Linked List: March 2005


Now with voicemail and support for SkypeIn, which lets you use your Skype account to accept phone calls.

HP Ships PC With Built-In iPod Dock 

So much for the rumor that HP and Apple were on the outs. Link Spam Scheme 

Exposed by Andy Baio. Unfortunately, WordPress honcho Matt Mullenweg is on vacation. It only took a few hours for Google to revoke the PageRank for all their scammy “articles”, and Yahoo followed suit a few hours later.

Hidden Pref to Control Next/Previous Order in BBEdit 8.1 Documents Drawer 

Starting in BBEdit 8.1, the Next/Previous Document commands work in most-recently-used order; to switch them to use the order in which documents are displayed in the drawer (which is how it worked in 8.0), quit BBEdit, then issue this command in a Terminal window (all on one line):

defaults write com.barebones.bbedit
MultiDocumentWindows:SurfNextPreviousInDrawerOrder -bool YES
Joshua Schachter Goes Full-Time With 

Amazing that he’s gotten this far running it as a hobby.

MWJ Analysis of Apple’s Legal Victory 

MacCentral has an abridged version of MWJ’s analysis of Apple’s recent court victory regarding the “Asteroid” subpoenas. Great taste of what MDJ/MWJ subscribers get every week.

Paul Graham on Writing 

Short Paul Graham piece with his advice for writing essays; his suggestions pretty much describe how I write fireballs. But I would do well to pay more heed to his first two nuggets:

Write a bad version 1 as fast as you can; rewrite it over and over;

My tendency is to keep mulling it over in my head until I know I can get a good version 1 out.

Sparklines Photoshop Script 

JavaScript for Photoshop to create Tufte-style sparkline graphs.

BBEdit 8.1 

New features include integrated support for Subversion and a more convenient way to execute text factories against the frontmost document. Copious release notes are available, as usual.

Adobe Leaks Photoshop CS2 Details 

An updated Creative Suite 2 is set to be released next week, according to a press release prematurely posted on Adobe’s web site.

DrunkenBlog Interview With Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch 

Outstanding interview.

Bits on Wheels 

New freeware Mac BitTorrent client with a clever swarm visualization, but a horrendously over-complicated UI. (Via

Usable XMLHttpRequest in Practice 

Thomas Baekdal, with a good walk-through on using Ajax techniques to improve usability, not just to show off. (Via Simian Design.)

Absenter Redesign 

Outstanding redesign by Nazarin Hamid. Note how the navigation changes color to match the tone of the current photo. Clever. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)


I wish I’d thought of this first.

On the Origins of the ‘Sosumi’ Alert Sound 

In the news because Jon Johansen’s weblog is named “So Sue Me”.

Yahoo Creative Commons Search 

Searches for Creative-Commons-licensed content. “Beta”, of course. Also accessible via Yahoo’s excellent new search API. (Cf. Yahoo Web Services Blog and Lawrence Lessig.)

Aggregator Market Share 

Tim Bray published a look at the aggregator market share for his feed at Ongoing; NetNewsWire’s share is simply staggering when you consider that it only runs on Mac OS X. No other desktop app comes close.

How to Disable Greasemonkey on Your Web Site 

Written by Dean Edwards, not because he dislikes Greasemonkey, but because Greasemonkey was screwing with the DOM scripting he was using on his site.

Apple Settles With One Tiger Bootlegger for Undisclosed Sum 

This is the right outcome. I hope they settle with the others similarly.

“While Apple will always protect its innovations, it is not our desire to send students to jail,” said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.

Turn Off MT 3’s Insipid ‘News Box’ 

Stick NewsboxURL disable in your mt.cfg file. Sweet.

Bizarre Keyboard Shortcuts in Word 2004 

You know how you can use Command-` and Command-Shift-` to cycle through the open windows in most Mac apps? For some reason, Word 2004 uses Cmd-F6 and Cmd-Shift-F6 for these commands. Dan Sugalski shows how to fix it. This would be helpful if I actually ever used Word.

