Linked List: June 2005

Featuritis vs. the Happy User Peak 

Kathy Sierra on the “Featuritis Curve”. It’s a nice visualization of Einstein’s oft-quoted maxim: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” In Sierra’s Featuritis Curve, the right side of the curve is not as simple as possible; the left side is too simple. This is related to some of the points I tried to make in yesterday’s fireball — I think Apple has the entire iPod lineup positioned near the peak of the Featuritis Curve.

New Surfin’ Safari Weblog 

Dave Hyatt’s Surfin’ Safari weblog has moved and is now hosted at the same site as the Web Kit Open Source Project. Plus there are several new contributors to the weblog.

Macworld: Adobe Creative Suite 2 

Saturation coverage from Macworld on the new Adobe Creative Suite 2 — reviews of each of the apps and interviews with people at Adobe. This is exactly the sort of journalism that Macworld does better than any other Mac publication. (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat Professional all get 4.5 mice; GoLive on the other hand, gets just 2 mice, which is the equivalent of a sack of dog turds.)

The Queen Gives Sony Chief an Earful Regarding Remote Control Design 

Macworld UK:

iPod user HRH Queen Elizabeth II has admitted she finds Sony products too difficult to use.

Sony’s new CEO Howard Stringer recounted a luncheon with the Queen to Sony shareholders. He told them that the Queen had struggled with certain Sony products.

According to Stringer the Queen told him: “I have a lot of trouble with your remote controls. Too many arrows.”

Dave Winer Thinks Property Lists Are “a Weird Format” 

Shows how long he’s been away from the Mac. He should just buy a PowerBook and come home. (iTunes uses an XML plist file to store your podcast subscriptions; Winer would prefer to see them use OPML.)

Quarter Life Crisis: iTunes 4.9 

Sven-S. Porst is pretty harsh in his review of iTunes 4.9. I disagree with several of his assessments (I’m not offended by the podcast source list icon, for example), but he makes many good points (e.g. why can you disable the Radio and Party Shuffle source list icons, but not Podcasts?).

Yahoo Maps API 

Yahoo-vs.-Google is really turning into an epic rivalry.

Brent Simmons on iTunes Podcasting Support 

He still sees reasons to continue improving the podcasting support in NetNewsWire, and I think he’s right. For example, some feeds only include podcast enclosures occasionally, not in every entry — feeds like that are better dealt with in a general-purpose aggregator.

Google Maps API 

Screen-scraping hacks are no longer necessary. Documentation looks good, too.

Andy Baio on Yahoo’s ‘My Web 2.0’ 

‘My Web 2.0’ is Yahoo’s new shared bookmark app. (What a terrible name, though; the “2.0” isn’t the version number, it’s part of the name itself.) Andy Baio has been beta-testing and has a nice overview, including a few links to other reviews.

Camino 0.9 Alpha Mini-Review 

Jon Hicks with a brief look at the latest Camino builds. I agree that it’s a very attractive app, and it does seem to load and render pages faster than any other Mac OS X browser.

AppleScript Changes in iTunes 4.9 

Doug Adams on the couple of new AppleScript properties in iTunes 4.9:

  • special kind: a property for playlists (an enumerated type that can be: “none”, “Purchased Music”, “Party Shuffle”, or “Podcasts”)
  • podcast: a boolean flag on individual tracks
iTunes RSS Extensions for Podcasting 

Warning: links to a PDF, and a horribly typeset one at that. Seriously, a plain text file would be easier to read and look better than this. (Via 2lmc Spool.) See also: Edd Dumbill’s quick review of their extensions.

Podcast Chapter Tool Beta 

New command-line (!) tool from Apple (inexplicably, it’s hosted at — what’s up with that?). From the readme:

You can use Chapter Tool to create Enhanced Podcasts that work with iTunes 4.9 or later. Enhanced podcasts are podcasts that contain chapters. Chapters can be modified to display pictures or web links that can be displayed within the iTunes song artwork pane.

It only works on MPEG4 AAC audio files (i.e. it doesn’t work with MP3s), but that’s not surprising, since as far as I know, the MP3 file format doesn’t support anything like this. So it’s a nice usability gain for podcasts — chapters ought to be considered mandatory for anything longer than 10 or 15 minutes, and the web links and images are nice extras — but this is also a way to start establishing AAC as a superior format for podcast publishing. Which — and here’s the point where you can imagine Apple executives sinisterly twisting their mustaches — would help permanently cement iPods, as opposed to generic “MP3 players”, as the best way to listen to podcasts.

(Via Command-Tab.)

Panic Japan 

Steven Frank:

Panic Japan is officially launched!

Each of our software products now has an actively maintained Japanese localization, as well as Japanese language email support, and a fully localized web site.

