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Password Importance

Password Security

I’ve been in the technology industry for quite some time and it never ceases to amaze me how people so easily give out their passwords and those passwords are weak and personal.  Access to your computer and online activities should be treated like your debit card’s PIN number or your wallet, both of which you don’t give out to just anyone.  Here are a few rules to live by when creating your passwords.

Rule 1. Never give out your password! It doesn’t matter if you trust your IT department, tech guy, or your friends or co-workers, just don’t do it. Relationships change and sometimes not always for the better. Think of it this way, if you wouldn’t give your wallet to a person, then don’t give them your password. If you must give out your password for a troubleshooting issue, change your password immediately after the work has been completed.

Rule 2. Use a strong password. A strong password should have several components, upper and lower case letters, numbers, and if possible symbols. One of the best ways to create a strong and complex password that you will remember is the “Phrase Password.” You create a phase like “Did you do it? Yes, one hour ago” which translates to Dudi?Y1ha. Not every website or online service allows the use of symbols in passwords, so make your passwords stronger and longer with more alphanumeric characters.

Rule 3. Separate yourself from your password.  Don’t use your spouse’s name or your child’s birthday. It’s easy to remember but if you talk about your spouse or your children online, then you are putting that information out there for the hackers to see and use.  No need to make things easy for the bad guy.

Rule 4. Make your passwords longer than eight characters. The longer and more complex the password is, the harder it is to hack. Often people will get lazy and use the shortest password possible, like 12345 or their favorite curse word. These passwords are easy to guess and hackers can brute-force or crack the code using software with little trouble at all.

Rule 5. Never use the same password for multiple online accounts. I’ve seen it many times; someone uses the same password for Facebook, Twitter, email, and a host of other online services. Mix it up, have a few phrase passwords to use and change them often. If you forget the phrase or password, use a password managing software, such as KeePass which can also generate strong, complex passwords.

Rule 6. Change your password often. Set a schedule to change your passwords and hold to it. Yes, it’s a pain to change all your passwords, but it’s easier than rebuilding your credit after your identity has been stolen or trying to get control of your Facebook account while some hacker is posting porn to your Facebook friends. In most cases, you can get by with only having to change your passwords once every three months unless you are a heavy online services user then once a month might be better.

Computers and the Internet are wonderful tools and they can be fun but be smart.  Don’t make it easy for anyone to gain access to your files, online accounts, and your personal lives.

Microsoft’s Password Checker – Check the strength of your password.

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Happy Birthday Steve Jobs

On February 24, 1955, Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco.  Some years later, he and Steve Wozniak created Apple, Inc and the world was changed forever. Wherever you are Steve, thank you for the innovation and for inspiring us all. Happy Birthday!

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

What’s Your Question?

Have a question about technology? Need an answer about your Windows computer or your mobile devices? Give us a shout! Email your questions or  hit us up on Twitter @TecWhat or leave your question in the comments section!

We’re always looking for new topics to share with you. So don’t be afraid, let us know your questions and get the answers you need!

Are You Recycling Your Electronics This Year?

Christmas is finally over and you’ve mastered that new mobile device, Blu-ray player, wide-screen TV, or whatever other electronic piece of equipment you found under the tree.  Now, somewhere tucked away in the garage or a closet is all the antiquated electronics stacked in a precarious pile that seems to grow every year.  If it’s like my pile, then it’s time to do something about it.

Recently, I moved which gave me the opportunity to go through my ever-growing pile of electronic and clean house. I still had several Compaq DeskPro 4000s which are probably over ten years old, a few laser printers, some old digital cameras, and a DVD player or two, not to mention the few boxes of spare parts and small items.  I had to do something.  I didn’t want to carry all this old junk with me to my new house.

Unfortunately, I was unable to re-gift any of my electronics, they were just too old. However, if your equipment is still in usable and fair condition, it might be worth it to hand it off to someone else in your household or a relative to extend its life. My sister often replaces items before their lifecycle is complete, giving them to other members of her family.  Her children have laptops, iPads, and iPhones that were once hers.

It use to cost to have your electronic recycled but because of the money to be made and newer technologies that separate the materials more effectively, most recycling organizations and companies are doing it for free now.  Some companies have drop-off points where you can take your electronics and some offer free pick-up.  Free pick-up is great for businesses that have large quantities, especially after a recent hardware refresh. There are also many organizations that offer monthly or special occasion recycling.  Churches, schools, and waste disposal companies often have electronics recycling days.

Printer cartridges, like batteries often find their way into the trash because they are small. Unfortunately, the chemicals left in them and the plastic used to make them not good for our landfills. So if you are near an Office Depot or a Staples, they both offer printer cartridge recycling. Just bring in your old cartridges when you are purchasing your new ones and get $2.00 on your reward card. Office Depot also gives you a free pre-paid mailing label to send in your old toner cartridges. Staples allows you to bring in your old rechargeable batteries.

Recycling responsibly is more important than ever. We urge you to recycle your electronics for a safer and cleaner environment.

Here is a small list of electronics recycling resources for you.

http://www.allgreenrecycling.com/

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Global-Promotions/Recycling-Electronics/pcmcat149900050025.c?id=pcmcat149900050025&DCMP=rdr0001422

http://earth911.com/recycling/electronics/

http://www.electronicsrecycling.org/Public/default.aspx

http://greenergadgets.org/

Happy Holidays!

From all of us here at TecWhat, Happy Holidays and may each of you have a wonderful New Year!

