Linked List: June 2006

Big Cat Scripts Plugin Now Universal 

I’ve been using Big Cat Scripts ever since Brent released it; it’s like a slimmed down version of FinderPop for Mac OS X. (Of course, Turly O’Connor is now working on a Mac OS X version of FinderPop…)

Flaming 

I have apparently changed the name of my web site — search for “Gruber” in the text of this article by InformationWeek’s Alice LaPlante.

NetNewsWire Lite 2.1 

Additions include printing, Delicious bookmark posting, and NewsGator synching.

Roger Ebert on ‘The Shining’ 

Roger Ebert writes about Kubrick’s The Shining for his Great Movies series:

The one observer who seems trustworthy at all times is Dick Hallorann, but his usefulness ends soon after his midwinter return to the hotel. That leaves us with a closed-room mystery: In a snowbound hotel, three people descend into versions of madness or psychic terror, and we cannot depend on any of them for an objective view of what happens. It is this elusive open-endedness that makes Kubrick’s film so strangely disturbing.

Experimental Animated Tabs in Camino 

Desmond Elliott, who’s working on Mozilla and Camino for a few months on a Google Summer of Code grant, has added a pretty cool animated/scrolling effect to Camino’s tab bar.

Suite Modeler Is Now Freeware suiteModeler  

Suite Modeler, Don Briggs’s developer tool for helping Cocoa developers add AppleScript support to their applications, is now freeware (and a universal binary). (Via Briggs’s comment on Red Sweater Blog.)

Interarchy 8.1.1 

Bug fixes and improvements to the new Amazon S3 support.

Google Checkout 

Google ships their long-rumored competitor to PayPal for easy-to-use e-commerce. No payment processing fees at all for up to 10 times your AdWords budget; otherwise the fees are a flat 2 percent plus $0.20 per transaction. Full API and developer documentation, too.

rm -r * 

I’d break into a cold sweat if I overheard this, too.

Sub-Pixel Anti-Aliasing Bug Fix for Intel-Based Macs in 10.4.7 

Dan Benjamin saves me 5,000 words.

Mark Pilgrim: Essentials, 2006 Edition 

His list of essential software now that he’s switched to Ubuntu. Other than missing iMovie, Quicksilver, and Growl, he seems pretty happy.

Alastair Houghton: Mac OS X Authentication Dialogs Can Lie 

Alastair Houghton reports on a security hole in Mac OS X that allows the authentication dialog to lie about which application is requesting administrator privileges. He reported the bug to Apple in November 2003 (rdar://3486235), and has gone public with it only because it’s gone unfixed for so long. (Via Michael Tsai.)

Kubrick’s ‘Day of the Fight’ 

Stanley Kubrick’s rarely-seen first film, Day of the Fight, a 1951 documentary about the prizefighter Walter Cartier. Love the shot through the legs of the stool at the start of the first round.

(Via The Stranger — finally, a Kubrick link I didn’t filch from Coudal.)

Drosera 

“Xenon”, posting at the WebKit.org Surfin’ Safari weblog:

I would like to introduce a new addition to the WebKit open source
tools—a JavaScript debugger. Drosera, named after the largest
genera
of bug eating plants, lets you attach and debug JavaScript
for any WebKit application—not just Safari.

One of the unique things about Drosera, like the Web Inspector, is that over 90% of it is written in HTML and JavaScript. This is a true testament of what you can do with web technologies today and the rapid development that WebKit allows.

I can’t decide whether this is fantastic or awesome.

Kevin Smith’s Free ‘Clerks 2’ Commentary 

Kevin Smith has recorded a commentary to his upcoming film Clerks 2 and he’s releasing it as a free download on iTunes. The idea being that if you like the movie, you’ll come back and see it in the theater again with your iPod. Genius.

Microsoft Acquires iView Multimedia 

Makers of the popular digital asset management software.

Mac OS X 10.4.7 

Bug fixes galore.

Slate Redesigns 

Long overdue — their articles are much more readable now that they’re using CSS to specify a reasonable line-height. Welcome to the 2000s, Slate. Not sure why they scrapped their old logo — that was one of the few things that wasn’t wrong with their old design.

Remote Buddy 1.0 Preview 3 

Another third-party utility for using your Apple Remote Control to control other apps. Still in beta, Remote Buddy costs €10 (about $12.50 today).

Sofa Control 1.0 

$10 app that lets you control a bunch of other apps using the remote control that ships with new Macs. And because it’s based on AppleScript, the list of supported apps is growing.

Exploring Cocoa With F-Script 

Philippe Mougin’s updated and extensive guide to F-Script, a powerful scripting environment for manipulating Cocoa applications. Wolf Rentzsch calls it “the ultimate high-level Core Data debugger”.

WWDC Early Registration Extended to July 7 

Save $300 through July 7.

Delicious Monster Gamblers’ Sale 

Clever idea for a software sale:

Every week we are going to reduce the price of Delicious Library by $5. We will keep reducing the price until we sell a secret number of copies that we have set aside, or until four weeks go by. If you wait for the price to go down, you are taking a risk that the sale will end because we sell out! It’s called a “gambler’s sale” because the longer you wait, the more you might save — or you might miss the sale entirely.

