Linked List: July 2006

Flip4Mac WMV 2.1 

Universal binary update to the Windows Media playback components for QuickTime.

Another Dell Laptop Goes Ka-Bloom 

Mental exercise: imagine the media coverage if this had been an Apple notebook.

Apple Denies ‘Four Years’ iPod Report, Clarifies ‘for Years’ 

Larry Angell:

[Apple spokeswoman Natalie] Kerris said she told the reporter that the iPod was designed to last “for years” — not “four years.”

$100 Rebate on MacBooks at Amazon 

Amazon is offering a $100 rebate on all MacBooks, which brings the prices down to:

You know you want the black one. They have the Wireless Mighty Mouse for $70, too. Buy stuff from Amazon using these links and you’ll not only get a great price, you’ll help support Daring Fireball thanks to affiliate referral lucre.

Apple Newton vs. Samsung Q1 UMPC 

A 10-year-old Newton MessagePad is compared against a brand-new Samsung tablet thingmajig — and the Newton comes out ahead. I’m not sure whether this is funny or sad. (Via Steven Frank.)

Microsoft to Offer Software for Health Care Industry 

Steve Lohr, reporting for The New York Times:

Microsoft plans to offer software tailored for the health care industry, a change from its usual strategy of encouraging others to create industry-specific products using its operating system and programming tools.

[…]

Most of the big health care software suppliers, analysts point out, are also big customers for Microsoft operating systems, databases and programming tools. “This puts Microsoft in the uncomfortable position of potentially competing against its major customers,” said Dr. Thomas J. Handler, a health technology analyst at Gartner.

So much for “Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!”, eh?

Google Code — Project Hosting Frequently Asked Questions 

Google-hosted competitor to SourceForge.

iStat Pro 3.0 

Dashboard widget crammed with system monitoring stats. Freeware; donations encouraged.

The Backpack Calendar 

Very iCal-like month view, which is a great design. Borrow from the best, I say. And it one-ups iCal with its slick natural-language date parsing — just type “10am client meeting” to get an event titled “client meeting” that starts at 10:00 a.m. Also does SMS reminders for events, which another area where web-based calendars are better than desktop calendars.

Bluetooth Mighty Mouse Battery Consumption 

Apple says the Mighty Mouse operates “with either one or two AA batteries”; Jim Dalrymple investigated:

It turns out the Mighty Mouse will run just fine with only one battery. However, if you put two batteries in, the mouse will use one until it drops below the power level of the second battery; then, the mouse switches over to the second battery and will continue to run until both batteries are dead.

Unofficial Digg API 

Reverse-engineered from the Flash files at Digg Labs (which I think they should have called “Digg Labbs”). (Via Andy Baio, who got it from Digg.)

Michael Dell Comments Regarding Apple 

Michael Dell, addressing Dell’s annual shareholders meeting, regarding Apple’s music business:

“We’ve been working with MTV, which has a new service called Urge. That’s an exciting space that Apple has done well in, but I would be surprised if they are able to maintain the share they have today over the next ten or 20 years.”

What a great strategy: “Give us a decade or two and we’ll catch up to them.”

Digg Reddit 

Paul Graham:

Twice now, stories that linked to reddit have gone out in Digg’s rss feed as frontpage stories, only to disappear from the frontpage.

This implies one of two things: either (a) Digg’s staff is manually removing stories, or (b) they’re such bumblers technically that the software handling the rss feed for frontpage stories is upstream of the software deciding what stories make it onto the frontpage, and thus has to guess what the latter will do.

The Lester Bangs of Video Games 

Chuck Klosterman essay in Esquire on the dearth of serious video game criticism. Then see also this interview with Klosterman at GameSpot, where he further explains his point:

In other words there’s no one writing about video games who is of interest to people who aren’t actively playing them. I mean you look at film in the 1970s — there were people writing about film who were being read by people who had no intention of seeing those movies.

Andy Baio: Metafilter Sources 2006 

Wikipedia goes from #66 to #2, jumping ahead of the BBC, the New York Times, and Amazon.

‘Learn Objective-C on the Macintosh’ by Mark Dalrymple and Scott Knaster 

New Mac programming book, available both on paper and as a PDF, by two of the Mac’s best programming authors.

Apple Quietly Extends Range of Serial Numbers for eMac Repair Program 

They added a new range of serial numbers on July 12 for the “eMac Repair Extension Program for Video and Power Issues” program.

NewsFire 1.4 

Free update adds an integrated video player for video podcasts.

OpenDarwin Shutting Down 

Seems very whiny to me. They’re hosting several very successful projects, including the WebKit Open Source Project and DarwinPorts. I’d say OpenDarwin.org has been successful — just not in the way they’d imagined at the outset.

