March 26, 2016
We have become bombarded with usernames and passwords. What does one do with all of them? More importantly, what is the best strategy for creating new passwords? I’ve learned the hard way, so I am passing along what might help you to prevent a problem or worse.
Make passwords long and complex. An example is k7*S+4c2$8R. Strength checkers, such as passwordmeter.com, will score a password on a scale of 1 to 100. I would not enter a real password, but you can try something similar by substituting like characters. Short and simple passwords, such as “sunnyday” are easy to crack.
In 2011, according to Wikipedia, commercially available products could test up to 2.8 billion passwords a second on a standard desktop computer. This means it’s possible to crack an all upper or lower case password of 10 characters in one day. Today’s computing is much faster.
Using the same password for multiple accounts is ill-advised. Make each one different, long, and complex. Managing all them is another issue. Password managers are available, although I have not used any of them, partly because our IT guy is not a fan of ’em. Those that are highly ranked by PC Magazine are Dashline 4 and LastPass 4.0 Premium.
Bottom line: do not take passwords lightly. Make them complex by mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers, and odd characters such as @#$^()=?><!~%*+&. And, make them long. For each character you add, the strength of the password improves exponentially. (It’s not linear.) Having an account hacked due to a short and simple password can make your life miserable, and it can be expensive too.
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March 13, 2016
Phishing is the use of email to capture usernames, passwords, credit card or bank details, and other information, for malicious reasons. The email gives the appearance that it’s from a person or organization you know, hoping that you will click a link in the email or open an attachment. You have probably received one or more of these emails, so I hope you have not fallen victim to any of them.
Spear phishing is similar, but takes the concept to another level. The email may open up by saying, “Terry, I’m sorry I missed you at last week’s event in Los Angeles. I wanted to show you the following,” with a link waiting for you to click. Alternatively, it might ask you to open an attached file. The email may include other personal details, leading you to believe it is person in your field or a friend. Due to this personalization, a percentage of people will fall for the trick and click on the link or open the file. The consequences can be dire.
My advice is to question all emails. If you receive an unexpected email like the one above, reply with a question that a stranger could not answer. For example, say, “I want to validate the authenticity of your email, so can you say what I was wearing that day?” Whatever you choose to ask, make it impossible to answer, unless the person is genuine. The bottom line: be careful because phishing and spear phishing can cause significant damage.
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September 17, 2010
For many years, nearly all hotels in the U.S. charged for Internet access. Today, most U.S. hotels provide it at no cost, although some of the most expensive still charge for it. It took time, but I believe most hotel owners finally understood that by offering complimentary Internet access, they could be more competitive—that this perk would help sell their hotel. I also suspect that the revenue generated from charging for Internet access was an insignificant amount of the total revenue generated by the hotel. They likely discovered that once the broadband network was in place, the cost to maintain it was negligible.
What is it going to take for hotels outside the U.S. to figure this out? In Europe, it is not unusual to pay €10 to $20 euros ($13 to $26) per day at a hotel for Internet access. In Australia, expect to pay as much or more. The same is true in Israel. Paying for it is not only expensive, it’s a hassle. You often have to get instructions from the front desk and sometimes the instructions are incorrect, which translates to wasted time. Weary travelers do not want to mess with codes, passwords, and unclear instructions.
I hope that hotels around the world begin to understand what business they are in and that offering free Internet could give them an edge over the competition. Whenever possible, I reserve a hotel room where Internet access is complimentary. Also, I recommend this hotel to others. So, hotel owners and managers: wake up and take note. Giving away Internet access could help make more money for your hotel, not less.
January 23, 2010
Asiana Airlines. I now know why this company was recognized as Airline of the Year by Air Transport World. The airline provides extraordinary service. The flight attendants are cheerful and vibrant, and never stop working to make the passenger comfortable and happy. Twice, I was about to enter the lavatory when a flight attendant was exiting. She had big smile and said, “Sorry, sir, for the delay but I was cleaning it for you.” Never before had I experienced this. Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance.
WestHost. This is a web hosting company that our company has used for many years. It occurred to me recently that I never have to think about the service because nothing ever goes wrong. When I’ve had a question in the past, it has been easy to get a competent individual on the phone (in Utah) that takes good care of me. Hosting fees for 25 GB of disk space and 500 GB of bandwidth start at $8.95 per month.
