Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Do You Worry About Internet Safety?

SplashData reports that hackers have discovered the most  common internet password is now '123456' which swapped with' password'. That's right, the number 1 and number 2 most common internet passwords just switched places for 2013.

Chris Smith of the Boy Genius Report shares in his article 'Password' is no longer the dumbest password of the year.

Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica in his article Internet users ditch"password" as password, upgrade to "123456".
Splashdata News Friday, Worst passwords of 2013 - our annual list update.  January 17, 2013
Most Common Internet Passwords of 2013
Credit SplashData

Experts say we should use a strong password for our most sensitive websites and I would agree. I would also agree with virtually all of my friends (those over 55) that I need a password I can remember.

Here is a method to help you do both.

We will NOT use any from the top 25 most common but will use a scheme to create a strong password using numbers and letters and special characters.

  1. Decide on your favorite word. It can be a name, place or thing and try to make it 5 or 6 letters or more.
  2. Choose your favorite number over 1,000.
  3. An finally choose your favorite special character. NOTE: some special characters are not allowed by some sites.
  4. Now put these 3, easy to remember, items together to make up your "strong" password. Capitalize one of the letters (not the first one) to add one additional piece of strength.

For example:
My favorite name will be 'otto', my childhood pet dog.
  1. My favorite number will be '1975', the year I got my first computer.
  2. My favorite special character will be the '-' (hyphen).
  3. I'll put them together in this order. '-1975ottO'.

Now THAT is a very strong password that I can remember easy enough.
It is advisable to have different passwords for different types of accounts. To handle this you might want to use a different special character for different types of accounts.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Do You Do When Windows XP Support Ends April 8, 2014?

Windows XP support ends April 8th, 2014. Surprisingly enough this has been a long run for this operating system. Windows XP was first introduced August 24, 2001. Pretty amazing really. Microsoft wants you to upgrade and this is obvious.

According to Gartner, the global installed base of PCs, at the end of 2013, will be 1.63 billion units.  Windows XP is currently installed on at least 500 million computers and almost certainly used by over a billion people.  (Too Many PCs are Still Running Windows XP. October 3, 2013). And Windows XP Market Share was 28.98% as of Dec. 2013 according to Net Application Data.

However, Windows 8.x hasn't been getting good press and deservedly so. It's a bit confusing but absolutely doable. 

So what does this really mean to you if you still have Windows XP? You have a choice to make and for most, it is not really a dangerous choice. You can do nothing and be pretty safe with what you have. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" type of answer. However, if you surf the web, download programs, music and other things on the internet, you might be more mindful and realize that your Windows XP will become more vulnerable to hacks, viruses and malware as Microsoft won't be spending any serious time supporting XP any longer. Found bugs won't be fixed, no more security updates, etc. This goes for Office 2003 too.

You CAN continue to use Windows XP however--it will NOT stop working.
You CAN still instill it on PCs and register it with a valid License Key. This allows you to install XP on a new PC if you wish as long as you have the original CD/DVD.

As of Jan 15, 2014, Microsoft said it will continue to provide Malware Signatures via Microsoft Security Essentials. NOTE: This could change in the future.

Here is what Microsoft says about the end of life for Windows XP.
If you want to see if your current computer can upgrade to a new version of Windows, download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant.

My recommendation
Buy a new PC with the latest version of Windows. Purchasing a new version of Windows and installing on your current PC will work and work fine but getting a new laptop with Windows 8 can be had for under $300. Purchasing a Windows 8.1 Upgrade is $119.99.

BUT, doing nothing is not a huge risk to most so keeping XP is a valid response.

Other Articles on the subject.
When Windows XP Support Ends, here's how to keep your PC secure. David Ludlow. Expert Reviews. Jan 15, 2014

Kevin Casey. Information Week. Jan 7, 2014

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Automatically Save Photos Off Your Smart Phone

A common question I hear is "how do I share photos from my smart phone" or "how do I get photos off my smart phone?"

I say automatically and without wires, get ALL photos copied off your smart phone quickly and safely so they don't get accidentally deleted.

Many folks are very particular about organizing their photos and that's all well and good but getting them from the smart phone to the computer is a bigger struggle.

I strongly recommend using an online service and there are a few which I will list below. However, I was to stress that if you want ease and worry free, then invest just a little time to sign up for one of these services.

  1. Sign up online
  2. Install the software on your smart phone
  3. From your phone, turn on the setting to automatically upload to the service's Internet site

Facebook and Google+ stop at uploading photos to the cloud. Dropbox and SkyDrive actually synchronize those photos to your Mac or PC. However, Facebook and Google+ allow you to download those same photos back to your Mac or PC.  I strongly recommend one of these two services although Dropbox is my favorite.

All of the below services are FREE, however, additional storage space have a fee.

Go to App Settings / Synch Photos and turn this On. This allows ALL photos to go to Facebook. Once the photos are on Facebook, click here to see what else you can do.

From the Menu, choose Photos > Turn On at the lower left. There are other choices to fine tune your uploads like only doing this when on WiFi to avoid excessive data usage (I do this). Click here for more on Google+.

Within the Dropbox app, choose Settings > Turn On Camera Upload. You can choose WiFi only too if you wish. With these settings, all NEW photos will automatically upload to a folder called Camera Upload on Dropbox. This Camera Upload folder will then, AUTOMATICALLY, synchronize down to any of your computers (Mac or PC) if it has Dropbox installed there too. For more information about Dropbox and photos, click here.

Unfortunately, SkyDrive does NOT have an automatic synch at this time but it is easy enough to upload an entire list of photos from your smart phone to SkyDrive.
Within the SkyDrive app, touch the upward arrow to Upload Photos and Videos. Creating a SkyDrive account is a bit more cumbersome than all the others. For more information about using SkyDrive, click here.

NOTE: Dropbox and SkyDrive can synchronize documents in addition to Photos and Videos.

All of these services are available for Android, iOS and Windows Phones as well as Mac and PC.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Nifty iPad Tip

Getting yourself back to the top of the page from wherever you are is easy with this tip. Tap the Status Bar. The Status Bar is the thin, horizontal spacer at the top of the screen and goes all the way across. It's where you see the current time is. Heck, just tap on the time.

Status Bar At The Top

This works great when browsing the web and you've gone down the page a bit and want to get back to the top. Don't swipe up and up and up. Just tap the Status Bar.

You can even tap the Status Bar at the top of a column to achieve the same result. A good example is the Mail or Notes app.

I'd love to hear about your useful iPad tips too. Just put them in a comment. Thanks!

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