Thursday, January 1, 2009

Create Unique Passwords For Each Site That You'll Never Forget in 10 Minutes!


How to have a unique password for everything, and never forget them:

The only thing more important than a good password is a unique password for every online account you have.

Over the years, I feel I have developed a pretty good system of coding passwords so they are unique to every site you visit and are secure, and most importantly, you’ll never forget them.

Now, we create a unique password for each that only you can remember, but will not be obvious to anyone else should they find one of your passwords.
Get out a pad and pen. On your pad, you will dedicate yourself to three decisions. Write these out and we’ll fill in the decisions afterward.
Be patient, and when you're done with this, you'll be amazed how easy it is.

Decision 1: key pattern:___________________________

Decision 2: name extraction pattern_________________________

Decision 3: rule to integrate name extraction into key pattern________________________

Key Pattern: Chose a letter and numeric combination of at least 6 digits that you know you’ll never forget. Mixing numbers and letters are much better than either alone. Try to avoid child or pet names for obvious reasons. Using a keyboard pattern on the keyboard is helpful and much easier to remember.
Here are some examples. Look at the patterns of these to get some ideas:
3edr54 – 5rtyu76 - 0okmnji9 – 4rfvgy7.

Look at how each of those flow on the keyboard. There are millions of combinations, so once you design one you like, keep it, write it down for the moment. Lets say you made 3edr54 your key Pattern, and now you want to integrate it into your websites. Lets move to the next step.

Name Extraction is taking letters(or numbers) from the url. www.twitter.com , www.directv.com, www.netflix.com etc. For this example we’ll use the rule of taking three letters in the following order: Last letter, Second letter, then First letter.

If we used that rule, the extracted letters for the word netflix, the letters extracted would be xen. Twitter = rwt, www.dishnetwork.com = kid

Rule To Integrate: The final step is how you want to integrate those extracted letters into your key pattern to create the password for THAT site

For this example, we’ll insert the extracted letters right after the first character of the key pattern.

Here is what we have on our pad so far:

Decision 1: key pattern: 3edr54
Decision 2: name extraction pattern: Last, second, first
Decision 3: rule to integrate name extraction into key pattern: after first character in key pattern.

Examples:
www.twitter.com password would be: 3rwtedr54
www.facebook.com password would be: 3kafedr54
www.americanexpress.com password would be 3smaedr54

Each are unique, each has the one pattern to remember and one basic rule for a completely unique password for hundreds of sites.

Choose a pattern of combination that you wont forget. Choose a rule in how to extract and you will have your own encoding/decoding process that will help you be safe online.

Lastly, if you have a long password for a site that limits you, just run till the end: 3smaedr54 might be 3smadr5 if you have an 8 character limit. Nothing else to remember, you just run out of password room.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Higher-Tech Coming To Motorcycles. Honda DN-01




You can say there is technology in just about anything built in the last few decades, but where is the line drawn between basic technology and high technology. I would say, if there is something new, something different, something not so understood, then chances are that suits the high-tech label. Although you might look at Honda's new DN-01 and notice that it's futuristic in design, that in itself does not make for high-tech. What lies beneath may.

I like to write about all things tech, and since I'm a motorcyclist, it falls into place that I would write about this bike. I'll get to the tech in a moment, but I'll preface it by saying that I do know motorcyclists and I have a general idea of how this bike will fare. Many bikers are in cliques. You'll see Harley groups, Cruiser groups (that may include Harleys and others), you'll even see a few groups (like one I belong to) that allow any bike. But even within those mixed groups, there are very specific type riders, and a great majority are pretty set in their style of ride. Sportbikers are the most specific. They might own a Ducati, or VFR or GSXR etc. They know their bikes and have very specific criteria for them. Powerful, good looking, fast in the turns, and perhaps the right exhaust note. Cruiser types like the laid back bike with good looks, likely a chunky V-Twin engine with even more emphasis on the exhaust note. Harley even took steps to patent their exhaust sound several years back.

Hard-core bikers, or "purists" will likely not accept the new Honda DN-01. After all, its not really a motorcycle to many of them. Besides not fitting in any one category, its slightly overweight and slightly underpowered. The 600lb bike being pushed by a 61hp engine will get the added benefit of the CVT (continuously variable transmission) transmission that will keep the engine in the torque band longer than a traditional shift engine.

