Linked List: December 2007

Keynote Index Fund 

Matt Haughey:

I wondered what effect the Jobs keynote had on Apple’s stock price in the short term. What if you invested $10,000 the day before the keynote, then sold at the end of the keynote day? What if you waited until the day after? What if you did this every year for the past ten years that Jobs has been doing them? Is it possible to make money off the Apple keynote talks given by Steve Jobs?

Associate’s Degree 

I’m not entirely sure the Education section of Rob Enderle’s Wikipedia entry is accurate — I’m pretty sure his degree is a bachelor’s, not an associate’s. Update: My mistake — Orange Coast College is, in fact, a junior college, and only awards associate degrees.

HFSDebug 3.0 

New Leopard-compatible release of Amit Singh’s “file system debugger” for HFS Plus volumes.

Programming Is Hard, Let’s Go Scripting 

Larry Wall’s 11th annual State of the Onion.

Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use 

Marc Fisher, reporting for The Washington Post:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.


Starbucks Might Be Helping, Not Hurting, Independent Coffee Shops 

Taylor Clark in Slate:

According to recent figures from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, 57 percent of the nation’s coffeehouses are still mom and pops. Just over the five-year period from 2000 to 2005—long after Starbucks supposedly obliterated indie cafes—the number of mom and pops grew 40 percent, from 9,800 to nearly 14,000 coffeehouses.

Choosing a Distributed Version Control System 

Dave Dribin’s terrific overview of the distributed version control systems Git, Mercurial, and Bazaar. Don’t miss his follow-up: “Why I Chose Mercurial”.

BusySync 1.5 

BusyMac’s outstanding iCal sharing utility now supports synching over the Internet (in addition to its previous support for synching over Bonjour, locally). Buy it before January and use the coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL” to get 20 percent off.

Eddie, Dick, and Dave 

Classic segment with Eddie Murphy and Dick Cavett on Late Night With David Letterman. (Via Cavett.)

Variety Reports iTunes Movie Rentals Will Be 24-Hour Time-Limited 

Dade Hayes, Variety:

Rentals are expected to cost between $2 and $5 for a 24-hour period, with the price point ideally motivating consumers in the manner of 99¢ music downloads.

I hope this is wrong — a 24-hour limit would suck. You ought to be able to keep them at least as long as you do from Blockbuster. Update: Apparently the way Amazon Unbox and other services work is that a 24-hour expiration period kicks in only after you hit play, not after you download. That’s semi-reasonable.

Could Tech Support Undo Palm? 

Loyal Palm customer Tristan Louis on a comically disastrous experience with Palm’s customer service:

So I asked employee C11329 to be transfered to her manager. She told me she was the most senior person at Palm. I asked her again politely to transfer me to her manager. She told me she had none. I asked to be transfered to the person that was reviewing her work, giving her assignments, etc.. I was told she had none. I told her I felt that was odd as, apart from the chairman and CEO, I didn’t know of anyone in a company not having a manager. She told me she was the CEO.

How Do You Opt Out From Omniture in Adobe CS3 Apps? 

Michael 芳貴 Erlewine points out that Omniture’s suggested method for opting out of their data tracking service requires the use of a browser cookie:

That’s right. Cookies are stored in your browser. So if you opt-out in Safari or FF, will you be opted-out in a CS3 app? Um, no. Or in the iTunes MiniStore? No.

In the case of the MiniStore, you can just turn it off. But in the CS3 case (and for any other apps that build such communications in) things are trickier.

PHP BBEdit Clipping Set 

Speaking of BBEdit, G.T. Stresen-Reuter released an updated version of his extensive PHP clipping set for BBEdit, containing over 6,000 function definitions from the standard PHP library, complete with BBEdit placeholders for parameters.

The Beast: 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007 

There are a couple of number 9’s in every family. (Via Kottke.)


Worth a re-link: my freeware command-line tool for saving and loading syntax-coloring preference schemes for BBEdit and TextWrangler. (Reminded by John Resig’s kind words about my “Gruber Dark” scheme.)

Potential Vulnerabilities vs. Actual Exploits, Eh, What’s the Difference? 

InfoWorld says the third most-underreported tech story of 2007 is “Hackers take aim at Mac OS X”. But:

Is it time to panic? No, actual attacks against Macs and the rest of the Apple family, such as the iPhone, are still rare.

So if actual attacks are rare, and the only factual foundation for this are tabulations of potential vulnerabilities, what exactly is underreported? I.e. how was 2007 any different security-wise for Mac users than any other previous year?

Will It Fly? How to Evaluate a New Product Idea 

Evan Williams on how to evaluate new product ideas.

Photographs Before and During Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination 

Gripping, visceral photos taken by John Moore of Getty Images.

Pakistan Government Claims Bhutto Died From Self-Inflicted Bump on Head 

CNN on the Pakistan government’s cockamamie explanation of her death:

CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson, who worked in U.S. intelligence in Pakistan during the Clinton administration, said he suspects Bhutto’s enemies are attempting to control her legacy by minimizing the attack’s role in her demise.

“They’re trying to deny her a martyr’s death, and in Islam, that’s pretty important,” Robinson said.

NYT’s Markoff Says Maybe More Than Just Fox 

John Markoff, reporting for The New York Times:

Apple’s sputtering efforts to be a major purveyor of video downloads may get a boost in 2008 from an agreement with 20th Century Fox for digital movie rentals.

Apple has been trying to interest a number of Hollywood studios in an iTunes rental service, and several people familiar with the negotiations said that more than one studio would appear onstage at the company’s MacWorld exhibition here beginning Jan. 14 to endorse a new Apple movie rental service.

