Interview with Fox News Affiliate – Email Security and Encryption

“On Monday, 25 July 2016, I was interviewed by our local Fox News affiliate on the topic of email security. The report is archived below, the original is online.” ~ Greg Johnson



Full Report

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Hackers have already disrupted the Democratic Party after releasing many damaging emails from the Democratic National Committee. They were embarrassing for party leaders and will likely result in at least the party chair stepping down this week.

But IT security for political groups and organizations at many different levels often balances on human error.

Running a campaign is a lot like a small business. There’s plenty of things to spend money on. With so much technology all around us, it’s often not an area where campaigns spend a lot of extra resources.

Physical protection is generally something we think politicians and their Secret Service Agents get right, especially at the highest levels.

Online, Director Greg Johnson says even they fall short.

“There are just so many points of failure,” said Johnson.

CBS2/FOX28 spoke to local campaigns and elected officials from both major political parties about their IT security. They say, generally, campaign staff email is handled through services like Google’s Gmail and some additional security options within those programs. Rarely will even the most Congressional races have a dedicated IT team to keep it safe.

“Just using Google, or some similar service, steps it up a bit, but it’s not entirely secure,” said Johnson.

Once a candidate is elected to Congress, their staff is brought on to Federal Government systems. That’s usually a step above most security, but Greg says it still doesn’t solve human carelessness.

“All it takes is for one person to lose their computer or have one person get their password and suddenly, that person has access to all those emails that somebody was copied on, or anything they’ve ever sent or received,” said Johnson. “It would be a huge collection of emails just from one account getting breached.”

Greg says there is encryption software that would make sure emails and information is locked and can only be accessed by someone with the right password. He says that can be free, or be as expensive at $175.

Radio Interview with Asa Crowe on the KRUI Poli-Tech Tuesday Show

I had the pleasure to be a guest on the Poli-Tech Tuesday show on KRUI with Asa Crowe and Arianna Chronis. In about 30 minutes, we covered technology on campus and a lot of other topics. The interview is available below. Click the play button to listen.

About the Interview

I was a sophomore at the University of Iowa when KRUI was launched. As IOWA alumni, it was meaningful to be at the station today during the weeks leading up to their 30-year anniversary celebration.

It was nice to have a chance to visit with Asa about the various technology resources available on campus. Here are some of the topics we discussed during the interview, and links to further reading:

  • Flipping the Classroom – We discussed the approach to instruction that involves delivering lectures and course content online outside of class time and focusing class time on interactive, participatory, and engaging learning activities.
  • GarageBand – An Apple program for multitrack recording and music composition on desktop computers or iOS touch interface devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad).
  • ITS Help Desk – The central source on campus where you can get support for all things tech.
  • Language Media Center – A computer and technology lab on campus for language learning and media services. The LMC is part of the Division of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures.
  • – Over 100,000 video tutorials on topics such as: Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, Adobe Suite (Acrobat, Photoshop, etc.), Apple products (iPad, iPhone, etc.), Web and mobile app design, Development and Programming, Google Products, Time management, running effective meetings, and Business skills (leadership and manager fundamentals, etc.).
  • Online Education @UIOWA – The University of Iowa offers Distance Education and online learning opportunities. This is explained on the Continuing Ed website as follows: “Online. On campus. On location. This phrase describes what Continuing Education at Iowa stands for: providing access to a nationally-ranked public institution to as many people as possible. In addition to where you take your course, there are a variety of ways the course is delivered. Many distance courses use the Internet to deliver course work to your desktop. Some distance degree programs or courses are offered on-location, such as Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, the Quad Cities, Sioux City, and Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in northwest Iowa. While still others are offered at the Iowa City campus, many at nontraditional times. Distance courses vary in delivery format and are supported with various technologies. Some are structured so you can complete them at a time that is most convenient for you (like our Guided Independent Study courses), while others provide a more specific set of deadlines and opportunities to collaborate with classmates.” [Facebook]
  • Stanford Open University – An example of higher education courses and reading materials made openly available to the public.
  • Tech Connection – The University of Iowa Bookstore computer center and authorized Apple repair center. [Facebook]
  • Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry – A course being delivered collaboratively by the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan. This is a CourseShare course offered by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).
  • UI Capture – The University of Iowa lecture capture system that provides recordings of the audio, PowerPoint presentations, and other content from class lectures.
  • University of Iowa Photography Club – The UIPC has over 500 members on their Facebook Group page. Their organization page is just over 260 likes. The club offers various opportunities to meet other photographers, participate in photography events, and learn at workshops and presentations. The Iowa City Photographers Guild is another local photography group.


Below is a video sample of my music and photography. The song is “Arpeggio Rising.” The photos are from 28 days in India. More of my music is available on ReverbNation and SoundCloud.


Thanks For Sharing

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NPR Tiny House Interview with Tom Ashbrook

On 4 March 2015, I had a nice interview on NPR with Tom Ashbrook and some other tiny house enthusiasts. Click the play button below to listen in.

Below is a description of the show from Tom Ashbrook:

For years, Americans have been on the McMansion trail. Bigger and bigger homes have driven up the average size of US accomodations and expectations. But there is a counter-movement, the “tiny house movement,” that is pushing for just the opposite. Pushing for – and building and living in – teeny tiny houses. Five hundred square feet. Four hundred. Three hundred. Two hundred. And tiny apartments, too – micro-apartments – gaining interest. Backers. Dwellers. The tiny house people say it’s all about living light. Maybe living better, in a very small space. This hour On Point: tiny houses, and the urge to live small.


From Tom’s Reading List

NPR News: Living Small In The City: With More Singles, Micro-Housing Gets Big — “While the average size of new houses gets bigger every year in the U.S., some people are trying to do more with less. A lot less. Tiny houses and micro apartments are now a niche trend in the housing market. Smaller spaces are touted as more environmentally friendly, more affordable and perhaps even more communal. The idea is you might be more likely to get out and be social if you live in a smaller space.”

WFAE: Big Challenges For Tiny Houses In North Carolina — “If you could design your dream home, what would it look like? A big house with a four car garage? Maybe something more modest but efficient. Places like Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC have communities experimenting with small living spaces known as tiny houses. North Carolina has caught on to the tiny house trend—homes that are tiny by nature, but artistically designed for those looking for a more compact way of living without going into much debt. ”

The Oregonian: ‘Portlandia’ tiny house: Fred and Carrie have never been so close — “Are you searching for an affordable home in Portland’s Alberta Arts District? Does your soul want sustainability yet your heart yearns for luxuries like a master bathroom with soaking tub, TV and a window framing landscape? Would an efficient home office and library filled with classics feed your mind? The tiny house that stars in Thursday’s episode of ‘Portlandia’ might be the perfect fit. If you can squeeze in.”