Linked List: December 2004

The 2004 MDJ Power 25 

MDJ’s Power 25, ranking the 25 most-influential people in the Mac industry, is out. Steve Jobs, of course, is #1. The real competition is for #2, which goes to Tim Cook this year. What’s interesting about that is that Cook wasn’t even on the list the last two years. It’s a good list; I’ll publish my ballot in the next day or two.

Sony Creates New Division to Compete Against Apple 

The Asahi Shimbun:

Shamed but not yet defeated, Sony Corp. says it can no longer sit back and watch as Apple Computer Inc. gives it an ignominious beating in the markets for portable digital audio players and online music download services.

To that end, Sony has established Connect Company, a division exclusively tasked with developing products and services to rival Apple and its immensely popular iPod players and iTunes Music Store service.

(Via Signal vs. Noise.)

Auto-Complete CPAN Search Site 

Google Suggest-style searching of CPAN. Cool. (Via Ben Hammersley.)

Announcing bbPress 

Matt Mullenweg, lead developer of WordPress, has released a new open source bulletin board/forum package: bbPress. It’s the package behind the WordPress support forum, if you want to see it in action.

Apple Promotes Tsunami Relief 

As of this writing, the homepage at is promoting organizations aiding those hurt by the Indian Ocean tsunamis.

Update: However, there’s not a mention of anything tsunami-related at Apple’s start page (the default home page for Mac users).

ThinkSecret Says Apple Will Announce $499 Headless iMac 

Nick Ciarelli, a.k.a. Nick dePlume:

With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Mac Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499, highly reliable sources have confirmed to Think Secret.

The new Mac, code-named Q88, will be part of the iMac family and is expected to sport a PowerPC G4 processor at a speed around 1.25GHz. The new Mac is said to be incredibly small and will be housed in a flat enclosure with a height similar to the 1.73 inches of Apple’s Xserve. Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor.

If this pans out, it’s a huge scoop. Unlike most (vague) rumors, this one is specific.

Cringely on REALbasic 

Nice essay on the advantages of REALbasic vs. Visual Basic.

Child’s Play Part II 

Sequel to last year’s similar article, wherein 10- and 11-year old kids skewer classic video games from the ’80s and ’90s. Included in this year’s games: Adventure, Galaga (the kids can’t believe that no matter how far you’ve progressed, you can’t continue after losing your last life), and my personal all-time favorite video game, the Star Wars arcade coin-op. I hate these kids. (Via Kottke.)

XMLHttpRequest for the Masses 

Drew McLellan on XMLHttpRequest, the client-side JavaScript API that allows for scripting access to HTTP requests. This is the underlying mechanism behind Google Suggests, for example. (See also: WHATWG’s draft documentation.)

JavaScript Markdown 

Sam Angrove’s js-markdown is an experimental JavaScript implementation of Markdown syntax. Mozilla-only, at least for now.

iCab 3.0 in Beta 

Michael Tsai reports that iCab 3.0 beta 222 is available to registered iCab users.

(Update: Screenshots.)

iTunes Producer Patent 

Andy Baio examines an Apple patent application for the iTunes Producer application and back-end.

Rogue Amoeba: Slipstream for Mac OS X 

Rogue Amoeba has announced Slipstream:

With Slipstream, audio from any application can be sent to the AirPort Express — users longing to send audio from applications like RealPlayer and Windows Media Player need look no further than Slipstream.

Expected to ship in “early 2005”.

BBEdit 8.0 – A Developer’s Viewpoint 

Brian D. Foy reviews BBEdit 8. Well done.

The Graphing Calculator Story 

Great story on the creation of Graphing Calculator, written by its author, Ron Avitzur:

The secret to programming is not intelligence, though of course that helps. It is not hard work or experience, though they help, too. The secret to programming is having smart friends.

Apple Sues Three Dopes Who Put Tiger Builds on BitTorrent 

Duncan Martell, reporting for Reuters:

Apple Computer Inc. has sued three men for illegally distributing test copies of the next version of its Mac OS X operating system on a file-sharing Web site, court records showed on Tuesday.

WireTap Pro 

New competitor to Audio Hijack Pro, from Ambrosia Software, with what looks like an interesting scheduling feature for recording streaming radio programs.

Leaked Apple Product Is a FireWire Audio Gadget 

Brad Gibson has the scoop on the leaked product Apple filed a lawsuit regarding earlier this month: the FireWire audio input gadget reported at last month. Gibson writes:

A California Superior Court has granted a request by Apple Computer to serve subpoenas on three Mac rumor Web sites seeking information on who leaked facts about an un-announced audio hardware product code named “Asteroid” or “Q97”, court documents obtained Monday by The Mac Observer showed.

It’ll be interesting to see whether AppleInsider rolls over on this and cowardly coughs up the name, or if they protect their source(s).

Movable Type 3.14 

Primarily addresses performance bugs that showed up while MT sites were getting flooded with comment spam. Clearly a must-upgrade update for any site displaying comments. (Daring Fireball doesn’t have any problems with comment spam, for some reason.)

