Linked List: April 2005

Safari and Setting Your Default Feed Reader 

Apple did the Right Thing with regard to Safari’s new built-in support for RSS: it allows you to specify any app as your default RSS reader. So if you use, say, NetNewsWire or PulpFiction, you can subscribe to feeds in your preferred reader simply by clicking the “RSS” link in a Safari browser window.

Omni Group Considering Switching OmniWeb to Web Kit 

From a post to the OmniWeb users mailing list, from OmniWeb product manager Scott Maier:

Beyond 5.1.1 one of the most immediate concerns is updating the engine to make use of the latest updates that Apple has released. At this time we’re investigating two possible avenues:

  1. Sticking with our customized versions of WebCore and JavaScriptCore
  2. Moving OmniWeb on top of WebKit.

Our customized versions of Apple’s frameworks are A Good Thing™ for many reasons, but it means that we’re constantly having to play catch- up as Apple releases new versions of the frameworks. It also means that a lot of work is involved when it comes to supporting new technologies like the scriptability extensions recently added to the Netscape Plug-In API — something we would practically get for free from WebKit.

I think in the long run, switching to Web Kit would be best. As of today, with Safari 1.3 (for 10.3) and 2.0 (for 10.4), OmniWeb’s rendering engine is way behind again. Whereas a Web Kit-based browser like Shiira has the exact same renderer as Safari.

Automator Programming Guide 

Developer documentation for one of the best new features in Tiger. What’s neat is that you can implement actions in Objective-C, AppleScript, or both. (Via Brent Simmons.)

DropDMG 2.6 

Another app update with Automator support. I’m much more intrigued by the apps that are adding Automator support than those that are adding Dashboard widgets. DropDMG nows supports the creation of .tar.gz and .tar.bz2 files, because Tiger’s version of tar finally maintains Mac file metadata.

Quicksilver b40 

Tiger-only update to Blacktree’s free launcher-and-all-sorts-of-other-cool-things utility.

Apple Developer Connection Profiles Bare Bones Software 

Marking the occasion of BBEdit’s day-one support for Automator.

TinkerTool 3.4 

Update to Marcel Bresink’s free utility for diddling hidden system preferences in Mac OS X. Now includes a few Tiger-specific settings.

.Mac Revamped for Tiger 

Improved synching, address book sharing, and more. Nice redesign of the .Mac web site, too.

Shiira 1.0 

Open source Web Kit-based browser; version 1.0 is now for Mac OS X 10.4 or later. I’m currently giving this a shot as my main browser.

Michael Tsai on BBEdit Disk Browsers 

Good tips for using BBEdit as the center of your multi-file workflow.

Automator World 

Promising new web site dedicated to Automator, by Steve Weintraub.

NetNewsWire 2.0b45 

Another great app introducing Automator support.

Macworld Tiger Coverage 

Macworld has just published over a dozen articles on Tiger, including “Field Notes” regarding installation, the BSD layer, Dashboard, Automator, Spotlight, and more.

Siracusa’s Mac OS X 10.4 Magnum Opus 

The Tiger release parties can officially start: John Siracusa’s review of Mac OS X 10.4 is up at Ars Technica. I was lucky enough to help proof-read a draft last week, and it’s just as good as his previous reviews: well written, keenly observed, technically dense, and a lot of fun.

At over 40,000 words, it’s more like a short book than a long article. And people say I write long articles? Required reading for any serious Mac user.

Audio Hijack Pro 2.5 

Tiger compatibility, AM/FM radio tuner support, podcasting features, and most intriguingly, “full AppleScriptability”.

BBEdit 8.2 

Free update with extensive support for Automator — pretty much all the transformations in BBEdit’s Text menu are available as Automator actions.

PreFab UI Browser 1.4 

PreFab UI Browser is an essential tool for anyone who wants to write GUI Scripting AppleScripts. (PreFab has also released version 1.1 of UI Actions.)

Pogue Reviews Tiger 

David Pogue’s Tiger review for The New York Times. Partly in the form of a poem.

Apple Pulls Wiley Books From Store Shelves 

Greg Sandoval, reporting for the AP:

Apple Computer Inc. has retaliated against the publisher of an upcoming unauthorized biography about chief executive Steve Jobs by removing dozens of other technology books sold by the publisher from Apple stores around the world.

