By John Gruber
Sky Guide brings the beauty of the stars down to Earth.
Well-considered response to Cory Doctorow’s “I don’t believe Steve Jobs” DRM piece from Salon last week:
Doctorow does make some good points but, as usual for him with this subject, he’s so wound up about it that he keeps heading off into la-la-koo-koo crazy-bananas land to make sure you know how bad DRM is.
I’m not talking percentages. I’m not talking strict numbers. What I am talking about is that when someone says that she is looking for women developers and speakers and yet cannot find them, then she isn’t looking very hard. Or possibly, at all.
Astounding and tragic.
Manton Reece reveals the sales data from the first 75 days of his Wii Transfer app. I don’t think his price increase (from $9 to $14) had any effect on sales — the drop-off that coincided with the increase was part of the overall trend of the drop-off after the release of version 2.0.
Few can work up a good UI rant like Pierre Igot can.
Gundeep Hora speculates that Apple might kill Mac OS X because they’re moving toward consumer electronics like the iPhone. The same iPhone that uses OS X as its operating system. Uh-huh.
Another you-might-think-it’s-a-joke-but-apparently-he’s-serious bit of punditry from Mr. Hora: “Microsoft Should Acquire Linux”.
Chris Pirillo is the sort of user who wants to like Vista; it’s a very bad sign for Microsoft that he doesn’t.
My book, AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, describes and teaches the AppleScript language, but it also bemoans that language’s many failings. I won’t enumerate those failings here; let’s just stipulate that for some users, typically those with some experience of other programming languages, scripting Mac applications via Apple events would be a much more pleasant experience if AppleScript weren’t involved. In fact, I happen to be one such user.
The true benefits of using Ruby instead of AppleScript as a base for sending Apple events to scriptable applications emerge when you consider the relative merits of the two languages. You shed the clumsy, tricky verbosity of AppleScript, along with its gaping linguistic holes (such as the paucity of string-handling abilities) in favor of such Ruby elegances as regular expressions, iterators, blocks, and true object-orientation—not to mention all the power of Ruby’s vast built-in classes, libraries, and gems.
Dave Hyatt on the factors that can lead web browsers to consume too much CPU time.
Interesting and candid appraisal of where Starbucks’s brand stands today.
More on James Cameron’s claim to have discovered the tomb of Jesus and his family.
TextMate: Power Editing for the Mac, by James Edward Gray II, and published by The Pragmatic Programmers. $30 for paper, $20 for PDF, $37.45 for both.
Derik DeLong complains that Parallels’s support for Boot Camp partitions didn’t work for him in beta releases, but now works perfectly in the release version. Isn’t that what “beta” means?
I ♥ HTML5 and the WHAT Working Group. I should just go ahead and switch DF to HTML5 now.
Advertising, propaganda (is that redundant?), and user-interface designs from the imagined future of Children of Men.
Good news for BlackBerry-using Mac users.
Free update for existing users.
Two dopes from New York wrote software to snoop email and IP addresses from MySpace users, then tried to extort $150,000 from MySpace as a “consulting fee” to stop distributing their hack. One odd aspect of their plea bargain agreement is that they’re each limited to a single email address. (Via Valleywag.)
Anil Dash suggests a hypothetical web conference with 18 speakers, all women. It’s a good line-up that would make for a terrific conference. But, it would also make for a far different conference theme than any of the criticized conferences in Kottke’s list.
In a comment on Anil’s post, Tim O’Reilly writes:
I have to side with Eric Meyer. Find interesting people. Work a little harder to find interesting women who can bring fresh voices and perspectives, but in the end, tell your story, whatever it is. The most interesting people in a field may be female, male, black, white, asian, gay, straight...it doesn’t matter. Just find the most brilliant and interesting ones related to the area you’re exploring, put them on stage, and let them shine.
Joe Clark, in a comment on Anil Dash’s weblog:
I am waiting for someone to disprove my contention that the barriers to success in information technology are poverty (can’t afford a computer) and disability (cannot use it), not sex. The computer does not have an opinion about whether or not you “are wanted”; women have no barriers in using computers for their own purposes.
Interesting to think of poverty as an accessibility problem.
Armin Vit looks at the clever signage, branding, and typography from Mike Judge’s futuristic satire Idiocracy. (Via Design Observer.)
