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MotherJones - Meet the people behind the Wayback Machine, one of...

Jun 1, 4:16


MotherJones - Meet the people behind the Wayback Machine, one of our favorite things about the internet

PermalinkCommentstechnical internet-archive

Debugging anecdote - the color transparent black breaks accessibility

May 22, 10:36

Some time back while I was working on getting the Javascript Windows Store app platform running on Windows Phone (now available on the last Windows Phone release!) I had an interesting bug that in retrospect is amusing.

I had just finished a work item to get accessibility working for JS WinPhone apps when I got a new bug: With some set of JS apps, accessibility appeared to be totally broken. At that time in development the only mechanism we had to test accessibility was a test tool that runs on the PC, connects to the phone, and dumps out the accessibility tree of whatever app is running on the phone. In this bug, the tool would spin for a while and then timeout with an error and no accessibility information.

My first thought was this was an issue in my new accessibility code. However, debugging with breakpoints on my code I could see none of my code was run nor the code that should call it. The code that called that code was a more generic messaging system that hit my breakpoints constantly.

Rather than trying to work backward from the failure point, I decided to try and narrow down the repro and work forwards from there. One thing all the apps with the bug had in common was their usage of WinJS, but not all WinJS apps demonstrated the issue. Using a binary search approach on one such app I removed unrelated app code until all that was left was the app's usage of the WinJS AppBar and the bug still occurred. I replaced the WinJS AppBar usage with direct usage of the underlying AppBar WinRT APIs and continued.

Only some calls to the AppBar WinRT object produced the issue:

        var appBar = Windows.UI.WebUI.Core.WebUICommandBar.getForCurrentView(); 
// appBar.opacity = 1;
// appBar.closeDisplayMode = Windows.UI.WebUI.Core.WebUICommandBarClosedDisplayMode.default;
appBar.backgroundColor = Windows.UI.Colors.white; // Bug!
Just setting the background color appeared to cause the issue and I didn't even have to display the AppBar. Through additional trial and error I was blown away to discover that some colors I would set caused the issue and other colors did not. Black wouldn't cause the issue but transparent black would. So would aqua but not white.

I eventually realized that predefined WinRT color values like Windows.UI.Colors.aqua would cause the issue while JS literal based colors didn't cause the issue (Windows.UI.Color is a WinRT struct which projects in JS as a JS literal object with the struct members as JS object properties so its easy to write something like {r: 0, g: 0, b: 0, a: 0} to make a color) and I had been mixing both in my tests without realizing there would be a difference. I debugged into the backgroundColor property setter that consumed the WinRT color struct to see what was different between Windows.UI.Colors.black and {a: 1, r: 0, g: 0, b: 0} and found the two structs to be byte wise exactly the same.

On a hunch I tried my test app with only a reference to the color and otherwise no interaction with the AppBar and not doing anything with the actual reference to the color: Windows.UI.Colors.black;. This too caused the issue. I knew that the implementation for these WinRT const values live in a DLL and guessed that something in the code to create these predefined colors was causing the issue. I debugged in and no luck. Now I also have experienced crusty code that would do exciting things in its DllMain, the function that's called when a DLL is loaded into the process so I tried modifying my C++ code to simply LoadLibrary the DLL containing the WinRT color definition, windows.ui.xaml.dll and found the bug still occurred! A short lived moment of relief as the world seemed to make sense again.

Debugging into DllMain nothing interesting happened. There were interesting calls in there to be sure, but all of them behind conditions that were false. I was again stumped. On another hunch I tried renaming the DLL and only LoadLibrary'ing it and the bug went away. I took a different DLL renamed it windows.ui.xaml.dll and tried LoadLibrary'ing that and the bug came back. Just the name of the DLL was causing the issue.

I searched for the DLL name in our source code index and found hits in the accessibility tool. Grinning I opened the source to find that the accessibility tool's phone side service was trying to determine if a process belonged to a XAML app or not because XAML apps had a different accessibility contract. It did this by checking to see if windows.ui.xaml.dll was loaded in the target process.

At this point I got to fix my main issue and open several new bugs for the variety of problems I had just run into. This is a how to on writing software that is difficult to debug.

PermalinkCommentsbug debug javascript JS technical windows winrt

Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer...