Jon Johansen’s ITMS Reverse-Engineering Continues 

Jon Johansen has reverse-engineered the encryption iTunes 4.7 uses to communicate to the iTunes Music Store, allowing his PyMusique app to work again. PyMusique is a thorn in Apple’s side, because it allows one purchase music from ITMS without DRM, taking advantage of the fact that it’s iTunes that adds the DRM to your purchased music, not the ITMS itself.

I’m not sure what Apple can do here, because suing isn’t going to make this source code go away.

Misleading Chartjunk From CNN 

One of the worst charts I’ve ever seen. [Update: CNN corrected the chart.]

About Safari International Domain Name Support 

Details on Security Update 2005-003’s IDN security fix for Web Kit. Great explanation of the problem and Apple’s solution.

Security Update 2005-003 

Includes a Safari/Web Kit update to address the IDN domain-name-spoofing issue. Judging by the description, it’s a good solution: by default, they disallow Roman-look-alike scripts. This allows non-Roman Unicode characters in domain names (say, for Asian languages), but disallows the use of Unicode trickery to use a domain name that looks like, say, “”, but which really contains one or more obscure Roman Unicode characters that just happen to look like ‘a’, ‘l’, ‘p’, or ‘y’. 

New web site. (Via Daniel Bogan.)

Super Shuffle Was Just a Publicity Stunt? 

So reports Engadget.

Literally Daring Fireball 

The BBC News reports that a fireball created in a particle accelerator “may be a black hole”. (Via Dan Benjamin via email.)

Jason Santa Maria: Typographic Glass Ceiling 

It’s sad how few fonts a web designer can count on today. The six new screen fonts from Microsoft do look good — here’s to hoping they make them freely available to other platforms to spread their adoption. One could argue that making these fonts available to Mac and Linux users would be good for Windows users, too, as it would make it more likely that web designers would specify them in their pages.

Ask Jeeves Sold for $1.9 Billion 

Purchased by IAC/Interactive, parent company of Expedia, Ticket Master, and Home Shopping Network. Maybe it really is 1996 all over again. (Via Daniel Bogan via AIM.)

[Update: Now the entire article has been rewritten to put the deal in the future tense: “An announcement could be made as early as today.”]

Rounded Box Corners in CSS 

It’s a hack, but a potentially useful hack. (Via Photo Matt.)

Yahoo Did Buy Flickr 

Confirming all the rumors from the last few weeks.

Hixie’s Natural Log: Call an Apple an Apple 

Ian Hickson:

So I have a request: could people please stop making up new names for existing technologies? Just call things by their real name!

IE7 Support for CSS to Continue to Suck 

To the surprise of no one.

Brad DeLong: M$FT 

Brad DeLong wonders where Microsoft’s massive R&D budget goes.

Slashdot Converting to XHTML + CSS 

Poor Chris Nandor is working on the code to do it. He’s not kidding.

Bla-Bla List 

Open source re-implementation of Ta-Da List, written in Java. Has inspired a bit of a pissing contest regarding the relative merits of Java + RIFE vs. Ruby + Rails for web app development. Cf. (a) Bla-Bla List developer Geert Bevin, who admits that he undertook the project specifically to prove that Ruby on Rails isn’t all that revolutionary; (b) David Heinemeier Hansson, developer of both the Rails framework and Ta-Da List app, who picks a few (possibly contrived?) examples that make Bla-Bla’s Java code look exceedingly verbose compared to Ta-Da’s Ruby.

Language/framework religion aside, it’s also interesting to note, when comparing the two, that Ta-Da’s UI is Ajax-ish (HTML + JavaScript), whereas Bla-Bla’s is Flash (by way of the Laszlo toolkit). Ta-Da’s UI feels snappier to me, overall, but Bla-Bla’s use of drag-and-drop makes reordering list items much easier than in Ta-Da.

Summer Founders Program 

Paul Graham and a few friends have set up a program to fund new startups over the summer. They’re offering roughly $6,000 per person, and will take care of the paperwork hassles (articles of incorporation, employment agreements, etc.).

Growth of Wireless Internet Opens New Path for Thieves 

New York Times report on how open Wi-Fi access points are helping online criminals cover their tracks.

A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Installing Ruby, Rails, and FastCGI 

Dan Benjamin’s step-by-step guide to installing the latest version of Ruby, Rails, and FastCGI for Ruby on Rails development on Mac OS X.

Google Code 

New web site from Google documenting their APIs and open source code libraries. Language-wise, their emphasis seems to focus on C++ and Python.


Any new game from Ambrosia is worth checking out.

OpenSearch RSS 1.0 Specification 

Extension to RSS 2.0, intended for use in returning search results in RSS. From Amazon’s A9.

Google X: Web Interface that Mimics the Mac OS X Dock 

A Google Labs production: icons for each of the various Google services (web search, image search, news, Froogle, etc.) which magnify when you mouse over them, a la the Mac OS X Dock. Google engineer Chikai Ohazama writes about how it came to be at the Google Blog. (Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.)

Update: Now it’s gone. WTF?

Drexel University School of Education Students to Receive Free iPods 

Story at The Triangle, my old college newspaper. (Via MDJ 2005.03.07.)

‘This American Life’ Segment on Graphing Calculator 

12-minute segment on “This American Life” on the secret history of Graphing Calculator — the app created by an engineer who kept sneaking into Apple to work on the app, even after his contract with the company had expired. (Via Aaron Swartz via email.)

The Pits in CherryOS 

Drunkenblog runs down the evidence proving that CherryOS — a $50 PowerPC emulator for Windows — is a rip-off of the GPL open source PearPC project. This isn’t “hmm, looks like it might be a rip-off” evidence; this is incontrovertible smoking gun evidence. What a bunch of dicks.

Apple Wins Round in Lawsuit Against Fan Sites 

CNet News:

The judge said that Apple can go ahead and obtain records from Nfox, the e-mail service provider to Mac enthusiast site PowerPage. In the ruling, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled that Apple’s interests in protecting its trade secrets outweighed the public interest in the information.

Choice quote from the judge:

“But an interested public is not the same as the public interest.”

And I can’t believe CNet is still calling them “fan sites”.

[Update: CNet has made the full ruling available for download in Microsoft Word format here. Even better, The Mac Observer has it as a PDF.]

Spammers Are Lazy 

Contrary to his expectations, Phil Ringnalda’s simple experiment shows that most spammers are so lazy that their address-harvesting spiders still don’t do entity-decoding.

Tryst 1.0 

Free (GPL) app for streaming video over Rendezvous.

‘LuxPro’ iPod Shuffle Rip-Off 

This can’t be real. No one could possibly think they could get away with this.

Update: Apparently it is real.

Sparkline PHP Graphing Library 

PHP library for creating sparklines, the “intense, simple, wordlike graphics” championed by Edward Tufte. (Via Rands in Repose.)

Philip Greenspun on the Harvard Business School’s Definition of ‘Hacking’ 

Someone figured out that students applying to leading business schools — including Harvard’s — could check on the status of their applications simply by truncating the URLs to the online application service used by the schools. Harvard has deemed this “hacking”, and is denying admission to those who used the trick. I deem it a crappy web application written by incompetent programmers.

Tim Bray on the People-Getting-Fired-For-Blogging Meme 

Tim Bray responds to the growing mainstream media meme that “people are getting fired for their blogs”, and argues the opposite — that for most people, writing a weblog is good for your career.

Blogging clearly isn’t going to help that proportion of people who aren’t really up to their job, or who are prone to inarticulate flaming, or both. But then, those people tend to have career problems anyhow. Put it another way: not blogging won’t protect you from career-limiting moves, and if blogging provokes one, well, you were probably going to do it anyhow.

