Linked List: November 2007

Evel Knievel, Daredevil, Dies at 69 

The Associated Press:

Immortalized in the Washington’s Smithsonian Institution as “America’s Legendary Daredevil”, Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.

One of my first boyhood heroes.

Transparent PNGs in Internet Explorer 6 

Clever bit of web nerdery from Drew McLellan.

Zune’s Spot in Amazon’s Best-Seller List 

Gina Hughes:

Something tells me the Zune will be a popular Christmas gift this holiday season. The player is currently Amazon’s top-selling music player, beating out the new iPod Nano and the 80GB iPod on the “Bestsellers in Electronics” list.

Amazon’s best-seller lists are updated frequently, so it’s possible this was true when she wrote this, but as I type this, the best-selling Zune is behind seven iPod models.

Update: Apparently last year’s brown 30 GB Zune held the top spot at Amazon a few weeks ago after they dropped the price on them to $90. Perhaps Hughes will be buying more of them for all her friends and family this holiday season.

Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card 

Kottke pretty much nails it with his short write up of the Eye-Fi — an SD memory card with built-in Wi-Fi networking. I tested one from Photojojo for a week, too, and came to a similar conclusion. It’s sort of amazing, technically, but ultimately it’s really only useful if you want to use an online photo site like Flickr as your primary photo library. If you prefer to use something like iPhoto or Lightroom, Eye-Fi is needless.

Layer Tennis: Hutchinson vs. Van Meter 

Crackling good Layer Tennis today — this time in Flash, with animation.

BetterZip Quick Look Generator 

Fantastic — freeware Quick Look preview generator by Robert Rezabek that works with a slew of archive formats, including zip, gzip, and bzip. Works great.

The Key to Reserva 

Scorsese does Hitchcock. Pitch perfect. (Via Coudal.)

E-Junkie 

Brad Miller on E-Junkie, a simple, hosted shopping cart that offers easy integration with PayPal and Google Checkout. (Via Michael Tsai, who’s now using it at his store, too.)

The Making of FF Meta Serif 

“It feels like Meta to me”, indeed. Brilliant work.

‘Futurama’ — The Geekiest Show on TV 

Wired story on the return of Futurama, and producer David X. Cohen:

In a 1995 Simpsons episode, Cohen devised an equation that appears briefly behind Homer Simpson:

178212 + 184112 = 192212

The equation appears to be a counterexample to a famous mathematical statement, Fermat’s Last Theorem. Pierre de Fermat had proposed the theorem in 1637, and a proof had only recently been discovered when the episode aired. Cohen wrote a computer program to find near-misses for Fermat’s Last Theorem, equations that were close enough to being true that a person who tapped it into a calculator would be fooled.

The story includes a link to the source code.

Cable Dispute Blocks Cowboys-Packer Game From Football Fans 

So tonight’s Cowboys-Packers game — the first regular season game between two 10-1 teams in 17 years — is only being broadcast on the NFL Network, a channel that Comcast (and other major cable providers like Time-Warner) don’t include in their regular line-up. So I can’t watch this game without coughing up an extra $5 a month on top of the $120/month I’m already paying. Fucking bastards, all of them, according to this report on the situation from NPR.

Terrific Interview With Nintendo Game Designer Yoshiaki Koizumi 

“Thinking about the camera is game design, too.” (Via Kottke.)

Andy Ihnatko on the Kindle 

Andy Ihnatko:

So here’s what Amazon went and did. Metaphorically, the company invented a humanoid robot capable of autonomous action. Every day at 4 a.m., it gets in your car and drives all over the state, buying fruit, milk, butter, eggs and other staples straight from the farm. By the time you wake up and trudge into the kitchen, there’s a steaming plate of waffles waiting for you, made from scratch, and topped with fresh-picked strawberries and whipped cream.

It’s one of the most awesome consumer products ever. It might even be a landmark moment in technology. … and Amazon is promoting it as a $399 waffle maker.

Commoditizing Our Future 

Charlie Stross on Asus’s Eee PC, a sub-notebook that’s selling for about $400:

Moore’s Law suggests that every component of a PC halves in price on a roughly 18-month cycle. A desktop PC today should be roughly 100 times as powerful as a desktop PC of similar price 10 years ago, and 50 times as powerful as a PC of eight and a half years hence. A naive soul with no prior experience of consumer capitalism might ask why, instead of doubling in power, the manufacturers don’t concentrate on cutting prices? But that’s not how the industry worked. Until now.

Logitech Control Center Still Sketchy 

Allan Odgaard reports that Logitech’s latest mouse driver software is still problematic — creates conflicts with a bunch of apps, including TextMate and Growl.

The Man Who Grew Roots 

Disturbing story of an Indonesian man afflicted with a skin condition that results in tree-like growths covering his body. I’ve never seen anything like it. (Update: I’ve changed the link to a later story, which includes the news that doctors are hopeful they can help him.)

Google Gadgets for the Mac 

New software from Google, lets you run Google gadgets as Mac OS X Dashboard widgets. It’s an interesting idea, as it sort of attempts to turn Google Desktop into a cross-platform meta platform for HTML/CSS/JavaScript *-dgets, but my first thought is that it seems needless. Looking at Google’s developer docs for writing cross-platform gadgets, it really looks lowest-common-denominator. If you’re a developer with a Google gadget that you want Mac users to run, I think it makes more sense to port it to a native widget, which will let all Mac users run it, rather than only those who’ve got Google Desktop installed.

(Speaking of cross-platform “widgets”, I don’t hear much about Yahoo Widgets (née Konfabulator) these days. Just me?)

Quay 1.0 

Rainer Brockerhoff’s new €7 (roughly $10) utility that restores hierarchical pop-up menus for folders in the Leopard Dock. It’s implemented with an app that runs in the background — no hacks. The only downside (vs. the old 10.0-10.4 Dock menus) is that you can’t drop items onto Quay’s folder icons to move or copy items into the corresponding folder. (Well, Michael Tsai notes one other downside: the menus only appear on mouse-up, not mouse-down.) Quay makes up for it with a bunch of options that the Dock’s old built-in menus didn’t offer. Definitely worth a look if you miss hierarchical folder menus in the Dock.

Quick Look Works With Binary Plist Files 

Neat.

A Brief Message: Notify the Next of Kindle 

Chip Kidd on what effect he thinks the Kindle will have on book design as we know it.

Stupidest Thing I’ve Heard Today 

On Moneymaking argues that it’s a good thing that Amazon’s Kindle is ugly:

6. You Can Be Pretty Later

The Kindle is ugly. It’s nothing like the iPhone, where people bought it just to show off the slick interface to their friends. Instead, Amazon focused on creating a product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do: give you nationwide access to over 80,000 books in the palm of your hand. They can make it pretty later.

For the retort, I’ll hand the mic over to Mr. Steve Jobs:

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Pester 1.1b7 

Long-in-the works update to Nicholas Riley’s excellent little alarm clock and timer.

Fray: The Quarterly of True Stories 

Derek Powazek’s Fray returns, in the form of a quarterly printed journal. Dig that widescreen web design.

Laboratory Conditions 

Five-part documentary — a new episode each day this week — from the crew at Coudal Partners, shot on location in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

LaunchBar 4.3.3 

Update to Objective Development’s launcher/miscellaneous utility. (I never know how to categorize LaunchBar and Quicksilver.) Interesting new features include support for .scptd AppleScript bundles (great for packing up AppleScripts with self-contained shell script resources for “do shell script” calls out the shell) and an “argument” parameter for custom x-launchbar:execute search templates that lets you pass in large strings as input without worrying about escaping them for the shell.

iPhoto Buddy Donations Going to Charity 

Rick Neil, developer of the iPhoto multiple library manager iPhoto Buddy, is donating all proceeds from the app this year to two charities.

Zip Quick Look Plugin 

Freeware Quick Look plugin, shows the contents of zip files in a nice list.

CandyBar 3 

Major upgrade to Panic’s $29 utility for customizing and organizing icons; now includes Pixadex’s features. Leopard-only, and includes all sorts of Leopard-specific features, like support for 512-pixel icons, and resources to change the appearance of your Dock.

Wired Profile of Universal Music CEO Doug Morris 

From Seth Mnookin’s excellent profile of Doug Morris in Wired, regarding the music industry’s inability to deal with the digital download revolution:

Morris insists there wasn’t a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. “There’s no one in the record company that’s a technologist,” Morris explains. “That’s a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn’t. They just didn’t know what to do. It’s like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn’t an option. “We didn’t know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn’t be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.” Morris’ almost willful cluelessness is telling. “He wasn’t prepared for a business that was going to be so totally disrupted by technology,” says a longtime industry insider who has worked with Morris. “He just doesn’t have that kind of mind.”

Kind of obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention, but it’s telling that Morris still doesn’t regret not hiring someone who understood what was going on back in 1999 or 2000. I suppose it’s more likely that he does regret it, but is unwilling to admit it. (Via Vulture.)

Books Versus Documents: What’s Wrong With So-Called ‘E-Books’ 

Jon Stokes:

In short, electronic “books” are nothing of the sort, and if Kindle aims to be an electronic substitute (replacement?) for the “book,” then it has missed the mark by a mile. The basic problem with the current e-book + reader combination is twofold: the single-page format, and the lack of ready markup and annotation features.

Spaces ‘Application Assignments’ and AppleScript 

Nifty AppleScripts from Jesse Newland for managing Spaces’s application assignments (e.g. “assign this app to space 2”). These scripts let you manage these assignments without going into the Spaces panel in System Prefs.

Ack, a Clever Grep Replacement 

Grep alternative written in Perl, so it uses Perl’s (superior) regular expressions. Ack is smart about things like .svn directories, skipping them by default, and it comes with a bunch of command-line switches that make it easy to filter the files you’re searching by file type.

BusinessWeek, Circa 2001: ‘Sorry, Steve: Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work’ 

Cliff Edwards’s “Apple’s retail strategy is doomed” piece from 2001 is a real hoot. Genius quote from David A. Goldstein, president of researcher Channel Marketing Corp.:

“I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.”

(Via John Siracusa.)

Blue Beanie Day 

“Monday, November 26, 2007 is the day thousands of Standardistas (people who support web standards) will wear a Blue Beanie to show their support for accessible, semantic web content.”

Camino Project Now Accepting Donations 

Samuel Sidler:

Through the Mozilla Foundation, we’re now able to accept tax-deductible donations that will go toward the development and advancement of Camino. What’s more, through the end of the year the Mozilla Foundation will match 2 to 1 every dollar donated (up to $10,000). Donating now makes your dollar go three times as far as it normally would. You can read more about their new directed giving program from Frank Hecker’s blog post.

Camino is a terrific Mac application — far more Mac-like and Mac-specific than the Mac version of Firefox. This 2-to-1 contribution matching is a great opportunity to encourage further Camino development.

Leopard Mail Vulnerable to Bogus Email Attachments 

Heise Security reports how Leopard Mail is vulnerable to email attachments masquerading as the wrong type. For example, a shell script named “Foo.jpg”, but which has a resource fork item assigning the file to Terminal, will be displayed by Leopard Mail as a JPEG image, but will open and execute in Terminal — without any warning or prompt — if you double-click it from Mail. Oddly, you do get a warning on subsequent attempts to open the attachment within Mail — it only executes in Terminal without warning the first time. Even worse, this same vulnerability was closed by Apple before, in Tiger, but has returned in Leopard.

Griffin Evolve Wireless Sound System 

My thanks to Griffin for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed. Griffin’s brand-new Evolve wireless sound system is now available, and it’s pretty sweet. (Griffin sent me a demo unit.)

Here’s the short version: The base station has an iPod port, charging pads for the speakers, and a few simple audio and video in/out ports on the back. It’s super-simple to set up and start using. The speakers are completely wireless — just pick them up and put them wherever you want, up to 150 feet away from the base station. The remote control works via RF, so it doesn’t need line-of-sight to the base station — at my house the remote’s range is at least equal to the range of the speakers. To my ears, audio quality is equivalent to that of a typical (wired) shelf unit — not much bass and far “smaller” than what you get from a real stereo, but way better than any wireless speakers I’ve ever heard.

Full reviews: Jeremy Horwitz gives Evolve an A- at iLounge, and CNet gives it an 8/10.

Sandy — Your Personal Email Assistant 

Email-based “personal assistant” from Values of N, the makers of Stikkit. Sign up for a free account and you get a unique email address, to which you send commands like “Remind me I have a marketing meeting on 3/14 at 1-2pm”. (Via Matt Wood.)

Environmental Tips From The Green Team, With Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly 

May not be safe for work, depending on your work. Went over like gangbusters here at DF HQ.

De-Lameify Your Dock and Menubar 

JWZ reveals the hidden Dock pinning prefs — instead of centering the Dock, you can pin it to the left or right (on the bottom), or top or bottom (on the side). I’ve been using this ever since 10.0, but it’s one of those hidden prefs many people don’t know about.

Mail 3.0: No Longer Plays Sounds Through Alerts and Sound Effects Channel 

Pierre Igot:

Sadly, it now appears that Apple’s engineers have broken this in Mail 3.0 in Mac OS X Leopard (10.5). The various sound effects played by Mail when receiving or sending mail are now again played through the default output, instead of the output for sound effects and alerts.

Cowboys Beat the Stuffing Out of Jets for Best 11-Game Start in Team History 

It’s always a great Thanksgiving when the Cowboys win big.

AppleScript for Metamark URL Shortening Service 

Short AppleScript by Macworld pooh-bah Jason Snell to take the frontmost URL from Safari, pass it to Metamark, and put the resulting short URL on the clipboard, ready for pasting. The download is an AppleScript app, but you can open it in Script Editor and re-save as a compiled script easily.

Daring Fireball Rendered on the Kindle Web Browser 

Looks good. DF’s markup is designed to render sensibly on low-fi browsers that don’t do CSS — better not to render CSS at all than to render it poorly.

Bookishness 

Thibaut Sailly on the Kindle’s form factor. I’d like to try one before judging the hardware, but aesthetically, it does seem awkward in several ways.

LG Verizon Voyager 

The whole thing looks like a pathetic rip, but the calendar icon is particularly shameless.

No Sub-Pixel Anti-Aliasing in Leopard Menu Bar 

Sven-S. Porst:

As the variable background of the X.5 menu bar means that characters have to be drawn on a transparent background and then put on the modified desktop menu bar picture, this also means that no sub-pixel anti-aliasing is used. As a consequence you may find that certain glyphs look irregularly rendered or poorly spaced in the menu bar.

Early OmniFocus Sales Figures 

There’s a growing trend of indie developers publishing sales numbers for their apps. Ken Case on the just-released-as-public-beta OmniFocus:

I just wanted to write a quick note to thank you all for your support! In less than five days, we’ve already received over $100,000 in preorders for OmniFocus, making this one of our strongest product launches of all time.