2lmc on the ‘Free Zune Replacements for Your ITMS’ Songs Rumor 

Interesting speculation from Blech (by way of a comment on Daniel Jalkut’s weblog) that, if it’s true that Microsoft plans to offer “free” Zune-compatible replacements for any songs you’ve purchased through ITMS, that they’ll be tied to participation in a subscription service, and thus won’t actually cost Microsoft anything.

That Blog, Ms. Lewinski 

I can’t complain — I certainly didn’t invent the star-in-circle. If he weren’t dead, I’m sure I’d have gotten a call from Chuck Taylor by now.

Input Manager Hack for Keyboard Text Selection in Cocoa 

Joachim Bengtsson has turned James Speth’s aforementioned keyboard list-item selection plug-in for Mail into an input manager hack that changes the selection rules for NSTableView controls in all Cocoa apps.

A Technical History of Apple’s Operating Systems: Introduction 

Amit Singh has released an amazingly in-depth 140-page PDF book, for free, covering the history of Apple’s operating systems:

This was the first chapter I wrote for the book. It was particularly difficult to write in terms of the time and other resources required in researching the material. I often had to find and scavenge ancient documentation, software, and hardware (all actual screenshots shown in this document were captured first hand.) However, I couldn’t include the chapter in its original form in the book. The book grew in size beyond everybody’s expectations — 1680 pages! Therefore, it was hard to justify the inclusion of this much history, even if it is interesting history.

Millionaire CEO to Fight MPAA in Court 

David Goldenberg, reporting for Wired:

Last November, Shawn Hogan received an unsettling call: A lawyer representing Universal Pictures and the Motion Picture Association of America informed the 30-year-old software developer that they were suing him for downloading Meet the Fockers over BitTorrent. Hogan was baffled. Not only does he deny the accusation, he says he already owned the film on DVD. The attorney said they would settle for $2,500. Hogan declined.

[…]

Though he expects to incur more than $100,000 in legal fees, he thinks it’s a small price to pay to challenge the MPAA’s tactics. “They’re completely abusing the system,” Hogan says. “I would spend well into the millions on this.”

(Via Jesper via AIM.)

Jewelboxing: A Rebate Without Those Damn Response Cards 

Nice Jewelboxing rebate running through tomorrow from my friends at Coudal Partners:

[…] if you’d prefer (please don’t tell us why) we’ll even stuff cash in an envelope.

Yay Hooray: Redesign Famous Logos in Web 2.0 Format 

If you think logo parodies are funny, this is the thread for you. (Via Khoi Vinh.)

SelectionFix Plug-In for Apple Mail 

James Speth has released a nice little open source plug-in for Mail that changes its keyboard-based message selection behavior so that reversing your direction with Shift and the up/down arrows will deselect from the current end of the selection, rather than following NSTableView’s default of adding to the selection at the opposite end. (Via Tim Bray.)

Bluetooth Mighty Mouse 

I’m surprised it took this long. Interesting that they switched the tracker from optical to laser technology — I’m hoping that means it’s much higher-resolution. The wired Mighty Mouse is one of the lowest-resolution mice I’ve ever tried.

IronCoder 2 Winners 

First-place winner Mark Dalrymple chose a Daring Fireball membership as his prize.

The Iconfactory Teaser 

Clever.

Belkin Gigabit Ethernet USB 2.0 Adapter 

$45 adaptor gives you Gigabit Ethernet via a USB 2.0 port. Buy it at Amazon and make me rich on referral fees. (Via Gizmodo.)

On Ruby 

Tim Bray is learning Ruby and liking it:

For people like me, who are proficient in Perl and Java, Ruby is remarkably, perhaps irresistibly, attractive.

And then he sneaks in this aside regarding Python and code readability:

In theory, Python ought to do better, lacking all those silly end statements cluttering up the screen. But in practice, when I look at Python code I find my eyes distracted by a barrage of underscores and double-quote marks. Typography is an important component of human communication, and Ruby’s, on balance, is cleaner.

Now that I think about, those underscores and extra quotes are exactly why Python does not appeal to me. I find Python’s indentation-as-block rule to be quite elegant, but its use of punctuation feels clumsy.

Nudging Finder Icons Programmatically With AppleScript 

Neat scripts from Daniel Jalkut, including one that arranges your icons in the form of a sine wave.

AMD + ATI and CPU/GPU Integration 

Ars Technica’s Jon Hannibal Stokes on the AMD acquisition of ATI. (Now that Apple is in bed with Intel it seems unlikely we’ll see ATI video cards in new Macs any time soon.)

BurnAgain 2.5 

$25 utility allows you to burn multiple sessions to a single volume on CDR media, using a cross-platform ISO format that works on Windows. (When using the Finder to burn again to an already-used CDR, you get a new volume for each session, and the format is not compatible with Windows.)

