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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in regek's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, March 12th, 2009
5:29 pm
Resolution Independence

All over the Mac rumor sites, I've been seeing speculation on iPhone OS 3.0. Apple announced that it will be discussed in a few days, so this is normal enough. What prompted this post is the utter wrongness of some of the speculation.

For a few years, Apple has been planning a feature called "resolution independence". For some absurd reason, people think this means iPhones with bigger displays or tablets or netbooks running iPhone OS. It does not mean this at all.

Resolution independence is intended to make user interface elements the same physical size on any monitor, regardless of the resolution of that monitor. This means that if you have an element that should be one inch long, it will be 72 pixels long on a 72 DPI monitor, 100 pixels long on a 100 DPI monitor, and 163 pixels long on an iPhone with its 163 DPI display. Essentially, it does the opposite of what these clowns think it does. It means that very small, very high-resolution displays don't make the buttons and text smaller, they just make everything sharper at the same size.

Sunday, December 28th, 2008
4:39 pm
QSOP insanity

I had quite a bit of "fun" yesterday trying to solder some QSOP-16 and SOT-23-5 chips to breakout boards to give them DIP spacing. I couldn't use the skillet soldering method because the adapters had pins already.ended up ruining one chip, but another appears to work. Still, I would like to have more than a 50% success rate.

Does anyone have recommendations, suggestions or tips for this kind of thing? I did these two "by hand" with some silver-bearing solder paste and a butane torch. Unfortunately, my hand tremor makes it impossible to do it with a fine-pitch iron.

Monday, April 28th, 2008
3:01 pm
I recently ran across a fantastic cover of a track originally by one of my favorite groups, The Knife. The same artist has also covered some other tracks, notably Teardrop by Massive Attack, one of my other favorite groups.

José González - Heartbeats (in an ad for Bravia TVs)

José González - Teardrop

His playing reminds me of Nick Drake's less depressing works.
Monday, March 31st, 2008
2:37 am
I hate televised sports. It seems that they invariably run over the allotted time slot and when they do, the network either just skips the show they were going to play or they shift their entire schedule by the amount of time the game went over.

Take Sunday afternoon and evening. I had scheduled a recording of Dexter a while ago. I come home tonight to find that the first half of my recording is Cold Case and the second half is the first half of the show I was wanting. I take a look at the TV schedule CBS has posted, and see a basketball game scheduled from 1 PM until 6 PM. It apparently ran until 6:30 and CBS shifted the rest of their schedule.

Basketball is played in four periods of 10 or 12 minutes or in two periods of 20. Overtime is taken in periods of 5 minutes. Even assuming 12 minute quarters and two periods of overtime, that's still less than an hour of game. Assuming two games lasting 58 minutes each, that's still less than half of this time spent playing the game. The rest is presumably filled with ads and talking-head commentators. A far more likely count is 40 or 45 minutes, making the total actual game time for two games a maximum of an hour and a half.


This is one of those things that gets me unreasonably angry. I'm just sick of my shows always being trampled because of these people who just have to see their teams live and the networks that fail to plan for this!

I don't have a problem with sports in general, or the fans of said sports. My beef is really with the networks that don't schedule enough time for the games when they know historically these games and their associated commentary and ads take far longer than the networks budget for. If the game has a decent chance of lasting six hours, don't schedule it for five! This happened last weekend, too. It's probably going to happen the next one. And the next. And the next.

Current Mood: infuriated
Thursday, December 20th, 2007
9:28 am
Phone developer kit security
Monday and Tuesday, I had some AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting/Auditing) training at work. The first part deals with how we can verify that someone is who they say they are in a secure manner. We discussed digital certificates quite a bit, including how they can be used to verify signatures from the private key. A lot of this was stuff I already knew, but I made some very interesting connections going back over it a second time.

At some point, we discussed 802.1x. I wasn't sure how it was configured on the Mac, so I connected to my laptop at home from my phone and went to the network settings. Found it after a bit of poking around. After the class, I went up to show the instructor what I had found, and we got to discussing the iPhone and iPod Touch. Afterwards, I started thinking about how the concepts from the class may be used by Apple in the developer kit that is supposedly coming out in February.

First, what we know.
  • They said that idea of everything being signed like Nokia does is "a step in the right direction".

  • They said that they are working on a way to keep the platform open while still making it secure.

