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Creative.

Earl and I are currently speeding along the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since I am typing this blog entry, it is safe to assume that he is currently driving. We are on our way to his hometown where we are going to do our annual cemetery duties; we are putting grave blankets on the graves of his parents and other family members. I had never heard of grave blankets prior to meeting the love of my life, but this is something that folks apparently do down in these parts. The blankets in question are much like an evergreen wreath except the size of a grave. It’s a festive way to honor the memory of a loved one. I like the idea.

I have resolved that I am not going to look at the speedometer while Earl is driving. He tends to drive faster than I do these days but I still yell and swear more. It’s a balance that any married couple can achieve once they put their mind to it.

I have been feeling inspired lately. Feeling inspired is a good thing because I take it as a sign that I have found my happy place in my head and that I am able to express that happiness through little creative endeavors. For example, I’m feeling more inclined to write. I feel like I’m writing more in the blog, I’m certainly participating in other social networking outlets more again and I’ve begun doing some work on my clock collection again.

I was recently contacted by another collector who collects the same make and model of clock systems that I collect. He and his partner managed to buy the entire system from a local school at auction and then were able to score several pieces from another school. We have been chatting back and forth a little bit over the past couple of days and he has shared some photos of his clocks. His work is top notch. I’m looking forward to seeing his collection in person someday. His excitement for our shared hobby has inspired me to start working on the website highlighting my collection again and because I’m feeling more creative, I feel more inclined to pay attention to that site that hasn’t seen an update in a couple of years. This spark of creativity has, in turn, sparked my road geek side again and I have been updating that website over the past couple of weeks. Which then led to a programming project that I am working on with our friend Jeff that will eventually lead to more financial security in my future.

It’s all creatively driven and it’s all connected and more importantly, it’s all been sparked because I have been able to find my happy place again. That’s a really good feeling.

I have in this blog many times over the years that I hope that someday I will figure out who I am and what makes me tick. I have a pretty good idea of all of this and with this recent feeling of marked happiness, I feel like I’m getting closer to achieving that goal.

Life is good. Especially when you want it to be.

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Passwords.

Cross-posted from my tech blog. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful.

So last night I was sleeping peacefully when my iPhone and Nexus 7 lit up the bedroom like a beacon in the dreamscape. Startled by this (it’s almost as bad as the phone ringing in the middle of the night), I jumped up, wide awake, to see what the urgent message was about.

The message was something to the effect of, ‘Someone tried to get into your Facebook account and we’ve locked it.’ Since the account was locked, I knew it could wait until morning, so I went back to sleep. Kudos to Facebook for being proactive with my account security.

So what I needed to do this morning was change my passwords on my accounts. I was due for a password change anyways (I try to do it once a quarter or so), so I thought I would share my little password generation method with the masses in hopes that you’ll find it helpful.

We all know that passwords are a pain in the butt. They need to be something that you’ll remember, but they can’t be something that will be easily guessed. The days of using “password” as your password should be long, long gone. However, I do use a password that can be easily remembered. I start out with a phrase or word that is meaningful to me. For example, on my wedding day, I made a promise to my husband, so I’ll start with that word:

promised

One thing that you should always do is use a mixture of both lower- and uppercase letters in your password, so let’s change the first letter to an uppercase letter.

Promised

It’s still a pretty simple word to guess, right? The second step in my password generation is adding an adjective or an emotion to the word. Not only does it make the password harder to crack because you’re changing the password to a phrase, it also makes it easier to remember. My promise to my husband makes me happy, so I’ll add a word that indicates this.

Promisedyay!

The exclamation point at the end drives the point home and makes the password even more secure.

The next thing we want to do is we want to change the vowels to symbols that look like their alphabetic counterparts. This is a loose interpretation of leet speak and it adds another layer of security to your passphrase.

Pr0m1s3dy@y!

The last thing I do is add an indicator as to what service this password is going to be used on. Now some people might find this odd, but this gives me the ability to use the same password or phrase on all my accounts but still have unique passwords for each. I am going to use this password for my Facebook account, so let’s add that to the mix.

Pr0m1s3dy@y!FB

One approach to this might be if Facebook is the first thing you go to in the morning, put the FB at the beginning. If you have a Twitter account that you tend to go to after you go to Facebook, you could put that at the end, so you’d have

FBPr0m1s3dy@y!
Pr0m1s3dy@y!TW

Your password still has meaning to you, but is much more secure because you’ve added these different layers of customization and security to it.

Happy surfing and feel confident knowing that you’re surfing safely!