John C. Welch on Robert Scoble’s Stupid ‘Open Letter’ to Bill Gates 

Here’s what I say: You know how Microsoft could build an iPod rival? But doing what they did with the Xbox — creating an $800 product and selling it for a huge loss at $300, to build the market. No one else could afford to lose a few billion dollars to sell a few million units. That’s what Microsoft could do.

Crazy ‘ABOSS’ iPod Mini Rip-Off 

It’s a cross between an iPod Mini and a third-generation iPod. (Via Jez via AIM.)

Andy Hertzfeld Interview 

Leander Kahney interviews Andy Hertzfeld about his new book, “Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made”.

Says Hertzfeld:

The only real negative reaction I’ve gotten is (from) Jef Raskin. Jef’s recollection from what happened is just different from everybody else’s and my book doesn’t give his version of things. In Jef’s version of things, Jef designed everything, but he just didn’t. My book confronts that. I think he wishes my book didn’t exist.

‘Practical mod_perl’ Now Free Online 

“Practical mod_perl”, written by Eric Cholet and Stas Bekman, and published by O’Reilly, is now available free-of-charge online, under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.

Google Suggest Dissected 

Chris Justus rewrites Google’s Suggest JavaScript code to make it human-readable, and explains how it works. (Via Slashdot.)

Microsoft v. MacSlash 

MacSlash’s colocation host gets nastygram from someone “on behalf of Microsoft” because of a Windows serial number posted eight months ago in a comment.

Apple Sues Over Web Leak of Advance Products 

Duncan Martell, reporting for Reuters:

Apple Computer Inc. is suing anonymous people who leaked details about new products by posting information on the Internet, court documents showed on Friday.


The complaint alleges that “an unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through Web sites confidential information about an unreleased Apple product.”

I hope this doesn’t mean that TheMacMind’s no-screen iPod flash rumor is legit, because I’ll have some crow-eating do to.

2004 Macworld Eddy Awards 

Winners include BBEdit 8.0 and Nicecast, from DF sponsors Bare Bones Software and Rogue Amoeba Software. Other winners from indie Mac developers: OmniWeb 5, Snapz Pro X 2.0, and Bit Torrent. Apple hardware winners: XServe G5, iMac G5, and iPod Mini. Biggest surprise to me: QuarkXPress 6.5.

More on the Motorola/Apple iTunes Deal

“We’ve said we have something coming on this in the first half of 2005 and we’re definitely on schedule for that. Hopefully you’ll be able to see more about it soon,” says Eddy Cue, vice president in charge of applications at Apple.

Note that this is not an Apple phone. It’s a Motorola phone that can play iTunes songs. But Apple is apparently helping design/develop it — so expect the rumors on this to reach “iPod flash” levels of hysteria.

Camels and Rubber Duckies 

Joel Spolsky on software pricing.

MT Edits 

Dave Shea’s new MT plug-in lets you add buttons to your published pages for editing, rebuilding, and deleting entries. (Uses cookies so that the buttons are only visible to you, not your readers.)

Apple Disables Real’s Music Downloads on iPod Photo 

And so it begins. Bryan Chaffin reports for The Mac Observer:

Apple Computer has updated software on its iPod photo digital music player preventing users from playing music bought from RealNetworks’ online music store, The Mac Observer has confirmed with Apple and RealNetworks.

Web Forms 2.0 Second Call for Comments 

WHAT calls for comments on the second draft of their Web Forms 2.0 specification.

The Web Forms 2.0 specification addresses requests made for new features to be added to the Forms features in HTML4. New features include new input control types for dates, times, e-mail addresses, and numbers; a new client-side validation model; a way to mark input controls as required; a repetition model; control over form submission so that forms can be updated instead of causing the page to be replaced; and more.

Toshiba Unveils 80 GB ‘iPod Drive’ 

Tony Smith of The Register reports on Toshiba’s upcoming 80 GB 1.8-inch hard drive, scheduled to ship in Q3 2005.

Comment Spamalot 

There’s a lot of buzz this week regarding the escalading weblog comment spam war. Ben Hammersley saves me the effort of having to write about it — it’s not Six Apart’s fault, and it’s certainly not Google’s fault. (It’s worth remembering that Mark Pilgrim nailed this a year ago. Oh how I miss Dive Into Mark.)

Bug Report 

From Peter-Paul Koch, QuirksMode:

The Bug Report system is entirely dedicated to finding, mending and publishing CSS and JavaScript browser bugs.

Could turn into a great resource for web developers.

MacInTouch: Performance Comparisons for Consumer Macs 

MacInTouch special report benchmarking and comparing Apple’s consumer Macs — the G4 iBook and eMac, and the iMac G5 — concludes that the iBook and eMac are “surprisingly” speedy. Also concludes that changing the Energy Saver “Processor Performance” setting from “Automatic” to “Highest” makes a significant difference.

MarsEdit Report 

Brent Simmons’s behind-the-scenes look at the creation of MarsEdit.

Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera 

Just in time for the holidays: a new 73-page PDF e-book by professional photographer Larry Chen. Published as part of the TidBITS ‘Take Control’ series, the book costs only $5, and a free 27-page preview is available.

