By Marc Saltzman
Q: We’ve been advised to create strong
passwords for security purposes. What
makes a good, strong password, how
often should you change your passwords—and how do you remember all
of them for your different accounts?
A: To state the obvious, a good password is one
that’s not easy to guess. Therefore, don’t use your
birthday, your kids’ or pets’ names, “12345” or the
Instead, a good password is at least eight char-
acters long and has a combination of letters, num-
bers and symbols. It’s even better if you have a mix
of upper- and lowercase letters. An example might
be something like “!Sd67#n.”
Because a random password can be a pain to
remember, some security experts say you can also
create a series of words that create a long pass
phrase, such as “climbingupthetallredladder!”
If you use sites that offer it—such as Gmail,
Facebook or Dropbox—consider “two-step authen-
tication” in the Options/Settings area. This adds an
extra layer of protection, as it requires not only your
password but also a randomly generated, one-time
security code sent to your mobile phone via text
message or an app.
Alternatively, you can opt for an app or program that randomly generates tough passwords you can copy and paste into services
and sites that require one. Many of these
tools (such as PasswordBox) can automatically log you into sites, too, for your convenience.
Depending on whom you ask, you
don’t need to change your password
that often. To err on the side of caution, however, and stay ahead of cyber-criminals, you can change your
password every couple of months.
Q: I sometimes like to watch TV
late at night. Can I use head-
phones to keep things quiet?
A: Yes, absolutely. But be sure you’re buying
the right kind of wireless headphones.
Most wireless headphones use Bluetooth
technology, which is designed more for
smartphones, tablets and laptops. While
some Smart TVs let you pair Bluetooth headphones,
most use radio frequency (RF) technology instead
of Bluetooth for wireless headphones. These head-
phones synchronize with a small transmitter base
(usually included with the headphones) that plugs
into the television’s audio output jack.
Wearing headphones does not prevent someone else from hearing the TV through its speakers,
if desired. RF headphones typically have a range of
50 to 150 feet from the base.
Q: I’m told a tablet is not ideal for read-
ing in bed, compared with an e-book
A: It’s an increasingly common occurrence: People
are crawling into bed with tablets—perhaps to flip
through an e-book, check Instagram, read email,
watch a video or tap through a game to wind down.
But if you’re having trouble sleeping, your tablet
might be part of the problem.
First, some sleep experts believe that an increase
in melatonin levels is needed in order to fall asleep—
but light, such as a backlit tablet, decreases melatonin production. An e-book reader might help out
here, because most do not have a backlit screen.
Even if you have a small clamp-on light or a bedside
lamp to read in the dark, it’s more ideal than the
bright white backlight of a tablet.
And in terms of disrupting your sweet dreams,
a tablet might chime or vibrate whenever an email
comes in or an app notification is sent to your
device. This noise could disturb you, and you might
even be tempted to see who wrote or what the notification means.
Put your gadgets on sleep mode so you can get
your rest. C
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “Connection”;
at Online Edition, search
Passwords and more Have questions about electronics or computers you purchased at Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: 425-313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
gram that r
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
andomly generates tough pass-
The Costco Connection
Costco carries a complete selection of consumer
electronics in the warehouses and on Costco.com.
Most of these products are supported by free technical support through Costco Concierge Services.
Tech tips for home