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This article is going to teach you how to get out the big guns against information theft on your Apple OS X machine. ‘But,’ you say, ‘I don’t have secrets and besides no-one cares about my stuff.’ Think again! If you are a normal computer user it doesn’t take long before you have plenty of very interesting information on your laptop, digitized and ready to be stolen in seconds.

A picture of Abraham Lincoln.My secret politically sensitive picture – out in the open and ready to be stolen.
  • Your website passwords
  • Those handy digital bank statements
  • Your accounting information
  • That picture from the office when you were really drunk
  • Your other girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s phone number

Then think about how quickly someone can make a complete copy of all that data: it can take seconds or minutes. And what’s worse, once the cat is out of the bag, it’s likely you won’t manage to get it back in because it will be plastered over half of internet and stored in a database before you know it. We live in the beginning of the information age and information theft is real, fast, and internet enabled.

If you use Safari, most of your passwords are already protected within your Apple Keychain. This guide is about how to protect the rest of your stuff using encrypted disk images. An encrypted disk image is basically a protected folder which you can store on your computer. If you haven’t heard of it yet, encryption is a method to warp data so it can’t be recognized without doing the same process again backwards. In OS X 10.4, this encryption is not toy encryption either. The standard used, AES-128, is the encryption used for ‘SECRET’ level classified information of the American government.

It is all rather simple; just keep in mind that these tips have been written for OS X Tiger (version 10.4) and that things might be a bit different if you have a different version of OS X.

  1. Spotlighting for Disk Utility.Open up Disk Utility. Normally I’d just spotlight ‘Disk Utility’ – like in the picture on the right – but if you need to find it the old fashioned way, look in Applications/Utilities.
  2. Click the ‘New Image’ button in the upper left part of the main window, or go to File>New>Blank Disk Image in the menus.
  3. Type in a nice name for your new disk image. I’m going to call mine ‘My Eyes Only’. I’m also going to make it 40MB big by selecting that from the size drop down.
  4. Set Encryption to ‘AES-128′. Don’t forget to do this or you’re not protecting your data at all!The Disk Utility interface for creating a new disk.
  5. Click create. You will be asked for a password. Make sure you enter something that you won’t forget, because else your data will be gone forever. No-one will be able to get your data out if the password is lost.
  6. My Eyes Only.dmg and My Eyes Only opened on the Desktop.Your image will be created. You can close Disk Utility once it’s done. Now, you will have an image file ‘My Eyes Only.dmg’, which if you double click and enter your password, will open up as an extra ‘drive’ on your desktop. Disk Utility will open it for you automatically the first time.
  7. Once you are done putting files into your encrypted drive, you will need to eject it.

That’s all. Everything you put into your encrypted drive, ‘My Eyes Only’ in this example, will be encrypted with industry standard encryption. Without your password (which you made really sure to memorize and keep safe) it would take thousands of years for a modern day computer to unscramble your data. I’m just going to go ahead and move my Secret.JPG file into My Eyes Only. Here it is in the safety of 128 bit encryption: The Disk Utility interface for creating a new disk.
Once I eject this disk the data will be safe and I can rest assured that my picture is a little bit more safe from prying eyes.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

If you’ve been with us from the start, you probably already read our article Building the Base-camp Part 1. If you missed out on that one, I suggest that you go ahead and read it. In this series we talk about software applications that we as young entrepreneurs of the open source-generation use in our daily business-life. If you’re not familiar with many open source applications, you’re likely to find plenty of new tools that you will find useful. However, even if we are using many open source applications, that doesn’t mean that we never use commercial softwares. There are a few commercial softwares we do like as you will discover in this series.

Today I’ll talk about two utilities that might not be very well known to the average user, and therefor deserves some extra attention. The reason why I chose these two softwares is because I use these softwares very frequently, and I love using them.

