Password managers suck

As part of my experiment with password management I tried most of the popular password managers: KeePass, LastPass, 1password etc. Sadly though I’ve come to the conclusion that they all suck. It’s just too much hassle when you’re trying to work platform agnostic. I’m using an Android phone and tablet, a Linux PC, a Windows laptop and I’ve tried to make the password management work flawlessly on ALL platforms.

First of all, most Android apps suck in the password management space. I’ve seen a lot of apps still using Android 2.x design elements. They are built for Android versions that were released years ago and never updated. LastPass has a pretty good (premium) offering but I’m still not comfortable with storing my passwords at a third party.

The solution (for me)

I’ve been reading a lot on Hacker News about how other people manage their passwords and I’ve come to two simple conclusions:

  • Use strong passwords but remember them yourself;
  • Don’t store random, complex passwords that you can’t remember in a password manager;
  • Use Multi-factor authentication.

I’ve worked out a system for creating a complex but still easy to remember password once you know the ‘algorithm':

  1. Pick a sentence from your favourite song;
  2. Surround the sentence with special characters (! or @ for example);
  3. Use spaces in the sentence you use;
  4. Suffix your sentence with the first three of four letters from the service you’re tring to access.

I’m also using the Authy app for Multi-factor authentication on my GitHub, Gmail and Facebook accounts, and a few others. I’m trying to enable MFA everywhere they offer it.

My password manager setup

Last week I asked my Twitter followers this.

Most people came up with LastPass, which is a great product and I know a lot of friends who indeed use LastPass as their prefered password manager. But I wanted something that I could store myself as opposed to giving LastPass all of my passwords.

I knew KeePass from a previous job and started looking around for cross-platform compatiblity. I need at least a Windows, Linux and Android version. A nice to have would be a Chrome extension. Turns out KeePass files can be read by a lot of (open source/free) software.

Here’s the software I’m currently using:

I let ChromeIPass generate a password and copy-paste a new entry into KeePass myself. It would have been nice if ChromeIPass could write a new entry into the new database but you can’t have everything, right?

I’m currently generating new passwords for all of my accounts. It’s a lot of work but it doesn’t have to be done in one go. I’m changing passwords as soon as I visit a website that I haven’t changed my account details for.

What about two-factor?

For added security I’m in the process of enabling two-factor everywhere I can using the Authy app on my Android phone. It has multi-device support and it even creates backups of itself.

The experiment

I will try this setup for a few days, see how it goes and report back with another post on the current state of password management.

Messaging apps

We all know that messaging apps are the new photo-sharing apps, which were the new social networking apps, which were the new … In other words, everyone is making one and very few are succeeding.

Agreed. I have five messaging apps on my phone and none of them are really adding anything to the space. Every messaging app is a me-too product.

I can go on forever, but I will spare you the additional 300 things wrong with messaging apps today. It is 2014 and yet, teams, whether we are talking about startups, design firms, lawyers, doctors, or baseball teams, are communicating like it’s 1995. I call that ripe for disruption!

We don’t need disruption. We need our existing apps to get better and we need a few to die.

Simian UI Montage

For the upcoming independent short “SIMIAN”, a large amount of UI and HUD components were constructed to help drive the narrative and to create the appropriate atmosphere for the main character.

My favorite Android apps of 2014

This is the follow up to my 2013 post with my favorite Android apps.

Swarm: easily the best designed Android app to date.

Foursquare: easily the best designed Android app to date. Wait. Foursquare is killing it here.

Sunrise: a beautiful calendar app that ties in with your favorite social networks.

Wunderlist: the new redesigned version is a joy to use.

Flitsmeister: I bought the pro version and I can’t live without it.

Rice IRC Client: the best IRC client on Android. Nothing comes even close.

Flow: want some Reddit on your phone? This is the app to get.

Authy: multi-factor authentication for the masses. Even your grandmother can do MFA now.

IFTTT: I automated some tasks with IFTTT and now I’m free of stress. Okay, maybe not, but close!

Impressions of the LG G3 and the Quick Circle case

Some quick things I want to share about the LG G3 and the Quick Circle case.

Having used my Nexus 4 for about 18 months the LG G3 feels HUGE at first. The thin bezels are amazing and it’s really the eye catcher of this phone. I’ve now been using the LG G3 for about a month and I can honestly say, this is the best phone I’ve ever had.

There’s a lot of complaints about battery life and the size of the phone. Both are not an issue, at least for people with average-large size hands. The stand-by time on the G3 absolutely crushes the competition and everything just feels really snappy. Yes, I experienced some lag with the stock launcher but changing to ART solved that issue.

When you first boot the phone there’s some bloatware on my EU model but it wasn’t too bad. The only really annoying thing I couldn’t remove or disable was McAfee. The only solution there is to disable its device administration role. All other bloatware is easily disabled, hidden or even removed.

I think LG did a really great job at keeping true to stock Android while adding a lot of great features and handy UX tricks with the launcher.

The Quick Circle case I got for free is a really nice addition. The EU model has wireless charging built-in to the standard backplate, the US model doesn’t seem to have that feature so they need the Quick Circle case to wirelessly charge their phones. I don’t know if I’ll keep using the case, though. There’s already some build up of dust around the edges and it doesn’t feel right when you flip the cover to the back when calling. But for anyone who want to give their LG G3 a bit more protection this is the case to get, at least for now.

Mars One Way

There were 200,000 people who applied to participate in a project called Mars One. It’s a private enterprise to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars and film a reality show along the way. The idea is to go in crews of four starting in 2024. The thing is, right now the technology can only get them there.

This is quite a sad documentary about people who, apparently, have so little to live for that they are willing to leave for Mars permanently.

The photo’s North Korea didn’t want you to see

Using digital memory cards he smuggled out images of the communist nation he was forbidden to take.

In a small fishing village, where Mr Lafforgue visited multiple times, he was treated like an honoured guest. The town was so isolated they had never seen a mobile phone and they spent their days fishing and growing seaweed.

This might be seen as disaster tourism, but I love looking at pictures of daily life in North Korea. I’d love to go there some day to see first hand what it’s like to live and work there.


Some of America’s poorest people are being targeted by cyber-scammers. Can an errant hacker find the culprits?

Best long form article I’ve read in a long time.

The dark corners of your UI

It’s easy to tackle the fun projects. The projects that visibly move the needle or that blaze the trail with new technologies and processes. It’s harder to remember to check the fringes of our applications. To try out being a new user from time to time.

Cap makes an excellent argument here. I love it when a product I use is meticulously designed and maintained. Do that, and your users will know that you care about them and the product.