Monthly Archives: December 2008

Security and the Mobile Web

locks of age Today nearly every web site is an application of some sort, and requires a username & password.  That’s great but it’s difficult to remember many passwords so what to do?  Using the same password across all sites makes it easy to remember but is hardly secure; if your account on one site gets compromised you’re laying your accounts on all sites open to attack.  A better way is to use a different password for each account but how do you remember them?

One way is to use some kind of password scheme such as combining a standard secret code with a code derived from the site name to form the password for that site.  But again this is not totally secure as one password being compromised gives the attacker the secret part that is in all your other passwords and simplifies figuring out your scheme.

Another way; and the one I use is to use a password database application such as KeePass Password Safe to both manage your credentials.  I do this; allowing KeePass to generate passwords for me and automatically enter my credentials into login forms at the press of a hotkey.  This works very well and I have hundreds of passwords stored, most of which I’ve never even seen.  Not only are these passwords automatically generated but the fact that I don’t need to remember them means I can use nice secure passwords like “y. I&DSe%b”.

This is where problems arise with the mobile web.  Yesterday I was out and wanted to tweet from my phone so I opened Slandr in Opera Mini only to see the login page; must have been too long since I last used Slandr and the cookie expired.  So I was stuffed, being out and nowhere near my computer or access to my KeePass database to look up the password.  Even if I had a password database on my phone it would be tricky to type in a cryptic password without copy and paste.  So what’s the alternative?  Dumb down my password scheme again to the point where I can memorise passwords for entry on my phone?  I’m not keen on that.

Photograph courtesy of Tom Hensel.

Am I the only one…

…that thinks she looks better in the before photo?



Cleaning Has Commenced

With only a week of leave left I thought I should get stuck in to cleaning up my study so that it is spic and span by the time I go back to work.  I made a start today but didn’t progress too far before I was interrupted by the need to give my son a lift to work and go and get some groceries.  But I will continue, inspired by André’s nice tidy workspace.

I have my eye on a table and office chair, both used but in good shape, at a used office furniture place up the road and went there on Christmas Eve to buy them only to find they had already closed until 5 January.  The curse of the procrastinator; I suppose I’ll just have to go back then.

I have a nice big old office desk but it only just has the width for my computer (“No lady, that big box is not the hard drive”), 22" wide-screen monitor, scanner and printer, leaving me to balance my graphics tablet on top of the scanner when neither are in use.  I would like to have my equipment spread out a bit more so I want to use the table to create an extension of my desktop so I can move the printer a bit further away.  The chair I want has slightly soiled upholstery but seems mechanically sound and at just R250 is a bargain.  The one I’m sitting on right now is ten years old and the seat foam has collapsed leaving me to sit on a pillow.  The upholstery was also shredded by an exuberant cat we used to have.  I plan to buy a piece of foam and some fabric off-cuts and reupholster it for my wife as she has a dining room chair at her desk right now.

Christmas Light Letdown

Zoomed christmas lightsWhen we lived in Gauteng we used to go into Johannesburg to see the Christmas lights every year.  It was great to drive slowly along the streets, looking at the lights as they passed overhead.

Since moving to Strand nine years ago we had never been into Cape Town to see the Christmas lights there, so yesterday we extended an outing around the peninsula into the night so that we could see them.

We were very disappointed to find that only a few blocks up Adderley Street, the road was closed off and beyond was the same melee of crowds and stalls selling every kind of plastic junk.  Just like Main Road in Somerset West during the Christmas Season.  We only went there once as we’re no fans of the noisy atmosphere at such events.

How sad that the lights in Adderley Street can’t be enjoyed as could those in Johannesburg.

It seems that others had a better experience than we did; different expectations I suppose.

Crazy Queue

The queue in the Somerset Mall branch of Woolworths was crazy this morning.  It snaked between the walls of death as usual, then disappeared down past the meat fridges and right round the back of the store.  This was around 9:30am; heavens knows what it must have been like later.

Queue in Woolworths

Oh damn, I’m lazy

I have been merely existing in my study for too long; simply pushing the junk away from my desk and putting off really cleaning up the room.  I can’t bear this any longer and must clean up now; but laziness overwhelms me.  Help!


The purple walls?  A legacy of the teenaged girl that inhabited this space before we bought it.  Not great for a study and adds to the dark, cave-like feel; I do intend to repaint the room some time, probably white, off-white or a light shade of grey.

I Hate Nero

I must have been insane when I bought a copy of Nero 8 almost a year ago.  Perhaps my judgement was clouded by tales of Nero being the ultimate tool for working with CD & DVD media.  How I wish I had saved myself some money and just looked for an open source application then.

I really just use Nero Express most of the time to burn discs as well as Nero ImageDrive to manage virtual drives that I use to load ISO images from my hard drives.  I have tried on occasion to look into some of the other applications but the user interfaces are over-complicated and the documentation is frankly shocking; so I never got very far.

The one thing that I have tried to do a few times, today being the latest; and which has prompted this rant is to copy a data DVD to an ISO file that I can later mount with the aforementioned ImageDrive.  Having previously used applications like Magic ISO Maker I would expect this to be a simple operation involving just a click or two and the selection of a file to save the disc image to, but no; Nero makes this so complicated that each occasion I have had a need to do it has prompted a session of searching for help with Google, only to end in frustration and the use of some other piece of software.

In this latest episode I recalled that LifeHacker covered the Five Best CD and DVD Burning Tools recently in their Hive Five series.  I grabbed a copy of the portable version of the top pick, InfraRecorder and had it up and running after a simple unzip; portable applications are great.  Lo and behold, there was the very thing I expected, a simple button that opens a dialogue, asks you to select the source and the destination, then gets on with the job without further ado.


So, as far as I’m concerned Nero AG might as well strike me off their mailing list right now; they’re just wasting electrons by sending me e-mails suggesting I shell out more money for Nero 9, which is probably even more bloated and complex than Nero 8 is.

Slow Start to the Holidays

I suppose it’s due to the economy that there has been a slow start to the holiday season this year.  Normally by this time our little town would be buzzing but as yet I’ve seen only a handful of cars with out-of-province plates.

This is what Strand beach looked like around 09:30 on Wednesday morning.

Crane_20081210__MG_6636  Where are all the holiday makers?

As seen below, Saturday was busier but still not as busy as I would expect at this time of year.  December 16th is traditionally the date that most people start their vacations so I expect it will get busier during this week.

Strand Beach, Saturday Afternoon

Fire Gutted House

This is one of the two houses that were totally gutted during the Gordons Bay fire on Monday night.


Fire heading towards Rooiels

Besides the flare-up above Gordons Bay there is also a fire front moving rapibly along the Kogelbaai coastline towards Rooiels.  I managed to get through onto the coast road shortly before it was closed again, and took these photos from various points along Kogelbaai.






Firefighters at Rest