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Another damn password?!?!?!

One of the most common statements I hear from users is "Another Password??? I hate having to remember all these passwords". I want to give some tips I use for making a good password. What is a good password? Well it was one that you should feel confident enough people cannot guess in less than 3 tries or use a brute force to compromise. There are two basic forms of Brute Force attacks on passwords. The first one is a dictionary attack, a "bot"(automated routine) hits your password field entering basically a dictionary of common words in hopes one will work. The other type of Brute Force involves just hitting a password with every possible combination of letters and numbers. For example; A, then AA, then AAA, then AAAA,  and so on cycling till it gets to ZZZZ or 9999, trying to find every combination to try. Even keeping it simple with 4 digits and using numbers and letters, upper and lower case, it takes a ton of time. To add special characters would even take longer with all the possible combinations. So this is why we like to use a password that has Numbers, Letters in upper and lower case and even special characters.

So this comes to the reason for this post, a way to teach you have to make a secure password you can remember. So the first thing to do is come up with a word that is at least 8 characters you can remember. Could be a word like FLINTSTONES, that reminds you of when you were a child. Now lets make that a complicated password that you can remember. We will start with some simple reworks by retyping it as Flintstones, now it has upper and lowercase letters, but it is still pretty simple. A simple little trick is to change letters into numbers that look like letters. For example i=1(one), or o=0(zero), or e=3(three). If we rewrite it again, it is now Fl1ntst0n3s. OK this is a bit better, but we can go better yet. What special simples look like letters? These are always some of my favourites; s=$, n=^, a=@. Now with these, let us rewrite our password again, Fl1^t$t0^3$. Our password is still Flintstones, so you already know this, but we have just written it with 'bad handwriting'. With these little tricks even your name can become a complicated password. Check out some of these examples; John Smith=J0h^$m1th, your pet even Mr. Cuddles=Mr.Cuddl3$, another one that I do NOT recommend but I will show you as an example is Password=P@$$w0rd(this one is known by a lot of the malicious people out there, although if you were to change that to "I Hate Passwords"=1H@t3P@$$w0rd$" would be a doozy for security. 

Well I hope this little tip helps you feel better about passwords and your security,


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What is Cloud???

I often get a lot of clients who ask me or misunderstand or misuse understanding of "Cloud Services". There are all types of cloud services, some of the most know ones are iCloud, Google, Dropbox, and even Facebook have been used by many as a "Cloud Service". Many of us have email accounts that we keep a Cloud Status too, whether it is your Shaw, Telus or Gmail account, when you leave all your messages on you server(mail provider), this is Cloud computing. So how do we define Cloud Services to make it make a little more sense, well basically it is a place to store electronic files that the files always reside. An example of a simple understanding of the difference of cloud and non cloud, would be your email account and how it reacts. If you can access all your email, past and present from any computer and any time with a simple login, then you probably are using a cloud service. If you have ever had email on your computer and then your computer stopped functioning and your old email was lost with your computer, then you wouldn't have been using a cloud service. 

Cloud Services are basically servers that store your data that the server administrators look after. A good quality Cloud Service will back up data, keep speed and accessibility to your data reliable. Where these servers are for the most part isn't that important, but keep in mind with privacy laws, there is a chance in some legal situations, these locations may need to be known. Lawyers in Canada cannot store their data outside of Canada because of fears of privacy violations by outside countries, in particular for Canada, the US government has free access to any data stored in their country for national security reasons. For most of us this is not an issue, but I would not risk storing Copyrighted material that you are not the legal owner of on your cloud services. 

So why do we like Cloud Services? Because it gives us assess to our data, email, pictures, files or anything else that is in a digital format, and from any location that has an internet connection. This also means you get a backup of your data too, in the event of a disaster you have another place to recover it from. So what are cons of Cloud Services? Well you need access to an internet connection. The speed of that connection could be detrimental to the the efficiency of your Cloud Services. But those are your two major pit falls of concern in terms of Cloud Services. Also to note, cloud services can be very economical and even free in many cases, depending on how much data you are storing.

I hope I was able to give some clarity to understanding cloud services.


