Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

Last Day

Tomorrow is my last day at SecurePipe.

Two weeks ago I decided that needed to move to San Francisco. I'm a patient man, but a year and a half of being long-distance with Jennifer is enough to wear even me down. Since then, I've updated my resume, spent a lot of time wondering if I'm insane, and started to actively contribute to any latent insanity by worrying about logistics for the move.

I'll be on the road all week next week, so updates are likely to be sporadic, but if we stop at any roadside attractions of note, I'll be sure to keep posted.

And if you know of anyone in the bay area who needs a good security geek, let me know!

Week 2

Almost 2 weeks into my OS X odyssey, I have a lot of thoughts about my new desktop OS. Before I get flames from "Mac People" (you know who you are), please understand that I fully grok that my needs in an OS are not "ordinary" by any measure. That said, my primary expectation of a computer is that it will do things for me and will not get in my way. Given any particular task and any particular user, what is implied by these goals will be different. What follows is a list of things that I, a security and Unix geek like and dislike. Take or leave them, but please understand that my criticisms are dependent on the context of my mind and are in all likelihood not portable. Also, I realize that many of my problems with the OS are going to be addressed in 10.3, but I'm not running 10.3, and so these things still annoy.

So first, the things I love:

Now, for the things I hate...

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts come as I get more comfortable with my setup and do more "real" work on it, but I think that 2-weeks is plenty of time for a power-user to decide whether or not he can live with an OS. To Apple's credit, I haven't ordered any Yellow Dog Linux CDs yet, but there are some things about the OS that make me seriously consider it from time to time.

So what's my final rating? I'd say that on a scale from one to awesome, OS X is "uber-cool". This doesn't imply that it's the most useful thing ever, but that it has a lot of things that would be nice to see in other places. I don't realistically expect Apple to suddenly to cater to Unix types like me, but I can dream.


Oh Blarg.

I just fixed my Kmail+GPG problem. Seems I had a typo (or 3) in my fink.conf file, so the unstable ports weren't being searched. Kmail required gpgme for GPG integration, and it's only available in unstable. With the correct package search paths, the pre-built KDE binaries work just fine using gpgme.

Despite a healthy serving of crow, I'm now quite happy with the arrangement. Mail is my primary window to a lot of things, so having my mail the way I like it is important to me. Nice to know that OS X cooperates.

KMail, OSX, and GPG

So I'm loving Kmail on the OS X box, save for one minor (ok, so not really minor) hangup: GPG integration seems borked. It seems that even though my GPG keys are correctly placed, Kmail doesn't know how to use GPG in to encrypt mail. So now I'm halfway through re-building Kmail (and half of KDE) from source via fink. Here's to hoping.

Mail Matters

Now that I'm mobile, mail is becomming a major concern. 'Till now, I've been able to get away with having a couple of accounts which were checked via POP3 from a single box. Mail would get backed up from that box, and I'd run my client from that system. This worked very well when I had DSL, but since my last move that hasn't been an option.

The laptop compounds the problem somewhat as I want my mail to be both acessible offline and sync'd with my desktop so that I have the same "picture" of the outside world from my mail client at all times, no matter where I check my mail from. My initial thought was to see if would do what I need, but alas it stores mail in mbox files. Perhaps the most broken/brain-dead way of storing mail ever, so that wasn't an option.

Next, what about Kmail under Fink? This seemed good, as I use/like Kmail everywhere else (save work, where we some massicistic tendancy dictates that pine is only acceptable MUA). Installing Kmail via Fink was straight-forward. Apt still rocks muchly. It's funny how often I forget how cool it is when I'm on a distro that doesn't use it. One problem though...Kmail wouldn't start. Hard crash...bus error. Not good.

A quick google turned up a problem with the QT libraries for Fink under OS X, meaning that I had to trying QT 3.2.1 out of unstable and hold my breath. I almost turned blue waiting for QT to compile, but once built Kmail works beautifuly. A quick scp of my primary maildir and the options files for kmail and we are ready to rock. A mobile, non-sucky, rsync-able mail solution at last. I'm a happy camper.

I'll probably have some thoughts on Safari when I get a chance to play with it more, but I really love the way the overflow: auto; problem is fixed and how spell checking is built in. Oh, and JavaScript debuging info to the console in the default build is a frigging godsend compared to Konqueror. There are some negatives, but overall it's the browser I knew Konq could be. Now if only we could get some OpenSource SVG support.

Oh, and for the $129 price of entry, VirtualPC kicks ass. Installing RedHat in a VM was a snap, and it's reasonably useful, even with a relatively limited 512 meg of ram. Very cool.

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