Old Jewel Software’s new $20 app launcher with a pie menu interface; optimized for easy access to your most-accessed apps. Check out the screencasts to get a feel for it.
Those freaking Chinese are sitting on piles of gold! They pirate your software because they are a greedy, greedy people, not because Windows Vista Basic costs $295 in China and laborers rake in about $160 a month.
Dan Moren rips apart another crummy MacNewsWorld report on Mac security.
Dave Girard goes deep with Adobe Lightroom, including a comparison vs. Aperture.
Gender and ethnic imbalance in web design speaker conference lineups reflects a wider such imbalance in the industry as a whole. This imbalance bothers me as much as it bothers Kottke. I am glad Kottke raised the issue in his recent post, although I think it is a mistake to hold conferences accountable for deeper problems in the industry they serve. But that doesn’t for a minute get conference planners off the hook.
The perils of pre-announcing.
Nice round-up of current high-end digital point-and-shoots from Tim Bray and various commenters. I’m particularly intrigued by the Ricoh GR recommended by Jonathon Delacour.
Typographic humor. (Thanks to DF reader Robert Canales.)
I say he ought to go back to making action movies. I miss him.
New video podcast show by Merlin Mann. Love the theme song.
Terrific redesign (and brand consolidation) from my friends and former colleagues at Joyent. They took the original brand — which was good (disclosure: I helped create it), but narrowly focused — and expanded it to include more products and services. Consider my hat tipped.
Interesting piece by Emily Nussbaum in New York Magazine, on the gap between those who grew up with the web and the rest of us old farts:
It’s been a long time since there was a true generation gap, perhaps 50 years—you have to go back to the early years of rock and roll, when old people still talked about “jungle rhythms.” Everything associated with that music and its greasy, shaggy culture felt baffling and divisive, from the crude slang to the dirty thoughts it was rumored to trigger in little girls. That musical divide has all but disappeared. But in the past ten years, a new set of values has sneaked in to take its place, erecting another barrier between young and old. And as it did in the fifties, the older generation has responded with a disgusted, dismissive squawk.
(Thanks to Chris Pepper.)
I love that there’s a shot from Boogie Nights.
Update: Scott McNulty points out that the ad doesn’t include the word “iPhone”.
How long until Microsoft takes “Plays for Sure” out back and shoots it?
Best director, best picture, best documentary — sometimes the Academy actually gets them right. The wife and I got a little choked up watching Scorsese pick up his Oscar.
No new versions to be developed; two of the developers have joined the Adium team.
Now with session saving — an essential feature for any serious web browser.
Smart Like Streetcar:
Instead of castrating Steven Levy, Mac pundits should be celebrating him.
Mac blogs should have analyzed the questions (blockquote below) he asked Gates before accusing him of mollycoddling. How can they say he was ineffective? He’s constantly pressing Gates, pumping him for info, pissing him off, but never making Microsoft’s founder so angry that he shuts him down. It’s the razor’s edge, a thing of beauty.
No argument from me that it was a great interview overall; Gates gave dozens of interviews during the Vista launch, and Levy’s was by far the most engaging. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have asked Gates for a source for his security claim.
Zeldman, in a comment on Eric Meyer’s weblog:
I don’t share Eric’s view; I’m not neutral. I work with brilliant women at Happy Cog. Our Event Apart planning and production team is all female. I make an effort to recruit great female speakers.
For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, you find more women in visible leadership roles in editorial work, information architecture, usability, accessibility, and entrepreneurship. You find fewer women in leadership roles in the CSS/design niche that’s the core of our show.
Eric Meyer — co-organizer of An Event Apart — has written a very thoughtful post regarding web conference diversity:
Look at the authors of the best-selling books in the field. Look at the folks behind the most widely followed web sites. Look at the names that come up whenever someone asks who are the most respected and influential people in web design and development. How many are female?
A few. Not many. (And most of them spoke in Vancouver.) So is the gender imbalance in the eye of the organizers, or is it in the very fabric of the industry?
Dave Hyatt writes about a secret Safari preference that was posted to Digg and garnered rave comments — despite the fact that the preference in question no longer does anything in Safari 1.3 and later.
Three easy steps.
(Thanks to DF reader Andrew McDonnell.)
My friend Aaron Swartz is looking to hire a designer for “one of the great wonders of the Web”. Sounds like a cool job.
