The Rise and Fall of LastPass

Password managers are essential and I recommend everyone to use one. It can be confusing learning the right way to manage your passwords and which software to use, I plan on writing another introduction article about that but to start with I’m focusing on my personal experience with LastPass and how it went from winning the hearts of its users to frustrating them.

LastPass welcome email

I’ve been a customer of LastPass since the very beginning. My very first welcome email from them is dated August 31, 2008, just 9 days after the company launched. That means as of the date I’m writing this I’ve been using LastPass for 12 years, 5 months, and 28 days. It’s pretty surprising for me to be using the same application for password management for so many years, not much consumer software sticks around that long.

In the beginning the software worked as advertised and it was exciting to have my passwords synced across major operating systems (including Linux!) and popular browsers of the time, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Safari was advertised as coming soon and Google Chrome didn’t even exist yet, it was going to be launched days later on September 2nd, 2008. LastPass Pro was a reasonable $12 dollars per year which provided more integrated mobile app. I ran into an occasional site specific issue here and there. I once contacted support on November 14th, 2008:

Meebo is still not logging in for me correctly. It asks to remember but does not show up next time I visit the site. I’ve deleted all my previous Meebo saved passwords and it still does not work. I hope this gets fixed soon, I’m really looking forward to it. Firefox v3.0.4, LastPass v1.36.

Meebo allowed you to chat in a web app connected to multiple IM services at the same time. It may not sound revolutionary in today’s tech but in 2008 it was way ahead of it’s time which was why LastPass was having trouble with it. One of the four cofounders, Andrew Zitnay, emailed me back directly soon after:

Meebo is a very special case.  You will need to enter your information on, and then before submitting, use our new LastPass -> Save All Entered Date feature to save the information.

I was impressed to see cofounders engaging directly with their users and definitely helped make me a more devoted user myself. For years LastPass was my default recommendation for password managers. They had a strong focus on security (despite some security issues over the years), it was easy to learn how to use, worked on everything, and premium features were reasonably priced.

LastPass acquires Xmarks email

My passwords were syncing across browsers but I had another problem, my bookmarks were scattered everywhere. I found Xmarks, a browser extension that would sync your bookmarks across all browsers that was free and worked well enough. It was like LastPass but for bookmarks. In what seemed like a perfect pairing of tools, LastPass acquired Xmarks on December 2nd, 2010. It was easy to imagine merging Xmarks into LastPass eventually and adding new features, these were exciting times for the company.

On November 2nd, 2016, LastPass announced it was making the mobile apps on Android and iPhone completely free to use for non-paying customers. This was exciting, but I was also torn because I didn’t use the other premium features that were left so paying for premium felt more like a donation. It looked like their new strategy was to use the improved free personal tier to drive up their more lucrative enterprise account memberships. If everyone at a company is already familiar with LastPass they’re probably more inclined to trust it and not mind work paying for it.

This is when things start going downhill with a bait-and-switch. In October 2015, LastPass was acquired by LogMeIn, a company known for it’s quiet price increases. Over the course of a few years the premium price increased to $24 dollars per year then $36 dollars per year on February 7th, 2019. It became harder and harder to justify paying such a high price for something that provided a small convenience to me, especially since I didn’t really need any of the premium features.

After the acquisition, LogMeIn promised to continue supporting Xmarks, the bookmarking syncing service I had come to rely on. Only 2 and a half short years later on May 1st, 2018 they broke their promise by announcing Xmarks is shutting down. This was so disappointing and definitely left a sore spot for me since it was a service I’d gladly pay for. To this day I haven’t found a good alternative.

lastpass multi-device access blog post

Finally, we come to the most recent event that sent me over the edge to migrate to another password manager. LastPass recently announced they are removing free sync between laptop and mobile devices in a blog post, reversing their announcement in 2016. It’s a crummy behavior to take features away from users and they know it because they took down their original blog post announcing free sync, you’ll see it redirects to the newer blog post. Luckily you can still read the original blog post on the Internet Archive. This severely hampers the free tier to point of making it unusable to most people.

It’s clear that LogMeIn and it’s private equity firm owner doesn’t care about it’s free, or even premium LastPass users, and is focused on enterprise sales. They continue to push users away which won’t make them want to use the software at work either. The original founders vision to make passwords accessible everywhere is dead. What once started as an exciting company and tech, is a sad version of it’s former self that will be continuously pressured by it’s parent company to spend more time optimizing the pricing structure and adding trackers then investing in the software and it’s users.

