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Shopify, WordPress, WooCommerce, MAGAts, and Trust

FTC DISCLOSURE: This website may contain affiliate links to different products or services. You can help to support this website directly by clicking on the link and making a purchase or signing up for a service that I linked to. I may earn a small commission for each referral. You may rest assured that if I recommend it in an affiliate link then I have personally used it or verified it. Even though the links are sponsored, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

-Adrian

I’ll get right to the point. Shopify has lost my trust. Here’s how.

This week, Shopify had a data breech. Though it is currently small in scope it looks like this may be the final factor to really take into account while I consider the benefits and issues I can face if I decide to migrate American Bogan™ away from Shopify onto a WordPress site.

This website is built with WordPress and hosted on Dreamhost (Affiliate Link). Originally, it was under a different domain existing on Squarespace. Migrating away from Squarespace onto WordPress was a project that was more complicated than it needed to be, and highlights the risks involved in subscribing to a full website building platform instead of a building a site on a real webhost’s infrastructure.

Fact is, I have been mulling it over for a bit, now, based on little things that have been popping up. Shopify’s data breech will most likely the final factor.

Beyond the data breech, which all providers are at risk for from multiple attack vectors, I am noticing how much each Shopify based store is used to promote Shopify, without necessarily informing their users about it. Some people are fine with this. I am not.

ConsentMatters and #PrivacyMatters

You can see “Powered by Shopify” links in the footers of Shopify based websites, for example. Some users leave it because they do not know how to change it. Other users can remove “Powered by Shopify” (Google Search) through Shopify’s backend to read “Powered by Clown Farts and Dick Blisters,” but it does not change the actual hyperlink. The average user won’t necessarily know how to change the hyperlink through editing the theme’s code, but they can look up how to change it on the backend.

Problem is that any text you change it to, using Shopify’s backend, will still link back to a campaign-tracked back link to Shopify. Back links remain a classic SEO component. Nearly every Shopify store is coded with, what amounts to be, a hidden back link that isn’t easy to get rid of for most users.

screenshot of Americanbogan.com showing "powered by shopify" anchor text changed to "RemoveTrump #BlackLivesMatter #FuckTrump" and displaying the hyperlink behind it. adrianfeliciano.com
I temporarily changed the “Powered by Shopify” anchor text on American Bogan™ to “RemoveTrump #BlackLivesMatter #FuckTrump” to demonstrate the tracked hyperlink behind it and then deleted it all together once I took this screenshot.

One can argue that isn’t an issue BeCaUsE iTz ShOpiFy’s SeRviCe aNd PLatForm, and that is an absolutely correct and valid argument to make. In the end, it IS Shopify’s platform. Not yours.

I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about Shopify’s willingness to platform MAGAt oriented shops. Trump’s campaign, and Breitbart’s webshop come to mind right away. To be fair, Shopify also hosts shops whose values are much more in line with mine; however, by using hidden backlinks in the footers of websites, Shopify is giving their subtle endorsement of that particular web-shop’s policies and politics, as far as I am concerned.

screenshot of breitbart webshop showing "powered by shopify" anchor text and displaying hyperlink behind it. Also, #FuckTrump #RemoveTrump #FuckMAGA #FuckAltRight and #FuckNazis adrianfeliciano.com
Shopify is using “Powered by Shopify” on Breitbart’s webshop to track the backlink and benefit from the SEO effects it can have.

Beyond the monthly hosting fees and transaction fees (depending on your payment processor), Shopify’s SEO is benefiting from those sites by using them for their SERP-enhancing backlinks.

The biggest factor, however, comes down to trust in the platform and control over my own content. In a nutshell, if I lose trust in one service provider, how easily can I migrate to a new one? As a corporation, my trust in Shopify has always been tolerant at best, and nearly non-existent at worst. This data breech, how they’ve responded to it, their use of un-disclosed backlinks, and their willingness to give a platform to (and use those backlinks to gain additional benefit from) the MAGAt cult, and multiple other minor limitations and factors, which I will get into below, have really started to pile up on top of each other.

I’ve already seen how complicated of a process it was for migrating my website away from Squarespace when it was primarily a blog and portfolio based site. I am now looking at rebuilding a fully functional e-commerce shop because the products, themselves, won’t easily migrate away. Printful, the main print-on-demand vendor I am using, cannot re-connect one shop to another and push all product data back to the new platform.

