FileMaker, Inc. recently shipped FileMaker Pro 8, and FileMaker developer William Porter offers a full review of what's new and why it's an exciting release. Also in this issue, Adam looks at the new features of StuffIt Deluxe 10, while Glenn proposes a sensible time-based authorization scheme for iTunes playback on multiple machines. We also note the release of "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" by Glenn and Adam, cancellation of Macworld Expo in Boston, XPostFacto 4.0, and a special Coldplay EP to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Macworld Boston Cancelled -- Our friends at MacCentral reported news that comes as no surprise: IDG World Expo has cancelled Macworld Expo Boston and will be concentrating efforts on Macworld Expo San Francisco in JanuaryShow full article
Macworld Boston Cancelled -- Our friends at MacCentral reported news that comes as no surprise: IDG World Expo has cancelled Macworld Expo Boston and will be concentrating efforts on Macworld Expo San Francisco in January. As we've noted in our coverage of recent Macworld Expo events in both Boston and New York, the attendance simply wasn't there to qualify the show as a Macworld Expo. The demise of the Boston show was the result of a domino effect starting with IDG World Expo's decision several years back to move Macworld Expo from New York City back to Boston. That decision caused a highly publicized spat with Apple, which then refused to attend Macworld Boston and also pulled out of the quickly cancelled Macworld Expo Tokyo. To this day, it's unknown if Apple would have continued to exhibit had Macworld Expo remained in New York, since the company prefers to schedule and control its own product announcements, rather than have them set in stone a year in advance. Without Apple and expected product announcements, both individuals and members of the media chose not to attend, which in turn caused many exhibitors to rethink the value of a booth, given the still-high costs of exhibiting. Despite IDG World Expo's efforts to keep the show relevant with plenty of conference sessions and special booths, the feedback loop of an ever-shrinking show put the final nail in Macworld Boston's coffin. At least we still have San Francisco.
That's not to say that small trade shows don't still have a place. On 01-Oct-05, the North Coast Macintosh Users Group will be hosting the one-day Macintosh Computer Expo 2005, complete with 24 exhibitors, a slate of talks by the same experts who speak at other industry events, and an anticipated attendance of more than 1,000. It runs from 9:30 AM through 3:30 PM at the Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, CA, and although it's free, you'll have to pay $3 to park. Not bad for a day of Macintosh fun and education. And then there's the Central Valley MacFair on 22-Oct-05 in Fresno, CA, put on by the Fresno Macintosh Users Group. It's likely to be smaller, but with many of the same kinds of events and classes. Small shows like these are of course primarily of interest to local Mac users (which is why we don't usually publicize them in TidBITS, given that almost none of our readers would be able to attend), but they serve a useful role for those people who can make it so I hope we see additional regional shows appearing around the world. We're always happy to help support such user group-oriented shows with copies of the full Take Control Library to raffle off, as we're doing for these two events. [ACE]
Exclusive Coldplay EP at iTMS to Benefit Hurricane Katrina Victims -- In "Net Responds to Hurricane Katrina Aftermath" in TidBITS-795, Jeff Carlson reported on how the Internet community has come together in countless ways to help the victims displaced or otherwise affected by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the southern United States a little over two weeks agoShow full article
Exclusive Coldplay EP at iTMS to Benefit Hurricane Katrina Victims -- In "Net Responds to Hurricane Katrina Aftermath" in TidBITS-795, Jeff Carlson reported on how the Internet community has come together in countless ways to help the victims displaced or otherwise affected by Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the southern United States a little over two weeks ago. To raise funds for the relief effort, Apple announced last week the release of a new EP by alternative rock band Coldplay, available exclusively at the iTunes Music Store. Apple, Coldplay, BMG Publishing, and Capitol Records/EMI will donate 100 percent of their shares of the proceeds from U.S. sales.
