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Sunday, March 19, 2017

1797. What is a good password - repeat

IThe current strories about using good passwords is still critical. Please give us the tip again on what constitutes a good versus bad password?

We've gone on over and over the years about how one should use a password manager to ensure that you don't repeat passwords from one site to another, and I'm sure maybe one person in the world actually does this. 

We try but it's difficult to succeed.  But the fact is there are many passwords that are super popular and you should never consider using them.  We have a link on our website to one list of such passwords including the most popular - one two three four five six.  The second most popular, the word "password".  I like the one - "Let me in".  It's a great password.  Don't use it.  Don't use any of the popular passwords. 

Instead you want to mixture of upper and lower case letters numbers and symbols, if your website accepts symbols.  In addition many websites and programs allow you to include spaces in your passwords.  So that you can include phrases.  Not just single words.  Making it more difficult for a password hacker to get into your account. 

Whatever you do, make sure you don't use any of that passwords we post on our website, and come up with creative solutions for creating pass phrases.  Instead of passwords.

1805. High Data usage

I got a notice that my cell phone carrier was charging for additional data storage. I never use this. All my data usage is turned off. How/what is causing this?

iPad/Mac uses iPhone personal Hotspot even if you have Hotspot turned off. If your cell provider allows you to have a personal Hotspot and your data usage is being used yet you have the Hotspot turned off and all your devices have cell data turned off there are some providers that will force the Hotspot to be turned on and use it for data.

Lets say your iPad says to use Wi-Fi and it is signed into the same iCloud account as your iPhone. The iPad will force a connection to your iPhone and turn on Hotspot functions and then connect to your iPhone hotspot. There doesn't seem to be a way to turn off this "feature". Except to not have the iPad or other device log into the iCloud account.

1808. Used Computers - Where?

Help out beautiful Nevada County. Doug I hear you can find some great used computers, monitors for great prices. Where can I get some of these Bargains?

The Nevada County warehouse at 49 and Bloomfield has many used computers, monitors, switches and other computer related goodies that they no longer use and you can go there on Friday's from 12-1 and buy them. Bring a check or cash and give the place a look. The computers do not have an operating system, but they have plenty of life left in them. I have gotten a number of them and they all seem great. They have office furniture and other things. Visit the warehouse and see if you can find something you need.

1802. Use a Very Old Laptop

I have a very old laptop that’s just sitting in a closet that’s basically valueless in terms of resale value. I’d love to be able to use it in the kitchen for basic Web browsing, watching videos, and streaming music, but it’s just too old to run any modern version of Windows. Is there anything I can do with it?

Well, join the club! We each have a stack of old laptops (I seem to collect them like baseball cards), and we, too, were looking for something to do with them. One day, the answer appeared in our Inbox: A friend sent a link describing how you can install a very light-weight, Linux-based operating system on an old laptop, and it’s trivial to install and configure. The operating system was originally built for the Raspberry Pi, a tiny, $35 computer that a lot of hobbyists have adopted for home-based projects. Given the information in the article, you can easily download the operating system, copy it to a USB stick, and either run it from the USB device or install it on the laptop’s hard drive: []. If you have any interest in experimenting with the old computer, and have an hour to kill, it’s certainly worth a try. It’s free, simple, and might breathe some new life into that ancient laptop! If you have a little more interest, you can also dig into installing a full copy of Linux on the laptop. Linux tends to run on lighter-weight hardware than does Windows, and it, too, is free. You can find more information about installing Linux here: [].

1800. Work Safely in Public

I do a lot of my consulting work in public places, and confess that when it’s convenient, I’ll stop in the local coffee shop to catch up on email, pay bills, check to see if I’ve been paid yet, and more. The problem is that I’m getting worried about using public WiFi networks for my private data. Am I right to worry, and if so, what can I do about it?

You should not, ever, use a public network to conduct private business. It is all too easy for folks looking to do you harm to snoop on your WiFi traffic, sniff out passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive data, and otherwise steal from you. So what’s the answer? Should you just never use public WiFi for anything except texting and innocuous emailing? That’s not necessarily so, but you’ll need some help to make public WiFi use safe. The answer is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), a software tool that basically provides you a private network over public infrastructure. Unless your company provides a private VPN for your use, you'l need to find a commercially available VPN, and turn it on whenever you’re working, using the Web, in public. There are, to be honest, a zillion options for commercial VPN vendors, and some are more trustworthy than others. Remember: the VPN vendor is routing all your public Web traffic through their servers, so if you sign up with a VPN vendor that’s less than reputable, it’s possible that you’re just as vulnerable (or more) than you were without them. Our current favorite is a vendor and product named TunnelBear. (VPN’s create a logical “tunnel” for your data through the public internet transport, hence the name.) Their prices are great and they’re rock solid and reliable. TunnelBear has VPN hookup software available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS. Most importantly (besides being safe), TunnelBear is super easy to use, and won’t get in your way. And their cute little bear animations help out in easing the installation and use of what could otherwise be a complex tool. Check out for more information.

1799. Easy Way to Check Internet Connection Speed

I live in a rural area, and pay dearly for Internet service that is, at best, somewhat unreliable. I pay a lot (did I mention that?) and want to make sure that if I’m not getting the speed offered by my ISP, I can let them know. I know about some Web pages that can test this for me, but I was hoping to find an application I can run from my Mac desktop. Can you recommend something?

One of our favorite sites for checking Internet speed is , or the Flash-free version at And yes, you can use the Web-based tool, but if you check often, it can be a drag to have to open a browser, or a new tab in an open browser, browse to the correct site, and run the test. Taking all of this into account,’s creators, the company named Ookla, created apps for both Windows 10 and Mac OS X. These apps run on the desktop, provide the same information as the Web apps, and also make it easy to share the results via several different transports, including email, from within the apps. The Windows 10 app is available from the Windows Store . Search in the Windows Store for Speedtest by Ookla. The Mac OS X application is available in the Mac App Store—again, search for Speedtest by Ookla. The Windows app works like any other application; the Mac app runs from the menu bar. In each case, start the app, click the Go button, and await the results. Once you get your (hopefully, adequate) results, click the Share button (looks like a rectangle with an upwards arrow) at the top of the window, and select the mechanism by which you want to share your results. This isn't an essential app, but if you find yourself checking your speed regularly, it's really useful.

1798. Create a List of All Installed Applications

I’m running Windows 10, and recently bought a new computer. I’d like to be able to create a list of all the applications installed on my current computer, so I can easily install them again on the new computer. Some of the applications come from the Internet, and some I install from DVDs. Is there some application that can create this list for me?

This is a question we deal with ourselves with some regularity. Every time we set up a new computer, we need to install a base set of applications, and don’t want to forget something important. There are a number of ways to get a list of installed applications in Windows, but there’s one really simple, free way to get what you need. The trick is to make use of a great, free application that we have discussed in previous tips: CCleaner . Besides providing great tools for cleaning the contents of your Windows installation, CCleaner also provides a great uninstall tool—it can easily uninstall any application that you have installed. As part of the uninstallation tool, CCleaner provides an option to save the list of installed applications to a text file. Select Tools, then Uninstall, then, in the lower-right corner, select Save to text file. Given that text file, you’re all set—you know what applications are installed on the current computer, and you can use that list to install the same set of applications on the new computer. Beware: If you’re creating the list because you’re reformatting the current computer, remember that reformatting will erase the list you’ve just created! Make sure you save it to a USB stick, or print it out before formatting, so you can use it when re-installing all the necessary applications.