Apr 28, 9:39


Internet Archive lets you play one of the earliest computer games Space War! emulated in JavaScript in the browser.

This entry covers the historical context of Space War!, and instructions for working with our in-browser emulator. The system doesn’t require installed plugins (although a more powerful machine and recent browser version is suggested).

The JSMESS emulator (a conversion of the larger MESS project) also contains a real-time portrayal of the lights and switches of a Digital PDP-1, as well as links to documentation and manuals for this $800,000 (2014 dollars) minicomputer.

PermalinkCommentscomputer-game game video-game history internet-archive

theatlantic: Victorian Trolling: How Con Artists Spammed in a...

2013 Oct 29, 7:42


theatlantic:

Victorian Trolling: How Con Artists Spammed in a Time Before Email

The main difference between 21st-century scams and those of centuries past is one of delivery method.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons/Benjamin Breen]

PermalinkCommentshistory spam technical humor internet

theatlantic: 'Please Contact Us': It's Been a Tough Week for...

2013 Oct 11, 9:25


theatlantic:

'Please Contact Us': It's Been a Tough Week for the Nobel Prize's Twitter Feed

Tales of temporary rejection from an organization not used to being ignored.

Read more.

PermalinkCommentshumor nobelprize twitter

Considerate MessagePort Usage

2013 Aug 7, 7:14
Sharing by leezie5. Two squirrels sharing food hanging from a bird feeder. Used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.When writing a JavaScript library that uses postMessage and the message event, I must be considerate of other JS code that will be running along side my library. I shouldn't assume I'm the only sender and receiver on a caller provided MessagePort object. This means obviously I should use addEventListener("message" rather than the onmessage property (see related What if two programs did this?). But considering the actual messages traveling over the message channel I have the issue of accidentally processing another libraries messages and having another library accidentally process my own message. I have a few options for playing nice in this regard:
Require a caller provided unique MessagePort
This solves the problem but puts a lot of work on the caller who may not notice nor follow this requirement.
Uniquely mark my messages
To ensure I'm acting upon my own messages and not messages that happen to have similar properties as my own, I place a 'type' property on my postMessage data with a value of a URN unique to me and my JS library. Usually because its easy I use a UUID URN. There's no way someone will coincidentally produce this same URN. With this I can be sure I'm not processing someone else's messages. Of course there's no way to modify my postMessage data to prevent another library from accidentally processing my messages as their own. I can only hope they take similar steps as this and see that my messages are not their own.
Use caller provided MessagePort only to upgrade to new unique MessagePort
I can also make my own unique MessagePort for which only my library will have the end points. This does still require the caller to provide an initial message channel over which I can communicate my new unique MessagePort which means I still have the problems above. However it clearly reduces the surface area of the problem since I only need once message to communicate the new MessagePort.
The best solution is likely all of the above.
Photo is Sharing by leezie5. Two squirrels sharing food hanging from a bird feeder. Used under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.
PermalinkCommentsDOM html javascript messagechannel postMessage programming technical

theatlantic: How the 8.5” x 11” Piece of Paper Got Its...

2012 Sep 19, 6:37


theatlantic:

How the 8.5” x 11” Piece of Paper Got Its Size

Why do we use a paper size that is so unfriendly for the basic task of reading? According to a very interesting post by Paul Stanley, the rough dimensions of office paper evolved to accommodate handwriting and typewriters with monospaced fonts, both of which rendered many fewer characters per line. “Typewriters,” he explains, “produced 10 or 12 characters per inch: so on (say) 8.5 inch wide paper, with 1 inch margins, you had 6.5 inches of type, giving … around 65 to 78 characters.” This, he says, is “pretty close to ideal.”

Read more. [Image: Picsfive/Shutterstock]

PermalinkCommentstechnical paper history

When they went to the Moon, they received the same per diem...

