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Best Practices: Get the Most Out of Working in a Digital World

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Best Practices: Get the Most Out of Working in a Digital World
    Digital workflow

    As director of product marketing at Adobe, I speak with customers everyday about how they can better maximize their productivity in the workplace. They often tell me they spend more time figuring out how to do their jobs than actually doing them.

    Regularly faced with the staggering volume of information, they have difficulties keeping everyone on the same page, keeping track of lost data, information and IP. And today, professionals across industries use a variety of devices such as smartphones and tablets to get work done. We rely on technology to make our days more productive, but with so many different tools and platforms available to us these days, one wonders if we might be over-complicating things. Shouldn’t the digital world make our lives easier and reduce complexity?

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    Working professionals, especially those in an office setting, should take a hard look at their digital work habits and recognize whether these habits are helping or hurting productivity. IT departments can arm employees with the right tools and training, but individuals ultimately have control over how they put the training and the tools into use.

    The first step to get the most out of working in a digital world is to get a handle on your digital workflow. What is a “digital workflow”? We all have one. A digital workflow relies on electronic processes that eliminate the need for traditional paper materials.

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    At the heart of a digital workflow are documents. Companies run on documents. They hold company history, financials, strategic plans, personnel data, etc. For this post, I’ll focus on the digital document because of the critical role it plays in our everyday work.

    Put Content into Context

    Thanks to social media, there’s been a dramatic shift in how we interact with content. The concept of a document used to be a piece of paper, made digital. But now, every worker has the power of a multimedia studio on their phone or laptop.

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    Now the question becomes how do they use this and be more productive at the same time? An insurance agent, for example, needs to process video, images and forms to expedite a claim. It would make more sense to combine that information in a digestible way that is intuitive and easy to navigate through. Putting content into context not only adds clarity; it improves productivity as well because the information is more actionable.

    Don’t Break the Chain

    We’ve all been there – we come to a point when working on a project or assignment where we have to pick up the phone, or send an email to get something done. Then, we wait. Surprisingly, e-mail is still the most often used mechanism to exchange files and comments in a typical workflow.

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    A law firm, for example is constantly preparing case documents, which include lengthy witness statements, expert reports, and exhibits, etc. These types of documents can be many hundreds of pages long and they sometimes require changes at the last minute before being sent to the court. You can imagine the man power that goes into compiling, editing, reviewing, and sending this vast amount of information and the potential negative impact on productivity. Projects like these require tools that go beyond creating a PDF form, editing it, and e-mailing it around – they require an end-to-end solution to successfully complete the job quickly, from start to finish.

    Protect Yourself

    Finally, if your information isn’t secure and protected, it won’t matter how efficient your workflow is. In today’s collaborative online world, it’s more important than ever that software is updated and anti-virus software is installed – no matter which platform or device you’re using. An unprotected environment is a sure threat to productivity and intellectual property.

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    What tools and techniques are you applying to your digital workflow to maximize productivity?

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

    With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

    Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

    In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

    The easy fundamentals

    First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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    A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

    Here are some examples of strong passwords:
    * i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
    * ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
    * mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

    And not so good examples
    * sammy1234
    * password123
    * christopher

    You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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    Managing your passwords

    I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

    So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

    There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

    Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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    LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

    Upkeep

    You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

    There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

    Alternatives

    You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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    1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
    2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
    3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

    These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

    So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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