Big things in small pieces

Jul 22

The privacy thing

There was a big news related to Dropbox a few days ago: Edward Snowden was concerned about Dropbox’s privacy and recommended SpiderOak instead.

I will point out a few things: I never know who can I trust. Dropbox is not encrypted, I know. But SpiderOak has a closed source client. So how safe am I with this client? I don’t know. I was among the people who quickly registered to SpiderOak and thought to cancel Dropbox (staying with the free option).

But then I thought: why should I cancel Dropbox? And use SpiderOak as my main cloud storage and sync service? I decided not to ditch Dropbox at the moment and will wait what will happen with Dropbox.

If you have sensitive data on Dropbox, encrypt it by using encrypted .dmg images. Or encrypt your files with scrypt (scrypt needs a nice OS X app that could encrypt and decrypt files on the fly by drag and drop).

My 1Password keychain is encrypted on Dropbox, that is the most important thing.

What will I do next? I will try the OS X SpiderOak client :).

UPDATE: I installed SpiderOak for OS X. Man, what an ugly client. Status: SpiderOak has been ditched.



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Jul 18

Encrypted cloud

Edward Snowden says you shouldn’t use Dropbox. Use SpiderOak instead.

I don’t know what to think about all this. Is SpiderOak really that safe?

I’m in doubt about every closed source encryption technology.

Even open source encryption software isn’t that safe (remember OpenSSL?).

But for now I’m fine with Attic backup.

Or try scrypt.



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Jul 15

Great SSH tips

Every time I find a post on Hacker News about SSH tips my first thought is: “Ok, another post about SSH tips with the same tips I already saw”. And I’m always wrong.

Here is another example (Hacker News thread) where I was wrong again.



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Feature vs. service

I read Stephen Hackett’s post about Dropbox as a photo management solution.

I’m using Dropbox as my photo management solution, too, but I think my workflow isn’s as sophisticated as his. I edit my RAWs, convert them to JPEGs and compress the JPEGs with JPEGmini. When the compression is done, I copy the compressed JPEGs to Dropbox into separated folders where the JPEGs are sorted by events (by hand). This is for the photos I take with my DSLR or pocket camera.

The photos taken with iPhone are just uploaded to Dropbox with Carousel without being sorted.

I think that when iOS 8 is released there will be an another big discussion about feature vs. service, iCloud vs. Dropbox. But this time iCloud will be a big player. Why? Because as I see the things iOS 8 will mark a new milestone: from the first version of iPhone OS to iOS 7 iPhone (or its hardware) was in foreground. With iOS 8, software and features will be the big leaders.

To be honest, iCloud to date sucked. I think Apple wasn’t sure what to do with iCloud until iOS 8. iCloud with iOS 8 will change everything. Just look at iOS 8 and Yosemite: both will be “connected”, integrated. What happens on iOS, will be visible on OS X. And vice versa. With the help of Bluetooth or wifi.

I think Dropbox is working on big changes. If it is not, then it should be because the race has started.



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How I free up space on iPhone

Bradley Chambers wrote a nice post about how to free up space on iOS.

I already use some of those tips, especially I always clean up my Camera Roll after Carousel uploaded my photos and videos to Dropbox. Speaking of Carousel, it is an amazing fast app. Just scroll the time slider and you will see that some developers can make responsive apps.

Ok, back to the topic.

I don’t know how or why but after I connected my iPhone to the iMac over USB cable a few weeks ago I got 4.8 GB of free space. Before that I had only 2 GB of free space. Please also notice that I transfered the purchases into iTunes (I don’t know if that matters but I want to tell all facts if someone tries the same thing). I also didn’t delete any app before I got 4.8 GB of free space.

I didn’t follow the development of iOS 8 closely so I don’t know what is the state of apps’ management but I need one feature: to be capable to delete only the data in iOS without deleting the app. Or if your want to clear the cache. Just bring this feature.



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Jul 06

iCloud clipboard - iClipboard

A short note.

I’m writing a blog post about an app I use for charging my iPhone’s battery and I wanted to share the app’s App Store link from the iPhone to the Mac. And I thought: why didn’t Apple make a clipboard service into iCloud? I don’t want to send emails only to share a link between my machines. It must be must simpler to do that.