The "Fix You" EP (longer than a single, but shorter than an album) includes two songs previously unreleased in the U.S. ("Pour Me" and "The World Turned Upside Down") and two versions of "Fix You," the band's new single from their double platinum album X&Y. The four-song EP costs $3 and is available immediately. [MHA]
XPostFacto 4.0 Adds Tiger to More Legacy Macs -- Other World Computing has released its latest version of XPostFacto, a tool designed to help owners of Macintosh models not supported by Apple for specific Mac OS X releases to install and use those operating system versionsShow full article
XPostFacto 4.0 Adds Tiger to More Legacy Macs -- Other World Computing has released its latest version of XPostFacto, a tool designed to help owners of Macintosh models not supported by Apple for specific Mac OS X releases to install and use those operating system versions. The latest version adds support for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. XPostFacto 4.0 enables the installation of the stripped-down Darwin Unix base of Mac OS X, as well as Mac OS X (client version) and Mac OS X Server. It can install Mac OS X 10.2 through 10.4. The operating system must be purchased separately.
The company noted in a press release that this version handles computers as old as the Power Mac 7300, which shipped in 1997. Many computers that lost Apple's support with the Tiger release can accept a Tiger upgrade, although without Apple's testing, it's entirely possible that additional quirks and problems may appear. The software, developed by Ryan Rempel, is free for use, but the company suggests a $25 donation to help continue supporting the software's development. [GF]
Allume Systems, now owned by Smith Micro, Inc., has released the latest version of their venerable compression and archiving utility, StuffIt Deluxe. Improvements in StuffIt Deluxe 10 fall largely into two categories: low-level improvements in its compression engine and support for new technologies in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. StuffIt Deluxe 10 costs $80, with upgrades from previous versions of either StuffIt Deluxe or StuffIt Standard Edition priced at $30Show full article
Allume Systems, now owned by Smith Micro, Inc., has released the latest version of their venerable compression and archiving utility, StuffIt Deluxe. Improvements in StuffIt Deluxe 10 fall largely into two categories: low-level improvements in its compression engine and support for new technologies in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
StuffIt Deluxe 10 costs $80, with upgrades from previous versions of either StuffIt Deluxe or StuffIt Standard Edition priced at $30. It requires Mac OS 10.3 or later.
Under the Hood -- Most notable of the low-level improvements is StuffIt Deluxe 10's new capability to compress JPEG photos by an additional 30 percent. As you likely know, JPEG files are compressed using a lossy compression approach that throws away data that's not essential to the image. In contrast, compression software like StuffIt Deluxe or Mac OS X's built-in Zip archiving tool uses only lossless approaches from which an original file can be expanded perfectly. Generally, compression software doesn't even try to work on already-compressed files like JPEG images because there's little, if any, size reduction to be achieved. That's why the fact that StuffIt Deluxe can further reduce the size of JPEG images by up to 30 percent is so astonishing (I saw compression amounts ranging from 24 percent to 31 percent in my tests). Keep in mind that this 30 percent extra compression is lossless, which means that the images are not further degraded in any way, but they also aren't available for use until you expand them.
StuffIt Deluxe 10 also stores a preview thumbnail for such images now, making it possible to browse the images in an archive without expanding it first. The preview is available only in one of the panes of the Get Info window, though, so it's clumsy to scan through numerous compressed images in an archive. Ideally, a future version of StuffIt Deluxe would offer an icon view with the thumbnails as icons, or even a way of hooking into Tiger's slideshow capabilities.
The final low-level improvement is faster performance when using the StuffIt X archive format. Allume claims that the "Better" compression method (as opposed to "Faster") can now perform the same compression about 20 percent faster than in previous incarnations.
And into the Tiger Cage -- The three marquee features of Tiger are, of course, Spotlight, Automator, and Dashboard. StuffIt Deluxe 10 adds support for the first two, and when I chatted with Jon Kahn of Allume about the release, he said they really tried to come up with some sort of a Dashboard widget that would be helpful, but they just couldn't think of one that was more than a gratuitous nod to the technology.
Most notably, StuffIt Deluxe 10 now features a Spotlight Importer, which enables Spotlight to index the file names of items inside StuffIt, Zip, and Tar archives. It worked perfectly in my testing - immediately after creating an archive Spotlight could find files inside it based on name. StuffIt's Spotlight Importer does not enable Spotlight to search the full text or other metadata of archived files; perhaps we'll see that in a future version of StuffIt Deluxe.
