I’m well aware that this article is in danger to get into an apples vs. oranges comparison. Bookshelves can be filled with books about Wolfram’s Mathematica and JupyterLab/Jupyter, many of them demonstrating how very different the software tools are. Mathematica is a commercial software package, JupyterLab is an open-source web application that is a front end to a variety of interactive compute kernels. And yet, the problems they help to solve do overlap. So it seems fair to compare those products for an application that both are well suited to handle and ignore the vast differences the software packages have in other areas.
This blog post was inspired by two op-eds on arstechnica. One arguing that PGP’s weak link is the difficulty to ensure the security of the secret key over its lifetime. A compromised secret key is a catastrophic event, making all prior encrypted messages accessible. Additionally, there are disqualifying UX issues. PGP is difficult to use, creating opportunities for mistakes to creep in. The author suggests alternatives for secure messaging, for example Signal or OTR.
A second op-ed shortly after takes the opposite position, pointing out that PGP has unique capabilities, that are not addressable with alternatives. Go read both of those articles, they are worth your time.
I have been using ZFS for a while on more than one platform and I thought it might be interesting to write about my setup at home. I was —admittingly to a small degree— involved testing when OpenZFS on OS X was in its early development, so I can also present a small part of ZFS history from my personal point of view.
As a Mac user and programmer I have been dabbling with Xcode a few times in the past. It was never a primary interest, but a required tool to get started with Objective-C and native Mac GUI development. Objective-C was a curiosity for me. It is syntactically quite different from the C family of programming languages that I usually work with. That also was the reason I never felt comfortable programming in Objective-C. With a syntax so different the investment in time to become proficient didn’t compare well to the expected return.
About 10 years ago I was working on a project for Procter & Gamble that required me to have remote access to their computer system. To gain access, I not only had to provide a password, but also a six-digit number displayed by a Secure ID key fob. The displayed number changed every minute, preventing anyone gaining access without physical access to the key fob. It was a bit like magic to me back then.
This is the second blog post in a two part series describing my journey through the myriads of web-hosting options to find the one that is right for me. The first part described how the software stack I had in mind influenced the hosting choices I was considering. With a little bias toward a solution that is fun, I ended up with a VPS (virtual private server) as my choice of hosting platform. Go check out part one for more detail, or continue to read if you want to know what lead me to sign up with RamNode as my VPS provider of choice.
If you read my first blog post, you know how I ended up with GRAV to build this website. As a next step, you might expect me to follow up with a blog post about the design and coding of this website. But, eager to disappoint, I will skip right over that. Not without a good reason, though. There are so many tutorials for HTML and CSS available online that I can’t add any value to what is already there.
Instead, I’m going to point you at this video (fast forward to the 12:25-minute mark). It was the starting point that led me to the software stack described on the about page. From there it is fairly easy to follow the GRAV documentation to set up a theme for a website.
Data breaches that compromise personal accounts have become a frequent occurrence. I was an involuntary participant in such an event in October 2013 when Adobe got hacked. Despite the fact that Adobe stored the passwords encrypted, there is no guarantee that the hackers were not able to retrieve the plain text passwords. With specialized computers a brute force attach can crack an eight character password within a few hours. And that assumes the password is random gibberish and not among the most commonly used passwords. As passwords are often reused, a cracked password opens the doors for the hackers to try to access other accounts as well.
If you start a new blog, and one of the reasons you do so is to capture and catalog interesting things you spent a good chunk of your time on, it seems appropriate to start by describing how the blog came about, and how it was all put together from a technical point of view.