“Sputtering” doesn’t sound fair to me. Clearly iTunes video sales pale in comparison to music sales, but is iTunes really far behind any other online distribution service? I think Apple’s in a terrific position to build a killer video rental business very quickly.

Financial Times Reports Apple Has Online Movie Rental Deal With Fox 

Matthew Garrahan and Kevin Allison, reporting for The Financial Times:

Apart from letting people rent online, Apple will also for the first time extend its FairPlay digital rights management system beyond its own products.

A digital file protected by FairPlay will be included in new Fox DVD releases, enabling film content to be transferred or “ripped” from the disc to a computer and video iPod. DVD content can already be moved to an iPod but this requires special software and is considered piracy by some studios.

Rentals are the sweet spot for online movie distribution; if they can get a large library of titles, I’d drop Netflix. Sounds like The Financial Times’s source is someone at Fox.

Letterman Makes Deal With Writers 

Late Night With David Letterman is set to return next week, with its writing staff on board. Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno are returning the same day, but almost certainly without writers. Good for Letterman, and good for his writers. But the funny part is that Letterman is the host most capable of pulling off a writer-less comedy show; my gut feeling is that Leno’s writer-less shows are going to be awful.

He Directed That? 

Nice list of anomalous films in the oeuvres of well-known directors. (Via Coudal.)

Rob Enderle, Jackass of the Nation 

Rob Enderle questions the sanity of Steve Jobs and the future of Apple, based on Dan Lyons’s fake story of legal threats against him for the Fake Steve weblog. I.e. Enderle has written an entire column premised on a Fake Steve joke being actually true. Someone should send Enderle some links from CARS and see if he’ll fall for them, too.

Update: Enderle explains how it’s not his fault.

Cyndicate 1.1 

Bug-fix and minor feature update release of Cynical Peak’s email-client-ish feed reader. Normally $30, but you can save 10 percent through the end of the year via MacSanta. (Worth checking out all the other apps on sale through MacSanta while you’re at it.)

Circuit City Executives Run Company Into Ground, Reward Themselves Handsomely 

Dean Baker:

The basic story is that last March, the wise men who run Circuit City came up with the brilliant idea of laying off their more senior salespeople, who get $14-$15 an hour, and replacing them with new hires who get around $9 an hour. It turns out that this move was not very good for business. One of the reasons that people go to a store like Circuit City, rather than buying things on the Internet, is that they want to be able to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson. Since Circuit City had laid off their knowledgeable salespeople, there was little reason to shop there.

Club Thievey 

Mike Lee, the world’s toughest programmer, wants to buy you a Lemur.

John Nack on Adobe CS3’s Connections to Omniture 

Adobe’s John Nack discusses the ways that Adobe uses Omniture, but completely misses the point of my criticism. What I’m calling a disgrace is that the server that’s getting pinged is named in such a way that it is clearly an attempt to masquerade as a local area network IP address. Regardless the nature of the data that is being sent to Omniture, it is wrong that the server is named “”.

Update: Nack acknowledges that the issue is the deceptive server name, has no answer now, but vows to investigate.

Warner Music Group Now Sells DRM-Free Digital Downloads 

Nate Anderson:

Warner Music has bent beneath the force of the anti-DRM winds sweeping the globe. The label will now offer its complete catalog, DRM-free, through Amazon’s new MP3 store.

The announcement means that EMI, Universal, and Warner now offer their catalogues in DRM-free digital formats, making Sony BMG (of rootkit fame) the lone holdout among the majors.

Omniture Privacy: Explained 

Omniture: is a domain used by Omniture to help provide portions of its Omniture SiteCatalyst and Omniture SearchCenter products. Specifically, this domain is used by Omniture to place cookies, on behalf of its customers, on the computers of visitors to customers’ selected websites.

Oh, well, that certainly explains what Adobe CS3 apps and iTunes are doing making connections there, and why the subdomains on are designed to masquerade as a local-network IP addresses.

Omniture, Apple, iTunes, and Privacy 

The iTunes MiniStore sends data to the same scammy-looking “” Omniture-owned web server that Adobe CS3 apps do. There’s no reason to use a server address like this other than to hope to slip past firewall filters misconfigured to allow traffic matching a wildcard pattern like “192.168.*”.

Wal-Mart Cancels Movie Download Service 

I don’t think their heart was ever in it, because they didn’t want to undercut their lucrative DVD business.

What’s in a Name? 

Steven Heller on anonymous commenters:

A rose is a rose, and a real name at the end of a blog post is an indication that the person who authored the statement is taking responsibility, indeed ownership of the words — it is a simple act of honesty. For too long bloggers have been given license that is not tolerated in letters-to-the-editor columns of newspapers and magazines (except in extraordinary circumstances). If one is willing to expound, exclaim, or critique it should be done under a real name and with links to a valid email or website address.

Uneasy Silence: ‘Lies, Lies and Adobe Spies’ 

Uneasy Silence reports that Adobe CS3 apps are phone home periodically with connections to “” — a web server whose name is clearly designed to look like a local area network IP address (particularly when the “o” is capitalized in “”).

This is a disgrace, whatever the actual reason for the connections.

Fortune Ranks Radiohead’s Self-Publication of ‘In Rainbows’ as 59th Dumbest Moment in Business 

Yeah, $3 million dollars in revenue in one month, with not a penny of it going to a record label, is so stupid! Ha-ha! Maybe someday the guys in Radiohead will make as much money as the business geniuses writing for Fortune. (Via Cameron Moll.)

Customer Service, Creative Style 

I love the way that the reset instructions resemble the secret unlock codes for a video game — left-left-right-right-down-up-down-down.

