500px

For anyone enjoying my photography, I’m maintaining my favorite photos on 500px.

Posted in Photography | Comments Off

Yosemite Could Easily Support LTE-Enabled MacBooks in the Future

With Yosemite’s release comes a lot of brand new code from Apple, and much to be explored. As you would expect, much of Yosemite’s codebase is shared with iOS 8. With this includes cellular capabilities, which could make it very easy for Apple to support cellular data on the desktop platform. Yosemite does currently support hotspot tethering, but the overlap in codebase could also support something else in the future: MacBooks with integrated LTE functionality.

Apple’s recent announcement of an “Apple SIM” went largely unnoticed, and while convenient for new iPad owners, is quite an undertaking for a product that has already saturated the market. On the other hand, you don’t buy your laptops from Verizon or AT&T, nor would anyone want to buy a laptop that was tied to a particular cellular carrier. The Apple SIM makes much more sense if Apple’s ultimate game is to release a MacBook Air with the ability to subscribe to any cellular network.

This morning, I decided to have a look into Apple’s new download continuity manager (nsurlsessiond),which led me to also look at networkdfindmydeviced and other daemons, on both Yosemite and iOS 8. Both codebases are virtually identical, with the cellular components simply compiled out of Yosemite’s build. Here are some examples.

Continue reading

Posted in General | Comments Off

Damage Warning on C-SLIDE Webcam Covers for Laptops

About a year ago, I installed some of those little C-SLIDE plastic sliding webcam covers (from @WebcamCovers) on all of our laptops in the house (the kind that are now ubiquitous and private branded by everybody). This week, I had to take one of the laptops in for repair at Apple due to problems with the LCD. There were about a dozen horizontal lines at the top, and a small cone shaped black spot in the middle of the LCD directly underneath the iSight camera. The total repair was over $600 (talk about a markup).

In chatting with the Apple tech (I refuse to call them geniuses), he felt the most likely cause was a pressure crack inside the LCD. Given the machine was only a couple years old, and treated with care, we determined the most likely cause was the added pressure created by the little stick on sliding cov when you close the notebook. Even if you close it gently, the magnets create a pull on the top of the notebook screen. Additionally, even after it’s closed, all of the pressure on the LCD, thanks to the camera cover, is now concentrated on the small area in the center of the notebook, instead of distributed across the entire panel. This means that even while its in your laptop case, any pressure on the lid is focused on one small area of the LCD. The plastic sliding camera covers are very convenient, however it looks as though over the long term, they have the potential to cause severe damage to your laptop screen, even if you care for your machines. I would advise avoiding them and look into solutions that do not interfere with the amount of pressure distributed across the LCD.

As it happens, @WebcamCovers admits that their own products cause damage “when pressure is applied”, however what they don’t tell you is that, even if you don’t abuse your notebook, the “pressure” applied from normal use alone over a prolonged period of time, can cause damage to your notebook’s LCD. In comparison, the little $5 piece of plastic is not worth the risk IMO for a $600 screen. EFF has some good alternatives on their website: stickers that can easily be peeled back and forth, and will re-adhere with no problems. If you care about causing damage to your laptop, I’d recommend looking at this alternative, or others, instead.

NOTE: @WebcamCovers has ignored my request to have the damage caused by their product reimbursed.

Posted in General | Comments Off

Preliminary Findings on Whisper

At the suggestion of @kashhill, I did a brief analysis of the Whisper iOS application, which appears to be at the height of controversy with respect to user privacy. My preliminary observations follow. Note, I am only looking at the technical aspects of the application, and make no political conclusions about the motivations of the company. I do not see any horribly underhanded malicious code in the application, although it is a large application and my analysis was brief. In spite of this, the Whisper app does not appear to be a social networking application with analytics; it appears to be an analytics and user acquisition application that also happens to have a social networking component. With this come a few concerns about privacy and anonymity.

Continue reading

Posted in iPhone, Security | Comments Off

Disk Analyzer: Zero Free Space on Your iOS Device

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 11.44.05 AM

Interested in the low level statistics of your iOS device’s disk, such as inode consumption and other file system metrics? Disk Analyzer allows you to view and work with your device’s used and free space and partition statistics. This simple little tool provides all the information about your device’s disk in simple, user friendly display. An ideal tool for businesses and enterprises.

In addition to analyzing your disk space, Disk Analyzer provides an advanced tool that can overwrite the free space on your device. Turn on Advanced Options in Settings to activate this feature, and a “Zero Free Space” button will appear in the application.

Now Available! Click Here to view in iTunes

Posted in Forensics, iPhone | Comments Off

Cabin on the Lake

North Pond in Bryant Pond, Maine is home to a small lakeside cabin community, and in the fall is just stunning at sunrise. The town is home to Mt. Abrams Ski Area, a small church, and The Local Hub, an all around great market and cafe. This morning, I stopped in at the Hub for their breakfast special (Huevos Rancheros) and happened to be nearby to catch this beautifully soft sunrise through the fog. These photos hardly needed any processing, and I’m finding that my best snaps seem to follow this rule. A little saturation, a little clarity in certain places, and some minor tone mapping for finish.

