Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Kallyfornyah Kasual

I am in a bit of a muddle here today, as I sit at my keyboard. I have six or seven  directions I could head in, if you will, and am unsure which to share with you, Dear Reader. And how to do it. I think I will just “free flow” today. Kallyfornyah Kasual.

I will start with an educational word of caution..
Yesterday, I spent hours in a client’s home. They could not access their Gmail.

No. Their account was not “hijacked” (see, “My Gmail Account Was Hijacked”). They simply could not remember their password. They had set one, and then had been letting the computer remember it for them. But, their browser suddenly forgot to remember correctly the other day.
Well, no big deal.. their logins are stored on the “keychain” (it was a Mac).
Which is password protected.
Which they couldn’t remember either.. as they had set it years ago when the computer was new.
Catch 22.

Worse, this person was in the habit of setting passwords, and letting the computer do the work: they knew not a single one of their passwords (except their User password, which they use every day).. and didn’t have them written down anywhere.

I did my best to explain that in this Internet Age, user name + password combinations are our keys: they give you access: and w/o them, you are S.O.L.; and you want to hide a spare (copy) somewhere. Just like you would a house key.
But I could tell that not even the frustration of hours of playing the “guessing passwords game” and dozens of “click here to reset password” emails (Gmail said “No. we don’t believe you are you.”), nor my mild chiding coaxing, was going to change this person’s behavior or attitude. Neither would my bill.

In another one of my adventures in tech support..
Nah. I’ll save that for another day. I’ll just say I was slightly disappointed in my first encounter with the new AppleTV box.

But, I have seen an increase in the number of malware (aka “virus”) infections, and also an increase in the number of infections which included backdoors and keyloggers (this coincides nicely with the approaching tax season..). Many of these infections were spread by email coming from friends and contacts. So now would be a good time to ramp up your email “paranoid common sense”, and not implicitly trust that the email from your good buddy Joe is safe.

And it’s a good time for me to pitch to you my Got A Computer? Top 10 Things You Should Do article. It is a checklist worth knowing.

I won’t tell what the weather is like here, as I know many of you are up to your armpits in snow.. but I will tell you that I hope you have a nice, enjoyable weekend — and ask you to try to be safe.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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January 29, 2011 - Posted by | advice, computers, tech


  1. TechPaul,

    Just this week, worked on two PCs and guess what; passwords no where to be found. I resorted in spending time locating software to see behind those asterisks and password boxes.



    Comment by Ramblinrick | January 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Something has to come up a few times before I will consider it “topic fodder”…
      And I have learned over the years that to mention “passwords” (without adding the word “crack”) is to ensure a 20 – 30% reduction in number of reads…
      But this is a classic case of potentially being able to save someone a ton of headaches, so, voila! Another password article.

      Even though I live in AppleLand, I haven’t explored such advanced tools for Mac.. but I carry PC versions on my toolkit-on-a-stick.
      Guess I’ll have to look at what’s out there…

      I have become convinced: some equivalent of a driver’s permit should have been made mandatory before citizens could purchase PC’s, much like it is for cars. Be required to show some basic competency and understanding before being allowed in front of a keyboard. And the test reissued every 3 years..


      Comment by techpaul | January 29, 2011 | Reply

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