Jackass of the Week: Rob Enderle 

Tells the BBC that Microsoft’s “Zune” iPod-killer will be aimed at artists, musicians, and other content creators, as though the iPod and other Apple products somehow aren’t. This is like saying Microsoft will have an advantage because its Zune players will be white and Apple’s iPods aren’t.

Runner-up for Jackass of the Week: the unbylined author of this BBC article, who described Enderle as a “respected analyst” — Enderle is respected by no one other than hack tech reporters.

Do You Want Greg’s Browser for OS X? 

I’ve been meaning to write about this for weeks, detailing why I liked Greg’s Browser so much back in the day, and why I think there might still be room for something like it in Mac OS X (cough, cough the Finder sucks). Instead I’ll just link to this and say that yes, I would like to see Greg’s Browser for OS X.

John Siracusa: WWDC Keynote Bingo 

Top left to bottom right diagonal strikes me as the most likely winner.

Mastering Regular Expressions, Third Edition 

A new edition of Jeffrey Friedl’s masterpiece hits bookstores next month:

This third edition is 58 pages longer than the second edition, and now reaches 542 pages in length. The main changes from the second edition are a new, 48-page chapter on PHP, and a rewritten/expanded Java chapter taking into account the many java.util.regex changes between Java 1.4 and Java 1.5/Java 1.6.

I’ve read the first two editions cover-to-cover.

Free WWDC 

John Siracusa:

Why does Apple jealously guard the content presented at WWDC? […] It’s foolish not to provide this information to everyone who wants it, free of charge (provided they agree to an NDA, yada yada; all ADC members already do). Apple should be encouraging development on its platform, not arbitrarily withholding information from developers.

OmniPlan: Coming Soon 

Public beta scheduled to start next week for Omni heretofore secret new app, a project planner called OmniPlan (which I refused to link to when it was teased here). It’ll be interesting to see whether it competes with or complements Basecamp.

How a Statistical Formula Won the War 

Be careful with your serial numbering schemes. (Via Kottke.)

Pogue Says Windows-Only App ‘Runs Beautifully’ on Macintosh 

David Pogue, reviewing Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.0, a Windows-only speech-recognition utility:

NatSpeak also runs beautifully on the Macintosh. The setup is a bit involved: you need a recent Intel-based Mac, Apple’s free Boot Camp utility, a copy of Windows XP, and a U.S.B. adapter on your headset. And you have to restart the Mac in Windows each time you want to use NatSpeak. But if you can look past all that fine print, NatSpeak on Macintosh is extremely fast and accurate.

Rebooting into Windows is “fine print”? Jeebus. That’s got to qualify as the biggest “WTF?” Pogue has ever written. Saying that a Windows-only app “runs beautifully on the Macintosh” is a step down the road toward the disaster various Chicken Littles predicted when Boot Camp debuted, wherein software developers stop writing Mac OS X apps and tell Mac users to “just boot into Windows”. At least I thought they were Chicken Littles.

Methinks Pogue has been blinded by his personal devotion to speech recognition software — as he points out in the article, there is no native Mac speech recognition package that offers even close to the accuracy of NaturallySpeaking.

(Via Nat Irons, via email; Nat also observed that this opens the door to Dragon Systems using “The New York Times says ‘NatSpeak also runs beautifully on the Macintosh’” as an advertising pull quote.)

Microsoft to Buy Back $40 Billion of Stock 

In an article on Microsoft’s disappointing profits for its most recent quarter, Steve Lohr reports:

Microsoft also announced a program to buy $20 billion of its own shares by Aug. 17 and another $20 billion worth over the next five years.

That’s quite a sum of money.

Time.com Gadget of the Week: Nike + iPod Sport Kit 

Wilson Rothman:

For a field already glutted with gadgets, the Nike + iPod kit is the most elegant of high-tech runner’s aids.

Bezos Expeditions Invests in 37signals 

Jason Fried:

Today we have a very special announcement to make: Bezos Expeditions, a personal investment company of Jeff Bezos, has made a minority private equity investment in 37signals.

Boing Boing: YouTube’s New Policy Says ‘We Own Your Content’ 

Boing Boing on YouTube’s rewritten terms of service.

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, Aged 51 1/2 

Pretty funny. I especially like this one where he pranks John Sculley. (Note to whoever it is who’s writing this: the real Jobs always uses the word “bozo” when talking about Sculley.)

OmniWeb 5.5 Beta 1 

Public beta of Omni’s excellent web browser, which is “now based off a slightly customized version of WebKit”.

1981 Atari Game Catalog 

Posted to Flickr by Jason Santa Maria. Not only did I have most of these games, I specifically remember this very catalog. Wonderful.

Did Thomas Pynchon Post on His Amazon Page? 