Ridiculous Fish 

Peter Ammon:

I’m a developer on Apple’s AppKit team; I work to make Cocoa better. With a few exceptions, we are responsible for both AppKit and Foundation. This is my blog.

Ridiculous Fish is simply outstanding (and uses a very clever, albeit markup-heavy, implementation of rounded rectangles in the layout). It’s only a few weeks old, so you can easily catch up and read the whole thing to date.

The Fully Upturned Bin 

Why the Lucky Stiff on memory management and garbage collection in Ruby — although these basic tips might be useful in other scripting languages, too.

Programmatically Executing Automator Workflows 

Apple has not provided an API for third-party developers to execute Automator workflows, but the guys at Rogue Amoeba have figured out an unofficial way to do it.

Jens Alfke on Microsoft’s Upcoming RSS Support in IE 

Alfke is an engineer on Apple’s RSS team; he thinks Microsoft’s RSS support for IE is copied from Safari’s.

Google Guide Quick Reference 

Cheat sheet for Google search. (Via David Pogue.)

Wil Shipley Presentation on Becoming a Mac Developer 

Slides from his talk to the students attending WWDC this year. Despite the seemingly glaring “market share” numbers in Windows favor, there is definitely a business case for being a Mac-only developer — it depends on what type of software you want to write.

Joe Gregorio’s Sparkline Generator 

Free web service; source code (Python) also available, so you can run it on your own. See also: Gregorio’s article discussing the service and code.

Mac OS Versions Included With Macs Since 1998 

Apple support document listing the Mac OS version included with every Mac produced since January 1998.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 Review 

Dave Girard’s detailed but rambling review of Photoshop CS2 for Ars Technica.

Affrus 1.0.3 

Bug fix update for Late Night Software’s Perl debugger; I missed this when it was new last week.

Hacking the RabbitRadio Dashboard Widget 

Chuck Toporek shows how to hack Llew Mason’s RabbitRadio widget to add support for additional NPR radio streams.


Svnx is an open source GUI browser for Subversion repositories. (It’s not new, I just hadn’t heard of it until today.)

Richard Stallman on Software Patents 

He compares them to hypothetical “literary patents”, a clever and apt analogy. 

Thomas Fuchs’s very nice demo of Javascript-powered web app UI effects, built on top of the Prototype library. (Side-note: I’m sick of typing these ‘’-style domain names; they’re easy to say out loud, but a pain in the ass to type, and the novelty has long worn off.)

Developer Transition System 

The Mac-Intel Developer Transition Systems have started shipping to developers (or at the very least, Steven Frank at Panic got his).

BBEdit 8.2.2 

Bug-fix update.

MIT Weblog Survey 

Cameron Marlow, who created and maintains Blogdex, is conducting a survey for weblog authors as part of his Ph.D. thesis at MIT.

High Failure Rates for First-Generation iMac G5s 

MacInTouch reader survey shows a surprisingly high failure rate for first-generation iMac G5s, especially 20-inch models. Seems to be under control in the current models, however. (Warning: not a permanent link.)


Still-in-development IDE for creating Dashboard widgets. (Via Buzz Andersen.)

Building a Digital SLR Camera System 

Great primer by Philip Greenspun.

Fake vs. True Italics 

Mark Simonson on why an italicized typeface should be more than just a slanted variation of the roman letterforms. (In a postscript, he mentions that he expects to release his new font Proxima Nova by the end of June.)

PayPal: Website Payments Pro 

$20 a month gets you the “payment-processing capabilities of a merchant account and gateway”. Sounds like a fantastic deal; I’m going to look into using this for Daring Fireball t-shirt and membership sales.

Xcode Experiences 

Longtime Mac developer Marshall Clow is blogging his transition from CodeWarrior to Xcode; great perspective on the differences in both UI and compiler output. Metadata Tags 

Interesting new tagging features at

  • You can use a tag like for:joshua to bring a tagged item to someone’s attention.
  • ‘System tags’ such as system:filetype:mp3 are automatically added to bookmarked items that end in certain extensions.

The latter features allows you to assemble RSS-with-enclosures podcast feeds.

Yahoo Buys Dialpad 

They were rumored to have been looking at Skype. I never even heard of Dialpad before today — not surprising, since they don’t have a Mac version.

Launchd Editor 

New app for creating and modifying launchd property list files. $5 shareware.

Guest Appearance on Your Mac Life 
I’ll be a guest on Shawn King’s Your Mac Life show tonight, talking about Apple and Intel among other things. The show starts at 8:30 EDT / 5:30 PDT, but I think I’ll be on about an hour later.

Update: This week’s show has been cancelled; I might be on next week instead.

New Nokia Browser Based on WebCore and JavaScriptCore 

The big advantage over Mozilla, I’m guessing, is that WebCore and JavaScriptCore have smaller footprints and simpler code bases.

