Linked List: January 2005

Interview With a Link Spammer 

Great story at The Register by Charles Arthur.

Steve Jobs Profile in Christian Science Monitor 

By Patrick Dillon. (Via MacInTouch.)

New PowerBooks 

Speed-bump revisions to the PowerBook G4 line-up, moving the CPU speeds to 1.5 and 1.67 GHz, RAM starts at 512 MB (finally), and, intriguingly, new trackpads that support scrolling by dragging two fingers across the pad.

I’ll You 

Andy Baio is investigating an awkward bit of dialog from “The O.C.”, wherein a character uttered the phrase, “I’d him”, but which denies was paid product placement.

iPod Shuffle Power Users’ Review 

Detailed review by Jeremy Horwitz at iPodlounge.

The Perils of Using XHTML Properly 

456 Berea Street runs down what you need to know if you want to serve XHTML with the application/xhtml+xml content type rather than good old text/html.

Best Buy to Sell Mac Mini, 512 MB iPod Shuffle 

Brad Gibson reports for The Mac Observer.

AdWords API Blog 

Google has released a new API for AdWords, and they’re documenting it on a new AdWords API weblog. (Via Nelson Minar, who works at Google on the AdWords API team.)

Steve Jobs NextStep 3.0 Demo 

30-minute video of Steve Jobs demoing NextStep 3.0.

iMovie 5.0.1 

That didn’t take long.

New York Times Article on Apple’s Genius Bars 

Katie Hafner reports:

In an age when human help of any kind is hard to come by, the eight or nine Geniuses on duty at any given time here are a welcome anomaly.

In fact, go to any of the 102 Apple-owned retail stores in the world and — if you are willing to wait — you will be treated to what is an increasingly rare service: free face-to-face technical support.

Beware Weird Side Effects From Terminal’s ‘Secure Keyboard Entry’ Mode 

Turn on “Secure Keyboard Entry” in Terminal; watch weird things happen in other apps.

Great in a Subtle, Secret Way 

Steve Martin’s letter to Johnny Carson:

If I could wake you up for a minute, I would ask you to tell me how good you thought you were. “Between you and me,” I think you would whisper, “I know I was great in a subtle, secret way.”

Andy Ihnatko on Johnny Carson 

This is outside the realm of what generally constitutes Fireball material, but I loved Johnny Carson — he was right up there with Letterman, Kubrick, and Bird on my short list of idols. Andy Ihnatko captures why.

Security Update Naming 

OK, it wasn’t just me. Apple has changed the naming scheme for Mac OS X security updates:

The naming scheme of Apple Security Updates has changed from a date format (e.g., “Security Update 2004-12-02”) to a format based on the year and a sequence number:  Security Update YYYY-NNN. For example, the update released today is named “Security Update 2005-001”, the next would be “Security Update 2005-002” and so on.

(Via Matt Deatherage via email.)

Target Pulls Mac Mini From Online Store 

Peter Cohen, reporting for MacCentral:

Only a few days after first listing Apple’s new Mac mini, the online store for popular retailer Target has removed the new computer from its inventory lists. E-mails to customers indicate that “can’t offer a definite date” for when the Mac mini will be in stock, and because of this, is no longer making the computer available for order.

About Security Update 2005-001 for Mac OS X 

Is it just me, or does the “2005-001” bit imply a new naming scheme for Mac OS X security updates?

How to Record a Podcast 

Glenn Fleishman on how to make a decent recording on your Mac using low-cost software and hardware.

Apple Lowers Build-to-Order Pricing on Mac Mini 

1 GB memory upgrade drops $150 to $325; prices for other options, like the bigger hard drive and AirPort/Bluetooth cut as well. I’m not complaining, but it seems a tad odd that they’d cut these prices only two weeks after introduction.

Apple Commercial Archive 

Andrew Day has assembled a zip archive of 165 Apple TV commercials in QuickTime format.

