Tips For Wise Use of Password Managers – Including Master Password Selection

In the first post of this series, I describe four steps to secure your passwords with a password manager. This post describes a number of additional tips for using your password manager software most effectively. The “Tips for Standard Use” section is for everyone. The “Tips for Extra Password Security” section is for those who need additional security, with less regard for convenience.

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Bad or Useless Advice about Password Management

I’ve read dozens of tutorials and guides on how to manage passwords. I dislike most of them for the simple reason that they are far too cumbersome to implement and have you memorize a dozen or more rules without telling you why. The only way an average person will use secure passwords is if it doesn’t take up too much time and attention. Here are a few pieces of advice on password management dissected and dismissed:

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How Attackers Steal Passwords

Many people don’t understand how easy it is for attackers to take advantage of weak passwords, and therefore don’t use a password manager or other means to make their passwords stronger. This post describes 9 common ways passwords get captured, roughly ordered from most to least common. Proper use of a password manager can thwart some of these attacks and limit damages from most other types of attacks.

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The Usual Way to Manage Passwords and How Attackers Exploit it

According to various studies, most people use the same few passwords for all of their accounts, most of these passwords are weak, and many people don’t realize how weak their passwords are. Using the same 2 or 3 passwords for many accounts is analogous to storing all of your keys under the outside doormat of your locked front door – it doesn’t take much effort for a thief to have access to everything.

In this post, I describe the typical home user system for managing passwords and how attackers exploit this system.

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Need Tech Help? Google it!

Modern hardware, software, and web services are loaded with useful and customizable features, but figuring out how to use them is usually time consuming. Traditionally, people learn new features or resolve tech issues by following some combination of these time-consuming steps:

  1. Tinker.
  2. Read help files or manual.
  3. Call the most knowledgeable person or relative you know.
  4. Call Tech Support, if available. Wait on hold a long time then talk to someone who may or may not be able to help you.
  5. E-mail Tech Support. Hope that the reply comes soon and actually resolves your issue.


Thankfully, there’s a much faster, more reliable way:  Google it.

Google for help first, and you can save yourself tens of hours per year. In this post, I provide specific examples and helpful tips on how to quickly get tech help using Google.

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The Desktop or the Cloud?

A growing number of people are migrating much of their computing work from the desktop to the cloud, including myself. Why? What exactly is the cloud? What’s it like to work in the cloud? What are the pros and cons of the cloud? Who should consider (or not) migrating much of their work to the cloud?

Software resides on a server . . . in the cloud
Software on a server . . . in the cloud

This post is an attempt to answer these questions from a balanced perspective.

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Best Upgrade? The Browser . . . Five Browsers Compared

The best upgrade you’ll ever make? It’s not a new computer. It’s not an operating system upgrade. It’s a browser.

NOTE: In 2015 I posted a more current comparison of the latest browser versions, Best Browsers . . .

Most individuals access the web using the browser initially bundled with their computer, and typically don’t update it. Accessing the information superhighway with an outdated browser is like driving today’s roads with a Model T—slow, unsafe, unreliable, and in many places not usable at all.

How Old is Your Browser?

In this post, I explain why it’s so important to use the latest version of Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari—speed, security, reliability, and compatibility. I describe each of these browsers, to help you decide which is best for you. And I lay the groundwork for the next post on cloud computing.

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Filters for Distraction-free Writing

Is the pen mightier than the computer?

Distraction-free reading is not a fully solved problem–which is why the last article was so long. Distraction-free writing is a solved problem, which is why this article is short.

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Filters for Reading on the Web

Will reading on the web ever be as good as reading a book?

Will reading lengthy text on the web ever be as comfortable as curling up in your favorite chair with a paperback? In theory, computers offer some reading advantages such as fast look-up and infinite storage. In practice, conflicting priorities of site design and current display technology get in the way.

For people like me who read hours per day, there has to be a better way. Luckily, there is.

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