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Better passwords to keep your junk in the trunk

Better passwords to keep your junk in the trunk

Chances are someone has naked photos of you or your family. A recent survey shows that 9 out of 10 Millennials have documented their own whoopie cakes, humpty dumplings or baloney ponies. But what precautions have they taken to keep their money makers private?

A unique method for choosing passwords is critical given that a typical lowercase six-character password can be guessed in less than 10 minutes. Choose multiple stategies when picking a better password and you’ll be protected.

We shred documents in office compactors and tell our children to avoid contact with strangers who ask questions – so advocating for good password policies in your office or home should be a no-brainer.

Keeping your junk in the trunk may depend on it.

Last year’s iCloud celebrity photo hack should be a wake up call for everyone. Nude and compromising photos of nearly 100 celebrities were published, without permission, on the imageboard called 4chan.

4chan Celebrity Scandal

The hackers simultaneously pulled the pants off victims and the world’s largest Big Tech Company by using a service called “iBrute” to gain access to those celebrities’ passwords – and ultimately stealing the photos stored on their phones and in the cloud. When TIME magazine accused Apple of negligence in allowing the vulnerability in Apple iCloud’s “Find My iPhone” service, which helps users locate a lost or stolen phone, Apple responded with this strongly worded statement rebuffing the accusation:

None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems …. To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.

Blotter Password Reset

Business Insider butressed the liability argument from Apple’s accusers, reminding readers that the ability to gain access to Apple’s iCloud accounts would likely require the ability to identify the user or email address of each victim. Given the ease with which hackers find email addresses and usernames, however, Apple can’t be held fully responsible for users’ bad password choices.

What if those victims had been provided with guidance on setting up good passwords?

These five easy methods to choose passwords and keep your junk in the trunk could save your own tuckus from broad publication.

Again, use a combination of strategies, not just one! Choosing a password that’s both easy to remember and practically guess-proof is something to tell family and friends about, too. After all, the integrity of your jaybird may be at stake.

1. Parenthesis always

A lot of us forget that parenthesis can be used in passwords. That means that you should be utilizing the symbol – or any of the special characters – around EVERY password you ever choose, going forward from today.

  • Password Parenthesis Example: mypassword becomes (MyP4$$^^0rd)

2. Leetspeak is not so good

Leetspeak, an alternative alphabet that uses various combinations of ASCII characters to replace Latinate letters, can help. But foiling password guessing programs can be problematic if that’s your only strategy. For instance, Leetspeak will not keep your password safe if you’re using it in an obvious manner. (Pa$$word is one of the first combinations these password applications will attempt, for example.)

  • Password Leadspeak Example: IfYouCanReadThisYouAreOffToAGoodStart becomes 1fuc4nre4dth15ur0ff2ag00d$t4rt

3. Password Ebonics

Because password cracking applications rely on languages the criminal hackers have imported from open-source dictionaries, it’s best to utilize languages that are unformalized or entirely made up. Here are a few examples:

  • Password Ebonics Example: PeepsOffDaHizzleSup
  • Password Redneck Example: FoScoAnSevenYearsGo
  • Password Jive Example: IGotsSomeFeelinWesNotInNoKansasNoMo

4. Bigger is better

Experts suggest repetition of unique letters is good security when choosing a password. For instance, many, many letters arbitrarily inserted in your password phrase can pretty much prevent any password cracking application from guessing it. Of course, the downside is remembering the number of letters used.

  • Password Repetition Example: HoustonWeHaveAProbleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem!

5. Special character substitutions

Special characters should go beyond standard punctuation to include all the SHIFT-NUMBER letters, albeit not necessarily at once. A novel way to do this is by including your anniversary date or another arbitrary date (preferably not your birthday or something that could be guessed by a hacker).

  • Password Password Example: September202008 becomes September@)@))*

 

Blotter Password Reset

Better passwords to keep your junk in the trunk also keeps your money safe!


