'I have studied numbers of errors caused by using the Copy-Paste method and can assure you that programmers most often tend to make mistakes in the last fragment of a homogeneous code block. I have never seen this phenomenon described in books on programming, so I decided to write about it myself. I called it the “last line effect”.'
I’ve been using god for a long time to monitor ruby servers in production, but I’ve never been entirely happy with it - early versions had memory leaks and needed to be restarted, and more recent versions are very hit or miss. When setting up identical installations on several machines, about half of them simply failed to restart the server processes they were monitoring, for no discernible reason.
I’ve switched to eye recently, and it’s been working well. Migrating the setup from the god configs was a breeze - it uses a similar ruby DSL.
This is a good eye quickstart guide.
Just an interesting followup to my previous analysis of iPad wifi performance attributes: the iPad Air gets a significantly faster connection to the Airport Extreme, almost as fast as the 2010 Macbook Pro.
For comparison, this was the fastest I could get out of the iPad 4:
I have written a fair bit about the memory management problems that have manifested themselves as inefficient disk thrashing in Snow Leopard and Lion. I saw generally improved performance in Mountain Lion, though some people still reported hitting the ceiling, even though it was noticeably higher.
I have not tested the beta builds of Mavericks, so yesterday was the first time I’ve gotten to play with it. There’s some good news here - it seems to be that the memory management subsystem has been completely overhauled, and my first impression is that this should substantially improve performance. The virtual memory manager seems to be very eager to avoid paging out to disk at all, and that should be a net win. If I see any performance problems, I’ll do a full examination and writeup, but in the first day of heavy use, I’ve seen dramatically improved responsiveness and no apparent thrashing issues.
Something completely unexpected -
On my Mac, I read an email that contained an address. I went to my phone to look it up on maps because I find that interface much easier to use than the browser window, and when I started to type it in, the search box offered to autocomplete it with the full address gleaned from the spotlight results of indexing the email (which is also available on my phone).
I’m pretty sure this is new in iOS 7. That’s really helpful!
I didn’t realize this until I started using it, but with the combination of Siri and Touch ID, if your phone is locked, you can press the home button, hold it down to activate Siri, say something like “Open Messages” or “Open WeMo” or whatever, and then as long as you hold your finger on the home button, it will unlock your phone and sail right through to the app you asked for. This is absolutely huge for being able to quickly use your phone for specific tasks, where previously they would require the tedious step of unlocking your phone and then finding the specific app you were looking for.
[Update: Even better, it seems that you don’t actually have to hold down the home button while Siri does its thing. Just the initial activation press is enough to engage Touch ID and unlock the phone for Siri commands that require the phone to be unlocked.]
[Update 2: This gets even better. Previously, in order to use Siri without unlocking your phone, you needed to allow Siri access without a passcode. Now, even if you require a passcode for Siri, it doesn’t require one if you use a finger that’s registered with Touch ID. In general, if you use Touch ID, I don’t see any reason to allow Siri access without a passcode anymore. You can change this under Settings > Passcode & Fingerprint > Allow Access When Locked.]
If I ran Hulu, my first action would be to buy Groupon. Instead of running ads alongside shows, I’d give watchers the opportunity to buy directly into deals targeted at what they were watching. The deals would probably run for a few days, to give them the opportunity to invite their friends to watch the shows and meet the minimum participation levels to activate the deal. More viewers for a show would open up better deals (think kickstarter-style stretch goals). Similarly, frequent watchers would get access to more and better deals.
Hulu could certainly build this themselves, but a lot of the work is the on-the-ground sales effort to collect the deals.
I got this script working to use as the target for a mail rule to ensure I didn’t miss any important emails from a particular sender. The script uses a mail rule to automatically send incoming messages matching a pattern to a Reminders.app list, which I then shared via iCloud so multiple people can tick off the items.
Put this file in ~/Library/Application Scripts/com.apple.mail/, and then it will be available as a rule target in Mail.app. It uses the name of the rule you specify as the name of the Reminder list to add the reminder to. The reminder list must already exist for each rule.
There’s been a good deal of discussion about whether fingerprint authentication is more secure, and I’ve talked about the spacetime privacy implications.
But all of the discussion about whether it’s more secure or not hinges on the relative strength of passwords vs. a fingerprint hash, and this is ignoring the central issue. Touch ID lets you unlock your phone, but it also, more importantly, authenticates you for iTunes purchases.
Passwords are inherently insecure on general purpose computing devices, because you can’t ever be sure who’s asking for your password. It’s always bothered me that there was really no way to know when entering your password into a popup prompt that it was actually going to iTunes and not being presented by some nefarious application, and with full backgrounding all the time in iOS7, this seems absolutely essential. With a fingerprint sensor that’s connected via a dedicated pathway to the OS (and not via a general-purpose hardware bus), this problem evaporates. Apple reviews apps and can pull them if they’re acting up, but that’s never going to be 100% successful, and this strategy completely sidesteps the issue.
If you look at just the cryptographic properties of the encoding, then no - fingerprint scanners aren’t necessarily more secure than passwords. But security is not just a numbers game and you have to look at the entire threat surface. If you add in an authenticated single-purpose channel, you raise the overall security level significantly, while increasing usability at the same time. It’s a common refrain that increasing security is always a tradeoff against more pain for the user, but Apple has managed to improve both security and usability at once. When you use Touch ID, your iTunes password cannot be stolen (unless the Touch ID subsystem itself is cracked, which is a much much harder thing to do than throwing up a fake password prompt). Expect to see a dedicated Touch ID sensor on Macs in the future.
It’s truly brilliant.
Yesterday, Apple announced Touch ID, a sensor embedded in the new iPhone that uses fingerprint data to authenticate you to the phone. From a privacy/tracking perspective, it doesn’t seem particularly worrisome by itself - the fingerprint data seems to be hashed with the unique ID of the phone and stored in local secure storage. If someone wants your fingerprints, they’re generally not that hard to get (if they have physical access to the outside, it’s probably easier to dust the phone for prints).
However, the iPhone also has a precise location tracker. Combined with fingerprint authentication data points, this provides a single-source, for all intents and purposes irrefutable, proof that someone was in a particular place at a particular time. There are a lot of ways to assert spacetime presence, but the precision of this is about to get a lot sharper and more mainstream. There are a good number of practical applications for this, but it also raises a lot of questions. I’m not sure we’re ready to handle the answers (but too bad, because it’s coming!).
Will this data be used to assert guilt or innocence for crimes? It seems almost guaranteed.
Will Apple receive a large number of requests for this data? I would be shocked if not.
Will this be used in combination with Passbook to ensure that the person who bought the ticket in question is the only one who can use it? Probably. (I also lament the lack of transferability built into most electronic purchases these days.)
Initially at least, it seems that Apple has locked down the functionality for this - it’s possible that at this time, the location data can’t actually be correlated with fingerprint touches. But it’s too useful to stay that way forever. I’d start thinking about this stuff.