And just for a little fun, a classic from Burl Ives

PROTECT IP / SOPA Act Breaks the Internet

SOPA might shut us down for airing this video, so help fight SOPA!  Save the Internet as we know it!

http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa/

See the related articles below for more information on SOPA & PIPA

MapQuest 4 Mobile

Recently, I moved to an unfamiliar area and found that even common errands, like trips to the grocery store suddenly became more complicated.  After living in the same area most of my life, I had grown accustom to knowing where everything is, the post office, the gas stations, the little shops I frequented. Now, finding the closest 7-Eleven is a chore. Then to top it off, I have to get from here to there and all I have is an address.  Most of the time I can find all this information on my iPhone, even my bank has an app for that.  What I really needed was a GPS, one that could give me directions but I didn’t want to buy another device to add to the ones I already have with me all the time.

So begins my search for a GPS iPhone app that is both effective and economically smart, meaning I won’t get lost and it’s free. The latter being the most important.  My mobile carrier is AT&T and they offer the app AT&T Navigator for iPhone, which is probably a very good app because they send my repeated emails about it on a monthly basis.  Unfortunately, it has a $9.99 per month subscription fee. That is a little pricy for something I will only use until I become more familiar with this new area and then very sporadically after that.

My search continued and eventually I found it. MapQuest 4 Mobile. This has become my lifeline to discovering how to get there from here.  It is one of the more useful apps on my iPhone lately as I explore this new area. It’s the GPS without the GPS price tag.

Easy to use and well thought out, it gives me a list of twenty choices to find almost anything from movie theaters to hotels, banks, and restaurants.  Locating coffee shops near me is now a simple task. I’m no longer driving around searching for a good cup of Joe, I just select “Coffee Shops” and it adds them all to the map, giving me to names and addresses of each one.

The live traffic option updates every five minutes to give you a better idea about the road ahead and appears to be quite accurate in locating all the slow spots. So far I’ve been able to skirt a few traffic jams by taking an alternate route because I could see that slow moving red line. This is a real time-saver.

One of my biggest requirements was to have an app that speaks to me while I’m driving. I generally try to keep driving simple, no texting or phone calls.  The last thing I wanted was an app I had to look at every few minutes to make sure I was still on track.  MapQuest 4 Mobile speaks in a slightly mechanized female voice that allows me to drive safely, keeping my eyes on the road.

Another cool feature is My Places which is a great place to store your maps.  You must have a MapQuest account to use this feature, but signing up was quick and I was ready to go in seconds. This feature allows you to sync your maps from your online account to your phone.  I like this because I can find out where I’m going later in the day, map it online, then it’s ready to go when I am.

The only drawback is that it can deplete your battery fairly quickly although you can adjust the “Energy Savings” settings.  I suggest that you use your phone charger for your car while MapQuest 4 Mobile is running.

MapQuest 4 Mobile is also available on the Android Market.

The Samsung Galaxy SII, A Review

Its our pleasure to be able to welcome a guest review from our friends at My Social Agency a UK based Digital Marketing Agency.  Much thanks to them. Please give them a visit and discover how Social Media can change and enhance your business. You can also follow them on Twitter @MySocialAgency.

By Mark Mitchell / Cormac Reynolds, My Social Agency a UK based Digital Marketing Agency.

The Samsung Galaxy SIISamsung’s Galaxy SII has become increasingly prominent in the premium phone landscape and has topped Android best sellers and phone best sellers lists for most of 2011. The Samsung’s ability to be greater than the individual parts that it is composed of make it such a highly acclaimed device.

The phone’s diminutive size is one of the major factors in its popularity,; at 8.49mm it’s slimmer than the iPhone 4S, yet it still manages to offer a far larger screen area of 4.3 inches. The device is also extremely light weighing in at only slightly more than 100g and it is also quite an attractive phone, taking certain cues from the iPhone 4’s design. It’s only qualm would be the fact it is made of plastic and not aluminium like many HTC‘s and other devices and so doesn’t have the same quality feel aesthetically.

Of course power is also a factor with the Samsung and its 1.2GHz Tegra 2GPU as well as its powerful GPU ensure it is more than willing to give. The graphical processor is more modern and powerful than that of even the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The phone’s 1GB of RAM ensures it has enough short term memory to cope and its expandable memory can be extended to 32GB thanks to the micro SD card slot.

Running on Android 2.3, the device utilises its large processor to ensure it is far from sluggish and there is certainly little lag from the Samsung. Google’s operating system is a smooth one and offers most of what you would expect from even iOS 5. It’s a smooth and sophisticated operating system that combines well with the Samsung TouchWiz user interface and makes for a nice phone to use.

One of the strongest points on the Galaxy SII, one of many, is the Super AMOLED Plus display. The phone’s pixel resolution of 480x800p is no problem as the brightness of the screen overcomes and preconceptions about the displays ability. The Super AMOLED Plus screen is amazingly brilliant. Colours are extremely bright and dynamic and blacks are deep and whites are sharp. It is clearly evident that Samsung’s years of making top class screens for TVs has been put to use here. Watching video is extremely exciting and the size of the display, alongside its dynamic ration make it great for browsing.

The camera is one aspect of the phone that really cooperates well with the screen. The 8mp camera is excellent and the 1080p recording ability creates fluid, vivid pictures that show up well on the bright screen and really wow. Like many other Samsung’s the Galaxy SII is strong in the camera area.

Though the phone is 4G enabled, the high speed broadband network is not available in the UK as of yet (available in major markets in the US.) However, it does have a 14.4MBps connection for current broadband, meaning should you get the connection it is blisteringly quick. NFC is also available on a number of the current models of the device allowing you to pay for goods with your phone, thanks to the chip.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy SII is an extremely capable device that doesn’t really let down in any area. Sure it is made of plastic, but it still feels very strong. Though, we’re sure the processor, screen and operating system more than make up for all of that.

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