  • The SDK will also cover the iPod Touch and iPhones not in the United States.

The third item may not seem like much, but it means that the app creation process most likely will not be at the mercy of AT&T. For those who haven't had to deal with AT&T, just know that this is an enormously good thing. They don't care. They don't have to. They're the phone company.

Now, related to the first known I listed there, the desktop/laptop version of Leopard is known to have application signing support. In fact, this is used by Leopard's application firewall. Essentially, if an app doesn't have a developer-provided signature, the OS creates a signature for it. This broke some apps that do their own integrity checking such as Skype, since the OS-generated signature goes into the application package. The iPhone and iPod Touch run an operating system not entirely unlike Leopard. In fact, when I hacked a terminal onto mine and ran the command 'uname -a' (a UNIX command that tells you what kind of environment you are using), it returned that I was running Darwin 9.0.0. That is the same version that Leopard is based on.

Now, normal code signing involves paying a certificate authority such as VeriSign, Thawte, or others for a developer certificate that you can use to sign code. This costs an obscene amount of money, considering what the certificate is and how little it actually means, but that is neither here nor there for this discussion.

For the purpose of simplicity, I will limit my discussion to the iPhone except where noted. It has the "advantage" of a constant connection to the Internet over a cell radio. My "solution" is created with the iPod Touch in mind, though.

Long discussion of options behind cutCollapse )

And now, I need to head to work. I'll write more on this later.
Thursday, December 13th, 2007
12:12 am
I just finished watching Elephant. It was rather good. I find it more than a little creepy that the majority of the characters had their actors' names, though, and the last line was downright disturbing.

The cinematography was stunning. In one part, there were three runs through the same events, each of which was a continuous shot following a different character. Going back over it mentally, it would be easy to do in post-production, since I don't think any two of them show the same character voicing the same lines. Even knowing that, the effect is really cool.

Current Mood: indescribable
Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
2:43 am
Apple ads
Now this is weird. Take a look at this ad:


That was made by TBWA/Chiat/Day, the ad agency Apple have used since ... forever ago. They're the ad agency responsible for the 1984 ad, among others. They have had a hand in practically every Apple advertising campaign ever.

Now, take a look at this YouTube video created by an English guy by the name of Nick Haley:


Bears more than a passing resemblance, doesn't it? ;-)

Current Mood: amused
Saturday, October 27th, 2007
5:45 pm
Now that I've had more than 24 hours to play with the final version of Leopard, I've noticed a few interesting things.

First, screenshots. It looks like each window's drop shadow is a part of that window's OpenGL surface now. The Command-Shift-4, Space key sequence used to take a screenshot of a window with no drop shadow. Now it's embedded into the PNGs. Hooray for 8-bit, 4-channel color!

Screenshots cut for sizeCollapse )

The new Finder is slick. It makes the upgrade and all of the waiting worth it for me. Specifically, they've finally improved sharing, and it now includes some kind of screen sharing. From what I can tell, the new screen sharing is based on VNC, but improved in a few ways. I can actually stream video watchably through it on a local wireless network.

QuickLook is absurdly useful. As far as I can tell, it's the biggest new idea in Leopard. One single interface to open and view practically any document. Until you've seen it for yourself, you can't really understand just how cool it is to be able to just pop open a document to verify it's the one you want before loading the mothership app. It's also extremely fast. You select a file, press the spacebar, and it's open. Half a second, maybe. This will probably be showing up in other OSs very soon.

Remote parental controls work almost exactly how I expected them to. Quite a cool idea that I haven't seen before in other systems. You activate remote setup on machine A and other machines on the network spot it. If you feed machine B the username and password of machine A, it can connect, get a user list, and administer those users' parental controls just as if you were at machine A's local console.

The new Dock doesn't bug me as much as I thought it would. Frankly, I prefer the little blue lights in Leopard to the black triangles earlier versions had to indicate running apps. The showhidden trick still works, and that's the only thing I really care about. It's just as functional for me. Stacks are also nice to have.

The new translucent menu bar sucks. It looks terrible to have my display filled with apps and yet there's still a little bar of my desktop showing through. It's especially ugly when you're on a clean desktop opening up a menu. The menus themselves are translucent, but not to the same degree.

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Interestingly, the menus and sheets also blur things behind them now. It's a pretty subtle effect, since the menus are mostly opaque, but I don't like it much. It reminds me of Vista's window borders, and those always looked ... muddy to me. It's livable, just kind of weird.

