February Tech Challenge: Reset Your Passwords

Did you complete January’s tech challenge and find yourself a password manager?

If you did, then this month’s tech challenge will be a snap. Anytime you login to an account, your powerful password manager will suggest passwords that need to be updated. February tech challenge complete!

If you haven’t yet found a password manager, then we have to ask: What are you waiting for? 

Passwords need to be updated periodically, especially any that have been involved in a data breach, are repeated across different accounts, or are too weak. A password manager will alert you to any passwords that fit those criteria. If you don’t have a password manager, then you’ll have to manually update each of your passwords across your different devices and browsers.

For example, if you have an iPhone, go to Settings, Passwords, Security Recommendations. Make sure “Detect Compromised Passwords” is switched on so you can see a list of passwords which need to be updated. 

Google Chrome and Safari both have password safety checks, although as this article explains, storing passwords in your browser isn’t the safest idea as anyone who has access to your device can access your passwords.

How to Generate Strong Passwords

Coming up with good passwords is tricky. This excellent article is a fun read (with great graphics), and does a superb job of explaining why password length matters and how to generate strong passwords. As the article points out, there’s a misconception that a strong password is one that is difficult to remember. But just because you can’t remember it, doesn’t mean it’s hard to guess. Fortunately a good password manager will suggest strong passwords for you.

At the VERY least, please update your highest priority account passwords, like your banking and investment apps and email accounts. Oh and one more thing… do yourself a favour and get a password manager already!

January Tech Challenge: Consider a Password Manager

“Spend less time on screens” is unlikely to have landed on anyone’s New Year’s resolutions list this year. The global pandemic has pushed technology to the forefront of our lives, from educating our kids, to helping us work from home, to keeping in touch with loved ones. It has also revealed how knowledgeable (or not) we are about these devices we rely on so heavily. With that in mind, Worldline is launching a series of Technology Challenge posts: challenges that are designed to inform and help you get the most out of your devices. Our January Challenge is to get a password manager…or at least consider getting one.


What is a Password Manager?

Mobile phone secure access. Man holding a smartphone with Login, password on the screen, wooden backgroundDo you have Netflix? Three or four social media accounts? A membership to an online workout program? Do you do online banking? Have customer accounts to various on-line stores? 

The average user has around 100 passwords. You’d need a memory of Guinness World Record proportions to be able to remember 100 passwords; especially passwords that fit the requirement of being long, complex, unique, and unpredictable.

It somewhat defeats the purpose to update a sheet of paper or a document on your computer with a list of usernames and passwords. A password manager suggests high-quality passwords and stores them for you. Each time one of your passwords is required, you simply type your master password into your password manager. The password manager handles the rest for you, inputting both username and password.

Don’t I Already Have that on my Device?

You head to your bank’s website and your computer kindly offers to fill in your password. You complete your banking and move on with your day. How does a password manager make this experience any different?

In that example, it is your computer’s browser making the password suggestion. Web browsers all contain their own password managers, however, the passwords are not encrypted. Anyone with access to your computer can access the password files. A password manager offers more security by encrypting your passwords, plus it allows you to access those passwords across web browsers.

Password managers also provide protection against possible phishing attacks as they use website URLs to access passwords. If you click on a link and think you’re being taken to (for example) your bank’s website, but your password manager doesn’t suggest a password to log you in, this could indicate that it is a site disguised as your bank.

Deeper Dive into the Challenge

There are factors to take into account before you get a password manager. January’s Challenge is to learn more about password managers and make an informed decision about whether or not you need one, and which one to get. The following two articles will help you with this challenge:

This article by Stuart Schechter provides a balanced look at password managers and makes the argument that whether or not you need one is largely determined by how you use technology and what sorts of risks you are most likely to be exposed to. This is a recommended read for anyone wanting to know if password managers are a good option for them, and it provides instructions for testing the waters before you fully dive in.