Freeverse’s outstanding $80 illustration program now supports PDF import and editing, has various performance improvements, supports zooming to 256000 percent (!), and more.
From a story by Gregg Keizer for Computerworld:
“The rule in Silicon Valley is that if Apple leaves the table smiling, the other guy got screwed,” said Rob Enderle, an independent analyst and principal of the Enderle Group. “And Apple left the table smiling on this one.”
Another rule in Silicon Valley is that if a reporter uses Rob Enderle as a quote source, that reporter is a lazy jackass. And Gregg Keizer used Rob Enderle as a quote source.
Microsoft must pay French phone equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent $1.52bn (£777m) after a US court ruled the IT giant had infringed audio patents.
Alcatel had sued Microsoft, saying two patents related to the standards used for converting audio into MP3 files had been breached.
I don’t know anything about the details of this case, but $1.5 billion is a lot of money, even for Microsoft.
From a January 31 press release:
Platform-agnostic approach: As proposed, the TV catch-up service on the internet relies on Microsoft technology for the digital rights management (DRM) framework. The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe. “This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.”
(Thanks to everyone who sent this in.)
Scene from Pulp Fiction re-interpreted as typographic motion graphics. Top-notch work. (Via Jim Coudal.)
Only a month after the much-heralded announcement of the iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his engineers were already working around-the-clock on the touchscreen smartphone’s far-superior replacement.
This might be the second-most prescient story ever to appear in The Onion. Hard to top this one from January 2001, of course.
Web-based petition on the web site of the British prime minister:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the BBC from making its iPlayer on-demand television service available to Windows users only, and instruct the corporation to provide its service for other operating systems also.
I think it’s a bad idea for anyone to make something like this Windows-only, but it seems particularly outrageous for a publicly funded entity such as the BBC. This is a chance for the BBC to lead the way.
From Paul Graham’s foreword to Jessica Livingston’s Founders at Work
A few years ago I read an article in which a car magazine modified the “sports” model of some production car to get the fastest possible standing quarter mile. You know how they did it? They cut off all the crap the manufacturer had bolted onto the car to make it look fast.
Business is broken the same way that car was. The effort that goes into looking productive is not merely wasted, but actually makes organizations less productive.
NewsGator has a nice interview with Daniel Jalkut and Brent Simmons about the history and future of MarsEdit.
You read that right, no need to run for another cup of coffee. MarsEdit, the kick-ass, intuitive web-publishing powerhouse which I’ve been using to write entries here since I started blogging almost two years ago, is now part of the Red Sweater family of products. What an exciting day!
Nearly every word I write for Daring Fireball is published through MarsEdit, so this is good news for me, too.
Two new dock themes and a new feature that lets you paste clipping items directly into other applications. (Full release notes here.)
At Macworld 2007, the Apple Developer Connection hosted 48 developers in the ADC Developer Pavilion. Located just next to the Apple booth, these developers were able to present their products at the biggest Mac customer event of the year. ... To find out more about the developers in the pavilion, we interviewed nine of them.
(Via James Duncan Davidson, who took the photos.)
Sarah Jane Tribble, reporting for The San Jose Mercury News:
The iPhone trademark battle ended late today as Cisco and Apple announced in a joint statement that they had resolved their differences.
After weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, the technology giants agreed that each are free to use the “iPhone” trademark on their products throughout the world.
So much for that problem.
Mark Dominus on a proof by Tom M. Apostol published in 2000:
In short, if √2 were rational, we could construct an isosceles right triangle with integer sides. Given one such triangle, it is possible to construct another that is smaller. Repeating the construction, we could construct arbitrarily small integer triangles. But this is impossible since there is a lower limit on how small a triangle can be and still have integer sides.
(Via Michael Tsai.)
From a BBC interview with Kevin Finisterre, headlined “Mac Users ‘Still Lax on Security’”:
Finisterre said: “Try calling any Apple store and ask any sales rep what you would do with regard to security, ask if there is anything you should have to worry about?
“They will happily reinforce the feeling of ‘Security on a Mac? What? Me worry?’.”
What exactly should they say? What claim has Apple ever made regarding Mac OS X security that was disproved by the Month of Apple Bugs?
He said the Month of Apple Bugs (MOAB) project had succeeded in its original aim of raising the level of awareness around Mac security.
