Archive for August 2010

Google is Adding Prioritizing to Gmail

IDG News reports that Google will be rolling about a “pre-release” or “experimental” feature for Gmail called “Priority Inbox”.  The idea is to save time by helping you get to your most critical messages first.  I imagine you will be able to find it in the Settings section under Labs, but as of this writing I don’t see it in my Gmail yet.  http://bit.ly/TekChic0161

Garmin is Recalling 1.3 Million Units

If you have a Garmin GPS unit, check this article in the Wall Street Journal to see if yours is one of the units included in the recall.  It seems they have a nasty habit of spontaneous combustion.

http://bit.ly/TekChic0159

“UnSend” a Message in Gmail

Ever clicked on “send” in an email and suddenly cringed realizing you didn’t mean to send it yet because you needed to add something.  Well, now Gmail has a new feature you can use that will give you approx. 30 seconds to Undo your sent message.  To turn on this feature, go to Settings in Gmail and click on “Labs”.  Down toward the bottoms you will see this…

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Click on “Enable” to the right and then click on Save Settings.

 

Now when you send a message you will see something like this after you click send…

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Click on Undo, if you’re successful you’ll see the message below.  Remember, you only have 30 seconds or so, so don’t wait too long.  Send yourself a message and give it a test.

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Crazy Photos From the iPhone

I didn’t take them (my iPhone is going onto eBay), but apparently the way the shutter works in the iPhone camera leads to some strange effects of extremely high-speed action (like plane propellers.)  Gizmodo has a bunch of such photos posted:  http://gizmo.do/TekChic0158

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Laptop Deal: Toshiba Core i3, 4GB Memory & Windows 7

Office Depot has the Toshiba L655 with the new Intel Core i3, 15.6” screen (LED backlit) 4 Gigabytes of memory, a 320 Gigabyte hard drive and built in wireless N for $499.  It also has a built-in mic and web-cam, a memory card ready, a numeric keypad and of course Windows 7.  Compared to the $399 deals I’ve posted the last few weeks, this has a much better processor, faster memory and faster wireless networking.  At $499 it’s a good deal.

The keyboard on these strike me as unusually flat for some reason, so I suggest you go to your local store and make sure you like the feel of the Toshiba keyboards, but you’ll still have to order this online to get it at this price.  http://bit.ly/TekChic0157

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Blockbuster Video Filing for Bankruptcy?

Looks like the era of the old-fashioned video store will soon be something for the history books.  Hollywood video closed a bunch of their stores earlier this year, and now it looks like Blockbuster Video is going to file for Bankruptcy protection mid-September.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the plan is to close low-performing stores and muddle on into 2011.  In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time.  Netflix may end up being the last man standing when smoke clears in the home video media rental business.  Read the whole L.A. Times article here: http://bit.ly/TekChic0156

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Make Your Browser Screen Bigger

An easy way to make the text larger in your web browser is to press the Ctrl key and the + key. To make is smaller use Ctrl and the – key. If you have a wide-screen monitor you probably have a lot of extra room to make your viewing easier. Try it right now!  Ctrl + and Ctrl –.  It’s a beautiful thing!

Google Fixes Gmail Problem

Google was having a problem the last few days with messages automatically getting re-sent, sometimes days later.  Apparently they found the bug and fixed.  I also had reports from clients of mine that Gmail was VERY SLOW in delivering messages, sometimes a couple of hours.  Today that also seems to be resolved, so perhaps they were related.  PCWorld has more details about the problem:  http://bit.ly/TekChic0155

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Asus 14.1″ Laptop with Core 2 Duo, 4GB, 250GB $379

Computer Geeks has this Asus laptop for only $379 when you enter the coupon code NBDEALS at checkout.  It includes a DVD burner and will do a nice job for most tasks.  Keep in mind this is a REFURBISHED laptop and comes with a 90 day warranty.  It also comes with Windows Vista, not Windows 7, but around the holidays it’s rumored Windows 7 family pack will be available again (3 copies for $150), so it would worth it to upgrade.  Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/Tek-Chic0154

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LastPass Basics – The BEST Password Manager

LastPass is a great tool for managing your passwords.  As I mentioned in my August 2010 article, having good passwords is essential to keeping your information secure.  But having good passwords AND remembering them is almost impossible to do, so that’s why you need to go to www.lastpass.com and download LastPass.  The name LastPass is reference to “The Last Password You’ll Have to Remember!”  With LastPass you only have to remember one really good password – your “master” password.  This master password unlocks your vault, allowing LastPass not only to remember your usernames and passwords, but now it can fill it in for you the next time you visit the site.  Most browsers already have this capability, but they are not secure and easy for a bad guy to see.  All you data in LastPass is highly encrypted, and without your master password, all anyone can see is gibberish.

The advantages of LastPass are many: 1) your vault is stored encrypted on the web and is accessible to you from any computer, anywhere.  2) It works with all the major browsers.  3) It works on Windows, Mac and Linux, so the password you created on your Windows machine at work will be available to you on your Mac or Linux machine at home.  4) It’s FREE for use on your computers, and for only $1.00 a month you can access to your login information on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian and Android phones.)

Here’s 1 minute video on the basic function of LastPass:

                          

So give LastPass a try.  I’ll posts later on some of the more advanced but very cool features of LastPass.

Why You Need Secure Passwords

I can’t tell you how many of my clients were using the names of their dogs, or their own names, or their children’s names as their single password to everything – including their BANK, the same password everywhere! All it takes is a bad guy to capture your password at one location or web site, and now he has the keys to the candy store. Of course, if your password is based on common names or words found in the dictionary, he won’t need to snoop or even guess your password. They use programs that run the dictionary and simple variations (like adding “1” to the end) against your login and wait to get lucky, these are called “brute force” attacks. If you have a common 6 character word as your password like “flower”, a hacker will get it in about 3 minutes.

Let’s start by talking about random numbers – like the PIN you use with your bank debit card. Using 4 spaces (or positions), and the numbers 0-9, there are exactly 10,000 variations possible (0000 counts as one possibility.) So there are 10 digits (or characters) and 4 positions, this is 10 to the 4th power (or 104.)

Now let’s add the alphabet. Most passwords are case-sensitive, so including both upper and lower case characters; we’ve added 52 possibilities to each position. With 62 characters, those same 4 positions now have 624 (sixty-two to the fourth power) possibilities, or 14,776,336 different combinations. 14 million combinations still isn’t a big task for a computer to work on, that can easily be done in less than a day (and computers don’t need to take breaks.)

The minimum length you need for a secure password is 8 characters. 628 gives you over 218 trillion combinations. Many websites also allow “special” characters (like ~!@#$%^&*()_). So let’s add 12 special characters to the mix – we now have 748 and almost 900 trillion possible passwords. Now you have a password that probably won’t get cracked in your lifetime and frankly, unless you’re a high level government official, a spy or maybe a CEO of a major corporation.

So what does this secure password look like, oh – something like this: mZ@nj&#2. Now, I know with some practice you would be able to remember a password like this, BUT we don’t want to be using the SAME PASSWORD for all our logins. Unless you are some kind of savant like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, you’re going to need help. Read my article about Lastpass in the Apps/Tools category, this is a FREE tool that integrates with your browser to SECURELY remember all your logins and passwords. It also will generate secure passwords for you and safely store any other information you wish to keep safe.

So now you know what a secure password is, and that you need LOTS of them to keep your personal information and identity safe from thieves. Check out Lastpass, it’s free and not hard to use.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems
“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

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