Cleaning Up The Web

As web pages get more cluttered, even ad blockers don’t cut it. Medium.com pages are particularly hard to read with the huge notice they add on the bottom of the page, covering up the content and making it difficult to read.

My solution has continued to work surprisingly well for the past few years. It’s a bookmarklet that removes all sticky elements (ones that stay visible when you scroll).

The -sticky bookmarklet in action
The bookmarklet in action on a random Medium.com page

To use it, drag the link below to your browser’s bookmarks bar then click on it whenever a web page looks a little cluttered.

-sticky

Free Printable Weekly and Daily Planners

I searched high and low for free, printable PDF weekly and daily planners for my kids to be able to schedule their days and weeks. I expected to find dozens of options but was surprised to find very few. Of those few, some plastered their logos all over or declared the document could only be used by students of a particular university. Others wanted you to create an account or trade your email for the document. And others were close to what I wanted, but didn’t have 1/2 hour increments or some other small detail. It all seemed excessive for such a simple document. So I created two planners that can be freely downloaded and used for whatever purposes you can come up with.


Free Daily Planner
Download Weekly Planner


Free Daily Planner
Download Daily Planner

Happy planning!

Christmas Desktop 2018

It wouldn’t feel as much like Christmas if I didn’t update my desktop wallpaper and have a little falling snow.

My 2018 Christmas Desktop

I found the wallpaper at New Evolution Designs. Here’s the original. And the fresh falling snow is thanks to DesktopSnowOK.

Beware of Voice Phishing Scams

If a scam can fool the likes of Matt Haughey, creator of MetaFilter, it can happen to anyone. He got three calls with the caller ID of his credit union and picked up on the third. After some smooth talking they convinced him to provide his ATM card’s PIN (a huge red flag) then stole $3,400 from his account.

Brian Krebs’ blog post has the details. Bruce Schneier (a renowned security expert) echoed Brian’s recommendation.

“never give out any information about yourself in response to an unsolicited phone call.” Always call them back, and not using the number offered to you by the caller. Always.

How Secure Are Password Managers?

The idea of a password manager can seem insecure initially, because it means that a single password will reveal the gleaming treasure of all your passwords. But using a password manager is the recommendation of experts.

And if you use the same password everywhere, like many folks do, all of your passwords would be exposed if even the weakest link was broken. (Note: The weakest links are broken with morbid regularity)

I had some concerns when I first heard about using a password manager, but I have been using KeePass for years and rest easy at night. Let’s dig a little deeper so you can too.

Alternatives

  • Same password for everything – one site is exposed and the gig is up
  • Try to memorize dozens of long, hard to remember passwords – nearly impossible
  • Password card – not bad, but tedious
  • Saving passwords in your browser

None of these alternatives work as well as a password manager, or scale to hundreds of passwords. It’s not to say you should never use them, just that for the balance of convenience and security, a password manager wins out.

Attack vectors

  • A web site you use is hacked, revealing your password
  • Keylogger
  • Physical access to your machine

The first attack vector is depressingly common. LinkedIn, eHarmony, Gawker media, Sony Playstation Network and plenty more have all had their passwords exposed. When this happens I can change my password to another random password quickly and easily. The longest part of the process is finding the option in the account settings.

A keylogger is pretty much game over if you’re typing your passwords in. But password managers make an effort to be resistant to key logging. And if someone has physical access to your machine, a password manager has your passwords encrypted. If you use a relatively short inactivity timeout, your passwords would still be safe from prying eyes.

While no solution is perfect, a password manager gives you strong, random passwords for every login. I use KeePass, but there are plenty of options.

  • KeePass – Standalone application, free and open source
  • LastPass – Web site with browser extensions, free and paid plans
  • BitWarden – Apps save encrypted passwords to the cloud, free and open source (can be self-hosted)
  • 1Password – Paid plans only