Since 2010

Outlawing maths

Tom Scott, on Why The Government Shouldn’t Break WhatsApp on YouTube.

At about the 10 minute mark:

Anyone who wanted secure communication for evil purposes would just use something else. Any of thousands of smaller services that the government hasn’t noticed yet, or that they couldn’t possibly have jurisdiction over. Or if even that is not an option then they can come up with a code themselves.

M&M cookies




I stumbled upon this in Mozilla’s core source code:

This extracts the hostname from the URI and reverses it in the form that we use (always ending with a “.”). So “” becomes “moc.tfosorcim.”

The idea behind this is that we can create an index over the items in the reversed host name column, and then query for as much or as little of the host name as we feel like.

For example, the query “host >= ‘gro.allizom.’ AND host < ‘gro.allizom/’ Matches all host names ending in ‘’, including ‘’ and just ‘’ (since we define all reversed host names to end in a period, even ‘’ matches). The important thing is that this operation uses the index. Any substring calls in a select statement (even if it’s for the beginning of a string) will bypass any indices and will be slow).

Ingenious! Software is hard.

Celebrate the web by using another browser than Google's Chrome

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I like Chrome. It’s a great browser. But it’s not so good that it deserves to be the only browser. And that’s the unfortunate opportunity we, people browsing the web, are opening for Google by so overwhelmingly choosing to use it in face of the alternatives.

I’ve said it before - Google is an advertising company. If you use a service for free and can’t figure out the business model behind it, you can be pretty damned sure that the money’s coming from the sale of the huge amount of data everything we do online generates. You’re the product.

I feel like an idiot whenever I try to open a discussion with my friends or colleagues about online privacy and the openness of the web. Nobody I’m close with gives a shit about what happens to their data. That’s wrong. It’s ignorant, and a misuse of the greatest information sharing tool ever created by humans.

Joe Cieplinski makes some good points about one of the biggest offenders:

…if Facebook is the only place you are posting something, know that you are shutting out people like me for no good reason.

Facebook is an obvious and easy target, but it’s the one which catches me out the most as well. I’d love to see your baby photos, but I can’t because I don’t have a Facebook account. I didn’t know about that interesting event either, because you only advertised on a closed platform.

John Gruber gets it as well:

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

I’ll add to that: if you don’t ever want something to be publicly accessible, then keep it the hell away from the web.

By the way, you should consider those baby photos property of Facebook - you can’t truly control what happens to them. What if your kid doesn’t want their first steps stored in a server farm for the rest of time? Sadly, given the current state of affairs, I fear that future generations won’t know any differently. My thoughts on this subject are rapidly becoming part of a “back in my day…” story.