Audi A4. My wife and I have owned many automobiles in our lifetimes and this may be the best car we’ve owned. It’s rock solid, quiet, smooth, comfortable, and it handles extremely well, even on snow and ice. The ride is smooth, but firm and sporty, and there’s not a minor rattle or squeak anyone. For a relatively small car, the trunk space is large. Our only complaint is the fuel economy around town, which could be a little better. Other than that, it’s a fantastic automobile.
The Last Frontier Boutique Resort. This is a lodge located near the Kinabatangan River in the Saba region of Malaysian Borneo. Getting to the lodge requires a climb of 540 stair steps, but it’s well worth the effort. The gourmet food that our host, Jason, prepared was nothing short of spectacular. Also, he guided our river boat safaris where we saw several species of monkeys, exotic birds, large monitor lizards, and tree snakes. The rivers are infested with large crocodiles, but we did not see any. Jason went out of his way to help us get to this remote region of Borneo.
Thanks to these companies and individuals for going the extra mile to offer an outstanding product or service.
March 15, 2009
The March 10, 2009 issue of USA Today reported that social networks and blogs have become the most popular online activity, ahead of email. More than two-thirds of those who spend time online visit social networking and blogging sites. Considering how much time people spend processing email, it’s a little hard for me to believe, but it’s probably true. I’m sure the tens of millions of Facebook and MySpace users have a lot to do with it. According to the article, Nielsen Online stated that of the nine global markets it researched, 30% of Internet users visit Facebook monthly.
Mobile access to these networking sites is also on the rise. An estimated 10.6 million people in the U.S. access the sites through handheld devices. I’m a regular “smartphone” user, but I don’t use it for Facebook or other social networking sites.
I know that networking sites are beneficial to many people, including professionals. It can be time well spent if you are searching for a new job, wanting to exchange common interests, or hoping to build your list of professional contacts. For me personally, I’m at a point where I’m looking for less to do, not more. My current 50-60 hours of work (and some play/exploration on the computer) per week is plenty for me.
So, if you invite me to LinkedIn or another social network and I don’t accept, that’s why. Don’t take it personally. Maybe I’m “old school,” but if you want to communicate, send an email or phone me. Unless the email does not make it through our spam filter, I will respond. Also, feel free to express your thoughts by selecting “Comments” below.
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November 10, 2007
I’m a big fan of Google. If I need to find something quickly, Google is my search engine of choice. It even works as a spell checker for cities, famous people, and so on—names that may not be in a dictionary. Want to check the spelling of Zambezi (as in the Zambezi River in Africa)? Just enter it into Google and it will suggest an alternative spelling if it’s incorrect.
Over the past year, I’ve found Google Maps to be an excellent tool. Previously, I would use MapQuest, but not anymore. Google Maps is better. If I need to find a map or location, it’s a few seconds away. When trying to locate a soccer field in Denver, Colorado, I entered the cross streets “Oxford Ave and Lowell Blvd” into MapQuest. It needed more information, so I entered “Denver.” Still not enough information. It wanted the state or postal code. In Google Maps, I entered the cross streets—nothing else—and it found the location. And, it displayed a map immediately. No need for additional clicks.
Want to know where Palm Cove, Australia is located? Just enter Palm Cove. Google Maps will immediately display a map of the small village. Want to view it as a satellite image? Just click the Satellite button and you’ll get a beautiful picture. Where is Palm Cove in relation to Cairns, Brisbane, and other cities in Australia? Just drag the slider bar to zoom out and a new view appears quickly. And, if you wish, click and drag the current view to pan around. For me, the tool is very useful. If you’re not familiar with Google Maps, give it a try. You probably won’t go back to MapQuest.
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October 1, 2007
I bumped into a guy recently at an industry event that had the following to say: “The single most important piece of information I picked at this time last year was the availability of Google Alerts.” The tip came as a response to a question from a CEO that asked, “What can users of 3D printing do to stay up-to-date and educated on some of the latest announcements and events in our industry?”
I’ve been using Google Alerts for years. The free service works like this: At www.google.com/alerts, indicate the term(s) that you’d like to have the service track for you. You can indicate the frequency (as they occur, daily, or weekly) and ask that it consider news, blogs, video, or groups. Or, you can request that Google follows all of these categories. Google then emails to you a link to the web page that contains the term, along with a couple lines from the page that includes the term.
Google Alerts is one of the most useful web-based tools. The fact that it is free is surprising to its users. It is easy to use and the information it uncovers is invaluable. It’s like having an army of researchers at your disposal, around the clock, seven days a week. Even they would not be able to canvas the world in such detail and breadth.
