Archive for August, 2011

Digital Wallet, “BookBook” Style

Like the bulbous monstrosity that Seinfeld’s George Costanza carried in his back pocket, I used to walk around with a very obese wallet. (Sadly, not fattened by an excess of cash.) But eventually I pared down all the receipts and other unnecessary detritus, even resorting to a separate money clip in anticipation of the day when our computer overlords banish such legal tender in favor of NFC and a cashless society.

So now I have a wallet with ID, credit cards, and high-use “rewards cards” in one pocket, and a bumpered iPhone in the other. Cash/coins and sometimes even keys are optional, but I never leave the house without both the phone and the wallet. So why not combine them? This was the premise behind 12 South’s BookBook.

Based on the success of their MacBook and iPad covers, they came out with a “pocket Bible” sized antiqued leather case – but this one can also act as a wallet. Bibliophiles would be smitten by the bookish resemblance, but honestly I could have cared less. I just liked the consolidation idea. There are other wallet-ish iPhone cases, but for me a driver’s license window was mandatory, as well as the ability to hold more than just one or two cards. I intend this to be my everyday wallet, not a stripped-down “night on the town” pinch-hitter.

BookBook is extremely well made. Very sturdy leather construction; I don’t see it falling apart any time soon. It holds the iPhone with speakers & ports accessible (though you have to slide the phone up to clear the lens from the case for photos).

On the wallet side, there is room for my driver’s license, auto club card, multiple debit/credit cards, a couple rewards cards, and even a thick HID building access card. Oh wait, what’s that you say? There’s an app for that? Why yes, yes there is. CardStar allowed me to electronically store all my rewards cards, and even my AAA card. So what’s the toteboard say now? “Driver’s license, multiple debit/credit cards, and even a thick HID building access card.” And the fit is no problem for the BookBook.

So how is it working out? Well, I must admit that I have to retrain myself a bit. There are times – such as working in the server room – where I have set “the phone” down. I must remember that I also just set my wallet down, and there is nothing in my back pocket anymore. A couple times now I’ve locked myself out because my HID card key is still sitting next to the console right where I left “the phone”. But I’ll get over that. I learn, eventually.

No, the bigger issue is answering the phone when in a hurry. When not pressed for time, it is easy to double over the book jacket and hold the sheathed phone to my ear. But when scrambling to answer, I feel quite foolish holding an open book against the side of my head.


Secure Password Management with KeePass and MiniKeePass

I always advise users to create hard-to-guess passwords, never re-use them across sites, and change them semi-regularly. The push-back I get is that this can be a daunting task to try and remember a myriad of constantly-changing credentials, no matter how good the mnemonic techniques may be. But one look at the growing list of high-visibility break-ins and security compromises is all you need as incentive. Why make it easy for crackers to jump from one service to another just because you were a victim of limited brain cells devoted to passwords?

Call it “do as I say, not as I do”, the Cobbler’s Children syndrome, or just simple laziness, but despite the best of intentions I was not following my own advice.

(continue reading…)

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