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Size matters still…

In todays modern age we have a habit of getting digital devices with some pretty impressive numbers. Everything from a new 24 megapixel camera, or to a phone that shoots 1080p video, or a camera that shoots 4k video, songs at 512kb/sec bit rates for music. All these numbers sound impressive when we are purchasing our exciting new consumer electronics, but as we work in this digital world, we work everywhere digitally. We want to post a video on Facebook, or send some pictures from our brand new camera to our families, or even find a way to share a hot new song with our friends. We are also very spoiled with high speed internet as well, and people have a bad habit of assuming everyone is. In the area I live in, I have 150mb/s download capability, which is pretty descent but the area just went to fibre and people are now pushing over 256mb/s down and upload speeds, and they don't realize the neighbouring towns that are just down the road have not caught up yet. Some of the areas that are less than 40 mins away driving distance are still on dial up. 

Lets take a look at some of the size produced when we use some of our new technology. A 24 megapixel camera shooting an image a high quality jpeg image, will average close to the 7MB mark. Which means a 150 pictures would be close to over 1GB. Which doesn't seem so bad when think of the size of disks these days or the RAM on our computer, or memory sticks in our cameras. Which means to transfer all those files to a cloud drive at 15Mbps would take approximately 9 minutes. But you might be thinking, I am never going to send that much. You might to your cloud drive, but lets say you want to email, say 10 pictures, so about 70MB to a family member who likes to spend most of the time out by their cabin or they happen to live some place remote that still has to use a dial up connection. 70MB in an email, which is way too big and most mail servers won't even let you attempt to send something that big, which is being sent to someone on a 96kbps dial up connection. Those 10 pictures would take approximately close to 2(TWO) hours for them to download. 

But there are other considerations. How about our data plans on our phones. A 12 megapixel camera on a phone is making picture files that are about 4-5MB. If you shoot high quality 1080p 1 minute video from a device, the file size can be as big as over 700MB. This is a 1 minute video file. So 1, one minute video and about 70 pictures sent to your friends in a month, would have you over your 1GB allotted data plan. This is not including downloading your regular email, Facebook surfing, some fancy apps that use data, or even worse music stream, or even worse yet, video streaming. Yes we try and jump on WiFi spots when ever we can, but how respectful are you being to the person that doesn't have a large data plan or a slow connection? Also if you sending files that are not going to be used for video productions or images that are going to be used for print press, then it is like sending a 55 gallon drum of soup when someone asked for a bowl of soup. 

So take some time and learn about your device and don't always be impressed with those numbers, because unless you eat a lot of soup yourself, why have 55 gallon drums of soup around?

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But it is my name…?

In the past I have always tried to protect the best interests of my clients, and one of the items that I put on the top of my list, is helping them register their own domain name. Many web designers and webmasters, feel it is easier to assist clients by taking ownership of a clients domain name, and in the process add a bit of service fee for that service. I have always been worried that for if some reason I was ever incapacitated indefinitely, anyone can be run over by a bus. So I have always made a practice to help clients setup a domain name with a registrar and they also will pay the renewal fees. Your name is yours, why would want to lose it because of a complication in your web designer/masters life? You maybe concerned about the technical part of owning your domain name, but any person with technical experiencing including a new web designer/master should be able to help you change your settings to push your domain to the appropriate servers. You also now are in a position to change web designers/masters at any time without any obligation, unlike if someone else owns your name.

So the question to a lot of people is how likely is this really to be a concern? Well years ago when I first got into assisting clients with domains, one of my first clients, had a couple who ran a web design company and they unfortunately had started into a messy divorce, and not only had stopped talking to each other, but all their clients as well. There was definitely some struggles and we were able to resolve and move the ownership. Now we jump forward almost a decade later, and some other clients of mine had a web designer/master who became very very sick and kept hoping he was going to recover, but unfortunately he never was able to and passed away. The family had no technical knowledge and his record keeping was not the easiest to follow, and to add to things, he used different registrars here and there with different credentials. Some of his clients I am still struggling to find their domains names to help them move over to their own registrar. So if you think it can't happen, that is like thinking, your computer will never crash and you do not need a backup. Make good backups of your computer and also make sure you are the owner of your domain name, there  is no need for your web designer/master to own your name.

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