New York Times Feature on Apple Retail Stores 

Katie Hafner reporting on Apple’s retail success:

Meanwhile, the Sony flagship store on West 56th Street, a few blocks from Apple’s Fifth Avenue store, has the hush of a mausoleum. And being inside the long and narrow blue-toned Nokia store on 57th Street feels a bit like being inside an aquarium.

It’s a good story overall, but anti-kudos to the Times editor who wrote the headline, “Inside Apple Stores, a Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful” — the description of Apple customers as “the faithful”, i.e. that Apple customers are semi-cultists, was never fair or accurate, but the whole point of this story is that it’s never been less true than now, in that the stores are bringing in tons of brand-new customers every day.

The Megapixel Myth 

Ken Rockwell on why “megapixels” are a terrible metric for evaluating cameras.

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally 

Merry Christmas, I hope you like civil war erupting in a failed state with nuclear weapons.

Six Megapixels 

Good explanation of why increasing the megapixel count of compact digital cameras actually makes image quality worse, because it increases the noise. (Via Tim Bray.)

More on Google Reader’s New Sharing Feature 

Michael Heilemann writes in defense of Google Reader’s new “every item you ‘share’ is shared with all your Google contacts” feature.

Even he admits, though, that there clearly ought to be a way to opt out of it. I personally only use Google Reader to follow a handful of feeds from my iPhone, and I’ve never used the sharing feature. But the way that feature used to work created an expectation not of security, but of privacy. Your shared items were protected by an obfuscated URL. This new feature is burning anyone who took advantage of that.

Google Reader Ruins Christmas 

Seems like a bad idea to try to turn Google Reader into a sort of social site.

Introducing Flash Player 9 Update 3 

Nice overview of what’s new in the latest release of Flash. (Via MDJ.)

The Myth of Market Share 

Wharton marketing professor J. Scott Armstrong:

We’re not saying companies shouldn’t pay attention to their competitors; they might be doing reasonable things that you may also want to do. What we’re saying is that the objective should not be to try to beat your competitor. The objective should be profitability. In view of all the damage that occurs by focusing on market share, companies would be better off not measuring it.

Pretty hard not to see this as a perfect explanation of Apple’s success this decade.

Introducing Joel Benjamin 

Congratulations to the Benjamins.

The Talk Show, Episode 13 

Back from hiatus with a new episode timed perfectly for your holiday enjoyment. Listen together with your whole family gathered around the fireplace.


My thanks to BusyMac for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their new product BusySync is a terrific utility that lets a small office or family create shared calendars in iCal.

.Mac shared calendars only allow read-only access. CalDAV shared calendars require Leopard and require you to set up and manage a central CalDAV server (e.g. with Mac OS X Server). With BusySync, you get read-write shared calendars and you don’t need a server — it’s just a simple System Prefs panel you install on each Mac. The installation and setup instructions are wonderfully simple, and the “it just works” factor is very high.

BusySync pricing starts at just $20 per computer, and if you buy before 31 December you can use the coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL” to save 20 percent.

MPAA Bans This Poster 

Beautiful movie poster for Taxi to the Dark Side, banned by the MPAA because it features a U.S. Army detainee in a hood. Which is something that actually happened and happens.

Someone needs to stand up and decry the MPAA for what it is: a censorship board. There’d be mass outrage in the mainstream media if there were an equivalent of the MPAA for books — imagine a book cover needing the approval of some mysterious board of conservative prudes, as movie posters do.

Apple’s Blogger Amnesty Program 

Fake Steve:

In the wake of our devastating loss to Nick dePlume of Think Secret (photo) we are considering rolling out an amnesty program to other Apple bloggers in which they would accept a cash payment in return for a promise never to write another word about Apple for as long as they live. Naturally after this they too could claim victory and hail themselves as champions of the First Amendment.

New Two-Minute Teaser for Season Four of ‘Lost’ 

I caught up on the entirety of the first three seasons over the summer, on DVD and via iTunes. Can’t wait for the new season — I loved the season three cliffhanger.

Wii Options Market 

Wii console scarcity in the U.S. has led to a black market outside Best Buys.

(A DF reader in Germany told me Wiis aren’t hard to get in Europe — speculating, reasonably, that because the Euro is strong and the dollar is weak, Nintendo is doing something smart by satisfying European demand first.)

Tesla Plans to Launch Roadster With ‘Beta’ Transmission 

Public beta for cars.

Don Rickles: Mr. Warmth 

If you haven’t watched it already, set your TiVo to record it — it’s great.

Has Google Peaked? 

2005 Slate story from Adam Penenberg speculating that Google had peaked. Since then, Google stock has more than doubled.

NY Times Story on Think Secret/Apple Deal 

Brad Stone, reporting for The New York Times, doesn’t get any answers either:

Mr. Ciarelli, a senior at Harvard, would not comment on whether Apple had given him money to persuade him to cease publishing. But he said he was pleased with the outcome of the > negotiations.

“We’ve been able to reach a positive solution,” he said in a telephone interview.

The accompanying photo is from 2005, when the lawsuit began. Love the way it makes it look like Ciarelli sits around outside on icy Boston winter days.

Juice Pack — External Battery Pack for iPhone 

$100 battery pack for iPhone. (Via Scott Beale.)

Larry Angell on the Think Secret/Apple Deal 

Larry Angell:

Anyone who thinks Nick at Think Secret didn’t get a big, fat check from Apple is naive.

That was my first thought, too. Those of you who are convinced that Apple cruelly forced Ciarelli to shutter the site against his will should re-read the cryptic press release. Could be a forced shutdown. Could be a payoff. Totally unclear from the press release. Some sort of deal that involved a reasonably-sized payoff, however, strikes me as more consistent with the tone of the press release and the brief comments Ciarelli and his attorneys have made.

