Linked List: April 2008

Engadget Tests Psystar Open Computer 

Nilay Patel, on using a Psystar Open Computer running a hacked version of Leopard:

It’s LOUD. Crazy loud. OS X doesn’t seem to interface with the fan controller, so it runs at full tilt all the time. It doesn’t really come across on the video, but it’s loud enough so that it’s hard to talk on the phone when the machine is running. There’s no way we could deal with this thing on a daily basis.

I’m tempted to order one for Hockenberry.

Hivelogic: Regarding Backups 

Dan Benjamin goes long on backups. In a nutshell, here’s what I do: (1) nightly SuperDuper clones to an external FireWire volume; (2) Time Machine backups to a Time Capsule; (3) monthly SuperDuper clones to a FireWire volume stored off-site.

The Missing iPhone Ringtone 

I never noticed this, but the ringtone Apple uses in some iPhone commercials isn’t actually one that ships with the phone by default. Ends up it’s a sound file that ships with iLife, though; LifeClever shows where to find it and how to turn it into a ringtone for iTunes, and, for the lazy, they have a .m4r file you can download.

If you like this sort of ringtone, you might prefer this one from Helder Luis, which sounds very similar but fades in progressively, so it starts quiet but gets louder the longer you go without answering the call.

Warner Brothers To Rent Movies Online Sooner 

Saul Hansell:

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chief executive, said that the company’s Warner Brothers studio will now release movies for video-on-demand systems on the same day they are released as DVDs.

(Via MacDailyNews.)

Wii Friend Codes From Twitter 

Nifty service from Wii Transfer author Manton Reece: share your Wii friend codes via Twitter.

RIM Looking for Cocoa Developers 

I’m with Chris Foresman here, I think AppleInsider’s description of the job sounds more like a Mac app for BlackBerry synching than an iPhone OS app. But it could be both.

The Five Circles of Hell 

Insightful analysis making the business case for customer-focused companies like Apple and Netflix:

Why do I love Apple? They intend to make money because of my desires, not despite them.

Matias Tactile Pro 2.0 Keyboard Reviews 

Aaron R. Deutsch was not impressed by the $150 Matias Tactile Pro 2. Update: Nor was Jake Seliger, who reports that the Tactile Pro 2’s circuitry is flawed:

Problems occur when you type anything ending in “ion”, like “division,” which appears as “divisioqn” if you strike the keys in rapid succesion.

Next-Gen iPhone Claim Chowder Alert 

Everyone and their sister is linking up this report at Fortune by Scott Moritz, that AT&T is planning $200 subsidies for next-gen iPhones later this year — i.e. so that one can buy a $399 phone for just $199 with a two-year service contract. I don’t believe it, but we’ll see. It’s worth noting that Moritz’s track record on the iPhone and Apple is, to be kind, horrible.

More interesting to me is this claim about the form factor:

A few details about the new iPhone have also been confirmed by the source. The new iPhone will be 2.5 mm thinner than the 11.7 mm original.

Interesting, because it directly contradicts Ryan Block’s report for Engadget last week that the next-gen iPhones are slightly thicker. One of these guys is wrong.

Things I Learned About My Dad (in Therapy) 

New collection of humorous and/or poignant essays on fatherhood. Edited and with two pieces by Heather B. Armstrong of Dooce fame, and including essays from a crackerjack lineup of writers, including Kevin Guilfoile, Matthew Baldwin, Greg Knauss, and Gail Armstrong.

As of this writing, it’s at #40 in Amazon’s bestseller list. (!)

Color Profiles in Firefox 3 

John Resig on Firefox’s new support for color profiles.

Marc Garrett’s February 2007 Interview With Mark Hamburg 

Worth a re-link: Marc Garrett did a splendid, thoughtful interview with Mark Hamburg a little over a year ago when Lightroom first shipped, including this on their extensive use of the Lua scripting language:

Pretty much every piece of code in the app that could be described as making decisions or implementing features is in Lua until you get down to the raw processing, which is in C++. The database engine is in C; the interface to the OS is in C++ and Objective C as appropriate to platform. But most of the actually interesting material in the app beyond the core database code (which is SQLite) and the raw processing code (which is essentially Adobe Camera Raw) is all in Lua.

John Nack: ‘So Long and Thanks for All the Pixels’ 

John Nack on Mark Hamburg (long-time Photoshop architect, lead developer/designer of Lightroom) leaving Adobe for Microsoft:

Mark is not going to go work on other digital imaging tools. After 17+ years of driving Photoshop and subsequently Lightroom, he’s looking for a complete change of pace and wants to work on operating system technologies related to user experience. Given that Mark has always been a huge Mac guy (developing Lightroom first on the Mac, etc.), it’s kind of a Nixon-goes-to-China moment.

Nack then deftly deflates this jacktastic report from Mary Jo Foley that Hamburg is going to work on “SmartFlow”, a supposed Lightroom/Aperture competitor she says Microsoft is working on. Think about it — if Hamburg wanted to work on photo library/imaging tools, wouldn’t he continue to lead Lightroom — an app whose UI and (very interesting, very original) internal architecture he completely oversaw from its inception?

Griffin iMate Universal ADB to USB Adapter 

This is what I use to connect my ADB Apple Extended Keyboard II to USB ports on a Mac. At $39, it costs more than what most people would pay for a keyboard, but I’ve been using the same one since 1999 or so. Works perfectly: no software or drivers necessary. Just plug it in and an ADB keyboard looks like a USB keyboard to the OS.

Keyboards, Keyboards 

Mark Llobrera gets it.

Promo for Upcoming Boston Apple Store Mimics Green Monster 

This reeks to high hell of Red Sox fan Phil Schiller.

My Retired Apple Extended Keyboard II 

As discussed in astounding length on this week’s The Talk Show, some pictures of my beloved Apple Extended Keyboard II. After 14 years of daily use, the E key went flaky in November 2006, and I replaced it with a brand-new Apple Extended Keyboard II that I’d kept in storage since the mid-’90s. Not sure what I’ll do when this one goes.

This is, in all seriousness, my favorite piece of Apple hardware ever.

Jason Snell Digs Up Screenshots From Copland 

The “Huh?” button is interesting.

Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 1 Adds Support for Java SE 6 

Remember the mini-uproar over the lack of Java 6 support in Leopard? Well, here it is, but it’s only for 64-bit Intel-based Macs.

Ampersand 

Jonathan Hoefler:

The many forms that a font’s ampersand can follow are generally informed by its historical context, the whims of its designer, and the demands of the type family that contains it: below, a tour of some ampersands and the thinking behind them, along with an explanation of the storied history of the word “ampersand” itself.

ddcli: An Objective-C Command Line Application Framework 

Dave Dribin:

In order to simplify all aspects of writing command line applications I’ve written ddcli, a framework for writing command line applications in Objective-C, released under the MIT license, of course.

Update: Fixed link to the project page.

Web Standards Design + Development, a Group of Interactive Craftsmen 

New LinkedIn group for standards-minded web developers and designers, spearheaded by Greg Storey. Update: More on WSDD from Storey.

If Microsoft Goes Fully Hostile on Yahoo 

Marc Andreessen’s detailed, plain-English analysis of the options Microsoft has for a hostile takeover of Yahoo.

iTunes Store Turns Five 

Five years ago today, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store — Mac-only and with only 200,000 songs in the catalog. Seems to be doing OK.

The Talk Show, Episode 20 

We discuss one of the most important topics of our time: the Apple Extended Keyboard and Extended Keyboard II.

Mark Hamburg Leaves Adobe for Microsoft 

Mark Hamburg, a 17-year Adobe veteran who worked on Photoshop from versions 2 through 7 and then led the Lightroom team from its inception, has left Adobe for Microsoft.

Martin Evening at LightroomNews reports, “As for what Mark is going to do next, it is known that he is now going to Microsoft in Seattle, and that his future work there won’t involve digital imaging, but instead be focussed on the ‘user experience’.”

Speed Bump for iMacs 

Faster CPUs and video cards, including a build-to-order option for a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

Psystar in the Wild 

Purported video of a Psystar Mac clone booting into Leopard. Check out the fan noise once the guy turns the thing on. Sounds like a vacuum cleaner. (Via Dan Benjamin.)

Adobe Discontinues GoLive 

I’m guessing most people are surprised only insofar as they were under the impression GoLive had been killed a few years ago.

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus 

Clay Shirky’s talk from the just-completed Web 2.0 Expo. Love this line: “We’re looking for the mouse.”

And, for those who prefer to watch rather than read, here’s a link to the talk itself on Blip.tv.

Dell to Offer Windows XP Beyond June 30 Cutoff 

PC World:

Dell will take advantage of a licensing option in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate that lets PC makers provide XP under the Vista license, which Microsoft calls a “downgrade” license. (Enterprises with site licenses have these same rights with any version of Vista.) In essence, the user is buying a Vista license that it can apply to XP, and Microsoft can still claim a Vista sale.

So, after June 30, when you buy XP Microsoft will score it as a Vista sale.

Interview With Donald Knuth 

Andrew Binstock interviews the ever-thoughtful Donald Knuth. Knuth, on how he writes:

My general working style is to write everything first with pencil and paper, sitting beside a big wastebasket. Then I use Emacs to enter the text into my machine, using the conventions of TeX. […] I have some homemade tools, like my own spell-checker for TeX and CWEB within Emacs. I designed my own bitmap font for use with Emacs, because I hate the way the ASCII apostrophe and the left open quote have morphed into independent symbols that no longer match each other visually. I have special Emacs modes to help me classify all the tens of thousands of papers and notes in my files, and special Emacs keyboard shortcuts that make bookwriting a little bit like playing an organ.

(Thanks to David Magda.)

On Cameras and Flies 

Dean Allen, who just switched to a Nikon D60 SLR after years of using (very nice) Leica/Panasonic point-and-shoots:

Christ on a bike what a difference. I feel like someone handed a slice of hot toast spread with cultured butter after a lifetime breakfasting on Skittles and government cheese.

The least understood aspect of modern SLRs is that they do, in fact, make for the world’s very best “just push the shutter button and let the camera worry about the details” point-and-shoot cameras.

Hundreds of Thousands of Windows Web Servers Hacked 

Uh-oh.

PDFClerk Pro 3.0 

Major upgrade for SintraWorks’s PDF editing utility. New stuff includes AppleScript support, font info, improved annotation tools, and the ability to create and edit PDF outlines. PDFClerk is a terrific Mac-style alternative to Acrobat. €35 (roughly US$56) for a new license, but SintraWorks sent over a coupon code for DF readers: use “Daring” and save 25 percent through the end of the weekend.

Simon Brocklehurst Asks: ‘Did Apple Make a Mistake Choosing Objective-C for iPhone SDK?’ 

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: (a) Most developers suck. Apple doesn’t care if they “can’t” or “won’t” write iPhone apps because they can’t or won’t learn Objective-C, because any developer who would say that is unlikely to write a worthwhile iPhone app. Picking up a new programming language is not hard. Picking up a language like Objective-C, which is only slightly expanded from regular old C, is even easier. I have never once met a good programmer who wasn’t willing and able to learn new languages. (b) Apple didn’t choose Objective-C for the iPhone arbitrarily; it’s inextricably tied to Cocoa Touch, and Cocoa is the entire foundation of the iPhone UI. (c) Apple doesn’t want existing “mobile” apps written in other languages recompiled for the iPhone any more than they wanted command-line DOS apps recompiled for the original Mac.

‘Editor Note’, Eh? 

I agree with TUAW’s Michael Rose on this one: MacUpdate putting an “editor note” pimping their Parallels bundle on their entry for VMware crosses whatever line they’ve ostensibly drawn between their roles as an editorial source (app listings) and software publisher. Crummy move.

Why We Are the Biggest Obstacles to Our Own Growth 

Nice little essay by Reginald Braithwaite:

How do I know when to hold fast and when to try something new? I don’t. Sometimes when a bunch of people are doing something, and my gut tells me they’re mistaken, I override my gut and try it, I go along with what everybody else is doing.

YouTube: Stanley Kubrick Interview 

Excerpts from a 1966 interview with Kubrick by Jeremy Bernstein. The interview is audio-only (the complete whole of which is available on the CD that comes with Taschen’s fantastic but no-longer-in-stock The Stanley Kubrick Archives), but the excerpts are set to still photos of and by Kubrick. (Via — who else? — Jim Coudal.)

‘Sort of’, Eh? 

Digital Arts:

“We’ve expressed our intent to do this and our desire, really, to work with Apple to build a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) for the iPhone and we’re sort of moving forward with that,” said Eric Klein, Sun vice president of Java marketing, this week.

(Via MacDailyNews.)

‘Mad Men’ Season One DVD Packaging 

Perfect design.

The Crazy Baseball Fan Rule 

Dave Winer:

Every so often a beer-drunk fan will run on the field during a baseball game causing a delay while the cops chase him down. Back in the days of streaking sometimes these fans would run out on the field naked.

You’ll never see one of these scenes on TV because there’s a rule that the broadcasters are not allowed to follow the drunk baseball fan onto the field. If they were to broadcast the drunk fan, the theory goes, that would just encourage more people to do it, meaning more delayed games, annoyed players, offended fans and busted streakers.

MacUpdate Parallels Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their “Parallels Bundle” — 10 Mac apps with a retail value of $475, on sale together for $65. You get: Parallels Desktop, BannerZest, Sound Studio, Leap, DVDRemaster Pro, MenuCalendarClock, Hazel, StoryMill, Art Text, and Typinator.

I paid $80 just for Sound Studio alone a few weeks ago, so clearly it’s a damn good deal. And, to be clear, all licenses are full licenses with normal upgrade paths. The promotion runs through Tuesday, so, as they say on TV, act now.

Steve Yegge Goes Deep on Focus-Follows-Mouse and Mac OS X 

Steve Yegge, frustrated by Mac OS X’s lack of support for Unix-style focus-follows-mouse, tries to implement it himself, and explains in great detail why he couldn’t quite get it to work. It’s a great read. (You can tell Yegge’s a recent switcher, though, by the way he spells “OS X” as “OS/X”, which, as John Siracusa quips, is like toilet paper stuck to a shoe.)

Why Market Share and Revenue Are Bullshit 

Motorola’s quarterly results: 27.4 million phones sold and $7.45 billion in revenue. But the bottom line? A $194 million loss.

What matters is profit; market share and revenue only matter insofar as they lead to making money. Motorola sold 16 times more phones than Apple for at least 8 times more revenue — but is there a person on the planet who would trade Apple’s phone business for Motorola’s?

Video: James Cramer on Apple 

He’s bullish on Apple because they’re completely dominating the mindshare of teenagers and young adults. I think he’s right — both that this is a tremendous strength for Apple, and that it’s being overlooked by many analysts.

Is Mike Arrington a Dick? 

Be sure to check back again tomorrow.

Noted for Future Gloating 

Douglas A. McIntyre, in an oddly typo-ridden piece regarding Apple’s quarterly results:

Most analysts thought that the good news out of Apple was that Mac sales were up 51% to 2,289,000. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is very difficult to suss any sense out of his argument, but it seems to be that 51 percent year-over-year growth in Mac unit sales (and 54 percent revenue growth) is bad news because they can’t grow any more because corporations still aren’t buying them in bulk.

The Mac has hit its glass ceiling. Apple investors may be hoping that the machine can make it out of the consumer market to keep the rapid growth going, but that is not in the cards.

Noted.

James Randi on Clarke, Kubrick, and Jobs 

Sure-fire DF material: James Randi talks about his friend Arthur C. Clarke, including an aside comparing Stanley Kubrick to Steve Jobs. (Thanks to Andy Herbert.)

iPhone SDK Beta 4 

The betas are coming quickly, and there are a bunch of improvements already over what was released initially last month. If you’re a registered ADC developer (which is free), you can see the release notes here.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple Finance Call 

Dan Moren and Jason Snell are providing live coverage of today’s financial results conference call.

Apple Reports Record Second Quarter Results: $1.05 Billion in Profit 

Highlights, with comparisons to the year-ago quarter:

  • $1.05 billion in profit, up from $770 million.
  • Just under 2.3 million Macs sold — representing 51 percent unit growth and 54 percent revenue growth.
  • 10.6 million iPods sold, up 1 percent (but 6 percent revenue-wise).
  • 1.7 million iPhones sold.
Coding Horror: ‘Behold WordPress, Destroyer of CPUs’ 

Jeff Atwood on the out-of-the-box performance of WordPress:

I’m not alone; just do a web search on WordPress CPU usage or WordPress Digg Effect and you’ll find page after page of horror stories, most (all?) of which are solved by the swift and judicious application of the WP-Cache plugins.

It’s not like this is a new issue. Personally, I think it’s absolutely irresponsible that WP-Cache like functionality isn’t already built into WordPress. I would not even consider deploying WordPress anywhere without it. And yet, according to a recent podcast, Matt Mullenweg dismisses it out of hand and hand-wavingly alludes to vague TechCrunch server reconfigurations.

It’s baffling that a default WordPress installation doesn’t offer any caching. Almost every time I knock a site offline by linking to it from DF, it’s a WordPress site without caching.

Negative Energy 

Web development expert Mike Arrington, last week on Twitter, regarding why he blocked someone from his feed for sending him a correction to something he posted on the supposedly-widely-read-but-doesn’t-actually-send-much-traffic-at-all-when-they-link-to-you TechCrunch:

I block when all they do is send negative energy my way. more details in my post. [Lowercase sic.]

Today on TechCrunch:

It doesn’t really matter if Twitter’s Chief Architect Blaine Cook was fired or resigned. The important thing is that he’s gone now, and this gives Twitter the opportunity to hire someone (or a team) who may actually be able to scale the nearly two year old service and keep it live.

P.A. Semi Chips Not Suited for iPhones and iPods? 

Beyond3D looks at the power consumption and concludes that Apple’s P.A. Semi acquisition has nothing to do with future (or at least not near-future) iPhones and iPods:

The company’s dual-core processor, which is manufactured on a 65nm process (likely at IBM), sports typical power consumption of 5 to 13W at 2GHz. Even if shrunk to 45nm, stripped of its second core, synthesized for a lower target frequency, and binned even more aggressively for power efficiency. It’d still be take substantially too much power for a mobile phone. The idle power consumption of 1W would also need to be reduced by more than two orders of magnitude.

Timeframe 

Very nicely-done open source calendar widget for web developers by Stephen Celis. Timeframe supports a very smooth click-and-drag method for selecting a range of dates — prepare to be impressed if you try the demo.

YouTube: ‘Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press’ 

Crackerjack hour-long BBC program on Gutenberg’s movable type printing press, hosted by Stephen Fry. Goes great with this aforelinked bookmarklet that lets you download higher-quality MP4 video files from YouTube. I moved those MP4s over to the old Apple TV and enjoyed the program as it was meant to be seen — ass on couch and beer in hand.

Update: A higher-quality version via BitTorrent at The Pirate Bay.

Apple Buys P.A. Semi, a CPU Design Company 

Forbes:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purposes and plans,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling. He declined to comment on the value of the deal, which a person familiar with the deal suggested was done for $278 million in cash.

They specialize in low-power high-performance processors — the sort of chips Apple might use in future iPhones and iPods. Interesting contrast with Sony’s purchase of Gracenote yesterday, which was for about the same amount of money.

Patriots Still Pursuing Perfection 

The Smoking Gun:

Three months after their bid for an undefeated season ended with a Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, the New England Patriots are continuing to pursue trademarks on the phrases “19-0” and “19-0 The Perfect Season”, records show.

Rivet Review 

Jared Kuolt’s glowing review of Rivet, Cynical Peak’s new $19 app that allows you to stream photos, music, and video from your Mac to your Xbox 360.

Sony to Buy Gracenote for $260 Million 

Gracenote owns the CDDB database iTunes uses to supply song and album names for CDs you rip. $260 million sounds like a lot to me, but at least now Sony can claim to have something to do, however tangential, with a popular portable digital music player.

Microsoft to Pull Plug on MSN Music DRM License Servers 

Existing DRM keys should continue to function, but you won’t be able to authorize new computers after August 31. Get a new PC after that, and it won’t be able to play your MSN Music. This is bad news for all seven of the people who bought songs from MSN Music.

Wired on The Big Word Project 

Wired does a short profile of Paddy Donnelly and Lee Munroe, the grad-student duo behind The Big Word Project.

Mac Clone Lust 

The Macalope, regarding ZDNet’s Jason Perlow’s statement that “it made absolutely no sense that Apple backed off from the prospect of cloned systems”:

And the Macalope has always said that the water fountains at ZDNet must be served with lead pipes.

Today 1.0 

New $15 utility by Justin Williams — it provides a nice little “here’s what’s going on today” view with your events and tasks from iCal.

Perhaps It Comes With a Free Kick in the Pants 

Here’s a PR from Ascender, announcing that they’re now selling Microsoft’s Vista ClearType fonts:

Ascender Corporation, a leading provider of advanced font products, today announced a compatibility solution for Mac OS X users looking for the Microsoft ClearType fonts that are included with Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac software products. Office 2008 for Mac includes 24 fonts that were first introduced in Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.

Ascender’s font bundle costs $299, but the home edition of Office for Mac 2008 — which Ascender itself points out comes with these same fontscosts just $130. Am I missing something, or is this just nutty?

Update: So the font bundle from Ascender is licensed for up to five users, whereas a single Home and Student license for Office is intended for one user. So I guess it’s not that nutty. Update 2: Several readers note that the Home and Student license for Office is for up to three computers. So it is nutty.

(Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Asus Eee 900 Battery Shenanigans 

Mark Wilson reports at Gizmodo that review units of the Eee 900 had higher-capacity batteries than the ones actually being shipped to customers. Bizarre.

David Weiss: ‘Metacognitive Miscalibration’ 

Thoughtful essay by David Weiss on, among other things, the desire to learn:

Another reason why some can feel “informed” when in fact they are not is that they have lost the hunger to learn. They’ve lost the desire to learn and grow. René Descartes said it this way: “Good sense is the most equitably distributed of all things because no matter how much or little a person has, everyone feels so abundantly provided with good sense that he feels no desire for more than he already possesses.

Philip Greenspun on the Problems With Tying Executive Compensation to Bogus Metrics 

Philip Greenspun:

Oftentimes the debacle on Wall Street is painted as too complex even for the executives involved to understand.  Merrill’s near collapse was easy to understand, though.  They bought mortgages that nobody else wanted and repackaged them into securities that they couldn’t sell.  They had a couple of huge warning flags.  AIG stopped insuring these securities against default in 2005; when one of the world’s largest insurance companies says that these things are too risky for it to insure at any price, you’d think that anyone holding $32 billion of such items would take notice. 

Half-Off Sale on Take Control E-Books 

Adam and Tonya Engst:

To celebrate our 18th consecutive year of award-winning Apple and Macintosh coverage in TidBITS, we’re offering all our ebooks at 50% off through April 29th.

The offer includes books from Macworld, too, including the new Mac OS X Hints Superguide, which is chock full of hints and details on Leopard.

Asus Eee PC 900 Battery Life 

It’s a bit more expensive than its bestselling predecessor, but the screen is bigger and they’ve made improvements to the trackpad and other hardware. But battery life seems horrid:

In our own DivX movie playback test, it ran for 1 hour 29 minutes, which was just about long enough for us to enjoy a feature-length movie or a couple episodes of our favourite TV show.

89 minutes doesn’t cover many of the feature films I see.

McCain’s Optimum Look 

The New York Times’s Steven Heller talks to graphic designers and critics about John McCain’s use of Optima for his campaign’s identity. (I see he didn’t talk to Jonathan Hoefler.)

Paul Graham: ‘Be Good’ 

Paul Graham:

If you start from successful startups, you find they often behaved like nonprofits. And if you start from ideas for nonprofits, you find they’d often make good startups.

His argument, more or less, is that if you use “do what’s best for the users” as your rule of thumb for any decision, you’re more likely to grow into a successful business. He even makes the case that this was true for Microsoft during their years of phenomenal growth.

Ryan Singel, reporting for Wired News:

Seeking to make money from mistyped website names, some of the United States’ largest ISPs instead created a massive security hole that allowed hackers to use web addresses owned by eBay, PayPal, Google and Yahoo, and virtually any other large site.

(Thanks to Chris Pepper.)

More on Localized Folder Names 

Jory K. Prum, on the confusion resulting from localized folder names in Mac OS X:

Can I create a directory named “Desktop” in ~ when the Desktop folder is called “Skrivebord”? Can I create a “Skrivebord” directory when there’s already one in the home directory?

The answer is simple and the results just add to the confusion of the clusterfuck: I cannot create a folder called “Desktop” in ~ even when the localized one is called something else, as I am told by the Finder (in Norwegian, in this case) that there is already a folder with the same name! Of course, the user cannot see this folder name being used, so there’s a great source of confusion.

But it gets better! I can create a directory called “Skrivebord”, which leaves me with TWO directories of the same name within the same folder.

Bill Clinton’s 2004 Advice on Deciding Whom to Vote For 

I’ll be taking his advice to heart when I vote in the Democratic primary here tomorrow.

A Secret to Making Money Online 

David Heinemeier Hansson’s talk at Startup School a few days ago. Chock full of common sense, or as he describes his advice, “Not rocket surgery”.

AndroidGuys on Google’s Laissez-Faire Development Model 

Jamie Hunter, at AndroidGuys:

How can Google and the Open Handset Alliance avoid this pitfall? Easy. Form an OHA quality control board that approves software applications for the Android platform. They would be responsible for testing applications before they are released to the Android public, but unlike Apple’s process developers would voluntarily submit each individual application to the board for approval. This would give consumers peace of mind when choosing whether or not to try a particular application. If it doesn’t have the board’s seal of approval they could still download and install it catering to the open source community, while developers and publishers could use this seal as a selling point on their websites or other points of distribution.

What’s most interesting about the coming iPhone/Android rivalry is that Apple and Google are taking completely opposite approaches to the issue of openness. Still though, the first test Android-based phones have to pass is whether they’re any good technically.

Silverlight Catching Up to Flash in at Least One Regard 

Brent Simmons, regarding the fact that Flash sometimes causes apps with WebKit views to crash:

I’ve said it before — one of my favorite things about the iPhone is no Flash. I will now add and no SilverlightPlugin.

JetBlue’s Twitter Account 

A nice contrast to Comcast’s Twitter presence, JetBlue’s comes across as natural and human.

Free Your Mind 

Steven Poole, on the results of making a PDF version of a previously-published book available as a free download:

If the breathless advocates of “the free distribution of ideas” are serious, they need either a) to come up with a realistic proposal as to how I am to keep feeding myself while giving the fruits of my labours away for free; or b) come out and say honestly that they don’t think any such thing as a “professional writer” ought to exist, and that I should just get a job like anyone else. In a way, I’d respect people who came out and said the second thing. What I don’t respect is people who can’t see that those are the choices.

My Perception Is That Comcast Stinks 

Charles Miller on Comcast’s stilted Twitter presence:

Joining in the online conversation is a great way to connect to your customers. But only if you’re prepared to be human and honest.

Clusterflock Interviews With Jason Kottke 

Astute observation from Kottke:

Other times, it’s not so fun running a visible site. Some people are determined to deliberately misunderstand much of what they encounter in life. Sometimes I have a hard time realizing that that’s their problem, not mine.

‘Just a Feed That Works Will Do Nicely’ 

Dean Allen on the nutty practice of offering the same content in two (or three!) different RSS/Atom XML formats. I’ve never understood this — why should would-be subscribers to a feed be forced to choose a specific XML format? It’d be like asking web site visitors what flavor of HTML they wanted: “No XHTML 1.0 Strict for me. HTML 4.01 Transitional, please.”

Steven Frank Reviews the Axiotron ModBook 

Steven Frank on using Inkwell with the ModBook:

The recognition engine, based presumably on the print recognizer from NewtonOS 2.0 is quite good, but a bit behind the state of the art. It works best with long strides of dictionary words, and struggles with shorter words and shorthand. I never thought I’d say anything good about Windows Vista, but Vista’s handwriting recognition is much more adroit.

Freakonomics Interview With Poker Pro Phil Gordon 

Phil Gordon:

In fact I’ve never had a losing year as a pro. I practice very sound bankroll management principles, and I think my game selection skills are just about as good as anyone in the game. If there aren’t a few guys that are just giving their money away, I don’t play.

Point 

Asa Dotzler (who works for Mozilla Corporation):

This is a good first step. Now Apple needs to stop checking the box for “New Software” items by default.

Counterpoint 

Darby Lines:

Apparently Apple needs to also not check the box to install Safari by default. Again, the take home message here is that Windows users are so fucking confused by a checkbox that they can’t be trusted with the horrible responsibility of installing a browser.

Apple Software Update for Windows Now Separates New Apps From Upgrades 

Good move by Apple: Software Update for Windows now does the right thing, displaying separate lists for upgraded versions of already-installed software and new software that you’d be installing for the first time.

BusySync 2.0 

Fantastic calendar-sharing utility for iCal — BusySync lets you share read/write calendars with other iCal users with no server. Version 2.0 introduces the ability to sync with Google Calendar. Highly recommended.

Qwitter 

My thanks to Tobacco Free Florida for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Qwitter. Qwitter is a simple social app built on Twitter, designed to help anyone trying to quit smoking. You send tweets to @iquit and Qwitter tracks and graphs your progress. Neat idea.

iPhone JavaScript Character Counts 

After reading my indictment of the text editing fields in the current crop of web-based iPhone Twitter clients (slow typing performance and inaccurate character counts after deleting), Andrew Hedges wrote four different implementations:

Now, I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have the SDK. Typing with a mouse in the iPhone simulator, I found the interval pattern to be the most responsive. Of the 4 techniques, only the instant updating one failed to provide an accurate count (it was always one key press behind). I’m interested to hear from users of actual iPhones which they think is best (most responsive and most accurate) when using the on-screen keyboard.

After trying them on my iPhone, I’d describe his four implementations as poor, best, OK, and good (respectively). Except for the first (poor) one, the character counts are always accurate, and the typing speed is quite good. His “interval” method, in addition to feeling the fastest, has the added advantage of keeping an accurate character count while you hold down the delete key. Twitter web client developers, take note.

What’s in a Mac Clone? 

Rob Griffiths:

I don’t want or need a machine with a built-in monitor, I don’t need the power of an eight-core Mac Pro, but I’d like my Mac to be faster and more expandable than a Mini. […] Tired of waiting and hoping for the Mac of my dreams to appear, I decided to take the technology into my own hands and build it myself. And thus began my experiment to assemble my very own OS X-running machine.

Milliways: Infocom’s Unreleased Sequel to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 

Andy Baio hit the jackpot:

From an anonymous source close to the company, I’ve found myself in possession of the “Infocom Drive” — a complete backup of Infocom’s shared network drive from 1989. This is one of the most amazing archives I’ve ever seen, a treasure chest documenting the rise and fall of the legendary interactive fiction game company. Among the assets included: design documents, private emails, employee phone numbers, sales figures, internal meeting notes, corporate newsletters, and the source code and game files for every released and unreleased game Infocom made.

Andy’s hosting two playable prototypes — playable I say — of Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the unreleased sequel to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re in your 30s (or older), you’ll be amazed at the game. If you’re in your 20s (or younger), you’ll be amazed that this is what computer games used to look like.

‘THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO DO IT REPEAT NO OTHER WAY’ 

Storyboard of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, with detailed notes from The Man himself.

Update: Here’s how the shot turned out in the actual film.

Nick Poteri has photos of a few other nifty items from the Kubrick Archives, too, including typewritten sheets from Jack’s “novel”. (Via Jim Coudal, of course, who’s doing a Kubrick day over at Coudal.com.)

Camino 1.6 

Lots of UI improvements, but still no draggable tabs, which knocks it out of the running for me.

PayPal Plans to Ban Browsers Which Lack Anti-Phishing Features 

Ryan Naraine, reporting for eWeek:

PayPal, one of the brands most spoofed in phishing attacks, is working on a plan to block its users from making transactions from Web browsers that don’t provide anti-phishing protection. […] “In our view, letting users view the PayPal site on one of these browsers is equal to a car manufacturer allowing drivers to buy one of their vehicles without seat belts,” said PayPal Chief Information Security Officer Michael Barrett.

Current versions of Safari lack the anti-phishing features PayPal plans to require.

Two Secrets of Mac App Design 

Brent Simmons, sweating the details.

Vistarolling 

Faruk Ates has a sick mind.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World 

Great idea for a book. Currently at #64 in Amazon’s bestsellers list.

‘Rockin’ Our Sales’ 

This embarrassingly bad internal Microsoft video extolling the virtues of Vista in the enterprise has been linked all over the place today. If you haven’t bitten the bullet and watched it yet, you should. It epitomizes Microsoft’s culture and institutional bad taste.

Flickr Code 

“Your one-stop shop for information, gossip and discussion with the Flickr developer community.”

Safari 3.1.1 

Security-fix update for Safari, including a fix for Charlie Miller’s contest-winning exploit from CanSecWest.

Update: It also fixes the WebKit-related Apple Mail attribution-line glitch I complained about after Safari 3.1.0 shipped.

Good Mood 

John August on the subjunctive mood.

‘Whaling’ 

John Markoff reports for The New York Times on “whaling”, phishing scams aimed not at the masses but rather at the rich and powerful:

Thousands of high-ranking executives across the country have been receiving e-mail messages this week that appear to be official subpoenas from the United States District Court in San Diego. Each message includes the executive’s name, company and phone number, and commands the recipient to appear before a grand jury in a civil case.

A link embedded in the message purports to offer a copy of the entire subpoena. But a recipient who tries to view the document unwittingly downloads and installs software that secretly records keystrokes and sends the data to a remote computer over the Internet. This lets the criminals capture passwords and other personal or corporate information.

Blue Jeans Cable CEO Responds to Legal Threat From Monster Cable 

Hilarious response to an apparently bogus big-company-stomping-on-little-company cease and desist:

Dear Monster Lawyers,

Let me begin by stating, without equivocation, that I have no interest whatsoever in infringing upon any intellectual property belonging to Monster Cable. Indeed, the less my customers think my products resemble Monster’s, in form or in function, the better.[…]

It looks like when you sent this letter, you were operating on the premise that I am not smart enough to see through your deceptions or sophisticated enough to intelligently evaluate your claims; shame on you. You are required, as a matter of legal ethics, to display good faith and professional candor in your dealings with adverse parties, and you have fallen miserably short of your ethical responsibilities.

Via Metafilter, where plenty of commenters attest to the quality of Blue Jeans’s products.

Port Map and TCMPortMapper 

New from TheCodingMonkeys: (1) TCMPortMapper, MIT-licensed Cocoa code for adding port-mapping functionality; and (2) Port Map, a new freeware (and open source) application written as a demo for TCMPortMapper, but useful for users who want to poke holes in their router to allow connections to their Macs from outside their home network.

Via Brent Simmons, who notes Port Map’s use of iPhone-style On/Off sliders. Port Map’s is not a good implementation of this control, though: on the iPhone you can either tap it or slide the button to toggle it. The same goes for the Mac implementation of this control in Apple’s Time Machine panel in System Prefs. TheCodingMonkeys’ version only supports clicking, not sliding.

Dan Moren Tries Fring 

Dan Moren, on the audio quality of calls placed through Fring on an iPhone:

For my part, it was a lot like talking to astronauts on the space station: I would hear Cyrus coming through fine, but when I spoke to him, there were several seconds of delay before he would respond. On Cyrus’s end, it was even worse: he only got about half of what I was saying, and the sound was exceedingly choppy.

How Logitech Control Center Breaks Growl 

Cogent explanation from developer Peter Hosey on how Logitech Control Center — ostensibly a mouse driver but implemented as an input manager hack — breaks Growl. Older versions of Logitech Control Center, you may recall, used Unsanity’s Application Enhancer (a.k.a. APE) and rendered Macs upgraded to Leopard unbootable. Switching from APE to an input manager doesn’t make it any less of a hack. Seems like something for the “Do Not Install” list.

So Exactly Who or What Is Psystar? 

Charles Arthur does some digging on Miami-based would-be Mac-cloner Psystar:

And then we thought we’d look closer at the location they’re in. And that’s where things got really strange.

The address had changed completely.

‘Absolutely Clear’, Eh? 

Here’s a fun quote from Rob Glaser from the November 2003 New York Times Magazine feature on the iPod:

But while you can run iTunes on Windows and hook it up to an iPod, that iPod does not play songs in the formats used by any other seller of digital music, like Napster or Rhapsody. Nor will music bought through Apple’s store play on any rival device. (The iPod does, of course, work easily with the MP3 format that’s common on free file-swapping services, like KaZaA, that the music industry wants to shut down but that are still much more popular than anything requiring money.) This means Apple is, again, competing against a huge number of players across multiple business segments, who by and large will support one another’s products and services. In light of this, says one of those competitors, Rob Glaser, founder and C.E.O. of RealNetworks, “It’s absolutely clear now why five years from now, Apple will have 3 to 5 percent of the player market.”

I suppose a lot can happen between now and November.

Fring — VOIP for Jailbroken iPhones 

Skype-like instant messaging and VOIP for the iPhone:

Fring up your iPhone with this pre-release, development version and discover the freedom of taking all of your Fring, Skype, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Twitter, Yahoo! and AIM buddies mobile on your iPhone, allowing you to make free calls over Wi-Fi and enjoy rich, IM-style chat with them using internet connection.

Interesting to see continued innovation in the jailbreak space. I’ll bet there are a bunch of competing projects underway for the official SDK. As far as I can tell, Fring doesn’t work over EDGE. EDGE seems so slow, and has such high latency, that perhaps usable VOIP-over-EDGE just isn’t feasible. (Via Andy Baio.)

Interarchy 9.0.1 

A bunch of small-detail new features and bug fixes to Nolobe’s excellent file transfer utility. One nice touch is that Interarchy once again supports spatial navigation in addition to its (default) browser-style UI — too complicated a subject to get into here, but suffice it to say John Siracusa and I are greatly appreciative of Matthew Drayton’s efforts in this regard.

Summize Realtime Twitter Search 

Nice, fast live Twitter search.

WebKit Now Supports CSS Gradients 

Just me, or is WebKit racing way ahead of Gecko in terms of support for cool new stuff?

Jim Dalrymple on Stan Flack 

Jim Dalrymple, who worked with Flack on the original MacCentral:

I remember Stan walking into my house and saying it was time to take MacCentral to the next level. “We are going to start publishing daily,” he said. He must have known by the dumbfounded look on my face that I wasn’t sure about the idea, but as he explained it, it all started to make sense.

Andy Baio: Google App Engine Ported to Amazon’s EC2 

So much for the lock-in argument.

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files 

Useful bookmarklet for extracting downloadable (and higher-quality) MP4 videos from YouTube.

Matt Mullenweg on WordPress and Security 

The most important thing to do security-wise if you’re running WordPress is to stay up-to-date with the latest versions.

Stan Flack, a Pioneer of Online Mac Journalism, Has Died 

Flack founded MacCentral (which he later sold to Mac Publishing, and which was eventually folded into Macworld.com) and MacMinute.

The Rather Difficult Font Game 

I’m embarrassed to say I only scored a 32/34.

OpenMac 

Some company is — or at least was — selling white-box PCs with hacked versions of Leopard, under the name “OpenMac”. Love this section from their FAQ:

Can I run updates on my OpenMac?

The answer is yes and no. No because there are some updates that are decidedly non-safe. Yes because most updates are not non-safe. It’s best to check on InsanelyMac for this information but when in doubt don’t update it. You may have to reinstall your OS X if it is a non-safe update.

“Not non-safe” — that’s good.

Swiss Interface Syndrome 

Sebastiaan de With on the garish practice of mixing Helvetica with Lucida Grande in Mac UI design.

James Cameron Supercharges 3-D 

Terrific, extensive, technical interview with James Cameron on the state and future of 3-D filmmaking:

For three-fourths of a century of 2-D cinema, we have grown accustomed to the strobing effect produced by the 24 frame per second display rate. When we see the same thing in 3-D, it stands out more, not because it is intrinsically worse, but because all other things have gotten better. Suddenly the image looks so real it’s like you’re standing there in the room with the characters, but when the camera pans, there is this strange motion artifact. It’s like you never saw it before, when in fact it’s been hiding in plain sight the whole time. […]

[P]eople have been asking the wrong question for years. They have been so focused on resolution, and counting pixels and lines, that they have forgotten about frame rate. Perceived resolution = pixels × replacement rate. A 2K image at 48 frames per second looks as sharp as a 4K image at 24 frames per second … with one fundamental difference: the 4K/24 image will judder miserably during a panning shot, and the 2K/48 won’t. Higher pixel counts only preserve motion artifacts like strobing with greater fidelity. They don’t solve them at all.

(Via John August.)

‘There Will Be Blood’ Two-Disc Special Edition 

Simply the best new movie I’ve seen in years. You can also save a few bucks and get the Cheapskate Edition instead.

One of Hitchcock’s gifts to cinema was the insight that the key to building suspense is to let the audience know something the characters do not. With its title alone, There Will Be Blood accomplishes this before the film even starts. There’s an ominous dread hanging over even seemingly innocuous scenes that wouldn’t be there if the film were titled, say, Oil! (which was the name of the Upton Sinclair novel from which it was loosely adapted by Paul Thomas Anderson).

iPhone Headphone Adapter Roundup 

Dan Frakes surveys the field of adaptors that let you use headphones with standard-size jacks with an iPhone.

The Macalope: ‘The Problem With Windows’ 

The Macalope has some fun with Gartner’s recent analysis that the growing complexity of Windows is causing Microsoft’s Windows business to suffer.