2012 Aug 28, 4:38


When they went to the Moon, they received the same per diem compensation as they would have for being away from base in Bakersfield: eight dollars a day, before various deductions (like for accommodation, because the government was providing the bed in the spaceship).

theatlantic:

Apollo 11’s Astronauts Received an $8 Per Diem for the Mission to the Moon

The astronauts of Apollo 11: Intrepid explorers. Inspirational heroes. Government employees.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

PermalinkCommentshumor space nasa moon government

SkullSecurity » Blog Archive » Stuffing Javascript into DNS names

2012 Aug 27, 4:25

dnsxss tool helps you inject via DNS

…what it does is, essentially, respond to DNS requests for CNAME, MX, TXT, and NS records with Javascript code. … how about SQL injection?

PermalinkCommentssecurity technical javascript dns sql

Alexandria 2.0: One Millionaire's Quest to Build the Biggest Library on Earth | Threat Level | Wired.com

2012 Aug 21, 7:00

Brief history and scope of the Internet Archive.

PermalinkCommentsinternet-archive history

Matter Anti-Matter: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

2012 Jun 7, 3:07

ensignau:

The conversation surrounding how to liberate HBO from its cable partners and create the entertainment utopia viewers have long desired has been fascinating.

The resulting analyses of the numbers has pretty much shown that the amount people are willing to pay is not nearly enough to…

PermalinkCommentstv economics youtube video internet web

Changing Windows Live IDs

2012 Jun 6, 2:54

Use of my old Hotmail account has really snuck up on me as I end up caring more and more about all of the services with which it is associated. The last straw is Windows 8 login, but previous straws include Xbox, Zune, SkyDrive, and my Windows 7 Phone. I like the features and sync'ing associated with the Windows Live ID, but I don't like my old, spam filled, hotmail email address on the Live ID account.

A coworker told me about creating a Live ID from a custom domain, which sounded like just the ticket for me. Following the instructions above I was able to create a new deletethis.net Live ID but the next step of actually using this new Live ID was much more difficult. My first hope was there would be some way to link my new and old Live IDs so as to make them interchangeable. As it turns out there is a way to link Live IDs but all that does is make it easy to switch between accounts on Live Mail, SkyDrive and some other webpages.

Instead one must change over each service or start over depending on the service:

Xbox
In the Xbox 360 system menu you can change the Live ID associated with your gamertag. This worked fine for me and I got an email telling me about the transfer of my Microsoft Points.
Zune
There's no way to do this for the Zune specifically, however changing over your Xbox account also transfers over all your Zune purchased content. I don't have a Zune Pass so I can't confirm that, but all of my previously purchased television shows transferred over successfully.
Windows 7 Phone
To change the main Live ID associated with your phone, reset your phone to factory default and start over. All purchased applications are lost. Had I purchased any applications I would have been pissed, but instead I was just irritated that I had to reset my phone.
Mail
I don't use my Hotmail account for anything and it only sits and collects spam. Accordingly I didn't attempt switching this over.
SkyDrive
I didn't have much in my SkyDrive account. I downloaded all files as a zip and then manually uploaded them to the new account.
PermalinkCommentshotmail domain win8 skydrive technical windows live-id

Internet Archive - Downloading in bulk using wget

2012 Apr 26, 2:08PermalinkCommentstechnical internet-archive wget http archive cli

Privacy through Obscurity

2012 Mar 9, 3:30

With Facebook changing its privacy policy and settings so frequently and just generally the huge amount of social sites out there, for many of us it is far too late to ensure our name doesn't show up with unfortunate results in web searches. Information is too easily copyable and archive-able to make removing these results a viable option, so clearly the solution is to create more data.

Create fake profiles on Facebook using your name but with a different photo, different date of birth, and different hometown. Create enough doppelgangers to add noise to the search results for your name. And have them share embarrassing stories on their blogs. The goal is to ensure that the din of your alternates drowns out anything embarrassing showing up for you.

Although it will look suspicious if you're the only name on Google with such chaff. So clearly you must also do this for your friends and family. Really you'll be doing them a favor.

PermalinkCommentstechnical facebook stupid internet privacy

WHATWG Weekly: http+aes URL scheme, control Referer, …

2012 Mar 7, 8:08

Seems generally bad to embed sensitive info in the URI (the http+aes URI scheme’s decryption key) similar to the now deprecated password field.

Use case is covered here: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/ietf-http-wg/2012JanMar/0811.html.  Also discussion including someone mentioning the issue above.

