29 May 2014

How to securely download TrueCrypt 7.1a

Now that TrueCrypt has unexpectedly closed down the project, I recommend that no new users start using it. However, if you already use TrueCrypt and are not ready to migrate to anything different yet, you should stick to version 7.1a, since there are reports suggesting that version 7.2 may be compromised. EDIT: Version 7.2 is a read-only version to let you migrate to other platforms. The reports on suspicious network activity are still not confirmed. In short, you want version 7.1a.

But how do you download version 7.1a, now that TrueCrypt closed their site? Who do you trust? The answer is math! Trust the digital certificate used to sign the installation set, not the site you download it from. The way to do this is listed below.

Step 1 - Find the trusted certificate

On a computer that has version 7.1a installed and that you are quite confident that has not been taken over by evil martians, right click the file "C:\Program Files\TrueCrypt\TrueCrypt.exe" (or whereever you installed it) and select Properties. Go to the tab Digital Signatures, click Details, View Certificate and then scroll to Thumbprint in the Details tab.
Take note of this thumbprint. For me it was "‎58 20 fd ce 18 fb 95 80 e1 a5 9d 2b 58 fc 2b da 3d 6d 08 f6", but don't trust me, do it yourself.

As an added step of security, you should go to the Certification Path tab, click the topmost certificate in the chain, click View Certificate and find the thumbprint for that as well. For me this was "b1 bc 96 8b d4 f4 9d 62 2a a8 9a 81 f2 15 01 52 a4 1d 82 9c".

Step 2 - Download TrueCrypt 7.1a

It doesn't matter where you find it. Sure, don't go to the darkest places of the web and get your computer infected with all kinds of malware, but my point is that you will check the validity of the file after you download it. I downloaded from here: http://filehippo.com/download_truecrypt/11601

Edit: You can also download from this BitTorrent Magnet link. Once again, I checked it to be valid, but you really have to validate yourself.

Edit: Grc.com has a good page explaining the trustwortyness of TrueCrypt 7.1a and offers download links.

Step 3 - Verify the signature

Now go to the file you downloaded, and repeat the process. 
Verify that the Thumbprint is exactly the same and that the Signing time is in Febryary 2012. Also, if you checked the certificate chain previously, verify the thumbprint for the root certificate as well.

If any of these checks fail, delete the file you downloaded. No ifs or buts, no trusting someone else saying that exactly this version is trustworthy. Only trust the file if it was signed around the time the original version was signed and with the exact same certificate. Do not trust certificate names or anything but the thumprint.

I still think you should take TrueCrypts advice and migrate away from the software, but you probably don't have to rush. Until then, use a trusted version of 7.1a.

24 February 2013

The Tower of Philadelphia

Today I would like to share a recipe I have blatantly copied from the restaurant Matahambre in Málaga, Spain. You should definitely check out this restaurant if you are close to any of the locations. The prices are right and the food is very good.

This recipe is based on their fresh cheese salad, and is basically nothing more than cream cheese (Philadelphia), marmalade and walnuts. I call it the Tower of Philadelphia.This dish makes an excellent starter on a table of six or more.



Ingredients:
  • A piece of cardboard of approximately 10*35 cm
  • A piece of parchment paper of approximately the same size
  • Adhesive tape
  • About 400 grams cream cheese (e.g 2 boxes of Philadelphia, 23% fat). Don't use the low fat versions as I am unsure if the texture would be adequate.
  • Marmalade, preferably two types of different color and taste. I used blueberry and apricot.
  • Walnuts
Before you start, cool down the cheese and the marmalade to make the tower stable while you mount it. If you can, use unopened jars of marmalade, since the texture will be stiffer.

Start by rolling the cardboard into a cylinder with a diameter of approximately 10 cm. Fix it securely with tape and put it on the plate you plan to serve the dish on. Roll up the parchment paper in a similar cylinder and put it inside the cardboard.

Begin filling the cylinder with cream cheese with a spoon, until you achieve an even layer of around 2,5 cm. Then, without stirring the marmalade much, add a layer of around one cm. If you stir the marmalade you risk that it will float out more and make the tower collapse. Now repeat the process with another layer of cheese and then marmalade. Finally cover the tower with a layer of pieces of walnuts.

