Ifblog (ponderings 2.0)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Creating Gantt-Charts on Linux

Filed under: Linux — ifireball @ 14:19

Like many unfortunate office/productivity areas, project management, and especially Gantt-Chart production, seems to lean heavily on a single Microsoft product to the point where abstract-seeming work practices are actually derived from technical features and properties of that product.

A couple of years ago I tried to create a Gnatt-Chart on Ubuntu. I initially thought that would be a no-brainer, but it proved to be harder then anticipated.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

JavaScript is killing the borwser plug-in, are servers next?

Filed under: Coding — ifireball @ 13:24

Browser plug-ins were never very popular, for once, web developers could never count on users bothering to install them. It came as no surprise when most plug-ins were replaced by the one true plug-in. But Flash had the nasty side-effect of turning the web into Adobe’s playground. That effect was starkly clear on Linux, for example, where regardless of how good Firefox and Chrome get, Youtube still sucks because Flash on Linux isn’t getting the developer attention it should.

Attempts to finally put Flash out of its misery have concentrated around HTML5 video which brought along its own set of problems in the form of incompatible and patent encumbered implementations. Now, it seems, there is a new approach aiming to solve all those age old problems.  With browser JavaScript becoming strong enough to decode video, suddenly you don’t need to wait for plug-in or browser support to play that video from that website.

As JavaScript seems poised to do away with video plug-ins and codecs, its might also do away with webservers. Unhosted.org suggests a development approach where web applications would be implemented entirely in JavaScript with little-to-no need for an application server. This approach has interesting implications with regard end-user privacy and security as well as application robustness.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lynis volunerability scanner

Filed under: Linux, Security, Sysadmin — ifireball @ 14:24

Lynis is a security vulnerability scanner similar to the Debian harden package or Bastille Linux.

The main advantages it provides over those tools is its support for multiple operating systems and a very clear and friendly reporting format.

Friday, April 5, 2013

16 ways to torture developers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ifireball @ 23:56

This article discusses various organizational problems in the context of a software development firm, but I find that most can apply to any organization. Some are unfortunately all too familiar…

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NME – Another write once run everywhere toolkit

Filed under: Coding — ifireball @ 15:18

NMENME is an open source cross-platform programming framework based on the HAXE language. It’s main stated purpose is to let you write a single code base that will then be portable to a wide range of devices and platforms. This is not a new idea, in fact this, is a kind of a computing holy grail, that goal was stated by HTML5, and by Java before that, and by Cross-Platform toolkits before that, and by high-level languages before that. And while all those tools have their advantages and uses, none had become “the single tool you use for everything”, most found other purposes that were far removed from the originally stated goals. While HTML5 seems to me to be the most serious contender to that throne, it’s success might be due to the fact that you have the same browsers everywhere.

NME seems to have an enthusiastic community around it, and who knows, with the mobile market’s balkanized state, it might succeed.

JavaScript as a multilangauge environment.

Filed under: Coding — ifireball @ 02:03

emscriptenI am fascinated by multi-language programming environments and libraries. I believe that if a programming environment or technique is useful, that it should be useful to programmers of many languages, not just those of the language with which the environment was initially implemented. That is why I typically dislike thing like Rails, Java and browser JavaScript – that take a set of ideas and confine them to a single language.

It is not by mistake that I’ve specified the 3 technologies above. All of them have become multi-language over time, the ideas in Rails have been re-implemented many times in many languages, The Java VM has become a language neutral runtime, and now, it seems, so do the web browsers` JavaScript engines.

Here is a list of languages that can be compiled to JavaScript, it is quite extensive, and includes Python, Ruby, Java and C# to name a few.

Another approach is to use something like Emscripten to actually compile the language interpreters written in C or C++ to JavaScript, I”m beginning to wonder if someone would try to compile the JVM or the CLR with it, at some point it may become impossible to tell how many layers of compilers and interpreters you are running on top of…

Monday, March 25, 2013

IndieWeb and running my own pipes

Filed under: Evil Plans, Free Software, IndieWeb — ifireball @ 12:37

Indie Web Camp logo

It seems that by deciding to run my own instance of Tiny Tiny RSS as a response to the looming shut down of Google Reader, I’ve joined a movement called IndieWeb.

I’m thinking about expanding my operation with that regard, maybe run my own web event processor, or even move this blog or my mail account, I’m also wondering about trying to run and use my own ownCloud or Dispora instances.

Friday, March 22, 2013

They are trying to add DRM to HTML. Really?

Filed under: Coding, Copyrights, EFF, Free Software — ifireball @ 12:55

StopI can’t believe that in 2011 people still think DRM can work for anything but limit end user choices, security and privacy. Here is an article from EFF  explaining what is going on with this on the HTML standardization front. Please join this struggle and sign EFF’s petition.

In case you don’t know or understand what this is all about, here is my attempt at explaining, by writing a fictional conversation between a DRM Programmer and a Technology Literate User.

DRM Programmer: I want you to buy my data (Movie/Music/Book/Game) and then be able to read (Watch/Listen to/Play) it but not copy it.

Technology Literate User: That is impossible, on computers reading is copying.

D: I will protect the data by encrypting it.

T: If you encrypt the data I won’t be able to read it.

D: I will give you a decryption key so you can decrypt the data and read it.

T: If you give me the decryption key, and let me read the data, I can then write (E.g. save) it, unencrypted, to somewhere else, and therefore copy it.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Looking for a Google Reader replacement – like everyone else

Filed under: Reading — ifireball @ 18:37

Google ReaderI, like the rest of the internet, was shocked and annoyed tho learn that Google is planning no shutting down the Google Reader service.

I’ve been looking for an alternative, Here is a rundown of the options I looked info:

  1. The old reader – Lots of promise in the name, couldn’t get my feeds imported yet, I’m 22-thousnad-something in the queue…
  2. NetVibes – Dashboards suck, The reader view looks ok, but you can’t change the sorting to begin from oldest, also the key-bindings are strange.
  3. NewsBlur – Not free. Also the UI is very strange, looks like an upside-down mail reader. If I wanted my RSS reader to look like  mail reader I’d use Thunderbird.
  4. Baz Qux reader – Only one display mode that looks like Google Reader’s “Expanded View” totally useless for reading large amounts of feeds.
  5. TT-RSS – Open sources PHP APP I’d need to host on my own – but the UI looks nice from the screen-shots and it seems to have nice mobile support. I’m planning to look further into this.
  6. Feedly – This is what I use currently – not completely happy about it  since it uses a browser plug-in rather then being an independent site, so I wonder about its portability and support for my mobile phone. The UI is very flashy and wastes a lot of screen real-estate but it can be made useful with the Firefox Sylish Plugin and a custom condensed style. One additional plus for this service is that the key-bindings are compatible with what the reader had.

Finally, here are some links to various call to action sites and petitions:

  1. savegooglereader.org
  2. bringgooglereaderback.com
  3. Petition on change.org and another one and a third

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crypton – Open sources encrypted cloud storage library

Filed under: Coding, Evil Plans, Security — ifireball @ 22:36

Crypton is a library that is meant to allow developers to write privacy-enhanced cloud applications where all data is encrypted on the client side before being stored in the cloud.

Crypton currently consists of a JavaScript library for web applications that provides an object storage API, and a data storage backend built with PostgreSQL, Redis and Node.js. Additional client libraries for desktop applications are also planned.

Crypton is currently developed by the SpiderOAK company and licensed under the AGPL.

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