Linked List: November 2006

Who Should Be CEO of Yahoo? 

Nick Denton:

So, to the speculation that Sue Decker, CFO of Yahoo, is being lined up to succeed Terry Semel as boss of the aimless internet giant: it’s a pleasant daydream, for various reasons I’ll go into, and a really misconceived idea. What Yahoo needs to do is to hire a product nazi.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: the CEO of any company needs to live and breathe the products and services the company creates. That’s why Steve Jobs is a great CEO for Apple: he understands and loves Apple’s products. The problem with Terry Semel is simply that he’s not a web guy, and Yahoo is the prototypical web company. I don’t think replacing him with a CFO changes that equation at all.

I’m not saying it is (or isn’t) a realistic possibility, but my pick for Yahoo CEO would be Caterina Fake. I know, all she does is run little ol’ Flickr, but Flickr is the best product Yahoo owns. Not the most popular, not the most profitable, but the best. Almost everything Yahoo does ought to be more like Flickr in some ways. Read this interview with Fake in .Net magazine and tell me she doesn’t completely understand the web.

On Calling Bullshit 

Dan Froomkin:

What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.

Exactamundo.

2,000-Year-Old Greek Astronomical Device Was More Complex Than Anything Known to Have Been Created for Another 1,000 Years 

Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy. Without precise calculations, we’d fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova, and that would end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?

For $150, Third-World Laptop Stirs Big Debate 

I’m a big fan of the One Laptop Per Child project. I know that people in the third world need all sorts of other things, too — clean water, medicine, food — but these computers can do something wonderful: tap into human potential.

Ad Spot for December in The Deck 

A little birdie tells me that there’s still an open slot in the December line-up for The Deck, and that my good friend and Deck honcho Jim Coudal will make a special deal for first-time advertisers.

U.S. Currency Discriminates Against Blind, Judge Rules 

Considering the numerous currency redesigns in the past few years, it really is inexplicable that the U.S. Treasury Department hasn’t addressed this in some way.

Another Developer in Europe Frets Over the Sinking Dollar 

Alastair Houghton:

Most normal people don’t really care about the exchange rates. Unfortunately, however, I’m running a software business from the United Kingdom, and a large proportion of my customers are in the United States. That makes my business extremely sensitive to the exchange rate; the difference in takings caused by exchange rate fluctuations can be literally thousands of pounds. I really can see the difference it’s making to my bottom line… my company has to sell up to 14% more in order to make the same money it was making this time last year!

Hivelogic Redesign 

I very much like this new design by Dan Benjamin, for three reasons:

  1. It’s just one column.
  2. It’s typeset entirely in a single font family.
  3. There are no needless boxes or rules.

There are very few web site designs that do a single one of those; Dan’s does all three. The CSS stylesheet is a thing of beauty as well.

In Praise of Third Place 

James Surowiecki on Nintendo’s place in the console market:

Nintendo, though, has not just survived out of the spotlight; it has thrived. It has five billion dollars in the bank from years of solid profits, and this past year, though it spent heavily on the launch of the Wii, it made close to a billion dollars in profit and saw its stock price rise by sixty-five per cent. Sony’s game division, by contrast, barely eked out a profit and Microsoft’s reportedly lost money. Who knew bringing up the rear could be so lucrative?

If you measure by profits instead of unit sales, Nintendo is in first place, not third.

Charting Answers 

Yahoo Answers was doing 24 times the traffic of Google Answers, according to Hitwise. I always take third-party web stats with an enormous grain of salt (I’m looking in your direction, Alexa), but I think it’s clear that Yahoo was kicking Google’s ass in the answering department.

textutil — Command-Line Utility for Translating Text File Formats 

From the man page:

textutil can be used to manipulate text files of various formats, using the mechanisms provided by the Cocoa text system.

Can’t believe I never heard of this before; it’s a shell tool that reads, writes, concatentates, and converts text, HTML, .rtf (and .rtfd), .doc, .wordml, and .webarchive files.

Arno Gourdol on the Origins of ‘.DS_Store’ and the General Shittiness of the Mac OS X Finder 

I hadn’t seen Arno Gourdol’s weblog before his aforelinked entry on the Mac OS X shutdown feature, but back in September he published a piece about how ‘.DS_Store’ files got their name. (It stands for “Desktop Services Store”.)

More interesting is this comment from Gourdol, on the OS X Finder itself:

I’ve been biting my tongue for a few years now, and while John Siracusa had been a thoughtful critic of the Mac OS X Finder, I must say I agree with almost everything he has to say about the Finder. … We actually used printouts of John’s columns to try to influence the decision makers at the time, as sometimes a voice from the outside is given more weight than a chorus on the inside. Unfortunately, there were powerful forces at work.

“Powerful forces”, eh?

Open Source Web Design 

1,700 free web site design templates. Many of them look quite nice.

Update: Plus, the site’s founder, Francis J. Skettino, is a computer science major at Drexel, just like yours truly was back in the day.

(Thanks to Chris Pepper.)

The Design of the Mac OS X Shutdown Feature 

Arno Gourdol, who was the Mac OS X Finder Lead at Apple from 1999-2001, responds to Joel Spolsky’s criticism of the Windows Vista shutdown features by discussing the design of Mac OS X’s. Gourdol argued for something far simpler — too simple, I think. Ben Skelton, in this comment on Gourdol’s post, does a great job explaining why all of Mac OS X’s shutdown features are useful.

Also, my guess is that the unnamed “Senior VP” at Apple whom Gourdol argued with, and lost, regarding this design was Scott Forstall.

Update: Forstall isn’t a “senior” VP, and wasn’t a VP at all at that time. A few knowledgeable little birdies have suggested that the only two likely candidates are Avie Tevanian and Bertrand Serlet, and most of the birdies are voting for Bertrand. Thanks, birdies.

Update 2: A few more birdies have chirped, and the overwhelming consensus is now that it was Avie Tevanian. Overwhelming, I say.

Official Google Blog: ‘Adieu to Google Answers’ 

No explanation as to why they’ve shut it down.

Asteroid’s Revenge 

Clever game idea — you’re an asteroid out for revenge against an armada of ships. The physics are spot on. (Via Andy Baio.)

Russia Agrees to U.S. Request to Shut Down AllOfMP3.com 

I’m with Andy Baio — I can’t believe they lasted as long as they did.

Security Update 2006-007 

Includes a fix for the AirPort exploit released earlier this month, with credit to “H D Moore of Metasploit”. Note to George Ou: See how that works? Exploit is released, with code. Apple fixes, and gives credit.

There are also updates for ATS, Perl, PHP, and more.

PFDT: Rip-Off of Shaun Inman’s haveamint.com 

They have the gall to release their ripped-off design with a Creative Commons attribution-required, no-derivative-works license. (Via Inman.)

Nick Denton on TechCrunch’s Advertising Revenue 

Have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying Denton’s turn at the helm of Valleywag?

One factor Denton either missed or neglected to mention is that TechCrunch’s job board is doing about $20K a month in revenue (assuming all the listings for November are fully paid).

Script Debugger 4.0.5 

Bug fix update to Late Night Software’s amazing AppleScript editor and debugger.

Dave Winer: ‘Web 2.0 Is Nothing More Than an Aftermarket for Google’ 

This observation from Dave Winer rings true to me:

I almost wrote a piece yesterday saying that since the Web 2.0 companies aren’t going public, they’re safe from busting in a visible, dramatic way. I almost said it will be hard to tell when the bust comes, it’ll be softer and slower, you won’t hear a crash or even a pop. But I was wrong, and today we got the first rumblings of the shock that will signal the end of the bubble.

Google stock will crash. That’s how we’ll know.

Audio Hijack Pro 2.7.1 and Fission 1.1.1 

Rogue Amoeba updates their audio apps to generate AAC files that work on the new iPod Shuffle.

CIO Compares Windows vs. Linux vs. Mac OS X 

John Halamka, CIO of the Harvard Medical School and previously a dedicated Windows user, spent a month each with new notebooks running Red Hat Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows XP, and concluded he liked Mac OS X best. Money quote:

“I used to think that the Macintosh was something used by free spirits just to be different,” he says. “Now I realize the Mac has such superior human factor engineering that it’s used by people because they can be more productive. If Apple comes up with a 2- or 2.5-pound 12-inch-screen laptop that runs cool, has better integration with Exchange, and if Vista turns out to be the beast it could be, then I probably will move to a Mac.”

I used to think Windows was something preferred by CIO-type suits because they were ignorant jackasses. No, wait, I still think that.

(Via FSJ.)

Crazy Apple Rumors: ‘Apple Steals MacZOT! Concept’ 

CARS:

An angry MacZOT! founder Brian Ball lashed out at Apple in a tirade excessively laden with both expletives and gratuitous exclamation marks.

“DamnIT!” Ball shouted. “This is BullSHIT!

“I invented the art of not making any money and Apple knows it.”

