Thursday, December 18, 2014

Google wants to warn you every time you use HTTP instead of HTTPS

So recently, Chrome developers have been floating the idea that the UI should post a security alert every time the browser visits a page that isn't encrypted. According to the BBC, currently only 33% of  websites use HTTPS (encryption). I suspect in actual practice the number of websites that are still using unencrypted web connections is much higher. This would mean you'd be getting many security alerts in practice.

I am all for more encryption. There are far too many parties out there who have something to gain by snooping your connections. Every time I use an strange WI-FI hotspot I worry about who is listening or how they might modify my data.

Many think this is all theoretical. That no one really cares about your data so unless it's something like banking data then it doesn't matter. Nonsense. Dangerously so. You're not up against humans you're up against software and with software you're never too small to not matter.

Consider that the WI-FI hotspot might be inserting ads into web pages you're looking at. Comcast has been caught doing this. This is annoying and potentially misleading because now you can spam ads and the user will think it's coming from whatever website you're using. Hopefully they didn't make a mistake or the page won't show up at all. What about replacing existing ads with your own? Too bad for the original web site trying to make a living. What about inserting a tracking ID so you can be followed everywhere you go?

What is the ISP doesn't think you should be watching youtube?

And these are the corporations. Nasty people on the internet can  snoop on everything that goes over an unencrypted connection. Much of it can be used to fool support and steal domain names or accounts because why not? .. to say nothing of identity theft. How much of yourself are you giving away each time you log into facebook?

Then there's the government. Whether you're liberal or conservative you can bet there's someone who disagrees with something you're doing.

Many websites have encrypted versions of their site. However it can be painful to figure out which sites have an encrypted version and to manually switch over. This is where HTTPS Everywhere comes in.

HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. Encrypt the web: Install HTTPS Everywhere today.

HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that contains a database of web sites that have encrypted versions and automatically redirects you to the encrypted version of the site without you having to worry about it. This gives me some piece of mind when I'm using public WI-FI hotspots. It's not perfect but it's the best we can do until all connections on the internet are encrypted.

.. and they will be.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Found a Good Headset

Those with long memories will remember that I have been looking for a good circumaural headset ever since my Plantronics 655 headset died.

The Plantronics 655 was never the perfect headset. Its ear cushions were too small and rested on your ears so that they would become uncomfortable after wearing them for a long time. Just about every headset has this problem. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the KOSS SB45 doesn't. Its ear cups are large enough to go all the way around the ears so I bought a pair. I am very pleased with them.

My only complaints are that they exert slightly more pressure on the sides of my head then I'd like and that they don't do whatever magic the Plantronics 655 headset does to let you hear yourself when you're on Skype.

Let me explain, you know how when you wear a headset you can't hear your own voice very well? The 655s play your own voice back to you so you can hear yourself. Since you can hear yourself you don't feel the need to shout. I'm actually surprised since I thought it was a feature of Skype but it works with the 655s and not the SB45s. It looks like some sort of device level feature. It's really useful and I miss it.

Apart from that the KOSS SB45 headset is very comfortable, has a good mic, good sound, inexpensive and I would recommend it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Space Smilies now on Google Play store

Well, I've released Space Smilies to the Google Play Store now. Go download it! Have fun! Give feedback!

My plan for the sabbatical was to release two video games. The first was this one. I figured it would take about a week to get it ready for release. If I hadn't decided to change things that would have been a realistic estimate. Instead I decided to clean up the Space Smilies movement, add levels, add a level editor, redo the graphics and things like that. I figured with all that it would take a month. It took about 4 months. This plus a bunch of other demands on my time mean that I'll probably not get to do the game and game editor I wanted to.

Ah whatever.

I have other projects to work on. In fact, it's quite hard to set priorities. Part of the problem with deciding on what project to undertake is that it's not clean what's worthwhile unless your part of the conversation. That and Myster  set the bar for success really high. We would get 10000 downloads a day when we released a new version. Most days we'd only get 300 downloads. That's still impressive. It would be even more impressive if I hadn't made a bunch of newbie errors early on in my installers that made most users simply not able to use the application on Windows. Painful doh!

Every field has a conversation. If you're a Starcraft player you can think of it as the current state of the meta game. It consists of what is known, what is done, what needs to be done and what is not worth doing. Actually, it's more complex than that includes all the little arguments that are in progress and all the relationships, camps and tribes that are squabbling at the moment. I used to be very connected to these things but some of the conversations have moved in 10 years.

Games and indy gaming especially. The tools available to modern indy game developers are impressive. Part of me is saddened by the fact that application development frameworks are no where near as good.

This means that creating a game is much more about learning the tools than learning exotic programing techniques. I'm not sure I want to bother to learn a tool whose sole purpose it to quickly make top scrolling video games. I would love to WRITE such a tool. In fact, that was kind of the idea, but it looks like I am 5 years too late there.

Doh. That's what happened when you don't pay attention.

Oh well, I'll figure out something. Stay tuned. :-)