What I’m Playing: November 2011 Edition

Can’t stop playing Skyrim. So good. It has been a while since I’ve played an AAA title on the PC and been able to really push the limits of my video card. Minecraft doesn’t exactly qualify. I am still playing that, probably once a week or so. I also just picked up a wheel and pedals for Forza 4, which totally changes the game. I definitely need a TV stand or something to play it though, because my back is killing me in the current position. My coffee table is too thick for the clamp, so the wheel is constantly sliding forward. Same thing with the pedals, and my legs cramp up while I’m basically horizontal with the pedals.

Skyrim is looking to overtake all my time though. It is really, really good. I couldn’t stand Oblivion. I played it for probably 3 hours when it first came out and hated it. The world felt cold, dead, and generic. Every NPC interaction felt wooden, fake, and exactly identical to the last interaction. Skyrim has mostly fixed these problems. The world is cold still, but the location is much more fitting for that and it all just kind of works. NPC interactions feel more realistic and unique.

Combat is pretty much like Fallout 3, with most of your “skill” depending upon your character and weapon stats, plus extremely basic aiming skills. Get powerful enough in a certain skill tree and you’ll be able to CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES… until you encounter a giant who stomps your face in.

Passpack: Protecing Your Passwords Online

Over the years, my password schema has evolved to be more and more complex. With huge, professional services like Sony PlayStation Online and Steam being compromised by hackers, it seems your passwords are not safe anywhere online. This means using the same password for everything you do just isn’t smart. I have essentially three levels of passwords.

Level 1

Totally insecure but easy to remember. This is for all the services that I sign up for on a whim and don’t contain any sensitive information beyond my email. You could argue that I shouldn’t ever use an insecure password, but I’m not too worried about someone hacking my LazyMeter account (task list), for example.

Level 2

Slightly cryptic, but used often enough that I can remember it. This one has a more than 5 characters, a combination of letters, numbers and capitalization. I’ve since added the first two letters of the domain to the beginning, so that the password is unique to each service. This is great for sites that I visit regularly and on multiple devices: home computer, work computer, my phone, etc.

Level 3

Totally random, the more characters the better. I use this tool to get a long, random string for any service that requires my credit card or social security number. You could argue that I should use this level of complexity for all my passwords and so I am heading that direction.

Obviously my brain could never remember a 14 letter random string of letters, numbers and punctuation. Saving this information in a text file on my computer kind of defeats the purpose. Between browsers saving form information and sites leaving cookies, I usually don’t have to type them in. But, what if I login from a different computer, or clear my cache? Or give my login to my wife?

For that, I’ve used Passpack without issue for at least 2 years. Although there is always the risk that someone could compromise Passpack and suddenly have access to all my passwords, I’m actually less worried about that. They use multiple levels of government level security to keep your information safe. I’m much more worried about companies like eBay or Sony who are not only larger targets, but also less worried about your security. With Passpack, that’s pretty much all they do.

I’ve since started using it at work and it has been a boon for productivity. Before we were storing passwords in a database and looking them up with phpMyAdmin. Now that everything is in Passpack, it is easier to search, available remotely, and easily allows us to share individual passwords without giving access to the entire set. This is perfect for remote developers or plain new staff that we don’t quite trust yet to have every password for every client we’ve ever had.

The best part: Passpack is a freemium service. That means the basic account is free and you only pay for access to more storage and other features. For most individual users, the free account is all you need.

WIP – Work In Progress

As you can see, this blog is still a WIP. I’m planning to put my portfolio and resume back into WordPress. I’m actually thinking about changing “Portfolio” to “Projects” to allow me to better encompass all the work that I do. To me, Portfolio represents finished work and usually is more design oriented. As a Front-end Developer, I tend to work with sites that have most of the design already done. Not to mention some of my best work is in projects that aren’t “done” either because they were shelved or we’re waiting on the client, etc. Also projects is a little more informal, allowing me to simply blog about my work instead of waiting to formalize everything.

I’m using a free theme, which is fairly sparse, so I’ll try to add some color and icons and bits of design here and there to spruce it up. I don’t want to take much away from the content, but it needs some love.

In the meantime I’ll be making sure my sitemaps, analytics, and basic SEO is up and running. Just installed WordPress SEO by Yoast, now moving on to some contact forms (maybe Wufoo), Disqus, etc. Any other suggested plugins?