Clarity vs. Simplicity 

Jason Fried with a nice before and after design for a chart explaining the different types of accounts for Basecamp. The new chart is more complex, but without question offer more clarity. (Basecamp is a DF sponsor.)

PayPal Now Accepted at iTunes Music Store 

First 500,000 people to open new iTMS accounts using PayPal get five free songs.

Inside an Adware Company 

Brad Stone writing for Newsweek: How one of the Internet’s largest and most secretive adware companies really operates. (Via Slashdot.)

Short Overview on How ‘Google Suggest’ Works 

Comment at Slashdot. (Via Joel Spolsky.)

IBM and China 

Robert X. Cringely, with astute analysis on why IBM sold its PC division to a Chinese company for far less than they could have sold it to an American or Japanese company. (Cringely doesn’t mention it, but this could be good news for Apple, too, because IBM will be concentrating even more on its PowerPC processors.)

MarsEdit 1.0 

I’ve been using MarsEdit to create and edit Daring Fireball articles and Linked List items for months. It’s terrific.

Tool Time at Pixar 

Custom Mac app developed in-house at Pixar allowed Brad Bird to sketch directly on top of preview images during production of The Incredibles. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Google Suggest Beta 

Guesses search terms as you type. (Via

PyObjC, py2app, and Bundles 

Bill Bumgarner:

PyObjC now has the ability to build NSBundles that can be dynamically loaded by any Objective-C application while the bundle is entirely implemented in Python. In other words, you can now use Python to implement plugins for any app that supports Objective-C plugins (NSBundle).

Developing Dashboard Widgets 

Developer-level overview of how Dashboard Widgets are assembled.

DragThing 5.5 

Free upgrade for registered users of 5.0, lots of new features.

Tog: Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs 

Excellent list of long-standing design bugs, compiled by a master. I don’t always agree with Tog, but he’s a great thinker.

Ten Questions with TiVo’s Director of User Experience, Margret Schmidt 

Terrific interview by Matt Haughey.

Mac Specialist: Essential Mac Applications 

List of free and cheap software; I found a few interesting apps I’d never heard of before.

BBEdit 8.0.3 

224 changes, additions, and fixes listed in the release notes.

DropDMG 2.5 

Update to Michael Tsai’s $15 drag-and-drop utility for creating Mac OS X disk images and other archives.

Apple Threatens Owner 

Kieren McCarthy reporting for The Register:

Apple has accused the owner of of being a cybersquatter, and taken him to UK registry Nominet demanding to be given the domain.

Unfortunately, the owner happens to be one Benjamin Cohen, the “dotcom millionaire” of lore, whose father is a solicitor, and Apple doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Photoshop Anti-Aliasing Tweaks 

I’ve long thought that text anti-aliasing in Photoshop produced inconsistent results, but I could never put my finger on what was going on. Dave Shea explains. (Yes, it’s Dave Shea Day here on the Linked List.)

Dave Shea on sIFR 

Terrific overview of sIFR (scalable Inman Flash Replacement), an ingenious use of Flash.

Everything TypeKey 

Wiki from Andre Torrez for developers using Six Apart’s TypeKey authentication system. (Andre programmed Dropcash, which uses TypeKey for authentication.)

Mac OS X Debugging Magic 

Technical Note TN2124: Mac OS X Debugging Magic. (Via Rogue Amoeba.)

OmniOutliner 3.0 Public Beta 

Major new version to The Omni Group’s popular outlining tool. Also forthcoming (but not available yet publicly): OmniOutliner Professional.

Details on Security Update 2004-12-02 

Lots of details on the changes, at Apple’s Security Update page.

4 GB Storage Is ‘Sweet Spot’ for Music Players 

BBC story from April, on a Jupiter Research report that concluded 1,000 song capacity is the sweet spot for music players. I think Apple has understood this from the get-go — the original first-generation iPod marketing emphasized “1,000 songs in your pocket” much more heavily than the fact that it was “5 GB”.

A Interview 

Rands interviews developer Joshua Schachter. (Interesting tidbit: is written in Perl.)

IBM Said to Put Its PC Business on the Market 

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Steve Lohr, reporting for the NY Times:

International Business Machines, whose first IBM PC in 1981 moved personal computing out of the hobby shop and into the corporate and consumer mainstream, has put the business up for sale, people close to the negotiations said yesterday.

More Details on iTMS Canada 

From Jim Dalrymple at MacCentral. $.99 CDN is roughly $.85 US, so Canadians are getting a nice discount on downloads.

Netflix Launches ‘Friends List’ Feature 

Make recommendations and share movie reviews with your friends. Clever. This sort of social/community feature might keep NetFlix thriving in the face of other “get DVD rentals mailed to your house” competitors. (Via Nat Irons, via email.)

The Spread of Weighted Lists 

Interesting design idea: use type size to indicate which items in a list are more important.

Canadian iTMS Opens 

One day late — what a debacle. Still just $.99 per song, which in Canadian funny money means the songs are a bit cheaper than at the U.S. iTMS.