First, I would like to thank James O’Keefe and Dr. Steve Revilak for their great work at SPL’s cryptoparty last weekend. They were very generous with their time and expertise. Several people left at the end of the day with their smartphones and laptops optimized for online privacy.

Second, let’s talk about Windows 10. If you’re a pc user, this latest Microsoft operating system will almost certainly be thrust upon you at some point. There’s something very important you need to know: the default settings on Windows 10 give Microsoft the capacity to send reams of data from your pc to Microsoft’s servers and use your own bandwidth. You can change settings in Windows 10 to reduce the tracking and data mining the system allows by default, but Windows does not make those settings easy to find. Fortunately PCWorld.com has a step-by-step guide to reclaiming your privacy from Windows 10. You might also want to take a look at this guide on tweaking privacy settings from TechRadar.

If you’re interested in learning  about protecting your online privacy even further, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guide to Surveillance Self-Defense.

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A new book club at the Central Library on Highland Avenue, for stay-at-home moms’, working moms’ and/or anyone in between is starting up! If your interested in participating in this club, follow this link and vote on your favorite book!

Book titles include:15507958

Me Before you by JoJo Moyes – “They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose. Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life–steady boyfriend, close family–who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. Will has always lived a huge life–big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel–and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is15818107 acerbic, moody, bossy–but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. ” – Provided by Publisher

Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline– “a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.”

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – “A deeply evocative story of 8683812ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.”

The Help by Kathryn Stockett –  “Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who 4667024raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.”

 

Big Little Lies – “Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class a19486412s Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).”

All book descriptions are taken from GoodReads.com

 

 

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Have you ever taken a stroll in Somerville, to come across an octagon shaped house with all the windows boarded up and cameras leering dsomerville_ma.36104736_stdown at you? Well, if you know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen the Round House at 36 Atherton Street in Somerville. Although, it may not be as mysterious as we all think. The house was built by Enoch Robinson sometime around 1847, right after the locksmith and designer moved to Somerville. He lived in the house with his wife, three daughters, one son and maid. The design of his home was influenced in the idea that circular houses wasted less space, had more light and created better quality heating.

A little history….In 1986, a restoration program was started by the North Bennet Street School but the project fell through. The home was bought in 2007, before that, the round house was vacant andRound_House_Jan_2012_-_Somerville,_MA_-_DSC03417 slowly deteriorating. Today, the home is owned by a local man who is rumored to be head of a general contracting firm.   If you walk by now, you’ll see the windows are all boarded up, and according to the Somerville Historic Preservation, there is an intent to fix the round house into a livable house once again. athpc3

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If you want to read a book, but have no idea what book, here are some sources for ideas.

A list of the most popular books in the Minuteman Library Network is here. Just be aware that since the titles on this list are so popular, you might have to wait a while for a library copy.

Here are the titles that have won the PEN/Faulkner Award in recent years.  The award is given to the best work of fiction by an American citizen in the calendar year (or at least, “best,” in the opinion of the judges).

If you love mysteries, you owe it to yourself to consider the winners of the Crime Writers’ Assocation Gold Dagger Award.

Also check out last year’s winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards. Categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Criticism, and Poetry.

Looking for a laugh? Here are recent winners of the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

And here is the 2015 list of Notable Books of the Year chosen by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.

Happy reading.

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To learn what Google knows about you, follow the instructions in this Business Insider article.

And check out this discussion of search engines that respect your privacy.

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eyeballThere are so many different ways we’re being watched, it’s easy to think having any privacy is hopeless, but you shouldn’t give up.

On Saturday, July 16 at noon we’re hosting an online privacy workshop here at SPL. It will be very hands on, so bring your smartphone, tablet or laptop (or all three)  so fix your settings, download apps, and add browser extensions to keep your online activities safe from prying eyes.

In the meantime here are some easy steps you can take now to lay the foundations of a secure online life:

Tape over your computer’s webcam.

Lock your phone, laptop and tablet.

Install two or three anti-tracking plugins for your browser, such as Ghostery, Adblock Plus, Disconnect,  or Abine’s Blur.

View your Facebook profile as someone else and change your privacy settings if you see anything you don’t want strangers to see.

Never let a browser save your passwords

Install an antitheft app like Prey or Lookout.

For text messaging using an encryption app like Signal.

Stay tuned for more privacy tips in the near future.

 

 

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4th_of_July_fireworks_on_Boston's_Charles_RiverYou’ve probably already made your Independence Day plans, but if you haven’t, here are some ideas:

The Boston Calendar has a list of 76 Things to Do in Boston this Weekend.

If you want to see fireworks but dread the mobs at the Esplanade, here are some options.

And for food, historic walking tours, live entertainment, and art, consider going to Boston HarborFest.

Have fun and be safe.

 

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hydraIt will get easier to say no to Windows 10.  Soon when you click on the x in the upper-corner of the pop-up box nagging you to “upgrade” to Windows 10, the box will actually disappear as you would expect instead of downloading Windows 10. Furthermore the pop-up will soon feature the option “Decline Free Offer” which means you will never see it again.

But be aware if you use Windows 7 there will be no more system updates. However, Microsoft will continue to support the system with security patches until 2020. Windows 8.1 updates will end in 2018.

If you’re still wondering if you should bow to the inevitable and switch to Windows 10, here’s the latest on the issues people have with the system.

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Last week I posted about books, plays and television programs related to Henry VIII (last Friday was the anniversary of his coronation). A reader of this blog pointed out to me that I omitted a certain musical tribute to England’s most famous king, so here it is:

 


I also discovered this video that sums up most of what you would learn from any books about Henry VIII and his wives:

 

Never say I don’t give the public what they want.

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…for June 24:

henryviiiHenry VIII was crowned King of England on this day in 1509. It was the beginning of a turbulent reign, and nearly all of the turbulence was caused by his difficulties in fathering a son: he was only the second monarch of  the Tudor dynasty, a family whose claim to the crown was shaky at best. To prevent a return to civil war it was essential Henry have at least one male heir. In his quest for sons, he married six times, beheaded two of his wives, and took England out of the Catholic Church.

His dramatic life (and those of his wives) have inspired many novels, biographies, plays and television programs. Among them I recommend the award-winning Wolf Hall, one of the best historical novels ever, narrated from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, a soldier and merchant from a working-class background who becomes an important figure at Henry VIII’s court.

If you’re in the mood to read a biography, I suggest Alison Weir’s Henry VIII: The King and His bookcoverCourt. Alison Weir is one of the most popular and readable historians  of the past twenty years, and her portrait of this “larger than life” king who during his lifetime who went “from Renaissance prince to mean old king”  gives “ample evidence of her talent” (Booklist).

If you’re in the mood to watch rather than read, you have two great options. The play A Man for All Seasons (1966) recounts Henry’s campaign to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and his abandonment of the Catholic Church from the perspective of his disapproving minister, Sir Thomas More. Paul Scofield’s portrayal of More, a man whose firm, quiet integrity costs him his life, won him that year’s Oscar for Best Actor, and the film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

And if you haven’t yet seen the award-winning BBC series The Tudors, you’re in for a treat. There are many historical inaccuracies, but it’s very enjoyable.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers gives a riveting performance as Henry VIII. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine of Aragon, and  Henry Cavill in a neck ruffle.

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