technology

A Pesky Problem that Prevents Progress!!

What would that be, you ask? If you had to guess, would you conclude:

Passwords? #!%&*@*!?

In my work with brilliant clients from many fields there is no more aggravating, yet no more predictable headache than that lost, forgotten, or mis-remembered password.

Before you explain why it happened last time, let me assure you:

It’s Not Your Fault


preventableRead that again.
Passwords are hard. Security is tricky. It’s annoying, and it’s always changing. Yesterdays password is not okay today. Last February I posted this helpful comic by xkcd, and although there is now some dispute about how secure the method really is, it’s still the best way to create your own strong yet memorable password.
Remember, we’re not preventing a person from guessing our passwords. Humans aren’t the threat. Machines are able to guess zillions of  word and number combinations in seconds, and your passwords need to stand up against that.

For the ultimate in secure passwords, AND if you’re a math geek or into puzzles, go read about Diceware Passphrase Handbook. It’s a fascinating discourse and tutorial about creating the strongest possible passwords. But, as interesting as this all is it’s not workable for most users. So what to do?

You Need a System

Which is why I am now going to pitch an actual product, something I seldom do. I use 1Password from AgileBits. It’s installed on my desktop, laptop, tablet and phone, it communicates through DropBox, so every device gets up-to-date information. With the hundreds of pwords I wrangle it’s saved my hair a lot of wear & tear.

It works by generating hard-to-crack pwords under one master password. I strongly recommend this for all my clients, and I will set it up for you for a small fee.

Why? because I see in my daily work how we lose so much time when we are stymied by our own passwords!! This is a very preventable form of suffering. Set yourself up with one master password that can unlock every account you need security for, which is all of them. Then finding that code is a few seconds instead of long minute getting off track.

Choosing a System

Please check out the available products and see what works for you, and/or call me to set up your password system on multiple devices. This is the trickiest part. If you expect to take an hour or so tinkering to get your master and devices all linked, and you utilize the online help available, you can certainly do it yourself.

Lifehacker has a good list HERE.  PC Magazine’s more extensive comparison is HERE

Or, go purchase 1Password, and tell ’em I sent you.


As usual please share your experience and opinion in a comment! And share this blog with anyone who would find it useful.

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US Lagging in Broadband Access

The US Ranks 16th Among Developed Nations for Broadband Penetration

Data Suggests It Will Continue to Fall Behind

From BROADBAND NOW: According to the 2013 analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) an international organization designed to stimulate world trade, the US now ranks 16th (down from 14th in 2010) for wired broadband penetration behind Korea, Canada, and New Zealand.[1]While there are several factors that can skew these statistics such as geography and population density, the problem of the US falling behind in broadband penetration is only exacerbated by inadequate competition.

Based on further data collected by the OECD, the US now ranks 24th out of 31 participant countries when it comes to the speed as which broadband penetration is increasing. [2]

Change in broadband penetration across OECD countries between 2010 and 2013.
Rank Country Penetration 2010 Penetration 2013 Percent Change
1 Switzerland 37.1% 43.82% 6.71%
2 Greece 18.71% 24.7% 5.99%
3 France 31.4% 36.99% 5.58%
4 New Zealand 24.49% 29.45% 4.95%
5 United Kingdom 30.48% 34.89% 4.41%
6 Portugal 18.92% 23.15% 4.22%
7 Finland 26.36% 30.46% 4.1%
8 Belgium 30% 33.99% 3.99%
9 Hungary 18.66% 22.25% 3.59%
10 Czech Republic 13.73% 17.02% 3.29%
11 Germany 31.26% 34.53% 3.26%
12 Slovak Republic 12.02% 15.16% 3.14%
13 Spain 22.22% 25.3% 3.08%
14 Ireland 20.31% 23.31% 2.99%
15 Canada 30.06% 32.84% 2.78%
16 Austria 22.96% 25.64% 2.67%
17 Korea 34.43% 37.05% 2.62%
18 Chile 10.21% 12.75% 2.53%
19 Poland 13.07% 15.44% 2.37%
20 Denmark 37.34% 39.69% 2.35%
21 Norway 34.24% 36.59% 2.34%
22 Netherlands 37.78% 40% 2.21%
23 Australia 23.43% 25.64% 2.2%
24 United States 27.11% 29.27% 2.15%
25 Iceland 33.28% 35.12% 1.84%
26 Mexico 10.09% 11.87% 1.78%
27 Japan 26.28% 27.83% 1.55%
28 Turkey 9.43% 10.66% 1.23%
29 Italy 21.32% 22.41% 1.09%
30 Sweden 31.75% 32.33% 0.57%
31 Luxembourg 34.11% 32.65% -1.47%

References and Footnotes

  1. 2013 Data Set: http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/1k-BBPenetration-GDPperCap-2013-06.xls
  2. 2010 Data Set: http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/39574903.xls

The Gift of Typography

jensong-giftWe lately herald our digital culture with much pride; well deserved, it is a  significant achievement. I recently saw The Imitation Game, a film which will give you a great appreciation for the dawn of our data-driven age. But there is another powerful and under-appreciated media, and it’s right under your nose every day.