A description of Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming sixth novel, ostensibly written by Pynchon himself, briefly appeared on Amazon but was soon pulled. Neither his publisher, Amazon, nor Pynchon himself (duh) has confirmed whether he actually wrote it, nor explained why it was pulled. Someone fished it out of their cache, however:

Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they’re doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

Update: It was written by Pynchon, but Amazon posted it prematurely. And the title of Pynchon’s novel is Against the Day.

PCalc 3.1 

James Thomson’s best-of-breed calculator app keeps getting better; version 3.1 adds an impressive AppleScript dictionary — including the ability to use scripts as custom functions and conversions. Highly recommended.

The General Purpose Thing 

Very insightful observation by David Weiss:

I think what is so quickly forgotten about the transition to Mac OS X was Apple’s against-the-grain assertion that they could build an OS the did appeal to beginner users and power users alike! This was NOT the prevailing wisdom of the day. I even remember seeing previews of the OS in which there were “modes” like standard user and advanced user.

(Via Wolf Rentzsch.)

Strong Opinions, Weakly Held 

Bob Sutton:

A couple years ago, I was talking the Institute’s Bob Johansen about wisdom, and he explained that – to deal with an uncertain future and still move forward – they advise people to have “strong opinions, which are weakly held.”

What a great mantra.

Shiira 2.0 — A Visual Preview 

Mark Steiner’s extensive sneak peak at an early developer build of Shiira 2.0. Nicely done.

Sidekick 3 Mini Review 

Steven Frank:

It has been said that it feels more like an SK2.5 and I think I’d probably go along with that description.

Lightroom Beta 3 for Windows 

Adobe’s Lightroom is now available as a public beta for Windows, too.

Michael Tsai: Cocoa foreach Macro 

Once you start using a language with a built-in foreach statement, it’s irritating to go back to a language without one.

Apple Posts Second Highest Quarterly Revenue and Earnings in Company’s History 

$472 million in profits on $4.37 billion in revenue.

Apple shipped 1,327,000 Macintosh computers and 8,111,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 12 percent growth in Macs and 32 percent growth in iPods over the year-ago quarter.

Mark Pilgrim Is a Dapper Dresser 

The clothes make the man.

Getting Answers 

Mike Ash on how to ask questions in programmer chats and forums.

The Omni Group: System Guru 

The Omni Group has a job opening for a Mac OS X systems nerd.

BetterZip 1.2 

Better performance on large archives and support for additional archive formats.

The Glare 

Wolf Rentzsch:

It was only a little while later I received verification that Steve does, in fact, exist. That was when I came close to hitting him with my rental car.

Ruby Tuesday 

Jesper’s first impressions of Ruby:

This experiment has strengthened my small experience and general hunch of Ruby: it’s good in the ways that Perl is good, and it’s conventional in the ways that Perl is not conventional (everything is an object! sane OO model! iterators!), but its principle of least surprise introduces bigger surprises: things are less than useful in some common scenarios (threads and concurrency, regexes and multiple matches) simply because they simplify or deviate from the norm.

John Battelle Interview With Vint Cerf 

Vint Cerf:

Here’s what (folks like [AT&T CEO Ed] Whitacre) are saying: “Well, we built this network and we can do anything we want with it. And by the way, the FCC has now essentially released us of any common carrier obligations we ever had, thank you very much, and so we can do whatever we want to and why don’t you just buzz off.”

Dominic Giampaolo Gives ‘Mac OS X Internals’ Five-Star Review 

Dominic Giampaolo — who works on the Spotlight and file-system engineering team at Apple — reviews Amit Singh’s Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach at Amazon.com:

This book has to be one of the most comprehensive treatments of any operating system ever. I read through the sections with which I am most familiar (file systems, Spotlight and HFS). The level of detail and understanding expressed in those sections is very impressive. I thought I might find some errors or at least niggling details that weren’t quite right but I could not find any.

(Via Yuji Tachikawa via email.)

Waferbaby Goes Open Source 

Daniel Bogan releases the Rails source code behind Waferbaby 3.

Joe Clark: To Hell with WCAG 2 

I missed this ALA piece by Joe Clark on the W3C’s updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines back in May:

The proposed new WCAG 2.0 is the result of five long years’ work by a Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) committee that never quite got its act together. In an effort to be all things to all web content, the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand. WCAG 2 backtracks on basics of responsible web development that are well accepted by standardistas. WCAG 2 is not enough of an improvement and was not worth the wait.

Zeldman on the W3C’s Relevancy 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Some of the best minds working in web standards have been quietly or loudly abandoning the W3C. Bjoern Hoehrmann is the latest. His reasons for leaving make compelling reading (hat tip: Terje Bless). I believe in W3C standards, particularly the ones you and I use every day, but I worry about the direction in which the W3C is headed.

I’ve considered the W3C to be hopelessly out of touch with practical concerns ever since they shipped the first XHTML 2.0 working draft.

‘Mac OS X Internals’ Is Thicker Than an iPod 

I knew Amit Singh’s magnum opus, Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach, was a big book, but I didn’t know it was this big.

