Linked List: September 2006

Google Reader Gets New Layout, Still Doesn’t Work With Authenticated Feeds 

Which means you still can’t use it to read the members-only feeds from Daring Fireball. They don’t even give you a reasonable error message — when you try to subscribe to a feed that requires HTTP authentication, it tells you there’s “No feed available” for that URL.

Scab 

Wonderful essay by Greg Storey on the Falkner Winery design rip-off — and an interesting thread in the comments, as well.

My strategy for dealing with design rip-offs is simply to out them publicly, and let Google mete out the justice. Within a few days, Googling for “Falkner Winery” will reveal that they copied their site design from Joyent and ripped off artwork and other design elements from Cork’d.

10.4.8 Persistent Cursor Rectangle 

Speaking of weird problems caused by the new scroll-wheel-zooming feature in 10.4.8 — if you see a black rectangle surrounding your mouse pointer, Daniel Jalkut has the solution.

Cocoa and AppleScript 

Daniel Jalkut calls for better and easier AppleScript support for Cocoa application developers. Be sure to check out the comments — Sal Soghoian himself weighs in a few times.

Apple and SecureWorks ‘Working Together’; ToorCon Presentation Canceled 

Jim Dalrymple, reporting for Macworld:

“SecureWorks and Apple are working together in conjunction with the CERT Coordination Center on any reported security issues,” SecureWorks said in a statement provided to Macworld. “We will not make any additional public statements regarding work underway until both companies agree, along with CERT/CC, that it is appropriate.”

[…]

Maynor and Cache were due to speak at ToorCon this weekend in San Diego, but Maynor has canceled, SecureWorks confirmed. No reason was given for the cancellation.

This is like a soap opera for computer nerds.

Pantone Huey 

$89 drop-dead-simple display calibrator — works with both CRTs and LCDs, and on Mac OS X and Windows. Works wonders with aging displays that cast off yellowish or pinkish tints. (Via Chris Ryland via email.)

Backpack Calendar API 

I wonder how many people have started working on Backpack Dashboard widgets today?

Yahoo’s Browser-Based Authentication 

Yahoo is opening up their identity system for third parties to use. I bet Google follows shortly. Update: Actually, Wes Felter points out that Google already did release something like this.

Mac OS X 10.4.8 

Worth noting:

After installing the delta version of this update on an Intel-based Mac, the computer will restart two times — the first restart after installing this update may take several minutes; please allow it to complete.

Falkner Winery Rips Off Joyent and Cork’d 

No question in my mind: it’s a rip-off. Their overall design is a rip-off of Joyent’s colors and layout, and they’ve stolen artwork from Cork’d.

Leaving aside the question of scruples, I can’t understand how these jokers could be so stupid as to think they’d get away with this.

Update: Joyent CEO Dave Young’s response is perfectly Joyent-y — I don’t think he’s joking.

Crazyegg = Crazy Good 

Matt Linderman on Crazyegg’s heat maps — color-coded overlays that tell you where people are clicking on your web site.

Andy Ihnatko: Harsh Words for Windows 

Andy Ihnatko has been splitting his time 50-50 between Mac and Windows while writing his upcoming iPod book:

But what I’ve endured over the past few months is the equivalent of a weeklong road trip with someone whose company you’ve always enjoyed, but never really known as a true friend. Windows has propped its bare smelly feet up on my dashboard and told me the story about how he was so hung over during his aunt’s funeral that he threw up into the coffin a little. His greasy hair has left smears on the inside of the window that no solvent can shift.

Punditry 101: When in Doubt, Ask a Stupid Question 

Hadley Stern asks the following stupid question:

If you were on a desert island and you could only take the following two machines:

(1) A MacPro [sic] with all apps installed with no internet connection

or

(2) A Windows box with an internet connection, Firefox, IM, etc.

And then takes the fact that even die-hard Mac users would choose #2 as proof that “the operating system doesn’t matter anymore”.

That’s like offering someone the choice between a BMW with no gas tank and a Kia with one, and declaring that “the quality of your car doesn’t matter anymore” when people choose the Kia because it’ll actually work.

FastScripts 2.3 

Nice update to Daniel Jalkut’s excellent replacement for Apple’s system-wide scripts menu. $15 for the full version, free for the lite version. Highly recommended.

MDJ on Apple’s ‘Cease and Desist’ Request to Podcast Ready 

Matt Deatherage figured out what’s going on after reading the full text of Apple’s cease-and-desist letter — it’s not because Podcast Ready was simply using the word “podcast”, it’s because Podcast Ready was attempting to file for their own trademarks on “podcast ready” and “myPod”:

Apple hasn’t said word one about tens of thousands of people using the term “podcast,” despite Apple’s “iPod” trademark and its claim on “Pod” as a portable audio player trademark as well. Apple took action against Podcast Ready because the firm, formerly known as Infostructure Solutions, was attempting to trademark the terms “Podcast Ready” and “MyPodder.” That would mean that other companies who wanted to use the term “podcast ready” would have to license it from Infostructure Solutions, even though the term is obviously and admittedly based on Apple’s “iPod” trademark. Apple cannot allow companies to register a variant on “myPod” as a trademark if it’s defending its own “iPod” trademark.

Movable Type’s Shitty Export Format 

Tom Sherman takes Six Apart to task for the fact that, if you use the “entry_basename” field for customizing entries’ permalink URLs, this field doesn’t get exported or imported — and thus your URLs will all break if you use the Import/Export feature to change web hosts; this, despite the fact that whole point of the entry_basename field is to keep your URLs from breaking when you change a post’s title.

You don’t want to get me started on just how shitty MT’s Import/Export feature are. (E.g. any entry that contains the strings “\n-----\n” (five dashes on a line by themselves) or “\n--------\n” (eight dashes) can’t be exported and re-imported, because those strings are the export format’s field and entry separators. I.e. MT doesn’t escape those strings when they occur with an entry.)

In a nut: You can’t trust Movable Type to import its own export format.

Boom! 

And, boom.

(Via Garrett Murray via AIM.)

Let the Parsing Begin 

The Macalope takes a look at the latest from George Ou’s “legal professional” friend David Burke. Definitely worth checking out this comment on George Ou’s weblog, too.

Movable Type 3.33 

“Mandatory” security fix update.

Microsoft ‘Points’ Currency 

Candace Lombardi, reporting for CNet on today’s Zune details:

There will also be the option of purchasing individual songs through a system called Microsoft Points. The new Microsoft cash system will work by adding money to an account, as with a prepaid phone card. Points will then be deducted from the account with each purchase. A single song will cost 79 points, “the equivalent of 99 cents,” according to a spokesman for Microsoft.

So they’re creating their own currency? This seems crazy to me.

Update: Apparently they already use this crazy Points currency for Xbox Live stuff. I still say it’s a stupid idea — they obviously hold their customers in contempt, thinking that they’re stupid enough to think that 79 points is “less than” 99 cents even if it costs 99 cents to buy 79 points.

Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner 

Interesting: TidBITS expands their Take Control e-book line outside the computer nerd niche. See also: Sam Sellers’s Take Control of Booking a Cheap Airline Ticket.

NYPost.com Redesigns 

Gaudy, but appropriately so. Well done. (Via Khoi Vinh.)

Strange Medium 

Dave Hyatt on fixed-width font sizing in web browsers:

The answer, as usual with Web browsers, is pretty interesting (which is browser developer-speak for “insanely confusing”).

Cha-Ching 0.1 

Still-in-beta super simple money management app. $15 while in beta, $25 once it hits 1.0. (Via Jason Fried.)

Zune to Debut at $250 on November 14 

Same price as Apple’s 30 GB iPod. The subscription service costs $15 a month. Paul Thurrott says:

This has the makings of a disaster. $14.99 a month is too much for a subscription service. The Zune is incompatible with both iTunes and every single WMA-based service on the planet. What the heck are these people thinking?

What I don’t understand is why Microsoft is claiming they expect to lose money on these first-generation Zunes. Apple’s turning a nice profit on the iPod — the Zune has a slightly bigger screen and Wi-Fi and they have to sell it at a loss?

The Macalope on Think Secret’s New ‘Notes’ Weblog 

Snap!

The Bad: Why You Shouldn’t Buy iTunes Shows or Movies 

And seven very good reasons why you shouldn’t.

The Good: Why You Should Buy iTunes Shows and Movies 

Brad Choate offers seven good reasons for buying music and video from iTunes.