Farewell LastPass. It was nice knowing you but I don’t want to be along for the wild ride anymore, who knows what I’ll silently be charged in another year or features taken away. I don’t want to support a parent company that behaves this way and can no longer recommend you.

Goodbye Paper User Manuals

Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 electric toothbrush website manuals and documentation

I have to admit, I enjoy reading user manuals to find everything out about a particular gadget. There is usually a couple hidden features or some helpful maintenance tips to increase the devices longevity. The problem is those manuals are usually bulky, awkwardly shaped, and have very thin pages. Scanning them would be tedious and not worth the effort.

I’ve noticed a growing trend of companies offering user manuals online. While cleaning up my stack of papers I realized all of them had nice digital PDFs available online! In addition, they were mostly identical but I noticed some of them had made minor corrections since my edition was printed. That allowed me to toss them all after saving their online copies. So next time you’re presented with a physical paper user manual, check if the company hosts a digital version online.

Many companies provide digital user manuals.

Some products I’ve used and found online:

I realize some devices, like the Google Pixel smartphone and Amazon Kindle e-ink reader, haven’t included paper manuals for years. Instead they usually print out a URL to visit. This has the double benefit of reducing cost and not wasting paper. I suspect going forward this trend will increase as digital files becomes more preferred to the average consumer.

Quickly Trim Down an Overflowing Email Inbox

Man in pile of emails

Here’s a quick tip I’ve found to rapidly trim down my email inbox and slow down my rate of new emails at the same time. It’s a simple three step process:

  1. Find an email you identify as junk. For example, I created a Pinterest account and started receiving spam from them automatically.
  2. Search for an unsubscribe link or navigate to the site to unsubscribe from all emails.
  3. In the email, look for a common “to” or “from” field. For example, the Pinterest emails were coming from “”. Now search for “”, do a quick scan to verify all emails in search list look like junk, select all, then delete all the emails, not just the single email.

By doing this my delete or archive actions have a multiplying effect so I don’t waste time making the same decision for similar emails over and over again. Rinse and repeat until I can’t find any repeating emails. I’ve found I can quickly trim down my neglected inbox to a small fraction of what it was before, giving me more time to focus on the important emails.

Don’t Use Linux to Scan Photographs

The captured image from my flatbed scanner in my previous post appeared to be more washed out compared to the original physical copy (you can see the more accurate color in the sample using my smartphone with flash enabled). Was it a limitation of the hardware or could the software be tweaked to improve quality? In this article I investigate the root cause and see if I can find a more true to life color accuracy.

Tweaking Scan Settings

First, I started adjusting the default contrast and brightness scanning levels but at any values the same washed out color issue was present. There wasn’t a significant difference if I tweaked the levels at scanning time or to the JPEG after scanning.

Changing Drivers

Next, I started thinking about the lower level driver support. Ubuntu automatically recognized and setup the scanner when I plugged it in so I hadn’t really thought about drivers. Doing some digging online lead me to find out Canon doesn’t support this particular all-in-one printer on Linux—well sort of. They don’t offer any Linux drivers on their United States website, but mosey on over to the Canon Europe website and you’ll find it! Why don’t they list them on their U.S. website? I’m hoping someone from the Europe can chime in. I’m guessing there’s some legal requirement there and not in the U.S.

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Digital Minimalism Book Summary

Digital Minimalism book cover

This post contains my carefully crafted summary of Cal Newport’s new book titled Digital Minimalism, choosing a focused life in a noisy world. If you’re interested in my review see my previous post.


Modern digital life is exhausting. The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life. There’s a collection of distressing concerns: addiction, reduction in autonomy, decrease in overall happiness, incentive to stoke darker instincts, and distraction from more valuable activities.

The author has become convinced that what you need instead is a full-fledged philosophy of technology use, rooted in your deep values, that provides clear answers to the questions of what tools you should use and how you should use them and, equally important, enables you to confidently ignore everything else. He calls it digital minimalism, and it applies the belief that less can be more to our relationship with digital tools.

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Digital Minimalism Book Review

Digital Minimalism book cover

I recently read a new book from Cal Newport titled Digital Minimalism I thought my readers would enjoy. He argues the rise of our hyper-connected digital life has evolved into a threat to our society’s stability. The combination of unintended and intended addictive behaviors at play have caused us to be feel more anxious than ever before and is stripping us of more rewarding activities. He suggests we combat it with a “digital minimalism” philosophy, carefully evaluating if a digital tool is beneficial and extracting only it’s essentials while avoiding it’s addictive traps.

