Cities

Password Management – Safety and Convenience with NordPass

Foreword

Put simply, NordPass is an encrypted Password Manager and Vault developed by the same cybersecurity team as NordVPN. You’re able to conveniently manage, store and autofill your passwords, making account logins easier and faster. Additionally, you can generate really secure passwords with the random password generator. NordPass implement extremely strong security protocols like Master Passwords and Biometric Authentication which you use to access your account. Read on for more intricate analysis on these and my own conclusions as a Premium user.

NordPass offers a 30-day money back guarantee on the Premium Plan.

Summary of main features and benefits

  • Streamlined interface that is really easy to use, including offline.
  • Login and web form autofill (saves your logins and credentials).
  • In-built password generator.
  • Infinite password storage.
  • Automatic syncing and backup across all your devices.
  • Multi-factor authentication methods (protect your most sensitive data).
  • *In-built Data Breach Scanner (scan for leaked personal information).
  • *Password strength analysis (pinpoint weak or compromised passwords).
  • *Share personal info securely (share with trusted recipients and create trusted contacts).
  • *Remain logged in when changing devices (up to 6 devices).

*Premium features

NordPass Premium Plans

NordPass have opted for simplicity by just creating just three – Monthly, Annual and Bi-Annual.

  • 2-year plan at $1.43 per month + 1 month free or $35.76 for 2 years. Previously $2.49 per month or $59.76 for 2 years.
  • 1-year plan at $2.99 per month or $35.88 every year. Previously $4.99 per month or $59.88 every year.
  • 1 month plan – $4.99 per month (set price) – suits those who want a one month trial with a refund option. Yet as demonstrated you’ll make significant savings (around 50%) if you choose the yearly plans.

Disclaimer: I have included affiliate links with the above discounts on the 1 and 2-year plans (use code cybernews). Supposing you sign up to a Premium plan, I would receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Analysing specific features and benefits

General Encryption Process

NordPass is built with XChaCha20 encryption algorithm, a high class method of encrypting and decrypting data. For example, your passwords are encrypted on your device and only then stored in the cloud. As a result, NordPass (even their employees) cannot view, edit or by any means manage users’ passwords. Other sensitive details like login credentials, credit card details and secure notes can be stored in your encrypted vault. These are unlocked by your Master Password, the only one you do need to remember.

The encrypted vault on the NordPass Desktop version where you store your personal data.

Autofill Password

The autofill feature removes the need to remember your passwords meaning you’re able to create safer ones. You can bulk import your passwords from a CSV file or add them manually. Likewise, this feature also applies to credit cards, addresses and other items stored in your vault. The next time you login or shop online, your credentials are already at your disposal. Certainly, autofill is a fast, convenient and super safe method of locating and managing your information.

Secure Password Sharing

One of the most useful attributes is being able to share passwords and other personal details with people you trust. There are two ways you can do this:

  • 1. Select the password/s or details you want to share and simply enter the recipient’s email address.
  • 2. Create trusted contacts, to establish a verifiable link between you and a receiver, and prevent man in the middle attacks.

This feature enables you access to the same password or personal detail without needing to manually enter it into NordPass. Though it’s a Premium feature, free users can access shared information, however, edits they make won’t be visible to others. Read further about the benefits NordPass Premium offers for Sharing Items and Trusted Contacts,

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

Biometric Authentication

Your face and fingerprints are the most exclusive, secure and convenient passwords ever created. The NordPass App enables use of Touch or Face ID to unlock your account and replace your Master Password. Additionally, NordPass provides 2-factor-authentication (2FA), an extra obstacle for a hacker, were they to obtain your Master Password.

USB Security Keys

Alternatively, you can use a physical Security Key (USB) as your favoured MFA login. Yet the key must fit the FIDO U2F standard to be verified with Webauthn before registering it with NordPass. This helps NordPass verify that you are you and creates an even greater challenge for anyone to hack your account. Another benefit is that the USB key is not attached to your identity and is just a verification method. Consequently, your personal details are stored on remote servers without exposing a digital trail. Ultimately, the USB key is simple to run and additionally, many support biometric authentication.

Verdict a worthy Password Manager?