This informative article by Scott Gilbertson starts with the assumption that you should have a password manager and gives a comprehensive breakdown of the best ones out there. It also makes valid counter-arguments to some of the points in the previous article.

Good luck with January’s challenge and we’ll see you in February for the next one!

5 Ways Technology can Connect us this Holiday Season

With the snow falling outside and holiday songs playing in the malls (I’m assuming they’ve started playing, I haven’t actually been to a mall for a while), our thoughts turn to the time of year when we gather together to eat, drink, and be merry. While hopes are on the rise for coronavirus vaccine, we still have to face the reality that our holidays may not look exactly like a homecoming in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Normal Rockwell homecoming painting

The Homecoming Norman Rockwell December 25, 1948

COVID cases in Canada are once again on an upward trend, so travelling long distances and enjoying extended family get-togethers is off the table. Which means we need to find virtual ways to enjoy each other’s company.

Now I don’t know about you, but the weekly FaceTime call to parents and siblings has become a bit repetitive. With none of us going anywhere or doing anything, the most exciting thing we can find to talk about is which episode of The Queen’s Gambit we re-watched last night, and who is winning in the pool for “most number of days worked in PJs in a row”. With everyday feeling like a Wednesday, the hope for the holidays is that we can shake things up a bit. For anyone feeling the same way, following is a list of ideas for how to use your technology to spend time with family and friends this season, including online games, how to watch movies together, a virtual gift exchange, and even some suggestions for this year’s office party.

Start with a Plan

Begin by picking a time when you can all get “together” and decide how you will all see each other. Will you use FaceTime, a Zoom call, Houseparty? What platform is everyone comfortable with? Consider doing a test run to make sure everyone knows how to use the chosen platform and decide where to set up your devices so you can all see each other. 

Online & Mobile Games

man and woman playing games on smart phones

Turns out you can be physically distanced and still play the old classics like Uno and Scrabble. This link will help you host virtual game nights over the holidays.

Game Pigeon, available through the App Store on iPhones and iPads, allows you to play basketball, pool, chess, paintball, word games, and more through iMessage. It’s a fun way to feel connected and pass time while you’re waiting for your online shopping cart to update.

For Android users, there are alternatives to Game Pigeon. And in the event that you have an iPhone and your sister has an Android, there are still lots of cross-platform games you can play together.

Not Into Gaming?

Are you used to watching Home Alone together as a family and finding the movie title hits a little too close to home this year? This article provides links and descriptions of seven different ways that you can sync movies while you chat about these strange Home Alone fan theories at the same time.

Man and woman with popcorn watching movie on laptop

Need Something New to Talk About?

In case you do just want to talk but have run out of topics, check out this extensive list of conversation starters.

Creative Gift Giving

Gift giving can be fraught with tension at the best of times. If you’re not getting together to exchange gifts this year, check out this link for creative ways to exchange gifts virtually, as well as a few good gift ideas too.

two people exchanging gift with fireplace and Christmas tree in background

What About the Annual Holiday Office Party?

If your office is dealing with the disappointment of missing out on the yearly holiday karaoke, consider pulling together a virtual office party instead. While it may seem unconventional, there are a lot of benefits to the virtual party: no storms or bad weather threatening to postpone or cancel the event, no one has to drive long distances or cover cab costs, no long buffet lines or special diets to contend with, and no navigating freshly fallen snow and ice in three-inch heels. It also requires a lot less planning and organization.

holiday decorations surround a laptop screen with man and woman on screen wearing Santa hats and toasting with champagne

Set the Venue

First, pick the date, time, and “venue” (Zoom, Teams, or whatever other platform your office is comfortable using) and send out email invitations inviting everyone to the online party.

Pick a Theme

Decide if you want a theme: prizes can be awarded to participants who best embody the theme with outfits, decorations, virtual backgrounds, or dressed up pets.

Select a DJ

Pick a DJ and have them select a Spotify playlist or create one of their own. (Pro tip: Ask everyone in the company to notify the DJ of their favourite holiday song. This helps everyone feel more involved.)

