It Done Broke.

Password Masking

Password masking is the HTML thingy that replaces your password characters with bullet-points as you type.  It may not be the perfect or most effective way to stop snoopers, but it’s not meant to be.  It’s only meant to be good enough to stop most snoopers – at the very least make it somewhat inconvenient.  And it covers casual as well as determined distance creepers with binoculars.  He says:

More importantly, there’s usually nobody looking over your shoulder when you log in to a website. It’s just you, sitting all alone in your office, suffering reduced usability to protect against a non-issue.

While I agree with Jakob’s general observations about usability and the apparent cost of failed password attempts, I think the alternative isn’t quite acceptable.  Because frankly, we’re not all sitting alone in our office.  Many of us, are in fact, in the real world…like airports and coffee shops.

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Firefox 3.5pre Temporarily Goes Insane

I just fired up Firefox 3.5b4 and did a Check for Updates, downloaded 3.5pre and restarted.  The profile didn’t quite load up and seemed to be hanging (and working the hard drive) so I killed it.  I then noticed my disk space had dropped precipitously.  I searched around and found that the profile directory had 117 new files named “places.sqlite-*.corrupt” occupying 1.7GB of space.

When I restarted Firefox, no problem…weird.  I guess this sometimes happens?

Bittorrent Metainfo File Quick Look Generator

I’ve thrown together a Quick Look generator for those Leopard users out there who have poorly named Bittorrent metainfo files.  It’s a work in progress, so no warranties, but it works for me…here it is anyway.

For a more complete description, got to the Downloads page.

Gamma Correction

There’s a posting on TUAW about how to set your display’s gamma in OSX Leopard to match Snow Leopard’s.  It describes in detail how to go about doing it without actually telling you what you’re messing with.   It’s a concept that isn’t Mac-specific, though.

When I was working at an animation studio back in the late 90s, I was introduced to the avuncular Charles Poynton who has made a career out of sitting on panels, making recommendations to technical boards and writing books on video, color and especially gamma.  I took a course from Charles along with some colleagues because we needed to implement color correction and set a mutual standard across our studios around the world.  So knowing what it was we were trying to achieve was somewhat key.  We had digital ink and paint and compositing people on SGIs, color artists on Macs, a renegade CGI team that switched from Maya to 3D Studio Max and then editors on Macs in Avid but did their viewing through expensive Sony Evergreen reference monitors.  Finally, an art director who looked at the work on all of these systems and wondered why everything looked different.  The majority of people don’t need to ever concern themselves with this stuff and should probably just move on.

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Google Software Update

Google Software Update, which vexes system purists everywhere since it’s installed silently when you install certain Google products, is set by default to autonomously execute on a daily basis.  In Mac OSX, there’s no control panel or preference pane with which to change this annoying behaviour unlike in Windows.

However, I just found this page tucked away which describes how to set the update frequency for OSX (Windows users look here).  You have to get into Terminal and:

$ defaults write checkInterval <frequency>

…where <frequency> is in seconds.  Setting it to 0 (zero) disables it completely.

If you want to manually run an update check, you need to look in either

  • /Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle/Contents/Resources/
  • ~/Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle/Contents/Resources/

for a file called ‘CheckForUpdatesNow.command’ and run that.  Convenient, huh?

If I get the time, I might hack together a Pref Pane for this.

Twitter: crankietech

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