All posts by Doug

Password hygiene for the rest of us…

When it comes to technology, people are on a scale. At one end are those who are not particularly savvy (and likely have less than 20 accounts), with those at the other end being particularly adept and perhaps having hundreds.

 

This is important because, while those people toward the right hand end of the scale can and probably should invest in a good password manager*, there are those who need something both simpler and more secure.

 

Anyway, those who are not ready for a password manager still need a system and to them I say,

 

1. It is NOT important to try and remember passwords.**
Instead it is important to keep a reliable record of each account, it’s username, its website, the password itself (clearly written) and any other important info (eg. answers to the idiotic challenge questions required by some accounts).

 

2. This information should be written on the right hand page of an A5 to A4 size ring bound notebook.
The account name should be written at the top centre as a page title.

 

(Every account gets its own page and every page has only the password for that one account).

 

3. Free space on the page is required for future changes.

 

4. If a page should overflow it must be removed and its data transferred to the next clean page.

 

5. Page order is irrelevant.

 

Pencil and paper was invented eons ago and remains a reliable and extremely secure method of recording passwords (a single paper notebook secured inside your home is as good as unhackable).

 

6. Passwords must contain no personal information, must be long, random, easy to type, and easy to keep in your short term memory for a minute or two.

 

I recommend to them that any password, for a low value account (e.g. Netflix), should contain 2 random unrelated words (previously unused in any other password) and a number.
High value accounts (Facebook, AppleID, eMail) require 3-4 random words.
Password length should always be at least 12 characters long, preferably much longer.

 

7. I give them a few example passwords

 

Molly5000 (cat name and postcode)
Too short, totally insecure.
(I don’t usually tell them this, but even in 2012 a simple PC with four of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 graphics cards could cycle through as many as 6.2 billion guesses every second – https://arstechnica.com/security/2012/08/passwords-under-assault/)
 
ShjKDuidfk7g7hg
Secure by length and randomness but bad if it needs to be entered on another device (especially a phone).

 

TheQuickBrownFox1970
Easy to type and remember, but should not be considered secure – the hacker uses a massive directory (the internet) to match patterns and will probably crack this far more quickly than,

 

MoleculeTeleport970
Can be remembered, secure by length and randomness but using capital letters at the beginning of words and a number at the end is a pattern the hacker will test for.

 

MOLECULEteleport970 is better.
MOLECULE970teleport is better again.

 

Don’t get clever and do this,
9MOLeCULE7telePort0
You just make life difficult for yourself when you’d be better off simply increasing the length like this,

 

fishMOLECULE970teleport

 

8. I finally suggest to them that they flick through a dictionary and pick their unrelated words – the number can come from anywhere (remember, length is more important)

 

*I’m only willing to recommend 1Password and have an aversion to LastPass – I know it’s highly regarded, but it’s just…

 

**Passwords that are created using the methods described above are often remembered easily after being entered a few times. This is helpful for accounts where the password is required often (eg. Your AppleID (iCloud, App Store) or Online Banking).
Online banking passwords are an exception – I never write these down and have not recorded them in any password manager.

The truth about Adobe Creative Cloud AU$ pricing?

Half the Australian photographic community have their knickers in a knot over recent increase to Adobe Creative cloud with complaints like ‘They are price gouging’, ‘They have a monopoly’ (they don’t), ‘Adobe are bastards!’, ‘Linked to currency rates? What a crock of shit!’ and so on.

Anyway, it turns out the opposite might be true.

Adobe went all in with Creative Cloud when the USD to AUD exchange rate was close to 1:1.
Back then it was $9.99 AUD and our US counterparts were paying about the same.
In the last year though, our local pricing has increased by nearly 50% over what it was and three price rises that have occurred in the last year have come to many as a bit of a shock.

I decided to overlay what I’ve paid since September 2013 for the photography plan onto the graph for the USD to AUD exchange rate.
Turns out, Adobe have actually protected us from price increases. First, perhaps stupidly, by not reacting to changes in the exchange rate for around 3 years, and then by not increasing their base (US$) price at all from where it was when CC began about five years ago.

Facebook Covers: It’s hip to be square

For a while now it has bothered me how the Facebook Cover is cropped and resized on so many Facebook Pages. Even big brands like Pepsi have not solved this.

As far as I can tell neither have a multitude of experts nor Facebook themselves.

Conventional wisdom suggests that dimensions of 851×315 pixels is correct. That’s wrong because such an image will always be scaled up to fill the vertical space (this is by necessity to avoid show through of the background).

Playing with aspect ratios a little bit, I learnt that an image with dimensions of 851×479 will scale instead to fill the horizontal space most of the time but only our friend the square will always scale to fill the horizontal space.

This scaling to fill horizontally now allows us to place content in a strip across the centre of our image in the knowledge that it will be displayed no matter how our page is being viewed.
Content above and below this strip may or may not be displayed so it’s important to treat this area carefully when we design our cover image (we also have to be careful to think about the four possible placements of the profile picture*).

Below are a few examples of the way different devices and apps display Pepsi Australia’s 851×315 cover image compared to a square cover image.

Round 1 — Mobile Safari

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Portrait

1 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Portrait

 

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Portrait

2 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Portrait

The first image shows severe cropping of the sides of the 851×315 image – ruining Pepsi’s  message.
The second image instead has the top and bottom cropped while content placed across the centre of the image remains intact.

The first round goes to the square image.

Round 2 — Mobile Safari (landscape)

851x315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

3 — 851×315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari - Landscape

4 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in Mobile Safari – Landscape

Image 3 shows the 851×315 image has again lost it’s sides, ruining Pepsi’s message as before.

Images 2 and 4 could have been replaced with 851×479 pixel images with identical results (far superior to the mobile safe zone of 563×315 suggested elsewhere)

This round goes to the equilateral rectangle.

Round 3 — ‘Paper’ app (iOS)

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook 'Paper' app

5 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook ‘Paper’ app

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook 'Paper' app

6 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the Facebook ‘Paper’ app

Image 5. Thanks to the Paper app displaying a square cover image the cropping of Pepsi’s message is even more severe while image 6 shows the square image in full.

851×315 loses again.

Round 3 — ‘Facebook’ app (iOS)

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the 'Facebook' app

7 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed in the ‘Facebook’ app

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the 'Facebook' app

8 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed in the ‘Facebook’ app

Image 7 and 8 from the Facebook app for iOS appear identical to those for Mobile Safari.

851×315 is on the ropes. Can 1 point be clawed back in the final round…

Round 5 — Old school

851x315 Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

9 — 851×315 Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

Square Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

10 — Square Facebook Page cover image viewed on the desktop

At long last Pepsi’s message has reached us, but 851×315 still offers no advantage over the square image – this round is a draw.

Dingdingding, it’s the final bell and our 851×315 image could not win a single round. Victory goes to our square cover image.


For comparison these last two images are downloaded directly from Facebook.

851x315 image as retrieved from the Pepsi Australia Facebook Page

851×315 image from Pepsi Australia’s Facebook Page – Oh, the irony!

960x960 square image as retrieved from my Facebook Page after upload

960×960 square image as retrieved from my Facebook Page after upload
This image remains a png as uploaded (previous larger images have been converted and scaled to 960×960 jpeg

*If there is any interest I may make my square image available as a template for anyone to use.

Don’t forget to credit me and if you liked this or have any comments, head over to Facebook or Twitter and let me know 😀