Cabin on the Lake #2 SM

Cabins SM

Gentle Morning SM

Continue reading

Posted in Photography | Comments Off

Fall Kissed

Fall in beautiful Colebrook, New Hampshire at Beaver Brook Falls. About a half hour from the Canadian border just over the line in Vermont. This was a long exposure (6 1/2 minutes) using an ND1000 filter. I was surprised not to mist up my lens, like the first time I had visited this spot. Using the water as the white balance point helped preserve the rich orange tones of fall that would normally be lost due to the blue tinting of heavy ND filters. I had originally done a version of this with much more processing, and then went back and applied only a very small amount of tone mapping, contrast, and saturation here, with some detail enhancement. I’m not a fan of over-processing your photos, and I find the better snaps don’t need very much editing to make them look great.

Fall Kissed #2 SM

Posted in Photography | Comments Off

How App Store Apps are Hacked on Non-Jailbroken Phones

Why Self-Expiring Messaging Apps Aren’t Trustworthy

This brief post will show you how hackers are able to download an App Store application, patch the binary, and upload it to a non-jailbroken device using its original App ID, without the device being aware that anything is amiss – this can be done with a $99 developer certificate from Apple and [optionally] an $89 disassembler. Also, with a $299 enterprise enrollment, a modified application can be loaded onto any iOS device, without first registering its UDID (great for black bag jobs and the intelligence community).

Now, it’s been known for quite sometime in the iPhone development community that you can sign application binaries using your own dev certificate. Nobody’s taken the time to write up exactly how people are doing this, so I thought I would explain it. This isn’t considered a security vulnerability, although it could certainly be used to load a malicious copycat application onto someone’s iPhone (with physical access). This is more a byproduct of developer signing rights on a device, after it’s been enabled with a custom developer profile. What this should be is a lesson to developers (such as Snapchat, and others who rely on client-side logic) that the client application cannot be trusted for critical program logic. What does this mean for non-technical readers? In plain English, it means that Snapchat, as well as any other self-expiring messaging app in the App Store, can be hacked (by the recipient) to not expire the photos and messages you send them. This should be a no-brainer, but it seems there is a lot of confusion about this, hence the technical explanation.

As a developer, putting your access control on the client side is taboo. Most developers understand that applications can be “hacked” on jailbroken devices to manipulate the program, but very few realize it can be done on non-jailbroken devices too. There are numerous jailbreak tweaks for unlimited skips in Pandora, to prevent Snapchat messages from expiring, and even to add favorites in your mentions on TweetBot. The ability to hack applications is why (the good) applications do it all server-side. Certain types of apps, however, are designed in such a way that they depend on client logic to enforce access controls. Take Snapchat, for example, whose expiring messages require that the client make photos inaccessible after a certain period of time. These types of applications put the end-user at risk in the sense that they are more likely to send compromising content to a party that they don’t necessarily trust – thinking, at least, that the message has to expire.

Continue reading

Posted in General | Comments Off

Why the D810 Was Worth the Upgrade from a D800/D800E

I recently upgraded my D800 to a D810, with my other camera being a D800E. I am thoroughly satisfied with my decision, not only because of the improvement in image quality from not having an OLP filter, but also for a number of other reasons, that are also leading me to consider upgrading my D800E as well. There are a lot of obvious new features that you can read about on other sites, but it’s the small details that have gone unnoticed that I am particularly thrilled about.

Continue reading

Posted in Photography | Comments Off

Maine in the Fall

Woodstock, Maine is one of those drive-through towns that people normally “drive through” to get to more interesting towns; there’s very little there, just a small diner, a couple motels, a post office, and some vacation rental properties on the lake. It’s the kind of place you go when you want to end up nowhere. About an hour and a half from Portland, up in the mountains, a few small local ski towns nearby offer dining, shopping, and accommodations, all within 20 minutes. It’s peaceful in small towns like this, because people often take them for granted, and never turn onto the one road taking you off the highway to get there.

I decided to take the turn, and within a half mile, came across this old mill, balanced (somehow) near this pretty little stream. Sights like this are pretty common in rural Maine, but most people miss them because they never turn off the highway. Many of these have been here longer than we have, ironically, and have great personality from the weathering they’ve taken over the years.

Woodstock ME SM

Continue reading

Posted in Photography | Comments Off

A Warning to the Tech Community on Abusive Journalists

Below is a letter I’ve sent to Royal Media today regarding a journalist who has gone far beyond his ethical and professional boundaries to harass and attack me. Why you ask? Because I didn’t think a particular subject I was researching was credible enough yet to warrant a story. I wanted to bring this to the attention of the tech community as a lesson to be very careful about which journalists you choose to speak with. When you have new findings to share, the choice of which journalists you discuss them with can be harmful if you choose unethical or unprofessional reporters, who are not willing or able to come to an understanding of the details surrounding your work.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have had to deal with less than ethical journalists. If you recall, I’ve recently had to deal with a smear campaign from a ZDNet writer, who seemingly used her position in journalism to launch a libelous attack against me, motivated by my religious beliefs (or what she thinks they are), with the full support of the ZDNet staff, who never took any action. Sadly, today, any hack can become a “reporter”, in today’s sense of the word, regardless of what kind of journalism training, or even ethical training, they’ve had. News agencies rarely hold their own writers accountable, especially in tech, where misogyny / misandry thrive, and where personal attacks generate headlines.

Continue reading

Posted in General | Comments Off