reCaptcha

I’ve added a captcha plugin to this site (reCaptcha) to fight the huge amount of random URL comment spam which is unfortunately not captured by my askismet installation – sorry for the inconvenience.

At least if you type in the captcha correctly your comment should be instantly visible by now.

280slides

My boss Thomas came home from San Francisco today where he attended the annual WWDC, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and he brought some interesting infos and stuff along (Snow Leopard Alpha install party, anyone?)

I haven’t had the chance to have a longer chat with him yet, but one thing he was totally awesome about was when he attended in this indie developer track the other day. I forgot what he told me it was entitled, but basically it was about a young startup company which “just” created a Powerpoint / iWork Keynote equivalent which completly runs inside your browser… you find it here:

http://www.280slides.com

Back yet?

Have you noticed the overall responsive UI? Have you seen the semi-transparent tool windows with their soft drop shadows? Have you tried to insert a shape via drag’n’drop and changed its size and form? And of course you noticed how the little preview pages on the left instantly updated when you changed somewhat in your main slide, haven’t you?

As a normal Joe you’d probably say “hey, decent application, very nice!” – as a developer of any kind you should by now just simply blown away…

A bit of explanation follows.

What you’ve just seen was a completly new web framework user interface built on top of a completly new web programming language named Objective-J built on top of plain, old Javascript 1.x. One of the founders of 280 North, Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, apparently loved his Objective-C for desktop development of Mac OS X applications so much, that he decided to create a version for any browser (the underlying Javascript can be found here for the interested).

Ok, now, nice, somebody invented a new script language on top of Javascript – now what? Shouldn’t this be painfully slow? What’s the point?

As you’ve seen it is not at all slow, I guess with Firefox 3 and newer versions of Safari / Webkit it should get even faster. And the point behind this is that if the foundation stands as-is, its just a matter of time to reproduce all the core functionalities of the Cocoa Frameworks – those programming libraries which are already used for all these fancy Mac OS X applications (not to forget the iPhone / iPod touch applications and the native Windows versions of iTunes and Safari). What if you could write a Objective-C application in the future – and with minimal changes to its rendering source code – just publish it as a web application running in everyone’s browser?!

Wow, now this is very cool…

Of course there are similar efforts of creating “rich internet applications”, most of them need some kind of browser plugin or runtime (Flash, Adobe Air, Silverlight, to name a few) and some are install-free (basically everything what Google has created, like Docs and Spreadsheets, the calendar app, GMail, …). While widgets on the former usually look very decent and maybe even adapt to your local style setting, pure web-based javascript apps often look like outlaws – or at least do not provide all the widgets you’re used to if you’re developing desktop applications. With whatever drives 280slides, we might see the best of both worlds – widgets which look and feel like the widgets in desktop applications and widgets which are completly install-free.

The guy(s) behind 280North promised to release Objective-J (and hopefully the Frameworks on top of it) soon under objective-j.org and I’m very very excited to see more of it.

One last anecdote Thomas told me today – Francisco Ryan Tolmasky was asked during the presentation of 280slides what he did before he founded his company, i.e. he was asked for his background. Imagine a young guy standing in front of the audience, probably aged under 25, answering “Well, I’ve worked for Apple on the iPhone version 1, but after that had been finished, I decided to leave the company. What was left for me there anyways, doing it again for iPhone 2 was not appealing after all…”

Oh my god.

Compromise a coffee machine

Just found via heise: The Jura F90 Coffee machine’s connectivity kit which “enables [the communication] with the Internet, via a PC [to] download parameters to configure [the] espresso machine to your own personal taste” seems to have some security problems:

The connectivity kit uses the connectivity of the PC it is running on to connect the coffee machine to the internet. This allows a remote coffee machine “engineer” to diagnose any problems and to remotely do a preliminary service.

Best yet, the software allows a remote attacker to gain access to the Windows XP system it is running on at the level of the user.

(Source)

So next time your coffee is too strong or too weak – look out for nearby hackers!

