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Monthly Archives: July 2009

There is a plugin for GNOME Do that shorten URLs, so you don’t have to have an ugly bookmarklet in your bookmarks bar.  Simply go to your GNOME Do preferences and enable the TinyURL plugin.  Now go to a site and copy the URL in the address bar.  Then open GNOME Do with Super Key + Spacebar and type tinyurl.  Then press tab and select the Selected Text option.

GNOME Do's TinyURL Plug-In

You should now have a TinyURL.  Now press TAB and use the Down Key to select Copy to Clipboard.  Press Enter and paste it in your Twitter or Identi.ca message.  Now you can add URL shortening to GNOME Do’s feature list, as if it didn’t do enough already.

Irssi is a really simple command-line IRC client.  To install it, use apt-get or yum.  There is no configuration required.  Simply run irssi -c (server) -n (nickname) and once it connects to the server, type /channel and enter the channel you want to chat on.  When you want to disconnect, use /disconnect and when you want to quit, use /exit.

Why You Should Use It

There are many reasons for using irssi, but simplicity and the lack of a GUI are the two main ones.  The lack of GUI really helps if you are on an older machine or if want to use it remotely using SSH.  It also doesn’t get in your way because it doesn’t have all of the options that other IRC clients do.

As mentioned in my KeePassX article, Dropbox is a great file syncing/backup service.  It supports all three major platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and makes file syncing a snap.  To get Dropbox, go to http://www.getdropbox.com/ and download the client.  If you are on Ubuntu, you may want to add the repositories and install it with sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox.  To do so, add the repositories listed below to your /etc/apt/sources.list.

deb http://linux.getdropbox.com/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://linux.getdropbox.com/ubuntu jaunty main

Once you have the client installed, you have to log out and log back in.  Then go to your Applications menu and launch Dropbox.  It is in the Internet section.  Complete the steps that follow.  Once you have your account created and Dropbox running, you can access it by going into the Dropbox folder in your home directory.  You can also use the web interface by logging into the Dropbox site.  Now you can add files to your Dropbox and the files will be sent to their servers and synced to your other computers instantly (as long as they have Dropbox installed).

Dropbox

Dropbox is a great service.  It is stable, it looks professional, and essentially replaces the USB stick.  I have had no problems at all so far.  I’m actually considering the upgrade to 50gb of storage space which only costs $9.99 a month, even though the free 2gb service is working great.  You can actually get more storage for free if you tell your friends about Dropbox.

Syncing works fine.  You put a file in the Dropbox directory and in seconds, every computer you have Dropbox installed on has the file.  The public folder support, which allows you to publicly share files is slick too.  I don’t have a use for it myself, but it could be just what you’re looking for.  If you put files in Dropbox’s Photos directory, you can have a photo gallery online as well.

Dropbox is not perfect.  It does have some really minor issues.  One of them is RAM usage.  Dropbox uses about 32mb of RAM idle.  While this is by no means huge, it could be an issue on certain netbooks that have limited RAM available.  Also, Dropbox only supports Nautilus, the GNOME file manager.  Thunar and Dolphin are not supported.  Hopefully Dropbox will add support for them in the future.  My last “issue” with Dropbox is the lack of many storage options.  They have great prices ($9.99 a month for 50gb is really cheap), but I think people would want options for sizes like 5gb or 10gb as well.  I would gladly pay $1.99 a month for a 5gb option, which is what most people need.

If you haven’t already, you should get Dropbox.  There’s no reason not to.  It gives you 2gb of storage for free.  That alone is worth the download in my opinion.  Dropbox is the best file syncing service available and is a great application for people with multiple computers.

Most of us could care less about security.  We use easy passwords and leave our login credentials out in the open.  We do these things for convenience, but at the cost of security.  So how do we balance the two?

There are many ways to keep your accounts secure and private.  To secure an account, you need to have a good password.  I recommend using this site.  Every time you go there, you will get a random string of characters to use as a password.  Just select as many characters as you want and copy and paste it as your password.  The only problem is, they are long and random, making them hard to remember.  Fixing this is easy with KeePassX.

KeePassX is a free and open-source password manager that securely stores all of your login information in a database.  Why is it better than Firefox’s built-in manager?  Well, for one, you can access this database either with a password or a key file.  A key file is simply a file that you must present to the program in order to unlock the database.  This gets rid of the need for a password, making it much more convenient and secure.

To install KeePassX on Ubuntu, simply check the box next to it in Add/Remove Programs.  To launch it, go to your Applications menu and then to your Accessories menu and click on the KeePassX entry.  Once you start it, you need to create a database.  To do this, go to File, and then New Database.  In the window that pops up, uncheck the box next to Password and check the box next to Key File.  Then click on Browse and select the file you want to use as the key.  Make sure that this file will never be deleted.  Keep a backup just in case.  Once you choose a file and click OK, your password database will be created.

Now it is time to add your accounts.  Right click on a group in the left pane and select Add New Entry.  Add a title, your username and password for that site, and click OK.  Just repeat this for all of your accounts and when you are done, click the floppy disk icon to save.  To login to sites now, open KeePassX, select the account you want to use, right click on it, select Copy Username to Clipboard, and paste it into the username field on the site.  Then select Copy Password to Clipboard and paste it into the password field.

If you have multiple computers (or even if you don’t), KeePassX in combination with Dropbox can be amazing.  You can put your database file (it’s encrypted, so don’t worry about security) into your Dropbox to sync it with all of your computers.  As long as that computer has KeePassX or KeePass (the Windows version) installed, it can use the file.  This is perfectly secure because your database requires the key file to be opened, so even if someone gets the database file, they can’t use it.  Just make sure you have the key file on all of your computers to do this.  If you don’t have multiple computers, consider Dropbox as a free backup solution for your database.

If you followed these steps correctly, you should have a convenient and secure way to manage your passwords.  If you have a question, concern, idea, or solution, leave a comment and for those of us in the USA, have a great 4th of July weekend!