Security

When a company provides you with a shines new gadget they should really focus a little more on security, today I recieved a shines new cable modem from comhem – a net gear GC3100. First thing I wanted to do was configure up my ssh tunnels and dynamic dns; the getting started document didn't so much as even mention this box had an admin interface, which is pretty important. I was too lazy to download the manual so I took a guess. Sure enough when I navigated to 192.168.0.1 I had a password box pop up. I tried username admin – password password – and I was in, needless to say I changed the password immediately. Now it's true that's an internal address and you would have to be connected to the network to reconfigure it but still it's pretty bad. As comhem had gone to the trouble of changing the SSID and WPA2 details on this modem, you would think they would secure the admin password. Apparently not!

Macs are also pretty insecure out of the box as well. By default miniroot isn't password protected which means you can start up the machine without a password and get elevated privs – enough to make breaking into these systems easy.

On PCs people rarely encrypt their disks and secure the BIOS – which means you can bypass security literally in under 5 mins.

People miss the importance of security until things are too late.

 

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Mac madness

I really like my Mac – it's an awesome piece of technology but sometimes I can't help but be a bit annoyed at how many little adapters and cables I have to carry – macs have different connectors from PCs, and for good reason.

Here's what I had to carry in my laptop bag:

  • Starting with the charger – my latest Mac has a different charger from the previous ones – it has a MagSafe 2 connector
  • Thundetbolt connector for Ethernet.
  • Thunderbolt connector for VGA
  • USB keyboard – because some of the keys I use under my virtual machines such as the backslash just aren't on the Mac keyboard. Sure there's a key press combination and way around these things but its not worth the hassle
  • Mouse
  • External 2 TB drive
  • External speakers
  • Pair of iPhone earphones

Non related I also carry

 

  • Packed lunch
  • iPad
  • iPhone 5
  • Samsung Galaxy SII
  • Sunglasses (I am an optimist)
  • Whiteboard marked (in black and white)
  • A 5m network cable
  • 3 different types of USB cable
  • iPhone and iPad charger
  • Galaxy charger

 

I actually own two models of MacBook Pro – the 15 inch retina version and the 13 inch non retina laptop. The non retina laptop has a standard Ethernet connector and a Kensington security point which sadly isn't available on the new retina machine – I guess it's the price you have to pay for something so slim and sexy. Sometimes it's tough to be a Mac owner.

 

Siri… What are you wearing ?

Ok, I admit I find myself actually using Siri – it's accurate. I've compared it's functionality to a couple of similar apps available on android and nothing comes close to the accuracy of Siri or the range of things I can do with it. There's a world of difference between British English and US English when it comes to Siri understanding me. Some of the types of things I get Siri to do most often are

  • Set an alarm for 630
  • Set a reminder for 930…eat something
  • What is 75% of 140?
  • What is 50 dollars in Swedish crowns?
  • Where is rhona mitra?
  • What's the temperature?
  • Will it rain tomorrow?
  • FaceTime Lloyd Richardson
  • Send a text message to Cecilia B – are you going in tomorrow?

.. I know they are not complex tasks but Siri makes me do them quicker and easier. I also saw there is a Siri button on the keyboard which means voice recognition for all apps. Cool! I thought Siri would be a fun gimmick that would wear off after a little use. It's not.

Appohollic!

I am a bit of an appohollic and I admit it – it's cool to browse the AppStore on the iPad and to buy new stuff even if sometimes I already have an app to do a job. 7kr to keep me out of trouble is a small price to pay. And most of what I get there does cost 7kr. I don't like buying apps over 50kr, and my average spend per month is 70kr. It's not a habit that is out of control.

Apple did well with the AppStore and with iTunes – making it so easy for people to find music and apps has definately paid off for them. I don't really use iTunes for buying paid music though – I originally kept my old mp3s in my iTunes library but now it is empty on my iPhone because surprisingly I really like spotify. I say surprisingly becuase you only rent your music there and I have never been a fan of renting anything. Spotify is cool yet I am thinking of maybe dusting off the iTunes library a bit – why?

