Linked List: November 2005

Interview With Dean Allen About Textpattern 

Dean Allen:

I always thought the most important thing for writers was to write, and not think about the tools they’re using. Textpattern was intended as a web writing tool, that would give little resistance to someone who simply wanted to publish regularly on the Internet.

Using /usr/local 

Dan Benjamin’s nice intro to Unix file system layouts. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between /usr/bin and /usr/local/bin, read this.

Dr. Dobb’s Article on Bare Bones’ Migration of BBEdit to Intel 

Nice technical overview of the problems Bare Bones faced getting BBEdit ported to x86 processors. (Via MacInTouch.)

Wall Street Analyst Claims 2 GB Nano Sales Are Up 

I had always sort of thought the purpose of the lower-priced iPods was to hit a price point that gets people into the store, but to price the better models close enough that people “upgrade” while shopping. I.e. I’ll take a look at this $199 iPod; hey this is really cool; heck, for 50 more bucks I can get twice the memory… But while early adopters swarm to the high-end iPods, perhaps the mass market really is more price-sensitive.

Aperture Support and Documentation 

Apple’s Aperture support articles and PDF documentation.

Fontographer 4.7 

First revision to Fontographer in nine years.

Aperture Mini Review With Screenshots 

Includes a link to an example web gallery generated by Aperture. (Via Jesper via AIM.)

Apple: Broadband Tuner 1.0 

Doesn’t actually install anything new, but rather simply changes the sizes for TCP send and receive buffers. Includes an “uninstaller” that restores your previous settings.

WSJ on the Phenomenon of Everlasting Public ‘Betas’ 

“I deplore it as a consumer; I admire it as a marketing professional,” said Peter Sealey, a marketing professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola Co. “I can’t come up with anything else in the entire marketing world where marketers knowingly introduce a flawed or inadequate product [and] it helps grow your user base.”

Your Vote Counts, Even if You’re an Idiot 

I know I’m late linking to this (so late that voting has been closed for two weeks), but I find it highly curious that .Mac Backup 3.0 was nominated for Macworld’s Readers’ Choice Software of the Year award. I mean, Backup 3.0 isn’t just regarded as not very good, it’s regarded as downright harmful. I thoroughly doubt it’s going to win, but who the hell are the people who nominated it? The other app that sticks out like a sore thumb in that list is Opera 8.5 — on what planet is Opera a popular Mac browser?

Linked List Items Now Shown on Home Page by Default 

I suspect many of you never noticed that there’s an option on Daring Fireball’s Preferences page to display recent Linked List items right on the home page, intermingled with full-length articles.

Used to be this option was off by default (and so the home page only showed regular articles); today I changed this so that this option is now on by default. If you don’t like it, feel free to toggle the setting (that’s why it’s there) — but I’m pretty sure most readers enjoy following both content streams, and this makes it easier to do so.

Xbox 360: A Mac User’s Best Friend? 

I think Paul Thurrott is exactly right here. (Full disclosure: I found it hard to type that sentence.) If there’s a quibble, it’s that Xbox 360 (and the upcoming PlayStation 3) won’t just be good for Mac users, but they’ll be good for Apple, too.

The single biggest knock against Macs (versus PCs) has always been gaming. Don’t get me wrong, there are some terrific Mac games, and even terrific Mac-only games, but overall, the gaming scene is clearly both bigger and better on Windows. But next-generation consoles seem set to surpass the PC as the premier platforms for gaming, which means anyone who’s resisted switching from Windows because of the lack of games for the Mac will have one less reason not to switch. I think there a lot of guys out there who are starting to think they’d be better off with a new Mac and an Xbox/PS3 than with a new Windows PC.

Dean Allen on the Joyent + TextDrive Marriage 

The authors of Textile and Markdown, together in one company.

Jon Hicks’s Series of Unfortunate 15-inch PowerBooks 

It’s either bad luck, poor quality control, or both.

Joyent Acquires TextDrive 

What I’ve been up to the last few weeks. This is a link to the press release; stay tuned to the Joyent weblog for more details.

The Apple of Her Eye 

Cute story from Eric Meyer.

One Email Client to Rule Them All 

Christopher Biagini evaluates Mailsmith, GyazMail, and Thunderbird, concentrating mostly on the UIs and first-run experiences. He’s harsh but fair on Mailsmith’s UI, but it’s hardly a secret that Mailsmith doesn’t look cool.

Fluxiom 

Very impressive XHTML/CSS/JavaScript asset management app.

Great tip; I’ve added this to my BBEdit Glossary items.

