24 October 2017

Making Lemonade

Now that wee early daylight has waned, it's too dark for me to walk along the riverwalk before catching the train to work, I sometimes will ride to work with The Lizard if I can wake on time.

Lizard typically has to be at work at 4 a.m. I don't have to be at work until 8. After I ride in with him, I sit in the nearby coffee shop and either make snowflakes, catch up on hand sewing, or take my laptop and access the internet via the free WiFi until it's time to catch a bus to the train, then take the train to work. Then Lizard picks me up after work. Trust me; it's a match made in heaven. I LOVE those few extra minutes I get with him!

The day before the KRACK attack news broke, I shot some wonderful autumn family portraits. Because I'm limiting my nighttime computer work in an attempt to eliminate the sleeplessness I've been battling for the last couple of years, it made perfect sense to edit the photos the next morning. I didn't know at the time any public WiFi would be dangerous or I never would have attempted to upload finished photos from there, but the shop didn't have an electrical outlet for me to plug in my computer. Perhaps it's fortunate for me the battery died before I could upload more than a couple of photos...

I looked at the clock, packed up all my stuff and rushed out to catch the bus. I missed it by about 30 seconds. The temperature was 40 degrees. I was wearing long sleeves but no coat and nothing reflective because I wasn't expecting to have to wait a half hour in the cold in the dark. I wasn't too happy.

But then the sky began exploding in the most gorgeous shades of pink, red, purple and orange! I'd have been SO bummed and annoyed if I'd had to watch that awesome sunrise from the inside of a bus, and I'd have been even more disappointed if I'd missed it. And yes, I would have known. Turns out almost every photographer in Colorado was shooting that very same sunrise and immediately sharing it on social media.

I was so thankful I missed my bus! Heck, I was even thankful my computer shut down!

The busy street corner wasn't the ideal location for shooting sunrise, but I found ways to make it pop on digital screens.

When I got to work, I learned about the KRACK attack, and I, along with many of my co-workers, went into panic attack. What would we do? It seemed the only safe thing to do from this point on would be to stay off the internet. My employer's headquarters even sent out a company-wide email later in the day requesting employees refrain from visiting any non-https website. This sounded bad!

I researched as many details about the threat as I could, then contacted our IT department to ask what I could do to stay safe, besides visiting only https sites (which I believe I have been trying to do since it became the secure standard). One of our IT employees made a personal visit to my desk to draw a map for me to help explain stuff I couldn't get my brain wrapped around, and soon, all my nearby co-workers had joined in because they were so concerned, too.

Bottom line, I researched virtual private network (VPN) service providers that night, purchased a two-year plan and had my own VPN installed on both our home computers and one of our two phones before I finished uploading the previous day's photos. (This entire process took several hours. Installation off WiFi is a hefty process, as all Windows updates must be installed first. We opt to do our own updates because we are not on the internet frequently and because we don't always have the bandwidth to run updates whenever they become available. Keeping everything updated is another key in internet security, but preventing internet expenses from trashing your budget is important, too. Also, it is critical to install VPN on every smart home appliance. Luckily, we are severely behind the times in that department.)

We're fully protected now, as well as we can be, anyway. I'm sharing this information, hoping it might help anyone else who might be worried about internet and specifically WiFi safety. The IT guy who talked to me said the only way to stay totally safe is to stay off the internet. Good thing I'm already on an internet diet! The VPN, however, should help.

Another awesome sunrise struck a few days later, and fortunately, Lizard and I were both armed and ready.

After the spectacular show, I received a message from my grown adopted son, with whom communication has been strained for more than a decade. He included a photo of the sunrise from his abode. He said it was my turn to share a photo. I sent him one of mine and told him how exciting it was that both of us were doing the same thing at the same time. We went back and forth a few times in delightful conversation. It felt like old times. I'm sure both of us long for that kind of connection. For the degree of love we shared electronically that day, spur of the moment, first time sharing sunrise photos since he was still in high school many, many moons ago.

Life altogether is a much better sunrise today after that beautiful exchange, and I hope we can keep communicating on this level.


  1. Great shots indeed. Sometimes things can sure work out in a way we least expect. Wow, never knew of the KRACK attack. Goes to show hackers can get anything they want if they want it. VPNS are good, but I find they slow the internet down. But yeah, a good one will help indeed. I never use my phone for anything steal worthy, so power to them there. True, only way to avoid is stay off the internet, cat can't have that haha

  2. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos!

    Thanks for the computer info. We hadn't heard about it. Luckily we don't use much WiFi, and we're already pretty cautious and security-obsessed when it comes to surfing. And no smart home for us, ever! That idea has always creeped me out.

    I love the idea of quiet time to yourself, away from home, in the mornings. Win-win situation for you and Lizard!

  3. P.S. Forgot to say, what a sweet story about the sunrise photo exchange. Hope it just gets better from here! :)


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