Most hackers are interested in stealing unique identifiers for the purpose of theft, of course.

By utilizing a password strategy that is personal and unique, you’ll be more likely to remember the password and mitigate the possibility of brute force or other malicious attacks.

Creating good passwords to keep your junk in the trunk is the responsibility of everyone you’re close to. If those around you are not using good security strategy, neither are you!

Website content hooks that seduce readers

Website content hooks that seduce readers

If you could learn to write interesting website content hooks that bring 100+ likes for all your posts, would you be interested in learning more about it? Unless you are The Most Interesting Man In The World, your website content is getting ignored if you’re not using the hooks of the trade.

Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an interesting blogger and an old drunk are walking down the street together when they all spot a fifty dollar bill at the same time. Who gets it? The old drunk, of course. The other three are mythological creatures.

Maybe it’s debatable whether Google has developed an algorithm to penalize boring website content. What’s not debatable is the vulnerability most readers have to content that employs information gaps, bait and switch, leadership and paradigm shifts.

Readers need to be challenged with website content hooks that seduce them and keep them reading more.

Paradigm Shift - Blotter.comInformation Gap Website Content – (Dubious)
Examples: Upworthy.com, BuzzFeed.com, (First line of this post)
This woman found a dog. What happens next will blow your mind! If that clickbait piques your curiosity, then you’re not alone. Roughly 100% of human beings can’t resist their curiosity and will do most anything to fill the gap of missing information. Information Gap Theory of Curiosity, developed by George Loewenstein in the early 1990s, is simple: Readers feel an emotional “itch” on the brain that requires them to scratch it by reading the more. There’s a “gap between what we know and what we want to know,” says Loewenstein. Here’s what they’re doing when writing Information Gap content:

  • Teasing readers by omitting conclusions to a question
  • Displaying images that are purposefully ambiguous
  • Challenging readers to test their assumptions
  • Testing readers’ sexual, social, moral or morbid curiosity

Bait and Switch - Blotter.comBait and Switch Website Content (Shameless)
Examples: Slate.com, NewYorkTimes.com
Could a brain parasite found in cats help soccer teams win at the World Cup? If you didn’t click on that link, congratulations. There are any number of seemingly bizarre headlines and vulgar images that ultimately lead to nothing but an innocent place on the other side. These headlines and images are both intriguing and appalling, but they’re a sure-fire way to keep people’s interest – to keep them coming back to your website again and again. By varying the presentation and keeping the content unpredictable, Bait and Switch content deceives readers into clicking. It’s also quite possibly the very best way to alienate and to find yourself blacklisted by readers who won’t forget that your posts always end in disappointment. With that in mind, be sure to utilize the below website content hooks infrequently:

  • Promising an interesting innovation, but ending with disappointment
  • Adding mixtures of unpredictability and helpful facts
  • Showing a bang and ending with a shrug
  • Seducing with sexual innuendo without taking the reader to second base

LeanIn.orgThought Leadership Website Content (Highly Professional)
Examples: LeanIn.org, MarthaStewart.com
These are posts that provide expertise while communicating the credentials, experience and reputation in order to validate the message. These website content hooks typically come from an organization or brand leader that is well established because of a reputation boon, either earned or endured. The hooks can keep hooking – for as long as we love the leader purveying his or her wisdom upon us:

  • Persuading through demonstration
  • Divulging trade secretes and successful project strategy
  • Presenting as a rainmaker who attract customers or attention
  • Reflecting on how they overcame challenges

Paradigm Shift - Blotter.comParadigm Shifting Website Content (Professional)
Examples: Ted.com, BitCoin.org, Apple.com
This revolutionary content provides a voice for innovative ideas. Paradigm shift content is an advocacy for fundamental change in the way your reader should approach and assume their lives and business, allowing the reader to feel he or she is on the verge of something big, Big, BIG! While the reality may be rather small (e.g., a demonstration on how to tie a shoelace over instead of under for a tighter knot), the content is seductive and irresistible:

  • Empowering readers through inspiration
  • Demonstrating change using props or analogies
  • Inspiring a feeling of metamorphosis
  • Providing guidelines for reinvention

Headlines, articles and images utilizing website content hooks funnel readers through a website. Whichever methodology used to attract readers, website content should always satisfy with a quality that is original and useful to readers. And as with all great recipes, if the reader sees the seams or feels manipulated the website content hooks are acutely ineffective.

Why shoe cobblers are smarter than bankers

Why shoe cobblers are smarter than bankers

Along with chimney-sweeps and milkmen, cobblers are nearly extinct. They ply their trade in fewer and fewer places having been relegated to the hollows of New York City subways and discount storefronts in suburban rinky dink shopping centers. Nonetheless, a few shoehorns are steadfast in their trade, these indomitable and hearty cobblers demonstrating a resilience against the throwaway mentality our generation will be remembered for.

Cordwainers make shoes while cobblers resole, stretch, resurface, reshape and reheel them. Perhaps not surprisingly, some shoe repairmen are thriving with honed business models and steady revenue from mostly white collared businessmen. In New York City, for instance, financiers and bankers can’t seem to break ties with the healers.

Where have all the Cobblers Gone?

  • 30 Rockefeller Plaza – The F/D Subway has Eddie’s Shop where bankers sit reading newspapers while getting their shoes coddled and cobbled, the gawking tourists stopping at the window and snapping pictures.
  • Columbus Circle 59th Street – At Nivelo Shoe Repair you can get your pronated shoe heel replaced while getting a haircut, too.
  • Penn Station 34th Street – Soen Shoe Repair will fix the heel on your wife’s Christian Louboutins – while you get a straight-razor shave.
  • Chelsea 8th Avenue – Romano Cobbler is known for sole saving, specializing in Joh. Rendenbach leather soles.

I went to shoe cobblers to get my shoes fixed while working on Wall Street in the 1990s, but what I learned from them changed how I view business forever. Sound business strategies and shoe maintenance have a lot in common. Long before I became a website manager, I built electronic trade order management systems for money managers, writing their specifications, designing their UIs and writing their user guides. Bankers and traders are a fickle bunch, their rapid-fireness and volatile natures mirroring the shark tank that is Finance. These investors are known for their unbreakable discipline and independent thinking – I got to know this regal class of businessmen during my formative years in New York City. Shoe Cobblers versus BankersBut there was one man smarter than the lot of them – someone I met when I was too broke to buy new shoes, so I frequented his shop called Minas Shoe Repair. Minas worked a lower concourse storefront at 2 World Trade Center. He was something of a sage when it came to doling out business advice, and the financiers trusted him. He was keen to splint Auden wingtips or buttress the foxing on Gucci toe caps. He advised that Italian wedges crack if you don’t fortify the welt, and he insisted on buttressing new soles with rubber so the tread keeps the ground away from the leather. He told me a few important rules for maintaining shoes, encouraging me to nurture them the way an entrepreneur nurtures a business. Here’s a few more nuggets of business advice I gleaned:

  • Anticipate problems before they happen – A new pair of leather-soled shoes, for instance, requires the installation of thin rubber soles to keep them pristine. Evaluating shoes and understanding their strengths and weaknesses allows you to compensate and promote in advance.
  • Repair often – Similar to a good business model, shoes require a tweak here and a fix there to keep them going.
  • Polish with spit to dispel the grit – Nothing beats a professional shoe shine to properly calibrate a pair of cowboy boots, but don’t be afraid to use your own resources to bridge the gap between professional consulting services.
  • Outsource the maintenance – Be good at what you do and delegate tasks to someone who specializes in them. You’ll never polish the way a professional shoe shiner can.
  • Source quality polish – When it’s raining or snowing, the best water repellent is the natural lipids of mink oil or a premium shoe polish. The synthetic oils derived from petroleum are cheaper in the short term but will not keep the leather in the long term. Find the best resources available and pay up for them.
  • Be patient when breaking in – Jumping in too deep with a new pair of shoes is bad for your feet and bad for the shoes. Business models have kinks that need working out, too.
  • Know your limitations – Shoes with a dash of class and panache aren’t made for a rainy day, so be sure to fortify them accordingly or not wear them at all. Sometimes you need to wear rubber boots despite the folly of their style. People respect utility over good looks.

Minas knew that maintaining a smart business starts with fundamental analyses to identify strengths and weaknesses that lead to the achievement of objectives. For shoes, we want comfort, performance and good looks. Business is not much different, and looking good while making money remains clutch for our generation. Profits come by striking a balance between maximum returns and minimal sacrifice while looking graceful along the way. Likewise, nurturing a long life for a good pair of shoes follows the same model.

Minas had nurtured his business since 1969 when he began the long journey from his native Greece to America, arriving in New York with no money and little language skills. He first worked in a kitchen before he was able to save enough money to open a shop on 18th Street. But he aspired to bigger heights and by 1977 Minas Shoe Repair opened in the World Trade Center. He doubled the size of his business and sourced help to keep up with the growing clientele. He was thriving.

But then it happened.

Minas Shoe Repair was destroyed in the September 11th attacks. Hundreds of businesses were obliterated and thousands of workers were forced away from downtown Manhattan. The migration of the major investment houses Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bear Stearns occurred long before the attacks on September 11th forced the other big houses to follow suit. Over the years Minas had come to rely on the suits to keep his business humming, but he suddenly found himself – at the age of 60 – having to employ that advice he doled out regularly to his customers.

His regression toward the mean eventually took Minas to his current location on 67 Wall Street, but those tumultuous years following New York City’s biggest disaster nearly broke him. Stacy Curtin interviewed Minas in 2011 and wrote how he clawed his way out of near bankruptsy to return to his place of prominence as Wall Street’s Cobbler Sage:

And his customers come from all over the city and the outer boroughs. “I used to live at the Crest [apartment building] right next door. Now I actually live and work up in midtown,” says customer Noah Bogan. “I don’t really trust any other shoe repair shops, so I still come back here.”
– Minas Polychronakis

Our aptitude for grasping various methodologies in business comes from many places. There’s a lot to learn about strategy from the guys responsible for shoeing those who deal in quotes, spreads and margins in the ETF, IRS and FX markets. Traders and bankers know a lot about business strategy – sure, but how many of them have actually run their own business while plying their trade?

So when the going gets tough, the surefooted are the ones who understands the utility of a good pair of shoes – and the confidence to take them where successful business resides.

Shoe Cobbler

Beyond Content Farms: Better Content Management

Beyond Content Farms: Better Content Management

There are four basic steps for managing content on a website – focus it, source it, create it and disseminate it. Clearly, the hardest part about implementing these steps is the repetition that must accompany them. Search engine optimization (SEO) benefits result in the ability for a website manager to repeat these steps on a regular schedule. Whether it’s every day, every week or every month, these steps for managing content should be repeated like clockwork. Consistency will win the race.

Focus it
Google looks for consistency and keyword expertise when indexing websites. In addition to demonstrating a clear objective and purpose, Google offers a number of other tips to avoid creating bad content. A lack of focus on a particular topic damages SEO more than most website managers know. For that reason, website managers should be focusing content around consistent keywords to demonstrate their niche. Yoast is the de facto tool for choosing keywords to focus content, providing suggestions for long tail keywords (containing multiple words) that suggests which keywords are best. (Blotter uses Yoast and you should, too.) Not being disciplined and consistent in administering a website could be your biggest mistake.

Yoast

Using Yoast will help improve your long tail keyword strategy – reflecting what users see when they type a search term into a Google search box.