Microsoft Messenger 6.0 

Microsoft’s first universal binary; now includes support for chatting with Yahoo chat users.

‘iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It’ 

Steve Wozniak’s autobiography is out; order it from Amazon and make me rich.

Aperture vs. Lightroom: Metadata Panel 

I agree: the Lightroom panel is more thoughtfully designed, and I think it looks better, too. The Lightroom team is quite obviously sweating over every little detail. I dig the little flourish at the bottom, too.

iTunes 7.0.1 

From the skimpy release notes in Software Update:

iTunes 7.0.1 addresses stability and performance issues with Cover Flow, CD importing, iPod syncing, and more.

Techworld Removes Jim Dalrymple’s Byline From Article 

Good news: Techworld’s Jackass-of-the-Week-winning article is now attributed solely to Kieren McCarthy.

Mousesposé 2.5 

Now with keystroke visualization. Great utility for creating screencasts and presentations. On sale for just $10 through November 15.

Apple’s Cease-and-Desist Letter to Podcast Ready 

Wired’s Listening Post weblog has posted the letter. Looks like they’re more concerned about Podcast Ready’s use of “myPodder” than the “podcast” in their company name. But they’re clearly attempting to assert that they want control over who can use the term “podcast” in a trademark.

Free on iTunes: ‘Catch-Up’ Summary of First Two Seasons of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ 

Two weeks before the start of the third season of Battlestar Galactica, they’re offering a free 44-minute summary of the first two seasons. What a great idea.

iLounge: iPod Game Reviews 

All nine games reviewed. Mahjong and Vortex come out on top; Pac-Man comes in last.

Jeremy Zawodny: Hack Day Preview and Notes 

This makes me wish I worked at Yahoo.

Joe Mathlete Explains Today’s Marmaduke 

Literary criticism at its best. (Via John August.)

New .Mac Webmail Interface ‘Coming Soon’ 

Looks like a web app re-implementation of the regular Apple Mail UI. This is clever and quite an accomplishment, but I can’t say I think it’s a good idea to make the UI so remarkably similar to the real Apple Mail’s — there are too many people who are going to get confused about why they’re not completely identical. (Via Scott McNulty.)

Greenpeace ‘Recycles’ JavaScript From Apple.com 

Compare and contrast this JavaScript from Greenpeace’s new Apple sub-site to this JavaScript from Apple.com. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that they didn’t get permission from Apple for this.

Ah, but the Zune Could Beat the iPod if It Had a Chain Saw! 

The Macalope responds to an “iPod is Doomed Because of Zune” piece at SvenOnTech:

The remarkable assery of this piece is that Rafferty is not even taking the bad data points for the iPod (and you really have to try to find them!) and comparing them to the good ones for the Zune.

He’s taking the current features of the iPod and comparing them to imaginary future features of the Zune - a product you can’t even buy yet. That’s vapor^2!

Arborist 

Wood-grain pattern suede shoes co-designed by House Industries. Each pair includes five free fonts.

Greenpeace Anti-Apple Site 

Greenpeace ups the ante in their crusade against Apple’s use of environmentally-unsavory materials in Macs and iPods. Their FAQ makes it clear that they’re not targeting Apple because Apple has a particularly bad record in this regard, but because “Apple should be setting the trend for a green future. If any company should do this it’s Apple.”

iTunes Store Customer Service 

David Weiss on the customer service from the iTunes Store.

Update the Updater? 

Quentin Carnicelli on another ludicrous piece of UI design from Adobe.

Apple Strongly Denies Getting Information From SecureWorks 

George Ou gets unambiguous, straightforward answers from Apple regarding what information they received from SecureWorks regarding any possible Wi-Fi exploits in Mac OS X. (Short answer: zilch.)

Trickle Theory 

Rands:

Let’s first break down impossibleness. For the sake of this article, there are two types of impossible tasks. First, there are impossibly dull tasks. This is work which requires no mental effort, but is vast in size. Bug scrubbing is a great example of this. At the other end of the spectrum are impossibly hard tasks. These are tasks like, “Hey Rands, we need new product by Christmas. Yes, I know it’s October. Ready. Go!”

Oddly, attacking both boring and hard tasks involve the same mental kung-fu where your first move is starting.

Using ‘strings’ Against Universal Binaries 

If you run strings against a universal binary and don’t specify the -arch all option, it will only search the binary for the current host architecture. (Via Rentzsch.)

Packing Needless Firearms to Secure Expensive Camera and Computer Equipment in Checked Luggage 

If you pack a declared firearm — such as a relatively harmless starter pistol — in your checked luggage, you can secure it, along with anything else in the same case, with a lock the TSA can’t open, and TSA will provide additional tracking on the case.

Notes on Techmeme’s New Sponsorship Model 

Interesting idea for sponsorship: up to three sponsors per month pay Techmeme to get the most recent post in their RSS feeds included on Techmeme’s front page. It’s not so much advertising as it is a way to pay to reach a large audience from your own weblog. Looks like it pays well, too — at $3,000 - $4,500 a month, that’s about $130K a year.

James Duncan Davidson on the ‘Photoshop Lightroom’ Branding 

Problem is, Photoshop isn’t an umbrella brand. At least not to its users. Yah, there’s Photoshop Elements, but we all understand that as a dumbed down version of Photoshop. Lightroom is off the charts in “think different” from Photoshop. Trying to tie it to Photoshop like this is about as smart as, oh, renaming the iPod as the MacPod.

‘Toynbee Tiles’ Mystery Resurrected in Philly 

Let’s see: a story centered in Philadelphia, about mysterious street art referencing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. If that’s not Daring Fireball link material, I don’t know what is.

I’ll just add that I’ve been fascinated by these tiles ever since I moved to Philadelphia, and I noticed a few years ago when new ones started cropping up again. There’s one in the left lane of the Vine Street Expressway, a bit before the merge point with the Schuylkill Expressway, noticeable only when traffic is at a standstill. An insane location for a guerrilla art installation given how fast people drive there when traffic isn’t jammed.

(Thanks to Bryan Bell for the link.)

Billable 1.0 

New time-tracking and invoicing app for Mac OS X, with a simple, intuitive task-oriented UI. $20 through October 31, $25 after that. It looks useful for time-tracking individual tasks even if you don’t do work for multiple clients. (Via Daniel Jalkut.)

Aperture 1.5 

Free update to Aperture, announced today at a special media event at the Photokina conference in Germany. New features include flexible library management, integration with iLife and iWork apps (i.e. so Aperture users get the same photo library browsing that iPhoto users do) and a whole bunch of new image manipulation features.

Flickr Tools: Aperture 

On the other end of the Aperture-Lightroom rivalry, Flickr today released an export plug-in for Aperture, written by Frasier Speirs (author of the nifty FlickrExport plug-in for iPhoto). Free during the beta, £14 (about US$27 today) after that.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Beta 4 

New public beta of Adobe’s arch-rival to Aperture. Note that its brand name has been changed to “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”.

‘Find Songs Without Artwork’ AppleScript for iTunes 

Script by Marc Friedenberg “creates a playlist containing songs which do not have any album art. It can work on selected songs or on an entire playlist.”

Virtual Key Codes 

‘Wolf’ Rentzsch:

Virtual key codes — the unique number assigned to each and every key on your keyboard — unfortunately seem to reside somewhat on the voodoo side of Mac programming.

AppleScript to Embed iTunes 7 Artwork Into Your Song Files 

Erik Barzeski wanted a way to automate the embedding of iTunes 7 artwork metadata into his song files; Brian Webster provides a nice, short AppleScript solution in the comments.

Higher-Order JavaScript 

Sean M. Burke’s “JavaScriptish companion to Mark-Jason Dominus’s Higher-Order Perl.”

George Ou Says Maynor and Ellch Deserve Credit for the AirPort Security Updates 

Ou apparently believes that Maynor and Ellch supplied Apple with some combination of packet captures, driver disassemblies, and crash dumps regarding Apple’s AirPort drivers, despite Apple’s statement that Maynor and Ellch “did not supply us with any information to allow us to identify a specific problem.”

As I wrote Thursday, “The only way Maynor and Ellch have any credibility remaining is if Apple is flat-out lying. And if that’s the case Maynor and Ellch can simply step forward and prove it.” According to this comment by Ou, that’s what they plan to do at the ToorCon conference next week.

