Heartbleed bug

April 19th, 2014

By now, you might have heard of this thing called the Heartbleed bug, which is making the rounds on most Internet news sites.

The truth is, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The vunerability was pretty bad, but in practice, for any of our users the risk was minimal.

First, the bad news: some of your data might have been exposed to anyone sniffing our traffic. The operative word here is might. Chances are very, very slim that any sniffing took place, plus this was not a breach in our database, they didn’t have access to any of the data we keep there (user name and email address, if you provided one) they would only been able to grab your password if they were sniffing online at the actual time you logged in. Think about it, with the trillions of web pages out there, the chances of someone actively sniffing Doghouse pages are what? A quadrillion to one?  An Octodecillion to one? Something crazy anyway.

As I say, extremely unlikely.

The good news:

  1. We have patched all our systems so the Heartbleed bug is no longer an issue.
  2. If you are worried about this bug, change your password in Doghouse. Here’s a link explaining how.

Which services were affected?

Only Doghouse, and only when you contribute any data from the Pedias or when you logged in to admin.bruji.com or doghouse.bruji.com (they’re the same page). If you only use Doghouse for searches and have never contributed any entries you have nothing to worry about.

What data do you store?

We only store your user name and your email address if you provided one so we can communicate with you if the need arises. We never sell or expose your data to anyone, ever, under any circumstances. You can view our privacy policy right here.

What about my password?

Your password is stored with high-grade encryption and looks like this:

e8afdd90d1dec343128b090e39e77eb08f859d4d78ce88262db6fb8f3d9a314ab7a486508567c21ded896bf3c32048fa6abd8987b5d57a1f46fcf6441a30d59a

That doesn’t mean that even if someone got a hold of it they could use it to login with your username because we also use an added security measure appropriate called a salt and there is no way to reverse this encryption to figure out what the password really is.

But, I repeat, nobody but us has access to this data not even through the Heartbleed bug.

OK, this sounds good, but I’m still worried, what should I do?

Just change your password if you use it elsewhere and are worried someone might have caught it as you were logging in and you’ll be fine.

New Web Design

April 2nd, 2014

Main Site

The web page finally got a make-over after two years of patiently waiting on our to do list and several months of work and careful planning to roll it out simultaneously across the main web site, the store, the blog and the forum. All of which run different software so we had to coordinate several different templates.

It took us this long because the main priority has always been our apps and Doghouse. Nora and I have seen our time consumed by the Pedias and Pocketpedia, so we let Alex, our Doghouse guru (the man responsible for the results you get when searching), tackle the job. He gave the web site time on weekends and when he needed a break of thinking about all the moving pieces that is Doghouse administration. Since finishing the migration to new servers and a Padrino API he has found himself with more time, so work quickly accelerated.

Forum Site

All of a sudden I load the web site one morning and everything is in place. It’s nice to see all these months of work spring up all of a sudden and even more exciting to be able to share this with all our users. Since it was a complete overhaul there will be a couple of months of tweaks and users have already started pointing Alex in the right direction. Like all software and trees the web page is changing and growing and there are always corners that need trimming; so do pester Alex if you find any broken links or missing functionality.

On the technical side, Nora and I are old school and tend to write each HTML tag in a text editor and then style it with some basic CSS. Alex on the other hand is new age and uses all the latest frameworks. Those of you who have signed up as moderators to Doghouse know all the animations and fancy designs he employs via Ruby on Rails and things called LESS and SCSS (he assures me that LESS is more). Nora and I were not quite ready to give up our regular HTML so we asked him to still use some traditional HTML with a light sprinkling of new frameworks for type and layout. Especially since we knew that the integrations with PHPBB (the forum) and WordPress (the blog) otherwise would be complicated. Not to mention eSellerate’s system (the store) that still uses ASP.

Bookpedia Site

We are quite impressed with the work Alex has done on the web site and want to thank him for all the hard work and extra hours he has put in to this. Glad to have a man of so many trades on the team, who was able to finally get this web site removed from the to do list. Hopefully the trend for flat will stay steady for a couple of years and we won’t need a redesign for a while.

Pocketpedia iOS 7

March 23rd, 2014

Bookpedia iPad iOS 7

Pocketpedia 3.2 with an iOS 7 interface is finally out. Took us longer than expected as we tried to keep backwards compatibility with previous iOS versions, but in the end it was too time consuming. The changes in iOS 7 are too many, so going forward all the new versions of Pocketpedia are iOS 7+. The old version will still be available through the App Store for those with older devices that can’t upgrade to the latest iOS.

