Exporting Palm Strip Data

2009-01-05 19:00:00 -0500

I’ve responded to so many of these requests by email that it’s probably time to put up a reference for folks who’re looking for some answers.

Palm Strip has been a pretty popular and highly secure password manager for the Palm OS that Stephen built a while ago and released as open source. You can read more background on it over here. Due to the decline in the Palm platform over the last few years, we’re no longer supporting the program. Just as many of our users are migrating to other platforms, so are we. We decided to go with the iPhone platform first, and we hope to have the first version ready by the end of this month. It sports a fully encrypted database layer and the interface is coming along nicely.

As part of our effort to help our users migrate to the new platform, and to assist those users who can’t wait or are choosing to migrate to other platforms, we’re working on an exporter that will rip through the encrypted Palm Strip database (*.pdb) files and generate a file that you could use to migrate to another system. Needless to say, this isn’t ready yet, but it will be available by the time we’ve got our initial version out in the iTunes App Store.

Current options for exporting your data from the old Palm databases are fairly limited. Dave Dribin put together an excellent program called perl-strip a while back and a supporting Perl module. This provides you with an avenue if you’re technically inclined.

It is possible to run Strip on your desktop computer using an emulator:

  1. Get the emulator software by signing up for the developer program at Access Inc
  2. Download the PalmOS ROMs from your own device to the emulator (the safest approach). Alternatively you could try to grab ROMs at this link. Caveat emptor – we can’t vouch for their authenticity.
  3. Use the emulator to open up your backed up copies of the Strip databases

For those asking about whether the next version of Strip will be open source – yes and no. We are believers in open-source technology and the benefits it provides to security software in particular, so our data encryption layer is being made available as open source software for peer review. The rest of the source of the iPhone application will be private, and we will charge a modest fee for the software.

Please don’t hesitate to leave comments or to write us at support AT zetetic.net with any questions!

Hey! You! Get Offa My Cloud

2009-01-04 19:00:00 -0500

There was a really quite interesting discussion over on Hacker News in response to an Ask HN query, “AWS or dedicated server?” over the last 24 hours. We haven’t made the jump to Amazon’s platform here at Zetetic, but I’d be lying if I said we haven’t been mulling it over. New year, time to revisit some of these questions.

Happy new year, by the way!

Totally off topic: I had intended to leave comments open on our recent post Ranting Considered Useful, and was wondering the other day why we saw none despite the surprising amount of traffic. This would be a PEBCAK error. The moment’s passed, but I have opened up the comments there for anybody who wants to respond.

Ranting Considered Useful

2008-12-29 19:00:00 -0500

In contrast there are masters in the martial arts who learned their art as a means of survival and became masters in a realistic and hostile environment. We don’t have anyone like this in the programming profession, or at least I haven’t met any. I believe that my generation of developers will produce the kind of masters forged in the real professional world. ~ Zed Shaw

I think that’s probably a prescient assessment of things in the hacker profession right now, and it takes a certain amount of audacity to make such a declaration. Zed Shaw is one of those people who seems to really have his finger on the pulse of things in the tech world, and he doesn’t mince words. I tend to think that his rather contrarian views in the various Ruby circles are mostly a result of an unwillingness to accept gospel over logic, and while some folks see this sort of thing as peeing in the mailbox, it really never hurts to have someone around who’s willing to stand up and call bull when he sees it.

Stephen and I were talking yesterday morning about Zed Shaw’s recent blog post wherein he declared that he is retiring from the ranting-on-ruby scene, and I thought maybe we should put something up here taking notice, because Zed has been an important voice in the Ruby-centric tech community. You may not like his over-the-top style, he may have you given you the finger at some point, but you may have deserved it, too. We generally keep our distance from the spats that seem to break out in the Ruby community (it’s a sport not unlike watching train wrecks, and we’re pretty busy people), and often wonder where some of these folks find the time. So I’m guessing that kind of thing wears on you as a real critic in the thick of it, and I’m not surprised if Zed is getting bored. However, Stephen suggested something this morning that bears repeating:

“Indirectly [Zed’s rants] served as jump off points for a lot of other people to say, you’re right this is screwed up, gave people a way to question the core team, who, by most measures are held up as infallible technology gods. By taking such an unpopular and extreme view he opened a lot of middle ground for people to take up well-thought-out positions that were contrary to the core of the Rails community elite. He kind of made it ok. That is a function that will be missing now, especially with the approaching Rails / Merb love fest.”

I tend to think that more criticism is always better than less, and that’s sort of the point of open-source development. So, if Zed is retiring from the rant stage, I’m hoping that maybe we can look forward to seeing more of his essays, which are really informative, well-written, and considered writings in that style of his:

After reading that first one I found myself engrossed in a historian’s letters on the subject of the popularly accepted but likely fictional accounts of Myamoto Musashi. The second had me learning this cool statistics programming language and graphing toolkit I’d never heard of called ‘R’.

I think we can expect to see more of this, but I hope others have gotten as much out of Zed’s ranting as we have, it’s been a fun read.

Deep Thought

2008-12-29 19:00:00 -0500

Isn’t it time for Sun to buy Palm and just get it over with already?

Data Pr0n

2008-12-22 19:00:00 -0500

The newest version of the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 2006-2009 is now available online from the US Census Bureau over here. Invaluable data reference. Murders! Price indexes! Agricultural output! Metropolitan Statistical Areas! Prison counts! Per capita income! Banking and financial stuff! The list goes on.

I was that kid who read history textbooks for fun, so I hope you’ll excuse the geeking out.