How to Store Album Covers Inside Your Music Files With iTunes 7 

Bruno Fernandes:

But I’ve seen a number of people complaining lately that when you download covers they are only cached and stored in a proprietary format. This means that if you copy/move some music the artwork will not be attached to the song. […]

Here’s an easy way to get the artwork into your song files (it’s so simple I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet).

More on Apple’s “Podcast” Trademark Claims 

Seems like Apple’s recent cease and desist to “Podcast Ready” is part of a larger struggle to solidify their various “iPod”-related trademark applications. (Via George Saronto Stamas, who has an interesting comment on this post.)

Building a Codeless Language Module With BBEdit 8.5 and (Ir-)Regular Expressions 

Seth Dillingham’s tutorial on building a codeless language module for [newLisp] in BBEdit 8.5 using its new PCRE regular expression features.

Apple Slaps Podcast Ready with Cease and Desist 

From Wired’s Listening Post weblog:

Apple Computer has slapped Podcast Ready with a “cease and desist” letter, claiming that the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” infringe on Apple’s trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers.

Ridiculous. “iPodwhatever”, sure, they own that. But not “Podwhatever” — and certainly not “podcast”, which Apple embraced a year ago as a grassroots movement and term. Apple should drop this.

Wal-Mart Threatens Movie Studios Over DVD Downloads 

Tim Arango, reporting in the New York Post:

But several weeks ago, in the midst of rumors that Apple was close to announcing a deal with Disney, Wal-Mart’s David Porter — the executive responsible for stocking the retailer’s shelves with DVDs and CDs and whose influence is so immense in Tinseltown that he’s been named to Premiere magazine’s annual power list — made the rounds of Hollywood studios.

His message, according to a studio exec involved in the discussions: that there would be “serious ramifications” if the studios hopped in bed with Apple.

“They threatened to hurt us in terms of buying less products,” said this person.

Scared of some competition, apparently.

HP’s Dunn Resigns as Chairman and From Board 

CNN:

Last week HP said Hurd would succeed Dunn as chairman following the company’s Jan. 18 board meeting, and that she would remain on the company’s board. But now Dunn will leave the board altogether, the company said.

Well, who didn’t see this coming?

I Shall Rant About the Adobe Reader Installer Now 

Derek K. Miller on trying to install the latest version of Adobe Reader:

There is no sensible reason why an application designed to read PDF files, created by the company that invented the format, should be this unpleasant an experience to install.

Adobe software really is unpleasant to install. (Via Michael Tsai.)

iPod Tetris Controls 

Josh Schoenwald on the iPod version of Tetris:

On the slower levels the game play is ok, but as anyone who’s used a (2G+) iPod knows, the capacitance-based clickwheel is anything but laser-accurate. This means the faster levels are all but impossible since you can’t move the blocks as precisely as with individual button presses. Why they didn’t go with an all-button-based interface is really beyond me.

The Philadelphia Orchestra Online Store 

Mark Pilgrim:

The Philadelphia Orchestra — indisputably one of the best orchestras in the world, and my personal favorite for two decades — has opened an online store to sell their own recordings. Some are on CD, others are available for download. For a fair price. In a free, open, lossless, non-patent-encumbered, non-DRM-infected format. Really.

Pretty damn cool. Go Philly.

Matt Deatherage on Maynor and Ellch’s Credibility 

MacJournals publisher Matt Deatherage is home and recuperating after being hospitalized for congestive heart failure (!). In a weblog entry updating MDJ and MWJ readers about his health (publication is set to resume next week), he offers the following observation regarding Maynor and Ellch’s AirPort claims:

If Maynor and Ellch had demonstrated it or shown code to just one Mac expert who could have verified their claims, they’d rightly be lionized for their work. Instead, they took credit for “hacking a MacBook” at security shows and in the international press while refusing to provide even the barest proof that they’d actually accomplished what they said they had, or at least what they wanted you to believe they’d said. Now that bugs and fixes are in the real world, there’s no way of ever knowing if what they say they found matches those bugs or not — when they had the chance to prove it, they refused. It’s like saying after the fact that you knew the answer to Final Jeopardy — you have to say it before it’s revealed to get credit for knowing it.

Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery, Matt.

PCalc 3.2 

Free update to TLA Systems’s excellent $19 calendar, err, calculator app adds new window styles, Dashboard widget improvements, unlimited constants, and full speech support. Highly recommended.

Maynor and Ellch to Reveal ‘Complete Story’ at ToorCon 2006 

From the description of Maynor and Ellch’s upcoming presentation at ToorCon 2006:

Since the first details of our demo were reported two camps instantly formed, people who thought the work and research was good and people thought we faked everything and we are horrible people.

Paging Mr. Strawman…

The controversy is not about whether they “faked everything”; the controversy is about whether they had discovered any specific exploits against Mac OS X’s built-in AirPort drivers.

Swimming With Sharks 

Good Cringely column on iTV.

Mac OS X Horizontal Scroll Trick 

Hold down the Shift key to make your scroll wheel work horizontally.

AMD CEO Hector Ruiz Predicts Apple Will Eventually Use AMD Processors 

Bloomberg News:

“Everybody wants choice,” Ruiz said. “Knowing Apple, why would they want to be held hostage like everyone else has been?”

Apple Releases AirPort Security Updates 

Apple today released AirPort Update 2006-001 and Security Update 2006-005, with several AirPort-related fixes. Apple says the issues were uncovered by an internal audit commissioned in the wake of the SecureWorks “MacBook Wi-Fi Hack” drama, but that these issues were not discovered or reported by SecureWorks. From Macworld:

Apple has maintained that SecureWorks has provided no proof that Mac drivers are vulnerable in any way.

“They did not supply us with any information to allow us to identify a specific problem, so we initiated an internal audit,” Apple spokesman, Anuj Nayar, told Macworld. “Today’s update preemptively strengthens our drivers against potential vulnerabilities, and while it addresses issues found internally by Apple, we are open to hearing from security researchers on how to improve security on the Mac.”

New iPod Display and Video Resolution 

Judging by my email, there’s obviously a lot of confusion about the new 640 × 480 resolution video support in the new iPods (and in the version 1.2 firmware update for older 5G iPods). Here’s the deal: all 5G iPods have displays with 320 × 240 resolution. That’s how many pixels are on the displays. The old firmware only supported video at up to 480 × 480 resolution. The latest firmware — which is what the brand-new iPods come with from the factory, of course — now supports video at up to 640 × 480.

When played back on the iPod, it is downsampled to fit the 320 × 240 screens. When played back on a TV, via the S-video or composite video output of the dock, the video is displayed at the higher resolution.

When Apple Hit Bottom 

David Pogue reminisces about Apple, circa 1996:

The Financial Times, 7/11/97: “Apple no longer plays a leading role in the $200 billion personal computer industry. ‘The idea that they’re going to go back to the past to hit a big home run…is delusional,’ says Dave Winer, a software developer.”

What Happened to the Menu Bars in Vista? 

While the candy-colors-and-lots-of-transparent-effects cosmetic look-and-feel of Vista is quite obviously inspired by Mac OS X’s Aqua, at a deeper level, Microsoft’s and Apple’s UI design patterns are diverging. It was one thing when Mac menu bars were anchored at the top of the screen and Windows menu bars were tucked under each window’s title bar — that’s just placement. But it’s a deep fundamental shift not to have menu bars at all.

This trend is dangerous for Adobe, methinks — it’s getting less and less tenable for them to continue shipping Mac and Windows apps that are so similar in design. They’re either going to ship Mac versions that don’t feel Mac-like, Windows versions that don’t feel Windows-like, or, both.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

HP CEO Mark Hurd Allowed ‘Sting’ of Reporter 

Ellen Nakashima and Yuki Noguchi, reporting for the Washington Post:

Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Mark V. Hurd approved an elaborate “sting” operation on a reporter in February in an attempt to plug leaks to the media, according to an e-mail message sent by HP Chairman Patricia C. Dunn.

So Dunn was forced to step down as chair of the board as a result of this fiasco, but her replacement as chair, Hurd, was involved too? Jeebus, what a mess.

Hybrid Web/Desktop Apps 

Brent Simmons on using WebKit to create hybrid web/desktop apps. I think this is one of the most important trends in Mac app development. (Not a new link, but I missed this when it was new last month.)