We’ve Secretly Replaced the Shitty Zune You Thought You Were Buying With an Even Shittier One 

100 “lucky” Zune buyers are getting limited edition pink Zunes which Microsoft secretly seeded into the retail market.

DEVONthink Professional Office Public Beta 

It used to be DEVONthink. Then it was DEVONthink Professional. Now it’s DEVONthink Professional Office. Rather than incrementing the version number, they seem to just add extra words to the product name. My guess is next year it’ll be DEVONthink Professional Office Extreme.

Are Green Magazine Covers ‘Death on Newsstands’? 

It’s a widely-held belief in the magazine industry that green covers sell poorly at the newsstand. Slate’s Julia Turner investigated, and found that no one has any evidence to back this up. (The only current green cover she could find on newsstands was High Times.)

(Via Kevin Drum.)

New ‘Get a Mac’ Ads 

Not bad, but none strike me as especially funny, either.

Fake Steve: ‘Meg Whitman to Appear on TLC’s “What Not to Wear”’ 

Fake Steve:

I mean, if you’re gonna be a celebrity CEO, you gotta have a look. Like me. Black turtleneck and jeans. Easy. But classy. Also patented, so don’t even think about it.

Kevin Smith’s Rejected iTunes Celebrity Playlist 

Rejected because he wrote a paragraph about each song, rather than just a sentence or two, and he didn’t want to edit his remarks. Any playlist with Liz Phair’s “Fuck and Run” is a good playlist.

(Via Kottke.)

CaminIcon 1.7 

Icon and tab theme switcher for Camino. Does its thing by modifying the resources within the Camino.app bundle.

Viral Learning Center 

Enroll now and learn how to take your viral video to the next level. (Via Veer.)

Fall of the U.S. Dollar and Indie Software Pricing 

Rory Prior:

As someone outside the US who does most of his business in the dollar I’ve been increasingly concerned as the currency has continued to devalue over the past few years. We’ve almost reached the point where 1 dollar is barely worth £0.51 and I’ve decided that if it drops below £0.50 I’m going to have to switch over to selling in euros.

David Galbraith: ‘I Just Saw a Zune, and Guess What? It’s a Piece of Shit’ 

Galbraith really nails it here:

Microsoft is a company that sells to the type of business that has cubicle offices. It has made bad design a virtue, by making it look economical. Soul crushing design is what Microsoft is about, but personal technology is changing that.

Microsoft’s one and only consumer success is the Xbox, where by “success” I mean a second-place platform which continues to lose money for the company.

I played with a demo Zune unit at Target last week. The screen is very nice, but as a unit the whole thing feels junky in your hands. The UI looks good, but it’s nowhere near as obvious as an iPod’s.

Just a Little Reminder to Let Us Know That OmniFocus Is Still Vaporware 

This is why you shouldn’t pre-announce apps.

Anil Dash: The Starting Line Is Not the Finish Line 

Anil Dash:

Launching something meaningful is about every day, every minute, that happens after that start. Honestly, it makes me feel a lot like when I was talking about getting married: “If you tell people you’re engaged, they start talking to you about that one day, and almost never about the other half century you’re signing up for.”

Thanksgetting 

Best The Show, ever.

Anil Dash: Pay by the Hour 

An oldie-but-goodie from Anil Dash on how to set your hourly rate if you’re a freelancer or consultant.

Tragedii 

Cabel Sasser’s Wii was pretty much broken out of the box and so he’s sent it back for repairs — but yet he still managed to write the best review of it I’ve seen yet.

Valleywag: Three Reasons Why Digg Gets Its Numbers Wrong 

Digg claims 20 million unique visitors a month; Nick Denton calls bullshit. (For one thing, they admit they’re counting RSS hits in those numbers, which is just silly.)

Jeffrey Zeldman: Safari Better Than Firefox? 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Unfortunately, as our screen shots have shown, common sense works against you here, because Firefox, although superior to other browsers in many ways, handles text like a drunken fry-cook.

What really annoys me about Gecko is the way it deals with hyphenated words — Gecko doesn’t treat the hyphens as line-wrapping break points.

RCDefaultApp 2.0.1 

Minor update to Rubicode’s excellent free utility for specifying the default application for URL schemes, file extensions, MIME types, and more.

The Big Ideas Behind Nintendo’s Wii 

BusinessWeek interviews Nintendo resident genius Shigeru Miyamoto and designer Ken’ichiro Ashida, on the design of the Wii. I really love the idea that they’re competing against the raw processing firepower of the Xbox 360 and PS3 with cleverness.

Interesting, too, that Nintendo does not use focus groups.

Designing a Better Nail 

When houses and other wooden buildings collapse in hurricanes and earthquakes, the most common point of failure isn’t the wood, but the nails. Ed Sutt has designed a better nail, which can withstand significantly greater stress than traditional nails, and which adds a mere $15 to the cost of a typical new home.

(Thanks to Chris Pepper.)

The Rojas MP3 Player 

Jason Calacanis:

If anyone knows what a gadget should be, and where the market is going, it’s [Engadget editor Peter Rojas]. Dave Winer joked with me at dinner this past summer that Peter would make a better iPod than Steve Jobs — I think I agree.

A good critic isn’t necessarily a talented designer. Should Roger Ebert be directing films? Should Paul Krugman run for president? Perhaps, but probably not.

VisualHub 

$23 video converter for Mac OS X; supports iPod video formats. (Via Playlist Magazine’s 2006 Plays of the Year.)

Fortune: Apple in Talks With Beatles 

Tim Arango, reporting for Fortune:

As Fortune went to press, numerous deal points were still being hammered out. According to a music industry executive apprised of the talks, the parties were discussing how lengthy a window of exclusivity iTunes might get and how many tens of millions of dollars Jobs — who is said to be personally involved in the discussions —will commit to an advance for the band and marketing costs.

Andy Ihnatko: Avoid the Loony Zune 

Andy Ihnatko utterly trashes the Zune:

The Zune is a complete, humiliating failure. Toshiba’s Gigabeat player, for example, is far more versatile, it has none of the Zune’s limitations, and Amazon sells the 30-gig model for 40 bucks less.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a gadget review quite this vicious.

‘Pump-and-Dump’ Spam Surge Linked to Russian Bot Herders 

Possible explanation for the recent surge in email spam. I’ve been getting about double and some days even triple my previous level of spam for the past month or so — about 600-700 per day, up from around 300 per day for most of 2006.

(Via Simon Willison.)

Bad Grammar Makes Me [sic] T-Shirt 

T-shirt humor for grammar pedants.

(Thanks to Christopher Culbreath.)

David Young’s Analysis of F-Secure’s ‘iAdware’ 

David Young:

So anyway assuming that this program does use the dyld debugging facilities to inject some ad-opening code — so what? In order to get this or even an input manager onto my system you’ve still got to trojan me.

The point is: there are all sorts of ways any semi-competent programmer can write “adware” for Mac OS X. F-Secure’s ‘iAdware’ is, apparently, one. The real trick is getting the adware installed on people’s computers, either via trickery or some sort of exploit. iAdware is not such an exploit.

And Young is right that the way F-Secure has reported this — with few actual details of what it is — is more about sowing fear than anything else.

ErrorSafe Is Malware 

ErrorSafe, one of the primary perpetrators of the aforelinked “scary JavaScript confirm dialog via web page ad” trick, is classified by Symantec as malware. Any Windows IE user who clicks OK instead of Cancel will wind up with this installed on their computer.

Pernicious JavaScript Confirm Dialog ‘Advertisements’ 

There’s a resurgence in the use of JavaScript’s confirm command by scummy web page advertisers. What you get is a dialog box that looks like a warning that something is wrong with your computer; in this particular example, that your computer might have “errors in the registry database”.

These “ads” are utterly despicable. The intent is to trick Windows users into downloading and installing software from the advertiser, just by clicking the OK button in the alert window. If you’re using Safari, you can identify these bogus JavaScript-driven alerts by several tell-tale indicators: the boldface headline in the dialog is the URL of the originating site of the JavaScript; the app icon in the dialog is Safari’s; and the buttons are always Cancel and OK (JavaScript’s confirm command doesn’t let you specify button names). Hit Cancel if you see one of these things.

The Windows Shutdown Crapfest 

Moishe Lettvin, who worked at Microsoft as a developer on the Vista team working on the shutdown menu Joel Spolsky complains about, explains how the Microsoft bureaucracy prevents good design from evolving:

So that nets us a conservative estimate of 24 people involved in this feature. Also each team of 8 was separated by 6 layers of management from the leads, so let’s add them in too, giving us 24 + (6 * 3) + 1 (the shared manager) 43 total people with a voice in this feature. Twenty-four of them were connected sorta closely to the code, and of those twenty four there were exactly zero with final say in how the feature worked. Somewhere in those other 17 was somebody who did have final say but who that was I have no idea since when I left the team — after a year — there was still no decision about exactly how this feature would work.

