cmiles - info

Life, Tech and Unimportant Minutiae

Wesabe, PasswordSafe,, S3 Backup, HotSpotVPN

Created by cmiles on 8/13/2007.

Last month I ordered a Lenovo X61 Tablet (originally due to arrive last week - now delayed...) and I immediately started a folder of software that I wanted to install on my new machine. As part of that process I also looked for new web applications that would work for me as desktop application replacements and thought about services I want to continue to use:

Wesabe web address: length of time used: just over a month for me replaces: Microsoft Money

I have used Microsoft Money for about 7 years. I am a 'light' user of the product - no investment tracking or anything complicated - and it worked well for me but did not have any must-have/killer features.

When I saw Wesabe I was intrigued, Wesabe provides basic account tracking (including pulling information from your bank via a desktop app or (better) a Firefox plug-in), has clean/flexible tagging of transactions, supports adding attachments to transactions (such as a scan of your reciept), very basic reporting/exporting and a nice clean interface. In addition Wesabe adds a twist to financial management software by tying you into a community of users who can provide tips and join groups on topics such as saving money.

I have been using Wesabe for about 1 1/2 months now and for me it is has worked great - no glitches or problems, simple to learn and has the features that I need! It seems fairly clear to me that Wesabe is not intended to (at this point anyway) track a complex financial portfolio, but for tracking/tagging transactions on a basic set of accounts it works great.

PasswordSafe web address: length of time used: about two months for me replaces: PINs

I have seen many suggestions about different ways to manage the insane number of online accounts (not to mention 'offline' numbers/combinations/pins/etc.) that almost everyone seems to accumulate - but none that are perfect. I found PINs over a year ago and liked the simplicity and small footprint, but occasionally wanted access to my passwords when I did not have my computer or USB drive handy...

For me PasswordSafe is a nice solution. PasswordSafe offers a number of features, for me the ability to store usernames/passwords and search my account to bring up the information I need is great. PasswordSafe has a desktop app that can pull down all of your information into a format that is available offline and a (beta) favorites link that will bring up a browser window with your PasswordSafe information for the current site. This service has worked great for me and, like Wesabe, the features match quite nicely with what I need. web address: length of time used: just over a year for me replaces: hosting a local subversion server

For the past couple of years I have been trying to continually improve my programming skills and have several personal projects that I have been working on - even working 99.9% by myself it is hard to imagine not using a version control system.

Subversion (with tortoisesvn) is the system I picked and I started by running a subversion server on my own system. This was a great way to get started, but I was nervous about losing data if I had computer problems.

So I found an alternative -; the price is good and they have plans that are appropriate for a wide variety of needs. I have never seen the service go down, they set up a trac site for each module you create and the management interface is easy to use. I do not have much experience with other version control/project management hosts, but for my uses has been perfect.

[Caffey left a great comment about offering both CVS and SVN hosting. Looks like the basic plan at CVSDude is $1 less than with slightly different options.]

S3 Backup web address: length of time used: about 6 months for me replaces: external hard drive backup

Large, inexpensive external hard-drives and multi-gig DVD formats have made personal backup easier, but unless you store the backups somewhere secure and in a different location from your computer how useful are they if there is a break-in, fire, flood or a need to restore while you are traveling?

I have been very interested in backing up to online storage and Amazon's S3 service makes it possible to backup up the amount of information I have for a reasonable cost. I have been backing up with S3 Backup for about 6 months and it has worked well. The software is still in Beta - I have had occasional small glitches - but so far the benefit of having secure online backup has been worth any small problems.

Amazon S3 is new enough that I am not aware of any well established software packages for working with it - it will be interesting to see what other options emerge. I want to try Jungle Disk (recently out of Beta) at some point... I have also seen Mozy recommended numerous times for online backup - but I like the idea of not being tied into one vendor for backup/access software.

HotSpotVPN web address: length of time used: about 18 months for me replaces: unsecured browsing over public wireless

A few episodes of Security Now! may induce enough fear about wireless security that you will start looking at VPN solutions. Some of my friends simply VPN to their home/desktop computers when on the road, but I do not have (and do not intend to have) anything other than my laptop. So the solution for me when using unsecured wireless hotspots has been HotSpotVPN. I have occasionally had trouble connecting and have trouble at some airports with the login system - but overall HotSpotVPN has been easy to use and the extra security has been worth the cost.

Enjoy, CM

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