Barcelona Market

La Boqueria – Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is a large public market in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain located off of the main boulevard of La Rambla

The colors were amazing as was the freshness of the vendors products. Mixed within the market are quite a few lunch counters primarily serving a large variety of fresh seafood

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

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Hagia Sophia Cat

We were privileged to meet the famous “Hagia Sophia Cat.”Admired by many, petted by leaders of nations, and the subject of numerous blogs and articles (see the links for examples)

 

I have to confess that the cat was truly unimpressed by our presence. I suppose a cat living in such a historical place, visiting with Presidents considers himself royalty and  has no time for socializing with commoners such as Kati and me….oh well.

I'm not impressed by you!
I’m not impressed by you!

At least we still have our loyal “ninja” at home in Texas.

Our loyal cat
Our loyal cat

Hagia Sophia – Istanbul

Istanbul – Hagia Sophia:

Still one of the oldest church buildings in the world and for a nearly a thousand years it was the largest and tallest cathedral in existence.

The original church built on this land was burnt during riots in 404, and a second and larger basilica replaced it in 415.

During an uprising 532 which broke out after a chariot race at the nearby Hippodrome where ten thousands of residents of the city were killed, the structure was again destroyed. This was the “Nika” revolt which was directed against Emperor Justinian.

The third Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 in 5 years, amazingly quickly considering the times. Since then it has served as a cathedral, mosque and now a museum. When it was first constructed, Constantinople was the capital of the eastern Roman Empire.

When the Ottoman’s conquered Constantinople in 1453 it was converted into a mosque until 1931 and reopened as a museum in 1935.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Istanbul

Inside Hagia Sophia

Imam Hagia Sophia

This picture illustrates the intersection of Islam and Christianity as it applies to Hagia Sophia’s history. Here we see the staircase on the right for the Imam’s mimbar where he sits when giving his sermon and the mihrab which indicates the direction to pray (towards mecca). Notice how the mihrab is off center as a result of the building not being intended to be a mosque.

We visited during Ramadan which was very fortunate. After sunset, there is a festival held in Hippodrome area that compares to the Chriskindlesmarkt’s in Germany.

Ramadan Festival

Ramidan in Istanbul
Ramidan in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia at night
Hagia Sophia at night
Ice Cream
Ice Cream
Ramandan Festival Istanbul
Ramandan Festival Istanbul

Topkapi Palace – Istanbul

Kati and me at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus strait.
The palace was the primary residence of Ottoman sultans for over 400 years (1465–1856).
Kati and Me Topkapi Palace

Basic Security You Need Now – Two-Factor Authentication

One of the ways that everyone who uses the internet is most vulnerable to being “hacked” is by having weak and non unique passwords Managing various accounts while maintaining unique and strong passwords is a challenge where most people fail.

Typically, unless you have a public presence on the web such as a website or very popular twitter account you won’t be targeted directly by hackers. Your main risk is your information (email address & password) not being protected by a company that you trust.

Many of us have iPhones & Apple products; how many of you use the same password on iTunes that you use someplace else? Some of you may even use the same password for your email which is a disaster waiting to happen.

Imagine a security breach at the company where the hacker has obtained your password and email address. A quick trip over to your email account and iTunes where your passwords are changed, locking you out.

Next stop: icloud.com where your location is determined and your iPhone, iPad , laptop and any other apple device is promptly wiped clean of all data and rendered useless. Next they’ll try the typical online bank, brokerage, shopping and Paypal accounts for a quick hit. Definitely a nightmare scenario.

If you want to read about a similar event that happened to a tech savy Wired magazine reporter, read this article

Typical Password Security Compromises, Vulnerabilities and Risks:

  • Passwords without a mix of numbers, characters, upper & lower case letters
  • Using the same password on multiple sites
  • Using words contained in the dictionary or common slang terms
  • Utilizing common “reset password” questions such as “make of first car, mothers maiden name or where you were born”.

I strongly recommend to start using a good password manager. You don’t have to jump in and start using every option immediately but simply by having a secure and easy to access list of unique passwords will most likely be an improvement over what most people are doing now. Get comfortable and gain confidence with whatever  program you choose. See how it works, learn it over time and that high level of online security will follow.

I also recommend using Two-factor authentication whenever it is available. Gmail and PayPal are examples where I consider it a mandatory personal security feature. Facebook also offers it.
Two-factor authentication has been around before computers. Governments used it by providing Spies with “one-time-pads” to securely transmit information over radio where anyone could intercept the signal.
Modern day Two-factor authentication uses two of the three items listed below:
  • Something you know  (e.g., password, PIN);
  • Something you have (e.g., an app, a key generator ,ATM card, smart card);
  • Something you are (e.g., biometric characteristic, such as a fingerprint).
For securing online activity, enforcing the requirement of having something you know and and something you have  for your email address where you reset passwords from other accounts is highly recommended.
I’ll write more about implementing two factor authentication  but for now here’s some resources to get you started: