Tag Archives: Helping the community

Amazing people doing great things locally, nationally and internationally and opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved with community projects.

The life and times of your passwords

Let’s talk passwords. Exciting isn’t it?

But wait: do you use a key for your front door? Are you happy giving it to strangers? No? Well, this is the same thing – it’s important we think about how secure our digital life is too. Being digitally security-aware is just as important as being home security-aware.

Here’s the thing, remember three passwords, and that’s it:

  1. Your bank password – don’t use this for anything else
  2. Your work or study password – don’t use this for anything else
  3. Your password manager password – don’t use this for anything else. Keep reading, to find out what a password manager is and how it can make your life easier.

It’s simple, some accounts are more important than others, especially your work or study and your bank, so have individual passwords for them, and then one more for your password manager.

Have you fallen into the trap of using the same password for everything? It sounds like a clever strategy to avoid forgetting which is which, but have you noticed how those online security breaches just seem to keep happening? That clever strategy of yours means that sooner or later your password to everything could get into the wrong hands, and then someone else has your password to everything.

Tip 1: Don’t use the same password in multiple places.
OK, so how do you remember multiple passwords?
Answer: you don’t.

Tip 2: Use a password manager.
A password manager is like a locked safe containing a different password for every site you need one for (this is a very good thing), and it applies the right password for each site when you need it. Basically, it keeps track of all those passwords that are not your work/study and bank passwords. To get into your password manager, you use a “master” password, which should be a long and unguessable password. An odd sentence with no spaces works well – but “theywillneverguessthisone” has already been figured out, so be more clever than that. If someone can guess your master password, they can get to all your passwords, so be diligent about that long and unguessable password.

Sometimes you can use two factor authentication to make this master password even more secure. (Two factor authentication is a process whereby after you enter a password into the system, you then need to do something else with something you have, such as entering a code that the system sent to your (preregistered) cellphone, or entering a number displayed on a token, or inserting or touching a special USB device.)

Some Password managers you might like to look at are Lastpass, Keepass or Dashlane.

Here are some articles about the value of using Password managers:

The Washington Post>
The Verge>

PM’s science prizes – applications close 5 September

Aotearoa New Zealand’s most talented established and emerging scientists, science teachers and science communicators able to apply for awards worth a combined value of $1 million across five categories.
The major prize, worth $500,000, is presented to an individual or team whose research has had significant impact in New Zealand or internationally. Previous winners have been recognised for research in areas ranging from health to climate change to new energy technologies.
Have you considered:
The Prime Minister’s Science Prize, $500,000
This will be awarded to an individual or team for a transformative scientific discovery or achievement, which has had a significant economic, health, social and/or environmental impact in the last five years on New Zealand or internationally.
The Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize, $200,000
This will be awarded to an outstanding emerging scientist who has had their PhD conferred, within the past eight years (i.e. from 1 January 2010 onwards)
The Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize, $100,000
This will be awarded to a practising scientist who can demonstrate an interest, passion and aptitude for science communication and public engagement, or to a person who has developed expertise in public engagement with, or communication of, complex scientific or technological information to the public or science community.
To find out more categories and to lodge entries visit the website>

Hours of paperwork saved by app

A Christchurch tech company’s app is helping New Zealand Police banish thousands of hours of paperwork.

Developed by UC alumnus Reuben Bijl, Smudge Apps has collaborated with the New Zealand Police to develop the OnDuty Family Harm Investigation mobile application, which enables frontline police to combat family violence by giving them access to complex information at the touch of a fingertip. 

It’s safe to say the app has transformed the way police officers operate by effectively banishing lengthy paper-based forms to make way for the intuitive mobile application.

“Previously, police officers attending a family violence incident had to complete a 13-page paper form,” says Smudge Managing Director Reuben Bijl.

He says, the apps Smudge has built for New Zealand Police are saving over 500,000 hours of police time every year – valuable time that frontline cops can be spending on activities with more impact.

Smudge is the brainchild of Reuben Bijl and Toby Vincent, who taught themselves how to build mobile apps as a summer holiday project.

Ten years later, Smudge-designed apps have been downloaded more than eight million times and the team have partnered with several highly recognised brands, including Vodafone and the NZ Police to create variety of user-friendly products.

Growing up in Canterbury, Bijl says he was obsessed with technology from a very young age and enjoyed tinkering with devices and trying to figure out how they worked.

“One of my earliest memories was blowing up a computer by playing with the voltage selector switch,” he says. 

His interest in technology was complemented by a love for playing and listening to music, including studying classical piano at the University of Canterbury and being part of the choir at Christchurch Cathedral.

That ability to combine arts and science to solve problems ultimately inspired Bijl to set up Smudge with co-founder Toby Vincent, with a vision of using technology to enable people to make their lives easier. 

A good example of this is the New Zealand Police OnDuty Family Harm Investigation app which launched May this year, and is being hailed as “world leading” by overseas forces.

Now used by 9,000 officers around New Zealand, OnDuty’s capabilities has been a game changer for police. The app allows officers to search names, scan driver licences and search for related people, anytime, and from any location.

Bijl says Smudge are “super proud” of the work they’ve done with the Police – and so they should be. Their latest app recently won the NZRise Excellence in Software Award at the NZ Excellence in IT Awards – yet another example of the world-class, connected and creative work coming out of Christchurch’s tech sector.