*Coder Blog

Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Month: December 2003

Loving and Hating Objective C

Jonathan Rentzsch has an interesting blog posting listing the top 10 things he loves about Objective C and the top 15 things that he hates about Objective C. If you are at all interested in Objective C, check it out.

I would have to say that categories is my favorite Objective C feature. In case you don’t know, categories allow you to add methods to a class definition without changing the original class. This means that you can add functionality to classes that you don’t even have the code for. In the past, to accomplish something like this, I would create a subclass of the original and add my method there. Categories are much more useful because any object of the type that is being categorized automatically obtains the new functionality without any changes in code.

Yahoo's new Anti-SPAM idea

While it seems that it will take a long time before something like this is implemented, Yahoo announced today that it is coming up with a new way to verify the origin of all email. While, the concept isn’t necessarily new, the implementation would be. Basically, they want to require all mail servers to have their own PGP key pair for a domain. In order to send mail, the sending server would include a small header containing a signature created by encrypting the message hash with it’s private key, and the receiving server would check to make sure that the signature decrypts with the public key to the hash that matches the message content.

This seems like a great idea to me. 90% of the SPAM that I get is from yahoo.com or aol.com addresses, but don’t originate from their servers. This would force people to send mail from their real network domain. Of course, this would cause a whole new set of problems. People would have to make sure their private keys are kept private (I can see it now…”Buy our CD of 100 million private keys for $99.95!”). There would also have to be an easy way of issuing a new key to a domain if for some reason they believe their private key has been compromised.

PhotoStickies and Tailer+

In the past couple of days I have discovered 2 pretty cool Shareware/Freeware applications for MacOS X. Short descriptions follow along with a screenshot.

The first is a freeware application called PhotoStickies by Christian Grunenberg. PhotoStickies allows you to show images in borderless windows. You can open either a local image or a image hosted on the web, and the nice part is that you can set a refresh time for that image. This is perfect if you want to monitor a webcam or system monitor graphs and don’t want to fill your desktop with several web windows. Another plus to this app is that you can order the windows to be below all others, so they aren’t getting in your way all the time.

The second app is shareware ($15) and is called Tailer+ by Chris Schleifer. Tailer+ allows you to display borderless text windows and either get the text from a command, or “tail” a file on the hard drive. The unregistered version allows up to 3 windows. Registering the app will remove that limitation. This application is still fairly new, but so far it’s looking pretty good and I’ve only found a few minor bugs.

Here’s a screenshot of both programs running on my Powerbook. In the top left corner, you can see 3 PhotoStickies windows monitoring various network bandwidth graphs created by MRTG. Then in the lower left corner I have a PhotoSticky of a webcam in the CS department here at the University of Arizona. It acts as my “window” here at the office since I don’t have one otherwise. 🙂 In the lower right corner there are two Tailer+ windows (one tailing my system.log, and the other tailing my console.log), and of course I have XRG on the bottom.

Christmas Lights

Well, Katrina and I finished putting up Christmas Lights on our house for the holidays. I took a picture a couple of nights ago. You can check it out here. The blue river is on top of where we have a rock river by day. Overall, we put up 3,765 lights this year. 🙂

Matt Barger's Blog

Matt Barger just started his fifth attempt of having a blog. I met Matt a the O’Reilly MacOS X Conference, and his session, Give Your iBook a REST, had some excellent insight into how we currently organize our personal data and how personal data could be organized in the future. You can download his presentation file here. Anyway, check out his blog at http://www.mattbarger.com.

XRG 0.4.0 Release Summary

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I was going to post this sooner, but I got caught up in the holiday weekend. 🙂

Looking at the web stats, this release of XRG was pretty successful. The first two days are always the busiest, mostly because software sites like VersionTracker and MacUpdate will post new software on their front page for a two day period. Anyway, in that time frame, the web site served 3517 pages to 1650 visitors. In the first 5 days of the release, there were approximately 2200 downloads of the application (some people from the software sites above download the app directly, instead of visiting the web site) and 153 downloads of the source code. I wish some more of those people who downloaded the source code would contribute new features. 🙂

Anyway, overall, I’m pretty pleased with the release. It got posted on the MacNN and MacInTouch news sites, which was pretty cool. If anyone who uses XRG is reading this, let me know what you think in the writeback.

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