Redstone P.S. BBQ Evening

This evening our family had the pleasure of attending a school BBQ hosted by our kids’ school at York Regional District School Board, Redstone Public School. These are annual events held to provide a nice forum for parents and teachers to introduce each other at the beginning of the school year. Last year for reason unbeknownst to me the event was not held. I am glad for its resurrection, and enjoy the information sessions that the teachers graciously put together for the night. I hope that the school will continue to upheld this tradition in future years to come.

With my boys being in grade six and eight respectively, I noticed that the school staff paid special attention to technologies. It is funny how the term technology is ubiquitously referring to contemporary electronics from cell phones to laptops. Strictly speaking the by-gone days of overhead projectors and 8mm films were also technologies when I went to school.

I echo the school’s focus on how modern technology of interconnected, always online type devices can be a double edge sword. They can be distracting and tremendously hurtful in the case of cyberbullying. At the same time, they can also be very useful tools assisting translation, dictionary lookups, convenient calculators,  and used properly a nascent platform to achieve a paperless classroom. More than once Google Classroom and Twitter was mentioned to streamline communication amongst students, parents, and of course the teachers. Open and frequent communication amongst these three parties ensure no surprises, and we can all act proactively to optimize the student’s learning.

As a professional working in the technology space, I definitely applaud and welcome the technology adoption. I salute the board and the school for embracing such a progressive learning process.

Change Your Password With Rogers Email

It all started with all the articles that I’ve been reading about a security breach at Yahoo. I’m not a big Yahoo user, so my first reaction is quite blase about it, even when 500 million users were affected by it. Read more about it here.Yesterday I suddenly realized that my primary email address is actually provisioned by Yahoo!

Yesterday I suddenly realized that my primary email address is actually provisioned by Yahoo! I quickly changed my password and told my wife to do the same. I even registered for two-factor authentication, but that did not seem to work very well. On the off chance that there were sensitive emails in my inbox, I deleted all my emails from my Yahoo account from all the folders including trash and sent folders. Luckily I didn’t have many because email to my account is automatically forwarded to my Gmail account and deleted.

I don’t use the same password on my other accounts, but if your other accounts use the same password as your Rogers account, you should change those too.

If you are a Rogers subscriber, I would recommend that you do the same. I reached out to Rogers why they did not disclose or notify their users of this security breach. They said that they will take my recommendations under advisement.

Trouble Using My Apple Watch to Unlock My Mac

One of the features of the new macOS Sierra is the ability to unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch. After I got my two-factor authentication in order, I tried it out and to my disappointment, it did not work.

Scouring the Internet, it looks like many people are having similar issues. The posted remedies have all centred around ensuring that we meet the hardware requirements and that the process is properly setup, which I did. I even rebooted all my devices, Apple Watch, iPhone, and Mac numerous times.


What worked for me was toggling the Handoff option on my iPhone. I hope this little tidbit of information will help you out.


Apple’s Two Factor Authentication

Apple released macOS Sierra earlier this week, and I installed it via the App Store on my MacBook Pro. As always the installation was smooth and uneventful. This has always been Apple’s strength making the upgrade process as seamless as possible.

The upgrade came with many new features. Syncing contents from the Desktop and the Documents folder to my other Apple devices sounded very attractive. Unfortunately, Apple will have to earn some additional credibility in this department before I fully trust this feature. Before I entrust my most important data sitting in my Documents folder to an automated process made by the same makers as iCloud, I like to see some good history being made first. As for remote copy and paste, I’ll get around to it when I actually have a use case. The tab feature is also another use-case specific feature. Check out this article from for a more thorough list of the new features.

There are only two features that I really wanted out of this new version of the operating system.

  1. Siri on the desktop
  2. Allow Apple Watch to unlock my Macbook Pro

I used Siri to open applications, perform web searches, and do other things that I do with Siri when I use it on my iPhone. It was pretty impressive and handy.

I thought being able to unlock my Mac with my Apple Watch is a very cool trick. Apple explained it on one of their support pages. When it came time to explore how to setup the auto unlocking feature with my Apple Watch, I learned something new. One of the requirements for the auto unlocking feature is Two-Factor Authentication. Unbeknownst to me, I have been using an older form of authentication called Two-Step Authentication. The folks at did an excellent job in explaining the differences.

I went about converting my Apple ID from using two-step authentication to two-factor authentication. This process is not so straightforward. There were some scary moments when iCloud settings failed to setup correctly, or verification codes were not received. Finally, I overcame all those issues through reboots and retries and having multiple iDevices and Mac’s during this process came in handy as well. I can see how novice users can lock themselves out of their iCloud accounts when subscribing to two-factor authentication in the beginning or when transitioning from two-step authentication.

After successfully converting to two-factor authentication, I turned the auto unlocking feature on in the Mac’s Security & Privacy preference pane. On the first try, it had an issue pairing with my watch. The second attempt solved the issue.

