16 May
   Filed Under: Unfiled   

Ended up on MacNN, the MacReviewCast and some other sites, and now an Apple.com iTunes+iPod staff pick! I am very honoured. Let’s put it up here for history’s sake. I feel like the day I was featured as a daily deviation on deviantART!

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Very cool. I’ll update the website soon, with all these honorary mentions. Keep providing input via MacUpdate, and iusethis (I love this site) and here, of course.

16 May
   Filed Under: Personal   

The European Union. Benefactor, malevolent. In my country, like the French, we have voted off a European Constitution. Even before that even came into the public discussion, I was very active in another part of the EU legislation; software patents. It was a close call, but the proposals were all swept clean of the table. Eventually, we haven’t made idiotic legislation for software patenting and it turned out all the better.

The European Constitution allows more power to the EU congress; an entity that has shown itself to be sensitive to lobbying, prone to mass expenditure (like moving to Straßburg every now and then, slurping up millions just because, well, people love to just move the entire congress over the continent every now and then) and well-versed in overseeing the most important matters in national cases.

Lately, with the PR campaign that is meant to facilitate a general feeling of helplessness and fear for the most minute minority of our populace, it’s become a much more scary regulatory organ pushing for continent-wide regulation of data retention (you email, your browsing behaviour, and more), radio-frequency chip enabled biometric passports, mandatory ID-checks, centralized databases of genetic, biometric, and private information and more scary things. It’s in a race to becoming the US Congress for Europe. Only worse.

And today, Sarkozy takes presidency in France. He is an absolute fan of the European Union, and he won’t poll the French population for such matters again. Germany, now under conservationist Merckel, will also bend in any way the EU wants. And us? The progressive Dutch? Ah, our government has been conservative since ages. We’re in Afghanistan, we’ve been in Iraq – hell, we are the only participating country in the war in Iraq that did not launch an investigation into the absence of WMD’s. Progressive? Think again.

it’s astonishing to see the Western world of politics heave in wave after wave of conservative political reform that regresses us in our rights and privileges. I see the gap between immigrants and native citizens of countries widen, poverty increasing, education falling into a state of profit-driven farms that put out students with no real skills. The world we are making is an alienating place, where there is an unspoken and unseen fear between all human beings. The collective feeling of only being able to march in one line, and keep strict tabs on your left and right neighbors. We’ll continue aggravating ourself until the bubble collapses; the incredible overload of wealth draining away.

As it stands now, countries like India and China grow so rapid that in the time you have read this, there were about 40 new human beings born. We won’t be able to sustain our growth. Have you ever imagined how the collapse of humanity would look like? I am starting to ponder about it. When will the breaking point come, where oil and food becomes too expensive and all countries, worldwide, will run into struggles. If you analyze our history, you will see war is one of the most likely scenario’s.

Perhaps one day a more progressive race will land on our globe and look over the scattered remains of our society and sketch out the outline of a race that outgrew itself.

16 May
   Filed Under: Unfiled   

I haven’t had a 1.0 release before so publicly, and I must say I am totally lyrical. The first few copies of Stealth have just gone out the door, so I can take a break customizing. The first day has been successful in sales and I want to thank everyone for buying or inquiring about it! Some feedback has been given about the site too, and for that, I am putting up a demo soon, and more information about what it does, why you would want it, and more. It’s up on several websites now, so AppUpdate and other ‘smart’ package-receipt aware applications will pick up all updates in the future.

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You guys are really supporting me. Thanks a lot for the hits, the visits, the input, and buying the product.

15 May
   Filed Under: Announcement   

I think you’d better just go here and download the demo.

I am having issues setting up Kagi and my credit card, but as you can see on the buy page, you can email me if you’re dying to get in on this limited edition skin and personalized edition – we can surely send money over regular bank accounts or paypal before the credit card payments work. I’ll get this all settled in the next few days, as well as perhaps add a second demo with another theme. Give me some input, okay? And enjoy!

14 May
   Filed Under: Personal   

greenshit.jpg

So, people, if you do make something that puts images on iPods in great, great quantities, then make sure you do it foolproof. Today, we can really virtually checksum files without computing cost to check their integrity. Hell, anyone who can make a shell script can verify if a copy operation succeeded by checking file size and attributes. Apparently, the iTunes team didn’t really deem this necessary (although you have full permission to flame me if you classdumped iTunes and found contrary evidence). The image above shows a, well, slightly recurring problem that can happen with the Photo sync of iTunes. It seems to be quite versed in producing corrupt images or even leaving some data of the old image in place, if the names were alike. I am going to dig deeper into this to see if I can make it reproducible.

