Getting Around the Web: Take the Cab

Originally Crystal Atari Browser, this is an oldie to be sure, but hanging tough.

And for the iPad Pro, iCab Mobile wins over Safari (for most sites but not all) and has many well-conceived bells and whistles that are so customizable that this detail might put off casual-sometimes users of the iPad who do not expect to do any serious web work on the smaller device in the first place.

iCab mobile browser (Pro version is two bucks I think) plus Index App are a very useful combo for me (iPad more than iPhone.) Your mileage may vary.

I will leave it to these websites to highlight the pros and cons.

Simulated: Life, the Universe and Everything

Here’s a mind-bender to end the week: Are we all merely shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave? Is there really a REALITY or are we simply made by some puppetmaster to act is if…

In the Matrix, minds were real but the physical world was a computer simulation.

In the current philosophical and physicists’ speculation, none of it is what we refer to as “real.”

We are projections in a simulated reality, and if that is true, it can be discovered. And we can create our own simulations (just think of what we can already do with computer-created reality) and populate worlds we make ourselves to suit our own whims. To the Holodeck, Number One!

Even Elon Musk thinks this might be so:

“Forty years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were. Now 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality,” said Musk. “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality.”

It’s a view shared by Terrile. “If one progresses at the current rate of technology a few decades into the future, very quickly we will be a society where there are artificial entities living in simulations that are much more abundant than human beings.”

If there are many more simulated minds than organic ones, then the chances of us being among the real minds starts to look more and more unlikely. As Terrile puts it: “If in the future there are more digital people living in simulated environments than there are today, then what is to say we are not part of that already?”

Think (or imagine you think) that this is a fringe area of interest? Pretend to think again.

So in the final scene, does Dorothy step behind the curtain and meet the Wizard who runs the projector?

Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?

We Really Don’t Know Clouds At All

I’m sure I had another post topic in mind before I checked my Google News Alerts. Stupid thing to do if you have any interest at all in maintaining focus. I did not maintain.

One of my searches is for news for “cybersecurity.” While I’m not a coder or hacker, I’m an end-user. I’m a participant (mostly enthusiastic but with serious concerns) in the techno-commercial use of digital technology to run a civilization.

I’m deeply invested in web technology both at home and on the road. The “cloud” has made it so much easier to save and share and retrieve information–and gobs of it–on OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, and Dropbox. I use all of those. So this is NOT good news:

The lastest exploit–call “Man in The Cloud” puts at jeopardy the security of all these cloud storage tools. Once discovered, even changing passwords does not rescue your account (far worse if YOU are a big corporation) from being controlled by the invader or your files held at ransom. This is truer of Dropbox than of Google Drive apparently.

I’m thinking this is a Windows issue and NOT a Mac issue. I could be wrong about that if anybody knows for sure. Now that the story is in the wild, I wonder if we won’t see quick and major use of this before steps can be implemented to minimize if not prevent such attacks.

And if you want a smaller scale threat that’s more up front and personal–your iPhone can also belong to others if you are not VERY careful to ONLY download apps from the Apple App Store.

A “Masque” attack might look like an app from Facebook, Twitter, Whassap, or another legit app provider. It might work like the original. But it is enhanced and wants your data for lunch.

Header image confession: it is a mashup of two of my images.

► Man in the Cloud’: Hackers can access Dropbox, Google Drive accounts without the user’s password – Firstpost

► “Man-in-the-Cloud” Attacks Leverage Storage Services to Steal Data | SecurityWeek.Com

► Fresh Masque iOS security flaw puts iPhone users at risk – Business Insider

Homeland Security: Locally Intact

I know how anxious you have all been during the silence at Fragments since last week, but want to assure you that all is quiet on the western front, and I come back from my adventures in NY state to find the homelands secure.

I will, perhaps, have a story of my encounter with TSA and post my letter to them for your approval, or for you to tell me I’d be crazy to send it, or “why bother.” But hey, there was a wall sign imploring me and my fellow travelers to tell them how they are doing. Boy, will I tell them.

I’ll have stories, possibly, about places and plants and word rambles along the way and the usual ruminations that end up every time (once every 5-10 years) that I travel.  But, there is indeed no place like home. And on the Fortinet Threat Map, I am relieved to find that not a single cyber-attack from China or Russia is focused on Goose Creek.

As for the rest of the world as we know it, there are rumors of war. Do take a quick peek at this real-time cyber-threat map and imagine what it will look like when the skirmishes of the past blossom to all-out web-infrastructure attack. It’s only a matter of time.

RE(Devon)THINKING My Brain

Long story short, I think I’ve made permanent changes in how I structure documents, blog posts, web pages and writing on the computer. A ticker tape parade ensues. Stock prices soar!

At the end of the story, I’m moving away from Evernote and towards Devonthink Pro. Here’s why (and thank you for asking.)

Devonthink Pro was maybe the first (and most expensive) Mac software I purchased when I made the move from PC in early 2008. I used it to organize the elements that would become What We Hold in Our Hands in 2009. Then we broke up.

Evernote, about that time, had moved from its earliest incarnation as a long scrolling strip of information to its more sophisticated folder and files format. I jumped ship.

I still use Evernote, but for fewer things than I did before I had the V8 Dope Slap moment a few weeks back thinking “I could have used Devonthink Pro!” And it turns out, you can easily import Evernote folders into DTP where they become part of the Artificial Intelligence and other cataloging functions of Devonthink. The faster iMac with 32GB of RAM has also helped this program to rise up in the ranks of apps I use.