‘Next Unread Message’ Script for Apple Mail 

This script from Bruce Phillips, with additional help from “Qwerty Denzel”, seems like the best implementation yet of the “Go to Next Unread Message” command Tim Bray wishes for in Apple Mail. If what you want is a keyboard shortcut to go from one unread message to the next, pair this up with Red Sweater’s FastScripts and you should be set.

Mousesposé 2.0 

Bunch of new features in Boinx Software’s $10 mouse-highlighting utility, including the ability to visually highlight mouse clicks — great idea for presentations and screen-casts.

Graffletopia 

New web site for user-contributed stencils for OmniGraffle. (Fits right in with the recent theme of scriptable/extensible applications.)

Massive, Massive, Tubes 

Techno remix of Senator Ted Stevens’s “The Internet Is Not a Big Truck” speech.

Oops! 

JPG Magazine issue 6 is full of mistakes.

Open Sourcing Is Not Easy 

Bill Bumgarner:

Open sourcing a large body of source that has always been closed is really damned hard.

It takes a monumental amount of effort to do so and, once open, it takes a whole bunch of ongoing effort to keep it open in a productive fashion […].

At the lowest level, pretty much every line of code has to be reviewed to ensure that it isn’t offensive, doesn’t cross any number of lines (licensing, intellectual property, etc..), is formatted reasonably well, and every file must contain the appropriate header.

Valleywag: Editor Says Lycos Will Shutter Webmonkey 

What exactly does Lycos have left that’s worth a shit?

International Herald Tribune Article on Georgia’s Popularity 

The International Herald Tribune:

“A few designers have mentioned that there seems to be a ‘Georgia revival’ going on,” says Matthew Carter, the British-born, Boston-based designer who developed Georgia for Microsoft in 1996. “It seems a bit young to have died and been revived already.”

(Via Kottke.)

Easily Mispronounced Domain Names 

Unintentionally funny domains.

Movable Type 3.3 

Remember when new versions of Movable Type were a big deal?

SSP on I Use This 

Sven-S. Porst’s insightful review of I Use This, the new “here are the apps I use” community-powered web site.

iLounge: Nike + iPod Sport Kit First Look 

Extensive review of the Nike + iPod Sport Kit by Jeremy Horwitz.

Engadget: Microsoft’s Media Player Dubbed Zune 

Engadget report on the upcoming Microsoft-branded iPod rival; includes link to this post with a photo of a supposed prototype.

IBM’s Cell Processor Yields Looking Dismal 

Tom Krazit:

IBM Vice President of Semiconductor and Technology Services Tom Reeves was quoted in an article on Electronic News last week saying that initial yields for the Cell chip are somewhere between 10 percent to 20 percent. The company thinks it can improve that with logic redundancy techniques, but even 20 percent to 40 percent is still a shocking number in the world of high-volume chip manufacturing.

Via MDJ 2006.07.14; MDJ points out that IBM’s track record producing PowerPC chips has been dismal overall — rememember the “3.0 GHz next year” promise regarding G5s?

Symantec Security Response Weblog: Mac OS X: Viruses and Security 

Very nice: an honest, accurate overview of the state of Mac OS X security from Symantec’s Todd Woodward:

As I tell my internal and external customers alike, just because there are no file-infecting viruses that can affect Mac OS X now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a really nasty one released in the next five minutes. The likelihood of that happening is comparatively low and could be debated ad nauseam, but as Benjamin Franklin said: “A little neglect may breed great mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.”

(Via Bryan Powell via email.)

Daring Fireball T-Shirt on Food Network’s ‘Bobby Flay’s Throwdown’ 

DF member Josh Dickens wore his classic DF shirt — looking classy with a blazer — to a taping of the Food Network’s “Bobby Flay’s Throwdown” and got on the air. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you’re going to appear in the national media, you’ll look your best in a DF t-shirt.

Note to Bill Gates: I’ll Take Your Bet, for $10,000. 

Wil Shipley offers to bet Bill Gates $10,000 at 3-to-1 odds that Windows Vista won’t ship by January.

Apple Sneaks New Logic Board Into Whining MacBook Pros 

I missed this last week.

Virtual PC for Windows Now Free 

But not the Mac version. (Although it seems to me they could make the Mac version free and charge for a Windows license with each copy.)

OmniWeb 5.5 Speed Improvements? 

The main reason I stopped using OmniWeb 5.1 — despite all the many things I loved about it — is that it was just so much slower than either Safari or Camino. According to these speed tests of the currently-in-beta version 5.5, however, that has changed.

MyzteryZot 5 

Five apps for $5; the gimmick is that you don’t know what the apps are. I don’t see how the developers of the apps in these deals make any money, but it’s certainly an intriguing promotion.

eFax: How Not to Treat Your Customers 

Amazingly bad customer service. I almost signed up for an eFax account once; glad I didn’t. (Via Wolf Rentzsch, who puts in a good word for MaxEmail for fax-via-email service.)

