I have published a new version of Serenity Now for Chrome. This version is a bit of an experiment with some major UI changes.
Instead of the plain background there is now a new nature image every time you run the extension. The downside to this is that we don’t have the fading colour to show breath time. I’m working on a way of integrating that as it’s quite useful.
The meditation now ends with a daily quote which is quite nice. To give the user time to read the quote the extension no-longer closes by itself. If this was something you liked about the extension, don’t worry – you can adjust it in settings.
You can download Serenity Now here.
Yesterday’s Wikileaks dump shouldn’t be all that surprising. Intelligence gathering organisations hack electronic devices to gather intelligence — it’s their job. There are several aspects that worry me though.
First of all, a lot of their ability seems to rely on ‘zero day’ vulnerabilities. These are security vulnerabilities that the software developer does not know about. When deciding whether to exploit these vulnerabilities or report them to be fixed, the security agencies need to balance the potential benefit of exploiting the vulnerability with the risk to the public of not reporting it. The information in this leak suggests they aren’t equipped to do that balancing act. A zero day vulnerability allowing you to bypass encryption in some of the most popular messaging apps is dangerous. It should be reported and fixed immediately, not exploited.
I am also worried about the potential end game. The leaks mention that the Samsung F8000 TV set has successfully been turned into a covert listening device. The TV appears switched off yet the microphone is still live. Where does this end? In conjunction with the Snowden leaks and dragnet surveillance it seems like it’s only a matter of time until every microphone is enabled and recording without our knowledge. I’ve always been concerned about Amazon’s Echo from a privacy perspective. Now, frankly, I’m terrified. There are millions of listening devices in people’s homes, potentially already exploited.
The rise of the ‘internet of things’ is filling homes with devices which contain microphones, cameras, and provide lots of utility. This final point is the problem. Consumers benefit from devices which can be turned into surveillance equipment. They also generally believe “if you’ve got nothing to hide…” is valid reasoning. These leaks won’t worry them much and certainly not enough to give up the benefit of their smart devices.
Technical solutions to these problems will only get us so far. At the end of the day a lot of this was done exploiting zero days and code will always contain bugs. We can encrypt our communications and there still might be unknown vulnerabilities the intelligence agencies can exploit. The problem needs tackled from a legal and policy perspective as it’s only there where there can be real change. We need to educate so that “if you’ve got nothing to hide…” no longer seems like a valid position. And we need to ensure organisations like the EFF and Privacy International have the support necessary to continue to fight intrusions into our private lives.
I have released version 0.3 of Serenity Now for Chrome. In this version, once again, the colour palette has changed. Fonts are a little clearer too.
I’ve also taken another stab at the settings panel. The design has improved and there is a new ‘restart’ button. Before, when you changed the breath length setting, the meditation would auto-reset. This wasn’t ideal if you weren’t expecting it. Now you restart manually.
Finally there is a nice ‘beach at sunset’ image when the session completes. For now it’s included with the extension but I plan to do something dynamic here before v1.0.
There are also several important bug fixes (double breaths and incorrect animations).
You can download Serenity Now for Chrome here.
KMXMLParser is a simple helper class I created to allow iOS devs to parse an XML feed in a couple of lines of code. It’s not exhaustive but it covers basic use cases and has saved me a lot of time.
It has been quite a while since I last looked at it and it was very out of date. I’ve now updated each sample projects to support the latest iOS screen sizes. I’ve also updated the class to support Swift 3. For now it’s a quick and dirty update but it seems to be working.
You can find KMXMLParser here.
I have just updated my meditation Chrome extension to version 0.2. It should be available now. There are a few changes in this version. The first is that I have renamed it to ‘Serenity Now’. In case you aren’t familiar:
This was actually my original naming plan. I’d completely forgot until I came across it in my notes today.
Besides this there are of course changes in the extension. There is now a settings panel which allows you to customise the breath length between 1 and 10 seconds.
The colour scheme is also now a little more pleasing.
Download here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/serenity-now/bggbhijehclonbgnapkgmnjceggacodk