Monday, December 17, 2007


Ranked #1 tech disappointment of 2007 by PC World:,140583-page,5-c,techindustrytrends/article.html

Apple, don't blow it this time. The 10 years in between the Apple II
and my OSX mac were pure PC torture.

Dumb articles

In this one "10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple iPhone" (

) you get a pile of garbage. I do agree with #1, they should allow you
to encrypt some data on the iPhone. Thankfully, products like
1Password have that figured out WITHOUT hacking the iPhone (see

Anyway, dont waste your time reading the article, its junk.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back to the file system

Well I tried Yojimbo for a couple days. I kept asking myself, what
does it do better than folders in finder? I could really only find one
thing, the individual file level encryption. Thats not enough to have
a whole proprietary filing system and pay extra with the remote access
concerns etc. So out it goes. It did get me thinking about printing my
receipts online to PDF and just saving them in the file system.

I haven't given up on 1Password -- with that I can have nice and nasty
passwords I dont have to remember or type.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Exchange email on the iPhone?

Can you get the iPhone to work like a Blackberry? No, but you can get
pretty darn close at least for the key stuff:

1) Sync your calendars. Prior to Leopard GroupCal was a nice option
for keeping your exchange cal sync'd to iCal and then to the iPhone.
Leopard came out and the GroupCal authors seem uninterested in their
customer base. They expect an update around Q1. I hope someone finds a
solution that doesn't need GroupCal before then. In the meantime, if
you use IMAP to get Exchange mail, double click on mail invites and
add them to your iCal calendar directly. Thats close enough for me.

2) Email. Even if your company like mine has opened up IMAP, it
probably requires VPN first. Most VPN's ive seen are CISCO based
don't support the VPN the iPhone has built in (or if they do it
requires your IT shop to change CISCO VPN settings. If your
organization is of any real size, forget that.

So you have no VPN and you may or may not have IMAP enabled. Almost
all organizations have Outlook Web Access (OWA) enabled. The iPhone
understands IMAP and POP, what we need is an OWA<->IMAP translation

Enter Synchronica ( Their Mobile Gateway
product does just this and for the most part works fairly well. Go to
their web site and sign up for a 60-day free trial. I asked for
pricing after the trial and got no response. Their "resellers" in the
US make no mention of this service/capability. So I have no idea how
to pay for this for real (and given the timeouts in #2 below, i'd be
hesitant until they fixed that)

What you get:

1) Full IMAP like access to your email for reading. You can see all
your folders and all your email and get alerts as new mail comes in.
2) You can generally file, send and reply to emails although sometimes
you get timeout messages where the operation failed. The timeout
happens more on the filing/moving of emails than it does on the
sending. Be careful on the sending since more than once it sent, I got
no error message, but the recipient never received.

For me keeping up on the reading to watch for developing emergencies
(or just to keep on top of things while traveling) its valuable.

Now since I tend to talk about security, lets address that here. Their
IMAP support supports SSL, so data between your iPhone and the
Synchronica gateway is encrypted. OWA is likewise encrypted between
your company's Exchange server and the Synchronica gateway. The email
passes through their gateway and its possible for them to snoop, save,
store etc the data there (naturally they claim they don't and it would
be bad for business if they did). Thats a security risk that most IT
groups would not allow if they knew about it. So you'll have to figure
out for yourself if you tell people how you're reading Exchange email
on your iPhone.

(p.s. When you send mail via this setup it ads a little tag line that
you cant remove while in the demo stage that indicates your mail
flowed by a path like this...)

But, despite my thoughts around security, I dont have a password on my
iPhone. That means if I drop it someone else can read my mail until I
get to a browser to change my password. The iPhone password options
are very limited and have no settings like "enable password if I
havent used it in 1 hour" type controls which would be more useful.
Also as far as I know the iPhone does not encrypt any data it stores
which means a password is just a delay for real hackers.

3) Contacts. AddressX, like GroupCal broke with Leopard and they're
not updating it any time soon. I dont send new emails to many people
from the phone, mostly replies so this really isnt an issue for me.
Those I do send new emails to are in my address book in the mac and
sync to the iPhone just fine.

As to the rest of what the blackberry does, I could care less. I love
my iPhone, I just need it to be useful for both work and home rather
than carry two devices. Yes, I could have just gotten a blackberry,
but both blackberry and my company have conspired to lock me out of
many features on the device (which would be paid for out of my own
pocket) so that was not an option. If its a phone I pay for then I
decide what goes on it.

'nuf said.

Saving stuff

I recently ran into Yojimbo (

yojimbo/) for keeping notes, pictures etc. The whole topic of a
personal storage system for this sort of stuff is interesting. Why not
use the file system? One reason is indexing, another is around
security since you cant encrypt individual items and there's a lot of
overhead in making/using encrypted disk images. I'd be filevault all
the way if the whole concept wasnt totally flawed. So Yojimbo is cool,
and I can print receipts direct to it, save my notes into it and
choose which ones are encrypted or not. It also supports saving
usernames/passwords but offers no browser integration. I've been using
1Password for saving my login information and its a great application
for that with great browser integration. It has the concept of secure
notes but no real import/export capabilities so that piece is sort of
useless. I'd love to see an app with the combination of what both of
these offer. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Accessing stuff at home from work

Ok, so you've been good and disabled all open ports at home but port
22 (ssh) and you've set it up to only allow access with a certificate
(no username/password) and you've renumbered the port to something
else like 1234. How do you copy files back and forth between home and
work without resorting to the command line and SCP?

Here's how:

From the terminal do this:
sudo ssh -p 1234 -l myname -L

Now in finder Command-K (Connect to server) and enter this:

Substitute your own remapped ports, your local user name and your home
computer URL or IP address.

No you can drag and drop like its local and SSH will deal with the
security for you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

iPhone in the Northeast?

Sitting here shivering in New England it seems obvious that despite
some awesome text correcting algorithms that the iPhone designers live
and work in a much warmer place. Touch typing characters without any
tactile feedback when you're freezing your butt off is not easy. No, I
dont have any ideas how to fix it, perhaps make them run hotter like
the MacBookPro's so they warm your hand to create less jitter :)