TidBITS: Why Go Pro (Audio Hijack Pro, That Is) 

Matt Neuburg, writing for TidBITS:

Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro is a great program, but it seems to me that the developer’s own Web pages fail to explain exactly why. The conceptual difficulty is that Audio Hijack Pro occupies two niches at once — it does two quite different things. So, in reading about it, if you don’t particularly want it for the first thing it does, the second thing it does might not even register upon your consciousness. Yet this second thing is extremely cool and, as far as I can tell, quite unique.

Photon Now Freeware 

Photon is an iPhoto plug-in that allows you to export pictures to weblogs using Movable Type, TypePad, Blosjom, and WordPress. Supports iPhoto ’05. Used to cost $7; now freeware.

MT Bug Allows Spammers to Send Email Through mt-comments.cgi 

Ouch. A bug in Movable Type allows spammers to send email via the mt-comments.cgi script. MT 3.15 fixes the bug; but word is out, and MT installations which haven’t yet updated are getting hammered by spammers. Six Apart has also released a small plug-in that fixes the same bug, for those running older versions of MT or who simply want to close the hole as quickly as possible.

The bug was that MT was allowing newline characters within email addresses, which allowed spammers to inject additional message headers in notification emails. Inject a couple of thousand addresses in a Bcc: header, and blammo.

Google Hires Firefox Lead Developer 

Ben Goodger now works for Google, but he’s still the lead engineer for Firefox.

‘Hello, I’m Macintosh.’ 

Scott Knaster’s video of the unveiling of the original Macintosh at the Apple shareholder’s meeting in January 1984.

Memo to Apple: License the ClearType Fonts 

Microsoft has commissioned a new set of fonts for Longhorn, specifically optimized for use on-screen with anti-aliasing. Joe Clark wants Apple to license them from Microsoft.

MacInTouch Mac Mini Review 

Ric Ford’s extensive review.

James Duncan Davidson: Cracking Open the Mac Mini (Video) 

One last “how to open a Mac Mini” link.

Dan Frakes Takes Apart a Mac Mini 

Macworld is really kicking ass with Mac Mini coverage on their Editors’ Notes weblog. See also: Jason Snell on the Mini’s internals. Now Selling Mac Mini 

MacMinute reports that’s 10-percent off “coupons” work when ordering a Mac Mini.

Macteens: Pages Review 

Dan Pourhadi reviews Pages for Macteens; echoes the sentiment that it’s a page-layout app, not a true word processor. (Via Michael Tsai.)

Michael Tsai on iLife ’05 Pricing 

Michael Tsai notes that unlike almost all commercial consumer software, iLife ’05 has no upgrade discount — if you bought iLife ’04, you still have to pay the full $79 price for iLife ’05. Tsai also points out that if you were planning on upgrading both iLife and Quicken, you can get a new Mac Mini — which comes with both titles in the software bundle — for just $220 more than the cost of iLife, Quicken, and a license for Mac OS X by themselves.

Interarchy 7.3 

My favorite file transfer app.


MemoryCell is a new freeware menu extra from Rogue Amoeba. I’ve been using it in beta for a while, and I love it. It displays how much memory the frontmost app is using — useful for knowing when you ought to consider quitting and relaunching apps that grow to use large amounts of RAM.

Ta-da List 

New free web app from 37signals: simple, sharable to-do lists.

Wired News: NFL Catches iPod Fever 

$10 to listen to football games that are already over. Uh, yeah, that’s a good idea.

Comparing Apples and Oranges 

Dan Frakes compares the Mac Mini to a cheap Dell.

How to Disassemble a Mac Mini 

700 KB video. Doesn’t look too hard.

iPod Shuffle Dissected 

AppleMatters takes apart an iPod Shuffle.

Unpacking the iPod Shuffle 

Engadget’s first-person iPod Shuffle experience.

Monster Fueled by Caffeine 

Leander Kahney, writing for Wired News:

Delicious Monster is the Mac software company behind the hit Delicious Library, a program for cataloging collections of books, movies and games. The software is selling like hot cakes and has garnered rave reviews and awards, yet the company’s headquarters is a Seattle coffee house.

Front Page Story in Washington Post on Apple-Think Secret Suit 

Says Nick “dePlume” Ciarelli: “Sites like mine are good for Apple because they generate interest in its products.”

