Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Java Runtime Environment 6U29 exploit in the wild

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

So my home computer contracted a virus over the weekend. Luckily my antivirus was able to pick it up and remove the infected files, which were variants of the virus Ramnit-AC and the Trojan downloader Java:agent, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it got on there.

That was, until today when both Thunderbird and Firefox warned me that the JRE SE6U29 add-on is “known to cause stability or security problems”:

After looking into this further it turns out that Oracle released a security advisory and critical update back in February already. I really don’t know how I didn’t get this update as I have Java set to update automatically – quite disappointing.

I’ve updated to the latest versions which should remove the exploit. I highly recommend you check if your system is vulnerable via the Mozilla plugin checker.

Sencha Touch now includes native packaging for iOS and Android apps.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Sencha Touch 2 Beta was released yesterday and according to the ‘what’s new‘ page it now includes tools to package native apps for iOS and Android. I’ve not tried it myself yet (or checked into what native functionality is available) but if this could possibly remove the need to also integrate with PhoneGap, and make the whole build/publishing process a lot simpler – fantastic!

How to change browser language in Firefox 4

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

One method is to uninstall Firefox then download and install another version in a different language. This can be incredibly time consuming though. An alternative is to download a language pack and then change the internal locale string of the browser:

1) Download language pack from here. This page has language packs for most languages. After installing a language pack you will need to restart your browser

2) Change locale string. Navigate to about:config in your address bar. After accepting the ‘here be dragons’ warning set the filter to ‘general.useragent.locale‘, right mouse click on the value and choose modify. Change the language string to the preferred value, for example ‘en-GB’ for British English or ‘fr-FR’ for French.

After a browser restart your Firefox should be in the preferred language.

Windows 7 doesn’t remember network share credentials

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

When connecting to a network share Windows 7 presents a dialog box as follows

You’d expect that ticking the box that says ‘remember credentials’ would cause windows to, um, remember the credentials? Unfortunately this is not the case, at least it hasn’t been for me when I want to copy media files onto my HTPC.

To fix this, navigate to Control Panel > User Accounts > Manage your credentials, where under ‘Windows Credentials’ you will see a list of machines you’ve connected to in the past. Expand the entry of the machine your interested in and you will see an entry for ‘Persistence level’. If this is set to ‘Login Session’, as shown in the screenshot below, this is the reason why Windows is not remembering your credentials as you’d expect.

Remove the entry and manually add a new one with the same details. When an entry is added manually the Persistence level should be automatically be set to Enterprise. After a reboot you should be able to connect to the share without having to enter credentials every time.

Nexus One updated to Gingerbread

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Well it was before Christmas when Google stated via it’s Twitter feed that the Android 2.3 update aka Gingerbread would be coming ‘in the coming weeks’, and now (only 10 weeks later) said update has arrived on my phone.

Here’s a list of the top changes, taken from

User interface improvements

  1. User interface refinements across the whole system
  2. New keyboard with easier to hit keys and a much improved layout
  3. “Key chording”, which enables more than one key to be hit at the same time (e.g. hold down Shift and press a key simultaneously) dramatically speeds up typing
  4. Improved one-touch copy and paste functionality, making it genuinely easy to use
  5. Revamped notification bar
  6. Supports five simultaneous points for advanced multitouch control (via the amusingly titled “multitouch.jazzhand” constant in the Android SDK)
  7. New downloads manager, which can be used by any application

Faster and more responsive

  1. Touch and keyboard events now handled much more quickly and efficiently
  2. Application responsiveness improved for all apps and especially games
  3. Floating point performance 2.5 times faster
  4. HTTP response sizes up to 60% smaller

Better battery life

  1. Much better battery life
  2. System actively shuts down apps that consume too much power
  3. Much easier to see which apps are consuming power
  4. Background apps managed much more aggressively to stop them slowing down the system

Much improved graphics performance

  1. Smoother animation thanks to a concurrent garbage collector that minimizes application pauses
  2. Improved video drivers for much better looking games
  3. Implements OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics library
  4. Supports new VP8 and WebM video and image formats

New Connectivity features

  1. Built-in SIP protocol stack enables VoIP Internet telephony
  2. Internet calling built-in to the user interface
  3. NFC API lets developers create apps that can interact with NFC smart tags embedded in posters, t-shirts and other products

