Category Archives: Thoughts

Privacy and security in the covid-19 times

With everyone staying home the use of online platforms for communication has increased and with that the inherent problems that some platforms have when it comes to protecting security and privacy increases too. So why not use this opportunity to share some best practices I follow in order to keep myself and those I communicate with safer? I have to disclaim that even though I’m a software engineer with many years of experience, I am not a security/privacy expert. However I think I can still share useful information, so here it goes.

What is the difference between privacy and security

Privacy and security are related. Privacy relates to any rights you have to control your personal information and how it’s used. Think about those privacy policies you’re asked to read and agree to when you download new smartphone apps. Security, on the other hand, refers to how your personal information is protected. Your data — different details about you — may live in a lot of places. That can challenge both your privacy and your security.


When communicating over email always be mindful of the To/Cc and Bcc fields. If your email is going to small group of friends and they all know each other, using To or Cc is appropriate. But if you are communicating to a group and not everyone knows each other, respect everyone’s privacy by using the Bcc field.

When responding to an email that contains multiple people think very careful when to use the Reply All function. Does everyone really need to know that you think a joke someone sent was funny? Maybe just reply to the original sender.

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If you can remember your passwords, then your passwords are terrible! Good passwords are the ones that are almost impossible to remember. So the idea is to use a Password Manager: this is an application you can install on your computer and smartphone where you can store all your passwords, so you don’t have to remember them. You will need to remember only 1 password: the one you use in order to access the Password Manager.

Password Managers make it very easy to use a different password for each application/website. That way if one password is compromised, the rest of your passwords are safe.

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Video conferencing

Lots of people have been doing video conferencing lately and one application that has become popular is Zoom. Unfortunately this app has multiple (link, link, link) security and privacy problems.

Instead I highly recommend people use FaceTime when everyone in the call have an Apple device. When that is not possible use open source alternative Jitsi or Google Hangouts.

Social media

Be mindful of what you share on social media. Do you really need to post your date of birth, phone number or home address on facebook?

When posting pictures that include others, be mindful of their privacy: Maybe ask your friends if it is ok to tag them before you do.

Consider disabling location services for some social media apps. Do you really want facebook app to know all the places you go to during the day?

Do not connect your social media information: I don’t mind to have silly pictures of me on facebook. I’m ok having my work information posted on LinkedIn. But I don’t want a work contact on LinkedIn to easily find those silly pictures on my facebook profile. Be in control of what you share on each social media platform and avoid interconnecting them.

Logging on a new website

Many websites/apps require you to sign up before you can use their services. When this happens always prefer using the email sign up option and avoid using the Facebook Signup/Google Signup option. Even though the FB/Google Signup is convenient, when you use it the website/app automatically gets access to some of your personal information, while signing up with email just gives them that: your email address.

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When taking screenshots on your computer or smartphone to post them on social media or share them elsewhere, always be mindful of what will show up on the screen shot. You can always crop the screenshot to remove areas of your screen that don’t need to be shared. And you should also blur or remove other parts that might expose aspects of your (or others) privacy.

Sharing links

Websites use a technique called tracking in order to tell how a visitor landed on their page. So for example when a website looks at a weekly report, they might see that 90% of their page viewers came from a shared link on facebook, and only 10% came from a Google Ad click. This helps websites make marketing decisions because they can analyze traffic trends. When this happens your browser will show something like this on the address bar:
The website address is only the first part. Everything after the ‘?’ (shown in blue) is the facebook tracking stuff. If you want to share this website with a friend over email or SMS make sure you delete everything after the ‘?’, and confirm that the website still loads correctly without it on a new browser window. This protects your own privacy because that long code after the ‘?’ has information that points back at you. It also makes the links look much cleaner.

Bonus topic: Sharing someone else’s work

This topic has nothing to do with privacy or security but I decided to add it here too, because I think it is important to create awareness on this problem: When sharing something on social media always try to share it from the original source. Many times an artist will produce a song/cartoon/drawing/etc and if you visit his website/youtube channel the artist can make some money because of advertisement. But if you share it from a different source, not only the artist no longer receives anything, but you are giving the benefit to the other person that copied and reposted the art. If you receive something and you don’t know who the author is, try a quick search and see if you can find the original author and share that instead. There is always the extra benefit that the original art will always be higher quality/resolution than the copy one.

Here are two images: one was stolen by a stupid Cliparts website and they even have the nerve to ask for attribution.

And then you have the original image full size and resolution from the wonderful The Oatmeal.

brewery plans update

This is a less verbose English version update of my brewery plans that partially repeats some of the information posted here.


– Graduated from Computer Science degree in Medellín, Colombia and moved to Austin, Texas to work for National Instruments.


