Finally figured out the Keynote nonsense. Apparently, the timer doesn’t start counting until the slide and everything on it–and possibly the next slide as well?–is completely loaded. The transition seems to start (n) seconds after the “Ready to Advance” indicator in the presenter view flashes. I can see where that makes sense, actually, in an overbearing DWIM, CYA sort of way. It guarantees that the content on the slide displays for at least the expected amount of time, no matter what.

The problem, of course, is that load times are impossible to predict. They depend entirely on system configuration and load. And while CYA is nice, I’ll take repeatability over CYA any day of the week. Also, it’s not what I M.

Fortunately, builds seem to actually be timed from the transition as expected. So the screwy transition timing can be circumvented by building out at the appropriate time and transitioning automatically after the build.

Best of both worlds? Maybe. It seems backward to me, though. I’d expect the transition delay to accurately time the interval between transitions. If anything were going to wait to make sure content is ready, I’d expect it to be the build timings, which actually time, well, content display.

Either way, it works, and I guess that’s what’s important.


I’ve been using Keynote as my major presentation tool for a while now. It rocks the socks off PowerPoint, as far as I’m concerned. Today, though, I’m having a devil of a time getting it to do what I want.

I have a 5:12 QuickTime movie that I want to play in a slide, and then automatically advance to the next slide after it’s done. Actually, I want to advance a little early; there’s some extra blank space at the end of the embedded file that I don’t really need. This seems like a no-brainer. I drop the movie in, set the slide transition to start automatically after 310 seconds, and the transition clips the last two seconds of the movie. Perfect.

In reality, though, the slide sits around for 10+ seconds after the slide finishes before the transition kicks in. I’ve moved the transition up as far as 300 seconds, and I still have dead space at the end. What gives? Apple: I don’t have all afternoon to sit around trying to figure out how long you think 300 seconds is.

To get back a little more into tech content:

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time with a lot of xterms open: local session, ssh sessions, database connections, you name it. Keeping track of all those windows can get confusing, especially if you aren’t always at the same physical console. Different window managers, shells and OSs all suoort different naming conventions, and it’s easy to forget which window is which. Most admins and “power users” have some tricks to help them deal with the mess. The problem is that these solutions are almost always shell or OS dependant. Bash scripts that set KDE window titles. Csh scripts that query `/proc` for process information. That’s how I started out, too: with a bash script called `tl` that I picked up somewhere. I have no idea, now, what “tl stands for (“terminal load”?), but it’s a useful little program. It cats `/proc/loadavg` in a Linux system, and uses that, the neame of the computer, and the current time to dynamically set the titlebar of an xterm session. The problem is, it only works on Linux under bash.

So one day I rewrote it. The result was `tlp` (“tl-perl”), an OS independant script to help me keep organized. Run in the background, it sets the window title to display the name of the machine I’m logged into, the 3, 5, and 15 minute load averages on that machine, and the current time. This lets me take a quick glance across my desktop and get a feel for how my different machines are doing: if usage spikes, I’ll want to look into it, and if the times start drifting, I’ll want to check on NTP before internet apps start complaining.
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The other day I [took Laurie at TUAW to task]( over her suggestion that Apple implement [Shiira](’s “Tab Exposé” feature in Safari:

>> It’s a surprisingly handy feature that I implore Apple to add to Safari itself. Are you listening, Dave Hyatt?
> Probably, he is. But here’s an idea: why don’t we encourage people to support these projects and the people who develop them, instead of encouraging Apple to once again take someone else’s idea without compensating or even acknowledging the person.
> Personally, I’d rather not see Shiira go the way of Watson (Sherlock), Konfabulator (Dashboard), Rondezvous/ZeroConf (Bonjour, because somebody finally sued), etc.
> Open and frank exchanges of ideas among communities of developers are one thing; outright plagiarism is another.

Of course, Safari has been fraught with just this kind of attitude from the beginning, and the natives are starting to get restelss. Scott Grannerman over at [The Open Source Weblog]( has been following an ongoing public feud between the Safari developers and the KDE Konqueror developers who created the KHTML engine Safari and WebKit are based on.

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SSH vulnerability?

