Ask Dr. Webbie
Is there an Internet question you'd like to see answered in a future edition of Website Compass? Email your question to DrWebbie@WebsiteCompass.com.
To assist him in answering your question as specifically as possible, be sure to include the following: the name of the browser you are using (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 2.0, etc.), the name of the email software you are using (i.e. Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0, OS 10.4 Mail, etc.), and the version of your system software (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
QUESTION: I've heard the term "Smart City." What does it mean?
Think about smartphones, smart watches, smart televisions, and smart appliances. Devices like these make our homes smarter by integrating with heating and cooling systems, security systems, sound systems, and lighting. A Smart City takes this concept to the next level, building an infrastructure that allows a variety of objects and devices to connect and operate as part of one large technological system. The infrastructure for a Smart City may include beacon technology, electric grid technology, motion detectors, voice-controlled technology, scanners, remote video monitoring, web and mobile applications, and more. These technologies may be connected using the cloud and digital infrastructures to do things such as:
- Record the movement of city residents and report back to databases that can then calculate consumer behaviors
- Improve water and utility efficiencies
- Optimize street lighting
- Detect potential incidents and threats
- Monitor traffic at busy intersections
Why make this investment? Because a Smart City can save energy, cut costs, enhance public safety, and promote greater economic opportunity. To help support these endeavors, the White House announced a Smart Cities Initiative in 2015 that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.
QUESTION: What makes a password a strong password, and what's the best way to develop one?
A strong password generally has these features:
- A Minimum of 12 Characters — A longer password would be even better.
- Includes Numbers, Symbols, Capital Letters, and Lower-Case Letters — Using a mix of different types of characters makes the password harder to crack.
- Isn't a Dictionary Word or Combination of Dictionary Words: Stay away from dictionary words and combinations of dictionary words. Any word on its own makes for a weak password, as does an obvious combination of a few words. For example, "house" and "blue house" are both weak passwords.
- Doesn't Rely on Obvious Substitutions — Swapping out a zero for an "O" in a dictionary word is not a good plan.
With the tips above, it's pretty easy to come up with a strong password. You could just randomly press keys on your keyboard to come up with something like 3o(t&gSp&3hZ4#t9. The challenge, of course, would be remembering it.
Instead, consider starting with a sentence related to your life to help you develop a new password. Let's say it's "I was born at Saint Mary Hospital on 613 Oak Street and weighed 8 pounds." You can turn that into a password by using the first digits of each word and some symbols, making it IwbaSMHo613OS&w8#.
Remember, password strength isn't everything. You also need to avoid using the same password at multiple locations.