Rare Risk and Overreactions – Schneier on Security

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Food for thought, Rant

I do not believe this article can ever get enough press. Problem is it never will get much (despite being published on Wired and Bruce Schneier’s blog, as well as many other places).


I won’t talk about personal liberties, tax dollars being wasted, or even people being (un)reasonable. No matter what’s going on around us, we always all have a choice. We may not like the choices we have, but we still have them. My problem with all this is that I see the world fast approaching where people are told they do NOT have a choice about anything. 1987 came and went, but at this rate we probably won’t have to wait for 2087. Lock every person up, lock the jailers up, throw away the keys and kill everyone. Then maybe, just maybe, there won’t be any dangers around.

Grow up. Live your life.

LiveSearch 1.3 Creative Commons License

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Code, WP Plugin

I’ve finished work on LiveSearch 1.3 some time ago, just never got around to creating a tarball and uploading it to this site. The major change was that it no longer requires that the searchform.php and livesearch.css files be manually copied to your themes directory. If you want to make theme-specific changes to it you can still have a copy of those files in your theme directory, and if they’re found there they will be used instead of the default ones. Plus a few bug fixes and javascript improvements here and there.

If you’re interested, I created a Google Code project for this and all the files are stored there.

As before, here are quicklinks to the zip archive and the gzipped tarball, as well as the main LiveSearch post.

Pretty CAPTCHA Creative Commons License

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Code

I know, I know… CAPTCHA is outdated. But there are still cases where it might be useful, and it’s hard to make one that’s good looking, easy to read by humans and has a certain level of complexity for machines. This is what led me to create my own PHP version, that can be pretty much plugged in to anything. I was meaning to make this into a WordPress plugin, but meh…
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Automating backup of Flash drives Creative Commons License

posted in the wee hours by Constantinos. Filed under Code, OS X

I have a lot of my critical work on a few flash drives which I carry around with me constantly, mainly because I work on a number of machines and would like to have a central repository of my work. After losing one of the drives recently though (bound to happen sooner or later), I looked further into automating the backup process (I had lost about 2 days of work). That’s when I stumbled accross this hint on macosxhints.com, but the script didn’t exactly fulfil what I had imagined my automated process to do.

Ideally, the automated backup process would have these features:

  1. Not require installation of any third party app
  2. Have the ability to somewhat customize the backup script for each thumb drive
  3. Have the backup script silently run whenever the thumb drive is mounted
  4. Require little to no set up for each new thumb drive that I want to backup
  5. Support spaces in Volume names
  6. Not try to backup the boot drive under any circumstances (don’t ask…)

Updated 2007-03-10: I updated the backup script to include automated handling of archives, and keeps an arbitrary number (specified in the preferences of the script) of incremental archives using rsync's --link-dest parameter, as recommended by John in the comments. This creates what functionally amounts to FULL backups, but with a fraction of the space needed for an actual tar backup. Also it can be configured to keep at most one backup per day, or with minor editing at most one backup for any period of time.

Updated 2007-03-18: I've created a second script which can be used as a drag-n-drop solution. Simply save the script as an application bundle, save it somewhere handy, and drag it to your dock. Now you can drag your thumb drive on the script which will perform the backup, and then eject your drive!

Updated 2008-03-10: Folder action modified to work with Leopard. Well, more like hacked at this point, but it seems to work.

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Motorola Motofone F3 Review

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Review

I bought the Motorola Motofone after being introduced to it by this post on my friend Nick Baum‘s blog. For as long as I remember, I’ve been reading about how phones keep getting more and more complicated. Yet many people want their phone to do only one thing: make calls. The trick was getting a phone that was usable and friendly at the same time. When Motorola finally came out with the Motofone, it appeared that they had achieved just that. The only problem was that the phone was only available in India! Fortunately for me, I’ve been in India for the last 3.5 months. So I decided to buy one (or two), and write a hands-on review for it. Well, after writing a single-spaced narrative that spanned 3 pages and finding myself only half way through the things I wanted to say about this phone, my friend Nick came to the rescue with a list of questions for me to answer. So I’ll just break my unnaturally long essay into pieces and post the review in interview format-.
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Hints and code snippets for a more sane OS X Terminal experience

posted in the early afternoon by Constantinos. Filed under Code, OS X

Pretty long title, huh? Well, I’ve finally made the decision that there’s no way I’ll ever be able to keep a journal. So instead, I’ll start posting code snippets and general hints that I mostly harvested online (and try to cite wherever I can – remember that is -), but also modified to suit my purposes… First up is seamless integration of X11 in OS X with the Terminal application.. Read on for the code
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Jim Munroe

posted terribly early in the morning by Constantinos. Filed under Literature, Rant

I guess this would be my first non-technical post… Hurrah!

I recently (as in a year or so ago) came across Jim Munroe, of No Media Kings, who is a self-publishing indie author. At first I was attracted to his work because it was free. “Cool”, I thought; “a free book!”. So I started reading Everyone in Silico. I think I managed to read about 2 pages before I “put the book down” (or in this case closed the file), mostly because of the inherent problems of reading a book on a computer monitor, and I really didn’t feel like printing it.

A couple of days later, I read another 2 pages. And that was it. I was completely hooked to this futuristic novel, with its wonderful and at times dismal and distorted view of the future. Reading that book made me feel like a child opening presents, not bearing the time it took for me to actually read a page and already wanting to scroll down to the next one!
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LiveSearch 1.2 Creative Commons License

posted mid-afternoon by Constantinos. Filed under Code, WP Plugin

Ok. I’ve widgetized this plugin, and updated the headers of the plugin. Now you can just install it, and put it anywhere on your sidebar using the Widget plugin. In its options you can specify whether or not you want the searchbox to be encompassed in the default widget wrappers (disabled by default). Pretty straight forward.

The css still needs to be updated, but I don’t know if I’ll be getting to that anytime soon. Any upgrades/suggestions anyone might have are more than welcome.

Here is a quicklink to the zip archive. Original files are always linked from the main LiveSearch post.

CSS Naked Day

posted in the early evening by Constantinos. Filed under Web Standards

Seems that the net is filled with exhibitionists… Lead nudist Distin Diaz promotes using proper Web Standards through a CSS Naked Day on April 5th, 2006. Here’s a list of naked people. This site should be completely nude on that day, so don’t be surprised 🙂

And it looks like I’m cheating a bit because some of the CSS for my livesearch plugin is still being inserted, maybe it’s a hint that I should rewrite the plugin a bit more carefully? Either way, I’m not gonna change that… Without the css the search button would also show up which would be better for nudity, but whatever. 🙂

LiveSearch Update Creative Commons License

posted mid-afternoon by Constantinos. Filed under Code, WP Plugin

I’ve updated the code to include an option for the size of the search box which I neglected the first time around. I also crudely fixed up the code so that no javascript errors occur when a page without the searchbox is loaded. (For example on my site, any page outside the blog). I’ve done some preliminary testing and it seems to work. If anyone can (or wants to) improve on this, please do so! The archive files on the original post have been updated to reflect the new changes.
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