The new radical designed bike is here on my Tech blog because of what it is, and in my opinion, it will pave the road for whats to come. Lets start with the basics. First of all, yes it looks like a fast futuristic bike right? Look again. There are no foot pegs, but rather a floor board like a big cruiser bike might have. Look at the handlebars. They are pulled way back, so the rider actually sits with his/her feet partially in front of the hands meaning you are on a cruiser bike. What lies beneath is a basic fuel-injected 680cc V-Twin engine, but it's mated to a very new CVT. This means no clutch.

A very high-tech and ingenious design allows hydraulic fluid to adjust the output gear ratio. It's brilliant, compact, eliminates clutch work, and is more reliable and efficient than slipping belts in pulleys as in most scooters.

1. The engine cranks a pump that turns both the drive shaft and a tilted metal disk [A].
2. As the disk spins, it depresses a circular set of pistons [B] around the shaft.
3. The pistons eject high-pressure fluid that travels through a chamber [C] and pushes out a second set of pistons [D].
4. Those pistons press a second tilted disk [E], causing it to spin and transmit extra torque (leverage) to the drive shaft.
5. A motor (on the top) adjusts the angle of the second disk . A lot of tilt provides the high torque found in low gear [F]. Less tilt offers lower torque but more speed, like a high gear.

One potential problem for Honda is overall value. At roughly $15,000, the DN-01 won't sell like Tickle me Elmo dolls, but my point for highlighting this bike is for the technology and what it means for future bikes. It's not the first automatic on a motorcycle, but it just might be the best design, and one that actually becomes desirable. I believe there is a market for such a bike, and although this is a great first effort, I don't expect Honda to make much money on it. They might not even expect it. Consider it part of R&D. They might be thinking: 'Lets see how the people respond, and see how this new CVT holds up.'
As for who will buy the DN-01, that doesn't specifically fall into any category, I think scooter shoppers with decent income that simply want the larger stability of a motorcycle will be one group. Perhaps long time bikers that don't care about cliques, and much less about using a clutch after so many years. Lets not forget the middle-aged men contemplating dumping the Camry for a Porsche, but only have the money for a new Camry.

I love tradition, but I love change. I welcome this bike even if it doesn't last. Honda is a successful company and I think it's because the are willing to take chances.

I'm hoping this Ev0-6 is next.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cleaning Up Gmail


Not Perfect Is Gmail
**UPDATE GMAIL HAS SINCE INCLUDED AN OPTION IN SETTINGS ENABLING FORCED HTTPS:**
Like most, you might thing Gmail is the best web based email out there, and I would have to agree. Google does things a certain way that just work. Well, for the most part. With the ever-increasing usage of notebook/laptop computers (yes more are sold than desktop systems for consumer use now) the idea of security should be on many minds. Public WiFi can be handy, but its a perfect place for your computer to be compromised. As you enter a public WiFi zone, you are basically joining a local network of few or many.

What I'm getting at is secure internet browsing. If you go to either www.yahoomail.com or www.mail.yahoo.com, you are immediately re-directed to https://mail.yahoo.com. Notice its "https" and not "http".

Https is "Hyper Text Transfer Protocol" with an added dash of "s", or Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol primarily developed for secure and safe Internet connections common in banking or any place where private data is exchanged.

The problem with Gmail is that you are not directed to "https", but rather just "http" which is unsecure. The good news is, you can force the issue by typing it in. If you are in Google and simply hit the gmail link, you will get an unsecure gmail. For that reason my tip is as follows:

Enter a secure page by typing: https//mail.google.com and once in, verify that you are in a https page. Then drag the url to your quick start bar, or desktop for easy access. Luckily, if you have the lastest gmail notifier for Mac you will be directed towards a secure page automatically. Unfortunately, the Windows version does not.

Log Out Before Closing Gmail
The authentication cookies will still be set for the google domain. If you navigate to any other area of Google after logging into secure Gmail, your session information will be spilled for any WiFi sniffer to access. This likely includes sites with adsense.

So, to safely use Gmail:

  1. Close all other browser tabs and windows before opening your secure Gmail
  2. Don't click email URLs or navigate to other sites while Gmail is still open
  3. Sing off before continuing to browse the web
Don't be paranoid, in 99.9% of the time, you won't be sniffed, but there is always that .1%. If you frequent Starbucks, or use your computer at a University's WiFi, take these small precautions to keep your private data private!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What to wait for in Digital Cameras



It's always amazing how technology changes from year to year. You find something great, and its obsolete in a matter of a few years. Some improvements are well worth the wait and others, perhaps not. In the world of Digital Cameras, as time goes on, we get more and more resolution in the way of megapixels. Although once you have reached 6mp or more, the amateur or recreational shooter should be satisfied with all but large, enlarged pictures. 6mp is more than we need for 95% of our regular shots, but for those interested in high-detail and/or large print-outs, its best to shop for 10+ megapixels. Much of this is not news and that alone is not worthy of a blog late in 2008. I want to address features you should look out for in your next purchase. Goodies that might make your world of photography just a little better than before.

