Linked List: July 2005

Hewlett-Packard to Stop Reselling iPods 

I suppose this isn’t surprising — apparently the HP-co-branded iPods only accounted for about 5 percent of total iPod sales.

BigPAPI Plugins for Movable Type 

Kevin Shay’s BigPAPI is a new plug-in for Movable Type that allows other plug-ins to modify the MT user interface. Sounds neat.

SubEthaEdit 2.2 Now a Universal Binary 

The latest version of SubEthaEdit runs natively on Developer Transition Kit hardware.

I ♥ Unicode 

Funny t-shirt for text-encoding nerds. (Via Joel Spolsky.)

Pogue on Podcasting 

Whoa, cool — David Pogue linked to Daring Fireball in his podcasting story in the New York Times. (Too bad he doesn’t mention my name, referring only to “an editorial at daringfireball.net”, and for some reason it links to the home page, not the article that’s referred to.)

Madhouse Munchies: Why Packaging Matters 

Great story by Maggie Overfelt in Fortune about how big a difference good packaging and branding can make:

Several months and four prototypes later, Madhouse Munchies new logo and bags hit the market in July 2000. (Ehlen declined to say what he paid for the makeover, but similar projects typically range from $50,000 to $100,000.) In six months, with no new advertising, Madhouse was selling about 50 more bags of chips a month in every store. By year’s end its chips were in 1,000 new retail locations, and today, with the same packaging, the company is adding more than 100 new retailers a quarter.

Their annual revenue has grown from $500,000 to $10 million since then. For some inexplicable reason, Fortune’s web site doesn’t show the pictures of the package referenced in the article itself, but you can see them at R.Bird’s web site. (Via Jason Fried.)

The New iBooks Do Support Core Image 

Apple has added the ATI Radeon 9550 to the list of Core Image-capable video cards, which means contrary to initial conjecture, Core Image does work on the newly-updated iBooks. (It definitely doesn’t work on the new Mac Minis, though, and I still think that’s a bit of a shame.)

Greasemonkey 0.4.1 

New release fixes recently-discovered security flaws; Mark Pilgrim confirms that it closes all known security holes and yet still works with all of the scripts from his upcoming Greasemonkey Hacks book. (Both links via Andy Baio.)

Blinksale 

Firewheel Design’s online invoicing app is out of beta. Looks really useful, with a thoughtful UI.

Apple’s New Machines Still Can’t Hack Core Image 

Nat Irons points out that today’s new Mac Minis and iBooks still ship with video cards that aren’t good enough for Core Image. (Update: According to this forum thread at MacNN, the ATI Radeon 9550 graphics card in the new iBooks does handle Core Image, even though it isn’t on Core Image’s list of supported cards.)

Inside Adobe HQ 

PhotoshopNews has photos from their recent tour of Adobe headquarters in San Jose. (Via Andy Baio.)

Apple Updates Mac Mini and iBook Line-Ups 

Default memory is now, finally, up to 512 MB in all the Minis and iBooks. No processor changes for the Mini, but AirPort and Bluetooth are now standard on the $599 and $699 models. The iBooks pick up the sudden motion sensor and scrolling trackpads from the PowerBook line. Bogus rumor of the month goes to Think Secret for their hype of a “widescreen” iBook.

JSAN 

JavaScript Archive Network — like CPAN for JavaScript.

Bare Bones Academic Pricing 

BBEdit and Mailsmith are now available for $49 each for students and academic professionals. I bought my first license for BBEdit 2.5 with an academic discount back in 1993.

Yahoo Widgets 

Konfabulator 2.1, now free, is available for download. According to the Konfabulator.com home page, the name for the platform is going to shift to “Yahoo Widgets” (don’t get me started on the exclamation mark Yahoo wants people to use). See also: widgets.yahoo.com.

