Greg Johnson – Monthly Update 201711

Personal Update 201711 | 30 November 2017 | Thursday


I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update.

Health & Wellness


This past month I lifted over 241,000 pounds and was on my bike for 13.4 hours riding about 95 miles. I’ve been eating mostly salads for each meal with lime juice in sparkling water as a beverage. For protein I have been eating veggie patties. The food is very satisfying and the absence of carbs and sugar reduces cravings throughout the day. In addition to this food program, I’m doing intermittent fasting (periodically skipping a meal) to help keep the body in a state of ketosis. I’m also trying to maintain a 1,500 calorie diet. The results have been great!

Heat Your Home for Free

Each month I try to do a ‘deep dive’ into a certain topic or skill. Learning enough to create long-term beneficial habits and establish skills I can use. This past month, I developed a heating system that costs nothing to operate. Here’s a video explaining the system. Even if you think you may not be interested in the topic, believe me, I think you’ll like what I have to share in this video. It gets better toward the end.



Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.

~ Greg


Want More News? For additional news and updates you can subscribe to the Resources For Life Newsletter by sending an email to

Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 17 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and activism. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.

Heat Your Home for Free (DIY Video)

In this video, I talk about a smart high efficiency DIY home heating solution that can help reduce or eliminate your heating bill. This heater is Internet connected, remotely accessible, and uses very little power – resulting in reduced heating expenses.


High Quality Business Cards from MOO

Use this link to order business cards from MOO and you’ll get a $15 discount.

I’ve been admiring cards from MOO for a long time whenever I saw them. They are very thick and have a smooth soft velvety texture. There’s an option to have rounded corners, and unusual size cards. So today I finally placed my first order and got a referral link to share with others.

To place my order, I used a $15 discount referral code that I got from a friend so the order was about $25 for 50 cards which included the standard shipping. They should arrive in a couple of weeks.

They have an expedited ordering service that costs about $50 extra and several options in between depending on how soon someone wants their cards.

One thing I like about their online card design options is that you can have 50 different designs or photos on the back of your cards for a single order. So that’s great for designers, photographers, creativists, and entrepreneurs who may have several businesses or services available.


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.

Great News: Business is Expanding

In December 2015, I received an unexpected offer to work for a business I really admire. The new job would allow me to return to doing more consulting and public interest work. It seemed like an appealing option. I decided to take the offer, and make a change.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take to build-up the consulting business. Surprisingly, in less than 24 hours, I was busy with all the work I could handle, and it’s been busy ever since. Many thanks to everyone who has been calling and requesting services.

Recently my wife Makur, also a technology support person at the University of Iowa, decided that she also would like to do more consulting work, so she decided to leave her job at the University and in March will join me in providing technology support through Iowa City Technology Services.

Makur has a broad range of experience in expertise in small business and enterprise-class computing, as well as an array of other skills. So, we’ve launched as a website for her to bring in additional business. Over the years she has developed a following of people who specifically ask for her, so the new site is a great way to connect with those clients.

I look forward to the coming months, and appreciate everyone’s support.





Reflections on a Year Using Gmail

As an Apple computer enthusiast, I’ve been using the Apple Mail client for years. About a year ago, I decided to switch over to using Gmail exclusively as an online email client. For my primary email accounts (included with my website hosting package), I set them to forward all emails to Gmail. I have a personal account and also a collection of other email addresses that I forwarded to a secondary Gmail address.

Here are the reasons I switched:

  1. Over time, the Apple Mail client became slower, and it caused my entire computer to slow down whenever it was running. I assumed this was due to the indexing of so many individual emails. I stopped seeking a solution when I learned that many people were having similar problems. Gmail was much faster than using the Apple Mail client.
  2. At the same time the slowness became an issue, about two years ago, there were known issues with Gmail compatibility and the Apple Mail client. Flagged and read emails weren’t synchronizing properly. For many months, people complained on the Apple discussion forums, but no solution was provided.
  3. In addition to these issues, I began hearing from people trying to reach me by email who were getting returned emails with an undeliverable message notification.
  4. I also heard from people that my emails were ending up in their spam/junk folder.
  5. At the time, my email inbox was limited to 1GB and constantly filling up, but Gmail offered virtually limitless email storage.
  6. Junk email wasn’t being identified accurately so I was having to manually sort them out.
  7. The Apple Mail client in iOS lacked mail rules and the intelligent Junk Mail filtering found in the native OS X desktop Mail client version. So, unless I had a desktop computer on all the time, with the Mail client running, those rules wouldn’t get applied.
  8. Gmail was identifying the Apple Mail client and others as non-secure email clients. So, using them required a special exception setting in my Gmail account.

So, for all these reasons, I decided to switch to Gmail.