1760 Letter From Benjamin Franklin to John Baskerville 

Franklin, writing to typeface designer John Baskerville regarding a printing customer who had complained that Baskerville’s typefaces were inferior to William Caslon’s:

Yesterday he called to visit me, when, mischievously bent to try his Judgment, I stept into my Closet, tore off the Top of Mr. Caslon’s Specimen, and produced it to him as yours brought with me from Birmingham, saying, I had been examining it since he spoke to me, and could not for my Life perceive the Disproportion he mentioned, desiring him to point it out to me. He readily undertook it, and went over the several Founts, shewing me every-where what he thought Instances of that Disproportion; and declared, that he could not then read the Specimen without feeling very strongly the Pain he had mentioned to me.

Which just goes to show that clients have been making asinine demands with regard to type choices for a very long time indeed.

Yahoo Hires Daniel Bogan 

He’ll be working in their platforms group in Sydney. Big score for Yahoo.

Tim Bray Is Experimenting With Camping, the Other Ruby Web Framework 

This post is the weblog equivalent of him cracking his knuckles. (I share with Bray an aversion to serving web pages live from a database.)

Pulling a Double Shift 

Wolf Rentzsch discovers that when you hold down both Shift keys, a bunch of other keys go dead on your keyboard. I think it’s a USB thing, though — on my PowerBook G4, I see the same thing he describes using the built-in keyboard, but I don’t see it when using my Extended Keyboard II (with a Griffin iMate ADB-to-USB adaptor).

Hotwired Nostalgia From Jeff Veen 

Screenshots of one of the first great web sites. Ah, imagemaps. (Via Andy Baio.)

Joanne Colan Takes Over as ‘Interim’ Host of Rocketboom 

My guess is that this will be about as “interim” as Jobs’s stint as Apple CEO.

Non-Errors in English Usage 

“Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but which are actually standard in English.” (Via Coudal, which is weird, given that they’re a bunch of illiterates.)

Atari Pole Position Commercial 

“It’ll bust your crank… and leave skid marks on your soul.” (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Insert Key Safely Disarmed in Microsoft Word 2007 

Hitting the Insert key no longer triggers Overtype mode in Word 2007. That feature hit the daily double of bad UI design: it was both dangerous and confusing. (Via Wolf Rentzsch.)

Exporting mbox Files From Apple Mail macosxhints.com - 10.4: Export Mail to mbox with Save As…  

With regard to Mail’s role in the recent switching-to-Ubuntu saga: using Mail’s Save As command and the “Raw Message Source” output option, you can export mbox-formated mailbox files.

Cabel Sasser on the Cancelled Portland Apple Store 

Includes a picture of what the proposed store would have looked like and a photo of the current site.

Solve Sudoku Without Even Thinking 

I’ve always thought it would be a lot more fun to write a program to solve Sudokus than to solve them myself; now I see that it wouldn’t even be that much fun to write such a program. (Via Andy Baio.)

Update: Here’s a Sudoku solver written in just three lines of obfuscated Perl.

Condé Nast Buys Wired News 

Lycos sold Wired News (the web site) to Condé Nast, publishers of Wired (the magazine). The fact that they’ve been separate entities for the past eight years is one of those things I’m sure non-media-junkies had no idea about, but I’ve always thought it was an incredibly awkward situation for the magazine. This is great news for both Wired and Wired News.

Copy What You Like 

Paul Graham:

It can be hard to separate the things you like from the things you’re impressed with. One trick is to ignore presentation. Whenever I see a painting impressively hung in a museum, I ask myself: how much would I pay for this if I found it at a garage sale, dirty and frameless, and with no idea who painted it? If you walk around a museum trying this experiment, you’ll find you get some truly startling results. Don’t ignore this data point just because it’s an outlier.

Create 8-Bit Nintendo-Style Sounds in GarageBand 

Music to my ears. (Via Scott McNulty.)

CamelBones 1.0.0 

Sherm Pendley’s Objective-C/Perl bridge hits 1.0; now fully compatible with Intel-based Macs.

Language Log on Mail’s Keychain Dialog 

I agree that the wording of this dialog is atrocious; “Change” and “Don’t Change” are inscrutable given the preceding description. But “Yes” and “No” are almost always bad button names, as well; better would be “Allow” and “Don’t Allow”. (Thanks to James Troutman for the link.)

Yahoo Messenger for Mac 3.0b1 

Radically improved new version of Yahoo Messenger for Mac. Very nice iChat-esque UI, and includes support for video conferencing. If I actually knew anyone who uses Yahoo Messenger, I’d use this.

Go Ape Shirts 

Another excellent new t-shirt store. I just ordered myself a Boo Boo Walker.