If by “raising the level of awareness around Mac security” you mean “conflating software bugs with security exploits”, then yes.
(Via Iljitsch van Beijnum.)
Constructed from GE Lexan EXL semi-transparent resin, the billboard accurately blurs the scene behind it regardless of day, weather, or season.
Update: These ads are apparently just a concept — student work by Annie Williams and Ian Hart at the Miami Ad School — and are not in production by Ford.
(Via Cameron Moll.)
Think Secret says 10.5 is set to ship by the end of March.
I say: Bullshit.
Update your bookmarks accordingly.
Updated version of Rogue Amoeba’s freeware menu extra for adjusting audio device settings.
Hard to believe this isn’t a joke.
From Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (via Fake Steve):
A teen who wanted an Apple Macintosh computer (Mac) for Christmas after seeing one of the ubiquitous apple ads on the apple website, but instead got to inherit his father’s older Windows PC, finally got mad early Saturday morning and threw out the inherited Dell PC out of the window in a bizarre case of life imitating “the internet world”. …
Said the dad, Mr. Tsolomon Enkhbayar, “I knew he was passionate about getting a Macintosh computer, but I never thought it was that passionate.”
When I was in college, my friend Neil threw the keyboard from his Mac SE/30 out the window of his bedroom after becoming frustrated (to say the least) with a programming assignment. His bedroom was on the second floor, and many of the keys snapped off and stopped working. The computer was still under AppleCare, so he took it in to Drexel’s campus Mac shop and told them, “It just stopped working.” The clerk examined the keyboard and asked him how all the keys came off. Neil replied, “I turned it upside down to clean it and they just fell off.” He walked out with a new keyboard.
It seems likely Odeo is worth more to someone else than it is to us at this point, so we’re looking for a new home for it. We’ve been having some conversations with potential buyers, and this is our attempt to put the word out more widely in the most expeditious way (and without involving investment bankers and the like). If we don’t get any attractive offers, we’ll continue to run it.
More here from Williams on the lack of an established marketplace for selling web sites.
Khoi Vinh on Twitter and Twitterrific.
Fast-paced puzzle game from Iconfactory and Artis Software. Looking at the puzzle pieces makes me want to play Trivial Pursuit.
Command-Option-drag a document onto an app’s icon in the Dock to force it to try to open the file. Useful when you know more about the contents of a file than the extension or file type indicates.
My wife’s two-month-old MacBook started doing this about two weeks ago.
Bug-fix update to Bare Bones Software’s outstanding organizer app.
$15 color picker extension from Chromatic Bytes. You pick a starting color and Shades displays a grid of related colors to pick from. (Thanks to Jesper.)
Another good AirPort Extreme 802.11n review, this one by Robert Mohns writing for MacInTouch. He was unimpressed by the speed, seeing a maximum throughput of just 35 Mbit/s; but Glenn Fleishman (who reviewed the new AirPort for Macworld) saw speeds up to 90 Mbit/s in one direction and 50 Mbit/s in both directions.
Remember part one of Marc Garrett’s interview with Mark Hamburg, the lead developer of Adobe Lightroom? Part two is now up, and there’s some great stuff, including this on the heavy use of Lua to write the application logic:
So what we do with Lua is essentially all of the application logic from running the UI to managing what we actually do in the database. Pretty much every piece of code in the app that could be described as making decisions or implementing features is in Lua until you get down to the raw processing, which is in C++. The database engine is in C; the interface to the OS is in C++ and Objective C as appropriate to platform. But most of the actually interesting material in the app beyond the core database code (which is SQLite) and the raw processing code (which is essentially Adobe Camera Raw) is all in Lua.
Intriguing piece by Po Bronson in New York magazine on the counterintuitive effects of effusively praising children for being smart:
In a subsequent round, none of the fifth-graders had a choice. The test was difficult, designed for kids two years ahead of their grade level. Predictably, everyone failed. But again, the two groups of children, divided at random at the study’s start, responded differently. Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn’t focused hard enough on this test. “They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles,” Dweck recalled. “Many of them remarked, unprovoked, ‘This is my favorite test.’ ” Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren’t really smart at all. “Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable.”
Good news for me if it goes through: I’ve got XM in my car, but prefer the programming on Sirius.
New $29 to-do task management / “GTD” app for Mac OS X by Devin Coughlin. Fairly obvious to figure out, but there’s no documentation other than this brief FAQ on the web site.