In my case, the most confusing part was that there were just too many credentials to keep track of during the setup process:

  • iCloud password
  • iPhone passcode
  • Mac login password
  • Verification codes that Apple sends to your trusted devices

For me all were different. Just beware that you really have to read the prompt and make sure you are providing the correct information during the setup. At least I feel a lot better using Apple’s latest authentication mechanism with a 6 digit verification code versus the previous less secure 4 digit code. Also if you sign up two-factor authentication with your iPhone, you may have to ask Apple to send it via SMS, because your messaging and notification may not be working yet.

When you switch to two-factor authentication pay attention to what information you provide. Good luck to those who try!

New iPhone 7 with A Big Scare

I just received my new Black iPhone 7 today from the office. My first impression was that The Black (not Jet Black) is very nice. The black colour melds nicely with the antenna bands rendering them invisible. If the previous iPhone 6s had this colour scheme, I would have chosen it as well.

With every new iPhone, I do the ritual of backing up my old iPhone and restoring the backup on the new one. This time however, I ran into a glitch and nearly gave me a heart attack!

Right after choosing “Restore from iCloud”, the new iPhone 7 informed me that I should update to 10.0.1. I guessed it was shipped with 10.0.0. I did not think much of it, and of course proceed with the upgrade. The upgrade completed without any incidents. What really gave me a real unpleasant surprise, was that it did not perform the restore! Arghh!!!

I kept calmed and went to the iCloud settings and to my surprise I found that iCloud Backup was turned off. I said to myself, “No Big Deal”. I went ahead and turned on iCloud Backup. And then the dreaded words of “Last Backup: Never” came up. WHAT?!

These are the times when having more than one Apple devices really help. I went to my iMac through System Preferences I made sure that the backup that I just performed on my iPhone 6s was intact. Sure enough, it was there. Whew! I decided to erase the new iPhone 7 again, and restart from scratch. The second time around, it found the backup and is now restoring. Fingers crossed, let’s hope the restore goes well!

Another interesting thing is that I had two factor authentication turned on and my old iPhone 6s is the default secure device. While setting up the new iPhone 7, I had to use my iPad Air to authenticate. Yet another case for having multiple iDevices handy.

Okay, I am exaggerating the perils of the above situation. In the worst case, I still have my old iPhone 6s and I can plug it into iTunes and have it perform a backup. Any how, everything is restoring now. Awaiting my iPhone 7 to restore and start playing with my new toy!

Scaled Solar System

School started this month. To my delight, I found out that one of my sons is participating in a paperless curriculum. Their first exercise is to recreate a scaled version of our solar system using the available area of their classroom ceiling. When my son told me of this exercise, I immediately thought about whether a linear scale would give enough fidelity to the  inner planets that can be visually perceived by the students.

Driven by my curiosity, let me try to calculate it here. From this article, we know that there are multiple definitions of the diameter of the solar system. We will take the smallest definition, that being defined by the outermost recognized planet, which is recognized today as being Neptune. Neptune’s orbit has a diameter of 9.09 billion km.

This number seems to be a very large number. Let’s work with a more convenient unit, called the astronomical unit (AU), which is equivalent to 149,598,000 km. One AU is equivalent to the average distance between the centre of the Earth and the centre of the Sun. Working with the AU unit, we can now say the diameter of the solar system is:

\frac{\text{9,090,000,000 km}}{\text{149,598,000 km}} = 60.76 AU

Next, we need to find out a scale to represent how many AU’s per meter. Assuming a typical classroom’s dimensions are 15 meters wide by 15 meters long, we can now calculate the scale with:

\frac{\text{60.76 AU}}{\text{15 meters}} = 4.05 AU/m

If the Sun is situated in the centre of the classroom, we now need to know the radial distance, the distance in meters from the Sun to a planet within our classroom solar system.

\text{Let P} = \text{distance from Sun to Planet in AU}

\text{Let D} = \text{distance from Sun to Planet in meters}

We can then get the distance in meters for the above planet with this:

\frac{\text{P AU}}{\text{4.05 AU/m}} = \text{D m}

Let’s do this for Earth, which is 1 AU from the Sun. Using the above formula, we can get how far our classroom Earth will be from the classroom Sun in meters.

\frac{\text{1 AU}}{\text{4.05 AU/m}} = \text{0.247 m or 24.7 cm}

I hope our classroom Sun, represented by a balloon, has a radius less than 24.7 cm!

You can obtain the rest of the planets distances in AU on this site. I took the opportunity to also convert them into classroom meters.

Planet AU from Sun meters from classroom Sun
Mercury 0.39 0.096
Venus 0.72 0.178
Earth 1.00 0.247
Mars 1.52 0.375
Jupiter 5.20 1.240
Saturn 9.54 2.356
Uranus 19.18 4.736
Neptune 30.06 7.422

I guess I satisfied my curiosity. It does seem possible to create a scaled model of the solar system for a 15m X 15m classroom, where the inner planets are still visible to the naked eye.

However, the size of the planets cannot follow the scale. I will let the reader figure out why.

I also took the opportunity to write a small helper App for you to calculate the scale and the distances. Click here.