I have tested this with GIF’s (which produce non-working images), PNG (native format of Timezones, makes these weird green bands seen above) and JPG’s, who create familiar ‘bolts’ artifacts and some very pretty colors and gradients that you haven’t bargained for. Perhaps, no, really, I might make an app that does this whole Photo syncing instead of iTunes. This is just too bad to be usable.
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13 May
   Filed Under: Apple   

Since it has been a bit silent on the security side of the blog lately, I have been working on some additions that are in line with the original nature of the blog. This week an interview with Johannes Tiefenbrunner, developer at Obdev in Austria, known for the premier Mac firewalling program Little Snitch, that protects you against potential trojans, outgoing connections (applications phoning home) and lately, even code injection. Obdev is also known for Launchbar, a very popular launcher application for OS X.
So, here’s the interview, in which I ask them about those cool features like code injection prevention, the future and past of Little Snitch (like Leopard) and even it’s icon. We also touch on OS X as a secure platform and it’s future.

1. Cocoia: Hello! You’re the developers behind the widely used security program for the Mac, Little Snitch. Could you tell a bit about your company?

Obdev: We kind of stepped into the Mac area via the side door: We’ve been developing software for the NeXT platform – e.g. LaunchBar actually started on the NeXT. When NeXT and Apple joined and the NeXT (OpenStep) technology became “Cocoa”, we were able to use our rich experience for the Mac.

We also develop for other *nix based platforms – our SMB network client Sharity supports several *nix flavors and our WebCMS WebYep, being PHP based, is cross platform anyway.

But we definitely can say that developing for the Mac is incomparably more joyful ;-).

2. Cocoia: Little Snitch has been among us for quite some while. What was the initial impulse to begin development on Little Snitch? How old is it now, exactly?

Obdev: The first version of Little Snitch was released in February 2003.

The idea of such application came up when we installed a new version of a well known application from one of the big software companies. There were rumors that this new version phones home, but nobody had definitive information since ordinary users weren’t able to verify this at that time. Curious as we are, we dove down into the Unix level of Mac OS X and by running some network sniffing tools found that the rumors were true.

We did not like the idea that any application can send data anywhere without our knowledge. The user should be informed and be able to decide. That’s why we created Little Snitch.

3.Cocoia: Have there been specifically hard points for you, like OS transitions and uneasy development challenges?

Obdev: Every Mac OS transition has the potential of requiring severe redesigns of Little Snitch – working in close contact with the lower levels of the operating system results in a greater dependency to that system’s implementation details.

But on the other hand this also makes it more challenging than the “usual” Mac OS application. Covering the whole area, from the kernel level up to the GUI, makes Little Snitch a very interesting project.

4. Cocoia: I have noticed that the latest versions of Little Snitch have improved protection from other, slightly related security issues like code injection. That’s quite a feat. What prompted the addition of this feature, and do you plan more extensive features like this in Little Snitch for the future versions?

Obdev: We have no plans to make Little Snitch into an “all-round security tool” with virus scanner, malware detection, firewall etc. – these things are not Little Snitch’s job. But whenever Little Snitch itself is endangered by some security problem, like it was by the code injection issue, we will protect it.

5. Cocoia: Little Snitch’s icon has had some criticism by bloggers and commenters on websites alike. What are your thoughts on this?

Obdev: To be honest: This is totally new to us. We actually have seen very positive response to Little Snitch’s icon – like on Starry Hope.
But this of course is a subject of taste. We currently do not have any plans to change the icon, but the upcoming Little Snitch 2 (currently in closed beta) will include improvements also on the visual side as well as in usability and functionality.

6. Cocoia: Is there a special version of Little Snitch for Leopard in the works? Is there anything you can divulge about this?

Obdev: With every new pre-release build of Leopard we adapt the current beta of Little Snitch 2. When Leopard is officially released, we will have a compatible version ready.

7. Cocoia: What are your thoughts, as a developer of premier security software for the Mac, as OS X’s security status? Do you think the future is grim, or do you have faith in the strength of a well-designed OS?

Obdev: We think that with Mac OS X Apple has a very good chance to offer the best and also most secure desktop operating system available. As always, there’s room for improvement, but beside other advantages, Apple has one big pro: They always had the guts to redesign core parts of their OS whenever they found a better solution instead of clubfooted dragging old designs into new OS version just for the sake of compatibility.

8. Cocoia: All right, thanks for the interview!

Obdev: Our pleasure – good bye!

I want to thank Johannes for this great interview and taking the time for having it.