Linked List: March 2008

Your April Fool’s Day Joke Continues to Suck 

Amen to that.

Dropclock 

Lovely-to-behold screensaver clock featuring Helvetica Bold numbers dropping into water in super-slow-motion. $15 and 137 MB to download. (Just the idea of a 100+ MB screensaver makes me laugh.)

Run Some Old Web Browsers Day 

Jamie Zawinski:

In honor of the ten year anniversary of the Mozilla project, home.mcom.com, the Internet Web Site of the Mosaic Communications Corporation, is now back online.

It took some doing. There is comedy.

Awesome retro web goodness. Read the whole thing, it’s a great story. (Via Kottke.)

Peter King on the Air 

Filed under “Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week”, here’s Sports Illustrated NFL beat writer Peter King on the MacBook Air:

“Can I hold that for a second?”

I’ve heard that question, or some derivative of it, a dozen times in the past month, when I’ve traveled with my feather-light MacBook Air. The other day, on my flight to Fort Lauderdale, a women holding a 5-month-old baby in her left arm, gently bouncing her up and down, admired the little laptop and I said, “Here — you can even hold it while holding the baby.” The woman took it with her right hand and held it like it was the new Grisham book, shaking her head in amazement. It’s almost that light.

Outspring Mail 

Some people, I’m sure, look at a new $95 email client and think, “$95 for an email client? Are they nuts?” Me, on the other hand, I thought, “Wow, cool, I hope it’s good.”

Warning signs were evident right from the start, though: no screenshots — let alone screencasts — on the web site. So, I downloaded it, installed it, launched it. Crash on launch. Launched again, saw splash screen (a splash screen? really?), crashed during launch again. And so in the trash it went.

Adam Engst had more luck than I did, so I’m linking to his brief review of Outspring (which includes a screenshot) at TidBITS.

John Nack: A Note About the Photoshop Express Terms of Use 

I got a slew of emails regarding this after I linked to Photoshop Express last week; good to hear that Adobe’s legal department is revising this clause.

How to Disagree 

Paul Graham:

If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy.

Upcoming BlackBerry 9000 Industrial Design Looks Oddly Familiar 

If you’re going to call it the “9000” and shamelessly crib the design of another computing device, may I suggest copying this instead.

A Journey to Baseball’s Alternate Universe 

Mathematicians run 10,000 simulations of the entire history of major league baseball to supposedly prove that Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 56-consecutive-game hitting streak isn’t really that big a deal. In their models, a slew of other players achieved as long or longer streaks.

Their results are clearly flawed, however, in that many of the players they claim were supposedly capable of doing this never played for the New York Yankees.

Offices and the Creativity Zone 

Dan Benjamin on workspaces and distractions.

Apple TV 2.0.1 

Adds a new “genre” sub-menu to the My Movies menu; useful for organizing large movie collections.

WebKit Fix for Charlie Miller’s Contest-Winning Exploit 

His CanSecWest contest-winning exploit took advantage of an overflow bug in the PCRE regex library used by WebKit’s JavaScript engine.

(Speaking of WebKit fixes, here’s another recent one: a fix for the no-blank-line-after-attribution bug in Mail.)

Coda Confidential 

Flash video of Cabel Sasser’s talk from C4[1].

Aperture 2.1 Image-Editing Plugins 

Rob Galbraith on Aperture’s new image-editing plugin API. PictureCode expects to have a version of Noise Ninja out in May.

This is an interesting development in the Aperture-Lightroom rivalry, because the whole point of these plugins is that they obviate the need to use Photoshop. For obvious reasons Adobe might be unwilling to do this with Lightroom — but if they don’t, it’s going to make Aperture a much more compelling product than Lightroom. I’m a happy Lightroom user, but this has me considering Aperture.

BBC Interview With Ingmar Bergman 

Wonderful BBC interview with then-85-year-old Ingmar Bergman. In six parts on YouTube, and available via iPhone and Apple TV. (Via Jim Coudal.)

Update: I hadn’t seen this before: the official Ingmar Bergman web site.

Living With the Trojan iBrain 

Good piece on the iPhone by Michael Parson in the U.K. Times:

There’s a pretty simple way to place a losing bet in the technology game. Try to build an alternative to the web, or try and pretend it’s not there. The brutal Darwinian politics of networking mean that the web, like the house, always wins. It’s always better, faster, and stronger. I think a good web experience is really the biggest weapon that Apple has smuggled into the carrier’s world via the iPhone — it’s a Trojan horse that brings the power of the web into their walled gardens. They don’t stand a chance.

Mac Indie Deals 

My thanks to the indie Mac developers Dejal, Decimus, Xeric Design, and Helium Foot Software for banding together to sponsor this week’s DF RSS feed. They make a slew of nifty Mac apps, including Simon, Synk Pro, Screen Mimic, and MercuryMover, all of which are available at a discount to DF readers with the coupon code “DF08”.

Charlie Miller Wins MacBook Air in CanSecWest Exploit Contest 

Charlie Miller, who discovered the first iPhone exploit last summer, won $10,000 and a MacBook Air by gaining full control of the system:

The exploit involved getting an end user to click on a link, which opened up a port that he was then able to telnet into. Once connected, he was able to remotely run code of his choosing.

More coverage from Rich Mogull at TidBITS.

George Ou Laid Off From CNet/ZDNet/WhateverNet 

Search the DF archives for some of Ou’s greatest hits.

Aperture 2.1 

Apple:

Released today, Aperture 2.1 introduces an open plug-in architecture that lets photographers use specialized third-party imaging software from right within Aperture. In fact, customers downloading the Aperture 2.1 update will receive the new Dodge & Burn plug-in.

Daniel Jalkut: ‘It Should Be Free?’ 

Daniel Jalkut on the argument that relatively simple software, no matter how well-done, “should be free”. I always think that when someone argues that some piece of software should be free, they should just spend the time to create their own app that does the same thing, just as well, and give it away.

MacBook Casing Defect: Prevalent Cracking 

Brian Ford, on the seemingly-prevalent cracking along the edges of plastic MacBooks. My wife’s MacBook, just a bit over a year old, has this same problem. All the examples in the Flickr Group are white, as is my wife’s, but some of the commenters claim to have seen it on black ones too. Update: A ton of email from readers whose MacBooks, both black and white, have this problem.

The GQ&A: Keith Richards 

Keith Richards, in an interview with Michael Hainey of GQ, seemingly (it’s hard to tell) on the occasion of Martin Scorsese’s new Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light:

But… I will say this about the Stones, just as an aside: Given the circumstances, we’re probably four of the most straight-up, moral guys you could actually meet.

And:

Apparently, I do have an incredible immune system. I had hepatitis C and cured it by myself.

How?

Just by being me.

(Thanks to Dan Benjamin.)

Piracy and PC Gaming 

Good essay by Brad Wardell on the economics of Windows game development, but I think the basic idea is applicable to Mac and web app developers, too. (Via Gus Mueller.)

iPhone SDK Beta 1 to Beta 2 API Delta 

Apple released a new beta of the iPhone SDK today; here’s what’s new. Interface Builder support now works, too. (If you haven’t signed up for (free) access to the iPhone SDK, you won’t be able to follow this link.)

High Leverage Development 

Jeff Mancuso, on the decision to write ExpanDrive in Python:

With high-level languages and good libraries, small teams can create great products at a rapid pace. We realized that we could write applications for the desktop in the exact same way. We rewrote SftpDrive from top to bottom in Python, with a GUI in Objective-C. It’s called ExpanDrive, and it took 1/3rd the time that SftpDrive took to develop.

U.S. Release Date for Mario Kart Wii: April 27 

Holy crap does this game sound fun.

Adobe Photoshop Express — Flash-Based Web App 

Impressive Flash-based web app for basic photo editing and online storage — up to 2 GB for free. “Beta”, of course. Think of it more as a web-based competitor to iPhoto than a web-based competitor to Photoshop or even Photoshop Elements. Here’s an example gallery from Andy Ihnatko, who was beta-testing it before it went public.

WebKit Achieves Acid3 100/100 in Public Build 

Opera is hot on their heels.

Tim Bray: ‘Better Feed Reading’ 

Simple, practical tip for reading many feeds.

Big Phat Liar 

The Smoking Gun reports that the L.A. Times was duped by forged documents linking Sean “Diddy” Combs to the 1994 shooting (not, as I originally misread, the 1996 murder) of Tupac Shakur. (Jonathan Hoefler helped identify tell-tale signs of document forgery — the forger used Courier to create fake typewriter output, but slipped and used Times Roman in one spot.)

CrossOver Games 

Sounds like magic: $40 software that lets Intel-based Mac and Linux users play Windows games like World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, and Counterstrike. Here’s the backstory from the developers’ blog. (Via Jesper.)

Update: A bunch of readers have written to say that World of Warcraft runs just fine already as a native Mac app. I have no idea why CrossOver would put it at the top of their compatibility list, either. Update 2: Ah, right, because of Linux.

Kensington DomeHub 7-Port USB 2.0 Hub 

I’ve been rolling without a USB hub for months after my last one (Belkin, for what it’s worth) crapped out. I totally dig this new Kensington one I bought: six side ports and one port on the top for easy access. And unlike every previous USB hub I’ve owned, it sits flat and stays put on my desk.

‘Disabling’ Launch Services File Quarantine 

Informative post by Bob Rudis on Leopard’s new “file quarantine” — the security feature that tags newly downloaded apps and scripts and presents a warning the first time you open them.

L.A. Times Scores Interview With Rick Astley Regarding ‘Rickrolling’ 

“I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it.” (Via Andy Baio.)

UI Candy 

New stock art resource from Josh Pyles: resolution-independent UI components specifically for Mac developers. Update: Alas, fireballed at the moment.**

Koolhaas Houselife 

Beautiful preview for a documentary on a remarkable Rem Koolhaas-designed transforming house. (Via Jim Coudal, who aptly describes it as Kubrickian.)

On Top 

Regarding email style.

The Fall of Motorola 

Scathing open letter from former Motorola advisor Numair Faraz to CEO Greg Brown. Regarding Geoffrey Frost, who spearheaded the original RAZR:

Many close to Geoffrey believed Ed Zander worked him to death, putting the pressure of the fate of the company in his hands. I took his untimely death in 2005 very hard, and knew that the company would head downhill in the aftermath. On a personal note, Lynne, his wife blamed the company for his passing. She committed suicide soon after.

Jiminy.

Apple Settles ‘Millions of Colors’ Lawsuit 

Remember that class action lawsuit filed a year ago regarding 6-bit MacBook displays that Apple billed as being capable of displaying “millions of colors”? It’s been quietly settled.

Apologist, Eh? 

Wired’s Scott Gilbertson:

As Apple apologist John Gruber points out, the real issue is the decision to make installing Safari the default behavior. In other words, the user has to opt out, which isn’t clear when Apple’s Software Update runs. Gruber argues, and I would agree, that part of the problem is simply design.

Asaph 

Interesting new “microblog” app by Dominic Szablewski. Sort of like an even simpler version of Tumblr that you run on your own server (PHP 5 and MySQL). Check out the demo video to see the bookmarklets in action.

Dept. of Currency: Penny Dreadful 

David Owen in The New Yorker on the U.S. penny, which is worth less than it costs to produce:

A modern penny simply isn’t worth enough to worry about. In 1940, an average one-pound loaf of bread sold for eight cents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means that a penny in those days bought enough bread to make a good-sized sandwich. These days, a penny doesn’t buy much more than a bit of crust. Accurately comparing monetary values (and bread loaves) across decades is impossible, but by almost any economic measure a 1940 penny had more purchasing power than a modern quarter does.

I’ve been throwing pennies away for years.

Muxtape 

Super-simple music sharing site lets you create virtual mix tapes. Three-field sign-up and you’re done.

Microsoft Succeeds in Making Vista Even Worse 

Kevin Maney:

Windows Vista is already perhaps the most frustrating product Microsoft has yet heaved onto the computing public. But now its Service Pack 1 update, which is supposed to FIX holes and squeaks in the Vista code, seems to be making things worse.

The consensus seems to be that with SP1 Vista has gone from bad to worse.

The Age of the Anti-Cassandra 

Paul Krugman:

Cassandra had the gift of prophecy — she saw, correctly, what was coming — but was under a curse: nobody would believe her.

Today, our public discourse is dominated by people who have been wrong about everything — but are still, mysteriously, treated as men of wisdom, whose judgments should be believed. Those who were actually right about the major issues of the day can’t get a word in edgewise.

Steve Jobs on Paul Rand 

Video from a 1993 interview with Steve Jobs about Paul Rand. Regarding working with Rand on the logo for NeXT:

I asked him if he’d come up with a few options. And he said “No, I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution; if you want options, go talk to other people.”

And, asked to describe Rand’s work:

His work, for me, is very emotional, and yet when you study it, it’s very intellectual. If you scratch the surface on any of his work you find out the depth of the intellectual problem solving that has taken place, and yet when you first see it, it’s wonderfully emotional.

(Via Cameron Hunt.)

Cabel Sasser: In Japan, URLs Are Totally Out 

Cabel Sasser reports that in Japan, rather than URLs, advertisers are promoting search terms. Like, say, instead of “daringfireball.net”, an ad would feature “Daring Fireball” in a text field with a “Search” button next to it.

I tend to do this on The Talk Show — rather than pronounce or spell out a URL, I’ll just say what to Google for. More memorable, less mistake-prone, and even if the target isn’t the first result, it’s almost certainly near the top.

Hidden Preference to Enable GDI Text Rendering for Safari on Windows 

Dave Hyatt:

The version of WebKit that ships with Safari 3.1 on Windows uses CoreGraphics antialiasing for text. The latest WebKit in nightly builds has made good progress on a GDI text rendering mode (i.e., the text rendering matches your OS look/settings).

Ken Fisher Reviews Safari 3.1 on Windows 

Very positive review; his biggest gripe is Safari’s use of Mac OS X’s CoreGraphics sub-pixel anti-aliasing rather than Windows’s native ClearType.

RegexKitLite 

Interesting. RegexKit is an open source Cocoa framework for PCRE (my favorite regex engine). The new RegexKitLite is a framework for the ICU regex engine, which is already included in Mac OS X. ICU’s regex syntax is not as expressive as PCRE’s, but it’s pretty good overall. And the RegexKitLite API is far simpler, it offers better Unicode support than RegexKit/PCRE, and because the engine is built into Mac OS X, it’s smaller. (Via Michael Tsai.)

Firefox 3 Background Windows Look Focused 

Luke Iannini points to one of the remaining tell-tale signs that Firefox 3 only fakes its Mac-style interface theme: all of its windows have the dark “focused” look of an active frontmost window.

Lying for Jesus? 

Richard Dawkins, on the now-infamous premiere of Expelled:

Now, to the film itself. What a shoddy, second-rate piece of work. A favourite joke among the film-making community is the ‘Lord Privy Seal’. Amateurs and novices in the making of documentaries can’t resist illustrating every significant word in the commentary by cutting to a picture of it. The Lord Privy Seal is an antiquated title in Britain’s heraldic tradition. The joke imagines a low-grade film director who illustrates it by cutting to a picture of a Lord, then a privy, and then a seal. Mathis’ film is positively barking with Lord Privy Seals.

The Inevitability of the iPhone 

Matt Asay:

I walked into my local AT&T Wireless store on Saturday fully expecting and prepared to get a Blackberry 8820. My Blackberry 8800 died while I was in London last week. […] Unfortunately for Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, the in-store price for the 8820 was the same as the iPhone. I deliberated for all of three seconds and walked out with the iPhone.

O’Reilly Releases Book on Jailbroken iPhone Development 

iPhone Open Application Development is a new book by Jonathan A. Zdziarski, where by “open” they mean “unofficial” — the book doesn’t cover the just-released iPhone SDK from Apple, but rather the unofficial ADK for “jailbroken” iPhones. Strikes me as a weird thing to publish a book about, but perhaps I’m vastly underestimating the long-term demand for jailbroken iPhone software. (Via Chris Foresman.)

Quotably 

Very impressive new web app that assembles threads from Twitter “@replies”.

Chris Brummel’s BrumBrum 

Perhaps the most honest weblog design ever.

GrApple — Safari-Style Themes for Firefox 3.0 

The Firefox 3.0 betas ship with a new visual theme called Proto that both looks better and more Leopard-like than the default for previous versions of Firefox. But: I still don’t really like it. It’s a bit too busy; the tabs in particular strike me as too fussy and too big, and, worst of all, the close button is still on the wrong side of the tabs.

Theme designer “Aronnax” has two Safari-3-derived themes for Firefox 3: GrApple Delicious and GrApple Yummy. I’m using GrApple Yummy and liking it. (From the looking a gift horse in the mouth dept.: I sort of dislike that both themes look too much like Safari. It gets confusing if you have both Firefox and Safari open at the same time.)

Both themes are free, but Aronnax has a PayPal tip jar. Well worth a nice donation.

That’s Not Backtracking 

Minor media criticism. Gartner Research, rather famously, last summer declared the iPhone unsuitable for enterprise use. Last week, in the wake of the iPhone Roadmap event announcements, they declared that it is suitable for the enterprise.

The sub-head on this Tech.co.uk story by Don Reisinger reads: “Gartner Research backtracks, changes tune about Apple mobile”. No one likes to point out the mistakes of so-called analysts like I do, but in this case, there’s clearly no backtracking or changing of the tune. Gartner’s recommendation changed when the facts about the iPhone’s enterprise features changed. Gartner has been very consistent about the enterprise-related features they wanted to see in the iPhone.

Rumored iPod/iTunes Store Subscription Bundle Already Raising Hackles 

Remember, this is based on a rumor, not an actual announcement. If this comes to fruition, the anti-competitive arguments are going to be fierce.

The chief executive of eMusic, David Pakman, compared the situation to anti-competition cases against the software company Microsoft, which has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for bundling media applications in with its Windows operating systems.

“If you have to buy iTunes when you buy iPods that is clearly anti-competitive behaviour by a monopolist,” he said. “It would absolutely catch the eye of European competition authorities.”

Pakman certainly has a good point here, but that’s a big if.

Pakman said it would be less anti-competitive if Apple were to make the bundled downloads optional, charging a premium on iPods and iPhones that included access rather than always including access.

But, depending on the price, it could still spell disaster for labels and music retailers. “If you could buy all the music you wanted for $20, why would you buy CDs or downloads?” he said.

Here, though, the problem with Pakman’s argument is that Apple can only offer such a service with the permission of the record labels. Presumably the labels will negotiate a price that will spell something other than “disaster”.

Paul Thurrott on the Safari for Windows Software Update Thing 

Honest question to those who think Apple is in the wrong here: Would it make a difference is the checkbox for Safari were off by default instead?

Update: Unanimous consensus from those who emailed me: Yes.

Regarding Apple Mail Plugin Bundles 

A few readers emailed to ask whether Mail Attachments Iconizer — this week’s DF feed sponsor — is a supported plug-in. It’s not an Input Manager hack; Apple Mail has a real plugin API. But it’s a definite gray area, because Mail’s plugin API is not documented by Apple. I use Mail plugins, but like any unsupported extension mechanism, it’s worth keeping in mind as a user that if it breaks with a future version of Mail, it’s not Apple’s fault or responsibility.

Pogue on the Flip 

David Pogue on the Flip, an extraordinarily clever video camera:

Instead, the Flip has been reduced to the purest essence of video capture. You turn it on, and it’s ready to start filming in two seconds. You press the red button once to record (press hard — it’s a little balky) and once to stop. You press Play to review the video, and the Trash button to delete a clip.

There it is: the entire user’s manual.

I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this camera before. I love it. For $145 (Amazon) you get a tiny video camera with 60 minutes of storage. The video quality is pretty good (including excellent low-light performance), and the user interface is beautifully minimal. (Via Jason Fried.)

You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss 

Paul Graham:

Having seen that happen so many times is one of the things that convinces me that working for oneself, or at least for a small group, is the natural way for programmers to live. Founders arriving at Y Combinator often have the downtrodden air of refugees. Three months later they’re transformed: they have so much more confidence that they seem as if they’ve grown several inches taller. Strange as this sounds, they seem both more worried and happier at the same time. Which is exactly how I’d describe the way lions seem in the wild.

“Both more worried and happier at the same time” perfectly describes my experience writing DF full-time.

Jens Alfke: ‘The iPhone Has Blinders On’ 

Another one from the I-don’t-agree-with-it-but-it’s-well-worth-reading dept.

For what it’s worth, I believe the number one reason why the iPhone OS doesn’t allow background processes is RAM. Battery life, CPU sharing, bandwidth — all of these are factors, too, but I think RAM is foremost. The iPhone has just 128 MB of RAM and no swap space. A good chunk of that 128 MB goes to the OS itself and the built-in apps that do run in the background — Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod. There really just isn’t much left over. If Apple were to just allow background processing now, what would happen is that background processes would often wind up getting killed by the OS at some point when the frontmost app needs more memory. From the user’s perspective, it would seem as though background apps inevitably mysteriously fail and stop running. You can argue that you’d rather have that than no third-party background apps at all, but it’s clearly a reasonable trade-off for Apple in terms of consistency and obviousness in the user experience.

Wait a few years for iPhones with 1 GB of RAM and it’ll be a different story.

And on the Other Side, the Angry Drunk 

Darby Lines on the Safari-for-Windows software update nano-scandal:

Second, bitching that anyone is a “bad” Windows citizen is the rhetorical equivalent of arguing that one turd in a sea of shit is particularly stinky. Microsoft is a bad Windows citizen.

John Lilly on Apple’s Windows Software Update 

Mozilla CEO John Lilly on Apple’s Software Update for Windows offering Safari 3.1 to iTunes users:

That’s a problem because of the dynamic I described above — by and large, all software makers are trying to get users to trust us on updates, and so the likely behavior here is for users to just click “Install 2 items,” which means that they’ve now installed a completely new piece of software, quite possibly completely unintentionally. Apple has made it incredibly easy — the default, even — for users to install ride along software that they didn’t ask for, and maybe didn’t want. This is wrong, and borders on malware distribution practices.

Thank God My Server Held Up 

My thanks to Valleywag for sending an amazing 93 referrers to Daring Fireball over the last 24 hours.

Paul Mison on Apple’s Software Update for Windows 

I have to say, I’m with Mison. I don’t understand the supposed outrage over Apple’s Software Update app for Windows offering to install Safari 3.1. Seems par for the course on Windows, and even on Mac OS X Software Update asks me if I want to install apps I don’t use.

Sony Now Offering Crapware-Free Vaios — For a Price 

If you pay $100 extra for Vista Business Edition, you can then pay another $50 not to have the machine pre-loaded with crapware. Sign me up. Update: Sony has thought better of this, and are dropping the $50 charge. You still have to pay $100 to upgrade to Vista Business, though.

Vote for Virtualization 

Craig Hockenberry:

A Macintosh developer’s ability to produce world-class products is inhibited by the lack of desktop virtualization.

Mail Attachments Iconizer 

My thanks to Lokiware and Adam Nohejl for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Mail Attachments Iconizer is a $15 plugin for Apple Mail that gives you explicit control over how Mail displays file attachments. Don’t want PDFs to be rendered inline? With Mail Attachments Iconizer you can set them to display as file icons. See Dan Frakes’s write-up for Macworld for more.

Through March 24, get 30 percent off using coupon code “DARINGFB”.

Expelled 

If you like to laugh at creationists, you’re going to love this story.

Rosecrans Baldwin: ‘Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’ 

I’m here pointing out what an enormous doofus Leander Kahney is; Rosecrans Baldwin is in Paris, writing artful essays like this one.

Theocacao: ‘Writing Modern Copy for Product Pages’ 

Good copywriting advice from Scott Stevenson.

Update: Stevenson’s advice is a also a good metric for the product itself. If you can’t come up with a short, clear, precise product description, it’s a good sign the product is conceptually flawed.

The Macalope: ‘Oh, Kay’ 

The Macalope on Roger Kay’s goofy Apple products are now plagued by security problems and they had it coming piece in BusinessWeek:

Could someone please sit down the slower students in the class and explain to them that “hackers” who seek to alter a device’s software for the purpose of giving it more functionality are not the same as “hackers” who try to find illicit ways to compromise your data for personal gain.

Kay apparently believes there’s a rash of people breaking into the homes of Apple customers, installing applications on their iPhones or enabling them to be used with other carriers and then slipping away into the night.

Waffle: ‘Where By “Interesting”, I Mean “Annoying”’ 

Jesper on Apple’s Software Update for Windows:

Listing new applications in the Software Update list is wrong. It’s Software Update, not Software Installer. Google, even if they too call it an ‘Updater’, does this right on OS X by making it ridiculously clear that you’re about to install a new product instead of updating an existing product, but even so this is not a feature that most people expect of an updater.

Vintage Logos 

“Collection of vintage logos from a mid-’70s edition of the book World of Logotypes.” Great source of inspiration — all good logos should look good when reduced to black-and-white.

Is it just me or does this logo from the 1976 Montreal Olympics look like a hand giving the finger? Update: My wife adds: “A three-fingered Simpsons hand.”

Drawing the Candidates 

Steven Heller of The New York Times interviews top political cartoonists to talk about how they draw McCain, Clinton, and Obama. (Via Andy Ihnatko.)

All Highs Eventually Wear Off 

Press statement from Adobe yesterday:

Adobe has evaluated the iPhone SDK and can now start to develop a way to bring Flash Player to the iPhone. However, to bring the full capabilities of Flash to the iPhone Web-browsing experience we do need to work with Apple beyond and above what is available through the SDK and the current license around it.

Bezos on Kindle Sales 

Looks like they can’t make them fast enough — not a bad problem to have. I’d love to know how many they’ve sold so far. Update: Here’s a direct link to the letter (as a JPEG?!).

Waxy: ‘Abort, Retry, or EPIC FAIL’ 

Andy Baio on the FAIL meme:

This is nothing new. It’s as old as communication itself. I’m sure that the moment man discovered fire, there was some guy nearby saying, “Too smoky. Can burn you. Lame.”

Glenn Fleishman on the AirPort Update 

Glenn Fleishman:

The 7.3.1 firmware update for Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme Base Station network gateways adds two significant improvements, neither of them mentioned in Apple’s release notes. You can archive the internal drive in a Time Capsule appliance — copying its contents, including backup images of networked systems — to an externally conncted USB drive at full USB speeds, without round-tripping the backup through a mounted AFP server. And, apparently, USB-connected drives on an AirPort Extreme Base Station are available for Time Machine backups in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Absurd Entries in the OED 

Ammon Shea, who spent the last year reading the OED from cover to cover:

Absurd Entries is the name that I gave to a certain class of definition that I would come across every so often when reading the OED. They are rarer than the mistakes, and considerably more fun to read. These are the extremely rare moments when the OED does something that is so inexplicable that you have to close the book and check the cover to make sure that it is indeed the same book that you thought. I have decided, without giving too much thought to the matter, to divide them into two separate categories: ‘Blatant Disregard for the Reader’s Level of Education’ and ‘What Were They Thinking?’

(Via Joe Clark.)

Martha Stewart: My New MacBook Air 

Sounds like someone should tell her about Boot Camp (or Fusion and Parallels).

Update from Martha:

Many of you have commented that you think I should use Parallels for my new Mac to run Windows as well — I actually DID know about that! I just like having the two computers side by side, as sometimes I need to have my email and schedule up on one, while browsing the Web on the other.

Updating Your Twitter Avatar From Acorn 

Convenient plugin for Acorn by Philippe Casgrain. Worth checking out the source code to see just how few lines it took.

The First, the Free, and the Good 

Great piece by Steven Frank:

My current hypothesis is that there are at least three positions of prominence in each segment — three ways to be number one, if you will: The First One, The Free One, and The Good One.

Airport Base Station Firmware Update Enables Support for Time Machine Backups? 

Michael Rose reports on TUAW readers who, after installing today’s AirPort software updates, are now able to use USB drives attached to AirPort Extreme base stations as Time Machine backup targets.

Apple Offering Safari 3.1 to Windows iTunes Users 

Joe Wilcox reports that Apple’s Software Update app for Windows — which gets installed with iTunes and QuickTime — is offering Safari 3.1 to Windows users, even if they hadn’t installed Safari for Windows before. Interesting.

MacJournals: Input Managers Are Not ‘Plug-Ins’ 

Must-read, must-bookmark, piece from MacJournals:

The problem is that the Mac press has decided, by unwritten fiat, to call Input Manager hacks “plug-ins” and confer an aura of legitimacy on them, while continuing to call other forms of patches “hacks” and caution you against installing them. That’s both misleading and unfair. The fact that Input Managers work through a Cocoa method does not make them better or worse than APE “haxies” that load through low-level Mach messages, or than any other way that third-party code loads without support into any application’s address space.

Amen.

Breakage 

From MacFixIt’s report on Safari 3.1:

1Passwd is one of the input managers broken by Safari 3.1.

PithHelmet broken. This input manager is also broken by Safari 3.1.

Utterly backwards assignment of blame. Safari 3.1 doesn’t break these hacks; these hacks break Safari 3.1. Input Manager hacks are not “plug-ins”. There is no supported API to enable the functions these hacks provide, which means they’re unsupported by Apple, which means that if they break a future release of Safari (or whatever other apps they patch) the fault lies entirely with the creator of the hack.

If Ted Landau were dead, he’d be rolling over in his grave.

The Talk Show, Episode 17 

New episode of the award-winning podcast by Dan Benjamin and yours truly, where by “award-winning” I mean “has never won an award”. Topics include SXSW, the iPhone SDK, Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010 (coincidentally recorded before he died yesterday), and inevitably, Stanley Kubrick.

Hannaford? Never Heard of Them. Oh, You Mean That Hannaford. 

After the supermarket chain Hannaford exposed 4 million credit card numbers in a security breach, the security consultants Rapid7 wiped all references to Hannaford as one of their clients.

Financial Times: Apple in Talks With Music Companies for Music Subscription Service 

Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, reporting for The Financial Times (who’ve been spot-on in their recent Apple rumor reporting):

Apple is in discussions with the big music companies about a radical new business model that would give customers free access to its entire iTunes music library in exchange for paying a premium for its iPod and iPhone devices.

Apple would not comment on the plan, but executives familiar with the negotiations said they hinged on a dispute over the price the computer maker would be willing to pay for access to the labels’ libraries. […]

Nokia is understood to be offering almost $80 per handset to music industry partners, to be divided according to their share of the market. However, Apple has so far offered only about $20 per device, two executives said. “It’s who blinks first, and whether or not anyone does blink,” one executive said.

First iPhone Developer Acceptances Confirmed 

Erica Sadun has the scoop on the first developers accepted by Apple into the iPhone SDK program:

Five iPhone limit. For anyone hoping to find a back door way to distribute software, tough luck. You may develop for up to five iPhones and that’s it. So no distribution sans Apple.

Test devices are iBricks — so to speak. Adding the pre-release iPhone OS to your iPhone seems to kill actual phone functionality. Update: We have unconfirmed reports that some developer phones continue to work as expected; as soon as we can clarify this we will.

A small handful of developers have told me they got golden tickets yesterday or today, too.

Rogue Amoeba Updates Instant Hijack Hack for Compatibility With Security Update 2008-002 

Rogue Amoeba’s Mike Ash:

Apple released Security Update 2008-002 yesterday and this led to a problem for some users on Mac OS X 10.5 using our Instant Hijack component. The Instant Hijack component is optionally installed by Airfoil, Audio Hijack Pro, and Nicecast, and enables these applications to grab audio from applications that are already running. Following the Security Update, ssh and some related programs would crash when they were run on Mac OS X 10.5 machines with Instant Hijack installed.

They posted updates to all three apps with a new version of Instant Hijack.

The unfortunate irony here is that just a week ago, Rogue Amoeba asked Apple to allow for Instant Hijack-style system hacks in the iPhone OS. Rogue Amoeba fixed this bug in under a day, but this sort of incident is exactly why Apple isn’t going to grant third-party developers low-level access to the OS.

Jackass of Last Week: Jim Cramer 

Jim Cramer, last week: “Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out! […] Bear Stearns is not in trouble!”

Playing to Type 

Nice piece by Virginia Postrel on modern typography in The Atlantic (whence came the aforelinked interview with Michael Bierut):

In 2001, The Wall Street Journal hired Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones to create a new typeface for its financial tables. The result, called Retina, uses the microscopic precision of digital design to correct for the blurring that takes place when thin ink hits cheap paper at high speed. Designed for tiny agate type, Retina looks bizarre at larger sizes; Frere-Jones compares it to a fish evolved to survive at extreme ocean depths.

Michael Bierut Talks Typography With The Atlantic 

Terrific video interview with Michael Bierut; topics range from Kubrick’s favorite font to the various cover designs of Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

Adobe Smoking Same Dope as Sun 

Ben Charny (yes, that guy) in The Wall Street Journal:

On Tuesday, when asked about the issue during a conference call with investors, [Adobe CEO Shantanu] Narayen said the company had since obtained the software developer tools Apple released last month. The tools will let Adobe build a Flash player for the iPhone, then distribute it through Apple’s iTunes online store, he said.

And without approval from Apple (including APIs beyond those in the current third-party SDK), they can distribute it in the same alternate universe as Sun’s supposedly-in-the-works Java port.

(The full Journal story is, alas, behind their pay wall. (Rupert Murdoch, where are you?) Best way I know to get a free version is to follow a link to it from Google News.)

Mediatyping 

Dave Shea on creating mobile style sheets, and serving them via browser sniffing. Lots of good info in the comments, too.

The Coming Gold Rush 

Brent Simmons on the iPhone app market:

The iFund money is Cloud money.

That is, developing an iPhone app itself may not be that expensive. But developing — and running and maintaining and scaling — a server app for the iPhone to talk to is expensive.

Google I/O 

New from Google: Two-day web developer conference in San Francisco, May 28-29. Think WWDC for web programmers, perhaps.

BusySync 10K Report 

Pretty good for six months on the market. Version 2.0 is looking sweet.

Mac OS X Security Update 2008-002 

Available for 10.4.11 and 10.5.2. Includes credit to Daniel Jalkut for reporting an issue with Foundation and NSURLConnection.

Update: Some — not all but some — users are reporting crashes with command-line ssh after applying 2008-002.

Update 2: Signs point to a third-party culprit: Rogue Amoeba’s “Instant Hijack” component.

Excerpts From Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘2001’ Diary 

Via Jim Coudal, a link to The Kubrick Site’s excerpts from Clarke’s diary during the writing and production of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the greatest movie — if not the greatest work of art, period — ever made:

September 7. Stanley quite happy: “We’re in fantastic shape.” He has made up a 100 item questionnaire about our astronauts, e.g. do they sleep in their pajamas, what do they eat for breakfast, etc. […]

October 3. Stanley on phone, worried about ending… gave him my latest ideas, and one of them suddenly clicked — Bowman will regress to infancy, and we’ll see him at the end as a baby in orbit. Stanley called again later, still very enthusiastic. Hope this isn’t a false optimism: I feel cautiously encouraged myself.

Arthur C. Clarke Dies at 90 

A titan in the field of science fiction:

Co-author with Stanley Kubrick of Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Clarke was regarded as far more than a science fiction writer.

He was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.

Jackass of the Week: Roger Kay 

Shorter Roger Kay: With no evidence whatsoever, I assert that both the Mac and iPhone are suddenly beset by security problems and Apple is getting exactly what it deserves for being successful.

iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work 

In-depth look at code signing certificates from Daniel Eran Dilger and Jason Smith.

Translation From MS-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Joel Spolsky’s ‘Martian Headsets’ 

I was going to link to Spolsky’s “Martian Headsets” piece with a one-line comment: “You reap what you sow”. Mark Pilgrim’s take is much better.

Hulu 

Hulu, the NBC-and-Fox-spearheaded free online video service, is out of beta, and it’s pretty sweet. The video quality is good, the selection is good, and the advertising is remarkably minimal — two mid-show ads of 15 or 30 seconds for a 22-minute show, for example. Individual skits from Saturday Night Live, like this one from Saturday’s show, are commercial-free. Real movies, like The Big Lebowski and The Usual Suspects have just two or three minutes of commercials — and are uncensored. They even have good URLs.

No download option, alas, so there’s no supported way to watch these things on your TV, but it’s pretty damn cool overall.

Update: Another downside: International copyright restrictions limit what’s available outside the U.S.

Apple Unit and Revenue Share Are Up, Up, Up 

Chris Foresman on NPD computer sales data for February:

In unit sales, Macs represented 14 percent of sales last month, up from 9 percent for February 2007. The dollar share, however, is a full 25 percent of the market. While other PC makers continue to make cheaper commodity machines, Apple continues to make better machines and earn more for each one. […] In terms of revenue, the industry grew just a paltry 5 percent on its 9 percent gain in units while Apple’s revenue is up 67 percent.

And that’s revenue, not profit. Given that Apple’s profit margins are higher than any other major PC maker, their profit share of the U.S. market must be even higher than 25 percent.

DiskWarrior 4.1 CD Updater 

If you don’t own a copy of DiskWarrior, you should.

The Origin of the iChat UI 

1997 prototype of the iChat speech bubble UI design from Jens Alfke.

Obama: ‘A More Perfect Union’ 

Stirring — dare I say historic — speech from Barack Obama today here in Philadelphia, addressing racial issues head-on, and, more importantly, challenging the level of political discourse in our news media:

We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”

Not this time, indeed. (Excerpt via Greg Sargent.)

Safari 3.1 

Safari 3.1 is out. Web Kit additions include support for local (i.e. not over the network) SQLite databases, CSS 3 web fonts, CSS transforms and transitions, and the new HTML 5 <video> and <audio> elements. The security content of the update is listed here. New browser features include double-clicking in the tab bar to create a new tab, a new (optional) Develop menu for web developers, a Caps Lock indicator in password fields, and more.

X.5 Time Machine 

Sven-S. Porst’s remarkably in-depth description and critique of how Time Machine works. Bravo.

Easter mEgg Hunt 

Some sort of game with discounts on indie Mac software.

802.11n Officially Makes Its Way to the Airport Express 

Still $99, but now supports 802.11n.

Adobe Revokes Lightroom 1.4 Update 

Yikes:

The Lightroom 1.4 update for Mac and Windows has been temporarily removed from the Adobe.com web site. Those Lightroom users who have installed Lightroom 1.4 should uninstall the update and install Lightroom 1.3.1 until a further update can be provided.

Update: Straight up apology from Adobe’s Tom Hogarty here.

Using Aperture 2.0 

James Duncan Davidson:

So, after shooting almost 6000 images at ETech and almost 5000 at eComm — totalling a whopping 136 GB of data — what’s the verdict? The answer is that Aperture stood up to the test. It did the job.

Brain Surgeons 

Craig Hockenberry:

It takes several months of actual iPhone development before you eventually realize that the iPhone requires a completely different mindset. Until that happens, you’ll make assumptions based on desktop experience, and that in turn will lead to a lot of bad designs.

Your Company’s App 

Nice comic by Eric Burke on simplicity.

Nerdfotainment 

Rands on the appeal of multi-threaded plot lines:

Nerds are systematic thinkers, which means, for entertainment, we want to exercise our systemic comprehension muscles. We want to stare at a thing and figure out what rules define it. In the case of Lost, Abrams get this. He sprinkles hints of systems within the system of the show. He tinkers with time and with personalities to paint brief glimpses of clues. And then he changes everything because he knows that if we ever feel we’ve figured it out, we’ll bail.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars 

New computer-animated Star Wars motion picture, in theaters this fall. How did I miss this until now?