Once the migration and rebuild is done, several things become possible:

  1. I can have daily, weekly, and monthly backups of the entire website and can restore them at anytime. Shopify does not have backup functionality available for users. This is an enormous risk.
  2. WordPress has more than a few free themes that include backlinks in their footers. No big deal. If I decide not to dig into PHP and CSS code snippets to change it, I can always install a different theme that doesn’t include backlinks in their footers.
  3. SEO can be improved greatly — Shopify SEO is notorious for its poor implementation.
  4. Not that any product I create needs more than three options and 100 variations, but they’d be unlimited under WordPress.
  5. I can create multiple pages and blog posts to look pretty much how I want. With Shopify, the homepage is where most of the ability to alter the design is, at least for the free themes. Separate pages and blog posts are rudimentary, at best, and are very basic in design.
  6. If Dreamhost ever lost my trust, migrating to another WordPress installation on a different host will take, at most, a day if I am feeling lazy. Two if I am feeling exceptionally lazy.
  7. I can add on a support forum or other social features, up to and including a full blown social media site, if I really feel up to the challenge.
  8. Speaking of social features, both platforms allow for guest-checkouts. You can order a product without creating an account. With WordPress, I can help increase the overall security of my customers by requiring a social media account to checkout. That way, no user password is ever stored on my servers.
  9. Product reviews are already built into a WordPress based shop
  10. All of this for about $30 less per month.

Things that I will be giving up are minor, to me:

  1. If I want live shipping rates, I can only use one fulfillment vendor. With WordPress and WooCommerce, I cannot have products from Printful and Printify in my shop and use live-rates from both vendors. I’d have to stick with complicated shipping tables, or just use flat rates and price accordingly. I do, however, have to pay Shopify an extra $20/month just to turn on live-shipping if I don’t want the full $80/month plan.
  2. Shopify does have multiple channels available to sell through, integrated nicely by default, and you can add more. If I want to create Facebook ads, I can do it from within Shopify but they are limited in scope, and not always very efficient. I’d have to do them by hand, through Facebook.
  3. That’s not really an issue, since half of my stuff gets hilariously auto-rejected by Facebook’s algorithms, anyway.
  4. Shopify has integrated a rudimentary abandoned-cart email function. I’d have to find an effective one under WordPress (Adrianfeliciano.com uses a free one that is already more functional than Shopify’s),

In conclusion

What I’ll be giving up, realistically, is only the convenience of a well integrated e-commerce backend and a highly competent front end, for the ability to fully own and control all of my website’s content on a webhost that I trust (Affiliate Link) where I can build it to be whatever I want, to help better protect the privacy and security of my customers by having backups and the ability to improve on our security posture, and to reject a platform that tacitly endorses and benefits from dangerous, anti-American, ideologies.

What do you think?

Given the line of thinking in the post above, would you still consider Shopify for your e-commerce shop? Please me know in the comments below. You can leave comment after securely logging in using your Social Media account. It helps to greatly reduce spam on this website.

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The US Flag, Becky, Photography, and Fire

US Flag on fire | Source: Jennifer Parr / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) | adrianfeliciano.com

The US Flag and Photography

It irritates me to no end to see the United States Flag used as a patriotic virtue-signaling fetish object by multiple photographers. Meanwhile, kneeling during the National Anthem is still seen as disrespectful.

To begin with, I do not mean anything US Flag styled, an embroidered flag, a lapel pin, or any representation of the flag itself. For example:

  • Flag-pattered bikini? I’ve no issue. It’s not the flag, itself.
  • Got a shirt with red, white, and blue and stars? Same. It’s fine.
  • Repeating flag patterned leggings? Bogan, but still acceptable.
tanned woman with longer blonde hair wearing a red, white, and blue, stars and stripped string bikini at a beach and saluting obnoxiously. | image linked from imgflip.com | adrianfeliciano.com
God bless America, indeed, amirite? | Embed Source: imgflp.com

However

I do mean an actual honest-to-God, Stars and Stripes Forever, Iwo Jima planted, Star Spangled Banner, I bleed red, white, and blue from my asshole United States Flag.

  • Are you conducting a beachside implied nude-shoot only the flag for “modesty?” You’re tasteless.
  • Did you wrap your teeny-bopper kid with an actual flag in a high-school senior portrait photo session and love how people simp and fawn over how beautiful the photo of Becky is? You’re indulging in gross fetishism on several levels.
  • Did you just beat the shit out of a Russian machine that destroys anything it touches, and use the Flag as a towel over your shoulders while preaching to those godless Commie bastards about how we can all change? You’re obviously a palooka from Philly.

