Jan 30

Symbols of percent

We come across percentages every day. ‘iPhone sales grow 142%; iPad sales grow 183%’ . Sounds good, but what does it actually mean? What about a 415% increase? We all did percentages in school  way back when and some of us work with them in our daily lives but they can still be quite difficult to visualize.

For example, I’ve always had a problem with this one – when someone says something’s value has doubled well that’s actually only a 100% increase, and when it has tripled, that’s a 200% increase.  When the value has gone up say fivefold that’s a 400% increase on the original value. You would think that the numbers would match, i.e. tripled is a 300% increase, but the important word is ‘increase’. Remember that the original value is 100% and if it triples, its value becomes 300% of the original, but the percentage increase is only 200%. Percentage increase is also known as markup. And in the headline above ‘iPhone sales grow 142%’, I guess they are saying that ‘sales increase by 142%’.

You might also come across the terms -times or -fold which mean the same, i.e. triples is three times or threefold the original value.

But don’t let me muddy the waters for you! There are actually quite a few websites that will calculate percentages or percent increases and decreases for you. Here’s a couple of the best I’ve come across.



Nice clear interface. Just fill in 2 values and it calculates all the unknowns including the percentage increase or decrease.

Percentage Calculator


Perhaps a little clearer but just completes the row you have chosen.

So bookmark one of these sites for future reference when you perhaps want to clarify percentages you’ve been given or you want to calculate percent increases or decreases on your values.

Top image credit: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jan 26

Do you save passwords in your browser? Have you stored sensitive information on your PC or Mac? Want to track down what stuff you’ve saved and where? Well I’ve come across a program called Identity Finder which will help to track private information like passwords, and credit card and bank account numbers on your PC or Mac. There’s a free version with more limited capabilities which I’m trying out here. In essence, it will only scan your My Documents folder not the entire hard drive, it won’t look for bank account numbers, and won’t go through emails and attachments; you’ll have to buy a licence for the Home or Premium editions for that. The Free edition searches Firefox and IE for hidden passwords. It will also shred or secure your sensitive data by encryption. Here’s a list of comparisons between the different editions.

Identity Finder2

So I downloaded and ran the Free edition. The scan took 20 minutes to complete and identified a number of sensitive passwords stored away in some files which I had forgotten about. You can scroll down through the results window and even preview the results for certain file types like pdfs and doc files. Although I don’t use Firefox any more, my hidden passwords there were all visible to Identity Finder so I went into Firefox and removed them. It didn’t report anything for Chrome but I do store those passwords in there so I suspect it isn’t checking Chrome at all.

But it was the passwords stored around the My Documents folder which worried me most. I do use LastPass to store my passwords securely so these back up locations storing passwords on my PC should be dealt with securely just in case anyone accesses it – they’re clearly quite easily found.

Identity Finder allows you to shred the files, or more usefully encrypt them. However I was only interested in the list of sensitive files as I use and like the free Axcrypt for file encryption. I’ll use this to encrypt the sensitive files.

I recommend you give Identity Finder Free a try and see what you find on your PC or Mac. You might be surprised. If you store all your sensitive stuff within My Documents and aren’t interested in emails and bank account numbers, it may be right for you. If not, the paid editions search more deeply and have 1-year to 5 year licences with a 40% discount on the 5-year licence.

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