The Greatest Trick 

Charles Miller:

In many ways, the recording industry is the biggest dupe in the DRM wars. They have repeatedly been sold, and have repeatedly bought heavily into copy-prevention schemes that don’t work, can’t work, and only give more power to the DRM vendor. Why does the record industry always cave in to Steve Jobs’ iTunes pricing model? Because the industry accepts it as a point of faith that they can’t sell music online without DRM, and Steve controls the only DRM recognised by 80% of portable digital music players.

Weird QuarkXPress Performance Regressions After Going Universal 

QuarkXPress 7.01 (Universal) is significantly slower than version 7.0 (PowerPC only) when running on PowerPC Macs. And even on Intel Macs, 7.01 is slower than InDesign CS2 running through Rosetta. Quark blames Xcode and GCC, but something’s way out of whack here.

Understanding HTML, XML, and XHTML 

Safari developer Maciej Stachowiak:

In fact, the vast majority of supposedly XHTML documents on the internet are served as text/html. Which means they are not XHTML at all, but actually invalid HTML that’s getting by on the error handling of HTML parsers. All those “Valid XHTML 1.0!” links on the web are really saying “Invalid HTML 4.01!”.

A Fundamental Way Newspaper Sites Need to Change 

Terrific essay by Adrian Holovaty on how newspapers can remain important:

See the theme here? A lot of the information that newspaper organizations collect is relentlessly structured. It just takes somebody to realize the structure (the easy part), and it just takes somebody to start storing it in a structured format (the hard part).

Sam Brown’s PowerBook G4 

Lovely remembrance for recently deceased Titanium PowerBook G4:

at least three or four of the times that my powerbook has been declared dead the expert making the declaration was an Apple Genius and the Apple store. each time they would declare it dead, then offer to sell me a nice new computer.

i would decline and then buy a new battery or a new power supply or whatever i thought was the problem. and when i would get it home it would work again. the apple geniuses did not believe in my powerbook, but i did.

A Better Nike + iPod Armband 

A recommendation for Belkin’s Sports Sleeve for iPod Nano.

Mira 1.2 

Mira lets you use your Apple Remote to control any application; it also supports third-party IR receivers for use on Macs that don’t have one built-in. $16 for the software, or $32 with a bundled USB IR receiver.

Screens Around Town: Moo.com Flickr MiniCards 

37signals’s Matt Linderman on the cleverness of the Moo.com user experience.

HP Said to Have Studied Infiltrating Newsrooms 

Damon Darlin and Kurt Eichenwald, reporting for The New York Times:

The studies, referred to in a Feb. 2 draft report for a briefing of senior management, are said to have included the possibility of placing investigators acting as clerical employees or cleaning crews in the San Francisco offices of CNET and The Wall Street Journal.

More on the Economics of iPod Pricing 

I really liked this analysis, even though I don’t think he’s making quite the same I argument I am. Sometimes I think I should have gone into economics.

Lies, Damn Lies, and … 

Interesting post from Kevin Drum on publication bias in scholarly journals:

If two researchers do a study, and one finds a significant result (tall people earn more money than short people) while the other finds nothing, seeing both studies will make you skeptical of the first paper’s result. But if the only paper you see is the first one, you’ll probably think there’s something to it.

Amazing X-Ray Glasses From Sprint 

Joel Spolsky’s hilarious, scathing review of Sprint’s LG Fusic music-playing phone.

tools.microformatic.com 

Terrific microformat service-based tools by Drew McLellan.

Buggy iTunes Pricing for Movies 

Dan Moren, writing at MacUser:

In what appears to be a flub by Apple, it seems that the price of movies on iTunes can vary, depending on what listing you look at.

Yahoo Stock Drops on 3Q Forecast Warning 

Two things worth noting: (a) that when Yahoo runs AP stories about itself, there’s no exclamation mark after their own name; and (b) this quote:

But the prospect of a slowdown in online advertising nevertheless rattled Wall Street, which has been operating under the assumption that Internet companies would fare relatively well even in a sluggish economic environment because of the Web’s rapid overall growth.

“The Internet, and Yahoo in particular, was supposed to be a safe haven, so this is a little bit of a ‘Whoops!’ that tends to make people very nervous,” said American Technology Research analyst Rob Sanderson.

Ah, yes, Internet companies — why would anyone expect volatility in those stocks?

Fulfillment by Amazon 

Amazon:

You send your new and used products to us, and we’ll store them. As orders are placed, we’ll pick, pack and ship them to your customers from our network of fulfillment centers.

Uh, wow. (Via Dave Winer.)

Steven Levy: Make Room on the Couch for Steve 

Steven Levy’s Newsweek article on iTV — the article I couldn’t find a link to earlier. (I still say Newsweek’s web site is a turd.) Levy writes:

Is it possible that when iTV ships next year, you may also be able to choose a menu item called Google Video, and then zip through the best of the thousands of user-submitted videos on the search giant’s service? Google’s consumer product chief, Marissa Mayer, tells me that indeed, the two companies are engaged in talks.

Lenovo: Design Matters Weblog 

Nifty new weblog from Lenovo’s ThinkPad team. Interesting posts include this one on their iconic red “TrackPoint” caps, and this one on their spill-resistant keyboards.

(Via Shawn Medero

Thomas Hawk: Why Apple’s iTV Will Fail, With or Without Google 

Thomas Hawk:

Note to the Appleheads: While Steve Jobs may in fact be a marketing a genius there comes a point when Eskimos will no longer buy ice. $10-$15 for a poor picture quality movie is a bad deal. Yes, idiots overpay for things. Yes, there are a lot of idiots out there and yes Steve Jobs may be able to use the Obi Wan Kenobi trick voice with some, but I predict this thing will flop hard. You read it here first.

Prediction noted.

Freeberg’s anti-iTV prediction seems solely predicated on the assumption that it isn’t going to support HD. I don’t believe Apple has said anything about HD one way or the other, though. The downloadable movies from the iTunes Store aren’t HD-quality, but the iTV does have an HDMI output port. Why would Apple include an HDMI port if they weren’t going to support HD in some way?

Update: Ends up Thomas Hawk wrote this article, not Davis Freeberg; SeekingAlpha misattributed it. You can still see the misattributed byline on the version at Yahoo Finance.

HP and Apple’s Toxic Laptops Exposed 

Greenpeace:

An independant Danish laboratory tested for the presence of several toxic chemicals, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), and even lead, in brand new laptops from five of the world’s leading manufacturers (Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, Sony). HP and Apple laptops contained the highest levels of contamination.

(Via Jesper via AIM.)

BBC News: Google and Apple ‘In Video Talks’ 

BBC News

US magazine Newsweek reports that Google is talking to Apple about supplying video clips for the player. […]

Google’s consumer product chief, Marissa Mayer, told Newsweek that the two companies are “engaged in talks”.

I can’t find a link to the story at Newsweek’s crummy web site, though.

Disney Sells 125,000 Movie Downloads Through iTunes in First Week 

Expects $50 million in revenue in the first year.

SubEthaEdit 2.5.1 

Adds a page guide and better text encoding support.

Getting Markdown and SmartyPants Working With EditPad Pro 

Joel Spolsky is apparently a Markdown and SmartyPants convert. Seems like a minor pain in the ass to get them working with EditPad Pro, though; with BBEdit and TextWrangler, you just copy the .pl files to ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Unix Support/Unix Filters/ and that’s it. (It certainly helps that Mac OS X ships with Perl; Windows XP does not.)

Moo: Flickr MiniCards 

Get up to 100 of your Flickr photos printed on business cards for $20; Flickr Pro users get 10 free. Great idea. Update: I just ordered my free 10-pack, and the UI is just terrific. What a great web app.

The HP Diet Plan: Buy Our Cameras 

Jason Fried on the HP photo-slimming feature.

HP Cameras With Built-in ‘Slimming’ Feature 

This is just sick. HP’s digital cameras offer a built-in “slimming” feature that squishes the image to make women look slimmer. Their examples show two perfectly healthy-looking women in no need of “slimming” — to my eyes they both look better in the original untouched photos. Why not use HP’s CEO Mark Hurd as a model?

(Via Dan Benjamin.)

RooSwitch Lite 1.0 

Freeware little brother to RooSwitch, Brian Cooke’s nifty software configuration switcher.

Napster Goes Up for Sale 

This is funny. Creative is cited as a potential buyer for Napster, because it’s “finding its role as an also-ran vendor of digital music and media players under attack by SanDisk”. I.e. they’re losing their fight to remain an “also-ran”.

Upcoming.org Looking for That Special Someone 

Upcoming is looking for a PHP developer.

