erik hinzpeter

software engineer
sf, ca

February 1, 2017

What I'm Working On:

A browser extension which adds a "try google" button at the top of duck duck go search result pages.

Out of principle, I default to DDG these days, but I'll often get the feeling that the results for a given search term aren't especially useful, and that there's a good chance Google might do better. Copying the search term, pasting it in the browser's search box, and clicking on Google isn't that hard, but I probably do it a dozen times a day.

Why not just give up and use Google all the time? Well, DDG provides decent enough results most of the time, and while I can't really quantify it I feel the quality of their results has been going up over the years. Overall it's not that I don't trust Google, but all things equal I'd rather have my search history separate from whatever data they already have about me anyway.

February 1, 2017

More or less on a whim, and since the window of opportunity these days is usually short, I decided to jailbreak my phone (an iPhone 6s plus). I've been doing this since forever, before third-party apps were introduced officially on the original iPhone. Somebody's hacked-together versions of lights out and that tilting maze game seemed miraculous on the device. Jailbreaking meant being able to use the device like the real computer it was obviously capable of being.

That's still primarily why I do it, though for a number of reasons it's become a lot less essential than it was in 2007. [list a few things like interactive popup notifications, file sharing, text selection, 3rd party keyboards, control center, flux, etc]

[thoughts about if apple has been successful in redefining a large set of human / computer interactions with the ever-evolving iOS interface, as evidenced by decreasing interest in jailbreaking in order to get purposely left-out classic interfaces like filesystem access, especially for sharing data between apps. is apple's "open in" system actually, surprisingly, good enough to get everything done?]

(maybe talk about other motivations like unlocking phones to use on other carriers, etc)

(still in the process of writing this, obviously)

January 25, 2017

inspectorplus, available in the BigBoss repository on Cydia, could be useful for some developers. It removes a system-level restriction regarding which WebViews should be inspect-able when the iOS device is hooked up to a computer running Safari. Normally only pages viewed on the device in Mobile Safari or webviews that have been explicitly tagged as debuggable in an app's native code will show up under the device in the developer tools, but after installing the tweak (which is free), all webviews running in any app will show up and can be inspected, debugged, etc., like a standard web page.

This would have been very useful for me while working on SmartSign at Apple. My team was in charge of implementing an app as a single-page embedded webview, but because we couldn't add certain debugging flags into the native app code that was wrapping the webview, we didn't have access to potentially useful debugging information like this (at least without using other sorts of hacks.. which I should try to remember to write up sometime)

(.deb file)

January 7, 2017

Still getting things set up again after losing all of the site's previous content (namely a handful of blog posts and a portfolio of my work over the years). I've learned a lesson about trusting someone else's automated backup system.

November 12, 2016

If such a network as I envisage nebulously could be brought into operation, we would have at least four large computers, perhaps six or eight small computers, and a great assortment of disc files and magnetic tape units–not to mention the remote consoles and teletype stations–all churning away.
--J.C.R. Licklider, 1963