Lego Model of the Discovery From ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ 

Exquisite. (Via Geekdad.)

kottke.org Ten-Year Anniversary 

As ever, the home of fine hypertext products.

R-U-ON 

My thanks to R-U-ON for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. R-U-ON (get it?) is an easy-to-use web-based hosted service for monitoring network servers and applications. Mac support includes a Dashboard widget (with Growl support). DF readers get one month of free service when signing up for a premium plan.

The Theory of Interstellar Trade 

1978 paper by economist Paul Krugman on the feasibility and implications of interstellar trade:

It should be noted that, while the subject of this paper is silly, the analysis actually does make sense. This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.

Time to Twitter 

Tim Bray:

If you and I have the same good idea for a community-based Web site on the same day, and mine is on the air in five months and yours in eight, then you’re dead. And it doesn’t matter if yours is better, because the community has gathered.

Down for Everyone or Just Me? 

Clever, self-descriptive web service from Alex Payne.

Update: I’m not sure if it’s ironic or unironic, but by linking to it, I’ve apparently brought the site down.

Obama Campaign Skewers Clinton Email Statement 

Interesting political tactic: a blog-style point-by-point critique of a bullshit-ridden press release from your opponent.

ExpanDrive 1.03 

Music to my ears from the release notes for ExpanDrive 1.03: “.DS_Store files are no longer saved out to the server but are instead mirrored internally.” Also listed are other things I complained about, including better keyboard shortcuts and user interface refinements.

WWDC 2008: June 9-13 

Not surprisingly, Apple has expanded WWDC to three tracks: Mac, IT, and the new one, iPhone.

‘Hacking’ Confusion 

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone so confused about what “hacking” means.

OpenDNS Redirects Google.com Requests 

I linked to OpenDNS last week, praising their service after Comcast’s own DNS servers had failed me for the last time. It ends up though that OpenDNS is a polarizing service — they’re both praised and scorned. One of the reasons they’re scorned is that they redirect requests to www.google.com to their own internal server before forwarding the request along to Google’s www.l.google.com. They also do wildcard matching for unregistered domain names, a move most DNS experts consider a no-no. They’re open about these “features” (e.g. here’s their explanation for the Google redirection), but I tend to take the side that any sort of “DNS+” service is worse than just plain DNS.

I think it’s worth keeping OpenDNS on deck for use in a pinch if your regular DNS server conks out, but I can’t recommend them for primary use.

International Rip-Off Exchange 

Perhaps the best rip-off of DF’s design ever. Not only did they copy all of my code, including my Mint web stats JavaScript include (which allows me to see their incoming web traffic), but they added some intriguing new colors to the palette. Update: Here’s a screenshot for posterity’s sake.

Dropbox Screencast 

Ambitious cross-platform file-sharing system. Still in closed beta, but the demo is certainly impressive.

Encouraging Failure: A Brief Tutorial 

Mikey-San has a nice takedown of Dave Jewell’s piece for RegDeveloper encouraging the willy-nilly use of private Mac OS X APIs:

Undocumented “wheels”—which is a misleading way of saying “shit that wasn’t designed for you to use”—usually have nothing to do with writing great applications. The two are mutually exclusive concepts when the mass of public APIs are as rich and powerful as they are. We’re not talking about things that are essential to creating good software being hidden from developers.

No Compromises, Except for the Compromises 

Apparently a compromise only counts when it’s something like a missing port or the lack of a built-in optical drive. Wired’s Gadget Labs call the ThinkPad X300 a “MacBook Air without the compromise”, but then go on to point out that the screen isn’t bright enough, battery life is poor, it weighs a half pound more, and costs $1000 more.

I still think the X300 looks like a terrific laptop, but it’s pretty obvious that Lenovo made compromises in its design — just different ones than Apple chose for the Air.

How Long Has the iPhone SDK Been in the Works? 

Jason O’Grady asks:

It’s pretty obvious that the iPhone SDK is a really big deal, right? Could Apple have been planning an SDK all along? Or were they coerced into doing it by the crafty cottage industry of jailbreakers that’s grown around iPhone?

The conventional wisdom seems to be that Apple changed its mind in the fall (the SDK was announced in October), but I think it’s pretty clear this was in the cards all along. Simply judging by the quality and scope of the iPhone SDK documentation and tools, it seems like far more than a few months of work.

Quick Look for Fonts 

Jonathan Hoefler:

It’s commonly used for images, but Quick Look turns out to be immensely useful for fonts as well, as it allows both fonts and families to be easily examined in detail without ever leaving the Finder.

iPhone SDK Downloads Top 100,000 

Apple:

Apple today announced that more than 100,000 iPhone developers have downloaded the beta iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) in the first four days since its launch on March 6.

And I thought WWDC was crowded last year.

SXSW Interactive 2008 Sketchnotes 

If you don’t think Mike Rohde’s notes from SXSW are cool, you’re not hooked up right. (My thanks to everyone who came to see me speak Saturday, by the way, and my apologies to everyone who got turned away at the door after the room filled up.)

Sun, Apparently High as a Kite, Plans to Develop Java JVM for iPhone 

Despite the fact that the iPhone SDK terms explicitly state that “No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and builtin interpreter(s)”, Sun announced that they plan to develop a JVM for the iPhone SDK. Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing for Sun:

Our announcement was based on our excitement to build a JVM for the iPhone and the iTouch, as well as our assessment of Apple’s publicly available information on the SDK and related business terms.

Apparently they’re so excited they think there’s a device called the “iTouch”.

If there are clauses in the iPhone beta SDK license agreement that potentially limit third party application distribution, then these are items that we want to have a positive discussion with Apple about.

Please record these discussions and share them with the world, so that we can all have a good laugh.

Bampot of the Week: Alexander Wolfe 

Fraser Speirs takes apart a jackassy piece by Alexander Wolfe positing that developers are “angry” at Apple regarding the restrictions in the iPhone SDK. (Via The Macalope.)

Typographica: Our Favorite Typefaces of 2007 

“Twenty-five of the world’s brightest graphic and type designers selected their favorite font releases of the year.” If you love type, better clear a nice chunk of time for this magnificent collection of the best faces of 2007.

JavaScript in Internet Explorer 8 

John Resig on the JavaScript improvements in the IE8 beta:

The first beta was pushed out today and it shows huge promise. It’s already achieved way more than I would’ve expected and it’s made me hungry for more. If you had bet me that Microsoft would be mentioning the phrases “ARIA”, “SVG”, and “MathML” in their release notes I would’ve lost.

The Acid 3 Test 

Dave Hyatt on the new Acid 3 Test.

Hack to Get iPhone SDK Running on PowerPC 

Mike Rundle figured out how to get the iPhone SDK working on a PowerPC iBook, even though it officially only works on Intel-based Macs.

Filing Bugs Against iPhone SDK Restrictions 

Rogue Amoeba’s list of bugs they’ve filed with Apple against the iPhone SDK serves as a concise layman’s overview of the restrictions and limitations. The Rogue Amoeba guys are pretty much taking the hard line stance that iPhone development should be as open as Mac development. I don’t agree with that, but it’s useful to have a list like this.

Quote, Unquote 

Nice essay on quotation marks from The Ministry of Type.

Apple Poaches Samsung Mobile Executive 

Everyone seems focused on Apple’s 2008 goal to sell 10 million iPhones, but I wonder how many they’re hoping to sell in, say, 2009. I’m guessing it’s a lot more than 10 million.

Donkey Kong and Me 

Great old-school Atari programming story. (Via Erik Barzeski.)

Dave Girard’s Aperture 2.0 Review 

In his typical in-depth style.

Hello App Store 

Craig Hockenberry:

But thinking through the situation a bit more, I realized that those things pale in comparison to the value of being associated with the Apple brand. Having their explicit stamp of approval and being included in the App Store will make any product more appealing to a customer.

The other big thing about this is that users — especially typical users — will feel confident about the fact that whatever they install won’t screw up their phones.

WSJ: The iPhone’s Great Email Debate 

Seems weird to argue that a single point of failure is a security benefit.

