Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to create a password that's hard to crack yet easy to remember

It's a good idea to change passwords often. Some sites even force a password change after a period of time or after a certain number of logins.

The problem is that it's tough to think up passwords that are tough to crack but easy enough to remember and use over a number of devices such a desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet (and probably many other variants of devices being invented over the next few years). One easy-to-use method was to use ASCII codes to generate symbols that look like English characters, such as Σ for the letter E. However, laptops and smartphones generally don't have keyboards that can generate such characters and attaching an external keyboard is just blech.

With a little ingenuity, though, you CAN generate a password that's easy to remember but tougher to crack than the usual passwords, and which can be used across devices.

The trick is to use a simple technique that lets us associate characters with letters of the alphabet.
For example, can you pronounce the following word? D@vvg.

If you read that as Dawg, you get the way in which you can generate a password that you can remember but which a hacker can't really crack that easily. That word actually contains a capital d, an "at the rate of" symbol, two v's and a g. Yet you can easily remember it as Dawg.

Let's see how to apply this technique to create a password. Let's say you met an interested person named Abigail recently and she's been on your mind enough to make you use her name as a password. So is she @b1Ga1L or aB!g@i| or A81g@il? The human mind can clearly see these as Abigail but computers, being mere number crunchers, can't. So software-driven password hacking systems, even if directed by human hackers who know something of you, can't really crack such passwords.

Some symbols that can be used as letters are:
1 for i or I
2 for s or S
! for i or l
@ for a
# for h or H
$ for s
^ for n
^^ for m
& for S ( for C
/ for l
vv for w
VV for W

Mix up the letters and symbols, use random lower case and upper case letters and your pet's name becomes an unforgettable and hard-to-crack password!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bookmark a page / section in Adobe Reader and find it again

Technically, you can't bookmark in Adobe Reader, that feature being available only in the Adobe PDF creator, a paid piece of software.

However, you CAN use a feature of Adobe Reader (I'm talkin' the latest, download it from here) to mark a page / section in  a PDF and return to it, much as you'd use a bookmark.

To create a bookmark (I'm using the term loosely), click the comment icon, top of the Adobe Reader window. It looks like this:




The pale yellow icon is the one you need to click. Clicking it will open the comment dialog box. Type a random comment. I generally type "bada bing" because it really doesn't matter. Click the "-" icon top right of the comment widow. Your comment will be saved.

Close the PDF. You will be asked if you want to save the file. Agree. You'll be asked if you want to replace the old file. Agree.

Your sneaky bookmark will be saved.

To go back to where you stopped reading:

Load the PDF file in Acrobat Reader.

Go to View --> Comments --> annotations


Click Annotations.

On the right side of your screen you'll see the list of comments you've added. If you're smart like me, there'll be only one. Anyway, click the most relevant comment.

You'll be taken to the comment you've made.

There ya go, that's how you bookmark a page in Adobe Reader and get back to it for free :)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Beware of scams at job search sites

Recently I registered at a job search site, looking for freelance work.

I was surprised to receive an email from Hyundai Motor India Limited, saying I had been shortlisted for a senior position in the company and asking me to confirm my attendance at an interview to be conducted at the company headquarters in Delhi. As I read the attached PDF of the call to attend, all sorts of alarm bells went off in my head.

First of all, the email header (the 'from' field) indicated that the email had come from a company in Brazil. Now, why would Hyundai India send me an email from Brazil?

Secondly, the email asked me to send a mail confirming my attendance to an email addy: hr-hyundaimotor@gmx.co.in

Now why, I asked myself, was Hyundai not using a hyundai.in or hyundai.co.in domain name for email? A company as large as Hyundai can easily afford the domain names and the staff to monitor mails to them.

The clincher was a paragraph asking me to pay money in advance as a cash security deposit since, it claimed, a large number of people had taken their air tickets and absconded. Whenever I'm asked to pay to a company that's supposed to pay ME, I get suspicious.

So I googled "hyundai scam" without the quotes and found this:
hyundai scam notice
In case you can't see the cautionary text, I've pasted it below:
Notice 
It has come to our notice that some fraudulent agencies/imposters/ external agencies asking gullible candidates through mails/correspondence to deposit money in exchange for recruitment service/employment in Hyundai Motor India.

Please be warned that these are fake persons/ agencies, engaged in fraudulent activities. Hyundai Motor India does not deal nor adopt these practices nor collect any money for employment.