Jeremy Zawodny: Steve Jobs Ruined My Thanksgiving 

What I find curious about this rant isn’t that Zawodny is pissed about getting bitten by this bug, but that he sees fit to direct his anger at “Steve Jobs” rather than “Apple” or “the iTunes engineers”. When I get bad search results from Yahoo I don’t blame David Filo and Jerry Yang.

SegPub Christmas Cards 

Very cool Christmas cards from my friends at Segment Publishing.

Rich Siegel on APE Haxies 

Rich Siegel:

A few versions back, we added code to our products that detects whether the product crashed or was force quit the last time it was run. If we detect this condition, we then check for whether the APE bundle is loaded in our application space. If so, we advise the user accordingly, and recommend that they contact us if the problem persists after removing all third-party system additions and preference panels.

The comments are worth reading as well, if only to reaffirm that APE haxies remain a divisive issue.

FlySketch 1.6 

Now takes full-screen screenshots.

SuperDuper 2.0 

Powerful but simple $28 backup and disk copying utility hits version 2.0; new features include scheduled backups and better AppleScript support. I’ve been beta-testing SuperDuper 2.0 for months, and it’s terrific. Highly recommended.

TiVo Is Coming to Your iPod, PSP 

Mac support not coming until later in 2006, apparently.

‘Saturday Night Live’ Steve Jobs / iPod Inviso Gag 

Fucking hilarious, and a good Jobs impression.

Macworld Benchmarks for new Power Macs 

Quad-core 2.5 GHz comes out on top, of course, but they’re not that much faster than the lesser Power Macs.

I ♥ Rootkit T-Shirt 

Josh Williams has designed a shirt to celebrate Sony’s wonderful new audio CD rootkit feature:

We don’t know about you, but when we buy a music CD we consider it a friendly invitation for complete strangers to come in and make our computer their personal playground. Install hidden software that hijacks basic components of our system? Open us to attack from viruses and hackers? Sounds perfect!

I’ve already ordered one.

Joel Spolsky on Why the Music Industry Wants Variable ITMS Pricing 

Spolsky nails it:

Here’s the dream world for the EMI Group, Sony/BMG, etc.: there are two prices for songs on iTunes, say, $2.49 and $0.99. All the new releases come out at $2.49. Some classic rock (Sweet Home Alabama) is at $2.49. Unwanted, old, crap, like, say, Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) — the crap we only know because it was pushed on us in the 70s by paid-off disk jockeys — would be deliberately priced at $0.99 to send a clear message that $0.99 = crap.

Mac OS X 10.4.3 Claims Cmd-Esc Keyboard Sequence 

Quicksilver uses Cmd-Esc as the default keyboard shortcut for its useful Services menu item, but the shortcut stopped working in 10.4.3; Quicksilver developer Nicholas Jitkoff thinks it’s because the OS now claims the shortcut on behalf of Front Row, which, if true, would be a bit obnoxious considering that Front Row is only available on new iMac G5s.

MIT Unveils $100 Laptop to the World 

Great idea, and it’s good to see they’re getting closer to production. But: lime green?

Apple Store Concierge 

New Flash-based web app for making reservations with Apple Store Geniuses.

Interview With Paul Griffin 

J.D. Lasica interviews Griffin Technology Founder/CEO Paul Griffin.

Eliminate Drag-and-Drop Delay in Cocoa Apps 

Great tip from Adam Knight; eliminates the need to click-and-hold before dragging the selected text in Cocoa apps.

Sony ‘Rootkit’ DRM Numbers Add Up to Trouble 

Quinn Norton reporting for Wired News:

More than half a million networks, including military and government sites, were likely infected by copy-restriction software distributed by Sony on a handful of its CDs, according to a statistical analysis of domain servers conducted by a well-respected security researcher and confirmed by independent experts Tuesday.

Sony BMG has been on the run for almost two weeks with the public relations debacle of its XCP copy-restriction software, which has installed an exploit-vulnerable rootkit with at least 20 popular music titles on PCs all over the world

Googlopia 

Funny comic.

SpamSieve 2.4 

New version of the Mac’s best spam tool.

In Which Google Base Launches… 

Tom Coates on Google Base.

Backup 3.0’s Flickr-Style Text Fields 

Michael McCracken:

Do we really want to doom users of desktop apps to a lot of web-style scrubbing around with the mouse to discover features?

RoundCube Webmail Project 

Very good-looking webmail client:

RoundCube Webmail is a browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application-like user interface. It provides full functionality you expect from an e-mail client, including MIME support, address book, folder manipulation and message filters. RoundCube Webmail is written in PHP and requires the MySQL database. The user interface is fully skinnable using XHTML and CSS 2.