Overall, I consider NordPass efficient and inexpensive with various key features accessible on the free version. If you want to use NordPass on several devices simultaneously, the Premium version is definitely advantageous. Further, the NordPass desktop and app versions are smart, well designed and not complicated, providing an enjoyable user experience. Above all, security is highly prioritised, for instance the use of XChaCha20 encryption which is really robust in facing cyberattacks. NordPass is based in Panama where data retention laws are not compulsory. Therefore, NordPass are not required to retain logs or provide them to governments. To conclude, I highly recommend downloading NordPass as your trusty Password Manager.

Existing NordVPN Users

As an existing NordVPN user you can obtain 2 months of NordVPN free when you download NordPass. You don’t need a separate NordPass account, just log in with your NordVPN details and create a Master Password.


Elephants in Mae Wang District – Close Up Experiences

Provincial travel to Chiang Mai Elephant Friends

Trip Planning

Thailand experienced a recurrence of COVID-19 in April meaning restrictions returned, most notably a ban on eating in restaurants and cafes. This occurred during the time my girlfriend and I planned to travel to Mae Wang to hopefully encounter Elephants. Several days before we checked that the resort we wanted to stay at were accepting guests, and thankfully they were. Further, we researched certain activities we could undertake in the circumstances. For instance we were able to have Breakfast and Dinner on the premises which was a welcome comfort. Above all, we felt grateful that we could still travel given most of the COVID cases were in Chiang Mai city.

A splendid Cafe stop in the mountainous Mae Wang District.

Journeying by Scooter and Experiences with Elephants

Travelling from the city to Chiang Mai Elephant Friends, a distance of 50km, took us 1 hour 15 minutes. The journey to Mae Wang municipality was simple yet subsequently the road becomes steeper and twisty, eventually reaching Doi Inthanon. Nevertheless, this stretch of highway leading to our resort, approximately 15km, offered fabulous mountain scenery. Before checking in we continued past the resort, where the road became steeper still, to a Cafe deep in the forest. While there were restrictions, here we could still sit and have our coffee given the far-flung location. Additionally, there were Elephants meandering around the vicinity, a fabulous sight and we interacted with them by feeding bananas.

Welcomed by several elephants on arrival.

Chiang Mai Elephant Friends – Sightings of Elephants

The setting of Chiang Mai Elephant Friends was certainly fantastic and we could already see elephants as we parked. One of the staff ushered us to follow him on our scooter, driving through rough tracks of the main elephant camp. The track continued further into forest as far as the bungalow-style lodging and accommodation facilities. Our room was one of the most elevated, adjacent to the restaurant, with views over the other bungalows. During the afternoon we walked to see the elephants and then the river below, before cooling off in the plunge pool. Our dinner included Pad Thai and Yam Khai Dao, two of many delicious options available. We had our food served to the room which felt more convenient and relaxing. Breakfasts comprised a range of options from Rice Porridge to Eggs and Sausages, Fried Rice and Fresh Fruit.

Standing at the door of our room with the pool between us and the restaurant.

Brief Excursions and Meals

On our first morning we drove into Mae Wang to explore the market and buy lunch, Kanom Jeeb and Salapao. En route back, we found a Cafe amongst Mango trees and ordered iced drinks to replenish in the midday heat. I felt that the route reminded me of the Samoeng Loop because of the expansive forest around us. After we finished some work, our dinner comprised of the flavoursome Steamed (Nile) Tilapia Fish with Lime. Likewise, on our third day we scooted to Mae Wang, visited a local temple and enjoyed iced coffees. Our lunch comprised of Sticky Rice with Grilled Pork Skewers and Khao Gan Chin, both firm street-food favourites of mine. After another short walk and a swim our dinner consisted of Pork Panang Curry and Chicken and Rice with Oyster Sauce.

Breakfast with far reaching views over the mountains.

Activities not-related to Elephants

The river was a serene spot and just a few minutes walk down from our room.

Early on the first morning we ran the track leading out of the resort and along the main road. Subsequently, we explored the river further, paddling across the rocks prior to a downpour which was pleasantly cooling. Originally, we considered hiring a raft but the weather on the day wasn’t favourable with a storm incoming. When the rain again fell before dusk the views of the clouds circling over the mountains were spectacular. Another activity involved my girlfriend filming the ride from the guest lodgings across a wooden-beamed bridge and to the main road. This was particularly thrilling as there were sharp turns and the bridge was of considerable height with water below. Check the video out on the Jeffo Blogs Instagram Highlights (jeffo_blogs90).

