Passwords are the devil

Don’t you just hate passwords! Passwords are the necessary evil of the internet. Until something better comes along we will just have to live with them. If you want to use services like Gmail, Facebook, iCloud passwords are the barrier to entry. We all have them, they are hard to remember, they have to have strange characters (%&#^#) they have to have CAPITALS and numb3rs in them. We write them down in books, on pieces of paper and in our “notes” apps.

Passwords are there for your protection, without them anyone with your email address could access your information. This means they could take your pictures see your emails/messages or even get access to your bank. They could even pretend to be you, for example if someone got into your Facebook, they could post as you and change your personal preferences. The good news is that very few of us will ever have undying bad happen but it does still happen and it is a real issue. A small amount of bad people really make the rest of our lives more difficult, but isn’t that always the way.

There are better ways to handle them than writing them down on a piece of paper. There are services such as Lastpass and 1password that can manage your passwords for different sites and services LifeHacker Password Managers is a breakdown of 5 such services. They do require, yes, a  password to access them, but the point is that you only have to remember one password. Ideally you would want a very difficult one. If you use a mac, with iCloud keychain you an also use that to have your passwords remembered on your iPhone, iPad and Mac computers natively.

Now back to what I said earlier about something coming along that is better. There is nothing that is widely adopted yet however there are additional security measures that you can look into that make you more secure. Things like two factor or two step authentication are ways that someone who just has your password can still not have access to your stuff. Basically it boils down to remembering a password and having a thing, like your phone or an RSA key. This means a bad guy would have to learn your password AND steal something from you to be able to get your stuff.

At the end of the day, passwords are needed to do any dealings on the internet and often at work too. But hopefully this will give you a better understanding of why we need them and how to manage them better.

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Googles New Televison Service

Amidst Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where we’re seeing new phones and tablets from players like Samsung and Nokia. Google held there own press conference at their playa vista offices.

They are offering a new television service for $35/ month. TechCruch has a great breakdown here of the different offerings however there is sports.

However parcing quickly through all the reports from different sources I can only surmise that this will not be available, at least at first, in any country except the U.S.

This is very exciting for people like me who have already cut the cord. Finding legit methods of watching live tv and sports is hard to come by but this is a huge step in the right direction.

Being prepared

 There is no substitute for preparing for the worst. The saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is so true especially in the world of technology. Bad things even if you think you have the most reliable products. Many different things can go wrong. Your computer, phone or network can just stop working. They can break from a drop or liquid contact. They can be stolen or lost. If you don’t have a plan for these possibilities then you may lose time, money and worse of your important and priceless data. Even if you don’t read past this paragraph just remember it is much more difficult, stressful and often much more expensive to try to retrieve your stuff after something has gone wrong.

 We have all had a friend or colleague that has lost an important document, file or even their family photos. The trouble is that often we don’t learn anything from it we just feel bad for them and move on. If you don’t have a backup that happens automatically on a regular basis, you are leaving your data at risk. Now a backup may not be the same in everyone’s situation. You may only care about one thing, say a quickbooks file. Your backup may just be as simple as emailing it to yourself on a daily basis. You may think that you don’t have anything on your computer that is important. I have come across people and businesses that thought this they were fine when there computer was fully erased. The look on their face when absolutely nothing was where it once was is just horrifying. There is no reason to not have a full computer backup as it is very cheap and easy to do. Obviously the more information you have the more complex your backup will be. A single computer can rely on say two hard drives however an office may need a NAS (Network Attached Storage) and an online backup solution.

 PC World has a great article on how to do this and they get into the “rule of three”. Basically you should have three copies of your files at all times. The first is your working copy the one that lives on your computer that you are using and modifying. The second and third are your backup and the backup of your backup. The importance of the third is that it is not in the same location as your main and your first backup.

 Backing up the computer is not the only thing that is cheap and easy to do. The business world revolves around communication. The phone and email are often the most important things that remain functional in ones day. What if your phone was stolen, or found its way into the door just as you were closing it. What then? Well having a backup phone is also something that is cheap and easy. There are some smart phones that are as little as 60 bucks on a pay as you go plan. I’m not talking Samsung or iPhone mind you but still something that will keep your business up and running.

 It all comes back to being prepared. No one wants something to go wrong but you don’t want to be caught unprepared if you do. Have a plan, periodically check your backups. Like a fire drill. Make sure that you can be there at all times for your customers.