Speaking of Disrespecting the Flag and Russians

Are you wearing a tiny flag lapel-pin for the cameras because it makes you a patriot in the eyes of your cult of morons while, you know, simultaneously sniveling as Vladmir Putun’s lap-dog Russian puppet? You’re definitely this guy:

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

Are you screaming orgasmically in a bizarre attempt to suck up to your boyfriend’s is-he-or-isn’t-he incestuous father while gesticulating loudly to an empty room in front of a wall of flags, there to serve as a simplistic visual aid for the Cult of Morons’ benefit? You’re Kimberly Guilfoyle, and I’ve got nothing else for you. Get help.

BuT AdRiAn wHaTaBoUt bUrNiNg tHe fLaG????????

In 1989, The United States Supreme Court upheld that burning the flag is protected speech under the 1st Amendment. I may not always agree with it, and it sometimes makes me uncomfortable to see as a Veteran; however, that’s the point and it’s exactly why the 1st Amendment exists.

On paper, no one is at risk of life, limb, liberty, and property by the Government for exercising free speech. It’s a power left to The People, as it should be.

One could argue that wrapping your sister with a flag for a quick portrait shoot is an exercise of artistic free speech, (which it is) but free speech is not an absolute right. Depending on circumstance, and context, your expression could be subject to laws concerning commercial activity, defamation, false advertising, copyright infringement, privacy, pornography, and more.

daylight photo of a young woman with us flag draped across her shoulders. she is leaning against a brick wall. | source Unsplash.com | adrianfeliciano.com
Does US Flag Code prohibit this use? | Source: Dan Russo via Unsplash

For example, go ahead and start marketing cocaine today as a miracle cure for your hayfever problem, and see what could happen to you when the Feds find out.

If You Disrespect The Flag, Are You Actually A Traitor or Treasonous?

I really am not sure what the point of all this is, as there are much more immediate and pressing issues. Black lives still matter, Trump is an incompetently malignant cancer, COVID-19 is still rampaging across the United States, and children are still in ICE custody.

No component of the US Flag Code is enforceable, and thankfully it cannot be. No statutory penalties exist for violating any of the strongly-worded suggestions contained with in because if they did exist, the Flag Code would be unconstitutional.

The United States Constitution left it, again, as a Power for the People to decide for themselves about how the Flag, or any other National symbol, may ultimately be used, as it must be. No soldier or politician or “peace” officer ever swears an oath of loyalty to any piece cloth, book, or impeached president. They swear to support, defend, and bear true faith and allegiance to the document guarantees that their own government will never call free-expression, journalism, art, photography, Satanism, and saying that “Donald Trump is a munted cunt who absolutely must be removed from office,” an illegal act. It is also absolutely not treason; however, constantly betraying your oath to bear true faith and allegiance, and to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, for Russia’s benefit is, according to the letter of the law.

Also, Be Grateful This Song Exists

Conclusion and Stance on Flags

My stance is simple. I won’t ever support arresting people for burning a flag, or fining them for wearing a flag as a diaper in an adult-baby photo shoot, or blowing their nose in Made In China flag-tissues, but at the same time, I will I never call any of them traitors and scream about treason.

I will, however, absolutely base my judgement of you, good and bad, on what you choose to do in that grand old Flag’s name.

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How to Confront Q-Anon and MAGA

mockup image of man wearing black t-shirt with red letters "q-moron" copyright adrianfeliciano.com

Confronting Q-Anons and MAGAts Is a Waste of Time

Trying to challenge Q-Anon and MAGA is an exercise in pointless futility, just like confronting any abuser directly or trying to intervene with a friend enthralled in an abusive relationship. They will only continue to dig in. They want to wear you out intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Challenging Q-Anons Is Like The Siege of Troy

I once got into a discussion with one of my professors during a class about epic poetry (specifically we were on the Iliad and the Siege of Troy) on how to confront UMass Administration more effectively than marching into the building and making a loud spectacle inside. At the time, UMass had multiple sexual assaults that were getting covered up, or ignored, and students were expressing their frustrations about how they would write messages out in chalk that would get washed away daily and that maybe they should march to the admin building and stage a sit in.

I pointed out that direct assault on a fixed and fortified position was always the worst idea, given a choice, and the building was designed in the style of a classical fortress when you looked at it carefully. Look at the Greeks attacking Troy; it was going on for ten years already by the time the Illiad started. A siege is a horrible waste of time and resources.

