Sunday, June 12, 2011

Guard That Password

New York Times Sunday Business Section, page 3: “For a pretty strong password, think 10. If your password contains 10 characters, you should be able to sleep well at night – perhaps for 19.24 years.”

“That is how long it would take hackers to try every combination of 10 characters, assuming that the password is encrypted and that the hackers have enough computing power to mount a 100-billion-guesses-a-second effort to break the encryption. But if your user names and passwords are sitting unencrypted on a server, you may not be able to sleep at all if you start contemplating the potential havoc ahead.”

“The most important password factor is length and that Web sites store your passwords in encrypted form, always, always, always.” Though a hassle Rink Rats change our passwords every quarter and select gibberish characters adding up to at least 10 characters. Have you changed your password lately?
SUMMER READING: Here is Rink Rats summer reading recommendations, we hope you find time to enjoy many summer novels, the best time to relax and read.

The summer’s single most suspenseful plot belongs to Before I Go to Sleep, by another debut author, S. J. Watson. Its heroine, the middle-aged Christine, is the spookiest amnesiac in a season that’s full of them. As the book begins, she wakes up to meet Ben, the man to whom she has been married for decades, and Dr. Nash, who is treating her but for some reason doesn’t want Ben to know. Goosebumps rise as snippets of Christine’s memory come back (she was once a person called Chrissy who was much more fun), and as details Ben mentions about her past start sounding fishy. Mr. Watson has written this as pure page-turner — though stories as high-concept as this tend to begin more excitingly than they end.

The American Heiress is also far from fluff. Its author, Daisy Goodwin, has written a Gilded Age period piece (published in England as “My Last Duchess”) about an American girl from a Vanderbilt-like family who snags a British title, sort of the way Consuelo Vanderbilt did. According to Ms. Goodwin, about a quarter of the members of the House of Lords in 1910 had American wives. Ms. Goodwin is equally indebted to the great works of Edith Wharton and the high-end soap operas of Penny Vincenzi as she sends Cora Cash from Newport to England.

Good Stuff, Jennifer Grant’s memoir about her father, Cary, is more emotional. Abundantly illustrated, it invokes a man who adored his only child and loved creating memorabilia. Sample artifact: Mr. Grant’s hand-drawn alphabet book for Jennifer, with a picture of him on the F page (for “Father”).

Readers of the 763-page Those Guys Have All the Fun, an oral history of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, have their own battle cries. This treat for sports fans has a cast of characters that is huge and varied. How varied? Keith Olbermann, Rush Limbaugh and President Obama have common ground.

A word about heavy hitters: three big ones leap out of this summer’s book lineup. Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse is a Steven Spielberg movie in the larval stage, an ingenious, instantly visual story of war between humans and robots. “Hopefully it’s not prophetic,” one reader has said.

The Cut is George Pelecanos’s chance expertly to introduce Spero Lucas, an irresistible 29-year-old Marine turned private investigator, at the start of a hot new series. It arrives in August.

And John Grisham’s 13-year-old star of a series supposedly aimed at young readers makes his second appearance in Theodore Boone: The Abduction. It’s another swift Grisham thrillerette about this “kid lawyer.” And you don’t have to be a kid anything to enjoy it. Not one person in “The Abduction” winds up (as does a little boy in “The Hypnotist”) punctured by hundreds of knife wounds. Zero mayhem: that’s another new idea this summer.

SUMMER GARDENING - Here is a list of some easy things to do to help keep your garden under control and looking good throughout the summer season.

1. Beware of insects such as aphids or white flies that become rampant as our plants grow larger and have less circulation between them. Remember to spray both upper and lower leaves with neem or pyola oil on a seven to 10 day cycle to keep these critters from destroying your plants. Also, order some beneficial insects such as ladybugs to help keep these insects under control. (Try or
2. Prune back your rose bushes after the first bloom. You can either dead head the spent blooms or do a major cutting back to keep them tame and under control. I tend to do the latter. Cut back all weak and dead wood as well. Lastly, clean up all spent leaves—especially if they suffered from black spot. Plus, if black spot is a problem, use this homemade formula: Mix one tablespoon of baking soda and a 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in one gallon of water.
3. Continue to pinch back all late summer and fall perennials to keep them bushy and healthy and to stagger blooming times.
4. Finish pruning all spring blooming bushes such as azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs by mid-summer so that they can begin their new growth for next spring.
5. It is still not too late to plant summer blooming bulbs like dahlias or cannas. It's also not too late to plant quick-blooming summer seeds such as sunflowers, nasturtiums and cosmos.

Enjoy and have patience during the ensuing hot summer months!

FATHERS DAY TREAT – Italian Chicken Sliders, add a couple of cold ones and watch the U.S. Open Golf Championship with Dad this coming weekend.


I need to kick start my finances, can you recommend any stocks to purchase?

--Warren Buffett Wannabe

Dear Warren Buffett Wannabe

Despite the recent negative market reaction to the ever-changing possibility of a QE3 (third round of Fed easing), we are still bullish on the market unless we break below the 1250 level in the S&P 500. Friday’s June 10 S&P 500 close was 1270.98. The markets are approaching 2011 bottom, stocks will be higher than these levels by the end of the year for the S&P 500. Only a foolish government strategy could derail this prediction.

Buy: Linn Energy (LINE, $37.80) – This oil and gas pipeline company has a decent dividend yield, management is excellent, they are growing 30% per year.

Buy: IberiaBank (IBKC, $5.45) – a well-run bank and they are cheap.

Good luck!

--Rink Rats

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Joan Ahrens ...39 and not counting, Tim Allen (58), James Belushi (57), President George H.W. “41” Bush (87), Sir Paul McCartney (69), Phil Mickelson (41), Prince Phillip (90), Donald Trump (65).

U.S. OPEN GOLF PICKS – we like Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood this year at Congressional.

UPDATE OCS – GB writes he is alive and strong. “Rocked my initial physical fitness test and spirits are high.” He is now in Phase II, a 3 week transition period that is considered the most difficult in terms of emotional and physical stress.

COMPANIES NOT SPENDING ON NEW HIRES -NYT's Catherine Rampell on pg. A1: "Companies that are looking for a good deal aren't seeing one in new workers. Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people. ... Two years into the recovery, hiring is still painfully slow. The economy is producing as much as it was before the downturn, but with seven million fewer jobs. Since the recovery began, businesses' spending on employees has grown 2 percent as equipment and software spending has swelled 26 percent, according to the Commerce Department. A capital rebound that sharp and a labor rebound that slow have been recorded only once before - after the 1982 recession. With equipment prices dropping, and tax incentives to subsidize capital investments, these trends seem likely to continue."

FREAKY FRIDAY: DOUBLE-DIP? - Reuters' Leah Schnurr: "Recent housing and employment data suggests the U.S. economy is at a tipping point where a double-dip recession is possible and home prices could have much further to fall ... veteran economist Robert Shiller said ... 'Whether we call it a double-dip or not, I think there is a risk,' Shiller told Reuters Insider television in an interview. Likewise, data showing U.S. home prices fell into a double dip in March could prove to be either a seasonal effect over the winter months or part of a downward trend. ... He added that a 10 percent to 25 percent slump in real home prices 'wouldn't surprise me at all,' though he cautioned that was not a forecast." Still want to buy that home?

CONAN O’BRIEN – “Hey, it’s been reported that the Chinese economy has showed signs of slowing down. Yeah. Experts say that is what happens when your work force starts to enter its teens.”
Next week, words of the month and our monthly politics update.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
June 13, 2011


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