It’s worth noting that Lettvin now works at Google.

Choices = Headaches 

Joel Spolsky has a good point, that the various ways of exiting your login session in Windows Vista are baffling (e.g. offering both “sleep” and “hibernate”), but his solution of reducing it all to just one “b’bye” button is a bit too cute. Why not just state the obvious, that Microsoft should’ve copied Mac OS X’s four commands: sleep, restart, shutdown, and log out?

Spolsky’s follow-up is worth a read, too.

The Spam Farms of the Social Web 

Niall Kennedy’s investigation shows how a link spammer’s list of weight loss tips climbed the charts at Digg, Reddit, and Delicious.

Submissions for Leslie Harpold’s 2006 Advent Calendar 

Leslie Harpold:

For the past five years , I’ve made an online Advent calendar. The first four years, every day has had a bit of zazz (aka the surprise) a personal memory and a link. Well, after four years, I was flat out of charming and/or funny memories, and asked the web to share some of theirs.

Pricing for Value 

Chuq Von Rospach:

If you price things so they seem to have no value, people will treat them as if they had no value.

Mouse Wheel Programming in JavaScript 

Google is already putting this technique to use in Google Maps — they let you use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari.

(Via Buzz Andersen.)

World’s Shortest Zune Review 

Utterly puerile, but I laughed.

HexFiend 1.1.1 Released as Open Source 

Peter Ammon has released his excellent hex editor HexFiend — it’s disk-based rather than memory-based, so you can use it to examine massive files — as open source, under a BSD-style license. Particularly interesting to Cocoa developers, given that Ammon works on the AppKit team at Apple. It’s also not just a “here’s an archive of the source code” release — Ammon has written a wiki where HexFiend’s design is very well documented.

Chris Ware’s Thanksgiving Covers for The New Yorker 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nick Denton at Valleywag 

After canning editor Nick Douglas last week, Gawker Media pooh-bah Nick Denton has taken the editorial reins, and I must say I’ve been enjoying it. Denton is a damn good blogger.

Prank Call on Telemarketer 

Hilarious.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Away Your Shareware App for Free 

Rory Prior:

I’ve been approached by the MacAppADay folks asking me if I want to give away a mere 5000 copies of one of my apps, like, for no money. This is just wrong on so many levels that I feel compelled to write something in case any other Mac developers out there are feeling crazy enough to get involved in something like this.

  1. Write cool Mac app.
  2. Give it to some guy with a flashy website.
  3. Don’t charge for it.
  4. ???
  5. Profit
Give and You Shall Receive 

Roustem Karimov, developer of 1Passwd, is glad they participated in MacZot:

I have to say that placing 1Passwd in MacZot was one of the best decisions we made this year. Not only did we have a day of record sales during the ZOT, our average daily sales more than doubled right after the event and continued to grow ever since. The success of MacZOT is what convinced us that being part of the Heist was a no-brainer.

Weather Channel Widget and Screen Saver 

Nice Dashboard widget from The Weather Channel. (Note to The Mac Observer: those double-underline link advertisements suck.)

Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface 

Microsoft has assembled a 120-page book detailing the user interface guidelines for Office 2007, but you must agree to their licensing terms before you can use it. Licenses are free, but are not available to anyone building software that competes directly with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Access. Most interesting to me is that the license terms require that if you use any aspect of this new interface, your app must comply with the entirety of the guidelines.

There’s a 16-page PDF preview that pertains to resizing the ribbon.

Kernel Panic From .dmg Not a New Issue 

Alastair J. Houghton:

Yes, it really is possible to panic your Mac by mounting a dmg file. Those of us who work with the filesystem have known that this is possible for ages; I know I’ve reported at least one instance of this problem to Apple in the past.

Gus Mueller on Software Pricing 

Gus Mueller:

Among the many bits of advice he gave me, the one he drove home most was not to sell your app too cheap. I of course ignored him, and he gave me crap when VoodooPad 1.0 came out for 10 bucks.
“People read into the quality of the app based on price, and you’ll even sell more” he said. “It’s crazy, and it doesn’t make sense, but it’s the way it is.”

When I eventually raised the price to 24.95 he asked me how things were going after the price increase. “Much better” I said.

Wheaties for Your Wallet 

The Wesabe weblog; good posts about Wesabe itself and some personal finance advice, like saving money on health insurance by going with a higher deductible.

Wesabe 

What a brilliant premise: Wesabe is a new social web app for personal finance, founded by Jason Knight and Marc Hedlund. The idea is that it’s an attempt to harness collective wisdom about finance and spending decisions — both big and small.

The biggest problems facing an online site dealing with personal finance data, of course, are privacy and security. Wesabe recognizes this, and they talk about their policies and procedures clearly and plainly.

Definitely worth checking out.

Flickr: Triple Treat 

Three big new features for Flickr: guest passes for sharing photos with non-Flickr (and non-Yahoo) users; an updated mobile-optimized site; and “Camera Finder”, a feature that tracks the camera models used by Flickr photographers. (Via 2lmc Spool.)

DragThing 5.7b1 

Nifty new theming feature in James Thomson’s excellent dock and palette utility.

JavaScript Trick to Work Around IE6 Background Image Flickering 

The easiest solution to IE6 problems, of course, is just to drop support for it. Not an option for everyone, of course, but that’s what I’d do.

Rich Mogull on Vista Security 

Rich Mogull, responding to Tom Ptacek:

I think all the pundits need to be clear about which OS versions they are talking about. To a very real degree they are debating around each other — Tom focusing on Vista, and John on XP.

I have nothing bad to say about Vista’s security. In fact, I hope Vista does surpass Mac OS X in terms of security. That’d be good for everyone — Windows users will have a secure system, for once, and Apple will feel pressure to jump ahead. Ptacek seems to think that just because I write about Macs I’m rooting against Windows.

Thomas Ptacek 

Thomas Ptacek, in the middle of a weblog post titled “Five Reasons To Ignore John Gruber’s OS X Security Punditry”:

No it isn’t. Want an easy way to debunk that argument? Here you go: MacOS 9 sees a tiny fraction of the malware Windows does. But nobody seriously argues that OS 9, which doesn’t even have a secure VM system, is more secure than Windows XP.

More “stable”? No, probably not. But more “secure”? Yes. Please, Mr. Ptacek, please tell me about the exploits you would use to attack a Mac OS 9 system. Was the U.S. Army “not serious” when they moved their web server to Mac OS 9 back in 1999? I’m not saying Mac OS 9 was a good server platform; I’m not saying the cooperative memory model was even vaguely modern by 1999’s industry standards; but secure? Yes, yes it was.

As for the rest of his piece, it’s mostly blah blah blah, Gruber just writes to make Mac ‘fanatics’ happy and his opinion isn’t worth listening to on security related issues because he’s just a UI guy.

New iPod Shuffle Commercial 

Put some music on. Music from The Prototypes.

Relaunch on MacZot 

Wired Up and Fired Up on the results of promoting their app Relaunch on MacZot:

I can absolutely concur with him when he says, “What I was selling before the promotion was exactly the same as afterwards.” Even on the day of the promotion I received about the same amount of sales that I’d expect on any normal, rainy, Autumn day.

‘E’: A TextMate-ish Text Editor for Windows 

Plans include bundle compatibility with TextMate. The screenshots sure ain’t pretty. I’ve also got to say that “E” is a terrible name. (Via Allan Odgaard.)

Robert Altman Dies at 81 

Personal favorites of mine: The Player, The Long Goodbye, and of course, Nashville. And as a kid, I loved Popeye, which he made with Robin Williams in 1980.

Fission 1.1 

Free update to Rogue Amoeba’s $32 audio editor:

New in version 1.1 is native support for opening and saving WAV files, a Normalize function to normalize audio, looped playback, and more.

Hivelogic: Building Ruby, Rails, LightTPD, and MySQL on Tiger 

If you want to develop, run, and test Ruby on Rails web apps locally on your Mac, you’re going to want to install MySQL, Rails, and a newer version of Ruby than the version that ships from Apple. You’re also going to be happier using the LightTPD web server than the pure-Ruby (and thus somewhat slow, even for testing) WEBrick.

My friend and colleague Dan Benjamin first published these instructions in December last year, but he’s kept them up-to-date as newer versions of the various components have been released. Dan’s instructions are comprehensive, well-written, and, most importantly, show you how to install all this stuff the right way, such that they don’t clobber Mac OS X’s standard components.

Top Secret 

John Siracusa speculates on what the deal is with the “top secret” Leopard features that Steve Jobs claimed to be withholding at WWDC in August. I still think it’s about the visual look-and-feel getting a major overhaul.

Mike Davidson: Breaking News Is Broken 

What do you mean Tom Cruise marrying Katie Holmes isn’t BREAKING NEWS?