For Automator, Allume created four actions that enable Automator workflows to create StuffIt, Zip, and Tar archives, and to expand archives of any sort. I'm already contemplating how I might be able to use these actions to help automate the process of creating and uploading new Take Control ebooks, since there are a fair number of steps in the process. I may also look into StuffIt Express PE, which ships with StuffIt Deluxe and enables users to create drop box applications that can also automate a whole slew of file compression and transfer tasks. The version of StuffIt Express PE that ships with StuffIt Deluxe 10 adds support for direct uploading to and downloading from .Mac iDisks.
While we're on the subject of automating tasks, StuffIt Deluxe 10 also includes a new utility called StuffIt SEA Maker for creating self-extracting archives (applications that, when double-clicked, expand the archive inside them) that border on mini-installers. StuffIt SEA Maker actually creates Mac OS X packages that contain the expansion code, the archive to be expanded, and any splash-screen graphics or text files you want to display during the expansion process. You can allow the recipient to choose a location for the expanded files or you can specify a particular location while creating the archive. And, if you plan to be posting the self-extracting archive on the Internet, StuffIt SEA Maker can optionally put it on a disk image so code that protects users from downloading applications doesn't trip over the self-extracting archive application.
StuffIt Standard and StuffIt Expander-- As always, for people who don't need all of StuffIt Deluxe's power, Allume makes two other packages available. StuffIt Standard Edition 10 costs $50 ($15 for upgrades from previous versions, and the demo download is 9.3 MB) and includes DropStuff for creating a wide variety of archives (complete with the low-level improvements in StuffIt Deluxe 10) and StuffIt Expander for expanding them. StuffIt Expander 10 remains free, and it's worth noting that Apple no longer bundles StuffIt Expander with new Macs or copies of Mac OS X, so downloading a new version manually may become more important than it was in the past.
Many folks are irritated by the authorization limit in the digital-rights management system that Apple uses to handle songs purchased from the iTunes Music StoreShow full article
Many folks are irritated by the authorization limit in the digital-rights management system that Apple uses to handle songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store. You can authorize up to five machines to play songs purchased with your account at any given time, and you can de-authorize and re-authorize at will.
However, if a machine dies, is stolen, or you're visiting someone and authorize their system, de-authorizing becomes difficult or impossible. Apple will let you de-authorize all machines at once, but allows you to do so only once per year, making it only a partial solution.
I had a thought today I haven't seen written about anywhere - how about time-bounded authorizations? Let me authorize a machine for a day, a week, a month, or a year, and to re-authorize, I would have to enter the account password again at the end of that period.
My approach would still keep Apple's five machine limit, but entirely eliminate the problem needing only temporary authorization. If I visit someone and want to play my music through another Mac, I would be able to authorize it for a day, until a certain end date, or another period of time.
Similarly, Apple should offer free de-authorization for any Apple-authorized service repair. If your drive dies or they swap the machine out for some reason, one of the checklist items should be to de-authorize that machine automatically.
On August 29, 2005, in the keynote address at FileMaker's annual developers conference in Phoenix, FileMaker, Inc. President Dominique Goupil announced the immediate release of FileMaker Pro 8 and its more powerful alternative, FileMaker Pro 8 AdvancedShow full article
On August 29, 2005, in the keynote address at FileMaker's annual developers conference in Phoenix, FileMaker, Inc. President Dominique Goupil announced the immediate release of FileMaker Pro 8 and its more powerful alternative, FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced. FileMaker had never released an upgrade at its developers conference before, but the timing was significant. FileMaker 8 is a release for developers in the broadest sense, from what I call "active end users" to experts doing full-blown application development in FileMaker. And that raises an interesting question: Who is FileMaker Inc. trying to reach with this release? Is FileMaker still an easy-to-use database for the little guy, the list-maker, and the do-it-yourselfer? Or is it turning into a powerful development platform that blurs the line between programming and scripting? I think the answer to both questions is yes, but the yes answering the latter question is louder.
