Review Your Important Stuff Today

I keep all my important stuff in my bank safe deposit box. By important stuff, I mean my life insurance policy, will, advance health care directive, and password spreadsheets stored on a USB drive.

I revised my life insurance policy recently after I received a letter about privacy from my insurance carrier. That letter prompted me to check my privacy settings on the carrier’s website. I discovered that I hadn’t updated my policy in 5 years…before my father died. So, I updated my beneficiary list, and I checked my will at the same time. I made a couple of minor changes to the will, had it signed, and notified my executors of the changes.

Some tragic news also pushed me to make these changes: Early this month I learned that my cousin’s 25-year-old stepson passed away. That reminded me that things can change quickly, so I checked and ensured all my important documents were in order.

I hope you aren’t compelled to look at your important stuff because of a family calamity. Instead, the calendar should compel you — next weekend, the first weekend of July, is the halfway point of the year. So, use that date as an opportunity for you to review your important stuff.

What’s more, if you don’t have as much important stuff as you should, consider shopping for it. You may need life insurance, business insurance, a will, or an advance health care directive. It’s possible you may need a copy of your birth certificate. And you should put together a list of your passwords and put it on a USB drive. Then your executor can get important information from your computing device(s) and website accounts. And your executor will thank you for making things easier during a stressful time.

As Peter Drucker said, “Long-range planning does not deal with future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.”

Why I Left the Better Business Bureau

The past few weeks have been busy for me as I add or renew personal and business memberships. I also dropped my membership in the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The reason for the latter has to do with passwords and privacy.

I joined the BBB in 2011. Last year, the BBB posted my unhidden BBB password in my renewal e-mail message. For some time before then, news outlets documented the lack of privacy controls in e-mail messages. What’s more, some pieces of my BBB account password were in other passwords I use to access other websites.

Why I Left the Better Business BureauI updated a lot of my passwords quickly. When I was done, I expressed my concern to the head of the BBB office in Sacramento. The head of that office assured me that such transmission would never happen again, and that a note about this would be put in my member file.

After I renewed with the Better Business Bureau in March this year, I received a thank you e-mail message. This message once again contained my user name and my entire unhidden password. I promptly e-mailed the head of the Sacramento BBB office about this. Her e-mail response explained¬†that the person who sent the message was a new employee and he didn’t read my file.

Her response also contained the entire original message with my unhidden password. So, now I knew the previous message wasn’t an innocent mistake.¬†I responded to her in a separate e-mail message to prevent further transmission of my password, and told her that either BBB staff didn’t train its staff correctly or my “member file” didn’t exist. She apologized again and refunded my dues quickly, but I won’t be a Better Business Bureau member anytime soon.

Though I look at and change my passwords on a regular basis, this incident happened in between those regular checks. I neither appreciated having to put other work aside to check and change more passwords nor the anxiety.

So, I want to share this cautionary tale with you and offer some ideas if you’re concerned about passwords, too.

If you’re thinking of sending passwords via e-mail, or even document attachments with important information like your signature, there are three ways I protect my documents. You may want to consider these strategies as well:

  • Your e-mail software may offer the ability to send encrypted messages, where both you and the recipient need a “key” to open the message. If you use Microsoft Outlook, you can get instructions how to do that on the Office help website.
  • If you use Adobe Acrobat, encrypt your PDF document with a password that the recipient knows.
  • You can also use a file compression program such as 7-Zip to not only compress the file but also require a password to open the compressed file.

In the latter two cases, you may need to talk about what password you want to use and keep the references reasonably cryptic. For example, you may tell the recipient to use the first few letters of a word combined with the last three digits of a number that both of you know.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions or further thoughts. In the meantime, I hope you have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend.

The soft launch

Welcome to the new Blogging to Drive Business blog! It’s still quite not where I’d like it, but 97 percent of it is where I like it and you can see the features that will be staples of this blog.

On the right side of the screen, you see a number of different features:

  • At the top is the News Ticker so you can get the latest news about technical communication and the latest technologies such as Samsung mobile devices. Just move your mouse pointer over the Ticker box to stop it and click the Read More link to read the story.
  • The Articles section allows you to download articles written for readers of books authored or co-authored by Eric Butow that are featured on this blog. The first two articles are about upgrading to the Android Marshmallow operating system on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Tab S2. You can purchase each article for the modest price of 99 cents and download them to your computer to read at your leisure.
  • The Courses section links to courses created by Eric Butow, his book co-authors, and his business partners. After you click the link, the course page opens in a new browser tab. Prices for each course will vary.
  • A list of the most recent books authored or co-authored by Eric Butow appears within the Books section. If you want to see a list of all his books, click the list at the bottom of the list.

At the bottom of the screen, you can learn more about us by clicking About, subscribe to this blog with your favorite RSS reader by clicking Subscribe, and contact us in an e-mail message by clicking Contact. This blog is also responsive so it’ll look nice on your mobile device.

A blog is a living thing, so expect more changes and refinements as we go along. This blog is designed to be a resource for you to help cut down on the clutter of news we all get online, and please feel free to contact us with suggestions and constructive criticism. Thanks for reading and watch this space.