At $40, that’s over 2500 licenses. Compare and contrast with Hog Bay Software’s TaskPaper, which Jesse Grosjean reported sold 170 licenses in its first four days.

Wide vs. Deep 

Can’t stop linking to Greg Knauss.

Shortened URLs With Quicksilver 

Short Quicksilver script for taking the URL from the frontmost Safari window, passing it to the Metamark URL shortening service, and putting the result on the clipboard.

T-Mobile Forced to Sell Unlocked iPhones in Germany 

Jacqui Cheng:

T-Mobile Germany announced this morning that it would begin selling iPhones without a contract or a SIM lock that would restrict the device to its network. Those SIM-unlocked iPhones will be available starting today, in fact, but they won’t run cheap. T-Mobile is selling them for €999 (just under US$1,500).

In an iPhone-Enlightened World, Kindle Has an Obvious Flaw 

Astute criticism on the Kindle form factor from Craig Hunter:

Everybody is talking about how Kindle is the ‘iPod of Books’ or something like that, but the iPod is so yesterday (even Apple knows it). If Amazon really wanted a breakthrough, they should have aimed for the ‘iPhone of Books’.

E-Book the Letter 

Steven Poole on the Kindle’s shortcomings compared to paper books. Half in jest, obviously, but perhaps my main problem with Kindle is just that: I love paper books.

And, putting his own words on the line, Poole has released a free PDF version of his own book, Trigger Happy,

Understanding Web Design 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

The trouble is, web design, although it employs elements of graphic design and illustration, does not map to them. If one must compare the web to other media, typography would be a better choice. For a web design, like a typeface, is an environment for someone else’s expression.

Smartest essay I’ve read in weeks.

Color Decoder 1.0 

Interesting new app from Stray Cat Technology:

Color Decoder, which runs exclusively on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, identifies colors and areas of color on the computer’s screen. Though primarily intended for those lacking normal color vision, Color Decoder can help anyone analyze color usage on charts, maps, radar and other images.

Things Screencast: An Alpha Preview 

Ian Beck has a nice screencast demoing Things, Cultured Code’s upcoming todo/task manager.

999 Monkeys Short 

The Macalope, in an aside in the midst of dismantling an insipid “Apple might be forced to license Mac OS X” column by David Berlind:

The writings of Robert Scoble are like a thousand monkeys typing, short about 999 monkeys.

BusinessWeek: ‘Kindle is the iPod of Books’ 

Aaron Pressman:

But the digerati don’t get it and don’t like it and that creates a compelling investment opportunity to buy Amazon shares now. The stock market doesn’t appreciate this game changer. Kindle will be the iPod of books — you read it here first.

I say the difference is that the iPod allowed you to easily play the music you already owned, and that you could (and can to this day) buy music to play on iPods in an open format.

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts) 

Mark Pilgrim at his best.

The Third Magisterium 

Greg Knauss:

Just as scientists claim dominion over their magisteria, and theologians claim dominion over theirs, a huge and empty space is left for the stupid questions. Who claims dominion over them?

Starting now, I do. I declare myself the world’s primary expert in questions so stupid that they lack any sort of meaning other than reasonably correct grammar.

Frenzic for iPhone 

Best iPhone web app game yet.

Do Canonical Web Designs Exist? 

Outstanding essay by Joshua Porter on the state of web design.

Droid Font Family From Google and Ascender 

Damien Guard on the Droid font family included in Google’s Android SDK, including examples of the fonts rendered on screen in Windows XP and Mac OS X.

Seth Godin on Kindle 

Seth Godin:

My thought was to use it, at least for a few years, as a promotion device. Give the books for free to anyone who buys the $400 machine. (Maybe you can have 1,000 books of your choice, so there’s not a lot of ‘waste’.) You’ll sell more machines that way, that’s for sure. And the people willing to buy the device are exactly the sort of people that an author like me wants to reach.

Or what if Amazon gave you a free Kindle e-book version of every physical book you’ve ever purchased from Amazon?

Amazon Kindle Store 

Now available for sale, alongside a few demo videos. The most interesting technical aspect is the wireless data plan — you get free unlimited EVDO networking (but only EVDO networking) with no monthly plan. You buy a Kindle and you get free wireless EVDO for life, apparently. The weight and battery life seem impressive. There is no computer synching, period. It’s a wholly independent device. All content comes via the EVDO network, and if you lose or damage your Kindle, your purchased material can be re-downloaded from Amazon.

The on-screen typography seems crude. Interesting reading device — maybe. But replacement for the book? No way. The other thing they advertise is the ability to read “blogs”, where by “blogs” they seem to mean one of 250 pre-selected weblogs. Update: And you have to pay a few bucks a month to read them. So, uh, Kindle lets you pay money for something you can read for free everywhere else.

Also, the device is white, not beige as early mock-ups indicated. But the industrial design strikes me as very ’80s nonetheless. Maybe they should have stuck with beige for the retro vibe.

Reading Tea Leaves and Campaign Logos 

Astute design criticism of U.S. presidential campaign logos by Ward Sutton.

Ten New Things in WebKit 3 

Maciej Stachowiak runs down the major improvements in WebKit 3.

OmniFocus Public Beta 

OmniFocus, The Omni Group’s task-management/to-do app that was first announced in September 2006, now has a ship date — 8 January 2008 — and a public beta is available now. It’s going to sell for $80, but it’s only $40 from now until the official release, and owners of OmniOutliner Pro get an extra discount.

Quay 1.0b5 

Still-in-beta utility from Rainer Brockerhoff — a simple app that brings back hierarchical pop-up menus for folders in the Dock.

Amazon: Reinventing the Book 

Newsweek’s Steven Levy on Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s upcoming new e-book gadget and service, Kindle:

Over the centuries, the sweet spot has been identified: something you hold in your hand, something you can curl up with in bed. Devices like the Kindle, with its 167 dot-per-inch E Ink display, with type set in a serif font called Caecilia, can subsume consciousness in the same way a physical book does. It can take you down the rabbit hole.

Sounds interesting, and 167 DPI is a very nice screen resolution. But if everything is set in the exact same typeface — if Kindle’s e-books are delivered as strings of text rather than as designed pages — then the Kindle will not replace books. I think PDF is the only feasible e-book format today.

PeepCode Screencasts 

My thanks to PeepCode for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. New this month: a screencast on the Git source control system and closed captioning — hooray for accessibility — on PeepCode’s Ruby on Rails From Scratch series. Special deal this week only: buy a 10-pack of screencasts, get one free.

The End of Netinfo 

John C. Welch:

When I say “end,” I mean it in the most “end-ish” sense. In Mac OS X 10.5, Netinfo is gone. Not “deprecated,” not “hidden away for only the most advanced users.” It’s gone. Deleted. It does not exist. No more Netinfo database, no more Netinfo Utilities such as nicl, no more Netinfo Manager. The entire structure for managing local users, groups, and other such things has been completely replaced by local Directory Services, and the Netinfo Database is now a series of XML files living in /var/db/dslocal/.

Freetards Turn on Google 

Fake Steve on GPL advocates who are pissed at Google for releasing Android under the “you can do whatever you want with it, including building non-open-source stuff on top of it” Apache license rather than the GPL. Hard to see why Google wouldn’t choose to use the GPL, given how many wonderful user experiences the GPL has led to.