Unicode Character Tool

I’ve been looking for a Mac OS X equivalent of KDE’s kcharselect tonight and before I noticed that there is something similar already built in (the character map which is available from the internationalization menu), I stumbled upon UnicodeChecker:

UnicodeChecker

And wow, this is a very fine application which goes even beyond the options the built-in solution provides. For me the following things were particularily useful:

  • Browse the whole Unicode range by character blocks, either sorted by codepoints or by definition
  • Built-in search for character names (Spotlight indexing possible) – say, you need a character / glyph to display a triangle, just search for “triangle” in Spotlight and it opens up in UnicodeChecker!
  • Bookmarks and History of recently shown characters / codepoints
  • Conversion from/to HTML / IDNA / Javascript / CSS UTF-8/16/32 encodings – very useful if you ever stumbled across problems like how to encode a unicode string for a javascript alert() box properly
  • Splitting up unicode sequences – “Why are my textbreaks broken? Oh – must have been this non-breaking unicode space…”
  • And last but not least: a very clean interface.

So while dealing with encodings is probably not the most sexiest thing on the planet, this application surely makes it fun to browse the Unicode range.

And if you still think you don’t need this application, just check out one of the other applications the authors, Steffen Kamp and Sven-S. Porst, have created – controlling iTunes by giving your Mac notebook a slap sounds interesting as well, doesn’t it?

Nine Inch Nails go Creative Commons

People who regularily visit Digg.com probably already know it: Nine Inch Nails – one of my favourite bands – just released their new full-length album “Ghosts I-IV” with 36 tracks under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license! You can download the album from their official site in various editions, amongst whose is also a completly free download version. The paid versions range from $5 for the download-only version (encoded in 320kbps mp3, lossless FLAC or some lossless Apple codec) including a PDF booklet to a $300 “Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package” – everything 100% DRM-free. Now isn’t that cool?!

But it gets even better:

Now that we’re no longer constrained by a record label, we’ve decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, to various torrent sites, because we believe BitTorrent is a revolutionary digital distribution method, and we believe in finding ways to utilize new technologies instead of fighting them.

(Source: The Pirate Bay)

Trent uploaded the first part of the album on Pirate Bay himself! Now take your hat of to this great man and support him! I’ve just ordered the $10 CD version and am now in the process of downloading the album…

NIN Ghosts Cover

Wrong public GPG key published

See, this is what happens if you almost never get any encrypted emails – you almost forget about it. The public key which is available from here pointed until today to a key file for which I’ve lost the private part quite some time ago. Somebody tried to send me an email message encrypted with this key and I was obviously unable to decrypt and read it. Sorry for the inconveniences here!

The one and only correct key with my current main email address has the key ID 160D1092, generated on 2003/03/13. If you like to send encrypted messages to me, please use only this key. There is still the other key uploaded on some public key servers (its ID is C16DFEFA) – please do not use this one! I won’t be able to read your message otherwise.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to revoke the public part of the missing key without either having the private key backup’d somewhere or at least having a pre-generated revoke certificate. Those key servers seem to be “ADD”-only…

Mainstream Media / Free Burma!

Free Burma! CampaignIt amazes me every time how little information one gets over the mainstream media about certain topics. For example, the conflict in Burma. Germany’s most popular (trusted?) TV news source – the Tagesschau – draws a calm picture of the situation: A representative from the UNO visited the military junta and the leader of the opposition today, while no information about the actual results of the interviews became public. Other than that only a few hundred people went on the streets today; and yeah, people in other countries demonstrated for freedom and democracy in Burma as well.

Was that really everything? Well, the internet is full of information on the conflict, and apparently there is much more to report than what the Tagesschau told us. The junta is accused to commit genocide:

It is reported from several different sources that about 200 unknown dead bodies [were burnt in the crematorium]. The worse part is some very badly wounded people were burned alive without medical treatment, nor contacting the victims’ families. It was confirmed by a staff at the Yayway Crematorium.

Source

Now, why on earth are the United Nations and other organisations just so fucking quiet? If there are indices that such things happen, shouldn’t there be a major interest for international interventions? Stephane Peray, a cartoonist in Bangkok/Thailand, summarizes the current situation pretty much:

Burma Genocide