– Unhappy with role and salary at National Instruments began the process of looking for a new job, but in the process I discover that software development no longer excites me. Instead (and out of nowhere) one night I decide that I want to start a Brewery in Austin.
– Buy my first kit for home brewing beer.
Continue reading brewery plans update

Programming Interview Tips

Behavioral Questions
Think about good examples you can describe from school (or internship) projects that were successful, in which you played an important role. Think about projects that went wrong initially and how the situation was corrected. What did you learn from the situation? what would you do different next time? think about a difficult bug you had to solve and how you approached the solution. Think about the different programming languages and which ones you like best and why. Always be very honest in your answers, since the interviewer can easily spot when you are making up stuff. Do not come across as the “perfect programmer”. Show that you have made some mistakes and have learn from them. Show that you have good communication skills, good team work skills, that you are a rapid learner, that you go the extra mile…
Continue reading Programming Interview Tips

Barrel Assembly

Corría el año 2014 y luego de trabajar por 13 años en National Instruments estaba listo para probar nuevos rumbos. Comencé a mirar oportunidades de trabajo disponibles y la verdad ninguna parecía llenar mis expectativas. Sin embargo me animé a una entrevista con Roku en Austin. No me fue bien y ahí me dí cuenta que hay que prepararse muy bien para presentar una entrevista técnica. Por esa época me contactó Sameer un reclutador que me ayudó a organizar mejor mi hoja de vida, me recomendó unos buenos libros para preparar las entrevistas técnicas y me comenzó a conseguir oportunidades laborales.

Durante este proceso la noche del 8 de Agosto de 2014, mientras estaba en cama tratando de dormir vino a mi mente algo parecido a una epifanía: el desarrollo de software ya no es lo que me apasiona. Tengo que descubrir una nueva pasión. Y de la nada se me ocurrió: voy a montar una cervecería.

Con nula experiencia en el mundo de la cerveza, decidí que el primer paso era comprar un kit para hacer cerveza casera y aproximarme a ese mundo con el hobby de hacer cerveza casera. Decidí que lo iba a hacer por al menos un año para estar más convencido de que la cerveza era mi nueva pasión.

Después de presentar varias entrevistas infructuosas con diferentes compañías tuve la oportunidad de entrevistar con Visa, y me ofrecieron trabajo. Así que en Junio de 2015 renuncié a National Instruments y luego de un provechoso viaje de aprendizaje cervecero por Alemania, Bélgica y República Checa durante Junio y Julio, comencé a trabajar para Visa en Agosto 2015.

En Diciembre 2016 viajé a Medellín a visitar a mi familia y fue allí cuando decidí que ya estaba preparado para comenzar mi negocio cervecero. Con dos años y medio de experiencia haciendo cerveza casera, de participar en diferentes clubes cerveceros, de enviar cervezas a competencias y colaborar como juez, tomé la decisión de renunciar a mi trabajo en Visa y dedicarme a crear mi nueva empresa.

Es así como el 23 de Enero de 2017 comienzo a crear mi propia empresa y nace Barrel Assembly.

Barrel Assembly Logo
Barrel Assembly Logo

Felices Fiestas 2015-2016

Por el trajín de la temporada decembrina no pudimos hacer nuestro tradicional mensaje festivo hace un par de semanas, sin embargo aunque ya un poco tarde, queremos desearle a todos nuestros queridos lectores unas felices fiestas para 2015 y un maravilloso 2016 lleno de felicidad, alegría y macarena.

Para esto los dejamos con nuestro L. Ron Hubbard feo padre y fundador de la Dianética y la Cienciología.

Ugly L. Ron Hubbard
Ugly L. Ron Hubbard

Farewell NI

After 13+ years today is my last day at my job at National Instruments. Mixed feelings of sadness and excitement for what’s to come. It’s been truly a pleasure and an honor working with such wonderful people who I will deeply miss. To all of you who helped me along the way: Thank you.

What’s next for me? I’ll be taking a few weeks off and will start at my new job at Visa in August.

The pictures are from the job interview I did with NI back in the year 2000 in Bogotá. I was 22.

100-0034_IMG_2 100-0029_IMG 100-0027_IMG_2

Y las felices fiestas para el 2014?

Recientemente, recibimos una queja formal de una de nuestras más queridas lectoras, quién nos indagó el por qué no hubo un mensaje deseando unas felices fiestas 2014 de parte de Chichipanguanorrea y su personal.

Luego de extensas investigaciones, introspección personal, soul searching y otras pendejadas, hemos concluido que la razón por la cual no fue publicado el mensaje decembrino, fue por simple y trivial olvido.

Sin embargo creemos que nunca es tarde para corregir los errores del pasado y para desearle a nuestros queridos lectores unas felices fiestas 2014 y un alegre 2015 lleno de bailongo, sabor y macarena.

De parte de la virgen María Fea de la Iglesia Católica Ortodoxa, un próspero 2015 para todos.

Virgen María Fea