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  • Password Myths

    Posted on January 27th, 2017 Alan 1 comment

    You can find plenty of arguments to counter the points made in the article linked below, but I happen to agree with many of the points made.
    I password is useless if you can’t remember it and these days, we all have tons we have to remember.

    At work I had to write a password validator to use in a mobile app’s enrollment screen.  I chose to only allow the special characters found on a standard keyboard. No extended ascii characters allowed.   Limiting support calls was my main motivation.

    Myth #2. Dj#wP3M$c is a Great Password

    A common myth is that totally random passwords spit out by password generators are the best passwords. This is not true. While they may in fact be strong passwords, they are usually difficult to remember, slow to type, and sometimes vulnerable to attacks against the password generating algorithm. It is easy to create passwords that are just as strong but much easier to remember by using a few simple techniques. For example, consider the password “Makeit20@password.com”. This password utilizes upper and lower-case letters, two numbers, and two symbols. The password is 20 characters long and can be memorized with very little effort; perhaps even by the time you finish this article. Moreover, this password can be typed very fast. The portion “Makeit20” alternates between left and right-handed keys on the keyboard, improving speed, decreasing typos, and decreasing the chances of someone being able to discover your password by watching you (for a list of nearly eight thousand English words that alternate between left and right-handed keys, see http://www.xato.net/downloads/lrwords.txt.)

    The best technique for creating complex passwords that are easier to remember is to use data structures that we are accustomed to remembering. Such structures also make it easy to include punctuation characters in the password, as in the e-mail address example used above. Other data structures that are easy to remember are phone numbers, addresses, names, file paths, etc. Consider also that certain elements make things more memorable for us. For example, patterns, repetition, rhymes, humor, and even offensive words all make passwords that we will never forget.

    Click here for full article










  • How to refresh Facebook cache

    Posted on January 8th, 2017 Alan No comments

    When creating a Facebook post, if you include a url to a website, Facebook will preview the website in your post.  Facebook looks in a cached version of the home page so if it has changed since Facebook cached it, it may not preview correctly.  To force Facebook to fetch a fresh version, go here: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/


  • Google Maps vs Apple Maps

    Posted on June 4th, 2016 Alan No comments

    Great analysis of the differences between Google Maps and Apple Maps

    Here is there summary:

    We looked at 54 pairs of maps across three cities (New York, San Francisco, and London) and found several significant differences:

    • Apple Maps, on average, labels more citiesthan Google at every zoom.
    • Google Maps, on average, labels more roadsthan Apple on nearly every zoom.
    • For two-thirds of zooms, both maps generallyshow the same number of roads. For the remaining third, Apple almost always shows more roads.
    • Both maps, on average, label a similar number of POIs—but have only 15% of their POIs in common on an average zoom.
    • Both maps also prioritize different kinds of POIs: Google Maps heavily prioritizes transit, while Apple prioritizes landmarks. Apple also generally shows a greater number of POI categories on a given zoom—and shows twice as many restaurants and shops as Google.


  • How to combine multiple PDF files into one

    Posted on March 26th, 2014 Alan No comments

    This is very useful if you use a mac.  Just open the pdf files you want to combine into one using Preview.  Open the sidebar from each document and drag the page icons from one window to another.  Save the document where you combined the pdf files.  Be sure to view all pages before saving or you will only save the current page.  If you still get just one page, then simply select Print of your new document and save it back out as a PDF.

    Click here for details


  • Time Warner Cable without a cable box

    Posted on February 11th, 2014 Alan No comments

    I don’t have a cable box in my office but I do have an XBOX.  Time Warner offers an XBOX app that allows you access to 300+ cable stations.  Came in handy today since I wanted to put on the Olympics (in HD) in the background while I worked.  We also use the TW app for iPad & Android tablets to watch shows on demand.  NOW I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a better value for my Time Warner cable service.


  • Embed or Link to multi-calendar view of your Google Calendar

    Posted on February 4th, 2014 Alan No comments

    These are the steps to embed a google calendar in your website:

    1. Next to ANY calendar that you want to include, hover to the right of it to reveal the drop-down menu icon, and select Calendar Settings
    2. In the “Embed This Calendar” section select the link “Customize the color, size, and other options”
    3. Select the other calendars that you want to include in your view under the “Calendars to Display” section
    4. Select any other options. Don’t forget to give this “multi-calendar” view a title, then click the Update Html button in the top right.
    5. Copy and paste the html code generated to your web page.
    6. Some sites do not allow you to include an <iframe>.  For WordPress sites, you must install a plugin such as THIS one.

