Category Archives: Better Way

This section contains suggestions about ways of doing things that have improved my life

Moving from 1Password to KeePassXC on GNU/Linux

screenshot of keepassxc.org home page

screenshot of keepassxc.org home page

History

Since my full-time move from macOS to GNU/Linux back in Q1 2015, I have been searching for free software replacements for all of the applications I used to use on macOS.

Today, I said goodbye to the one last holdout, the gold-standard password manager, 1Password. I had been using 1Password running in Wine on GNU/Linux since the switch.

Motivation

Two recent events prodded me into making a permanent move away from 1Password:

  1. I switched the operating system on my phone away from the manufacturer-installed Android system to LineageOS, a Free Software operating system based on a version of Android that does not have spyware or bloatware that allows apps (or Google) to track everything I do.
  2. Dropbox, the main system for synchronizing non-Agile Bits-hosted 1Password database files, is dropping support for encrypted ext4 filesystems1 in November, 2018. Since I use full disk encryption on all of my drives and my drives use the ext4 file system type and I have a very strong desire to cut ties with centralized systems like Dropbox (for storing information that I wish to keep private), I need to make a move.

Requirements

My requirements for a password manager replacement are:

  • Must be free software (respects the 4 Freedoms)
  • Must have a desktop version and an Android version – so I can use it at home and on-the-go
  • Must be on a computer that I can control – not some centralized system on the cloud

New Password Manager

I have switched to using KeePassXC as my full-time password manager.

The two contenders I considered were Bitwarden and KeePassXC.

Bitwarden is a worthy contender and definitely one you should consider if you also use iOS. Bitwarden meets all of my requirements. The application is very nice and works well on all platforms. With a little bit of extra work, you can spin up your own server and self-host your own Bitwarden server that can synchronize all of your passwords with all of your own devices.

I did not want to deal with the extra work that I would have to put in to make Bitwarden be my ultimate solution. However, if you are a nerd and you have the skills to deploy a web-facing server securely, Bitwarden is probably your best bet.

KeePassXC meets all of my requirements and it is not dependent on some centralized service. It stores all of my passwords in an encrypted file. I synchronize my encrypted KeePass database file on all of my devices (desktop, laptop, phone) using the amazing cross-platform Syncthing application that uses the Mozilla Public License.

I have been running 1Password and KeePass in parallel for 2 years now. I started with a port of the Windows KeePass client but I switched to KeePassXC when it came out since it is a native application on GNU/Linux. I use KeePass DX on my phone to access passwords.

I am very happy with my choice and see myself using it for the foreseeable future.

Better Way: wet shaving with a double-edged-razor

A little more than a year ago I changed the way I shave – and I think it is worth talking about.

Shaving seems like a really boring topic. However, given what I know now, I need to share my knowledge.

Consider this: You are probably getting overcharged for razor blades.

As of today, an 8-count package of the leading 5-blade cartridge system costs $28.99.  

That’s about $4 per cartridge.  That is highway robbery!

You really only need one blade …one very sharp blade and the old-school method of shaving: the so-called  “wet shave” technique.

Double-edged razor and blade

Unmodified photo by Barney Bishop on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

What you need (all are available on Amazon):

  • razor – I have the Merkur Long-Handled Safety Razor 38c
  • double-edged blades – I prefer the Derby Extra Double Edge razor blades 100 for $9.47 or 2% of the cost of a cartridge of the leading brand
  • skin lubricant – I use Proraso pre-shave cream for later days (I’ll use olive oil as a base layer if I haven’t shaved for couple of days)
  • shaving soap – Taylor of Old Bond Street sandalwood is primo
  • badger bristle brush – A warm badger hair brush with warm shave soap feels really great
  • shaving mug – I recommend the Colonel Conk model 119 mug since it really retains heat well

Warning: It is way more easy to cut yourself using this method than with one of the 5-blade monstrosities.  That said, I’ve only cut myself on two occasions when I really lost focus and tried to rush through shaving and got tiny nicks.  This method rewards those who take their time – not turbo shaving like you see in the razor blade commercials.

I highly recommend wet shaving with a double-edged razor. You will get a super-close shave. If you want to learn more about this, search using “wet shave” terms.

A few pointers:

  • Shave right after your shower
  • Let your brush soak in hot water before you use it
  • Plug your sink and let your shaving mug sit in hot water while you shave – reapplication of hot shaving soap feels heavenly
  • Use at least two shaving passes
    • With the grain
    • Cross-grain
    • Use a third pass if you’re on camera later in the day and you don’t want to look like Nixon did in his debate with Kennedy
  • When you’re done shaving, splash your face with cold water

Ting: a positive mobile experience

My wife and have had iPhone since they first came out. These are expensive phones …too expensive when phone and data plans cost so much. After our Sprint contracts on our iPhone 4S phones was over I searched for and found a plan that saved us a ton of money: Ting.

Ting is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that provides cell phone service riding on top of the T-Mobile and Sprint cell phone networks. Ting only charges you for what you use in the categories of data, phone, and text messages. Ting charges each category separately.

Our first full month on Ting was December, 2013. Before switching to Ting our Sprint bill for two iPhones was $143 per month. Since we shifted to Ting, our monthly bills have averaged $65 – less than half of what we paid to Sprint.

ting dashboard

Screenshot of the ting dashboard with price breakdown by category (image: Eduardo Sanchez CC-BY-NC)

Ting is not the only MVNO out there. Search around and you can find multiple MVNOs on the major carriers.

I highly recommend Ting. You can move your unlocked Sprint or T-Mobile phone over to Ting or you can buy a new phone to use on the Ting network. Break free of unnecessary contracts and switch to an MVNO like Ting.

This could be a better way…

I’ve decided to change the tag lines of one of the post categories here. My original intent with the ‘You’re doing it wrong:’ tag line was to share my ideas about alternative ways of doing things.

My original choice of words sounded too judgy. I would rather it be taken as a possible alternative rather than the ‘best’ way of doing something. After all, I do not claim that my way is the best way. It is just a good way …for me …right now.

I can’t wait to hear about your better ways.