Category Archives: Computer Bytes

Safer, Brighter, Faster

by Bill Scobie

Some new rules for passwords come from the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST.) As you make new passwords or change existing ones, don’t just do the minimum; make such improvements as: use more than eight characters, since more is harder to guess; avoid known bad passwords like common sports teams or “password”; and consider using a pass phrase with punctuation marks if allowed. Also, the NIST considers password hints, and all those recovery questions with answers that are publicly available, to be dangerous. They also find that forcing frequent password changes leads people to use easy passwords rather than something longer but harder to guess.

Apps that Enlighten

On the Mac side of things, there is another app that can help with screen dimming. Some of you may use F.lux for changing your screen to a less blue color later in the evening, and now you may want to add in Lumen to help adjust screen brightness on an app-by-app basis, depending on how light or dark an app is. It will darken the screen for those apps that use a lot of white, while raising the brightness for those darker apps. Unfortunately, there is no easy installer, but the process of installing lumen may encourage you to learn a bit more about the underpinnings of the Mac operating system. Lumen is at

Learn With Lynda

Anyone with an A-B Tech student account can access all sorts of computer training for free from, one of the best online software training sites. Ask at the A-B Tech library for more info.

Smooth Out the Route

When setting up a new router, there are ways to enhance performance and security. First, set up the router in a central location, in the middle of an imaginary bubble around your house, but not right by masonry walls, microwave ovens or telephone base stations; then orient the antennas, if you have them, perpendicular to each other. Second, change the default administrator password if possible and update the router’s software or firmware. Third, make sure that outside or remote management is turned off. Fourth, figure out how to change the radio channels and try different ones to see if performance improves (not as important if there are no other Wifi networks in range). And finally, if you have the choice to set up a guest network or enabling parental controls, decide if either or both will help with limiting abuse of your Internet connection.

Do I Look Like I Want That?

Have those Facebook ads got you curious about why you might be seeing what you are seeing? Check out to get an overview of how Facebook determines ads for you.

Questions? Call Bill Scobie of Scobie.Net, fixing computers and networks for small businesses and home. 628-2354 or

Questions? Call Bill Scobie of Scobie.Net, fixing computers and networks for small businesses and home. 628-2354 or