Pro 8 for Non-Pros -- FileMaker users fall broadly into four categories: passive end users, who launch FileMaker Pro simply to use databases designed by others; active end users, who may create their own simple databases or design their own reports; more ambitious do-it-yourself developers, who, while not full-time FileMaker jocks, are brave enough to venture beyond simple lists and work with relationships and perhaps even scripts; and full-time developers who push FileMaker to the limits on a regular basis. FileMaker Pro's target audience has always been the active end users and do-it-yourselfers, for whom FileMaker's ease of use has been more important that its power. FileMaker 8 has a lot for these users.
For active end users, entering and finding data in version 8 is easier than ever. Finally, typing a few letters of text in a field prompts FileMaker to suggest the completion; for example, you type "ro" and FileMaker suggests "Ron", and if you continue typing "rob", the suggestion changes to "Robert," and so on. It's easy now to configure a date field so that a calendar drops when the user enters the field; the user can select a date from the calendar rather than having to type the date. Finding dates is easier now thanks to several new shortcuts; for example, it's possible now to search for September 2005 by typing "9/2005" instead of a proper range ("9/1/2005..9/30/2005"). And finding records that match the current record in a given field is now a snap: just click on the field and use the Find Matching Records command. FileMaker 8 also finally adds support for mouse scroll wheels.
Once you find the records you're interested in, FileMaker 8 can save reports directly to PDF or Excel files. (The save-as-PDF feature is available to FileMaker users under Windows as well as Mac OS X, because the feature uses technology licensed from Adobe and built right into FileMaker and does not depend on Mac OS X's support for printing to PDF.) Even better, since FileMaker 8 lets you use calculations to specify the options for your mailing, it's now easy to use FileMaker 8 to send out email announcements to many different recipients, with each recipient getting a completely personalized message.
Another, somewhat less successful, feature for active end users is the Field List Filter. In previous versions of FileMaker Pro, users with access to the export or sort dialogs might have to face long and bewildering lists of fields, some of them perhaps oddly named. To find fields in related tables, you had to know how to select another tab occurrence from the list of table occurrences at the top of the field list. In short, it was quite confusing.
In FileMaker 8, when the user accesses these dialogs, the default field list shows only the fields displayed on the current layout. This works great, provided the developer who designed the layout placed only fields that the user might want to sort on or export data from. The problem is that this often will not be the case. I use many global fields on nearly all layouts as buttons. Users who access the Export Records command from one of my layouts will see not only the data fields they're interested in, but also a list of all those global button fields, something that in previous versions of FileMaker would have remained unavailable. I'm lukewarm about this change. It gives me, as developer, some options I didn't have before. If I script the access that users have to these dialogs, I can also go to a layout displaying only the desired fields before showing the dialog. So it's not a step backwards, but it's not a big step forward, either. What I'd like instead is the capability, in the Define Fields dialog, to control whether fields are visible in these dialogs or not.
Do-it-yourselfers will appreciate FileMaker 8's capability to create a new table on the fly when you import data from an external file; in the past, you had to define a table and fields first, then match fields carefully. Converting an Excel spreadsheet - or an export file from another database tool - into a FileMaker database has never been easier.
The award for the niftiest new feature for users who design layouts has to go to the new Tab Control feature. A Tab Control object lets you put a bunch of different groups of fields on the same layout in the same space, but show or hide them selectively, depending on which tab a user clicks. For example, if you didn't have enough space to show both home and work addresses on a layout at the same time, you could create a simple two-tab Tab Control object, put the home address fields into the rectangular space owned by one tab (which you would label "Home") and put the work address fields into the other tab's space (and name that tab "Work"). Back in Browse mode - the state of a file when the user is viewing and editing records - clicking one tab shows its fields and hides the fields on the other tab or tabs; and vice versa.
We used to be able to fake this in FileMaker by creating multiple layouts. The common parts of the several pseudo-tabbed layouts would be identical and identically placed, so when users clicked on a button that looked like a tab, they thought that only the tabbed area of the screen changed, when in fact, the entire layout was changed. The old way was tedious and inefficient and caused problems with navigation. The new tab control is easy enough for beginners to master in minutes, but will save both beginners and experts a lot of time.