I hope with iOS 8 this will change since I read great things about iOS 8 and its ability to expand the share option.



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My favorite page on my blog

Archive is my favorite page on my blog. Why? The answer is simple: it shows all my posts. It reminds me about everything I wrote about. All my posts are saved in Markdown and I could search through their content but to me it is more handy if I check my posts by their titles.

Checking Archive sometimes gives me new ideas for new blog posts because I can’t remember all the topics I wrote about. I also like more blogs that have a archive page. But not any sort of a archive page: it must show all the blog posts on a single page. I dislike archive pages where you have to to click on years and months to finally get a list of blog posts.

By that what I saw, most of the static site generators have the kind of archive page I prefer which is good.



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Jul 04

Pelican 3.4

I switched to Pelican some time ago and it was a great decision. Using a statis site generator is not the simplest way to blog for an average blogger (by an average blogger I mean a person who only knows how to create a blog site on WordPress or Tumblr) but I would never ditch Pelican for WordPress.

There is a new version of Pelican, 3.4. Read the changelog. It seems that content generation is faster and you have now selective post generation (this is great but I don’t know yet how is this usable for my workflow - I use scripting for publishing).

I didn’t upgrade yet since I will check first all the changes that came with the new version (I don’t want that my workflow with the scripting breaks). Will report.



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Jul 03

Read your logs

Yesterday I updated my mail server: Dovecot is now using the SSL certificate by PositiveSSL (Apache and Postfix are using it, too).

Here is the story: I edited my doveconf.conf file so that Dovecot was using my SSL certificate by PositiveSSL. I changed three settings in my dovecot.conf file but I should change only two settings. But before I realized this I rebooted my server because I thought Dovecot will work properly after reboot. Nope, I was wrong. The third setting was blocking Dovecot (try dovecot -F).

Some time back I started using imapproxy to speed up Roundcube. But with yesterday’s SSL modifications I couldn’t log in into Roundcube anymore. So I checked mail.log where I saw that imapproxy was not running (it seems that the imapproxy daemon did not start after my server’s reboot). But before I knew where was the problem I searched one hour long on DuckDuckGo to find out what went wrong (I thought that there was some issue with Dovecot and the new SSL certificate).

The lesson: read your logs. If the log level is low, enable the debug log level (I didn’t have to do that). Check all your logs (I checked auth.log, dovecot.log, mail.log). If you don’t check all your logs you could miss the real cause for the issue.



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Jun 22

Attic

I think I finally found the best backup program for my needs.

What are my needs?

I need a backup program that preserves as much metadata as possible. Mac OS X’s resource forks, extended attributes, you name it. The backup tool must support compression and encryption.

It is Attic

Attic is a deduplicating backup program written in Python. It does what I want and what I need: it is backup program with deduplication, compression and encryption. But the most important, it preserves the metadata of my files (not all metadata for now).

I wrote here that I use Carbon Copy Cloner for creating disk images containing my backup files. But with time one of the images started to expand (my local backuped folder was 30 GB big but the sparse image grow to over 50 GB). So I abandoned this backup option.

Next I tried duplicity (with duply) but after a while I found out that duplicity does not preserve extended attributes (it is smart to check your backup after you successfully finished your backup task). So I started looking for a new backup tool and found Attic.

The neet about sparse image was that I could remotely mount my sparse image in Finder. Why is this good? If you need to restore a single file, you don’t have to to download the whole image.

The good thing is that Attic supports a mount option (you can mount your archive or repository as a FUSE filessystem).

Caution: if you want to backup your files with Attic to a remote, the latter most support Attic (Attic must be installed on the remote) otherwise you can not use Attic at all. Until I found an affordable hosting where I could install Attic I made a local Attic repository on my Mac and uploaded it to rsync.net with rsync (but remember: in this case you can not run Attic against your remote since it is not a “real” remote Attic repository).



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Jun 18

Blogging with scripting

I’m reading a blog post with the title Static site generators focus on the wrong thing by Pankaj More. But it was Brendan Tobolaski who got me thinking (he linked to the mentioned post).

Why is it not simple to blog (or to publish posts) with static site generators?