Initial Zune Sales Not Affecting iPod Sales 

Based on Amazon and Circuit City rankings (which remain dominated by iPods), analyst Steve Lidberg concludes:

While Zune may take some incremental share from second tier players such as SanDisk and Creative Labs, we believe Apple will maintain its approximately 75 percent share of the U.S. market.

Glenn Fleishman: Wireless Vulnerabilities Are a Bit Troubling 

An accurate overview of the state of Mac OS X security from Glenn Fleishman.

Why No Mac Viruses? 

Frank Steele on classic Mac OS viruses:

The Mac environment wasn’t always virus-free.

Once upon a time, I ran a few public-access labs at my university. These labs suffered several virus outbreaks, most notably catching WDEF before it was discovered in 1989. We also would occasionally see MDEF, nVIR, and Scores. The Mac’s market share then was a little higher — a little under 10 percent, versus 5 or 6 percent today — but it was still a minority platform, with the great majority of computers running DOS or Windows.

AppleInsider: Apple Working on Second, iChat-Based Cell Phone 

The rumors have already gone to Apple’s second cell phone?

Tom Yager: Is Windows Inherently More Vulnerable to Malware Attacks Than OS X? 

Spoiler: Yes.

Lost Mushroom Picker Found by Glow of iPod Backlight 

Good thing he wasn’t using a Shuffle, I suppose.

RCDefaultApp 2.0 

Universal binary update to Carl Lindberg’s excellent freeware System Prefs panel for managing the default applications associated with file extensions, UTIs, and URL schemes. Version 2.0 shipped back in March, but I missed it; previous versions have been mentioned here on DF numerous times.

CSSEdit 2 Icon Joke 

Scott Nicholas spotted a funny joke in CSSEdit 2’s app icon. Perfect humor for CSSEdit’s intended audience.

Stikkit Update 

Rael Dornfest, posting on the Values of N weblog regarding the first update to Stikkit:

We pulled much of the Ajax, which means permalinks and navigation work as you’d expect them to. Every stikkit, every view, every search now has its own URL and page title, so you can bookmark it in your browser and find your way back to it at will.

They also added iCal/ICS exporting from the calendar, which means you can subscribe to your Stikkit calendar in Mac OS X’s iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar, and any other calendar app that reads ICS.

Very nice improvements overall.

More Accurate Wikipedia Warnings 

Who knew Cracked was still funny?

(Via Mark Pilgrim.)

Kuler 

Flash-based color palette generator and explorer from Adobe. Requires the latest version of Flash, but it’s worth it — this is pretty cool. (Via Steven Frank.)

Perl Critic for BBEdit 

Josh Clark:

Perl Critic for BBEdit is a free script plugin for the BBEdit text editor to enable Perl programmers to check their code format against the style guidelines of the Perl Best Practices book by Damian Conway. A nifty tool to help keep your code tidy. Free.

Nifty indeed.

TIFFer 

Leopard-only developer tool by August Trometer; helps developers working on resolution independence by wrapping Apple’s tiffutil utility in a convenient GUI.

PDF and Resolution Addiction 

Craig Hockenberry fires back in the vector-vs.-bitmap icon art debate:

If you’re a designer, create with vectors to future-proof your work. If you’re a developer, bitmaps provide the best combination of size, speed and appearance.

Xtorrent Public Beta 2 

New beta of David Watanabe’s elegant (and free, while in beta) BitTorrent client.

Jason Calacanis Quits AOL 

Weblogs Inc. founder quits AOL after they fired his boss and “mentor” Jonathan Miller.

Paramount Sues to Stop Loading of DVDs Onto iPods 

EFF:

According to the suit, Load ‘N Go sells both DVDs and iPods and loads the former onto the latter for customers who purchase both. The company then sends the iPod and the original DVDs to the customer. So the customer has purchased every DVD, and Load ‘N Go just saves them the trouble of ripping the DVD. The movie studios’ suit claims that this is illegal, because ripping a DVD (i.e., decrypting it and making a copy) is illegal under the DMCA. The suit also claims that this constitutes copyright infringement.

This is just sick, and everyone who isn’t a dickhead entertainment industry suit knows it.

(Thanks to Jesper.)

Fake Steve: The Lesson of the PS3 

Fake Steve on the lesson of the PS3:

Is simply this: If you make something cool, price does not matter.

Jason O’Grady: ‘I Buy Things I Don’t Want’ 

Jason O’Grady, regarding recent iPhone rumors (boldface emphasis his):

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably been inundated with speculation and rumor about Apple’s iPhone. Am I the only one that doesn’t want one?

And then three paragraphs down in the same piece:

Will I buy one? Probably, but not for use as my primary phone.

WTF?

BuzzFeed Launches 

Nice write-up by Kottke about a new site called BuzzFeed, which aims to find interesting new trends. I love the design of the site — every element and every word on the page serves a purpose. The design really directs your attention in the right way.

Retrospect vs. Sparse Image Files  

If you turn on Retrospect’s “Don’t back up FileVault sparseimages” option, it will ignore all sparse disk image files on your system. What a horrible bug. Wolf Rentzsch wrote about this back in June.

Read Different: ‘Get a Mac’ Ads in Japan 

Excellent linguistic and cultural translation of the new Japanese “Get a Mac” ads.

Kettle Chips Beta 

Amazing — I’ve got a bag of Kettle Sea Salt and Vinegar chips open right now. Sign me up for this beta.

Leopard Developer Tools Overview 

Tons of information and screenshots on the upcoming Leopard editions of Xcode, Interface Builder, Dashcode, and the extremely cool new Xray tool.

MsgFiler 

Nifty-looking Apple Mail hack by Adam Tow. You invoke MsgFiler with Command-9 and it brings up a small window in which you type a few characters to match the name of a mailbox; hit return and it moves the currently selected messages to that mailbox. On sale for just $8. (Via Alex King.)

Zune Doesn’t Work on Macs Using Parallels 

Andre Torrez got a Zune to review, and had to install Windows using Boot Camp after trying and failing to get it to work via Parallels.

Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes 

Dan Frakes gives a well-deserved shout-out to Doug Adams’s repository of iTunes AppleScripts.

Dave Eggers’s Foreword to the New Paperback Edition of David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’ 

Dave Eggers:

This book is like a spaceship with no recognizable components, no rivets or bolts, no entry points, no way to take it apart. It is very shiny, and it has no discernible flaws. If you could somehow smash it into smaller pieces, there would certainly be no way to put it back together again. It simply is. Page by page, line by line, it is probably the strangest, most distinctive, and most involved work of fiction by an American in the last twenty years.

Infinite Jest is the best novel I’ve ever read. The new paperback edition is just $8 at Amazon.

(Via Kottke.)

Search Engines Unite on Unified Sitemaps System 

Search Engine Watch:

In alphabetical order, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have agreed to all support a unified system of submitting web pages through feeds to their crawlers. Called Sitemaps, taking its name from the precursor system that Google launched last year, all three search engines will now support the method.

The file format is offered under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Zune Review at Engadget 

Ryan Block, in his comprehensive Zune review for Engadget:

Never before have we done so much device plugging and unplugging. When you finish adding files to your Zune, you can’t go back and drop in more. You cannot interact with your player until you unplug it, and plug it back in. While it’s plugged in you can’t interact with it; with the Zune there’s no such thing as listening to music out of the player and charging via the sync cable at the same time. We couldn’t play music off the device through the application, either. When your Zune is plugged in, your Zune is absolutely nothing but plugged in.

Haiku Vector Icon Format 

Haiku OS, an in-development project to recreate the BeOS as an open source OS, uses a vector image format for icons, specifically designed to make them small and fast-to-load.

Airlines Say ‘Not So Fast’ Regarding iPod Integration 

Air France and KLM are saying the iPod integration is a maybe, not a done deal.

Zune Doom 

Glenn Fleishman in TidBITS:

Also, let me add that music exchanged among Zunes will cease to play after three days or after it’s been played three times. This includes music, podcasts, and other files that are specifically licensed for unlimited reproduction or trading, such as music distributed under a Creative Commons license that doesn’t allow post-release encryption of the sort that Microsoft wraps around it for these transfers.

That’s an interesting observation: When the Zune adds DRM to Creative Commons licensed media files, it’s doing so in contravention of the license.

NBC’s Today Show Compares Zune Against Old 4G iPod 

Side-by-side comparison on NBC’s Today Show compares the Zune against the old 4G black-and-white screen iPod that debuted back in 2004.

Vector vs. Raster: The Fool’s Game 

Stephen Deken also disagrees with Hockenberry on the use of vector art for icons, but the nut of his argument seems to come down to this:

In the long term, a better approach would be to develop a specialized vector icon format. (No, SVG isn’t it. It’s worse than PDF in verbosity.)

Arguing for a new vector format optimized for iconography is not the same thing as arguing that vector art should be used for distributing higher-resolution icons today.

