Dear Ms. Techie,
There’s so much fuss about internet security and creating strong passwords. But I can never remember the random strings of letters and numbers that lots of sites (and my company!) recommend. Can you help?
Always Forgetful

The most popular method for keeping all your site log-ins secure is to use a password manager. What password managers do is generate a different complex password (eg. S#y3IlV9$di49&6s) for each site where you need a log-in. The password is encrypted and stored in a database. All you need to remember is one master password that will access the database, and the password manager will fill in the log-in details for you the next time you visit the site. Simple, right?  LastPass is one of the most popular (and secure) password managers out there.

Of course, this isn’t always possible. You can hardly use a password manager to log into a work computer, for example. What I like to do is use a passphrase. This is a password that’s a sentence. For example, “Leaders in Heels is #1!” is quite a good passphrase – there’s capital letters, small letters, symbols, and a number.

You can make it even more secure by deliberately misspelling words: “Leeders in Heelz is #1!” If it’s not a common misspelling, alternate methods that crack passwords by trying different word combinations will also be stumped.

Think quotes, in-jokes you have with your friends, or simply something particularly memorable to you.  Passphrases are usually longer than an average password, which means it would take much longer for a computer to crack. They’re also very easy to remember. I use passphrases for everything now!

Miss Techie

Featured Image by NatKirk

Leanne Yong, a.k.a. the other Miss Techie, is the Tech Editor of Leaders in Heels and an aspiring author currently working in the field of IT consulting. She loves games, gadgets and technology in general.


Dear Miss Techie,
After anywhere between six months to a year, my mobile and laptop batteries never last as long as they used to. The battery power drains far too quickly and I’m out of juice before the working day is over. Am I doing something wrong? How do I stop this happening?
Thanks, Powered Down

Ah, batteries. Both the best thing that ever happened to us, and a downright pain when the charge runs out right as we absolutely need to use whatever they’re powering.

You may have heard the common advice of letting your batteries drain out completely before you recharge them. Not these days. Newer batteries (made of lithium ion, if you want to show off) no longer need this. In fact, it actually makes your battery lose its charge faster!

So, then, what should you do? Here are some quick, simple tips.

  1. Don’t wait until your battery’s nearly dead before you recharge it. Once the power’s at 10-20%, plug it in and start charging.
  2. Don’t leave your battery plugged in for hours after it’s fully charged. When you notice the battery’s at 100%, unplug it. Otherwise,  you’ll find that your battery losing power much more quickly than it used to.
  3. Don’t let your battery overheat. Keep your battery at room power, especially when charging. This means not charging it in a stuffy, ill-ventilated room in the middle of summer, or on your car’s dashboard when the sun’s shining directly on it. (Miss Techie has experienced having her mobile stop charging and flash an ‘overheating’ warning before. Not recommended.)

It really is that simple. There are other small things you can do, like leaving your battery at about 40% power and keeping it in a cool place when you’re not using it. But by and large, these three simple tips will help your battery last much longer!

Miss Techie

Featured photo credit: Takashi(aes256)

Leanne Yong, a.k.a. the other Miss Techie, is the Tech Editor of Leaders in Heels and an aspiring author currently working in the field of IT consulting. She loves games, gadgets and technology in general.


Dear Miss Techie,
I need to do a slideshow presentation to a client that looks professional. Do you have any tips?
Thanks,
All Slideshow’d Out

Giving presentations can be a daunting task. Especially when you want to make a good impression and not bore your audience to death. Although there is nothing that beats preparation, practice and more practice, here are a few tips that will help make your presentation more engaging and look professional.

Text

  • The fewer words you have, the better
    •  There is no hard and fast rule, but try to have no more than 10 words on each slide
    • If you’re feeling adventurous, limit yourself to maximum 3 world per slide
  • Large font is good – people at the back of the room should be able to read it
    • If you can’t fit your words in, chances are you have too many words
  • DO NOT READ FROM YOUR SLIDES
    • Your audience can read – prepare a separate document and provide it as a handout if you have a lot of text/information
    • You should be delivering the content, not your slides. In fact, your slide should almost be meaningless without you
    • You should only have a few words there anyway (see first point)
  • Limit the number of fonts used (1 is a good number, 2-3 if you really need to)
  • Choose fonts to suit the presentation (comic sans is usually a bad choice)
  • Note: If you’re going to be presenting on a different machine, always have the font files ready to install on the presentation machine

Resources

Images

  • Using large, good quality images can make a huge difference to your presentation
  • Make your images the primary focus of your slides
  • Finding the right image to portray the idea you want to express is not an easy task, but it’s worth it!
  • Tip: For your summary slide, use the same images that were used to convey the main points earlier in your talk (eg. if you had 4 ideas, place an image in each quadrant). It’s a nice way to tie everything back together

Where to find images?

Positioning/Animations

  • Place important content on the top half of the slides – that way they’ll be visible from the back of the room
  • Unless it’s really really effective, leave out the effects/animations – they generally just distract the audience
  • Don’t stand behind a lectern/laptop – you are talking to the audience, not to the laptop
    • Try to ask for (or invest in) a presentation clicker (bluetooth mouse, though bulky will do the job!) so you can move around
    • Standing out in the open may be scary, but it will let you make more eye contact and help engage with the audience
    • Practice, practice, practice – you shouldn’t need to use notes. The images on the slides should be enough to remind you want you need to say

Colour/Contrast

  • Remember that lighting might not be the best, so pick colours that have good contrast and are easy to read
  • Don’t use too many colours, three main colours is a good number to stick with
  • If you’re not restricted to company colours, have a look at Kuler. It is a great treasure trove of nice harmonious colours.

I will guarantee you that doing a presentation where there are close to no words and only images on slides is nerve racking. However, it will definitely change the way you prepare your presentations :)

If you are looking for more tips, here are a couple of great places to look at:

Good luck with it, and have fun!

Miss Techie

Featured image credit

Miss Techie, aka Peggy Kuo, is a programmer who is currently developing a mobile game. She’s also presented at Ignite Sydney. You can see what she’s up to at her website.