Tech Talk #5

These days every site you visit wants a password. We’re not supposed to use the same password everywhere. Each site has different rules for the password they’ll allow you to have. What to do?


Use a password manager.


Many people use good old fashioned paper and pencil to keep track of their passwords. This is probably not a good idea if you work in an office where someone else could get at your password list, but in your own home without anyone nosing around it’s probably OK. Of course, that won’t help you create the darn passwords in the first place.


To both create passwords and keep track of them for you, use a password manager.


A good password manager will create strong passwords for you, keep track of them for each site you use, and fill in the correct username and password for each site you visit. Many password managers are free and many of the free password managers also have paid versions that let you sync your passwords across all your computers and phones.


Which password manager should you use? (And you should use one…)  You could just Google it, but then what would you need me for?


Some of the best password managers for PCs are Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm. On the Mac side we’ve got 1Password, LastPass, and OneSafe.



The problem with Flash
Adobe Flash is software that runs on your computer and allows some websites to show you animated and video content. Most of the big websites are trying really really hard to get rid of Adobe Flash because it’s buggy and can crash a lot. And as a double extra bonus, it can be exploited by the “bad guys” and requires frequent updates – which most people don’t do. Even though they should.


On July 13, users of the Firefox web browser discovered that Mozilla (the publishers of Firefox) now considered the Adobe Flash Player plug-in unsafe and had blocked it completely. Because of recently-discovered serious vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, Mozilla felt the risk to users was too great to continue to allow the player to run without advising people of the risk.
Mozilla stated that the block would remain in place until Adobe fixed those issues, and on July 14 Adobe released a new version of Adobe Flash. Installing this version calmed Firefox down and things returned to normal.


If you are still seeing those warnings, update your Adobe Flash. Yes, even if you already did the previous update. Of course, uncheck the annoying Chrome or McAfee offers from Adobe while you’re trying to update Flash. No wonder everybody hates doing Adobe updates



Did you know? – CTRL+ALT+DEL (control+alt+delete), otherwise known as the three-finger salute to early DOS and Windows users, dates back to the 1970s. David Bradley at IBM was writing code for an early version of a personal computer and had to reboot it a lot. At the time, that meant powering the computer down and restarting it, which slowed down his work on the code. To speed up his work he wrote a simple program to put the machine into a “soft boot” to speed things up. The program was triggered when a user pressed CTRL+ALT+ESC (control+alt+escape). David didn’t spend much time on the code since it was just to speed up testing on the project code he was writing. But other people at IBM found it useful and suggested that CTRL+ALT+ESC was too easy to do by mistake and suggested using the DEL key way over on the other side of the keyboard. So CTRL+ALT+DEL was born and kept around as an internal IBM engineering tool, eventually making into the DOS user manual.


Bill Gates at Microsoft remembered the key combination and used it as a way to interrupt whatever Windows was doing and give us the option to reboot. Microsoft has also used the CTRL+ALT+DEL key combo for logging into Windows since Windows NT. Bill Gates wanted to have a single login button on the keyboard but couldn’t get IBM to add it to their keyboard layout.


Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at                                                  

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