Lilt 

Pat Nakajima on Lilt:

On top of the fact that Lilt performs a relatively worthless function, it performs it in a rather hideous manner. The Apple Human Interface Guidelines are painfully eschewed in favor of an interface that looks like a cutout of a Macbook Pro poster. The window itself doesn’t behave how you think it should, which makes it no surprise that the app doesn’t really work the way it says it should.

Resolution Independent Bullshit Meter Off the Charts 

Well, Christopher Lloyd certainly disagrees with Craig Hockenberry w/r/t using vector art for resolution independent icons.

I think if you really want to refute Hockenberry’s argument, though, you’d have to produce top-notch vector icon files that compare well size- and quality-wise to bitmaps.

Zune Not Yet Compatible With Windows Vista 

Funny, but Vista isn’t actually shipping yet.

The Daily WTF: Fisher Price Technology Integration 

Anyone with a job like this really ought to just quit.

Public Betas Are a Sham 

My broadside against web app “public betas”, particularly those that never end, written for Joyeur back in March.

New A List Apart T-Shirts 

I like the Web 2.0 one quite a bit. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

iSight Web Page Trick Is Not a Security Flaw 

Jonathan Wight on the recent “live iSight footage in a web page” trick.

CNN Trashes the Zune 

Worth watching to the end. Choice comments:

“Who do they think is going to buy this?”

“Why don’t they get some decent design people that can make things look better? It’s clunky.”

Craig Hockenberry on Resolution Independence 

Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry on using vector images for rendering bigger icons:

Unless you’re dealing with simple line art, effects such as gradients, shadows, and highlights result in enormous files. As an example, compare this 512×512 pixel PNG file of the CandyBar icon with a PDF file containing the same image. The PNG file is about 100 KB while its PDF counterpart is a whopping 3 MB. Consider a five icon toolbar with PNG files versus a toolbar with PDF files — 500 KB versus 15 MB. Your ISP will love you and your PDF icons!

The Problem Is, the Zune Is Brown 

Anil Dash:

But the overriding feeling of the Zune is an almost pathological me-too-ism, as if the team weren’t watching consumers or potential customers, but was too busy saying Hello From Seattle to those who were Made In Cupertino. Instead of aiming at the competition, the team should have been aiming for the lead.

Love the new blog tagline, too.

Bumgarner: Java Now Open Source (But Not Really Free) 

Interesting analysis from Bill Bumgarner regarding Sun’s release of Java under the GPL:

You can negotiate with Sun for a custom license that allows your modifications to remain under your control. Most likely, you’ll be paying Sun for the privilege of actually owning your modifications. Yes, to own your modifications you will need to contact Sun and negotiate a non-GPL license.

There lies one revenue generating opportunity.

Don’t miss his follow-up, either.

The Online Auteurs 

New York Times Magazine profile of online filmmakers and show producers, including Ze Frank. The web is now doing for film and video artists what it long ago did for writers and software developers: disintermediating. Self-publish and let your work speak for itself.

New Google Earth Beta 

Performance improvements and new features.

Zune Installer’s Teenage Girl-on-Girl Imagery 

This really is a curious image for a software installer.

Second-Hand Smoke 

Jonathan Wight figured out how Disco’s “smoke” feature works (thanks to the headers left in the app’s Smoke.framework in the initial public release), and put together a hack to let windows in any app smoke. What’s hilarious is the example document Wight chooses to set afire in the demo movie.

Open Source Version Numbers 

Chris Petrilli:

I feel like open source software often has a version number asymptotically approaching 1.0, but never actually reaching it.

Apple Teams Up With Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM & United to Deliver iPod Integration 

iPod integration with six major airlines:

These six airlines will begin offering their passengers iPod seat connections which power and charge their iPods during flight and allow the video content on their iPods to be viewed on the their seat back displays.

Zune Marketplace’s Absurd Pricing Scheme 

James R. Stoup:

Of course, you could just spend all of your points each time you buy music, but would require you to purchase songs in multiples of 31,600 points (that being the LCM of 79 and 400). That works out to 400 songs for $395. A better plan would be to buy 5 songs for 395 points (or $4.94) and just save your 5 remaining points for some future purchase. In effect, Microsoft has created a store that only accepts gift cards as the valid method of payments. And if you don’t think that’s insane then you obviously already have pre-ordered your Zune.

Stoup nails it. This points system shows that Microsoft thinks people are stupid.

As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics 

Tamar Lewin, reporting on the state of math education in the U.S.:

Shalimar Backman, who put pressure on officials here by starting a parents group called Where’s the Math?, remembers the moment she became concerned.

“When my oldest child, an A-plus stellar student, was in sixth grade, I realized he had no idea, no idea at all, how to do long division,” Ms. Backman said, “so I went to school and talked to the teacher, who said, ‘We don’t teach long division; it stifles their creativity.’”

Jeebus.

Engadget: Installing the Zune… Sucked 

What a pain in the ass software installer. Even if the installer hadn’t crashed a couple of times on these guys — who wants to go through that many sign-up screens just to get started with a new gadget? Tell me this sign-up process won’t make for a fun Christmas morning.

It’s Official: Java Now Worth Zero 

Fake Steve:

So by now you’ve heard the “big news.” After years of trying to figure out ways to make money on Java, and all the while pretending that they actually are making loads of money on Java (while refusing to break out any numbers) Sun has thrown in the towel. They’re open-sourcing Java — i.e., giving it away free and declaring victory.

Open sourcing Java is almost certainly a very good thing for Java developers, and it’s probably a good thing for the world at large. I have yet to see a cogent explanation as to how it’s going to make Sun a nickel, though.

Apple Execs Appear in iPod Poker Game 

Schiller and Joz appear as players in the iPod Hold ’Em Poker game.

Completion Dictionary 4.0 

Free Xcode plug-in for Xcode adds user-defined macros and integrates with Xcode’s built-in auto-completion capabilities. From Objective Development, the makers of LaunchBar.

(Via Brent Simmons.)

New MacBook, MacBook Pros Come With 802.11n-Capable Cards 

Interesting:

Like the iMac line that received a Core 2 Duo upgrade in September, the new laptops have seen their wireless cards replaced by a new varient that supports the 802.11n Draft 1.0 networking standard, although Mac OS X drivers are not yet available.

What’s Past Is Prologue 

The inside scoop on the short codes prefixing software licenses from Rogue Amoeba.

Blogcast 

New integrated bundle of Movable Type software, hosting, and consulting service from my friend Timothy Appnel.

Greg Maletic on OpenDoc 

Great look back at Apple, circa 1995, from Greg Maletic, who was then the product marketing manager for OpenDoc:

Apple was so worried about stepping on its developers’ toes that it resisted any attempts to add useful functionality to Mac OS. It wasn’t the kind of company that could succesfully develop a technology like OpenDoc. That’s when I knew that OpenDoc would fail.

Zunes Being Sold Before Official Launch 

Pictures of the packaging and installation software from some guy who bought one at Best Buy over the weekend. Can anyone explain what’s going on in the photo of the girls in the second screenshot of the installer?

Evan Williams shows how an almost totally Ajax UI can still support permalinks. Clever. (For what it’s worth, though, I didn’t mean to imply in my Stikkit review that I thought Ajax ruled out permalinks — I was only complaining about the current Stikkit implementation.)

Podcast Bumper Music = Flash Splash Pages on Web Sites 

Jason Kottke:

Podcasters have been slower to break out of the mold provided by talk radio. The playing of music before segments and as transitions between segments makes some sense on the radio, where it’s used in some cases to fill airtime. But for podcasts, there’s no need to fill airtime with anything but content. 30 seconds of music before the actual podcast begins is the audio equivalent of Flash splash pages on web sites.

Yes yes yes.

Donald J. Rosenberg Joins Apple as General Counsel 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that Donald J. Rosenberg, senior vice president and general counsel of IBM, will join the company as its senior vice president and general counsel, reporting to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Dunstan Orchard Now Working at Flickr 

He was working on a web development team at Apple for the last year or two. Hopefully Flickr will just hand him the keys to their design car — Orchard could give them a serious injection of awesomeness. His weblog, in cold storage since July 2005, still ranks as one of my all-time favorite designs.

Java Is Free 

Sun releases big chunks of Java under the GPL 2.

Announcing MAME OS X 

Dave Dribin has ported MAME to Intel-based Macs. Outstanding news for fans of classic arcade video games.

Apple’s Japanese ‘Get a Mac’ Ads 

I don’t understand a word, but the PC guy cracks me up.

(Via Rod Begbie.)

Tell SpamSieve the Truth 

Michael Tsai, contradicting foolish advice from others that you shouldn’t mark certain spams as spam, lest you confuse your spam filter:

In both cases, my recommendation is simple: tell SpamSieve the truth. If a message is spam, train it as such; don’t omit a message because you think it will confuse SpamSieve. This is for two reasons. First, there’s probably some spammy content that SpamSieve could learn from, even if it doesn’t appear so. Second, if you don’t train the message as spam, SpamSieve will assume that the message was good and that you want to see more such messages.

