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Top 10 Astronomy Photos for 2006

I had seen some of these photos during the year, but I had not heard of #1 (the last displayed) which is an amazing photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft from the far side of Saturn looking towards the sun. The earth is in the photo.

I also like #9 painting the moon and #5 the shuttle and space station passing the across the face of the sun.

Combining External Scripts in Retrospect

Retrospect (backup software) comes with a number of external scripts. One I use to e-mail reports on backup success and failures. I needed to add another that would shut down a Domino server and then restart it after successful backups. The help files say: “If you need to run multiple scripts you will have to combine them.” So with that little clue, I spent time figuring out how to modify a DOS batch file. The secret ended up creating a series of “IF” statements up front that would identify the calling scripts (alternating weekly backup scripts) that needed to shut down the Domino server. My mods in bold….

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Banks (Rushing To) Add On-Line Security

I’m glad Ted wrote this timely post, Stupid Site-Key, about ING and their excessive security measures. You can tell 2006 is coming to an end because January 2007 is the deadline for banks to add extra security for on-line banking.

jp_6117_SID.jpgETrade added keyfobs over a year ago. Kathy and I got two free keyfobs, and while it made it more difficult to access, I actually appreciate the security given that is where we store most of our investments.

hsbc-keyboard.pngHSBC added a second password that has to be “clicked” in using a little on-line keyboard. In this way, crooks cannot use a “keylogger” to capture what you are typing. I didn’t mind this step so much, but then they decided last month that my passwords were not complicated enough and they quit working. There was no explanation of this until I called in and talked to a very nice person on the other end of the phone. However, the nice person had to ask me a lot of personal questions so that he was convinced I was who I said I was. I agree with Ted I don’t like giving out this personal information and will start making up answers (that I can remember.) I store hints to my passwords in notepad.yahoo.com (Mom… you may want to do the same.) I store lots of things in notepad.yahoo.com. Very useful because I can get to my notes and tips from anywhere on the internet.

But what really made me mad about HSBC was that they decided to cut off automated access using Quicken. I use Quicken to go gather all transactions from my various checking, savings, credit card, and investment accounts. I will not even open an account unless it supports Quicken. However, HSBC has decided this is not secure because it relies on Intuit (Quicken) security and not their own. Now I have to log in and download a special file (qfx) to import my transactions. Still saves keying in the transactions, but it is more of a hassle.

So I went off looking to move my money to ING. But they have also turned off automatic access from Quicken. And with Ted’s post, I think I’ll stay away from ING and just stick with HSBC.

By the way, it is going to get stranger as you start getting asked questions like “what was the square footage of the house you owned in 1986.” This happened to me recently. I had no idea, but the bank did because they were using a service that combs public records for “out of wallet” information. They call it out of wallet, because it is information you are not likely to have in your stolen wallet.

In this case, it is good to have a spouse who remembers square footages.

[Written on Dell 840c Laptop running Fedora 5 with FireFox for Linux. Used built in screenshot and GIMP graphic editor to create graphics.]