Archive for September, 2002


Rich text editing in Mozilla

Via webgraphics: a rich text editor for Mozilla at

Inspired by a call from Scott Johnson, this looks at first glance like it’s fast approaching the standards-stunted functionality that the rich text editor in IE offers, and with a bit of work will be able to offer CSS support.

Oh wait, it has CSS support! There. A few weeks work and it’s already doing more than the IE tool.

This is great. One of the things that bothers me about browser-based CMS (e.g. the otherwise exciting efolio) and blogging tools is that people who don’t use IE on Windows are missing out on some rather useful functionality. No more. A big thank you to everyone involved.


Wireless FUD

Recently there was a surprising flurry of discussion surrounding a lame little article on ZDNet. Not just on weblogs, but around the water cooler, people worrying about how wireless networks are insecure and should we really be using them?

Get a grip.

A few points beg being made. First, I agree with Andy Oram: how is this different from any open relay? Further, Cory Doctorow comments:

My guess is that as long as you can send spam from home without having to put on pants, there’s no reason why you’d go through this stupid business of wardriving open wireless nodes to use as a spam launchpad.

Someone suggested to me two reasons: bandwidth and untraceability.

Whose bandwidth? Most of the spam that I get is blind-copied to me, which tells me that the spammer sent the message exactly once, leaving the “10 million” copies to the MTA. Unless the spammer’s ISP is tracking and charging for this bandwidth, why would the spammer care? If the spammer’s looking to use free bandwidth, there are plenty of easy options: public libraries, cybercafes, etc. It doesn’t matter whether they’re wireless or not.

As for untraceability, is it really easier to drive around looking for warchalking symbols or scanning for open networks and probing for open mail relays, or to sit at home and do the same thing?

The funniest/ saddest part of the article is that ZDNet misquoted their source. He didn’t say that this is happening, he said that it could happen.

OK, so there’s a good point, unfortunately obscured by the FUD: secure your networks — wireless or not — if you don’t want them abused. Of course I agree with this, of course it needs to be said. Again. And again.

What I object to is the way that ZDNet bends the details to make this point. Cuz what happens next is the mainstream press picks up on it, blurs reality a bit more, and pretty soon local TV news programs are running headline reports like “Wireless Internet is the work of Satan, because godless communist gay child pornographer spammers are abusing it.”

No. The technology itself is not dangerous. It’s actually pretty cool. The issues described in this article are nothing new or inherent in wireless. But articles like this obscure important information and feed sensationalistic hype. Drives me nuts.


Why Apple sells eMacs

Oh god.


Dreamweaver MX Tutorials

I’ve recently started working with Dreamweaver MX, which is a far cry from earlier versions. I might even end up making it my primary editor for my PHP projects.

One thing that will be new to most Dreamweaver users is the layout scheme. There are all sorts of new panels, slightly new concepts… too confusing if all you’re trying to do is get up a quick page. The new workspace is useful if you know what you’re doing and do a lot of hand-coding, pretty much a pain in the ass if you don’t. For the latter, there is the Dreamweaver 4 layout mode. For the former, there is a tutorial at Panel Management: A Dreamweaver MX Workspace for Designers.



Karelia has released Watson 1.5.5.

In Sherlock 3 (released with Jaguar), Apple duplicated much of what Watson does, thus making Sherlock actually useful for once. Watson is hands-down a far superior application, though. It runs faster, does more, and is just generally more pleasant to use. Try it.



WarmanWe took this picture on the way up to my brother’s wedding last year, and to my shame only just got it developed. (That, since you didn’t ask, is one of the reasons I am glad to now have a digital camera.)

I could claim to be posting this now in response to our president trying to drag us into a war that it seems no one but he wants, alienating allies and making the US an even more desirable target, but nah. It’s mainly for the benefit of Mark Beihoffer, should he be reading, though I guess Chris (pictured) will get a kick out of it, too. And of course, so I don’t lose the photo. I’m really starting to put more and more things here just so I don’t lose track of them.

OK, really it just makes me laugh.


Ductile Security Systems

Great article in The Atlantic on Bruce Schneier and his views on security .

[S]ecurity measures are characterized less by their manner of success than by their manner of failure. All security systems eventually miscarry. But when this happens to the good ones, they stretch and sag before breaking, each component failure leaving the whole as unaffected as possible. Engineers call such failure-tolerant systems “ductile.” . . . [W]hen possible, security schemes should be designed to maximize ductility, whereas they often maximize strength.

Many of the things being done in the name of security since September 11, Schneier points out, actually make us less secure — because they break badly.

Note to self: reread Secrets and Lies, Security Engineering, and possibly even The Atlantic.



Their home page doesn’t yet reflect it, but it appears that the Open Source release of Xopus is available for download.

Xopus is a browser-based WYSIWYG XML editor, which I think that I’ll be playing with quite a bit in the near term.

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