May 12, 2005

There has been a lot of discussion in the OpenBSD community (and probably elsewhere, but OpenBSD has a special relationship to OpenSSH) over a paper published by some MIT students regarding a supposed SSH exploit. OpenBSD being the system of choice for the Practical Paranoid (as well at the pratically paranoid and plain old paranoid), the idea of an exploit in the secure transfer protocol of choice didn’t go over too well, especially since the first paragraph is enough to send chills down the spine of even the most oblivious Windows 98 user:

> Address harvesting is the act of searching a compromised host for addresses of other hosts to attack. Secure Shell (SSH), the tool of choice for administering and communicating with mission-critical hosts, security critical hosts, and even some routers, leaves each user’s
list of previously contacted hosts open to harvest by anyone who compromises the user’s account. Attackers have combined address harvesting with myriad mechanisms for impersonating a host’s legitimate users to obtain a remote shell via SSH. They have succeeded in breaching systems at major academic, commercial, and government institutions. In this paper, we detail the threat posed should attackers automate this mode of attack to create a self-propagating worm. ([pdf](

That doesn’t sound good at all. This morning, though, I finally got around to reading the paper. What they’re talking about here is reading the the user’s `know_hosts` file, and using that to harvest addresses.

So the attack looks something like this:
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Touchscreen iBook?

May 11, 2005

Ok, to save myself from the accusation of rumormongering, I’ll just say that this is a fact. More than a year ago, Apple, as reported last night by [The Mac Observer](, filed a patent ([No. D504,889](,889.WKU.&OS=pn/D504,889&RS=PN/D504,889?tMoJk)) for an undescribed “electronic device”. That device, it seems from the illustrations, is a touchscreen of some description.

It may be that they’re getting serious about a tablet–and about time, I say. There were rumors almost two years ago (about six months before the patent was filed…November 2003 springs to mind) that Quanta, one of their suppliers and fabricators in Taipei, had retooled some lines for touchscreens and tablets. But it’s still not clear how a tablet fits into the design philosophy of Steve “Apple makes computers and real computers have keyboards” Jobs. It may be, though, that Steve is softening. While apple is still a hardware caompany, it’s difficult to see it as a computer company these days. Sure, it’s flagship products are still lightning fast desktops and desktop replacements with innovative user interfaces. But “Apple” is no longer a synonym for “Mac” the way it was in the ’90’s (and with “Apple][“) before that. These days they’re thinking different about a whole family of iPods (4 at last count). Furthermore, the company that once spun off Claris has moved into software in a big way, not only with iTunes to drive the iPod, but the whole iLife suite and dashboard, etc. usability applications, stuff they used to leave to third party vendors. And it’s not just consumer stuff. The company that used to supply the premier platform for video and graphics workstations is now providing the software, too, with Products like QuickTime and Final Cut. Maybe a tablet isn’t so far fetched after all.

On the other hand, the patent could be anything. BSD-based OS X is a multi-user system at heart, and there’s no reason other than poor planning that virtual terminals haven’t been implemented bfore now (fast user switching is a poor cousin). This tablet coulde easily be for the kind of wireless remote desktop pallette vendors have been selling for windows for several years. Personally, that’s an innovation I’d daerly love to see. With the power of current hardware and the timesharing ability of Darwin, I don’t really need another computer in my apartment; my eMac is plenty. But another workstation would be nice, especially a portable one. (via [Make:Blog](

*Or Why You Should Stop Using Word.*

Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft makes a decent word processor, in fact a decent office suite. Office has unsurpassed functionality, isn’t really as bloated as a lot of open source types would have you believe, and crashes far less than it used to. If you’re like me, though, you keep word processor documents around for *years*. If you’re even more like me, a lot of the stuff you’ve kept over the years is in a variety of proprietary formats: WordStar, Word for Windows, Word Perfect from various vendors, not mention some lord knows what salvaged from 5.25″ disks and tape (FormatII? I don’t even remember FormatII, but I’ve got files from it), and Word files of varying versions and vintages written on different platforms. The problem here is that we keep this stuff for a reason, usually having to do with bibliographies or citations (and of course just all that brilliance). But binary data ages very rapidly. It’s difficult for even new versions of the same software to deal with files that are sufficiently old. Footnotes do strange things. headers disappear. Page numbers print in weird places. Trying to import files from one platform to another or one application to another is even worse, especially if the original application is no longer in use. There are however other options, and we’re going to talk about two of them: [Open Office]( and [AbiWord](

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