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    This thing, you need. Run your smartphone for days.

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    I use this cleaner for my iPhone, iPad 3, iPad mini and MacBook Pro. It’s great all-around and won’t mess up the oleophobic coating on iOS device screens.

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    If you’re having problems with your Adonit Jot capacitive touch stylus or Hex3 Jaja, you can improve its performance and reliability with careful application of thermal paste! For more on this, check out my capacitive touch stylus how-to fix-it guide. Months later (Sep 2013), my styli are still performing great!

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    Awesome capacitive touch stylus created by Studio Neat. Great guys, great product. I use mine every day! Bradtastic Approved.

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    Even if you consider yourself a casual doodler or note-taker, you’ll love this well designed stylus. Built for Paper by FiftyThree, the iPad app — however, many other apps support Pencil.

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Entries in government (7)


Government can’t crack your iPhone? Don’t be so sure.

I was thrilled when I heard the recent Apple and Google announcements about privacy and government proof encryption…

At first.

So the government can no longer go to Apple and ask for some workaround to get into your seized iPhone or iPad. If you learned anything from Edward Snowden, you know that our government will stop at nothing to learn everything it can about you.

Why would they care, you might ask; why would they bother? Because they can, and no one is stopping them. When libertarian groups, Tea Party members and environmentalists are classified as radicals, how many degrees away are you from someone the government really doesn’t trust? When was the last time you knowingly broke the law, and how can you be sure that you’re completely law-abiding with so many on the books?

So now Apple has a new selling point. We won’t give the government access to your information, because we can’t. Unless it’s on the cloud.

But what about Touch ID?

TouchID is a fantastic feature that makes using the iPhone so much easier. Unlock the device by pressing and holding your finger on the home button. Make purchases in the App Store or iTunes without typing in your password each time. Doesn’t seem like much; maybe it saves ten minutes per year if you use your phone a lot, but really, it’s about user experience. It takes a little stress out of the device.

But if you’re arrested, the police take your fingerprints, don’t they? Now why couldn’t they use that to get into your phone after they have that warrant?

TouchID is a capacitive imaging device, not a normal optical scanner, so it’s a bit trickier faking it, but it’s hardly impossible.

Bottom line: don’t put anything incriminating on your phone or in the cloud, and don’t permit yourself a false sense of security, that you’re safe because Apple won’t share your secrets. They’ll take what they want, when they want it. And you should be concerned.


23andMe, SaysBrad 2013, and screw the FDA


Dealing with medical problems and disability, I missed out on a lot of things this year. It's easy to just get upset about that — and everything else going on in the world — it's extremely easy to forget how amazing life is and how much technology has changed everything, for almost everyone.

Sometimes, it seems like the Internet is just full of complaints. And cats. Much of it is superfluous, and I've spent some time on this blog trying to point that out to people. But some complaints are valid, and the Internet has given a voice to many who would otherwise remain silent.

I mention this, because the FDA has blocked 23andMe, a DNA analysis company, from releasing medical information related to DNA as part of their $99 mail-order test kit.

Personally, this genetic information could be very valuable; it could tell me if I'm a carrier for the condition that killed my two brothers, why my nervous system responds the way it does and how best to treat my chronic pain, muscle spasms and disability.

I found out about 23andMe because of their Black Friday sale and ordered a kit, only to find out the day the kits arrived, that 23andMe would only be able to supply ancestry related information.

Basically, the FDA is stopping me from seeking affordable advice about my own DNA.

And I'm upset about that.

I've tried to distract myself with technology and blogging, and even managed to figure out how to stop the spam problem that I was having for quite awhile here at Says Brad. I was contacted by a few blog readers, which is super, as well as an app developer (so I'll be reviewing a new note taking app soon).

I found out that the new iPad Air might have some problems detecting and interacting with pressure-sensitive styluses, and read a bit more about the new iPad mini. I'm now reconsidering it as the superior (personal) choice for all-around use, despite the color accuracy/range issue.

I was going to write about testing blogging platforms such as Roon and Postagon, questions and thoughts that I have about pure blogging options Posthaven and Ghost, as well as testing — and my likely move to — Squarespace 6, but it's been hard to focus on with all of the issues I'm having and becoming aware of concerning the Federal government. I want to make Says Brad purely about design and technology (mostly apps and mobile products), but I haven't had the motivation to do anything about it yet.

Perhaps getting this rant out of the way will help. I know that lack of interest and general depression is a byproduct of chronic pain and the medicines used to treat it, and that awareness is usually accompanied by a resolve to push past it and try to do something — anything...

I really put a lot of hope and faith in my DNA results that now, at least anytime soon, won't be able to get... unless I can find some reliable, affordable expert to help me interpret the raw genetic data that I can still get from 23andMe.