ChapterToolMe 

Free podcast GUI tool wrapper for Apple’s ChapterTool. At the very least it’s much better than using the command-line. (Via Quentin Carnicelli.)

emlx to mbox Converter 

Free tool to convert Apple Mail’s new emlx email message format into standard mbox format mailboxes. Useful for importing messages into other apps — or for importing into Apple Mail itself, since Mail can’t import its own emlx format. (Again, via the Spool).

Blech Trashes Vizacast 

Vizacast is a new $25 podcast creation tool; 2lmc Spool’s Blech takes a look and concludes it does very little more than just make shell calls to Apple’s ChapterTool.

How to Prevent .DS_Store File Creation Over Network Connections 

Hidden pref setting that suppresses the creation of .DS_Store files on mounted network servers. (Via 2lmc Spool.)

Nicecast 1.8 

Update to Rogue Amoeba’s audio broadcasting app makes it easier to stream audio from behind a router, along with a bunch of new features.

The History of Konfabulator in the Form of a Comic 

Very well-done.

Yahoo Buys Konfabulator, Giving Runtime Away for Free 

Let no one ever again bitch that Apple screwed the Konfabulator guys:

To help popularize the widgets, Yahoo plans will give away the Konfabulator software that empowers the applications. Konfabulator had been charging $20 for the software. Anyone who bought version 2.0 of the software since mid-May will be given refunds, said Konfabulator CEO Arlo Rose.

I’ve been saying the Konfabulator runtime should be free all along. This is suddenly an interesting competition once again — Konfabulator widgets suddenly have a much larger potential user base than Dashboard widgets. I think this is a great move for Yahoo (and, I hope, a nice payday for the Konfabulator guys).

(Via Matt Deatherage on the MacJournals-Talk list.)

ASCIIMoviePlayerSample 

Sample code from Apple that renders QuickTime movies as ASCII art in a Terminal window. Now updated to produce a universal binary.

Footnote Accessibility 

Bob Easton on the accessibility of my footnotes. Looks like most of the top screen readers have problems with the Unicode hooked-arrow glyph. I was hoping that the title attribute on those links would help in cases like this.

Localization Suite 2.0 

Michael Tsai likes The Blue Technologies Group’s Localization Suite, a free set of tools for Mac developers working on software with localized language support.

NetNewsWire 2.0.1 

Minor update to the world’s most popular desktop feed aggregator; now supports Atom 1.0 feeds.

DrunkenBlog Interview With Wil Shipley 

Lots of good stuff, including the dirt on why Shipley left The Omni Group (he was asked to leave by the other directors). Shipley has a terrific handle on the modern Mac software market — Delicious Monster’s meteoric success wasn’t fueled by luck.

Mike Matas: Moving to Apple 

UI designer and iconographer Mike Matas — he of Delicious Library fame — has accepted a job at Apple, so he’s leaving Delicious Monster. Sounds like a perfect match.

Simon Willison: Understanding the Greasemonkey Vulnerability  

Concise overview of the recently-discovered security problems with Greasemonkey, the clever page-hacking extension system for Firefox.

Format Footnotes With JavaScript and CSS 

After reading my “About the Footnotes” entry, Timothy Groves has put together a very clever CSS + JavaScript implementation. Well worth studying if you’re a markup nerd. (His technique wouldn’t quite work for me, because I occasionally use multi-paragraph footnotes, but it’s still inspiring.)

The Big Picture: Why Are Movie Theater Revenues Declining? 

Good case arguing that movie theaters are ruining the experience of going to the movies by bombarding their customers with commercials. Penny-wise, pound-foolish: they’re making short-term gains with the revenue from the advertisers, but they’re killing themselves long-term, because the degradation of the experience has led to a decline in ticket sales. (Via Tim O’Reilly.)

BART Widget 

Bret Victor made a terrific trip-planning widget for BART, the public transportation system in the San Francisco bay area. But for reasons I can’t comprehend, BART has nastygrammed Victor, asking him to cease using their transit map in the widget. He wasn’t making money from their map — all he was doing was making it easier for people to use their transit system. Victor is now looking for help producing a new map from scratch. (Via Nat Irons.)