Variables -- All the features I've mentioned so far are found both in the standard edition of FileMaker Pro 8 and in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced. Their presence in the standard edition makes perfect sense, as they involve things that active users and beginning or intermediate developers will want to do. But the standard edition of FileMaker Pro also contains one exciting new feature - support for scripting variables - that I would have expected to see only in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced, because it is the kind of thing non-expert users are unlikely to use.
When I'm writing a script, I frequently want to grab some values and hang on to them for just a few steps. For example, say I'm writing a script that my users will run to create a note for the current contact record. In this script, I'll probably start by grabbing the contact record's primary key or record ID; the script will then jump to the layout for notes, create a new record, and then return to the original contact layout and enter the note field so the user can edit it. In the past, that contact record's ID had to be stored for two or three steps in a special global field - a field belonging to no particular record and available anywhere. Developers who did a lot of scripting tended to have a lot of global fields defined as temporary value holders.
Things improved somewhat in FileMaker 7, which introduced script parameters. If I had been willing to use two scripts to create a note instead of one, the first script could have passed the contact record's ID to the second script as a script parameter rather than using a global field. Script parameters were a wonderful addition to the developer's toolbox, but two scripts are not always better than one, and script parameters did not entirely eliminate the need for globals.
Enter script variables. In FileMaker 8, you can define a local script variable right in the script - say, "$contactID" - using the new Set Variable script step, then access that variable later in the script in a calculation formula, the same way you would have accessed a global field. One advantage of variables is that they can be defined on the fly; to define a global field, it was necessary to exit the script editor, enter the Define Fields dialog, and define a new field. Another advantage of script variables is that they can be either local or global. Global fields were always global, meaning that they could be accessed from any table in the same file, and values stayed set until replaced. Global variables work in much the same way, but local variables are cleared at the end of the script in which they are defined.
Even more interesting is the fact that variables now make possible a variety of file-manipulation features that hitherto required plug-ins, which is worth getting excited about in its own right. I can now write a script that saves a report as a PDF file to disk with a file name that is generated dynamically, like "Acme Q3 Purchases", or I can save a backup copy of my database every time I close it with a name that includes the current date and time.
In many obvious technical senses, scripting in FileMaker is not to be confused with programming. And yet, with the addition of script variables, the distinction between FileMaker's scripting capability and a simple procedural programming language is becoming a bit fuzzier. And that means a serious boost in power for serious FileMaker developers. Using variables as a replacement for global fields isn't too challenging, but as a practical fact, active end-users and less ambitious do-it-yourselfers don't tend to write complicated scripts, and I doubt they'll make heavy use of variables.
Getting Serious -- The product formerly known as FileMaker Developer has, with this release, been renamed FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced. It includes all the features in FileMaker Pro, plus a few features aimed at more advanced developers.
Well, it used to be just a few, and those features weren't too impressive. The old FileMaker Developer made certain things (like stepping through scripts) easier, and it provided a couple of meta-development utilities, but as far as building databases was concerned, there was very little that you could do in FileMaker Developer 7 that could not also have been accomplished in an ordinary copy of FileMaker Pro 7 if you were willing to work just a little harder. (One notable exception was that Developer 7 let you create custom functions.) FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced, on the other hand, gives developers real power to do things that simply can't be done in the standard edition, and it improves so significantly on other developer-oriented features that what before was a convenience is now too good to live without.
I suspect the feature in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced that most developers will be most immediately excited about is the capability to copy and paste just about any database definition element - tables, fields, relationships, scripts, and even individual script steps - within a file or across files. Suppose you want to add a couple of fields to keep track of the modification date and time for records in every table in a 20 table solution. In the past, you were forced to define these fields in each and every table - very tedious. Now, you define the fields, including the auto-entry options (date modified or time modified), copy them in one table, then paste them into the field list for each of the other fields. This feature is even more useful with scripts. The capability since FileMaker 7 to put all your tables in one file has encouraged FileMaker developers to start writing more and more generic, reusable scripts. With the introduction of variables in FileMaker 8, generic and modular scripting becomes not only practical, but genuinely worth the trouble. And when you write a well-focused script in one file, you can copy and paste it (or a few of its steps) into another file. Copied script steps can only be pasted into another FileMaker script; you can't paste script steps into a text editor. Nevertheless, code reusability is now a reality in FileMaker.
