»  Disempowering the user.

I think what really happened was that in the early days of personal computing, decisions were made to give the user an enormous amount of freedom, to communicate without barriers and to share files. And consumers started to use those to, you know, trade information, outside of the boundaries of the law. Since about 2007 or 2008 though we’ve seen a complete shift in this paradigm. Since that time the technologists and the rights holders have really been working together to disempower the user and to turn them more into a customer. So the goal is no longer to empower the computing user, it’s to extract value from them. And I think if you look at your smartphone you’ll see that: it’s a lot more closed than a PC used to be. You almost always have to go through a corporate intermediary. And that was not the case in the early days of computing. There was a period there where the average user had an extraordinary amount of power to do, basically, what they saw fit.

This is a quote by Stephen Witt, author of ‘How Music Got Free’, as mentioned in The Pop Star and the Prophet (around the 20 minute mark), a BBC podcast published back in September — if you’re a music lover in addition to a technology enthusiast, you should listen to the podcast and, perhaps, read the book.

And while his book is probably only tangentially interesting to anyone interested in the history of technology, but without an interest in music, the quote couldn’t possibly be more accurate or well-put.


» Fira Sans and Fira Mono

After many years of using Inconsolata Hellenic on my linux and OS X boxes as the monospace font of choice for development, I switched to Fira Mono, commissioned by Mozilla for their Firefox OS and designed by Erik Spiekermann. Inconsolata might have been one of the best looking monospace fonts I’ve ever seen – and the fact that it was free made it an insanely great choice – but it was time for a change. Oh and one more thing, Fira has full support for (monotonic) Greek.


» Go and Javascript.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Python is being replaced by Go. I don’t have a lot of information to back up this prediction except that most of the positive articles I read about Go are written by Python developers, and a lot of them say that they are now actively migrating their code base from Python to Go. I don’t see as much enthusiasm for Go from developers using statically typed languages, probably because of Go’s antiquated type system (which is still a big step up from Python, obviously).


» Broadband matters.

A 10% increase in fast broadband penetration can result in between 0.25% and 1.38% growth in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), research by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) suggests, as well as a 3.6% increase in efficiency.


» There goes your airgap.

This latest leak details how the NSA accessed targets by inserting tiny circuit boards or USB cards into computers and using radio waves to transmit data without the need for the machine to be connected to a wider network.

It is a significant revelation in that it undermines what was seen to be one of the simplest but most effective methods of making a system secure: isolating it from the internet.

In other words: the NSA planted tranmitters (or tranceivers) and effectively turned air-gapped machines into machines transmitting to (/receiving from) their systems. Somewhat different from actually snooping on ‘offline’ machines, ala Tempest, as what many ‘news’ organizations hinted at by using inaccurate titles (the BBC, quoted above from this article, included).

Unless all your offices are room-sized Faraday cages, with physical security and extensive background checks of the machine operators, the NSA just invalidated your airgap policy. But then again, your security was probably flawed anyway, especially against an adversary that competent/determined/resourceful.


» We are losing the war against cancer.

Half a century ago, the story goes, a person was far more likely to die from heart disease. Now cancer is on the verge of overtaking it as the No. 1 cause of death.


» Mostly Cloudy is no good.

With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away… the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.

– Woz


»  A Colourable iOS 7 Map Pin (Photoshop)

For anyone developing iOS 7 maps-enabled apps, you probably know that the pin image has changed for this version of iOS. iOS has long limited the provided pin colours to Red, Green and Purple. Here is a layered Photoshop file that we used in the latest version of AthensBook and you can use to change the pin colour. Besides the base layer, there are two hue-saturation-brightness layers. You use the first layer titled ‘Brightness’ to change the brightness of the colour. Don’t touch the hue or saturation sliders on this layer. The second layer allows you to change the hue and saturation of the pin colour.

Using both layers allows you to set the pin colour to anything.


Disclaimer: This is obviously based on a pin image that I extracted using UIImagePNGRepresentation and copied the resulting PNG after running the extracting code in the iOS Simulator. The original pin image is (almost certainly) copyrighted by Apple Inc. I am not affiliated with Apple Inc. in any way whatsoever and I am only providing this composite to assist developers in creating iOS 7 applications. I do not claim any copyright on Apple’s intellectual property. If you are an Apple employee or, dog forbid, lawyer, and object to the use of this bitmap, please let me know and I will remove the image. Hopefully you’re not that bothered/braindead and appreciate its value to the Apple Developer community.


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