The new version is looking great. On the iPad it was less work as we already had most of the interface matching iOS 7. The iPhone version got a serious makeover and no longer has a dedicated Doghouse search tab bar. The search is now integrated with the collection screen under the organize button (top right). This frees a lot more vertical space for the item and collection listing. Another area of notable improvement is the ability to sort by any field in Pocketpedia with a scroll picker. Selecting the same field twice will also allow to flip the sorting to descending. Not common with alphabetical sorting but handy for numbers and ratings.

As usual a number of smaller updates smarter addition of items to the selected collection without the need for user selection, localization corrections and speed improvements.

Star Wars DVDpedia iOS 7

Thank you for waiting and as always we would like to thank all the beta testers who took time to debug and improve Pocketpedia and helped us make this iOS 7 release so smooth.

Happy Birthday Bruji!

February 2nd, 2014

birthdayBruji

10 years ago today we released DVDpedia 1.0 into the wild. We never thought that this little program, which Conor initially wrote just to learn more about Cocoa and Xcode, would turn Bruji into our fulltime jobs and livelihood. But 5 people (unexpectedly) bought DVDpedia on that first day and we got a lot of feedback too so Conor kept working on it. After a couple of weeks he couldn’t keep up with the emails anymore so I jumped in for tech support.

Bookpedia followed just a few months later in May 2004 because we’re big readers and wanted a good program to catalogue our own books. Later that year CDpedia completed the trifecta. At that point we thought we were done with Pedia programs but we kept getting requests for Gamepedia and finally decided to go ahead with it in November 2005.

Of course when the iPhone debuted in 2007 we were very excited about writing our first iOS app and Pocketpedia nicely completed the Pedia family. Pocketpedia was among the first 523 apps that were in the App Store on launch day. Way back when it was possible to actually find something in the App Store.

As everyone knows though, a picture is worth a thousand words and even though some of these make us cringe, they’re too funny not to share. (All images found thanks to the way back machine and the internet archive.)

DVDpedia 1.0. Note particularly those wonderful toolbar icons. Hard to tell but there was a lot of drop-shadow involved.

dvdpedia 1.0

A slightly later version (1.x) with much more professional toolbar icons and a slightly less professional scrollbar for the summary in the side drawer.

DVDpedia version 1.5

With CDpedia we brought in a different kind of scrollbar for the drawer, not necessarily better…

cdpedia

Bookpedia’s Add/Edit window version 2.x

bookpedia

The release of Gamepedia coincided with version 2 of the other Pedia programs and brought the basic layout along that the Pedias still use today. Although it took us until version 4 to introduce the flexible Add/Edit window with the white background.

Gamepedia 1.x

If you’ve been using the Pedias for a while then you might also remember AmazonPedia, our widget, and our short-lived dabble in time management, MyTime. (AmazonPedia went the way of the dodo as most widgets did and MyTime was sold to another development company.) And if you’re a real geek then you’re probably using Bwana, our man page reader. That’s been around almost as long as Bookpedia actually but it’s such a simple program that we sometimes forget it’s there.

To celebrate we are doing 20% off everything on Bruji’s birthday February 3rd. As our loyal customer you might not need another version of our program, but do tell any friends you think might benefit from some organization in their lives.

We hope you enjoyed this little trip into the past for our birthday. Here’s to 10 more exciting years full of new versions, programs and challenges!

Samesunged!

January 23rd, 2014

samesunged

John Gruber linked to a Universal Studio commercial that is a copy of Apple’s Christmas commercial with a few changes: the protagonist is a girl instead of a boy, the location is Universal Studios and not a family home, the creation is a photo album and not a movie and they are using Samsung phones and not iPhones. Nothing exceptional nor unexpected. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the entire commercial was financed by Samsung.

However noteworthy was a comment with a new word that I was amazed is not in popular use. User ebernet simply said, “Samesunged!”. How is this word not part of the daily lexicon? It should have followed xeroxed and googled and be a common verb by now. Googling proves it to have been used only three times, the oldest attribution being user forcenine on Mac Rumors, who has only 16 posts but this could be his contribution to our shared dictionary.

I don’t think it needs to apply to the actual Samsung brand pruducts or Apple, anything can be samesunged:

Transmit's icon is often samesunged.

The guitar riff in Nirvana's Come As You Are is a samesung of Eighties by the Killing Jokes.

Now get out there and start using samesung. If we can get Colbert to make it the word of the day, I think we have a chance of putting it in the dictionary.