Iconic 

Sven-S. Porst on using vector art for resolution-independent UI elements:

And even with all the new technology we have, the basic facts about low-pixel count situations remain true: Graphics in which those few pixels are carefully and consciously placed will look better than those created from generic vector graphics. Only in a few lucky situations we will be able to get equivalent results from cool vector graphics tricks.

Cocoa’s Broken Proxy Icons 

Erik Barzeski on Cocoa’s broken window title bar document proxy icons.

With a Carbon app, dragging the proxy icon is just like dragging a file icon from within the Finder itself. Dragging means move, Option-dragging means copy, Command-Option-dragging means make an alias. With the default Cocoa behavior, there is no way to simply move the original file itself: dragging means make an alias, and Option- or Command-dragging means make a copy. The Carbon behavior, in addition to being far more useful, matches what’s prescribed by the HIG.

iShowU 

$20 screencast recorder for Mac OS X. Looks like someone still likes brushed metal.

Intelligent Design of Playlists 

Great iTunes smart playlist tip from Kottke.

Brand New 

New weblog focused on brand identity and logo design.

New MacBook Developer Note 

That was quick: Apple has already released the developer note for the just-released Core 2 Duo MacBooks.

ESA Threatens Kotaku Over Link to Parody T-Shirt 

Man, who would’ve thought that a bunch of prudish game censors wouldn’t have a sense of humor? (Via Andy Baio.)

Subtraction: Training Keynote Thinkers 

The Keynote lovefest continues. Khoi Vinh:

It rescues this concept of visual storytelling from PowerPoint’s tainted hands, and implements it within an environment that, almost shockingly, allows high-fidelity typographic and visual control over the elements of a story. In stark contrast to Microsoft’s product, Apple’s Keynote goes to enormous lengths to ensure that the visual part of a slideshow’s visual narratives are attractive and maintain an integrity of form that flatters the ideas it conveys.

JPG Magazine Now Taking Subscriptions 

JPG Magazine — 8020 Publishing’s excellent photography mag, founded by Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ — started taking subscriptions earlier this week. A one-year (six-issue) subscription is normally $25, a great deal. But use the coupon code “DARING” and you’ll get $5 off, just for being a Daring Fireball reader.

Maybe I’m just a softie for excellent photography and independent publishing, but I think this is pretty cool.

PackRat 

$25 Mac client for Backpack — lets you read and edit Backpack pages while offline.

MFSLives 

Holy nostalgia, Batman:

MFSLives is a sample VFS plug-in that implements read-only access to the Macintosh File System (MFS) volume format. This volume format debuted on the original Macintosh in 1984, and was supplanted by HFS (the predecessor to HFS Plus) with the introduction of the Macintosh Plus in 1986. MFS support was dropped from traditional Mac OS in Mac OS 8.1, and it has never been supported on Mac OS X.

(Via Daniel Jalkut via AIM.)

Bill Bumgarner on Text Editor Wars 

Brilliant and succinct:

As a result, any user who spends any significant amount of time with any one text editor — I’m talking years, here — will build up a set of usage patterns that employed rapidly and repeatedly throughout an editing session. Often this is called “muscle memory”, but it is really more that your brain builds up a library of “mental macros” that are applied almost subconsciously as you work with the editor.

Because of this, switching text editors is incredibly disruptive to one’s workflow and results in some awesome “religious wars”. Why? Because it is just too damned difficult to actually quantify why one editor is so much better than another.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to say this for months. Perfect.

For Start-Ups, Web Success on the Cheap 

New York Times article about web start-ups building out on the cheap, without venture capital, including Meebo and Reddit.

Jim Allchin Suggests Vista Won’t Need Antivirus 

I hope he’s right. The Windows anti-virus industry grew out of necessity, but it has evolved into something that resembles a protection racket.

Vista’s new Address Space Layout Randomization feature sounds like a swell idea.

Desktop Transporter 2.0 

$30 competitor to Apple Remote Desktop from Devon Technologies.

Update: It’s not really fair to call it a competitor to ARD. Desktop Transporter is pretty much focused on screen-sharing; ARD does screen-sharing and a whole lot more. It’s probably more fair to call Desktop Transporter a rival to Timbuktu. And don’t forget that iChat will offer screen sharing in Mac OS X 10.5.

Expose This 

Matthew Himler:

Last week I was interviewed by the Globe and one of my key emphasis points was that whether it is blogs, Facebook or MySpace, people are starting to use technology to not only expose themselves, but also to share their views and opinions. I think Microsoft’s understanding of this change, which is apparent in Zune, will give the company a differentiating edge.

Expose themselves? I didn’t know Zune had a built-in camera.

CSSEdit 2.0 

Very impressive upgrade to MacRabbit’s aptly-named $30 CSS editor. There’s some very interesting cleverness in the UI. For example, its inspectors are anchored in the editing window rather than sitting in free-floating palettes. The way CSSEdit does this is definitely less cluttered — but the downside is that it only lets you see one of them at a time.

Update: Cleverness abounds. CSSEdit author Jan Van Boghout emailed to point out that there’s a preference setting to allow multiple inspectors to be displayed at once. So: downside retracted.

Rosetta Performance Improvements in Mac OS X 10.4.8 

Macworld lab results show Photoshop runs about 35 percent faster in 10.4.8 than it did in previous versions of Tiger on Intel-based Macs. That means Intel-based iMacs are nearly on par with G5 iMacs, and Mac Pro Quads are nearly on par with Power Mac G5 Quads. And these machines blow their G5 counterparts away running universal binaries. In short, even if you’re a heavy Photoshop user, it might be worth upgrading to a new Mac now.

Ed Bradley, Veteran CBS Newsman, Dies at 65 

One of the greatest television journalists, ever.

The End Is Coming, Zune 

Nice Zune piece by Martin McClellan:

I suppose this opens a philosophical debate on when in a song’s playing does the it turn into the past tense ‘played’? For iTunes the question was any easy one: it’s played when it’s done playing. But Microsoft had to put the playcount at the beginning of the song. Why? Because if it were at the end, then I could listen to a whole song nearly to the end, and then skip to the next song, thus finding an easy workaround to the “3 plays or 3 days” limitation. Never mind that the song will be erased in 3 days anyway, Microsoft is more interested in acting like a drug dealer and tempting me with a melody and withdrawing it than it is in giving me a function that might benefit me.

Zune Commercials 

Not horrible, but not at all memorable or distinctive. Three of the six ads feature breakdancing. Is that back?

The Deck 

Just a friendly reminder that Daring Fireball is a member of The Deck — a targeted ad network that delivers a single ad impression, without annoying animation, for each page view, and only accepts ads for products or services we (i.e. the member sites of The Deck) have paid for and/or used.

TextMate vs. BBEdit Comment Thread 

If you like editor wars, you’ll love the comments on this post from Erik Barzeski.

Walt Mossberg Reviews the Zune 

Walt Mossberg:

Placing the Zune next to the 30-gigabyte iPod provides a strong contrast. The iPod is thin, sleek and elegant looking. The Zune looks big and blocky, sort of like a prototype for a gadget, rather than a finished product. It is longer, thicker and heavier than even the 80-gigabyte iPod, which has more than twice its capacity. …

The word “Microsoft” never appears anywhere on the Zune, only the new Zune logo and a cheeky, “Hello from Seattle” in tiny type at the bottom of the back of the device.

Blackfriars’ Marketing: Microsoft tries to derail the iPod juggernaut with Universal deal 

Blackfriars’ Marketing on the Microsoft-Universal $1-per-Zune deal:

While this sounds like a simple “we wanted to get a major music label on board deal”, it’s really an attempt to poison next year’s licensing contract renewal between Universal and Apple. After all, Microsoft is unlikely to sell more than two million Zunes in the next six months to a year, so this costs them little. But I estimate that Apple will sell nearly 20 million iPods just this quarter (more about that tomorrow), and hundreds of millions of songs as well.

Microsoft to Pay Universal for Every Zune Sold 

Yinka Adegoke, reporting for Reuters:

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to pay Universal Music Group a fee for each new Zune digital music player it sells when the iPod rival launches next week, the companies said on Thursday.

I don’t get it. Why would Microsoft do this?

Update: Reader Conrad Gempf suggests the following:

If I were Steve Jobs, I’d call Universal today and say “We’ll take you up on exactly the same deal as Microsoft has. Apple too will pay you $1 for every Microsoft Zune sold.”

Yojimbo 1.3 

Free update to Bare Bones’s terrific organizer app. The big new feature is a very nice tagging implementation, but there are a ton of other additions, too. Highly recommended.

Tim Bray on Keynote 

Tim Bray:

Anyhow, my real purpose here is just to say that the Keynote authoring interface is just totally excellent, amazingly good; and I speak as a pretty expert user of both PowerPoint and OpenOffice.org. For my money, maybe the best app Apple ships.

