Showing posts with label tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tech. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Store Your Passwords

How do you store your passwords? Let's review three choices to consider as we celebrate World Password Day.
Happy World Password Day! This is a holiday that everyone within the sound of my written voice can celebrate; if you're on a computer, you almost positively have at least one password. Or a hundred of them, and therein lies the problem. How do you store all those passwords? Better yet, how do you remember them? Let's review some of the best ways to store the passwords that you use online.

But first, let's talk a little bit about why there is a World Password Day. Cybercrime is huge in the news these days. Rarely a week goes by that we don't learn of another hack by some group of unknown criminals on the computer records of yet another well-known large company, bank, or perhaps worse, government agency.

It is said that there are two groups of people online, those who've been hacked and those who don't yet know they've been hacked. It's hard to imagine how much personal information, often including account numbers and passwords, is in the hands of criminals who have nothing but bad things in mind. Likely they plan to sell all the compromised information they can get their hands on to the highest bidder with no regard at all to how their illegal deeds might adversely affect the average computer user.

While there's little we as individuals can do to stop this widespread criminal behavior, the best thing we can do to keep our own online information safe is to protect access to it by using good, strong passwords and storing them properly.

Care to guess what the two most-used passwords in the world are? At the top of the list is the numeric sequence 123456 while second is the word "password." If you use either of those on any of your online accounts, I have three words for you: No! No! No! It takes mere seconds to create a strong password, one that even the worst bad guy's password-stealing robot can't easily hack. For some simple tips to follow when creating a password, both do's and don't's, visit the World Password Day website. It's a fun and informative site where you'll probably learn a thing or two.

Once you've created your new long, strong passwords, one for each and every account you use, you'll need to figure out how to safely store them. Here are three choices to consider.

Kaspersky Password Manager is a great way to keep your personal passwords safe!
1. Hire a manager. The easiest way is to store all of your passwords with the help of a password manager such as the highly-recommended Kaspersky Password Manager (available in both a free and a paid version). This program syncs your passwords across devices, which is very handy. It will also help you develop strong passwords that are hard to crack, always a good thing. Learn more then download the free version or buy the paid version (just $14.99, price subject to change) at the link.

2. Write them down. If you're old fashioned, as I tend to be, you might want to keep track of your passwords yourself by writing them down on paper. Or use a simple Rolodex. The one in the picture above is mine. The alphabetical tabs make it easy to file the cards by site name or URL and it doesn't take much room on your desk top. This is a good solution for a home office, but I wouldn't use it in a public work space where anyone who walks by could take a peek or, worse, grab it and take off with it. Also, it isn't easy to pack in my purse when I travel. That's where the next option comes in.

This personal password logbook is a great way to store all the passwords you use online.
3.  Use a password journal. I really like this personal password logbook or journal! It's designed specifically for recording internet addresses and their passwords as well as other useful information about your computer, your software, your ISP, your email addresses, and more. The front label is removable, so the contents are stored discretely. The elastic band helps by keeping the book closed until you want to open it. I really like the cover design, too, which is just one of several available for this line of password journals or logbooks. (You'll see them at the link.) While I keep a short list of passwords with me in my purse, it's barely sufficient and not nearly as efficient as this pretty book which right now costs less than $7 (price subject to change).

A word of caution: House fires happen. I know first hand. So if you depend on a Rolodex, sticky notes, or just a simple notebook for storing passwords, make sure you have a backup somewhere (and not on an external hard drive in your home; they burn, too). The Kaspersky system is probably the best choice for storing passwords or, if you still want to do it yourself, just make sure you've set up a file in the cloud somewhere that you can retrieve from anywhere in case of emergency. The price is very reasonable and very worth it when you consider the time it takes to retrieve and/or change every password you have. Again, I know.

So, how do you store your passwords? Do they need updating? How will you celebrate World Password Day? While it officially falls on the first Thursday of May (May 4, 2017), this information is important every day of the year. I hope you'll use it to keep both your data and your passwords safe!

~ Susan
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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sling TV Review (Alternative to Cable TV)

Cable TV bills getting you down? Need a cheaper alternative but don't want to give up your favorite stations and shows? Then do what I did. Try Sling TV and stream top-rated cable channels directly to your TV, computer, phone, or tablet for just $20 a month!
Sling TV Review - Alternative to Cable TV
My TV, my hand,  my Fire TV Stick screen, my Sling TV. Love it! 

Excuse me if I sound like a commercial, but I'm excited about this. We've never had cable TV at our house (we use an antenna), but we do have a Fire TV Stick which we use to stream movies, listen to music, and more. A couple of months ago I became aware of a service, an app really, called Sling Television that we could download to our Fire TV Stick to watch the cable TV channel that I was craving. Yes, I got the app primarily for one channel (TNT), to watch one show (Major Crimes), but the standard $20 monthly cost actually includes more than 20 stations including ESPN and ESPN2, the History channel and H2, A&E, the Food Network, HGTV, the Travel Channel, CNN, and more. What a deal!

We're talking 23 (at last count) LIVE cable television stations that you can watch for just $20 (plus tax) a month. You can also get HBO for $15 more a month, the Sports Extra, Deportes Extra, Kids Extra, Hollywood Extra, plus several other add-on packages for $5 each, but only if you want those channels. See the full list at the website.

Don't have a Fire TV stick or Fire TV? No problem! Play Sling through your Roku, Xbox One, Android or iOS device, your PC or Mac, or your Kindle Fire.

Since I use the app with my Fire Stick, I actually signed up via the app on Amazon and got a 14-day free trial (that offer is still in effect as I type this) and I pay, conveniently, a month at a time through my Amazon account. Oh, did I mention that there are no contracts? All I have to do is cancel if I change my mind.

So, how well does Sling TV work? For me, quite well. Navigation is easy. While the screen has frozen perhaps a couple of times, it's been rare. I remember once when the audio and video were horribly out of sync, but I just exited the app then went right back in and everything was fine. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on the device you're using and the reliability of your wi-fi connection.

Speaking as a non-techy person, I set this up myself and I'm the one who usually controls the remote, so that proves that it's easy to use. Is SlingTV a good choice for you? I don't know your needs, but for me, I can watch Major Crimes on Monday nights, plus a lot of other great shows, and I don't have a cable bill or a contract, so I'm happy. With the 14-day trial, you really have nothing to lose.

Where do I sign up for Sling TV?
Download the app on Amazon and you'll be eligible for the 14-day trial.  Learn more about the service and see the current line-up of shows on the Sling Television website, but you'll only get a 7-day trial if you sign up there. (Prices and terms subject to change.)

So tell me, do you have cable TV or do you use an alternative service such as Sling?

P.S. Update: It's been almost three months since I wrote this review and I'm enjoying Sling more and more. Between baseball playoffs and college football, I'm using it more and more, too.  

-- Susan Deppner

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