The irony, of course, is that a site whose entire claim to fame and raison d’être was the exposition of “Apple secrets” has itself agreed to a secret deal with Apple.

A Look at the Acorn Image Editor 

Nice short review of Acorn from Scott Stevenson.

Amazon SimpleDB Thoughts 

Nice overview of SimpleDB by Ryan Barrett. (Via Andy Baio.)

Developing Apps for Google Android 

Ryan Paul:

I put Android to the test myself in an attempt to see how bad the situation really is. What I discovered is a highly promising foundation that is plagued by transitional challenges and a development process that needs more work.

iClone: The Very Best iPhone Imitators 

Wired’s round-up of iPhone knock-offs.

TidBITS Opinion: Think Secret Shuts Down in Wake of Apple Settlement 

Adam Engst on today’s Think Secret announcement. By far the most reasonable take I’ve seen so far.

The problem is we just don’t know enough about the terms of the settlement — at this point, it’s even a jump to conclude that Apple somehow forced Think Secret to cease publication. It’s possible, and some obviously consider it likely, but it is not clear from Ciarelli’s very terse press release.


Suite of layout tools for web designers, invoked via a bookmarklet. Sort of a web-based version of xScope. (Via Simon Willison.) Update: Damn, looks like the server is down. Here’s a cached version in the meantime.

Upcoming 10.5.2 Leopard Update Adds List View Back to Dock Folders 


‘Hello, I’m a Mac. And I’m a Cheapskate.’ 

John Paczkowski on the news from NPD Group that Mac users are far more likely than PC users to pay for downloadable music.

Adam Penenberg Broke the Stephen Glass Story in 1998 

I hadn’t made the connection, but several readers have pointed out that Adam Penenberg, the writer behind the hacktacular “All Eyes on Apple” Fast Company story covered here yesterday, has done some good work in the past. In particular, reporting for Forbes in 1998, Penenberg broke the story that Stephen Glass, a staff writer for The New Republic, was a complete and utter fraud who made up entire stories and sources.

Thought Secret 

Nick Ciarelli, publisher of Think Secret:

Apple and Think Secret have settled their lawsuit, reaching an agreement that results in a positive solution for both sides. As part of the confidential settlement, no sources were revealed and Think Secret will no longer be published.


CARS Presents: The Indeterminately Periodic Apple Community Wedgie Awards 

“The Apple Community Wedgie goes to the pundit who has distinguished his or herself in the field of Apple-related jackassitude.”

Perl 5.10.0 

New feature release of Perl, the world’s best programming language. Oh, yeah, that’s what I said, bitch. My regex-savant mind is immediately drawn to the new stuff in Perl’s regex engine, including recursive patterns (which PCRE has offered for years, but Perl 5.10’s allow backtracking) and, at last, named captures (which PCRE and a few other engines have offered for a while, too).

But there’s really a slew of new stuff, much of it back-ported from the long-in-development Perl 6 endeavor.

The 23rd Annual Editors’ Choice Awards 

Macworld’s Eddy awards are out; software winners include a bunch of apps that I use: Red Sweater’s MarsEdit, Alsoft’s DiskWarrior, HandBrake, Ambrosia’s WireTap Studio (and Leopard and iLife).

Lynne Spears’s Parenting Book ‘Delayed Indefinitely’ 

Not surprising at all that Britney Spears’s 16-year-old sister is pregnant. Depressing, yes, given that this is likely to garner more media attention than the entire U.S. presidential race, but surprising, no. What is surprising is that their mother had a deal for a parenting book, and only now has it been cancelled. I say go with it, and just change the title to Raising Skanks the Spears Way.

SunSpider 0.9 

New JavaScript benchmarking test from the WebKit team.

MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.1 

Fixes bug where keyboard input stopped working on MacBooks and MacBook Pros.

Leica M8 Revisited 

James Russell bought a Leica M8:

Shooting the Leica is like going out with Pamela Anderson. The camera keeps saying you can make me clean, cook, raise the kids, but I won’t be very good at it., though if you let me do what I’m good at you’ll be very happy.

Delicious Monster: Apple’s Farm Team 

Lucas Newman is leaving Delicious Monster to work at Apple as an iPhone engineer. If you’ve seen his Lights Off game for the iPhone — which he wrote with no API documentation in just a few days  — you can see why.

The Sapir-WIMP Hypothesis 

“Cognitive accessibility of user interfaces summarized in an oversimplified rule”, from Aristotle Pagaltzis:

The more easily you can talk about a user interface, the more easily you can understand how to manipulate it.

No Chance 

In light of today’s aforelinked piece that the iPhone, six months after debuting, is already outselling all Windows Mobile phones combined, let’s enjoy some holiday schadenfreude with this gem from Steve Ballmer back in April:

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”

Reinvented Blog: ‘So That’s Why It Was Called Pinprick’ 

Steve Harris, whose experiences with MacZot prompted my “Pinprick” piece a year ago, has a follow up regarding the long-term results of participating in a super-cheap bundle:

The answer to the ultimate question is 2.669270834. That is the percentage of MacZot users that have upgraded to Together in the month since its release. To put it another way, that’s 41 sales (at $14.95 each) out of the 1,536 total.

There’s a reason why you never hear about MacZot anymore.

Custom Quality/File Size Filters for PDF Exports 

Great tip by Jerry Stratton.

The Macalope: ‘With Disappointments Like These, Who Needs Successes?’ 

Regarding PC World’s selection of the iPhone as one of the 15 biggest “tech disappointments” of 2007:

If that’s a tech disappointment, the Macalope hopes 2008 brings Apple a slew of similar disappointments. It’ll be a banner year.

