By John Gruber
Build internal tools in minutes with Retool, where visual programming meets the power of real code.
Michel Fortin has the scoop on using Markdown with the recently-released WordPress 2.0.
Lots of improvements from beta 1.
Charles C. Mann reporting on pay-per-click advertising fraud:
Probably the most worrisome emerging threat is zombie networks — hordes of linked machines controlled by rogue software. Without their owners’ knowledge, these boxes continuously send spam, transmit worms and viruses, participate in denial-of-service attacks, and execute a host of other antisocial tasks. These zombie networks can be enormous. […] The robot machines create clicks from all around the world at apparently random intervals, making them difficult to identify.
Suck.com, one of the most important and influential webzines, appears to be offline permanently, replaced by a porn search portal.
Search for any common spelling and you get a special Hanukkah-themed results page. Same trick works for “Kwanzaa” and (attention Bill O’Reilly:) “Christmas”, too. (Via Nat Irons via email.) Update: This might only work if you’re in the U.S.
Fantastic news. I’ve been bitching about the design of The Times’s web site ever since it launched — The Times is one of the best-designed print periodicals in the world, and, I think, the best-designed newspaper, but their web site has always been scattered and rather junky-looking. Vinh is the perfect man for the job. Who’d have thought the brains behind The Onion’s recent web redesign would end up as Design Director for The New York Times?
Hawaii woman says the box for the iPod she bought her son for Christmas had no iPod inside, but instead a piece of “mystery meat”.
Be sure to read (or at least skip) to the end.
Dan Benjamin explains how to create a launchd item to startup up LightTPD — an alternative web server popular for deploying Rails applications — on your Mac.
James Duncan Davidson:
To help you learn how to DIY your Rails deployment and show you the easiest way to get going, here’s my recipe for deploying onto a server with LightTPD.
A little late for Christmas, but camera advice from Philip Greenspun is always worth reading.
My favorites on the list are Mark Simonson’s Proxima Nova (Joyent’s identity font) and Robert Slimbach’s Garamond Premier Pro.
Gus Mueller’s tale of how he got Flying Meat Software off the ground and became a successful indie Mac developer is full of great advice:
Lesson #7 - It’s not good enough to write and sell something that people want, it has to be something they’ll spend money for as well.
Bruce Schneier, quoting a web browser security study from August:
MSIE was 98% unsafe. There were only 7 days in 2004 without an unpatched publicly disclosed security hole.
Firefox was 15% unsafe. There were 56 days with an unpatched publicly disclosed security hole. 30 of those days were a Mac hole that only affected Mac users. Windows Firefox was 7% unsafe.
Opera was 17% unsafe: 65 days. That number is accidentally a little better than it should be, as two of the upatched periods happened to overlap.
(Via Paul Thurrott.)
Don’t bogart the outlet, Dick.
Bug fix update to Linotype’s ass-kickingly good free font management utility for Mac OS X.
Scott Stevenson has a terrific response to a dumb-ass Boston Herald columnist who thinks Apple should buy Palm:
Now he says he wants one device that “does it all,” but I think what he really wants is one device that does all of these well, which is a much different thing. I’m skeptical a hyrid phone/music player/organizer is going to be able to match the experience of an iPod anytime soon.
I’m sure the QA jobs are easy — Google keeps their apps in “beta” for years.
Aperture 1.0.1 Update addresses a number of issues related to reliability and performance.
Wonder if he’s getting paid just to hack on Python, sort of like how back in the dot-com era O’Reilly used to have Larry Wall on the payroll just to support the continued development of Perl?
This no longer sounds very interesting:
Integrating Google Talk and AIM will be done in a roundabout way, mostly to keep AOL and Google from exposing the valuable profile information customers must first provide to sign up.
In essence, the two IM networks will not be connected. Rather, Google’s Google Talk users must first sign up for an AIM account and screen name. They can then carry on a conversation with an AIM user by using their Google IM desktop dashboard.
(Via Aaron Swartz via AIM.)
