AnalogSenses

By ÁLVARO SERRANO

Uncovering Android Master Key That Makes 99% of Devices Vulnerable | Bluebox Security →

July 04, 2013 |

The Bluebox Security research team – Bluebox Labs – recently discovered a vulnerability in Android’s security model that allows a hacker to modify APK code without breaking an application’s cryptographic signature, to turn any legitimate application into a malicious Trojan, completely unnoticed by the app store, the phone, or the end user.

But hey, it’s open!

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First Look at OS X Mavericks | The Loop →

June 26, 2013 |

Jim Dalrymple takes a look at a pre-release version of OS X Mavericks. I like his takeaway:

We use Apple products because they make it easy to access our information no matter where we are—on our MacBook, iMac or on the go with an iPhone or iPad. Everything syncs, everything is the same no matter where you are, and that’s important.

It’s simple, really. It just works.

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The Revolution Won’t Have To Be Televised →

June 26, 2013 |

Patrick Rhone:

The old guard has not learned that yet. They still believe in a world where, if they don’t cover it, no one will find out. That the truth only exists the way they wish to tell it, when they wish to tell it, if they wish to tell the truth at all. We on the ground know that time is long since past. That we don’t need them to televise revolutions and that there is no such thing as a local story. We know that history is best told by those who are living it and we have the tools to hear directly from the source.

Just go read the whole thing. Trust me.

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Permission to fail

June 26, 2013

I have recently been pointed toward this excellent article by Scott Simpson, which was originally published in the fourth issue of the also excellent The Magazine. The article is titled: “You Are Boring”, and it’s about how most people on the Internet seem to keep publishing mostly self-centered, navel-gazing stories without ever really saying anything interesting:

You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit. You are boring. So, so boring.

It’s true, and I know that sometimes I’m one of them. We all are.

Exhibit A: my recent series of posts about my struggle to redefine whatever it is I’m doing here, and finding a writing habit that works for me. It’s all pretty boring, I know (unless you’re me, I guess). But I believe it’s important to allow ourselves to be boring sometimes. Being boring is how we learn. The reason I write and publish these posts is not to try to appear like I have all the answers (if anything, I think it’s painfully obvious that I’m still trying to figure out the questions).

Exhibit B: this very article you’re reading. I suppose I could have finished it and then just put it in a digital drawer, never to be shared with the world. Perhaps the Internet would be a bit less boring then, but I think it would also be less honest. I decided to publish it not because I believe it’s terribly interesting or particularly original, but because I want to be able to look back on the archives one day and see my evolution, not only who I am, but how I got here. And I want anyone to be able to see that too. I believe there is value in the learning process.

If everything we read on the Internet were perfectly penned stories, interesting dilemmas and inquisitive posts, it’d be pretty intimidating to write. I find it extremely motivating to come across other people who, like me, are struggling to hone their craft. The fact that I can look back on some of those stories makes me relate, and it makes me a bit less scared to try new things. If being boring keeps you writing and helps you evolve, then by all means, be boring. So long as you keep trying, you’ll be OK. There’ll be plenty of time to ask the interesting questions later.

NOTE: This is not to say I don’t appreciate the excellent advice given in Scott’s article about writing and engaging your audience. It’s pretty good stuff, very helpful and I actually agree with most of it. We should always try to write interesting stuff, to tell a story that goes beyond the obvious. There needs to be a purpose to our writing, but we should give ourselves permission to fail every now and then. Even though it hurts, that’s the only way we’re ever going to learn.

Just keep writing, and tweaking. Try new things and challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll fail, but that’s OK. The trick, as they say, is not minding that it hurts.

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Quote of the Day →

June 25, 2013 |

The great tragedy of Science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.

Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895), English biologist

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I'm on a diet

June 25, 2013

My typical work day starts with me browsing through my RSS feed, looking for the most interesting items to read quickly before going on to work on more important stuff. I usually start with Daring Fireball and The Loop, because they make a pretty good job of gathering the most significant news of the day. Then, if something catches my eye, I will bookmark it and I’ll get back to it later in the day. The whole process often takes about 20 minutes.

I started doing this a few years ago, mainly because it’s a nice way to ease into my day, ramping up my mental cycles until I’m in the right mindset to get some work done. However, it’s also a very good way to stay on top of the things that are happening in the tech world, which I enjoy doing, and it serves as a good way to find source material for Analog Senses.

This approach has worked nicely for me for some time, but lately I’ve been reflecting on it and I’ve come to believe it is fundamentally flawed for several reasons.

After a regular 20-minute session of browsing through my feeds I may have come across one or two interesting items that I would like to comment here, but I keep finding that the right format for this type of commentary is usually through links. I will typically post a link to the source article with a paragraph or two of my own, along with a via to the place where I found the item. That’s all standard practice on the Internet. It’s a nice system and it works well, but it has an unfortunate side effect: it discourages original writing, or at the very least it does nothing to encourage it. That’s a problem for me.

Perhaps it is just me, and many writers find their inspiration by reading through other people’s work, but my mental process is different. Instead of placing myself in a consuming state, I need to be in a creative frame of mind in order to be able to actually write something in my own words. I need to clear the air around me and hear the silence before my voice comes out, almost like a whisper at first, doubtful and unsure. Then, after a few minutes, I quickly pick up my confidence and my discourse starts resembling something coherent. And then all of a sudden, what do you know, I’m writing.

It’s a marvelous process, and one that makes me feel calm, collected, and at peace with myself. I just love writing.

