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No Reply

Embrace the idea of a yes-reply email address. It’ll keep that communication lane open between you and your customer. It’ll make customers realize that you do value their time and will give them some of yours if they want it.
No Reply Addresses — Medium

This has always bugged me. If you use a no-reply mailbox to communicate with customers, provide them another way to reach you. Even if it’s not the address you’re using, give customers a way to reach a human being.

It’s frustrating to reach out to support and find none.

I’ve found that many of the “pressing” news stories can be treated like soap operas. Ignore most of the breathless reporting and check in on them once a week to see if Mary is still with Todd or if Elena survived that scary operation. Many of them, of course, can be ignored entirely.

Source: Execupundit.com: News Noise

This is a perfect way to handle the news. Most of it is not important a few days later. And if it is, it’s a big enough story to have books written about it already (or there will be.) Those are the stories that change history and matter.

Everything else is noise filling 24 hours of television.

Journey of the Intern Therapist

I have a friend who is a therapist-in-training in the Bay Area who just started writing. I’m loving her posts. She’s working to be a therapist and is going to start working with a middle school population which brings back memories for all of us. Her latest post resonates deeply with me. She’s going to be working with middle schoolers.

Crap…” I thought, “not  middle school… anything but middle school.”  I immediately flashed back to my own middle-school experience.  I entered 7th grade with a terrible hair-cut, glasses, braces, and skinny like an awkward string bean.  My hand-me-down, decade-old clothes made me stand out from my wealthier peers who always had fresh, new clothes and great hair.  I remember getting bullied on the bus mercilessly by 8th graders day in and day out.  I remember holding back my tears on the bus, trying to look reassured while older girls would tease me and older boys would harass me.  Suddenly, things I had necessarily forgotten were staring at me in the face.  I didn’t want to work with adolescents… especially middle-schoolers.

Middle school brings back vivid memories for me too. Some good but many fearful and anxious. She closes with an honest bit of writing that I feel could have been written by anyone I know, myself included.

So how do I “adult” from here? Honestly? I have no idea. I’m guessing at it every day. I’m working on a website, I’m writing a blog, I’m networking, I’m taking risks at disappointing people with my career choices, I’m taking some time for my family and accepting financial hardship as a present, unavoidable (but hopefully temporary) reality.  I’m trying to take criticism and uninformed advice in stride but hey – I’m not made of metal.  I’m making poor choices and good choices, not having any idea which is which at any real-time moment. I’m open to advice, feedback, and opportunity.  As a wonderful professor of mine once said, “the ego must be strong enough to allow itself to be defeated.”  This is the making of the intern therapist… I think.

So… how do I adult from here?

I don’t know any more than she does, but I encourage you to follow along with her journey to figure it all out…

Follow along at Journey of the Intern Therapist

NIST updating password recommendations

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

(Full story is behind the Wall Street Journal’s pay wall.)

You’ve used P@ssw0rds like this for years. It’s what NIST recommended for the Federal Government in 2003 and major corporations and universities picked up the guidance and set their password requirements to match.

Mr. Burr, who once programmed Army mainframe computers during the Vietnam War, had wanted to base his advice on real-world password data. But back in 2003, there just wasn’t much to find, and he said he was under pressure to publish guidance quickly.

He looked for some real-world data to see what people were doing.

He asked the computer administrators at NIST if they would let him have a look at the actual passwords on their network. They refused to share them, he said, citing privacy concerns.

Given there wasn’t much research into the field of password security and no real-world password stockpiles to pull from, he did the best he could.

With no empirical data on computer-password security to be found, Mr. Burr leaned heavily on a white paper written in the mid-1980s—long before consumers bought DVDs and cat food online.

Now there is better password data available. Have I been Pwned currently lists 3,999,249,352 accounts from 228 websites. My own data has been breached over a dozen times including by our own government

The truth about passwords is we’re bad at passwords. I am terrible at passwords. That’s why I’ve used 1Password to keep my passwords secure. I don’t know most of my passwords because they are nonsense and very long. I know a single master password.

Given this new data, NIST is updating its recommendations which will slowly be adopted by the government and companies as it did originally.

Long, easy-to-remember phrases now get the nod over crazy characters, and users should be forced to change passwords only if there is a sign they may have been stolen, says NIST, the federal agency that helps set industrial standards in the U.S.

Academics who have studied passwords say using a series of four words can be harder for hackers to crack than a shorter hodgepodge of strange characters—since having a large number of letters makes things harder than a smaller number of letters, characters and numbers.

This XKCD comic explains the math behind cracking these types of passwords. I look forward to leaving the P@ssw0rd days behind and welcome the correct horse battery staple.

Password requirement comic from XKCD.

Knocking Down your Creative Blocks – 99U

In time, my office looked like it had been hit by a blizzard of 20-pound bond. There were piles of paper on every flat surface, and on the floor around me, all of them tagged with colorful Post-it Notes, some of the piles reaching several feet in height—a miniature cityscape at my feet: Transcribed interviews, notes, court documents and legal transcripts of testimony and deposition hearings, newspaper clippings, non-fiction books and research papers on the subjects of AIDS and the Reagan Administration’s war on pornography (a period during which porn consumption by the public rose exponentially, I would learn). Not to mention my collection of VHS films—black plastic rectangles, clad in colorful cardboard slip covers, stacked in rickety piles like so many skyscrapers populating my urban jungle of research materials.

The blizzard of 20-pound bond is a beautiful bit of writing. Reading that line made my old soul smile. I can also relate to being surrounded by paper and Post-It Notes.