Alco Blom wins second round of Apple Dashboard Contest 

Long-time Mac developer Alco Blom (URL Manager Pro, Web Confidential) is the winner of the second round of Apple’s Dashboard Widget Contest. His winning widget is an SMS text-messenger that integrates with Address Book.

With Flash Walkman, Sony Takes on iPod Shuffle 


The cheapest models, which come with a 256MB flash memory chip, will start at $90 and run up to about $200. The electronics conglomerate hopes that pricing will address complaints that its products are overpriced.

Fat chance of that, given that you can buy an iPod Shuffle with twice the storage for only $99. Apple is just kicking Sony’s ass here.

[Updated March 9: The wire services originally reported the 256 MB Walkman was going to cost $132, not $90. Here’s the correction from the AP. These new flash-memory Walkmen still compare poorly against the iPod Shuffle, however.]

Mike Davidson: How to Snatch an Expiring Domain 

Great story about how to nab an existing domain name that has expired.

Developing With Core Image 

New Apple developer article on Tiger’s Core Image APIs. Via James Duncan Davidson, who wrote the article.

Philip Greenspun on the Average Length of a Web Forum Posting 

425 characters. Or at least that’s the case for 10 years of postings to Greenspun wrote the query in three lines of SQL, which led to this interesting aside:

SQL, Lisp, and Haskell are the only programming languages that I’ve seen where one spends more time thinking than typing.

Addressing Issues 

Paul Thurrott actually cracks a good joke about the, uh, copious release notes for yesterday’s update to Microsoft Office 2004.

Hong Kong Firm Wants 12 Percent of Apple’s ITMS Profits 

They claim to hold a patent that “governs the verification of a single user before permitting the user to download tracks” according to CNet’s report. In other words, they’ve “patented” authentication via username and password for music downloads. CNet’s report also claims the company wants 12 percent of iTunes and iPod sales, but I fail to see how this patent applies to the iPod. I mean, why not sue for 12 percent of Mac sales, too, if they’re going to claim profits from any device that can play the tracks purchased via a method that infringes on their so-called patent?

Giant List of Menu Extras 

If you don’t have enough crap in your menu bar already, here you go.

Judge Delays Decision on Apple Trade Secrets Case 

Despite the “preliminary” ruling in Apple’s favor, the judge in Apple’s subpoena case against Think Secret, PowerPage, and Apple Insider did not issue a ruling at yesterday’s hearing. (Via Drunkenblog.)

Really Getting Started in Rails 

Amy Hoy on getting started with Ruby on Rails. Sort of a “getting your head wrapped around the basic concepts” overview. Her “24(slash7)” weblog might be worth subscribing to if you’re interested in Rails development.

Newsweek Interview With Kottke 

Newsweek?! Fucking-A. I need a better publicist.


LinkBack is an open source framework for Mac OS X, produced by Nisus, The Omni Group, and Blacksmith. The idea is that it provides something similar to the old Publish-and-Subscribe mechanism from System 7, where one app can embed the content from another in a frame, and you can double-click the embedded content to open it for editing in the original app. E.g. you could put an OmniGraffle illustration in your Nisus Writer Express document, then later on double-click the graphic to open it in OmniGraffle for editing.

It’ll be interesting to see if something like this can take off, given that it’s a community project rather than an official Cocoa framework from Apple.

(It’s also a weird name — when I think “link”, I think web. My first thought was that “LinkBack” was some sort of alternative to TrackBack.)

Judge Rules in Favor of Apple in Subpoena Case 

Dawn C. Chmielewski, reporting for The San Jose Mercury News:

In a case with implications for the freedom to blog, a San Jose judge tentatively ruled Thursday that Apple Computer can force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about the company’s upcoming products.

This is an important case, and if it stands, a significant victory for Apple. But it is not about “the freedom to blog”. It’s only about the freedom to republish trade secrets regarding upcoming Apple products.