One great feature is the inclusion of WiFi. WiFi built into a camera will allow a traveler to simply find a hot-spot and upload the data to a web-based picture hosting site such as Flickr or Picasa. One such camera doing just this is the Lumix DMC-TZ50. Panasonic, which makes the Lumix line, has struck a deal with T-Mobile for use of their HotSpots for use with these camera's and it seems this is just one of those features you didn't crave, but will likely not want to be without once you've used it. Of course any WiFi connection will do.

You may also look forward to full frame sensors that actually take advantage of the entire lens and capture the same field as 35mm film, so when you look through, say, a 50mm lens, you get the same as you would on a film camera, not to mention the benefits of a larger area to fit in all those mega-pixels. The Sony camera pictured above is a new Pro level 24.6MP full-frame DSLR.

Another great technology making its way into Digital Cameras is GPS. Imagine shooting pictures anywhere in the world and your camera stores metadata in each picture (Geo-Tagging) including time, date, and exact GPS coordinates for that particular shot. There are already some high-end cameras with this technology and there is even at least one company ( Jobo ) www.jobo.com/web/Photo-GPS.221.0.html that will allow you to add it to an existing camera.

The consumer digital revolution in photography from film, is complete, but digital evolution will always be.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When You Just Want Your Shit To Work!


**Please read end for problem resolution***
I'll admit, I'm lazy, but technology fascinates me to no end. I'll get to the lazy part in a bit, but I simply have to know how everything works, and when I do, I then need a new challenge. I know more than 99% of the human populous about PC's, XP, Vista and, well... even 2000, 3.0, 3.1x and even DOS. Now my latest quest as of this year is all things Apple.

Six months ago, I didn't so much as own an iPod. Yes, I had MP3 players, but just not an Apple product. Today, nearing the end of 2008, I own (in this order) an Ipod Nano, 24" iMac, MacBook, (had an iPhone for 10 days but sent it back because ATT's calls had more drops than Murine and Visine put together) and now my latest acquisition is the iPod Touch. Regessing a moment, if T-Mobile had iPhones, I'd be on that faster than Jerry Yang would say YES to another Microsoft offer.

Getting back to my iPod Touch, I'll tell you why I posted this blog, and why that title. I mentioned I have a Nano, and although its only 8gb, it actually does everything I need, only the screen is too small for my taste. Enter Touch. If you are a loyal Apple user, you know all about things working. Even though Apple's OS X is not perfect, the small shortcomings are not near annoying enough to move back to any PC, for me, and likely for most of you. That being said, my iPod Touch should work at least as well as my Nano no? It does what it does pretty well, but what it doesn't do is play my synced video podcasts. I get audio with a frozen screen where video should be. Same sync to Nano yeilds perfect video, albeit tiny in comparison.

Yes, I'm a tech, and yes there is likey a solution, but the "Genius" at the apple store told me to force the settings on all videos in the individual settings so it sees it as a video. Now, lets get this straight: My 8gb $199 Nano knows how to distinguish everything perfectly, but my $499.00 Touch can't figure it out? As I opened this Blog, I've admitted that I'm lazy. Especially when I need to dedicate a fair amount of time getting Album Art for about 10% of my music library which is a complete time bandit if ever there was one.

I have a strange way about me sometimes. If I can't correct this easily, I might just throw in the towel and return the Touch and go back to my trusty, true, and tiny Nano. Surely there are many other ways I can spend $500.00. What can I say? I just want my shit to work!

***Problem Solved***
Well, lets just chalk this up to slightly bad ergonomics of the unit and lack of logical thinking when I needed it. The unit works, and does so very well, but here is where I went wrong, and where Apple can make a bit of an adjustment.

Going into 'Music' on the iPod Touch, there is a section for Podcasts. Although Podcasts are not music, this is the buttons name. I guess Audio is not sexy enough. This Music button is where I kept going into to find my grand list of Podcasts, audio and video. They are all in there. When I select an audio Podcast, it works fine. When I select a video Podcast, I'd get only the audio portion with the begining image of the video frozen on screen. For this reason, I never looked elsewhere to make it work.

The resolution is, in order to see those video Podcasts, you need to go to Video from the main screen. When I did this, I had a list of my downloaded videos, but when I scroll down, beneith the downloaded videos, there is a section called Podcasts. There, again, are the listings of all the Video Podcasts, only now, from this section, they simply work.