My prof asked what I meant, so I explained that it was on raised ground, exterior walls are difficult to climb, and the primary entrance was via a long ramp that funneled all foot traffic into a very narrow approach, etc.

He asked how I figured that and I said I had just gotten out of the Army a year earlier, and those were the details I noticed. Prof Freeman then asked, “Okay, so how would YOU take on the Admin building?…I said it was simple. Sun Tzu has already figured it out.

Use The Art of War, by Sun Tzu to Counter Q-Anons and MAGA

Staging a sit in was fighting the last war (relative to 60s era styled protests) and the Admin building was designed to fight the last war. Don’t ever go direct. Starve them out. You don’t write chalk messages that can easily be washed away cuz UMass doesn’t care about you, the student. They already have your tuition. If they were to protest, do it right in front of the walking tours for prospective students from high school. Target your messages to them. Make them question whether their children (daughters specifically) will be safe at UMass while they are evaluating where to pay for school with the threat of missing out on incoming students the next year.

It’s the same with Q-Morons and MAGAt Red-caps. Never confront them directly. Mentally, that is what they want. They will make you try to prove over and over and over how wrong they are while laughing at the effort you make to convince them until you wear yourself out in mental exhaustion.

Even if they start throwing “bUt iTs a DeEp StAtE pEdO rInG aNd TrUmP iS gOnNa eXpOsE tHeM aLL dO YoU aGrEE WiTh PeDoZ?????” don’t take the intellectual bait. Don’t try to have a rational discussion or dO sOmE rEsEaRcH to support your side. It’s what they want you to do so they can wear you down. They will never be open to actual discourse.

The only way to handle them is to find ways to go over, above, below, and around them. Out vote them. Out organize them. Out think them. Out flank them. Out last them.

Aim your message at people not already in their orbit, and cut off their ability to “supply and sustain” themselves in the field. Isolate them and render them as irrelevant as they deserve to be and counter the relevance that they have been given.

Do Not Confront Q-Anons or MAGAts

They are desperate for any confrontation. It feeds their cravings for self-victimization and reinforces their narrative and sense of self-importance as a result.

Don’t give any more relevance to Q-Anon and MAGA.

Fuck them.

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Is Cloudflare Necessary With DreamPress?

FTC DISCLOSURE: This website may contain affiliate links to different products or services. You can help to support this website directly by clicking on the link and making a purchase or signing up for a service that I linked to. I may earn a small commission for each referral. You may rest assured that if I recommend it in an affiliate link then I have personally used it or verified it. Even though the links are sponsored, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Thank you, as always, for your support!

-Adrian

This is just quick entry about using DreamPress behind Cloudflare.

Some very broad observations:

Turns out that putting Adrianfeliciano.com behind Cloudflare didn’t seem to have a huge impact on improving overall performance and responsiveness on the public facing end. Originally, my purpose for using Cloudflare was to add another layer to help reduce the overall impact of heavy traffic on my website’s servers, including DDoS attacks, while blocking traffic based on country, to help significantly reduce comments from spam-bots.

Problem was that, in someways, I felt as if Cloudflare actually slowed down initial page loading, from the backend. WordPress is incredibly finicky as it is.

As a result, I removed Cloudflare, and saw an immediate improvement in responsiveness to my website’s front end. I use DreamHost (Affiliate Link) as my webhost and domain name registrar. They already have a solid proxy-cache in place built around NGINX, via my DreamPress Hosting Plan, that can take on a MASSIVE traffic load. Rather than blocking entire countries through Cloudflare or marking individual comments one at a time, I decided to prevent spam-bot comments by refusing guest comments all together. One is now required to be logged in to an active account in order to leave a comment.

If you have something to say, and it is important enough, then you can say it with your name attached.

The only other thing that Cloudflare helped with was domain privacy. By using them as a proxy, Cloudflare also blocked my domain’s registration information from being exposed publicly. Thing is that DreamHost already does this with every domain you register through them (GoDaddy and Hostgator charge extra for domain privacy).

Bottom line is simple:

I trust DreamHost (Affiliate Link) to host my WordPress based website.

