I can almost remember a time when the only credentials I had to remember was my pin number for my debit card. Once upon a time I was able to remember most all username and password (aka credentials) for my accounts. An email address here, online banking there, a social media site here. I had a pretty clever strategy. Each account had its own three part password. Part one were characters unique to the account. Part two was a special character like @ or #. Part three was a standard phrase and the same for all passwords.

Then I started reading about websites getting hacked and users data being stolen and used for evil purposes. That plus a ballooning number of accounts to keep up with led me to start looking for a better account management solution. A friend and fellow technologist suggested the application 1Password.

Here is the iOS Mobile App Home Page

Mobile App Home Page

You install it on your devices, back up the file in the cloud via Dropbox for example, and have the application auto generate a unique password from 4 to 50 characters. You have as you can see one Master Password to get into the application.

There is also a desktop application.

Desktop App Home Page

How’s that work? You input your account Master Password and get into the application.

Account Types

You have different categories of accounts. You can keep track of websites, apps, etc. You can also keep track of Credit Cards and all of your multiple personalities, err, I mean identities.

To use your listings you just scroll to the account. To add a new account, you click plus and add, just like you would a friend in your contacts list.

Account Edit Page

Then you can tell the 1Password application to generate a password based on the way you tell it to. Based on what they call a Recipe, which you choose. For example, you can have a short password with only lower case letters.

Editing Password for Account

You can have a combo of letters and numbers, use only numbers, or… you can choose to generate a password that is 50 characters long, includes lower and upper case letters that are pronounceable, or not, digits, special characters, symbols, and have characters repeat, or not.

Different Password

What is the downside? You will never memorize that sort of magnificent password. The upside? You do not have to. When you login to the service you copy your credentials (username and password) from the 1Password app and paste it into the fields. Better still you can sync your credentials across your devices. Using Dropbox I have my 1Password credentials data shared on my iMac, iPhone, and iPad mini, as well as on my wife’s iPhone and her iPad.

It did take me a few weeks to get things setup the way I wanted them but now I am using 1Password to generate and manage over 140 different sets of credentials, and counting. Now all I have to do is remember that darn pin number for my debit card.

Owen

Cutting Our Cord

September 18, 2014

There was a time when we watched a lot of television in our house. With a Toddler to keep up with we are now way below the national average which evidently is five hours a day if we are to believe what was reported by the New York Daily News.

2877784014_49e1b24606_z(Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/spin_spin/)

My wife watches less than an hour a day all while she gets in her daily workout. I watch about an hour a day in the evenings. We might also sorta kinda maybe watch an hour together after dinner in between bath and play time. As a result we decided to get rid of our cable and the bill that goes along with it. There is certain programming that we did not want to live without. With all of the options we were able to cobble together solutions that covered everything.

1. Netflix
2. Hulu
3. Plex
4. Tablo TV
5. ESPN3
6. iTunes

All of these combined might cost us $20 a month. Most of these are, or could be with a little negotiating, more or less free. I did pay for the Table DVR and OTA HDTV antenna but after that all of what I pull out of the air and record is free.

We have only been cable free for a few weeks. So far so good.

Owen

Preordering the iPhone 6 Plus

September 15, 2014

I should have taken his advice. He had been thru this before. ATT just does not do preorders for iPhones very well. At all. Not even close. In fact, and now I have heard this from multiple trusted sources, combined with my own experience, never ever ever preorder any Apple device anywhere but at the Apple Store Online. Ever.

image

Preorders were available on the Apple website on Wednesday midnight PST. Per normal servers crashed but people got in and got to order. I waited and preordered on the ATT website on Thursday mid morning. Rookie. I got a notice that my phone would be shipped around the end of November. The end of November? Really? I pondered the issue two days and on Sunday decided that I could do better. I called and canceled my preorder. The CSR said it would take two business days for my upgrade to be reinstated. Nope. In two hours I went onto the Apple Store app on my iPhone and ordered my new iPhone 6 Plus. The clincher? Shipping due around mid October. Not great but about 45 days sooner than ATT. Lesson learned.

