How I Make Passphrases

Passphrases are awesome. Easy to remember; Hard to break. This XKCD comic explains it better than I ever will.

I use 1Password to remember all my passwords — highly recommended — so I don’t really need to remember any passwords but one. But I like to have a few stuffed into my brain permanently. My Apple ID, Gmail, and, of course, 1Passwords master password. Here’s how I make pretty strong (stronger than correct horse battery staple) passphrases that are still easy to remember.

First, I find a passphrase generator. Like, this one and generate a list of passphrases. I might get something like this …

priming whiffle nitrate keepsake goneness fireman

That’s alright. But we can do better. Why not make it even more secure by turning it into a bit of dialogue?

"Keep priming the whiffle nitrate!" shouted the gory fireman!

I dropped some words, added some, and added some punctuation, making it even harder to guess but, more importantly I can remember this passphrase.

Here’s another one. I randomly generated this …

goodbye close baby cakewalk henhouse stowage

and rearranged it into …

"Goodbye," said Baby, "I cakewalked the henhouse to stowage."

Or maybe something with numbers in it.

"It's 7 staves westward," I detailed. "Past the 12 hexagons."

A little longer than correct horse battery staple but when it really counts you want something really strong.

Switching to Colemak for Typing: What worked

First of all, What’s Colemak? To put it simply, it’s a more efficient arrangement of the keys on your keyboard. Yes, more efficient than Dvorak. Plus, unlike Dvorak, it keeps all the most common keys used in keyboard shortcuts in place. It’s a keyboard layout for people who make their living using a computer. I touch type with it after using a “QWERTY” keyboard layout for years and years.

I was just talking to someone about my Strategy for learning to type with Colemak and realized I should post a quick update with what actually worked for me.

  1. Practice touch typing 0.5–2 hours a day (I started out at 2 hours and over a week went down to half an hour) with the drills in Master Key
  2. and copying a piece of text using Colemak for about 5 minutes every day
  3. Switched full-time to Colemak in 3–4 weeks when I felt up to it.

That’s what I did. That’s what worked. Are you tired of using an outdated, inefficient keyboard layout? Are you worried about RSI and would like to move your fingers less when you type? And just type more comfortably? Give it a shot.

You can see more about my experience with Colemak by checking out posts tagged as Colemak on this blog.

I Might Buy a Loser Cruiser

That’s what my dad calls a minivan. Or, at least, what he tells me the kids call it. My colleague, Lance, is slightly more excited about it than my dad. Here are his replies to my call-the-dealer-with-questions-first strategy for finding a used one.

Continue reading I Might Buy a Loser Cruiser

Man of Steel

Warning: I get super-geeky in this post.

I saw Man of Steel on Father’s Day with my dad and my son. Did I like it? It was alright and I kinda want to see more from the filmmakers involved to see where they go with it. I like superhero movies. :) I really liked the crazy space fantasy bits with Jor-El at the beginning. Russell Crowe running around on a totally insane Krypton in Superman’s costume? YES. The Superman as a kid compelled to always do the right thing was also great. Everything else was … a little tiring. Also, the last little scene with the military felt a little small. That should have totally happened at the United Nations (yes, like Superman IV: Quest for Peace) or at least the White House.

The part I really didn’t care for was — SPOILER ALERT — Superman killing General Zod by snapping his neck. In front of a family? And in front of all the families watching the movie? That’s crazy. Superman, the enduring Superman that has become something like a fable for our times about the good use of power, doesn’t do that. And comics critic Chris Sims has it right when he says the movie ultimately fails when Superman proves the bad guy is right.

The bad guy tells Superman that he’ll only stop if Superman kills him, and Superman proves him right. Superman proves that the bad guy is right. There’s no other way. It’s just violence and death as the only solution.

Superman shouldn’t prove that the bad guy is right. :) There’s probably a dozen different satisfying ways you could write yourself out of that situation and still show that, yes, the S really does stand for hope, hope that you can be better and that death is not the answer. Remember, Superman is a character that is compelled to preserve life. It feels like those really great “Superboy” scenes from the beginning were cherry-picked from better, more hopeful, original sources.

How could it have been different?

My favorite Superman is from the 1981 novel Miracle Monday by Elliot S! Maggin. I’ve written about it before.

This excerpt (from Chris Sims’ review of Miracle Monday two years ago) is how the “real” Superman would handle a General Zod.


Superman would fight forever to protect life wherever he had to. A real superhero does what we can’t. That’s why they’re super and worth caring about.

Also, check out Mark Waid’s review of Man of Steel. He’s the author who coined the “S stands for hope” (a brilliant idea). Superman killing ruined the movie for Waid. It didn’t ruin it for me, ultimately — I still, as noted above, want to see more — but that’s not the real Superman. :)

Orange Belt in Karate

I got my Orange Belt, or seventh kyu, certificate in Shotokan Karate tonight. My 15 or 20 minute test that resulted in four days of stiff, sore muscles and blistered feet feels like a pretty good effort now. Apparently the testing instructor felt like I put on a good show. My sensei said it was a test to be proud of.

Now on to Green Belt!

Farmer denied horse shelter permit builds giant table and chairs? Not really.

I’ve seen this picture twice now on Twitter. The story is that a farmer was denied a permit to build a horse shelter so he builds a giant table and chairs which don’t need a permit. Brilliant, right?

It’s a cool story but according to Snopes it’s not true.

Although the photographs are real, the claim about the giant furnishings’ having originated as a way of skirting the law is a bit of fiction: the structures were built to serve the dual purpose of providing some shelter for the equines and serving as a visual advertisement for their owner’s business.

I haven’t had a chance to do this in a while but here’s some advice for when this story starts to show up in your inbox with lots of FWs in the subject line. Hit reply all and link back to the story on Snopes. It’s kind of a jerky thing to do — it’s just a story about horses! — but every time you do it one less email gets sent out about autism being linked to vaccines, Barack Obama being born outside of the states, or whatever nonsense is being spread around right now. I don’t really know. I don’t get these emails anymore.

That said, I wish the story was true. The real story kind of sucks.