Tech

Managing the Plethora of Passwords

password
Remember back in the day when you only had only a couple passwords? You had the password for your email and the password for your MySpace. Other than that, most other websites wouldn’t even require you to have a password so remembering only a handful of passwords wasn’t a big deal. Just keep a couple of sticky notes on your monitor and you were good to go.

Nowadays, you have passwords for everything: your Facebook, Twitter, banking, any number of sites featuring articles you’d like to comment on, etc. On top of that, everyone hears that your passwords should be unique and you shouldn’t have any passwords playing “double duty,” that is, you shouldn’t have a total of three passwords you cycle through. On top of all of this, you hear rules like your password shouldn’t be any recognizable word, your password should contain symbols, your password should be a mix of upper case and lower case characters. And we only have a limited amount of space on our monitors to put sticky notes before it obstructs our vision so what are we to do?

Fortunately for us humans, we have this idea of a password manager. A  password manager is a digital kit that can store all of your passwords, help us auto-generate passwords with all of those crazy numbers and symbols, and even have features to automatically fill in form fields when we log in to websites so we don’t even have to type anything.

Friends and family alike know that I’m a huge advocate of using password managers for security. In this day and age in which we live, we hear of people stealing passwords all the time and it leading to credit card theft or even identity theft! Though there are so many other reasons people end up with stolen credentials, using a password manager is the first line of defense that anyone has against a hacker and, often the easiest to implement.

My personal favorite password manager is LastPass. LastPass is a browser plug-in (available for every major browser) and mobile app that will store all of your passwords (at least all the ones that you tell LastPass to remember) and will store them using cloud-based technology. All you need to do to be able to access these passwords is to create one master password (make it strong) to log in with from anywhere with an internet connection. Once logged in, you’ll be able to save, generate, and have LastPass auto-login to your favorite websites with no hassles of “Dang it, I forgot my password.” The best part of LastPass is that it’s free on your computer! The one caveat to the whole process is that to use LastPass on a mobile device will cost $12 a year which works out to a dollar a month which is nothing when you consider the benefit of being able to access important content such as Facebook on your phone.

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Solar Roadways: Drive into the Future!

     Solar roadways are a technology I heard about earlier this month from I Fucking Love Science and thought it was a really cool idea, but just another fleeting idea that I had heard about. Later on in the month, I saw one of my friends make a post about it on Facebook and I thought I would give it another look because I figured if the word was spreading, maybe this is bigger than I originally thought it was. It turns out that a new advertising video was created entitled Solar Freakin’ Roadways made to target and alert the younger audience (20-40). On top of this, the inventors of solar roadways have received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build prototypes of these solar panels. Now all they need is some seed money for a startup to start independently manufacturing panels.

     The benefits of this technology are endless and it will create a domino effect that will keep creating more and more benefits, so I will only list a few of my favorites:

  1. Electricity
    • These are solar panels after all, so they will generate electricity; it’s estimated that if all of the roadways in the United States were replaced with these solar panels, we would generate three times the amount of electricity that we use! Two things come to mind: that’s 300% of our energy budget (and that’s a lot) and this is nothing you wouldn’t hear if you watched the video, so why am I saying this. I’m saying this because there is a lot of talk of the impracticalities (cars damaging the road, creating potholes and skidding out, etc.). Even if this technology won’t work for the roads, it could still work for sidewalks, driveways, etc. If we replace 10% of the country’s asphalt with solar roadways, we can generate 30% of our budget, which is still a third of annual energy that we gain for next to nothing.
  2. Programmable Roads
    • Since these panels have several little LED lights on them, rather than painting lines to separate lanes and parking spots, we can just program these little LEDs! Anyone who just thinks about their morning commute will immediately think of how blurred the lines are between lanes, the markings for left-hand only, and painted words telling one to slow down. With programmable LEDs, not only would be able to see these better but we wouldn’t have to waste the taxpayer’s dollars on repainting the roads.
  3. No Snow!
    • If you live in the north, you can definitely relate to this advantage; heck, nowadays almost anyone can relate to this. As a kid, snow on the roads is great because it potentially means no school, but as an adult, snow on your way to work is probably one of the most tedious and potentially dangerous situations. The LEDs that were mentioned earlier can generate a lot of heat on the roads melting the snow and ice. This means that not only will our commutes be easier and less hazardous, but the salt the melts the ice and corrodes your car will no longer need to be spread. Thank Goodness! This greatly reduces your trips to the car wash.
  4. Water
    • I’ve also been doing a lot of reading lately on our current water supply and we’ll always have the amount of water that we need. The problem arises when you talk about salt water and fresh water. We have, and will always have, an abundance of salt water, but the process by which we convert salt water to fresh water requires a very large amount of power. With the excess of electricity generated by these solar roadways, we will always have enough power to convert salt water to fresh water! Since this a separate field, there is also technology being developed in this area that will utilize much less power; for now however, these solar roadways can assist with this issue.

     I’ve heard of several projects recently that can provide clean energy, but Solar Roadways is the first of these that I believe in enough that I wanted to be a part of. I don’t aim to create this post to advocate others to donate to this startup; the seed money has already been overfunded. Instead, I urge the reader to head over to Google or Indiegogo and do some reading to teach yourself about this project because I strongly believe that is going to become bigger in the coming years!

 

 

Using RAMDISK as an Ultrafast Hard Drive

     Today has marked a special day for Billy’s laptop, the day it got a RAM upgrade. It has gone from 4 gigabyte to 8 gigabytes and the change is… hardly noticeable in daily use. Of course, the reason I did this is because I’m often doing a lot of multitasking on my computer and having development environments as well as YouTube and Spotify while I’m looking at pictures of cats in teacups can be taxing on the system. Still, 8 gigabytes of RAM is a little excessive, so what I decided to do with some of that extra RAM is create a free RAMDisk.

     Dataram’s RAMDisk is a program with both free and paid versions that lets you use some of your RAM as a new hard drive partition. The free version will allow you to convert up to 4 gigabytes of RAM into a 4 gigabyte hard rive while the paid version will allow you to use any size. The advantage to this is that RAM is ultra-fast volatile memory acting as a hard drive meaning that it will have speeds comparable to, if not better than, a solid state drive! Speaking of solid state drives (SSDs), of which I do not have one, RAMDisk can help to increase the longevity of a SSD. Because SSDs only have a limited amount of read-write operations compared to a regular platter drive, you can use RAMDisk to take some of the frequent read-writes, such as browser cache and temporary files, thus extending the life of your SSD.

     The downside to using RAMDisk is, it is stored on volatile memory meaning it will lose all of its information when you turn off the computer. Fortunately, RAMDisk does have a feature, not activated by default, which will save a disk image of that drive on shutdown and then restore that disk image on startup so that you can continue to enjoy the benefits of RAMDISK without losing your data completely. I personally chose to use RAMDisk to store my browser cache as well as my temporary windows files.

     With a free version available with 4 gigabytes, you might think that the paid version is not needed at all, but that’s where you would be wrong. If you think of the memory capacities on most modern computers as well as how cheap addition RAM sticks are, the paid version quickly becomes feasible. If you got a computer that supported up to 32 gigabytes of RAM and used 24 gigabytes as a RAMDisk to store some favorite video games, those loading times would be as fast as lightning.