I’m not much of a productivity tools blogger, and in general I’m a slug when it comes to anything resembling workflow. That said, using a password manager for the couple of years has changed my life. And recently Reclaim Hosting finally jumped to the Teams feature in 1Password to manage our growing empire. Teams allows you to copy, move, and share logins and credentials across vaults, with differing permissions.
I was so sold on it that I immediately created a family account through 1Password to start consolidating and organizing my family’s digital life. One of the things that was always painfully clear from teaching ds106, was that the hardest part for many was keeping passwords straight, the rest was just plain fun. For the Previous 15-20 years I dealt with this by using a few variations off one password, but those days are over. I was kind of forced to go all in because it was impossible to run Reclaim Hosting’s server infrastructure securely without it. The added benefit is I now have strong passwords that are almost all different, and a pretty extensive inventory of all the services I use online—a useful reclaim exercise in and of itself.
In fact, I have already written about password management as ground zero for digital literacy. If I were giving workshops on campus right not, I would start there. It’s almost like putting on your seatbelt before you drive the internet highway 🙂 I found it has given me a sense of comfort and coherence with managing my online life I haven’t had before. As an added bonus, it protects your shit online, the importance of which should be increasingly clearer every day, if it wasn’t already.
The other big move for me recently has been going back to an email client. I have a few different emails I am using now, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (more on that anon), and I want to start pushing my email@example.com to something like firstname.lastname@example.org. That said, all my accounts are run through Gmail, and until now I’ve forwarded Reclaim’s email to email@example.com, using external SMTP servers to reply with the @reclaimhosting.com address. But I’m finding I need some separation between the various accounts. I was missing mail tagged as spam in the original Reclaim email account, plus trying to manage several Gmail accounts through various browser tabs was getting old. So, Tim recommended Airmail 3 because it’s fairly stripped down (no calendar program) and can manage various accounts seamlessly. So far I have been very happy with it.
Being able to cleanly separate my various email addresses in one app was crucial, and the on-boarding of a Gmail account was dead simple. I also like that it integrates with all kinds of services. It even looks like you can directly connect your email attachments to your own server via FTP, which is interesting. One of the things that appeals to me about Airmail is it exemplifies the lightweight mail app that uses all kinds of API integrates with other services to enable you to push and pull from a variety of spaces.
The final application I purchased recently* was Panic’s Prompt 2. This is a bit more geeky then the other two, but when I was back in Virginia last month, watching Tim mitigate a DDoS attach on one of our servers with his phone over dinner was amazing to me. He was using prompt identify the attacking IPs, block ranges, reboot servers, etc. I was blown away, so I got the app. I’ve used it once or twice to reboot servers, and trying to train myself to do command line on a phone a bit more efficiently—it’s definitely an acquired skill. But I can see this app being quite useful in a pinch.
The cool thing about Prompt 2 is that it can integrate with 1Password on your phone to ensure you can get into the server with one-click. You have to do a bit of work up front to populate all the servers (and there may be an easier way at that), but when you need access for whatever reason, this essentially gives your phone just about everything you can get from a laptop, albeit for me with far more pain.
Well, that’s it for recent applications I’ve been playing with recently. And while nothing particularly groundbreaking here, I find it interestingly to reflect on how my work with Reclaim continually pushes me to change the way I work online. I like that.
*All of these are paid apps, which is remarkable in itself because I avoid buying applications like the plague