And so I have come to the realization that reading and consuming information early in the morning is the wrong way to approach my days. Let this be an experiment: for the time being, I’m on a diet. Not a physical diet, mind you, but a digital one. I’m on a diet of information. I have found out I can’t reasonably keep up with all the news and blog posts every day without dedicating a disproportionate amount of time and attention to it. By the time I’ve covered everything I tend to be exhausted, and my mind is no longer in the appropriate state to write. And what’s more important: keeping up is not my job. I tried to do it out of fear of missing something cool that would have made for a good article, but that’s missing the point.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is what I started Analog Senses for in the first place. It was supposed to be a refuge from our every day burden of information. A place to take a step back, reflect and realize that all those sources of info, when not managed sensibly, can quickly become an issue. Well, they have become an issue for me, hence this post, and the change of plans.

From now on I will schedule my reading time toward the later part of my day. Once I’ve dealt with everything at work, I will dedicate a few minutes to find the most interesting items and send them to my Instapaper account, to be dealt with later on in the comfort of my own couch. My only purpose then will be to come up with something that I’d like to write about the next day, capture the gist of it in a sentence or two, a paragraph at the most, and then sleep on it. The day after, first thing in the morning and with a clear slate, I will revisit my own notes and try to turn them into something different.

I can’t be sure that this new system will work any better than the old one, but I’m excited to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes, but that’s a story for another day. And now, it’s time to work.

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An article not about iOS 7

June 24, 2013

This is an article about iOS 7 that never was. It could have been a great write-up, full of insightful ideas and clever comments about Apple’s new version of its flagship operating system. It could have had critique, analysis, maybe a dash of speculation, just a couple of educated guesses about the future and how it will affect our lives as users in general, and my life as a developer in particular. It could have been all that and more, and yet it is none of those things. It looks like I’m spinning, I know. Just bear with me.

The thing is, I actually wanted to write an article about iOS 7, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought about it long and hard, and despite my initial excitement in the moments after the keynote, deep down I kind of always knew I wasn’t really going to do it. Writing about these topics has been tough for me lately. Every time I sit in front of a keyboard I get this nagging feeling that every idea I have has already been posted somewhere else and repeated ad nauseam, often in a much more articulate and coherent way. So, I slacked. I began trusting others to make the points I wanted to make. To express opinions that, while my own, are not unique. Not even slightly.

The most difficult part for me is finding something that hasn’t been said before, adding something of value, which is the whole point to begin with. I don’t like being an echo chamber. Citing John Gruber or Matt Gemmell is fine every now and then, but it’s not cool when that’s all you ever do on your own site. And I can’t escape the feeling that that’s what I’ve been doing. Let me be clear: I have strong feelings about Analog Senses. It may not be much in the general context of the Internet, just a tiny space nobody really pays attention to, but this little site means the world to me. It does not sit well with me to let it languish into oblivion. I know exactly what I want it to be and it pains me to see that I have not lived up to that idea. And so here I am.

Of course, I have my excuses and justifications. Too much work, not enough time, I could check all the usual items off the list. They’re all true, but it doesn’t matter. There’s always an excuse if you want to find one. But even then, I still wanted to write about iOS 7. I really, really did. I felt like, if I care about this at all, I should add my voice to the conversation. I should have something to say. Even if I had no idea what it was, I wanted to try and find it. However, that’s beside the point now. There is a far bigger task ahead of me, and it starts right now.

Excuses aside, the fact remains I haven’t truly committed to writing. I don’t mean it in the sense of writing something remarkable, like a novel or a scientific article. My goal is much simpler: I just want to write. About something, anything. Write every day, as the saying goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pile of garbage, so long as I keep writing. There was a time when I used to do that. And maybe I’m idealizing it a bit, but I remember it as a good time. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe I want to write every day because writing makes me happy. Wait, I need to say that again. Writing makes me happy. Heck, it’s as good a reason as any. When I look back at some of the things I’ve written in the past, I can’t believe I some of them are actually mine. It makes me proud, but it obviously makes me sick as well, to see that I have it in me, to know that I could do it and yet, day after day, I choose not to. Because in the end, that’s what this is: a choice.

This is not an article about iOS 7. This is me, committing. This is me, choosing to show up every day to tell you a story that only I can tell. I can’t promise it will always be good, or even interesting. All I can promise is that it will be honest.

I’d love to have you along for the ride.

See you tomorrow.

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This Is How You Respond to an Unjust Cease and Desist Letter →

June 19, 2013 |

When retainer attorneys employed by Big Deals send out scary cease and desist letters to nobodies on behalf of their Super Important clients, it’s typically a pro forma matter. That is to say, they don’t expect to hear back. And they certainly don’t expect the Small Fry recipient to lawyer up and send out a takedown letter of his own.

Splendid.

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How It Looks And Feels Is Supposed To Tell You How It Works →

June 19, 2013 |

Michael Heilemann, on some of the questionable design choices made by Apple in iOS 7:

So we have one arrow at the top pointing down, one at the bottom pointing up, text that ‘points’ right and then also a camera which points… nowhere (and is really small). Tap it, and the lock screen bounces. Hopefully people will divine from that that they can drag the camera up to take photos. However, that leaves us with _three_ drag indicators at the bottom of the screen, two of which are up! Good luck not triggering the control center when you’re trying for the camera.

I agree. While the iOS 7 redesign is, for the most part, a welcome change, there are quite a few design decisions that seem rushed, and not really thought-through. What’s really disturbing is that in most cases, these changes are actually a step backwards, design-wise, compared to their counterparts in iOS 6.

Via Daring Fireball.

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Don’t worry about iOS 7 →

June 18, 2013 |

Jim Dalrymple, on the recent wave on enthusiasm/criticism about iOS 7:

Second—and I’m surprised I even have to say this—it’s a beta for developers. This is not a build any individual user should install—ever. It wasn’t meant for you and installing it shouldn’t even be on your radar.

Agreed.

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