Camino 0.9a2 

Lots of bug fixes and performance optimizations from the previous alpha. I know people who’ve already switched to Camino from Safari, and I’m considering it.

Scott Knaster: Hacking Mac OS X Tiger 

Scott Knaster’s new book on all sorts of Mac nerdery. Knaster’s been writing books for smart Mac nerds longer than just about anyone.

iTunes RSS Tags 

Web page documenting Apple’s RSS extensions for iTunes. The old PDF documentation is now a 404. (Via Dave Winer.)

Greasemonkey Security Hole 

Mark Pilgrim:

In other words, running a Greasemonkey script on a site can expose the contents of every file on your local hard drive to that site. Running a Greasemonkey script with “@include *” (which, BTW, is the default if no parameter is specified) can expose the contents of every file on your local hard drive to every site you visit. And, because GM_xmlhttpRequest can use POST as well as GET, an attacker can quietly send this information anywhere in the world.

His advice is to completely uninstall Greasemonkey.

(Via Anil Dash.)

Dave Winer on Throwing Out PCs 

Dave Winer says the reason he’s tempted to solve his malware problem by getting a new PC is that his current PC didn’t come with Windows installation discs, so if he wants to just wipe the drive and start over, he’d need to buy a copy of Windows — and the price of Windows is close to the price of a new PC.

Shows how out of touch with the Windows market I am — I had no idea some (most?) PCs don’t come with installation discs. That’s nuts.

New York Times Claims People Are Throwing Out PCs Because of Malware 

Matt Richtel and John Markoff, reporting for The New York Times:

On a recent Sunday morning when Lew Tucker’s Dell desktop computer was overrun by spyware and adware - stealth software that delivers intrusive advertising messages and even gathers data from the user’s machine - he did not simply get rid of the offending programs. He threw out the whole computer.

Mr. Tucker, an Internet industry executive who holds a Ph.D. in computer science, decided that rather than take the time to remove the offending software, he would spend $400 on a new machine.

Ph.D. or not, Mr. Tucker comes across as an idiot. Annoyingly, the article creates the impression that malware plagues “PCs”, when in fact, it only plagues PCs running Microsoft Windows, an essential distinction.

MT Database Converter 

Hirotaka Ogawa’s MT Database Converter is a CGI script for converting Movable Type’s database between supported DB engines: BerkeleyDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite. MT itself only support converting from Berkeley DB to any of the various SQL engines — before this, there was no automated way to convert from one SQL engine to another. (Via Anil Dash.)

Damian Conway: Ten Essential Development Practices 

Ten tips from Damian Conway’s just-released book, Perl Best Practices. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. (Weird, though, that the book’s cover features a dog — O’Reilly generally uses dogs for Mac-specific books.)

Sandbox 

Michael Watson’s Sandbox is a new GUI-based access control list editor for Tiger. Mac OS X Server ships with a GUI for managing ACLs, but Sandbox is the first GUI for managing ACLs in the client version of Tiger. (If you don’t know what access control lists are, feel free to ignore this.)

NetNewsWire to Support Atom 1.0 in Next Release 

Brent Simmons:

A quick look at the current draft tells me there haven’t been any major upheavals since 0.3—it looks similar, and the changes I noticed are quite welcome. (The Atom Text Construct is simpler, I’m pleased to see.)

An Atom 1.0 feed would work reasonably well in the current version of NetNewsWire—except that the namespace URL has changed from http://purl.org/atom/ns# to http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom, which prevents it from working at all. (This isn’t a complaint, by the way—it’s correct that the namespace URL changed.)

Considering that NetNewsWire is the most popular desktop feedreader for any platform, this is good news for Atom. It’s also good to hear that the changes from Atom 0.3, which is fairly widely deployed already, are minimal.

