jarrodwhaley.com

I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Posts in technology:

Editorial Workflow: Cut the Current Line

I often find, while reading my notes, that I need to make a small change here or there—or else that I need to move a to-do item into an archive section, or to remove an entire item in an unordered list…basically, I often need to remove an entire line from whatever document I'm looking at. As often as not, it's nice to have that line in my system clipboard, because a lot of times I need to paste it in somewhere else.

This sort of thing is easy on a Mac, but it's often a huge pain in the something-or-other on a mobile device; you have to hold a touch until a selection loupe pops up, you have to slide both ends of it into the desired places, you have to copy, you have to scroll, you have to paste…it's really not very fun, and it often leaves me wishing I were sitting at my Mac.

Since Ole Zorn's very excellent iOS text editor Editorial was released, I've been trying to find ways to reduce this sort of friction on my iPad. One such trick is this little workflow I cooked up: it selects the entire line on which the cursor currently sits, “cuts” it to the clipboard (meaning it is removed and also placed on the clipboard), and moves the cursor to the end of the preceding line. It's triggered by a quickly-typed text snippet: xxx. Place the cursor at the end of the line, type the shortcut, and zing–line gone and copied. It's a simple little thing, but it gets rid of a really common task which is a huge pain to complete on iOS.

Here's a little companion workflow which does something similar: it selects the current line and copies it to the clipboard, but does not remove the line. Also pretty useful, this workflow is triggered with the command ccc.

Let’s Make One The Size Of A Door

Dan Seifert of The Verge:

Samsung announced today that the Galaxy Mega 6.3, the company's biggest “phone” device to date, will be available in the US this month. The Mega 6.3 has a 6.3-inch, 720p display; 1.7GHz dual-core processor; 8-megapixel camera; and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung's user interface.

You know an Android “phone” is absolutely, positively, stupid-o-riffically too damn big when even The Verge puts scare quotes around “phone.”

Ladar Levison May Be Arrested For Shutting Lavabit Down

NBC News:

The owner of an encrypted email service used by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he has been threatened with criminal charges for refusing to comply with a secret surveillance order to turn over information about his customers.

"I could be arrested for this action," Ladar Levison told NBC News about his decision to shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, in protest over a secret court order he had received from a federal court that is overseeing the investigation into Snowden.

Let’s take a minute to applaud the size of this guy’s balls. He’s willing to go to jail in order to protect his customers’ data. Henry David Thoreau would be proud.

Email Is Inherently Insecure

The recent shutdowns of Lavabit and Silent Circle—two supposedly "secure" email providers—demonstrate perfectly the limitations of the medium. MIT Technology Review notes:

When e-mail was created 40 years ago, security or anonymity wasn’t part of the design. The routing and labeling protocols plainly state what computer sent it or forwarded it, what computer received it, and what time all this happened. “There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the e-mail protocols themselves,” says Mike Janke, CEO of Silent Circle, whose customers include people in companies and government agencies with secrets to protect. “It doesn’t matter what you try to do with e-mail, there are these inherent weaknesses. So we got rid of Silent Mail [the company’s e-mail service]. We deleted all of it, burned it, and threw it in the ocean with locks and chains on it. People lost all their e-mail, but the response went from ‘Why would you do this?’ to ‘Thanks for doing this.’ “

Even if your email is encrypted by your provider, that provider will have to give the key(s) to any law-enforcement agency who cares enough to ask for it. Furthermore, the email protocol itself is exceedingly transparent about who sent the mail and who sent it. A lot of information about you is revealed even if you go to great lengths to encrypt your communications with the greatest crypto-nerd care.

This Gmail privacy kerfuffle is ridiculous. As soon as you hand your message to a third party, you lose any reasonable expectation of privacy. It’s not only the law, it’s just common sense. Remember trying to pass a "secret" note in elementary school, only to have it unfortunately intercepted by some dickhead middleman? It’s like that.

Turn Your Damned Gadgets Off and Watch the Movie

Hunter Walk has a really dumb / dicky idea he’d like to share with us:

In my 20s I went to a lot of movies. Now, not so much. Over the past two years becoming a parent has been the main cause but really my lack of interest in the theater experience started way before that. Some people dislike going to the movies because of price or crowds, but for me it was more of a lifestyle decision. Increasingly I wanted my media experiences plugged in and with the ability to multitask. Look up the cast list online, tweet out a comment, talk to others while watching or just work on something else while Superman played in the background. Of course these activities are discouraged and/or impossible in a movie theater.

Those activities are "discouraged and/or impossible" because: only giant, solipsistic, rude sacks of douche would wish to engage in them. If you can’t focus on a movie for 90 minutes, don’t ruin it for everyone else. Stay at home. Please.

TOR Browser Bundle Hacked to Send Your Identity to the Feds

One paragraph stands out in this piece at Wired:

“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.”

No matter what you do, the secret police are going to watch you do it.

Digital Dead Drop is a Secure Web Notepad

Inspired by the Ender’s Game books, Tyler Spilker has written a dead-simple Python-based Web app called Digital Dead Drop; it’s designed to run on a local or remote server, and provides a quick and secure method with which to jot down a few thoughts and save them on the server side. Nothing is stored locally, so there’s no problem if your phone is lost. It’s a pretty cool idea.

Cognition and Willpower

Kathy Sierra on the limited pool of mental resources shared by deep thought and willpower:

Spend hours at work on a tricky design problem? You’re more likely to stop at Burger King on the drive home. Hold back from saying what you really think during one of those long-ass, painful meetings? You’ll struggle with the code you write later that day.

This concept will serve to support a common claim of mine: I had to eat all of that Taco Bell, because I was thinking really hard earlier.

Kidding aside, it’s a pretty illuminating idea. Sierra’s essay illuminates the practical implications for those in creative professions, and is well worth a read.

Strap a Computer To Your Head, Why Not?

There’s a great piece by Gary Shteyngart on the novelty of Google Glass in The New Yorker:

The man with the glasses is lying on the couch at his psychoanalyst’s office. The pink rectangle floats before his eye. The man begins complaining about his glasses. In the first week, he’s supposed to wear them only one hour a day, but he can’t help himself. He’s been wearing them non-stop and now it feels like his right eye is bulging out, and also he feels nauseous and has a throbbing headache somewhere to the right of the bridge of his nose.

There’s the first commercial for Google Glass, right there. And at the end, his eyeball pops out through sheer strain, and it rolls along the floor, up to the camera. As it comes to rest, the Google Glass logo appears. Someone steps on the eyeball. Splat.

They’ll sell a hundred of these things!

Sending Markdown to Tumblr With Drafts

I noted a while back that the Tumblr app for iOS now supports x-callback-url, and I’ve played around with various URL actions in Drafts which make use of the implementation. I find in most cases, however, it’s easier to post text-based items using Tumblr’s publish-via-email feature—it sends the text directly to a blog, without requiring a ton of fiddling in the Tumblr app along the way. This being the case, I’m sticking with a Drafts email action which sends my text posts to a blog directly, with just one tap.

Tumblr’s email mechanism is actually very well thought out, and allows for everything from tagging to categorization to titling—and you won’t have to remember any annoying syntax if you write with Drafts; you’ll just enter your template into an email action and never think about it again. One quick, indispensable tip: if you write in Markdown (and why wouldn’t you?), simply add !m to the body section of your email action, and Tumblr will automatically convert your Markdown to HTML. Give it a try. As much as I like URL actions, sometimes you just want to fire off the text without tapping around in two different apps.