KeePass Password Manager

These days it’s more important than ever that you have a good strong password that’s different for each account you have, keeping track of all these can be quite complicated so having a password manage makes life much easier, you could of course write them down but that has its own risks such as someone reading them or more likely you losing them.

Many people rely on the password managers built in to web browsers, however this is a very bad idea, since there is often no encryption and it can be quite easy to fool the web browser in to giving the stored passwrds which is why I strongly advise people to stop using it.

KeePass

5i7dbt7

Main window

KeePass is a very popular password manager which has been around since 2006, it has many of the features you would expect from such a mature application such as:

  • Encrypted password database
  • Password categories & search
  • Autotype system that doesn’t need browser plugin
  • Password generator
  • Plugins to add more options
  • Free and open source

KeePass was orginally written for Windows but now many ports are available for different operating systems, KeePassX in partiular supports many platforms.

nogljqw

Password generator

There are of course other applications available that do more or less the same, however most are not open source and many depend on cloud based storage which in my opinion could be a security risk since the database is out of your control.

After using KeePass for quite a few years I could never go back to the old way of managing passwords, using this I can use passwords far longer than I could ever be botherd to type which greatly improves security, unfortunately there are still some websites out there that have arbitary limits on password length, PayPal in particular is a good example of this stupidity.

How not to lose your password database

With KeePass which is not cloud based there is always a risk you could lose the password database, one way around this is to have a cloud hosting account with a simple password you can easily remember, it isn’t vital to protect the database since it’s already encrypted, you can then synchronize the database whenever you make changes.

Like anything it’s still a good idea to make periodic offline backups.

Advertisements

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead

pp6tlwy

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a very fun open source roguelike game currently under active development, unlike a traditional fantasty roguelike this is set in a post apocalyptic world that has been overrun with undead zombies and various other monsters, the only goal is for you to survive, which, like most roguelikes is quite a challenge.

The World

As is typical there is quite heavy use of proceedural generation to produce the game world, this consists mainly of random cities connected by roads, in each city there are various buildings such as houses, hardware shops, grocery stores, etc, which can all be looted provided you can get past the monsters that is.

zxpyhwj

World map showing explored areas

In addition to the standard buildings there are a variety of larger buildings such as shopping malls, hospitals and apartment buildings along with much more dangerous but highly rewarding locations.

Despite the world being essentially unlimited it doesn’t really feel empty, there is always a zombie or human (friendly or not) to to keep you company, you will also come across various situations such as a drugs deal gone bad for some easy loot, as well as situations that could get you brutally killed.

The Character

Once a world has been generated you make a character by choosing their starting scenario, profession, traits, attributes and skills, each of these costs points which you can gain by picking something negative, such as a harder starting scenario.

Like a real person your character needs to eat, drink and sleep, for new players this can be a fairly daunting task but you’ll eventually get the hang of it, you will likely die quite often and like most roguelikes this deletes your save, however your character will remain in the world so you can potentially recover your equipment, assuming your dead corpse has not walked off yet.

Performing various actions increases your skills which make you more effective in combat as well as unlocking new crafting options which are vital for your survival, you can also read books you find to rapidly increase your skills.

hpraqq0

Game interface with tileset graphics

One particularly interesting aspect is that each item has a volume as well as a weight, so for example empty plastic bottles may have little weight but they take up significant volume, good choice of clothing and other accessories can increase how much you can carry at the expensive of greater encumberment, clothing is also vital to keep you warm particularly in winter, this may sound inconvenient but there are plenty of ways to move a large number of items.

The Crafting

The crafting and construction system is one of the highlights of Cataclysm, there is a huge number of useful, and not so useful items you can produce from high quality food to improvised firearms, the construction system also allows you to build you own shelter among other things.

l4jlxbq

Crafting screen

Vehicles play an important role, since the world is quite large and resources limited you may find you eventually need to move, vehicles are essentially mobile bases and you can outfit them as you wish (provided you have the skill and parts), in a way this gives the game a very Mad Max vibe as you mow down zombies with your giant death fortress.

Conclusion

Cataclysm is a very difficult game to master but also very rewarding, new content is constantly being added and there are a variety of mods that add even more stuff, don’t let the simple graphics and controls put you off giving this game a go.

I suggest downloading the experimental build as the stable one is extremely out of date.
Website

Foreground Reference Utility

This is a very handy tool I found some time ago that lets you overlay an image on the screen, you can adjust the opacity as well as freeze it so you can manipulate the window below it, similar to a layer in photoshop or any other image editing program.

This is incredibly useful in a number of situations where a method to overlay an image is not available, I often use this in PCB design to verify my dimension are correct when drawing a component footprint.

nhevafr

Once you have the reference image where you want you can lock it by clicking the ‘Overlay’ button, to unlock it again just hit F1.

Download
SHA-1 Checksum: 8aca82bdc28e02493e4364688f6c569cd6600f5b

Useful Free Windows Tools

There are lots of tools that greatly improve the usability of Windows but for one reason or another are often quite obscure.

Process Monitor

vst6ufl

This is an extremely useful tool that allows you to monitor file activity, process activity, registry activity, network activity and more in real time so you can find out exactly what applications are up to.

You can get it here.

Process Explorer

4slhio8

This is a much more useful process manager than the one built in to Windows, aside from a wide range of resource monitors it can show all the loaded dll and other files which can be very handy if you run in to the common problem of being unable to delete a file since it’s open in another process, a lot more information is available as well such as active network connections, threads, GPU usage for example.

You can get it here.

Visual Subst

jusc8d3

This is a graphical interface for the subst command which allows you to map folders to virtual drives, you can of course do it with the command but this is easier, particularly if you make regular changes.

You can get it here.

SuperF4

icon128

One of the most annoying aspects of Windows is how hard it is to kill some full screen applications, with Linux you can almost always switch to a virtual terminal and kill it there but with Windows unless you have a second monitor you’re stuck.

This handy little tool runs taskkill /f on the active full screen application when you hit ctrl + alt + F4, this is far more likely to work than the regular alt + F4 which can be ignored by programs, it also has a feature like xkill which lets you click on the window you wish to kill.

You can get it here.

f.lux

qrh3cfx

Pretty much one of my favourite applications for Windows, it adjusts the color temperature of the monitor at night time to reduce eye strain and give better sleep, after using it for some time I can definitely say it helps, it may seem strange at first but your eyes quickly get used to the more orange color to the point where you don’t even notice it.

You can get it here, it’s also available for Linux and more.