Some of the other bungalows set beside lusciously green forest. Tea plants can be seen on the slopes.

Journey back to CM

We slowly made our way back to Chiang Mai as, compared with other recent trips, the distance was short. Our morning Cafe stop was at The Rectangle Coffee x Tower, a scenic spot and interesting building to enjoy Iced Coffee. In addition, you could climb up to the second and third floors to experience the 360 degree mountain views. On the whole the trip was fantastic, highlights include waking up to Elephants (almost) and the general location of the resort. Since returning to Chiang Mai in 2021, I’ve been fortunate to accomplish several provincial trips without too much disruption.

Views of Doi Suthep-Pui from the the Rectangle Coffee x Tower. There was also an Ice Cream shop as seen above.

Revolut – The top 4 features beyond regular banking services

Foreword – Account and Card services

Much like Wise, a Revolut account enables currency management without extensive conversion fees. Firstly, Revolut provides personal account details and physical Debit Cards usable globally. Further, there’s the option of a free virtual card which is refreshed automatically after each use. *Wise have just developed a similar feature – free digital Debit Cards for added convenience. Meanwhile, with the Revolut card you can pay and transfer in 140 currencies at the Interbank rate. However, Revolut has other advantages and in this article I discuss 4 of them. Additionally, I’ve summarised the Revolut plans and indicated which features require the paid plans.

Revolut Plans

  • Standard – the free plan
  • Plus – 12 months – £2.99 per month or £29.99 annually.
  • Premium – 12 months – £6.99 per month or £72 annually.
  • Metal – 12 months – £12.99 per month or £120 annually.

1. Revolut Insurance

In early 2021 I discovered that Revolut offer the following types of Insurance:

  • Medical Insurance (Metal users) – Importantly, Revolut medical insurance ensures you receive global protection (currently U.K. residents only). When I travelled to Thailand during 2021, I needed medical Insurance including COVID-19. Revolut cover you for 90 days and up to £10million emergency, COVID-19 and Winter Sports expenses.
  • Travel Insurance (Plus, Premium or Metal users) – This covers trip cancellations, loss or theft of luggage, personal money and passports. Their pay per day feature keeps your insurance active only when you’re overseas.
  • Device Insurance (Premium or Metal user) – you can acquire discounted device insurance of 20% for instance.

2. Revolut Cryptocurrency

Revolut promotes instant investment in 21 different coins including a range of Altcoins. This lowers your reliance on Crypto Exchanges which can be time consuming and irritating. To summarise, with Revolut you can, for example:

  • Create Price Alerts and Auto Exchanges so you’re prompt in the market.
  • Browse market rates and track your performance.
  • Buy/sell/hold Crypto.
  • Buy Crypto with your debit card.
  • Exchange to or from any Crypto up to $15,000 per transaction.
  • Withdraw Crypto, however, only Bitcoin currently (requires Metal plan).
The exchange rate you are given depends on market factors and the margin on your is given separately.

When you buy or sell you are telling Revolut to buy or on your behalf, however, you own the Crypto. See the full Cryptocurrency Terms and Conditions and Personal Fees for clarity.

Hold and Send Bitcoin

Metal plan subscribers can enjoy access to Bitcoin withdrawals allowing you to send it from one platform to another. The process requires a Bitcoin address and Revolut runs 2FA to ensure you know exactly where you’re sending it. Note, you can withdraw up to £1000 a month or £500 per day and the following are options for storing Crypto:

  • An External Wallet (add up to three of these).
  • A Hot Wallet.
  • Cold Storage (External Drive).
  • A Revolut Personal or Savings Vault – receive daily and annual interest. However, the latter requires a Premium or Metal account).
Withdraw Bitcoin to an External Wallet using a Bitcoin Address.

Airdrops

Flare network has arranged a Spark airdrop for all holders of XRP tokens. Revolut is affiliated with Crypto partners which approve the airdrop, therefore they can also approve it. If you were holding any XRP on your Revolut account on 12/12/2020, you’re eligible to obtain Spark tokens. For those that are not aware:

  • An airdrop is a distribution of a Cryptocurrency token or coin, normally for free, to many wallet addresses. This is a method to gain attention and new participants, for instance
  • The Flare Network is a new blockchain established on the Flare Consensus Protocol. This is a system intended to bring Ethereum-like performance to the XRP Ledger.

Revoluts involvement in such projects indicate their extensive Crypto coverage when compared to others in the fintech market.