Eat Together

Make sure everyone gets to eat together by sending Uber Eats gift certificates to everyone in the company a day or two ahead of the event. This way you can all order food to arrive at a specific time and enjoy together (no more cold buffet leftovers after 95% of the attendees have taken the best items!). 

Distribute Prizes

Have door prizes in the form of gift cards that can be mailed out, or physical items which can be ordered online and shipped to the winners’ homes. 

Use Technology to its Fullest Advantage this Holiday Season

Let’s face it, 2020 is going to live on in our collective memory as being a challenging year, to put it mildly. Not being able to be with friends and family IRL is going to make it harder for many of us, so we might as well use technology to its full advantage and find creative ways to spend time together this holiday season. Because if it’s going to be holiday none of us ever forget, we might as well make it a holiday to remember!

Worldline Wireless gives Canadians affordable data options

We are beyond excited to announce the launch of our new Worldline Wireless division, designed to help you save money on data.

The days of choosing cell phone plans based on minutes and text messages are long gone – now, it’s all about the data. Apps for texting and calling dominate app stores and most apps rely on data. But data costs in Canada are some of the highest in the world. In a new study from UK Company Cable.co.uk analyzing 5,554 mobile data plans in 228 countries, Canada ranked 209th with an average price of $12.99USD for 1GB of data.

Our new product announcement comes on the heels of a ruling by the Canadian government that wholesale Internet rates set by the CRTC last August may be too low. This is disappointing for Canadians hoping for more affordable options for Internet services.

“Canadians have had to pay higher rates for cellular data than many other countries around the world. We wanted to give Canadians more affordable options for LTE data, and we’re doing that with Worldline Wireless,” says Mike Brown, our Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.

4 wireless plans starting at $9.95

Worldline Wireless offers high speed LTE to keep you connected. We have options starting as low as $9.95 per month for light users, with larger plans as high as 10GB for heavier users. But these aren’t just data plans; Worldline has also released a new Mobile App, allowing users to send and receive phone calls using data.

What are the benefits of Worldline Wireless, beyond saving you money?

Worldline’s Wireless service has:

  • No contracts.
  • No penalties: you can upgrade or cancel your plan at any time.
  • No overage charges.
  • No fear of running out of data: we have affordable top-up options.

That’s the kind of risk-free flexibility and fairness we believe in.

“We’re always listening to our customers, and constantly fighting to provide better options for consumers in Canada. Worldline customers have been asking for wireless options for years, and we’re super happy to be able to launch this exciting new product,” said Mike Brown. “We hope these new options come at a great time for our valued customers, who may be facing additional challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

More information about Worldline’s new Wireless services can be found on Worldline’s website.

Backpacks for Kids to equip 150 children for school this year

It’s been eight years since Peter Cross’s youngest daughter was getting ready to attend her first year of school in the Dominican Republic. Peter had moved there in 2005 to run one of Fibernetics’ call centres as VP of Contact Center Operations. He got married and adjusted to life in a country where water and electricity are not to be taken for granted. But it wasn’t until his wife, Rosa, took their daughter shopping for school supplies, that he realized education is also a luxury for many children.

“My memory of school in Canada is that paper and pencils were available for anyone who needed them, but students in the Dominican are required to supply their own textbooks, workbooks, paper, writing implements, coloured pencils, and a uniform. And if they can’t afford those items, then they can’t attend school.”

Kids in the Dominican Republic, ready for school thanks for Backpacks for Kids

Kids in the Dominican Republic, ready for school thanks to Backpacks for Kids

Peter called the Fibernetics leadership team back in Canada. Giving back to community has always been a part of who Fibernetics is; happiness is a core value for us, and we’re always looking for ways to increase the well-being of our staff and customers, as well as the communities we live and work in. The leadership loved the grassroots charity idea Peter was pitching to support families and spread happiness and well-being in the Dominican: Backpacks for Kids.