Maybe if enough people out pressure on their Congressman (and women), something can be done about the ridiculously backward, prohibitive, abusive and dictatorial federal government and FDA. I don't think that that will happen, however, unless things get much, much worse. Congress is part of the problem — it's systemic, and it's affecting people. Small businesses, individuals, people with medical problems. I don't want government handouts and help. I want them to get the fuck out of the way.


Hopefully now I can get back to graphic design and the fun stuff. That is, after I stretch and take a few hour's nap. Word of warning: if your health is good and your body works (at least somewhat) as it should, take care of it and don't take it for granted. Chronic pain and disability is a neverending nightmare.

Before Christmas. Happy holidays. Oh, and don't be offended if you don't like or celebrate Christmas, but someone says Merry Christmas or whatever. Just say thanks. Don't be miserable.


The Connection Between Cats and Politics

Mimi & Kiki, my mom's cats. Images from @bradtastic on Instagram.

I have a bit of a feline allergy, but whenever I visit my parents, I can't help but play with these two, too cute furballs. Maybe I have toxoplasmosis. Pictures of cats always make me smile. Everything cute, really... baby-anythings — especially puppies and kittens. Tiny humans are adorable also, but a little less so.

My mom's cats really like hanging out in small boxes. It's a cat thing, like catnip — although the gray one, Mimi, likes eating it, while Kiki likes rolling around in it.

My Instagram is basically a collection of cat pictures and snapshots of my view of Oakland's skyline, with miscellaneous shots in between. It's a relaxing pastime.

Life gets a little chaotic and painful, and recent events have caused a fair amount of stress and anger.

I think that reading and writing about American politics is important — occasionally it's invigorating, learning about, discussing and debating serious, life-changing issues. It feels right... but it never really feels fun. Maybe it's not supposed to — that thought troubles me.

Video games are fun, writing about games is fun (at least for me)... politics is practically the opposite.

Both can be very time-consuming, but dealing with serious social issues takes a lot of energy and patience that I often don't have.

Perhaps the largest hinderance is hate; discussing politics draws a lot of strong emotions, spiteful remarks, blatant racism and prejudice. Opinions aren't always welcome, and free speech is often pricy. Friends lost — or rather, acquaintances — personal attacks, slander and ridicule... it's such a shame.

Often, it seems that people are incapable of even hearing a different or dissenting thought, irregardless of facts or evidence. People spend most of their time surrounded by like-minded men and women, constantly reinforcing their world view.

Political beliefs are often so deeply ingrained that challenging people infuriates and blinds them, creating a nearly insurmountable obstacle to honest, polite debate.

With few exceptions, each side hates the other, and the lack of civil dialogue creates more misconceptions and increased intolerance. So sometimes, I like to look at cute things, like cats.


Orwellian America State of Decay

George Zimmerman verdict; society doesn't like it. They protest in Oakland, it's happening in my backyard and makes me think of a different time, place... George. These rallies take precedence in the media and by the public... what of new, horrible crimes? And child molesters? Many child molesters still on the loose, but the media focuses on Trayvon Martin and public enemy number one.

Some replies like this one from NBA legend Charles Barkley, unheard or ignored, will soon be lost and forgotten.

Dissent is dismissed; opinions against the mainstream — against the Party, against the President — are considered ignorant vitriolic slander, and are tossed like garbage after anger and hate is spewed at the originator.

Enraged and enflamed, mobs demand a street justice solution — the same kind of vigilantism they decry and claim ended Trayvon Martin and began this sad saga in America. New crimes, given token consideration, are quickly forgiven by the media and masses as if these events are expected, a logical consequence of perceived injustice. Excuses made for ridiculous, pathetic violence against bystanders by protestors. Juror threatened after speaking about the Zimmerman trial verdict.

This isn't science fiction. This isn't a new screenplay.


This is hate. This is ignorance. This is tragic.


This is America.


This is our future.



Caught in the wake

Hey everyone! I'm hoping to have the energy to update this weekend; I'll mention it via Twitter (@bradtastic) and Says Brad Facebook if I do. Despite being my personal blog, (for reasons unbeknownst to me) I'm compelled to be more formal and diligent with these updates. My personal fb is much more casual and inelegant — and as such, updated regularly.

I've also been working on my pinning skills, curating my Pinterest board and Instagram with interesting things (My Instagram is mostly Oakland views). Also, trying to figure out what to do with my Says Brad Tumblr — I don't use it as much as posting from iOS isn't that convenient, and frankly, I'm not sure what to do with it. Mostly, it's spillover for art and links, YouTube videos that I think are neat and reposts from some amazing illustrators and photographers.