…Becuase of Siri – Siri knows about iTunes and can play music from it – Siri can't play music from spotify. I am hoping that the Siri API is,made available and used by dev, because Siri is starting to change how I work. It can set reminders really quickly.

My only gripe is the British version of Siri only had a guys voice, silly I know. I can switch to American English but its amazing how that impaired its ability to function. I do like apple still, even though I don't agree with everything they do. But Australians out there (you know who you are) – you won't annoy me by saying your android phones are better, becuase I will say the same thing as I have been saying about this kind of tech rivalry since I was 10 (BBC vs Spectrum) – they are both good in their own right, each have their own pros and cons, so deciding what is best comes down to what your taste is, and what you want to do. It's a personal thing, I love android too, but am not such a fan of Windows phone – not because the tech is bad but in my case I don't like the Microsoft look and feel. So don't try to wind me up :) it won't work!

My iPhone 5 observations

Ok I have had an iPhone 5 now since Monday. I resisted the temptation to blog about it because I just wanted to try it out a few days, so my first thoughts

  • Yes it is pretty, sturdy, and noticeably lighter than the iPhone 4.
  • Yes, I feel the extra speed.
  • Siri is fairly impressive, and a lot of fun, and I can see myself actually using it a bit (last night I got it to set my morning alarm!) talking to it was easier than finding the app.
  • Having the 64gb version definitely made the biggest difference of all. I was having issues cramming things into 32 gb,
  • Some apps don’t make full use of the screen and have black borders. They said in the keynote you hardly notice that they are there but you do. It almost feels claustrophobic.
  • The extra space on the screen is cool!

Beyond that – it’s an iPhone – iOS 6 is fairly cool, and the thing I like most is shared photo streams – When I upload a photo it flashes up a message on my parents iPad.

I just couldn’t resist!

I have to admit… I have an iPhone 5 on its way! I ordered it around last week. The company I am getting it from says that they started delivery on Friday, and their website says that people who ordered the 64gb model should expect an email which I haven't recieved. I am not worried or bothered at all by this, though I am looking forward to getting it eventually. I should have known better than to trust 3 really – if they haven't delivered it by the end of next week I will probably look at canceling my subscription with them really.

I'm sticking with apple becuase I have a lot of apps and apple equipment full stop. Yes, I realise Andriod is pretty cool as well – and I still run that on my work phone. I like a wide variety of toys to play with.

Meanwhile I have given away my iPhone 4 to someone – so my regular personal phone number is going to be out of commission until I get the iPhone 5 – at evenings i tend to keep the work phone offil Not having a mobile phone for a while is going to be cool… Remember when nobody had mobile phones ?

 

Simply Apple.

ImageI’ve been in a bit if a dilemma when it comes to Apple and what to do next. Ive got lots of Apple kit – Apple TV, iPhone’s, MacBook Pro, iMac 24… It all plays nicely together with iCloud, and i haven’t had many issues with that in quite a while it just works. Now one of my iPhones has a dodgy on off button and i am going to have to replace it. My contract is up with my mobile provider and they are charging me a fortune with my current plan. If i tie in with my current provider for 9 months then i can reduce my monthly costs right now, but the iPhone 5 is released in Sweden probably in December, and if i want one of those, i probably don’t want it with my existing provider because they don’t support 4G.

Of course there’s no reason i couldn’t just say screw it – and buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 – i can use a 3rd party app to sync with the cloud…..

There have been mixed reactions to the iPhone 5 – they all seem to be a bit luke warm, but despite that i think a lot of people have been holding out to buy one – all their launch day units were sold within an hour. If you look at the hardware, it is similar to the iPhone 4, but a bit taller (extra screen space) its faster, and has new networking, and not much of a design change – its thinner of course. Ive no doubt its a good quality bit of kit, yet people are disappointed… why? I mean what could they expect? The iPhone 4 is awesome and its hard to improve on it really from a design perspective, if you want to look at pure technical specification then OK, the iPhone 5 doesn’t blow us out of the water. I cant help but wonder if the critics focus is a bit wrong though – sure its nice to have faster processors etc, but you shouldnt loose focus on the fact its really about the user experience – how much faster does a phone really need to go?