New York Times on Apple-IBM Negotiations 

John Markoff reporting for The New York Times:

Several executives close to the last-minute dealings between Apple and I.B.M. said that Mr. Jobs waited until the last moment — 3 p.m. on Friday, June 4 — to inform Big Blue. Those executives said that I.B.M. had learned about Apple’s negotiations with Intel from news reports and that Apple had not returned phone calls in recent weeks.


In the end, Mr. Jobs was given no choice but to move his business to Intel, when I.B.M. executives said that without additional Apple investment they were unwilling to pursue the faster and lower-power chips he badly needs for his laptop business.

In other words, it’s not that IBM couldn’t keep up, it’s that they wanted Apple to pay for the development costs for the new generations of chips.

JWZ Switches to an iMac 

Jamie Zawinski has been waiting for stuff to “just work” on Linux for a long time, and he’s finally given up:

Remember last week, when I tried to buy exactly the same audio card that 99.99% of the world owns and convince Linux to be able to play two sounds at once? Yeah, turns out, that was the last straw. I bought an iMac, and now I play my music with iTunes.

Hannibal on the Apple-to-Intel Transition 

Ars Technica’s Jon “Hannibal” Stokes speculates, convincingly, on how Apple’s Intel transition might play out: which chips in which Macs, the 64-bit strategy, and why they chose Intel instead of AMD.

Andy Ihnatko on the Intel-Apple Deal 

He lost a bet, too.

Brad Choate on Tags for Movable Type 

New open source Movable Type plug-in from Six Apart turns the Keywords field into a tagging feature. Too bad it replaces the Keywords field, which I’m already using for the slug names for post URLs.

September 2004 Wired News Article on Transitive 

By Leander Kahney. Claims Microsoft is using Transitive in the opposite direction: it’s how they’ll run old x86 Xbox games on the new PowerPC Xbox 360.

Macworld Apple-Intel FAQ 

Jason Snell knocks out the answers.

About Mac OS X on Intel, Circa 2002 

This post from September 2002 pretty much makes Dan Benjamin look like a genius — he completely nailed Apple’s x86 transition strategy three years ago. (Of course, if he really were a genius, you wouldn’t have to go through the Internet Archive to read his old essays.)

John Siracusa Mourns the PowerPC 

I think this accurately sums up the feelings of those Mac users who’ve developed an emotional attachment to the PowerPC architecture.

Inside the Apple Development Kit Box 

Just a tiny 9-inch PC motherboard inside a spacious G5 enclosure.

Study: ITMS More Popular Than Many P2P Sites 

For a buck a song, it’s worth paying for the better experience.

Rosetta Is Based on Transitive Technology 

The New York Times confirms speculation that Rosetta is based on technology from Transitive. Recall that the chairman of Transitive’s board was in 1992 the President and COO of Next Computer.

Web Kit Open Sourced 

Big news from Dave Hyatt: Apple has launched, with live CVS access to WebCore, JavaScriptCore, and Web Kit. They’re accepting patches and contributions, and the bug database is public. WebCore and JavaScriptCore have always been open source, but not Web Kit, and the new open development model is major change.

(This new site consistently uses “WebKit” (as does Hyatt); Apple’s official developer documentation prefers “Web Kit”. I’d love to see this clarified.)


Upcoming product from Karelia; it’s an “iApp” style web site creation app. Impossible to tell from this teaser whether it’s actually interesting or not. If it weren’t for the fact that Watson was pretty cool, I never would have linked to this.

QuickTime Stream of WWDC Keynote Address 

High-quality h.264 compression — better video quality than ever before. (Look for a few shots of Woz around 51 minutes in.)

Universal Binary Programming Guidelines 

Apple developer documentation on the new “fat” structure for dual PowerPC / x86 binary applications. (It’s a PDF.)

Asshat AP Reporters Deem Apple Move ‘Risky’ 

Check out the first paragraph of this AP report:

In a risky move that could further shrink its minuscule slice of the PC market, Apple Computer Inc. announced plans Monday to switch its Macintosh computers to the same Intel Corp. chips used in systems that run Microsoft Windows.

These are the same sort of dweebs who’ve been saying for 10 years that Apple “had to switch” to Intel.

Apple to Switch to Sun Chips 

Even tastier.

Apple to Use Intel Microprocessors Beginning in 2006 

Apple PR:

At its Worldwide Developer Conference today, Apple announced plans to deliver models of its Macintosh® computers using Intel microprocessors by this time next year, and to transition all of its Macs to using Intel microprocessors by the end of 2007. Apple previewed a version of its critically acclaimed operating system, Mac OS X Tiger, running on an Intel-based Mac to the over 3,800 developers attending CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote address. Apple also announced the availability of a Developer Transition Kit, consisting of an Intel-based Mac development system along with preview versions of Apple’s software, which will allow developers to prepare versions of their applications which will run on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs.

