The Simple Way to Use KeePass Password Safe

keepassWith Russian hackers cracking the secure files of every major website in the country every few weeks, and starting to work on the smaller guys, too, if you haven’t been using KeePass Password Safe it’s time to start. It’s free. KeePass stores your passwords in encrypted form and lets you copy and paste them into logins without using any keystrokes. That prevents keyloggers from stealing your login information. When disaster strikes and suddenly you need to create and revise a long list of important passwords, KeePass does much of the work for you with a simple password generator and automatic features for updating password files.

KeePass provides so many advanced features that upon opening the program for the first time, the average user might find it very intimidating. The website offers two versions: Classic, a simplified version suitable for the home user; and Professional, the one with all the bells and whistles. Either one gives you the best password security available, and is equally simple to use. If you go with the Pro, you’ll get options you probably will never look at, but it’s interesting to poke around in them just for fun.

The simple approach to using KeePass involves nothing more than Right Click, Left Click and some straightforward menu selections.

Start by choosing one master password that’s easy enough to remember, that’s the one you will use to open Keepass. Write it down and keep it someplace at home just in case you forget it.

When you open KeePass, a menu of password categories appears on the left, like “Internet”, so you can organize your passwords. Right click on a blank space in the menu box to create a new folder you can name, or change the name of existing folders by right clicking on the listing.

Left click on a folder to see what’s in that category. On the right hand side of the program you see a list of passwords you have filed, or an empty box if you haven’t done any. Right click on the open space to get an action menu and select “Add Entry” to start a new one.

Choose a name for it; enter your user name; and either enter your current password or create a new one for updating an existing account. Click on the box with “…” to the right to reveal the password. When it’s revealed you can copy and paste and it won’t delete it from the clipboard on your computer until your machine does it’s housecleaning or copies something over it. For best security, work with it when it’s concealed behind the string of …….. You can copy and paste the password by highlighting the dot string and using right click/copy. Keepass gives you a brief interval to paste it to your updated login page and then deletes it from the clipboard automatically. All the data is encrypted until you actually paste it in the account.

Below the “…” box, see another box with a key in it. Click on that to use their password generator. KeePass already made a new password for you when you opened the entry box, but here you can choose a new one that’s also randomly generated, and you can tailor the rules to fit the account you are working with. If the account wants less than 16 characters, a number, upper and lower case and a special character, you can set those rules here. I always use the first option, “Generate from Character Set”, but you have other options here that will make things even more random. So, set your rules, punch OK, and KeePass creates and enters the password in the Add Entry box.

Enter the URL of the login page.

Click OK in the Add Entry box and your new password file shows in the folder space.

Left click on an entry in the list and the details come up at the bottom of the program box. Click on the URL link there to open the login page in your browser.

Right click on an entry in the list to get the working menu. Here you can copy either user name or password and paste them someplace new, then KeePass deletes them from the clipboard after that short space of working time. Here you find other essential options, so you can view the entry details, edit the entry to change the password, etc.

KeePass includes important failsafe features for saving files. If you edit a password, create a new one, and your account won’t take it for some stupid reason, you can get the old password back by closing Keepass and saying NO!!! when it asks if you want to save changes. If you don’t save then the next time you open the program and go to that entry, you’ll get the old password. KeePass will always ask about saving changes when it closes, if you change any of the stored information, and unless you save manually first, you can still get your old info back. I’ve needed that several times.

When you update passwords, a neat feature called “Derive from old password” tumbles the character string of the old password into a new random sequence, ensuring that your new choice abides by the rules of that login site. Pretty handy if the account has stupid rules. One I use allows every character except comma and apostrophe and it can take me several tries before I read the fine print and figure this out once again. If I scramble the old password, it eliminates trouble.

Best thing, KeePass creates encrypted passwords that are too hard to remember mentally and remembers them for you, so all you need to do is copy and paste. You’ll only need to remember the master password for KeePass to get quick access to everything else.

KeePass will print a hard copy of all your user names and passwords if you want something that won’t fail when your computer does. Or you can copy the encrypted KeePass password file and store it online or on removable media. The KeePass website offered a free portable version for those who want their passwords available on USB sticks.

Practice on something not very important first, but KeePass isn’t hard to learn. There are tons of things in it that you don’t need, but the stuff you do need is pretty simple.

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Watching the Ebola “Happy News”

Beans and squash and "happy news"

Beans and squash and “happy news”

Pole beans coming on strong now, this year is like the perfect storm of gardening and anyone who doesn’t know me would think I’m hoarding food in case there’s an ebola epidemic here. Nah, I just do this. Of course, if there is an epidemic I’ll be ready for it. I still watch the news and I’ll be very relieved when August 15th passes and Nigeria reports no new cases.

What ticks me off about the news lately is that just in the past couple of days, after the CDC issued their highest travel warning regarding west Africa, I see a shift in the media from informative but scary reporting to “happy news.” I used to write happy news for the U.S. Army, and I know how it feels to submit a good story and be told, well, nicely done, but that not really the message we want to project. Do it again and come up with a positive spin.