A rather less dramatic enhancement in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced is the capability to create tooltips, the little information balloons that appear automatically when the user hovers the mouse pointer over an object such as a button or a field for a short time. Tooltips can also be calculated rather than hard coded, so they can be used for many purposes: for instance, you could use Tooltips to convert dollars into pesos or Euros, to convert English measures to metric, to translate field labels into another language, or to explain data-entry problems.
The new Data Viewer is a complement to the rather basic debugger that has been FileMaker Developer's most used feature for years. The Data Viewer makes it possible to monitor the values stored in "expressions" (that is, fields and/or variables) as you step through a script. This is a major plus for developers who do a lot of scripting! I do have a couple of complaints about the data viewer, however. First, it doesn't always realize immediately that the value in an expression has changed. FileMaker, Inc. is obviously aware of this problem, because the engineers added a "Refresh Values" button right there on the Data Viewer utility window. My other complaint is that you can't save expression sets. It would be especially nice to define a set of expressions to be monitored in a particular script and save them in the script, or at least to save them in the current file.
The most powerful and, I think, the most surprising new feature in FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced is support for custom menus. It's now possible to create fully customized and context-sensitive menus in a FileMaker solution. Yes, you can finally disable that pesky Window menu without using a plug-in, but that's just for starters. You can create your own lists of commands for different menus, and if you wish, you can attach your own scripts to those commands. So, for example, instead of disabling the native FileMaker menus that many users are familiar with, you can simply disable or delete particular scripts that you don't want users to have access to (Delete All Records was my first choice), or you can substitute your own script for the default action assigned to a command (so users issuing the New Record command trigger your more intelligent new-record script instead of creating a record directly).
Share and Share Alike -- FileMaker Pro 8 uses the .fp7 file format introduced last year with FileMaker Pro 7. This means a copy of FileMaker Pro 7 can open a file created in FileMaker Pro 8 and vice versa, although, of course, features specific to version 8 will either be ignored (tooltips, for example) or break, perhaps badly (such as tab controls). On a more positive note, because the majority of FileMaker's features are still processed by the client rather than the server, it's possible to use FileMaker Server 7 to share a FileMaker 8 database that employs most of the features mentioned above, and users on the network who open that database in FileMaker Pro 8 or FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced are able to use the database just fine. This is good to know, as FileMaker Server 8 has not yet been released (it's expected sometime within the next few months).
Speaking of clients, what about that first category of users I mentioned, the passive end users? These are the folks who never define a field or even tweak a layout, who have no use for the relationship graph or ScriptMaker. They use FileMaker only because it's required to open the databases that they are required to use. FileMaker Pro 8 has a lot for them, too - a lot that they have no use for at all, namely, all the development features. In short, FileMaker still has no thin client. The problem is, the competition does - in the Mac world, I'm thinking of Servoy and 4D. I suspect that FileMaker, Inc. thinks of FileMaker's Instant Web Publishing (IWP) feature as a kind of very thin client, since a user needs only a Web browser to access an IWP-enabled database. Instant Web Publishing improved a lot in FileMaker 7 just over a year ago, but it was not a focus of FileMaker 8, and it still has a ways to go before it's fully usable. I doubt FileMaker, Inc. has any interest in an inexpensive version of its software that does nothing but run databases built by other users with FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced. But it seems to me that something halfway between the current standard edition of FileMaker Pro and a thin client might serve both FileMaker, Inc. and its customers well. The "lightweight client" I have in mind would cater to list-makers and very basic do-it-yourselfers, permitting, say, creation of no more than three tables, and providing access only to certain basic script steps. Something for FileMaker 9? I doubt it, but I would love to be surprised.
Conclusion -- Anyone familiar with FileMaker's history will acknowledge that this is not only the best FileMaker ever, it's also a significant improvement to version 7, which shook up the FileMaker world just last year. I recommend anybody who does more than very basic development work upgrade to FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced; you may never use custom menus, but the capability to define tables on import and to copy and paste tables, fields, scripts and script steps will make converting and consolidating your multi-file FileMaker 6 solutions much easier than it was in FileMaker 7.
