Secure Communication

An interesting article describes how scientists are using a single beam of photons to create a “secure” data line, as opposed to lasers, which emit many streams. How having a single beam helps make it more secure, I’m not quite certain. I would guess that if you could intercept one beam of photons from a laser, it would be possible to intercept the single one as well.

The security of information depends on the properties of light that is used to transmit data. Laser beams which are used at the moment send billions of photons, making it easy for hackers to steal some of them and break the code, said Rabeau.

Despite their efforts, this won’t stop people from writing their passwords down beside the sending or receiving computer at either end. The weakest link of the chain is often the people involved, not the technology. That’s not to say it isn’t susceptible to attack, but unfortunately all the advanced technology in the world can’t stop the power of a Post-It. [via digg]

Secure Communication

Uncrackable

While I’d like to keep this a Mac-oriented site, I can’t help but chuckle at how fast technology gets cracked. Case in point: Several days ago, Microsoft launched their Windows Genuine Advantage program which ensures that only real, licensed copies of Windows can receive updates. Pirated copies of Windows will only be able to get patches up to the launch of the WGA program, but will be left behind from future updates. Not anymore.

It’s always a bad idea to tout your product as uncrackable. Doing so is nothing more than a big, blinking, neon sign attracting talented individuals to try their best to break it. I can’t think of a piece of technology yet that hasn’t been cracked in some way. Xbox, PSP, TiVo, and software activation of all sorts have been cracked…

Uncrackable

ChapterTool for Gapless Audio

Here’s a unique use for ChapterTool: combine audio tracks from a “gapless” audio CD into one file, but maintain chapters as different songs. Combining songs in this way lets you play the album straight through without gaps, but still allows the choice of song by skipping though chapters. The iPod image near the bottom makes it quite clear as to how it works. Check out the tutorial on wanderingFocus.

ChapterTool for Gapless Audio

iMac LC III on G4TV

While watching the recent items in my iTunes podcast subscriptions, I saw Phil Torrone (of MAKE Magazine) mention some hacks on G4/TechTV’s “Attack of the Show.” While describing the philosophy behind the magazine, one of the items he featured was my iMac LC III hack, where I fit the parts of a gumdrop shaped iMac into an LC III case and made it work. Click here to watch the G4 segment. That totally made my day.

iMac LC III on G4TV

Enhanced Podcasts and RSS

Phil Torrone has written a fantastic article on creating iTunes-ready enhanced podcasts, covering everything from recording the audio to adding images and URLs using Apple’s ChapterTool utility.

While I’m on the subject of iTunes and podcasts, I’d like to share my two cents on the whole RSS extension debate. For those who haven’t been following this story, iTunes 4.9 introduced some new tags to the RSS format. Contained within these tags are various podcast related elements such as show duration, description, summary, explicit flag, and others. While I’m far from an RSS expert, I think it’s the right move for Apple and for the community. Some have complained about the added tags, saying that some are redundant or that they don’t follow standards, but the idea is to create a separate chunk of information in the feed which applies only to iTunes (or other “podcatching” utilities, should they choose to). It should be noted that all of the iTunes related tags start with “itunes:”, for easier identification. These tags are there for the sole purpose of enhancing the user experience, and do not exist in the RSS standard. While Apple could have asked the RSS community to consider these additions, that could have taken eons and most certainly delayed the release of the iTunes update. The choice was clear: create a block of tags specific to iTunes, and leave it at that. And despite Apple effectively taking over the podcast arena and “forcing” these changes upon people, having support in one of their flagship programs is the absolute best way to get listeners’ attention. Swift and widespread consumer adoption of a new medium isn’t force; It’s technology done right, folks.

Standards arguments aside, there are still some undeniable bugs in iTunes 4.9. Mark Pilgrim points out that iTunes does not support, among other things, ETags, Last-Modified, gzip or zlib compression. These bandwidth-saving features are extremely common among websites, and their absence from the iTunes update is obviously an oversight on the part of the engineers at Apple. Podcasting is still quite new, and I’m sure bugs will be ironed out. John Gruber has a thorough (as always) article on the update, and I highly recommend reading it.

That said, I love the user experience Apple provides for podcasts. Other services exist, like Odeo and PodcastAlley, but I can’t be convinced to use them regularly because I enjoy the simplicity of keeping the entire process (from searching to subscription) contained within iTunes. This is part of the reason that the iTunes Music Store is so popular, and it’s one that Apple has touted since the release — you don’t have to keep jumping between programs to get your content.

Enhanced Podcasts and RSS

Flickr Pro

I finally gave in and bought a Flickr Pro subscription. The main reason being that they only allow you three photosets on an unpaid account, whereas pro members have an unlimited amount. Now that I have a pro account, I’ve sorted my photos into my newly acquired photosets, and the results can be seen in the updated gallery here at Command-Tab. I’ll be adding photos to a new set each time I do a project, as well. If you would like to keep up with my photos, you can subscribe to my Flickr RSS feed (or Atom, if you prefer).

Despite how long I managed to put off purchasing a Pro account, I really do think that the services Flickr provides are great. Not only do they have a community on their site, they allow you to access all your photos programmatically via an API, allowing to share them with others on your own site. The API also comes in handy for other projects, as well. I’m quite happy with what they’ve pulled off in a fairly short time, and I’m sure I’ll be a paid member for a long time to come.

Flickr Pro