Why you need to change your password!

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Why you should change your password

Last month I attended a workshop about cyber safety. The presenter, Dave L. Rutz, is actually a Computer Forensic Analyst. As he enlightened us about how computer passwords are crack it really started to make me think. There are three main ways that a hacker will try to figure out your passwords. The first method is known as the Dictionary Attack. The computer will go through the dictionary one word at a time until it figures out your password. This is the easiest password to hack. You may think that you have an awesome password by using something complex like “underfunded”, if you look in the dictionary there are 113 words in the English dictionary that contain the word “fun” verses “fund” there are 56 words verses 8 words that start with “funde”… you can see how quickly the “Dictionary Attack” can work. The second, and more difficult to hack, is known as the “Brute Force Attack”. This method works by trying to figure out one letter at a time. This can take some. The final method that we talked about is a combination of both Dictionary Attack and Brute Force Attack. Again while you think that you have a strong and powerful password like “juglandaceous” there are actually 3 words in the English dictionary that start with “junl” and 41 words that start with “jug”.

Now that we know how easy it will be to hack your current passwords how can we make a strong password you might ask. First you might want to renew your current passwords if you  either haven’t changed them in a while and/or you think you current password has been compromised. Next make your password complex by having it at least 8 characters, use upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols. To avoid being hacked using the dictionary attack you will want to change your password to a “passphrase”. These are more difficult to crack. A passphrase might look like this “Tp4tci2s4U2g!” = “The password for this computer is too strong for you to guess!“. Notice the uniqueness of the password/passphrase, the caps / lower case, numbers, and symbols. Finally, make your passwords/passphrases unique. DO NOT use the same password for every account and DO NOT have your passwords relate to anything personal about you, such as your children’s names, address, zip codes, birthdays, car, favorite color. Thing about it, you post that kind of personal information about yourself on your social media pages all the time. If you have a hard time coming up with a password you can use this site to help you: http://www.onlinepasswordgenerator.com.

Of course while you are taking the time to come up with strong passwords you do not want to write them down on a sticky or shared media. If you put them in a file make sure your document is password protected or use a reputable password management software. When asked NEVER use the “Save Password” option on your computer. If you want to check and see how secure your password is you might want to check out: http://howsecureismypassword.net.

Happy computing!!!

** UPDATE **

Here’s a great article about “The Big Password Mistakes That Hackers Are Hoping That You’ll Make

Another great password checker: http://blog.kaspersky.com/password-check/

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Hey Web Designers! Do you use wireframe kits?

Taken from Adobe Blog (http://blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/tag/adobe-proto/)

Adobe Proto image taken from blog.adobe.com posted on July 20, 2012

Calling all web designers!!! Just curious, how many web designers out there actually use wireframe kits?

Last week I noticed that Tuts+ was hosting a community project for Wireframe Kit that were created using Adobe Illustrator. I admit I don’t think I’ve ever used “wireframes” personally but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be useful. It seems to me that the use of wireframes would / could be an easy way of creating thumbnails digitally for clients to work on layout and functionality of the site itself. In the past I actually used an Adobe Touch App called Adobe Proto (which was discontinued) . It was a simple way of creating those wireframes for creating webpage layouts. Maybe the fact that it was discontinued is the very reason that Tuts+ is looking for wireframes kits. Speaking of Adobe Touch Apps you might want to check out this site from Adobe about the replaces for either the complete disconnected apps or discontinued apps Android and/or iOS devices. I’m glad that I purchased all the Android version apps before they were discontinued. I don’t receive app updates but they is still usable when needed. That being said I think I’m going to make a challenge for myself and try to create a wireframe kit to use for my next web design project.

Why are “they” so afraid of technology?

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I often find myself asking this question over and over again, “Why are people so scared of technology?” I don’t know about you all but this is a problem that I run into daily.  Don’t get me wrong, some people I know really love it and will embrace it, but others… my only guess is that they think they are going to break the computer / technology. As a high school teacher I push the topic of “emerging technologies” almost daily in class. The image above is one that I took in class of a student’s notes that they wrote out, photographed, and then imported into their Evernote account for review. The students, for the most part, seem to understand of working smarter and harder.  Some students have embraced the idea of using the technology as a tool, while other students… well, let’s just say their idea of using technology is playing games on the computers or scrolling through Twitter and other social media sites. This might be hard to believe but I have students who don’t know how to put paper in a printer. I know it sounds crazy since “all kids are into technology” but I have to tell you that is just not true. On the other side I see teachers day in and day out expect these kids to be way more advanced then they are but the teachers themselves are too scared to use the technology themselves. The other day a teacher was telling me how difficult it was getting photos from students and I mentioned the use of hashtags on Twitter. As some of you may know, high school aged kids are not using Facebook as much as you think. They have moved over to other social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. I wanted to remind the teacher that he could just request the students to hashtag their photos and then the teacher could just grab them offline. The teacher actually placed his fingers over his ears and said “This is too much. I’m not listening!” If you are familiar with hashtags you know how easy this task would be. If you are not, do me a favor and try this one thing for me:

  1. review the following twitter page: https://twitter.com/hashtags  (you do not have to have a twitter account to view)
  2. review the following WikiHow page: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Hashtags-With-Twitter
  3. If you have a twitter account try going to: http://www.twitterfall.com/ and doing a search on a hashtag. This is really awesome to do if you participating in something and/or watching something… For example I found it to be fun and interesting during the NBA Draft!

Back to the topic at hand. Why are people so afraid of technology? I have people ask me all the time about technology related questions. They always wonder how I know some much stuff about stuff. I’m honest with them and tell them that I searched for it on the internet. I have no idea why your computer keeps booting up in safe mode but after about two clicks and 5 minutes on the internet I found a forum and fixed your problem.

Is the answer as simple as the question? Are people afraid of technology because they are just simply afraid? Do they really think they are going to break the internet?  Do they think that one wrong click will give them the blue screen of death?

I guess for me, I like to take the Thomas A. Edison approach on things…. When asked about failing so many times when trying to invent the lightbulb he replied with…. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Sometimes, not all the time, failure can be an excellent learning tool. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in “YOLO” like my students believe. I know there are consequences to our successes and failures in life. With technology, I say, go ahead, give it a try… and if something breaks… there is someone out there who might be able to fix it… hopefully that person will be you!

How to install fonts in Google Drive/Doc

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As some of you may already know, I really like Google. I enjoy most of the apps that Google have put out and I use some of them daily. As a high school teacher I have noticed that more and more students either no not own the Microsoft Office Software and/or they have a hard time keeping up with a portable drive such as a jump drive. I have found that Google Drive/Doc has really become a life saver to some of those students. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Microsoft products as well but I admit I like the ability to collaborate with other teachers and/or students via Google Drive/Docs.

As a Graphic Designer I love my fonts! I was disappointed to see so few fonts in Google Drive/Docs. A few months ago I heard another designer talk about “Google Fonts”. I started to think about it and I wanted to figure out how to install more fonts into my Google Drive/Docs. Once I found out how to accomplish this, I admit, I felt a silly. It is so simple and if I would have just read the screen, like my dad always told me, I would have known the answer to this question a long time ago.

Here are some simple and easy steps to install more fonts into your Google Drive/Doc.

 

What did I tell you… it is really that easy! Happy Googling!

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us…

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Family BINGO night!

As we gather this week to celebrate our holiday traditions by spending time with friends and family we may find ourselves by playing with new gadgets and taking photos to remember the events that have taken place. My family gathered last night to play a tradition game of family BINGO. For those of you who are not familiar with my family we have what’s called “Larson Rules” for any and all games that we play. As we like to say… “either you are in or out” and you better play to win!

To illustrate this our competition nature that my family posses here’s a quick story that I was told when I was very small. You see my mother was about 8+ months pregnant with me and of course my family decided to play a little friendly “game” of volleyball. Wanting to win, my grandfather jumped up and spiked the ball on my very pregnant mother. Not to worry, she was fine, and I believe that I was fine… or at least I still think I’m fine 36 years years later. Thinking back on our family traditions some might think we they are a little weird and quirky but they are still our traditions. And remember to practice like you play and play like you practice!

I am curious as to what kind of new gadgets and bit of technologies that we will get this year! I know that at this point I would love the Samsung Galaxy S3 but I don’t think that is going to happen. My phone provider is Verizon and if you haven’t heard yet if you buy a new phone and/or upgrade your plan you are going to lose your unlimited data. I for one cannot lose my unlimited data! I personally don’t use too much but I don’t like the idea of being limited to only 2 GIGS a month! Long story longer… if I want a Galaxy S3 and want to keep my unlimited data I have to purchase the phone at the full price of $699 and add it to my plan. Not to worry, I’m not going to pay $699 for a phone, I’m going in search of finding one that someone else purchased at full price but then figured out that the Android OS is “too complicated” to learn. LOL. I have actually heard that before. I still don’t understand how the Android OS is too complicated but to each their own and who am I to judge! I wish you all the best I can’t want to see what kind of new gadgets you get this year!

