Stuart Breckenridge

The End of Microsoft Paint

Zoe Klienman:

Microsoft’s graphics program Paint has been included in a list of Windows 10 features that will be either removed or no longer developed.

Paint has been part of the Windows operating system since its release in 1985 and is known for its simplicity and basic artistic results.

I was never a frequent user of Paint other than for cropping1 or resizing screenshots. However, what has stood out over the last few years is the artwork from Jim’ll Paint It. It continually cropped up on my Facebook feed and, in my opinion, gave Paint a hilarious new lease of life (for a short while).2

Update (2017-07-24): Paint will not be retired. It’ll just be moved to the Windows Store.

  1. Before the Snipping Tool arrived. ↩︎

  2. Check out: Roger Moore Bond Villain Reunion and Kebabba the Hutt ↩︎


Subscription Pricing

Subscription pricing is a contentious issue when it comes to software. Two great articles caught my attention over the last few days.

Michael Tsai:

It’s certainly true that people are wary of subscriptions. But I wonder how much of the recent backlash is due to the subscription model itself and how much is due to the fact that, in practice, transitions to subscriptions have effectively been large price increases.

Nick Heer:

While Tsai points out that subscriptions have increased the price of software for their typical lifespan, let’s not forget that some people are comfortable using an older version of software for longer.

I agree with both of these points of view. However, I also believe that people are wary of subscriptions because they don’t know what will happen at the end of their subscription period. Based on my subscriptions, if I stop paying at the end of the subscription period or otherwise cancel:

  • Creative Cloud: I’d lose access to Photoshop and Lightroom, making the apps useless
  • Office 365: I’d lose access to the Office Suite, making the apps useless
  • TextExpander: Snippets would stop expanding, making the app useless
  • 1Password: My account would be frozen but existing items would be usable
  • WebStorm: I’d lose access to future updates, but I’d have a perpetual license for the latest version of the software as at the end of my subscription

Of all those, I think WebStorm provides a reasonable middle ground in a subscription model: when you cancel you’ll have a perpetual license to use the latest version of the software as at the end of your subscription. It’s the most equitable solution for consumer and developer, and, to Nick’s point, lets people use the software version that they are happy with, while not paying for future releases that mean nothing to them.


App Store Receipt Validation with Node and Express

I just released my first Node package: itunes-validation. The package provides functionality to validate app receipts with the App Store, in either sandbox or production scenarios. Here’s an example of how to use the package:

$ git clone https://github.com/stuartbreckenridge/itunes-validation.git
$ cd itunes-validation
$ npm install
$ npm start

Once the app is running, two endpoints are available with the following query parameters:

  • GET /0.1/sandbox (for sandbox receipt validation)
  • GET /0.1/production (for production receipt validation)
Parameter Required Description
receipt Yes Base 64 encoded receipt string.
secret No Only used for receipts that contain auto-renewable subscriptions. Your app’s shared secret (a hexadecimal string).
exclude No Only used for iOS7 style app receipts that contain auto-renewable or non-renewing subscriptions. If value is true, response includes only the latest renewal transaction for any subscriptions.

If you are testing with the sandbox, then the below sample code should provide some pointers.1

// Struct which represents receipt data returned by Apple.
struct Receipt: Decodable {
    var receipt: [String:String]
    var status: Int
}

// Function to validate receipt
func obfuscatedValidationMethod() {
    let receiptData = NSData(contentsOf: Bundle.main.appStoreReceiptURL!) // get receipt data
    let base64Receipt = receiptData?.base64EncodedString(options: .endLineWithLineFeed) // Convert to base 64

    var valUrl = URLComponents(string: "http://localhost:8443/0.1/sandbox") // create URL
    let queryItems = [URLQueryItem(name: "receipt", value: base64Receipt)] // create query
    valUrl?.queryItems = queryItems // add query items to URL
    let request = URLRequest(url: valUrl!.url!) // create URL request with URL
    
    let session = URLSession.shared // create URLSession
    /* Create task */
    let task = session.dataTask(with: request) { (data, response, error) in
        guard let responseData = data else {
            return 
        }
        let decoder = JSONDecoder()
        do {
            let decodedReceipt = try decoder.decode(Receipt.self, from: responseData)
            if decodedReceipt.status == 1 {
                // Do something with invalid receipt.
            }
        } catch {
            // Handle error.
        }
    }

    task.resume()
}

Links:

  1. Swift 4 code. For brevity, I also assume there is receipt data(!). ↩︎


1Password for iOS Now Auto-Copies One-Time Passwords

1Password is an app I cannot live without. It’s the first app I install on a new iOS or macOS device. However, a long bugbear has always been the way the app handles one-time passwords:

  • you’d be on a login page;
  • you’d open 1Password to get the username and password;
  • the username and password would be inserted;
  • then a one-time password page would be presented;
  • you’d go back into 1Password to copy the one-time password; and,
  • then you’d paste the one-time password

It was a laborious process, but, thankfully, that’s no longer the case. In v6.8, released yesterday, a new feature was added:

One-time passwords now copy themselves to the clipboard automatically whenever you fill an item that has a one-time password.

It’s such a welcome feature. 👍🏻


Apple Previews New Emoji

In celebration of World Emoji Day Apple has posted a nice preview of emoji coming later this year with iOS 11.

My personal favourite is the Exploding Head emoji.