Public Storage: Securing Your Stuff, But Not Your Password

Public Storage, the national chain of self-storage units, has been caught using poor security practices. Ironically, the place that is supposed to protect my stuff doesn’t so much care about my password or any information stored on its website. I signed up for a self-storage unit to store all the stuff I own but don’t use, and seemingly enjoy packing and hauling every time I move. I received a confirmation email from Public Storage that was alarming. Not to be outdone by some other sites, Public Storage sent me my full name, username, password, gate code, storage locker number, home address, phone number, and storage property address all in one nice neat and tidy email. Seriously?

Public Storage Email


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Local Government Website Storing Plaintext Passwords

July 14, 2014 I signed up for an account on a local government’s website so I could access an online reservation system for the Parks & Recreation department. I created my account, filling in the required fields and was pleasantly surprised to find that my password was allowed to be complex and up to 50 characters in length.  After signing up I received two confirmation emails for the creation of my account. The first held my username, the second my plaintext password.

Parks and Rec Password Email
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A “One-Size Fits Most” Password System

post-it note passwords
It’s 2014 and I can’t believe I am writing about creating strong passwords, but alas, here I am. Since passwords are almost certainly a fact of life for you, no matter who you are, I wanted to share with you my formula for creating a “one-size fits most” password system. A lot of the guidance on the Internet aimed at helping people create strong passwords suffers from a blindingly obvious weakness; they are difficult or nigh impossible to remember once you have many passwords in your memory bank.

Below, I will provide a simple formula with three variables for creating a system that produces a unique but memorable password for any website or resource. Below we will create a password for a fictitious bank account at Bank of America’s website,

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Paperless Strategy 101

Empty Folders

Going paperless is technically easy, but doing it efficiently and effectively for the long term requires some planning and thought. There are any number of reasons for deciding on a paperless lifestyle and there are numerous ways to go about doing it. You could technically just start stuffing paper into your scanner, but without understanding where you will store your files, how you will organize them, and the technology you will use to continue to digitize your hardcopy papers your paperless transition will likely suffer and ultimately fail. Understanding why you want a paperless lifestyle will help inform many of the decisions you need to make prior to beginning the digitizing process.

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Fixing Video Sync Issues with XBMC

One of the problems I recently discovered with my home theater setup was the disparity between my brand new Samsung LED TV’s refresh rate and the frame rate of the movies I’ve been watching. I noticed that there was a little stutter or jitter in the video playback. Crap, I spent a lot of time, money, and effort building out a nice multimedia PC/home theater system and it looks like crap with jumpy video playback.

My first thought was that there was a problem with network bandwidth or seek times on my media server. I quickly ruled this out by noticing that XBMC wasn’t stopping playback to queue or cache more content before resuming. Also, the audio playback was smooth and uninterrupted. That meant that the bandwidth was sufficient for playback. But why was the video stuttering all the time? [Read more…]