I've been very concerned about US politics and current events — gun control, IRS & Obamacare, Stolen Valor, GMOs, George Zimmerman trial, Edward Snowden & the NSA, spying and the Espionage Act, our Constitution and Amendments under attack, foreign relations and military spending. Liberals may disagree with my political views (economically conservative Republican/Libertarian hybrid), but their concerns should be the same as mine — are our freedoms being stripped away under the guise of security and protecting the lower and middle-class?

I try to stay informed and objective by taking in news from various sources, from MSNBC, NYTimes and Huffington Post, Washington Post to New York Post, Human Events and FOX. Somewhere inbetween lies the truth. It isn't so simple with always-online, push notification 24/7 news plus Twitter feeds and Facebook memes. I don't think that many people adequately (if at all) fact check the memes they share and retweet.

It might seem strange that I, with my blog and public posts with name attached, would be so concerned about NSA (Prism + who-knows-what-else) surveillance and monitoring. Many likely see the reports and claims as paranoia, Infowars, conspiracy theories (like with former Navy SEAL UDT Governor Jesse Ventura), but the NSA has the capability and the motivations. What we post publicly is a choice — selected content — but whatever else we view or read, for the most part, should remain private. Out of context, many things can seem incriminating and dangerous.

I'm trying to sort my opinions on all of these matters so I can share my thoughts in a (somewhat) orderly fashion. Though disagreeable, dissenting views are important — the fabric and foundation of our nation, of our first amendment — through controversy and debate, we become better and stronger.

Hostility and ignorance fosters mistrust and segregation — each side thinks the other inferior. But is there truly only one right way to live? Only one right way to think? Should we lose the freedom to choose differently?


Clouded and consumed by these ideas and questions, it seems far to easy to slip into depression and get crushed by the magnitude of our problems. Like Millenium math problems, there's no simple solution. Perhaps there is one unified equation of everything — unfortunately, it might take forever to figure it.


Post-Independence Day Post!

Hey, everyone! Did you have a good holiday? The Fourth of July is a pretty exciting day. Not just for the fireworks — the United States of America is an amazing place, despite all of the crap that goes on.

I've been busy preparing a bunch of posts for Says Brad, controversial pieces, and spent the past few days confirming Squarespace Terms of Service with their wonderful support team to make sure that my content wasn't in violation of their ToS . It isn't, so soon I'll share thoughts on violence and video games, racism, race baiting and the parallels between the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.

And of course, that's not all! More about the NSA and their spy capabilities, controversial laws and ways to protect your freedoms, and as always, app and game reviews, art and, well, whatever else I feel like sharing.

For more frequent updates, cool links/videos and artwork, check out my Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook page. (Also: 360/PSN/vita gamers, I'm currently playing Borderlands 2, Soul Sacrifice, and a few others — if you want to play, message rainfault and let me know who you are and how you found me! I'm also on Guild Wars 2, but less frequently this month: Bradtastic.1623)



NSA Needs No Warrants

Rep. Jerrold Nadler has blown the lid off of something big.

Not that I didn't already know this was happening, but now there's confirmation. Naive Americans, oh-so-trusting of big government, believed that there's nothing to worry about — we're just being paranoid. Understand this:

The NSA can listen to your calls, read your email or text messages in secret, without a warrant, and that data is being stored on servers.


Also, President Obama could be fucking your liberty. Do you remember that movie Enemy of the State starring Will Smith? Unfortunately, this isn't a movie.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell indicated during a House Intelligence hearing in 2007 that the NSA's surveillance process involves "billions" of bulk communications being intercepted, analyzed, and incorporated into a database.

They can be accessed by an analyst who's part of the NSA's "workforce of thousands of people" who are "trained" annually in minimization procedures, he said. (McConnell, who had previously worked as the director of the NSA, is now vice chairman at Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden's former employer.)

If it were "a U.S. person inside the United States, now that would stimulate the system to get a warrant," McConnell told the committee. "And that is how the process would work. Now, if you have foreign intelligence data, you publish it [inside the federal government]. Because it has foreign intelligence value."

McConnell said during a separate congressional appearance around the same time that he believed the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without warrants.

Read the full details at CNET. Be upset. Share it with friends and family. No matter what the law actually says?! It's not that surprising. However, it is horrendous and people should be pissed.

The technology exists, why wouldn't they use it? Why wouldn't someone abuse it?

People are fallible; is it unreasonable to assume that some analyst with an axe to grind would use his power illegally? Maybe about as unreasonable as the IRS selectively targeting Conservative groups (based, in part, on keywords in the organizations' names) for audits and denying these groups tax exempt status, bankrupting law-abiding, taxpaying citizens and costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Happy Father's Day.