Game Server Configulators May Be Discontinued 

Martin van Spanje, developer of donationware game server tools for Mac OS X, is looking for another Mac developer to take over the project.

Buffett to Give Bulk of Fortune to Gates Charity 

Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor and second-richest man, is donating 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to charity, with $31 billion going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Job Openings at NewsGator 

Hiring web designers, software engineers, and database nerds.

Apple II File Type Notes 

Treasure trove of file format specifications for software from the Apple II. (Via MDJ 2006.06.23 — MDJ publisher Matt Deatherage helped document a bunch of these formats.)

iTunes Visualizer Secrets 

Speaking of iTunes visualizers, Rob Griffiths posted a nice summary of the keyboard shortcuts you can use to control their display.

iSpazz 

Yet another backlighting hack: this time, an iTunes visualizer that flashes your backlit keyboard, and optionally, your display brightness as well.

eWeek Story on Pilgrim/Bray Switching Saga 

With quotes from yours truly. Reproduced on Fox News, as well. This might sound funny coming from a guy who wrote 4500+ words on the topic, but I’m not sure why this is being covered in a mainstream tech press publication like eWeek.

iStache 

From the Department of Doing One Thing and Doing It Well: iStache, a simple image editor that lets you add mustaches to any picture. Update: Upload yours to Flickr and tag them “istache”.

Camino 1.0.2 

Bug fix and security update.

Reconsidering Bill Gates 

David Pogue:

In fact, when you step back far enough, Mr. Gates’s entire life arc suddenly looks like a 35-year game of Robin Hood, a gigantic wealth-redistribution system on a global scale.

Jobs and Gates 

Having dinner at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference last year. (Via Daniel Bogan via AIM.)

Adobe to Distribute Google Toolbar 

Only applies to Windows IE users, but even so, I’m not sure what to make of this.

Shake Source Code Licensing 

Customers with an existing support contract can license the source code to Shake 4.1 for $50,000 (which includes a 5,000-seat license).

Podcast of SXSW ‘Blogging for Money’ Session 

Podcast of the SXSW ‘How to Blog for Money by Learning From Comics’ panel I spoke on is now available.

FlickrExport 2.0 

Connected Flow’s Flickr plug-in for iPhoto is now £12 shareware (about US$20), and adds a bunch of new features. Ka-ching.

Music Business Needs to Be More Image Conscious 

Charles Arthur means it literally.

Guardian Launches Printable Internet Edition 

New 8- to 12-page printable PDF version of The Guardian, with new versions published every 15 minutes. Aimed at a lunchtime and commuter audience that wants something they can print. Very clever. (Via Coudal, yet again.)

Cinefex Issue 85 

Everything’s coming up Kubrick today over at Coudal:

The best, most in-depth article anywhere on the technical aspects of making 2001 is, unfortunately not online. But, you can still order the back-issue of Cinefex 85 for fifteen dollars. Required reading.

Kubrick at ‘2001’ Premiere 

Also from Coudal, a clip of Kubrick himself at the 2001 premiere.

Brief Interview With Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood 

Talking about their experiences filming Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Via Coudal, of course.)

WSJ.com: ‘DRM’ Protects Downloads, But Does It Stifle Innovation? 

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Online Journal asked Fritz Attaway, a senior executive with the Motion Picture Association of America, to debate the issue over email with Wendy Seltzer, a law professor who specializes in intellectual property and First Amendment issues.

Seltzer does a great job cutting to core issues: DRM technologies (and the DMCA) prevent people from using content in ways that ought to be allowed under the fair use provisions of U.S. copyright law; and the entertainment industry wants people to keep paying over and over to view content they’ve already paid for.

Files Are Not for Sharing 

Matthew Baldwin and Goopymart present a children’s primer on file sharing.

Apple Jam Recipes 

Nice post from Rui Carmo on the whole “openness/open source” saga.

Backlit Keyboard CPU Load Monitor 

After linking to Amit Singh’s example code for controlling the keyboard backlighting on Mac notebooks, I asked how long it would take until someone used it to write a CPU monitor. The answer? About a day, thanks to this hack from Matthew Butch.

Works as advertised on my 15-inch PowerBook.

Opera 9.0 

Ships on the same day for both Windows and Mac — a first for Opera, I believe. Still a somewhat odd user experience by Mac standards (to say the least), but it certainly is a very snappy HTML renderer. [Update: I was wrong; ends up Opera has been releasing simultaneously for Windows, Mac, and Linux since version 7.50.]

Shake 4.1 

Apple’s professional-grade video compositing tool is now a universal binary. They also dropped the price for the Mac version to $499, but left the Linux version at $2999.

Key to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ 

Barbara Gibson on Keynote’s central role in Al Gore’s new film An Inconvenient Truth:

A longtime and respected advocate for the environment, Gore has given some 1,000 talks on climate change since 1989 — at first using slides in a carousel with easels and charts. He switched to Keynote on his PowerBook, Chilcott says, after Gore’s wife Tipper said, “Well, Mr. Information Superhighway, why don’t you put your slides on your computer?”

Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 

InfoWorld’s Neil McAllister says it’s better than Ubuntu. It installed easily on his notebook, including easy Wi-Fi support, but power management remains a sore spot. (Via Ramanan Sivaranjan.)

BombSquad 3.0 

Freeware minesweeper game for Mac OS X.

Project DReaM: Open Standard DRM Proposal From Sun 

Sun:

DReaM is a Sun Labs initiative to develop a Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution based on open standards that will also integrate with proprietary DRM solutions, thus providing both openness and interoperability for specific customer requirements.

I’m in no position to judge whether this is feasible, but the problem with an idea like this is that Sun is in no position to drive adoption of it. And the only companies that are in a position to drive adoption of an “open” DRM scheme don’t want to.

MonoCalendar 

Regarding my “Where’s the open source calendar app that’s as simple and uncluttered as iCal?” question on Monday, John C. Welch emailed to point out MonoCalendar, an open source iCal knock-off written for Mono and .Net.

Spotlaser 1.3 

Alternative search interface for Spotlight data. Spotlaser only provides a UI for specifying queries; results are shown by way of Finder search results windows. Donationware.

Blogging From TextMate 

Screencast by Allan Odgaard demoing Brad Choate’s “Blogging” bundle for TextMate. The basic posting and editing stuff I’ve had working in BBEdit for years, but the niftiest trick in this demo comes at the end, when he drags a PNG into the editor window.

Interarchy 8.1 

Sweet update to my favorite file transfer app. The best new feature is support for Amazon S3 (Interarchy is the first Mac file transfer app to support S3, as far as I’m aware). It works just like you’d expect: you enter your credentials and get a file listing window where you can drop files and folders to upload them to your Amazon S3 account. My other favorite new feature is a small one, but I requested it: the “Mirror Dry Run” feature is now available from the contextual menu in the Bookmarks window; previously it was hidden away in the Preferences window.

Surviving I/O Errors 

Wolf Rentzsch on how he recovered from a FireWire I/O error that left 4 KB of a 114 MB disk image unreadable.

See also: Dave Nanian on why SuperDuper gives up and reports an error when it encounters such an error, rather than skipping it and moving on.

Zen and the Art of Classified Advertising 

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, in an interview with Brian M. Carney in The Wall Street Journal: “If it’s not something that users are asking for, we don’t consider it.”

Experimenting With Light on Apple Notebook Computers 

Amit Singh — who first published example code showing how to use unsupported APIs to use the motion sensors in Mac notebooks — now shows how to get readings from a Mac’s ambient light sensor and how to get and set the brightness of the backlit keyboards.

How long until someone writes a hack to use the keyboard backlight as a CPU monitor?

50 Cent Deal With Apple? 

AllHipHop.com:

Rap star 50 Cent is entering the world of technology and is currently in negotiations with Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs to produce a line of affordable home computers to inner-city residents.

According to a recent article in Forbes, 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson and his high powered manager Chris Lighty of Violator management, are negotiating the branding deal with the computer/software giant.

Interesting.

Variety: Apple Negotiating Terms for Movie Downloads 

Movie industry sources blabbed to Variety regarding their negotiations with Apple for movie downloads via ITMS. Apple wants them all priced at $9.99; the studios insist on variable pricing.

Anil Dash: Office 2007 Is the Bravest Upgrade Ever 

Anil Dash:

Short and sweet, the Ribbon and new UI in Microsoft Office 2007 is the ballsiest new feature in the history of computer software. I’ve been using Office 12 for about six months, and not only has it made me more productive, I’m struck by the sheer ambition of the changes in this version.

Dash points out that Office’s $11+ billion a year in revenue works out to around $250 million a week, which puts the Office team under an enormous amount of pressure and scrutiny. In the movie industry, that amount of weekly revenue would be considered the all-time greatest box office opening — week-in, week-out, 52 weeks a year.

Also: Sippey likes Office 2007, too.

‘Get a Mac’ Commercials Reviewed in Slate 

Seth Stevenson reviews, and more or less pans, Apple’s new “Get a Mac” ad campaign because he dislikes the casting, and he thinks some of the anti-PC propaganda is too exaggerated. In their favor, he writes:

[…] the campaign is a marvel of clarity and simplicity. No slogans. No video effects. No voice-overs. And lots of clean, white space. It’s like a bath of cool mineral water when these ads come on after a string of garish, jam-packed spots for other products.

The more I see these ads on TV, the more I think this stylistic simplicity is as big a part of the ads’ intended message as anything the characters actually say. The characters are talking about the Mac; the tone, style, direction, and editing are about Apple.

Lineform 1.1 

Interesting $79 drawing program from Tribar Software; new version adds support for SVG import and export, AppleScript, and Core Image filters. Lineform is certainly ambitious — they’re positioning it as an artistic tool competing against Illustrator, as opposed to, say, OmniGraffle. (Advertising that the user manual is only 30-pages long doesn’t exactly make it seem like an Illustrator peer, though.)

A Kernel of Truth: The Plot Thickens 

Follow-up from John Siracusa on his Mac OS X kernel speculation, including his best guess as to what Apple might replace Mach with if they’re going to replace Mach.

He also points to a comment from Rosyna, who suggests a very reasonable explanation for the missing x86 Darwin kernel source code: that it contains code for Rosetta (which is licensed from Transitive) that Apple can’t release.

A Kernel of Truth 

John Siracusa examines the rumors swirling around Mac OS X’s Mach kernel.

Montage 1.0 Public Beta Montage Screenwriting Software - From Work In Progress to Final Draft  

New screenwriting app from Mariner Software (makers of Mariner Write). Sports a very trendy Mac OS X UI, and it imports Final Draft documents. That’s essential for any app in this market, because Final Draft is to the screenwriting market what Microsoft Word is to the rest of the word processing market: despised by some because of its interface and bloated feature set, but required because its document format is the “industry standard”.

(Via MDJ 2006.06.16.)

Open Data Formats, Longevity, and Microformats 

Tantek Çelik:

There may be a few XML formats that survive and converge sufficiently to be dependable (maybe RSS, maybe Atom), but for now XHTML is IMHO the only longerm reliable XML format, and that has more to do with it being based on HTML than it being XML.

Interesting that someone with a “Ç” in his surname would endorse ASCII over UTF-8 for text files.

Apple: Get a Mac: Run Windows 

Apple’s “Get a Mac” page promoting the Windows compatibility of Intel Macs promotes the use of Parallels Desktop over Boot Camp. Although “promotes” might be the wrong word. What they’re doing is emphasizing the way that with Parallels — and unlike Boot Camp — you can run Windows software at the same time as Mac software, but they only specifically mention that this requires Parallels in a footnote, and they don’t even link to the the Parallels web site.

Wait and see if the virtualization software in Mac OS X 10.5 doesn’t support this out of the box.

Araelium Edit 

New programming text editor with built-in IDE-style project management. Currently a free-to-test public beta; very crashy in the five minutes I spent kicking the tires, but definitely something to keep an eye on. Seems to be inspired more by Xcode than by BBEdit or TextMate. Most glaring hole: it doesn’t appear to be scriptable — AppleScript or shell — at all. It also seems as though the syntax coloring mechanism is far too simplistic to do a decent job parsing Perl. (Via John Siracusa via AIM.)

NY Times Video Profile of Ze Frank 

S-s-s-something from the NY Times.

Juggling Oranges 

Mark Pilgrim:

The first 90% of John Gruber’s And Oranges is excellent. Everyone should read it, and I’m not just saying that because it’s all about me. Unfortunately, the last 10% goes right off the rails, so naturally that’s where I’m going to start.

DF T-Shirt on TLC 

DF reader “Editor B” wore his classic DF t-shirt when he was featured on a special on The Learning Channel.

Macworld: Black and White MacBooks Benchmark Differently 

The differences are attributable to the hard drives being from different manufacturers; the 60 GB Seagate drive in the white MacBooks is faster at most tasks than the 80 GB Fujitsu drive in the black ones, despite the fact that both are running at 5,400 RPM. Other than the iPhoto importing test, however, the differences are pretty small.

Why Not Ballmer? 

In the wake of Bill Gates’s announcement that he’s stepping down from day-to-day management at Microsoft in two years, Owen Thomas from Business 2.0 says Steve Ballmer should pack his bags too. Jack Schofield, blogging for The Guardian, points out why this is unlikely:

It would be a much bigger deal if Steve Ballmer was stepping down, which is what a lot of geeks would prefer. Gates is a nerd. Ballmer is a salesman and would probably have made a great high school football coach, neither of which appeals to geek sensibilities. But he’s taken Microsoft sales from $25bn (2001) to $40bn (2005) and annual profits from $7.3bn to $12.3bn, almost doubling EPS. That sort of performance is not likely to get him fired.

Further proof that Ballmer likely isn’t leaving anytime soon: Thomas quotes none other than our good friend Rob Enderle as predicting that Ballmer will leave soon after Gates.

Jackass of the Week: Richard Koman 

Richard Koman wrote this report for O’Reilly’s MacDevCenter on the California Court of Appeal ruling against Apple’s attempt to subpoena email records from the ISPs for PowerPage and AppleInsider. For analysis on the ruling’s “impact on the industry”, Koman turns to Rob Enderle, whom he quotes via email:

“Apple is really the only firm that doesn’t use nondisclosure agreements and, as a result, they stood alone in this. So, other then [sic] a few execs likely feeling superior because they guessed the outcome of this correctly (did anyone really think it was going to end differently?) this should have little impact on the Valley.”

This is so false it’s laughable. Apple is arguably the most NDA-happy company in the entire industry. Apple probably has its janitors signed to NDAs. And as MDJ pointed out, the appeals court specifically noted that in this case, Apple’s employees had signed NDAs regarding the Asteroid technology. (MDJ further notes that even leaving aside point about NDAs, Enderle is still wrong about Apple “[standing] alone in this” — amicus briefs supporting Apple were filed by IBM, Genentech, and the Information Technology Industry Council).

For just passing this easily-refuted obvious nonsense along as though it were true, Richard Koman is our jackass of the week.

