KeePass – Free Software for Keeping Your Critical Information Safe.

KeePass is a free and open source password manager that easily outstrips the commercial alternatives I have encountered. I’ve been using KeePass for several years now and can’t complain one bit.

What For?

The KeePass Password Safe icon.
The KeePass Password Safe icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You shouldn’t use the same password for every site, in fact, ideally you shouldn’t be using the same password on any two sites or services you access. So, your login to your bank should not be the same as to your email or to login to your computer – and so on. If they are the same you run the risk of one site being compromised and hackers being able to gain access to a large number of your sites. When you begin to carry this best practice out in real life you find yourself with a tremendous number of passwords – and KeePass helps you securely store and manage account information.

Don’t be deceived – KeePass can keep a lot more than just username/password combinations. If you wanted to you could use KeePass to keep a private journal…

Features:

  • Utilizes advanced security methods to protect your data – for examples AES-256 and SHA-256.
  • Import/Export Features to/from many formats.
  • Allows for the creation of groups for organizing passwords.
  • Integrates with web browsers, etc. to automatically input information.
  • Robust search that allows you to quickly find records based on any word in the record.
  • Has a plugin architecture that allows for extendibility.
  • Runs on a wide variety of Operating Systems.
  • Shows you how strong your passwords are as you type them.
  • Can generate random passwords for you.

Conclusion:

I suppose I could go on…but enough said. Its a great little application – there is no reason not to use it. Go get it now. There is no excuse not to be keeping track of your accounts and no excuse for this information to be unencrypted.

Leaving DotNetNuke (DNN)…

DotNetNuke (DNN) is a popular open source content management system written in ASP.NET with Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end. I’ve been using it for a number of years on sites of mine like davemackey.net. I’ve been a fan of DNN for a number of years for a few reasons.:

  • Open Source – I’m always a fan of open source projects, not just b/c I like a free lunch as much as the next guy but also because it allows for the project to continue on beyond the lifespan of a given individual or company.
  • ASP.NET – Its only been within the last several years I’ve really begun messing around with LAMP, and for the longest time I loved ASP and then ASP.NET. Now I’ve been swung to the dark side recently, though I still find Microsoft‘s development tools to be leagues beyond the open source competition (for speed of development) and still prefer developing in a VB.NET-like syntax to C#, PHP, etc. But, this habit must die…b/c everyone else is going LAMP.
  • Simplicity – Compared to Joomla or Drupal, DNN is a breeze. Within minutes of installing the application you can have a full featured site up and running.

That said, I’m now leaving the DNN community (I’ll get to what I’m moving to in a few moments). Here are the simple reasons why:

  • Cost – While DNN itself is open source, the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole is much more oriented around cost-based. This especially holds true for the DNN third-party ecosystem of modules and skins. Both of these would have some commercial items in a similar LAMP based project, but there would be loads of free modules/skins. Not so of the DNN ecosystem.
  • Development – Feature development in DNN seems to go at a much slower pace than equivalent open source projects (though this may change with the venture capital infusion DNN recently received). One significant example is the forums module which has been without an update for well over a year and has several show-stopping bugs in the current production version.
  • Openness – While DNN is an OSS project, the sharing of news about what is happening internally as far as development as well as the ability to get the latest snapshot download to run on the bleeding edge is extremely limited.

So what am I moving to? Good question. Its not Drupal or Joomla. I find both of these overly convoluted (here come the haters). Instead I’m moving to WordPress. WordPress while initially designed as a blogging platform has extended itself significantly to include most functionality that a user could want from a CMS in the core install. Thousands of free extensions make up for whatever WordPress lacks at its core. The development pace is rapid and even minor versions include massive updates (e.g. 2.7 is awesome!). The skins/modules are free, free, free and if one module isn’t receiving development there are dozens others that are.

That said, I’m not abandoning DNN completely just yet. It works well enough for davemackey.net, ocddave.com, and a few other sites. At this juncture the cost to move them over to WordPress (in time and energy) is greater than the lost features (since these are essentially static content sites, they aren’t missing out on much). I plan to in the future – as the need arises.