I’d say Apple shareholders and iPhone owners feel similarly.

Mac OS X Security Update 2007-009 

The usual assortment of security-related bug fixes, for Mac OS X 10.5.1 and 10.4.11.

Screenplay for ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ 

Fox Searchlight has PDF downloads for their films from this year, including The Darjeeling Limited, by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman. (Via Nima Yousefi.)

Oddica Holiday Sale 

Great t-shirts on sale for the holidays — buy three or more and get them for just $13 each.

The B-List: The Future of Web Standards 

Thoughtful essay from James Bennett regarding progress and web standards.

Philly TV News Skank Alycia Lane Arrested for Hitting NYC Cop 

Despite the fact the Post’s sources quote her as saying “I don’t care that you’re a cop - you dyke bitch!” before hitting the officer in the face, Lane’s lawyer claims she was not aware they were being questioned by police officers, which, if you think about it, is funny, as it implies that it’s A-OK to hit regular people in the face during an argument, just not cops.

Regardless, glad to see she’s got the holiday spirit.

Corzine Signs Law Abolishing Death Penalty in New Jersey 

I’m proud to live next door:

Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed into law a measure repealing New Jersey’s death penalty on Monday, making the state the first in a generation to abolish capital punishment.

Mr. Corzine also issued an order commuting the sentences of the eight men on New Jersey’ death row to life in prison with no possibility of parole, ensuring that they will stay behind bars for the rest of their lives.

The W3C Cannot Save Us 

Interesting essay by Alex Russell, arguing that standards advocacy is holding back technical progress in web browser development. I think he makes a good point: standards are great for defining and refining technology that has already been accepted in the real world, but the standardizing process is so time-consuming and requires so much consensus that it’s not reasonable to expect groundbreaking new technology to stem from it.

In short, better to go ahead and use the <canvas> tag now and tell IE users to switch to a better browser than to sit around waiting until 2015 for Microsoft to implement it in a crummy way that won’t “just work” anyway.

iPhone Already Outselling All Windows Mobile Phones Combined? 

If these numbers from Canalys are to be believed, in Q3 2007 the iPhone outsold all Windows Mobile phones combined in North America. (Once again, I’m at a loss to figure out why Symbian phones sell so poorly in North America and so remarkably well everywhere else in the world.)

MacUpdate Software Bundle 

Twelve Mac apps with a regular combined retail value of over $600, yours for just $50. Not a bad deal. (Includes a “preview” release of Things, the slick-looking upcoming to-do manager.)

QuickBooks Auto-Update Overwrites Entire Desktop Folder 

Total clusterfuck for QuickBooks users who trust its built-in update checker.

Some Kindle E-Books Omit Footnotes 

Marc Rochkind liked his Kindle, hardware- and reading-experience-wise, but returned it because several of the books he purchased were missing the footnotes:

I queried Amazon’s very responsive Customer Service, and they responded (on a Sunday!) with this: “Kindle Editions are electronic versions based on the original publication issued by the publishers. Occasionally, conversion of that content for reading on Kindle may require modification of content, layout, or format, including the omission of some images and tables and in this case footnotes.”

Wonder what they’d do with something from David Foster Wallace?

Clause and Effect 

Adam Freedman’s op-ed in today’s New York Times on the curious commas in the Second Amendment:

The best way to make sense of the Second Amendment is to take away all the commas (which, I know, means that only outlaws will have commas). Without the distracting commas, one can focus on the grammar of the sentence.

Keith Richards’s ‘Run Rudolph Run’ 

Re-released last week for the first time since 1978: Keith Richards’s first solo single, a killer take of Chuck Berry’s rock-and-roll Christmas classic. My wife found a semi-decent digital version of this on Napster a few years ago, where by “semi-decent” I mean “good enough to listen to but you could hear the needle dropping on the turntable the guy used to record it to MP3”.

Worth checking out just for the photo of Keith on the album art. (The song’s in the DRM-free iTunes Plus format, to boot.)

Letterman Pursuing a Deal With Writers 

I still pine for the days of the old strike, when Letterman went back on the air sans writers, running Hal Gurnee’s Network Time Killers in lieu of actual comedy bits. But good for Letterman — this strike is killing my late night mojo.

Amazon Removes the Database Scaling Wall 

Dave Winer on Amazon SimpleDB:

It’s amazing that Microsoft and Google are sitting by and letting Amazon take all this ground in developer-land without even a hint of a response.

iPhone on EDGE vs. Nokia E61i on 3G 

With regard to my previous item suggesting it’s a bad assumption that 3G phones are inherently faster than iPhones on EDGE: iPhone Infoblog (German) ran a side by side comparison of an iPhone on EDGE against a Nokia E61i on 3G, and — guess what — they rendered pages at almost the exact same speed. Needless to say, the pages look far better on the iPhone. (Thanks to Gavin McKeown.)

‘Just an Ordinary Phone’ 

From an InformationWeek piece on the LG Voyager iPhone knock-off:

“The Apple iPhone shook things up. If you look closely at the iPhone, it’s just an ordinary phone in an extraordinary package,” said Jeff Kagan, a wireless and telecom industry analyst.

Where do they get these clowns?

Also, with regard to statements-as-fact that a Voyager with 3G networking is “faster” than an iPhone on EDGE, how about someone runs some side-by-side benchmarks?

T-Mobile and Twitter 

DeWitt Clinton on T-Mobile’s decision to block Twitter:

If you think the rest of Internet needs net neutrality laws, that’s nothing compared with the backward-facing worldview of the established mobile carriers. You guys aren’t going to last long at this rate, and when it is all said and done no one is going to look back and longingly pine for the days of a handful of restricted carriers running closed networks.

