Ruby on Rails
Ta-da List


August 22, 12:26 | Comments (0)

A month of delayed mblog delights

August 22, 11:50 | Comments (7)

No Mac OS X-specific virus has yet appeared

Apple's Hot News points to a news article from that says all the things Apple probably would like to but can't say:

As the latest Microsoft Windows infection spread across the Internet last week, knocking out thousands of PCs in homes and businesses, Macintosh users did what they usually do during a computer virus outbreak — they continued working.

And that's just for be opening bid. The rest of the article contains a number of interesting facts about life in the Apple garden without worms and vira:

  • "Not a single Mac OS X-specific virus has yet appeared"
  • "The number of viruses written for the classic Mac OS is about 50. By comparison, security experts estimate the number of Windows-specific viruses at about 70,000"

Open ports by default: 1 for OS X, 5 for Windows XP
My freshly installed version of OS X only has a single open port — port 427, which runs the Service Location Protocol (finds services on the network). Starting a rendezvous-based program, such as Hydra or iChat opens for port 5298. So it's reasonably to expect that default Mac owners are only exposing these two ports to the world.

My default Windows XP installation is another matter. Without starting any programs on my own accord, there's five open ports: 135, 139, 445, 1025, and 3389. The first is of course where Blaster makes its entry. The rest include NetBIOS and "Microsoft-DS".

Neither operating system has the build-in firewall turned on by default (despite what the SunSpot article claims of OS X).

August 21, 16:51 | Comments (1)

Read the book while it's being written

Manning is making all the right moves in publishing at the moment. Not only can you buy books in digital editions free of DRM, they're also letting you in on each chapter as it's being written with the Manning's Early Access Program.

For $20, I just bought the right to see JUnit in Action by Vincent Massol and Ted Husted (who also co-wrote the excellent Struts in Action) come into existence. The first five chapters are already available and new ones trickle in every or every other week. When it's all done, my initial $20 of course also covers the final digital master.

Once again, when are you going to catch up, Tim? Manning doesn't have to expand their repertoire much to become my new favorite technical publisher.

Now if only Husted and Massol could speed up and get chapter 7 on MockObjects online...

August 21, 16:34 | Comments (10)

This doesn't happen on a Mac

No billion-dollar ad campaign could have positioned Apple as good as the latest swarm of worms and vira for Windows has. This is average people getting hit big time without even opening Outlook. And there needs to be just one Mac owner in their circle of friends or acquaintances for the infected to get the message: This doesn't happen on a Mac.

That's not to say that it couldn't happen. It would be foolish to think that OS X is immune, no operating system is. Yet the 'nix core, fewer script kiddies, and parenting of a company with a far better love/animosity rating than the other side certainly helps a lot.

I've never even heard of a widespread OS X virus or worm. I reckon there probably has been some, but I can't recall any making the evening news. Or even Slashdot.

Note, this isn't about gloating. I truly sympathize with anyone hit by Blaster, Sobig, or any of their recent friends. Worms and vira authors are sick individuals and I should die before cheering them on.

August 19, 14:52 | Comments (1)

Loving the half-price ebooks of new releases

I'd buy a lot more book if every publisher conducted business the way of Manning (are you listening O'Reilly?). You get to buy their latest releases before they're even available at Amazons for 50% off the sticker price and it's fully refundable if you later opt for the paper version.

I bought Jack Herrington's Code Generation in Action (great book on one of my favorite topics!) this way and I've been overwhelmingly impressed by the process. First of all, it was Real Easy. A few clicks and a credit card number and you're off to the download. Instant knowledge-desire fulfillment. On contrats, I usually order 5+ books at a time when I do it from Amazon, so that only happens a few times a year.

Manning doesn't even lock up the PDF (+1 for trust), so I printed chapters two and three for a long bus trip, and read the rest off the screen. The latter is of course a much smoother experience with the new Preview in Panther, which includes 1000% speed-up, text-searching, and copy/pasting, so that happened from the iBook that's running the WWDC Panther beta.

Worrying less, reading more
But neither the convenience nor the trust exhibited was the real kicker. The change in reading habits is what's going to make me do this more. At half the price of a regular book (or actually closer to one third of the price when you include all the shipping and VAT fees you won't be paying), you can try out more titles and you don't have that nagging feeling of responsibility to read every single page.

So I read the first five chapters, skimmed the rest, and dived in for specific examples on the problems I was facing while trying it implement the ideas. With less internal pressure to read the book cover-to-cover, it was much easier to get started. Hence, I actually read more than I would have otherwise, and as a result "finished" the book over just a few days.

This means I can jump from reading one book a month to reading two or three. While still only paying only for the one. How great is that?

Getting O'Reilly, Amazon or even Apple on board?
Now if only we could get the mammoth of technical books to jump off the subscription wagon (I like to own, not rent, my books) and onto the eBook train, I'd be a happy bookworm!

Of course, I'd be even happier if Amazon entered this market and made me forget all about individual publishers again in favor of focussing on the titles I wanted. Or maybe we could get Apple to sidestep the establishment once again and add ebooks to their digital media operations?

August 18, 20:27 | Comments (10)

Pleasant dealings with Apple support

After my horrendous experience with Sony over a broken hard drive in the old Vaio last year, I've been disillusioned with the support of electronics bought outside the Danish border (since within, there's a mandatory 2-year full-on warranty).

So I wasn't exactly full of hope when I phoned Apple this morning about the battery gone in the iBook I bought on my trip around the US last year. What a surprise I got! Almost instant connection with a Danish-speaking supporter that read me three knowledge base suggestions (that didn't work) and then concluded he better send me a new battery.

"It should be there within a few days"

Not only that. He had all my information on file from the product registration, so I didn't even have to give him my address.

World-wide Warranty actually means exactly that for Apple. This has got to be one of the cleanest interactions I've ever had with any company on warranty issues.

Ready to switch, yet? I echo my recommendations for either an iBook or iMac (or both!) from a household of two iPods, two iBooks, an iSight, and that glorious iMac I'm typing this from.

(If you're contemplating a PowerBook, keep drooling a little while longer — Think Secret and PowerPage sources says new 15" and 17" models could be here as soon as this week!)

August 18, 19:58 | Comments (1)

Control your Mac with a Nokia 3650

Long has my envy of SonyEricsson t-series owners been almost unbearable. Controlling your Mac from your phone over Bluetooth has got to be one of the coolest applications of the latter. On top of being cool, it's also Really Useful. Especially as a iTunes and Keynote remote.

Neither Clicker (pioneer) nor Romeo (free), which both facilities the controlling, has previously made any advances (or even promises!) towards broadening their support.

So the arrival of Veta Universal 1.0 comes as an unexpected and pleasant surprise. This $8 shareware serves as a wrapper for all of those SE t-series API calls into Series 60-speak. Very cool!

Unfortunately, it only works with Romeo so far. Romeo is the free, but feature-challenged one of the two available Mac remotes. It lacks playlist and search support for iTunes and keypad mode for Keynote. And since Clicker is just $9.99, I'd much rather have a wrapper for that than Romeo.

But let's not talk down a good thing. Romeo + Veta Universal is currently the only available controller combo for the Nokia 3650 and for that they both deserve a world of praise!

(Only hag is the inconvenient registration process of Veta that only works over PayPal — you even have to be a member — and the ensuing wait for your key)

August 13, 16:45 | Comments (3)

Where's my snare?