Nov 19, 2014

Free Certs for HTTPS Coming to Sites Near You

This is a big announcement from the EFF. They are working with the major browser manufacturers to offer free TLS (HTTPS) certs to the general public.

Moving forward on the Web to make things secure, every site needs to run using HTTPS. A few years ago, this would have cost you a couple hundred dollars per year for a cert. Now things are a lot cheaper but still not exactly free. With this move, now they are free.

Making barriers to creating a website on the net low, is a good thing. Read the announement for details.

Oct 27, 2014

iPhone 6 and Touch ID Login for Noobs

So this weekend I actually had a chance to setup my new iPhone 6 Plus and iPads, etc.. Because, with Yosemite and iOS 8.1, it is sort of an all or nothing proposition. To use features like iCloud drive, you have to upgrade pretty much everything. But I am heading off topic.

So, after waiting a year, I finally have touch ID. Yays! However, this is really new territory for me because I have never used the passcode feature on the iPhone or iPad. I live alone and there is nothing on my iPad to “protect” so I have never bothered to put a passcode on it. So I just swipe to unlock or open the cover and my machine is ready to go.

To use touch ID, you must turn on the passcode feature. So you set a 4 digit code which is used to log in if the touch ID doesn’t work or if you need to change touch ID settings. So, after a little experimentation, there is a right way to log into your device and a wrong way.

The Wrong Way to Log Into your Device

  1. Turn on the device.
  2. Swipe right to clear the welcome screen.
  3. Put your finger on home button to log in.

The Right Way to Log In

  1. Turn on the device.
  2. Put your finger on the home button and you are logged in.

The second step from above is completely unnecessary.

I would also recommend you train the device to recognize both of your thumbs so you can open the device with either hand.

Oct 21, 2014

Install OpenSSH Server on Windows using Cygwin

Linux Logo

SSH is the best utility ever. With it you can remotely and securely log into systems. Plus, it enables the easy transfer and synchronization of files. It works great on Linux and OS X, but what about Windows? It turns out, if you install Cygwin, it is not that tough to enable.

The first step is to, of course, install Cygwin. That is not covered in this post. But it is pretty straightforward. Just make sure that OpenSSH is selected when you do the installation.

Once Cygwin is installed, follow these steps.

  1. Modify 2 environment variables. On Windows 7, select Start -> All Programs -> Computer. Click on System Properties in the menu. Select Advanced System Settings in the left panel. Then click the Environment Variables button. This should allow you to set two system wide variables.
    1. CYGWIN=ntsec tty
    2. Add the following directory to the PATH variable. `;c:\cygwin64\bin’
  2. Open a Cygwin window as Administrator. You can do this from the main start menu or by holding Shift and Right-Clicking the Cygwin icon in the taskbar.
  3. Assuming you have Administrator rights, at the prompt type: ssh-host-config -y.

    This should configure the sshd daemon for you. If the script asks you to set CYGWIN= enter ntsec tty

  4. To start the sshd service type: cygrunsrv --start sshd

Now ssh and its related utilities can be used to log into this Windows machine. Since sshd is installed as a service, Windows should automatically start the service on the next restart. Enjoy!

Oct 19, 2014

Where is the Screen Sharing app in OS X 10.10 Yosemite?

OS X picture

After upgrading to OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the Screen Sharing icon in the dock is empty and replaced with a question mark. Screen Sharing is a free VNC client bundled with OS X. It is optimized for and works great with Macs. Your mileage may vary with other operating systems.

Anyway, with Mavericks, the Screen Sharing app used to be located in:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Screen Sharing

With Yosemite, it is located in:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/Screen Sharing

Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite - Issues and Observations

OS X picture

This weekend was my first chance to upgrade one of my Macs to OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Here are the initial observations/issues.

  • The update went smoothly. No real issues during the install. The new fonts and the flatter design looks a LOT different!
  • VMWare Fusion 5 Does not appear to work with Yosemite. Not sure about Fusion 6. I suppose now I need to update all my machines to Fusion 7 (/sigh). Love the software. I just hate upgrading stuff.
  • Screen Sharing, the free built in VNC client for OS X has moved. So the icon I had for it in the Dock turned into a question mark. I will make a separate post for its new location. It is still in the OS just in a different location.
  • Apparently, iCloud Drive is an all or nothing proposition. You cannot enable it until you have updated all of your Macs to Yosemite and all of you devices to iOS 8. If it is installed on only one device, that device will no longer be able to sync iCloud data with the non iCloud Drive machines or devices. Good to know, but frustrating. I really want to try this out!!! But my main work machine is a Mac and I need to wait a week or two before upgrading to see if there are any serious issues. I so want to try out that new feature!