The first software is not so much of a software as it is a set of Perl scripts. The software isA picture of Awstats for Playing With Wire. called awstats, and is a log-analyzer that creates a nice statistics page from a given log file (such as Apache or your FTP-server). We use this to analyze the traffic to this page, to see where our visitors comes from, as well as what they find interesting. Awstats also gives you other information such as how much time your users spent on your web-site, and what browsers and operating system they are using. If you enable the IP-lookup feature, you can even track down you users, to see from what country are from (assuming they are not using any proxy etc. in another country).

The setup of the software is fairly straight-forward. Just follow the instructions in the INSTALL-file, and you’ll be up running in no time. The only issue I’ve been experiencing with awstats has been related to the log-format in the config file. Make sure the config in you awstats config agrees with the log-config in your apache config file (assuming you’re using apache). By the way, do I need to mention that awstats is open source?

The second software is, in contrast to most of the other tools we use, not an open source application. If there was an open source replacement that could produce an equally good result as this software, I wouldn’t hesitate to switch. Anyhow, the software is called OmniGraffle Professional, and is a great tool for creating outlines, flowcharts and other types of drawings.Screenshot of OmniGraffle. Prior to using this software I always ended up with a bunch of papers laying around with numerous of flowcharts and drawings for every project I was working on. Still I usually start with some drawings on a piece of paper, but then I usually digitize it and throw away or shred the paper. The result is a fabulous looking flowchart or drawing. Not only do the result look better, it’s also much easier to send, print and share it with other people involved in the project.

I know there are plenty of similar tools out on the market to do these kinds of tasks, but I really like this software. Not only is the software easy to work with, it also uses graphics that make you want to show your work to others rather than hiding them from the world.

Nowadays I use this software for every possible usage. It doesn’t matter if I’m designing a web portal, a database or documenting a network or an organizational chart, this is where I begin. Another good thing is that it comes with numerous icons, and if these are not enough, you can download more of them from their website.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series. If you have any comments or suggestions, please post a comment.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.
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I know I know. By now you are like, ‘what, another new Cuzimatter feature? Oh my God I don’t know how much more fantastic web 2.0 utility goodness I can take!’

But we had to do it for ourselves. Cuzimatter has been fixed up to generate W3C compatible links. As a bonus we added an ‘icon only’ mode in the advanced settings which we’re going to start using ourselves since our blog writing space is so narrow. Enjoy!

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

While browsing the news today I found an interesting article on BBC. The article talks about web-standards and how most web-sites fails to follow them. The result of this is that all these web-sites block out all their disabled users who need alternative browsers.

As you might have read in our article ‘Why Your Site Should be Multi-platform,’ we strongly support the usage of web-standards in order to not block out any users. There are standards set by the W3C on what HTML should look like, but sadly enough, these are not widely obeyed. Microsoft has, mainly due to a dominant position of Internet Explorer, been able to abuse their position and ignore the rules. Hence, many (unskilled) web-developers today only build their web-sites for Internet Explorer, and ignore the standards.

However, with the increased popularity of FireFox, many companies are starting to realize that they’re actually loosing business by not having a compatible website.

The web-sites surveyed revealed that:

  • 93% failed to provide adequate text descriptions for graphics
  • 73% relied on JavaScript for important functionality
  • 78% used colours with poor contrast, causing issues for those with colour blindness
  • 98% did not follow industry web standards for the programming code
  • 97% did not allow people to alter or resize pages
  • 89% offered poor page navigation
  • 87% used pop-ups causing problems for those using screen magnification software

Not only do these web-sites discriminate against disabled people, but, from of a business point-of-view, they probably loose plenty of potential sales.

How can a disabled person purchase something from a web-shop when they can’t browse it?

How can can a disabled person find information about a product or service on a website that fails to support their browser?

Is your/your company’s web-site following the web-standards? The W3C Validator will give you the answer.

Read the entire BBC-article here.

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Showing some true Christmas spirit, we’ve gone ahead and added Furl support in Cuzimatter. We’re just too nice. Now your honored blog readers will be able to Furl your blog entries like crazy and you’ll be insanely famous and popular at parties. Just remember to invite your friends at Playing With Wire when you go.

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