I found the book wonderfully written with compelling examples, as is usual from Cal Newport. The repetition and examples really drive home his points but the core content and suggestions fit on a few pages, which I’ve summarized in a later blog post for a quick reference. I’d still recommend reading the full book if you’re looking for an enjoyable read.

I won’t be switching to a flip phone any time soon, but the book refined the way I look at attention seeking apps and made me more conscious of their addictive behaviors. The most impactful section for me wasn’t specific to digital minimalism, but instead on how I’m spending my leisure time. I love the idea of planning “high-quality” leisure to bring more fulfillment rather than falling into “low-quality” leisure activities every day like watching TV for hours. I’ve already began implementing this practice in my daily life with success.

The book obsesses too much about social media and smartphones as the root of all evils and reducing our digital usage as much as possible. More and more of my high-quality time is digital and that trend will continue in the future and with future generations. For example, drawing an original work of art has similar benefits to the artist whether it’s done digitally or with physical drawing materials. Digital isn’t the enemy, the real enemy is not living intentionally in all aspects of my life.

Interested in more book reviews? Follow me on Goodreads. Want to read a full summary of the book? Stay tuned for my book summary in a follow up post.

Flatbed Scanner vs. Smartphone Camera: Photographs

Collection of photos on table

This is part two of a two part series comparing a traditional flatbed scanner to a modern smartphone camera. My previous post was part one covering text documents.

In the previous section we favored convenience and readability over precise details because we were only looking for information out of the documents. Photos on the other hand can be very precious and retaining high resolution detail is important. Can I get away with only using my smartphone camera to archive printed photographs?

Unlike my previous post, the photograph I’ll be using is a real example. It’s my grandma at her 90th birthday party who has since passed away. The photo is very important to me so I’d like to preserve the original quality as much as possible.

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Flatbed Scanner vs. Smartphone Camera: Text Documents

I made some progress scanning documents with my phone, but I began to wonder if it would be worth scanning documents with a traditional flatbed scanner instead. Luckily I still had one in storage to test.

This is part one of a two part series comparing a flatbed scanner to smartphone camera. In part two, I cover scanning printed photos.

Flatbed Scanner Specs

Canon PIXMA MP250 Inkjet All-In-One Printer

My all-in-one printer came out about 9 years ago, weighs a hefty 12.7 lbs, and has clunky dimensions of 17.5 W x 13.1 D x 6.1 H inches. But the scanner works perfectly and scans at a resolution well beyond the 300 DPI we need. I found the original specs posted on the Canon website:

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Purpose of Digital Tidying

On my digital tidying journey I began to wonder, what’s digital content’s purpose? What’s the end goal of digital tidying? Is all this tidying going to be a benefit in my life? I needed a guiding principle to keep myself in check and track if it’s beneficial to my life. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that digital tidying’s main job to be done is to enrich our analog life.

Think about some of the activities you do with your content. Everything you do eventually ties back to your analog life. For example, you might spend an hour one day curating an awesome workout or study playlist. Why bother spending that time? You’re making a prediction that your work is going to payoff in some form by enriching your analog life, whether it’s pushing through a tougher than normal workout or staying in flow longer while studying. You’re attempting to maximize you’re analog life by digital tidying.

Will this digital tidying enrich my analog life?

This is the question I’m beginning to ask myself before embarking on any tidying. It makes you question if something is really worth tidying just for the sake of tidying or if it’s really important to your life. If the answer is yes then the solution is obvious, tidy away! If there isn’t any benefit to your analog life, you should remove the content from your life.

Ideal Document Archive Resolution

Messy stack of papers.
My messy stack of papers.

I started scanning away physical documents at high resolution and found each page was coming out to about 290-330 KBs. A 3 page document could cost me 1.05 MBs to store, which sounded higher than it needed to be. That would start to add up quickly when you have hundreds of documents to scan. Could I save some storage space by scanning at a lower resolution? Here are my current storage size estimates:

PagesStorage Size
1310 KB
103.1 MB
10031 MB
1,000310 MB
10,0003.1 GB
100,00031 GB

The fine details of most documents I’m scanning aren’t that important, all that matters is that the text is legible. For example, I like to keep a history of my car maintenance and most shops only provide a physical copy. A smog check receipt is important to save but the quality only needs to be good enough to verify some key text like certificate number, location, and date. It’s not a document I’m going to refer back to regularly, and may never even need to look at again, so it doesn’t need to have crisp text.

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