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The Best Advice for New Photographers

man wearing bandana do-rag and black t-shirt giving visual posing directions to female model with hula hoop standing beneath a wooden archway during a photoshoot. photo published adrianfeliciano.com

New Photographer Advice

I wanted to pass on some wisdom. Something I learned that applies to sales in general, whether it’s screening applicants as a corporate recruiter or selling digital cameras at CompUSA, Best Buy, or Ritz Camera absolutely is advice that applies to photographers as well:

I’ll be blunt here:

As a salesperson, people don’t buy the camera you’re selling because you work at Best Buy when they can get that exact model at Amazon, probably for cheaper and without getting hounded about that stupid extended warranty all retailers try to push on you.

As a job applicant, people certainly don’t hire your “unique” skill-set, because you are not that unique, my special snowflake. As an applicant, there are a thousand other products applicants with the same skills, same generic resume, same blasé personality, and they’re probably wearing the same tie that you are wearing.

As a photographer, people don’t buy your photos because you’re “the best!” photographer in the world. There will always be another photographer who is better or cheaper. Suck it up, hero.

In the end, we are all just selling the same crap.

The point is:

There will always be someone else selling the same camera, taking the same types of photos that you do, or who has a similar skill set. Someone will always will be better, cheaper, hungrier, luckier, or more connected than you are. It is a frustratingly difficult lesson to learn and a brutally humbling truth to accept.

TeLL mE wHy ShUd I HiRe U?

The Jerk Who Should Be Hiring You

If all of that is true, then what really differentiates you from another sales person, new hire, or photographer then what actually differentiates you from another?

You know what does? You do.

Here’s a little secret advice:

The only reason why people buy from you or decide to hire you is because they like you.

That’s it. That’s all.

As this article on Petapixel describes:

If you want to play in the ‘commodity’ lane and be compared on your prices, yeah, you’re gonna be made (sic) when someone comes out who is cheaper than you […] But if you manage to step out of that lane and sell yourself based on value and experience, then you never have to worry. Never once […]

Heather Lahtinen, The Flourish Academy
red haired woman with white gauze covering her eyes and clay smeared on her body. photo © adrianfeliciano.com
Sunshine getting prepped for an art project by Soyoon Cha.

In the end, I, you, they — anyone with a camera really — can take a photo. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can photograph poi spinning dready-haired spunion wooks and hoop spinning burner yoga goddesses at a festival. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can do a half priced mini portrait session weekend flash sale at a park. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be a freelancer and specialize in newborn, family, maternity, wedding, social media, product, influencer, mom-blogging, solopreneuer, boss-babe photography. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can be a creepy GWC and go trawling for models on Model Mayhem to indulge in shibari “art” collabs as a neckbearded fedora-tipping incel master-rigger with a sketchy modeling contract. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Anyone with a camera can always be cheaper, more expensive, less skilled, have better equipment, use retro cheap gear, specialize in natural light, be a Strobist snob with a 3 pointed lighting kit and run an assembly line headshot boudoir business as they masturbate endlessly about off-camera, always on flash, Sony ruleZ, laughs in EOS, Nikon 4 Lyfe, M4/3 cultism (RIP Olympus) while getting more likes and vlog about photography (hit that Subscribe button!) or hating on the latest Peter Lik abomination. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

Do what you will. Create your own market how ever you decide. Fill it with fanatics who love you and love your work. Market yourself as the best experience for your clients. Charge what you feel you are worth, charge the average for your market, overcharge, or give away the store. None of those options are sustainable in the wrong market, anyway. So what? Do you, and keep taking photos.

The photographer who is stalking your posts on Facebook and complaining about your choice to charge a fee or not? They don’t have a market that actually supports their photography. They haven’t differentiated themselves enough on anything but price simply because, as they’re unconsciously realizing, anyone with a camera can be a photographer, and it terrifies them. So what? That’s entirely their problem to figure out. Do you, and keep taking photos.

selfie photo of smiling woman and man making a goofy face wearing a red bandana. © adrianfeliciano.com
Dani Rei and some guy with a camera posing for a selfie.

Realize that you differentiate yourself from all those other people. You are not any of your “competitors,” and that is your greatest asset.

USE IT TO YOUR FULLEST ADVANTAGE

The button links to a t-shirt, by the way.

So, if I could pass on just one piece of advice, from one photographer to another, it is this:

Clients will hire you because they like you. Do you, and keep taking photos.

“The Best Advice for New Photographers,” by Adrian Feliciano

That’s it.

That’s all.

Good luck.

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Donald Trump Will Try to Cheat the 2020 Election

I was thinking about that MAGA moron’s recent tweets lately, in particular the recent “14 words” tweet.

