Web Excursions 2021-04-21

🌟 [Post of The Day] Apple Introduces AirTag | Hacker News

  • crazygringo: the "anti-stalking" feature will notify someone if an AirTag they don't own appears to be traveling with them. Does this render it useless for anti-theft, then?

    • zxcvgm: I too, found the anti-stalking features might hinder the use of AirTags for locating intentionally stolen items

      • If an AirTag is supposed to be "anonymous", then how can a user be informed that this tag has been seen with them over an extended period?

      • dividuum: Here’s a detailed protocol reverse engineering paper: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2103.02282.pdf

        • My guess would be that you, as the tag owner, locally store the master beacon key and can use it to derive key required to decrypt received beacon payloads for your own tags.

        • You can then filter out your own and approximate how many others (which you cannot link over time) you permanently see.

        • If it is more than one most of the time, you’re probably tagged without your consent.

Zenreader: A 4.7 inches E-Ink RSS Reader Powered by ESP32

  • I don't know what the folks at Amazon were thinking when they make the browser suck this much.

  • Recently I came across the M5Paper with a big screen and a wireless chipset. I thought that could scratch my itch. So I went ahead and hacked together a firmware to make it an E-ink RSS Reader that mostly works for now.

  • The ESP32 is a microcontroller that has very little RAM and isn't quite suited to deal with HTML and such.

  • So I had to use a Raspberry Pi as a rendering proxy and transforms the RSS and the text on the page so that the ESP32 can digest.

    • The idea is to transform XML RSS to JSON and transform any article URL to plaintext by a nodejs script via an HTTP API SaaS or whatever you call it.

    • Anyways, it works most of the time

IBM employee forced to stop kernel work under personal email address

[The diffstat reveals that a maintainer Lijun Pan removed his previous email address lijunp213@gmail.com from the maillist; then he posted an update with the new email address ljp@linux.ibm.com, stating that:]

I am making this change again since I received the following instruction.
"As an IBM employee, you are not allowed to use your gmail account to work in any way on VNIC. You are not allowed to use your personal email account as a "hobby". You are an IBM employee 100% of the time.
Please remove yourself completely from the maintainers file.
I grant you a 1 time exception on contributions to VNIC to make this change."


  • lolinder: Lijun Pan was listed in MAINTAINERS for IBM's VNIC driver with their IBM email up until 3 days ago, when they changed their email to their personal address and changed themselves from M ("Mail") to R ("Reviewer").

    • It looks to me like there's been a change in the organization--either in this employee's assignment or in their policies surrounding contributing to their VNIC driver--that this employee was trying to bypass by identifying their commits as now being part of a personal hobby.

The fine print: What Apple didn’t talk about

  • Apple Podcast Subscriptions

    • Ads and sponsorships can still be used in paid podcasts, and Apple doesn’t get a cut of those.

      • The deal with Apple isn’t exclusive

    • One of the rights granted to Apple by putting your podcast up is the ability for Apple to create and make available transcripts

      • (though it looks like creators can opt out).

  • AirTags

    • An AirTag that has been separated from its owner for a long period of time will make an audible noise when it’s moved, as part of a privacy feature to let you know there’s a tag present. You can reset an AirTag by tapping with an iPhone or “NFC-capable device”—strange wording that implies maybe other non-Apple devices?

    • The tags are powered by standard CR2032 batteries and are user-replacable, making it the first Apple device to let users easily replace the batteries in a long, long time.

  • iMac

    • Only the extended Magic Keyboard with the number pad has an inverted-T arrow key configuration.

Moving Blazingly Fast With The Core Vim Motions | Barbarian Meets Coding

[An interesting metaphor]

On Notes, Melodies And Chords

Vim is quite special. If you have used other editors you're probably accustomed to typing chords of keys. That is, typing a combination of keys at the same time. For instance, CTRL-C to copy and CTRL-V to paste. Although Vim is no stranger to chords, it relies even more on melodies of keys.

A melody is a series of notes played one after the other. If you think of keys as notes, then melodies of keys are keys that are pressed one after the other in rapid succession. So, when you read that you need to type f{character} to find a character in a line, it means that first you type f, and then you type the character {character}. These two keys are, thus, played as a melody.