Person receiving such mails/correspondence are requested to lodge complaint with the local police authorities and also bring it to the notice of Hyundai Motor India

You can also write to njp@hmil.net or contact the recruitment team Navin Joseph / Kirubhakaran K / Ramesh Babu or Suresh Kumar G @ 044-4710-5101 / 5117 / 5832 / 5892. 


Be careful, people are out to use your vulnerability to make money off you. Always check before paying anyone any money.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Computer Starts Very Slowly Under Windows XP

Okay, so your computer, running Windows XP, suddenly takes a loooong time to start up.

Here's a quick fix that won't jigger up your computer but will get it up and running in a few minutes. You might want to print this post so you can refer to it as you restart your system.


  1. Start your computer.
  2. Hit the F8 key on the top of your keyboard repeatedly. Don't hold it down, hit it repeatedly.
  3. If you get anything other than a black screen with white text, hit Esc (the "Esc" key top left) and continue to repeatedly hit the F8 key.
  4. When you get the black screen with white text, use the up arrow key to go to "Start Windows In Safe Mode With Command Prompt".
  5. Hit Enter.
  6. Make sure the next screen highlights "Windows XP". If it doesn't, use the arrow keys to highlight "Windows XP".
  7. Hit Enter.
  8. You will see C:\>something\something (don't worry about that, just go to the next step).
  9. Using your keyboard, type C:\ (just type c, then shift+;, then \) and hit Enter.
  10. Type cd windows\prefetch
  11. Your screen should show C:\WINDOWS\PREFETCH
  12. Type del *.* and hit Enter.
  13. Windows will ask if you're sure. Type Y and hit enter.
  14. Type c:\windows\temp and hit enter.
  15. Type del *.* and hit Enter.
  16. Windows will ask if you're sure. Type Y and hit enter.
  17. Restart your computer. It will start in under a minute.
Have fun!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Access "Internet Explorer only" sites / pages with Google Chrome in four easy steps

So there you are, you've gone to a site to fill a form or access some information or see some animation and the site tells you, "This site can only be viewed / accessed with Internet Explorer" (or a similar message).
No need to worry, Google Chrome has an add-on that will let you access the page in fully functional fashion. Here are the steps.
  1. Using Google Chrome, mosey over to the Google Chrome IE Tab download section
  2. Click the "+Add to Chrome" long blue button
  3. Click the "Add" button in the dialog box that opens and let the add-on download
  4. It will add an IE icon to the Chrome menu bar (extreme right). Open the IE-only website IN GOOGLE CHROME, then click the IE icon.
That's it, the site/form/thingamajig will open and let you do what you need to do.

CAUTION: Opening the site using the Chrome add-on does not eliminate IE's security risks. Opening the site via this add-on is the same as opening the site using IE's latest browser, risks included.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cyber-blackmail and the Royal baby: online scams to watch out for this year - Yahoo! News UK

Cyber-blackmail and the Royal baby: online scams to watch out for this year - Yahoo! News UK:

'via Blog this'

First of all, don't click on any links sent by email promising anything about the Royal baby. Instead, do a net search and you are more likely to find legitimate links to Royal baby news.

If you haven't already, read the three tutorials on this site on backing up and restoring your computer, then back up your system and create your Rescue Disk, just in case your computer gets locked up by "ransomware", as mentioned in the article above.

You can read the first tutorial at:
http://www.deeplysimple.net/2009/03/backup-and-restore-your-system-drive.html

Links to the other tutes are in the first tute.

Have a safe 2013!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Check back on a web image using Google Images

Often, we come across images on the web that we'd like to share with like-minded people. However, it makes sense to check if the image is real before sharing so one doesn't end up with egg on the face. If you aren't very good at spotting edited images (also called photoshopped images), Google Images is a good way to find similar images and see if the image you are about to share has been doctored.

For example, I today came across this photograph, shared on a social network (I added the "FAKE" watermark so it isn't inappropriately shared from this blog):

I suspected this picture was fake so I decided to do a little investigating.

First, I right-clicked the picture and grabbed its URL:
Then I headed over to Google Images (click the link and you'll go there).

I clicked the camera icon in the search window:
I got a new screen that asked me to upload an image or paste a URL. I pasted the URL:
I hit the "Search" button and got a page that showed images similar to the one I had asked Google Images to find:
Looking at the "Visually similar images", I clicked the first one on the left and I found that the image had been lifted from Facebook's thank-you to its users upon crossing the 500 million user mark. The pic on the social network was therefore fake, since Facebook's thank-you was posted in 2010. A little bit of searching saved me a lot of embarrassment.