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#938: Keychain Password; A Guide to Ports; A Useful Analogy


Hello Fellow Technophiles,

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This edition of TT features an article on resetting your keychain password, ports and their data transfer speeds, and a useful analogy to explain how a computer accesses and processes data.

Yours truly,


  Keychain Password Change  

How many times have you logged in to your Mac and seen a pop-up that says “(this app) wants to use your ‘login’ keychain”? The keychain is Apple’s own password management system. It allows you to store passwords so the applications wanting to use them can. An application that uses the keychain a lot is Safari. If you have a lot of online logins, the keychain is a vital tool so you don’t have to remember them all (you should still have all of theses written down and stored securely in a safe place, like a house safe.)

Apple makes it easy for the user, because usually you only have to enter the master password once. Then the keychain takes over. The beauty of this is it is all authorized under your login password. Problems can arise when you reset your login password via the Terminal or the Password Reset utility in the recovery partition as these methods do not automatically update the keychain password, which means you will need to manually enter the old password every time.

Fortunately, there is a fix! Here is how you correct that:

  • Open Keychain Access (you can get to it by choosing Utilities from the Go menu in the Finder)
  • From the Edit menu, choose Change Password for Keychain “login.”
  • Type the former password of the account that you are currently logged in to, then click OK.
  • If you entered the correct password, a new window appears; enter the original password again in the Current Password field.
  • In the New Password field, type the password that matches your current account password.
  • Re-enter the newer password in the Verify field, then click OK.

If you do not know the old password, however, all of the items in the keychain are lost. In this instance, your only option is to delete the login keychain, and then run Keychain First Aid from the Keychain Access menu in Keychain Access.

  Which Port Transfers Data the Fastest  

If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of ports to plug cords into on your laptop. Although that number is getting smaller and smaller these days with newer Mac models, many people have 3 or more port options when transferring data.

  • MagSafe port: Used for charging
  • Ethernet port: 1Gbps
  • Firewire 800: 780Mbps
  • Thunderbolt 1: 10 Gbps (Wow!)
  • Thunderbolt 2: 10 Gbps with 2 channels allowing 20 Gpbs (Super WOW!)
  • USB 2: 480 Mbps
  • USB 3: 5 Gbps

There is also Firewire 400 which transfers right around 400 Mbps. This is found on older Macs and is about the same as USB 2. So when choosing a port to use for backup, or just transfer some files, take a look at this chart and compare. Keep in mind when purchasing an external hard drive what ports are built in as none of these numbers are accurate unless both ends of the cable are the same. In other words if you use a Firewire 400 to Firewire 800 cable, your transfer rate will be 400 Mbps because that is the bottleneck.

See this article from Apple for more images and details.

  The Office Analogy  

Computer terms can be very confusing. The power of different computers are generally measured by the speed and capacity of three components: the hard drive, the RAM, and the CPU. Many of us have heard these terms before, but far fewer know what these terms mean or how they affect the performance of the computer. There is an analogy I like to use to make these terms more simple to understand, called the Office Analogy.

Imagine a man working working in an office, with a desk full of papers and a filing cabinet full of more papers elsewhere in the room. If he wants to edit or consult one of his papers, he needs to make sure there is enough room on his desk for it, walk over to the filing cabinet, find the paper, and bring it back to the desk. If his desk is full, he cannot start working on any new papers without first moving some papers back into his filing cabinet.

In this scenario, the hard drive is represented by the filing cabinet. The hard drive is where all of the information on the computer is stored when it is not being used. In order for the computer to access information that is stored on it, the information must first be moved from the hard drive to the RAM, similar to the man walking to his filing cabinet to bring it back to his desk.

The RAM, or Random Access Memory, is represented by the size of the man’s desk. The size of the desk limits how many different papers he can work on at once, and if the desk is filled, he cannot start working on any more. Similarly, the RAM inside a computer is a place where all of the data is stored for any applications that are in use. If your RAM becomes filled up, the computer will start to slow down, and you and won’t be able to open any new programs without closing some other ones first.

Finally, we come to the CPU, or Central Processing Unit. It is a common misconception that the tower for a PC-type computer is referred to as the CPU. The CPU is actually a small component inside all desktops and laptops, about one square inch in size. The CPU is the component that actually processes the information once it has been loaded into the RAM. In our office scenario, the CPU is represented by the man. The speed at which he can complete his work is determined by how intelligent he is.

I have been using this analogy to help people understand how to compare computer specifications for severaI years. I hope this will help to unravel some of the the mystery surrounding computer components for some of you.

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