FileMaker Pro 8 is priced at $300, and upgrades from FileMaker 6 and 7 are available for $180. FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced costs $500, with upgrades from FileMaker Developer 6 or 7 priced at $300.
[William Porter is a former classics professor who, in 1998, gave up academic tenure to pursue "other interests," including developing database applications. An Associate Member of the FileMaker Solutions Alliance, William is currently working on a book about FileMaker Pro 8 for No Starch Press.]
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"Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" Released -- Putting on my author hat for a moment, I'm delighted to tell you that I, with my co-author Glenn Fleishman, have written a new ebook about wireless network security for youShow full article
"Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" Released -- Putting on my author hat for a moment, I'm delighted to tell you that I, with my co-author Glenn Fleishman, have written a new ebook about wireless network security for you. Ever since Glenn and I wrote the first edition of "The Wireless Networking Starter Kit" years ago, we've been going back and forth about wireless network security - who should worry about what, how much effort they should put into increasing security, what tools and techniques are actually effective, and so on. Honestly, I've always been on the side of leaving my network open and taking basic precautions to protect my systems, whereas Glenn prefers to lock his networks down tightly. I'm still less paranoid than Glenn, but after writing the section on how to perform a security audit, in which I set up a wireless network using some common approaches and then proceeded to use freely available tools to break into it and sniff data, I have an increased respect for the need for security on Wi-Fi networks.
The wireless network security audit is, in fact, the last major section of the ebook, which begins by helping you determine what your real security risks are based on your location, the desirability of your data, your liability if your network is compromised, and the amount of effort that would go into increasing security. Then it gets practical, discussing common ways of restricting wireless network access that are akin to those bathroom door locks that can be picked with a paper clip - they won't keep out anyone who wants to get in - along with important new technologies that provide real security. Subsequent sections help you protect your systems from attack and viruses, and show you how to encrypt your data in transit to protect it from prying eyes anywhere, which is particularly helpful when you're using insecure hot spots while traveling. Glenn also wrote a great section on securing small office wireless networks, complete with details on choosing VPN hardware and software, and on setting up 802.1X for secure Wi-Fi logins. You can read more about the ebook, download a free 31-page sample, and place an order at:
"Take Control of Your AirPort Network" Updated to v1.2 -- Readers who want friendly real-world advice about how to set up and run a Wi-Fi network using Apple's AirPort technology, or similar technology from third-party vendors, can now get the latest info from the 1.2 update to Glenn Fleishman's "Take Control of Your Airport Network." Although this update is free, in many ways it's quite significant: it covers changes in the AirPort world since February 2005, including new features associated with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. It also has changed or expanded coverage of setting a custom password for your base station, using Keychain Access, managing network profiles, using WPA Enterprise, and more. If you already own the ebook, click the Check for Updates button on the cover to download your free update. If you have the print version of this title, consult the Free Updates section on page xi.
The first link for each thread description points to the traditional TidBITS Talk interface; the second link points to the same discussion on our Web Crossing server, which provides a different look and which may be faster. What's happening to our favorite GUI? iTunes 5 introduced a slightly different look to Apple's applications, leading to a discussion of whether the Aqua human interface guidelines are being tossed out the window or evolvingShow full article
The first link for each thread description points to the traditional TidBITS Talk interface; the second link points to the same discussion on our Web Crossing server, which provides a different look and which may be faster.
What's happening to our favorite GUI? iTunes 5 introduced a slightly different look to Apple's applications, leading to a discussion of whether the Aqua human interface guidelines are being tossed out the window or evolving. (8 messages)
Voice recognition software in 2005 -- Despite a promising start years ago, the state of speech-recognition software such as iListen and ViaVoice on the Mac has fallen behind its Windows competitors. (5 messages)
iPod nano -- The name "iPod nano" has a few different meanings in Japanese, but really, we all know the name came from Mork & Mindy: nano nanoo! (4 messages)
iTunes 5 random shuffle -- iTunes 5 introduced a new feature to make the shuffle mode more random. What's going on? Apparently, "random" to a computer isn't as random as you might think. (4 messages)