Most interesting to me among the deal’s “broad range of new features for users and advertisers”:
- Enabling Google Talk and AIM instant messaging users to communicate with each other, provided certain conditions are met
I wonder whether the “certain conditions” are for users to meet (e.g. using an up-to-date AIM and/or Google Talk client) or what?
School district in North Carolina claims Apple is announcing new iBook line-up Jan. 9. What strikes me about this, though, is that if true, it means Apple sales reps have been briefed on new products coming next month, and I just don’t think that’s how Apple operates — new product announcements are secrets even within Apple.
(Via Daniel Bogan via AIM.)
Free utility for Mac and Windows from Thomas Knoll (one of the original developers of Photoshop) allows you to recover “lost” pixels from the edges of RAW camera files. (Again via Khoi Vinh.)
Weblog devoted to Aperture. (Via Khoi Vinh.)
Upcoming game from Ambrosia; super-clever concept.
Why Amazon’s “tagging” feature isn’t useful — and therefore, because it’s just useless visual clutter, is in fact detrimental to the overall user experience.
Best graphic design I’ve ever seen from Google. Also worth noting: iPod dominates the list of top Froogle searches of the year, holding spots 1, 4, 8, and 9 (and 3 is “mp3 player”).
Yahoo small business hosting is now offering WordPress alongside Movable Type.
I think Info-Mac could have disappeared a few years ago and few would have noticed, but it’s hard to overstate how important it was to the Mac software community in the pre-Web ’90s. It was the way to learn about new and updated software. (Via Michael Tsai.)
Six Apart’s Michael Sippey on the weekend outage at TypePad.
Bare Bones Software:
Owners of Dreamweaver, GoLive, Mailsmith and TextWrangler can purchase this award-winning HTML and text editor for the Macintosh for only US$99.
Because TextWrangler is free, this effectively means that anyone can purchase a BBEdit license for only $99.
The idea of using tabs alone makes me want to use Adium, but I really can’t get along without iChat’s ability to paste images inline. I’d switch in a heartbeat if image-pasting worked in Adium. Bray also points out that Adium is existence proof that open source software can sport a good UI. See also: Eric Meyer on Adium skinning via XHTML and CSS.
This is the downside to centralized online storage.
Good selection of great Mac products, including a slew of products I use.
John Battelle speculates on the reasoning behind Google’s investment in AOL.
Q: Why are people so uncomfortable with Wikipedia? And Google? And, well, that whole blog thing?
A: Because these systems operate on the alien logic of probabilistic statistics, which sacrifices perfection at the microscale for optimization at the macroscale.
Nice write-up by the former IE/Mac product manager, including a link to a Slashdot comment from Jorg Brown, former IE/Mac engineer. (Via Michael Tsai.)
Additionally, as of January 31st, 2006, Internet Explorer for the Mac will no longer be available for download from Mactopia. It is recommended that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple’s Safari.
This is neither surprising nor all that big a deal, but it matters because there still exist web sites that only work in IE.
In 1989 one of the main objectives of the WWW was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute. The first browser was actually a browser/editor, which allowed one to edit any page, and save it back to the web if one had access rights.
Beau Hartshorne’s Instant Domain Search is the best way to check for available domain names I’ve seen.
But then again, most people aren’t Wolf Rentzsch, and, well, there was a red pen nearby.
Gmail for mobile devices.
Adobe’s Thomas Phinney:
What makes for quality type? What’s the difference between typeface quality and font quality? Who makes quality typefaces/fonts?
Opinions on web design trends from Khoi Vinh, Dave Shea, Jason Fried, and yours truly.
iPod Minis which sold for $200 retail are now going for upwards of $275 on eBay; one company that still has them in stock is selling them for $349.
One of the leading QuarkXPress plug-in developers folds into the mothership. (Via MacMinute.)