Up front in the news, the infected doctor arrives in Atlanta and walks into the hospital on his own, wearing a quarantine suit. Everyone is surprised he’s doing so well, gee whiz, maybe this ebola thing isn’t so bad.

Elsewhere the big ebola story is about how silly Americans are to have panicked over such a thing. Sure, we can expect a few cases to pop up here, but we’ll stop it before it spreads because we have a modern health care system.

I disagree with many things in these reports and I recognize a lot of positive spin, such as a remark by a doctor that we only wear these protective suits because there’s no vaccine and no actual cure as yet, not because the disease is especially contagious. I want to ask about the sixty health care workers in Africa who have died of this disease since the epidemic began. I want to know how many of them wore the protective gear. That sixty have died means that a hundred were infected, and to me it seems like a lot considering the level of precaution taken. But that’s just panic thinking, apparently.

I wonder about the expression of the South Carolina emergency room doctor being interviewed about a false alarm there, someone walked in who thought they might have ebola and everyone was relieved that clearly they weren’t in the right place at the right time. She looked worried, as though she was thinking about everything they did wrong and what would happened to the hospital if it actually had been ebola. In Lagos they shut the hospital down for a week for disinfection and quarantined staff.

What actually will happen here, if someone with the first stages of ebola goes to an emergency room, is that they will be put on a waiting list and be told to have a seat. By the time someone makes the diagnosis, other people have potentially been infected, and now you have the Lagos situation all over again.

Scariest part of this ebola is that it isn’t always as lethal as the old strain, the infected American doctor being one example of this, able to walk on his own after ten days of illness. Some severe cases mimic malaria, which made it easier to spread in Africa. In other victims the early stages resemble flu, and some people recover without having the major form of the illness.

Here, that’s the thing to worry about, the variant that spreads because in this country many people still can’t afford health care and do go to work when they have the flu. The working poor here will work until they literally can’t stand up any longer. A sick person handing out french fries in a fast food restaurant is the person to fear, if any clusters of ebola do pop up here.

Being concerned about these possibilities isn’t panic, and I haven’t seen any evidence of panic in this country. I have seen many people seriously worried because terrible things are happening in Africa, doctors there are trying to make authorities comprehend that the situation is out of control and spreading, and for quite a long time we saw absolutely no response from our government at all, except to tell us not to worry because if it happens here we will stop it.

That’s the wrong policy. The right one is not to let it happen here at all. Get busy and stop it in Africa, prevent it from getting here.

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More Blatant Misinformation about Ebola

Adding up the numbers while I pick the beans.

Four more quarts of beans and some more bad news about ebola.

First the good news, the people in charge are beginning to respond as though this is something different. An airline has canceled flights to infected countries, heads of state have confabbed about what to do now, and some centers of infection are now completely quarantined. Nigerian officials are looking for 30,000 people who might have been exposed to the virus when Patrick Sawyer walked through several airports on his last journey. Those people are considered at risk for infection and no one knows who they are, but the authorities are at least trying to warn them. At this point, if you might have been in the same building or the same vehicle as Patrick Sawyer that final day, you’re advised to seek medical care if you get even a sniffle or a fever. That’s smart.

No one thought this beast could travel when the epidemic started, and no one thought it would last this long and go this far. It’s proven it’s learned some new tricks, and even the CDC is taking notice now. I felt a little bit comforted by this, although it might be a little bit late for a change in tactics. At least they are being changed. I do still see a difference between what we are told and what is actually happening. For example, we are being told that this ebola can’t spread through the air, and in an interview a medical expert actually said he would not be afraid to sit next to Patrick Sawyer on an airplane. That guy needs to rethink his plans.

Looking back on how this epidemic began, a news story says that a woman in Guinea returned from a trip to the market, feeling ill. Where she got the virus, no one knows, but we’re sure it wasn’t that day. Patient Zero’s sister cared for her until she died, and afterwards became ill herself. Her husband worked at a plantation in Liberia and she decided she’d go see him because she was scared. Ebola victims in the past haven’t been able to travel, got hit too hard and too fast. This lady did just fine, like Patrick Sawyer. She took a taxi to Monrovia, sharing it with five other people, all of whom caught ebola from her and died. Did they all lick her sweat and swallow it? Most likely they did not. They were simply in the same car together. How many people got that close to Patrick Sawyer on his last trip? No one knows, but a sneeze or a cough and a confined space or a lucky hit by a spit globule is enough to spread this one. So far, 60 health workers have died from this one, and they wear protective gear.

Patient Next took a motorcycle taxi from Monrovia to the plantation, rode on the back of it with a guy that later on the health officials tried really hard to find. You have to hug somebody to ride on the back of a bike, and once again it shows that she lasted long enough to travel through difficult circumstances without serious problems. Sawyer got off his last flight before he was too sick to stand up. How many people do you know who go to work when they know a doctor would tell them to stay home in bed?

Never mind, it can’t happen here. Or so they say.

Beans, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes today, more than I can eat. Excellent year for the garden and it’s starting to look like I might need the food stash later. At least there are no fast zombies reported yet.

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