Although he is a moron and probably didn’t think this up all on his own, if a coded dog whistle was indeed the goal he happens to be surrounded by sycophants who are much more intelligent and literate than he is.

But first, something to keep in mind is that there is a defense policy funding bill, the NDAA, that is currently working its way through Congress to the White House, but you are barely hearing about it.

It is not out of the question that someone wrote out his “14 words” tweet, and handed it to him to knowing full well that as long as it was presented as “if you tweet this it will piss off a lot of people and get them all talking, meanwhile, we will strip out the requirement to report any offers of foreign assistance to your re-election in the $740+ billion dollar military funding bill that you’re gonna sign,” that self-serving puppet won’t hesitate to tweet anything and he won’t even bother to actually read it.

That tweet is the distraction. Here’s another example. Do not doubt there will be more in order to keep all your attention focused on his overt racism and “14 words” tweet etc, and not the stripped provision, or any other activity that will benefit him and the Republican Party.

No matter how much he bleats and tweets about not signing the bill because he is against “rEnAmiNg R gReAt ArMy bAsEs,” do not believe him. He will sign the bill because the requirement to report foreign interference has been stripped from it. It opens him, and the GOP, up to receiving all the foreign assistance money can buy, and they don’t have to disclose a god damned thing.

That is how Trump will try to cheat the election in 2020.

The Republican Party will enable it.

There are 14 words in total, and the capitalized words beginning with H are repeated. H is 8th letter of the English alphabet. The combination gives 14 and 88, two numbers used often by white supremacist groups. Is it a coded dog-whistle? You decide.
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Password Managers

One of the more useful tools I’ve been using over the last few years is KeePassX, a password manager for MacOS.

There are many others to choose from but I picked it, specifically, because the KeePass database format can be read by multiple applications and programs on MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, and more.

A good password manager helps me in several ways. I use KeePassX to generate ridiculously complicated passwords for use on websites where my information is crazy private or logins are crucial. I’m talking about passwords for financial, business oriented, medical, social media, email, Shopify stores, WordPress websites, shopping marketplaces like Teespring or Etsy, etc. I also use KeePassX to generate passwords for my OpenPGP keys and FTP logins. I’m also storing payment information, credit card numbers, and anything that I feel is important. How about a scanned PDF of my DD-214 encrypted as an OpenPGP text blob? They’re all stored within the encrypted database created by KeePassX, and that is secured with a relatively complicated password that I’ve memorized by key-stroke. One password to rule them all.

I will never use the same password and login combination for important websites. Most of you out there still do this. You know who you are. There have been multiple website breeches over the years, where logins and passwords have been stolen and sold on the so-called “dark web.” Seriously, click the link and enter one of your email addresses, and see what comes up. You may be surprised at who gave up the keys to the kingdom.

I’ve received several spam emails over the last two years alone, written poorly, and demonstrating that they’ve sToLeN mY GmAiL LoGiN cReDenTialZ and that if I don’t PaY tHeM iN BiTcOiN they are threatening to ReLeASe aLL tHe EmBaRasSiNg PhoToz 2 My ConTaCtZ in my Gmail account (or similarly hilarious spammed threats). They’re all old passwords that have been stolen in any one of those breeches and are useless with my current logins. Since the password for each website is unique, stealing my Facebook password will not give up my bank account’s password. Stealing my Netflix password won’t jeopardize my laptop’s Administrator password, or my OpenPGP key’s password, and so on.

In the majority of these cases, the passwords themselves are stored by websites as encrypted hashes (storing them in plaintext is incredibly stupid). The concept of a hash is a bit more involved than I want to get into here, but in overly simple terms, a hashed password is one that has been converted into a generally unique combination of numbers and letters. To attempt to crack a hashed password, one method would be to run the stolen password into a hashing algorithm to see what gets spit out. If it spits out the same hash, odds are statistically certain that the passwords matched, and therefore the password is correct. Short of that, one could try to guess the password itself in a so-called brute-force attack.

This is the beauty of KeePassX and other password managers. They can be used to generate random passwords as long as you want them to be, and with as many character sets as you choose, subject to a given website’s password requirements (some are far stronger than others). For example, my Facebook password is made up of a random combination of 62-64 upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters from the ASCII character set. It looks something like this:

pTMBK(s9){ur{nkY:J~+6]<#Kz5rL%R.ifqdf”J8~-,:Jiq3CRA?8[/qtrqayX

Don’t worry, I generated this password two minutes ago for this blog post

According to the GRC Haystack page, with a massive password cracking array of computers calculating 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) combinations per second, the password above could take approximately 1.34 thousand trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion centuries to successfully guess. Even if advances in computing power decrease that number significantly to one century to crack, who cares? You’ll probably be long dead by then anyway.

