Check password strength against this Password Nazi

Try telling Password Nazi that your password is strong. Chances are, he’ll probably laugh in your face.

The Password Nazi that I’m taking about is actually a website, PasswordMeter.com. It is by far the most thorough password checker I’ve encountered, checking over 15 aspects affecting PW strength such as number of characters, repeated characters, presence of symbols, and other factors. It takes your password and runs it through several algorithms, which can either add or deduct points based on the characteristics of your password. For example, repeated character will deduct from  your score 1 point per character, while symbols earn you six points a piece.

Test out your password, and post your results below. My current password (not telling!) has a score of 70%, even though I consider it quite strong. Unfortunately, 70% will barely let you pass in a high-school class.

[RANT] The declining quality of CAPTCHAs

Every time I see a CAPTCHA, whether it be plastered on a registration page or comment form, I find myself telling the website, “you couldn’t have thought of anything better?”. What used to be a good idea for filtering spambots has now turned into nothing more than a bad joke.

The story of CAPTCHA goes something like this: once upon a time, three scientists at Carnegie Mellon created the wonderful challenge-response test, intended to be only solvable by humans. Unfortunately, the bad guys (spambots) caught up with CAPTCHA-cracking, as they acquired magical powers enabling them to read the CAPTCHAs. This ushered in what I call the Golden Age, in other words, when CAPTCHAs worked according to their purpose. Words were readable by humans, but stopped bots dead in their tracks.

That Golden Age, however, has long gone. Now bots and humans alike struggle with CAPTCHAs, trying to transcribe indecipherable scribbles, symbols, mathematical equations, words from foreign languages, and sometimes the occasional phone number. More and more, I find myself pressing the Refresh button for a readable CAPTCHA, half-expecting the system to kick me out for refreshing too many times.
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Reblog: How Technology Is Keeping President Obama Safe at the DNC

This article first appeared on Gizmodo on September 6, 2012. The original author was Molly Oswaks. To read the original article, click here.

A giant, riled up crowd of people. Political tension. The need for superhigh security is never great than it is at a political convention.

So what kind of tech do they have keeping President Obama safe?

UReveal produces a special date-mining software programmed to comb through Internet for any mentions of the president, the Democratic National Convention, and any related threatening terms.
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How to make downloads faster (possibly)

Having a laboriously slow Internet connection, I get excited when my download speeds go upwards of 150 KB/s. Unfortunately at that rate, it takes a seeming eternity to download large files.

Recently, however, I stumbled upon a neat trick that may speed up downloading of large files on a bad connection. Note that I say may, as it may depend on which ISP you use and as it is currently just a theory, meaning it may not actually speed up your download.

All we need is a browser that has the capability of pausing downloads and resuming them later. I’m going to use Firefox for this demonstration.
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Reblog: Justbeamit Makes Transferring Large Files Super-Easy

This article originally appeared on Lifehacker on October 14, 2011. The post is below.

When you have a large file or group of large files that you want to send to someone, but you don’t want to clog up your Dropbox account and you don’t have time to just drive over to your friend’s house with a USB drive, Justbeamit is a new web service that lets you upload a file, get a private link, and send it to a friend. When they open it, a private peer-to-peer download session will start and they’ll grab the file from you over the web.
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Hate those Captchas? Try cats and dogs

Captchas are an idea whose time has come. As soon as new ways of disguising words are found, so are new ways of cracking the code. It seems that words that can be deciphered by humans are also (and quite unfortunately) decipherable by silicon chips known as computers.

Fortunately, the world of technology and security is always full of innovation. The folks at Microsoft Research have developed a new kind of Captcha that does not use a single word. In fact, it uses two common household pets, cats and dogs. According to their website:

Asirra (Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access) is a HIP that works by asking users to identify photographs of cats and dogs. This task is difficult for computers, but our user studies have shown that people can accomplish it quickly and accurately. Many even think it’s fun!

Furthermore, the images are selected randomly from a HUGE database of cats and dogs up for adoption at Petfinder.com. In fact, on every image, there is a link to the pet on Petfinder.com, and if you find a pet that you like, you can adopt it. How cool is that?

One of the disadvantages of this system is that it takes considerably more time than a word Captcha. But it is a very effective way of blocking out spambots and automatic account creation.