A Dopplr Tour 

Dopplr, a community site for travelers, is now out of beta and open to the public. Worth checking out just for the very well-designed UI, even if you’re not a frequent traveler.

Run Python Script 

Jonathan Wight:

Apple already provides “Run AppleScript” and “Run Shell Script” actions with Automator which give Automator a high degree of flexibility. However Python is my preferred scripting language and by writing a custom action purely for Python I was able to take advantage of some PyObjC features that in my opinion make my action superior to the provided Apple scripting action.

NetNewsWire: Just What You Wanted 

Nice review and overview of NetNewsWire by Shawn Blanc.

Michael Tsai’s Acorn Trim Scripts 

Looking at the source (Python) shows how simple it can be to write image manipulating plugins for Acorn. (Granted, these are simple plugins, but still.)

Reducing the File Size of Graphics-Heavy PDFs in the Print Dialog 

Neat tip. (Via Mat Lu.)

How To: Create Custom iPhone Ringtones the Free and Apple Way 

Adam Pash shows the steps to using the latest version of GarageBand to create free iPhone ringtones. Now that I think about it, it’s interesting that it’s Mac-only.

Dumbest Thing I’ve Read All Week 

Noted for future gloating: Don Reisinger thinks (a) Apple won’t release a subnotebook MacBook, and (b) that if they do, it’ll tank.

Remote Buddy:  Brilliant Bit O’ Software for iPhone and Mac OS X 

Bill Bumgarner hails Remote Buddy, which (among other things), allows you to use your iPhone as a remote control for iTunes.


My thanks to Fraser Speirs’s Connected Flow for sponsoring the DF RSS feed this week. His FlickrExport plugins for iPhoto and Aperture are the best way to send photos to Flickr from either of those apps. FlickrExport handles everything from uploading the photos themselves to including them in groups and creating and adding to photosets.

Through December 17, Connected Flow is offering Daring Fireball readers a 50 percent discount — half off! — on any purchase with the coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL”.

Apple: How to Create Custom Ringtones in GarageBand 4.1.1 

Whoa, so Apple now officially supports free, custom ringtones for the iPhone? (Thanks to Paul Kafasis.)

Amazon SimpleDB 

New database companion to Amazon S3. Interesting, for sure.

Layer Tennis: Hello Brooklyn 

Commentator Joshua Allen’s prelude to today’s Layer Tennis match between Jason Gnewikow and Matt Owens is a classic. Plus, in his own bio at the bottom, he reveals that he (Allen, that is) was the author of the late, lamented, hilarious, and beautiful The House of Wigs.

A Year Later, the Same Scene: Long Lines for the Elusive Wii 

Matt Richtel reports for The New York Times on the fact that, a year after its release, Nintendo’s Wii is still in short supply:

The unsated demand is costing Nintendo more than face. Estimates from industry analysts and retailers indicate that the company, which is based in Kyoto, Japan, is giving up $1 billion or more in sales in the ever-important holiday retail season, not including sales of games for those unbuilt consoles.

Trajan Is the Movie Font 

Kirby Ferguson: “Everywhere I look nowadays, it’s just Trajan, Trajan, Trajan, Trajan.”

New ‘Get a Mac’ Commercials 

The Rankin/Bass-style “Santa Claus” one is great. And if you think about “Misprint”, there’s a subtle branding point that’s emphasized, which is that Hodgman’s PC character represents PC computer hardware, not Windows. It’s a great way to make a complex point in a funny way — that even if you do want to run Vista, you can do it on a Mac and it’ll work well.

‘But I Think It’s Got Something to Do With Loneliness’ 

Great find by Kottke: a transcript of Michael Silverblatt’s terrific 1996 interview with David Foster Wallace on the publication of Infinite Jest.

DFW: I guess I, when I was in my twenties, like deep down underneath all the bullshit what I really believed was that the point of fiction was to show that the writer was really smart. And that sounds terrible to say, but I think, looking back, that’s what was going on. And I don’t think I really understood what loneliness was when I was a young man. And now I’ve got a much less clear idea of what the point of art is, but I think it’s got something to do with loneliness and something to do with setting up a conversation between human beings.

Pixar In-Jokes 

Jim Hill’s extensive, illustrated list of in-jokes and cross-movie references in Pixar’s films. (Via Kottke.)

Apple Working on Improved Exchange Support for iPhone 

Another interesting job opening at Apple.

BetterZip Quick Look Generator 1.1 

Cool update to Robert Rezabek’s already-nifty freeware Quick Look generator for most common archive formats. Improvements from 1.0 including hierarchical disclosure dingers and the option to specify which columns to show.

Interview with Nicholas Jitkoff on the Future of Quicksilver 

From an interview with Lifehacker’s Adam Pash:

Jitkoff: I’m inclined to encourage users to move over to the more stable and well supported alternatives like LaunchBar. Right now QS 54 (ed: the current build) accomplishes everything that I really need, the problem is stability, which for some reason most people seem to be ignoring.

I like LaunchBar a lot, and have switched back and forth between it and Quicksilver over the years. But I wind up back with Quicksilver because it does a few things better.

Google Zeitgeist 2007 

A great Google tradition. “iPhone” leads both the U.S. and global lists. Love this nugget.

Flickr Stats 

Referrer-tracking shows where people come from when they look at your photos.

Mitchell Report on Steroids in MLB Implicates Top Players, Including Roger Clemens 

Former senator George Mitchell’s “Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation Into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball” implicates a slew of top players, including Yankee pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, and, of course, Barry Bonds. Fucking cheaters. The full report runs 409 pages (PDF).

Just Use Magic 

Dan Frommer has figured out how Palm can come back and beat the iPhone and BlackBerry: Flash.