Most New iPods Now in Stock at Amazon 

Remember: if you buy anything that costs $199 or more through Daring Fireball’s Amazon affiliates link, send me an email telling me what you bought and I’ll give you a one-year DF membership.

YouTube Signs Deal With Warner Music 

BBC News:

Video-sharing site YouTube has signed a deal with media giant Warner Music to allow its material to be used legally.

It means interviews and videos by Warner’s artists can be used in return for a slice of advertising revenue.

The agreement also covers the use of material in homemade videos, which form a large part of YouTube’s content.

A few more deals like this and YouTube just might make it. (Via Jesper via AIM.)

Dreamweaver to Replace GoLive in Adobe Creative Suite 

But they’re apparently still going to develop GoLive as a separate product.

Pogue on Reports of Widespread Bugs in iTunes 7 

Sounds like the bugs are mostly in the Windows version.

Can HP’s Board of Directors Fire Dunn? 

According to Delaware law, no — they can remove her as chair, but can’t remove her as a director. Only the shareholders or a court can. (Thanks to Steve Setzer for the link.)

Fission 1.0 

Rogue Amoeba has shipped Fission 1.0:

Fission is a streamlined audio editor designed to get you editing in minutes, not hours. It works with MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless and AIFF audio, enabling you to instantly trim and split files with no quality loss!

Fission costs $32, but just $18 for registered users of Audio Hijack Pro. I smell a hit.

Authenticated and Private Feeds 

Niall Kennedy on the state of private RSS and Atom feeds. The fact that Google Reader doesn’t support HTTP authentication is an enormous irritation for me, with regard to my members-only feeds.

Jackass of the Week: Andrew Orlowski The iPod’s Achilles Heel? It’s er… Reader’s Digest | The Register 

Andrew Orlowski, at the beginning of a piece for The Register in which he claims the Zune might help Microsoft push more people to subscription-based services:

iTunes dominates the legal download market in the same way the iPod dominates the MP3 player business. It’s hard to remember now that for the first year of its life the iPod was a flop. But once Apple introduced iTunes for Windows, the mass market perception of the device changed from one of expensive luxury to convenience item.

In what way was the iPod ever a flop? The iPod started as a Mac-only peripheral. It sold about as well as a $400 Mac-only music player could have possibly sold. Sure, those first-year sales numbers were low compared to the numbers they’ve achieved since then, and the explosive growth only came after they ported iTunes to Windows — but that doesn’t mean Apple wasn’t utterly delighted by the iPod’s first year.

Further: In this piece, Orlowski claims “iTunes doesn’t make money for anyone except Apple”, implying somehow that the record labels aren’t getting a chunk of each sale. If that were the case — if the record companies weren’t making money on iTunes Store sales, why would they continue to allow their catalogs to be sold through iTunes. It’s quite possible that Apple doesn’t turn much of a profit directly from the iTunes Store, but I see no evidence that the record labels don’t.

Now You See the Chapters Menu, Now You Don’t 

It’s so strange — and, yes, un-Mac-like — for a menu to just come and go like this depending on your current context that I had assumed for the first few days after iTunes 7 was released that the chapter menu had been completely removed, or, more likely, that it had been omitted by mistake. Unlike a lot of the other criticism regarding iTunes 7’s UI changes, this one is not about cosmetics.

JPG 2.0 

Derek Powazek on the new JPG magazine:

Everything is new. You can now create a membership and upload your photos. Members can directly create the magazine by submitting their work, and voting for other members’ submissions. And then there’s the magazine itself: bigger, fatter, less expensive, more often, and, soon, subscribeable.

Two-Day Sale on SuperDuper 

Get 10 percent off for the next two days. I use and highly recommend SuperDuper.

Optimal Width for 1024px Resolution? 

Cameron Moll:

But perhaps just as important as when it will happen is how: What’s the proper width for a layout optimized for 1024?

Spoiler: 960px.

How a Malformed Installer Package Can Crack Mac OS X 

Adam Knight:

By creating a malicious package and setting the authorization level to AdminAuthorization in the package, an attacker can modify root-owned files, execute commands as root, or install setuid-root programs without alerting the user that such actions are taking place. The problem is compounded when you consider that over 90% of Mac OS X users run as the administrator user because it’s what the default user created by the system is.

Knight’s recommendation is not to use an admin account as your main user account; if you do (and I’ll admit I do), my advice is to be very wary of installer packages. Worth noting also that Bill Bumgarner doesn’t run his main user account with admin privileges, either.

Xtorrent Public Beta 1 

Public beta of David Watanabe’s upcoming BitTorrent client. Love that Jasper Hauser icon. Update after giving it a tire-kicking:* Looks beautiful, but crashy as hell. I’ll wait for it to get out of beta.

HP Spying More Elaborate Than Reported 

Damon Darlin, reporting for The New York Times:

Those briefed on the company’s review of the operation say detectives tried to plant software on at least one journalist’s computer that would enable messages to be traced, and also followed directors and possibly a journalist in an attempt to identify a leaker on the board.

Attempting to plant spyware on someone’s computer is a criminal act, is it not? Patricia Dunn, HP’s chairwoman who initiated the spying, has already been demoted from the chair. But why does she remain on HP’s board at all? Do the other board members — whom she commissioned spying against — support her?

Trynt Heavy Technologies 

Excellent collection of free web-service APIs, all in one place. (Via Andy Baio.)

The Departed 

Scorsese mob picture starring Jack Nicholson? Good lord. Please hold all my calls October 6.

(Update: It’s a remake of this 2002 Hong Kong picture called “Infernal Affairs”, which several DF readers assure me is well worth Netflixing.)

Microsoft Dismisses Music Player’s Linguistic Lapse 

Randy Boswell, reporting for CanWest News Service:

A Microsoft spokeswoman in Montreal told CanWest News Service that “it was pointed out to us” during focus groups in the province that the proposed brand name sounded much like a French-Canadian term used as a euphemism for penis or vagina.

(Via Ken MacGray via email.)

Winer, Windows, Wi-Fi 

Shouldn’t Robert Scoble know the answer to this question?

Update: Winer says Scoble might know, but isn’t there yet.

Screenshot of Pre-Release Version of iTunes With Dark Blue Source List 

Check out the screenshot of iTunes 7 in this Apple KnowledgeBase article. It has an entirely different color scheme in the source list — a dark blue background with white text. This is a far more radical change than what they actually shipped. I wonder how late in the game they changed this? I doubt they’d start taking screenshots for the KnowledgeBase until late in the development cycle.

Update: Apple has already replaced the screenshot with one that looks like the shipping version of iTunes 7.0. Good thing I kept this copy.

(Via John Stansbury via email.)

Zune Won’t Play ‘PlaysForSure’ Protected Songs? 

Kind of crazy if you think about it. There’s a very strong case against paying for DRM-protected media from any vendor, but at least with Apple, the deal seems pretty clear: stick with Apple and the stuff you’ve paid for will continue to play. If Zune really doesn’t play PlaysForSure protected WMV files, what’s the message to people who paid for PlaysForSure songs and want to buy a Zune? “Microsoft: We plan to force you to re-pay for all your music every two or three years?”

This is so insane I can’t believe it’s true. PlaysForSure is Microsoft’s own DRM-licensing program; Zune is Microsoft’s own player, and it’s based on a Toshiba “Gigabeat” player that already is PlaysForSure-compatible. Why wouldn’t it be PlaysForSure compatible?

An Ive for Design 

BusinessWeek retrospective on the work of Jonathan Ive. Their feature article is worth reading, too.

Microsoft, SanDisk Overstating Accessory Support 

Microsoft claims Griffin Technology will be producing accessories for the Zune; Griffin spokesperson tells iLounge no deal has been signed:

“As the leading accessory maker for portable media players, Griffin is always interested in evaluating new opportunities,” a Griffin spokesperson told iLounge, “However we continue to focus our efforts on the market leading iPod due to our close relationship with Apple.”

Sort of like asking a girl out for a date, her telling you that she’ll get back to you, and you going out and announcing to your buddies that she said yes.

Skype 2.0 Beta 

Includes support for video chat.