Drobo 

My thanks to Data Robotics for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They bill Drobo as “the most advanced storage device known to man or robot-kind” — at least from a consumer perspective, that’s exactly right. It’s a USB 2 device that is expandable with up to four hard drive bays; you just stick drives in the bays and the Drobo handles the rest. Data gets replicated across physical drives. In short, Drobo offers affordable, reliable, expandable storage and is incredibly easy to use and understand.

For more info, check out Macworld’s 4.5-mouse review and Andy Ihnatko’s review for the Chicago Sun-Times. Use the coupon code “FIREBALL” and save $50.

Defective Yeti: The ‘Lost’ Script Style 

Matthew Baldwin on the profanity-laden scripts for “Lost”:

J.J. Abrams (the series creator) established this style in the pilot with phrases like “HE SCREAMS BLOODYFUCKINGMURDER” and “this guy is a Class-A prickfuck” (wha-?!). Since then it appears to have become part of the show’s template. Most Lost scripts read as if the writer has just hit his thumb with a hammer.

See also: Baldwin’s The Perverse Appeal of Lost.

Safari 3.1 Bookmark Syncing Bug on Mac OS X 10.5.2 

I realized earlier today that my bookmarks had stopped synching between Safari and my iPhone — changes on either side didn’t get to the other. Nothing I tried in iTunes worked. This KBase entry has the solution: nuke the “RegisteredSafariSyncClient” preference in Safari using the defaults command.

Lightroom 1.4.1 

Fixes some serious bugs in the 1.4.0 update, which Adobe pulled a few weeks ago.

Google App Engine for Developers 

Good overview of Google App Engine from Niall Kennedy.

Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries 

Jeff Atwood on the state of rechargeable batteries, including the key insight that raw capacity isn’t the most important factor:

For one thing, there’s the issue of discharge rate. It turns out that massive 2500mAh capacity of the Energizer rechargeable battery doesn’t mean much when the battery drains itself within a month.

I asked on the Twitter, and many people are recommending Sanyo Eneloops.

Twitter Profile Page Ideas 

Clever suggestions from Merlin Mann.

New Project Switcher in Basecamp 

Nice video showing how 37signals sweats the details.

Good Spaces Tip 

Good tip from Nat Irons: Shift-drag a window in Spaces mode to consolidate all windows from that app in one space.

Bill Buckner’s Fenway Park Comeback 

Classiest thing the Red Sox have ever done.

Pierre Igot on Safari Tab Dragging 

Would have saved me some typing if I’d seen this before.

DF RSS Feed Sponsorship 

Only two weeks left through June.

Renderance 

Here’s a surprising advantage for Firefox 3 over Safari 3: typographic niceties like kerning and specifying font weights in CSS.

Measuring the Color of Light 

James Duncan Davidson explains that whole “color temperature” thing.

Harper’s: ‘Worst. President. Ever.’ 

Results of a George Mason University survey of historians:

96 percent of the respondents place the Bush presidency in the bottom tier of American presidencies. And was his presidency (it’s a bit wishful to speak of his presidency in the past tense — after all there are several more months left to go) a success or failure? On that score the numbers are still more resounding: 98 percent label it a “failure.”

(Via Kottke.)

Waxy.org Redesigns 

Nice work from my friend Andy Baio — a ground-up redesign that looks and feels just right.

Notes on Note-Keeping Software 

Khoi Vinh is digging Yojimbo. Smart man.

TechCrunch on L’Affaire HuddleChat 

Mike Arrington claims not to see the problem with HuddleChat, and a slew of commenters at TechCrunch are with him, more or less arguing that it’s ridiculous to claim that 37signals somehow owns the concept of web-based group chat. Which is stupid, because no one made that argument. (Does Artie MacStrawman have a web-app cousin?)

Consider, say, Movable Type and WordPress. WordPress came along with a free (beer and freedom) package that does the same basic thing as Movable Type and took a big chunk of the market away. But I’ve never seen anyone call WordPress a rip-off or clone of Movable Type. Why? Because it isn’t. It’s an original implementation of the same basic idea. A new implementation of the same concept is competition; a clone of an existing implementation is a rip-off.

Also, Arrington writes:

And why, since HuddleChat is not an official Google product, was it Google that made the decision to pull it down and not the developers who created it? Google was very careful to say that they were not affiliated with HuddleChat while it was up — that, apparently, wasn’t the case.

Arrington, who’s an attorney, ought to know better. Under California law, Google owns the rights to any product created by Google employees. It may well be that HuddleChat went live without approval from anyone high up on the org chart, but it was most definitely a Google-owned product.

Google Takes HuddleChat Down 

Pete Koomen, a Google product manager for the Google App Engine team, in a comment at ReadWriteWeb on a post about the HuddleChat/Campfire controversy:

A couple of our colleagues here built HuddleChat in their spare time because they wanted to share work within their team more easily and thought persistent web chat would do the trick. We’ve heard some complaints from the developer community, though, so rather than divert attention from Google App Engine itself, we thought it better to just take HuddleChat down.

Good for them. It really was beneath them, and it was clearly distracting from the otherwise effusive coverage surrounding Google App Engine.

‘Or a Snake’ 

Flickr’s new video feature seems to be live. I got to beta test it for a bit, and it’s pretty sweet. I’m sure The Internet is going to complain loudly about the 90-second limit, but to me, it’s analogous to Twitter’s 140-character limit: a constraint that enforces brevity and encourages creativity.

Anyway, one from me, co-directed by my son.

Video on Flickr? 

If Mike Arrington keeps up this hard work, he’s going to pack on another 30 pounds.

Regarding Walt Mossberg’s ‘3G iPhone in 60 Days’ Comment 

I have no idea why so many Mac and gadget writers jumped all over Mossberg’s off-hand prediction that Apple is set to release a 3G iPhone in the next 60 days. I guess the idea is that Mossberg is so juiced in that he knows deep, dark Apple secrets. Guess what, when he does know a secret from Apple, he’s under NDA.

Mossberg’s the same guy who claimed in July last year that Apple would release an iPhone update with Flash support “within the next couple of months”.

Update: Regarding my “I have no idea why…” question, reader S. Ben Melhuish writes: “This one’s easy — it’s because so many Mac and gadget writers want it to be true.” That sounds about right.

The Browser Bunch 

Joe Kissell looks at ten modern Mac web browsers for Macworld.

iCal Events 2.3 

Free Dashboard widget by Ben Kazez, shows you a list of events from iCal for the next few days (as opposed to Leopard’s default iCal widget, which only shows events from today).

The Baffling Thing About HuddleChat 

Kevin Heisler at Search Engine Watch:

The success of Google App Engine depends on developer trust in Google.

So it would seem either Salar Kamangar, Vice President, Product Management had no clue HuddleChat was an “Attack of the Clones” app or he gave the greenlight for a product launch knowing many in the developer community would likely view Google App Engine as a Xerox machine for copycat product developers.

That’s really the baffling thing about HuddleChat. Even if you think it’s OK to copy someone else’s application feature-for-feature, the big fear for developers with something like Google App Engine is that you’re trusting Google with all of your source code. Why should small indie web developers trust Google when the first example app is a Google rip-off of a small indie web app?

It’s not just that someone used Google App Engine to clone Campfire — it’s that Google did it. And you can’t argue that HuddleChat isn’t a Google product: it was developed and “designed” by Google employees, using proprietary Google technology, and is hosted on Google servers. Whatever Google employees develop is owned by Google.

Keyboard Maestro 3.0 

Major update to one of my very favorite Mac utilities, by Peter N Lewis and Stairways Software. Among other features, Keyboard Maestro lets you record macros — sequences of key presses, mouse clicks, etc. — and then invoke them with hotkey shortcuts. It’s also a terrific scripting utility. The change list for version 3.0 is long, but my favorite aspects are the re-organized user interface (simpler by far) and improved scripting support (including support for Unix shell scripts). Keyboard Maestro also now has its own built-in web server, which allows you to execute Keyboard Maestro macros on your Mac remotely.

The whole thing is exquisitely documented, and introductory examples abound. Upgrades from version 2 cost $18, and new licenses cost $36 — but DF readers can save 25 percent ($9 on new licenses) through the end of April using coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL2”.

iPhone OS 2.0 Developer Beta Expired 

Judging by the number of emails I’ve gotten from iPhone developers today, this problem is rampant. Update: Looks like a new beta went out this morning, but many (most?) developers don’t have access to it yet.

Techmeme Coverage of Google App Engine 

If you’re looking for comprehensive coverage of Google App Engine, there’s no better place to start.