Source it
Content farms (also called content mills) employ large numbers of writers to produce text. Google hates them because the content is soulless and pedantic. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the practice of a room full of scribes producing content for a website, the results too often have bad grammar, disparate information and (at its worst) plagiarism.

A better strategy is for website managers to nurture relationships with individuals who understand the mission of the website and have expertise in it. Quality sourcing is why most companies with a successful SEO strategy delegate the responsibility of content creation to internal employees. Sourcing it within is the trend for most start-ups, for instance. Each employee must write on a regular basis.

Create it
Managing content on a website is all about demonstrating expertise on a particular subject. Creating informative content that demonstrates thought leadership or demonstrates a unique or compelling argument is what all good viral posts and videos have in common. Blotter follows and recommends the Ann Handley model for publishing dynamic content, but Blotter has simplified it to focus on the good of the good writing style:


The Good of the Good Writing Style

  • Good anticipation
  • Good data
  • Good teaching
  • Good writing
  • Good rewriting
  • Good logic
  • Good simplicity
  • Good reiteration
  • Good natured
  • Good editing

Disseminate it
We’ve mentioned many times how having a website is not enough for successful SEO. Most people use networking through LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to get personal references from friends, or they look on review sites such as Yelp! or Google Maps to answer questions about perspective businesses. The dissemination of media should be a carefully choreographed affair touching on every kind of outlet, sending content to as many social networking services as possible – in tandem.

Blotter uses social media aggregators to help organize the parallel publishing of media. Hootsuite is one of the more popular tools used by website managers to aggregate and disseminate media, but Blotters prefers BufferApp, a service which not only pulls in the major social media services to one place, but lets you schedule when to send out the messages over the course of the weeks to come:

Content Dissemination

For most website managers, content originates on a website and trickles out to social media outlets. For this reason, these websites should be top-level domains (i.e., dot-coms). Consistency in publication schedules and consistency with internally linking nomenclature is also necessary. That means that you must ensure a consistent naming convention for long talk keywords as well as permalinks. To create a good permalink, create a title that encompasses the long tail keyword,” that literal phrase someone might search. Make sure your “Permalink” matches the title exactly, using dashes to separate spaces:

Good nomenclature

(Use dashes to spell out article names literally.)

Finally, a website manager should remember to keep a calendar and enforce the publishing schedule like a drill sergeant. Whether you only publish once per month or once per day, make sure it’s at the exact same time. Following these four basic steps for managing content on a website should result in better content and better SEO.

Are domain registrars worse than hookers?

Are domain registrars worse than hookers?

A registrar is a lot like a prostitute in that they both take your money, the difference being that the hooker tells you in advance you’ll be screwed.

Okay, that’s a little harsh. Prostitutes don’t try to sell you useless add-ons while pitching their service: “Would you like to buy some shampoo to go with your oral sex? Howabout you pay me extra and I’ll black your name outta my little red book? And for an additional fee I’ll provide you with your own phone number, too!”

But while they’re all solicitous in their propositions – often to the point of annoyance – the domain name registrar can also keep you in bondage for years to come. For most of us, registrars are a necessary evil, someone we never really wanted to be with in the first place. Registrars versus HookersExperience helps us to understand what each domain name registrar offers. Our focus on five popular domain name registrars may help you choose the best answer to this prevailing question: Are domain registrars worse than hookers?

Prostitutes don’t hold you hostage
One of Blotter’s clients is being held hostage by the registrar Melbourne IT, an Australian-based company specializing in affiliate registrars. After repeated attempts to contact the company at https://www.melbourneit.com.au/contact-us/ as well as multiple phone calls to their support line at +61 3 8624 2300, this registrar has refused to unlock the domain name and proceed with sending the authorization code. The problem resulted from a mismanaged alliance between Melbourne IT and the now defunct contact at AT&T, Inc.

