Archive for December, 2001


Password again.

From the “Sam beating a dead horse” department:
Predictable Passwords Simplify a Hacker’s Task.


Linux on the Mac

I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago when I wrote about trying to install LinuxPPC on my Mac: LinuxPPC is no longer maintained. There are plenty of other Linux distributions for the Mac, though, including SuSE’s and Yellow Dog. I’m a big fan of Yellow Dog, for reasons that I admit I don’t entirely understand. Probably because they’ve long worked exclusively on the PowerPC.

Still, I’ve decided against running Linux in addition to OS X and OS 9 on our primary Mac. No need, and more a pain than it’s worth. MacGIMP is something else, though! Part of me really wants to look hard at Fink, since I would love to get some things like GNOME working with OS X, but…nah. Not for now. Although the possibiliy of eventually being able to run Ximian Evolution does interest me.


Dark City

We’re watching Dark City. Never understood why no one else liked this movie as much as we did. It’s every bit as inventive as The Matrix and has some great performances. But it never caught on. Seriously, I sometimes think that Kiara and I are the only ones who have ever seen this movie.


Mozilla 0.9.7

And Mozilla 0.9.7 has been released. New stuff that grabbed my attention:

  • the DOM Inspector is now available in all full builds (until now, it wasn’t available for the Mac. This is a slick little tool that I’ve found myself using all the time.
  • longdesc support on images. Excellent accessibility bonus.
  • Digest authentication support. This is considerably more secure way to restrict access to certain directories or files on a web server than the heretofore popular Basic Authentication (which passes usernames and password in the clear). Internet Explorer has supported this for some time. I honestly didn’t realize that Mozilla didn’t.
  • Fine-grained JavaScript control. Now you can disable those annoying pop-up and pop-under windows through the GUI instead of having to edit text files.

There are of course other good additions, this is just what excited me. Mozilla continues to be an excellent browser, and (as the DOM Inspector demonstrates) a good foundation for browser-based applications. It has excellent standards support, becomes more and more user-friendly (with things like tabbed windows and pop-up killers), and so far as we know doesn’t open up your whole computer to attack. If you haven’t yet, I recommend giving it a shot. If you’re a web developer, you really have to.


new mac browsers

In Mac browser news today, Opera has released version 5.0 beta 5 for the Mac of their super-fast browser. Not as standards-compliant as I’d have hoped, and still with tiny, tiny fonts, but still one fine web browser. Too, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.1 is out for Mac Classic (pre-OS X).

Mozilla 0.9.7 builds should be out around Friday.


Design Rant

Design Rant. Excellent. This is one of those core, foundational articles that I wish everyone involved in production of a web site would read.


Useful software coming soon

I spent some time this weekend trying to install LinuxPPC on my Mac again. After a number of failed attempts and a bit of research, I determined that although it’s possible to install it alongside MacOS9 and OS X, it’s more trouble than it’s worth right now. I’ve got another box to put it on. To make up for it, though, I found a few cool things coming this week:

  • The next MacGimp CD is shipping. The Gimp on OS X? Yum.
  • Apple’s shipping their updated development tools on CD. A CD came with OS X, but not with the 10.1 upgrade. They were available as a download only, which sucks for those of us without a broadband connection. Now I can get the CD and start compiling software again. And I should really get back into using Java. OS X is a great platform for Java development.
  • Fog Creek’s released CityDesk, desktop web content management software for Windows. I have high hopes for this at work, where we’ve been facing the fact that we just need something better. Dreamweaver is an excellent tool but is a bit too much in the hands of the people who handle our 30+ department web sites. They shouldn’t have to worry about things like web standards, accessibility, image optimizing, and so on. It’s far more work than it should be for people who have other things to do in their jobs. We’ve been looking at browser-based content management systems (using, say, either Zope or ColdFusion), but I’m no longer convinced that’s the best thing for us. Since most of the site content originates in Microsoft Office products, I’m inclined to use something like HTML Transit, which converts Office docs and manages the site. Sorta. Thing is, the version of Transit we own is getting old and is a real pain to work with. So I want to at least look at CityDesk. I have great faith in Joel Spolsky and company to produce top-notch software.



I read this email from KPMG (whose site looks like hell in Mozilla, BTW) with great amusement and some of the distress that it seems to have caused in others. When I was working on the MnSCU HR web site, we wanted to link to the retirement service providers. Makes sense, we figured it was a bit of good customer service for our employees. First I contacted the webmasters for each of the vendors to check if there were a preferred URL. Most got back to me right away, sometimes with better URLs than I had come up with.

MetLife‘s response, however, was to forward my message to their legal department, which indicated that they required that we sign a hyperlinking agreement. Unbelievable. The agreement was to last for a period of one year and specify exactly which pages would have links to their site.

Naturally I asked for a copy of the agreement. I mean, how couldn’t I? I was dying to see this thing. However, at that point the communication from MetLife stopped. Perhaps it was all a hoax, I don’t know. Still, to this day there is no link to MetLife on the HR site. Although in a way I suppose it’s playing into their hands, I didn’t feel it necessary to reward that sort of nonsense, even with something as trivial as a hyperlink, and apparently no one’s bothered to change the page since.