Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years. I don’t think about 9/11 much anymore, but the memory is never truly distant; the day’s clear blue sky is somehow just as clear. Dan Gillmor’s words from 2003 still resonate with me:
The world didn’t unravel to match our worst fears. There’s been some progress, and some steps backwards. We are, as usual, muddling along as a species. We can do better, and somehow I think we ultimately will.
My blog now supports HTTP/2, which in theory may make it faster. Not that it needs to be faster, but hey. Technology.
Fifteen years ago, I was apparently nervous about reaching the quarter century mark. Today? That’s just hilarious! Although I will admit that the whole aging and arrow-of-time thing can be a bit of a drag. Not cool, Stephen Hawking. Not cool.
I’m taking a leave of absence from Twitter. There’s nothing enjoyable about reading a 140-character political opinion, clicking on it to see discussion, and finding racism at every turn. This isn’t coded racism, either, unless you think “gas the jews” and “hang the *****rs” is somehow coded. Such vileness was bubbling long before Donald Trump, but I’m convinced he’s given it renewed focus and legitimacy — not just on Twitter, but in America at large.
It’s taken quite some time, but I have finally found a trinity of great finance writers: Matt Levine, whose writing for Bloomberg shines bright light on many convoluted corners of modern finance and fintech; Tren Griffin, who shares witty and essential lessons learned from investors past and present; and Josh Brown, a reformed broker whose perspective on modern financial advice is akin to a cleansing fire.
The ind.ie crew, better known as Aral, Laura, and Oskar the dog, have just launched a great new iOS content blocker based on their principles of ethical design. Go grab Better today! (I hear Oskar is all about tabs, not spaces.)
It’s been a nutty couple months.
Peter, Nick, and I sold Cloak! It turns out selling a company can keep you plenty busy.
The sale was a surprise ending for us. It’s also an exciting new beginning.
We didn’t need to sell; Cloak was happily profitable, and those profits were growing. We didn’t necessarily think we wanted to sell, either, at least at first.
However, as we began to plot out Cloak’s next eighteen months, we realized we were at an inflection point. Our investments in engineering automation had allowed us to run lean almost to a point of absurdity. But our leanest days were clearly numbered.
It didn’t take long to realize that we couldn’t take the next steps without growing our team. We needed to ship native apps for Android and Windows. We had to move aggressively to better serve our growing list of corporate customers. We wanted to scale our VPN network. We hoped to make our apps behave more gracefully even in the face of less common network failures.
All told, it was clear that Cloak in mid-2017 was going to look quite different than Cloak in early 2016. We assumed we would lead that charge… until a few potential suitors knocked on our door. The question then became: would we lead the charge? Or would we team up with a larger organization to make the next big push?
In StackPath we found an ideal suitor. Their plans nicely complemented and strengthened our own. They had a deep bench of business, sales, and marketing talent that we knew we needed. And it didn’t hurt that StackPath understood the value of what we’d built, and was willing to pay a fair price.
So here we are! I’m a full-time employee of StackPath. I have a boss. We have a mission. It’s the same as the old mission, only bigger. I’m excited to see what we can build.
There’s been quite a mini-fracas about News Genius, a new tool that allows users to publicly annotate websites. Sadly and predictably, the tool has been used for abuse and harassment. Glenn Fleishman has an interesting take on abuse and Genius and on the W3C Annotation standards that may ultimately replace it; my old employer E-Quill even gets a mention.
I wrote a little something about encryption, Apple, and the FBI on Cloak’s blog. To be fair, I mostly just punted the entire issue to John Oliver, whose ability to hilariously shoot fish in barrels is unrivaled in the comedic industry. His entire segment on the controversy is worth watching.
President Obama spoke at length today about privacy and encryption. He cautioned against an “absolutist view of encryption”, claiming that search warrants can apply to the virtual world just as well as the physical provided we build our technology wisely.
Alas, Obama is fundamentally wrong. Digital encryption has no analogue in the physical world. Doors locked by lost keys can be busted down. Digital doors locked by lost encryption keys can never be re-opened.
What Obama misunderstands is that “encryption absolutism” is not an ideological position. It’s a technical one.
Today, Mitt Romney delivered an unprecedented speech addressing the toxic state of the 2016 presidential race. I agree with Romney completely when it comes to The Donald: Trump represents an existential threat to our country; he must be stopped.
Slowly but surely, I intend to unify my entire online presence under one roof. Today I imported all of my photos, which have historically been scattered across multiple services. You can find them at davepeck.org/photo/; there’s also a photo RSS feed.
In addition to reviving my microblog, I also separated out my audioblog, which I started last year. I promised myself I wouldn’t post another audio entry until I had a separate audio RSS feed suitable for your favorite podcast app. Now I do!
A trip to the Wayback Machine reminded me that back in 2001, my blog looked like this:
Later, it looked like this:
It seems my early blog was a microblog! (I was tempted to go all hipster-than-thou about this, but I’ll refrain.)
In any case, there’s a lot of interesting energy around microblogs again today; I thought I’d revive my own.
My original plan was to import my entire Twitter history and merge that with my original microposts, but that led to sadness: Jekyll fares poorly when faced with tens of thousands of posts.
Instead, I simply revived my old microposts and placed them at davepeck.org/micro/. New microposts will also appear on my site’s front page. To see just the meaty blog posts (and I use the word “meaty” rather loosely), you can visit davepeck.org/blog/. I’ve also introduced new master, blog-only, and micro-only RSS feeds for your reading pleasure.
Ansible continues to frustrate. It’s one of those tools that looks good at the outset but as you use it more, you begin to question its fundamentals.
Here’s a simple example of an Ansible design decision that is both deeply embedded and probably deeply wrong. (This comes courtesy of my partner Peter, who did the spelunking under Ansible’s hood.)
Ansible consumes YAML that defines a configuration. YAML values can be Jinja2 template strings, if desired. (Apparently, Ansible merely sniffs for telltale opening double braces to decide whether to send a string through Jinja.) That’s useful as far as it goes.
But after rendering these mini-templates, Ansible next calls Python’s
eval(...) on the resultant string. If this happens not to blow up, Ansible tosses the python instance that results down the chain rather than the rendered string. Yet there are many configuration strings that you might want to keep as strings that nevertheless happen to
eval(...) successfully. For example: JSON literals, certain RabbitMQ configuration syntax, etc.
There’s no facility to be selective here. Just another day of software.
We’ve been using beta builds at Cloak and it has measurably improved our process. From where I sit, 1Password for Teams is an easy purchase for any business that needs to manage shared passwords — these days, that’s pretty much every business.
Building a tool like 1Password for Teams isn’t easy: it requires thoughtful security design and extremely careful execution. It’s not surprising, then, that the 1Password for Teams security whitepaper is an interesting read. Even the “key security features” front matter is enough to convey the sophistication and thought behind the product.