Version 5.2 and the New Doghouse

November 28th, 2013

doghouseSmallWe are very excited to announce the latest version, 5.2, of all the Pedias. Although this version includes quite a good number of fixes and enhancements the real new features are in the brand-new Doghouse. The original Doghouse was very popular and served us well for over a year. However with its impressive growth we needed to expand and not only modernize the core language but also take the opportunity to make it easier to add expansions in the future. Launching today Doghouse is faster, 100% redundant, has more relevant results, matches more UPCs and ISBNs, contains improved moderator tools and has a new web page.

Instead of two complete dedicated servers at Site5 and Hostgator we now moved to Heroku, a platform that lets us deploy any number of virtual servers within seconds to handle peak loads. We can now also deploy exclusive worker servers to do background maintenance without affecting the API response time.

We are now using Ruby instead of PHP for the API language. It was a language we started using to develop the online admin as it allowed for a modern interface and less development time with the use of Ruby gems. Early on we realized it would make a good fit for the API and that we could migrate the entire platform to Ruby and maintain a single language. A language more similar to Objective-C which we use everyday when working on The Pedias and Pocketpedia.

Flying Sphinx Heroku Puma

 

 

 

The database is now hosted by ClearDB, with redundant servers and guaranteed uptime as well as automatic backups. This was previously work that we had to execute and monitor ourselves: synchronizing Site5 and Hostgator and doing daily local backups. Now we have less code to maintain and more time to develop the features we really want to see in Doghouse. We also re-structured the database for efficiency and speed. The next step is to evaluate adopting PostgreSQL that integrates better with Heroku. ClearDB was not built for a dynamic system such as Heroku that can scale, the limits are too low to easily add to a Heroku Ruby application.

Images are now hosted at Google Storage and Rackspace. Rackspace’s content delivery network delivers incredible speeds when it comes to downloading the cover, the slowest part when downloading details for any item. We also have automatic generation of a mini size thumbnail for Pocketpedia that makes the results faster and more responsive.

We have been using Sphinx since the beginning, an amazing search engine  delivering accurate search results in single digit milliseconds. But like MySQL we were also managing Sphinx and keeping it upgraded and maintained. In the spirit of Heroku we moved to a dedicated server operated by Flying Sphinx. Built by Pat Allan, an Australian who also built the Ruby gem “Thinking Sphinx” for integrating with Sphinx. Pat has been incredibly helpful responding to issues and updating his code within days to fix bugs. Going way beyond run of the mill good support and even pushing code fixes into our own repository. We now update the index live, meaning contributions are available to all within a minute or two, instead of the nightly indexing that was done by the previous version.

SphinxRackspaceRuby Sidekiq

 

 

 

Moderating entries and viewing them online happens all under a single domain now: doghouse.bruji.com. Logged in users will get access to an edit button as well as special admin pages. Version 5.2 also makes it easier to sign up as a moderator, simply include an email in the “Doghouse -> Settings” window. This will allow you to fix any small errors you might run into with one of the Doghouse items. There is no commitment for becoming a moderator. We want to encourage all users to contribute and correct entries, as many or as few as they like.

In future posts, we will share details of a more technical nature when we have the time to write them up. They include: running Puma on Heroku to maintain a fast response time; Sidekiq and Redis to handle background jobs; using Heroku’s API to scale dynamically and automatically; integrating automatic error reporting; automated testing with Rspec and New Relic monitoring.

We would like to thank all our beta testers who made sure that the API was running smoothly in the new version before the launch of 5.2. Also all the moderators who fixed countless small issues in tens of thousands of books, movies, albums and games. But most all the users who contributed entries and helped us grow Doghouse with every submission.

Regardless of whether you’re a veteran user or just bought the programs, do test the new Doghouse and let us know if there are any rough edges that need smoothing. We’ll be rolling out more new Doghouse features slowly once we are satisfied with the transition so stay tuned for updates.

Edit and Manual Add in Pocketpedia 3.1

September 27th, 2013

We are proud to announce Pocketpedia 3.1, now with full editing capabilities. It’s taken some time to get this new feature working exactly the way we wanted it to but we are very happy with the results.

In addition to editing and manually add we’ve also added a new cover capture algorithm that lets you adjust the covers so they’re just right, even when the image is taken at an angle or from further away.

Slanted Picture

Final Result

Work is underway for an iOS 7 re-touch for a future version although luckily Pocketpedia is already a good fit for the new iOS look. Version 3.2 is already in early beta testing and will include some vital upgrades to our popular Doghouse. Please note that this will be the last version of Pocketpedia to support iOS 4.1.

iPad Editing

Be sure you’re up to date with the Pedias on your Mac as well: version 5.1.7 is required for synching with Pocketpedia 3.1.

