From The Tips Box: Password Security, Fungus, Firefox Taskbar Issues

Readers offer their best tips for safely writing down passwords, getting rid of pesky toenail fungus, and fixing taskbar problems with the Firefox 3.6 beta.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in — the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Add it in the comments or email it to tips at

Safely Write Down Passwords

Chris shows us a way to write down passwords and keep them safe:

Security rule #1 regarding passwords is to not write them down. But we all have too many passwords to possibly remember. Here is a way to safely write down passwords.

All that's needed is a way to make the password you write down NOT be your real password, but be the input to a simple algorithm or mapping you can do in your head.

For example, your personal algorithm could be "remove all vowels and tack on the last 4 digits of my parent's phone number". When you sign up for a new account on some web site, you would create a password like "Rnbws8004" but what you write down is "Rainbows". Or your algorithm could be, "interleave the digits 4 2 0 3 between the consonants, eliminate the vowels, and put x's on the front and back", in which case you would set up the real password to be "xR4ain2b0ow3sx", but (as before) you would write down Rainbows.

You can't memorize 100 passwords, but you can remember one algorithm. If you never write down the algorithm, it is safe to write down the "seed" for the algorithm as if it is the password.

The key to doing this securely is to have an algorithm that's complex / odd enough no one can guess it or discover it by random testing. E.g. if your algorithm is "put 123 on the end", it's not safe.

We'd still recommend a great password manager like KeePass, but a clever algorithm isn't a terrible solution.

More Household Cures for Toenail Fungus

Photo by Umeboshi Panda.

Bill describes his crusade to cure toenail fungus:

From what I read it seemed like both an acidic environment or a high oxygen environment should be an environment in which a fungus could not flourish. Maybe not even survive. I reasoned that perhaps the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide did not work because I was applying the stuff to the surface and even though I was doing it 2 or 3 times a day it would quickly dry out and the fungus would be back in business again. In other words, it only had to weather a brief storm in order to survive and thrive. If, that is, it even penetrated that far in the first place.

Following this line of thought I took my Dremel Moto-tool and, using a little sanding tool, sanded down my toenail. It's easy to know when to quit sanding. Pain will tell you when you've gone too far.

Once I had it sanded down to my satisfaction I put a band aid on it and saturated it with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, alternating between the two. Each time applying a new band aid.

I can't remember how long I kept this up but I was well into my second box of 100 band aids when I decided to quit and see if it had worked.

That was well over a year ago and my toenail has completely grown out now, replacing the sanded down part, and there's no sign of any fungus. What did I learn from the experience?

I think a key to killing off the fungus is staying on top of it. My feeling was that if I gave it a day off it would use that time for recovery and set back my eventual cure. Having gone through some 3 years of messing with that toenail, I was now out for blood. It was a him or me thing and I was determined it wasn't going to be me. I wasn't nearly so fanatical the fist year or two. I set the band aids and little squeeze bottles of vinegar and peroxide out where I'd see them and so be a constant reminder.

Fixing Windows 7 Taskbar Issues with Firefox 3.6 Beta

Ronson tips us off to a fix for Firefox's Taskbar Issues in Windows 7:

I recently got a Windows 7 laptop. I just started using Firefox 3.6 Beta 1. In Windows 7, Firefox separates each tab into a "window" of sorts on the taskbar. The only thing is, half the time the thumbnails don't load. I was poking around in about:config and found a setting that can revert back to where there is just one item in the taskbar for each entire window instead of each tab in the Windows 7 taskbar. The setting is called "browser.taskbar.previews.enable". Double-click it, and it is instantly switched to the normal mode. Double-click it again, and it is switched back to the "new" mode.

"Open Link in Safari" shortcut on a Mac

Sandy gives us a nice Applescript for opening link-free URLs in Safari:

I don't have any idea if the built-in Mac OS X has this feature, so I wrote a little Applescript:

delay 0.2 tell application "System Events" tell application "System Events" to keystroke "c" using {command down} delay 0.2 set currentClipboard to the clipboard as record set the clipboard to currentClipboard set currentClipboard to the clipboard as text end tell if contents of currentClipboard contains "@" then tell application "System Events" tell application "Mail" activate set newMessage to make new outgoing message tell newMessage set visible to true make new to recipient at end of to recipients with properties {address:currentClipboard} end tell end tell end tell else tell application "System Events" --tell process "Safari" --tell application "Mail" to activate tell process "Safari" if exists window 1 then click menu item "New Tab" of menu "File" of menu bar 1 else tell application "Safari" to activate end if if contents of currentClipboard begins with "http://" then open location currentClipboard else if contents of currentClipboard does not start with "http://" then open location "http://" & currentClipboard end if end tell end tell end if To use it, drag it to your ~/Library/Scripts or ~/Library/Application Support/Quicksilver/Actions or anywhere you want. Then, select any URL on any application, and trigger the script by pressing my keystroke Opt + Shift + S. That's it.


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