My First BillG Review 

Joel Spolsky recalls his first meeting with Bill Gates, back when Spolsky was a product manager for Excel in 1992. (Side note: the date issue with 1900 not being a leap year is the reason why the Macintosh epoch starts on 1 January 1904, instead of 1900).

Bill Gates Stepping Down From Day-to-Day Role at Microsoft in July 2008 

Microsoft:

Microsoft Corp. today announced that effective July 2008 Bill Gates, chairman, will transition out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates will continue as chairman of the board; Ray Ozzie will assume the title of chief software architect.

MacJournals.com Analysis of Court Ruling Against Apple in Product Leak Case 

Macworld runs a lengthy excerpt of MacJournals.com’s outstanding analysis of California’s sixth district court of appeals ruling against Apple in the “Asteroid” case. (Yes, it’s over 7,000 words and it’s just an excerpt of the coverage that originally ran in MDJ and MWJ.) In short: it’s a bad ruling, and the case is almost certainly heading to the California Supreme Court.

Quicksilver and Yojimbo 1.2 

Tim Gaden points out that Quicksilver now has a plug-in for adding and accessing items in Yojimbo. Installed.

BetterZip 1.1 

$20 utility for inspecting, creating, and modifying compressed archives. Supports zip, tar, gzip, and bzip, and gives you control over whether to include (or strip) the Mac-specific metadata stash that Mac OS X’s built-in archive feature includes in its archives.

Joe Kral Needs Help 

Joe Kral, the designer/typographer behind Test Pilot Collective, needed emergency surgery to stem massive internal bleeding. He’s recovering now, but because he doesn’t have health insurance, he’s on the hook for a $50,000 medical bill, and he’s asking for help.

Oddica 

Purveyor of very cool t-shirts. Great shirt designs and a great deal for the artists who design them. Looks like they ship in very cool packaging, too.

Script Debugger 4.0.3 

Bug fixes and universal binary support for Late Night Software’s excellent AppleScript editor and debugger.

Fetch 5.1 

Adds universal binary, Dashboard, and Automator support to the venerable file-transfer client.

Hoefler & Frere-Jones: Verlag 

Lovely new typeface in 30 different styles from Hoefler & Frere-Jones:

Provided in a range of weights and widths — including those hard-to-find compressed italics — Verlag brings a welcome eloquence to the can-do sensibility of pre-war Modernism. Three widths, each in five weights with matching italics, and now available in both PostScript and OpenType.

Good looks and smart, too.

Must. Resist. Urge. To. Buy.

Earth Sandwich Completed 

Brothers Jon and Duncan Rawlinson enter the League of Awesomeness.

XML-RPC support for Textpattern 

Now you can use weblog editors like MarsEdit to post to Textpattern sites.

Design Observer Observed 

Speak Up hosts a roundtable discussion on the Design Observer redesign. (Via Khoi Vinh.)

Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks an Expansion of Power 

John Markoff and Saul Hansell report on Google’s massive data center construction project in Oregon: two football-field-size data centers, each with a four-story cooling plant.

Google has found that for search engines, every millisecond longer it takes to give users their results leads to lower satisfaction. So the speed of light ends up being a constraint, and the company wants to put significant processing power close to all of its users.

Bonjour-enabled collaborative movie player for Mac OS X; sort of a do-it-yourself Mystery Science Theater 3000 app.

Adobe Lightroom Beta 3 

New public beta of Adobe’s in-development competitor to Aperture. Expires in January 2007, which sounds as though they’re not that close to shipping yet. Also noteworthy: still Mac-only.

Super Get Info 1.3 

Universal binary update to Bare Bones’s $20 file info utility.

Putt’s Law 

Archibald Putt:

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.

(Via 37signals.)

Crazy Apple Rumors: Industry Panel Discusses Dvorak 

My only complaint is that Mossberg gets all the funny lines.

Green Slime Oozing From Some PowerMac G5s 

Leaks from the liquid cooling system, apparently. (Via Infinite Loop.)

MacBook Discoloration 

Blotches on the palm rests; they can’t be removed by cleaning, so it might not be filthy/greasy hands, but instead a reaction to the heat. (Via Infinite Loop.)

Google SketchUp for Mac OS X 

First Mac release of Google’s free version of SketchUp, the acclaimed easy-to-use 3D drawing and modeling app, featuring integration with Google Earth.

A few notes, assembled with the help of Daniel Bogan:

  • You have to run an installer to install SketchUp, and even though the icon looks like a standard Mac OS X installer package, it’s actually a crummy installer from MindVision. It does not tell you what it’s going to install, or where, or why it requires you to authenticate. Looking at the installer log, it’s pretty innocuous: it puts the app in /Applications/ and a bunch of support files in /Library/Application Support/Google SketchUp/. I moved the app to ~/Applications/ and the support folder to ~/Library/, and the app still seems to work properly.

    Any installer that doesn’t offer you a list of everything it’s going to install sucks. The worst part, though, is that this app shouldn’t need an installer in the first place.

  • Poke around in the support folder and you can see that the plug-ins are all written in Ruby, and they’re doing useful things like dynamically the changing the app’s menu items. It’s a real Mac app, with its UI laid out in nib files, and appears to be written in Cocoa. But it looks like the Ruby plug-in API is cross-platform. Very cool. This is a serious Mac app, not a slapdash QT port like Google Earth.