The real user experience is mostly software driven, and iOS 6 is released next week – i will be looking forward to it. I think i probably will go for an iphone 5 because i have a lot of apps, i like iPhones and i never bothered to buy an iphone 4S. I know there are things that the apple devices dont have – such as widgets, but i dont really care – i can understand and appreciate why they havent allowed them.

Am I an Apple Fanboy? Probably not. Its true i like Apple products but not blindly. my personal IT setup has a lot of apple in it because apple make pretty things, but i am not and never will be apple only. I have non apple kit, which i use professionally, and i will admit apple stuff is great for simplicity right up until the point that you need to do something apple hadn’t intended. Then frankly it can be a pain in the ass. Every technology out there has pro’s and cons, so at the end of the day, just pick what you like!

Update: I was wrong with the swedish release date – its 28th September which makes things a bit easier! Thanks to M for pointing that out!

Aperture issues: File not found on unreferenced images.

Apple Aperture

Apple Aperture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its silly because this issue gave me stress. I switched on referenced image badges the other day because I was quite surprised when I tried to archive my library to a file vault that it told me 133 images could not be archived because it couldn’t find my masters. A bit of googling lead me to believe that this was because the somehow I had imported referenced images rather than managed ones – this was not true! I found the library that had the not found badge icons on (from Disney on Ice) and following instructions I tried to “Locate Referenced Files”. It told me there were no referenced files.

Some people probably wouldn’t be as annoyed as I would – I mean the thumb images that are generated from my raw files are of high enough quality for most people but I don’t like this. and I needed to get rid of the little icon with the warning sign.  Not every image in the project was missing – so I located the directory with the issue by going into terminal and finding it in Unix. I kept Aperture closed throughout the next steps.

I did a cd to my drive – I kind of cheat here:

cd /Volumes
cd Back*
find . -name \*_4915.CR2\*

The first Cd takes you to the place MacOS mounts your volumes – my backup volumes are in an externally mounted drive named Backup Drive – (the Back* thing is laziness). it then iterated though my photo libraries and found the real path from the master files. with aperture if you right-click on the aperture library and select Open Stack you can see its internal structure – within the Masters directory is where the files are kept, the exact path I found with the find statement above.

At this point i discovered files were missing! I had hoped it would just be a permissions issue. I have no idea how. I used to own a time machine before it blew up so i mounted the old drive from that and used pretty much  the same commands as above to locate the missing files within the old time machine archive. I restored the files from the backup by just copying them into the aperture directory and the problem was solved.

I really do not like that this happened. this was one of the few libraries that I had published to mobile me before and I cant help but wonder if it had something to do with the way mobile me was recently decommissioned, but I don’t know anything for sure. I will be keeping an eye out for more strange things!

Foursquare

Foursquare is a bit like Gowalla was. it basically allows you to check in at different places as you visit them, and you get points if you visit them several times. The interesting spin though is that in some places you can get free things for checking in – for example theres a macdonalds near me that will give you a free ice-cream sundae if you check in there and spend a certain amount of cash. Because its giving away freebies, I’m interested! I don’t know how popular it is in other countries but i was surprised to see freebies on offer in Stockholm.

Its not much, and not many places that have adopted this but its worth looking at, i mean after all, a free ice-cream is a free ice-cream!

It also allows you to find places near you – restaurants, cafe’s etc.. and people can post tips, so its actually quite cool.

Unusually and rather surprisingly the windows phone 7 foursquare app is better than the one for the iPhone. I’ve only got two friends on Foursquare and apparently i am the mayor of Stockholm – its not quite overlord of the universe but it will do for starters.

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