The Fake Leopard Screenshot Contest 

Phill Ryu:

So, as my blog starts its second week of existence, I am kicking off a Fake Leopard Screenshot Contest. (Tagline: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a fake one is worth nearly a thousand bucks of software!)

(Via MacMinute.)

20 Percent of Windows WGA Failures Not Caused by Bootleg Keys 

Is it just me or does it seem like Microsoft is being run by morons?

Velcro at 94x Magnification 

Now that’s a narrow depth of field.

Chronos Discontinues StickyBrain 

It was confusingly similar to their SOHO Notes product; they’re giving current StickyBrain users a free upgrade to SOHO Notes.

Quinn Gets Cease and Desist Nastygram From Lawyers Representing The Tetris Company 

They’ve stopped distributing the game while they consider their options. As I noted a few weeks ago when version 3.3 was released, Quinn is a most-excellent Tetris implementation. (Via Boing Boing.)

Random MacBook Shut-Downs 

Unclear whether it’s a 10.4.7 bug or a logic board problem.

The Treacherous Optimization 

Ridiculous Fish vs. grep.

Opal 

New outliner from David Dunham, developer of the classic Mac outliner Acta. Currently pre-beta, but there’s a public preview — and it can read 20-year-old Acta documents. Very different vibe than OmniOutliner. (Via Brent Simmons.)

No Built-In Virtualization in 10.5? 

That’s what Needham and Company analyst Charles Wolf says Phil Schiller told him:

“I am so pleased to see [Apple promoting Parallels],” said Wolf. “I had a talk with Phil Schiller at the opening of the 5th Avenue Apple Store, and I asked him the question, ‘will Apple include a virtualization solution in [the next version of Mac OS X] Leopard?’ He said ‘absolutely not, the R&D would be prohibitive and we’re not going to do it. Our solution is dual boot.’ When I saw Parallels come out, I thought Apple would dis it, but this page suggests that Apple will actively support it.

Using Markdown to Generate RSS Feeds 

Interesting way to create a simple RSS feed.

Two Seconds to Sleep 

From the “I Did Not Know That” department: hold down Command-Option-Eject for two seconds to put your Mac to sleep without any confirmation dialogs. But given that you have to wait two seconds for it to kick in, I’m not sure it’s any faster than the technique I’ve been using for years: hit the power key (or Control-Eject on modern Apple desktop keyboards), then type “s” when the dialog appears. Update: Ends up you don’t have to hold the keys for two seconds — just type Command-Option-Eject and that’s it. It might take a few seconds before going to sleep, but you don’t have to hold the keys down. (Via Infinite Loop.)

Apple Statement on the Widget ‘Phone Home’ Feature 

They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by publicizing this when 10.4.7 shipped.

Free, Legal, and Ignored 

College students are ignoring the “free” music services provided through their schools, because they’re a pain in the ass to use, don’t let you keep your music forever, and don’t work with Macs or iPods. Being “free” isn’t good enough — a music service needs to compete with P2P networks in terms of convenience, too.

Microsoft Windows Kill Switch? 

Bruce Schneier on the growing rumor that Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage system components enable Microsoft to disable a working Windows installation if they believe it isn’t “genuine”:

The stupidity of this idea is amazing. Not just the inevitability of false positives, but the potential for a hacker to co-opt the controls. I hope this rumor ends up not being true.

Although if they actually do it, the backlash could do more for non-Windows OSs than anything those OSs could do for themselves.

See also this follow-up from Ed Bott, with a rambling non-denial denial from a Microsoft PR flak.

(Via Nat Irons via email.)

JWZ on the mbox Format 

Speaking of mbox, an oldie-but-goodie from JWZ on the mbox format specification, or lack thereof:

RFCs specify internet protocols, that is, on-the-wire formats. The thing that the original poster is looking for is a description of the BSD Mailbox file format (which is not something an RFC would cover.)

But, here’s the good news, there is no true specification of this file format, just a collection of word-of-mouth behaviors of the various programs over the last few decades which have used that format.

It’s All^H^H^HOnly About the Apps 

Rich Siegel on the switching-to-Ubuntu saga:

The problem I see with this line of reasoning is that it conflates the hardware and the OS with the applications that run on them. That’s an easy mistake to make, since those bundled applications are refined to the point that they integrate closely with each other and the OS, and also because they form the basis of the first-run experience for almost every Mac OS X user, new or old.

However, the applications are not the platform.

He also points out that Apple Mail never used mbox for mail storage — it used a very mbox-like format that wasn’t really mbox.

The Power of Positive Whining 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Write about a usability error at Amazon, and 100 sites that copy Amazon will improve.