People often ask me if I think digital photography is as good as film or will ever become as good as film. I reply that for all but a few special purposes, digital is better already. Technically, my digital photographs are at least as good as the best conventional photographs I ever took with 2-1/4” x 3-1/4” (6 cm x 9 cm) film, and pictorially they are better. With my digital camera I can take pictures in the street that used to require a studio.
The Associated Press:
MTV Networks said Tuesday that it had formed a partnership with Microsoft to develop an online music service that will begin operating early next year.
Not only will it not work with iPods (duh), but it won’t work with Macs, either.
I’ve been waiting a long, long time to break the following news: Panic has been granted a license by Namco to sell a line of t-shirts inspired by the cult-hit Playstation 2 game Katamari Damacy!
Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy, is so protective of his creation that, other than the game soundtrack, these shirts are the only licensed goods he’s ever approved for manufacture.
Bruce Wallace, reporting for the L.A. Times:
After initially denying any responsibility for the J-Com snafu, exchange executives acknowledged this week that flaws in their electronic trading system prevented Mizuho from correcting its order and minimizing losses. Mizuho traders realized their mistake within 85 seconds of placing the erroneous order and made four attempts to cancel it. It was rejected each time.
The exchange concedes that its software was unable to accept a cancellation order while “buy” orders were coming in. Nor was the system programmed to accept a cancellation order on a newly listed stock.
Macworld (and Newsweek (neither of which capitalize their “w”s, by the way)) have signed deals with NewsGator for rebranded versions of NewsGator’s web-based RSS aggregator. And but considering this:
Macworld will also be releasing a private branded version (with full synchronization) of NetNewsWire, NewsGator’s award winning RSS aggregator for the Mac.
This puts Macworld in an awkward spot if they ever again want to review or compare RSS aggregators. If they say NetNewsWire is the best (which it currently is) they’re wide open to accusations of bias; if they say it’s not the best, then they’re stuck admitting that their readers who use the bundled version of NNW are getting something less than the best.
Daniel Jalkut chases down a bug in Xcode. I’m a sucker for a story like this.
The Google Homepage API is our effort to open the Google homepage to developers.
Sort of like Dashboard/Konfabulator widgets, but on Google.com rather than on your desktop.
More on Aperture from Dave Girard at Ars Technica.
Wil Shipley on a rather shoddy Windows knock-off of Delicious Library.
This Rails thing might catch on.
There’s something humorous about using Google Answers to get gossip about Yahoo.
Today’s my day guest-posting at “Celebrity” Say-So. My topic: blue or graphite color scheme for Mac OS X? I’m down for graphite; John Siracusa and Bryan Bell have already voted for blue.
Deal with Six Apart to offer MT hosting to Yahoo small business web hosting customers. I’d love to find out more about this tidbit, though:
Six Apart said it had optimized the underlying software in Movable Type so that it responds twice as fast as the same software offered by Six Apart’s own Web site.
Update: Jeremy Zawodny writes:
Yahoo! servers run FastCGI, which is an order of magnitude faster than typical hosting environments.
New release of the widget engine formerly known as Konfabulator, for both Mac and Windows.
Trader meant to sell 1 share for 610,000 yen, but instead put 610,000 shares on the market for 1 yen apiece. But that’s not a typing error — it’s a user interface error. Whatever software he was using to enter the trade should have flagged it as an error before it was committed.
Nice list of UI gripes about iPhoto.
Daniel Terdiman, reporting for CNet:
The league, working with Silicon Graphics, is setting out to create a digital archive of the entire filmed history of its games, from legendary contests between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers to seemingly meaningless late-season games between out-of-contention teams. The archive will be available at NBA.com.
I didn’t know Silicon Graphics was still in business.
ZFS trades CPU cycles for piece of mind. Every block is checksummed after it arrives from the disk (or network or whatever).
Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go, in an op-ed in The New York Times:
To be clear, I certainly don’t encourage people to pirate our music. I have poured my life into my band, and after two major label records, our accountants can tell you that we’re not real rock stars yet. But before a million people can buy our record, a million people have to hear our music and like it enough to go looking for it. That won’t happen without a lot of people playing us for their friends, which, in turn, won’t happen without a fair amount of file sharing.