As if the Washington Post weren’t enough, Ciarelli also made it onto page B1 of today’s Wall Street Journal. You need a paid subscription to that one, but you can check out his WSJ dot-portrait for free. (Via MDJ 2005.01.14.)

StuffIt Image Format 

Allume Systems (nee Aladdin) has announced, but not released, a new image compression format which they claim compresses 28 percent better than JPEG.

Jason Snell: Mac Mini: What You Need to Know 

Jason Snell with a terrific first look at the Mac Mini. For example, his is the only report I’ve seen that mentions the speed of the Mini’s hard disks — only 4200 RPM, same as in iBooks.

Apple: Best Financial Quarter Ever 

Apple posts highest quarterly revenue and net income in company history. Mac sales are up, and as Jobs stated in the MWSF keynote, iPod sales are way up.

Google Mini 

$5000 search appliance. What’s up with the “Mini” name craze? (Via Daniel Bogan via AIM.)

NY Times Editorial on Apple Hardware Pricing 

Not an op-ed column, but rather one of the unsigned editorials representing the opinion of the Times’s editorial board. What a bizarre topic for an editorial.

Nick Ciarelli Is Nick dePlume 

Now a freshman at Harvard. He’s been running Think Secret since he was in the 7th grade. And I was right that his identity wasn’t much of a secret — Apple’s lawsuit doesn’t include his name, but a letter they sent to Think Secret on Nov. 11 does. Ciarelli told The Harvard Crimson he hasn’t hired a lawyer because he can’t afford one.

Andy Hertzfeld Interview With CNet 

Another great interview with Andy Hertzfeld.

Pages Is More of a DTP App Than a Word Processor 

So says Macworld’s Philip Michaels. And so says Dori Smith, too.

Bungie Releases Marathon Trilogy as Freeware 

Good god did I waste time on these games.

TextWrangler 2 FAQ 

TextWrangler 2 in a nutshell.

Henry Norr’s MWSF Report 

MacInTouch has an outstanding report by Henry Norr from the MWSF show floor, with additional info regarding whether RAM is user-installable in the Mac Mini:

Apple “does not recommend” that users upgrade the memory themselves — you’re supposed to have a service provider do it if you want to add more after purchase — but doing it yourself does not void the warranty unless you damage something. A booth person told me the memory slot is easily accessible once you get the case open.

Mossberg Reviews iPod Shuffle 

Likes it a lot, and says the battery lasted over 15 hours in his testing (Apple only claims 12).

RAM Slot in Mac Mini Not User Accessible? 

Nat Irons finds the Mac Mini compelling — but, well, who doesn’t? — but points out that a footnote on Apple’s tech specs page indicates that memory upgrades “must be performed by an Apple Authorized Service provider”. That’ll cost you if you want more than the default 256 MB, and I assure you, you want more.

Mac Mini, Circa 1972 

Dan Benjamin found 32-year-old pictures of the Mac Mini computer.

TextWrangler 2.0 Released as Freeware 

BBEdit Lite is dead; long live TextWrangler. Tons of new features from BBEdit 8, including syntax coloring for all the languages supported by BBEdit, the documents drawer, the Shebang menu (for shell scripting), and full Unicode support.

And it’s freeware. Free, I say.

iWork - Pages 

Holy crap — a new app from Apple that isn’t metal.

Expo Keynote in a Nutshell 

Shorter keynote: almost exactly as forecast by Think Secret.

RSS Market Share 

FeedBurner has published some rough estimates of aggregator market share. Amazingly, NetNewsWire is the number one desktop app — not just for the Mac, but anywhere, even though it’s Mac-only. It’s not even close. That’s astounding.

Macworld UK: Flash iPod Details 

Macworld UK:

There was panic at the Apple stand at Macworld Expo San Francisco 2005 on Monday when one of the covered Apple banners was briefly exposed to other exhibitors building their booths at the Moscone Center’s South Hall.

The micro iPod is white, and will hold 240 songs — but has no screen so will play the unlisted tracks in a set order or in random fashion. Four buttons are arranged in a square formation – two large buttons and two smaller ones.