As of January 2016, here’s why I’m switching back to using the Apple Mail client and the email accounts included with my hosting package.

  1. The Gmail conversation threads were problematic, and the nested messages made it sometimes hard to find where the conversation left off, especially if multiple replies were in a a thread. Messages people would send using feedback forms with the same subject line would be grouped as a conversation. Turning conversations off was an option, but not desirable either.
  2. Gmail would repeatedly put important emails into the Junk folder even for senders who were in my address book and even after repeatedly marking them as not junk.
  3. Gmail would automatically file emails into the Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums categories, which was very helpful some of the time, but much of the time it caused important emails to be misfiled.
  4. Gmail lacks the ability to sort on sender, subject, date, and other aspects of messages.
  5. Once I setup my computer with 16GB of RAM and a solid state hard drive (SSD), the slowness issue went away. This may have also had something to do with upgrading to the latest edition of OS X (El Capitan).
  6. The Google Gmail client for iOS made it possible to send messages as another email. However, the Apple Mail client for iOS would not permit this with Gmail accounts. This was very frustrating. So, it was necessary to continually used the Gmail client for iOS if replying to a message and desiring the recipient to see the correct sending address.
  7. Clicking on an email address typically brings up the default email client on a computer. This doesn’t work with the Gmail web based system unless you’re using Google Chrome.
  8. The Gmail ecosystem doesn’t have the same instantaneous push feature that Apple offers with their other iCloud services.

During the transition back to my original email addresses, I’ve set an autoresponder letting people know my best contact methods — in case anyone had inadvertently received an email from those Gmail accounts.

I still maintain email accounts in Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and other services in the event there are communications issues with people using any of those third-party services. It’s sometimes more reliable to communicate with someone on the same system they are using, and other features exist that make it helpful to have an account on various services.

Please visit my contact page for further details about how to best reach me.


Virginia Tech, Tiny Houses, and Distance Education in Higher Ed

Virginia Tech is utilizing distance education technologies to bring specialists into the classroom.  On 14 April 2015, I had the opportunity to be a visiting guest for a sustainability course taught by Luke Juran. Using Skype I was able to present and interact with the students in the course. Below is a photo from our Skype session.


I’ve been inspired by the increased interest in tiny houses among students and faculty in higher education. Those focusing on sustainability and urban planning are incorporating smaller and more efficient living spaces into our built spaces. This tells me that we’re reaching a point of critical mass within the small house movement.

As a technology support specialist at the University of Iowa, I enjoy exploring how we can utilize technology for enhancing education. At the University of Iowa, through the Division of Continuing Education, courses are offered through Distance and Online Education.

Continuing education typically delivers certificates, degrees, and professional training to people with full-time jobs who do their studying in the evenings and weekends. In addition to schedule conflicts, people pursuing their career may find their ideal career location doesn’t put them close to the educational institution of their choice. So, distance education provides a great service.

In the past I assisted in teaching a course that utilized various classrooms on campus with multi-camera and multi-microphone systems to enhance the connection with an instructor in California.

More recently I had an opportunity to provide some technical support for a course being conducted by the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State University. The course, Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry, had students on three campuses participating.

Combining the on-campus experience with efficiencies of distance and online technologies, creates the best of both worlds. The in-class experience gives students a chance to meet in person. The online component helps expand the campus to include a richer diversity of students and draw from a wider selection of faculty.

The Importance of Digital Storytelling Through Social Media

Digital storytelling through social media is increasingly becoming an essential component of outreach for organizations and businesses. It’s especially important in higher education.

  • Informing. It’s how we inform the public and those within our institution about the work we do.
  • Hiring. It’s how we get the attention and interest of potential staff and instructors seeking employment.
  • Recruiting. It’s how we reach prospective students.
  • Fundraising. It’s how we inspire alumni and others from the community to give.
  • Motivating. It’s how we inspire ourselves to be encouraged about the work we do.
  • Documenting. It’s how we journal our experiences to create a collective institutional memory and history. These stories can document the what and how of processes.
  • Educating. In addition to telling stories, we can share about the process. This becomes an educational, transparent, and open-source way of equipping others to tell their stories.

Below are some photos from recent work I’ve been doing in the area of digital storytelling, and sharing the behind the scenes experiences of how we’re documenting our work — what technology and process is used.

Michael O’Hara (center). Greg Johnson (behind camera at left). Developing an informational video for the Marcé Society.

Neema Loy shares about her @FulbrightPrgrm experience @UIOWA teaching ‪#‎Swahili‬ with the @DWLLC_UIOWA
Neema Loy shares about her @FulbrightPrgrm experience @UIOWA teaching ‪#‎Swahili‬ with the @DWLLC_UIOWA