If ‘ji32k7au4a83’ is Your Online Password, You’re Not Alone—Here’s Why

iStock.com/BeeBright
iStock.com/BeeBright

Right now, somewhere in the world, a handful of people are probably logging into their email or Facebook accounts with the password password—or, worst of all, 123456. These are bad ideas for obvious reasons, but you might be surprised by some of the commonly used passwords that are considered insecure. Topping SplashData’s list of the worst passwords of 2018 were zaq1zaq1, merlin, and, ironically, trustno1.

As Gizmodo reports, there’s another example of what not to use as your password that didn’t appear on SplashData’s list: ji32k7au4a83. One might assume that this alphabet-soup password would be difficult for hackers to guess, but the problem is that the series of letters and numbers isn't random at all.

That’s because the Chinese symbols for my password end up becoming ji32k7au4a83 when they’re transliterated using a phonetic system called Zhuyin Fuhao—also known as Bopomofo. Unlike mainland China, which uses pinyin (a way of “Romanizing” Chinese characters), the Zhuyin keyboard is primarily used in Taiwan. Essentially, the character for M ends up being ji3, the character for Y becomes 2k7, and so on, until my password is spelled out. (If that seems confusing, Gizmodo has a more in-depth explanation of how it works here.)

According to data breach repository Have I Been Pwned, this jumbled password popped up up over 100 times in various breaches. In other words, the problem of picking easy-to-guess passwords isn’t limited to the West.

Even if you don’t speak Mandarin, it doesn’t hurt to double check that your passwords are safe and secure. It’s recommended that users create a unique password for each account (and a password manager can help you keep them all straight). Long passwords composed of nonsense phrases, numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters also tend to fare better—and whatever you do, don’t make your password qwerty.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Now Ear This: A New App Can Detect a Child's Ear Infection

iStock.com/Techin24
iStock.com/Techin24

Generally speaking, using an internet connection to diagnose a medical condition is rarely recommended. But technology is getting better at outpacing skepticism over handheld devices guiding decisions and suggesting treatment relating to health care. The most recent example is an app that promises to identify one of the key symptoms of ear infections in kids.

The Associated Press reports that researchers at the University of Washington are close to finalizing an app that would allow a parent to assess whether or not their child has an ear infection using their phone, some paper, and some soft noises. A small piece of paper is folded into a funnel shape and inserted into the ear canal to focus the app's sounds (which resemble bird chirps) toward the child’s ear. The app measures sound waves bouncing off the eardrum. If pus or fluid is present, the sound waves will be altered, indicating a possible infection. The parent would then receive a text from the app notifying them of the presence of buildup in the middle ear.

The University of Washington tested the efficacy of the app by evaluating roughly 50 patients scheduled to undergo ear surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The app was able to identify fluid in patients' ears about 85 percent of the time. That’s roughly as well as traditional exams, which involve visual identification as well as specialized acoustic devices.

While the system looks promising, not all cases of fluid in the ear are the result of infections or require medical attention. Parents would need to evaluate other symptoms, such as fever, if they intend to use the app to decide whether or not to seek medical attention. It may prove most beneficial in children with persistent fluid accumulation, a condition that needs to be monitored over the course of months when deciding whether a drain tube needs to be placed. Checking for fluid at home would save both time and money compared to repeated visits to a physician.

The app does not yet have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and there is no timetable for when it might be commercially available. If it passes muster, it would join a number of FDA-approved “smart” medical diagnostic tools, including the AliveKor CardiaBand for the Apple Watch, which conducts EKG monitoring for heart irregularities.

[h/t WGRZ]

Uber Passengers Can Now Shush Their Drivers with a Mute Button

Spencer Platt, Getty Images
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Even friendly and sociable people don't always feel like talking, especially if it's late, they're sad, or they're in the middle of an arduous trip. For customers of the ride-sharing service app Uber, there's now a way to terminate conversation with drivers. You simply push a button on your phone and request they stop talking.

This slightly dystopian feature is part of Uber Black, the app's premium interface for people looking for a ride in a luxury vehicle and drivers with top satisfaction ratings. If a passenger isn't in the mood for chatting, hitting "quiet preferred" on the app will notify the driver to stop speaking. They can also opt for "happy to chat" if they care to engage in conversation. It's part of a bundle of features that also allows users to ask for help with their luggage, request more time to get to the vehicle, or adjust the temperature inside the car.

The button is an attempt by Uber to address some of the ambiguity surrounding the relationship between driver and passenger for the service, which allows both parties to rate the other on the overall experience. Some passengers have felt that being uninterested in speaking to their driver might lead to a lower score.

The quiet button might eventually be rolled out to encompass all of Uber's platforms. If the idea of a human mute button is uncomfortable, passengers can also choose "no preference" and let conversation—or the lack of it—takes its natural course.

[h/t Vox]

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