Kansas Wins NCAA Championship 

Congratulations to the Kansas Jayhawks — nine points down with just minutes to play, they sent the game to overtime and went on to win the championship. I can’t recall a bigger meltdown from the free-throw line than Memphis’s. Great game.

HuddleChat 

Looking through the “gallery” of demo apps built with Google App Engine, the only one that seems more than half-baked is HuddleChat, written by Google employees Darren Delaye, Braden Kowitz, and Kyle Consalus. But HuddleChat is just a feature-for-feature clone of 37signals’s Campfire. The layout is the same, the tabs at the top of the screen are the same, the right-side sidebar listing participants and file uploads is the same. It even copies Campfire’s trick of formatting a message as “code” if it contains literal newline characters.

Borrowing ideas is fair game, but copying an entire app is wrong. And it’s creepy, in a Microsoft-of-the-’90s way, when it’s a $150 billion company cloning an app from a 10-person company.

Google App Engine 

New web app platform from Google: “Google App Engine enables you to build web applications on the same scalable systems that power Google applications.” In part this is a competitor to Amazon services like S3 and SimpleDB, but at first glance it seems more cohesive and more focused — Google is offering to host your entire web app, not just the storage. It lets you use Google Checkout for commerce and Google Accounts for user accounts.

“Additional runtime environments and languages may be supported in the future”, but for now it’s entirely Python-based, and includes support for Django. The “SDK” is a Python staging server that you can run on Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux. Google App Engine is currently in “preview release” and new sign-ups are limited, but when it ships it’s going to offer fairly generous limits for free accounts. A new app shouldn’t cost a penny to host until it’s somewhat popular.

Technorati to Stop Indexing Vulnerable WordPress Weblogs 

Versions of WordPress older than version 2.3.3 are vulnerable to exploits that spammers have used to insert hidden ads.

How to Disable Firefox 3’s ‘Single-Click Selects All’ Location Field Behavior 

Joachim Bengtsson has the scoop on the hidden “about:config” preference that turns this feature off. This is one of the UI niggles I complained about in my Firefox/Safari comparison.

The HIG Is Still Good 

Duncan Wilcox:

The HIG is still good. In fact the first fifth of it is pure gold, still 100% current and relevant.

Where by Cutting, They Mean ‘Increasing’ 

From an entry titled “Apple Cuts Expected Flash Memory Spending by $200M”, CNet’s Tom Krazit reports:

In February, iSuppli reported that Apple was slashing its orders of flash memory amid a weakening economy, but iSuppli wasn’t sure exactly how far the cuts would go. After crunching the numbers, iSuppli now expects Apple to spend $1.4 billion on flash this year for iPods and iPhones, up 12 percent from $1.2 billion last year. But the analyst firm, and the flash memory industry, had been expecting much more purchasing out of Apple, at least $1.6 billion.

And:

Plunging flash memory prices are expected to dent Intel’s first quarter, among other companies likely to be affected.

So, component prices for flash memory are “plunging” and Apple is still spending 12 percent more on flash memory than last year, and yet this somehow constitutes a “cut” because the increase is less than the number iSuppli — whose track record regarding Apple component analysis wavers between “wrong” and “really wrong” — simply made up out of thin air a few weeks ago. iSuppli’s original report in February claimed Apple was outright cutting flash memory orders — not just spending — year over year.

Krazit and CNet should know better than this. When has iSuppli ever reported something interesting about Apple that turned out to be true?

Apple Says Web Designers Can Post ‘Any Font’ for Use With Safari 

Typophile thread regarding Apple’s claim on the Safari web page that, with WebKit’s new support for embedded fonts, “designers can go beyond web-safe fonts and use any font they want to create stunning new websites”. The problem with this language is that while technically it’s possible, legally designers are only permitted to embed fonts which allow such use — and most commercial fonts are not licensed for such use.

TidBITS: Apple Does Not Support Time Machine via AirPort Extreme Drives 

Glenn Fleishman:

Apple confirmed for me last week that a feature for using hard drives attached via USB to an AirPort Extreme Base Station is an unsupported feature. The company declined to provide further information.

You Look Nice Today: A Journal of Emotional Hygiene 

Funny new podcast by Adam Lisagor, “Merlin” Mann, and Scott Simpson. Reminds me of “Three’s Company”, but without any chicks or the nosy landlord.

Marc Andreessen on the NYT’s ‘Blogging Will Kill You’ Story 

There’s nothing to say about such a goofy, insipid article other than to mock it. My grandfather was a coal miner. That was a hard, stressful, dangerous job.

Microsoft Sends Letter to Yahoo Board of Directors 

This is the white collar equivalent of Steve Ballmer showing up at Yahoo’s door with a baseball bat in his hand.

The Social Economics of Twitter 

Mikey-San:

As I see it, the monetary ebb and flow of a social networking site can be described, in an absurdly non-useful sense, by the ratio of nodes to which you’re linked in either direction.

Google to Launch BigTable as Web Service? 

Mark Hendrickson at TechCrunch:

Google may be releasing BigTable, its internal database system, as a web service to compete with Amazon SimpleDB, according to a source with knowledge of the launch.

Throwing Bones in the Air as ‘2001’ Turns 40 

On the 40th anniversary of its release, Ray Pride looks back at the initial critical response to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

My favorite story about the premiere is from Roger Ebert, who reported that Rock Hudson angrily left the theater asking, “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?”

FontStruct 

Speaking of FontShop, they’ve released a nifty web-based (Flash) font design app called FontStruct. Fun, but I’m not sure how useful it is. Would have been huge back when pixel fonts were all the rage.

Figuring It Out 

FontShop’s Ivo Gabrowitsch on the difference between old-style/lining and tabular/proportional typographic figures, and when to use which. (Via Cameron Moll.)

Alright 

Dean Allen’s Textism — which, if you ask me right now I’d say is the finest weblog ever written in the (admittedly brief) history of this whole racket — is, it seems, back. Huzzah.

Moneydance 

My thanks to Moneydance for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Moneydance is a personal finance app that helps you track things like banking, budgeting, bill paying, and investments. There are versions available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and there’s a developer API that lets plugins be written in Python.

There’s a free demo version, and DF readers can save $10 off the regular $40 price with the coupon “DF08”.

Toggle Dock Zooming On-the-Fly 

Cool tip from Daniel Sandler: just hold down Control-Shift while mousing over the Dock. I did not know that.

Larry Lessig: How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law 

Inspiring talk by Larry Lessig at TED, on the futility, absurdity, and corrosive effect of modern copyright law.

The Talk Show, Episode 19 

With our special guest, the one and only Andy Ihnatko.

xScope 2.1 

Nice update to The Iconfactory and Artis Software’s nifty $27 pixel-level detail inspector for web and UI designers.

BBC News: Daily Caffeine ‘Protects Brain’ 

From the department of things I link to because I really hope they’re true.

Get Helvetica Off Our Money 

When I commented on the ugly new U.S. five dollar bill the other day, several readers wrote in to argue that the bill should not be criticized, because some of the changes which have made it uglier were made for the benefit of people with low vision. That’s bullshit. Accessibility is an important and worthy goal, but it is not at odds with good design. We should settle for nothing less than beautiful and accessible currency. This isn’t it.

Nicholas Carr on Dell Three Years Ago 

Prescient essay by Nicholas Carr three years ago, predicting the problems that have plagued Dell since:

[Then-CEO Kevin] Rollins dismissed Apple’s mega-selling iPod as a “fad,” calling it a “one-product wonder,” and he pooh-poohed the eye-catching Mac mini as inconsequential. Rollins’s comments are more than uncharacteristic. They’re troubling — and not just for their snippiness. They raise real questions about how well Dell understands the home market.

Via Jim Kerstetter.

Regarding 64-Bit Windows Market Share 

Regarding my question about how many Windows users are using the 64-bit version of the OS (which requires entirely different drivers and apps), John Nack has some data from Adobe:

By the way, in the spirit of sharing info where public, I’ll note that we surveyed 1,600 Photoshop customers last summer and found that roughly 4% were using a 64-bit version of Windows.

As he points out, though, there’s a chicken-and-egg problem — surely that number will go up after Adobe ships the 64-bit version of Photoshop, because it’ll be a compelling reason to switch to the 64-bit version of Windows.

Why I Think Apple Is Making a Nice Profit From the iTunes Store 

Me, back in September (after the launch of the Amazon MP3 Store), on why I think Apple is making more money from the iTunes Store than many people think:

And, as if that weren’t enough, I suspect Apple makes a nice chunk of change on the other $.70 of each song sold. Assuming Apple issues payments to the record labels only periodically — weekly, monthly, quarterly — Apple gets to hold onto that money in the interim, during which time they earn interest on it. It doesn’t require a high interest rate to make a lot of money on two billion dollars flowing through your hands.

