Showing posts from September, 2011

Websites and cleartext passwords

The other day, I received an email from my company insurance provider's third-party administrator, asking me to review and update my dependant details. 

No issues with the email, but for one detail.  It contained not just my login, but my password (in cleartext) as well.  What this indicated is, my password was being stored in cleartext in their system/database or whatever. 

This website is arguably not an important one, since it allowed just registration and printing of e-cards, but that does not rule out someone doing some mischief like updating/deleting data using my credentials.

The more harmful issue is if you use the same password for your Banking or other more critical websites.  A malafide person can use this information to gain access to your account in these sites.

Interestingly the website of this TPA used https/SSL for protection.  The purpose of this is defeated if the site sends cleartext password in emails!

Perhaps websites should publish the information if they a…

IT (Dept) is amazing!

I have been filing e-returns through the official Income Tax website even since it was introduced 3-4 years back.   This year I did it on 2nd July and sent across the signed  ITR-V by post a couple of days later.  I received an email on 18th July acknowledging the receipt of my hard copy.

Imagine my surprise when I saw an email from IT Department on 2nd September, intimating me that they had processed the IT returns and my refund was being credited through ECS.   Exactly 2 months since my online submission.  In 3-4 days, my Bank Account reflected the Refund credit.

This is an amazing turnaround time for a Department, which is notorious for not giving refunds.  Was it the online submission which speeded up the return processing?  If so, perhaps it is an incentive for people, who have returns, to file it online.

Beyond Bullet Points

Many of us make presentations or attend presentations as part of our work.  How many of us can claim to have made a presentation which wowed the audience?   Or for that matter, come away from a presentation with the feeling that your day was made?  I would argue, very few.  Which is the reason why, a book like Beyond Bullet Points 3rd Edition by Cliff Atkinson (Microsoft Press; 352 pages)  is a necessary read.

The fact that the book is in its 3rd edition, by itself indicates the popularity of the book and the author.  To top it up, when the back cover mentions how a lawyer who used the book won a verdict of USD 253 million, it does make one take notice.

The author uses Microsoft Powerpoint as the tool to explain how to create not good, but great presentations.  Now presentations are not as much to do with the tool, as with having a systematic approach towards the topic.  The author explains how to plan the presentation and then put it into the tool.  He believes the first five slides…

The Final Hour

I got the chance to review the book The Final Hour by Andrew Klavan.  It is pitched as the Last Homelanders Novel.

I had not read any of the other Homelanders novels.  In fact, I had not read any of the author's work.  But the synopsis looked interesting enough.  Interestingly, this was the first book that I read entirely on my Samsung Galaxy Ace using Aldiko eBook Reader.

Charlie West finds himself in a prison, accused of murdering his close friend Alex Hauser.  A group of Islamic prisoners are out to kill him, while another bunch of hard-core ones save his life.  He had infiltrated the Homelanders group, which is a dreaded terrorist group, plotting against USA.  He has lost his memory thanks to medication, but has begun to get it in bits and pieces.  He realizes that FBI has disowned him and no one believes his innocence or his double life.  The only two people he can rely on are his karate master and the one FBI detective who knows him.

In one of his memory attacks, he remembe…