Apple removed the books last week from all 104 of its stores after failing in a monthlong attempt to persuade John Wiley & Sons not to release iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, which is to go on sale within the next six weeks, the publisher said.

The book is co-authored by Jeffrey Young, who 20 years ago wrote The Journey Is the Reward, a highly unflattering, tabloid-style Jobs biography.

Among the Wiley books pulled from Apple’s stores are Andy Ihnatko’s, which is a shame.

Logorrhea 1.3 

Bug-fix and Tiger-compatibility update to the iChat log-viewer. (Freeware, donations accepted.)

‘Beginning Shell Scripting’ 

New book co-written by John C. Welch (he wrote the parts pertaining to Mac OS X).

Microsoft Readies New Document Printing Specification 

Microsoft is apparently building its own ground-up competitor to Adobe’s PostScript and PDF technologies, named “Metro”, and scheduled to appear in Longhorn. This strikes me as a wheel that didn’t need reinventing.

SpamSieve 2.3 

Even better accuracy, Tiger compatibility, improved AppleScript support, and more. The beta versions of 2.3 have been running at 99.9 percent accuracy for me.

‘Floating’ Ownership 

Dave Nanian of Shirt Pocket — the software company behind the excellent SuperDuper disk duplicator/backup utility — writes about an interesting consequence of Mac OS X’s optional ability to ignore file permissions on FireWire drives: the permissions on files you create on such drives “float”, meaning they appear to be owned by whomever is looking at them. This can lead to problems if they’re “looked at” by software running as root, such as SuperDuper.

Google Ads Evolving Into Same Type of Crap as Traditional Ads 

Saul Hansell reporting for The New York Times:

Starting today, Google will test changes to its advertising program that will give advertisers more control over where their ads are shown, how they pay for them and what they look like.

For Internet users, the most visible change will be an expanded use of ads with graphics and animation on many of the Web sites for which Google sells advertising, rather than the short text ads that have been Google’s hallmark.

Just what we need: more animated ads.

Tiger Accidentally Delivered Early to Some Customers 

Must… resist… urge… to… use… “cat is out of the bag”… pun… in… headline…

Apple-Microsoft Pissing Match in Newsweek 

Newsweek’s Steven Levy gets Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Jim Allchin to piss all over each other’s operating system.

Says Jobs: “Microsoft has followed our taillights for a long time. Maybe [in the ’90s] we stopped innovating for a while, but now they’ve been copying OS X the same way they copied Mac.”

Allchin described Mac OS X 10.4 as “a peripheral to the iPod.”

Delicious Library 1.5 Teaser 

Free update set to be released on April 29:

For the new version we’ve focused in three major areas – Tiger support, internationalization, and bug fixes.

Mac OS X Tiger is right around the corner and Delicious Library 1.5 has been optimized to run flawlessly with it. We’ve also added new features to take advantage of the many new exciting Tiger technologies including Spotlight and Dashboard.

Union Filesystems 

Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch with an intro/overview of “union filesystems”, an interesting feature I’d never before heard about, which Mac OS X has inherited from BSD:

A union filesystem is kind of like onion-skin paper for your filesystem. You take one filesystem and “overlay” it on top on another. Your system will present one logical filesystem, featuring a combination of both filesystems in a very specific way.

OJR Article on Blogger Salaries 

Gawker’s pay scale is “byzantine”; Weblogs Inc. has abandoned its 50-50 advertising split with its authors. (Via Mike Davidson.)

Comcast Aiding RIAA in Extortion 

Comcast provided the RIAA with broadband customer information — without a court order, and without notifying the customers — which the RIAA in turn used to extort thousands of dollars of compensation for “illegal” music downloads. Disgraceful. (Via Andy Baio.)

Shiira 0.9.5 

Update version of the open source Web Kit-based browser for Mac OS X. Introduces a a new “tab exposé” feature that looks interesting, and it finally supports bookmarklets. (Via Jesper via email.)

Java Problems With Mac OS X 10.3.9 Update 

If after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3.9 you’re unable to run Java programs, you’re not alone. Apple has a KnowledgeBase article that documents the problem and offers some workarounds.