(Note to Mac developers: If the one and only item in your Help menu is a YourAppName Help command, and the only thing that command does is show an alert that says “Help isn’t available for YourAppName”, you should just get rid of the entire Help menu. Not having a Help menu at all at least makes it clear there isn’t any help; making it look like there is help but then telling me there isn’t only after I ask for it is irritating.)
Open source object-oriented PHP web app framework from the makers of pMachine. (Via Steven Frank.)
Engadget’s overview of the state of DRM.
Nice look at some of the UI ideas Brent Simmons experimented with in the early stages of developing NetNewsWire 3.0. I think the problem with some of these ideas isn’t that they were bad ideas, but that they didn’t feel NetNewsWire-y. It’s hard to take the UI in new directions when you’ve got a ton of existing users.
Nice review and take-apart, with photos. The CPU is a Marvell chip.
Free version of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal story; definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet. (Thanks to DF reader Jo Morgan.)
Great article by Peter Ammon on the subtle intricacies of multi-threaded programming. Nice use of color in the code examples.
Glenn Fleishman reviews the new 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station for Macworld; by far the most detailed review I’ve seen to date.
Digg gets all the press, but Slashdot still has serious mojo — 15,000 referrers in a little over three hours. (My server didn’t even break a sweat; yay [TextDrive/Joyent].)
There’s a front-page story in today’s Wall Street Journal about the extraordinary deal Apple worked out with Cingular regarding the iPhone. Sadly, of course, the story is behind the Journal’s paid subscriber wall. The gist: Apple negotiated with Verizon, too, but they wouldn’t budge on their demand that the phone use Verizon’s proprietary “V Cast” software for selling video and music; Cingular, on the other hand, was willing to cede complete control of the phone’s hardware and software to Apple.
Here’s Fake Steve’s take.
Kind of surprising that the CEO of a company that sells so many computers to schools would be so blunt, but I agree with Jobs completely regarding teacher unions:
Comparing schools to small companies and principals to CEOs, [Jobs] asked rhetorically what kind of CEO can’t hire the people he wants, get rid of workers who aren’t performing or pay better workers more.
American schools “have become unionized in the worst possible way,” Jobs said.
Until that is remedied, he said, schools won’t be able to attract the best teachers and administrators.
Now supports iTunes playlists and browsing by album.
Marko Karppinen on Cringely’s latest column:
“I, Cringely” is a very popular technology blog/column on the PBS site. Here’s how it works. Mark Stevens, the author, writes a column about a hot technology topic every week. What makes it funny (and, I guess, popular) is that he almost never understands the topic or knows what he’s talking about.
What’s weird (or maybe sad?) is that Cringely used to be great. He’s always had a tendency to take his speculation a bit over the top, but that’s what made Cringely Cringely. But it used to be obvious that he knew what he was talking about fundamentally. More and more these days, it seems clear he’s completely out of touch with current technology.
Karppinen’s right: The problem with columns like this one isn’t that his speculation is wrong, but that his facts are wrong.
Free tool for ripping movies from DVD to files on disk, for use, say, with iPods or Apple TVs. MediaFork is a fork of HandBrake.
I just posted NetNewsWire 3.0d46, a new sneak-peek release of NetNewsWire. Important: it’s not even a beta: there are more features to do, and it definitely has bugs. The “d” stands for danger.
10-minute short film in the form of a music video for The Decemberists. Sort of a Wes Anderson vibe to it. (Via Steve Delahoyde at Coudal Partners.)
This article aims to illustrate the steps needed in order to write a working Quicksilver plugin in Xcode and Objective-C.
(Via Cocoa Blogs.)
Bunch of bug fixes. This line in the release notes:
Various Markdown fixes.
Is an understatement, to say the least. 8.6.1’s Markdown support is terrific.
Update: More from Seth Dillingham, who wrote BBEdit’s Markdown language module:
8.6 included a new Markdown language module. This was truly the most difficult language module ever. There may be no less parseable language in the whole world.
DRM is a lot like hiring Barney Fife to guard your record store. He irritates the paying customers while the shoplifters just laugh behind his back and walk away with the merchandise.
(Thanks to DF reader Daniel Lord.)
