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Original author: 
Jon Brodkin

Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

It's time to ask yourself an uncomfortable question: how many of your passwords are so absurdly weak that they might as well provide no security at all? Those of you using "123456," "abc123," or even just "password" might already know it's time to make some changes. And using pets' names, birth dates, your favorite sports teams, or adding a number or capital letter to a weak password isn't going to be enough.

Don’t worry, we're here to help. We’re going to focus on how to use a password manager, software that can help you go from passwords like "111111" to "6WKBTSkQq8Zn4PtAjmz7" without making you want to pull out all your hair. For good measure, we'll talk about how creating fictitious answers to password reset questions (e.g. mother's maiden name) can make you even more resistant to hacking.

Why you can’t just wing it anymore

A password manager helps you create long, complicated passwords for websites and integrates into your browser, automatically filling in your usernames and passwords. Instead of typing a different password into each site you visit, you only have to remember one master password.

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The Aspen Institute

In recent months the state of California has stepped up its efforts to enforce the California Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In December, Attorney General Kamala Harris made an example of Delta Airlines, which had ignored a letter warning the carrier that it was in violation of COPPA. The statute requires every app which collects data about California users (which, practically speaking, means every app) to conspicuously post a privacy policy disclosing what information is collected and how it will be used.

In a new report, Harris's office offers an official set of recommendations for mobile app developers. California urges app developers to "minimize surprises to users from unexpected privacy practices." In addition to posting a standard privacy policy, the state also recommends the use of "special notices" to alert users when an app might be using data in a way the user might not expect. For example, when an app needs the user's location, the user is typically alerted and given the opportunity to allow or block the application from getting the current location. The state recommends using similar notices when an app collects other sensitive information.

The 23-page report offers a wide variety of other recommendations. Most of them are directed at app developers, but there are also recommendations for the companies that operate app stores, advertising networks, and wireless networks. The state recommends that app developers limit data collection, limit data retention, and avoid using global device identifiers that could be correlated across apps.

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Facebook Login question marks

Since Wired writer Mat Honan was hacked earlier this year, he's taken a close look at security issues, leading him to question the ubiquitous concept of the password itself. Passwords, Honan explains, have been vulnerable for the thousands of years they've been in use, but the question remains, what can we replace them with? There's a careful balancing act between convenience, privacy, and security. In other words, people have to be able to access their own accounts without an immense amount of trouble, they have to feel like they have privacy when doing so, and the systems still need to remain secure. For an interesting discussion about the future of account security — and how to keep your accounts safe in the meantime — check out...

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I guess they could add, don't do this at home!
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/339608/title/Jolt_to_brain_aids_language_recovery

"CHICAGO — A brain zapping technique helps people recover language after a stroke, new research shows. The results may point to a better way for people to relearn how to talk after a brain injury."

Notice the abstracts here, http://www.cnsmeeting.org/documents/CNS2012_Program.pdf.  Nearly every abstract is about some kind of brain stimulation.

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