As a celebration of this release we are offering a 25% discount on Pocketpedia for the week. A great opportunity to purchase Pocketpedia if you don’t own it yet or let your friends know about the program.
Although Pocketpedia is meant as a companion app for the Pedia programs on the Mac, with the new ‘add manual’ and ‘edit’ features it could be used as a stand-alone application for users who have gone iOS only in their computing lives.

A Bag of Random Menus

July 21st, 2013

From time to time we receive requests that are easy to implement but don’t really fit in with the programs because they seem very specific to one user’s needs.

But maybe we’re wrong to think that others wouldn’t enjoy these little fixes too. So I have started a new plugin that is a repository of several commands created for specific users to share them with all. You can install the plugin automatically by clicking here or download it and double-click to install. The installer is specific to DVDpedia, but the plugin will work in the other programs as well. Just download the file and change the ending from “.pediaextra_d” to “.pediaextra_b” (Bookpedia), “.pediaextra_c” (CDpedia) or “.pediaextra_g” (Gamepedia) and double-click the file to install.

The plugin is called Title Case after the command that initially started it all and the commands will appear under the menu Movie (Book, Album, Game) > Fixes / Links as well as in the contextual menu for an entry.

Title Case: Will replace the current title on the selection with the properly capitalized version based on the John Gruber algorithm. I used the Objective-C port kindly created by Marshall Elfstrand (I couldn’t resist a website with such a great name).

Languages and Subtitles Alphabetically: Places the languages and subtitles in DVDpedia in alphabetical order.

Fix Spaces: Turns dashes into spaces and removes double spaces from the title.

Duration to Hours: Changes duration from 123 to 2:03.

Rename Linked File to Title: Updates the name of the linked file to reflect the title. So a file called AAA-1023.mp4 linked to a DVDpedia entry Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith will become Star Wars: Episode III -Revenge of the Sith
.mp4

Show in Finder: Reveals the linked file in a Finder window.

Create Cover from File: Replaces the cover image with a screen grab 10 seconds into the linked film.

The source code is clean and if you’re looking to add a new command to the Pedias this might be the plugin to start from as it will facilitate a lot of the boiler code by simply copy pasting one of the existing menu commands.

It might also be useful to rebuild the plugin if you find yourself using a command frequently as this would allow you to add a keyboard shortcut to the command. For example to make command-shift-L the keyboard shortcut you would add:

[renameFile setKeyEquivalent:@"L"];
[renameFile setKeyEquivalentModifierMask:NSCommandKeyMask];

Currently the source code is available as a zip format, in the future it will be up on a version control system so that we can all update it. In the meantime do send any useful improvements for inclusion.

Update: New menu command under Links that create cover images from the linked files that QuickTime can understand. This new command make the plugin 10.7+ only as requires the AVFoundation.framework including in Lion.

The Google Books API

June 1st, 2013

Since the last update of Bookpedia, version 5.1.4, users have access to the vast database of Google books. Especially for our international users and those doing ISBN searches this is a great addition.

The new plug-in proved so popular that the program started hitting its API search limit recently, which Google sets to 1000 searches a day. We contacted them right away and asked for an extension of the limit and within a day got a positive reply with the extension granted x10. So now no Bookpedia users should see this in their Add window anymore when doing a Google Books search.

googleBooks

In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to re-download the program or wait for an update. The change is dependent on our signup with Google Books so it’s automatically handled by the program.

Sometimes You Need Extra Large

May 10th, 2013

As many of you know, the often updated beta versions of the Pedias are our work horses for the programs. That’s where bug fixes are implemented and new features are added for users to test and play with.

The latest feature added (currently only in the English beta version of DVDpedia, will come to all the Pedias and localizations with the next official update) is a new font size option for the source and list view: Extra Large.

extraLarge

We’ve had this request in the past from a couple of users and we did increase the size with the 5.0 release of the programs but that wasn’t quite enough, especially if you’re using the programs on a large screen 1080 TV with high resolution like DVDpedia user Thomas who sent this feature request to us most recently and finally kicked us into action on the problem.

The Full Screen Mode is great for use on larger screens since it automatically adapts to the number of available pixels but for browsing some users prefer the list view which unfortunately becomes too small to read when you’re sitting a few meters away from the screen. But with the Extra Large option, found in the Preferences/Style, that problem is taken care of. Thomas put up a blog post with screenshots to illustrate the change.

If you’d like to try it out for yourself, download the latest DVDpedia beta here and let us know what you think. Apple already provides great accessibility options for users but the Extra Large option might be a useful addition for users with visual impairments too.