In short, while Apple doesn’t earn much at all on the sale of a single song, they make up for it in volume.

iPhone Price Drop in Germany 

T-Mobile, the German iPhone carrier, has dropped the price on new 8 GB models to as low as €99 (about US$155, including taxes). Interesting, especially when combined with the reports that iPhones are in short supply at many Apple Stores. (Thanks to DF reader Sebastian Niesen.)

Apple: iTunes Store Top Music Retailer in the U.S. 

So does anyone still think the iTunes Store is just a loss leader for selling iPods?

Casio Exilim EX-F1 

David Pogue reviews the Casio Exilim EX-F1, a $1,000 camera that can shoot up to 60 still images per second, and up to 1,200 frames per second of video. Sounds like it’s not that great a camera overall, though.

On First Installing Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 6 

Jens Alfke on the experience of installing Photoshop Elements 6 on the Mac:

But not quite the installer; more like the warm-up act. It got me in the installin’ mood by asking me to give it root privileges, then launched some other process with an identical Dock icon, which put up a progress bar. An installer so slow, it has to put up a progress bar while it launches! Finally after about 15 seconds, both icons vanished from the Dock, and I started to get nervous. Had the installer crashed? No, after a few more seconds to build tension, the real installer came up.

Every other product team at Adobe needs to study and copy the Lightroom installer. It’s the only Adobe product with a nice installation experience I’ve seen since the ’90s.

Apple Passes Wal-Mart, Now Number-One Music Retailer in U.S. 

Sales numbers for January: Apple 19%, Wal-Mart 15%, Best Buy 13%, Amazon 6%.

On Twitter 

Tim Bray:

I think that with Twitter, something important is happening. But I’m having trouble figuring out what.

John Siracusa: ‘Rhapsody and Blues’ 

John Siracusa on Adobe’s “Photoshop CS4 will be 64-bit only for Windows” news:

Here are the two poles of this world of hurt:

Blame Apple: If Apple had not discontinued the 64-bit port of Carbon, Adobe could have shipped Photoshop CS4 as a 64-bit Mac OS X application as planned. At WWDC 2006, there were many sessions about developing 64-bit Carbon applications. At WWDC 2007, 64-bit Carbon was canceled. Adobe found this out the same time everyone else did, at WWDC. By canceling 64-bit Carbon so suddenly, Apple screwed Adobe.

Blame Adobe: The death of Carbon was inevitable. Adobe should have seen it coming and planned accordingly. It’s been clear for years that Cocoa offers many advantages to Mac application developers. Adobe should have started its Cocoa port of Photoshop years ago. By willfully ignoring Cocoa for so long, Adobe screwed Apple.

Adobe’s 64-Bit Roadmap 

Adobe’s John Nack:

The Lightroom news naturally raises the question: What’s Adobe doing with Photoshop? In the interest of giving customers guidance as early as possible, we have some news to share on this point: in addition to offering 32-bit-native versions for Mac OS X and 32-bit Windows, just as we do today, we plan to ship the next version of Photoshop as 64-bit-native for Windows 64-bit OSes only. […] (Our goal is to ship a 64-bit Mac version with Photoshop CS5, but we’ll be better able to assess that goal as we get farther along in the development process.)

What happened? In short, Apple cancelled 64-bit Carbon:

As we wrapped up Photoshop CS3, our plan was to ship 64-bit versions of the next version of Photoshop for both Mac and Windows.  On the Mac Photoshop (like the rest of the Creative Suite, not to mention applications like Apple’s Final Cut Pro and iTunes) relies on Apple’s Carbon technology. Apple’s OS team was busy enabling a 64-bit version of Carbon, a prerequisite for letting Carbon-based apps run 64-bit-native.

At the WWDC show last June, however, Adobe and other developers learned that Apple had decided to stop their Carbon 64 efforts. This means that 64-bit Mac apps need to be written to use Cocoa (as Lightroom is) instead of Carbon. This means that we’ll need to rewrite large parts of Photoshop and its plug-ins (potentially affecting over a million lines of code) to move it from Carbon to Cocoa.

It’s a great post; Nack does a good job dispelling any potential notion that this is a sign that Adobe’s commitment to the Mac is in any way flagging.

RIM More Than Doubles Year-Over-Year Quarterly Profit 

With financial results like these, you can see why Apple is making a strong play for the enterprise smart phone market. But so far, the iPhone and BlackBerry are both growing:

An analyst with Canaccord Adams, Peter Misek, called it a “monster quarter” and said RIM had benefited from Apple’s introduction of the iPhone, which brought attention to the smart phone market.

“People are staring to realize, ‘Why should I buy a Razr when I can buy a BlackBerry or an iPhone?’ I think the iPhone was the single biggest blessing RIM ever had,” Mr. Misek said.

Change We Can Believe In 

Beautiful new coinage in the U.K.; horrible new five-dollar bill here in the U.S.

Not for Everyone 

The Macalope on a remarkably sense-free ComputerWorld story about a “Mac fan” who switched back to Windows. Bonus points for the neologism “jacktastic”.

Smaller Is Better 

Good Firefox 3 tip from Colin Barrett.

Python-by-Example 

“This guide aims to show examples of use of all Python Library Reference functions, methods and classes.” (Via Simon Willison.)

Fortune: ‘Apple’s New Campus Still a Long Way Off’ 

I’d sort of forgotten about this, but it’s been two years since Jobs announced the project at a Cupertino City Council meeting, and there haven’t been signs of progress since.

Update: Several readers vaguely familiar with the greater Cupertino area inform me that while new construction has yet to begin, several hundred Apple employees already work in the existing buildings on the land Apple purchased.

John Nack Announces Lightroom 2.0 Public Beta 

Oh my, this sounds sweet:

Lightroom 2 adds a Retouch tool right within the Develop module. That means you can paint regions of the image to dodge, burn, saturate/desaturate, adjust contrast, and more. Edits are stored as metadata, just as all other LR adjustments are stored, and are applied directly to your raw images.

Also includes 64-bit support on Leopard and Vista. (Aperture 2.1 doesn’t do 64-bit.)

Update: More info in this announcement on the Lightroom Journal site, and don’t miss the numerous links at the bottom of Nack’s post.

Yankees Win Home Opener 

Here’s to hoping they win the last game of the season, too.

Epiphany, the Gnome Web Browser, Is Switching to WebKit 

They’re switching to WebKit from Gecko:

We feel that WebKit has the momentum, and can bring more developers to both Epiphany directly and the Gnome platform by extension. WebKit/GTK+ already has more people working on it than are working on either GtkMozEmbed or the Epiphany gecko back-end.

(See also Mark Pilgrim’s remark on Delicious w/r/t making serious announcements on Internet Jackass Day.)

Why Seth Dillingham Wrote a JavaScript Module for BBEdit 

Nice illustration of actions speaking louder than words. (I don’t think Seth is ever going to stop crying about how hard it is to parse Markdown, though.)

Sprint’s Samsung Instinct: Another Shameless iPhone Knockoff 

I enjoy how in this initial report, based on a press release and press screenshots, Gizmodo dubs it a “decent iPhone competitor”, but then when they actually got to see one firsthand it ends up — surprise surprise — that it’s buggy as hell. Plus the web browser, despite the magic bullet of 3G networking, is “painfully slow”.

Update: Good analogy from Jason Snell.

Captioning Sucks 

Informative, well-written new web site from Joe Clark’s Open and Closed Project regarding the sorry state of captioning and what can be done to fix it.

Dan Moren on Apple’s New iPhone Commercials 

I love how they continue to advertise the iPhone simply by showing how it actually works. You almost never see any product, especially in consumer electronics, advertised this way.

Check Out the New Web Site for Coudal/37signals/Et al.’s Seed Conference 

Crackerjack web typography. (Looks like a swell conference, too.)

Netflix Says They’re Sorry 

Remiel:

When I used to wait tables, one thing I learned early on was that a small mistake by me or the kitchen was actually an opportunity for me to make more money. Customers were routinely far more impressed with a well-handled mistake (which they actively noticed) than with trouble-free service (which they took for granted).

(Via Scott Simpson.)

New York Times Profile of Cartoonist Al Jaffee 

The 87-year-old Jaffee has been drawing Mad’s back-cover “fold-in” since 1964. Do not miss the interactive feature with foldable-on-the-web examples. (Via Andy Baio.)

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