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Travel Hack: Make Your Own Content

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Travel Hack: Make Your Own Content

Summer’s coming and you might be getting ready to take a long trip, either on the road or perhaps a long flight to Grandma’s place. If you’ve got kids along for the ride, you know that keeping them occupied is a strong element of your own satisfaction with the journey itself. Here are some ideas on making your own content for the trip.

Materials

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  • Home computer (relatively updated) with CD burner (or a portable MP3 player, if you go digital)
  • Audio recording software (Audacity is free for PC or Mac)
  • A microphone (either your built-in, a desktop mic, whatever)
  • CD burning software (if you want to make an audio CD)
  • Books to read, magazine articles, something to talk about
  • Music (that you have purchased, own, etc- don’t sue me RIAA)
  • The family

Now What?

That depends on who’s going to be listening. I’ve got a four year old daughter and a 3 month old son. My daughter isn’t yet into chapter books, so in my case, it’d be fun to read stories into the mic, and let her listen along. Mix some music in there, and we’ve got a production. Using sound recording software is fairly easy, especially if it’s just for your own consumption. There’s a record button, a pause, a stop. It’s fairly straightforward.

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Record Billy Goats Gruff using all the funny voices you can muster. Read the next chapter of Harry Potter in your own voice, with your own effects. Sing along to the music, and better still, get the kids to help out!

Now, what becomes an additional fun part of this hack is that you can get your kids to do some of the recording with you. Sit them in front of the microphone, and now you’ve stretched the experience into the recording sessions, and also their consumption of their own voice when they get to the car.

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I won’t address older kids because they tend to have their own media to consume, but obviously, you can mix and match into this things that would be of interest to other people in the vehicle. Don’t forget yourself and your significant other. Feel free to mix in short bits that are pertinent to yourself, including a song or two that’s kid-safe but more for you than them.

Why This Works

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As I mentioned, part of the pain of travel is doing something to keep the kids engaged enough that they don’t suffer, and that their suffering doesn’t spill over into being your problem. Some famlies do well playing travel games, like spelling the alphabet over and over based on any text they can see out the window (I’ve occasionally been tempted to cheat and write “Q” on a napkin and hold it out the window).

But the beauty of this hack is that by getting the family into the act of creating the content, there’s much more reason for them to want to listen to it while on the road. Further, when all is said and done, the disc or mp3 files become a kind of soundtrack for the trip that you can later incorporate into a multimedia project later on. Imagine using bits of your newly created content along with some of the video and images you’ve snapped to send Gramma and Grandpa a new DVD of the family to watch.

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Now, remix this. How would YOU add to this hack?

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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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