Archive for the ‘Two-bit Column’ Category

  • READY. An ode to a garage queen

    Jul 25, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Two-bit ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Justin Agrell Many people will be familiar with the term garage queen. It refers to an object (generally a vehicle) that sits in someone’s garage and is kept in excellent shape, hardly ever used in order to avoid the wear and tear. A garage queen must be loved to exist but many consider it wrong to not use a machine regularly and instead pamper it and admire its very existence. I myself am victim to such attachment and have a machine that is very dear to me. Near my workbench, next to several old boxes of 5-and-a-quarter inch floppy disks, is my beloved Commodore SX-64 Executive. She was released in 1984 and runs at 1 megahertz. Packing the 64 thousand bytes of memory that made the Commodore platform famous there are limitations to be sure but there are also bucket loads of potential. There is no hard drive and unlike the normal Commodore 64 units of the eighties this unit was a “luggable” that took the shape of a briefcase. It had a small 5 inch color screen and a small speaker built right into the frame. But that is not all that makes it special. More than its name or history these old systems represent to me a time when computers were built for people who were excited about computers. Much like the cars and motorcycles of days

  • Passable key words: Simplify your life by seed-ing passwords

    Jun 30, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Two-bit ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Justin Agrell I remember the day my password was no longer good enough. I’d used it for everything going all the way back to my America On Line account. One day, when creating a new account for my bank, they told me I couldn’t use it. My password, which was perfectly good enough before, was now too “weak” and too “insecure.” Suddenly, I was presented with the issue of having more than one password to remember. I wasn’t pleased. Fast forward to a few years ago when I was at a security conference. By then, I was an adult used to a hefty collection of passwords scribbled on all sorts of odds and ends scattered about my office. All of that was about to change, however, when the speaker began to describe a new popular method in the technology world called “seed passwords.” You see it had been recognized that the common user will stick with the same password as long as it was allowed. A popular example is a person using their pet’s name. When that wasn’t secure enough, they would simply add some important number to the end like when they got married or were born. This variation of a user’s password would then populate every account the person owned and that is when the worst possible thing can happen. The future is mostly automated requiring only

  • Taking shortcuts: You “Alt” + “Tab”-ed your way into my heart

    Jun 2, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Two-bit ColumnNo CommentsRead More »

    By Justin Agrell You know what’s frustrating? Watching someone slowly use a computer. You know what’s better? Watching another person watching someone slowly use a computer — especially when the watcher is someone younger with short patience. They’ll gaze on as the mouse cursor slowly ambles to the login page. After the user enters a name, the mouse begins to move again and the watcher’s internal scream becomes a barely audible rush of three syllables. “Just. Hit. Tab.” Next comes the password. It is entered, then the mouse begins to inch toward the “Submit” or “Login” button. “Just. Hit. Enter.” Okay. Mission accomplished. Everyone moves on. But wait, please, indulge me a second. I am writing this to suggest a better way. Not just to make casual observers safe from witnessing a slow interaction but to work faster and give you more time in your life. Let’s pretend that the scenario is carried out on a computer running Windows. A new user generally isn’t aware of alternative browsers such as Firefox or Chrome, so they will try and open the blue “e” icon on the desktop. The default mouse settings for Windows call for a quick double-left-click of an icon. Many new users intuitively only single click the icon, and when that does nothing they tend to rapidly click the icon until something shows up. In many cases That’s why

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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