Simple password security

by Mike on September 5, 2014

I want to talk to you about that elephant in the parlor. You know, that single password you are using for every site where you have an account. Yes, that password.  The one you use to log into your favorite discussion forum, to log into your favorite pizza joint’s Web site, and to log into your bank account.  See, you thought you were being sly, but I know that one password is the only one you have.  And if someone ever manages to discover your password, they are going to own your life.

Rule Number One – never, ever, never use the same password twice.  Every site you have to use a password to log into needs to have a unique password.

Rule Number Two – there are no exceptions to Rule Number One.

Yes, I know, we all have too many accounts to look after.  And with each account having a different password, who could possibly remember them all?  I am here to tell you I can only remember one of my passwords.  I only need to remember the one, because I have a tool that takes care of the rest of my passwords for me – LastPass.


I know, you’re thinking me a fool for allowing one service to store and manage all my passwords, but that is only because you’ve yet to discover how LastPass really works.

LastPass does store all my passwords in a central vault, but it also uses an encryption key that exists on my devices, and nowhere else.  The key never leaves my devices, and not even LastPass has a copy.  Because they wanted everything to be completely secure, all of my passwords are encrypted and decrypted on my machine, not on a public Web server.

And setting up LastPass could not be easier.  You simply download the recommended package for your browser of choice and install it.  Once installed, you can restart your browser and set up a LastPass account.  Oh, did I mention that if you’re not interested in adding any mobile devices, the account is completely free-of-charge?  LastPass requires you to input a working e-mail address, and then you need to enter a very strong password.  But never fear, because this is the last password you will ever have to remember.  Personally, I came up with a very unique sentence and I use the first letter of each word in the sentence for my password.  Once you are logged into LastPass, then it is time to start adding a lot more security to all of your online accounts.

Your first step is to log into a site, using all of your normal details.  Then browse to the page where you can change your password.


Above, you can see I’ve entered my old password, then I have clicked on the character in the New Password field, which opened up the LastPass dialog.  You can select how many characters you want to use in your password, what types of letters, and.or numbers, and/or special characters to use, and then have LastPass regenerate another password.  Since I don’t need to remember any of this information, I try to make my passwords as cryptic as possible.  Once I am satisfied with the suggestion LastPass has made, I simply click on Use Password.

lastpass002From that point, I just need to get the site saved to my LastPass vault, so I can log back into this site, the next time I visit.  So I click on Save Site.

lastpassoo3LastPass recognizes the name of the site (actually, this is the Evo/Lution Linux discussion forums), and then allows me to store the details in a custom folder.  From here, I only need to click on Save Site.

lastpass004After everything was saved, I logged out of the site and then made to log back in.  I clicked on the special character in the Username field, and,

lastpass005LastPass automatically populates both the Username and Password fields for me.  I’ve no clue what that 16 character password is, but neither do I have it written down somewhere, so someone can gain access to my account.

The beauty of all this is that LastPass runs on your browser installation, so if you use more than one browser, you only need to install the LastPass extension in each browser.  It doesn’t care if you are running Linux, or one of those inferior operating systems.

And since most people now carry smart phones, you can bump your account up to a premium account, for just $12 USD per year, and then your phone will be able to access all of your LastPass vault details.

This one is a no-brainer, people.  You can stop using that single password that most people would be able to guess in under 60 seconds, and add in a new measure of security for all of your online accounts.


Are things really going this smoothly

by Mike on September 3, 2014

I have to admit, when I see things going this smoothly around here, I start wondering how long it can last. But this time around, I think I am just going to enjoy it whilst I am able and let the cards fall where they will.

ting002I wrote an article a couple months back, about how I had discovered Ting, a new and innovative mobile phone service provider that just makes sense.  And I am delighted to report that although I was already dealing with a very inexpensive provider, my switch to Ting has reduced my monthly expense to less than half what it was.  Seriously, people, there is really no reason to be paying for a lot of phone services that you are never going to use, particularly when you can switch over to Ting and pay only for the minutes, the messages and the megabytes that you use.  Would you like to save $25.00 on your switch over to Ting?  Click this link and Ting will give you $25.00 off your first Ting device.  Or, if you have a Ting-compatible device, they will give you a $25.00 service credit, which can actually amount to a lot of service.  Last month, my Ting bill came to a total of $17.00, plus taxes.  I know, it sounds like crazy talk, but click on that link and see how you can start saving money with Ting.  every now and again, I stumble across a company that holds up their end up a partnership, and Ting is one of those companies.

antergos-logoI’ve been using Antergos Linux since the first week of April, and I just cannot find enough good to say about how happy I am to be using it.  After using it for a while, I finally got up the gumption to try a full-blown install of Arch Linux, which is what Antergos is based on.  I have to admit to finding Antergos to be the better choice for myself, but since I am dual-booting Antergos and Arch on this machine, I won’t be left twitching at the end of the rope, should Antergos ever go away.  When Ikey Doherty shut down his development of SolusOS, I was more than a little disappointed, and spent a lot of time looking for a new Linux distribution to try.  once I found Antergos, I thought maybe it might be what I had been looking to find.  And now, after 5 months, all I can say is that Antergos/Arch FTW.  I am always amazed to browse through the Arch User Repository, and see all the software that is available.