Slow Login With Many PostScript Fonts 

Further confirmation of the font-related login delay bug in 10.3.6-10.3.8, from Apple’s KnowledgeBase. Specifically mentions that the problem could get worse each time you log in.

GraphicConverter Saves Pogue’s Bacon 

Or at least it saved his photos. He’d taken a bunch of RAW format pictures to accompany his New York Times review of the Canon Digital Rebel XT. Photoshop couldn’t read the files, but GraphicConverter could. (Via Nat Irons, via email.)

Netflix Freak 2.1 

Now with support for multiple Netflix accounts.


Dustin Sacks’s combination mailing list manager and RSS feed generator, powered by PHP and MySQL. Free. (Via Brent Simmons.)

John C. Dvorak on Adobe’s Purchase of Macromedia 

When he’s not trying to be a dickhead, Dvorak can still be insightful. This one is worth reading.

O’Reilly Radar 

New weblog from O’Reilly, tracking emerging trends. Pretty good design, with a Kottke-esque single-stream mix of links and longer entries. (You can turn on something similar here at Daring Fireball on the Preferences page.) Built with Movable Type.

Automator Actions Can Be Saved as Contextual Menu Plug-Ins 

Derrick Story:

All of those companies should come watch the Automator demo. It’s so easy to use and powerful. I’m going to be eliminating lots of repetitive tasks from my working life. But get this, you can save an Automator script as a Finder “plug-in,” which is Apple’s terminology for a CM (contextual menu) item, accessible via a right-click of the mouse.

What this means is that you’ll be able to write your own CMs with Automator in just a matter of minutes. This is going to be fun…

New Sony ‘Network Audio System’ Supports ITMS DRM 

First non-Apple product to support iTunes Music Store DRM.

Humans vs. Bayesian Filters 

Interesting observation from Joel Spolsky on spam filtering:

So while everybody is worried about how spam filters might inadvertently delete the proverbial crucial email from a customer, in practice, in the presence of lots of spam, human beings are far more likely to delete a real email than a well-implemented Bayesian filter.

I think this is true, especially for non-spam messages that have spammy-looking subjects.

NBC Tech Correspondent Took Payola From Apple, Sony, HP, and Others 

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz:

[Corey] Greenberg, an NBC contributor, confirmed yesterday that he has received payments from Apple as well as Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Seiko Epson, Creative Technology and Energizer Holdings, charging $15,000 apiece to talk up their products on news shows. The contracts were first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal.

SubEthaEdit 2.1.2 

The Coding Monkeys have released a new version of SubEthaEdit and are running a “get two licenses for the price of one” promotion from now until April 29.

Glenn Fleishman on Adobe’s Macromedia Acquisition 

Nice overview of the history of the desktop publishing market.

Safari Regressions 

Dave Hyatt is accepting TrackBack pings describing regressions from Safari 1.2 to 1.3. Note his previous entry, however, before you gripe about the menu key shortcut change for the View Source command.

Matt Haughey on the ‘Ajax’ Name Mini-Controversy 

Matt Haughey:

But what baffles me most is that programmers are missing the big picture. Yes, XMLHttpRequest has been around for years, and ajax is just a pretty term for DHTML and javascript, but the beauty of the term ajax is that we now have an easy way to sell the technology. I know engineers have a natural fear of anything and anyone in the marketing world, but now that managers, VC, and funders all know what ajax is and that users want that kind of application interaction, they’re much more likely to pay for it.

Well said. I’ve seen numerous nerds griping that ‘Ajax’ is just a vapid new name for XMLHttpRequest, but, well, names do matter.

Various Rogue Amoeba Updates for Tiger Compatibility 

Rogue Amoeba Software has released free minor updates to Detour, Nicecast, and MemoryCell (which I love) for compatibility with Mac OS X 10.4.

Movable Type 3.16 

Bug fix release, including improvements to the plug-in API. Full change notes are available, as is a list of known issues with this release.

Little App Factory Donating Software Proceeds to Leukemia Research 

The Little App Factory — makers of Netflix Freak and other Mac OS X utilities — have lost a friend and colleague, Rae Ellis, who died of complications from leukemia earlier today. In her memory, they’re donating the proceeds of all software sales from now until the end of June to leukemia research.