Not The Daily Show, With Some Writer 

Daily Show-style coverage of the WGA strike, from the writing staff of The Daily Show. Outstanding.

Not Actually Ironic at All 

Robert Scoble:

What’s ironic is lots of other computer companies would LOVE to give me free stuff (I don’t take it) but Apple is the only company that’s never raised a PR finger to help me. Instead I feel so honored to spend my money on this crap. Why? Just to have a shiny machine?

I would love to know what he thinks “ironic” means.

FileMaker’s Bento: Undercooked and Slightly Fishy 

Jeff Porten reviews the Bento public beta for TidBITS.

Android, With More Optimism 

Nice piece by Steven Frank on Android, now that we’ve seen the SDK:

Commoditizing the hardware will keep the price of Android phones down, which is certainly desirable. But I fear they’re going to run into the same quagmire that Windows Mobile has.

You don’t know if any given Windows Mobile device is going to have a touchscreen, a QWERTY keyboard, a numeric pad, WiFi, cellular access, Bluetooth, GPS… How can you design software that’s in any way elegant for an unknown combination of hardware? How well would the iPhone work if you couldn’t assume a touchscreen?

I’ve been thinking along similar lines — the coolest potential Android apps might only run on specific higher-end Android phones. And conversely, apps written to run on any Android phone, no matter how minimal the hardware, are likely to be uncool.

Miro 1.0 

Formerly known as Democracy Player, Miro is a nice, free video player with features that allow you to subscribe to video podcasts and create your own “channels”.

Andy Ihnatko Reviews the New Zunes 

Andy Ihnatko:

Zune 2.0 won’t knock the iPod off of its perch, but Microsoft performed a miracle nonetheless: It scrubbed the awful taste of Zune 1.0 out of my mouth.

(Is it just me, or is the paragraph at the very end a private note from Ihnatko to his editors at the Sun-Times, not intended for publication? Update: Apparently so, since it was yanked shortly thereafter. I saved an archive in Safari’s webarchive format here.)

Proper Gmail IMAP for iPhone and Apple Mail 

Much more complete setup instructions than Google’s own. By mapping Apple Mail’s special folders (Drafts, Trash, Spam) to Gmail’s built-in special folders, the “right thing” just happens. E.g., all of your sent mail goes into the same Sent Mail mailbox, whether you sent it from Mail on your Mac, MobileMail on your iPhone, or Gmail’s web interface.

System Domain Hack to Turn Off Leopard’s Translucent Menu Bar 

Not for the faint of heart, as it requires diddling with a plist file in the /System/Library/ folder — the “this stuff is not meant for users to diddle with” part of OS X. However, it works, by setting an environment variable that tricks WindowServer into disabling the translucent menu bar.

The original tip from Steve Miner suggests a setting of “1”; this results in an old-school pure white menu bar, which is what we had in the good old days, when we walked six miles to school through three feet of snow, and we liked it. A setting of “0” gives you a dark gray menu bar, and fractions in between 0 and 1 give you varying shades of gray. Commenters at MacOSXHints have deduced that a setting of “0.63” gives you a menu bar that looks pretty close, if not exactly, like the opaque menu bar Leopard shows on systems with older video cards.

Update: DF reader Emiel Efdee concluded that “0.62” is in fact the precise value needed to duplicate Leopard’s “standard” non-translucent menu bar. I hereby name Emiel “DF Reader of the Week”.

Lightroom 1.3 

Fixes Leopard compatibility issues (Lightroom 1.2 couldn’t print on Leopard) and adds support for a bunch of recent new cameras. Even better: Adobe has released a preview release of the Lightroom developer SDK. Someone ping Fraser Speirs.

‘No Country for Old Men’ 

Roger Ebert:

“No Country for Old Men” is as good a film as the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have ever made, and they made “Fargo.” It involves elements of the thriller and the chase but is essentially a character study, an examination of how its people meet and deal with a man so bad, cruel and unfeeling that there is simply no comprehending him.

Saw it this afternoon and it’s just indescribably good. Can’t shake the feeling that it’s one of the best movies I’ll ever see.

(I would love if someone could explain to me exactly what happened, though, in the scene toward the end where Tommy Lee Jones goes into the motel room.)

Scrubbing the iPhone Scrubber 

Christopher Fahey:

I thought it was a pretty bold design decision when Apple discarded the iPod’s signature feature, the scroll wheel, in the iPhone and iPod touch. But the new scrubber bar is almost useless, especially for long tracks like podcasts where it’s impossible to move the playhead any less than a few minutes per hop.

So I thought I’d just fix it, or at least show a little idea of how Apple might fix it.

Mac OS X 10.5.1 

Bunch of bug fixes for Leopard.

iPod Touch Software 1.1.2 Adds Calendar Functions 

iPod Touch users can now add and edit calendar events.

A Proposal for Improving Spaces in Leopard 

Pretty clever idea for fixing Spaces for those of us frustrated by the current implementation.

Paul Murphy, Jackass 

ZDNet “blogger” Paul Murphy has decided to compare Linux to Mac OS X Server, and he starts with:

Please note that I have not had a chance to see and use the new MacOS [sic] X “Leopard” server release. Comments specific to Leopard Server here are, therefore, based on third party reports.

Please note that I have not bothered to read the rest of your “review”. My calling you a jackass, therefore, is based solely on the fact that you’ve published a comparison of software you admittedly haven’t even seen.

Mac OS X 10.4.11 and Safari 3 Problems 

A slew of Macintouch readers are reporting problems with Safari 3 after updating to 10.4.11. A bunch of them report the problems go away after removing third-party input manager hacks. My guess is that third-party input manager hacks are the cause of nearly all these problems, and it’s just that some of these people don’t know or don’t remember that they have them installed. With regard to input manager hacks, this applies.

This One Goes to 11 

Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.11 — the first time, to my memory, that they’ve released a point-upgrade to the previous Mac OS X generation after the release of a new one. The most significant change in 10.4.11 is that it now includes Safari 3.0 and a major new version of WebKit. Apple did the same thing with 10.3.9 and Safari 2. [Update: I was wrong; 10.3.9 didn’t include Safari 2, but it did include a significantly updated version of WebKit, with many of the rendering engine changes corresponding to Safari 2.]

Replacing WebKit is a rather significant change with potential compatibility ramifications. Recall, for example, that FileMaker was incompatible with Leopard until they issued a compatibility update, because it wasn’t compatible with Safari 3’s version of WebKit.

Mentat ‘Teams’ Features Now Free 

Mentat’s free service now allows as many projects as you want, plus participation in collaborative shared projects.

Lifehacker: Top 10 Quicksilver Plugins 

Gina Trapani’s favorite Quicksilver plugins.

iPhone Web Developer Sample Code 

Mark Malone’s web site has some terrific demos of MobileSafari web design techniques. Things like creating iPhone-style buttons, changing the tap highlight color to something other than gray (-webkit-tap-highlight-color), fixing divs to the top and bottom of the viewport, and much more. A veritable gold mine.

Dalvik: How Google Routed Around Sun’s IP-Based Licensing Restrictions on Java ME 

Stefano Mazzocchi on how Google avoided Sun’s Java ME licensing restrictions: they’ve written their own virtual machine, Dalvik:

But Android’s programs are written in Java, using Java-oriented IDEs (it also comes with an Eclipse plugin)… it just doesn’t compile the Java code into Java bytecode but (oops, Sun didn’t see this one coming) into Dalvik bytecode.

So, Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make Java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the Java SE class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone (and, note, Android’s implementation of the Java SE class library is, indeed, Apache Harmony’s!)

(Thanks to Nate Silva.)

Your Creation Museum Report 

John Scalzi on The Creation Museum:

Let me say this much: I have to admit admiration for the pure balls-out, high-octane creationism that’s on offer here. Not for the Creation Museum that mamby-pamby weak sauce known as “Intelligent Design,” which tries to slip God by as some random designer, who just sort of got the ball rolling by accident. Screw that, pal: The Creation Museum’s God is hands on! He made every one of those animals from the damn mud and he did it no earlier than 4004 BC, or thereabouts.

Bento 

Public beta of a mysterious, intriguing new app from FileMaker — a Leopard-only “personal database”.

Investment Firm Names Al Gore as a Partner 

Matt Richtel reporting for The Times:

Deepening his ties to Silicon Valley, former Vice President Al Gore said on Monday that he had become a partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Spotlight Strikes Back 

Matt Neuburg:

In order to explain why Spotlight in Leopard is so good, I have to talk briefly about why Spotlight in Tiger was so bad.

Great details on how to construct complex Spotlight queries.

Dave Dribin: ‘The Problem With Spaces’ 

Dave Dribin does a good job explaining why Spaces falls short.

I believe a major part of them problem is that Apple tried to make virtual desktops accessible to the average user. However, I think no matter how much spit, polish, and animation Apple puts on Spaces, virtual desktops is a power user feature. Spaces is broken because it is designed for the wrong user.

(I got a ton of email yesterday telling me I could solve my complaint by setting Safari to “Every Space” in the Exposé & Spaces pane in System Prefs, but that isn’t what I want at all. Yes, it avoids the problem where you get teleported to a different space by Command-Tabbing to or clicking the Dock icon of Safari, but setting Safari to “Every Space” means all open Safari windows are visible in every space. If I’m working on a certain project in space 2, I only want the Safari windows that pertain to that project to appear in space 2.)

JavaScript Bookmarklet Builder 

Worth a re-link: A text filter I wrote a few months ago that makes writing — and especially revising — JavaScript bookmarklets much more pleasant. I use it with BBEdit, but it should work well with TextWrangler and TextMate, too.

Bob Herbert on Reagan’s 1980 Mississippi Speech 

With yet another op-ed column in The Times on this topic, which yet again does not refer to the other Times columnists who are debating the same issue, this is starting to get absurd. But I’m enthralled — it’s an angry, personal argument, but you have to be following along, and aware of The Times’s op-ed columnist policies, to see it.

Texas Truck Driver Breaks Internet 

Truck hits power transformer in Texas, knocking major Rackspace datacenter offline.

Back From The Dead: MakeiPhoneRingtone 1.3 

Rogue Amoeba:

Incredibly, with the iPhone OS 1.1.2 update, it is again possible to use non-iTunes Music Store files as ringtones. We’ve updated MakeiPhoneRingtone to work with iTunes 7.5 and iPhone OS 1.1.2.

Adobe CEO Chizen Stepping Down 

Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service:

On a conference call Monday, executives supported the view that Chizen’s move is more a personal decision than due to any financial or business reasons. In fact, Narayen said the company made the announcement that its fourth quarter would be positive in tandem with the executive news “to make it completely clear” that Chizen decided to leave and was not forced out of his post.

Droid Fonts 

Serif, sans-serif, and monospaced fonts for Google’s Android platform. Ultimately they need to be judged in context, on actual phones, but they look pretty good. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Are Gas Pumps Really Accurate to a Thousandth of a Gallon? 

Greg Knauss has the answer.

Why Leopard Spaces Is Broken 

Long-time virtual desktop user Henry Story on what’s wrong with Spaces. I’ve never used virtual desktops regularly before, but I agree with his criticism — I’ve tried to love Spaces but can’t, because I want to divide spaces into tasks, and some apps, like my web browser, need to have windows in every space. If I’m in, say, space 3 and Command-Tab to Safari, I want Safari to activate in my current space, not jump me to whichever space contains the frontmost Safari window. In short, Spaces seems designed for app partitioning, not task partitioning.

Android’s Web Browser Based on WebKit 

I wonder how much they’ve changed — whether it’s a fork or something that can be worked back into mainline WebKit. Are there any mobile platforms that use Mozilla/Gecko?

Update: Looks like at least some of Google’s WebKit modifications are getting merged into the main trunk.

iTunes 7.5 and iPhone 1.1.2 Return Custom Ringtones 

Erica Sadun:

For reasons I do not begin to understand, the combination of iTunes 7.5 and the 1.1.2 iPhone once again allow you to add custom ringtones without fussing with property lists and special software. Take any m4a file, thirty-seconds or less (although some report success with tracks up to 40 seconds), rename it to m4r and double-click to add it to iTunes. The file appears in your ringtones and can be synched — I tested this out myself — to your iPhone.

The time limit is actually 40.04 seconds, according to Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis. I really don’t get any of this: I don’t understand why the iPhone 1.1.2 update isn’t officially out yet, and I don’t understand why Apple has seemingly changed the terms on custom ringtone files again. This ringtone policy change is for the better, though, so I’m not complaining.

Did David Brooks Tell the Full Story About Reagan’s Neshoba County Fair Visit? 

Joseph Crespino, historian at Emory University, on the context of the 1980 Ronald Reagan speech in Mississippi that New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and David Brooks have been awkwardly debating:

Brooks’s column, however, is a good example of conservatives’ discomfort with their racial history.  Reagan is to modern conservatism what Franklin Roosevelt was to liberalism, so it’s not surprising that Brooks would feel the need to defend him.  But Brooks’s throwaway remark that “it’s obviously true that race played a role in the GOP ascent” understates what actually happened. 

(Thanks to Aaron Swartz.)

Waxy.org: Outgoing 

Exciting news from Andy Baio — he’s leaving Upcoming.org to work on Waxy.org full-time:

Next year, I’m focusing exclusively on Waxy.org and related coding projects. What does that mean? Yes, more links, but also the same flavor of original research and investigative journalism I’ve done in the past, though on a daily basis instead of the quarterly (ack!) schedule I maintained this year.

Outstanding news.

AppleInsider: ‘Ultra-Portable Apple Notebook to Splash Down at Macworld Expo’ 

Smaller, super-thin, lightweight MacBooks coming at Macworld Expo, says AppleInsider. How’s Apple making it so much thinner than current MacBooks? By eliminating the optical disk drive — i.e. what the iMac was to the floppy, this machine is to the CD/DVD drive. My Magic 8-ball says AppleInsider is mostly correct.

Update: I asked my Magic 8-ball if this upcoming super-thin MacBook still has a (non-Flash memory) hard disk drive, and the answer came back: “IT IS CERTAIN”. (iPod Classics have hard drives; they’re pretty thin.)

Android SDK 

Windows, Mac, and Linux downloads available. It’s all Java, with an emulator for testing your phone apps on your computer. (I wonder if Apple’s going to release an iPhone emulator for iPhone development?) Bunch of videos, including demos, on YouTube here.

Three New ‘Get a Mac’ Commercials 

All three play up the angle that people are switching back to XP from Vista.

Path Finder 4.8.2 Does Quick Look, Can Finally Replace the Finder 

David Chartier on Leopard-specific improvements in the latest update to Path Finder.

Lunch With You: Mike Lee 

Sakuzaku profiles Delicious Monster programmer Mike Lee.

