Anime Weekend Atlanta 2014

I had the chance to attend my very first AWA over the weekend, and it was a fun time. I have a very limited knowledge of anime, but my partner is working her magic on me slowly. We had watched two different series some time ago, but I was pretty much lost when it came to most of the cosplay happening during the con. Speaking of, I managed to shoot some of the cosplayers as I was wandering the con, and once I get through processing the pics, you’ll see them up on Xannypix. I’m aiming to have those done within a week or two.

Like any convention, there were panels on a variety of topics, ranging from costuming to voice acting, and anything in between. The dealer’s room was huge. Vendors had shirts, videos, costumes, and there were even two video game stands (imports and retro). We bought a few things, but there were a lot of other things that I wanted, but I also wanted to be able to pay my bills. The line to get badges was long, and we spent about an hour waiting (we did not pre-reg, though they had a wait, too). Next year we’re coming down Thursday night to get badges, and we’re probably going to stay at the host hotel as well.

It was fun. It’s not like other cons I attend, but what fun would that be if they were all the same? Next year should be a lot of fun.

Keeping Yourself Secure

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about the big celebrity iCloud breach and resulting photos flooding the internet. I’m not going to be talking about that, the implications it has, or why one shouldn’t go looking for those photos. I’m writing today to address security, and what you, as an end user, can do to increase your account security and decrease chances of a breach. As of this writing, Apple is still very mum on the subject and it hasn’t been confirmed that iCloud itself was breached. Enough about that. How can you protect yourself? Let me preface this by saying I’m no security expert, but these are some things I do, and you probably should too.

Don’t use the same password for all of your services
Easy enough. Think about this. If someone gets your email address and password for one service, they now have access to other services tied to that email address simply because you used the same password everywhere. I know what you’re thinking: it’s too hard to remember all of these passwords! There’s a few solutions for that. I use Lastpass. Lastpass is online, I know, but hear me out. Lastpass stores everything on their servers in an encrypted form. Any interaction with the service is encrypted, and as you add passwords to it, they get encrypted on your local machine before being sent to them.

Lastpass can generate new passwords for you, and includes browser extensions that allow you to automatically fill in login information, as well as save a new site and generate new passwords for sites you’re signing up for. You only need to remember one password, and for added security, you should enable two-factor authentication.

Use two-factor authentication when possible
What is two-factor authentication? In a nutshell, it’s the use of a password, plus another authentication method to log into a service. Usually the second authentication method is a physical authentication token or an app on your smartphone that generates a random number that you type into the service you’re logging into. The thinking behind this is that even if someone gets your password, they will not have access to the second piece of the login, which is that token or your phone, which (should be) physically on you. I’m currently working on making sure I’m using two-factor authentication on any service that offers it. For those of you that wonder “what happens if I lose my token?”, the services will provide you with a list of emergency passcodes just in case of such things. These should be printed out and stored securely.

Change your passwords
This one is also easy enough. I change my passwords usually once every three months or so, even with two-factor authentication. Lastpass makes that pretty easy for me to do, I just have it generate a new password and off I go. Whatever your method, make sure you change your passwords every so often.

PC Update: 1 Month In

It’s been about one month since I built the Xanbox (read about it here) and so far, it’s been running like a top. One upgrade I went for after about a week of use was an upgraded CPU cooler.  The stock unit was fine, but it was LOUD.  I opted for the Coolermaster Hyper T4 and an additional 120MM fan to help pull air through the cooling fins. It’s a lot more quiet now, thankfully, but other than that, things have been running just fine. Games are running well.  Some I still can’t run at the highest graphical settings, but that’s not what I set out to do with this machine. The games I’ve been wanting to play are running great, and honestly I’m not that concerned about it. There’s room for expansion later on, which is part of why I built this machine the way I did. All in all, so far so good. :)

My First PC Build in Years

This past weekend was the end of something I had been planning for some time, and that was the build of a new desktop. When I first moved, I sold my old Dell Q6600 quad core since it was starting to get long in the tooth. I replaced it with a HP laptop, which was working just fine, but it’s no powerhouse, and I saw the limitations when I started editing photos. So, plans for the new Xanbox began. I knew I wanted a mid-range machine and that I did not want to spend thousands of dollars on it. I wanted a system that would last a while, that I could either SLI or Crossfire a pair of graphics cards down the line, and be expandable enough in the RAM department. With that said, here are the specs:

  • AMD FX-8320 8-core (unlocked) running at 3.5gHz (4.0 turbo)
  • ASRock 990FX Extreme4 motherboard
  • Radeon R9 270x 2GB Video card
  • 8GB Corsair RAM (max supported is 32GB)

Everything was put inside of an NZXT Source 210 basic black case with 4 120MM fans providing airflow. It’s powered by a 700 watt power supply, and there’s 2TB (2x 1TB hard drives) of space. I chose Windows 8.1 as my OS of choice; I’ve not had a problem with Windows 8 and performance is running just fine for me. I topped the system off with a 27″ AOC e2752S monitor capable of 1080p and a Corsair k70 mechanical keyboard. I fired everything up Saturday and got the OS installed, and yesterday I spent
playing some of the games I haven’t been able to on the laptop, and I’m happy to report the system is running just fine. Next step is to get my photography stuff from my laptop copied over, and then I’ll be set to go.

Edit: Because I’m the geek that I am, I’ve named my PC after my favorite Ghostbuster, “Spengler”. Be sure to follow the spengler-pc tag on the blog for more updates.