Password theft

There’s some breaches going on. Email addresses and passwords are being stolen from websites in such numbers that it’s become more and mre necessary to consciously protect your personal information.

Two ways to do that are

1. Write down all your passwords in a Little Black Book and keep it in a drawer somewhere. Not recommended!

2. Use a password manager that generates passwords like “X{5TKu+1pweEymByPxCT” and keep them ultrasecure hidden behind one master password such as “LittleBlackBook” (no don’t use that one REALLY don’t use that!). This way you only have to remember one password to get access to all your secure passwords. Recommended.

If you’re worried about getting your details stolen, you can sign up to be notified with a website called where you’ll get an email notification if (when?) your details get taken by someone with evil intent.

I use and recommend 1Password by AgileBits, but LastPass is also good. Both are better than the little black book.

I’ve been pwned (had my details stolen) at least five times, in the Adobe (153m) DaniWeb (1.1m) Exploit.In (593m) River City Media Spam List (593m) tumblr (165m). The numbers of breaches are huge aren’t they? By the way, this is for only one of my email addresses. How many email addresses do you have that might be at risk? can tell you. The website’s notifications also include advice as to how to protect yourself from further damage (change password, disconnect apps, activate 2FA etc).

JCICT Web Splash for DB



Social Media Startup

I’ve been asked to give a quick overview of which app(s) to use to kickstart a social media presence. Here’s the thoughts that come to mind; comments welcome. Psssst this is nowhere near comprehensive, and I’m no expert 😉


Instagram / Facebook / Twitter all allow cross posting i.e. you can set it up so that when you tweet, a Facebook post is done automatically or vice versa

instagram facebook


Instagram is hashtag driven. Use hashtags liberally to increase engagement. Overuse of hashtags appears to be well tolerated on Instagram, whereas it’s not at all the done thing on Twitter or Facebook. But as you use each platform you’ll get to know the best way to post.


Hootsuite is a social media aggregator, allowing viewing of all your SM channels in one online dashboard. Usage is limited if you use the free version, but paid allows a very high amount of versatility. Best thing about Hootsuite is you can select which post goes to which channel at what time (yes you can future-post with Hootsuite).


IFTTT is an app that allows you to do lots of things with your channels, e.g. program regular posts each day/week/month, plus many more too numerous to describe. Of course don’t overuse auto-posts for risk of appearing bot-like on social media, but used cleverly and sparingly it can save a lot of work, and tweet/post when you’re offline on your behalf..


For posting video there’s a couple of new choices on the block, in addition to the obvious YouTube. Vine is good for funny little videos to increase engagement and drive traffic to your other channels, and the latest greatest is Periscope which is just great for spontaneous broadcasts that you can pre-shout about on other channels, then post-shout towards the recording which is available online for a short while afterwards.


LinkedIn is a place where it’s good to have a professional profile, and you can write articles here that are more serious and less social, but still promote them on your other channels.


Google+ now feeds your business page into search results. Thus having a Google+ page for your company will increase your appearances in Search. Keep in mind that most Google’s are done on mobile devices nowadays, and thus being there makes might make a lot of sense with respect to your target audience.


You’ll need to submit email addresses for all these new accounts. You might, for security, set up an email that’s solely for Social Media use, and make sure it’s well protected against spam and phishing. Gmail does a great job of this. In addition, have another secret email address that’s never referred to elsewhere, never given out online at all, and used solely for Account Recovery. i.e. if you lose your MyCompany.SocialMedia @ address to a hacker, you can recover by using MyCompany.PasswordRecovery @; but of course this needs to be set up at account opening – no good after hacking done(!)


Buffer is a great way to share posts later at random times e.g. you find a good article browsing but it’s the wrong time of day to tweet it out -> Buffer will time it optimally and tweet for you in the future for best impact.


Also essential to combatting those pesky hackers is exclusive, strong passwords for all these new accounts. Long complex ones that are different from one site to another. Best way to achieve this is to use a password manager. I use and recommend 1Password, but this article shows a good small handful of alternatives to help you decide. I’ve never used the iPhone Keychain app myself but believe from my Apple-expert contacts that it works well and is recommended.


Other apps that are handy and recommended for managing your online presence:-

Evernote – lists, data, notes and attachments all in one indexed searchable online space

Pocket – save your links from anywhere anytime to just one place for later reference e.g. references for blog articles


Also consider having a spot on Foursquare & Swarm so that users of these apps see you in their “nearby” lists when they’re local. You may choose to be lowly or highly active on these geo-channels – this really is something you’d decide based on levels of engagement achieved locally on these particular platforms. Of course Facebook offers geo-locatability too, but these are included for completeness.










iOS7.1.2 freezing on updating

iMore does a great summary of how the latest iOS update might trip up some folks. Have a read here

I’ve done two devices now – my iPhone5 froze two thirds of the way through, and needed to be hard reset; my iPad mini went fine, althought the screen went blank and the little progress bar also didn’t move, both for what appeared ages (hint – don’t watch – have a cuppa instead)


The article misses an important step that I’ve instituted as a regular practice for each and every update, after getting stung with an update that wiped my iPhone and I hadn’t backed up recently. Oops. Never again:-
1. Connect device to itunes – sync with backup – disconnect
2. Repeat (1). Thus there are now two backups on your computer as, well, backups.
3. Start the update process as normal (meanwhile I learnt something here – adding a new step zero – hard reset before starting everything)

And then finally, do a hard reset again once the device is fully updated. Job done. Back to work. Sigh. Check facebook instead.

So to summarize the update iOS process:- Hard Reset. Backup. Twice. Update. Hard Reset.