I returned from An Event Apart Philadelphia with a head full of ideas, inspiration, and snot. Walking the snowy Franklin Parkway at 5:30 am after not sleeping for two nights in a row can give you a heck of a head cold
We’re proud to announce that del.icio.us has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we’ll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We’re excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team - they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We’re also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)
Yahoo continues to acquire the cream of the crop of the indie web. See also: Jeremy Zawodny. (Via Andy Baio.)
Cameron Moll on web design / development trends for 2006.
Using Google AdSense for performance art.
The film is definitely more interesting in concept than actuality — any one of the essays from Fog Creek CEO Joel Spolsky’s blog, Joel On Software, will tell you more about software development, or Joel or Fog Creek, than the movie will. (In fact, Joel’s relative distance is one of the film’s biggest faults, since he is the most engaging interviewee in it. Maybe, as the company financed the movie, this was a deliberate choice, a sort of modesty, or a desire to make a movie more about the interns than him, but I wound up wishing for more.)
Google Earth is a very cool app, but the user interface of the Mac port in these screenshots looks like ass. Does Google hire designers?
Minor update to The Omni Group’s popular diagramming app.
AIM bot from Make Magazine to notify you about new articles. Sort of gimmicky, but it’s cool because it’s truly “instant”, providing a much snappier user experience than anything delivered over HTTP.
Zen Vision users better have big pockets. (Via Engadget.)
Bug-fix update to Connected Flow’s Flickr plug-in for iPhoto; “strongly recommended” for all users.
Richard Rutter’s Bringhurst-inspired “practical guide to web typography”. Rutter introduces it on his weblog. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)
Do you understand the difference between these two sentences?
Because Paul Thurrott apparently does not.
While I was looking at the data, though, I noticed something perhaps more newsworthy: in the same period, Ruby book sales surpassed Python book sales for the first time. Python is up 20% vs. the same period last year, but Ruby is up 1552%! (Perl is down 3%.) Perl is still the most commonly used of the three languages, at least according to book sales, but Python and now Ruby are narrowing the gap.
Alex Robinson’s cutting edge CSS layout technique; allows you to order your columns in your markup independently of the order they’ll display when rendered, and if that weren’t enough, gives you equal-height columns without hacks. Eric Meyer dissected these techniques at Monday’s An Event Apart, and it absolutely blew me away.
Very clever. (Via Kottke.)
Tjark Derlien’s excellent freeware Disk Inventory X is now at version 1.0:
Disk Inventory X is a disk usage utility for Mac OS X 10.3 (and later). It shows the sizes of files and folders in a special graphical way called “treemaps”.
If you’ve ever wondered were all your disk space has gone, Disk Inventory X will help you to answer this question.
Very nice free screensaver from Russ Warneboldt. Hooray for Quartz Compositor.
Nice intro to SQLite from Aaron Hillegass. Includes a pointer to Tito Ciuro’s QuickLite project, a lightweight Cocoa SQLite wrapper. (Via Brent Simmons.)
Aaron Swartz is working on a new web app framework for Python:
And so, Lisp and Django found wanting, we’re left with web.py. I’d like to say that web.py learned from these mistakes and was designed to avoid them, but the truth is that web.py was written before all this and managed to avoid them anyway.
The Reddit team rewrote their app from Lisp to Python using web.py, and presumably they’re using web.py for Aaron’s secretive Infogami start-up.
Interface tweaks, AppleScript improvements, and additional localizations.
He pretty much pans it, and is especially critical of the quality of the RAW importer. Some of his criticism seems to be that Aperture isn’t nearly as good as Photoshop at editing features, however, but I don’t get the impression that it’s intended to be.
Nifty web app lets you build your own calendar comprised of vintage Red Cross artwork; proceeds benefit your local chapter of the Red Cross.
