IT actually concerned about security
May 31st, 2010 by Ken Hagler

‘Microsoft We Don’t Feel So Good About’.

David Gelles and Richard Waters, in a piece titled “Google Ditches Windows on Security Concerns” in the Financial Times:

New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac
computers or PCs running the Linux operating system. “Linux is
open source and we feel good about it,” said one employee.
“Microsoft we don’t feel so good about.”

[Daring Fireball]

I wish the “security” company I worked for had that much sense. Unfortunately, they make it as hard to get Mac (or Linux) machines as Google has made it to get Windows. And since the Powers That Be decided to “outsource” our entire IT department to a company that manufactures Windows PCs, I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

Quote of the Day
May 30th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Most of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for your liberty never knew they would. They died just going about their own lives as they saw fit. People like Kathryn Johnston, Oscar Grant, Aiyana Jones, Isaac Singletary, and Sean Bell. In fact, their biggest connection to your liberty is that they were killed, murdered, by those who are the sworn enemies of liberty in all its forms. Their sacrifice is defined more by their enemy than it is by any other connection to those of us who strive for true justice and liberty for ALL.

Kent McManigal

Encrypted voice and IM for Android
May 27th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

End-to-End Encrypted Cell Phone Calls.

Android app. (Slashdot thread.)

[Schneier on Security]

From the article:

RedPhone uses ZRTP, an open source Internet voice cryptography scheme created by Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the widely-used Pretty Good Privacy or PGP encryption.


TextSecure uses a similar scheme developed by cryptographers Ian Goldberg and Nikita Borisov known as “Off The Record” to exchange scrambled text messages.

This means that you could talk securely to anyone using Zfone on a computer, and IM securely to anyone with Adium or another app that supports the OTR protocol.

There’s also this rather important distinction from Skype, the “security” of which I’ve criticized before:

Whisper Systems’ apps aren’t the first to bring encrypted VoIP to smartphones. But apps like Skype and Vonage don’t publish their source code, leaving the rigor of their security largely a matter of speculation.

Dropbox and iDisk
May 26th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

I’ve been using MobileMe for a while to handle syncing of contacts and the like between two different Macs, an iPod Touch, and now an iPad. It works quite well for that, but the iDisk feature is sadly lacking. I use it to move small files between various computers (including my Windows desktop), but only for that limited purpose. If I try to move a file larger than about 1 MB it will at best take a very long time, and not infrequently will freeze up entirely. Leaving files that I need to have reliably available on my iDisk and opening files there directly are right out.

After seeing positive mentions here and there I decided to give Dropbox a try. The Dropbox interface is basically the same as iDisk’s–it puts a folder in the sidebar of Finder windows, and you interact with it the same as you do any other folder. Unlike iDisk, where you are connecting to a server, the contents of the Dropbox folder are stored locally and synced to the server when something changes.

Keeping files on the local drive makes it practical to work directly with files located in the Dropbox. Syncing also happens much faster than iDisk–for example, a 1.2 MB Curio file which broke iDisk when I attempted to upload it synced to Dropbox in under a minute. As a test I put a (roughly) 1 MB Tinderbox file that I use to keep track of all the builds I’m responsible for at work on Dropbox, and found that changes made on my Desktop Mac sync in the time it takes to walk the ten feet to my laptop Mac.

The current version of the Dropbox software on the Mac doesn’t preserve file metadata such as file type (for files with no extension) or Spotlight comments when syncing, but there is a prerelease version of the software on the company’s forum which does preserve the metadata–that’s the version I’m currently using.

Wrong approach
May 26th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Browser add-on blocks Google Analytics. Google has released an add-on for Web browsers that blocks information from being sent to its Analytics service. [MacCentral]

This is rather pointless, as Tor blocks Google Analytics, and any other form of spying on the Internet. Anyone who wants their browsing to be private is using it, which means that the people complaining about Google Analytics tracking their activity are only announcing their own ignorance or stupidity (or both).

Browsing the web without Tor and complaining about privacy is like standing on a crowded sidewalk and then complaining that people can see you.

Interesting quote
May 24th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Quote of the Day.

Every time I surrender, even necessarily, to authority which disregardingly or contemptuously violates me, so I violate myself. Every time I break an unnecessary law, doing so for my own joy and to the detriment of no other human being, so I regain myself, and become strong in the parts of me that the security man can never see.

– William T. Vollmann, Riding Toward Everywhere

[Will Wilkinson]

This quote was enough to make me flag the book in my Amazon “wish list” for purchase when the price comes down to a more reasonable level.

Just what user interfaces need, more hieroglyphics
May 23rd, 2010 by Ken Hagler

New iConji Language For the Symbol-Minded Texter. billdar writes “As texting evolves into its own language, a Northern Colorado Business Review article covers an ambitious project to develop a new symbol-based language called iConji for mobile texting and online chatting. ‘iConji is a set of user-created 32×32-pixel symbols that represent words or ideas, not dissimilar from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics or American Sign Language.’ There is an instructional video for the iPhone app and it is also integrated into Facebook.”

Behind this project is Kai Staats, formerly CEO of Terra Soft Solutions, the original developer of Yellow Dog Linux. [Slashdot]

From what the screenshots show, the symbols are even more cryptic than the toolbar hieroglyphics in Windows apps.

Computers cause insomnia?
May 21st, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Reading on iPad before bed can affect sleep habits. Light-emitting devices, including cellphones and yep, the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert. Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with, say, a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica. [Los Angeles Times]

It’s an interesting possibility. I use a laptop right up until I go to bed, and often have trouble getting to sleep (although the elephants stampeding upstairs certainly don’t help). On the other hand, I’m wary of studies these days, as they are often politically motivated and wildly exaggerate dangers (secondhand smoke) or make them up completely (cell phones causing cancer).

Quote of the Day
May 20th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

Not doing Transformers 3 is not an option. Too much money involved. And Micheal Bay has to blow things up! Not giving him a creative outlet to do that could be disastrous.


Photoshop Crash Reports
May 20th, 2010 by Ken Hagler

I came across a collection of very funny Photoshop crash reports.

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