Posts Tagged as: web-development

May 3, 2013

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Bitcoin (But Were Afraid To Ask)

This video series by the Khan Academy is an extremely informative and approachable high-level overview of Bitcoin and all the technologies associated with it. I’m planning to make my way through it this weekend.

April 11, 2013

Computers and Hollywood

I found this great subreddit about those designs on computer screens you see in movies. Some really interesting stuff in there.

Speaking of fake UIs, here’s a cool video made by designer Phillip Lentz. I’d love to open it fullscreen on my work computer and start frantically typing and see how long it takes someone to notice. If they ask what the hell I’m doing I’ll probably say something about how I’m just breaking through the encryption shield before uploading a nano-virus.

March 25, 2013

Understanding MD5 Hashes and Security

Geek confession here. Before today I had a sorry understanding of what MD5 hashes were, and how they related to passwords and online security.

All I knew was they had something to do with obscuring your password so it could’t be cracked. Or something.

But after skimming a fascinating article on Ars Technica called How I became a password hacker I decided that ignorance was no longer an option.

So it turns out an MD5 is just a specific type of “cryptographic hash function“, which means it’s a one-way function; you can’t figure out what went into it just by looking at what came out of it. Badass.

This graphic (via Wikipedia) sums it up pretty nicely. (The “Input” represents a password, and the “Digest” represents a hash.)

It turns out you can make MD5s yourself pretty easily. Do something like this on your command line (or you can just Google for “MD5 Generator”), and you can start to play around with making hashes. You’ll see that no matter what you use as your input, you get 32 characters of crap:

$ echo -n “hello world” | md5
$ 5eb63bbbe01eeed093cb22bb8f5acdc3

$ echo -n “helloooooooooooo world!” | md5
$ 9fa764163c098ec3374ef0c3f7419524

So again, that’s the secret. The magic is the crap. Those 32 characters are so crappy and so random, no amount of computing power can reverse-engineer it back into your password. And the other crucial piece of the pie: Your password is the only piece of input that will consistently produce that exact same piece of crap.

So how does this relate to passwords and security? Reading this blurb on the Wikipedia page made it all click for me:

Alice poses a tough math problem to Bob and claims she has solved it. Bob would like to try it himself, but would yet like to be sure that Alice is not bluffing. Therefore, Alice writes down her solution, computes its hash and tells Bob the hash value (whilst keeping the solution secret). Then, when Bob comes up with the solution himself a few days later, Alice can prove that she had the solution earlier by revealing it and having Bob hash it and check that it matches the hash value given to him before.

So that’s basically the gist of it. Pretty cool, and that ain’t no shit.

March 12, 2013

Condé Nast Entertainment’s Video Play

Some pretty exciting news from Condé Nast today. The new Entertainment group launched a platform for video delivery which they hope will showcase (and monetize) branded video content.

Today’s launch started with Glamour and GQ. Check out the sites – they’re really well executed with the latest in responsive design. My only quibble is that when you hover over a video (with the intention of hitting play/pause), the whole video and all its navigation buttons slide to the left and out from under your mouse. But that’s a small UX gripe with an overall brilliant execution.

They even let you embed the videos. Let’s give this Bill Murray one a shot.

Overall this is the “Netflix” approach of creating and distributing your own content and bypassing traditional channels. Will it work out and create a new revenue stream? Well if I knew for sure, I’d be with the executives on the 11th floor. So until then, I’ll just stick to making websites.

January 10, 2013

Web Developer Checklist

The Web Developer Checklist is a brilliant and fun way to prep a website for launch. Surprised I’ve never heard of it before.

January 4, 2013

A Brief History of This Website

I thought it would be fun to take a look at this site as it’s developed over the years. Thanks to, I was able to find some screenshots.

Let’s start backwards from today. Here’s how the site looks now:

The version before this endured since 2008:

Back in 2007 I was going for a very “2007” look. Note the classic pixel stripe patterns and gradients. Very Web 2.0:

2006 marked the start of the gradients and reflections. I also took some flowery/asterisk patterns from the previous design to add some texture to the top of the site:

Back in 2004 I was going for kind of a grungy look:

In late 2001 the site looked like a shitshow. Puke yellow and musty orange? Sure, why not!

Early 2001: Using images for corners before it was cool, and then not cool.

In early 2000 this site lived at, which is now my portfolio. Believe it or now, this was a cutting-edge table-based layout.

And from early 2000, here’s the earliest design I have on record. I still remember how hard it was to figure out those colored borders.

December 19, 2012

Downloading Dropbox – The FTP Killer?

We all know about the invaluable Dropbox, but I recently found out that you could download and run your own instance of Dropbox on any computer.

I haven’t tried it out yet, but in essence I could install it on a web server and sync it with a local folder on my computer, eliminating the need for me to use FTP while making websites.

It doesn’t have as much “geek cred” as running a shell script, deploying to a GIT repository and getting to say things like “deploy it to the production server!” But we can’t all be the geeks we want to be, sometimes we’re just the geeks we are.

December 14, 2012

The Modern Seinfeld Generator

If you haven’t already, you should check out the Seinfeld Today twitter feed. It’s amazingly well done. So as homage, I whipped out my PHPness and created a little web app that randomly generates a plot every time you refresh the page. Check it out and enjoy!

October 30, 2012

Embedding a Tweet from an iPad

So it turns out that trying to embed a tweet from an iPad is a serious pain in the ass. Twitter hides its desktop version from iOS, so I needed to download a user agent switcher to fool the site into thinking I’m on a desktop.

Sidenote, I’m using an app called KissMyAgent. It does the job just fine, but its lack of tabs and quirky UI make me really appreciate how much thought goes into making a decent mobile web browser; it’s a lot more than just a web view.

So anyway, here’s a tweet embedded from an iPad. It’s a response from Newark Mayor Cory Booker responding to a person’s request for help about a fallen tree during hurricane Sandy. The fuck?

October 19, 2012

Simple age calculator

If you’ve ever wondered how old you’ll be in the future, I have just the tool for you. It’s deceptively simple, but endlessly fascinating. Check it out at