PermalinkCommentstechnical html5 html uri uri-scheme http http+aes

Client Side Cross Domain Data YQL Hack

2012 Feb 27, 2:28

One of the more limiting issues of writing client side script in the browser is the same origin limitations of XMLHttpRequest. The latest version of all browsers support a subset of CORS to allow servers to opt-in particular resources for cross-domain access. Since IE8 there's XDomainRequest and in all other browsers (including IE10) there's XHR L2's cross-origin request features. But the vast majority of resources out on the web do not opt-in using CORS headers and so client side only web apps like a podcast player or a feed reader aren't doable.

One hack-y way around this I've found is to use YQL as a CORS proxy. YQL applies the CORS header to all its responses and among its features it allows a caller to request an arbitrary XML, HTML, or JSON resource. So my network helper script first attempts to access a URI directly using XDomainRequest if that exists and XMLHttpRequest otherwise. If that fails it then tries to use XDR or XHR to access the URI via YQL. I wrap my URIs in the following manner, where type is either "html", "xml", or "json":

        yqlRequest = function(uri, method, type, onComplete, onError) {
var yqlUri = "http://query.yahooapis.com/v1/public/yql?q=" +
encodeURIComponent("SELECT * FROM " + type + ' where url="' + encodeURIComponent(uri) + '"');

if (type == "html") {
yqlUri += encodeURIComponent(" and xpath='/*'");
}
else if (type == "json") {
yqlUri += "&callback=&format=json";
}
...

This also means I can get JSON data itself without having to go through JSONP.
PermalinkCommentsxhr javascript yql client-side technical yahoo xdr cors

URI Percent Encoding Ignorance Level 0 - Existence

2012 Feb 10, 4:00

As a professional URI aficionado I deal with various levels of ignorance on URI percent-encoding (aka URI encoding, or URL escaping). The basest ignorance is with respect to the mere existence of percent-encoding. Percents in URIs are special: they always represent the start of a percent-encoded octet. That is to say, a percent is always followed by two hex digits that represents a value between 0 and 255 and doesn't show up in a URI otherwise.

The IPv6 textual syntax for scoped addresses uses the '%' to delimit the zone ID from the rest of the address. When it came time to define how to represent scoped IPv6 addresses in URIs there were two camps: Folks who wanted to use the IPv6 format as is in the URI, and those who wanted to encode or replace the '%' with a different character. The resulting thread was more lively than what shows up on the IETF URI discussion mailing list. Ultimately we went with a percent-encoded '%' which means the percent maintains its special status and singular purpose.

PermalinkCommentsencoding uri technical ietf percent-encoding ipv6

(via Stereogranimator: transform historical stereographs from...

2012 Jan 30, 8:47


(via Stereogranimator: transform historical stereographs from NYPL archives into animated gifs and 3d images)

PermalinkCommentshistory photo 3d

Django Reinhardt-01-10 : Django Reinhardt : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

2012 Jan 22, 4:40

This is Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy swing from the 30s and 40s on archive.org and it is all in the public domain. I didn’t know the term for the genre so it took me a while to find this.

PermalinkCommentsmusic public-domain django-reinhardt jazz gypsy-jazz

JavaScript Array methods in the latest browsers

2011 Dec 3, 6:46

Cool and (relatively) new methods on the JavaScript Array object are here in the most recent versions of your favorite browser! More about them on ECMAScript5, MSDN, the IE blog, or Mozilla's documentation. Here's the list that's got me excited:

some & every
Does your callback function return true for any (some) or all (every) of the array's elements?
filter
Filters out elements for which your callback function returns false (in a new copy of the Array).
map
Each element is replaced with the result of it run through your callback function (in a new copy of the Array).
reduce & reduceRight
Your callback is called on each element in the array in sequence (from start to finish in reduce and from finish to start in reduceRight) with the result of the previous callback call passed to the next. Reduce your array to a single value aggregated in any manner you like via your callback function.
forEach
Simply calls your callback passing in each element of your array in turn. I have vague performance concerns as compared to using a normal for loop.
indexOf & lastIndexOf
Finds the first or last (respectively) element in the array that matches the provided value via strict equality operator and returns the index of that element or -1 if there is no such element. Surprisingly, no custom comparison callback method mechanism is provided.
PermalinkCommentsjavascript array technical programming
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