Barbs Connected World

Surface Pro (2017)

For me, this is a dream machine

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Multi Factor Authentication App Backup and Usage Strategies
Change Your Hue Light
Colors with Alexa
Microsoft Authenticator
2 Factor Authentication

Microsoft Authenticator helps keep me safe. The baddies are out there, and I know my logins are protected. Easy to setup and a real pleasure to use!

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Surface Pro (2017)

I really loved my Surface Pro 3 (purchased June 2014), but earlier this year, it became useless as a portable with a non functional battery. If I hadn’t encountered the (well known) battery issues, I would still be happily using my SP3. But being chained to AC outlets isn’t my idea of portability. I was hoping that Microsoft would offer a special trade in allowance for SP3 owners in light of the well publicized battery issues afflicting this model, but alas, it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, I decided to spend the money and splurge on the new Surface Pro, i7, 512/16 configuration. The form factor is perfect for me and the extreme portability (bad back) just can’t be equaled elsewhere.

After three days, my opinion is that this is a dream machine powerhouse.

sp1.2

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Multi Factor Authentication App Backup and Usage Strategies

I’ve been using Microsoft’s Authenticator App because not only does it support Azure Authentication (Office 365) but because it supports my Microsoft Account, Google account, and anyplace else that supports the OTP standard. Any site or service that supports RFC6238 is supported by MS Authenticator and I can scan a QR code (and in some cases enter a Secret Key instead of a QR code) to “provision” an account.

As my list of 2FA/multi factor authentication enabled assets grows, I had been thinking a lot about what would happen if I upgraded my iPhone or had a hardware failure and needed to replace it. Even restoring a new phone from an iPhone backup does not restore the accounts to MS Authenticator (and the same is true of other 2FA apps, although several offer their own export/import or backup/restore functions). And, while I do get push notifications to approve or deny access on my Apple Watch from MS Authenticator for my Office 365 account and my Microsoft Account, for other sites and services, since Microsoft does not (yet) offer a full fledged Apple Watch App, I need my phone when prompted to enter a code.

 

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Change Hue Light Colors with Alexa

Hue and Lifx bulbs have been supported with Amazon’s Echo/Alexa ecosystem for a long time. One of the missing elements, the ability to specify specific colors or temperatures, was missing, although cool third party integration with Yonomi allowed you to create routines to handle specifying colors.

While Hue has been supported natively for a long time, to turn on the new functionality, go to the Alexa app or web page, search for “Hue” and enable the skill.

hue alexa colors

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Using MS Authenticator for 2FA Everywhere

Two Factor/Multifactor Authentication can help keep you safe.

The bad guys are out to get you. They’re phishing in your email, they are using brute force to try to get your password so they can log into your email accounts, your Microsoft Accounts, your Google accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and just about everywhere that you use a password to log in. Having a strong and unique password for every site and account isn’t enough these days. You CAN do more to protect yourself. There PROBABLY ARE baddies trying to break into your accounts right now. It’s a fact of life. Want an example? I was amazed at the number of unique IP’s trying to gain administrative access to the WordPress dashboard on one of my blogs by trying to login through the WordPress interface. And I was horrified.

What can you do to protect yourself? My advice is simply ‘if you don’t have 2FA enabled, enable it now if you possibly can’. (And if you are one of the folks that still doesn’t have a smartphone, consider a physical device like Yubikey’s devices. Microsoft blogged about using this product for Windows Hello as well.) I won’t cover using these devices in this article, but be aware that if you don’t have a smartphone, you do have an option.) Note that, in some cases, you can use a secondary email address as an option to SMS or Yubikey, but it isn’t as secure and I don’t recommend it.

Two Factor Authentication (2FA) relies on something you know (like a strong password) and something you have (like a cellphone/smartphone) to help secure your email, online email and social media accounts, etc. There are additional ways to use 2FA, and you can read more about this at Wikipedia, Microsoft, and there’s a particularly good write up at Google.

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