The art forger who became a national hero →

September 25, 2014 |

But post-World War II, a “Vermeer” painting sold to Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring was traced back to van Meegeren – a painting of such high quality that experts agreed no one could have possibly fabricated it. Accused of plundering for the Germans, the artist was sentenced to death. In an odd twist, van Meegeren was given one last chance to prove his innocence: If he could produce a brilliant forgery before the eyes of court-appointed witnesses, he’d be spared. What ensued would make the man one of the most popular figures in the Netherlands.

This is the story of Han Van Meegeren, the most dramatic forger of the 20th century.

What a fascinating character. I’m a sucker for white-collar crime stories.

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The Incomparable, episode 212: Toy Story →

September 25, 2014 |

These days it seems there are so many great podcasts it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of them. Lately I’m making a conscious effort to discover new shows, and I recently ran into one of the truly great ones: The Incomparable, hosted by Jason Snell.

I love the feeling you get when you discover something really awesome —and popular!— that you had no idea even existed. At episode 212, The Incomparable is a veteran show and it features some of the very best podcasters on a regular basis. In this episode alone, you get to listen to Andy Ihnatko, John Siracusa, Merlin Mann, Steve Lutz, David J. Loehr and, of course, Mr. Jason Snell himself.

And that’s not even the best part. They’re going to do a sweep of all the Pixar movies, and they’re starting with Toy Story.

If there’s a better way to get introduced to a new podcast, I can’t think of it.

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In-app browsers considered harmful →

September 25, 2014 |

Craig Hockenberry:

How many apps on your iPhone or iPad have a built-in browser?

Would it surprise you to know that every one of those apps could eavesdrop on your typing? Even when it’s in a secure login screen with a password field?

I’m willing to bet that most iOS users have absolutely no idea of the difference between opening a link in Mobile Safari vs. opening the same link in an in-app browser. And they shouldn’t have to.

Unfortunately, in-app browsers are ultimately in control of 3rd-party developers, and there are plenty of ways they can grab your personal information without you —or Apple— even noticing.

The fact that Apple is now rejecting apps that try to do things the right way is troubling. Twiterrific has always authenticated users the proper way: by redirecting them to Mobile Safari, where the user enters their credentials in a secure environment that’s completely opaque to the 3rd-party app. Twitter then generates and sends an authentication token back to the app, which is used to perform the login. The whole process is effectively like trying to go to a club and asking an in-house friend to put your name on the guest list. The bouncer does not need to know how you got your name on the list, just that it is on the list.

Now, however, Apple is requiring 3rd-party apps to authenticate users using a WebKit view within the app itself. With this new workflow users gain in convenience, but they lose terribly in security. 3rd-party apps could suddenly become glorified bouncers that demand to know everything about you before they grant you access to the club. And with so many apps and services out there attempting to profit from our personal information, the one thing we don’t need is more glorified bouncers.

The takeaway point is perfectly laid out by Hockenberry:

Another goal of this essay is to increase user awareness of the potential dangers of using an in-app browser. You should never enter any private information while you’re using an app that’s not Safari.

An in-app browser is a great tool for quickly viewing web content, especially for things like links in Twitterrific’s timeline. But you should always open a link in Safari if you have any concern that your information might be collected. Safari is the only app on iOS that comes with Apple’s guarantee of security.

This is another privacy-related mess just waiting to happen. I don’t see how Apple can continue to enforce this behavior without significantly overhauling the way in-app browsers work. I’m not even sure a solution within this model is technically feasible. The only clear way out is going back to the previous, slightly more inconvenient but significantly more secure workflow; the current situation is simply untenable.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 review | The Newsprint →

September 24, 2014 |

Josh Ginter:

The first characteristic my wife and I were looking for was the ability to take a camera wherever without feeling like we were carrying an anchor around our necks. I purchased a Nikon D5100 and Nikkor 18-200mm travel lens a couple years back and we abhorred having to carry that camera around. Cameras have to be readily available when inspiration strikes and, if your camera is sitting on the shelf in the hotel room, it’s not going to do a very good job.

This is a fantastic review. I also own an E-M10 and can’t recommend it enough. For a small and light, but high-quality system, the E-M10 is hard to beat.

I only have two comments, regarding how I personally use the camera:

  • Unlike Josh, I don’t use the accessory grip, and never felt like I was missing out on any extra ergonomics. Then again, I have fairly small hands.

  • The supplied neck strap is not particularly great, but I always use it and couldn’t imagine not having it. I will probably upgrade to a fancier one soon, but for now I think it’s adequate.

A camera is a very personal item, and different people will of course have different preferences. Luckily, the E-M10 offers plenty of options to customize the experience, so you can always adapt it to suit your particular needs.

Which is to say, Josh’s review is pretty much spot on, and you can’t go wrong with the E-M10. Great work.

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Jacket and tie | Sanspoint →

September 24, 2014 |

Richard J. Anderson:

My outfit gives me super powers. Dressed up, I have the powers of confidence, of dependability and trust, of good first impressions. Plus, I look great. As long as I wear my jacket and tie, I feel like I can accomplish any task, surmount any hurdle, and deal with any unforeseen circumstance. Put a cup of hot coffee in my hand, and I become invincible. A set of clothes that look good and feel good have the power to change how you feel about yourself. Whatever misfortune, whatever woe has befallen you, you can look in any mirror and say, “at least I still look like I have it together.” For a lot of people out there, looking like you have it together is enough to make them think you really do.

Great article.

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iPhone 6 camera compared to all previous iPhones →

September 24, 2014 |

In the past seven years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The iPhone 6 is no different. Besides being faster to shoot and easier to focus, the images taken with the iPhone 6 camera show greater detail and are significantly better in low-light.

Interesting comparison. The iPhone 6 camera is vastly superior in several areas and is particularly amazing in low light. However, it also surprised me that in other examples, like daylight photography and portraits, the results between 4S, 5, 5S and 6 are almost indistinguishable from each other.

Via MacStories.

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Dr. Drang explains engineering language to the masses →

September 24, 2014 |

This hybrid heritage carries through into the language of engineering, where we use everyday words (tradesman) to express precisely defined concepts (scientist). This makes it difficult to communicate engineering principles to nonengineers because we use many words in ways that don’t match up with their colloquial meaning. I’m sure you can come up with examples of this in other professions—even science does it to some extent—but in engineering, many of our most fundamental ideas and properties use common words.

Excellent article. My favorite example of this dual-meaning conflict is the word “theory”, as in, scientific theory:

When used in non-scientific context, the word “theory” implies that something is unproven or speculative. As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

A scientific theory is far from speculative: it has been repeatedly confirmed by anecdotal and experimental evidence, and it has been thoroughly reviewed and tested by the rest of the scientific community. That’s why I find it so laughable when creationists attempt to deride Darwin’s theory of evolution by saying “it’s just a theory”.

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Steven Soderbergh releases black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark →

September 24, 2014 |

So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).

What a fascinating experiment. Though I have a lot of conflicting emotions about this, to be honest. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of my all-time favorite films, and I usually don’t quite like it when people “reimagine” these classics.

That being said, Mr. Soderbergh is an amazing artist, and I’m terribly curious to see the result.

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Manual for iPhone →

September 24, 2014 |

What an awesome way to introduce an app:

Kidding aside, Manual is a very interesting app that lets you control all parameters of exposure when shooting with the iPhone’s camera.1 If you want to have more control over the pictures you take, this is a great way to do it.

  1. Well, all except aperture, because the iPhone’s camera lens is a fixed aperture design.

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