Alternatives to your standard or common login procedure

Facebook. MySpace. Twitter. Foursquare. Your email client. All fairly
different, but all have one thing in common. To get access to your
friends/followers/the service you need to provide a username (or email
address) and password. But is this the most efficient way. People who work in
the security side of the IT industry say that it’s not a good idea to have one
password for everything – I (not that I’m suggesting I’m any kind of IT
security expert) have said it to people who use the networks that I
administered. But we all do it. It’s not surprising that we do. We only have
so much space in our heads for storing memories, so we use words or phrases
that are easy for us to remember. I myself have two or three passwords and use
combinations of those, depending on the requirements when we first sign up, be
it that the password has to have a minimum length, or that it needs to contain
at least one number or punctuation mark, or depending on how highly we regard
the information that is stored within that service and want to keep it secret.

So what are the other ways that we can access these services? Some (such as
large corporations) provide their users with a smart card to use with their
workstation or a fob with an ever changing sequence of digits that are
synchronised with a server deep within the bowels of the datacentre. Even
Blizzard, the producers of World of Warcraft allow their users to purchase an
authenticator to add that extra layer of security to their account. They’ve
even gone as far as to produce applications for the iPhone or the Android
phones that will produce this random sequence to make it easier.

These systems and procedures make it harder to crack the security of an
account, but nowadays some services make it easier to provide authentication
by outsourcing their logins to others. OpenID, OpenAuth, Single Sign On (SSO)
are terms that are banded about and mean that rather than having passwords for
each account, you have one username and password to remember, so you can make
your password as secure as you can. OpenID is one such application; Facebook
Connect is another. One web developer, Elliot Kember (@elliottkember) for
example has taken to using Twitter as an authentication method on some of his
web applications. It means that he doesn’t necessarily have to store such
things as usernames and passwords. As more and more people use sites such as
Twitter and Facebook (and I think it’s my dad who has neither) we’re going to
see more and more options to pass on the authentication of other sites to
these. We already give them so much in terms of our data, so why not make them
work a little for it?

World Cup 2010 Calendar

So the World Cup is nearly upon us. In fact as I write this it’s something
like 23 days away. So I decided to put all the matches in a handy to digest
format, otherwise known as a Google shared calendar.

The iCal version can be found here:

The XML version can be found here:

The HTML version (easily viewable in a browser) can be found here:

So far it’s just the Group Stages, and as soon as the results are out, I’ll
add the stage 2 dates in there as well.

End of one era, beginning of another

Today, whether you had an interest in it or not, was a major day for the UK.
It marks the end of a 13 year reign by a Labour government and the beginning
of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat one.

I believe it’s the first coalition in about 30 years and past coalitions
haven’t faired too well. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the shortest one
lasted about 3 days so it will be very interesting to see how long this one
will last. Having said that, if the government breaks down, I think that the
Conservatives have enough seats to change it to a minority government, if
that’s possible.

The cynic in me says that another election will be called within the next 6
months, for the simple reason that the LibDems are too different from the
Tories to agree on major policies and I think that will cause a large rift,
which will then cause a breakdown in the coalition.

However, we shall have to see. For now, we have a new Prime Minister. There’s
nothing we can do about that. And a big boost in turnout, many more than was
expected, which we can see from the queues at the polls and those people who
were angry at not being able to execute their democratic right. At least the
UK is not as apathetic as it used to be.

A bit of downtime for some

Just a couple of things… the first is that I’ve moved my blog to a Rackspace
Cloud server. I don’t get many hits, so it was cheaper to get a bigger server
than staying on Slicehost. From the off-set it seems faster, although that
might be because it’s from a clean install rather than an upgrade.

Therefore, as I stupidly deleted my old server a little prematurely. Those
who’s DNS have already updated (like Google for example) will see it, but some
(like T-Mobile) who haven’t updated will have to wait.

Other than that I’ve changed the theme of the blog. I quite like this, but who
knows how long I’ll keep it like this until I get bored and switch to another

General Election

So today, if you haven’t heard already, is the day when Brits all around the
country take part in the election of the people who will govern them for
possibly the next 5 years.

The pollsters are saying that it’s going to be very close, with a possibly no
clear outright winner in terms of parties. Whatever the outcome, tonight is
going to be a very interesting result, with what is expected to be a much
higher than average turnout. This probably has a lot to do with the three
leader debates that have been broadcasted over the past month.

Usually it’s a two horse race, with either the Labour or the Conservative
parties the clear winner, but thanks to the debates the Liberal Democrats and
especially the party leader Nick Clegg have been thrust into the limelight
more than in past years.

The polls close in about two hours and the results as they come in will make
for very interesting results. Will there be an outright winner or will we have
the first hung parliament in approximately 30 years? Hopefully we’ll find out
tonight, but apparently there are about 20 constituencies who’s votes won’t be
counted until the morning and those might be the crucial ones who sway it one
way of the other.

Debate the second

Ok so I didn’t write a post about he first debate. I didn’t think about it at
the time and by the time I did it was a little late.

So what did I think about tonight’s debate? Firstly I thought that Cameron
looked a bit ruffled. Usually one thing that you can grantee about
politicians, and especially when they’re being watched by millions of people
is that they are usually impeccably turned out. This week’s “not enough time
in make up” award goes to Dave.

But enough about looks. I don’t think either Brown or Clegg came out on top,
but I do think that they both beat Cameron by a mile. I don’t care what YouGov
says, especially when their CEO is the PPC of Stanford upon Avon. Clegg didn’t
have the “dark horse” edge that he had last week, but he did well. Brown also
did well and came across as a worthy candidate. All Cameron seemed to offer
were empty promises.

Best shot of the evening was Clegg’s comment about Brown keeping his union
donors happy and Cameron keeping his donors in Belize happy. Boom!

HTC Desire

Ok so I’ve had my new phone for two days now and I’m absolutely loving it.
It’s fast phone-wise, it’s fast internet-wise (thanks to T-Mobile’s HSPDA
network) and is a joy to use. In fact I’m writing this post on it now, using
the WordPress Android app of course.

The screen (which I believe is an OLED display) is beautiful, crisp and clear
and incredibly responsive and I’m quite happily typing this pretty quickly.

The camera is also very good. It’s only 5 megapixels, but that’s more than
enough for me.

So, all in all it’s a really pleasurable phone to use. I love Android as an
operating system and I would gladly have it rather than an iPhone any day.