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How to Create Strong, Easy-To-Remember Passwords

Do you use “123456” as your password for any websites? How about “qwerty”? Maybe 123456789?

If you do, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 1,000,000 people use those passwords.

But there’s a problem.

Each of those can be cracked in less than a millisecond, leaving you and your personal information exposed to data thieves.

So what can you do to stay more secure, but still be able to remember your passwords?

Don’t Reuse Passwords

Using the same one or two passwords for everything drastically reduces your personal security. Obvious, right?

Maybe, but that doesn’t stop over 80% of people from reusing passwords. Instead, use a unique password for each website you visit.

Most people can’t remember that many passwords, so I recommend using a password management service like LastPass to safely store your passwords for you. It can even generate passwords that are practically impossible for computers to guess.

Use Longer Passwords

Hackers don’t type in passwords one at a time. Instead, they often get millions of them at once from data breaches. They target the short passwords first and, with enough passwords to compare, they’re able to decrypt thousands of them in just a couple of hours.

If your password is 8 characters or longer, however, there’s a good chance it will be overlooked.
Hackers don’t want your password: they want as many as they can get in the shortest time possible.

Assuming it is not a common password such as “password123,” each additional character over eight could potentially add days, months, years, or even decades to the time it would take an algorithm to crack, making your password very unappealing to hackers.

I suggest using passwords with at least 10 characters to keep yourself off hackers’ radar.

Use Sentences as Passwords

Which is easier to remember: “Tl|_|,BwwB2R” or “My favorite kind of pie is chocolate!”?

The latter, of course.

However, you don’t want to use real words, as they are easily cracked.

Instead, use only the letters from your sentence as a password.

In this instance, “My favorite kind of pie is chocolate!” turns into “Mfkopic!.”

If you’re feeling clever, you could even change “pie” to “3.14” (pi = 3.14, in math terms), then the “1” to a “!”. This leaves you with “Mfko3.!4ic!” – a password which cannot be easily guessed and would take 200 million years to crack.

As long as you avoid using common words or phrases, this simple technique will keep you much more secure than most complex, hard to remember passwords.

Remember: a password that is hard for you to remember is not always hard for a computer to guess.



Here are some resources to help you create strong passwords, along with some cool facts and information:

Helpful graph for remembering long passwords (Stanford Password Policy):

6 techniques for creating stronger passwords:

Most commonly used passwords of 2016:

Common passwords, plus helpful tips and tricks to keep yourself safe:

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3 Ways To Extend Your iPhone Battery Life

I replaced the battery in my iPhone 6 at the start of marching band season in August. Long days on the road at competitions meant not being near an electrical outlet to charge my phone.

And usually my phone needed charged by noon each day, even with minimal use.

By early-October, though, I noticed my iPhone’s battery life and overall performance seemed sluggish. Even with the new battery.

Letters were slow to appear on the display when typing text messages. Snapchat took forever to open. The camera took 10 seconds or more to process the photo I just took, leaving me to wonder if I’d captured the moment.

As my frustration and impatience grew with my obsolete iPhone, I become more and more tempted to fork out the money for the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X.

But I didn’t (and still haven’t).

Then, just five days before Christmas, Apple finally admitted to intentionally slowing down the older iPhones – to prolong the life of the devices, they said.

Basically, Apple says that as the lithium-ion batteries in the phones age, they’re unable to provide the necessary power for the iPhone to function properly. This could cause unexpected shutdowns or random freezes.

Through software updates, they throttle performance on the iPhone 6, 6s, SE, and 7.

Besides being a disgruntled iPhone user who doesn’t want to shell out $1,000 for the newest model, what can you do?

Here are three easy ways to improve and prolong your older iPhone’s battery life:

Use Low-Power Mode

Low-power mode forces your iPhone to conserve as much power as possible by shutting off all non-essential features.

According to Apple, it could offer you up to three extra hours of time before needing to charge your phone.

