Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

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You may have noticed the small lock icon next to the URL on this site? Well, this means that it’s now (almost) fully buzzword-compliant, completely served over the secure https protocol via a brand-new digital certificate! TL;DR: it’s more secure for both you and me; at least, it’s much better than it was before. But nobody’s perfect.

I know; some pages (perhaps, even, this blog post you’re reading) still haven’t adapted to our new secure overlords and may not show the lock icon, or even be completely broken — I’m working on that. In a week or two all should be fine. I’m using the invaluable https://www.whynopadlock.com/ checker for this, and already managed to get an A rating from the equally invaluable https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/ page. Credit to my hosting provider, DreamHost, for making this migration both possible and almost painless.

In other news, we’re just back from Yet Another Trip — this time to Patagonia and Antarctica. I’ve had plenty of time to work offline, meaning that things which are sometimes fascinating but often boring got done without excuses; I had to push off procrastination for weeks! In another week or two — or a month or two, if Zeno’s Paradox kicks in — a new RB Utility should be available. The app itself is 95% done, but as I plan to release it on both the Mac App Store and from this site, and it’s a paid app, all the tedious back-end stuff had to be learned and developed. Watch this space for news.

Update: I did some more tinkering with the security headers and I now also get a B rating from Yet Another Invaluable site: https://securityheaders.io/. (The A rating seems quite tricky, but I’m looking at the requirements.)

Update#2: more tinkering, and https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/ now says “A+”! Yay.

Quay is now legacy

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If you’re a Quay user, there’s good and bad news.

The good news is, I finally had time to test it on OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) — not the final version, but the GM developer release — and it still works!

The bad news is, it works by coincidence and not fully. While I still use it myself on 10.10 (Yosemite), I don’t use all of its functions and it turns out that dragging a Finder saved search icon into the Dock stopped working some time in the past; they probably updated the format either in 10.10 or 10.9.

In 10.11 there are new security restrictions on 3rd-party applications getting information like memory and CPU usage of other processes; therefore, Quay’s popup for running applications will show only the application version.

Unfortunately, Quay is a 32-bit application that depends on now-obsolete Carbon APIs to do its magic, and these things are all going away. I can no longer compile it on current versions of Xcode, and OS X will Real Soon Now™ be 64-bit only.

My products page has been revised to show Quay as “legacy” software and I can no longer support it on newer systems or even promise that it will work at all on these. If you are a registered user, my apologies.

In other news, we were away for an extended trip to Eastern Europe and Asia. Here’s our updated world map:

worldmap2I also found time to work on RB App Checker Lite and a new version (1.1.3) is currently waiting for review on the App Store. Hopefully it will be out early in the week. More about this soon.

Updates update

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Good news: we’re back. Here’s my updated world map:
worldmap1

Bad news: my plans to work underway were largely derailed, and I had to wait an additional couple of weeks for my new iMac to arrive. Still, everything is finally installed and working now, and an update to RB App Checker Lite should be out in a day or two.

I fixed a crash that happened on some (apparently very few) systems and the new version is 1.1.1 — build 288 for the Mac App Store version, and build 289 for the direct download version. As a bonus, the app should also start up a little faster.

In fact, the MAS version has been out since the day before yesterday, but we’re on the road (currently in Germany) and Internet connections have been a little irregular.

On the downside, in the next 4 weeks my connections will be even more uncertain — we’ll be in Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Italy and in the Eastern Aegean, so further updates or postings will probably have to wait until I’m back home. On the upside, I’m taking my laptop and will try to work in my copious free time while underway… 🙂

Oopsy

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The recent update to WordPress 4.0 seemed to have gone smoothly — perhaps too smoothly.

Turns out it has some fancy new redirection facilities that interfered with some of the pages outside this blog — specifically, some of the product pages, but only if the final /index.html was missing — it then would search the blog for the oldest post mentioning the product. Go figure.

Anyway, I managed to mostly fix it; the sole remaining exception seems to be the Klicko page. Please use this link to get there, in the unlikely case you’re still using that.

Another recent addition is the Crayon plugin to properly format source code on these pages. I’ve checked it out and it seems to have a bazillion options. I’ll have to play around with it and find the one that breaks the fewest older pages — this may take a week or so.