The Nerd Handbook 

Rands really knows his nerds — this piece is probably a scarily apt description of most of you reading this. Jiminy:

He sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day.

Stacks Overlays 

Clever idea for icons that are meant to stay “on top” of Leopard Dock stacks.

‘Innocent Mistakes’ 

I was wondering if Paul Krugman would use his New York Times weblog to respond to David Brooks’s “Reagan’s 1980 speech in Mississippi wasn’t racist” column yesterday, and he has. But apparently the Times policy forbidding columnists from addressing one another in their columns extends to their weblogs, because, in the same way that Brooks never mentioned in his column that it was Krugman (and fellow Times columnist Bob Herbert) who’ve been making the charge that Reagan’s speech was an appeal to Southern racists, Krugman does not mention Brooks:

So there’s a campaign on to exonerate Ronald Reagan from the charge that he deliberately made use of Nixon’s Southern strategy.

It’s a reasonable general policy, but it’s making things awkward in this case, where they really are addressing each other’s arguments but can’t name each other.

Installing MySQL on Mac OS X Leopard 

From my comrade Dan Benjamin, a detailed guide to installing MySQL on Leopard (or Tiger, for that matter). More of an introduction to Unix nerdery on Mac OS X, with MySQL as the example, than just a simple article. Covers everything from compiling, setting up your .bash_login environment variables, to using launchd to start MySQL automatically.

Norman Mailer Dies at 84 

Charles McGrath, for The New York Times:

He published more than 30 books, including novels, biographies and works of nonfiction, and twice won the Pulitzer Prize: for “The Armies of the Night” (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and “The Executioner’s Song” (1979).

He also wrote, directed, and acted in several low-budget movies, helped found The Village Voice and for many years was a regular guest on television talk shows, where he could reliably be counted on to make oracular pronouncements and deliver provocative opinions, sometimes coherently and sometimes not.

Alpha Channel — msnbc.com 

msnbc.com launched a complete redesign last night, and it looks good. (It also works much better in Safari and Firefox than the previous design.) Alpha Channel is their also-new weblog, written by their design and editorial staff. Interesting behind-the-scenes stuff.

Why the Translucent Leopard Menu Bar Sucks: Exhibit A 

Perfect example of what’s wrong with Leopard’s menu bar translucency. (Thanks to reader Alex Ross.)

The Sweet Agony That Is Nokia N81 

Om Malik trashes Nokia’s new music-focused phone:

The device behaved like a three-year-old throwing a tantrum. Unless this is an especially buggy device, N81 has to be one of the worst Nokia phones I have ever used and would be loathe to recommend it to anyone.

Joyent Accelerators 

My thanks to my friends at Joyent for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. I host Daring Fireball on a Joyent Accelerator, and it’s simply amazing — even under the highest traffic, the server doesn’t break a sweat. Accelerators are virtual containers optimized for Rails, Python, and PHP web apps, and give you root access for full control of the software. If you’re looking for serious web hosting, especially if you’re concerned about scaling, you should look at Joyent.

The Mysteries of iCal, Revealed 

Jens Ayton examines the mystery of how iCal’s Dock icon shows the current date on Leopard even when iCal isn’t running. (Via Michael Tsai.)

InDesign and Leopard 

So there’s been an undercurrent of complaints that InDesign CS3 doesn’t work on Leopard; ends up that problem only occurs with pre-release versions of InDesign, and the complaints are from users with bootleg copies. If you’re surprised that people using illicitly-obtained bootleg software would complain vociferously when it stops working, you’ve never done tech support for commercial software. Software bootleggers have no shame about demanding tech support.

(Thanks to Tom Davis.)

Graflex Flash Guns 

These 1950s-era film lighting tools were used by propmasters to create Luke’s and Vader’s lightsabers in the original Star Wars. Not Obi-Wan’s though. (Via these do-it-yourself homebrew lightsaber instructions at Finkbuilt.)

The Subjectivity of Wine 

Jonah Lehrer:

In 2001, Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux, conducted two separate and very mischievous experiments. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn’t stop the experts from describing the “red” wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its “jamminess,” while another enjoyed its “crushed red fruit.” Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

I’m biased, perhaps, but I don’t think you could fool beer connoisseurs similarly; there’s far less pretension in beer criticism. (Via Coudal.)

Krugman on the Falling Dollar 

Speaking of Krugman, he makes the case in this weblog entry that Bush is not to blame for the falling dollar. So, for all of you who objected to my “Heck of a job, Bushie” quip regarding the dollar in September: You were right, I was wrong.

History and Calumny 

New York Times op-ed columnist in-fighting. This column by David Brooks, defending a 1980 campaign speech by Ronald Reagan in Philadelphia, Mississippi, is largely a response to fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has repeatedly referred to this speech as indication of Reagan’s appeal to Southern racists. But Brooks never mentions Krugman specifically, because Times policy forbids columnists from arguing with each other in print. Brooks makes a decent case, but I suspect it reads awkwardly if you don’t know (a) that Krugman has referred to this speech several times; and (b) that Times policy prevents Brooks from saying so.

Acorn 1.0.3 

Bug-fix, performance, and minor feature update to Flying Meat’s $40 image editor.

Baseball’s DRM Strikes Out 

The Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro on the MLB DRM video fiasco. Looks like MLB is trying to make things right, now that a sufficient stink has been raised.

Reaching for Apple, Falling Short 

David Pogue on the T-Mobile Shadow:

There you have it: the Shadow, one of the least expensive smartphones on the market, loaded with features, feeling luxurious and looking stunning in your hand. For once, you don’t have to be jealous of the much cooler phones available in Europe.

But then you turn the thing on. […]

Frankly, Windows Mobile 6 is a mess. Common features require an infinitude of taps and clicks, and the ones you need most are buried in menus. Apparently the Windows Mobile 6 team learned absolutely nothing from Windows Mobile 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Little Snitch 2.0 

Speaking of user-friendly firewall software, Objective Development (the crew behind LaunchBar) has released Little Snitch 2.0:

Little Snitch informs you whenever a program attempts to establish an outgoing Internet connection. You can then choose to allow or deny this connection, or define a rule how to handle similar, future connection attempts. This reliably prevents private data from being sent out without your knowledge.

I don’t run Little Snitch all the time, but when I want it, I’m glad it’s there.

Apple KnowledgeBase Article on Leopard ‘Application Firewall’ 

Apple:

The Firewall in Leopard is an Application Firewall. This type of firewall allows you to control connections on a per-application basis, rather than a per-port basis. This makes it easier for non-experts to gain the benefits of firewall protection and helps prevent undesirable applications from taking control of network ports that have been opened for legitimate applications.

Via MacSecure.

Foamee 

I’m reluctant to link to it tonight because it’s apparently already blown past its API allotment from Twitter, but it’s too cool not to. Foamee is a new web app by Dan “SimpleBits” Cederholm that “helps track who you owe beers to (and vice versa)”. What’s novel is that the whole thing is built on top of Twitter. I’m not sure it’s going to work out, but it’s a damn clever idea.

‘How Come Aperture Gets to Have All the Fun?’ 

These screenshots from Bryan Bell indicate that Aperture somehow invokes the non-translucent Leopard menu bar. Can any app do this, and can it be turned on globally?

iphonelogd 

Ruby script by Jamie Hardt — it reads your iPhone call log from your iPhone backup (created by iTunes) and copies phone calls into the iCal calendar of your choice.

