Protecting Your Privacy with Metadata Removal

February 14th, 2020

These days people are increasingly aware of the impact that publishing information on the web has on our privacy as individuals. Each of us has our own personal comfort level with respect to the amount of information we share. In particular, as bloggers we choose to share or withhold details including our real names, gender, geographic location, political affiliation, family members, and perhaps most significantly, photographs of ourselves, our family members, and our surroundings.

If you choose to publish photos in your blog posts, it’s important to understand that image metadata may reveal more to your blog’s readers than you necessarily intended. For example, many bloggers are comfortable sharing a photo of their child playing in the grass in their backyard. Or a delicious latte from the cafe they stop at on the way to work. It’s not as if it literally show the address where these photos were taken. Yet when GPS metadata is present on photos it effectively does exactly that.

For example, here’s a delicious tofu banh-mi sandwich I once enjoyed:

Picture of a banh mi sandwich

Nothing obviously identifies the location where this picture was taken, yet it’s loaded with extremely detailed geographic information. If you’re curious, go ahead and right-click the image above, save it to your Mac, and open it in Preview. If you then select Tools -> Show Inspector, you’ll see a ton of additional information about the image:

Screenshot of Info panel for image showing a map of Paris

That’s right! If I had published a blog post with that photo shortly after enjoying the sandwich, somebody might have been able to catch up with me in Paris and introduce themselves! It might have been a friendly encounter, or it might have been … kind of creepy.

So, what can you do about this? You could turn off GPS features of your camera and/or phone, but the truth is it’s really handy to be able to look up the location of photos from our personal libraries. Alternatively you could use software such as Flying Meat’s Retrobatch, which includes a preset template called “Social Scrub” specifically for removing metadata from images.

But if you’re a blogger, and you use MarsEdit to publish your posts, it couldn’t be easier. In fact, MarsEdit includes an option to strip location and other metadata from images automatically, whenever you upload an image to your blog:

Screenshot of MarsEdit image media defaults including an option to remove metadata

Better yet? This option is enabled by default. So download MarsEdit today, start publishing images to your blog, and rest assured that unless you choose to share your location, you never will.

FastScripts 2.8.1: Bug Fixes & Performance

January 23rd, 2020

FastScripts 2.8.1 is now available on the FastScripts site and on the Mac App Store.

This update consists of minor bug fixes and performance improvements:

  • The keyboard shortcut for opening the FastScripts menu can now be set to “None”
  • Fix a bug that allowed the Preferences window to be resized too small to show the contents
  • Fix an issue that could impede scripts being run in quick succession with keyboard shortcuts
  • Fix an issue where the color chooser panel could be lost in the background if switching out of FastScripts while the Prefrences window is active
  • FastScript’s AppleScript interface now supports a “location” property on script library references, so you can obtain the file path to any node in its script hierarchy

If you enjoy FastScripts, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks for your support.

MarsEdit 4.3.6: Phasing Out Blogger.com Support

January 17th, 2020

MarsEdit 4.3.6 is now available on the MarsEdit home page. It was submitted to the Mac App Store but has not yet been approved.

With this release, I’m officially dropping support for Blogger.com. Existing configurations may continue to work, but attempts to authorize new connections will fail. This is because Google no longer supports the authorization mechanism that MarsEdit uses. You can read more about the changes at Google that prompted this change in the Blogger page on Red Sweater Help.

For the adventurous existing customers who already have a Blogger configuration in MarsEdit, I’m offering advice for migrating existing authorizations from one Mac to another. This should be considered a stop-gap solution at best.

Dropping Blogger.com support is bittersweet for me. After I acquired MarsEdit in 2007, adding support for Blogger.com was one of the very first tasks I took on. I continue to host my own personal blog on the service. But over the years it has frankly been more of a headache to support than I wish it was, but I continued to put the work in because I both hoped Google would eventually put more effort into supporting the system, and because I knew I had a ton of passionate users who are still using the site. Unfortunately, I don’t think the prospects are good for the future of the service, and the hurdles Google has put up make it untenable for me to continue this effort.

On the bright side, this update also includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements. Here’s the complete list of changes in this update:

  • Adapt to changes in Blogger.com that require MarsEdit to drop support for the service
  • Images can now be pasted directly into the Featured Image field
  • Changes to default media size constraints no longer requires typing the “pt” units after the numeric value
  • Fix a bug that caused post editor’s sidebar width to change to match the preview template editor’s width
  • Fix a bug that could cause autoresizing text fields to not grow or shrink to match text
  • Fix a crash that could occur if a blog is deleted while it still has active network operations running

If you enjoy MarsEdit, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and of course, writing about the app on your own blog! Thanks for your support.

Black Ink 2.0.2: Bug Fixes and Accessibility Improvement

January 7th, 2020

Black Ink 2.0.2 is now available on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store.

This update is a follow-up release to Black Ink 2.0, including a number of fixes to bugs that have been reported since that release. Black Ink 2.0.1 was a Mac App Store-only release to address a problem with in-app purchases.

One notable improvement on the accessibility front, is this release includes a change to fix the behavior of “Speak Items Under Pointer,” a feature that announces items as you move the mouse cursor around. Previously this feature only announced across words, but it will now announce either across or down words, depending on the whether the current focus is on an across or down word.

Here’s the complete list of changes:

  • Accessibility
    • Improve “Speak items under the pointer” to speak the right clue for across or down depending on current focus
  • Bug Fixes
    • Fixed an issue that caused downloads of older WSJ puzzles to fail
    • Fixed a bug that caused the puzzle window to drift off screen when making it larger
    • Fixed an issue that prevented logging in to American Values Club accounts when passwords contain particular characters
    • Fixed a bug that caused the timer to not be visible/started by default
    • Improved error handling when a downloaded puzzle cannot be saved for whatever reason

If you enjoy Black Ink, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Questions or concerns? Get in touch at support@red-sweater.com. Thank you.