Greg Johnson – Monthly Update 201801

Personal Update 201801 | 30 January 2018 | Tuesday


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


This month I lifted about 209,000 pounds at the gym. I’ve done very little bike riding due to the extremely cold weather. I’d planned to ride through the winter, but with ice on the streets and trails, I want to avoid having any accidents.


I mentioned in my December 2017 update that I would be “bringing in the fishing nets” and assessing the various projects I’m working with. For the month of January, I’ve focused on my technology services work. In addition to actual time with customers, I’ve been developing some business management tools for office workflow of invoicing and work notes. This has helped improve my ability to document and bill for my time, even shorter support calls. It’s a scaleable system that can take very little time for some billing or longer if needed for more complex billing.

Social Media

For the month of January, I’ve mostly stayed off social media — checking in briefly on Facebook only a few times per week. This has helped me dedicate more time to my wellness goals and career.

Last month I mentioned I was developing an alternative to Facebook. In January, I worked on creating a system using hosting that would allow individuals to have their own Page (free website) where they could post whatever news and announcements they’d like to share. WordPress members can ‘subscribe’ to any WordPress blog (the equivalent to following on Facebook). Groups of people wanting to create a shared discussion forum experience could post on a shared WordPress website. Anyone subscribing to that site would get an aggregate of all the stories that the authors posted. Such a system needs no further development and can be implemented immediately.

This system can foster more articulate communications and put people into democratic control of the platform. This post you are reading is an example. If you subscribe to this website, as many have already done, you’ll be automatically notified of updates and can select how often you get those notifications.

Here’s an example of what a group of bloggers could do with a multi-authored and collaboratively managed site:

Weekly No-Tech Day

We’ve become so dependent upon technology, that when it isn’t working right, it can be very stressful and disruptive. We typically don’t have alternative systems in place to continue functioning. During the transition from paper to digital sales in retail stores, there was a period of time when stores would train their employees how to conduct sales without any computers. Businesses would have paper-based forms and log books to keep running when computers were down, and then manually enter the data later when systems were working again. Today, we have no such redundancy.

Once a week, typically on the weekend, I try to have a no-tech day. I’m not strict about it. If an important email or phone call comes in, I’ll take care of it, but in general I try to take time away from electronics and work with notebooks and paper based systems on that day. It’s reassuring to have a working model in place for when systems fail.

This month the Netflix website was down for over 5 hours and the company was apparently unable to repair the problem quickly. It’s unknown whether the problem was the result of human error, system failure, natural disaster, or an intentional malicious attack. Regardless, the outcome is the same, and that’s just one example of many where massive systems are becoming unreliable.


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



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.

Greg Johnson – Monthly Update 201712

Personal Update 201712 | 28 December 2017 | Thursday


I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for taking a moment to read my latest update. There’s a lot from this past year to be grateful for. I’m appreciative for the family and friends who inspire, guide, and empower me. This month I’m going to recap 2017, and share some thoughts about 2018.


This past year, I’ve lifted over 3 million pounds at the gym and ridden more than 1,367 miles on my bicycle. Yet, the biggest breakthrough came in the past four months with the development of a eating program I’ve created that has allowed me to improve numerous clinical and lab wellness metrics — effectively reversing aging by 7 years in 4 months. In other words, I’m getting outcomes and results that I’ve not seen in 7 years. I’ll elaborate more on this in the months to come.


In my consulting work, my ‘customers’ become like friends, and I greatly appreciate their support. Some have been calling on me for technical services for 20+ years. Others I’ve been working with more recently. I’m still refining my business model to serve others better, and for greater efficiency of my time, energy, and resources. One of the challenges in 2017 has been cutting back on my billable time so I can spend time on my wellness goals — and just to be living amore balanced life.

Because I’m the bookkeeper, receptionist, head of marketing, and CEO, there’s a lot that needs to get done to operate a business. On a typical day, it may take several hours to take care of the administrative overhead and basic communications of the day.  So, my actual billable time on a given day could be just a few hours. With the Bike Work Life initiative, I’m able to spend several active hours a day while catching up on emails and phone calls — but that’s typically not billable time. So, I’m looking for ways to reduce my operational costs since I’m no longer working 60+ hours a week.