Apple’s slogan for the iPod is “240 songs a million ways”.

Keynote Webcast to Be Delayed Nine Hours 

Not available until 6p PST / 9p EST. How strange.

Jeff Harrell Interview With Andy Hertzfeld 

Nice interview in the wake of Hertzfeld’s great new book, “Revolution in the Valley”.

EFF Agrees to Defend Web Publishers Subpoenaed by Apple 

Regarding Apple’s subpoenas for the names of sources related to the “Asteroid” leak, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has agreed to represent AppleInsider and O’Grady’s PowerPage. No mention of Think Secret, however, which was also subpoenaed in the same case.

DrunkenBlog Interview With Tiger File Sharing Defendant 

In another recent legal filing, last month Apple filed suit against three people for file-sharing a beta build of Tiger via BitTorrent. DrunkenBlog has an interesting interview with one of the defendants. Choice quote:

I made the foolish assumption that since I wasn’t a developer, and I had a copy that it would be ok if I shared it with 5 or 6 fellow mac fanatics.

What he really means, I think, is that he didn’t think Apple would notice or care if shared it with “5 or 6 fellow mac fanatics”, not that he thought it was “ok”.

Window Margins in Aqua 

Jonathan Rentzsch on the use of margins in Aqua window layouts.

TK Pal: TypeKey + PayPal for PHP 

Andre Torrez:

TK Pal is a snippet of PHP code you can place in a PHP enabled page to restrict access to content to TypeKey users who have specifically paid to see that content.

What’s neat — in the way that anything recursive is inherently neat — is that he’s using TK Pal to charge a dollar for access to TK Pal’s source code and documentation. As Torrez describes it, it’s “Kind of like using a robot to build robots.”

The Shape of Days: Interview with Brent Simmons 

Jeff Harrell interviews Brent Simmons. Choice quote from Simmons:

But the main thing to remember is what Walt Disney said, “I don’t make movies to make money. I make money to make more movies.” We went into this business wanting to make software. Money allows us to continue making software.


Very cool freeware calculator app by Scott Fortmann-Roe:

Longhand is a calculator built from the ground up to facilitate calculation. Most other computer calculators try blindly to emulate the physical format of their predecessors. […] Longhand uses the same paradigm as a word processor. You simply type in equations instead of hunting and pecking virtual calculator buttons. As your equation is entered, Longhand dynamically calculates the answer.

Comes with a nice user manual too, accessed via the Help menu. (Via Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch.)

Apple Cancels Live Keynote Broadcast 

MacInTouch reports on an Apple memo, which states:

Apple will not be making satellite coordinates available. Although the keynote WILL be available on our web site - it will NOT be available until sometime AFTER the keynote is over. They do NOT have a time determined, so it may not be immediately after the keynote is over.

Apple Insider speculates it’s because Jobs is pissed over the recent product announcement leaks.

Photo of Motorola’s iTunes Phone 

Engadget has a picture of the new Motorola iTunes-compatible phone. Not a great picture, but it’s good enough to see that it’s clearly not an Apple-designed product.

Motorola Previews iTunes Phone at CES 

Syncs with iTunes; sports an “iPod-like interface”. But no pictures of what it looks like, alas. (Via MacMinute.)

iTMS Finally Opens in Ireland 

Now U2 can buy their own songs.

Fear and Conan in Las Vegas 

Conan O’Brien, Bill Gates’s celebrity co-host at the aforementioned CES keynote, on his night out in Vegas with Gates: “I got so drunk that I woke up with a hooker, Bill got so drunk he woke up with an Apple computer.”

Bill Gates Gets Blue Screen of Death During CES Keynote 

Sweet, sweet schadenfreude, how we love thee.

Dave Winer on the Six Apart-LiveJournal Acquisition 

Dave Winer:

In all the speculation about the deal betw Six Apart and LiveJournal I haven’t seen what surely is the motivator. Six Apart plans to go public. The market will value SA based on its ability to generate profits, and it will likely do so in proportion to the number of users, the theory being that they can sell things to the users, so the more users, the more they can sell. The more users the more value. LJ has a lot of users. So the founders of LJ get SA stock, and the shareholders of SA get more users, and value of the combined companies goes up and the day of the IPO gets closer.

