Archive for May, 2008

Password Security

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

So, everything requires a password these days right? Whether you’re setting up a new email account, signing up for twitter, or creating a new bank account. How in the world do you remember all of these passwords? Well, I’ve seen the old sticky note on the monitor (in the drawer, under the keyboard, you name it) all too often, and we all know that we shouldn’t use the same password everywhere right? That leaves two options: have an amazing memory (ask my wife, I don’t) or find a way to securely manage your passwords.

Thankfully KeePass (or KeepassX on Linux or Mac OS-X) can help out where my memory lacks. KeePass will provide you with a secure place to store all of you passwords in an encrypted format. From the screenshot you can get a rough idea as to what the interface looks like. When you highlight any of the entries, you can just Ctrl+C to copy the password and paste it into whatever application is asking for it. For websites, there’s even an ‘auto-type’ feature. To use this, you first go to the site you want to log in to, click in the username box, and then open KeePass and click on the entry for the site. Then press Ctrl+V and it will type in your username / password for you. Slick eh?

(more…)

Site Direction

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I’ve been asked a couple of times now about the direction and target audience for this site. As I have started to write, I’ve noticed that I enjoy writing more technical posts as well as some more ‘every day’ tidbits. I plan on putting down a bit of my knowledge as a server administrator / web developer as well as sharing about some of the better free / open source software which I use on a regular basis that others may find beneficial.

I already have a number of posts started regarding server monitoring / backup as well as how to keep track of all your passwords across various websites. I also found a great time-tracking program recently that I’ll be writing about shortly.

If you ever have any article suggestions, questions, or general feedback, please comment here, or fire me an email at danklassen@gmail.com.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Dan (aka DanK)

Creating SSH Keys

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

If you need to manage multiple remote servers, you’ve probably had the joy of needing to remember numerous passwords. With ssh keys, you can eliminate the need of typing in a password each time you log into a server via ssh. As an added bonus, the key that will be used will be much (much) longer than any password you would sanely type in.

To utilize ssh keys, you will need to generate a private / public key pair on your local machine. To do this, type:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

to generate a RSA encrypted keyset. When you do this, it will ask you where to save it, just hit enter to use the defaults. The next question will be what passphrase you would like to use. This can be an effective way to double up your security. If you set this, you will need both the key that will be generated, as well as this passphrase to log into the remote server. If you are going for a secure setup, this is most likely the way to go.

(more…)

RSS: Really Simple What?

Monday, May 26th, 2008

So, I’m sure many of you have heard of RSS before, but may not know the benefits, or if you do, how to set it up. Yet another acronym, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and basically what it will do is allow you to subscribe to the content of a website that has a ‘feed’. Then, whenever this site is updated with new content, you will know right away. Most current browsers (Firefox, and Internet Explorer 7) have built in RSS reading capabilities under names such as Live Bookmarks or something similar. In the top right corner of the address bar you will see an icon similar to the one to the right. Clicking on this will walk you through the process of setting up an RSS feed right in your browser.

There are also many programs that you can download for free to read RSS Feeds. If you are using Firefox (which I highly recommend… I’ll write about this another time), there is a great plugin called Sage that I have used previously. Sage will let you categorize and search through your feeds on your computer nicely. If you are looking for a stand-alone application, something like SharpReader will do well for you. If you are using Linux, I’ve heard that Liferea is a great gtk application with all the basic features you’ll need.

After using numerous applications, I have ended up using Google Reader. Now, you’ll need a Google Account (yup, it’s free) to use their RSS reader, but I’ve found that it is worth it. It’s very quick to process lots of data (on an average day, I’ll read at least 120 headlines, and that number keeps climbing). One major benefit of using Google Reader for me was the fact that since the data is not stored on a computer, you can log in from anywhere and pick up exactly where you left off. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m at work, on my laptop, desktop, or on the other side of the World.

All in all, RSS is a great way to keep tabs on dozens of sites without spending hours clicking through to each one. Most of my family and friends blog or run websites of some sort and it’s great to keep tabs on all of them 🙂 If this has inspired you, feel free to add me to your RSS to stay up to date on the lastest posts here!

Keeping Track of Finances

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Quite a while back, my wife (who happens to run the blog, www.gardentrends.ca) and I were trying to find a good way to keep track of our savings / chequing accounts. I know there had to be a FOSS program out there that would do the trick. We tried out a number of different options before finally deciding on Money Manager EX.

Some of the criteria we used to end up with our choice:

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Handle multiple accounts
  • Graphical reporting
  • Able to outline a budget
  • Categorize line items
  • Not online (for some reason I don’t trust many people with my financial data, let alone some random website)

Here are a couple of screen shots I borrowed from the source forge project page to give you an idea as to what the interface looks like.

Reports:

Money Manager: Report Screen

Budget Setup

Money Manager: Account Screen

Creating an Entry

We have found it quite valuable to have a running tally of where we are at, what cheques we have written that we haven’t accounted for (there is a ‘reconciled’ status), and how we’re doing on our budget (how much do I spend on fast food? oh my….).

Unfortunately, it seems like the project is no longer under active development. But, since it meets all of our needs that hasn’t posed an issue yet. There are a couple of odd interface quirks that would be nice if they were sorted out, but nothing that is a deal breaker.

If your looking for something similar, be sure to give Money Manager EX a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.