Backpacks for Kids is one of our home-grown initiatives to help change lives and the communities we live and work in. It warms our hearts to think about what an honour it is for us to help these amazing kids. – John Stix, Fibernetics Co-Founder

Peter and his family distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to local children

Peter and his family distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to local children

Every year, funds are raised through employee donations, company BBQs, and company contributions to enable Peter and a team of volunteers from Fibernetics’ Call Centre, to buy backpacks and fill them with school supplies specific to different age groups; from primary children who need crayons and glue, to teenagers who need three-ring binders and dividers. Each backpack also contains a gift certificate to be redeemed at the uniform shop for a few pairs of pants, shirts, and a pair of shoes so that one backpack gives a child everything they need for a year at school.

The first year, Peter and Rosa scheduled an event in their backyard to distribute the backpacks. Word spread in the community and on the day, fifty children arrived.

Kids sit, waiting for the handing out of backpacks to begin

Kids sit, waiting to receive their backpacks

“I quickly became known as the ‘school supply guy’. People would just show up at my house or at the Fibernetics Call Centre. We helped everyone out as much as we could, and everyone was so grateful. One year a woman showed up with a bottle of milk for us. She’s a farmer, as many are down here, and that’s all she had to give. It was so meaningful to us to receive it.”

Word continued to spread and the next year, eighty kids showed up. Soon the list grew to 150 names long.

“There were too many kids and parents to host at my house, so we moved the event to the company parking lot and started providing lunch too, with hot dogs for the kids. It was great.”

Peter and kids

Peter and kids with their backpacks

While Peter doesn’t like to boast about the time he and the team at the Fibernetics Call Centre devote to our in-house charity, the rest of us at Fibernetics Head Office in Cambridge, are happy to do it for him. Backpacks for Kids is a huge undertaking every year. A binder with lists of families who need supplies is maintained and updated every year. Peter goes out to the stores and negotiates deals to buy as many supplies as he can. Then he takes it all home where he, his family, and Fibernetics staff volunteers pack each backpack with the supplies each child needs. They make sure to always have extras on hand for those who aren’t on the list, like the three young boys who showed up one year, running into the office parking lot with no shoes on, each looking for a backpack to call their own.

Fibernetics call centre employees volunteer to unpack and sort school supplies (with some help from Peter's daughters!)

Volunteers from the Fibernetics call centre unpack and sort school supplies (with some help from Peter’s daughters!)

Peter sees first-hand the lives that are being impacted and his dream is to see the Fibernetics family continue to support this initiative for many years to come.

We’ve seen some of these kids every year over the course of almost ten years. It’s overwhelming to look at a child and realize that the Fibernetics family is the reason why this individual is able to go to school. It’s incredible to realize that without these supplies, they wouldn’t get an education at all. We’re changing the life path of entire families, just by providing something as simple as a backpack and a uniform. – Peter Cross, Fibernetics VP of Contact Centre Operations

Two boys peer into the backpacks, excited to see their new school supplies

Two boys peer into the backpacks, excited to see their new school supplies

pete on couch with backpacks

Peter at the Fibernetics Call Centre, filling backpacks with socks to complete the school uniform

This year Peter and his team are looking for a new way to distribute backpacks as COVID19 will prevent them being able to host everyone at the office. He’s already getting calls from families who are anxious to know if Backpacks for Kids will be continued this year.

Times are tough for everyone, but especially for families who rely on a backpack to ensure their child can get an education, and Peter says the families are grateful to hear that Fibernetics has pledged to provide 150 backpacks again this year.

COVID19 or not, we will not stop supporting Backpacks for Kids as best that we can. Thank you to all Fibernetics staff, along with Peter and his family. – John Stix, Fibernetics Co-Founder

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about exactly when schools will reopen in the Dominican Republic. But one thing is for sure: when the schools open, Fibernetics wants the kids to be ready.