OmniOutliner 3.0 

Also out of beta, in regular ($40) and Pro ($70) varieties.

OmniWeb 5.1 

My favorite browser; latest version now out of beta.

Six Apart and LiveJournal, Sitting in a Tree 

LiveJournal founder Brad Fitzpatrick confirms the rumor. Wow.

Also: Six Apart’s FAQ, and Mena Trott’s weblog entry on the acquisition.

Think Secret iPod Flash Rumors 

The very day after Apple filed suit against them, Think Secret reports on new flash-based iPod rumors. That’s fucking balls. (They’re now claiming storage capacity will start at 1 GB, which strikes me as credible. They also claim the display will be “the same width as the iPod mini’s but two lines shorter”, meaning only three lines of text. No conjecture at all, however, as to what they’ll actually look like or how small they’ll be.)

Cast of Shadows 

Coudal Parters has designed a new teaser site for Kevin Guilfoile’s upcoming novel, “Cast of Shadows”, using an intriguing book-like layout, done via CSS. (The titles are CSS too, amazingly.) This is web design.

Six Apart to Buy Live Journal 

5.6 million users can’t be wrong. (See also this report from eWeek, which states the deal will be announced tomorrow.)

Six Apart Guide to Combatting Comment Spam 

A comprehensive (5,000+ words) look at weblog comment spam: what it is, how it works, and what you can do to fight it. Written by yours truly, but several folks at Six Apart contributed significantly to the final product.

The background information is intended for non-technical weblog publishers, and attempts to explain why comment spam is such a complex problem. The recommendations are geared toward Movable Type users, but the concepts should be helpful to anyone dealing with weblog spam.

Subversion Excursion 

Andrew Pontious on getting started with Subversion on Mac OS X.

Pre-Expo Apple Product Announcements 

Apple must have plenty of new stuff to announce at the Expo next week, since they announced a bunch of things today:

  • Price cuts across the line on Cinema Displays. (20-inch model just $999 now.)
  • Xsan network storage system has finally shipped (was supposed to ship sometime last year).
  • Refreshed line-up of Xserves.
Bare Bones T-Shirt Upgrades at Macworld Expo 

Wear your old Bare Bones shirt to the show, get a new shirt free.

FlickrExport 1.1 

Updated version of Frasier Speirs’s nifty iPhoto plug-in for exporting photos directly to Flickr. This is a great little plug-in. (The rejiggered UI in this update is much-improved from 1.0, but I think the use of Aqua’s “mini” control widgets is a bit off — I’d prefer normal-sized controls in a larger window.)

Wes Meltzer Reviews MarsEdit 1.0 

Wes Meltzer reviews MarsEdit 1.0 for ATPM, and he likes it. I agree — the email-esque editing windows are a natural fit for weblog editing.

Eric Blair Reviews UI Actions 1.0 

Eric Blair reviews PreFab Software’s UI Actions 1.0 in the new issue of ATPM. He likes the premise (as do I) but finds the implementation lacking.

Khoi Vinh on Grid-Based Web Layout 

After just releasing the new redesign of, Khoi Vinh explains the grid-based layout behind the design. This is a terrific site design — worth studying.

PyObjC 1.2 

Lets you build honest-to-goodness Cocoa apps using Python scripts instead of (or in conjunction with) Objective-C.


Winner of the first Apple Dashboard Widget Contest: Michael Robinette’s Wikity Widget, a wiki-like notepad. Uses SQLite behind the scenes for data storage and fast searching.

Hertzfeld on ‘Revolution in the Valley’ 

Andy Hertzfeld on how his Macintosh Folklore web site was turned into the just-published “Revolution in the Valley” book, published by O’Reilly.

NetNewsWire 2.0b10 

New public beta release of NetNewsWire, with tons of improvements since the last public release, including a subtly rejiggered UI, better parsing of Atom feeds, and lots more, including built-in support for “podcasting”. Copious change notes are available.