Opera Platform 

Web-based widget platform for mobile devices; this could be the idea that keeps Opera relevant. If it’s done right, it ought to be as easy to develop for mobile devices as it is for Dashboard or Konfabulator. (Via Russell Beattie.)

Google Base Launches 

I guess it’s more or less an ad hoc database for just about anything you’d want others to be able to find when searching the web.

Address Book’s Edit Mode 

Pierre Igot delivers a long-overdue beating to the Address Book editing UI.

Karelia Offers Web Kit Bug Fix Bounties 

Dan Wood:

So here is our offer: for each bug from our list (below) that is fixed (via a patch attached to the report in the Web Kit Bugzilla), to our satisfaction, we will pay a “fix thank you” of US$100. If and when a submitted patch is committed to the official Web Kit repository, we will pay that person a “committed patch thank you” of US$150.

Newsvine 

Mike Davidson on Newsvine, the attractively-logo’d new startup he left Disney/ESPN to found:

Newsvine is a large-scale news media site which gives you almost all the same stories you read on sites like MSNBC and CNN but presents them in a much more attractive package. Attractive not just in looks but in function as well. At Newsvine, we feel strongly that an article’s life only begins the second it is published. It is only when readers interact with it that it achieves its full impact.

It’s an interesting idea: to do large-scale news with weblog-infused sensibilities, as opposed to the perspective of a large-scale print or TV company. I think there’s an opportunity here for something much more “webby” than what the print/TV companies typically do with their web sites.

Hands-on With Aperture 

David Schloss has an early look at Aperture:

If for nothing else, Aperture will be remembered as “the software that forced all the other programs to get better”.

Say-So: How Do You Pronounce ‘GIF’? 

I say hard “G”.

Synching Podcasts 

Helpful tip (with AppleScript) from Daniel Bogan for working around the way iTunes automatically checks the “Skip when shuffling” option for podcasts.

1983 Apple Lisa Commercial Starring Kevin Costner 

Marcin Wichary has unearthed an adorable Apple commercial from 1983 featuring the not-yet-famous Kevin Costner using a Lisa.

Nanos Now Include Sleeve 

Similar to the chintzy sleeve that ships with the new iPods. (Via Digg.)

Xcode 2.2 Is Now Available 

Update to Apple’s free developer tools, includes a new version of GCC and a bunch of new features. See also: Chris Espinosa’s list of known issues with the new version.

Apple Mac OS X on x86: A First Test 

This is nuts: ZDNet UK published a review of a bootleg copy of Mac OS X for Intel they installed on a Toshiba laptop.

First Trojan Using Sony DRM Spotted 

John Leyden reporting for The Register:

Virus writers have begun taking advantage of Sony-BMG’s use of rootkit technology in DRM software bundled with its music CDs.

Could Sony have any less respect for its customers?

Take Control of Customizing Tiger: Automator 

Excellent Automator introduction, excerpted in Macworld from Matt Neuburg’s Take Control of Customizing Tiger.

Text::Markdown Now on CPAN 

Thanks to Sebastian Reidel for packaging this together for me. I should have done this a year ago, at least.

James Archer Interviews Khoi Vinh 

Regarding the recent theonion.com redesign.

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again 

Good Cringely column. He touches on something I’ve been thinking ever since “Linux” hit industry radars as a potential threat: if Microsoft ever truly felt cornered, they could release Windows for free, cutting off open source’s single most significant perceived value.

Pixar Profits Higher Than Expected 

Pixar’s quarterly statement included the news that they’d sold 125,000 short films through ITMS already.

Theocacao: Tradeoffs in Video Downloads 

Scott Stevenson:

Several media outlets have compared Comcast’s $1 fee to the $2 price at iTunes, but practically no one has mentioned that you actually get to keep the videos you download from iTunes.

Sony Exec on Rootkits 

Thomas Hesse, President of Sony’s Global Digital Business, in an interview on NPR: “Most people, I think, don’t even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?”

NBC and CBS to Sell Reruns for 99 Cents Each 

CBS is selling episodes through Comcast video-on-demand services, but only in markets that aren’t served by CBS affiliates; NBC is selling episodes through DirectTV. Neither will reach as many people as ABC does through ITMS.

iSquint 

Freeware (donations accepted) video conversion app for iPods. (Via 2lmc Spool.)

Aardvark’d 

Documentary about four interns given 12 weeks to design, implement, and ship Fog Creek Copilot, a new product for Joel Spolsky’s company. Paul Graham and my friend Aaron Swartz make guest appearances.

