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Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

I like my privacy a lot, and anyone checking out my blog or the apps on my computers great and small will see proof of that. That also explains why I have a ProtonMail account, although I must admit that I don’t use it very often – to make full use of it, you need correspondents that use the same tool.

To make the use of the ProtonMail service easier, the company makes a new tool available:

The ProtonMail Bridge is an application for paid users that runs on your computer in the background and seamlessly encrypts and decrypts your mail as it enters and leaves your computer. It allows for full integration of your ProtonMail account with any program that supports IMAP and SMTP such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail.

(Click the image to read ProtonMail’s blog post on the subject)

Compared to the hoops you had to jump through in the past if you wanted to encrypt your email with PGP, this looks like a dream!

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Since a few days I’m using the latest version of Firefox as my main browser on Mac OS X, Windows 10 and Xubuntu. Why? Because it’s a new version of a tool I used many years ago, and which I left behind when it got slow, compared to Chrome.

But since a few weeks, there’s a new version, and I want to try it out. So far, my conclusions are that it is fast and sleek, just as Ars technica reports:

The version of the browser coming out today has a sleek new interface and, under the hood, major performance enhancements, with Mozilla claiming that it’s as much as twice as fast as it was a year ago. Not only should it be faster to load and render pages, but its user interface should remain quick and responsive even under heavy load with hundreds of tabs.

Well done, Mozilla!

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A few (5 or more?) years ago, I was looking into PGP as a way to encrypt email. At some point, I bookmarked the Keybase homepage… and then forgot about that link, just like so many other URLs about PGP – PGP was pretty hard to use in those days. At that time, if I remember correctly, Keybase promised a way to store (and publish?) PGP keys.

While cleaning up the bookmarks section of my browsers I stumbled upon that URL again, and, unlike many other websites, Keybase is still up and running. Better yet, they seem to have succeeded in making a tool that could actually be useful and uncomplicated at the same time. In their own words:

Keybase is for anyone. Imagine a Slack for the whole world, except end-to-end encrypted across all your devices. Or a Team Dropbox where the server can’t leak your files or be hacked.

(Click to go to the Keybase website)

Creating an account and adding a device to your account is a simple and painless procedure. Why would you do so? Well, I’m still exploring the possibilities. One thing to do with Keybase is to authenticate accounts on systems like Twitter and Github. Keybase allows you to store (and share) files in an encrypted format over an encrypted channel. And the (encrypted) chat function has recently been extended with a Team chat that is supposed to resemble Slack. “Supposed”, because I haven’t been able to check that out – you need multiple members to make up a team ;-)

Anyway, it’s certainly an interesting product, and I intend to do more than keep an eye on Keybase!

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Since a few days, there’s another firmware update for the Samsung Galaxy S7 here in Belgium (and probably elsewhere too, of course). The announcement did not promise a major update to Android, although the download was more than 400MB:

After the installation, rebooting the S7 triggered a message that said a number of application were being upgraded – but the docs mention none of them explicitly. In the end, what counts most for me is a more current security patch level: that is now up to October 1st, 2017. Unfortunately, that won’t include any defence for the KRACK attack which was made public at the end of October…

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I do not want to pretend to fully understand the exact nature of the so-called KRACK Attack vulnerability in many implementations of the WPA2 protocol that is supposed to make WiFi network connections secure. All details about the KRACK Attack can be found on the webpages of the (Belgian) researcher that found the issue.

I do worry about the fact that MacOS and Android are both mentioned as being particularly vulnerable to this issue. On October 31, 2017, Apple released updates for MacOS EL Capitan, Sierra and High Sierra to solve the problem (at least, that’s how I interpret their report on the subject).

Samsung, however, hasn’t published any updates to their Android version for my Galaxy S7 since August 1st. Perhaps there is no problem on the SGS7? Or is Samsung just being lazy – after all, my phone is still running Android 7.0 – no word on 7.1, let alone 8.0…

And how about all those other devices, IoT and others, that use WiFi connections? Have you already updated your router? How about the wireless hard disk vaults that photographers use? Or the photo cameras themselves? Etcetera.

Matters such as this will need to resolved on a large scale before I will put my trust in the “Internet of Things”, no matter the type of connection used to talk to each other.

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Imagine my surprise when I started up Gnucash in order to update my books:

Do bookkeepers and accountants really need advice such as this?

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There’s not much to say about such a little application, and yet I know that I will use it often: tyke.app. It’s just a little addition to your menu bar, and there’s no need for a manual ;-)
Just download the DMG file proposed, open it and drag the app to your Applications folder. And if you like it, just add it to the “Login items” of your account in the Preferences.

A propos the subject of open source: this app makes me question my desire to see the source of any application. On one hand, I would love to see the source code for this project, because it’s a great example of a simple application that is very useful, contrary to the eternal HelloWorld app. On the other hand, publishing the source code makes it very likely that someone(s) will start tinkering with the code, adding stuff that detracts from its real functionality and thus diminish its value – and that is not good.

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