Why apple allows these videos to be indexed in the audio section of 'Podcasts' is beyond me. The Touch is a great and powerful unit, but a bit more thought could be put into the clear seperation of video and audio PodCasts. I say, just have a completely seperate Podcast main button, and seperate Audio and Video folders within. Then even a linear thinking logical person such as myself can operate the entire unit without the hand holding of instructions.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Microsoft Live Want's More Of Google's Pie


As Microsoft aims its sights in directions other than desktop software, it's clear to them that the web is where longevity lies. They are going after Google in the ever important search market with Windows Live, and apparently making a lot strides, technically speaking. The challenges Microsoft have are not only Google's dominance, but also their universal appeal and the fact that Microsoft's reputation will be hard to shake. It's a bit like the school bully that has taken your lunch money since the 2nd grade now want's to sit at your table and trade a cupcake for Twinkies. Microsoft will have to work extra hard and do things much better than Google, in my opinion, to make a dent in that market. Good thing for Microsoft, they have a few dollars in the bank. Even capturing 1/3 of that market means huge cash flow, but like all else Microsoft, they are not striving for just 33%


There are of course some Microsoft hard-core loyalists that bow to Gates and anything he puts forth, but Google has positioned themselves as the Goliath in search and done it in the "awe shucks", "little engine that could" way, and as we all know, the word Google is as much a verb as it is a noun. You may have found this blog by "Googling" it.

Microsoft is a company that still feels like daddy wont let us grow up, they still want to tell us what to do and we are just all trying to be independent now that we're grown. If Microsoft were really smart, they would spin off a new division that was less Microsoft-like. You know, stuffy, tie-wearing big brother looking and just be young and cool, hip, and fun. That approach never hurt Apple, in fact they thrive on it. It's hard to forget, there was a day that to do any type of computing, we all had to toss our coins in the Microsoft toll-booth and that has created a few hard-core rebels that are grown, out of the house, and don't want to talk to daddy anymore.

I suspect most people will go about their online day, doing what they are used to doing, searching the way they usually search, and if Microsoft has something really special, they might give a looksie, but Google is a comfortable shoe for most, and they are no doubt kicking back doing nothing.

The Web 2.0 will march on, with or without Microsoft at the ships helm.

Jim Alden
TechFrog,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free International Text Messaging **UPDATE AT END**


Ever want to text your best friend across the world but the costs are crazy-stupid? There are a slew of sites claiming free texts, but its never true and who wants to pay mobile companies those crazy fee's for each text. I found a successful and VERY easy way to do this, but the only catch is, you can only select one person at a time to text unless you don't need privacy.

Here is what you do (do the very same for both accounts).

1. Set up a free www.twitter.com account and have your long distance buddy do the same. If you already tweet on twitter, create another account just for this purpose.

2. Set yourself to follow your friend and have them do the same for you.

3. Go in settings and select Protect My Updates, so your messages wont be available to the rest of the world.

4. Select the link Add Device from the home page to add your mobile phone (follow directions on page to get your mobile set up and verified) Make sure Notifications is set to "On"

5. Both of you each click on the link "Following" and where your friend's name is, select "On" for Notifications

6. You can label the code twitter gives you in your phone directory as "Twitter" Now, every time you send any text message to Twitter in your phone, you are actually uploading to twitter that you have set to be a private account, and only your friend will have access. Since your friend has notifications setup as you do, he/she gets the posting as a text message.

Now either of you can send or receive from the Web or your Phone's text messaging.

The end result is, instant free messages from one place in the world to another for free on your phone. Of course, if you don't have a text plan, your personal text messaging rates will apply, but even in that case, its the local rate, not an international rate.

If you are curious, I use it, it's instant, looks like a text, acts like a text, and guess what, its a text! Thanks Twitter!!!
**UPDATE Nov, 2008. The cost of text access for some UK providers has now made this technique no longer work. I, for one, had a good run of it for about a year. We'll see what the future holds**

I am here to...

How comfortable are you with technology

What is your main computer system?

About Me

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I have been a Technology Consultant for over 15 years and am sometimes referred to as the Tech Guy To The Stars as many clients are of the Hollywood crowd. I haven't needed a business card in over a decade as I have made my living by word-of-mouth. I have a sick passion and addiction to efficiency. From my hybrid car to how a business office can be run more efficiently with today's technology. Knowledge is power, and my purpose here is to share what I have learned with those that can use it. I'm forever a student as well, so along the way, my eyes and ears are always open to new ideas, new technologies and just new ways of doing things