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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Wrap-up

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The 12 Days of Giveaways: Wrap-up

    It has been a great few weeks of giveaways here at Lifehack.org, where we hooked-up our readers with the finest productivity gear that we could get our hands on. We gave away a bunch of stuff, and in the process of doing so got to hear some excellent comments from our very-savvy readership. Some were funny, thoughtful, and even inspiring; we truly appreciate our readership and we were happy to help you guys out over the holidays.

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    On Lifehack.org we had about 395 comments over the 12 Days and on our Facebook fan page about 240. We also gave away well over $1,000 worth of prizes (not including the shipping and handling that some of the companies picked up the tab on!). It was awesome to see all of our readers participating and we hope that in 2012 we can bring you more giveaways that help you get your work down faster and better.

    But, wait a minute, it’s not over… We still have to choose our last winner who will receive the JetPens Paper Productivity Starter Pack! Brian Damitz, in a very hybrid input fashion, answered the question, “What are the 3 things you’ve written down as goals for 2012 — and did you use a pen, pencil or device to capture them?”

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    My top three goals for 2012:
    1) Finish my Eagle Scout project (My plan is written on blank paper in blue fountain pen)
    2) Get a job as an Apple Genius in May/June (I have my tech notes in a notebook, some handwritten, some clipped in)
    3) Get certified as a Google Apps Trainer (My notes are in Google Docs and double as presentation material)The funny thing is, our family gives office supplies for Christmas a lot. We have an affinity for good writing materials.
    (To be honest, I lost my last pencil, which is unusual for me, and I’ve felt so unproductive since.)

    Thanks a lot, Brian. Hopefully your new JetPens Paper Productivity Starter Pack will help you realize all of your goals this year.

    Also, we had a commenter from the Jetpens giveaway that was truly in the holiday spirit by giving up his entry to help the needy Moleskine users out there:

    Instead of entering the contest today I have decided to step back and let one of the Moleskine users win (hopefully) so they can be introduced to a better writing experience. The Maruman notebook has beautiful paper that is a dream to write on. Good luck. It seems that Moleskine has either dropped the quality of their paper in the past couple of years or I just started using nicer paper. Either way there are so many better options for the same or similar price.

    We don’t have anything for you, Bornagainscholar, other than a sincere thanks for looking out for you fellow Lifehack readers. So, thanks!

    And that’s it folks. Once again, we at Lifehack would like to thank all of our readers for entering and participating as well as the companies (links below) that helped make these giveaways possible. Without you guys this wouldn’t have been nearly as successful or fun. Thanks!

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    Stay tuned for more giveaways in 2012.

    (Image credit: Winter landscape with snow via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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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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