To ‘E’ or not to ‘E’?


I guess that by now most of us have had the chance to sample reading ebooks and contrast the experience with good, old fashioned hard copy books. You know … the ones that contain real paper and don’t need a power source.

What’s the verdict? Which do you prefer? Do you do all your reading electronically? Are you devoted to hard copy books? Or maybe, like me, do you mix it up a little?

I’ve been reading a number of books so far this year. I just completed one ebook and I’ve finished a couple of others of the ink and paper variety. I have another hard copy book on the go and I have a few more ebooks that I’m making my way through. I enjoy both and I think both have their advantages but I’m interested in your thoughts. Let me know what’s working for you. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each?

To get you started, here’s an infographic that looks at the reasons that 1000 Fatbrainers gave for staying lo-tech when it comes to reading.

(You can click the image to get a better look.)


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25 Passwords that Hackers Love


Internet security firm SplashData has been at it again. They’ve been taking a look at the worst passwords used online last year and there have been a few changes since their 2012 list.

The big news is that for the first time since they started compiling the list, ‘password’ hasn’t come in at number one. It slipped into second place with ‘123456’ rising to the top position.

If you see your password among the top ten in the picture above, you’re data is in serious danger. In fact, you should take the time to check out SplashData’s full list for 2013. If anything there is familiar, it’s time to change your passwords or get ready to get hacked.

SplashData’s list of frequently used passwords shows that many people continue to put themselves at risk by using weak, easily guessable passwords. Some other passwords in the Top Ten include “qwerty,” “abc123,” “111111,” and “iloveyou.”

“Another interesting aspect of this year’s list is that more short numerical passwords showed up even though websites are starting to enforce stronger password policies,” Slain said. For example, new to this year’s list are simple and easily guessable passwords like “1234” at #16, “12345” at #20, and “000000” at #25.

The good news is that SplashData has advice that could help you build stronger passwords.

Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. But even passwords with common substitutions like “dr4mat1c” can be vulnerable to attackers’ increasingly sophisticated technology, and random combinations like “j%7K&yPx$” can be difficult to remember. One way to create more secure passwords that are easy to recall is to use passphrases — short words with spaces or other characters separating them. It’s best to use random words rather than common phrases. For example, “cakes years birthday” or “smiles_light_skip?”

Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, or financial service sites. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.

If you’re looking for a better solution you might like to try a password manager application.

SplashData has SplashID Safe which, as they say, offers solutions for people and organizations who care about keeping passwords and other information both secure and accessible.

I’ve been using LastPass for a while. It’s another password manager which makes web browsing more secure.

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Smart Phones?

I love the convenience of smart phones and being able to capture memories but there comes a time when we need to stop “capturing moments” and start experiencing life again.

With a smart phone comes much responsibility. Use it wisely.

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Living in a Perpetual State of Distraction

Is the internet rotting our brains? Probably not, but it does seem to be changing the way we think. So what is the internet doing to our brains?

The video in this post gives us a few clues.

Most of us are on the Internet on a daily basis and whether we like it or not, the Internet is affecting us. It changes how we think, how we work, and it even changes our brains.

We interviewed Nicholas Carr, the author of, “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” about how the Internet is influencing us, our creativity, our thought processes, our ideas, and how we think.

Can we afford to continue crowding out opportunities to think and reflect?

Do you manage to take time out from the constant assault of the online world or do you even sleep with some kind of device next to you?

How often do you disconnect and ponder the bigger issues?

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The Mobile Phone Turns 40


It’s difficult to go anywhere in the world without seeing people glued to their mobile telephones. Even in the developing countries I’ve visited, mobile devices seem to be in plague proportions. In fact, it’s been estimated that by next year there’ll be more active mobile or cell phones in the world than the earth’s human population.

By 2014 the world will have more cell phone accounts than people on Earth at the current growth rate for that service, concludes a recent study by International Telecommunications Union. The ITU expects the number of cell phone accounts to rise from 6 billion now to 7.3 billion in 2014, compared with a global population of 7 billion.

Over 100 countries have the number of cell phone accounts exceeding their population.siliconindia

With such massive coverage across the globe it’s interesting to note that the cell or mobile phone has only just reached the age of 40. Admittedly mobile phones were a little less mobile back then but it was the dawning of a new age in technology. I wonder if the pioneers of the mobile revolution could have ever dreamed of the impact that their devices would have on the world.

On April 3rd, 1973, Motorola engineer Marty Cooper placed the first public call from a cellphone. In midtown Manhattan, Cooper called Joel Engel — head of rival research department Bell Labs — saying “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone.” The call was placed on a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, which weighed 2.5 pounds, a far cry from today’s 4-ounce handsets. – The Verge

Of course mobile phones weren’t in common use for quite a few years after their invention. They cost a small fortune and they were mainly used for business purposes.

nokiaOur first mobile phone was a great big Nokia 2010 which I bought for my wife, Pauline, at Easter 1996. Our daughter, Emily, was due in June and I wanted Pauline to be able to contact me at any time. That meant that she would have to track me down at work or wherever there was a landline because I didn’t have a mobile phone at that stage.

The battery life on that phone was so bad that we had to have an extra, charged battery on hand at all times.

It wasn’t until May 1999 that I got my own mobile phone. That was a slightly smaller Nokia and by that stage Pauline had a smaller phone too. Not small compared to today’s phones but leaps ahead of what had come before.

These days I have an iPhone, which is so very different to those earlier models. We’ve come a long way in mobile technology.

Do you remember your first mobile phone?

Did you have something the size of a brick or did you enter the world of mobile phones when they’d slimmed down a little? I’d love to hear about your first experiences with this ‘new technology’.

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