This gives one final advantage to you: privacy and plausible-deniability. Crossing the US Border and existing within about 100 miles of the border has proven to have become a lot more complicated these days with people reporting that Homeland Security and USBP are demanding that people turn their laptops and smartphones over for search, with the claim that they will not require your passwords without a warrant. Do you trust them?

No matter who demands, I can easily answer with perfect honesty that I cannot give my out my Facebook password because I do not know what my Facebook password is. As long as Constitutional protections are also in place, and these days it’s more and more doubtful, one cannot be compelled to give up a password as it could be seen as self-incriminating (speak with a good attorney about this).

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About Current Events

black lives matter white text superimposed over faded american flag

Dear Friends, Family, Supporters, and Fans:

I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out directly, and express my gratitude for your support over the last couple of months, and to update you on a couple of things.

About COVID-19:

I am seeing some delays on product orders getting fulfilled, primarily with my printed t-shirts, tank tops, crop tops. So far, the average fulfillment times have increased to between 14-21 days due to COVID-19’s effects on global supply chains. I’ve added printed t-shirts on my Teespring and Redbubble shops where their fulfillment times are generally a little better in most cases. I also put up some fractal art patterned products. Some items are political in their message. Other items are photography related, while others are snarky, or just plain ol’ weird. Kinda like me. 😀

Speaking of “politics”…

About George Floyd, Riots, and Police Brutality:

Like a lot of you, I am subscribed to several email marketing lists from different companies. It seems like, lately, I’ve received quite a few long winded statements from those companies with massive legal teams that have helped them to craft the perfect on-brand statement concerning current events. I did not want to be left out, so I felt it was time to make one of my own.

I am releasing the following statement in order to let you know where I stand unambiguously and without question as a person, a photographer, a citizen of the United States of America, and human being after consulting with my vastly underfunded legal team, friends, family, higher power(s), God, the quantum state of 4th dimensional time, my root through crown chakras, my conscience, ancestors, AND my mother:

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

PERIOD.

If you would like to support this very important movement, please consider donating your time or resources to the following organizations:

Black Lives Matter – Boston Chapter

Website — BlackLivesMatterBoston.org
Email — [email protected]
Facebook — facebook.com/BLMBoston
Twitter – twitter.com/BLMBoston
Donations — secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019

Massachusetts Bail Fund

Website — www.massbailfund.org/about.html
Email[email protected]
Facebook — facebook.com/massbailfund
Twitter — twitter.com/massbailfund
Donate — classy.org/campaign/massachusetts-bail-fund/c75475

The GI Rights Hotline 1-877-447-4487

Website — girightshotline.org
Email[email protected]
Facebook — facebook.com/girights
Twitter — twitter.com/girights
Donate — girightshotline.org/about

About Face Veterans – Post 9/11 Service-members and Veterans

Website — aboutfaceveterans.org/who-we-are
Facebook — facebook.com/VetsAboutFace
Twitter — twitter.com/VetsAboutFace
Donate — aboutfaceveterans.org/donate
Tell Troops to Stand Down for Black Lives – aboutfaceveterans.org/take-action-now-veterans-tell-troops-to-stand-down-for-black-lives


Yes, I am very much anti fascist by default.

Anything else is pro fascism.

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Black Lives Matter. It’s okay.

flag of the united states of america upside down as a classic signal of distress

I have been watching the protests, riots, and anger of the last week, couple of months, and even over the past several years and wanted to chime in, but in a very limited manner because it is not my place to really opine on it.

I am a first generation Filipino-American citizen who doesn’t even like to use that designation. My background and heritage is Filipino but I have been raised to be an American, first. It took a long time to understand that being raised “American,” usually means to be raised to fit into a predominantly white, cis, Christian, and male-friendly society. Because of that, in my heart and mind I am an American citizen who, looking back, has been raised with a variety of social privileges that this nation has systemically and structurally denied or made far more difficult to attain than many of my fellow American citizens.

Are the opportunities to attain them there? Of course. The “American Experiment” is on going, and ever evolving by design, but that does not mean that everyone has an equal path in front of them, nor do they have equal resources available to help them. Some people don’t even get an opportunity to begin from the same social starting line.

