Take Control of Your Time
If you work in an office setting, chances are a colleague will occasionally stop by and expect to chat as you race to get a project off to your boss. While unintentional, this invasion of your time can cause major problems. Business etiquette expert Ann Marie Sabath offers some tips on how to deal with such situations:
- Assist people in getting to the point by asking open-ended questions. This may help them sum up more quickly.
- Let your body language speak for you if someone enters your office uninvited. Avoid eye contact and remain focused on your computer. When they see that you’re busy, they’ll likely leave.
- Schedule beginning and end times for meetings, letting colleagues know in advance that you only have a specified amount of time to devote to the matter at hand.
Summer School Goes Online
As money continues to be a problem for school districts nationwide, many are eliminating summer school programs. That leaves some parents scrambling to find other opportunities for children who need academic engagement—or risk a two- to three-month learning loss, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
Fortunately, students in grades K through 12 now have the opportunity to supplement their in-school learning with online summer courses, much like college students have done for years. Organizations like the National Connections Academy, K12 and Kaplan Online Schools offer elementary, middle and high school students the opportunity to make up credits, strengthen skills in core subjects, get ahead in foreign language or explore electives that aren’t offered at local schools. If your student would benefit from summer learning, find more info at nationalconnectionsacademy.com, k12.com or kaplanonlineschools.com.
Password Peace of Mind
Recent cyber-security threats at popular websites RockYou and Twitter have reinforced the importance of using different passwords—and more cryptic ones—for each new site we join. Lifehacker.com reported a breach at RockYou that made public the login information of 32 million users. The data security firm Imperva analyzed those accounts for the strength of password complexity and found discouraging results.
The analysis found that when allowed to, users “will choose very weak passwords, even for sites that hold their most private data.” It also noted that the shortcomings of user passwords in this study remain remarkably similar to those made in a 1990 Unix security study, suggesting that users have been ignoring many years of advice from computer safety experts. Although password complexity could not have helped RockYou’s users, the variation of passwords from site to site would have ensured that they at least retained privacy in their other online activities.
While such privacy threats attest to the vulnerability of even the largest websites, you can gain some peace of mind by creating different and more complex passwords for each site you visit. Not sure what makes a password more “safe”? Check out recommendations from Imperva:
- Passwords should be at least seven uppercase, lowercase and special characters.
- Don’t use names, slang words or even words found in the dictionary. Passwords composed, even partially, of a user’s name or email address are considered especially weak.
- Try making a memorable phrase into an incomprehensible series of characters. For example, “My dog knows how to walk himself” can become “Mdkhtwh!”
- And, once again, always create a new password for each website.
If multiple, complex passwords seem like an unnecessary strain on one’s brain, there is a rather elegant solution. Password management software such as KeePass and Roboform will store all of your passwords in an encrypted database on your computer, locked by a single master password. That way, you only have to remember one password to unlock the entire database. Browser plug-ins will then work to make the sign-in
process a snap!
Always on the go? There are also mobile versions of this software that can be put on a flash drive and used on whatever computer you access…just don’t forget to log out!
My Faves… Activities in Peoria
Steve Backlund, chairman and CEO of Better Banks, has been with the company for over 30 years. He used to be an avid tennis player and sailor, but the golf bug took over about 10 years ago. When not at the bank or on the course, he can be found at his family’s cabin on a small, remote lake in northern Wisconsin, enjoying the outdoors and fishing or snowmobiling, depending on the weather.
Bradley Basketball, Auto Show & Lakeview. Cheering on the Braves with customers or friends at Carver Arena is a great way to spend an evening. And, checking out the new and prototype cars or seeing the unique exhibits at Lakeview Museum are other great ways to spend a winter day.
Wildlife Prairie State Park & Boat Show. Peoria is lucky to have so many great conventions visit, the Boat Show being one of them. And Wildlife Prairie State Park is a great place to enjoy seeing the wonderful animals of our area.
Golf & Corn Stock. We are very lucky to live in central Illinois with access to so many great golf courses and theater venues.
Golf, again! Central Illinois has great fall colors, and they look very nice from the golf course. The Art Fair and apple orchard are two more great family activities I have enjoyed many times.
The people in Peoria are what make our city great, and spending time with them is the thing I enjoy most. iBi