Google Earth Release 4 Beta 

Now a universal binary for Mac OS X; the UI is better, but still ghetto. Lots of fun to play with, though.

Apple Posts Three New ‘Get a Mac’ Ads 

“Touché” is a big deal — Apple is now advertising the fact that Macs can run Windows. Says the “I’m a Mac” guy: “Now you can run Mac OS X or Windows on Mac, so in a way, I’m kind of like the only computer you’ll ever need.”

Michael Bartosh, Renowned Mac OS X Server Expert, Dead at 28 

Fell to his death from an 11th-floor balcony. John C. Welch has written a nice tribute.

Pairing Wine and Microformats 

Dan Cederholm on the markup behind Cork’d.

Max 0.6.1 

Stephen F. Booth’s open source audio ripping and encoding app for Mac OS X. Supports a lot of different audio formats and a lot of different options. (Via Infinite Loop.)

FuzzMeasure Pro 2 

I have no need for a audio and acoustical measurement app, but if you do, I’ll bet this is the one you want.

LoJAX 

Brothercake:

LoJAX is a re-creation of the window.XMLHttpRequest object, designed for low-specification and legacy browsers.

(Via Mark Pilgrim’s links.)

Hugh Macleod Cartoon on Scoble-Microsoft Breakup 

Funny because it’s true.

Quinn 3.3 

Simon Härtel’s excellent Tetris implementation for Mac OS X keeps getting better. It’s been over three years since I last mentioned Quinn, and in the the meantime, the graphics and animation have improved, the sound effects are better, and, most impressively, there’s now a network mode (with Bonjour support) and the ability to easily find other network players via the Quinn web site. All this and it’s freeware. I hereby declare Quinn the best Mac Tetris game since Wesleyan Tetris.

Scoble Says He Wasn’t Underappreciated by Microsoft 

Refuting the rumors circulating about why he’s leaving for a startup. I was skeptical of those claims that Microsoft was nickle and diming him on his expenses.

Scoble Leaving Microsoft for Startup 

Silicon Valley Watcher reports that he’s leaving Microsoft to join PodTech.net, a podcasting startup. They also dish up some juicy gossip about Scoble more or less being underappreciated within Microsoft:

Mr Scoble has expressed frustration working at Microsoft and he has also been unhappy with his compensation. He has created a tremendous amount of positive publicity for Microsoft but there have been many within the organisation that have resented his very public position. The company has not been able to control his views or his travels to various conferences and blogger meetings.

It is only within the past year that MSFT has tried to use his position as one of the most popular bloggers to its advantage, in public speaking engagements and other events. Before that, Mr Scoble had no travel buget and often would have to share hotel rooms and use his personal vacation days when speaking at various blogger conferences.

More from Dave Winer and TechCrunch. (Am I the only one who finds techcrunch.com broken a couple of times a week?)

The Vintage Mac Museum 

Motohiko Narita’s extensive collection of screenshots of Mac software from the monochrome 9-inch screen era. Fanfuckingtastic. (Via Khoi Vinh.)

Math Jokes in ‘The Simpsons’ 

Including two supposed disproofs of Fermat’s Last Theorem that take advantage of calculator rounding errors.

Design Observer Redesigns and Joins The Deck 

Great redesign of the ever thoughtful Design Observer. I love the way the main content column consumes the entire height of the window. Their new Observed column is a nice nod to Coudal.com’s Fresh Signals. I dig the colors, too.

Hex Color Picker 1.1 

Waffle Software:

Hex Color Picker is a color picker allowing you to get (and edit) the hexadecimal HTML and CSS color code for a color in the standard Mac OS X color panel.

Works like a charm.

Site Rip-Off: Headphono.us 

Total rip-off of Daring Fireball’s design and CSS. (The only change made to the CSS was to remove my name and copyright statement.) My thanks to everyone who’s emailed me about this. The anonymous jerk behind the site released a Dashboard widget for tracking 2006 World Cup soccer matches; not sure how he expected to get away with a rip-off of Daring Fireball while releasing Mac-specific software.

If anyone knows who this guy is, let me know. (And let’s keep it gentlemanly for now.)

Update: Case closed.

Building RMagick on Mac OS X 

Dan Benjamin shows how to install RMagick (Ruby bindings for the ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick image manipulation libraries) and its dependencies on Mac OS X.

Google GBuy Payments System? 

Forbes reports that Google is soon launching its long-rumored competitor to PayPal. This is good news for everyone other than eBay. I’m pretty happy with PayPal as the back-end payment processor for DF, but I’m uneasy about the fact that PayPal doesn’t have any serious competition. (Via Niall Kennedy.)

Craig Newmark: Keep the Internet Neutral, Fair and Free 

Craig “Craigslist” Newmark has an excellent commentary piece on CNN.com regarding the net neutrality debate. This is a great, easy-to-understand explanation of the situation.

(Thanks to Daniel Lord for the link.)

