Using MFA via OTP with USAA

USAA now allows you to login using OTP instead of your traditional PIN. This a great step forward in keeping your account secure. However there are a few drawbacks in the way it was implemented.

First they have decided to give a proprietary name and labelled it CyberCode. This is just confusing and in my opinion irresponsible. It only adds to the sea of terms out there that already make it hard for the layman to understand. In my opinion, they should focus on educating users about established standards and their existing names instead of creating new ones.

They allow two options for OTP, the old skool code-via-sms method where they send you an SMS every time you want to login. The other is via some Symantec authentication app. This is fine unless you already have an authenticator app you’d like to use such as 1Password, Authy, etc.

I myself have recently switched to using 1Password to generate my OTPs. Once I found out that USAA would let me use them, I set out to find a way to make it work without having to install another authenticator as USAA wants you to do for no apparent reason. The main issue is that instead of generating a QR code that your authenticator can scan, USAA requires you to enter a Credential ID provided by the Symantec app. A quick google led me to a helpful post in 1Password’s community site. It pointed me to a Github repo that ultimately allows me to generate a QR code based off a Symantec ID that can then be used by most other authenticators.

So, here’s the stuff you really care about. This simple gist walks you through creating a QR code that you can use for your preferred authenticator.

Why you need to move to Texas

Why do people often say Texas is its own country? Job growth could be one factor. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas cities continue to lead the country in jobs. The Lone Star State’s beautiful capital – Austin – takes the top spot with four other Texas cities following.

Moral of this story? You need to contact me to find you a home in Texas!

For more info on Texas job growth, visit http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/17068/.

Austin makes top 10 list

Austin once again makes a top 10 list, and this time it’s for being one of the best places to invest. This means you should diversify your retirement and buy real estate in Austin.

Feel free to search for available Austin real estate right here on my site.

For more information on this great news about Austin, see this story:

http://www.inman.com/news/2012/03/23/top-10-markets-invest-in

March In Austin

Since it is the first day of March I thought I would list a few activities coming up. It is one of the busiest months here in Austin.

SXSW
This is the grandaddy of March events. It’s actually one of the biggest events of the year. Thousands of people come in town for the interactive festival, filmfest and of course the music and parties.

St. Patrick’s Day
There are several celebrations throughout Austin for St. Patrick’s Day but Fado has always had a great event.

Spring Break
Many college students as well as high school kids and their families take a trip down to Austin during their spring break just to enjoy the city.

UIL Basketball
Both the boys and girls state basketball tournaments are played at the Frank Erwin Center during March.

March Madness
While they will not be playing in Austin this year, the NCAA basketball tournament will have a regional in San Antonio and the Final Four will be in Houston.  UT looks to make a good run this year so Austin will be filling the sports bars to follow the action.

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras also falls around this time of year and it is not hard to find a Mardi Gras-themed event around town.

Rodeo
Rodeo Austin always adds to the music and festivities of March.  It also brings along a carnival and all the other fun events for kids as well as adults.

Texas Independence Day
Texas Independence Day is March 2nd.  There will be a celebration at the Capitol tomorrow as well as a parade on Saturday.  There is more information at Celebrate Texas.

Converting a number to currency with Javascript

I recently needed a way to convert a number to currency format using Javascript.  I found the best solution in Alex G’s comment on Brad Harris’s post.  But as usual, there were issues when cutting/pasting from the web so I just wanted to post here as a Gist so it might help someone else and also so that someone can improve it if they want.

Eminent Domain Reform Coming Up

This week Gov. Perry made eminent domain an emergency agenda item, meaning the legislature will soon tackle the task of reforming current laws to better protect homeowners. In fact there are two bills being introduced, that if made into laws, will enhance protections for homeowners so that they aren’t getting the raw end of the deal in an eminent domain situation.

A Texas Realtor himself, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples just blogged about these new bills. Give his post a quick read to learn more.

Should You Pay More to Park Downtown?

Closeup of a parking meterThe City of Austin is considering extending parking-meter hours in the downtown area. This would create more turnover of parking spaces and increase revenue but is is the best option? Let the city know what you think by taking their survey.  You can also read the background and research on the issue at the city’s website.

Waller Creek Tunnel Project Gets Underway

The Waller Creek Tunnel Project gets underway today.  Crews will begin renovating a pedestrian bridge in preparation for the project.  While planning has been underway for years, this marks the first visible signs of construction.

Once completed, the Waller Creek Tunnel Project will have removed approximately 28 acres from the flood zone along Waller Creek stretching from Lady Bird Lake to Waterloo Park.  This will be accomplished by building a tunnel that redirects storm water out of the creek preventing overflow.  This will be a huge boon for the area as many developers will be eager to build along this stretch.  Many have compared the project to the San Antonio Riverwalk but with our own Austin flavor.  The project is expected to take about  four years to complete.

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

As everyone knows, more jobs means more housebuyers.  As jobs grow, consumer confidence grows.  So not only will people have more income to spend but also will be less reluctant to spend it.  Well, fortunately, Austin is once again on the top-ten list of job growth.  With 14, 300 new jobs in the past year, they land at #6 on the list.  And if you look at percentage growth, they are actually #1 on the list.  Hopefully, for the sake of agents and current homeowners this pattern will continue.

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