New password policy

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Security

While listening to Security Now #258 the other day where Leo and Steve were discussing a website that offers to crack passwords via a dictionary attack for a fee, I was reminded of this xkcd comic:

😀

And while I’m here, here’s another comic for fun:

Tech stories of the year and decade

One of my favourite tech podcasts, This Week in Tech (aka TWiT), took a look at the top tech stories of the year and decade gone in the recent episode #228. Host Leo Laporte with Kevin Rose (Digg.com and Revision3.com) and Robert Scoble (building43.com and scobelizer.com) discuss some of the defining events and trends in technology from what has certainly been an incredible decade. The episode is well worth a watch, and as a bonus is embedded here thanks to Leo now having a TWiT channel on YouTube,

Included in the discussion are lots of video submissions from a range of people in the tech sector as follows,

(Props to TWiT.tv for the list which I shamelessly copied here!)

So what about my views? Glad you asked!

Personally, I think the explosion of the internet in the last 10 years should be at or near the top of the list. I remember moving from a dialup internet connection to “broadband” in May 2004 and thinking at the time “why is this thing always connected? surely I won’t need that.” Oh how times have changed! We now read the news (RIP newspapers), shop, get a weather forecast, talk to family via Skype, look up phone numbers (RIP phonebooks), watch TV shows and so much more at anytime online without a second thought. But perhaps bigger than all that is how the internet has brought friends (and indeed the world) so much closer together by making it easy to set up your own website or blog and to share photos, videos and news on sites like Flickr, YouTube and Twitter. And talking about internet trends wouldn’t be a complete discussion without mentioning Facebook which saw phenomenal growth in 2009 and now has us chatting and sharing with friends and family on a regular basis.

So for me, the internet was the big story of the decade and I believe the mobile internet (via cell phones, netbooks and laptops) will dominate the next 10…

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Damn, our secret has been exposed!

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

😀 via xkcd

Hello Slingshot

Following a recent price rise by Orcon (the second in under a year), I decided to move on after being a loyal customer for 5 years – my “Welcome to Orcon” email was received 21/3/2004! Sadly, they couldn’t offer me anything to stay and have no discount for valued customers, so I jumped ship and am now with Slingshot.

Incredibly, the full switch of both internet and phone service was done within 48 hours of speaking to a Slingshot customer rep! The only hiccup was that when they switched me over I lost my internet connection and thus couldn’t get the email telling me I’d been moved to Slingshot and to update my modem settings to reconnect. Duh! Lesson for ISP’s: make a phone call to tell new customers they’re up and running – don’t send an email!

So why Slingshot? In short, they’re cheaper for the same speed and same data I was getting with Orcon – provided I schedule my large downloads (such as video podcasts from odtv.me) during the free off-peak period overnight.

And while not directly related to switching ISP’s, I also got a stellar speed increase about the same time due to my local cabinet getting a fibre upgrade. Before the cabinet upgrade and while with Orcon, the fastest download speed I saw via Speedtest.net was,

(I later paid an extra $10/month to upgrade the upload speed to “max”)

And now, here’s a sample from this evening as I write this,

Yeah baby! Of course that’s a somewhat synthetic test to a server in NZ and actual download speed (usually from overseas sites/servers) will be less than that. As an example, here’s the fastest “real world” speed I’ve seen – during a download of a video podcast via iTunes,

which is outstanding IMHO – that 385MB file was done in under 5 minutes!

So there you go. I’m now a happy Slingshot customer – drawn in by good pricing (for both internet and phone), free off-peak data, and data banking (purchased unused data is carried forward). Oh, and no complaints about the speed either!

My top tech picks of ’08

Being a bit of a geek at heart, I follow a lot of tech news. Here’s what I thought was interesting in 2008…

Early in the year, Apple released the Macbook Air – an astonishingly thin laptop and sharp enough to cut cake! Later, they finally upgraded the iPhone to include 3G connectivity (but it still can’t copy/paste, pxt, record video, render flash and more!), added movies to the NZ iTunes Store, refreshed the iPod Nano, and announced they were pulling out of Macworld.

In the “denied” category, Microsoft offered a large pile of cash for Yahoo, but got turned down. And Toshiba/HD DVD conceded defeat in the high def format war with Blu Ray – not that Blu Ray seems to have taken off since…

For surfing the internets, we got a couple of new browsers with the most excellent Firefox 3 arriving, followed not long after by Google’s Chrome – an interesting take on the browser with some nifty features.

Sticking with some Google goodness, their mobile platform Android finally got released on a cellphone – the T-Mobile G1 – that being a worthy and “open” competitor to the walled garden that is the iPhone, and they brought Street View to NZ along with Google in Maori.

On the software front, Microsoft announced that “Windows 7” will be the name of it’s successor to Vista, and that we’ll have it in 2009. And all accounts to date of a leaked beta are promising. Electronic Arts had a shocker with the much anticipated but heavily DRM’d game Spore – leading to it being the most pirated game in 2008 (and ever) with punters on Amazon punishing it in reviews.

Continuing with the pirating theme, RIAA recently announced they will stop the mass lawsuits against individuals downloading/sharing music illegally and will instead work with ISP’s on anti-piracy. That should be interesting…

And finally, what of trends and things to expect in ’09? Two related things seem to have gained popularity in ’08 and will certainly continue to do so this year. “Cloud computing” (software/services on the internet as opposed to on your PC) and the use of Netbooks (small laptops used primarily for internet access). I already use several online services in place of local apps – esp Google’s offerings of Gmail and Docs, am investigating some online storage/syncing options from Microsoft (eg Mesh and Live Sync) and am watching with interest Office Web… As more and more apps/services move online and away from our personal computers, the need for a large PC may well decline (except for gamers perhaps) with laptops and netbooks dominating our everyday computing. Just need to get me a Netbook now… Birthday present anyone?!?

Geek out.

Gmail hits 7000MB

After logging into Gmail this morning I saw this,

Wow. That’s a lot of storage, and I’m hardly touching it. Might be time to start backing up more of my docs and pics to Gmail!

If you’re after a good web-based email solution, Gmail wins hands down IMO. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say you should be using a web-based solution these days. I am. Totally. I recently migrated all my email from Thunderbird to Gmail via IMAP and I now have the luxury of getting my email anywhere there is an internet connection. Cloud computing is where its at baby!

Kudos Google. You rock.