Book Report – Little Brother

Articles
Set in mid-2000s San Francisco, [Cory Doctorow][craphound]'s Little Brother brings a tale of what can go wrong when yuo have a society that values compliance over independence. A story of technology innovation, [hacker culture][wiki-hackerculture], information sharing and data freedom all set against the backdrop of a modern-day terrorism nightmare. Cory Doctorow highlights a number of different things in our everyday world that allow other people to learn more about you, to track you and build a profile about you. These are extended to the next level in Little Brother talking about some of the what-ifs and could-bes that today's technology could allow. You can get a copy of the book [online for free][book-download], that's how the author has always released his material. Doctorow has been a strong believer in the…
Read More

Server Hardening Strategies

Articles
Staying secure is a full-time gig. It doesn't matter whether we're talking a datacentre or your smartphone, there are always steps to be taken to keep your machines and your data as safe as possible. With the increasing popularity of virtualization for applications and services and the ability for people to "roll your own" cloud comes the need to secure those machines. This becomes increasingly challenging when you consider the fact that by their very nature these machines are constantly exposed to the Internet. ### Minimize Your Attack Surface **Don't install it unless you need it** One of the best things you can do to harden a server environment is to take a minimalistic approach. Don't install components that you think you "might need" somewhere down the road, or things…
Read More

Vivaldi – Chrome Reimagined

Articles
For several years I've been wanting to make the switch to Chrome from Firefox, but the lack of a couple of key plugins has held me back. One of these was the way that windowed plugins were handled initially (the popup for LastPass in Chrome was hideous, but that's no longer an issue.) The bigger issue for me was the lack of a good vertical tabs plugin for Chrome. I've tried several tabs but none of them seem to work the way I've gotten used to with the venerable Tree Style Tabs in Firefox. Enter, Vivaldi. This is a Chromium-based browser that offers a lot in terms of UI customization over the stock Chrome implementation. With tab handling in particular there's a lot to like about Vivaldi. The vertical tab…
Read More

Think Different(ly)

Articles
In a recent conversation with [Knightwise][kw] we were musing that it doesn't seem that it's very long since we were both ragging on Dave to get off Windows and get a Mac. Today we're both seriously entertaining the possibility that our next primary computing device might be running an OS from Redmond. What changed? Has Windows gotten that much better? Yes. It's undeniably better. But we're also different. And Apple is different. I think when we switched to the Mac we saw it as the Valhalla of everything we were looking for. A better system with a unix terminal which would give us the best of both worlds: open source, and a first-class GUI driven OS. In a lot of ways the Mac hasn't progressed since the Intel transition. Sure…
Read More

Book Report – Hamlet’s Blackberry

Articles
**Title**: Hamlet's Blackberry **Author**: William Powers I've been trying to get this book read for about the last 18 months. It had come highly recommended by a friend who found the book to be a good look into the technological overload of our modern times, and the inherent constant connectivity to the crowds provided by the Internet. It took me quite a while to get into this book. Powers' continual assertion that the technology that we have come to rely on is disconnecting us from ourselves, and our reality. The same technology that we use to keep us connected and allow us to collaborate and communicate with people all around the globe was, in turn, not allowing us to actually experience and enjoy that connection because it's giving us the…
Read More

Creating Spaces in MacOS

Articles
[Virtual desktops][1] are an extremely useful feature of modern operating systems. It's a feature that provides some of the benefits of multiple monitors without the extra space or expense of adding more displays to your computer. Generally speaking the feature allows you to group together windows on one or more additional logical desktops without the need for multiple monitors. ![Preference pane for Mission Control][preference-pane]On the Mac this feature is known as "Spaces" and was [originally introduced][2] way back in OS X 10.5 "Leopard", and was integrated into the [Mission Control][3] preference pane a couple of years later. This merge into Mission Control works very well, as long as you know where to look — because the preference pane doesn't really tell you where it is or how to find it.…
Read More

Hash-based Diff for Directories

Projects
Recently I was working on a project where I needed to quickly and reliably detect changes to the contents of a directory, and when a change was detected run a series of commands. There are any number of file differential tools, the venerable [diff][1] chief among them, and I think they would certainly do the job. They would certainly do a very complete job allowing for a comparison of every line of every file and be able to show exactly what changed where. But for what I needed to do, this seemed overkill. Ultimately what I needed to know was ***if*** something had changed, not specifically ***what*** had changed. To that end, I realized what I needed was a view of the directory, not a view of the files themselves.…
Read More

Grand Plans

Articles
I have a habit of coming up with (grandiose) ideas for things I want to do. Be they small things or large things, or amorphous life goals, I talk a lot and tend to be rather stingy on the follow through. Sometimes these goals are stopped by other projects, sometimes they're stopped by my "better judgement" when I talk myself out of them, sometimes is exhaustion, sometimes it's pure laziness. Whatever the reason or excuse I don't do nearly as much doing as I feel that I should, or that I want to. Tonight I was mulling these things over as I proceeded about my cleaning and folding of laundry and had a minor brainwave about a couple of the projects that seem, on the surface, to be complementary but…
Read More

Intentionality and the Struggle with Perfectionism

Articles
Wow. It's been a while since I posted something. Not the first time there's been a big gap, and probably not the last, so let's not dwell on that. Something that's been on my mind for a while now and kind of relates to me not getting blog posts written is the idea of not being organized to get done what you want to get done when you want to get it done. Part of it is organization and part of it is motivation. However in my case another part of it is my constant struggle with perfectionism and over-planning. This may sound surprising to anyone who's ever seen my office (or my car) but it's a real challenge for me on anything that I'm trying to create. I tend…
Read More

30 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (part 3)

Reviews
![flickr-abletoven-rss-headphones](/media/blog-images/2014/abletoven-podcast-rss.jpg)In [part 1](/2014/04/30-podcasts-you-should-be-listening-to-part-1/) and [part 2](/2014/04/30-podcasts-you-should-be-listening-to-part-2/) of this series I highlighted the first block of 30 podcasts I listen to very regularly. I have listened to many of these since they began (often retroactively) and very much enjoy them. There are a lot of tech shows in here with a mix of science, food, history and popular culture mixed in for good measure. Today I bring you the final round of podcasts. I highly recommend you check out any of these great shows and subscribe to them if you're interested. ### Mac OS Ken This show is my day starter. Ken Ray brings together a concise short 10-20 minute podcast with a dose of "Apple news and news related to Apple news." Every weekday he rounds up the latest in…
Read More