Tablet Life & Arts

Ask Mr. Modem: How to pick a smart password

I know passwords are important, but do you have any suggestions for creating a good password that’s also easy to remember?

A good password should be at least eight characters, include at least one number, one special character (if permitted), and upper- and lower-case letters. AardVark419!, for example, would meet these recommended criteria and serve as an excellent password. But good luck remembering it.

When creating passwords, avoid using personal information in isolation, such as birthdays, children’s names, your address, a phone number, your partner’s name, etc. That being said, combining personal information by using two non sequitur (unrelated) pieces of information can result in an easy-to-remember yet difficult-to-crack password.

For example, use your middle name and your pet’s name with an exclamation mark in between, such as Rufus!Muffy, or combine your birth date and your best friend’s name, such as 0615!Gomer — you get the idea. If you stick with the same format, you will create a super-strong password that you shouldn’t have any difficulty remembering.

Security “experts” tell us not to use the same password for multiple applications. Who are they kidding? When it comes to passwords, I believe there are two standards to consider: what’s ideal and what’s practical. I’ll opt for the practical approach every time. Rather than attempt to use a unique password for every application, I use five or six password/username combinations. I’m sure that would render some security experts apoplectic, but it works for me.

I’ve been hearing about QR code technology and have a vague understanding of what it is but was wondering if you could explain it — and more importantly, where should I go to create a QR code that I can use on my website, business cards, etc?

QR (quick response) codes are a spin-off of technology originally created by Toyota and used to organize and classify auto parts. (Fascinating, isn’t it?) Today, QR codes are used by businesses and individuals to provide product and service information to prospective customers or other interested parties.

QR codes consist of black elements arranged in a square pattern on a white background that is easily scanned by a smartphone or other device, which then provides access to information. To view QR codes in action, visit

Getting started with QR codes is easy: Begin by downloading a reader (scanner) application to your phone. Both the Apple and Android app stores have several. After obtaining your scanner app, you can use one of the many free QR code generators to construct your first code.

For additional information, read How to Create a QR Code for the iPhone at or How to create a QR Code for Android at


Shakespearean insulter

An intelligent insult generator based on the works of William Shakespeare. Everyone knows that Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, but he also had a cutting wit that could skewer an adversary faster than you can retort, “Says who, thou fobbing, earth-vexing dewberry?” Ouch!

Sheep Dash

This is a reaction-based game, the objective of which is to tranquilize dashing sheep with a dart. Click the dart when you see a sheep making a break for it. When you have used your darts on all five sheep or five sheep have tried to flee the flock, the game will end and you will learn how well you did and the speed of your reflexes.

Word Spy

It will probably come as no surprise that I am a word nerd, and I particularly enjoy observing new words emerge and evolve. (Hey, everybody needs a hobby!) Scroll down the page to see the latest entries. On the right side are the Alpha Archives, which allow you to view all selected words for each letter of the alphabet.