I will admit that DTP is not the sexiest, most transparent or intuitive application on the Mac. This information database takes wrapping your head around its particular way of doing things.

But it is perhaps one of the most versatile and potentially useful apps around if you need what it does. Who might need what it does are folks who deal with a wide variety of document types and attempt to glean quick or aggregated information from the docs, snippets, web pages, pdfs and images that would otherwise live on their hard drives.

DTP becomes a super FINDER to either store (import) or reference (index) files and cross-reference some or many  that used to live invisible and helpless on your hard drive. The app is understandibly popular among historians, students, teachers and research types.

I run Workflowy, Nimbus Notes and Simplenote (or others at times—like weather radar this morning) within DTP in tabbed browser windows so I don’t have to switch from DTP to Firefox and back for many routine writing/recording actions.

DTP works [Screen shot from my current open database] best with Safari and Mac Mail, and I  don’t use either. But there are bookmarklets and add-ons for Firefox, plus the “SORTER” which stays ready like an open file cabinet to pop in notes, tasks and “bookmarks” which are active links to web pages.

For digital packrats like me, it is finally becoming obvious that this is an app worth its rather high price. If you do a lot of document scanning then you’ll want DTP Office that is even pricier.

Okay. Take a breath. The excitement has passed and the frenzied parade has crept over the event horizon, so you may resume your boring ordinary life you lived before you were titillated by this account of my software fetish.

Oh What a Tangled Web

Imac SetUp - New Page480This time six years ago, I was dreading the consequences of the choice I made to never go to Dell again—in a hatbox or otherwise. I was fed up with the PC blue screen and had heard that Mac JUST WORKS. I wanted me some of that. And got it, mostly, since making the switch with the arrival in late January 2008 of the MacPro. I have said good-bye to the old gal now, and gone soon to another.

The old system is still operating fine, inasmuch as any piece of technology is reliable in relative terms. I’ve not had it into the shop but once, and in the last year have added some components that are worth the asking price of the whole system. I may boost it for sale here and on FB soon if my current sales lead does not pan out.

But the deal, for the past month, has been to be proactive with regard to the logistics of the transition from old to new. It is not by any means straightforward, largely because of the rat’s nest of wiring that’s swathed in cobwebs and house dust (with Ladybug Sprinkles!)  behind an immovable solid-oak desk and sidepiece. Tthe two of them probably weigh  three hundred pounds and sit on a medium-pile rug. They are not sliding or shoving anywhere, even by an inch.

So I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days spelunking in the dark recesses to label each wire that will have a life and need to find a plug-in on the new machine. Many, thankfully, won’t have a life to come—like the multiple lines required for the MacPro monitor alone.

The new system will cost me every bit I earned over 2014 with book and note card sales, speaker’s fees and computer consulting home visits. But the iMac 5K 27 inch Retina (with beefed up RAM and HD) should last me possibly for the duration. We’ll see about that.

Over the weekend, I was cooing clucking around the place making the nursery ready for the new baby, and today is the Big Day. So now I’m just waiting for the UPS stork.

To be confident I had a good idea ahead of time that I wouldn’t have a Oh Crap moment lacking outlets, cables or other hardware, I created a diagram in LucidCharts. So I should be able to just plug it in right out of the box and be back in the saddle, and tomorrow, my first blog post on my last computer ever?

Geek-Out on Goose Creek

Every so often I do a geek brain dump on the blog. I really don’t suffer the illusion that anybody gives a rat’s acetabulum about my particular computer workflow or preferred digital tools or what I do with them.

But for my own purposes, I do enjoy from time to time perusing the now twelve full years of blog posts as a time machine that looks back–not just at the nature of this place and life in it, but also at my tech evolution in blogging, from PC to Mac, with Photoshop and InDesign and such.

That said, in this week following a major reorganization of my old (and full) hard drive and the new (3TB) initially empty internal hard drive in the MacPro, I consider the software I’ve been using.

 In the latest OS called Mavericks , one useful new feature is that you can create tabs to folders or volumes from within Finder. This has been immensely useful in moving stuff around. If you are not using it on your Mac (running OS10.9) you might want to.

 Circus Ponies Notebook  Stupid name, great tool. Frankly, I’d abandoned it some while ago. But new version 4 came out a few weeks ago. AND (this is major) it plays nice with MS Word that I have to use for SF meeting notes. Typing in Word’s outline format is a hair-pulling frustration. Typing in CPN’s outline is a pleasure. [I’m also using it for blog posts text since it pastes in nicely to WordPress.]

 App Launchers Redux . I went back to QuickSilver (free). Nah. I went back to LaunchBar. Nah. I finally returned to good old Alfred (Pro) and am enjoying the Evernote Workflow that makes EN oh so much more useful now.

 Speaking of Evernote  I’m reorganizing (more than 1k) notes using tags rather than notebooks. New stuff into INBOX, everything else into the trash or into CABINET with two or more tags.

 PopClip  For a couple of bucks, this has saved countless mouse-miles and keystrokes over the past six months. Today I added a clip to APPEND to the current clipboard. I copy a web page title and url using TEMPLATES add-on in Chrome, then select text-Append—more text—append. Wish I could make it skip a line between appends.

 Remind Me Later  A free app I use daily. Hit the hotkey, type “pay state taxes Thursday at 9a” and it goes immediately to my google calendar. A reminder pops up (on the desktop and iPhone) to remind me.

You’ve suffered enough. I owe you a photo with fluffy mindless text. Soon.

UPDATE–this just in: Laverna–a note taking web app billed as Evernote that lives on your own computer. We’ll see.


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