Article, May 2007
Things, Thinglets, & Thingassos
By S. Jack Lewtschuk,
Monterey Bay Users’ Group-PC Columnist
Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.
Words of Wisdom
If builders built houses the way programmers build computer programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization!
Keeping Track of Multiple Passwords
Passwords are a part of our everyday life: we use them for e-mail, online banking, stock trading, shopping, blogging, etc. For good security, you should have a different password for each website you enter. But how can you remember so many passwords?
A password manager is a great way to consolidate all your passwords without compromising security. Generally, a password manager is a program that stores all of your passwords for you. All of your passwords are kept secure with—you guessed it—a password.
The key advantage to using a password manager is that you only have to remember one password. That’s not too bad. Then you can retain unique passwords for each of your various accounts without taxing your memory.
There are several pay programs that work this way. Before buying one, try KeePass (http://keepass.sourceforge.net/), a simple, free password manager. It can help you organize your passwords and also enter them into log-in forms.
How does KeePass work? After you download and install it, there are several easy steps to setting it up. The first time you open it, you have to create the file that will store your passwords. Click the “New” button at the top left of the window which will prompt you for a “Master Key.” Make it one that you can easily remember, but which someone else can’t easily guess (e.g., your birth date, your spouse/child’s/pet’s name), because it’s the password you’ll use from now on to unlock all your other passwords.
KeePass includes categories for online functions such as e-mail, home banking and others. To put a password into KeePass, select a category and then click the “Add Entry” button. You’ll be able to enter a title for the password, which will help you easily identify where the password is used.
Let’s take Hotmail as an example—an effective title for a Hotmail password could be simply “Hotmail.” You could also enter the web address where the password is required. KeePass automatically fills the password box with a random password. Chances are that it’s stronger than the password you already use for Hotmail, but to make it work, you have to log into your account and change it to match KeePass.
If you want to keep things simple, erase the pre-filled box and put in the password that you already use and click “OK”. Do the same steps for all of your everyday passwords and take a load off your memory. You can drag and drop passwords directly from KeePass. Click the password you need from KeePass and move it to the blank form on a Web page. The password will appear in the blank.
KeePass keeps your entire password file encrypted. The only way to open or read it is with your master password, so don’t lose it!
In addition to Windows, “switch-hitters” can download versions of KeePass for Macintosh, PocketPC, Palm and Linux. You can also take KeePass with you on a thumb drive by copying two files onto your thumb drive. One is the KeePass program (KeePass.exe), and the other is the file containing your passwords (the default is called Database.kdb).
Backing Up Outlook Contacts
Outlook stores all data in a single file called a “.PST file”. This file contains your contacts, e-mail, calendar items and tasks. It’s easy to back up your entire Outlook .PST file—just locate it and copy it as you would any other file. Backing up individual folders within Outlook is also easy, so you can export your entire “Contacts” list. Simply highlight “Contacts” in your Outlook folders list. Then click “File,” and “Import and Export” to open the “Import and Export Wizard.” Select “Export to a file” and click “Next,” to choose from a list of options (I recommend Microsoft Excel as the best one to choose in order to export all your contacts into a nicely ordered spreadsheet). After making your selection, click “Next.” You’ll be given the option again to select the folder you want to export. Highlight it, click “Next,” and specify the name and location where you would like to save your file (use the “Browse” button if needed), click “Next” and then click “Finish.”
You can use the same procedure with other items in the Outlook folder list. This is handy if you only want to export certain parts of your Outlook data file. You can use the files with other programs such as a “Database.” You can also use it to share information with other people. Say you want to share your contacts with friends or coworkers: just export them, and others can import your list into their Outlook program.
To import a file, click “File,” and “Import and Export.” Select “Import from another program or file,” click “Next,” and select the type of file from which you’re importing. In this case, select “Microsoft Excel” and click “Next.” Click “Browse” to locate the file you wish to import, and then select your import options. You may want to allow duplicates, or you may wish to replace duplicates with imported items. You can also specify that duplicates not be imported. Click “Next,” select the destination folder, click “Next” again, and finally, click “Finish.”
Starting Your Computer in “Safe Mode”
At some point in time you may need to start your computer in “safe mode.” You should print these instructions before continuing as they will not be available after you shut your computer down in step two.
Click “Start,” click “Shut Down,” and then in the drop-down list click “Shut down.” In the shut down window dialog box, click “Restart,” and then click “OK.” When you see the message “Please select the operating system to start” or “Windows” appears on the screen, press the “F8” key several times. Use your arrow keys to highlight the appropriate “safe mode” option, and then press “ENTER.” If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot system, choose the installation that you need to access using the arrow keys, and then press “ENTER.”u
This article may be published only by APCUG member user groups. All other uses are prohibited. When used, APCUG must be acknowledged as the source and the author credited. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.Click here to return to top