February 15th, 2007

Keep Walking

Am I an "official Bostonian" now?

Today marks the anniversary of the snowy, icy and bitterly cold day I first moved to Boston in 2003. So many things have happened since moving here, all so wonderfully documented here in my BLOG, which was established when I moved here as a tool not only for me to remember "where I came from", but also to engage friends and on-lookers to be more involved with my life. The last four years passed by so quickly and so many things have happened in that time. The best measure of productive time is that I made some new friends, a few new enemies and have left my own unique marks on both Boston and Massachusetts! It's so often in the straight world that a person's legacy is passed on through their children. In my life, my legacy is passed on in the things I do that effect others. Mostly for the best, but occasionally for the worse. I'm only human, right? I make mistakes too!

There are a lot of exciting things coming down the pike in the next four years, maybe I'll still be here, maybe not! Who's to say? Some of the folks that I've pissed off make me nervous from time to time. I think that one day I'll go to start my car and it will explode in a fireball taking me with it. Perhaps it will be a marksman on the rooftop of the building beside my condo as armour piercing bullets cascade through my windows turning me into hamburger meat while I sit working diligently on my laptop? Am I being paranoid? Nah... when I irritate someone, I really irritate them! Some folks just don't like it when you speak your mind and it does not match up with their opinions!

The photo in the upper left was taken in Toronto, just one week before I moved to Boston in 2003, the photo in the lower right was just taken December 2006. (There's a funny story about the pants in the Toronto photo -- ask me about it if you see me in person someday!)

On the geek front, I have a really cool reccomendaiton for everyone that uses the internet! Change your DNS to OpenDNS! OpenDNS is a better DNS, free to all. OpenDNS uses its distributed network of DNS servers to speed up your Internet experience, increase reliability, improve security and make DNS smarter for users all over the world.

DNS stands for Domain Name Service and it translates human addresses of websites and servers like wikipedia.org to the numerical address used by computers Every time you send an email or visit a web page, you are using DNS services. It is estimated that most people make at least 100 DNS requests every day. By default, most people's DNS settings are pointing to their ISP or other large organizations (like Microsoft) which run DNS servers. Very few people set their own DNS settings, but they are easy to change.

You might be saying, "My internet experience is fine! Why should I change?" Well, there are some very good reasons:

1) OpenDNS intercepts phishing attempts. OpenDNS customers will be warned if they attempt to visit a phishing site (thanks to cross-checking through a service called PhishTank.

2) OpenDNS is faster. Two things make OpenDNS faster than similar services. First, OpenDNS runs a really big, smart cache, so every OpenDNS user benefits from the activities of the broader OpenDNS user base. Second, OpenDNS runs a high-performance network which is geographically distributed and serviced by several redundant connections. OpenDNS responds to your query from the nearest location. That means they're very fast and extremely reliable.

3) Internet Service Providers (Comcast, AT&T, AOL, etc.) are discovering that there is money to be made by favouring (or re-routing) DNS requests (or mis-spellings.) For example, if you wanted to go to google.com and typed in google.cm my accident, some providers might respond with their own webpages to attract your attention (business) to!
In a recent article in SlashDot, paulbiz writes: "Charter Cable's DNS servers have just started resolving all invalid hostnames and pointing them to their own error page. The About page states: 'This service automatically eliminates many of the error pages you may encounter as you surf the web. No software was installed on your computer for this service to work.' It has an 'opt-out' page, but when you use it Charter simply sets a cookie that makes their page redirect errors to Microsoft Live Search instead!"
4) Some companies (perhaps one where you're working, or getting your DNS service from) are tracking what sites you are going to on the internet by keeping track of your DNS resolutions in a database. OpenDNS allows you to hop over your 'default' DNS service and use theirs.

and 5) It's simple to switch over to OpenDNS! Check it out! http://opendns.com/ -- if you get stuck, let me know, and I'll try to help you out. You can set up your individual computer to use OpenDNS, or your entire LAN (if you have one!)