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Issue № 324

Tales From the (en)Crypt(ion). Protoype The Back End, And Do It Your Way With Sinatra.

Rapid Prototyping with Sinatra

by Al Shaw · 11 Comments

If you’re a web designer or developer, you're well acquainted with prototyping. From raw wireframing to creating interfaces in Photoshop, designers map out how sites will work before they create them. Over the past few years, the protoyping process has changed significantly. With browser makers generally agreeing on web standards and the rise of tools such as Firebug and WebKit’s web inspector, we can sometimes skip Photoshop and go straight to the browser. Plus, JavaScript frameworks like jQuery let us play with browser events with only a few lines of code. But what if we need to do even more? As websites increasingly become web apps, we now need to prototype backend functionality, too. Learn how Sinatra, a so-called “micro” web framework, helps you create real (albeit simple) web apps extremely fast, letting you prototype flows and behavior you may want to integrate into a final product.

Web Cryptography: Salted Hash and Other Tasty Dishes

by Lyle Mullican · 30 Comments

One of the most powerful security tools available to web developers is cryptography, essentially a process by which meaningful information is turned into random noise, unreadable except where specifically intended. A web developer working on an underpowered netbook in his basement now has access to cryptosystems that major governments could only have dreamed of a few decades ago. And ignorance of cryptography is not bliss. You may think your web app’s profile is too low to worry about hackers, but attacks are frequently automated, not targeted, and a compromise of the weakest system can often give access to better-protected systems when people re-use passwords across multiple sites. Learn the three broad categories of cryptosystems that commonly relate to web applications and begin strategizing how to make your site secure.

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Columnists

Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design

The Illusion of Free

The number of predictions that algorithms can make about us from even minimal data is shocking. Although we’re offered privacy settings that let us control who of our friends sees what, all our information and behavior tends to be fair game for behind-the-scenes tracking. We simply don’t know everything that’s being done with our data currently, and what companies might be able—and willing—to do with it in the future. Laura Kalbag believes it’s time to locate the exits.

From the Blog

On Our Radar: Self-Centered Edition

It's all about us this week at ALA. From steps to sleep to social activities, we're counting every kind of personal data you can think of. But what's all that data add up to? How could we look at it—and ourselves—differently? In this week's On Our Radar, we ask ourselves—and our self—the tough questions.