Podcast Recording Tips for Audio Hijack Pro 

Nice page of tips from Rogue Amoeba for using Audio Hijack Pro to record podcasts, including how to record audio chats from apps such as iChat and Skype.

Django 

High-level web app framework for Python, written by Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison. It just debuted today, and I can’t say I know enough Python to really judge how good it is, but the web site for the project itself is outstanding — and, of course, it’s powered by Django. It’s nice to see something debut with a decent amount of documentation. (Via Andy Baio.)

Optimus Keyboard 

Cool design concept for a keyboard where each keycap is a tiny LCD display, which allows for context-sensitive key labels, including icons. But I have no idea how they expect touch-typists to use that Return key. (Via Kottke.)

Shiira 1.1 

Open source browser based on Web Kit. New update brings back support for Mac OS X 10.3. Rendering-wise, it’s exactly like Safari, but the browser UI is quite different. Shiira’s nicest feature is Tab Exposé — a clever way to view the contents of all tabs in a single window at once.

RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0, Compared 

Atom 1.0 is about to ship. Tim Bray has put together a helpful page comparing it with RSS 2.0. It’s unclear to me whether Atom is going to be able to gain any traction at this point; I do think it’s a little better specified than RSS 2.0 (e.g. I like the way you can use type='xhtml' or type='text' attributes to specify how your content is formatted), but I don’t think it’s nearly enough better than RSS to compensate for the enormous popularity RSS is achieving.

Backpack Dashboard Widget 

Chipt Productions has released a widget for hooking up with 37signals’s Backpack. Hooray for web apps that provide APIs. A nice bit of desktop integration: the widget lets you use Growl for displaying reminder notifications. Getting a reminder in front of your face is a hard task for a purely web-based app.

DragThing 5.6.1 

Minor bug-fix update to James Thompson’s excellent palette/dock utility.

Apple Posts ‘Best Quarter Ever’ 

Profits are up fivefold from a year ago ($320 million vs. $61 million) and revenue nearly doubled ($3.52 billion vs. $2.01 billion). iPod sales are great, but Mac sales are way up, too. You can see the effect of the iPod Shuffle, too — iPod unit sales are up sevenfold, but revenue “only” quadrupled.

Panic Is Hiring 

Panic has openings for a Cocoa developer, a tech support jockey, and a web developer (which (the full-time web developer position) makes me wonder if they’ve got plans for a web-based app or an app with a major web-based component). Panic makes neat software, and they’ve always struck me as a great company.

Firefox 1.0.5 

Bug-fix and security update. See also: Neil Lee’s G5-optimized build of 1.0.5.

Preparing Photos in iPhoto 5 

Nice guide to iPhoto 5 by Derrick Story in Macworld.

Dave Winer Hanging Out With John Sculley 

I don’t think I’ve seen a picture of Sculley in 10 years. He looks good.

Mac OS X 10.4.2 

“Addresses” lots of “issues”.

LaCie Mini 250 GB 

$200 for a 250 GB external FireWire drive that’s designed to stack under a Mac Mini, scheduled to ship in “mid August”. 80 and 160 GB models are also available, for $120 and $150. (Via 2lmc Spool, who also link to MacWay’s Minipartner, which is a similar product but with FireWire and USB 2 hubs built-in).

Bare Bones: Macworld Expo ‘Online Show Special’ 

Use the promo code “Macworld20”, and you’ll get 20 percent off all Bare Bones Software products (including t-shirts), now through July 22. With the $129 cross-upgrade price from TextWrangler — which is free — this means you can get a license for BBEdit 8.2 for about $104. The discount applies to upgrades, too.

Apple Says Not to Use Java for Writing Cocoa Apps 

From the latest revision of Apple’s Cocoa-Java Integration Guide:

Important: Features added to Cocoa in Mac OS X versions later than 10.4 will not be added to the Cocoa-Java programming interface. Therefore, you should develop Cocoa applications using Objective-C to take advantage of existing and upcoming Cocoa features.

