Creating memorable passwords

Just about every website requires a username and password if you want to do anything useful. Shopping online, using a web-based email service, participating in social networking: all require a username, such as your email address, and password.
There are too many to remember without writing them down, so we use the same password on multiple sites. That’s where the trouble begins.
The majors sites, banks, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, and Google, have solid security and account break-ins are rare. Smaller sites, however, may not do so well. For example, you’ve used
the same email and password for your account on Fubarbco.com and on Amazon.com. Someone breaks into Fubarbco. Using the email and password information they found on Fubarbco,they’ll attempt to log in to Amazon. Bingo.
Using standard password cracking tools, a password such as Aa123.yz will take five days to break. That’s pretty good.
So, here’s a way to create a password that you can remember, but that is impossible to guess and difficult to crack.
Put a punctuation mark and four or more numbers in the middle of the site’s name. You can use the same mark and set of number. That’s the only part that you need to remember.
For example, for Amazon, you do something like this:
Ama&2120zon
2120 is the street address on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the former home of the Chess Records.
According to How Secure Is My Password http://howsecureismypassword.net, it will take about four thousand years to crack the password. You can then use Goo&2120gle for your Google account and so on.
Your password for Facebook would then be:
Fac&2120ebook
Use some number that is meaningful to you – a date such as 102704 or the ZIP code of Graceland, 38116 – but which is not readily associated with you, such as your birth year or ZIP code..
It doesn’t matter much where you insert the punctuation and numbers.
I should note that many people use LastPass http://lastpass.com, KeePass http://keepass.info, or other account storage services. They like them. I don’t. Your mileage may vary.
The primary goal in security – at home or online – is to make the intruder take more time and thus increase the likelihood that you can detect the intrusion.

The Past and the Present of the Future of the News Business

For the past few years, I’ve been leading classes as a part of the W.I.SE. program at Assumption College. Last week we had a fun final class in class on the future of the news business. Mike Benedetti and Tracy Novick talked about the local news scene, how they get and share their news and the work that results from their knowledge of the news.
We talked about politics, education, the quantitative and qualitative differences between content on paper and content on screens of various sizes. Mike brought several issues of Happiness Pony to show how what happens when you need to fit disparate ideas into a confined space.
And then we became an episode of 508: A Show About Worcester.

The class was scheduled to run for five sessions. Snow took out two and we were able to reschedule one. For those of you who need the help of your second-grader on word math problems, it means that we were one class short.
This morning, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its 2013 report on the state of the media. Their findings matched closely what we were seeing in class:

  • Newsroom cutbacks are affecting the quality of the product and consumers are noticing. 
  • Digital access is accelerating. 
  • Newspaper circulation is holding steady, but ad revenue is plummeting. (The Phoenix closed last week because it couldn’t attracting national advertisers.)
    The situation becomes complex and problematic as sponsored-content, material developed and delivered by companies trying to sell something, becomes indistinguishable from independent stories. 
  • People are using social media and other social contact to learn about news events. 
Students of the news will have plenty to ponder outside the classroom. All we need now is Neon Newsboy.
Via Paleofuture: The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear