Black Friday Links
Some of the best things I’ve seen today:
Fix Transmit Favorites Disappearing in Mavericks
It seems that the OS 10.9 update is causing Transmit to lose its’ Favorites database. I’ve opened it on more than one occasion to see this:
If you have your favorites synced to iCloud, this can be fixed by doing the following.
~/Library/Application Support/Transmit, where you’ll see this:
Drag the Favorites.sqlite and Favorites.sqlite-journal files out of this folder (put them some place you can find them in case something goes wrong), quit Transmit, and re-launch.
The app seems to then re-download the Favorites database from iCloud.
I've Shipped an App
A few friends and I get together semi-weekly to play Axis & Allies.
Those familiar with the game know that there isn’t a great way to keep track of every country’s Industrial Production Credits. The game comes with a little board that you’re supposed to use, but it’s clunky and easy to lose count that way. A version of this app was done in Labview, but because Labview is for the feeble, I decided it would work a lot better with an iPad. Plus the Labview version was running on a laptop which has no touch screen and much worse battery life.
This iPad app was the first time I had ever written any Objective-C or used Xcode for anything “real.”. It will always be backwards compatible with iOS 5.1, for anyone who has an old iPad lying around who now wants to use it as an IPC counter.
The app is simple, but it works for our group so I released it on the App Store. I’ve also got a list of planned features. If you use it, I’d appreciate your feedback.
Get it on the App Store
For support, questions, bug reports, and feature requests, please use the IPC Counter Support Page.
Update: The current version (1.0.0) contains a bug where on your home screen, the name of the app is ‘ipcCountClean’. Version 1.0.1 fixes this and has been submitted to the store.
Update 2 - 12-Oct-2013: Fixed!
The Ubuntu Edge
Note: This is the second cell phone post in a row. I swear this site isn’t about cell phones.
The crowdfunding campaign for the Ubuntu Edge has ended. Let’s have a look at just how unwilling to pay for stuff the Linux community is.
This was a phone which seemed to be made entirely out of improbable numbers. 4GB of RAM, 128GB storage, a 4.5” 720 x 1280 screen, 8MP rear camera, 2MP in front, only 9mm thick, and $695 for one unit. It even promised features that the “free software community” loves, such as fiddling with things that normal people shouldn’t have to worry about. It’s even able to dual-boot Ubuntu or Android on the very same phone. I bet that’s really fiddly. Linux people love that.
How much do they love it? The amount of money that had to be contributed before this thing could be built was $32,000,000. That might be ambitious, but at $695 per phone, they only need to sell a little over 46,000 phones worldwide achieve their goal. In 2011, Ubuntu’s user base was estimated by Canonical to be “more than 20 million”. At 20 million users, only about 0.25% of them have to place an order in order for the phone to get funded.
So how did the campaign go?
Ouch. Not a good showing for the world of “open.”
The Future of Blackberry
This is the Blackberry Z10.
It’s got a 4.2” 356ppi display, 1080p video recording, an 8MP camera, 4G LTE, and an operating system out of nuclear power plants. It’s reasonably fast, reasonably attractive, and the build quality of the hardware has even been compared to that of the iPhone. There is one small problem, however: it is nearly universally hailed as being just not good enough.
And because of that, the Z10 is Blackberry’s swan song.
…Or is it?
Though Blackberry have taken a complete and relentless hosing both on the market and on Wall Street, since the advent of the original iPhone, and though it seems they aren’t cut out for making handsets and tablets, they are the gatekeepers of a few things that are very important to the security industry. Blackberry, through its purchase of Certicom in 2008, now holds every major patent on the implementation of elliptical curve cryptography (ECC).
Most encryption in use today, including the type of encryption that makes the internet work, is based on some variant of the RSA algorithm. This is an algorithm that was published in the late 1970’s by some men with pens in their pockets, and their assumption was that it was based on a math problem that was very difficult to solve. Indeed, RSA depends on finding a factorization of n; using the most efficient methods we know of to find this factorization, a 1024-bit RSA key will not be decrypted by a modern desktop before the sun burns out.
It turns out, however, that due to advances in mathematics and/or in quantum computing, RSA may be broken soon, causing a cryptopocalypse. Some even suspect, in light of recent news about the NSA, it’s possible that they’ve already broken it. That means the industry could be on the cusp of having to find an algorithm that is a different kind of “very difficult to solve.”
Enter ECC. Whereas RSA depends on the computational difficulty of factoring n, ECC depends on the difficulty of the Elliptic Curve Discreet Logarithm Problem. Dkrypt has a nice explanation. Because the algorithm is more complex, higher levels of security can be achieved with a smaller key size. This has some implications:
- The security available with a 1024-bit key using RSA is approximately equal to the security available with an 80-bit key from a symmetric algorithm, such as ECC. The result is smaller file sizes for keys. This will be important in the future as more and more mobile devices are in use.
- Speaking of mobile devices, it also takes much less computing power to decrypt an ECC key, provided that you have the private key. A desirable characteristic as the world moves to smaller, lower-power chips.
So when the cryptopocalypse arrives, and everyone has to switch to ECC, whose patents on implementation are held by Blackberry, how much money does BBRY stand to make? Without trying to go full-Asymco and attempt to calculate this, there are reports that estimate the business of “Hardware encryption through algorithms” to be worth around $166.67 billion by 2018.
I have no idea how Blackberry does business when it comes to this stuff. We do know that they aren’t afraid to enforce their patents. We also know that one of the biggest current customers who have licensed the ECC patents is the NSA.
Don’t be surprised if, in the not-too-distant future, Blackberry is without a hardware business and without a sofware business, back to making money hand over fist.