As far as I can tell, the whole idea of writing Cocoa apps using Java never really took off, so I don’t think this will be that big a deal.

Freshly Squeezed Software Sold to illumineX 

Erik Barzeski sold FSS and its product line (PulpFiction, MailDrop, FTPeel) to illumineX, a company — mostly focused on games — run by long-time Cocoa and Next developers Don Yacktman and Gary Longsine.

Danny Goodman’s Dashboard Book 

Danny Goodman has written a bunch of great books on Mac and web scripting; now he’s combined the two and written a 233-page book on Dashboard programming. $15 gets you a PDF e-book; $30 gets you a printed copy.

‘untitled’ vs. ‘Untitled’ 

Michael Tsai points to a thread on the Cocoa-Dev mailing list that pretty much boils down to an argument about whether it matters that the HIG recommends naming new untitled documents “untitled”, but Cocoa’s NSDocument class defaults to the capitalized “Untitled”.

Kick-Ass Asteroids Dashboard Widget 

Excellent rendition of Asteroids as a Dashboard widget, programmed by Paul Neave and turned into a widget by Christopher Marks. Very faithful in spirit and feel to the original coin-op version: the sounds are perfect, the game play is simple (the only controls are rotate, thrust, fire, and pause), and, in a cool twist, the high-score board is shared globally. Free of charge.

Marks also had a Pac-Man widget (also based on code from Neave), but had to remove it after getting a nastygram from Namco — but as of this writing you can still nab a copy at DashboardWidgets.com. (Namco’s response is reasonable — I think Namco is still making money on the Pac-Man brand.)

(Via Andy Baio.)

Tim O’Reilly: Is Perl Still Relevant? 

Based on book sales, Tim O’Reilly estimates that PHP is now twice as popular as Perl, and Python is two-thirds as popular but gaining fast. (Via Andy Baio.)

Apple Mail’s .emlx Message Flags 

Jamie Zawinski has the unofficial scoop on the internal format of the flags field in Mail 2.0’s new .emlx message format.

Also, in the comments on this post, jwz says, “And for the record, I am positively giddy with how much of an improvement MacOS is over Linux. It’s the bee’s knees, as the kids say.”

New Ruby on Rails Movie 

Ruby on Rails lead developer David Heinemeier Hansson has posted a new movie of screenshot footage of a simple weblog app being put together in 15 minutes using the latest version of Rails. Watching this is a good way to wrap your head around just what Rails is.

Sidekick: Bendable, Rotatable USB Adaptor 

Clever $13 USB (2.0 and 1.1) adaptor from Sonnet; meant for using with hard-to-reach USB ports.

Cool Hunting: Adidas Carlo Gruber 

My namesake clothing line debuts later this year.

G5-Optimized Build of Firefox 1.0.4 

Neil Lee’s G5-optimized build of Firefox 1.0.4 is noticeably faster than the standard build (or at least so say my G5-owning friends who’ve tried it).

Drag-and-Drop Image Placement in Web-Based Editor 

Neat idea and implementation for using drag-and-drop to place images in the web-based text editor for a CMS. Don’t miss the demo movie.

yDSF - Robust CSS Drop Shadows 

Six Apart’s Randy ‘ydnar’ Reddig has written up a technique for applying drop shadows using CSS. Nice.

ADB Keyboard Hacks for PowerBooks and iBooks 

I used this to remap the stupid Enter key on my iBook into an Option key. Much more of a lightweight hack than adding third-party kernel extensions; all this requires is changing a plist string inside Apple’s own ADB kernel extension.

Microsoft Downgrades Claria Adware Detection 

John Leyden, reporting for The Register:

Here’s one for the conspiracy theorists. Microsoft has downgraded detection of the Claria adware application by its anti-spyware software days after reports began circulating that Redmond might buy the online marketing firm. Under its former name Gator, Claria became synonymous with pop-up web advertisements and spyware and Microsoft’s possible purchase of the marketing outfit has raised eyebrows in the IT security community.