Attorney Claims to Have Negotiated Apple-Transitive Licensing Deal 

Attorney Jay de Groot, in his personal profile on the West Legal Directory, claims the following in his list of client work:

Transitive Technologies: Represented Transitive Technologies in a co-development and licensing agreement with Apple Computer

This could indicate some sort of PowerPC emulation for x86 Macs. (Via

Also worth noting is that Mr. de Groot works for the firm Morrison and Foerster, LLP, owners of one of the greatest domain names on the entire Internet.

New York Times Jumps on Intel-Apple Bandwagon 

Nothing new in the report, which they make up for by rehashing 20 years of Apple’s history with Motorola and IBM. Worth noting is the caption under the photo of Jobs:

Steven P. Jobs of Apple Computer is to address his engineers Monday.

All your engineers are belong to Jobs.

Dvorak Starts Gloating 

Says he was right about Mac-on-Intel from two years ago.

Window Dress for Success 

Khoi Vinh on Mac OS X’s multiple window styles.

Wall Street Journal Confirms CNet’s Apple-Intel Story 

Paid subscription required for full story, but Paul Thurrott has an excerpt.

Safari and Web Kit Historical User Agent Strings 

Useful information for web server log analysis. (Notice that Apple still can’t seem to make up its mind whether it’s “Web Kit” or “WebKit” — they use it as two words in the body text, but close it up in the headline. Daring Fireball house style uses the two-word form, because that’s what Apple uses more frequently.)

CNet: Apple to Ditch IBM, Switch to Intel Chips 

They’re reporting it as a done deal, to be announced Monday at WWDC. Assuming this is true, it’s HOLY SHIT news. I’m still skeptical — the article doesn’t offer a decent explanation for why Apple would do this.

Apple Computer plans to announce Monday that it’s scrapping its partnership with IBM and switching its computers to Intel’s microprocessors, CNET has learned.

Apple has used IBM’s PowerPC processors since 1994, but will begin a phased transition to Intel’s chips, sources familiar with the situation said. Apple plans to move lower-end computers such as the Mac Mini to Intel chips in mid-2006 and higher-end models such as the Power Mac in mid-2007, sources said.

No word on who the sources are, and no explanation why higher-end models wouldn’t switch until 2007.

A Little Bit of the Ludwig Van 

The BBC Philharmonic is performing all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies, and they’re making the performances available for download. (Via Kottke.)

Eric Blair Reviews NetNewsWire 2.0 for ATPM 

Extensive, well-written review of a terrific app.

Google Sitemaps 

New feature from Google. “Beta”, of course.

By placing a Sitemap-formatted file on your webserver, you enable our crawlers to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed, and to crawl your site accordingly.

Basically, the two steps to participating in Google Sitemaps are:

  1. Generate a Sitemap in the correct format using Sitemap Generator.
  2. Update your Sitemap when you make changes to your site.
Movable Type 3.17 

Minor update recommended only for those affected by the fixed bugs.

Nuevos 0.3 

Public beta of Jesper Lindholm’s fork of Brent Simmons’s open-source Huevos, which hasn’t been revised in a few years. It’s a small window from which you can fire off Internet searches; you can configure it to send a query to pretty much any search engine. Bonus points for the clever name.

On the Visual Appearance of Windows That Are ‘Main’ but Not ‘Key’ 

Cocoa windows that are “main” but not “key” get a subtly different visual appearance than normal background windows. I think it’s a bug that this only happens for Cocoa apps.

Michel Fortin on Integrating PHP Markdown With WordPress 

WordPress’s entire publishing architecture seems geared around the assumption that posts will be authored in raw X/HTML, but so while you can get alternative text filters like Markdown or Textile to work (thanks to the numerous plug-in hooks), you’re pretty much swimming upstream.

Don’t miss the charts — they really show that Michel has worked his ass off to get PHP-Markdown working well in WordPress. This is one area where Movable Type clearly has the advantage — it’s really rather simple to hook up a text filter plug-in like Markdown.

Quartz Composer Samples 

Excellent Quartz Composer demos from Futurismo Zugakousaku. I wonder why Quartz Composer is only installed as part of the developer tools? This is something any visually creative artist could really get into. (From Daniel Bogan via AIM.)

Mark Pilgrim on Trixie 

Have I mentioned before how much I miss Dive Into Mark?

Mac Publishing Buys founder Rob Griffiths stays on as a full-time “senior editor” for Macworld. See also: Jason Snell’s announcement.

Snapz Pro 2.0.2 

Minor update for Tiger compatibility. I love Snapz Pro.

Hi! I’m Fireball! 

Shorts on a superhero? Sheesh! And all those exclamation points are killing me!