Peach Came From a Can

Social app Peach hit the interwebs over the weekend, harder than a late 1990s grunge-esque anthem skipping on a discman playing through a cassette tape adapter.

You could write off peach as another social networking app for tech groupies. But you’d be missing a very unique feature.

Chatbots.

(Sorta. They’re almost more like command-line keywords.)

Peach does this one little thing that I’ve never seen an app of this type do before. A series of text commands enable quick access device sensors and various other APIs. For example, `move` posts the number of footsteps the device has recorded today, `gif: keyword` returns a gif search, `here` posts your location, etc.

I’m not sure whether to call this innovative per se, chatbots have existed on IRC for decades and Slack does something similar with third party app integrations.

However, Peach is the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing implemented for purely entertainment purposes and I find it extremely interesting. Mostly likely, an early sign of things to come.

If you do check it out, add me, I’m ohryan..

TeeVee for WP: building Apple TV apps with WordPress Plugins

Imagine you create tonnes of great video content every day and publish it all through WordPress. Your viewer can watch your amazing shows everywhere…on iPhones, iPads, iMacs, but not their TVs. Wouldn’t it be great to have a branded Apple TV app so that all your viewers could watch your content in full screen glory? Well I’ve got just the WordPress plugin for you…

Behold, TeeVee for WP!

A straightforward WordPress plugin I created to allow content creators to use WordPress as a data source Apple TV apps. TeeVee for WP attaches video metadata to blog posts. The metadata is used to to generate TVML1 which gets ingested by a custom/branded TvOS app.

Screenshot 2015-12-06 21.01.03


On the xCode end you simply create a new TvOS single-view application, with an AppDelegate that looks something like this:

Modify the `TVDomain` to point the domain where TeeVee for WP is install and the rest is show business.

The project is up on github here: https://github.com/ohryan/teevee.

Contributions would be much appreciated.

If you have any questions or suggestions hit me up on twitter at @ohryan or email me [email protected]..

  1. TVML is this cool little XML apple created for basic layout – check out Apple’s documentation for more information. []

Facebook’s History of Spying

Reading Wikipedia this morning, I came across an interesting tidbit from the days when facebook was still thefacebook.com. As seen in The Social Network, after launching the site Mark Zuckerberg was under investigation for potentially stealing the idea from the Winklevoss brothers.

Not covered in the movie though, while this investigation was going on Zuckerberg did a little investigating of his own, by accessing the email accounts of the investigators:

Zuckerberg knew about the investigation so he used TheFacebook.com to find members in the site who identified themselves as members of the Crimson. He examined a history of failed logins to see if any of the Crimson members have ever entered an incorrect password into TheFacebook.com. In the cases in which they had failed to login, Mark tried to use them to access the Crimson members’ Harvard email accounts, and he was successful in accessing two of them. In the end, three Crimson members filed a lawsuit against Zuckerberg which was later settled.

~ The History of Facebook, Wikipedia

The way I read this, thefacebook.com was logging failed passwords! Meaning, when you entered an incorrect password on thefacebook.com’s login page, the website would save the text you entered. Obviously websites have to have a record of your password in order to authenticate you. Passwords are normally encrypted in such a way that developers cannot access the password. The wikipedia article doesn’t say whether or not regular passwords were encrypted.

However, if you were intending to use a website you created to log into email accounts of the site’s users, collecting  passwords that failed would give you more passwords to try when logging in to those user’s third party email accounts.

Zuckerberg was caught breaking in to 2 accounts, but one has to wonder how many other accounts he broke in to. Remember, in 2004 (prior to gmail), email accounts did not have 2-factor authentication, they did not detect suspicious login activity, they did not have the security features we’ve come to take for granted. Anybody could log into any body else’s email accounts undetected.

Password security is the most basic of implicit trust between a website and its users. A site that is logging passwords and password attempts cannot be trusted, period.

Who knows if or how the culture at Facebook has changed. Nevertheless, if the company’s CEO was willing to exploit users for personal gain in the early days, what sort of things are they willing to do when governments or other powerful entities pressure them?.

Ads Don’t Work

There has been a lot of hubbub on the internets today about web ad/tracker/content blocking. It seems that 36hrs of full on iOS9 content blocking was enough to cause every single ad-supported publication to collectively loss their shit. Imagine how abysmal ad numbers must have been for Marco Arment to pull his highly successful iOS9 content blocker.

I started blocking ads over a month ago (based largely on Marco’s advice) and I’m not going back!

I don’t feel bad about it.

Banner ads do not work.
Showing me ads for a product I just bought on amazon… on every website… for the next month… is a dumb waste of everyone’s bandwidth, resources and money; Nobody has clicked on a banner ad in at least 10 years, at least not by choice; And haven’t publishers been complaining about not making any money off of banner ads since the beginning of internet time?

Make up your mind publishers. Are you making any money off shitty low-quality, data stealing, phone crashing ads? Or are ad blockers THE END OF THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT?! OMG!1!1!11

Do you know what works?

  1. Native advertising. (except native advertising is generally bad)
  2. Getting content consumers to pay for stuff.

That’s right, I am suggesting that people would pay for ad free web experiences. Why not have an ad-free version for a small monthly payment? It’s worked for services like Livejournal, Flickr, Reddit, for years.

I am surprised that in 2015 we still haven’t cracked the micropayment promise of 2005. The promise of a world where sites load unencumbered by 33 javascript includes, where publishers make decent money without selling out their readers. Hell, in a world where I pay $8 to Netflix, instead of $70+ to a cable provider for video entertainment. I have a few extra dollars to spend on the sites I value the most.

*shrug*.

astsu: why Mr Robot is the most tech-savvy show ever

I finally watched the pilot episode of Mr Robot and I was totally blown away by the way the handle the hacking aspects of the show. If you haven’t seen the show, the main character is a professional security engineer by day and a “cyber vigilante” at night. It’s great!

Every aspect of the way he goes about his job is authentic (+/- reasonable poetic license) from: social engineering techniques, password cracking, right down to the command line.

As an example of the authenticity + poetic license = tech-savviness, throughout the pilot the lead character uses a command: `astsu`. astsu is not a real linux command and it’s not totally clear what it does. However, the way that he uses it is totally legit. He doesn’t use it when other commands would do the job and the arguments he passes to it look believable for something vaguely network/security related. We can assume that this command is code that he’s written himself. The command is basically a plot device for the nerds that will notice this sort of thing.

The fact that writers/producers/whoever demonstrate an incredible attention to detail and authenticity. I’m definitely going to continue watching

Oh, the soundtrack is perfect too..