Friday, January 20, 2012

iCal alarms for recurring subscribed events

iCal won't alarm on events in subscribed to calendars, such as Facebook.  I guess the originator of the event has to set whether to alarm or not.  So I spent a little time leaning AppleScript, and here's a script that does it.
on run the_calendars
        length of calendars
    on error
        set the_calendars to {"Facebook"}
    end try
    set today to (current date)
    set this_day to day of today
    set this_month to month of today
    set to_display to ""
    tell application "Calendar"
        repeat with the_calendar in the_calendars
            log the_calendar
            tell calendar the_calendar
                repeat with the_event in every event
                    set the_date to start date of the_event
                    set the_day to day of the_date
                    set the_month to month of the_date
                    if (the_month = this_month and the_day = this_day) then
                        set to_display to (to_display & summary of the_event as string) & return
                    end if
                end repeat
            end tell
        end repeat
    end tell
    if (length of to_display > 0) then
        tell application "Finder"
            with timeout of 86400 seconds
                display dialog to_display
            end timeout
        end tell
    end if
end run

Open up you AppleScript Editor, copy and paste, and save somewhere. Now, you'll need to have it run every day. So I learned a little about launchctl. Save the following script to ~/Library/LaunchAgents. I called mine 'edu.ucar.icalsubscriptions.plist'. You'll need to modify the Program path to where you saved your script, and possibly the time it runs if you don't like 0900. You might also need to change the name of the calendar to match the name of the calendar in iCal -- mine is called Facebook -- and you can have a list of them if you want.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
     "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN"
<plist version="1.0">





Wednesday, January 18, 2012


People ask me about security, and much of it is based on having good passwords.  In general, one-time passwords are best.  These change each time one logs in; yubikeys and RSA ids are examples.  Two factor -- typically one reusable and one ephemeral (e.g.: SMS text your cell phone) -- are good too.  When we're stuck with reusable (using the same one again and again), then picking good ones is critical.  Good ones are both long and difficult to guess.  Random is best, as we humans aren't as random as we first appear.  As long and random passwords aren't memorable, we need password keepers.  Firefox will remember passwords for you; I recommend you allow it to do this, but: set a master password!  I also recommend using keepass from for whichever platform you have.

So, let's do a little math.  26 lower case letters, 26 upper case, 10 digits, and 10 symbols equals 72 characters.  Let's say you have 8 character random passwords using each of the character classes and no repeated characters.  So, 72*71*70*69*68*67*66*65 -= 482,590,739,030,400 possible passwords.  Not bad.  Now let's go to 20.  72*71*70*69*68*67*66*65*64*63*62*61*60*59*58*57*56*55*54*53 = 759,184,772,617,383,139,127,116,820,643,840,000 possible passwords.  Good enough for the time being.

Below is a password generator written in JavaScript. This assures the password is generated on you machine, in your browser. Choose how long you want your password to be, and what type of characters it needs to contain. Click "Generate!" and then you can cut and paste it into a password field. I recommend against sites that generate passwords on their server -- they have your address and a password of yours. And remember: you don't have to remember it, have your computer do that for you.

Number of characters
Include lowercase
Include uppercase
Include numbers
Include symbols