QR Code contains TinyURL of this article.The (Mostly) Green Dot

There’s a new icon in my macOS menu bar. It is a non-intrusive icon, barely noticeable really. But oh so important to me.

It takes the form of a (mostly) green dot. Every now and then — usually in response to something I’ve done or somewhere I am — it changes from green to amber coloured. That’s no real cause for concern, but it usually warrants closer inspection.

The (Mostly) Green Dot in my macOS menu bar

On rare occasions, that (mostly) green dot changes its colour to red. When that happens, its usually a prelude to a frantic bout of clicking and typing as I work to restore equilibrium to my digital universe and transition that little dot back to its happy green state.

That (mostly) green dot lives in my menu bar courtesy of the BitBar app and a small shell script I have written (available as a Gist). The script’s purpose is simple: to audit my network security services and visually indicate their status with a simple traffic light system.

  • Green: all security systems are up;
  • Amber: one or more non-critical security systems are down;
  • Red: one or more critical security systems are down.

For my purposes, the critical systems are: VPN, firewall, stealth mode and the reverse SSH tunnel.

The non-critical (but I still want to be aware of their status) systems are: DNSCrypt, ad blocking and the Bluetooth radio (which, more often than not, I want powered down).1

Now, with BitBar and my shell script, I have an at-a-glance indication of all these systems. But, there’s more, when I need more detail (that is, to see the status of each of the components the script checks) a click on that little dot produces the following summary drop-down:

The (Mostly) Green Dot, network service detail PDM

I have to say, BitBar is rather cool. I’ve wanted something like this for some time. BitBar made it easy to put together. Furthermore, there is a reasonable selection of user-contributed plugins on the BitBar website too.

What will you put in your menu bar?

  1. Because, like other forms of radio communication, it is susceptible to eavesdropping and tampering. See NIST’s Guide to Bluetooth Security (1.8MB PDF). ↩︎