Dvorak: ‘I Would Write It in Kind of a Weaselly Way’ 

Dave Winer:

I was talking with [John C.] Dvorak at the Vloggercon party this evening, and he started telling a story about how he deliberately pisses Mac users off to get flow for his stories, and I said, hold a minute, I want to record this, and shit if he didn’t stop and repeat it for me and my video camera.

(The video is about 20 MB; give it a chance to load. Update: Not surprisingly, the traffic was killing Winer’s server; it’s now available via BitTorrent. It’s also on YouTube, for those of you who don’t want to bother with the torrent.)

I wrote about this three years ago, but it’s weird to hear Dvorak flat-out brag about it.

Coudal Partners: Field-Tested Books 2006 

My friends at Coudal Partners have published their annual Field-Tested Books feature — brief reviews of certain books read in certain places, including this one, of David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, by yours truly. For your additional consumer enjoyment, there’s a limited edition poster for $29, and a nicely-typeset-for-the-screen PDF for just $6. (Poster buyers get the PDF for free.)

Note for web nerds: check out the CSS cleverness that puts a checkmark next to the reviews you’ve already read.

FTP Demystified 

Basic overview of the FTP and SFTP protocols from a user’s perspective, by Panic’s Steven Frank.

Vienna 2.0 

Open source RSS/Atom feed reader for Mac OS X. (Via Daniel Jalkut.)

Ratatouille 

First trailer for next summer’s Pixar, directed by Brad Bird.

Cocoa Help: Mentoring and Immediate Answers 

Scott Stevenson is offering one-on-one Cocoa mentoring and instruction for $85/hour. Judging from his weblog, I’ll bet he’s really good at this.

VisualHub: The Universal Video Converter for Mac 

$23.32 video converter app for Mac OS X from the author of the freeware iSquint. (Via Bill Bumgarner, who praises both the software and the manual.)

WireTap Pro 1.2.0 

Small feature update and Intel-based-Mac compatibility for Ambrosia Software’s app for recording audio from any source on your Mac.

Audio Hijack and Audio Hijack Pro Updates 

Small feature updates and more Intel-based-Mac compatibility for Rogue Amoeba’s apps for recording audio from any source on your Mac.

Multi-Safari 

Michel Fortin has released standalone versions of each version of Safari. The 1.x versions from 10.3 still only run on 10.3, and the 2.x versions from 10.4 still only run on 10.4, but, if you need or want to test against older versions of Safari, this is a lot better than keeping a different bootable version of the entire OS around for each version of Safari.

Apple Introduces the New U2 iPod 

Somehow I missed this yesterday. Now that black iPods, in and of themselves, are no longer a novelty, the most noticeable differences are the red scroll wheel (carried over from the old U2 iPod) and the black metallic case backing (which is new).

All I Ever Needed to Know About Developing for Windows, I Learned From Rogue Amoeba 

Paul Kafasis on the differences between the indie software markets for Mac and Windows (based on a month or so of sales data for Rogue Amoeba’s Windows port of Airfoil).

It’s Hopeless 

Anil Dash on the experience of getting The Gimp installed and running on Windows.

Robotics as an Invitation to Girls Into Computer Science and Engineering 

Iguana Robotics:

Since this study, Iguana has conducted many classroom and informal learning studies that offered the same conclusion. Students love robots and girls particularly seem motivated by them. The creative possibilities and interactive qualities of a robot are very appealing to young women. This motivation could lead more young women into the male-dominated fields of computer science and engineering.

Jackass of the Week: Seattle Times Columnist Brier Dudley 

Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley:

By smugly asserting that Macs are ultrasecure, Apple leaves the impression that its customers can let down their guard. It’s like a carmaker saying with a wink that its vehicles are so safe that you don’t need to worry about your seat belt.

Meanwhile, Macs are likely to be the target of more computer attacks as the systems become more popular.

What a jackass. MacUser’s Scott Silverman does the smackdown so I don’t have to.

Google Browser Sync 

Google:

Google Browser Sync for Firefox is an extension that continuously synchronizes your browser settings — including bookmarks, history, persistent cookies, and saved passwords — across your computers. It also allows you to restore open tabs and windows across different machines and browser sessions

This is better synching — for free — than Safari users get for $99/year from .Mac.

Motorola’s Q: Lovely Phone; Ugly Software 

David Pogue reviews Motorola’s new Q mobile phone, which is sort of a $200 cross between a Trea 700 and a BlackBerry. He loves the hardware (small, slim form factor; good screen; good miniature keyboard) but savages the software, which is from Microsoft.

Painter’s Picker 2.1 

$16 artistic color wheel plug-in for Mac OS X’s system-wide color-picker; lets you easily find complementary colors. (Via MDJ 2006.06.07.)

Yojimbo 1.2 

Free update to Bare Bones Software’s outstanding data/bookmark/archive organizer. Highlights include a bunch of improvements to the first-run experience (including a demo movie of how the app works); an “x-yojimbo-item:” Launch Services URL scheme that allows you to link to Yojimbo items from any other application; bookmarklet support for creating bookmarks and web archives with just one click from your web browser of choice; and a slew of Bare Bones’s usual fixes and improvements.

Yojimbo is quite simply one of my very favorite apps.