Good Question 

Steven Berlin Johnson:

Does this mean the only way you can do over-the-air syncing of calendar events and contacts (a feature I really, really want) is by connecting to an Exchange server? That would be pretty intense if Apple limited a crucial feature exclusively to users of a Microsoft product. Shouldn’t iCal and Google Calendar users be first in line?

Along the same lines, it seems weird that the iPhone’s Mail app can talk to Exchange natively, but Mac OS X Mail can’t.

Obsolete Skills 

If you’ve got any of these on your resume, it’s time to redo your resume. (Thanks to John Siracusa.)

Blackr 

JavaScript bookmarklet from Robert Rezabek that hides everything on a Flickr photo page except for the pictures.

LOLspeak Translashun Dictionary 

The Ruby code behind Dave Dribin’s Daring Furball.

Gone, Without a Trace 

Steven Levy, on his missing MacBook Air.

(Thanks to Joe Clark.)

G-Archiver 

So G-Archiver is a Windows app that lets you download your archived Gmail messages. It ends up that the app emails your Gmail username and password to the author. Crazy.

The Beauty of 99¢ iPhone Apps 

$.99 or $1.99 is indeed low, but I think Jens Alfke may have a point. It’s not that bigger, serious apps will sell for prices that low, but smaller, simpler apps that might otherwise have been released for free might generate real money with “cup of coffee”-level prices. It’s the App Store that makes this possible.

Can’t Help Falling in Love 

John Siracusa:

Skilled Mac developers are uniquely positioned to be the first to market with the iPhone applications they’ve been designing in their heads since last year. They know the tools, they know the technology, they even know a lot of the APIs already, and those they don’t know look a lot like the ones they do.

Which Apps Run in the Background? 

Tom Krazit:

The SDK item drawing the most attention Friday, however, is that third-party applications will not be allowed to run in the background.

To be fair, I don’t think many of Apple’s first-party apps run in the background, either. The Phone, SMS, Clock, iPod, and Mail apps do. Or at least they have helper app background tasks that do. But the other ones all seem to quit when you go to the home screen — you don’t really notice because they launch fast, quit fast, and save automatically.

Authentic Jobs 

My thanks to Authentic Jobs for sponsoring the DF RSS feed this week. Authentic Jobs is a targeted job board for standards-aware web designers. (And, coming from Cameron Moll, Authentic Jobs is, unsurprisingly, itself a splendidly well-designed web site.) If you’re a web designer looking for full-time or freelance work, there are listings from a slew of great companies. If you’re a company looking to hire crackerjack web nerds, use promotion code DARINGFIREBALL and receive 50% off the listing price through March 10.

Apple Plans for Custom Enterprise App Distribution 

So said Phil Schiller yesterday.

KPCB – iFund Initiative 

Kleiner Perkins’s info page for the $100 million iFund.

‘The Other Direction’ 

Great quote from Steve Jobs at the very end of the press Q&A today, after being asked whether phone carriers like AT&T will get a share of the revenue from the App Store:

“We’re not going to get into details, but generally we like to see the revenue flow the other direction.”

iPhone Human Interface Guidelines 

You’ll need a (free) ADC account to access it, but part of today’s bonanza of iPhone SDK-related documentation is the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines. (Not to be confused with the previous “shit sandwich” version here.) I haven’t had time to do much more than skim, but it seems very well thought-out and organized. A snippet:

Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits. It’s important to make sure that users do not experience any negative effects because of this reality. In other words, users should not feel that leaving your iPhone application and returning to it later is any more difficult than switching among applications on a computer.

Update: Also worth noting is that the HIG’s name for the OS is “iPhone OS”. Seems wrong to use “iPhone” in the name, considering it runs on the iPod Touch, too. I’d have gone with “Mobile OS X” or “OS X Touch”.

Regarding Ryan Block Asking Steve Jobs if SIM-Unlocking Apps Will Be Allowed 

I have to say, I side with Block on this one. Just because the answer is obvious doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fair question. I don’t have a problem with Apple serving as a gatekeeper with approval over all apps, but if that’s the role they want, their policies should be explicit. In the presentation, they only listed things like porno and “malicious” apps as things that wouldn’t be tolerated. Clearly, something that impedes on their carrier contracts won’t either.

It’s probably a moot point because of the data sandboxing (iPhone apps only have access to their own files, not the files of other apps), but would Amazon be allowed to write an OS X Touch app for buying songs from the Amazon MP3 store? Again, I’m not saying it’s outrageous if the answer is “no”, but if that’s the case, it’s only fair to get it on the record as to whether Apple plans to disallow any app that impedes on an Apple revenue stream.

Development Details Gleaned From the SDK Documentation and License Agreement 

Ken Aspeslagh has culled some of the highlights from the SDK documentation and license, including:

Applications may only use Published APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any unpublished or private APIs.

Regarding which Ken quips: “Imagine if they had this rule on the Mac, just how stable things would be.”

Jason Fried on Apple’s Touch Platform 

Bold statement:

What we saw today was the beginning of two-decades of mobile domination by Apple. What Microsoft and Windows was to the desktop, Apple and Touch will be to mobile.

Video From Today’s Event 

Not sure if this is a permalink. If the URL doesn’t work for you, try the main QuickTime page for keynotes.

iPhone SDK Scorecard 

What’s there, what’s missing, and what would be ideal.

Andy Ihnatko on the iPhone Event 

Andy Ihnatko:

Note how carefully this event is being orchestrated. Apple has carefully lined up a series of white porcelain plates at the far end of a shooting gallery. Each one is labeled with a known percentage of the marketplace that “can’t” buy an iPhone for specific technical reasons. Annnd… plink! plink! plink!… they’re knocking them all down.

Best summary of today’s event I’ve seen.

iPhone Developer Program 

Apple’s entire developer.apple.com domain is stone cold dead as I type this — overwhelmed, I presume, with requests for the iPhone SDK.

iPhone Enterprise Beta Program 

So the enterprise news is that Apple has licensed ActiveSync from Microsoft. This lets the iPhone do a slew of things deemed essential for the enterprise market — push email/contacts/calendars, device configuration, remote wipe, and more. This opens an entirely new market to the iPhone, the one currently dominated by RIM’s BlackBerry. Apple’s pitch on this is that with ActiveSync, the iPhone talks directly to Exchange, whereas with BlackBerrys, they go through proprietary intermediary servers of RIM’s.

This doesn’t make the iPhone a BlackBerry killer, but the iPhone can do more BlackBerry-ish things than the BlackBerry can do iPhone-ish things.

From the DF Archives: Exchange Exchange 

This one is not aging well.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Today’s Apple iPhone Event 

Live updates by Jason Snell from today’s “iPhone Roadmap” event on Apple’s campus. Update: Jacqui Cheng’s updates at Ars Technica are in the right order (newest at top).

PodWorks 2.9.3 

Nice update — and great release notes — to Buzz Andersen’s nifty $8 file transfer utility for iPods.

OpenDNS 

OpenDNS is a totally free service that provides very fast DNS service to anyone, with a bunch of other optional features. Not new, but somehow I’d never heard of it before. Came in handy for me today after Comcast’s DNS servers crapped out.

Android and Flash 

An honest question for everyone who thinks good Flash support for the iPhone (a) isn’t a significant engineering problem; and/or (b) is so important as to be essential. What about Android? Android’s browser is based on WebKit, and the platform is open. But I can’t find a word about Flash support for Android anywhere.

Also, I’m pretty sure I once saw a movie called “Android and Flash” on MST3K.

Pogue on the Sony Alpha A300 DSLR 

Interesting new digital SLR from Sony: it gives you a live preview on the screen, so you can compose shots without using the eyepiece. The trick is that it uses two sensors: one to record the actual photo, and a second one to provide the preview image. (Other DSLRs have “live preview”, but not with autofocus.)

Peter Elkind’s ‘The Trouble With Steve Jobs’ Epic in Fortune 

Summary of the “trouble” Apple has with Steve Jobs, uncovered by Fortune editor-at-large Peter Elkind in a 7,500-word piece: he waited nine months before having surgery for his pancreatic cancer (a six-hour “brutal and complex” procedure where 1 in 20 patients die), the stock options backdating saga, and he’s an asshole.