Bringing in the Fishing Nets

I’ve had a lot of business initiatives and public interest outreach efforts over the years. Like a farmer planting his fields with different seeds to see which variation produces the greatest yield, I’ve tried expanding the billable and volunteer work I do, examining the fruitfulness and impact of my efforts.

In 2018, I plan to begin ‘brining in the fish nets’ and shutting down some projects where interest has dwindled. Some of the websites I’ve launched over the years will, over time, be shut down and the content or purpose brought back under the Resources For Life umbrella.

In the year ahead I’ll be focusing my efforts on those areas of greatest fruitfulness in areas of public interest and in producing the personal income I need to pay the bills and have an impact.

Tech support continues to be a focus of mine. That’s what I’ve done my entire life, and will continue to work with. Other areas I’ll probably be cutting back on. This little bit of downsizing will have minimal impact since my work in those other areas was so broad.

This is part of an overall effort to downsize and reduce the ‘stuff’ I need to do my daily work.

Knowledge Sharing

In 2018, I plan to offer some public courses on various topics that people have requested including web design, marketing, effective activism, photography, video production, using mobile devices, purchasing technology devices, how to run a successful small business, and best practices for computer use — as well as other topics.

Up until this point, I’ve been mentoring and supporting individuals who are just getting started with their own business. With these public courses, I hope to offer knowledge sharing to a broader audience. I’ve done some of this in the past, and want to return to it in the year ahead.

These courses will be a way to offer all my paid services for free to the public. Those wanting one-on-one personalized services, on-site support, and services on-demand will still pay, but those unable to pay will be able to get free help with these public courses.

Reducing Social Media

Over the past two months I’ve been significantly reducing my time spent on social media. In the past I would checking throughout the day to post updates and keep up with news of others. Lately I’ve been checking in once or twice a week, with infrequent posts and updates. Moving forward, I’m planning to communicate more through email and my website. I’m also working on an alternative to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that I’ll announce soon. The alternative will be free of ads, trolls, fake news, and hackers — while at the same time offering ease of use and privacy.

High-Tech, Low-Tech, No-Tech

Over the years I’ve had an interest in maintaining involvement in various ‘platforms’ or brands of devices. For example, I regularly work with Apple, Linux, and Windows computers. I also try to maintain fluency in various technology ecosystems such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google cloud services. I use a fancy iPhone, but also maintain an inexpensive Android phone that I work with daily. It’s regularly updated and fully operational. I like to be familiar with scalable technology solutions so I can advise and support those on a limited budget, as well as those on an unlimited budget.

In the low-tech department, I’m working on creating simple computers for people that will have a very low cost of ownership — perhaps $50 per year or less. These would be $150 computers that people could use for 3 to 5 years or longer before upgrading.

In addition to high-tech and low-tech solutions, starting this month, I’m going to begin regularly working with ‘no-tech’ solutions. These are organizational and operational systems I developed decades ago that are based on the use of pen and paper. It’s become popular lately for people to go ‘off the grid’ (or at least off the social media grid) for a week or a month. I plan to spend one day a week focused on using and refining ‘no-tech’ solutions for my daily needs. My calendar, notes, to do list, reference items, and other things I normally would use the computer for, I’ll instead use a notebook and pen to do.

My most effective present day organizational and operational systems are digital forms of practices that began on paper many years ago. I want to revive that. This effort encompasses goals of minimalism, cost savings, reducing my carbon footprint, simplicity, and having off the grid practical systems in place for when the resources we normally rely on aren’t there.

