High Security on Mac/Linux Using GPG and a ThumbDrive

Using the free Gnu Privacy Guard and a USB thumb drive (which are often given away in promotionals and should be available for under $10 in small storage capacities), you can implement a strong (AES) encryption system to protect sensitive files on your computer. The process divides the means to decrypting sensitive data into three distinct components:

  • the encrypted file(s) — on your computer
  • the private key needed to decrypt the files — on your thumbdrive
  • the password required in combination with the private key to decrypt files — in your head

The process is simple and affords a great degree of security to your encrypted files, because all three components must be assembled to decrypt the data — a difficult task for a laptop thief or even a nosey coworker to accomplish, especially if you remove your thumb drive from your computer when you are not using it.

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Net_Monitor Now Growls

Net_Monitor now supports the latest release of Net_Growl (announced yesterday). Growl is an attractive global notification and alert system for OS X. Versions 0.7 and above support remote messaging via UDP, which makes this yet another useful way to receive alerts from the Net_Monitor package about the status of many common services it can monitor. The Net_Monitor_Alert_Growl class is currently available via cvs for your perusal. This and Net_Monitor_Alert_Jabber should be part of the next packaged release of Net_Monitor. For those of you that can’t wait, just pop either of these files into the Net/Monitor/Alert subdirectory of your Pear installation, and Growl or Jabber away.

The Mother of Invention

Sometimes, the little things in life can be so rewarding. Like not having to toggle between applications to skip a song in my playlist. I wrote three lines of AppleScript:

tell application "iTunes"
	next track
end tell

compiled them as an application called ‘skip’, and popped them in my Applications folder. After a catalog refresh, I can now invoke Quicksilver, type ‘sk’ (it auto-completes to ‘skip’), hit enter, and move to the next song. All without having to leave the application I live most of my life in … vi.

Podcasting Has Arrived

If you’ve been wondering, like me, when podcasting would hit mainstream, today was definitely a milestone in that direction. Apple announced tight integration with podcasts in their latest (free!) version of iTunes. This means no more third-party software import-into-iTunes hassle. This could be just the boost to make podcasting a truly household word, rather than (up to now) the secret domain of hipsters and geeks. It looks like now even the BBC is starting to podcast.