New sensors supported

  1. New sensors supported (as long as the phone has the sensors installed) including gyroscope, linear acceleration, gravity, and barometer. Get ready for the first Android weather predicting phone!
  2. New sensor support enables games that recognize tilt, spin, thrust, and slice.
  3. Tag photos by date, location and altitude

New Multimedia features

  1. Support for multiple cameras on the same device
  2. New audio effects, such as bass boost, equalization, and reverb
  3. Audio effects are mixable, allowing you to mix your own effects either globally or just for an individual track
  4. Tablets now supported thanks to extra large screen sizes being fully suported
  5. Function to search for music and immediately play the tune upon finding it

I’m very pleased to see the improved battery life in there, and any speed increases are always appreciated.  I’ve had to wait a while since announcement to get the OTA update, but I’m pleased that Google is still looking after user’s who bought the NexusOne – I’m sure it will be a while before the likes of the HTC Desire get Gingerbread.

Nexus One is here!

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Ever since they’ve been launched I’ve been refusing to get an iPhone. I have to admit that they’re great, but they’re just too ubiquitous and I would feel like a sheep if I jumped on board :-). I was very excited when Google announced the Android-powered G1 back in September 2008, and was sure that an Android phone would be a great alternative.

I’ve been waiting ince then for a decent Android phone to come out with  a hardware keyboard (something like the HTC Touch Pro 2?), but on Friday I finally got tired of waiting and ordered the recently released Nexus One from the page.

Unbelievably the phone arrived first thing on Monday morning after being dispatched from Indianapolis. I was very, very impressed. Props to Google and DHL for getting it to me so quickly.

After two days playing with the phone I am very impressed. The 3.7″ OMOLED screen is very clear and bright, and the 1GHz snapdragon CPU makes it very snappy. More technical specs are available here.

There’s a bit of a division in my office between the designers, who generally favour the iPhone, and the developers, several of whom have Android phones. Until now I’ve been fighting the Android side despite not owning one, so I’m pleased that I’m now practising what I preach.

Here are some pictures of the phone when it arrives. Apologies for the quality they were taken with my old phone 🙂

The Apple Tablet

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

After months of rumour and speculation, the Apple tablet is due to be announced at today’s Apple event. Information that has appeared so far today are some grainy photos and rumour that the device will cost $800 on contract, or $1000 without.

Edit: well the event has been and gone and it looks like the rumour on the price was way off – it will be available from just $499. The iPad look like a scaled up iPhone. It has a 9.7 inch capacitative touchscreen, 1GHz Apple A4chip, 10 hour battery life and will come in a variety of disk capacities (16, 32 and 64GB), just like the iPhone. Wifi and 3G are available as options. There’s also been some interesting apps announced, like iBook (an e-reader application) and iWork (spreadsheet type stuff). The majority of apps on the app store will work on it – either in a window or scaled up to double size. It won’t be long before apps specifically for the ipad become available I’m sure, the iPhone SDK was updated yesterday to add support for the iPad.

The beginning of the end for Internet Explorer?

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

In my years of developing for Internet Explorer I’ve been continually having to battle with it’s half-assed implementation of web standards and non existent debugging tools, but have to continue supporting it because so many people don’t know any better. A small ray of hope has emerged in the last few days off the back of the Google/China showdown. Apparently the Chinese hacks were taking advantage of an undisclosed security flaw in Internet Explorer. Because of the this on the 15th Jan the German goverment issued a warning to Internet users to avoid using Internet Explorer. They were followed by the French government on the 18th who issued a similar warning.

Now it seems the malicious code only targets IE6, and Microsoft released a patch for it yesterday (the 21st). Hopefully these security alerts will have caused some people to jump ship from Internet Explorer to one of the alternatives, and we can see those usage stats, particularly of IE6, start to drop off.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Google threatens to shut down Google China

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Quite a biggy. It seems that Google has been having some problems with hacking attempts on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human-rights activists, possibly by the Chinese government, and because of this they want to stop the censoring of search results on the Chinese Google site. If the Chinese government doesn’t agree to this Google are threatenting to close the website and their offices in China:

“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.”

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