By linking with Adobe, Palm would probably alienate its existing community of Palm OS developers, but let’s face it — that’s cutting bait at this point. If Palm and Adobe could work together on a stunning user interface and offer the massive community of Flash developers wide-open access to a solid phone platform on good-looking devices, it could be a huge hit.

Sure, and maybe they can wave the same magic wand and make chips run faster and cooler and have batteries that last for weeks without recharging. Frommer also thinks Palm’s new hardware engineering chief Jon Rubenstein was a “design guru” at Apple, when, of course, he was head of Apple’s Macintosh and, later, iPod hardware engineering divisions.

Also, by the way, there already is a Flash mobile platform, and — guess what? — it sucks compared to the mobile version of OS X.

Fake Steve vs. Press Release Copying ‘Reporter’ 

When Daniel Lyons delves into media criticism on the FSJ weblog, it always seems a bit out of character for “Fake Steve”, but it’s usually very good. This week he’s slagging on Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, an eWeek columnist who regurgitates press releases word-for-word and puts his byline on them as original reports — and apparently sees nothing wrong with it.

Blown Away 

Microsoft test engineer Hilton Locke, on his weblog:

I will say that if you are impressed by the “touch features” in the iPhone, you’ll be blown away by what’s coming in Windows 7.

What’s great about this is that no one believes it. Everywhere I’ve seen this comment linked this morning, it’s been mocked. Microsoft is like the little boy who cried wolf — long after everyone has stopped believing their “the next version is going to be awesome!” proclamations, they still haven’t learned that they should shut the fuck up, build something that actually does blow people away, and then let the product speak for itself.

Also, the fact that they’re bragging that the next version of their full PC OS is going to compare favorably to Apple’s handheld OS is a little embarrassing.

No Longer as ‘Sure’ as They Used to Be 

It’s hard to imagine how Microsoft’s consumer branding could be any worse. Even harder to imagine: what companies like Nokia are thinking releasing new PlaysForSure devices now.

The 20 Ugliest College Campuses in the U.S. 

They certainly got number one right: my alma mater, Drexel. You really have to see it to believe just how ugly the campus is.

Apple Hiring Multi-Touch Engineers 

Apple has all sorts of job openings; I just thought this one was pretty interesting.

Anxiety 1.0 

New freeware “super-lightweight” to-do app by Tom Stoelwinder. Requires Leopard because it uses the new system-wide task system, just like Mail and iCal.


“Fixes” Leopard’s menu bar translucency by diddling the desktop picture to put a solid color stripe under the menu bar region.

Led Zeppelin in Concert 

Ben Ratliff reports for The Times on Led Zeppelin’s first full concert since John Bonham died in 1980. Let’s hope they tour.

TED Talks: Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice 

Video of a great talk by psychologist Barry Schwartz at TED.

AdBlock for Safari 3 

Unsupported input manager hack for ad-blocking in Safari on Leopard.

Internet Explorer 8 

At least they have a sense of humor w/r/t their terrible product names.


My thanks to Jumpchart for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. Jumpchart is a collaborative web app designed to let teams design (and approve) the structure and organization of web sites. Plus it emits a framework of clean XHTML and CSS to get you started once you shift to production.

Airbag: Fail 

Greg Storey on “The Blog Council”:

After six years big business still has no idea what to do with this blog thing.

Craptacular Financial Times Story on Mac Trojans 

So I’m supposed to believe there’s been a hundred-fold increase in Mac malware since October — and the first report about this supposed scourge is this one in The Financial Times? Jiminy.


New community site dedicated to the business of web app development, founded by the creators of Litmus.

Yojimbo 1.5 

Tons of new features and improvements to one of my very favorite apps, including significant performance gains for large libraries, support for images (including icons) as a native data type, scripting fixes when running on Leopard, and more. See Bare Bones’s copious release notes for the full list.

A List Apart: A Preview of HTML 5 

Nice overview of the progress and current state of HTML 5. It’s elegant and, above all, practical. Be sure to check out the comments, too — a big concern seems to be the estimated 10-15 year timeframe for completion of the spec, but what’s being overlooked is that current browser makers are already implementing some of this stuff. (The <canvas> tag is a perfect example.)

Flickr Adds Photo Editing 

Impressive as hell. Makes it feasible for many people to use Flickr as their primary photo library and editor.

Perl on Rails – Why the BBC Fails at the Internet 

Almost unbelievable story about the BBC’s backwater web infrastructure, which they outsourced to Siemens:

The BBC’s infrastructure is shockingly outdated, having changed only by fractions over the past decade. [...] The front-end servers proxy to the application layer, which is a handful of Solaris machines running Perl 5.6 — a language that was superseded with the release of Perl 5.8 over five and a half years ago. Part of the reason for this is the bizarre insistence that any native modules or anything that can call code of any kind must be removed from the standard libraries and replaced with a neutered version of that library by a Siemens engineer.

Yes, that’s right, Siemens forks Perl to remove features that their engineers don’t like.

Scribbles 1.0 

Intriguing new $20 little drawing app from Atebits. Delightfully simple, but very clever UI. The main window has just a handful of controls, and no text labels. The tools at the bottom — brush, color, and layers — are modal, but their modality is inline, and dismissed with a big, friendly Dashboard-widget-style “x” in a black circle. More thoughts on Scribbles’s UI design from developer Loren Brichter here.

Even if you’re not looking for a simple sketching app, it’s worth checking out just to examine the UI. E.g., note the way that the click-to-close “x” appears in the same spot as the corresponding brush/color/layer buttons in the drawing window.

