Ever Been Burned? Start Using Protection

The Internet is sometimes a dangerous place. We do a lot of things online for the shear convenience of it. The average person probably at least accesses their bank accounts, credit reports, and email online. If you’re into social media and social networking, you may have at least 10 different sights that you access multiple times a day. Most of these services require a username and a password to get into.

How do you remember passwords?

Many of us use the same password for every site we access. This is obviously the most insecure way to handle your business online. Most times, that one password we picked isn’t even a secure one.

Some of us think we have a fool-proof system where you have a few different passwords:

  • A low level password for stuff that you don’t really care about
  • A mid-level password for stuff that’s moderately important
  • And a high-level password for bank accounts and such

Guess what? That method sucks too.

Why? Because if you are memorizing passwords, the likelihood that you pick a very secure one is very low. People don’t really do too well in memorizing random sequences that would make secure passwords. You probably have some mnemonic and that is the fatal flaw.

How do we get around this?

Some people allow their web browser to store all of their logins and passwords. Whenever you hit a login screen, everything is already filled in. You just click a button.

Other people turn to third-party software programs to handle this memorization for them. Most of these programs even offer the ability to create a secure password for you. So, all you have to do when you come to a login screen is…well, click a button.

Great, Problem Solved!

Not really. I sometimes switch browsers. I may even switch computers. I run three different operating systems in my house.

  • Saving a password in the browser is only useful for that one particular browser on that particular computer
  • Using a software program means that software must be installed everywhere I go, it must run on every OS I use, it must run on every browser I use, and it must somehow sync easily across computers and operating systems
  • If something happens and I’m stuck using a computer that is not mine, I’m screwed because I probably don’t know my secure passwords by heart

PassPack To The Rescue

After checking out RoboForm, Sxipper, and MashedLife, I chose PassPack.

  • RoboForm bogged down FireFox, even when not in use. Apparently, IE is the only natively supported browser and you need an adapter to use RoboForm with FireFox. This would explain all the suckage.
  • Sxipper, a very pretty FFx extension,  caused more than excessive memory usage.
  • MashedLife appears to be a simple knock off of PassPack, as you can tell in their TOS, which they haven’t even bothered to update even after these accusations. (details here at TC)

I chose PassPack for a few reasons:

  • While your passwords are stored remotely, they are never transmitted in the clear.
  • I can login securely to most websites with a single click of a bookmarklet
  • If PassPack doesn’t know how to login to a given website, I can teach it how in 3 clicks
  • The interface is pleasing to the eye
  • I can use PassPack on just about any browser on any OS
  • It handles multiple logins for the same domain elegantly (Google Accounts, for instance)

Another reason for my choice was the quick responses I got from the PassPack team when I ran into issues and had general questions.

There are many other benefits to using PassPack, including anti-phishing protection, desktop interfaces, and various glowing recommendations from Cyndy over at Profy. but you don’t have to take my word for it. Go check out these examples.

Better Beta FriendFeed Greasemonkey Script Release

FriendFeed made the beta site available, but in doing so they broke all my Greasemonkey scripts. Better FriendFeed no longer works, Cleaner FriendFeed is broke, and a few others I was using. The only solution I could come up with to make sure I could still add custom tabs was to update my Better FriendFeed script.

Features in this release:

  • Add/Remove custom tabs (access any site inside of FriendFeed so you don’t have to leave it)
  • Cleaner FriendFeed support allows clearer color indicators for your comments and your friends’ comments, as well as making the text easier to read overall
  • Change the word “Like” to another word of your choosing so that you don’t feel bad about Liking bad stuff in your feed

Whenever this actually goes live, I’ll need to make a simple update to the script because it will only work on http://beta.friendfeed.com for now.

Download Better Beta FriendFeed

Update: My main man Andrew Trinh reminded me that you have to disable the Better FriendFeed script or it will clash with the Better Beta FriendFeed script  (thanks Andrew!)

FriendFeed Beta Around the Blogosphere

Zemanta Made My Blog Fun Again…Kinda

Blog better using Zemanta

Image by chucks via Flickr

Zemanta is a plugin for Firefox (also for Flock) which suggests images and links to articles that you may wish to insert into your post. It has support for WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Typepad.com, and self-hosted WordPress installs v2.0 and up. The concept is awesome because this would make it much easier to provide more valuable content to your readers.

What’s Good?

As soon as you begin writing, Zemanta runs off and grabs items it thinks you may want to insert. These include: context links, images, tags, and links to other articles. All you have to do is click what you want from your sidebar and it’s automagically plopped into your content. All the content suggested is checked to make sure you don’t violate any copyrights.

I can’t stand filling in Tags for my blog posts. I always feel like I’m doing it wrong. But, as Jeff points out in a recent post, you should always tag your posts. Zemanta handles this for me, so I don’t have to think about it anymore. This is a huge plus if you are thinking about SEO.

Also, you can simply highlight a word (SEO above, for instance) and click the suggested link in Zemanta, and it makes the link for you. Pie and Cake.

What Kinda Sucks?

Zemanta uses a proprietary algorithm to figure out what you want. They do index your posts in order to improve their engine, but they say they won’t share with anyone outside the team. I could care less since I’m posting to a public blog.

Whenever you insert an image from the Gallery, you will be linking back to the source of the image (I’ve no clue who this “chucks” guy is, but I appreciate his photo). This could possibly be a concern for those who are trying to avoid sending user’s elsewhere. It could also affect your PR depending on who you ask.

Also, I’m not sure how many bloggers just randomly link to other blogs, so I’m not sure how useful this Articles feature is. I guess it all depends on how free you are with your link love.

There will also be links to Zemanta on items you insert, but you are free to remove them according to the Zemanta home page.

A lot of shady spammers may try and use Zemanta for evil. Don’t let this be you. Write original content and use Zemanta to take it up a notch.

Moral Of The Story?

Zemanta will allow you to easily take your posts to the next level by providing your readers with relevant images and links at the click of a button. Unless you enjoy hunting for these things on your own, you should definitely give it a shot.