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Speed, Accidents, and Anxiety

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Speed, Accidents, and Anxiety

You’re driving along the freeway. The traffic is heavy and the weather is bad; there’s water on the road and occasional patches of ice. You’re already late for an appointment and you’re worrying that your boss is going to find out and get mad at you, so you’re driving way too fast for the conditions. Everyone else seems to be in a hurry too. Your hands are gripping the wheel fiercely and you’re concentrating as hard as you can on simply staying on the road. You wish you could slow down, but that doesn’t seem possible, so you’re scared they’ll be an accident any minute with you in it.

Then a huge truck comes up behind you, driving really fast. The driver starts flashing the headlights and blaring the horn for you to go even faster. You put on a little extra speed, but your car feels unstable on the wet road. The truck presses close on the rear of your car, still flashing those lights. All you can see in the mirror is the truck’s radiator, inches from the back of your vehicle. The truck’s horn is still blaring and every time you speed up even a little, that truck is right there pushing you still faster. There’s no let up. The vehicle in front of you is disappearing in spray, there’s another alongside you and now the rain is coming down as well. The slightest problem and you know the resulting accident is going to kill and maim scores of people, including you.

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How do you feel?

Well, that’s just about how many people feel every day at work. They’re being pushed to go faster and faster, until they know that they have no margin of safety. Once an organization gets the idea that making everyone work faster—increasing the pressure and driving people to their limits and beyond—is going to push up productivity and profits, there’s no obvious limit. It’s as if they start by pushing everyone up to 75 mph, then 80 mph, then 100 mph or beyond. Most people don’t have the skill, or inclination, to go at that speed. It’s too scary. But your boss, like the eighteen wheeler in my picture, is on your tail, forcing you to go faster and faster. Someone is going to crash and burn very soon. Maybe that someone is you.

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This brute force approach to productivity is all the rage today. Innovation, creativity, and fresh thinking are all seen as too slow and uncertain. Never mind that they are the only real ways to increase productivity long term, it’s the short-term that matters: meet the target for the next quarterly figures and to hell with anything else.

The result is a workplace culture that’s like driving flat-out on wet slippery roads with traffic all around you. It’s full of reluctant high-speed, high-anxiety drivers under constant pressure to go still faster, with every likelihood of accidents. There’s no let up. because the prevailing organizational attitude is that if you can’t stand the pace, you can just get off the road and make way for someone who can.

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So far as we know, each of us has only one lifetime. To spend it rushing ahead in blind terror, with no time to enjoy the ride, doesn’t seem much of a prospect. Like the driver who knows he or she is going far too fast, you cannot enjoy the journey or look around you to admire the view. Maybe your organization believes that by working this way it will make a little more money next quarter, but if the long-term prospect is being crushed and maimed that hardly seems much compensation. Maybe it’s time for some organizational speed limits to prevent testosterone-fueled bosses from risking everyone else’s necks except their own.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his posts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership.

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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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