Several months back, I decided it was time to start being more proactive about securing my online presence.  I still have a Gmail account, but I have abandoned all use of it.  If you like Google scanning your messages for keywords, to better serve you contextual ads, that is your decision.  Personally, I enjoy the few liberties I still have left and using Runbox e-mail services on one of my own domains has been a treat.  Yes, I do pay for my Runbox account, but the price is well worth every penny, just knowing that I’ve eliminated Google’s prying eyes.  If you are someone I trust to respect e-mail security and personal privacy, you already have that address.  If you don’t have that address, well…

owncloud-logoAnother area where I have determined to increase security is by eliminating use of Dropbox.  I now have an instance of OwnCloud running on one of my Web servers, and the most recent version is really incredible.  OwnCloud allows me to share and sync my files across all of my devices (desktops, laptop and phone), and allows me to do the same with a calendar, with personal contacts and a lot more.  If you wonder why I am paying for server space to store my data, let me just remind you that there is no way to keep your own data personal, when you are storing it on a public cloud.  Ask Jennifer Lawrence how she feels about public cloud services these days.  And one of the features I really enjoy about OwnCloud 7 is the ability to encrypt all my data, so everything I store is secure from prying eyes.

I never imagined I would be saying this, but I am considering a major shift in the focus of my own Web sites.  For more years than I care to count, I have been running forum sites, and have added a handful of blog sites to my portfolio, as well.  But I am now giving some serious consideration to starting up at least one podcast.  I think there are more than enough forum sites, blog sites and YouTube videos to dilute potential audiences, so I am thinking podcasting might be the way forward for me.  A lot of people have lengthy commutes, to and from their jobs, so listening to a podcast can often help the time go by.  I listen to a handful of podcasts whilst at work, a couple of which are rather poorly done.  Rather than trying to find other podcasts dealing with the same subject matter, I am thinking this might be my opportunity to wade in and try to grab some listeners.

The major downside to establishing a podcast is the equipment investment that is required.  If I do take this step, I don’t want to waste my time investing in sketchy components, so I’ve been reading a lot of product reviews.  It looks like the purchase of something like a Røde Podcaster microphone might be a good way to get going, but I am starting to think hanging back and using a good XLR microphone might be a better option.  I don’t want to get carried away with expenses, but a small mixing board seems to be a good idea.  If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, please add your comments.

I will be trying to be more timely with blog updates, in the coming weeks and months.  Over the last 3 years, or so, Life has been trying to slam-dunk me.  But, as I’ve always said, I am a survivor, and this time is no exception.  I’ve got my head above water again, so look out, world!


Around Antergos in 80 days

June 20, 2014

I have been running Antergos for a little over 80 days, and all I can say is it continues to kick ass. I have to admit Antergos is the finest Linux distribution I have ever used. I enjoyed the stability of Debian, I admired the simplicity and clean looks of Mint and I loved using […]

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A mobile provider that understands

June 8, 2014

One sure way to get me fired up is to start talking mobile phone providers. I am not a big fan of telephones in the first place, but when it comes to mobile phones, I am in complete agreement with Joe Pesci (and no, this one is NSFW) – I have done business with the […]

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Arch, done the Arch Way

May 26, 2014

I did it. I finally worked up enough determination to install Arch Linux on one of my machines. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, and yes, my first two attempts crashed within minutes of actually getting into the graphical, desktop interface.  But as all who know me will attest, my stubborn streak is akin to that of […]

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A quick look at Arch

May 10, 2014

After using Antergos Linux for a few weeks, I decided I wanted to see what native Arch Linux was like. The die-hard Arch users will accuse me of being a slacker, but I decided to give Jeff Story’s Evo/Lution GUI Arch Installer a test-drive.  That deafening sound you are hearing are the people who have […]

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Antergos is really impressive

May 2, 2014

In spite of getting off to a rocky start with Antergos Linux, I am finding it more impressive, every time I sit down at my desk. I mentioned Antergos in an earlier article, but to recap, Antergos is what was formerly known as Cinnarch.  In a nutshell, the Antergos development team has taken Arch Linux, […]

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A Love-Hate Relationship

April 5, 2014

As all my friends know, I am a full-time supporter of using Linux. I’ve been using it for years and can never quite understand why people want to waste time and money with other operating systems. But there are times when Linux can be pretty frustrating. I get wound up when so-called Linux advocates start […]

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And the saga continues

December 7, 2013

Just yesterday, I was proudly posting about being adopted by a new kitten. But since I had lost two kitties, so close to one another in time, I had already decided I was going to take in two, new kittens. I wanted to honor both of the kitties I had lost. Just yesterday, I had […]

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What a long, strange trip

December 6, 2013

A little over a year ago, I wondered if 2013 would be a good year, or a bad luck year. The year blew in with naught but bad news, and then proceeded to get worse, as time went by. And to be frank, events have almost succeeded in snuffing out my spirit. From losing my […]

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