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The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time

The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time

We’ve all been forced to do it: create a password with at least so many characters, so many numbers, so many special characters, and maybe an uppercase letter. Guess what? The guy who invented these standards nearly 15 years ago now admits that they’re basically useless. He is also very sorry.

The man in question is Bill Burr, a former manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In 2003, Burr drafted an eight-page guide on how to create secure passwords creatively called the “NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A.” This became the document that would go on to more or less dictate password requirements on everything from email accounts to login pages to your online banking portal. All those rules about using uppercase letters and special characters and numbers—those are all because of Bill.

The only problem is that Bill Burr didn’t really know much about how passwords worked back in 2003, when he wrote the manual. He certainly wasn’t a security expert. And now the retired 72-year-old bureaucrat wants to apologize.

“Much of what I did I now regret,” Bill Burr told The Wall Street Journal recently, admitting that his research into passwords mostly came from a white paper written in the 1980s, well before the web was even invented. “In the end, [the list of guidelines] was probably too complicated for a lot of folks to understand very well, and the truth is, it was barking up the wrong tree.”

Bill is not wrong. Simple math shows that a shorter password with wacky characters is much easier to crack than a long string of easy-to-remember words. This classic XKCD comic shows how four simple words create a passphrase that would take a computer 550 years to guess, while a nonsensical string of random characters would take approximately three days:

Image: XKCD (published under a Creative Commons 2.5 license)
Image: XKCD (published under a Creative Commons 2.5 license)

This is why the latest set of NIST guidelines recommends that people create long passphrases rather than gobbledygook words like the ones Bill thought were secure. (Pro tip: Use this guide to create a super secure passcode using a pair of dice.)

Inevitably, you have to wonder if Bill not only feels regretful but also a little embarrassed. It’s not entirely his fault either. Fifteen years ago, there was very little research into passwords and information security, while researchers can now draw on millions upon millions of examples. Bill also wasn’t the only one to come up with some regrettable ideas in the early days of the web, either. Remember pop-ads, the scourge of the mid-aughts internet? The inventor of those is super sorry as well. Oh, and the confusing, unnecessary double slash in web addresses? The inventor of that idea (and the web itself) Tim Berners-Lee is also sorry.

Technology is often an exercise of trial and error. If you get something right, like Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg have done, the rewards are sweet. If you screw up and waste years of unsuspecting internet users’ time in the process, like Bill did, you get to apologize years later. We forgive you, Bill. At least some of us do.


Apple Launches Recall Program Because Some MacBook Pros ‘May Pose A Fire Safety Risk’

Apple Launches Recall Program Because Some MacBook Pros ‘May Pose A Fire Safety Risk’

Facing overheating batteries that “may pose a fire safety risk,” Apple launched a voluntary recall and replacement program on Thursday for the 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

“If your MacBook Pro is eligible, please stop using it and follow the instructions below to have your battery replaced,” the company wrote.

To figure out if your machine is impacted, you can head over to Apple’s website and check your MacBook Pro’s serial number. The affected laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017 but given the huge used market for Apple wares, it might be worth checking even if your buy date doesn’t fall neatly within that timeframe.

The actual replacement process isn’t exactly dead simple. If your machine is a 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it’s sent to an Apple Repair Center where its examined and then fixed in a process that can take up to two weeks. That can be a hell of a long time for “Pro” users who rely on their machines for work.

Then again, it’s probably approximately 10,000 times better than a fucking fire so please don’t skip out because of the one to two week service period.

Last month, one Apple customer said his 5-inch 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display “exploded during normal use.”

It was on my lap, plugged in, and suddenly started to spew smoke out both sides. I quickly placed it on the floor where it popped, the smoke increased, and it caught fire. Toxic smelling smoke filled my house triggering smoke and CO alarms. No one was injured, thankfully, but there was some damage to my home. The situation could have been much worse – imagine if I had been on a plane.

This is the second product recall this year for Apple who in April launched a recall and exchange program for international wall plug adapters because the “plug adapters may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched.”


Make Windows 8 usable with these tricks

Below are a few tips and tricks to make Windows 8 more user friendly.

1. Get the start menu back  startmenu3

The first thing you probably want to do is get rid of the tile layout which was designed for touch. While it may have seemed like a good idea for those who use only a mouse the interface is frustrating and slow.

To fix this you need to download a free program called Classic Shell found here It will also make a few tweaks to the view in Explorer making it feel more like Windows 7.


Iphone 6 still a costly repair – Get Apple Care ASAP!

Iphone 6 still a costly repair – Get Apple Care ASAP!

If you are one of the lucky people who got an Iphone 6 for Christmas -make sure to get a protective case!!

 Iphone 6 repairs are very costly at this time. Our cost for screen and glass on an Iphone 6 is around $150. Iphone 6+ is over $225.  Adding in labor for a repair puts this service out of reach for most people.

I highly recommend that you purchase the Apple Care+ service contract. It is a one time fee of $99. This extends the warranty to 2 years and covers 2 accidental damage incidents. The deductible for those incidents is $79.

Iphone 6 parts have come down in the last few days but I expect them to remain high for several more months.

Here is a link to the apple care page:

Here are some of my favorite Cell Phone case suppliers (I have some of these in stock):

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Apple offering iPhone 5 battery replacement for eligible devices

Recently Apple has admitted to a fault in the iPhone 5 (excluding 5S and 5C) battery. Eligible iPhone 5 holders may take their device to an Apple retailer and receive a replacement battery for free. Of course the user will need to schedule an appointment with them; the replacement batteries seem to operate much more effectively than the faulty ones originally in their place.

Here is a link to the eligibility check on Apple’s website.

With this being said, battery life has always been a top complaint for iOS users. Will the upcoming iPhone 6 have a much desired improved battery?

Apple has determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently. The affected iPhone 5 devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013 and fall within a limited serial number range.”

iPhone 6 pre-release thoughts

iPhone 6 pre-release thoughts

Apple has announced an event to be held September 10th. They are likely to reveal the new iPhone 6 and possibly other Mac products. Rumor is there will be 2 different iPhone 6 sizes, both being larger than the previous iPhone 5/iPhone 5S. Although I question the motive behind the two different sizes; it seems most other smartphone companies have at least 1 larger size available for consumers such as the Galaxy/Note.

The new iPhone screen is said to be made of sapphire – the same material the 5S uses for its new home button. The leaked screens have withstood intense flexibility tests and minor scratch tests. That being said, it can be concluded that it is not pure sapphire but a glass/sapphire composite, unlike the 5S home button which is pure sapphire.

Here is a short video of a scratch test conducted on a rumored iPhone 6 screen.

Also the new iPhone is rumored to only output a 960p resolution. Although Apple is not up to a 1080p display yet like its main competitor the Samsung Galaxy, the pixel density is still a very high 356ppi.


Final thoughts: With a new screen technology, iPhone 6 should have a very durable, drop resistant screen on the market. That being said, it may be much more expensive the conduct replacements on the new iDevice.