I liked this bit best:

Jobs is notoriously secretive and controlling when it comes to his relationship with the press, and he tries to stifle stories that haven’t received his blessing with threats and cajolery.

This story is one of them. While Jobs agreed to be interviewed by my colleague Betsy Morris on the subject of Apple’s selection as America’s Most Admired Company, he refused to comment for this story, which had been in the works for months.

So refusing to talk to a reporter who is (a) digging into the details of Jobs’s personal life, and (b) writing what is, without question, a negative piece — that constitutes “threats and cajolery”?

Talk About Dumb 

Did you know there were people who profess to prefer dumb quotes to proper ones? You only need working eyes to realize there are many people who don’t care, but to flat-out prefer them? But yet here’s a whole thread on Metafilter from anti-smart-quoters. These people should be issued IBM Selectrics and have their computers taken away. (Via Mike Essl.)

Fortune Interview With Steve Jobs 

As part of their “America’s Most Admired Companies” package (Apple placed first), Fortune has a rare interview with Steve Jobs. The format is horrible — 3,000 words spread over 15 web pages, averaging just 200 words per page. Shameless page-view-inflation at its worst, but it’s worth it. A few highlights:

  • “We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made.”

  • “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

  • “So what we do every Monday is we review the whole business. We look at what we sold the week before. We look at every single product under development, products we’re having trouble with, products where the demand is larger than we can make. All the stuff in development, we review. And we do it every single week. I put out an agenda — 80% is the same as it was the last week, and we just walk down it every single week.”

OmniGraffle 5.0 

New features include bézier lines, an in-window inspector bar, improved Visio file format compatibility, and more.

This Guy Must Be New Here 

Gregory Ng:

So Steve Jobs says that Flash is not fast enough for the iPhone. Well that’s just great Steve. Way to make the decision for everyone. Here’s a novel idea: why not let the users decide whether it is “sluggish” or not.

This is a joke, right?

Litmus Day Passes 

Speaking of web browsers and compatibility, Litmus — a web app that lets you test web pages and email newsletters for compatibility against a slew of HTML rendering engines — now offers day passes.

Zeldman on Microsoft’s IE8 Version Targeting Reversal 

When it comes to anything regarding IE and standards support, I’ll believe it when I see it. But I do think the IE team deserves credit for having floated the idea for opt-in version targeting rather than just going ahead and implementing it.

More on Yesterday’s Apple Shareholders Meeting 

Good summary from Tom Krazit.

Steve Jobs on Flash for iPhone 

Asked at yesterday’s shareholders meeting whether Apple plans to add Flash to the iPhone:

Jobs used the Apple shareholders’ meeting to publicly dismiss the full-blown PC Flash version as “too slow to be useful” on the iPhone. He then went on to describe the mobile version — Flash Lite — as “not capable of being used with the Web.”

I love to say “I told you so.

U.S. Treasury Department Shuts Down Foreign-Owned Domain Names 

Kevin Drum, regarding this story in today’s Times about an English travel agent whose domain names were shut off by the U.S. Treasury Department:

So that’s that. Register your domain name through a U.S. company and your business goes kaput if the U.S. Treasury Department decides it doesn’t like you. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in Britain, your servers are in the Bahamas, your customers are mostly European, and you’ve broken no laws. No warning. Just kaput.

Solution: make sure your business has as little connection to the U.S. as you possibly can. I’m sure the rest of the world is getting this message loud and clear.

Microsoft Changes Course Regarding IE8 and Standards Mode 

Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for Internet Explorer:

We’ve decided that IE8 will, by default, interpret web content in the most standards compliant way it can. This decision is a change from what we’ve posted previously.

For background, see this link from January and a few below it.

whocalled.us 

A great domain name for a great idea: a public database of Caller-ID-resistant telemarketers. (Via Kevin Copeland.)

Audiophiles Can’t Tell Difference Between Monster Audio Cables and Coat Hangers 

Well, they could probably tell the difference at the cash register.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Official Homepage 

Quite a web site for one of the most successful companies in the world. View source to fully enjoy the Adobe PageMill HTML 2.0 love. It’s funny, but I’m not holding it up to mockery. Given Warren Buffet’s homespun keep-it-simple philosophy, somehow this site, ridiculous as it is, seems appropriate.

Making Book 

Regarding the aforelinked TMN 2008 Tournament of Books, my friends at Coudal Partners have created a splendid side project: a wagering pool, with every dollar wagered going to First Book, “a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.”

Even better, your $10 wager is worth up to $90, thanks to nine companies that are each matching up to $1000 worth of wagers (including Daring Fireball).

The Morning News 2008 Tournament of Books 

The Morning News has announced the judges and bracket (PDF) for their fourth annual Tournament of Books.

Gary Gygax Dies at 69 

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and the author of the original AD&D books, died today at age 69. Chicken John Rinaldi writes:

Gary Gygax saved more lives than penicillin. When I was 10, he was 39. He knew he was writing a book for 10 year olds… but never talked down to us. He was the only adult presence in my life from the time I was 10 to the time I was like 15 that didn’t preach, didn’t talk down and didn’t have any parameters.

What made Gygax’s D&D so brilliant — and so appealing, I’m guessing, to many Daring Fireball readers — was that it was both a rich fantasy milieu and a very clever rule-based system.

Macworld: ‘25 Native iPhone Apps We Hope to See’ 

Good list overall, but a few of these ideas — like the TypeIt4Me/TextExpander text macro utility — aren’t “apps”, but system extensions. Also, Dan Moren wrote an entire article asking for a dedicated task manager/to do app for the iPhone. I’d like to see that, too, in theory — but Apple hasn’t even written such an app for the Mac. Instead, in Leopard, Apple added a system level service that sprinkles to-do items across iCal and Mail.

Macworld Lab: New MacBook Pro Benchmarks 

Faster and more energy efficient.

CNet Reviews the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 

I’ve always liked ThinkPads, and the X300 looks like a winner. But what struck me were the benchmarks at the end: the MacBook Air was faster, got better battery life, and is significantly cheaper. Further evidence that the Air is fast enough for most users.

Jon Hicks’s Silverback Icon 

Nice animation showing the progression of an app icon from sketch to final product.

Apostrophe Atrophy 

Photographic catalog of bad typography.

Fraser Speirs: ‘ScreenFlow: The iTunes of Screencasting’ 

Fraser Speirs:

I’m calling it The iTunes of Screencasting, not because it looks like iTunes or manages a library of your screencasts, but because it does the one thing that I love seeing applications do: it takes a process that formerly involved many small tools that worked together but were poorly integrated and pulls them into one coherent whole.

Mouseposé 3.0 

Nice update to Boinx’s excellent mouse-highlighting software for presentations and demos. New features include the ability to highlight the window the mouse is hovering over. Free update for anyone with a 2.0 license.

Update: I have to say, the gratuitous “star field” graphic in the background of the main window is annoying. Imagine if every app did this.

NewsFire 1.5 Released; Now Free of Charge 

David Watanabe:

Today’s a big day for NewsFire. After much internal debate, I’ve made the decision that as of today, NewsFire is totally free. No feature restrictions, no ads, no cut-down ‘lite’ version… this is the real deal.

More fallout from NewsGator’s release of NetNewsWire as freeware. NewsFire 1.5 sure does look nice, and offers a different — very slick, very simple — take on feed reading than any other aggregator.

Frickin’-A 

The AP:

A convenience store chain’s billboard advertising its fried chicken sandwich is ruffling the feathers of some residents. Sheetz unveiled the “Crispy Frickin’ Chicken” billboards at the beginning of February.

(a) “Fuck” is so bad a word that even its euphemisms are considered profane; (b) was there any chance whatsoever the newspaper editors would use a headline without the “fowl language” pun? and (c) the convenience store’s own name, Sheetz, itself sounds like a profane description of what you’ll get after you eat one of the crispy frickin’ chicken sandwiches in question.

(Via Rich Siegel.)

Ads via The Deck Ads via The Deck