Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cohousing, an idea to think about

I've recently been talking to people about the concept of cohousing...a quite fascinating idea of designing a housing complex that combines private ownership of homes (or townhouses) with shared group facilities like a big common house with a large kitchen/dining area, guest rooms, a workshop, or a craft area. The idea is to create an "intentional" community that encourages a neighbourhood feeling and interaction with the people who live around you. It's appealing in our age when so many people feel so isolated and many of our traditional support systems are weak. Yet, will it work in our very individualistic culture? Can we create a community with good planning?
When I talked to Margaret Critchlow of Sooke, BC about the idea, her enthusiasm for the concept was contagious. Margaret is spearheading a project in Sooke to build a senior cohousing complex there, designed for the 50 and up crowd. It's an alternative housing idea that has a lot of merit, even though it's not for everyone.
I've done a column for CBC on this (my columns are aired on CBC Radio One 90.5 FM on Jo-Ann Roberts' show All Points West on Thursdays at 4:35 p.m.) and if you are interested in learning more, here are some helpful websites:
Canadian Senior Cohousing (the Sooke group), and
Canadian Cohousing Network: You can also hear my recent columns by going to: CBC Radio One's All Points West
and scroll down to the NYNO, Not Young Not Old column.
Would love to hear what you think of cohousing. Most of the developments now completed are intergenerational, and family focused.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

new course at UVic

My column this week for CBC took a look at a new course at UVic...Exploring Aging Through Film. My interviews for this reminded me of the energy and enthusiasm people, young and old, have for learning....and of how many fascinating people are out there. We have so much we can teach each other, and and I love the idea of an intergenerational approach to learning, like this course will provide, with UVic students and continuing studies participants all discussing the films and listening to each other.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Password Proliferation: How many do YOU have?

Okay, so, how do you keep track of your passwords...for everything from banking to accessing your email to booking a ferry? It's pretty clear that almost no one does what they're supposed to do (except maybe people on the job who are required to follow procedures), and it's a universal headache!
Here are some of the ways people admitted to me they keep track of passwords. Sound familiar?
*Keep them on a post-it note on their computer
*Email the list to themselves, or keep them in a word document
*Use the same password, or two, or three, over and over
*Keep one "stronger" one for vital accounts, and use an easier one for the rest
*Just keep the same one for years
*Use the "forgot my password" option and keep changing them each time you go to that file
*Use one super strong password for all, or to access a password manager account where the rest are stored

The official advice about creating secure passwords is, quite honestly, simply not within the realm of possibilty for humankind: i.e. choose a word not related to you in any way; not found in any dictionary; add upper and lower case, numbers, and characters and make it long; don't write it down, have a different one for each account, and change it frequently. Sounds a little like theatre of the absurd.

We NYNOs (Not Young, Not Olds) are really the first generation to come face to face with the dilemma of passwords. When we were growing up, Password was a TV show! But even the younger generation is at a loss as to how to safely keep track of passwords, from what I'm hearing.

Despite this,maybe it's time to try to follow more of the “rules” of password security, at least for your most sensitive and such. I know people who create a strong password (most accounts, like gmail, will let you check to see if your password is strong or weak) by choosing a mnemonic (or phrase), like: No one will ever be able to guess my password, and then add numbers and upper and lower case and special characters. Then take the first letter of each word, or substitute a number, add a character or two and you could wind up with something like: N1wEbA2gMp!$ Simple, yes? If it weren't so important to our lives, we could all write this off as some sort of Monty Python skit, but the truth is, it IS important. There are password manager programs, but I've only spoken to one person who is using one.

So, like the challenge we put out on my CBC radio column, I call on security analysts in the business to come up with an easier way to manage and secure our passwords! If no one follows the rules, we've got to come up with new rules, right? I live in hope, waiting to hear suggestions for a user friendly doable password plan for the average person.