Password managers, digital libraries, Google location privacy
Bob's Tech Talk
October 1, 2018
Q. I have too many passwords to remember. I write most of them down and put them in a card in my wallet. How do you keep track of your passwords?
A. Keeping your passwords in a wallet or purse is not safe. If stolen, not only does the thief have your passwords, he or she has your identification and the detailed information needed to steal your identity. If you have to write something down, keep it somewhere obscure.
People who work in software have had the “too many passwords” problem for decades. Today, everyone has a long list of passwords to remember. Fortunately, the problem has been solved with password managers. Although these began as tools for professionals, they have evolved into powerful, easy-to-use services for everyone.
There are a lot of options, but two stand out: LastPass and 1Password. Both of them have been around for at least a decade. Both of them automate the tasks needed to create and manage passwords. And while both generally have the same features, I prefer 1Password. I have used it daily since it was first released in 2006.
Password managers work by encrypting your data behind a single password that only you know. And if you lose that password, the data is lost permanently.
In addition to passwords, these services can also store other things like personal notes. And there are also ways to enable family members to access secure information in the event of an emergency.
Given how much value we have locked behind passwords, everything from banking to shopping to personal information, a password service is vital.
Q. Years ago our family loved checking out free DVDs from the library. With the switch from DVDs to streaming, and with commercials seemingly everywhere on Web videos, I miss those library DVDs. Does media-sharing have a place nowadays?
A. I believe that libraries are one of the greatest innovations in history, and technology is helping to make them as relevant as ever.
Librarians are the first responders of the information world, and being the smart people they are, they are most certainly not just sitting around waiting for technology to eliminate media-sharing.
The best way to get acquainted with this world is to visit your local library or its website. Ask your librarian for the names of the sharing services they offer, and the best way to take advantage of them. There are a number of popular services offered by various libraries, including Overdrive, Hoopla, Enki, and RBDigital, just to name a few.
Two of my favorites are Kanopy, a service that streams 30,000 movies, and Libby, an app that makes the Overdrive service easy to use on mobile devices.
These services are easier for patrons to use compared to just a few years ago. And if your city’s library does not have access to one of these services, they may belong to a regional library network that does.
It may take a little effort to find these services, but I encourage you to check in with your friendly neighborhood librarian.
Q. I do not like that Google is always tracking the location of my smartphone. How do I disable it?
A. Disabling location services on your phone does not make your location anonymous. If you turn off location tracking on your phone, there is a good chance that Google is still listening.
The settings to manage your location privacy are on Google’s website. Go to your account page at http://www.myaccount.google.com. Under the Personal Info & Privacy section, click on “Manage your Google activity.” Sign in if necessary, then click on “Go to Activity Controls.” The next screen should show two toggle switches: One labeled “Web & App Activity” and one named “Location History.” Turn off both switches. By making these choices on the website, they will apply to all your devices using the same Google account.
However, Google is not the only service tracking your location. Facebook, Instagram, and others do as well. When it comes to location tracking, each service has to be blocked separately.
Wander the Web
This site is a treasure trove of information about computers made between 1970 and 1993. If you have an old computer in your closet and wonder when it was first made, or if you are looking for parts to get it working again, start here. http://www.oldcomputers.net
Computer History Museum
The jewel of this site is the Oral History Collection, a searchable archive of interviews. The standout items in that collection tell the history of the iPhone. Many of the interviews are watchable online.
Get a head start on your holiday shopping with this unusual collection of products. I am sure you have at least one person on your gift list that would adore salt and paper shakers shaped like lightsabers. http://www.shutupandtakemymoney.com
A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at email@example.com.