Analyst: Apple to Raise iTunes Movie Prices 

Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield reports that Apple is set to raise the prices of iTunes movie download to around the same price as DVDs — at $15 wholesale, the retail price would have to be $16 or more. This makes sense if Apple convinced the studios to allow for iTunes movie rentals.

Better Skype Compatibility With Leopard Firewall 

Villu Arak:

Earlier this month, we promised an update to Skype for Mac that would get along beautifully with Leopard’s firewall. Today’s hotfix to Skype 2.7 for Mac beta does just that.

Joyent: December Accelerator Sale 

Steep pre-pay discounts this month at Joyent on their Accelerator hosting accounts: pay for one year, get two; pay for two, get five. (I host DF on an Accelerator account.)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers to Play at Super Bowl Halftime 

With one of my favorite bands playing, it’s good to know I’ll enjoy halftime, too, while savoring the Cowboys’ victory over the Patriots in the game itself.

Understanding Sub-Pixel Anti-Aliased Font Rendering 

Darel Finley has a nice explanation and example photos taken with a microscope of how sub-pixel font rendering works.

Joe Maller on Sub-Pixel Anti-Aliasing With Rotated Displays 

Joe Maller:

That is just preposterous. Aside from his observation being completely wrong, he also revealed a bug in OS X: The current system doesn’t recognize rotated pixel orientations, sub-pixel rendering on rotated screens should probably be disabled automatically.

It’s hard to photograph individual pixels, but Maller does a pretty good job proving that sub-pixel rendering definitely looks different on a rotated display. Garrett Murray concurs. [Update: Fixed link.] So I stand corrected: if other factors weren’t enough, the iPhone’s rotating screen probably does rule out the use of sub-pixel anti-aliasing.


Freeware app from Micromat that lets you view and archive your iPhone SMS messages. Not an iPhone hack — it apparently just reads the backup data iTunes puts on your Mac when you sync your iPhone. (Via Om Malik.)

SixApart Sells LiveJournal to Russian Company 

To me at least, it seemed like Vox was too competitive with LiveJournal for the same company to nourish both products.

iPhone Sub-Pixel Anti-Aliasing and Screen Rotation 

Steve Weller:

But there is a very simple reason that sub-pixel is not used on the iPhone: screen rotation. Sub-pixel anti-aliasing relies on the increased spacial density in the horizontal direction of the individual color bars (and on the pathetic color-resolution of eyes). Once you switch vertical and horizontal by rotating the screen, this no longer works and you have no option but to have a high-enough pixel resolution to make simple anti-aliasing work well.

I’ve received a slew of emails from readers pointing out the same thing, and it does make sense. But: I tested it on my Cinema Display with the screen rotated 90°, and, to my eyes, sub-pixel anti-aliasing still looked good. So I’m not sure the iPhone’s rotating display is reason enough to rule out sub-pixel rendering.

Grey’s Law 

With regard to Cringely’s aforelinked theory regarding AT&T CEO Mark Stephenson’s “3G iPhone next year” comment, DF reader Felix Ingram points to Grey’s Law:

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Viva Knievel, the Final Chapter 

Nice eulogy to Evel Knievel by Jerry Garrett:

Beyond the intriguingly gifted, private man that I remember, how should the world remember this larger-than-life daredevil? He was seemingly fearless, driven to try stunts that were — admit it — astonishingly stupid and pointless. But as a P.T. Barnum-caliber showman, he made the outcome seem somehow relevant and made millions care about what happened to him. He had an amazing, unfathomable need to be a real-life superhero.

Cringely on AT&T CEO’s ‘3G iPhone’ Comment 

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told a group earlier this week that Apple’s going to introduce an iPhone with 3G networking “next year”. Lots of people are making a big deal out of this, especially Cringely, who spins an entire column around the idea that it was a deliberate leak on Stephenson’s part to “send a $1 billion message” to Apple and dampen holiday iPhone sales. Cringely’s entire argument hinges on the idea that this guy couldn’t be that stupid. I say, yes, he probably is that stupid.

And as Erica Sadun noted, it’s not exactly a state secret. Some guy named Steve Jobs said the same thing back in September.

CNet Reportedly Fires GameSpot Editor for Poor Review of Highly-Advertised Game 

Valleywag has a page full of coverage on the story of Jeff Gerstmann, editorial director and ten-year veteran of GameSpot, who was fired this week after posting a scathing review of the heavily-advertised Kane and Lynch.

Hidden Information in Leopard’s AirPort Menu 

Glenn Fleishman on the improvements in Leopard’s AirPort menu. The lock icons next to protected networks are useful when you’re out and about, looking for an open network.

Another XO Lawsuit on the Horizon 

I love Robotron.

Coda 1.1 

You have to love release notes that start with “Leopard time!”

‘Give Good Food to Your Mac’ 

And, speaking of indie Mac software promotions, a slew of European developers have banded together for “Give Good Food to Your Mac”, a promotion where the more apps you buy, the steeper the discount grows. Some of the apps include CSSEdit, Pixelmator, and Remote Buddy.

MacSanta 2007 

Speaking of Rogue Amoeba, Paul Kafasis has put together another MacSanta promotion for indie Mac software this year. The way it works this year is you get 20 percent savings with the coupon code MACSANTA07, but each deal is for one day only, starting today. There’s an RSS feed to keep track of the offers all month long. Update: The 20 percent deal is one-day only, but each app in the promotion is 10 percent off through December 31.

Rogue Amoeba Software 

My thanks to Rogue Amoeba — purveyors of fine audio software such as Radioshift, Audio Hijack Pro, and Fission — for sponsoring the DF RSS feed this week.

Zune Availability 

Amazon is reporting an in-stock date for the 80 GB second generation black Zune of 16 December. That seems to be cutting it awfully close to Christmas, no?