Boing Boing: ‘MLB Rips Off Fans Who Bought DRM Videos’ 

Cory Doctorow:

MLB shut down the DRM server because they’ve changed suppliers, and now they expect suckers to buy downloads of games in the new DRM format.

Despicable, really: The videos in MLB’s previous DRM format no longer play.

Report From New York Photoshop Seminar 

One reason so many new image editors are spawning to take on Photoshop: the market is huge. Check out this photo Scott Kelby posted, taken at a recent New York City Photoshop seminar. (Via Duncan Davidson.)

Keyboards: Plug-and-Play, Not Plug-and-Communicate-What-They-Look-Like 

One of those little things that are much nicer in Mac OS X than Windows: identifying USB keyboards. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Getting the iChat Hologram Effect Back 

Not sure why Apple dropped the Star Wars-style hologram video effect from Leopard, but commenters at TUAW have posted links to download the version from developers seeds.

CSS Animation 

Dave Hyatt: “We have another cool new CSS feature to talk about: animation specified in CSS.”

Quick Look From the Command Line 

Shaun Haber on Leopard’s “qlmanage” command-line tool.

Naked Light 

New Leopard-only Mac OS X image editor, public beta slated for tomorrow:

Naked light throws away antiquated concepts like pixels; layers; 8-bit color; and destructive, non-re-editable filters and operations. Instead, compositions in Naked light represent a sort of Platonic ideal—with infinite resolution, an astounding 590 quintillion colors, and perpetually re-editable nodes.

‘Monopoly’, Eh? 

Dan Moren responds to Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who apparently has no idea what the word “monopoly” means.

If Your Mac Has an Old Video Card, the Leopard Menu Bar Isn’t Translucent 

Apple KnowledgeBase:

Some graphics cards, such as an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200, may not have the necessary OpenGL capabilities to display a translucent menu bar even though they are compatible with Core Image. Those cards should render most effects, but not the translucent menu bar.

So the irony is that you get a better-looking menu bar with a crappier video card.

It’d be the tip of the year if there were a hidden defaults preference to use the no-translucency menu bar no matter what.

House Industries: Neutraface No. 2 

House Industries:

Neutraface No. 2 is a completely reconceptualized, redrawn and re-engineered version of our venerable best-selling Neutraface collection.

Love it.

VectorMagic 

Free online web app, converts bitmap images into vector art, and does a surprisingly good job of it. (Via Gus Mueller.)

Monospaced Screen Fonts 

James Duncan Davidson addresses a topic close to my heart: monospaced screen fonts for Mac OS X. Me, personally, I’m still a Monaco 10px non-anti-aliased man. But if you prefer anti-aliasing even for coding fonts — and in our coming-someday-soon resolution-indepenedent future, we all will — there are a bunch of good options. My two favorites are Panic Sans, a Bitstream Vera Sans Mono derivative that Panic supplies with Coda, and Consolas, a new font from Microsoft designed by Lucas de Groot. The differences between Panic Sans and Vera Sans Mono are subtle, but are most noticeable (and welcome) in punctuation characters.

Freelance Pricing Advice: The Principle of Least Regret 

Ugo Cei, quoting Gerald M. Weinberg on how to set a price for one’s consulting/freelance services:

Set the price so you won’t regret it either way.

This basically means that you should not set the price so low, in order to get the assignment, that you’ll regret it if you obtain it. And you should not set it so high that you’ll regret it when the client is unable to pay it. Rather, you should set it so that you’ll feel about the same whatever happens. You shouldn’t feel too bad if you’re turned down and you shouldn’t feel too bad if you’re accepted, either.

(Via Alan Francis.)

CNet Crave: Asus Building Tablet for Apple 

No product details, no estimated ship date — but, still, despite my better judgment, I think this is true. If it ships, Apple’s certainly not going to call it a “tablet PC”, and my guess is it won’t be running Mac OS X, but rather another OS X offshoot with a UI and APIs specific to the device and its input methods. Could be the “one more thing” at Macworld Expo this January.

Steven Frank on Android 

Steven Frank:

A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite.

Fake Steve: ‘It’s Not a Phone, It’s an Alliance’ 

Fake Steve Jobs nails it on Google’s Android:

The only companies that join consortia are the ones who are too stupid or shitty to make a great product on their own. It’s like, Hey, we’ve got forty spazzo companies that can’t fuck their way out of a paper bag; let’s put them all together and maybe they’ll magically become some kind of big bad powerhouse. More likely it’ll just be some scary ass Frankenstein monster, walking around drooling and tripping over its own tongue.

And:

Also, whenever you see companies start talking about being “open,” it means they’re getting their ass kicked. You think Google will be forming an OpenSearch alliance any time soon, to help also-rans in search get a share of the spoils? Me neither.

Corbis Acquires Veer 

Daryl Lang reporting for PDN:

Corbis announced Tuesday that it is acquiring Canada-based stock distributor Veer, which appeals to designers with fonts, illustrations and trendy merchandise in addition to high-quality stock photography.

Corbis will operate Veer as a separate brand, a change in strategy that echoes competitor Getty Images.

They’re popping corks at Veer, so congratulations, and good for them. I’ve been a happy Veer customer for a long time. Here’s to hoping Veer remains an independent entity, not just an independent “brand”.

From the DF Archive: Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Details 

Sure would be cool if I did something like this for Leopard.

Blacktree: Wildcard 0.9.2, and Open Source Quicksilver 

Blacktree.com is back after a recent outage, so anyone looking to re-download Quicksilver can get it once again. There’s also something new: Wildcard, a “virtual space” for card and board games. Wildcard is Leopard-only (and Intel-only, at least for now). Also new: the source code for Quicksilver (and Wildcard) is now open.

Another Folder Icon Trick for the Leopard Dock 

Peter N Lewis’s aforelinked naming trick works for folders in your Dock sorted by name; Matthew Yohe has a good trick for getting the same effect for folders sorted by date (like Downloads): set the modified date on the sub-folder to something far in the future.

Data Loss Bug in Leopard When Moving Files Between Volumes 

Tom Karpik:

Leopard’s Finder has a glaring bug in its directory-moving code, leading to horrendous data loss if a destination volume disappears while a move operation is in action.

Safe workaround: When you wish to move a folder between volumes, do a copy in the Finder (by dragging with no modifier keys held down) and then delete the original on the old volume manually.

What Does Google’s Open Handset Alliance Announcement Tell Us About iPhone Third-Party Apps? 

Marc Hedlund:

Did Apple announce iPhone third-party apps as an aside in their “Hot News” column (instead of on Steve Jobs’s home court, a conference keynote) in order to get the news out fast — before Google?

Folder Icon Trick for Leopard Dock 

Peter N Lewis:

The Leopard Dock shows folders as a layer of icons, which is crazy for folders as you cannot easily recognize a folder based on its contents. Especially crazy when the folders have recognizable icons already!

Of course, here at Stairways we prefer to find solutions to problems rather than just grumble, so here is a trivial solution. Simply create an alias to the folder, name it to sort as the first icon, and put it in the folder.

Ironcoder 7: Bigger, Better, and Uncut 

The seventh edition of the Mac programming contest now has a longer schedule and an excellent prize: an 8 GB iPod Touch.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship 

Only three unsold weeks left for 2007.

Derek Powazek: ‘Google Now in Vaporware Business?’ 

Derek Powazek:

Is it just me, or has Google forgotten what making software means? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for big companies taking on big problems, but maybe they should balance all these utopian announcements with some actual, you know, product releases.

