Linked List: August 2004

John Zeratsky Is a Markdown Convert 

This is the nicest write-up about Markdown I’ve seen.

John Zeratsky:

It’s based on the way people write email, which makes it very easy to pick up. And at every turn, the syntax makes sense. Things look like what they mean, and this is no coincidence. In fact, I’ve gotten better at “formatting” my emails since I started using Markdown. For me, it’s better to use the same conventions in all my writing rather than try to remember a bunch of systems.

Movable Type 3.1 

MT 3.0 lacked new user-level features, but there are some nice ones in 3.1:

Along with some nice developer-level additions.

Skype Beta for Mac 

Skype is a P2P-based IP audio chat system, from the creators of Kazaa. Supposedly, very high audio quality. Free of charge, and no ads, either. Skype-to-Skype calls are free, they charge for Skype-to-telephone calls.

iMac G5 Debuts 

Nice specs, nice prices, but it’s the design that stands out. (Duh.) Very iPod-ish. I suspect the thinking is along the lines of “Like your iPod? You’ll love the iMac.” Design Timeline 

Alex Taylor:

That’s the power of branding, folks. And Apple has mastered it, more than any other company today. And it’s no more evident than it is in their website. In just two years they pulled a complete 180, going from a homely, geeky niche to mainstream and downright sexy.

Thanks to the good ol’ WayBack machine, the makeover has been chronicled. And boy is it interesting.

(Via Anil Dash.)

Unison 1.5 

Free update to Panic’s highly-acclaimed Usenet client.

BBEdit 8.0 

Multi-document interface, vastly improved Unicode support (including ATSUI text rendering), revamped Find dialog, and 100 or so other new features.

BXR: XML-RPC for Blosxom 

BXR is a tool from Allen Hutchison that lets Blosxom users edit posts using desktop weblog editors.

Photon 1.0 

Photon is an iPhoto plug-in that allows you to export pictures from iPhoto to TypePad and Movable Type weblogs. Interesting.

HP iPod Is Stickeriffic 

From Engadget:

Ok, there’s at least one thing different about the HP iPod: you can cover it with customized stickers  (actually, you could probably use those stickers with the regular Apple iPod, too). They’re offering one free when you buy an HP iPod, with the first ones available promoting different artists, including Ashlee Simpson, The Cure, Gwen Stefani, Keane, Lloyd Banks, Sting, the Who, the Hives, Toby Keith, and Vanessa Carlton.

New York Times Editorial on Apple and Real 

DRM politics is a mainstream issue, not just something for nerds to argue about. The Times’s take is astute — most importantly, it emphasizes that the iPod is fully-compatible with non-DRM music ripped from CDs.

Rolling Stone: Details on Microsoft Music Store 

Rolling Stone reports that Microsoft’s online music store will launch September 22, and includes this unattributed scuttlebutt:

One source close to the matter says that Microsoft has made several overtures to Apple to make its store compatible with the industry-leading iPod but has been rebuffed. (Apple declined to comment.)

File Type Settings for iTunes/iPod Audiobooks 

The only “automatic” way iTunes and iPods recognize a file as an audiobook is with purchased content from However, you can set any AAC audio file to be treated as an audiobook by changing the file’s the HFS file type to ‘M4B’ (note trailing space; type codes are 4 characters long). This trick lets you use audiobook features like bookmarking on any file. Neat.

(Via MDJ 2004.08.12.)

Hivelogic Redesign 

The mercurial Dan Benjamin is back on the air, with a handsome three-column layout and a spectacular new logo by Jason Santa Maria.

Codepoetry on iPodlounge Sensationalism 

Codepoetry on iPodlounge’s statistically useless “poll” regarding audio problems with new iPods. There may well exist audio defects on some fourth-generation iPods — that’s not the point. The point is that iPodlounge is claiming that their readers reported “42% of their 4G units have manifested an audio defect”, which would be shocking, if true — but which isn’t at all a valid conclusion from their self-selecting “poll”.

(For what it’s worth, the new 40 GB iPod I won in the MT plug-in contest has no audio problems at all.)

Khoi Vinh on OmniWeb 5 

A good summary. For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen the “double-tab” bug he mentions. (And have I mentioned how thoughtfully-designed Vinh’s is?)

PHP Markdown 1.0 

Hot on the heels of Markdown 1.0 (my version, written in Perl), Michel Fortin has released PHP Markdown 1.0.

Royal Tenenbaum’s World of Futura 

Mark Simonson on director Wes Anderson’s interesting use of type in The Royal Tenenbaums. (Kubrick was enamored of Futura, as well.)

(Via Sara J. Flemming.)

Markdown 1.0 

Markdown is finally out of beta. I’ll post a proper announcement to Daring Fireball soon, including a look at what’s changed since the initial public beta.

Real’s DMCA Hypocrisy 

Mark Twomey points out another bit of RealNetworks hypocrisy. Today, Real is indignant that Apple is threatening them with legal action under the DMCA. But in 1999, Real successfully sued Streambox, under the DMCA, because Streambox had a product that transformed RealMedia streams into other formats.

Unpatched Windows PCs Compromised Within 20 Minutes 


According to the researchers, an unpatched Windows PC connected to the Internet will last for only about 20 minutes before it’s compromised by malware, on average. That figure is down from around 40 minutes, the group’s estimate in 2003.

Amazing. 20 minutes isn’t long enough to download the patches to bring your Windows installation up-to-date.

(Via MDJ 2004.08.17.)

Waferbaby Markdown Support 

Daniel Bogan hooked up Michel Fortin’s PHP Markdown to Waferbaby. Sweet.

Brad Choate Joins Six Apart 

Excellent news. Brad’s been a prolific hobbyist MT hacker.

Battery Recall for Some 15" PowerBook G4s 


In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and other international safety authorities, Apple is voluntarily recalling certain lithium ion rechargeable batteries that were sold worldwide from January 2004 through August 2004 for use with 15-inch PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) notebook computers.

Salkever Eats Crow 

BusinessWeek Online’s Alex Salkever:

Well, the mini is not a flop. In fact, it’s a hit. I can’t deny it. So, here’s my apology, Steve. The mini is no Cube. I was wrong, and you were right.

Nice to see a pundit revisit a mistake.

(Via Dan Benjamin, via email.)


TextMate is a Mac OS X programmer’s text editor now in beta testing, supposedly slated for release in September. I’ll withhold judgment until it’s released.

Yahoo Search Blog 

Weblog by the Yahoo Search team. (Powered by Movable Type.) (Via Waferbaby, via iChat.)

More From Welch on Real 

John C. Welch:

What’s even worse is that Real expects Mac iPod users to be even stupider , because you can’t use Harmony on a Mac, heck you’ve never been able to use the Real Music store on a Mac. If you log in to Real’s home page with a Mac user-agent ID in your browser, you can’t even see that there is a Real Music store.

So Real is effectively trying to lock Mac users out of this wonderful world of choice. What’s astounding is that in all the interviews with Real, no one is asking them about this.

MacMinute on Real’s Lame ‘Weblog’ and Petition 

RealNetworks launches a “weblog” and online petition, ostensibly to garner support to pressure Apple to let Real’s songs work on the iPod, but Apple supporters use the comments to bash Real.

Real Cuts Music Prices in Half 

Sniff, sniff. Do you smell desperation?

iPod vs. Sony Network Walkman 

New York Newsday’s Stephen Williams compares the new iPod to Sony’s new hard-drive based Network Walkman. Not good for Sony. (Via MacBlog.)

New Version of XML::RSS 

New version of Perl module for creating and modifying RSS feeds; now with better support for RSS 2.0.

Content Sniffing Considered Harmful 

I agree with Pilgrim: when a page claims to be ‘text/plain’, Safari should display it as plain text. Sniffing inside the text looking for angle brackets, and then changing the content-type to display as HTML is just wrong.

John C. Welch on Harmony and Choice 

John C. Welch, on the hypocrisy of RealNetworks’ “we stand for choice” mantra.

Making the Jump to Subversion 

How to install, configure, and use Subversion on Mac OS X.

Hicks’s OmniWeb Wishlist 

Jon Hicks’s wishlist for OmniWeb.

Reversing AirTunes 

Jon “DVD Jon” Johansen:

I’ve released JustePort, a tool which lets you stream MPEG4 Apple Lossless files to your AirPort Express.

OmniWeb 5 Ships 

I’ve been using the late betas for my daily browsing for a few months. It’s far from perfect, but it’s really, really good. More soon. (And everything from my review of the early betas back in February still stands.)

Bumper-Sticker Computer Science 

Once-sentence pearls of programming wisdom. (Via


Whitney is a new sans serif typeface from Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Insane number of weights and alternate figures. Gorgeous.

Your Mac Life 

I’ll be a guest tonight on Shawn King’s “Your Mac Life” Internet radio show. (The other guest is Bill Atkinson, which is pretty cool.) The show starts live at 8:30pm ET; I’m supposed to be on around 9:15pm.

XHTML to Markdown Using XSLT 

Andrew Green:

I’m making available this XSLT stylesheet to transform XHTML into Markdown-formatted text, under a Creative Commons license.


Better Image Rotator 

Dan Benjamin in A List Apart, with an updated version (and explanation) of his PHP random image script. (In use here at DF occasionally.)

Iceberg 1.1 

Free utility for creating Mac OS X .pkg installation packages. (Via MDJ 2004.08.10.)