My perspective, even if I am POC isn’t really relevant to Black Lives or to other POCs’ experience in the United States because my experience is, frankly, white; therefore, my opinion on <insert modifier>LivesMatter only serves as an irrelevant distraction to real, justifiable, and righteous anger felt by a segment of the population whose experience I cannot ever fully relate to.

Where I can make a firm stand, however, is in my getting out of the way as much as possible whenever possible. I strongly suggest that others — those who are unsure of what they themselves feel, or agree with, or are on the fence over, or even don’t agree at all — do the same and take yourselves out of the picture if it’s not your pain, your anger, or your lived daily experience. It’s not about you, and it will never be about you.

I refuse to tell black lives how to feel, protest, mourn, or live. I suggest more of you start doing the same. Shut the fuck up and listen to the voices of your fellow citizens. They are all around you, and they are in immense pain.

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Wearing a Face Mask Is Not a Democratic COVID-19 Plot

About COVID-19 and wearing a face-mask

You’re being asked to wear a cloth mask to cover your face to reduce the majority of the droplets you exhale from combining with the droplets that other people exhale, in a community effort to lower the overall risk of contagion to others.

It will absolutely not 100% protect you from inhalation of droplets, and that is entirely the point of making it a shared effort to reduce the total volume of respiratory droplets in the same air breathed by everyone. Less droplets exhaled leads to less droplets inhaled.

Photo #1: I am wearing a polyester neck gaiter as a simple, single layer, face mask. Even though it is not intended to act as protective personal equipment, or a medical grade filtered mask or respirator, that’s not the point. It helps to reduce, not eliminate, the droplets that I exhale. It’s not perfect, nor is it the most effective, but it is better than nothing. I can breathe just fine, and go about shopping at a local Asian market for what I need to stock up on, where everyone else is masked. The risk is there, of course, but greatly reduced for everyone present. With my asthma, I never felt restricted in any way, never felt my breathing was compromised, and could easily function with very minimal impact to my oxygen levels.

Photo #2: I was wearing a chemical protective mask and full chemical protective suit designed to filter out or reduce the impact of a variety of airborne contaminants, sprayed droplets, or vaporized hazards including: mustard gas, CS gas (tear gas, for you civilians), a variety of nerve agents, blister agents, weaponized anthrax spores and some biological hazards, and toxic chemicals due to fire and smoke and it was still was not 100% effective against every threat out there. It just reduced the risk to a much greater extent and for a longer period and I would have needed a fully sealed suit with its own air supply to be completely protected against all contaminants.

At the time the photo was taken, it was August, around 3pm, during a training exercise in Georgia. It was hot, miserably humid, and I had been wearing the full suit for about two hours with another 2 hours to go before someone gave the “All Clear.” The mask absolutely could not be removed until then. I could hydrate through a tube at the opening of the mask, connected to my canteen. Otherwise, physically, I had to still carry out the training mission, fully dressed in the suit and mask (MOPP Level 4), during the hottest part of day, and the hottest day of the year, in a Georgia swamp, at a high tempo, until whenever someone in charge decided that the exercise was over.

The point is, even under conditions most civilians whining about masks will never face, MOPP-4 did not kill me. Although it made me miserable, overheated, and exhausted over the course of 4-6 hours, MOPP-4 was designed to protect me from an incredibly contaminated environment. The biggest risks I faced during that particular exercise was dehydration and possible heat stroke. Imagine, now, having to wear MOPP-4 in a real combat environment.

By comparison, a face mask is not meant to protect you from the contaminants within that environment. It is only meant to help reduce the contamination to a shared environment by reducing everyone’s exhaled droplets. It’s the same as trying to get everyone to reduce their collective carbon footprints (and we know how well that is going), only this time it is trying to get everyone to reduce their COVID-19 footprints.

For the majority of you, certain health conditions aside, even an improvised face mask is not going to cause any risk to you, outside of a slight inconvenience to your pride. Realistically, listening to Donald Trump will more likely get you killed, assuming that rat has convinced you that “mAsKs r A dEmOcRaTiC tAcTiC 2 gEt U 2 GiVe Up Ur FreEdUmBz MAGA!”

If a training exercise with the US Army 3rd Infantry Division for several hours under MOPP-4 conditions during the hottest part of a brutally hot and humid day in a Georgia swamp did not kill me, wearing a simple cloth mask to go grocery shopping for 20-30 minutes will not kill you.