Instagram, Branding, Blogging, Micro-Blogging… OH MY!!!!

Photo: Why Instagram

Why should you use Instagram as part of your branding.

This weekend I was able to attend this year’s Geekend in Savannah, GA. This is my first time attending the event and what can I say but it is a “Creative Geek’s” dream come true. If you have not heard of Geekend you may want to visit http://www.geek-end.com or take a look at their Twitter account @geekend2012. Basically this year’s conference, at least the sessions I attended, were targeted to how to promote and market yourself both as a creative person as well as how to creativity market your business.

A lot of what I heard was about how all these people had such creative ideas but they are held back by their superiors. It seems that there are a lot of people out there scared of technologies and thinking outside the box, if you will. It was very interesting to listen to how others are using things like Instagram to promote their businesses and develop their brand. I thought Heather Nagel, from Morris Communications, had an interesting take on branding. She talked about how everyone in the company is apart of the brand, from the person who answers the phone to the the person to handles an angry comment on Facebook to how the Executives handle themselves in public.

While at the conference not only did I hear countless story about how people created their companies and all the hard work put into it but I was able to meet some truly creative and inspiring people! All this and I have only attending a day and a half of the conference! Today is our last day of the conference and I can’t wait to see what they have in store. I’m sure I’ll have to write another post tomorrow to let everyone know about what I learned today!

I’ll leave you with a quote I heard during one of yesterday’s sessions: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to loss. If no mistake have you made,yet losing you are… a different game you should play.” -Yoda

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

My school system has started a new thing this year called BYOD, also known as, Bring Your Own Device. I know a number of other school systems that have gone to this new way of teaching here in recent years. As you know by reading some of my other posts I love technology and with this new idea of BYOD also brings a new way of teaching. I’m currently in my 10th year teaching and a few years ago I heard someone refer to the teachers as “Edutainers”. The more I think about that and what that means I can’t agree with it more. Teachers take on a new role now especially with the BYOD in our system. As a teacher you have to give students quick bursts of information all the time and do it in a way that is not “boring” to the students. I know what you are thinking, but when we were in school we had to do what we had to do, and I agree with you but we grew up in a different time. The students we have in class now have never lived in a world without internet, email, social media, video games, etc. I like to think of it as of “oh shiny generation”. Some students will pay attention long enough until they see something else new and shiny and then they move on. I do like the way that our system went about creating the policies for students to use their devices but it is still up to the teacher in how they wan to incorporate it in class. It allows the teacher or Edutainer make up the rules about how they want to use those devices in their classrooms. The rule taken directly from the student/parent handbook states the following:

Rule 20: Articles Unrelated to School Instruction

Students shall not bring radios, CDs, CD players, MP3 players, video cartridges or games, cameras, battery-powered video games, other electronic games, sports cards or others such as Pokemon, large sums of money, or tazers/shockers, etc. The use of cell phones or personal digital devices (iPods, iPads, tablet computers, eBook reader) during the school day (first bell to last bell) is authorized only under the direction of the classroom teacher to support student instruction. The school assumes no responsibility or liability for lost or damaged cell phones or personal digital devices if brought to school. Unauthorized use of a cell phone or other digital device during the instructional day or on a school bus may result in the following: (1) first offense – device will be taken and parent called to pick up device. (2) Second offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be called to pick up the device (3) third offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be notified that (parent) can pick up the device at the end of the school year. Taking pictures or the recording of audio/video with cell phones or other digital device at school is prohibited unless under the express direction of a teacher as a component of instruction or a project. Students utilizing a cell phone or digital device for the capture of photographs or audio/video may be subject to additional punishment under this progressive discipline code.

A handout was issued to students/staff with additional instructions:

  • The content provided by this connectivity is filtered and activity is monitored for inappropriate content as required the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Additionally, by connecting to this network, you agree that such connectivity is for educational and lawful use only. Any abuse of this system will result in loss of the privilege.
  • Students should only use Personal Electronic Devices (e.g. smart phones, tablets, e-book readers, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc.) at the direction of a faculty member. Violation of this provision may lead to confiscation of the device. Please refer to the Student and Parent Handbook, Rule # 20 for additional information.
  • Bypassing or attempting to bypass the protection measures provided within the district, including the use of 3G or 4G to bypass the wireless system, will lead to disciplinary action as described in the Internet Acceptable Use Policy.
  • Hacking, or attempting to access restricted systems will also lead to disciplinary action. Individuals caught attempting to do so will lose access to district network resources and may face criminal prosecution.

All that being said, I am curious to find out your thoughts and/or what your school system is doing. Do you think that BYOD is a good thing?