O2 Scraps Web Limit on iPhone 

Good news for iPhone users in the U.K.: “unlimited” now means unlimited.

Om Malik on Google’s Mobile Phone Platform Announcement 

Sounds like total vaporware to me — just an announcement and a list of partners, with phones based on this new platform not available until late 2008. Given that Google is only engineering the software, not hardware, it’s more of a rival to Symbian and Windows Mobile.

But jiminy, watch this “INtroducing Android” video from Google on YouTube — could it be any more vague? So far this seems like the most Microsoftian thing Google has ever announced.

Google Data APIs Client Libraries 

Google-supplied developer libraries for their new “GData” APIs. Languages: Java, .NET, PHP, Python, JavaScript, and Objective-C. No C, no C++ — the only C family language is Objective-C. Interesting. (Thanks to Joe Bolte.)

Ze Frank: Strike Day 

Here’s to hoping this is regular, and not just a one-off.

Dodgers Introduce Torre as Manager 

Man, that photo just feels wrong.

Regarding iPhone Pricing 

Jesper, in the midst of arguing that Apple would be better off selling unlocked iPhones:

It’s not even economically debatable if Apple could sell the same iPhone for under $500. Of course they could, with margins too.

I think this is debatable. Isn’t it possible that the iPhone is, in fact, a subsidized device? What if it costs close to or more than $399 to produce, and it’s in the monthly revenue sharing from the carriers that Apple makes its profit? For one thing, it would explain why Apple seems so determined to foil unlockers, including their decision to no longer accept cash and limit you to two iPhones per purchase.

Update: A little birdie tells me that prior to the credit-only, two-per-person limit, it was not uncommon for would-be resellers to walk into the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York with $50,000 in cash and walk out with 100 iPhones. Apple is turning these people away for a reason.

Update 2: The best evidence to the contrary — that iPhones might be profitable at $399 — is the $299 iPod Touch. I.e., if the iPod Touch is profitable at $299, then $100 extra for phone gadgetry sounds reasonable. I really don’t know what the answer is, I’m just saying it’s not clear either way.

Security Researcher Gadi Evron Jizzes His Pants Over Mac Trojan  

From a craptacular Wired News story on the Mac porno codec Trojan:

“Apple’s day has finally come, and Apple users are going to get hit hard,” security researcher Gadi Evron said. “OS X is the new Windows 98.”

It’s unfortunate, because this Trojan is an actual attempt by Ukrainian criminals to hijack Macs, but it’s not exploiting any sort of security hole in any version of Mac OS X. To get hit by it, you must (a) be the sort of moron who downloads “video codecs” from porno sites; (b) mount the disk image and launch the installer; and (c) grant the installer administrator privileges to install whatever it wants, wherever it wants on your system. No system can prevent that.

If anything, the fact that you have to manually install the software and supply your administrator password is a sign that Mac OS X security works.

An Interview With Daniel Jalkut 

Nice interview by Austin Heller.

TaskPaper BBEdit 

Very nice BBEdit codeless language module for TaskPaper’s plaintext to-do format. Freeware from Matthias Steffens.

The 15 Dumbest Apple Predictions of All Time 

Includes some real classics, like Hiawatha Bray declaring the original 1998 iMac “doomed” because it lacked a floppy disk drive, and of course Rob Enderle makes the list twice. But my favorite is then-Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold’s statement regarding Steve Jobs’s return to the company: “Apple is already dead.” (Myhrvold eventually left Microsoft and has since become a patent troll.)

Leopard-Style Text Effects in Photoshop and Illustrator 

Veerle Pieters:

One thing I’m impressed with about Apple’s new system GUI in Leopard is the “inset effect” on the text in combination with the new window chrome. […] So I’ve decided to investigate this subtle effect further via Photoshop layer effects as well as Illustrator’s effects.

RAM Arbitrage 

Mike Davidson on Apple’s RAM prices:

Surely I’m missing something, but is there another store in the world that charges over $800 for a product that can be had for under $150?

It must be very profitable for Apple — i.e. that many people go ahead and pay Apple’s prices for RAM upgrades — because this is one of the few actual facts that lends credence to the “Apple kit is insanely expensive” notion.

FastMac Universal Headphone Adapters 

Use any standard headphones with your iPhone; prices start at $5, but the top-of-the-line $20 model includes a microphone. play/pause clicker, and a volume slider. (Via Jonathan Seff.)

Python-Markdown2 

New — and apparently faster and more correct — Markdown implementation for Python, by Trent Mick.

Pencils Down 

John August on the WGA strike.

Bruji 

My thanks to Bruji for sponsoring the DF RSS feed again this week. Bruji’s Pedia lineup of media-tracking library apps are ready for Leopard, including support for Quick Look. Use the coupon “DARINGFIREBALL” this week and get 15 percent off at their store.

Auto-Accept Chats in Leopard iChat 

Nifty built-in AppleScript.

Music Subscription Business Continues to Suck 

Napster subscriber count:

The results: six months ago the subscription music service had 830,000 subs, three months ago it had 770,000, and now it has 750,000.

Sure wish I had a list of everyone who declared that subscription services would be the death of iTunes.

Kettle: People’s Choice IV: Fire and Spice 

Five new limited-edition, hot and spicy potato chip flavors from Kettle. It’s like being a beta tester for chips — you get pre-release flavors and then vote on which you like best. (Thanks to Cabel Sasser, who, like me, has already ordered his.)

Evan Williams: ‘Going West, as a Young Man’ 

Evan Williams on whether you should move to the Valley if you want to found a web startup.

AppleScript: The Language of Automation 

Apple’s long-neglected AppleScript sub-site has been updated for Leopard.

MacBreak Weekly, Episode 64 

The topic: Leopard. The special guest: John Siracusa. Great episode.

Mac OS X Runs Deleted Applications From Time Machine Backups 

Delete an app after enabling Time Machine, then double-click a document assigned to that app, and a backed-up copy of the app in Time Machine will launch — which isn’t what you want if you really want to remove all traces of an app.

Twoosh 

140 characters on the button.

Twitterrific 3.0 

The Iconfactory’s excellent Mac client for Twitter hits 3.0 with a ton of new features, including support for displaying replies and direct messages in the tweet list (plus Sonic Twoosh Technology). See the release notes for a full change list. $15, or free with one ad per hour via The Deck.

TaskPaper Adds Just Enough to Stick 

Michael McCracken:

My favorite apps, the ones that slip easily into everyday use and stick there, just start with plain text and add some extra sauce. VoodooPad is a great example, and Hog Bay Software’s new app TaskPaper is, too.

Update: Ends up TaskPaper is on sale today for $11, 42 percent off the regular price.

Reader Questions and Answers With New York Times Deputy Editor Philip B. Corbett 

The New York Times:

Philip B. Corbett, who oversees language issues for the newsroom, is answering readers’ questions this week.

Topics include the serial comma and whether to treat collective nouns as singular or plural.

Williams-Sonoma iPod-Inspired Cooking Timer 

Bizarre, if you ask me. (Thanks to the wife.)

iLounge 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyers’ Guide 

Comprehensive guide to Apple’s entire iPod/iPhone lineup; includes sneak peeks at upcoming peripherals from Griffin and more.

Tumblr 3.0 

Looks like a huge upgrade to an already very cool blogging tool. I’m really impressed by how friction-free the Tumblr UI is — it’s easy to get started, and super easy to post. And the new version now supports Markdown.

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