For myself and others, I see increased stress and frustration when computers fail or the Internet isn’t working, or there are power outages. Everything grinds to a halt. Last month, some parts I needed for a project were sold-out nationally. An online system I rely on was out for two weeks after a cyber attack resulted in over $50 million being stolen. Last month a Yahoo service I rely on was down for a week, impacting millions of people. No explanation was given. If I had to guess, I’d say it was probably a cyber attack. We’ll probably never know the actual cause. Numerous companies are being impacted by cyber attacks or internal negligence, and then a lack of transparency makes things worse. The Equifax breach is an example of this. This is all very disruptive, and when specific systems aren’t working, getting solutions from customer service can take days or weeks.

Working in technology support, I see daily reminders of the increasingly fragile nature of the systems we rely on. There’s a reassurance in having paper-based systems in place for basic day-to-day operations.

This month, I created a spreadsheet to evaluate the ongoing cost of fully embracing all the products that Apple would like us to use: the Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone, MacBook laptop computer, and iMac desktop computer, along with the cloud services. For someone buying moderate performance equipment and replacing items every 2-5 years as needed, the cost is about $1,500 per year. For a little bump in performance and features, it’s $3,000 per year. If you’re buying their high-end equipment, even if you’re waiting 5 years between upgrades for some of the equipment, the annual cost could be over $5,500 per year, for life. None of this takes into account the cellular phone bills and internet services that can easily cost hundreds of dollars.

In other words, the devices we buy are never a one-time purchase. They might as well be on a subscription or rental plan. Indeed, this is what Apple and other companies offer. You pay, let’s say, $50 a month for life, and you’ll always have the latest iPhone. Well, that’s just the phone. All the devices we use, and replace when broken or slow, that all can cost hundreds of dollars even when someone is frugal and stretches out the replacement cycle. I’m regularly helping people who have computers, smart phones, and tablets that are excruciatingly slow, or that grind to a halt because of limited space or slow processors. People either pay with money to stay current, or pay with their time. The market forces people to upgrade on a regular basis, or suffer the consequences.

So, for all the above reasons, I want to diversify my portfolio of resources that I depend on for my daily operations in case there are unexpected disruptions and outages. I’ll share more about this in the months ahead.


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



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.

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.

My Approach to Sunrise Photography

In this video I talk about adjusting exposure for greater impact, and also how going for a bike ride early in the morning can help get you to the right place at the right time for sunrise photos. Recorded 23 Aug 2017.

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.

Where I Live: Beautiful Music Video of Iowa City Area

DPD Productions of Iowa City recently produced a exceptional video for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The video was launched yesterday on YouTube and 24 hours later it already has over 10,000 views. The featured song and them is “Great Big Storm” which conveys the abundance and diversity that comes together in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and surrounding area.

The video is a great resource for employers, businesses, educators, realtors, web designers, and anyone wanting to share a glimpse of the opportunities in this area. The YouTube version embeds nicely and looks great on just about any platform. The Vimeo version is also excellent.

You can visit DPD Productions on Vimeo to view their recent portfolio of work consisting of 90 professional videos. Follow DPD Productions on Facebook for the latest news.

Enjoy and share!

Ambient Light Planning for Urban Public Spaces (Video)

Greg Johnson of discusses strategies for managing ambient natural light in urban and public spaces.

This is a companion video to the article on urban planning strategies to enhance available light. The image below and other examples can be found in the video.


CBS News: Shopping Mall Security and Safety Concerns

On Monday, 23 February 2015, CBS News produced a story about shopping mall security and safety concerns. I had an opportunity to be briefly interviewed for that news segment. The video is below and the story is also available on our local CBS website.

In visiting with the news team, I pointed out that our local shopping malls are mostly single-level and spread out over a large area, so they are not densely populated which makes them less likely targets for terrorist attacks. With a trend toward supporting small locally owned businesses, people are doing less shopping at malls, and seeking out small local businesses to support.

In other countries I’ve traveled to, the shopping malls may have three or four levels and are more densely populated making them a higher risk security concern. Heightened security measures are in place, with security guards checking under cars with mirrors and mall visitors are required to go through metal detectors.

In the United States, with some exceptions, many malls simply aren’t the hub of activity and community that they are in other countries.