    What if you just want to LINK to the multi-calendar view or email someone a link to the view?

    You can do this by taking the embed code and cleaning it up a bit as follows:

    1. Remove the iframe tag and src=.  You only need the actual url and all it’s parameters.
    2. When you copy and pasted the embed code, you are likely to see several occurrences of &amp; which will cause the link to show you a blank calendar.  Replace these occurrences with just the & character.

    Example original embed code:

    <iframe src=”https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?title=My%20Multi-calendar%20View&amp;height=600&amp;wkst=1&amp;bgcolor=%23FFFFFF
    color=%23711616&amp;ctz=America%2FChicago” style=” border-width:0 ” width=”800″ height=”600″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

    After cleanup, hyperlink to use:

    ctz=America%2FChicago” style=” border-width:0 ” width=”800″ height=”600″
    frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no”>

  • Cramming (Fraud)

    Posted on October 14th, 2013 Alan No comments

    I have been a victim of cramming which is a term I was not familiar with until today. I discovered a $6.99 charge my T-mobile cell phone bill and traced it back 4 months. A reoccurring charge of $6.99 was added without my knowledge and T-mobile said it was from PlayPlanet. Did you now that virtually anyone can cause a charge to be added to your phone bill?  If you have not blocked Third-Party charges on your cell phone you should do it now!

    Fortunately, T-Mobile valued my business and they refunded me the amount of the unexpected charges.  They also turned on the free service to block any future 3rd party charges on all 4 of the lines we have.   You can read about the T-mobile policy on third-party charges HERE.

    Though I appreciate the corrective steps taken by T-Mobile, I resent that I even had to ask for them.  This should be an OPT-IN policy where I should have to REQUEST allowing third party charges, not an OPT-OUT where they enable it by default.

  • Google Security

    Posted on September 20th, 2013 Alan No comments

    Besides my primary Google/Gmail account, I also have a throw-away account I use for work to test with.

    This morning I received an alert from Google that someone tried logging in to this account using an “untrusted” machine in Florida.  Google recommended changing my password which I did.  I also read in detail their recommendation to use a 2-step login procedure which I also setup.

    If you have a Google or Gmail account I recommend doing this.  Click HERE for details about this security measure.

    In addition, in your security settings (Go to google.com, click on your picture in upper right corner, select Account, select Security along the left side), scroll to the bottom and review “Connected applications and sites”. Delete any websites or applications you don’t recognize or use any more.

    I went ahead and added 2-step verification for my primary Google/Gmail account as well.  The 2-step process requires you login using your normal password and also using a verification code that is sent to your mobile phone.  As part of that process, I had to reset my password on my Android phone.  Unfortunately, it is running an older version of the Android OS (2.3.4) and it isn’t able to prompt me for a verification code.  Instead Google asks you to use a special Application-specific password for apps that are not able to prompt for the verification code. Details on this are HERE.

    On my phone, I went to Settings…Accounts & Sync.. and tried to change the password for my GMail account but was not able to.  Apparently you have to reset your phone to factory settings to change anything about your primary Gmail account on the phone.  That’s crazy.  I would lose all data, all my files and all downloaded programs!  Fortunately, I found a workaround.  Instead, I went to Settings…Applications…Manage Applications…All…GMail…Clear Data.  That allowed me to re-enter not my normal password but the special password Google provided as explained HERE.  This happened the next time I launched GMail.

    I feel much safer now.

  • A nicer funner CAPTCHA

    Posted on August 30th, 2012 Alan No comments

    Captcha is that technology used when you are logging in to a website that requires you to type in obscured letters or words to make sure you aren’t a computer robot trying to break in. I came across a different take on this technology which I think is awesome.  You just have to assemble a very easy puzzle.  Here is a screenshot:

  • Own your own Blog

    Posted on August 22nd, 2012 Alan No comments

    Scott encourages folks to start their own blog, especially developers:

    “You are not blogging enough. You are pouring your words into increasingly closed and often walled gardens. You are giving control – and sometimes ownership – of your content to social media companies that will SURELY fail. These companies are profoundly overvalueddon’t care about permalinksdon’t make your content portable, and have terms of service that are so complex and obtuse that there are entire websites dedicate to explaining them.”

    It’s true that the world today is about social networks such as Twitter (ugh) and Facebook so to reach more folks, I simply post to my blog and then link to it on my Facebook wall.  Best of both worlds!