Changes 1.0

Changes is a new file modification application. Looks to be really nice. It’s Leopard only, so I’m going to have to wait until I upgrade to try it out.

I’ve been looking for a good application like this ever since I found my self writing a diff-based app in Automator to check for differences between my iTunes libraries. This one looks like it will do that and a lot more. It also integrates with my favorite text editor, TextMate. For the old school folks, it works with BBEdit as well.

NetNewsWire Now Free

NewsGator, the company that owns NetNewsWire, has just announced that it will now be offering all of its products for free. This is great news for the world of feed readers. NetNewsWire is a fantastic reader that I’ve been using for several years. They have a shiny new version too. I’ve heard that FeedDemon is a good Windows client, although I haven’t used it myself.

Get the new and improved free download of NetNewsWire here.

Enough With the Security FUD

One of my biggest complaints with the security industry in general, is that they seem to thrive on FUD. I find it to be particularily frustrating, because there actually is a lot of really important information there. Unfortunately, to find it you usually have to dig through layers of junk.

It pisses me off that someone like me, who is generally knowledgeable about such things although by no means an expert, can find frequently articles that are either completely wrong or very misleading. While this is merely annoying for me, the reality is that most people just lack the knowledge about computers and security to understand that oftentimes the information they are getting is just crap.

I was particularly annoyed by a recent article in ZDNet. Basically a Windows XP machine was set up on an unsecured wireless network and a security expert demonstrated a hack that downloaded some information from the compromised computers My Documents folder. It took about 11 minutes.

Getting onto the unsecured wireless network, pinging possible IP addresses of other computers on the network, finding Andy’s unpatched computer, scanning open ports for vulnerabilities, using the attack tool to build an exploit, and using the malware to get into the XP command shell took six minutes.

Frightening, yes. Surprising, no. The important part of the article is the fact that the compromised computer was running with SP1 and no protection whatsoever:

[They] connected a machine running Windows XP with Service Pack 1 to an unsecured wireless network. The machine was running no antivirus, firewall, or anti-spyware software…

This article isn’t really news at all. It simply demonstrates that if you put a default Windows XP SP1 install on a network, it is likely to get hacked (and fast). In fact, the “unsecured wireless network” part of this article is completely irrelevant. Granted, it may make hacking easier, but the fact remains; a default install of Windows XP SP1 will get hacked.

So, yes everybody, if you do not have SP2 on your Windows XP install, get it now. If you don’t have it because you pirated Windows, buy a fraking copy, or at least start using some free linux os (like Ubuntu).

I suppose there is no harm in reiterating the point that everybody, regardless of operating systems, should be upgrading their service packs. I do however take issue with the sensationalist tone of the article. Using FUD to increase page views or sell software doesn’t help anyone. This article could have just as easily been written about hacks for XP SP2 or Vista with patches installed. The hack probably would have taken a lot longer and had a lot of things line up perfectly, but that’s not to say it can’t be done. At least that type of article might have been newsworthy or even helpful. Even John Dvorak knows this article is crap.

NetNewsWire Lite 3.1 Beta Released

The beta version of NetNewsWire Lite 3.1 has finally been released. This is my favorite feed reader for OS X (or any system for that matter). I’ve been waiting for this release ever since they released the new version of NetNewsWire.

Outrageously Expensive RAM

A couple of weeks ago, I was helping to spec out some new iMacs for our computer labs. This is usually pretty straightforward; the only sticky part is actually deciding how much RAM to get. We run a lot of sophisticated software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, etc.), so I always want to make sure that we have enough RAM, now and down the road. These computers have to get us through a three year cycle.

Unfortunately, the options for built-to-order RAM on a Mac range from questionable to obscene. Keep in mind, there are only two slots for RAM in an iMac. Here’s how it breaks down:

Apple RAM Prices and Options

Thats right, 2 sticks of 2GB RAM will cost you $850 if you get it from Apple.

The 1GB option seems silly if you’re doing anything more than web browsing. 2GB is enough RAM for now, but the configuration of 2 sticks of 1GB stinks. This means that if you want to upgrade to 4GB of RAM later, those two sticks are worthless. There is no option for the obvious choice: to chose one stick of 2GB RAM, leaving an easy upgrade path.

All of this left me pretty annoyed at Apple, and feeling like no matter what I did, I was either wasting RAM (and money) now or later. So, I really had to laugh when I came across Mike Davidson’s post on RAM Arbitrage:

…to max out my MacBook’s RAM, Apple charges me $850, while if I go through my trusty RAM comparison shopping site DealRam, I am pointed to NewEgg, which ships me the same amount of RAM for $120. As a point of comparison, Dell charges $465 for an extra 4GB… still outrageous, but not a 700% markup!

He nails it. What really sucks about this practice by Apple is that I would guess many people who buy Macs don’t know that they can get the same kind of RAM from places like New Egg. They also probably don’t know how easy it is to replace RAM. It’s a racket.

Via Daring Fireball.