You can help a great cause and get some good software at the same time.

Adobe to Buy Macromedia for $3.4 Billion 

Huge deal. Ultimately, I can’t see how this is going to be good for professional designers — the competition between Adobe and Macromedia made both their product line-ups better.

10.3.9 Fixes Font-Related Login Delays 

As I hoped, Mac OS X 10.3.9 apparently fixes the font-cache-related login delays I wrote about a few weeks ago. From the release notes:

Addresses an issue in which the startup time in Mac OS X 10.3.6 through 10.3.8 may be extended if a large number of PostScript fonts are installed.

Safari 1.3 and Mac OS X 10.3.9 

It’s old news now (sorry, I was traveling) but Apple has released Mac OS X 10.3.9, which in addition to the usual assortment of bug fixes, also includes a major update to Safari’s WebCore rendering engine. According to Dave Hyatt, Safari 1.3’s renderer is “virtually identical” to Safari 2.0’s.

Excellent news for web developers, and excellent news for anyone who isn’t planning to upgrade to 10.4 in the near future.

New Features in Tiger 

Hard not to find at least a few things to get excited about in this long list of new features in Mac OS X 10.4

Apple Posts $290 Million Profit 

Record-setting second quarter for Apple: Mac sales are up 43 percent from a year ago, iPod sales are up 558 percent.

Zeroconf by Any Other Name 

It’s been rumored for months, but Apple has renamed Rendezvous, and the new name is Bonjour.

News Companies Support Rumor Sites in Apple Case 

California newspaper publishers have filed a court brief supporting PowerPage’s and Apple Insider’s appeal. If they think this “reporting” is so great, and so worthy of protection, why don’t they hire Jason O’Grady, Kasper Jade, and Nick Ciarelli?

Safari vs. Acid2 

Safari 2.0 hasn’t even been released yet (it ships with Tiger), but Dave Hyatt is already at work fixing bugs so it can pass the Web Standards Project’s Acid2 browser test.

New HP iPods 

Now with color screens and photo support. But still no Minis or Shuffles.

DragThing 5.6 

Free update, now with support for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Embedding Images in the Source of an HTML Page 

With the data: URL protocol, you can embed images (or other binary formats) directly in HTML. Neat. (Via Andy Baio.)

Kottke’s Micropatron Follow-Up 

How did Kottke’s funding drive go? Good but not great. I still say he should have sold T-shirts.

Safari’s Table-Copying Behavior Sucks 

Erik Barzeski on the unhelpful format Safari uses when you copy a table from a web page and paste it as text.

Spammer Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison 

He stays out of jail until his appeal, however.

Google Maps Satellite Pictures vs. Privacy 

I find this a little unnerving too.

The Archivist 

Paul Boutin interview with Internet Archive and, now, Ourmedia honcho Brewster Kahle. (Via Andy Baio, who calls Kahle his hero.)

SpamLookup 2.0b1 

Brad Choate and Tobias Hoellrich’s killer new anti-spam plug-in for Movable Type. I think this is going to be a must-have plug-in for any MT site that accepts comments or TrackBacks.

Getting Downgraded 

Jason Snell on Apple’s repeated downgrading of iTunes’ music-sharing feature: when it debuted you could share music over the Internet; then they restricted it to five concurrent users on your local network; recently they’ve tightened it to no more than five computers on your local network in the last 24 hours. Tech companies like Apple and Roxio are squeezed: customers want freedom, the entertainment industry wants odious restrictions.

Mac Mini Developer Note 


This developer note gives a technical description of the Mac mini. The note provides information about the computer’s internal design, input-output features, and expansion capabilities.

Best Interpretation of iPod Shuffle as Food 

Please eat iPod Shuffle. 

Great new documentation site for Perl by Jon Allen. The syntax coloring for code examples is a bit jaunty, but overall I like the design quite a bit.

‘Hacking Movable Type’ Goes to Press 

Hitting bookstores soon. Co-authored by Jay Allen, Brad Choate, Ben Hammersley, Matt Haughey, and David Raynes.