Cory Doctorow: Amazon Unbox to Customers: Eat Shit and Die 

Doctorow’s caustic analysis of Amazon’s Unbox terms of service is, well, his usual stridency. But he’s correct that you get far fewer rights with an Unbox download than with a DVD purchased from Amazon. He doesn’t mention in it in this essay, but the same goes for iTunes movie downloads, although I think iTunes’s usage rights are better than Unbox’s. My favorite bit is this one, on how entertainment industry executives think:

I once attended a DRM negotiation where an MPAA vice-president said, “Watching a show that’s being received in one room while you’re sitting in another room has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge money for it.” Siva Vaidhyanathan calls this the “if value, then right” theory — if something has value, someone must have a right to sell it. So while you might be accustomed to extracting unexpected value from your old media — ripping a CD to play it on your iPod, copying a cartoon and sticking it on your fridge, taking your books with you when you move overseas — forget about it from now on.

3hive on the Brown Zune 

Sean at 3hive got to see the Zune in person, and he likes the brown:

Design: The overall design and user-interface really surprised me. My favorite color is the brown. The pictures don’t do it justice. But when you’re holding it in your hand there’s this warm, vintage look to it, like you’re cuddled up to your grandparents’ hi-fi, dropping needle to Herb Alpert groove. And the screen size puts Apple to shame I’m afraid to say.

Microsoft Doesn’t Have ‘zune.com’? 

“Under construction”, and according to the whois results, not registered by Microsoft.

More Details on Zune Sharing 

Ends up the Zune can be used to beam non-DRM tracks to other Zune users, but according to Blackfriars Marketing:

It turns out that the play-three-times-over-three-days limit applies not only to purchased music, but also to any music you may have transferred from CDs.

(Via Ross Jones via email.)

Google Hires Scumbag Lobbyist Firm 

So much for “Don’t be evil.”

Reflections Are the New Drop Shadows 

If it ain’t shiny it’s crap!

Media Ownership Study Ordered Destroyed by FCC 

The Associated Press:

The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

Good old memory hole.

Dissecting iPod Games 

Dan Dickinson examines the contents of iPod game bundles. Includes info on Easter eggs in the Texas Hold ’Em game, and concludes that:

Homebrew is probably an impossibility at this point because of the expectation of a signed cert from Apple.

(Via Mark Pilgrim.)

EETimes.Com: Mystery Chips, No Portal Player, in iPod Nano 

EETimes reports on the components in the new iPod Nanos:

Apple Computer Inc.’s new iPod Nano player has three Apple-marked chips of unknown origin, but no chip from PortalPlayer Inc., according to a Wedbush Morgan Securities report discussing a teardown of the long-awaited media player.

They speculate that because flash memory prices have fallen significantly in the last year, that Apple’s profit margins on the new Nanos could be significantly higher than last year’s.

(Via Jeff Atwood via email.)

Is Vic There? 

Boy, do I enjoy the Macalope.

Sven-S. Porst on iTunes 7 

Sven-S. Porst:

There are three view modes which are available through this new set of buttons – and it appears through this new set of buttons only. Strangely there are no corresponding items in the View menu, and thus no handy keyboard shortcuts – I’d suggest Command-1,2,3 just like in the Finder – for these new commands.

I agree that they should be menu commands in the View menu, but those shortcuts might conflict with user habits — ⌘1 and ⌘2 used to be the shortcuts for the main iTunes window and Equalizer windows, respectively. These shortcuts were removed when they moved the Equalizer command to View menu in iTunes 7.

How to Steal an Election With a Diebold Machine 

It’s outrageous that even a single one of these Diebold voting machines is still in use.

Michael Tsai on Showtime 

Amongst a half dozen or so other observations (and a bunch of good links to commentary elsewhere that I’m about to steal), Michael Tsai points out this change in iTunes 7:

The right-pointing music store arrows are now shown only for the selected tracks. This makes it look a bit cleaner, but it’s an odd UI precedent.

I noticed this right away, and I think it’s a poor decision. Too cute. The circled arrows weren’t overly distracting in iTunes 6, so hiding them does not, in my opinion make the lists any less cluttered-looking. But because they’re now hidden, they’re also less obvious.

WiiDay 

Who better than Cabel Sasser to enthuse about Nintendo’s Wii announcement? That’s right, no one.

Philanthropy Google’s Way: Not the Usual 

They’re funding it with $1 billion to start, and as a for-profit company instead of a tax-exempt non-profit organization.

Nintendo Wii to Ship in November 

Hoping to capitalize on Sony’s delayed and much more expensive PS3 (which is shipping in the U.S. in November, but not in Europe until 2007).

Microsoft ‘Launches’ the Zune 

Where by “launch” the mean “pre-announce with no estimated ship date or pricing”.

The white and black ones look like rubbery iPod knock-offs. The brown one, though — good god the fugliness just hurts. Who in the world is going to buy that one?

One tech spec I noticed is that while the screen is physically larger than the iPod’s, it offers the same 320 × 240 resolution for video playback.

Thurrott on Zune Wi-Fi Support 

Funniest Zune line of the day goes to Paul Thurrott:

The gimmick appears to be wireless interaction with other Zune users. Since I expect there to be about six of these by the end of the year, this could be sort of a waste of time.

iLounge Reviews New Nanos 

Excellent comprehensive review of the new iPod Nanos by Jeremy Horwitz. Includes this interesting tidbit:

In a direct comparison between current and past 4GB iPod nanos, however, we discovered that the new nano transfers at around one-half the speed of its predecessor: it took 4 minutes and 35 seconds for the old nano to transfer a 2.58GB file - incidentally, a full DVD image of Windows Vista - while the new one took 9 minutes and 15 seconds for the same file.

Horwitz also links to this gallery of photos from a disassembled new Nano, which shows that, as rumored, Apple is no longer using components from PortalPlayer. I’m wondering if the USB transfer performance hit is related to the switch away from PortalPlayer.

New at Apple: Smaller iPods, Bigger Ideas 

David Pogue covers Apple’s “Showtime” announcements, and he explains just what the deal is with the new earbuds that Jobs kept raving about:

On all of the iPods, Apple has done away with those easy-to-lose foam-rubber earbud mittens. Now the earbuds are ringed with rubber, which is supposed to form a better seal with your ear. Most people will find that the new earbuds sound better as a result. (Audiophiles will continue to sniff disdainfully.)

Jobs Just Doesn’t Care Anymore 

Crazy Apple Rumors Site:

Apple, obviously, did not decline to comment for this story.

Apple Waiting for 802.11n for iTV? 

Speculation that iTV’s “first quarter 2007” release date is a consequence of Apple’s desire for it to support 802.11n networking, an upcoming version of Wi-Fi that’s faster than 100 Mbit/s Ethernet.

2001 CNet Coverage of the Original iPod 

Some of these comments are a real hoot in hindsight.

What About Quad Core? 

AnandTech:

Later this year Intel will be introducing pin compatible upgrades to its Core 2 and Xeon lines, except instead of two cores these processors will feature four. Codenamed Kenstfield (Core 2) and Clovertown (Xeon), Intel’s new quad-core processors will dramatically increase the amount of processing power you can have in a single system. Given that the Mac Pro features two LGA-771 sockets, you could theoretically drop two Clovertown processors in there and you’d have an 8-core Mac Pro.

So they tried it with pre-release samples of the quad-core processors:

We grabbed a pair of 2.4GHz Clovertown samples and tossed them in the system, and to our pleasure, they worked just fine.

Uh, wow. (Via John Siracusa via AIM.)

TUAW: iTunes to be rebranded as ‘Showtime?’ 

This has to be the biggest pre-event-speculation laugher of the week. The “iTunes” brand name is worth billions. And, as the Macalope pointed out yesterday, “Showtime” is already in use by a long-standing and popular premium cable network.

WMV DRM Crack Prompting Media Companies to Pull Content? 

Jeffrey Goldfarb, reporting for the Washington Post:

UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB temporarily shut down its fledgling broadband film service after software provided by Microsoft was cracked, enabling the digital protection to be stripped.

(Via Andy Baio, who says his “insider sources say some major media companies will be pulling their DRM content within days.”)

Wasabi 

Joel Spolsky justifies Wasabi, Fog Creek’s homegrown programming “language” (which I put in quotes because it sounds to me like maybe Wasabi is more of a preprocessor for VBScript than it is a standalone new programming language).

The iTunes 7 UI Dissected 

I don’t agree with the strident tone of his criticism — I like most of the UI changes — but Dan Sandler’s “dissection” is a good first look at all the changes in iTunes 7’s UI.