That marvel of human ingenuity would be roman typography: a standardized letterform for written European language. A mere 550 years ago, all of your books and papers were hand-scribed in precise blackletter calligraphy by highly skilled scribes. The first printed books including Gutenburg’s bible were printed with blackletter fonts that mimicked the blackletter style.

Biblia latina, with handwritten Lombardic capitals in red & blue. Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1471. Image courtesy of Austrian National Library

The first known Bible printed in roman type is at left, from 1471. Not until early in the 16th century when the Reformation took hold were roman-print Bibles produced in any quantity.

‘Roman’ type is the first font family designed specifically for printing technology. It was derived from the inscriptions on Roman architecture, and, with the development of lowercase letterforms and refinements for readability, became the alphabet we consume today, and take for granted as written language.

So this holiday season, if you read the Holy Bible (or anything for that matter!) take a moment to appreciate the futurists of the 1400s who brought us the printed book. They laid the groundwork for your Kindle and this very blog.

ASK, or Tips for Technophobes

fearItself

With the many ways we have to express our business brilliance these days, it’s all too easy to get boxed in with a secret fear, something we don’t know, then don’t learn because we’re concerned it will reflect poorly on us if we ask.

My dear friend Terry Nicholetti, who runs runs SpeakoutGirlfriend.com, recently helped me with my elevator speech. Terry helps women can learn to overcome fear of speaking in public. She says:

“I’ve always loved public speaking — the top fear of most people. So how can I teach these things? Because I was terrified of almost everything else.”

Terry does brilliant work on overcoming fear. I hired her because while I love technology I get shy in person. Working with Terry has improved my networking and public speaking. Terry used to freeze in front of the computer.I helped her learn to self-manage her WordPress web site. Now both of us have moved on to new business challenges!

So when I saw Michelle Kerrigan ‘s blog and wanted to share it with you. Michelle knows of what she speaks. An accomplished executive coach, she has worked with corporations large and small, now helping people find their optimum performance. She identifies fear and silence as two of the great confidence killers.

Put your mind at ease with a few helpful tips:

  1. First—take a deep breath and remember: no one knows it all. 
  2. Ask and get off the worry treadmill. When you’re afraid to ask, you lack clarity and understanding. Your world becomes a guessing game. Learn what you need to know. Ask!
  3. Find someone who doesn’t speak in tongues. When you have the confidence to ask questions, find someone who can explain in the simple terms. Communication is all about being understood.
  4. Know that, as your skills rise, so does your confidence. Once you’re more grounded in the practical, the hands-on, how-to will cause your fear of the technical to subside.

(Edited list reblogged from Workplace ConfidenceMichelle Kerrigan’s blog: Practical advice and inspiration for more confidence at work. See the complete list and full article HERE)

And by the way, when it comes to spiders. I’d rather go give a big speech!

The Two-Space Debate, and other technology hangovers

Articles have been circulating this week about the ‘controversial’ two-spaces after a period. Many of us picked up the habit somewhere, but typographers are adamant: no, no no! One space between sentences. Period.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period….

from Slate Technology blog

However, when a remarkable labor-saving device —the manual typewriter— ‘invaded the American workplace’ at the beginning of the 20th century. Typewriters used the same amount of horizontal space for each character, regardless of its width. Monospace typography leaves random patches of open space within lines of type, and adding a second space to the end of the sentence improved readability.

I remember raising up my mother’s home office chair so I could peck at her fascinating spidery old Underwood. It had a faint scent of oil, and a strangely stylish red and black ribbon, and made the most amazing clatter when she used it. The demonic thing vexed me with crossed keys when I tried to use it. Now it’s hard to imagine what a technological marvel it once was.

The ways in which we communicate have evolved to allow us clever primates to converse over vast distance and time. We’re already laughing at the first desktop PCs and their skimpy processors. Keyboards have become virtual now as we poke at our touchscreens. A mother I chatted with yesterday in a grocery line noted her child could type faster than her with only three fingers. He’s been texting since he was two.

And so, we can expect our devices will continue to evolve, all the while our passion for sharing information burns brightly , and the inventiveness with which we pursue this will continue to flower.