Typo is a weblogging system written in Ruby on Rails. Rather than provide a web-based admin interface, it relies upon XML-RPC clients such as MarsEdit for posting. (Via Brent Simmons.) Uses Textile instead of Markdown, though. [Update: Actually, Markdown formatting is available as a text-formatting option, it just isn’t mentioned in the feature list on the web site.]

Mac Emulator CherryOS “On Hold” 

Rip-off of the open source PearPC project has been put “on hold — until further notice”.

Dabblers and Blowhards 

Maciej Ceglowski calls bullshit on Paul Graham’s essaying.

Developing With Core Data 

Introduction to Core Data at Apple’s Developer Connection site. Even if you’re not a developer, this is a good intro to what Core Data means. The biggest advantage, at least in my opinion, is that apps that use Core Data will get nearly automatic support for undo/redo, something that’s been sorely missed.

Adobe Initiates Activation for Creative Suite 2 

Jim Dalrymple reports for MacCentral on Adobe’s new activation system for the upcoming Creative Suite 2, which will require online serial number registration. I don’t think this will hurt honest users at all — the activation hoops aren’t likely to be any more difficult than the existing “enter your serial number” dialog. The aim is to cut down on “soft” bootlegging, where, say, someone buys one license and installs it on more than two machines.

Inside the iPod Shuffle 

Nikkei Electronics Asia cracked open an iPod Shuffle to see what was inside. Despite the low price, they were impressed by the quality of the components:

Apple’s care is obvious in the appearance of the components, and innovations to improve how the unit feels when you use it. The firm didn’t hesitate to use expensive components when required.

Changes to NetNewsWire’s Embedded Browser 

Brent Simmons on the changes to the embedded web browser in the latest beta of NetNewsWire 2.0 (which, from the polish of this beta, looks like it’s finally getting out of beta soon).

Adobe Creative Suite 2 Announced 

I’m not sure there are any new features in Photoshop or InDesign (the two Adobe apps I use) that I want to pay for. Update: OK, Photoshop’s new “vanishing point” feature seems both cool and useful, but I still don’t think it’s worth shelling out over $300 for the upgrade.

Gartner Research ‘Analyst’ Tole Hart Is a Moron 

At the end of a BusinessWeek article on the problems Motorola is having finding carriers willing to embrace their as-yet-still-vaporware iTunes-enabled phone (gist of article: the carriers don’t want you to be able to load the music you already own on your phone; they’re drunk on the gazillions they’re currently raking in selling “ring tones” for a few bucks a pop; thus they want you to buy an entirely different library of music just for your cell phone) we’re treated to the following gem of a quote from “analyst” Tole Hart:

“Who wants the $500 iPod phone when you could buy a phone and an iPod for that much?” says analyst Tole Hart of researcher Gartner.

Uh, hello? How about anyone who didn’t want to carry both a phone and an iPod? And, even dumber, it is not an “iPod” phone. It is a Motorola-branded phone that works with iTunes. There’s a big difference. If there were such a thing as an iPod phone, they could sell for more than $500.

Why do reporters continue to quote these morons?

CamelBones 1.0.0b1 

Major update to Sherm Pendley’s framework that allows you to create real Cocoa apps written in Perl. This appeals to me greatly.

Audio Hijack Pro Used by Two-Thirds of the Members of Spinal Tap 

I can see the feature request now: a volume control that goes to 11.

BitTorrent 4.0.1 

Updated version of the official Mac OS X BitTorrent client.

George Hotelling Goes Gopher, Powered by Markdown 

George Hotelling has given his site a 1991-era redesign for April 1. 1991 predates the web, so it’s using the gopher: protocol, which means plain text rather than HTML markup. He’s using Markdown to format his entries, which means they just work as plain text. Very clever.

If you don’t have a web browser that groks gopher:, there’s an http: approximation here, on port 70.

WordPress Follow-Up 

More on the WordPress link-spam fiasco from Andy Baio, including a link to Matt Mullenweg’s response (written while on vacation in Italy) and a message from the “CEO” at Hot Nacho, the company that paid Mullenweg to host the articles and ads.

Baio’s coverage of this has been fantastic — his investigation thorough, and his commentary fair. There’s been a rush of mainstream media coverage of this story, not a single bit of which has added anything more than Baio’s coverage. This is weblogging-as-journalism.

Camino 0.8.3 

Bug fixes and minor improvements.