I can buy for it.