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April 1, 2007
A short time ago, I downloaded and installed PdaNet on my Treo 700. It allows you to use the smartphone’s broadband Internet connectivity as a wireless modem for your laptop computer. So, anywhere you get a cellular signal, you have free Internet access on your laptop. This includes hotels, airports, and traveling down a highway.
The download and installation of PdaNet was fast and simple. The product is available for a one-time cost of $34 at junefabrics.com. It works with several smartphones, including devices from Palm, Motorola, Samsung, T-Mobile, Cingular, and others. After installing PdaNet on my Treo 700, I was surfing the web within seconds with my laptop. The connection between the Treo and laptop is made using the sync/charge cable. One click (tap) on the Treo connects your laptop to the Internet.
Using the Treo 700 with Sprint cellular service, my laptop registered download speeds of about 150–250 kilobits per second, which is almost 3-5 times faster than the best dialup connection. Upload speeds were about 25–70 kbps. I did the speed tests at speedtest.net, an excellent website for checking the speed of an Internet connection. PdaNet also works with the older Treo 650, although speeds are closer to a dialup connection.
If you have a smartphone and are tired of paying Internet fees at airports and hotels, consider PdaNet. I found it to be much easier than using the Internet services offered at most hotels, which can be a hassle. You could even use it as your regular Internet connection at your home office or as a backup in case your regular Internet services go down. It is the best $34 I’ve spent in a long time.
October 28, 2006
In March, Google announced that it had acquired @Last Software, the makers of the popular SketchUp software. At the time, many people—including me—wondered why the search giant bought this small Colorado-based company. As I learned more about the strategy at Google, it began to make sense.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. With Google Earth, the company expects to play a dominant role in making companies, sports stadiums, shopping mails, airports—you name it—available on the Internet in 3D graphical form. For instance, suppose you are interested in attending a professional football game in Denver, Colorado. Google Earth would take you to the USA, then to Colorado, and to Invesco Field at Mile High. You could then explore restaurants, retail stores, and so on, and review the products and services at each the businesses in the stadium. Much of it would appear graphically.
Describing the content of the earth is a big job, even for Google. Therefore, the company has decided to solicit the help of others. Anyone with an Internet connection can download the SketchUp software to “sketch up” the structure of a business in 3D. I downloaded the free version a few weeks ago and created basic but interesting 3D buildings within about three minutes. No joke. They could not have made it easier to use. Google hopes that if you want to be found within Google Earth, you will submit a SketchUp model of your business for inclusion.
InformationWeek and CADWire.com published details on the acquisition of @Last Software in March. Both articles provide insight into the business deal between the two companies. If you’re interested in giving SketchUp a try, go to the Google page that permits you to download it. If you’re like me, you’ll find SketchUp impressive and easy to use. Within minutes, you too will be a candidate to help Google fulfill its mission.
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January 22, 2006
On January 4, 2006, CNNMoney.com published a thought-provoking article titled “Tech’s New Resolutions: What Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others should shoot for this year.” Author Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0’s editor at large, subtitled one part of the article “Amazon.com’s resolution: Let customers design their own products.” In five paragraphs, he explained why Amazon should offer part fabrication services to anyone with an Internet connection.
Schonfeld explained how Amazon could give customers the opportunity to use web-based tools to design custom products, such as kitchen cabinet hardware, cell phone cases, and action figures. He said that “tight design parameters would ensure a basic floor of quality.” He went on to say that Amazon could set up CNC machines, 3D printers, and other rapid prototyping tools, or could outsource the production of the parts to machine shops and service providers.
I agree that the idea could work. Amazon would not want to offer a blank screen from which to conceive a new product. Instead, it could provide basic shapes of new designs—a starting point—with specific dimensions that could be changed to a point. These limits would prevent amateur designers from making features of a design too large or too small. The design experience could be somewhat analogous to piecing together a new computer configuration at dell.com. You are offered many combinations of options, but limits are built into the system so that you configure a computer that is manufacturable. The same is true at nikeid.com where you can very easily and quickly produce a semi-custom pair of shoes.
Schonfeld continues by explaining how Amazon could expand the service to include a design marketplace where customers, and even engineers and designers, could trade and sell designs. I believe that all of this will probably occur in the future. However, a small start-up will likely pioneer the idea. After lots of trial ‘n error by the small company, an established corporation, such as Amazon.com, will then enter the business. And it could grow into something very big.
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