Thursday, June 6, 2013

Passwords and Spammers

Have you ever received an email that appears to be from your own email address?  This is a classic case of a spammer using your email name as the "from" on a fake email.

One way to help eliminate this practice is to use a strong password on your email account, and to change it periodically.  Also, try to avoid the temptation to use the same password for all of your online accounts.  If you use "mom123" as your password on everything, just imagine how easy it will be for a spammer to get into all of your online accounts once they've hacked into one of them.  Don't make it easier on them!

If you start to get these fake emails from yourself, change your password immediately on that account.

If you get hacked in Facebook, the first step is to change your password on that account.  Usually it's a good idea to change your password on your email account at the same time.

If, like me, you have dozens of online accounts and can't possibly remember all of your passwords, try using a password manager package, such as RoboForm.  It will remember your password for each site that you use, and gives you a button to take you to the site, enter your password and click enter, all in one step.  It also has a built in random password generator, so you can easily create stronger passwords.

They have a version for your desktop/laptop, and they also have a version that installs on a flash drive.  It's very inexpensive and easy to use.

Check out RoboForm here:

There are other tools of this type available, but this is the one that I personally use and I recommend it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Garage Sale Season

Spring and summer always seem to bring certain traditions - road construction, fireworks and garage sales come to mind.

Over this past weekend, I had a garage sale at my own home.  We had a lot of different things, but mainly we had toys that the kids have outgrown and a few miscellaneous household items.  I tried to get rid of a few electronics and in some cases I was successful.  My son's old Game Boy Advance sold, as well as his Jeep riding toy (one of the battery powered ones).  The Jeep alone was a big thing, so I'm glad to get it out of our garage.  I was surprised that more of the toys didn't sell, since they'd be perfect for grandparents who like to have a few things around for the little ones, as well as parents on a budget.

The leftover items will be donated, mostly to our church, for their "white elephant" sale later this summer.  It's always a little sad to see things go, but I feel better knowing that someone else can get use out of them.  If we're not using an item, I don't see the point in storing it forever.  Unfortunately, none of the local charities will take my old artificial Christmas tree so I guess I'll drag it out to the curb one of these days and hope for the best. Sometimes the "garbage pickers" can take things like that, since the local garbage collectors are unlikely to accept it.

All of this spring cleaning and organizing leads me to thoughts about the files on my computer, too.  It's time to do a quick review of my files and get rid of the really old stuff that I no longer need.  Now is also a good time to confirm that my automatic backups are working as they should, and take an extra, more user-friendly copy of my data on my external hard drive, just in case.  When my hard drive failed last year, I found that my formal backup copy was useful but it was best used for a full system restore.  If I need a bunch of files from a certain folder, it's easier to keep a copy of those separately.

Since my father has recently passed away, I also need to start going through his electronic files to help my mother determine what she does and does not need to keep.  He had several computers, external hard drives and a multitude of CDs and flash drives.  She has no idea what to do with most of those types of accessories, and may not even have software to read some of the files, so that will be my job over the next several months.  As I review and learn about those files, I'll share what I've learned about the best process.

Do your spouse and family a favor - try to keep your electronic files in some organized fashion, and make sure they know your passwords.  It's hard to even figure out how/what he saved without looking at every piece of paper and every digital file.  The sheer volume of his records make that a daunting task.