New 10.4.7 ‘dashboardadvisoryd’ Daemon Phones Home to Apple.com 

Daniel Jalkut reports on ‘dashboardadvisoryd’, a new background daemon Apple added to 10.4.7 that phones home to Apple.com every eight hours so that you can confirm that the Dashboard widgets you download are identical to the ones featured on Apple.com. A clever idea, and almost certainly harmless, in and of itself, but this sort of secretive “phoning home” feature — which wasn’t announced and which can’t be turned off without hacking skills — really gets people worked up.

When you introduce a feature such as this, no matter how innocuous the data is that’s transmitted back and forth over the wire, you must explicitly inform the user about the feature and give them an option to turn it off.

On RSS and Atom 

DeWitt Clinton:

Fortunately all is not lost. While I don’t want to get embroiled in a format war, I will say that I’ve found the Atom 1.0 standard to meet the needs of nearly every single problem that I’ve thrown at it. Amazingly so, actually. I’ve been consistently impressed with how well the authors of the Atom syndication format anticipated the needs of the advanced content syndication community. There has yet to be a use-case that I’ve explored — and I work with some thorny ones — in which Atom has let me down.

I feel the same way.

NY Times Reports That Microsoft Is Developing Its Own iPod Competitor 

If true, this is definitely going to piss off companies like Sony and Samsung that have bundled Microsoft software in their own players. Note, though, that this is just a rumor, albeit a rumor in The New York Times. The Chicago Tribune had a story on this yesterday, but their primary source was Rob “Let’s Just Get This Over With and Call Me ‘Jackass of the Week’ Yet Again” Enderle.

Anyway, the big hook in both stories that Microsoft’s supposed player is going to have built-in Wi-Fi. Maybe it’ll have more buttons, too.

Apple Abandons Plans for New Store in Portland, Oregon 

After getting yanked around by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission, Apple pulled out of the deal.

Amanda Congdon Leaves Rocketboom 

Dave Winer on the breakup of Rocketboom. Amanda Congdon is moving to L.A., but the show couldn’t afford to move with her, and Andrew Baron owns 51 percent of the show. Baron’s announcement on the front page of Rocketboom.com says they’re looking for a replacement. (Winer has a screenshot of the announcement, which seems the closest one can get to a permalink for it.) Update: Congdon shoots back. It’s getting ugly.

VoodooPad 3.0 

Tons of new features to Flying Meat Software’s wiki-ish notebook application, including what looks to be a very rich plug-in and scripting interface. Very interesting that it uses the relatively obscure Lua as the scripting language, as opposed to AppleScript or a Unix-y language like Perl, Python, Ruby; Lua is the scripting language Adobe is using to write a significant chunk of Lightroom (which fact VoodooPad author Gus Mueller took note of back in January). Update: VoodooPad does support AppleScript, too, but that’s apart from the new Lua-based plug-in interface.

2005-2006 MDJ Power 25 

Here’s how I cast my ballot back in December, when the voting took place: (1) Steve Jobs; (2) Tim Cook; (3) Jeffrey Robbin; (4) Tony Fadell; (5) Dave Hyatt. All but Hyatt wound up making the list (I think the reason Hyatt has dropped of the list is that he doesn’t blog about Safari that much any more). If I were to cast my vote today, the only change I’d make would be to vote for Scott Forstall instead of Hyatt, but I’m not sure if I’d replace Fadell or Hyatt to make room for him. Forstall is Apple’s vice president of platform experience, and is enormously influential with regard to all aspects of the Macintosh user interface and experience.

Canaries in the Mac OS X and Red Hat Coal Mines? 

Tim O’Reilly on the recent “switching to Ubuntu” meme. One thing seems certain: it’s not “Linux” in general that is gaining steam — it’s Ubuntu in particular.

U.S. Senator Ted Stevens Explains How the Internet Works 

Hard to tell how much to attribute to his being stupid, and how much to his being a nut-job.

OpenType Version of Sabon Next 

Jean François Porchez reports that an OpenType version of Sabon Next — his 2002 revival of Jan Tschichold’s masterpiece Sabon — should be coming out sometime later this year.

Stanley Kubrick’s Chicago 

The Chicago Tribune (requires free registration, alas):

Few people know that before he started making movies, Stanley Kubrick was a star photojournalist. In the summer of 1949, Look magazine sent him to Chicago to shoot pictures for a story called “Chicago City of Contrasts.”

(Via Coudal, of course, whence I also found this YouTube version of The Flying Padre, Kubrick’s rather saccharine first directing credit.)

DropDMG 2.7.7 

Bug-fix update to Michael Tsai’s excellent $15 utility for creating disk images and archives.

Apple Remedies MacBook Discoloration 

Those ugly stains on two-week-old white MacBooks are not an attempt to get people to spring for the black ones.

How to Draw a Pixel Head 

Watching pixel artists work has a hypnotic effect.

Layoffs Coming to Microsoft? 

Mini-Microsoft might soon get his wish.

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