If you want to make a USB copy of Yosemite, follow these instructions. They are pretty straitforward and do not require that you install a third party utility or script.

That is it for now. If I encounter anything else exciting, I will post again.

Oct 11, 2014

Thunderbird, LDIF, VCard, and Old Habits Die Hard

Apple 3D Blue Logo

I don’t know if this post will help anyone else, but it may so what the heck.

Thunderbird has been my e-mail client since I worked at Netscape in the late 1990s. So for the most part, I have been managing my email address book using LDIF since then. (Why? I used to work on the Netscape Directory server back in the day.) So my master address book is built in Thunderbird. Then, an LDIF file is saved to dropbox and all my e-mail clients can be synced with it. Mac, Windows, and Linux are all happy.

So last week while in San Francisco, I needed to email coworkers from my iPad, but of course my iPad cannot import LDIF files. (At least not that I am aware of.) Also, the employee directory at work now uses a newer format of VCard which Thunderbird can’t read. So importing entries is painful at best. They must be loaded in OS X Contacts and then export them back to VCard 3. Then into Thunderbird.

Then came the DOH moment! I realized that Thunderbird on OS X can read your Mac OS X Contact list. In addition, if you select all your entries and export them to VCard. The entire list can be imported into Thunderbird as an address book. No need for LDIF. Doh!!!!

So if you are an antique like me stuck in 1998, switch to VCard! :) GMail also supports VCard so address book nirvana may have been reached. Finally!!! We will see. For a standard to win in this space is a long time coming.

Oct 8, 2014

JavaOne 2014 Session Highlights

Duke Waving

I meant to send this out Monday, but stuff has kept coming up and now it is Wednesday. Anyway, below are list of my favorite sessions from JavaOne 2014. Note you will find no Lambda or Streams sessions as those talks all filled up and I was unable to get in. That is not really a problem, as usually there are 3 or 4 really good talks going on at the same time at any JavaOne.

Monday Sept 29

Introducing Contexts and Dependency Injection

A nice overview of CDI from the spec lead.


  • Antoine Sabot-Durand - Senior Software Engineer, Red Hat

ARM: Over 10 Billion Served—“Want 64-Bit Support with That?”

A really nice overview of ARM chips. Covers where they are now and where they are headed in the furture. Plans include 48 core 64 bit server chips, which should make things in the server world very interesting. Of course, Java Embedded and SE Embedded are covered giving some insite into their use in various chip families. Definitely work a look once the video gets posted.


  • David Holmes - Consulting Member of Technical Staff, Oracle
  • Zach Shelby - Director of Technology, IoT, ARM

Tuesday Sept 30

Hybrid Mobile Development with Apache Cordova and Java EE 7

A really nice overview of building a mobile application from end to end. The first have shows the code and issues developing the Cordova client. The second have shows the Java EE backend. Well done and very informative.


  • Michael Finocchiaro - Senior Director, 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, Dassault Systèmes
  • Ryan Cuprak - e-Formulation Analyst, Dassault Systemes

Creating Our Robot Overlords: Autonomous Drone Development with Java and the Internet of Things

This really should be titled, “Making an Autonomous Drone on the Cheap.” The team that gave this presentation started with a relatively inexpensive $300 Parrot drone. Then they added a Raspberry Pi for the brains then some Java code and you have your very own autonomous drone.

The talk discusses some of the issues with writing the code and with attaching a Raspberry Pi to the drone. Once you really start considering all the issues and problems you have to solve the issues become a very interesting.


  • Mark Heckler - Principal Advanced Software Engineer, Oracle
  • James Weaver - Java Technology Ambassador, Oracle

Wednesday Oct 01

Groovy in 2014 and Beyond

A good talk on Groovy and plans for the future.


  • Guillaume Laforge - Head of Groovy Development, Pivotal

Thursday Oct 2

HTML5/AngularJS/Groovy/Java and MongoDB Together: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A great live demo on showing how to build an application using HTML5/Angular.js/Groovy/Java/MongoDB.


  • Trisha Gee - Java Engineer, MongoDB

Oct 1, 2014

Java 8 Lambdas and New Features Course

I was lucky enough to teach this course on Sunday at JavaOne. I had a great class and enjoyed the experience. Here are some links to some of the sites I discussed on Sunday where you can get additional Lambda examples.

Sorry I did not get this out quicker.