XML Tools 2.9 Scripting Addition 

New universal binary update to Late Night Software’s excellent freeware XML scripting addition for AppleScript. Also updated: Late Night’s freeware Property List Tools 1.0.6.

BBEdit Embed Tag Converter 

Free AppleScript from Bare Bones:

The script uses BBEdit to automatically open, scan, and edit all HTML files dragged onto its icon, replacing <object> tags containing <embed> tags with JavaScript calls to load the QuickTime content referenced in the replaced tags.

This script is necessitated by the new version of Windows IE that no longer loads content in <embed> tags automatically, as part of Microsoft’s settlement of a lawsuit.

Vox Luv 

Andre Torrez is beta-testing Six Apart’s upcoming Vox thingmajig, and he likes it a lot.

Andy Rutledge on Redesign Competitions 

His opening analogy is good, too, but this is the core of his argument against design competitions:

The results of redesign competitions support the idea that design is nothing more than decoration or eye-candy. How could it indicate otherwise? Design is a process that begins with research and discovery. Every aspect of the client’s needs, aims and desires, along with the brand’s needs, context and purpose; in addition to the current and desired target audience’s expectations, needs, desires, culture, etc…. MUST be weighed, measured and considered thoroughly before any design solution can present itself.

In other words, redecoration is not redesign (and Slashdot’s recent contest was clearly a redecoration contest, not a redesign contest).

The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation? 

Michael Bierut on graphic design contests:

Ah, the big score. Unpaid competitions have been a way of life in other creative fields like architecture and advertising, but they’ve been resisted, barely, by graphic designers up until now.

Google Takes Aim at Excel 

The New York Times’s John Markoff on Google Spreadsheets

Stepping up its attack on Microsoft’s core business, Google plans to make available on Tuesday a test version of a Web-based spreadsheet program that is intended to make it simple to edit and share lists and data online.

The company said that the free program, called Google Spreadsheets, would be able to read and create files in the format used by Excel, the Microsoft spreadsheet software that is installed on millions of personal computers.

That it’s (a) free, (b) web-based, and (c) (I’m guessing here, since I haven’t seen it yet, but this seems likely) much simpler than Excel because it will be much smaller than Excel, means that they’re not really attacking Microsoft’s core business as much as they are subverting Microsoft’s core business.

Whereas Microsoft’s plan for striking back at Google is direct: they’re trying to take away search engine traffic, and, more importantly, they’re going to try to take away ad revenue.

MacBook and PowerBook G3, Side-by-Side 

It’s a little surprising just how much smaller the MacBook is; I had a PowerBook G3, and at the time I thought it was relatively compact.

Hacking the OS X Boot Image on an Intel Mac 

Dave Dribin:

I’m going to walk through how I reverse engineered the Intel boot loader and replaced the the standard gray Apple with the Chalice from the Atari 2600 Adventure game.

(Via Rentzsch.)

Inside Adobe Lightroom 

O’Reilly-produced web site dedicated to Lightroom, Adobe’s available-for-free-as-a-public-beta arch-rival to Aperture.

OmniDazzle 1.0 Public Beta 

Mouse cursor special effects app from The Omni Group. A few of the effects are useful, but more are just supposed to be fun. (It’s worth noting that the most useful effect, “flashlight”, has been available for some time in Boinx’s Mouseposé.)

More interesting than the cursor effects is OmniDazzle’s configuration window; it’s a very slick, well-polished, totally custom UI. You choose an effect from an animated list inspired by Front Row, complete with black background and “glossy reflective floor” effect. (Update: A few readers emailed to point to CoverFlow as an inspiration for this UI.) Those effects come at a price, though — just leaving the configuration window open but idle in the background consumes about the 50 percent of the CPU on my PowerBook.

When the Bough Breaks 

More from Mark Pilgrim on his switch:

I’m creating things now that I want to be able to read, hear, watch, search, and filter 50 years from now. Despite all their emphasis on content creators, Apple has made it clear that they do not share this goal. Openness is not a cargo cult. Some get it, some don’t. Apple doesn’t.

It’s obvious he’s been thinking about this for a long time, but I don’t agree with all of it. For example, he’s been bitten by metadata database corruption in both iPhoto and iTunes; I think the solution here is a good backup strategy, not open file formats for the binary metadata stores. Knowing the format of the file won’t help if the corruption is severe; a good back-up will always work.

I agree, though, that closed-format metadata stores are not good long-term archival formats.

Couple’s Supposedly Destroyed Hard Drive Purchased in Chicago 

A year ago, Henry and Roma Gerbus took their computer to Best Buy in Springfield Township to have its hard drive replaced.

Henry Gerbus said Best Buy assured him the computer’s old hard drive — loaded with personal information — would be destroyed.

“They said rest assured. They drill holes in it so it’s useless,” said Gerbus.

A few months ago, Gerbus got a phone call from a man in Chicago.

“He said, ‘My name is Ed. I just bought your hard drive for $25 at a flea market in Chicago,’” said Gerbus. “I thought my world was coming down.”

(Via Dan Benjamin.)

Best Buy Selling Macs 

They’d been selling Mac Minis, but now they’re selling MacBooks and iMacs, too.

Bye, Apple 

Mark Pilgrim switches.

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