Use a Password Database: Keepass Password Safe

The last time that I checked, I found I was using at least 16 different user names and over 20 different passwords to log in at various sites across the internet.  This proved to be quite a memory test — especially for the less visited sites.  (No, I was NOT writing them all down somewhere or putting them on Post-Its stuck to my monitor frame.)  And since the other obvious alternative of simplifying to one or two passwords seemed an equally bad security practice, I decided to find a software solution.

A quick search for password databases turned up a great (and totally free) solution: Keepass Password Safe.

main_window

This is Open Source software that comes in four flavors (all are free):  Classic Edition, Professional Edition and a portable edition for each that is suitable for installing on a USB flash drive.  The Professional Edition supports more operating systems (Mac, Linux, all Windows from 98 to 7) and some customizations that the Classic Edition doesn’t support.  Keepass has also been ported to versions compatible with your smartphone.  You can read all about the program and its features at their webpage.

I found it easy to use (the site, lifehacker.com picked it as the best password manager) and I liked these features:

  • Strong security (the entire database is strongly encrypted)
  • One Master Password decrypts all others
  • One database file to transfer between computers
  • Auto-type can be setup with a hot key sequence and a URL address to automatically fill in the right credentials for the webpage you are on.  For instance, if Keepass is running and I’m on the log in page for my Amazon.com account, I just type ctrl-alt-a and my username and password are filled in for me.
  • The expected database goodness: categories, sorting, searching, updating, comments
  • It’s free! No ads, toolbars or junk installed.

And there are many more features that I don’t use.

Edit UPDATE (Feb 2013):  I now also use this on my Kindle Fire HD.  This version is called KeePassDroid and is available from the Amazon Apps for Android store (for free!).  The interface is optimized for phone use so it’s a little simplistic for a tablet, but it works.

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Basic 3 Tarot — Card Game

I played poker with a Tarot deck — got a full house.  Two people died. — Steven Wright

This is the first program I’ve completed using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  Although I started coding it in Visual Basic then converted the project when I was about 60% through to WPF.  Why do this?  I needed some animation and simple image control manipulation which would be a pain in VB but a piece of cake in WPF.  I copied and pasted my VB classes and windows directly into my new WPF project.  Then I tackled the syntax differences like Label.Text => Label.Content and recreated the VB windows as WPF pages using the same control names whenever possible  in Expression Blend ( e.g., VB PictureBox ppb1 became WPF Image ppb1).

I made the card animations as Storyboards in Expression Blend and set up to trigger them from the VB code. This snippet shows how the animation is triggered from code with BeginStoryboard().

'use this to deal dog cards
 Dim d As Animation.Storyboard 
 d = CType(Me.FindResource("DealDog"), Animation.Storyboard) 'assign the Blend animation
     For i As Integer = 1 To 6 'turn on card visibility
          ImageVis("dpb", i, True)
     Next 
 Me.BeginStoryboard(d)  'play animation

I was impressed by how easy it was to create and modify these animations in Expression Blend.  As a long-time VB coder it took me awhile to understand how WPF uses project resources (for instance, loading an Image.Source from a relative project resource folder – in this case imagen is a StringBuilder object containing “/Images/Cards/back0.gif”),

Dim bm As New BitmapImage 
bm.BeginInit()
   bm.UriSource = New Uri(imagen.ToString, UriKind.Relative)
   bm.DecodePixelWidth = 83
bm.EndInit()
pb.Source = bm  'assign the card image to the WPF Image pb

and there were more than a few things that cannot be done in WPF (like setting a random screen destination for an animation).  Overall, I’m happy with the result.  If you are interested, the Visual Studio source code is available on CodePlex.

Basic 3 Tarot – the game is available as freeware.  Here’s a link to the Windows install package:

Installer package

b3t

Updated version of GCard

GCard is a golf card database program that I wrote for personal use.  It’s now available to anyone as freeware.  You enter scores and putts for each hole and it provides many statistics and charts, in addition to serving as a lifetime archive for your golf cards.

The latest version is 1.1.  I’ve had to change how charts are done, so they now all have a smoother appearance.   Each of the forms was also slightly changed to improve readability.   Some charts now show trend lines and use “smart labeling” so labels don’t overwrite each other.  Also all of the dates in charts are specific  as opposed to using “earliest” and “latest” in the previous version.  Some new general statistics were added including: average putts on par 3’s, par 4’s and par 5’s, and number of eagles.  The current installation package includes one years’ worth of my data (58 rounds), which can be deleted on the “Options” page to start your own database.

The program runs with administrator privilege on Vista machines, so now a pop up appears every time you start the program in Vista.  I gave it elevated privileges because I want to make it easier to locate the data files (in the Program Files folder) for future updating.  Extended help, screen shots and advice for users can be found in the Users Manual PDF file placed in the application folder during installation.

Database Statistics (20) Charts (11)
  • % greens in regulation (%GiR)
  • scores & putts vs time
  • max. 200 players and courses
  • average putts & putts/GiR
  • adjusted & net scores vs time
  • max. 2000 golf cards w/ up to 4 scores/card
  • scrambling %
  • %(birdie, par, bogie) per hole for each course
  • search and print any card
  • ave score and ave putts on par 3,4,5
  • %GiR/hole & putts/hole for each course
  • comments for cards & courses
  • ave # birdies, pars, bogies, etc. per round
  • ave score and handicap index vs time
  • scores & putts
  • ave raw and adjusted scores
  • %GiR and putts/GiR vs time
  • tee boxes & course handicaps
  • lowest round, lowest # putts
  • # rounds/courses played
GCard main window

CookieEater — Visual Basic Application

This is a simple cookie deletion tool, that handles the selective deletion of cookie files in one user-specified folder. The idea behind this is the use of keywords (specified by the user) to give some flexibility in choosing cookies to keep.  If a keyword does not appear anywhere in the cookie file name then that cookie will be marked for deletion.  So for example, if ‘forum’ is entered as a permitted keyword, then any cookies with ‘forum’ in their name would be saved. In the user interface (shown below) the cookies to be deleted have a check mark, which can be un-checked by the user.

CookieMain

If the ‘Use Keyword list’ option is un-checked, then all cookies will be checked for deletion.  The buttons under the ‘Permitted Keyword List’ are used to Add, Remove or Reset the list items, respectively. To perform the deletion click the big ‘Eat up!’ button on the upper right.   Click the little ‘question mark’ button to display help.

To automatically run the program with your settings, add it as a task in Task Scheduler, using the /a command line argument ‘CookieEater.exe /a’.

The installation files can be found by following the download link.  Download, unzip and run setup.exe.