It appears the Registrar http://www.melbourneit.com.au is cybersquatting on our domain name. I’ve called the company a number of times (no answer) and have submitted multiple support tickets at both abuse@melbourneit.com.au and on the website. Because you have refused to provide us with the Authorization Code for the domain name XYZCLIENT.com, we are escalating our issue by filing a complaint with ICANN because we consider you to be unresponsive to our request for transferring the domain name XYZCLIENT.com.

Registrars who don’t cooperate should be reported immediately to ICANN, the governing body of domain names. ICANN will eventually resolved this matter.

Prostitutes don’t sell you add-ons like registrars do
NetworkSolutions.com and Godaddy.com are the worse offenders of useless and distracting upgrades with their multiple selection options that have nothing to do with registering a domain name for the first time. It’s quite amazing anyone uses them at all given their daunting interfaces.

Network Solutions sells you three hosting options under “Website Options” and five options under “Enhance Your Website” that include email management and “Web Forwarding” for $12.99/year. The final screen offers an additional “Private Registration” option for 100 years at a rate of $999.00 (claims to help prevent spam). The interface is fairly straightforward, however, and most users should be able to wade through these useless add-ons without too much distraction.

Network Solutions Options 1 - 2

Network Solutions: 1 – 2

Options

Network Solutions: 3 – 7

fdfddf

Network Solutions: 8 – 9

Godaddy, on the other hand, has price advocates who point out that discount codes and other membership programs bring the cost of a domain name down in the long run – renewals average $8.47/year. It’s the novices who pay for the veteran’s price breaks, however. Godaddy’s nine upgrades are downright confusing for first-time users, with two protection upgrade options, four hosting upgrade options and three email options.

Godaddy Distractions #1 & 2

Godaddy Steps: 1 – 2

Godaddy Distractions 3-6

Godaddy: 3 – 6

Godaddy Distractions #7-1

Godaddy: 7 – 9

Godaddy.com bait-and-switch options when registering a domain name are not improved with the renewals of domain names which provide eleven options including Email & Productivity powered by Office 365 as well as an SSL option ($69.99/year).

Name Cheap is similar to the other domain name registrars by offering confusing add-ons including cloud email, website hosting and mobile-friendly websites. But NameCheap.com has redeeming qualities to its interface and makes no assumptions, labeling their add-ons under a header Improve Your Site: 1. Hosting for $9.88; 2. Privacy Protection for $1.99 (first year); 3. Email; 4. Mobile-friendly website for $39.95/year.  They’re the most clear of the domain name registrars featured here.

Pairnic is another registrar many website managers prefer for their IBM-esque design and no frills interface while registering a new domain name. But Pairnic.com is not without confusion either, forcing the user to accept a dot-net registration along with your $19.00 (yikes!) dot-com selection. The buyer is forced to accept this “1st year free” .net transaction as some sort of helpful gift, never mind the likely automatic renewal next year at an inflated price.

A final note on domain name privacy protection
Registrars have taken a page straight out of Daniel Gardner’s The Science of Fear:

Fear sells. Fear makes money. The countless companies and consultants in the business of protecting the fearful from whatever they may fear know it only too well. The more fear, the better the sales.

Godaddy’s first step after a website manager selects a domain name to register is to warn users that they should pay at least $7.99/month to “Prevent your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.” For twice as much they’ll throw in something called a “Business Protection” plan which offers phony verification credentials called “Godaddy Certified Domain Seal” to prove to visitors that your site’s ownership is valid.

Which domain name registrar a website manager uses should be based on cost, but must also take into account availability and tools for updating MX records and DNS. Amateur website managers are better going directly to hosting platforms such as hostgator.com or westhost.com who will manage their domain name registrations and their DNS – granted the cost will be a bit more. However, veteran website managers are know the perils of working with registrars well, and they’ll do well to be vigilant to avoid paying for services they don’t need.