Don’t know how to do what I call a hard reset? Push home and power button until it turns off, KEEP HOLDING until Apple appears.

Check out this wiki, but be aware that what they call a “soft reset” is what I call a “hard reset” whilst what they call “hard reset” I call a “wipe and restore” which is higher up the Richter Scale of resets. Sorry if the phraseology is confusing, but knowing these procedures (call them what you like) is very useful.

It is recommended to carry out a soft reset when your phone starts presenting peculiar behaviour, as this clears the phone’s memory and can solve many minor problems. Some people recommend a soft reset regularly (Ed: I do, weekly 😉 Some poorly written apps or ones that crashed can leave things in the phone’s memory, and this action clears them out. Powering off the iPhone is similar to the soft reset but not quite as effective in clearing out the phone’s memory (yup, hard reset is better)

Credit Card Takeaway

Called into my local Chinese takeaway tonight in person rather than phoning. The nice lady patiently waited while I chose three items, then informed me that my £12.80 sale was short of the £15 minimum for debit card transactions. I appealed this extremely politely, referencing the fact that Which? has recently conducted an investigation which revealed that the true cost of DD transactions was around 20p. She said OK and called her boss – offsite – for authorisation. A rapid convo in Mandarin was heard then she got off the phone and smiled, saying the boss said OK. OK? Great!!

So, she proceeded to ask me “Long card number on the front” “expiry date” “security code” “house number and postcode” and “name as on the card”. Dutifully these details were then written down on a little notepad. Yep, a notepad. Then she rang her boss – offsite – but you know that already – and gave him the details (in Mandarin). All my details. She then handed back to me the note.

I had some questions. “What do you do if the customer is not here?” She showed me the rest of the pad, pages and pages of other customer’s details. Gold.

“What do you do with them?” to answer that she demonstrated – by ripping off a page, screwing it up in her hand, and then gesturing a throwing away. “So you just put them in the bin?” “Yes – I tear them up”

I should add that whilst she took my order (on another sheet of paper) out to the kitchen, she left the counter unattended. I quickly jumped up over the high counter to see if it was possible for me to grab the Credit Card details notebook – yep – it was there within reach.”How do you protect those customer details from theft?” “I do” she said. I  replied “But while you were away in the kitchen, I had the opportunity to steal that pad!” She got it……..

She was so nice, and understanding, and gave otherwise good service, that I felt I had to offer help in return. So I’ve passed on my details to give to her boss, so we can meet and get some advice happening about how to protect his business from potential fraud, and to review his Data Protection policies.

I took away with me the top three pages of the notebook – mine and the next two so that impressions couldn’t be made of my personally identifying information (PII). I also made the resolution to ask for an authorisation number each and every time I give my details over the phone – I assumed that she had a machine onsite but it was elsewhere – with the boss. Hmm. I’m not actually sure if that’s actually proper. It’s certainly not good practice.

When you call a business and they ask for card details over the phone, what do you do?

Online Sync Storage – a digestible options list

Want to sync about 30GB of data from your computer to an online sync service for backup purposes?

Happy to pay but not through the nose?

Here’s a quick summary:-



Price £GBP Storage
Copy 15GB 5GB US$99 £62 250GB
DropBox 2GB 0.5GB US$99 £62 100GB
Ubuntu One 5GB none I think US$30 £19 20GB
SpiderOak 2GB 1GB US$99 £62 100GB
Box 5GB none I think £42 £42 100GB
Google Drive 15GB none I think $60 £38 100GB
Sky Drive 7GB couldn’t find easily so ignored intentionally blank

And here’s my thoughts:-

· I couldn’t easily find the necessary info re Microsoft Sky Drive quickly and easily so they’re off the board

· The rest are easily installed on multiple platforms and feature apps for your smartphone so you can grab files anywhere.

· DropBox is the best for usability as it’s now got LOADS of other apps that work with it. High scores on simplicity too.

· If you’re worried about file security then SpiderOak is unbeatable, due to their no-knowledge setup.

· Google Drive is cheapest and is pretty good, except it’s difficult to put away the worry about what they scrape from your files.

· Ubuntu One looks good for the price but is smaller – and appears to be unexpandable. Off the board for this exercise.

· If you’ve got lots of friends that are happy to join, you can quickly get a great quota free from Copy.

· Box is great value. And it’s well thought of in business circles in the USA. So it’s recommended.

So to pick a winner, it comes down to Box and DropBox. And since DropBox wins on connectivity with other functions (e.g. the ability to automatically take photos off your phone and sync off into the cloud), I’m going to give it the gong.

Box is second. SpiderOak is third for me because of SpiderOak Hive (more info).

The one I use most myself is DropBox, with a little SpiderOak as well for the personal and business files that I just *don’t* want breached.

For more in-depth options have a look at as recommended by Gary Smith @fl1bbl3

What’s your backup plan? If you don’t have one, get one. Or ask someone that can help make one.

In the event of fire, theft, flood or frying disks you’ll be glad you did.

QBright iOS app wrecked by new update

The recently updated excellent little iOS app that goes by the name of Qbright is now “under new management” and all the new reviews are saying that it’s been ruined by the latest update, and turned into an ad platform. It’s a paid app!! My findings are the same. I believe the old version was much better (yes, the new control panel in iOS7 is good for quick adjustment of brightness, but it’s three taps to get the effect that Qbright can give in one). There is lots of advice in the reviews to avoid the update – I concur.


Thankfully I have a backup copy #Qbright

Here’s a YouTube that explains (in Spanish) in a very straightforward way how to work the older version of the app