Rich Text Editing With Dojo 

This seems to work better, especially with Safari, than any other WYSIWYG-style browser-based editor I’ve seen. Impressive.

mTune-n Cordless Headset for iPod Nanos 

Clever design: wireless headset without any actual wireless technology.

Camino 1.0b1 

Samuel Sidler:

This is by far the finest Camino release ever. It’s so great, we’re calling it our stable release and replacing the download link on the main page with it.

Rich Siegel on the Yahoo Statue 

In light of the Yahoo Mail statue fiasco, Rich Siegel asks how such a stupid idea could see the light of day.

Yahoo Breaks Godwin’s Law 

Yahoo’s executives are apparently monomaniacally focused on “beating Google”, which led someone there to commission a downright embarrassing “statue” and plaque congratulating the Yahoo Mail team while sort of implicitly comparing Gmail to the Nazis.

Copy Goes Here 

Coudal Partners’ amusing short film is done; DVDs and t-shirts are available.

Windows’s Built-In RSS Parser Will Require Well-Formed XML 

This is welcome news — the upshot of this is that all feeds will have to be well-formed XML, because all feeds will need to work with Windows’s built-in parser.

Improving Tabbed Browsing in Firefox 

Ben Goodger reports on some usability research Google conducted regarding tabbed browsing in Firefox. His first suggested change is something Safari has done all along: include a “close this tab” button in each tab. I’m surprised they needed a usability test to figure out that Firefox’s current model of using just one “close this tab” button per window is sub-optimal.

Side question: Does anyone not believe that Google is working on a Google-branded derivative of Firefox?

(Via Khoi Vinh.)

Say-So 

The guys at Twinsparc — Nate Steiner and Arturo Rodriguez — just launched the cleverly-named Say-So, an intriguingly simple new web app:

We just launched a free service called Say-So.org, it’s a tool you can use to generate discussions on any topic, concern, question or idea you have. It shares similarities with a lot of different things, such as blogs, event organizing tools, product comparison tools, online polls, etc., but it’s much more free-form. The main focus of the tool (and reason for making it) is to allow anyone to gather feedback on an idea without needing a full fledged blog, and with more control over the “structure” of the responses.

C-Command Blog 

Michael Tsai’s new weblog for tracking updates and news regarding his software.

Eric Blair Reviews OmniGraffle Pro 4 

He’s a long-time OmniGraffle user, and he likes the new version 4.0. I’m not an OmniGraffle user, but I’ve been tinkering with the licensed copy of version 3.2 that came with my new PowerBook.

Gus Mueller Taking Over MarsEdit Development 

Brent Simmons:

This does mean that Gus isn’t starting from scratch: in fact, every new feature has at least been started, and some are near completion. While it’s too soon to announce a ship date, it’s good to know that the road to MarsEdit 1.1 isn’t as long as it would be had I not been able to work on it this summer.

Simon Willison on the New Yahoo Maps  

More than just a cool web app (I love that live zoom), they’ve got an API that compares well against Google’s, too.

iPod Video Plugged Into Your TV: Is It Good Enough? 

Derrick Story says yes.

10 Ways to Please Us, the Customers 

Excellent list of consumer gripes from David Pogue. A few of these are things I’ve been meaning to write about, e.g.:

Thou shalt not entomb thy product in indestructible plastic. Sure, we understand the temptation: you want your packaging to be sturdy yet see-through, so shoppers can see exactly what they’re buying. Trouble is, you’re caring only about whether people take your product home; you apparently don’t care about what happens after that. You don’t seem to mind that getting those hard plastic packages open is a dangerous ritual involving scissors, steak knives, band saws and, eventually, blow torches.

New Yahoo Maps 

Just plain terrific Flash app. (Via TechCrunch.)

iTunes Video Sales Top 1 Million in 20 Days 

Steve Jobs to the other TV networks (paraphrased): You’re leaving money on the table if you don’t get on board.

Windows Live 

Microsoft’s new Ajax-y Web 2.0 play. Doesn’t work at all with Safari (yet?), but works great with Firefox and Camino. Very webby and not at all Windows-y.

Cf. Tim O’Reilly’s first impressions.

Web Kit Fixes in Safari 2.0.2 / Mac OS X 10.4.3 

Wonderful to see this level of documentation on what’s new.

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far 

Windows expert Mark Russinovich discovered a very nasty surprise left behind by a “protected” Sony music CD:

The entire experience was frustrating and irritating. Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses techniques commonly used by malware to mask its presence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall. Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files.

iChat Encryption for .Mac Subscribers 

New in 10.4.3: iChat now supports encryption for text, audio, video, and file transfers between .Mac subscribers. This was originally slated for 10.4.0; not sure what delayed it until now.

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