Pac-Man for iPod 

Dan Benjamin playing Pac-Man on his iPod. He says it plays and sounds great — you control it just by touch, not clicking. Update: Dan has started an “iPod Game Photos” group on Flickr.

Apple Software Update for Windows 

Mark Pilgrim:

The Windows version of iTunes 7 comes bundled with Apple Software Update, “to easily update iTunes and other Apple software.”

QuickTime 7.1.3 

iTunes 7.0 complains if you don’t yet have this installed. At this writing it’s only available as a standalone download — it isn’t showing up in Software Update yet. Update, 90 seconds after posting: It’s in Software Update now. Good old Murphy.

‘Showtime’ QuickTime Stream Is Up 

That didn’t take long.

Apple Buys CoverFlow 

The “cover browser” UI in iTunes 7 is, in fact, based on CoverFlow:

We are pleased to announce that all CoverFlow technology and intellectual property was recently sold to Apple. It has been incorporated into the latest version of iTunes.

Goes to show that when indie Mac developers do a terrific job, Apple will consider buying their work rather than re-implementing their idea. Weird, though, that there was a new version of CoverFlow released just five days ago. I also wonder how much work it was to port this to Windows.

New iPod Shuffle 

I love everything about the new Shuffle — one model, one price, one color, even smaller than before and with a built-in clip.

Apple Showtime: ‘iTV’ 

Rare pre-announcement from Apple: their long-awaited TV set-top box is coming in early 2007. Code-named ‘iTV’, it will cost $299 and looks like a much-thinner Mac Mini, and yet has a built-in power supply so it doesn’t need a brick on the power cord. All sorts of cable ports for hooking up to your TV and stereo, but it grabs media — movies, TV shows, music — from your Mac or PC via Wi-Fi, and can also grab previews from the Internet. You navigate using an Apple Remote and a Front Row-style UI.

I’m thinking it has to have a hard drive in there for caching, but perhaps a gigabyte or two of flash memory is all it needs. Tech specs, as far as I can tell, aren’t yet available.

Embattled H.P. Chairwoman to Step Down 

Patricia Dunn is stepping down as chairwoman of Hewlett Packard in the wake of the spying scandal, but will remain on the board. CEO Mark Hurd is taking over as chairman, and George A. Keyworth II, the company’s longest-serving director, has resigned from the board. Keyworth is the board member whose leaks to the press prompted Dunn’s cloak-and-dagger investigation.

New iPod Nanos in Color 

Green, pink, blue, black, and silver — notably, not white. Gizmodo is kicking ass with their live coverage.

Apple Showtime: Steve Not Wearing Turtleneck 

Some sort of button-down collared shirt instead. Looks a little nerdy to me to have it buttoned all the way to the top like that.

Update: My wife Amy says I’m in no position to be critiquing anyone else’s taste in clothes.

Making Markup Correctly 

Tim Bray, on Ruby libraries for generating markup:

All these markup generators adopt two principles:

You call a Ruby method to generate an element; it provides the opening and closing tags and relies on a body to fill in the middle.

To generate a <foo> element, you call a method named foo.

#1 is correct, and makes Ruby a really nice language for generating markup. #2 is completely wrong in the general case.

He then goes on to demo code from his own solution. I agree with this completely — I hate markup-generating libraries that map tag/element names to methods.

Adam Engst on BBEdit 8.5 

Pretty much covers all the major new features.

Your Name in a Comic Strip by Chris Ware 

An eBay auction benefitting the First Amendment Project, in Chris Ware’s own words:

The appearance in name and approximate drawn likeness, either as a ‘supporting character’ or more forthright personna, of the auction’s ‘winner’ in an upcoming comic strip by the author/cartoonist, to appear sometime before the end of 2008 in serial (probably newspaper) form, and later to be reprinted in collected form at an unspecified, and probably quite alarmingly later, date.

(Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Luxury Fonts 

New typefaces from House Industries.

RooSwitch 1.1 

Nifty $15 utility by Brian Cooke; RooSwitch lets you switch between different “profiles” for application data. So, for example, you could create “Work” and “Home” profiles for an app like NetNewsWire — switching between RooSwitch profiles would allow you to switch between two entirely different sets of feed subscriptions.

Mint: A Year in Green 

Shaun Inman on the one-year anniversary of the release of Mint, his excellent and deservedly popular web stats package.

Snapz Pro 2.0.3 

Intel-compatible (but not yet a Universal binary) update to the premier screen capture utility for Mac OS X. Not exactly news — it shipped over two weeks ago — but I forgot to link to it then. I’m not using it on Intel hardware, but those who are claim performance is very good, including high frame rates for video captures.

C4 Conference Almost Sold Out 

Just 20 spots left, as of late last night.

Amazon Unbox Windows Software 

Tom Merritt:

So, in summary, to be allowed the privilege of purchasing a video that I can’t burn to DVD and can’t watch on my iPod, I have to allow a program to hijack my start-up and force me to login to uninstall it? No way. Sorry, Amazon. I love a lot of what you do, but I will absolutely not recommend this service.

iTunes Music Store fans certainly can’t complain about the fact that you have to download Amazon’s own player software, but installing a bunch of hidden startup processes is unseemly, even on Windows.

[Update: A couple of readers have pointed out that iTunes for Windows also installs hard-to-disable background processes (iTunesHelper and iPodService). Still seems like the reviews for Amazon Unbox are overwhelmingly negative, though.

(Via Slashdot.)

Inside Apple’s iPod Earbuds 

Jeremy Horwitz:

If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside a pair of iPod earbuds, here’s your chance to take a look. Though Apple has gone through several different iterations of its now-famous pack-ins, this particular pair is from the batch shipped with the most recent iPods - nano and 5G.

The Cocoa-Carbon Advantage 

Daniel Jalkut on why Carbon-vs.-Cocoa arguments and dogmatism are stupid:

Wake up people! It’s 2006. It doesn’t matter what you program in, it’s how you get the job done. Arguing about whether to use Carbon or Cocoa is like arguing about whether to use a net or a hook to catch a fish.

The comment thread is terrific, too.

C4: Chicago Mac Developer Conference 

Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch:

MacHack’s untimely death left a gaping void in the Mac developer conference scene.

Let’s fix that.

I’m excited to announce my new Mac developer conference: C4.

$384 for a terrific day-and-a-half conference next month in Chicago. Speakers include Rentzsch, Brent Simmons (on the convergence desktop and web apps), Gus Mueller (on integrating scripting languages with applications), and yours truly (on consistency vs. uniformity in Apple’s recent UI design). Space is limited to 75 attendees, so act quickly.

Disco 

I have no idea what the app actually does (other than that it obviously has something to do with disc burning), and I’m not a big fan of teaser campaigns for vaporware, but I really like the look of this UI. It’s very much in the direction I think Apple is going to go with Mac OS X — flatter with less translucency. Keep your eye on Jasper Hauser.

Amazon Unbox 

Amazon announces Unbox, their movie/TV-show download service. I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence that this came out just a few days ahead of Apple’s “Showtime” special event next week. The whole Unbox thing is based on Windows Media DRM, so it isn’t going to work on Macs or iPods.

See also: Additional coverage at the Business 2.0 Blog.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Three New Mac Ad Ideas.  

Tom Batten pitches three new “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ad ideas. #1 is hilarious.

Phone-Records Scandal at HP 

Newsweek’s David A. Kaplan on the phone-records scandal at HP. An editor’s note at the end of the article disclaims that Kaplan is writing a book about Tom Perkins’s new $100 million yacht. (Via David Young.)

Rogue Amoeba T-Shirts 

Back in black. And blue.

Hewlett-Packard Spied on Writers in Boardroom Leak Investigation 

What a fiasco. Hard to believe this stuff is going on at the board of one of the most-respected companies in Silicon Valley.

A Browser Back From the Brink 

Khoi Vinh on OmniWeb 5.5:

Aside from a modest amount of sprucing up, OmniWeb 5.5’s user interface is almost identical to its prior incarnations, which is fine by me; I was always comfortable with it. Mostly, though, this latest version feels fast and stable, something you couldn’t say about its immediate predecessors.

In a Sea of Cellphones, a Pearl 

David Pogue reviews, and likes, the $200 BlackBerry Pearl mobile phone. Too bad it’s only on T-Mobile.

Michael Tsai on BBEdit 8.5 

Best new-feature-by-new-feature rundown of the day.

BBEdit 8.5 

Major update to Bare Bones’s flagship text editor; $30 upgrade from version 8.0, $40 from older versions, and $125 for a new license. (Education pricing: $25 upgrade, $50 new license.)