I don’t think I’d call it the best app they ship, but it’s certainly in the running. Keynote is terrific. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the one app that we know you-know-who uses seriously.

David Pogue Reviews the Zune 

David Pogue:

What’s really nuts is that the restrictions even stomp on your own musical creations. Microsoft’s literature suggests that if you have a struggling rock band, you could “put your demo recordings on your Zune” and “when you’re out in public, you can send the songs to your friends.” What it doesn’t say: “And then three days later, just when buzz about your band is beginning to build, your songs disappear from everyone’s Zunes, making you look like an idiot.”

Joe Clark Micropatronage 

Joe Clark:

I’m appealing to supporters to donate small amounts to support me while I start up a research project. …

My donation goal (the amount I am trying to raise) is a convenient $7,777, which, apart from being a lucky number, will keep me afloat at a subsistence level for four months. No honeymoons in Hong Kong here.

This is a jim-dandy cause and worth your support.

I’m behind on my child support... but I’m paying for Joe’s research!

MDJ on the Worm Sent Out by Google 

MDJ does its best George Ou impersonation:

It’s about time those smug, self-satisfied Google users joined the real world instead of living a “security doesn’t matter” fantasy land.

Boing Boing: Rumsfeld Resignation Summarized in Mac Screenshot 

I won’t spoil the joke here.

Hacking the Web 2.0 Conference 

Clever: web startup Mashery booked a conference room at the same hotel where the very expensive Web 2.0 Summit conference is being held. So instead of paying big bucks to be an official part of the conference, they paid a meager amount directly to the hotel. With gallons of free margaritas being dispenses, I’m guessing they’re not having problems drawing attendees, either.

Jackass of the Week: Steve Wilson 

Steve Wilson, “principal analyst” for ABI Research, is touting the results of a ludicrous survey that indicates 58 percent of iPod owners are “likely” to buy a Microsoft Zune as their next music player. Uh-huh. Sounds to me like there’s a 99 percent chance Steve Wilson is a jackass.

The associated report being issued by the research firm concluded that for Apple to maintain its lead, it must make big announcements in 2007. “Apple needs a new high-end device that works really well and looks really cool, because other brands are catching up,” said Mr. Wilson.

That’s just brilliant. New iPods that “work really well and look really cool”. What would Apple do without insightful advice like this?

New Core 2 Duo MacBooks 

1.83 and 2.0 GHz, now with hard drives up to 200 GB. RAM is still capped at 2 GB, and black is still going to cost you extra. These look like great machines — I didn’t expect Core 2 Duo MacBooks until after Christmas.

Huh-Huh! I Said ‘Phuc’! 

So until I read this (once again, terrific) piece from El Macalopo, I didn’t realize that H.D. Moore, the quote-unquote “security researcher” who last week released an exploit called “daringphucball” that crashes Macs using the old circa 2001-2003 original AirPort cards, is the same guy who wrote this response to me during The Great MacBook Wi-Fi Hack Fiasco.

The Macalope has a good point here:

Despite the fact that Moore is being such a dick about it, you’ll notice there hasn’t been the same level of uproar about his exploit. Mostly because it’s on three-year-old systems, but also because he made a claim and he proved it. Contrast that to the precedent set by his good buddies, David Maynor and Jon “Johnny Cache!” Ellch.

DropSend for Sale, Monthly Revenue Made Public 

Carson Systems is selling DropSend, their web app for easily sharing files too big for email. Current profit is about $7,000 a month: $9,000 in revenue and $2,000 in hosting fees.

I’m with Andy Baio, though, who writes:

It’s still baffling why he’s selling it if it takes so little effort.

50 Percent Off TidBITS’s Take Control E-Books 

On sale through November 13, to celebrate their third anniversary.

Daniel Jalkut Reviews EagleFiler 

A couple of weeks old, but I missed it when it was new.

Check the Wins 

Cocky bastard Bears fans at Coudal make lemonade from lemons.

Xserve Loses, Big-Time, on Price and Performance Compared to Sun’s Thumper 

With a Sun Thumper, you pay $4,000 less and get 18 terabytes more storage. Terabytes, I said. Just a few years ago Xserves were winning such comparisons. (Via Jason Hoffman.)

Update: For what it’s worth, if you try to order a Thumper from Sun.com, it tells you prices start at $70K. No idea what one has to do to get the price down to $32K.

MacNN: ‘Adobe CS3 to Drive Mac Sales in 2007’ 

From the Department of “Duh!”

Text Inputs on Safari 

Clever CSS styling tips for text input fields from Shaun Inman.

ZeusDraw 1.0  

New $90 illustration and drawing app, with some interesting brush features.

Election Day 

Very clever interactive map from the New York Times — click around to get the rundown the Senate, House, and gubernatorial races in each state. Nice piece of programming-as-journalism.

The Size of Web Pages in the Broadband Era 

How big is too big (in terms of kilobytes) for a web page today? I remember sweating over every last kilobyte 10 years ago — using DeBabelizer to squeeze extra bytes out of GIF files, condensing whitespace from HTML files. Anything you could do to shave a kilobyte without screwing up the way the tag soup browsers rendered your design was a win, because it took so damn long for anything to load over a modem.

I don’t really worry about it these days, though — I don’t even remember the last time I measured how big the front page at Daring Fireball was.

Leopard Tech Talks — North America 

Apple’s nine-city traveling road show for developers — looks like a one-day crash course of the best sessions from WWDC 2006. Free for any registered ADC member.

Logic Pro Stops All launchd Jobs 

Noodlesoft:

It seemed too weird but I downloaded a trial of Logic Express and sure enough, I experienced the exact same behavior. After a bit of poking around I discovered what was happening. Logic Pro/Express stops all launchd jobs. Hazel uses launchd to start its background processes so it was a bit disconcerting to see another program, especially one from Apple, disabling yours on purpose, albeit indirectly. At least Logic is nice enough to start the jobs again when it quits.

That doesn’t seem right.

(Via Scott Stevenson via email.)

Grand Theft Mario 

“He’s marinating… in his own Ragu!”

Cabel Sasser Reviews the Sony Ericsson K790a 

I’d love to see the gadget junk drawer at Panic HQ.

7 Questions:  Daring Fireball’s John Gruber 

Brian Ford interviews yours truly over at Newsvine.

Technical Note TN2166: Secrets of the GPT 

Finally, a Technote on GUID Partition Table, the new disk partitioning scheme used on Intel-based Macs:

Apple has switched to a new disk partitioning scheme known as the GUID partition table, or GPT. This new scheme offers a number of advantages over the previous scheme, but it also presents some new challenges. This technote describes GPT in general, and gives some specific details about how Apple uses GPT.

Windows Vista: The Features 

Sometimes — like at WWDC back in August — I feel like Apple overplays the “Microsoft copies us” card. But jeebus, you look at this list of new features in Vista and it reads like a “best of Mac OS X 10.3” feature list. (Via Brad Choate via AIM.)

Amit Singh Is Google’s Manager of Macintosh Engineering 

He’s been there since May, according to his résumé, but this post at Slashdot is the first I heard of it.

On Mac OS X Virus 

Amit Singh on Symantec’s hyping of the so-called “OSX.Macarena” virus:

Far too many people use computers but far too few understand computers. This imbalance makes the situation quite lucrative for some.

Barcode Scanner 

Open source (MIT license) iSight barcode scanning code by Conor Dearden.

30 Million Lines of Code in Mac Office 

So says the Mac BU’s Brad Post.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

‘REST Web Services’ by Leonard Richardson and Sam Ruby 

Oh, this is going to be a good book:

This is the book that puts the “web” back into “web services”. You can design a web service that uses HTTP, XHTML, and URIs. You just need to understand REST, the architecture of the web. REST Web Services gives you the tools you need to argue for sensible web services, and the strategies and code you need to create them.

No, I take it back. This is going to be a great book.

I ★ DF 

The humble side of me doesn’t want to link to this, but it’s too good to pass up. Lots of interesting stats about the last year on Daring Fireball — 85 regular articles, 109,000 words (roughly 1,200 words per article on average), and over 2,200 Linked List entries. I actually hadn’t measured lately, but output is (unsurprisingly) up significantly since I went full-time with DF in April.

(TJ probably could have saved some time if he’d known that you can just add a “.text” extension to the permalink URL for any full article to get it in Markdown-formatted plain text. Example.)

Anyway, this really made my week — thanks, TJ.

NetworkLocation 1.0 

$15 network settings manager — lets you easily switch between multiple network location configurations. I find the UI a bit too clever for its own good — it wasn’t even obvious to me how you quit the app — but if you find yourself clicking around in the Network panel in System Prefs frequently, this might be a timesaver.

‘Hey, I Also Shagged Your Wife. OK by You?’ 