If this is true, it boggles the mind.

Smart Playlists vs. Latest Clickwheel iPod Firmware 

Apple confirms that after applying the latest firmware update for clickwheel iPods, Smart Playlists “may” stop updating automatically. You need to sync with iTunes to get your Smart Playlists to update on your iPod.

EasyFind 3.6 

Minor update to Devon Technologies’ freeware file-finding utility. Still useful in the age of Spotlight, because unlike Spotlight, it will find files anywhere on your startup disk.

GUIdebook’s Comprehensive History of Photoshop 

Marcin Wichary has put together over 1,000 screenshots — seriously — of Adobe Photoshop, ranging from version 0.63 running on System 7 to version CS2 running on Mac OS X 10.4 and Windows XP (although just about all the screenshots in-between are taken on various versions of Windows). Something I did not know: prior to version 1.0, it actually was spelled PhotoShop, with a camel-case ‘S’.

NightShift 1.1 

Freeware app by Reinhold Penner automatically downloads and installs nightly builds of Web Kit, and allows you to use them with Safari. Rather than replacing the system’s built-in official version of Web Kit (which would be a terrible idea), NightShift keeps the nightly builds completely separate.

What NightShift does that’s particularly clever is that it gives you a little shim app named WebKit.app. When you launch WebKit.app, it lets you use Safari with the latest Web Kit nightly build; if you quit WebKit.app, Safari goes back to using the system’s official version of Web Kit.

So in short, you get to use the latest nightly build of Web Kit in Safari, but without having to hack either Safari or the system’s official version of Web Kit.

(Via MDJ 2005.07.06.)

Blue Coconut 

Free, open source app by Paul Mison that allows you to download tracks from an iTunes shared library. (Written in AppleScript-Studio, but with some Perl glue for the heavy lifting under the hood; I’ve used a similar technique for my own AS-Studio apps.)

TextWrangler 2.1 

Brings it up to speed with BBEdit 8.2.

European Union Rejects Software Patents 

The EU Parliament rejected the software patent bill by a vote of 648-14. Sometimes the good guys do win.

Mark Pilgrim on iTunes’s RSS Parser 

Mark Pilgrim (posting in the comments of Sam Ruby’s weblog) has figured out a bunch of details on how iTunes 4.9’s RSS parser works.

VersionTracker’s Profanity Filter 

VersionTracker’s user-comment profanity filter changes the name of “Cocktail” to “*censored*tail”.

PC World: Longhorn Preview 

Scott Spanbauer takes a look at recent betas of Longhorn for PC World. Simply in terms of aesthetics, I think this is a big step backwards from XP: the whole UI looks like a big cluttered web page. (Note: I couldn’t get the screenshots to work in Safari 2.0, but they work just fine in Camino 0.9a1.) (Via Dan Benjamin on AIM.)

Rails Day 2005 Winners 

Winners of the 24-hour Ruby on Rails programming contest; my favorite is YubNub (which finished in second-place), a “social command line for the web”.

Keychain Scripting “Isn’t Running” Error in AppleScript Scripts 

If you want to use AppleScript to access passwords stored in your keychain, you need to make sure the Keychain Scripting app is already running, and was launched by an app other than the app that’s running your script.

Netcraft: PHP Blogging Apps Vulnerable to XML-RPC Exploits 

Yikes; a slew of PHP weblog / CMS software packages, including WordPress, PostNuke, and Drupal, are vulnerable to bugs in the standard PHP XML-RPC libraries that allow attackers to execute arbitrary PHP code on the server.

Launching BBEdit From a URL 

Jan Erik Moström put together a simple AppleScript application that allows him to open files for editing using a custom URL protocol.

EasyWMA 2.2 

Donationware app lets you convert non-DRM-protected Windows Media Audio files (WMA) to MP3.

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