The new Mail.app is blazingly fast. Tiger's Mail used to bog down when I opened one of my mailboxes with 58k E-mails in it. The new Mail's RAM footprint goes up, but it opens the mailbox and lets me scroll wherever I want in under a second. It feels about as responsive as iPhoto's scrolling does.

One unfortunate thing is that Time Machine gobbles processor power every hour to do its backups. The more you've changed, the longer it pegs one of your cores. Hopefully they'll make it either more efficient or nice it way up (in BSD, a process with a high "nice" value runs at a low priority and can be postponed if other processes need the chip). Other than that, it works pretty well though. I'm really liking how it does full backups at delta backup speed with hard links. For anyone curious about how this works, AppleInsider had a fantastic article on Time Machine in their Road To Leopard series earlier this month. It's worth the read.

Preview is dramatically faster. Presumably, they made it a frontend to QuickLook kind of like how TextEdit (the included word processor that lies somewhere between WordPad and Microsoft Word in functionality) is just an interface to the included NSTextView element that any program on Mac OS can use "for free".

Other than that, I have a few minor gripes about things like changes to the command line utilities and so forth. All of my problems with it are vastly outweighed by the benefits of the new Finder and QuickLook alone.

I'll probably be writing something much more extensive later.
Wednesday, October 17th, 2007
11:11 am
Looks like I was right ... kind of. Apple are releasing an SDK to let people code apps that will run natively on the iPhone and iPod Touch. I was wrong about the time scale (I thought it would come with Xcode 3 in Leopard). They aren't making it easy to link to the press release, though. It's on the Apple Hot News site and is currently the top item.

Really, this shouldn't be surprising to anyone who has been following the devices. They both run a version of OS X based on the Leopard codebase. Third-party apps were an inevitability, just as I suspect they are for the AppleTV. Someone gave a reason for this delay that I find rather plausible. Whenever you release an SDK, developers expect it to be set in stone and they will scream at you for every little change, no matter how insignificant you think it may be.
Thursday, September 13th, 2007
11:38 am
I just found out this morning that my grandfather on my mom's side died at about 3:20 AM today.

He had had a heart attack earlier this year and more recently, a stroke that affected his speech center. Apparently he wasn't cooperating with the people trying to help him with rehabilitation. He always was very independent and I get the feeling that if he could have talked, he would have removed himself from rehab much earlier.

At least it was essentially his choice to stop.

Current Mood: indescribable
Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
2:24 am
Well, my birthday this year just came and went. Five people other than my family noticed and said something. I think that's the most in about ten years.

Thanks everyone. ^_^

Current Mood: tired
Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
11:42 am
iPhone vulnerability
Looks like I was wrong. From Apple's security mailing list:
CVE-ID: CVE-2007-3944
Available for: iPhone v1.0
Impact: Viewing a maliciously crafted web page may lead to arbitrary code execution
Description: Heap buffer overflows exist in the Perl Compatible Regular Expressions (PCRE) library used by the JavaScript engine in Safari. By enticing a user to visit a maliciously crafted web page, an attacker may trigger the issues, which may lead to arbitrary code execution. This update addresses the issues by performing additional validation of JavaScript regular expressions. Credit to Charlie Miller and Jake Honoroff of Independent Security Evaluators for reporting these issues.

The issue was patched in yesterday's iPhone firmware update.

I still wonder how they found they could execute arbitrary code without anyone having a working toolchain to use to *generate* that code.
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
1:35 pm
Power outages
Since about midnight, I had been copying a friend's hard drive to see if I could recover any files from it. His drive is 300 GB and for some reason, it's only copying at about 1.3-1.4 MB/s, so it's going to take about 60 hours to actually make a full copy. I didn't have enough internal drive space for it (my laptop only has a 160 GB drive which is mostly used), so I had bought a pair of 500 GB external drives. I'm only using one right now for the acquisition, but the other will be needed for extra space for file analysis. The "evidence locker", as it were.

This morning at about 10:15, our apartment lost power.

I ignored it figuring that I've got good UPSs and the power here doesn't stay down for very long. Two hours later, my UPS starts beeping urgently at me, which is what it does when it estimates that it has 10% or less of its power left. Well, I didn't want the power to die and potentially damage the filesystem on the drive I was copying to, so I killed the copy 12 hours into it.