Put the tower in the refrigerator until it is to be served. Carefully open the tape and dismount the cardboard and paper cylinders. Serve the tower with bread or crackers and let each guest spread cheese and marmalade on the bread.

Bonus game: For how long will the tower stand? Which guest will finally knock it over?

29 December 2011

Syncronize Lightroom presets across computers (PC and Mac) using SpiderOak

Disclaimer: This post uses an affiliate link to SpiderOak. If you sign up to a free account using any link in this post, both of us will receive one additional gigabyte of free space. If you prefer not to use this link, go directly to spideroak.com.

Disclaimer 2: I accept no responsibility for lost or cluttered presets if you follow this procedure. It worked well for me but I do not charge you for my advice and you do not yell at me if they don’t work for you. Please post a comment if you encounter problems and I will try to update the guide.

Why should I?

If you own a license to Adobe Lightroom you are entitled to use it on two computers, for example your main workstation and your laptop, as long as the software is only used on one computer at a time (http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/faq/). This can be useful to e.g. process photos while traveling. Also note that these computers may use different operating systems, Windows or OS X, as is my case. Other web sites will teach you how to conveniently move photos and meta data back and forth between computers.

However, if you have invested any time in making or acquiring Lightroom presets, you will probably miss some of those presets when not working on your main computer. This blog post explains an automated and free way to always have your presets synchronized between two or more computers. You set it up once and, hopefully, forget about it.

SpiderOak

So, my take on this is to use SpiderOak. This is a free program and service that allows you to automatically back up files on your computer to the cloud (SpiderOak’s servers) whenever they are edited. In this manner it is similar to e.g. Mozy or Carbonite. However, SpiderOak also offers a very flexible sync feature. After two folders from different computers have been backed up to the cloud, you can set up a sync relationship between them, meaning that the contents from each computer will be merged and any changes in the future will be mirrored. This is similar to yet much more feature rich (and less user friendly) than DropBox.

Also note that SpiderOak has very strong security compared to most cloud services, where your data will at no point be available to the company hosting it, not even if supenad etc. I say this being a computer engineer, having read carefully their documentation.

So, if you haven’t already, sign up to SpiderOak and set it up on your computers.

Where are my Lightroom presets stored?

Lightroom presets are individual files stored on disk. You can actually open a preset file in a text editor to get a pretty clear view of what it does. More on that in other corners on the web. To see where any preset is stored, right click it and select Show in Explorer (or Show in Finder on a Mac) and a file browser will open.

image

Go up two directories, and you will get to a directory looking like this:

  • Windows: C:\Users\Magnus\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom
  • OS X: /Users/magnus/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom

(where Magnus will of course be your own username)

I will now explain how to synchronize those folders between two computers and, in effect, synchronize all your Lightroom presets.

Back up presets

Now, open the SpiderOak application and go to the Back up tab. Click the check box next to the directory shown in the last paragraph and click Save.

image

Note that if on Windows, you probably have to click the button Hide/Show Hidden Folders/Files.

When you have finished setting up the backup, go to the Status tab and wait for the initial backup to finish. This should usually just take a couple of minutes as you won’t have much data in there.

Now, repeat the process on your other computer.

Set up synchronization

Now, if you have managed to back up the preset folders from both computers, you are ready to configure synchronization. Go to the Sync tab in SpiderOak and click New. Give the sync relationship a suitable name such as lightroom-presets and click Next. In this window you are now prompted to select two already backed up folders that you want to synchronize. Please browse to the two folders as shown in the screenshot.

image

Note that this example shows a cross-platform setup. Now click Next in the next two screens, accepting the default choices and finally click Start Sync. Go to the tab Status and wait till the sync finishes.

Shortly the sync should also run on the other computer and, given that you have setup SpiderOak to automatically launch on OS startup (available under Preferences), your presets will now automatically be synchronized.

Using synchronized presets

This is the easy part. You should now, after restarting Lightroom, see a complete set of presets on both computers. If you edit, add or delete presets on any of the two, the changes will be quickly replicated on the others.

Questions or comments?

If you have anything to add, please use the comment field below. Thank you for your attention.

25 July 2011

Puerto de Málaga #1


Puerto de Málaga #1, originally uploaded by Magnus A..

I love reflections. This shot of La Malagueta was taken from the new promenade in the Málaga port. Next time I will bring a tripod.