To enable this setting:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap Battery.
3. Move the Low Power Mode slider to on (green).

NOTE: Be aware that this feature turns off many useful features, including push email notifications, the ability to use Siri by voice command, and some visual effects.

Lower screen brightness

Lighting your display drains the battery the most. Keeping it at a reduced level will help prolong time between charges.

To manually adjust the screen brightness:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap Display & Brightness.
3. Move the Brightness slider as far to the left as your eyes will allow you to clearly see content on your screen.

Alternatively, you can enable Auto-Brightness. This setting lets your iPhone automatically determine the appropriate level of brightness based upon the ambient light conditions at the time.

To turn on Auto-Brightness:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Accessibility.
4. Tap Display Accommodations.
5. Move the Auto-Brightness slider to on (green).

Limit background app refresh

Some apps are set to update their content even when you’re not using them. The benefit is you’ll have new content immediately when you open the app. The drawback is less battery life.

To turn off background app refresh:
1. Tap Settings.
2. Tap General.
3. Tap Background App Refresh.

From here you have several options.

You can manually turn off individual apps from refreshing automatically by moving the slider to the left (off/gray).

Or you can turn off all apps from refreshing by tapping the Background App Refresh at the top and selecting Off.

If these suggestions don’t help extend your battery life, you can either have your battery replaced or, if you’re excited to upgrade to the newest iPhone, you can purchase the iPhone 8 or iPhone X. – and then do this all again in two more years!

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4 Tech Predictions for the New Year

Tech Predictions

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born,” computer scientist Alan Kay aptly states.

I remember the days of listening to cassette tapes on a Sony Walkman, listening to the radio for hours just waiting to record my favorite song, and even having to access the Internet using a dial-up connection.

With every passing year, new innovations bring massive changes to the technology that surrounds us.  What’s common today will soon be replaced with something else tomorrow.

For your enjoyment, I present to you four technology predictions for 2018.

Widespread Adoption of New Digital Interfaces

Android smartphone users love to brag how their devices are the pioneers for many features in mobile technologies.  They enjoy taunting Apple iPhone users, like myself, with phrases like, “We had that in our phones two years ago.”  (Yes, Cai and Scott R, two of my techs, I’m talking about you!)

When Apple introduced the iPhone X in October, it adopted facial recognition as the way to unlock your phone.  Some Android devices also use facial recognition and iris scanning to access them.

But digital interfaces will begin appearing elsewhere too.  Vehicles will start to incorporate facial recognition to save unique settings for each driver.  Fingerprint scanners will be used to allow access to various facilities, like your neighborhood gym.

Subscription Models Become the Norm

Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, and a host of other companies have already acclimated consumers to paying for movies and music on a month-to-month basis.

Adobe switched to subscription-only plans for its entire suite of creative products in 2013.  Microsoft is now encouraging consumers and businesses to purchase the Microsoft Office software through its recurring Office 365 subscription plans.

You’ll see many other software and service companies switch to offering their products and services by subscription instead of one-time purchases.

Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain Continue To Rise

If you’re not familiar with the terms “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain,” you may want to start doing some research.

The blockchain is simply an online ledger, originally designed to track cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in a secure and efficient way.  But the technology has been quickly adopted by other industries because it reduces cost and improves efficiencies.

Despite advice by uninformed financial talking heads on TV, early investors in cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies have pocketed major gains. 

While it is still a volatile investment, in-the-know investment advisors predict continued growth throughout 2018.

Security Breaches Continue And Cybersecurity Remains A Big Focus

From the WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled over 300,000 computers worldwide to the Equifax security breach that compromised financial records of as many as 143 million people, such incidents will continue to regularly occur throughout 2018.

As a result, small businesses will see the need (and even be mandated) to adopt better cybersecurity protections to safeguard information stored on their computers.

It’s impossible to predict the future – especially in the tech world.  But in December, it’ll be fun to look back and see what changes actually occurred.