To me, a static site generator (SSG) is the simplest way to blog.

Yes, the setup for publishing posts with SSG is not that easy and it has some requirements. But when you finally set up your SSG like I did and many others you get s simple publishing service.

Scripting is the magic word

It’s all done by scripts. Almost.

How does my SSG work (I use Pelican)? You must have at least one Dropbox account (but I recommend to have two Dropbox accounts; read here why), your remote server must run Linux (because of Dropbox for Linux) and that’s it. Your remote must running the Dropbox client and when the special kernel subsystem inotify notices any changes in the Dropbox folder where are saved your blog posts it initiates a special script which rebuilds all the blog posts, among them also the new post. And the new post is published.

I don’t know why are people using github for publishing. Using github means you must make a lot of steps before your post is finally published.

After I have finished my post (meaning that I have the final version of it) I save it to my special folder on Dropbox. And at the moment I save the file and Dropbox has finished with syncing my post is published. Nothing else has to be done.

Just check this post how to setup Dropbox and Pelican.



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Jun 14

Trying a new Markdown tool - Atom

I think it was on Hacker News where I heard about Atom, a text editor. So I decided to give it a try. This is the first post written with Atom.

I will see if it can replace my favorite editor, TextMate 2 beta. I like it that Atom has a big font size by default. If you own a 27” iMac, then you know what a mean: the system fonts on this iMac are really small.

So lets try this hackable text editor.



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May 30

Battery usage, push and email

For some reason, my iPhone’s battery life started to drain too fast. I didn’t want to elaborate the real reason that caused the issue but instead chose to make some changes on iOS. The first thing was that I disabled background refresh. I don’t need that. If I want to use an app, I will open it. With opening it, it will refresh the data for my usage. Simple. And I will wait until iOS fetches the new data.

Next, only a few apps have location services enabled now.

But the most important thing is that I disabled push for my emails. Doing this, I see a big improvement regarding battery life. iOS checks my new emails every 15 minutes now (only for some accounts, other accounts fetch new emails manually). I can live with that.

And speaking of email, I already mentioned here that I have my own email server with Z-Push (I configured my account as a Exchange server). But Z-Push had some troubles lately to push some emails from a specific domain name (with or without attachment) to my iPhone. So I deleted that Exchange account today and chose to set up that account with the “Other” option under Add Account.

The compromise is done.



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May 01

Nature, repeater, Markdown

Right now, I write this post outside, in the nature. I’m sitting behind the garage at my parents’ backyard and “working” at a mid-2007 MacBook Pro (yes, the one with the silver keyboard) connected to the wireless network. Recently I connected two Linksys WRT54GL routers and the second one is doing his job as a repeater.

The coverage is great.

How to boost the range of your router? You need at least two routers (in my case I have two routers from Linksys) and a custom firmware (I use Tomato by Shibby).

After you installed the custom firmware, follow this instruction to set up WDS. Once you have done it, restart your routers and the repeater mode should work now. Notice: use the WDS mode “Link With” and don’t use the “Automatic” mode because it is a big question if this mode will work. It didn’t for me.

On the software side, I write this blog post in TextMate 2 in Markdown. I hate HTML but love Markdown.

Technology is fun, even in the nature. And it is sunny again.



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Apr 25

Dropbox and privacy

Some people cancelled their accounts on Dropbox because Condoleezza Rice joined the board of Dropbox.

A lot of people were upset.

My take: I don’t care what others say about Dropbox’s decision.

Just look how many iOS apps support Dropbox. And then check how many of them support ownCloud, BitTorrent Sync etc. I know, privacy is important. But how should I use ownCloud or BitTorrent if theese services aren’t supported by the apps I use on the iPhone? I’m not saying that I won’t use BitTorrent Sync in the near future but I won’t use it for the same purpose I use Dropbox.

My favorite diary app, Day One, has Dropbox support. Every note I made is synced with Dropbox.

I think that users don’t think about limitations an app or service has. When you use a service like Dropbox you must know that your files on Dropbox aren’t encrypted by default. So don’t store important or sensitive files on Dropbox if you think that your files aren’t safe there. Or just encrypt the files. I suggest you should do that with scrypt.

For me, Dropbox is a fantastic sync service.



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