John C. Welch, writing from his perspective as an IT admin:
The problem I have with haxies cannot be truly appreciated unless you’ve ever had to ask someone over the phone, “Have you done anything to your system recently, like installing new software or utilities?” (For more fun, make sure you’re in Massachusetts, and they’re in a dialup-only hotel in Malaysia.)
You always know what the answer will be: “NO”. Even if they’re registering WindowShade while they’re talking to you.
This sounds much more appetizing:
Of course, we will continue delivering the Flash Player as a small, efficient runtime for content and applications on the web, and Adobe Reader for viewing and interacting with PDF documents and forms. The integration of these technologies into a unified framework creates a ubiquitous platform that runs on virtually every device, and dramatically expands the opportunities to create compelling solutions.
Purchase Unison (just updated to version 1.7) before Dec. 30 and you’re automatically entered to win a special-edition Panic-logo-engraved iPod Nano.
Bunch of shows from NBC, USA, and the SciFi Network, including some classic stuff (e.g. classic episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and clips of their late night shows — not whole episodes but five- to ten-minute clips, I say.
From the company’s FAQ regarding the now-completed acquisition:
How long will it take to integrate Flash Player and Adobe Reader?
It will be a multiyear effort. Ultimately, our goal is to combine both in a single client. Combining PDF and Adobe Reader with Flash and the Flash Player will allow us to deliver a truly ubiquitous platform that sits on virtually every device. We will build on that to create compelling customer solutions.
Boy, does that smell like a frankensteinian combination.
Recall this prophetic joke from my “Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Adobe’s ‘FAQ’ Regarding Their Acquisition of Macromedia”, where I wrote, in the faux voice of Adobe:
Where by “complementary” we mean “the two leading technologies that irritate people when they’re used in lieu of regular web pages.” Note that we’re using PDF to serve this very FAQ — in our synergistic future, perhaps we’ll serve our FAQs in a hybrid PDF/Flash format. One can dream.
Photos from An Event Apart’s excellent one-day workshop here in Philly, where I’m posting this from.
James Fallows — national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly — takes an overview of various organizer/outliners available for the Mac, and throws in a well-deserved plug for Ted Goranson’s excellent coverage of this software category in ATPM.
Corey Redlien on last week’s Rich Siegel-v.-Drunkenbatman haxie-compatibility imbroglio:
Still, how about all of those other users out there who don’t write in? They just had a bad experience with my software, and it’s not my fault! For every one person who writes in with their bad haxie-induced experience, there’s probably 100 that don’t write in, and therefore are likely to get the impression that my software stinks out loud. They don’t realize that their haxie caused the problem. I’ve just lost money because of some other program on their system. Money I would have loved to make by fixing my code to work with their particular haxie, except for the fact, that I probably can’t do anything about it!
Most regular users just don’t realize what they’re doing when they install stuff.
I could have done without yet another analogy comparing haxies to after-market car add-ons, but this is a good take from the perspective of an app developer.
UI designer for Songbird (a cross-platform desktop music player) responds to critics who claim it borrows heavily from iTunes (i.e. the entire basic layout of the main player window) using silly lingo like “VisDe” and “UED” (both terms apparently Yahoo shorthand for “visual design” and “user experience design”, respectively), concluding:
Sure, a media player’s desktop feature set (e.g., rip, mix, burn, play, sync, etc.) is essentially complete, but the concomitant UED and VisDe of that set is still resolving. Moreover, a media player’s network feature set and concomitant UED and VisDe is nascent at best. We’re confident that Apple and other media player developers are going to recognize — and “steal” — Songbird’s UED innovations. Catch us if you can. ;)
I’m sure Apple will put someone on this right away.
Completes the agreement made in April.
Simpler than before (although they were already nicely simple). Strategically, they’ve repositioned themselves for the post-iTunes-built-in-podcasting-support world. Their message (but not their business model) is now clear: use Odeo to record and share your own audio files.
$10 e-book by Andy Williams Affleck, covering everything from recording and editing software, microphones, and publishing tools.
Comments about performance, the user interface, and RAW support.