Quotes

I was referred to a list of notable quotes: http://worrydream.com/quotes/.

I particularly liked this one:

What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one’s words are likely to make on another person. — George Orwell

Proof of system

There’s a problem with some software user-interfaces, such as graphical shells, text-based shells, web browsers, etc. where the software needs to prompt the user for a secret (e.g. a PIN or master password) but the user can’t be sure that it’s a bona fide request from the software system itself, or some application, web page, or add-in that is pretending to be the system.

Seems to me like the solution to this problem is to have the system software do something that an application/web-page/add-in cannot do, and this leads me to think there should be a small area of a screen in a graphical user interface (textual UI is left as an exercise for the reader) which only the system software can manipulate.

If only the system can manipulate this small part of the screen then it’s a safe place to provide secrets to the system. Also, colour code be used by this reserved part of the screen to indicate when the input focus was active or not. So red on blur and green on focus.

In a web application the reserved part of the screen could be a drop down from the top of the screen over the address bar and toolbars, for an operating system it could be where the ‘Start’ menu button is. It will continue to display even when your app is in full screen mode, except perhaps if you temporarily turn it off during a presentation or game (although there may be some risk attached to allowing that temporary disablement).