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Consumers Corner # 31


By Jim Murphy

Most of us know we need better passwords today than 123345, password or admin. Those are three of the most commonly used passwords.

But you may not know this: the length of your password makes it much more difficult to break.

Here are the remarkable numbers from a website called Crambler.com

Number of characters      Time to break the password

7                                                    A fraction of a millisecond

8                                                    5 hours

9                                                    5 days

10                                                 4 months

11                                                 10 years

12                                                200 years

So, how do you come up with longer passwords? It’s pretty easy, once you develop a system.

Kevan Lee at Lifehacker.com recommends several way, including this one by security expert Bruce Schneier:

Take a sentence and turn it into a password.

Lee offers these sample sentences for ideas:

WOO!TEwontSB = Woohoo! The Eagles won the Super Bowl! (He said Packers, but I changed it to Eagles.)

PPupmoarT@O@tgs = Please pick up more Toasty O’s at the grocery store.

1tubuupshhh…imj = I tuck button-up shirts into my jeans.

W?ow?imp::ohth3r = Where oh where is my pear? Oh, there.

Other ideas:

You can also take words of a song you like, use the first letters, and add a date or address important to you. For example, if you use the words of the old tune Oh! Susanna

OSODYCFM22218: That translates into: Oh! Susanna, Oh don’t you cry for me and a date.

Better yet, throw in a character like a dollar sign or ampersand, as long as you will remember it.

Making your passwords longer can help. But you also need to be careful about what links you click on. Vary your password. Don’t use the same one on different sites. And be very careful on public Wi-Fi sites (see story below.)

But no matter what you do to be careful, your data can be exposed by a company like Experian, Target or Linked In, all the subject of huge hacks.That’s just the digital world we live in today.


A very scary story on medium.com warns about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi spots.

Basically, it says almost everyone and everything connected to a Wi-Fi network can be hacked.

Working with an “ethical hacker” who helps reveal potential dangers of the internet and technology, the writers demonstrates how your passwords, identity and bank records can be stolen in minutes.

It’s scary stuff. So be very cautious when you use public Wi-Fi sites. Even better, says the Federal Trade Commission, only use encrypted sites or those starting with https. I’m just not sure how practical that’s advice is for most of us. For other FTC tips, go to onguardonline.gov.



Phone calls that look
like they’re local

 Seeing more phone calls from numbers very similar to your area code and prefix? I am, too, and after answering one, realized they were a new hoax.

AARP’s magazine says this “neighbor spoofing” is one of today’s hottest fraud trends. AARP’s advice: register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. And “let your answering machine handle calls you don’t recognize.”



If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to open the hard plastic “clamshell” packaging so common today, you’re not alone.

USA Today says 6,000 people go to the ER each year, injured while trying to stab, slice or pry open these cases.

The solution: a simple can opener.

Flip over the package, so the front faces down. “Clamp your can opener over the rightmost edge of the package, and twist (the handle),” says columnist Jennifer Jolly. “So easy,” she says.

Source: USA Today



 2 million tons

The amount of debris being removed after fires devastated California earlier this year. It’s equal to double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Source: KQED and Significant Digits


36 to 71

The vote of the Florida House to not even consider banning assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Even worse, they did this in front of survivors of the recent school shooting in which 17 people were killed.

Source: ABC 1o News and Significant Digits



The number of days the Pennsylvania Legislature pays itself for “full time” work, according to Philly.com columnist John Baer. In January, Baer said the legislators were just getting back from a five-week holiday and “of course after its members got their annual pay raises.”

Source: Philly.com


Philly Fun Fact 

 Do you know how the Liberty Bell came to be?

The bell was ordered by the Pennsylvania Assembly to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges. It later became known as the Liberty Bell, because of this biblical inscription: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”  Today it’s one of our most famous national symbols.


Photo Credits

“Computer Security – Protect Data – Computers” flickr photo by perspec_photo88 https://flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/18657246306 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license


Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. Jim is also a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guide and writes historical articles for the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine.


Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





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