Owen

Google recently announced that on July 1, 2013 its RSS Reader will no longer be available. In preparation, I read several posts about what the best replacement options might be and landed on NetNewsWire. After a few weeks, I now prefer it to Google Reader. Here are a few reasons why.

In addition to the video, here are a few useful links to help you along:

http://netnewswireapp.com

http://www.forbes.com/sites/eliseackerman/2012/11/29/how-to-backup-all-your-google-data-in-60-seconds-or-less/

http://blackpixel.com/blog/2013/03/the-return-of-netnewswire.html

Blogs Referenced in the Video:

http://www.dilbert.com
http://thestonesoup.com/blog/
http://mashable.com

Owen W Brown

Know anybody that’s had their computer crash? Did they lose any of their valuables? Pictures, music, financial records? It’s a painful experience yet for most of us the answer is “Oh, my, god, YES.” The bad news is if you own a computer the question is not IF it will fail but WHEN it will fail. So what to do? Get redundant.

Huhh? Okay, I’ll make this simple. Answer the question “How important is my data?”. Now, look for your answer below. Your redundancy solution will follow including approximate cost.

(1) My Data Isn’t Important. Solution: Do nothing. Cost? Free (but is it really?)

(2) My Data Is Sort of Important. Solution: Backup only your critical data once a week / month on a portable hard drive you picked up on the cheap at Best Buy. Cost? Less than $100 (which in turn represents how much you value your data.)

(3) My Data is Important to Me. Solution: Setup Time Machine to automatically backup versions of all important files on your computer. Now that sounds fancy! How do I implement this fanciness? If you have a Mac it’s easy.

First, I suggest you buy a highly rated external hard drive that has at least two to three times the storage space as your computer. If you buy something like the G-Drive, it’s plug and play for the Mac so you just plug it in, open the Time Machine settings on your Mac.

Time Machine

Before you turn Time Machine on select your new external hard drive by clicking Select Disk.

Select Disk

Choose your new hard drive from the list and click Use for Backup. Turn Time Machine to ON. That’s it. You’re set! Time Machine automatically saves up-to-date copies of everything on your Mac. This includes all of your photos, music, videos, documents, applications, and settings. If you ever have the need, you can easily go back in time to recover anything. Cost? Depends on the hard drive you buy. The G-Drive is around $160 but it’s one of the best. However, you can get by much cheaper. The Time Machine application comes with your Mac so it’s free.

Windows user? Like I said, my personal computer is a Mac. Therefore, I have implemented a Mac based solution. Windows users can set this up in much the same way but will need to use different software. Do a Google Search for “Time Machine for Windows” or check out Genie9 which looks pretty slick. Additional Cost: $40.

(4) My Data is VERY important to me. Solution: Implement everything in number three and consider including one or more of the following.

Bonus Solution No. 1: Use an online backup service such as Backblaze. I give credit to a friend of mine for doing the research and recommending this service to me. Cost? For $5 a month I can have a secure hassle free backup of all my data. Come fire. Come flood. I’m backed up.

Bonus Solution No. 2: Backup offsite. Backblaze is easy and online, and thus, offsite. However, if your data is mission critical I suggest backing up to an external hard drive once a week / month and carrying the drive to an different secure location. Offsite = not at your house or office or wherever your primary data source is located. Cost? The cost of another (I suggest identical) hard drive and your time transporting it offsite (maybe to a friend’s house).

Bonus Solution No. 3: Whenever I upload new pictures I save them to my local drive but I also save a copy to my HP Media Server. I call the local copy Livework and the server copy Rawdata. I picked up this naming convention and much of the inspiration for this project from Chase Jarvis. Cost? Servers aren’t cheap.

Is this overkill? Perhaps. I also have more insurance than I probably need. Unless of course I need it.