Speaking of a week or so, we’re currently on the road for yet another long trip; this time to Germany, Northern India and Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Italy, Greece and Montenegro. I’ll probably have Internet for another 8 or 9 days, but by then whatever’s not fixed will have to wait for our return around the end of October.

Meanwhile, a small update(1.1.1) to RB App Checker Lite is waiting for review in the Mac App Store. I’ll post the direct download version ASAP; the only change is a fix for a crash that a couple of users complained about. Meanwhile, RB App Quarantine is about to be updated with helpful suggestions from users; I’ll try to do that while underway.

Interlude

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I wrote the three posts below (The Mac Turns 30, part I, part II, and part III) on the road in South Africa. Here’s my updated map of visited countries (66 now):

Connections underway were slow-to-non-existent, and this time I took only my trusty iPad 2. Unfortunately the combination proved unwieldy for posting, and I had to go back to those posts now, recheck formatting and add some links; if you enjoyed the stories, you may want to re-read them. (I also fixed some errors.)

Part IV should be out Real Soon Now. In the meantime, you may wish to read this reasonably accurate article out about the Unitron Mac clone debacle which happened roughly at the same time.

Yay! Another update!

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RB App Checker Lite 1.0.3 is now live both for direct download and from the Mac App Store. Here are the release highlights:

  • Now opens and checks .ipa bundles.
  • Opening packages (like .xcarchives) that contain applications now works properly, showing the package icon and path.
  • More and better help and credits text, now with active popups.
  • Library licenses have been included in the credits.
  • New interrupt/redo scan button.
  • The list of known entitlements has been updated.
  • Better explanations for most code signing errors.
  • Complains about missing receipt for App Store apps.
  • Pop-up file lists are now slightly better-looking.
  • Unsigned frameworks aren’t incorrectly flagged with a signing error anymore.
  • Fixed: the app froze after clicking the full-screen button in QuickLook preview.
  • Fixed: issues with mailto: links in the About window.
  • Fixed: the File->Select… menu is now enabled; it doesn’t work for frameworks, though; the workaround is to drag one onto the app icon or window.

And a most important note that I wasn’t allowed to mention in the app itself because of Mac App Store restrictions: the new version should be fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).

On the travel front, we had a few wonderful days in the old villages in the interior of Portugal, and now an excellent week in Ireland. The weather, which was abnormally splendid, has today returned to its more normal Irish standard of wet and windy. More anon.

Yay! An update!

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So, a long-delayed update.

A few days ago, and exactly 365 days after the last version (1.0.2, I dimly recall), I submitted RB App Checker Lite 1.0.3 to the Mac App Store. It should be out before the end of the week, I hope; watch this space for news. As soon as it’s on the store the developer ID-signed version will also be available for direct download.

There are a few new features and some bug fixes – the exact list will be out with the update. There are, also, many new features not directly visible by the user. In particular, RB App Checker (non-Lite) is now being built on almost exactly the same codebase. This will be a paid application, probably around US$16, with a new UI and explanations for the non-technical user – but the very detailed geeky stuff will still be visible with a click, don’t worry. It will also be able to scan the user’s Application folder.

Both versions of the App Checker build on a generic application framework that will make it easy for me publish more file-twiddling utilities. Two of them – one to count and scan folder contents, one to generate various types of aliases and file links – are already in alpha and should be available before the end of the year.

In parallel, I hope to, very soon, restart work on my next-generation System Preferences panel – the one that will obsolete and subsume my previous apps like Quay and (perhaps) Klicko. If all works out as I hope, this panel will be able to leverage the RB Utilities  to get extra funcionality not allowed by the Mac App Store, and centralize preferences and auto-updating for my non-App Store utilities.

In a day we’ll leave for a short vacation in Ireland, followed by a visit to lovely Köln and the Objective-Cologne conference, where I’ll present a short talk on (ahem) “Coding Secrets of the Ancients”. Well, the subject is a little misleading – there will be a section about history and reminiscences about early computing, but there’ll be a very practical and up-to-date section about protecting applications in the Mac App Store; tricky stuff like receipt and certificate checking. More details should be up soon at the ObjCgn website.

We’ll also seize the opportunity to visit friends, relatives and developers in Germany, and should be back early in October. I’ll post updates here whenever possible.

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