Marc Liyanage: PHP 5 Package for Mac OS X 

Marc Liyanage:

A first version of my PHP package for PHP version 5.0.0 is available. It installs into a new location and it should therefore be possible to keep both versions 4 and 5 installed at the same time.

Slashdot Thread on ‘Art of the Parlay’ 

As if I weren’t already far enough behind on email. (Page load times at remain snappy, despite 6000+ Slashdot referrers per hour. Score one for MT’s static page-building.)

10.3.5 and Security Update 2004-08-09 

10.3.5 is out, along with a new Security Update. Lots of fixes.

XML::Feed – RSS and Atom Parser in Perl 

Ben Trott:

XML::Feed is a syndication feed parser for both RSS and Atom feeds. It also implements feed auto-discovery for finding feeds, given a URI.

XML::Feed supports the following syndication feed formats:

  • RSS 0.91
  • RSS 1.0
  • RSS 2.0
  • Atom

The goal of XML::Feed is to provide a unified API for parsing and using the various syndication formats.

First Look at MSN Blogs 

Phil Ringnalda:

The HTML is, of course, execrable.

PHP in Contrast to Perl 

Why PHP is a crummy language.

The Economist Style Guide 

Excellent, concise style book used by The Economist. (Their policy on the placement of commas inside or outside quotes matches mine.)

Hammersley: Atom API in Movable Type 

Using the Atom API for posting to MT 3 weblogs. I was just trying to figure this out myself last week. Ben Hammersley is the man.

iPod Static Follow-Up 

After being told on the phone that third-party headphones aren’t supported with the new iPods, Jonathan Seff took his iPod to an Apple Store and got it replaced with no hassle.

Communication Arts Feature on Hoefler & Frere-Jones 

Ellen Shapiro feature article on Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones of Hoefler & Frere-Jones Typography:

“There’s couture type and there’s off-the-rack type,” explains Hoefler. “We design couture type.”


Mezzoblue: Virtual Hosts for Dummies 

Dave Shea, with a useful how-to for web developers who want to serve multiple sites from their local Apache installation.

Xcode 1.5 

gcc compiler improvements, code completion for Java and AppleScript, more.

Hixie: Why document.write() Doesn’t Work in XML 

With each passing day, I’m less sure that XHTML is ever going to replace HTML.

Building Web Services the REST Way 

Excellent introduction to what “REST” means.

iPod Static and Third-Party Headphones 

Jonathan Seff, at the Macworld Editors’ Notes weblog:

In fact, I purchased a new 40GB Click Wheel iPod recently that suffers from the static affliction. So, I figured I’d try and contact Apple tech support as a regular consumer instead of PR as a member of the press.

After giving my name, phone number, and serial number of my iPod (to make sure I was still entitled to free support, I’m guessing), I was transferred to a person who asked me what the problem was. I explained to him that I got static through my headphones, especially when the hard drive spun up. He asked about my headphones, and I told him I’d tried several different ones. How about the Apple headphones? Those worked fine, I told him. His reply (not an exact quote): “If it sounds fine with the Apple-supplied headphones, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the iPod.”

Delicious Monster Software 

I missed this back in April when it was news, but former Omni Group guys Wil Shipley and Mike Matas left the company to start a new venture: Delicious Monster Software. (Nice name, but their logo strikes me as suspiciously similar to that of Monsters, Inc.)

Think Secret has a report on a leaked beta of Delicious Monster’s first product: Library 3.0, a personal database app for managing your collection of books, DVDs, video games, etc. The hook is that you’ll be able to enter your library items by scanning the UPC barcodes using an iSight.

AppleInsider on Tiger’s AppleScript 1.10 

Katie Marsal at AppleInsider, with a look at AppleScript 1.10 (one-point-ten), scheduled to ship with Mac OS X 10.4 next year. Not a major overhaul, but some nice incremental improvements. (The improved date class will be welcome.)

Codepoetry on the Color Picker 
Codepoetry looks at the details and features of the system’s built-in color picker.
Steve Jobs Has Successful Surgery for Cancer 

Steve Jobs in a company-wide email:

This weekend I underwent a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my pancreas. I had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, which represents about 1 percent of the total cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed each year, and can be cured by surgical removal if diagnosed in time (mine was). I will not require any chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

He’s recuperating at home in August; Tim Cook runs the show in his absense.

Don’t Put Commas in Your Folder Names for Xcode Projects 

Helpful Tiger:

I was unable to demonstrate my Xcode projects today at my ADHOC presentation. They produced an obscure error when building.


Not because I’d moved the project, or renamed the project or its enclosing folder. Xcode can handle that.

It was because I’d renamed the enclosing folder to contain a comma.