Not ten seconds later, the power comes back on.

Edit: UNIX geekery behind the cut.Collapse )

Current Mood: furious
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
12:28 am
Whoever made the music for Spooks is a wonderful composer. The show's theme, the themes of the various characters, it's all wonderfully done. I want to see if I can find a copy of the music somewhere.
Saturday, July 14th, 2007
12:18 pm
iPhone review!
In case you're already sick of seeing these everywhere, I'm putting mine behind a cut.

I got an iPhone about two weeks ago. My thoughts on itCollapse )

Overall, I would say it's very much a 1.0 product. Bleeding edge, as it were. I'm fine with getting the few small cuts it has given me, as they irritate me far less than any of the other phones I have used.

If you are thinking about getting one, be aware that it has a lot of shortcomings, but when you start using it, those shortcomings start to seem a lot less important. It's weird, but I find myself actually using my phone more now than I did before. A lot more.

[Edit to add]: I have found a few very slick iPhone web apps, though.

My list of most-used appsCollapse )
Monday, July 2nd, 2007
12:39 am
Gartner was wrong
And I was right. iPhone doesn't need any more of a firewall than it comes with. "The iPhone is not running any services listening on any TCP ports, and silently drops all unrequested packets."

That's from a report on iPhone's security by someone who actually knows what he's talking about. It was posted on Full Disclosure a couple of days ago. Since then, people have dissected the restore image (which indicates that the OS is on the order of 200 MB, not 700) and discovered the passwords for both root (dottie) and a user named 'mobile' (alpine). Not that those passwords do anyone any good, since there isn't yet a way to get command-line access on the thing.

Really, the only attack vector I can see is through Mail. It automatically renders HTML E-mail, so if you could find a vulnerability in WebKit, you could conceivably use it to either crash the device or run code as Mail's user (presumably the user named mobile). There's always the "trick a user into visiting a malicious site", but that's effectively the same and requires the user to be slightly more complicit.

(Edit: I keep forgetting that, like iPod, it isn't "the iPhone", but just "iPhone". Apple never uses articles with either of them. It's like they're proper names.)

Current Mood: tired
Friday, June 22nd, 2007
7:36 pm
A Gartner "analyst" talking about the iPhone:

"'This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities, and it's important that it be recognized as such,' he says. 'You'll have e-mail in a place that's unsecured. There are no firewalls on the device. There's no ability to wipe [info from] the device if it's lost.'"

What a profoundly sad comment on the state of software. Why on earth does a phone need a firewall, let alone more than one? What sorts of externally accessible services would a phone be running?

Further, nobody has one of these things yet! This clown can't possibly know what it does and does not do in terms of security because there hasn't been any sort of announcement at all.

Current Mood: annoyed
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
10:48 pm
Wow. I just watched the final episode of the third season of Spooks. I don't think I'll be able to watch it again. That one and the second episode of the first season.

Current Mood: numb
Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
10:35 pm
Bloody hell, Resident Evil 4 is scary on a 10' diagonal projection screen. The game has surround-sound support, too, and the audio is masterfully done. It's like Myst in terms of ambience and how it changes. Flows smoothly from the area theme to a completely different one when enemies spot you. I also love the chainsaw's idle sound and how when you're inside a house, it sounds like it's coming from everywhere around you.

It's very pretty, though. Has the GameCube version's graphics and apparently they fed it the PS2 version's content. For those who don't know, the GameCube's graphics (and audio) hardware was almost obscenely more powerful than that of the PS2. As a result, GameCube games looked gorgeous, but they were limited by the size of the 1.5 GB mini DVDs as opposed to the 8.5 GB disks that the PS2 and Xbox could use. As a result, games that were released in parallel across multiple platforms normally had more content on the PS2 and Xbox than on the GameCube.

The one thing that kind of disappoints me is that they don't seem to have done any reworking of the graphics to take advantage of the even higher power that the Wii provides. It looks amazing, but it could potentially have been better.

Still tense and frightening as anything I've ever played, though.

Current Mood: impressed
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
7:21 pm
To all those wankers driveling on about how Apple tags the new DRM-free files you download from them with your username and real name (yes, Wired, I'm looking at you!):

Welcome to four years ago.

That is all.

Current Mood: annoyed
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