New features include code folding (actually, text folding in general — you can manually fold text in any selection range; the “code” folding feature is that fold points are auto-generated for programming and markup languages), a revised UI for clippings (formerly known as glossary items), indented soft-wrapping, and, for us regular expression nerds, BBEdit’s regex engine has been updated to PCRE 5.0, which includes support for Python-style named sub-expressions.

Oh, and a new icon.

S3 Browser 

Open source (BSD licensed) Mac OS X administration app and web service inspector for Amazon’s S3 remote storage service, by Olivier Gutknecht. (Via Buzz Andersen.)

What the Dell? 

Bill Bumgarner on how hard it is to figure out how to buy a Dell computer starting from its product page on dell.com.

Hazel 1.0.1 

New $16 “housecleaning” utility from Noodlesoft. Hazel lets you set up schedules and rules for automatically cleaning up folders with actions like moving, trashing, and archiving files and folders. (Via Daniel Jalkut.)

OmniWeb 5.5 

After a long public beta, the WebKit-based update to The Omni Group’s $30 web browser is finally out. (Previous versions of OmniWeb 5.x were based on a forked version of the lower-level WebCore rendering package; the result was that OmniWeb didn’t work with a lot of sites that did work with Safari.)

Apple Updates iMacs, Announces 24-Inch Model, and Updates Mac Minis 

The new iMacs are faster, cheaper, and, at the high end, bigger. The new Mac Minis now use Core Duo processors instead of Core Solos.

Interarchy 8.2 

Now with Growl support, and a bunch of other improvements, fixes, and new features.

Russian History 

Rands:

There is a list of the six confirmed Free Electrons that I know. Every six months I rewrite this list on a small yellow sticky to remind myself who these people are while also thinking if there are any new additions to the list. When I’m done, I fold the sticky into a small yellow square and swallow it.

Hire Maciej 

Maciej Cegłowski is looking for a job. I’d hire him if I could.

The Movable Type Plug-In Market 

Timothy Appnel on whether there’s a market for commercial Movable Type plug-ins. His answer, more or less, is “no”. I wonder if the problem is that Movable Type is losing so much momentum to WordPress?

Optimizing Your Mac Pro for Acoustical Performance 

The title is apparently Apple PR-speak for “Minimizing Mac Pro Fan Noise”, and the gist of their advice is that you should buy Apple’s RAM because “Apple FB DIMMs have an accurate, integral thermal sensor”.

Amigo 

Carson Systems’s new advertising service for online newsletters. (Via 37signals.)

Why We Bought Kiko.com 

Ends up Tucows was the purchaser of Kiko in last month’s eBay auction:

While there are a lot of little reasons, I’ll cover a few of them in a moment, there is really one big reason why we bought Kiko. We needed the functionality, quite desperately, inside of our email platform and it was going to take us a long time to get it. Especially at the level of sophistication Kiko has.

Half Life 2’s Developer Commentary 

Andy Baio on the developer commentary feature in Half Life 2: Episode One, complete with video clips.

Apple to Hold ‘Showtime’ Event on September 12 

Confirms the rumors from last week. “Showtime” certainly sounds like something related to movies.

The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science 

Numbers 1-4 seem particularly apt this week. (Via.)

Aperture vs. Lightroom 

Good comparison of their relative strengths and weaknesses from James Duncan Davidson.

My Response and Questions to Jon Ellch on the Dailydave Mailing List 

And his reply, which, notably, does not answer my simple question of whether they have found an exploit against the stock MacBook card and driver. Ellch writes:

As more patches come out (including Apple’s) we will release more details. Out of respect for secureworks intellectual property, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on the apple situation any more than I already have.

So he thinks Apple has a “patch” coming out, but won’t say whether they found an exploit against the stock AirPort card and driver.

Jon Ellch Breaks His Silence Regarding MacBook Wi-Fi Hack 

I’ll have more to say about this soon, but for now it’s worth pointing out that he hasn’t accepted my challenge. See also: Linux.com and Slashdot.

Who Writes Wikipedia? 

Aaron Swartz:

[Wikipedia founder Jimbo] Wales seems to think that the vast majority of users are just doing the first two (vandalizing or contributing small fixes) while the core group of Wikipedians writes the actual bulk of the article. But that’s not at all what I found. Almost every time I saw a substantive edit, I found the user who had contributed it was not an active user of the site. They generally had made less than 50 edits (typically around 10), usually on related pages. Most never even bothered to create an account.

Multiplayer Game of the Year 

Cabel Sasser:

I’ve found myself totally enraptured by a new kind of online gaming experience, one that’s got excitement, thrilling rivalries, stats and achievements, mind-blowing graphics, and seriously perfect music. And sweat. Ridiculous amounts of sweat.

George Ou’s Greatest Apple Hits 

Hilarious trip through Ou’s archive from The Macalope (which looks to be a very promising new Mac weblog). Hard to believe Ou has never won Jackass of the Week honors.

Hex Fiend 1.1 

Nice update to Peter Ammon’s freeware disk-based-so-it-works-great-against-incredibly-large-files hex editor. (Release notes.)

CARS Update on ‘Security Bitch Watch’ 

Crazy Apple Rumors Site:

We’re into day 11 of Security Bitch Watch and George Ou has still failed to deliver on his “couple of days” promise of fireworks.

The FOUC Problem 

Dave Hyatt:

FOUC stands for Flash of Unstyled Content. This situation occurs whenever a Web browser ends up showing your Web page’s content without having any style information yet. It’s an interesting technical problem, because when/how a browser ends up committing the crime of FOUCing depends heavily on how the browser’s engine is architected and on interesting assumptions made by Web site authors when designing their sites.

BusinessWeek Story on ITMS and Movie Downloads 

Ronald Grover, reporting for BusinessWeek, claims (a) that Apple is going to announce movie downloads ($15 for new movies, $10 for old ones) at the ITMS later this month; and (b) that Wal-Mart, the nation’s biggest DVD reseller, is pissed/scared about it.

Wasabi: In-House Programming Language at Fog Creek 

This is funny, although I’m not sure if it’s funny “ha-ha” or funny “interesting”. Or both. What happened is that Joel Spolsky posted an essay titled “Language Wars”, wherein he recommends Java, C#, and PHP (and a half-hearted nod to Python) as web app development languages, not because they’re necessarily good but because they’re popular. And he pooh-poohs Ruby on Rails not because it isn’t good but simply because it isn’t long-established. But then at the end of his piece he claims that in-house at Fog Creek, they develop their flagship FogBugz app using “Wasabi”, their own in-house programming language and compiler. The contradiction here — of recommending Java/C#/PHP because they’re so widely used, vs. admitting that they themselves use a language no one else uses — led David Heinemeier Hansson to wonder whether “Wasabi” was a joke. (It isn’t.)

Wes Meltzer on WriteRoom 1.0 

Wes Meltzer, reviewing WriteRoom (Hog Bay Software’s full-screen anti-distraction text-editor) for ATPM:

Since I’ve switched to using WriteRoom for almost everything, I have gone from being pitifully unproductive to being unproductive just to the point of ridicule. I find myself generating somewhere between double and triple my pre-WriteRoom writing output.

Meltzer obviously likes WriteRoom, and Merlin Mann has been asking for a full-screen-screen text-editing mode for ages, but I’ve never understood the need. If I’m trying to concentrate on my writing, I use Hide Others and quit distraction-prone apps like instant messaging clients. But there’s clearly demand for this, and it seems to work really well for some people.

Microsoft Ships Windows Vista RC1 

Maybe Bill Gates should have taken Wil Shipley’s bet? Either that, or Microsoft has a funny definition of “release candidate”.

Geekbench Performance Results From the G3 to the Xeon 

The move to Intel has really helped the Mac performance-wise.

Lab Tick 0.6 

Clever freeware app by Alexander Repty that gives you explicit control over the illumination of backlit PowerBook and MacBook Pro keyboards.

DarwinPorts Changes Name to ‘MacPorts’ and Moves to Mac OS Forge 

Apple is pretty protective of the “Mac” name; I don’t think this name change was undertaken lightly. I agree with Jesper that this is a step toward making MacPorts the “official”, or at least “unofficially preferred” package manager for Mac OS X.

Phishing Phor Phishers 

Dreamhost CEO’s wife falls for “tax refund” phishing scam.

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