Security by obstinacy

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 12/13/2012 - 19:28.

The mechanism we employ to increase the security, integrity and privacy of systems and the communication between them are never absolutely effective. They evolve over time, some are abandoned, others are hardened incrementally, yet others are replaced by supreme alternatives. The encryption algorithms deemed secure today may become obsolete with a new mathematical break-through or with the advent of computational devices that are orders of magnitude more performant compared to their predecessors. Security, as a goal, requires continued effort, and, as a property of a system, can be measured on a scale. It involves making trade-offs: only if the prize is high, do we need to go the extra mile, otherwise we do get away with compromising on security, pun intended.

I recently was exposed to an example of the all-or-nothing approach to security. Google suddenly (as in 'without notice') dropped support for self-signed certificates when fetching mail from external POP3 accounts over secure connections. Granted, self-signed certificates do compromise the security of TLS. But that doesn't justify someone deciding for us that we shouldn't be using them. Interestingly, the suggested mitigations involve abstinence (as in "you can always leave Gmail") and ignorance (as in "you can always use unencrypted POP3").

( categories: Geek )

Multiple Google Notifier instances for multiple accounts on Mac OS X

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:29.

I use Google Notifier to have my Gmail account checked for new mail periodically and automatically. I have a secondary Gmail account that I don't use that often but that I would like to have notifier check as well. Unfortunately, Google Notifier currently supports a single Gmail account only. Here's a simple hack that works well for a few gmail accounts. In a nutshell, you need to clone the application package and modify the bundle id in the clone's Contents/Info.plist file.

  1. Copy the Google Notifier application from Applications to a temporary location.
( categories: Mac OS X | Geek )

Increase Wireshark Font Size on Mac OS X

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sun, 12/07/2008 - 18:58.

Wireshark has a preference setting for the font of the capture display but it won't let you change the main font used for other UI elements such as like menu, toolbar and dialog windows. The default for the main font is illegibly small on my Mac OS X Leopard system -- I used Macports to install Wireshark and its dependencies. To fix it you need to add the gtk-font-name setting to your .gtkrc-2.0 preference file:

echo 'gtk-font-name = "Sans 14"' >> ~/.gtkrc-2.0

This will affect all applications using the GTK 2.0 toolkit but I guess that's ok.

( categories: Mac OS X | Administrator | Geek )

Ubuntu 6.01.1 "Dapper Drake" DVD Torrents

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sat, 09/02/2006 - 00:57.

It took me sometime to find Ubuntu torrents that work. I noticed that the .torrent files on the official Ubuntu server and its mirrors point to dead torrents. After some digging, I found this tracker to be most up to date. In case you're stumbling over this problem too, give it a try. It seems to be the official Ubuntu tracker.

( categories: Unix | Administrator | Geek )

Relaunch of Diary Products

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Tue, 02/28/2006 - 11:34.

[02/28/2005: Update - More Changes]
[03/02/2005: Update - Still Bugs in IE]

After this site has been using the old, boring, standard Drupal theme for two years, I am now proud to present my own creation: the new Diary Products theme. It uses the phptemplate engine and is a hybrid between table-based and CSS-based layouts as I am not a follower of the pure "Look Ma, No Tables" approach. There are still a few glitches here and there but overall I am quite happy with it.

( categories: Drupal | LightTPD | Geek | Webmaster )

Tab Mix Plus: Tabbed Firefox Browsing the Way It Should Be

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Thu, 01/26/2006 - 10:37.

I stumbled upon the Tab Mix Plus extension for Firefox yesterday and I fell in love with it on the spot. Finally there's someone who understands tabbed browsing and realizes what's missing in Firefox' default implementation. I urge the devs to incorporate this extension into head. This is not an extension, it's crucial! If you use tabs, go get it! If you understand the difference between Ctrl-Tab Ctrl-Tab and Ctrl-Tab-Tab, run and get it!

Some of the features:

  • Session saver (When starting Firefox, it restores all tabs that were open when you quit Firefox)
  • Undo closing a tab
  • Open new tabs next to existing ones instead of at the end of the list.
  • Ctrl-Tab moves to the previously active one instead of the next one in the tab list.
  • Organizes tabs in multiple rows if you have many tabs open.
  • Ctrl-W'ing the last tab doesn't close Firefox anymore.
  • Customize mouse and keyboard events, tab font and color.

All of these are optional. If you don't like one, you can switch it off.

( categories: Geek )

Microsoft RTF Specification Nightmare

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Tue, 06/08/2004 - 13:55.

Have you ever seen a word processor other than Microsoft's own office suite member Word that can import an RTF (Rich Text Format) file properly? I have not. The reason for this lies in RTF's inherent complexity and its strong dependency on Microsoft's internal Word document implementation. The RTF format is basically a 7-bit-safe, serialized version of a Word document's in-memory representation plus some tweaks that ensure backward compatibility with older programs that read RTF files.

( categories: Geek )

CorelDraw 11 vs. Illustrator CS

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Mon, 06/07/2004 - 13:29.

For my web comps I usually use Adobe Illustrator CS and I am quite pleased with it. Recently, I had the chance to review CorelDraw 11. The first time I ever used CorelDraw was more than 10 years ago and it must have been ancient version 2. The most recent version is 12. I reviewed version 11. For a client, I had to update a document created in CorelDraw 7, import it into version 11, apply a few modifications to it and do some streamlining. I was able to do the job, but it wasn't a very pleasant experience. Here's a list of nuisances.

( categories: Geek )
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