Sam Ruby: Yahoo Search and Iñtërnâtiônàlizætiøn 

Yahoo Web Services don’t accept UTF-8 input, but yet produce UTF-8 output, but they don’t actually tell you that it’s UTF-8. Sam Ruby is right: Yahoo should standardize on UTF-8 for both input and output.

[Update: Looks like Yahoo has fixed it already. Nice.]

Netscape 8.0 Beta 

Derived from Firefox, but yet looks like total crap. Way to go, AOL.

The PowerBook Sudden Motion Sensor 

Amit Singh has written an in-depth analysis of the new Sudden Motion Sensors in the latest line-up of PowerBooks. It’s the motion-detection circuit that’s designed to raise the head of your hard disk if it detects that the machine has been dropped. At the end of the piece, Singh mentions that he’s been working for the past year on an in-depth technical book on Mac OS X’s architecture; considering the quality of his “What Is Mac OS X”, it could be a great book. (Via

SAJAX: XMLHTTPRequest Toolkit for PHP 

Simple AJAX programming toolkit for PHP, from ModernMethod. (Via Kottke.)

Mozilla Foundation Hires Josh Aas 

Full-time Mac developer, will be working on Camino, Thunderbird, and some cross-platform browser called Firefox. Aas states that one of his goals is to get Gecko to switch from the old QuickDraw graphics routines to Quartz, which should help both performance and appearance. (Via Jon Hicks.)


Simple utility that imports your bookmarks into Safari. I’m glad I found this — I was thinking about writing a hack to do this myself.

Apple v. Does Hearing on Motion, Friday in San Jose 

EFF press release:

In the first case of its kind, EFF will argue that these online reporters’ confidential sources and unpublished material are protected by both the reporter’s shield in the California Constitution and the reporter’s privilege protected by the federal First Amendment. The hearing will be Friday, March 4, at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Clara County Superior Court, 191 North First Street, San Jose. Press are welcome to attend.

SQLite: The Best MT Database Choice Most of the Time 

Timothy Appnel in praise of SQLite as a back-end data store for Movable Type. Hard to argue with; it’s definitely better than Berkeley DB, and MySQL is overkill for most MT installations. Appnel also mentions that the new version of the DBI::SQLite Perl module on CPAN is a big improvement over previous versions.

Yahoo Netrospective: 10 years, 100 moments of the Web 

Yahoo is 10 years old, and they’ve created a neat little web app presenting 100 moments from the last 10 years of the web.

Tim Bucher Suing Apple for Wrongful Termination 

Remember Tim Bucher? The guy who was promoted to head of Macintosh Hardware Engineering but then left the company under strange circumstances last November? Well, he was in fact fired, and now he’s suing Apple for wrongful termination, alleging the company “terminated him without cause and failed to pay all due compensation, including restricted stock grants and a bonus”, according to Ina Fried’s report for CNet News.

If you read between the lines in Fried’s report, the gist of it seems to be that Bucher took on too many responsibilities, and that Steve Jobs and Tim Cook thought he was cracking.

.Mac Backup Sucks 

Michael Alderete, on the .Mac Backup app. (Via Nat Irons via email.)

Paul Bausch on Yahoo Web Services 

Paul Bausch with an introduction and example code for Yahoo’s new web services. Looks great. (Via


Two years ago, Andrew Pontious and Mac Murrett created a Rendezvous-enabled distributed build system for Project Builder, which they intended to sell for $450 a seat. Before they could ship it, however, Apple announced Xcode, which contained its own (free) distributed build system. They’ve now released their system, NetBuild, as open source.

Yahoo Search Developer Network and Search Web Services 

Developer API from Yahoo. Cool. (Via Kottke.)

Airfoil 1.0 

New utility from Rogue Amoeba Software streams audio from any application to an AirPort Express (by default, AirPort Express only accepts music streamed from iTunes). $20 introductory price for the month of March; $25 thereafter.

How to Resume Interrupted Music Store Downloads in iTunes 4 

If an error occurs while downloading a purchased track from ITMS, choose Advanced → Check for Purchased Music. Worked like a charm for me.