Fake Steve, on the Novell-Microsoft Linux deal:

And as for Linux, here’s my feeling: If this stuff is so great, how come nobody wants it, even though it’s free? I mean, we’re charging a ridiculous amount of money for our computers. Ridiculous. Microsoft is even worse. (When you think of what crap they deliver.) And yet we’re both outselling this Linux stuff. And it’s free. It costs nothing. You don’t have to pay for it! And still nobody wants it! Guys, obtain a clue.

MacBook Pro MagSafe Power Adapters Fraying/Melting? 

Shaun Inman:

I’m considering purchasing a 17 inch to serve as my primary machine and was pricing out an extra battery and power adapter for travel when I came across a number of reviews on the Apple Store claiming that these cords tear, fray and even melt. Would anyone who has had a MacBook Pro for a while care to comment on their experience with these adapters?

An Honest Options Problem 

The Macalope responds to Matt Deatherage regarding Jobs’s culpability in the stock options saga.

OmniWeb on Sale Throughout November 

On sale for just $10. That’s quite a deal.

Random Color Terminal 

Daniel Jalkut:

It sure comes up with some ugly schemes, but the good news is that with a Terminal-specific shortcut assigned to the script, I can rip through random choices until I see something I like. I even discovered a little algorithm online to determine whether black or white text is best for the given background color.

AIGA Polling Place Photo Project 

AIGA:

The Polling Place Photo Project is a nationwide experiment in citizen journalism that seeks to empower citizens to capture, post and share photographs of democracy in action. By documenting their local voting experience on November 7, voters can contribute to an archive of photographs that captures the richness and complexity of voting in America.

The Reality About Steve Jobs and Stock Options 

MDJ:

To argue now, three and a half years later, that Jobs benefited because these options were underwater by US$30 per share instead of US$32 per share doesn’t pass the laugh test.

More Pants Stains: Think Secret 

Scroll to the end for the punchline.

Implications of Adobe’s Intel-Only Soundbooth 

Scott Stevenson:

Apple’s focus is on Intel right now, but this stuff is unpredictable. Well, actually, it is predictable. It always changes. There was 16-bit to 32-bit, 32-bit to 64-bit, 68k to PowerPC, PowerPC to Intel. What if Apple released a new type of portable which was not x86-based at all?

Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro Mini-Review 

Steven Frank’s new MacBook Pro arrived.

Aperture Free Trial 

A reasonable response to the free trial of Adobe Lightroom during its public beta.

The Django Book Pre-Release 

Adrian Holovaty:

Starting today, The Django book is available at djangobook.com. We’ll be unveiling one or two chapters each week until the whole book is available. The first two chapters are available now.

Interarchy File Converters 

Perfect example of why I love Interarchy: version 8.2 adds the ability to specify automatic file converters attached to any server or path. One of the built-in converters is for a new, open file format called Interarchy Backup Format:

As mentioned, we also wrote a Backup script which encodes all the meta data in an open format, including resource fork, BSD flags and weird things like ACLs and HFS+ extended attributes (I wish we did not have to write our own format, but there simply is not any existing format that supported 64 bit and all the meta data).

This is great for backing up files with important Mac metadata to remote servers that don’t natively handle such metadata.

Paul Thurrott: New Shuffles Ship With Old-Style Ear Buds 

What is up with that?

Glenn Fleishman on the Metasploit AirPort Exploit 

Glenn Fleishman:

In a fairly unresponsible move, the MoKB won’t provide information in advance in any systematic way to the affected operating systems or programs. In the security world, this is considered bad form, somewhere between taking a dump in a swimming pool and selling drugs to children. There’s little reason to not provide advance information to affected parties unless you’re trying to be clever, instead of smart.

LuaCore 0.2 

Gus Mueller’s open source framework for easily embedding Lua in Cocoa apps.

New iPod Shuffles Are Arriving 

Photos on Flickr showing the new iPod Shuffle packaging.

Dragster 1.0 

Very clever $20 Dock-based file transfer utility from Ambrosia. Drag files onto Dragster’s Dock icon and a list of drop targets pops up.

Ou, Baby 

If I knew who The Macalope was, I’d buy him (her? it?) a beer.

George Ou Jizzes His Pants 

George Ou is so excited about the “zero day” AirPort exploit released today that, shockingly, he’s gotten important facts wrong, even after they were spelled out for him in detail:

According to Brian Krebs, Apple’s Lynn Fox told him that “This issue affects a small percentage of previous generation AirPort enabled Macs and does not affect currently shipping or AirPort Extreme enabled Macs.” But the flaw affects all “Airport enabled Macs” which are the PowerPC based Macs that comprise roughly half of the Mac market. The “AirPort Extreme enabled Macs” are the newer Intel based Macs.

Wrong. “AirPort Extreme” is Apple’s marketing name for the IEEE 802.11g 54 Mbps wireless networking protocol. They’ve been using it since January 2003, long before the switch to Intel processors earlier this year. “AirPort”, which is what today’s exploit attacks, is Apple’s marketing name for the older 802.11b 11 Mbps protocol.

So, in short:

  • All Intel-based Macs use AirPort Extreme;
  • All PowerPC Macs sold after 2003 use AirPort Extreme;
  • Today’s exploit attacks regular old non-Extreme AirPort;
  • These facts are all easy to discover for yourself by taking 90 seconds to Google for “AirPort Extreme”;
  • George Ou is a jackass.
Apple Statement on AirPort Exploit 

Brian Krebs got the following statement from Apple spokeswoman Lynn Fox:

“We were recently made aware of this security issue in our first generation AirPort card, which has not shipped since October 2003. This issue affects a small percentage of previous generation AirPort enabled Macs and does not affect currently shipping or AirPort Extreme enabled Macs. We are currently investigating the issue.”

AirPort Exploit Against Older PowerBooks and iMacs Published 

Note the filename of the example exploit script.

Brian Krebs has a post on the exploit, along with a brief interview with the author, “H D Moore”:

Q: Do you have to using Kismet or the Airport utility to be compromised by this?

HD: This particular exploit only seems to trigger when the card is in active scanning mode. I was able to trigger a similar bug when the card is in “idle” (non-associated) state, but I need more time to investigate it before I can give you more information.

In other words, yes, the published exploit only works when the card is in active scanning mode, so even if you have a vulnerable machine, you’re probably not vulnerable in normal use.

Darren Aronofsky on Computer-Generated Effects 

His new science fiction film, The Fountain, doesn’t use CGI:

“No matter how good CGI looks at first, it dates quickly,” he says. “But 2001 really holds up. So I set the ridiculous goal of making a film that would reinvent space without using CGI.”

(Via Kottke.)

Using Safari’s Debug Menu to Measure Page Load Time 

Useful tip for web developers from Maciej Stachowiak.

Trusted Computing for Mac OS X 

Remember last year when it first became known that Apple’s Intel hardware was equipped with TPM “trusted computing” hardware, and a bunch of ninnies called it the beginning of the end?

The TPM hardware is in fact present on shipping Intel-based Macs, but according to Amit Singh, Apple isn’t using it. Singh has written and released an open source driver for the TPM hardware, along with this documentation and executive summary of how it works. I love the way that Singh doesn’t just publish the software, but takes the time to explain it in such detail.

Working With the WebKit Nightly Builds 

New ADC article with useful info for both web developers and Mac developers using Web Kit.

George Ou, Still a Jackass 

Martin McKeay on George Ou:

I don’t want to flame George, but he was wrong, combative and sensationalist. Even when he was shown to be wrong, rather than apologize and admit to his mistake, he furthers his attack on the Computerworld article and Tyler Reguly.

Why Tim Berners-Lee is Wrong 

Elliotte Rusty Harold:

XHTML is not the problem. Well-formedness is certainly not the problem. Hell, even namespaces aren’t really the problem although they’re clunky and ugly and everyone hates them. The problem is that the W3C has abandoned HTML for years. HTML hasn’t moved forward since 1999. No wonder browser vendors are getting antsy.

FlexTime 1.1 

Daniel Jalkut:

This release has a markedly different (improved, I’d say) interface, that was inspired in large part by the HIG speech that John Gruber delivered at C4.

About the Security Content of Xcode Tools 2.4.1 

Xcode 2.4.1 is out, and in addition to the usual bug fixes, there’s a security fix for an issue with GDB and DWARF binaries. Just a small 923 MB download.

Insomnia Film Festival 

Apple is sponsoring a 24-hour filmmaking contest for students:

On Friday, November 10 at 5 p.m. Eastern (2 p.m. Pacific), we will post a list of three elements that you will need to incorporate into your story. From that time, you will have 24 hours to finish and submit your completed short film.

(Via Scott McNulty.)

Speaking of Halloween 

Fake Steve:

If you hear about some California high school punks sent to the emergency room at Stanford with mouths stuffed with dog shit, well, it wasn’t us. Honest.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Reflections 

Microsoft shuts down Max, their photo-whatever beta that no one I know ever used. (Thanks to John Siracusa for the headline.)

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