Author Archives: David

Should you use a VPN? And other resources

A good friend of mine recently emailed me with the following question:

I’ve been working out of coffee shops a good bit and I think it would be a good idea to use a VPN for a more secure connection. Can you point me to a good resource on how I can do that?

As I was responding to his email, I realized that this short, introductory information on VPNs (and why you SHOULD use one) could be helpful as a blog post. So without further ado, here is (an edited) version of the email I sent in response to the above question:

Short answer:
I would definitely and strongly recommend that you use a VPN.

Longer answer:
While you’re thinking about a VPN for your computer, you might also consider a VPN for your phone as well – that is, if you connect your phone to coffee shop WiFi.

Personally, I run my own VPN server because I don’t trust (nor am very familiar with) 3rd party VPN providers. There’s a ton of services out there that offer VPN for a small fee (usually, monthly). My VPN server sits here in my home office and routes my internet connection completely through my home internet when I use it. So, I’m sitting in a coffee shop, I connect to my VPN, the traffic between my computer and my house is encrypted and secure, and then from the perspective of the websites I visit, it “looks” like I’m sitting at my desk at home.

Obviously I don’t expect you or the average person to know how to setup your own VPN server. But if you’re going to choose to go with a VPN service, you need to make sure you go with a reputable source. Generally speaking, VPN technology can be very weak (if configured improperly), or very secure (if configured properly).

Lots of 3rd party providers don’t do a good job with security (hence the reason I distrust 3rd party providers by default). I use an open source technology called OpenVPN (https://openvpn.net/) for my software, and then as I mentioned earlier, the server itself is located at my house. So I have fully configured and secured my own server.

This looks like a really good place to start, in terms of searching for 3rd party providers. I generally trust CNET, and like most of the things they put out: https://www.cnet.com/best-vpn-services-directory/. Another resource that looks like a good introduction is:  https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403388,00.asp

Based on the above resources, and (briefly) reviewing their websites, NordVPN or StrongVPN would probably be my recommendation. I don’t know anything about these guys, but this looks like a reasonable option, that is also based on the OpenVPN software: https://www.privatetunnel.com/pricing/

It looks to me like you’d be paying about $5/month for the above services.

Do you use a VPN? If so, is it self-hosted, or do you use a 3rd party VPN service? Who is your service through, and why do you use it? Let me know in the comments!

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Oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act

My name is David, and I’m a registered voter in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and I’m writing to urge you to vote NOT on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. I, and people I am extremely close to, would be directly and negatively impacted by this legislation. We have been sick – through no fault of our own.


My Personal Story:
In 2004, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. That experience taught me a lot about the conventional American health care system. Concepts such as seeking a 2nd (or even a 3rd) opinion to a major diagnosis, maintaining a healthy diet, and making my own informed decisions (and not blindly following the advice of a doctor) are second nature to me now.

I was originally misdiagnosed with a more aggressive form of lymphoma than the one I actually had, and narrowly avoided 2 years of chemotherapy and monthly hospitalizations with spinal taps. In reality, I only needed a small handful of treatments, which were finished 6 months after they started.

My Wife’s Story:
Several years ago, my wife, Lauren, was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. After two hospitalizations and spending years in counseling and taking toxic medication, Lauren decided to pursue alternative approaches to her health. Over the last two years, Lauren has maintained an incredibly strict nutrition plan which has done wonders. She is stable, has been off traditional medications for months, and feels better than she has felt in years.

However, Bipolar is a chronic disease, and when all else fails, expensive medications can stabilize a patient. When needed, these medications are a good and necessary thing. Through no fault of her own, my wife has a chronic, life-long disease.

My Niece’s Story:
A few years ago, my sister gave birth to a feisty girl named Annie. Unfortunately, as the doctors discovered at the 20-week pre-natal exam, the left side of Annie’s heart wasn’t growing. It was completely missing. Through no fault of her own, Annie was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Through no fault of her own, Annie has a pre-existing condition and will need to take medications and monitor her pulse for her entire life.

These illnesses are not our fault. Yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office, all of us might lose health insurance coverage if the Better Care Reconciliation Act becomes law.

What’s more, the CBO says:

  • 22 million Americans could lose coverage over the next 10 years
  • People with disabilities could lose access to Medicaid
  • The elderly will be charged exorbitant rates of up to 5x higher than younger people

This bill claims to be “better” for the American people.

While the ACA is not perfect and certainly needs to be modified, the BCRA is nothing of the sort that helps every day Americans. The BCRA is harmful to me, my wife, my niece, the disabled, the elderly, and the poor.

In short, it is an assault on the lives and the health of all Americans.

I urge you and your colleagues to vote NO.

Sincerely,
David White

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