3. Donations

The Revolut app enables you to easily donate to local and global causes. Additionally, you can make one off donations or create a recurring payment for regular donations. Revolut then periodically transfers your funds to the official third-party bank account of respective charities. Your charity receives 100% of your donation as there are no fees charged by Revolut. As yet you cannot donate with Cryptocurrency, however, you can exchange Crypto into Revolut supported currencies.

4. Commodities

Much like with Crypto, Revolut support investment in Commodities such as Precious Metals from as little as $1. You can set up Price Alerts and Stop or Limit Orders to automatically exchange Gold or Silver at your desired price*. In addition, you are able to:

  • Buy/sell/exchange/transfer Gold or Silver within the Revolut platform at current market rates. Note, the price reflects the market value of 1 troy ounce which is approximately 31 grams.
  • Store them in a Personal or Savings Vault. You can acquire interest and annual bonuses of 4.50% for up to your account amount. With Premium or Metal you receive interest rates of 0.28% Annual Percentage Yield on the funds in your account. Therefore you can earn a total of 4.78% in addition to the 4.50% bonus. Meanwhile, as a Standard User you receive interest rates of 0.15% APY on the funds in your account. Therefore you can earn a total of 4.65% in addition to the 4.50% bonus.
  • Use any supported Fiat or Cryptocurrency to exchange as Precious Metals or exchange Precious Metals to Fiat or Cryptocurrency.
Track live rates so you’re moving with the market.

*In short, Market Order exchanges between Precious Metals and Fiat or Cryptocurrencies are instant and at Revolut rates. See more on Terms and Conditions in the Commodities FAQs.

Web Development – the importance of investing in Domain Names

Why do you need a Domain Name for Web Development?

Domain names are the unique Internet addresses (IP addresses) of websites. Investing in a domain name boosts Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and adds credibility to your web development first and foremost. Many hosting providers like WordPress provide domain names free when you sign up. There are pros and cons of buying both together but registering a domain with a third party is my advice. I say this because the process of transferring your domain to a new hosting company is easier. If you register a domain with your hosting company, you have to wait for them to export it which can take time. Note, for the purposes of this article we are focusing on personal domains, created for personal websites and branding.

Domain Providers

When creating a blog you are faced with a range of decisions, one of the first is selecting a domain provider. I researched some domain registrars and eventually registered with Namecheap. I recommend Namecheap as they have many domain extensions, are competitively priced and have associated hosting services. Further, Namecheap offer an array of other products such as VPNs, VPS hosting, SSL Certificates and a logo maker. You can take advantage of worthwhile Namecheap promotions using my affiliate links and banners. Should you purchase a Namecheap domain or additional services through the links, I’d receive a small commission at no added cost to you.

How much does a Domain Name cost?

Domain names are commonly low cost and definitely worth a small monthly or annual outlay in web development. Namecheap domains start from $0.99 per year, the main reason I decided to purchase through Namecheap. My current domain costs $13.16 annually which I consider represents value, especially as I acquired my preferred Top-level domain (TLD). However, if you’re seeking a highly coveted domain with a popular suffix, you may have to pay a higher price. This is because the likelihood is someone else has already registered it. See more on TLDs, also known as domain extensions or suffixes, below. Namecheap offer discounts on multi-year purchases so consider how long you might need the domain name.

Secrets to a strong Domain Name for Web Development

Domain names consist of three parts, the TLD (e.g. “.com” “.net” “.org”), a domain name and an optional subdomain (for example, www.). The combination of only the domain name and top-level domain is known as a root domain. When you are devising a domain there are important aspects that determine how effective it is. The following are recommendations for you to consider:

  • Strive to make it innovative, memorable and pronounceable (good for word-of-mouth advertising).
  • Make it easy to type, read and share (the easier a domain is to read, the better it is for search engines).
  • Acquire a .”com” if possible (the most recognised and accessible TLD).
  • Keep it short (no longer than 15 characters).
  • Examine variations of the name or combine words.
  • Avoid using non-standard characters, hyphens, numbers and trademarked names.
  • Use broad keywords where appropriate (to provide first-time visitors an understanding of what your website is related to).

A note on Top-Level Domains

In regard to the suggestion that you choose a “.com” TLD, the principal reason for this is that you can assemble a more brandable domain. Yet if your desired name is unavailable, studies advise your best alternative is probably a “.net”, “.org”, ‘.co’ or a known ccTLD (Country code top-level domain). An example of a known ccTLD would be “.ca” in Canada, “.cn” in China or “.it” in Italy. Conversely, SEO experts recommend that you avoid purchasing low calibre TLDs like “.biz”, “.info”, “.ws” and”.name”, as a way of boosting traffic. As these TLDs are less commonly known, they draw considerably less traffic and are often associated with spammy practices.

Create your Web Presence with Namecheap

How to buy

It’s important you consider is that you can’t just purchase any domain, it needs to be unique and not already owned by another person or business. When registering a domain name you need to provide contact information to the registrar at the time of purchase. If you want to conceal your contact data, you can use a privacy protection service which Namecheap include free with all newly registered and transferred domains. Similarly, with this protection your personal information is undiscoverable to fraudsters and telemarketers. I’ve included a guide for registering a domain name with Namecheap, my current and suggested provider.

A final note on Web Development

A crucial aspect of web development and domain investment is to ensure that any address you visit has an SSL certificate. View the URL in the browser bar above and you will notice a padlock icon which you should click on. Further, the icon will say that the connection is secure. As a result potential hackers are not able to see or alter any data that is transferred between a server and browser. 

SSL Certificate for just $8.88 with Namecheap

Floating houses in the mountainous Mae Ngad Dam

Foreword

A floating house in the Mae Ngad Dam.

A trip to Mae Ngad was my first outside of Chiang Mai since returning from the U.K. in early 2021. Mae Ngad Dam is located in the depths of the Srilanna National Park, approximately 50km north of Chiang Mai. My girlfriend and I invited friends to accompany us to one of the floating houses on the Dam. We met up at a petrol station close to Highway 107, setting off at 7.30am to avoid the hottest sun. The route is straightforward; take Highway 107 out of the city and then join the 3008 for the final few kilometres. Our total journey time was around an hour as the Highway is a direct route to Chiang Dao.

One of the viewing platforms at the Dam.

Breakfast and Hiking at Srilanna National Park

Arriving at Srilanna National Park, we purchased boat tickets, about 100 baht per person, to one of the floating houses on the Dam. The company we used was called Eakachai Houseboat which offer various packages. Several of us then consumed a delicious pork noodle soup at a restaurant close to the National Park entrance. The noodles were served with bean sprouts, dumplings, green vegetables and spices, as is traditional. Our morning activity involved a short hike into the National Park where the Dam first came into view. Moreover, the hike comprised several tracks into the mountains which provided spectacular views of the dense forest. We followed a trail for about 2km before heading back to the entrance ready for our boat trip.

Walking into the Srilanna National Park.

Boat trip to the Floating Houses

Boarding the boat to the floating house.

We took a Songthaew, included in the ticket, from the National Park entrance to the waterfront. From here we boarded the boat which can carry up to 8 passengers. The views from the open water were engrossing, another reminder to myself of just how mountainous northern Thailand is. Touching down at the floating house we headed to the restaurant area to take a table to sit. We ordered light refreshments like papaya salad, crisps and nuts before readying ourselves to swim. The floating house had well maintained changing and shower facilities that we could use.

Our friend diving into the water in the vicinity.

Water Activities at the Floating Houses

There were slides, diving boards, floats and general equipment to keep us amused in the water around the floating house. In addition, the backdrop offered superb views of the encircling mountains. On the day the weather was especially hot so most of us participated in swimming. Myself and others tested out two of the slides, balanced on floats and entertained ourselves with the equipment. We were provided life jackets, a relief as I rarely venture into water deeper than where I can stand. After about an hour of enjoying the water, we returned to the restaurant for an exquisite lunch.

Some of the apparatus at the floating house.

Lunch and return to the National Park

The menu at the floating houses was extensive with many of my favourite Thai meals. As there were 8 of us we ordered a selection of dishes to share. These included grilled chicken, fried rice with pork, shrimp tom yum, papaya salad, grilled pork and whole fish. After lunch we witnessed final views on the Dam as we completed the return boat trip. The scenery we observed throughout the trip was both fascinating and sublime. Consequently, Mae Ngad is a pleasurable option for a short day trip out of Chiang Mai. Yet, if you prefer to spend time exploring further, you can book a floating house for an overnight stay.

So much of the landscape in northern Thailand is mountainous.