Four fixes for issues from the Month of Apple Bugs project, including a Finder crash when mounting a maliciously-crafted disk image, two iChat bugs, and a privilege escalation bug with UserNotificationCenter.
Software update for the new Daylight Saving Time changes for 10.3 and 10.4; instructions for how to set the time manually using 10.2 and 9.2.
This comment of Gartenberg’s regarding Vista strikes me as very insightful: “It’s the only product on the market that has to appeal to the CIOs of Fortune 500 companies and my mother all at the same time.”
Part of the beauty of Wii Tennis is what they left out. It’s absolutely crucial to the game that you don’t control the players’ movements, that they just chase the balls on their own. If you’d added player-controlled movement, the learning curve would have been much more steep.
Interesting comparison of old Microsoft to new Microsoft:
Used to be when Microsoft wanted to take a market from a successful competitor, they started by seducing their users with something comfortable, a product that worked just like the competitor’s, and was better in some major way.
If you use TextExpander (or the old freeware Textpander), the ⌘⌥D shortcut for toggling Dock hiding doesn’t work. SmileOnMyMac blames a bug in Mac OS X.
From the comments on Daniel Jalkut’s aforelinked “C Is the New Assembly”:
One problem I suspect will bite people using scripting-language bridges is the lack of type checking. Yes, I’ve read all the propaganda about “duck typing” and how the lack of type checking makes you more Agile. For small quickie bits of code, I tend to agree. However, in a full app, type errors will bite you in the ass. A lot.
If you use full-screen playback for a QuickTime movie with embedded Flash content, you won’t get the HUD controls. Good to know.
iTunes customers will be able to purchase blockbuster Lionsgate films like Terminator 2, LA Story, Basic Instinct, The Blair Witch Project and Dirty Dancing and more than 150 titles coming to iTunes this month. The iTunes Store has become the world’s most popular online movie store, with a catalog of over 400 titles.
That’s great, now they’re only 69,600 titles behind NetFlix.
New flavor from Ben & Jerry’s:
It’s vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel.
Announcing the new flavor Wednesday, Ben & Jerry’s called it: “The sweet taste of liberty in your mouth.”
Everything’s more fun with some snow.
Back in the really old days, before Perl took off for web programming, people used to write CGIs using C. And then when Perl started getting popular, some C programmers said it wouldn’t work because Perl was slower than C. In the meantime, while the C curmudgeons were complaining, those who embraced Perl were building the Web.
I think a few years from now, desktop application programming is going to look more like web programming does now, with most of the lines of code written in scripting languages, and the performance-sensitive parts written in C / C++ / Objective-C.
Planet Terror and Death Proof, back-to-back action movies from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.
I predict he wins. He’s smart, funny, and famous — a very good combination for politics.
Crazy Apple Rumors Site:
Scoble also said that if you add a “z” to the front of anything, it automatically becomes cool, edgy and hip, and it totally doesn’t suck.
2001: A Space Odyssey condensed into one minute, using Legos.
From the abstract for a paper by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, published in The University of Chicago’s Journal of Political Economy:
We match an extensive sample of downloads to U.S. sales data for a large number of albums. To establish causality, we instrument for downloads using data on international school holidays. Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Our estimates are inconsistent with claims that file sharing is the primary reason for the decline in music sales during our study period.
(Thanks to DF reader Carl Forde.)
Matt Linderman has a neat Tufte-ian idea for how YouTube (or any other video site) could convey more information about a video clip before you play it: show multiple still frames.
BusinessWeek story on Yahoo’s new “Brickhouse” skunkworks division, which is headed by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake. This is a great idea — maybe the best thing Yahoo could do.
Sign me up for #14 too.
Interesting low-level white paper on the design of regular expression engines. The problem, as Cox sees it, is that most popular regex engines, while they run quickly in nearly all cases, are susceptible to certain patterns which can take extraordinarily long times to execute. (In practical terms, they never finish.)
However, there’s quite a bit of hand-waving in Cox’s proposed solution, which is a modified version of a regular expression engine devised by Unix co-creator Ken Thompson 40 years ago. Cox’s implementation doesn’t support backreferences or any modern regex syntax — I’d be a lot more intrigued if he hadn’t left these features as exercises for the reader. And I think Cox makes too much of the fact that what we now call “regular expressions” no longer fit the formal mathematical definition of regular expressions. I’m with Jeffrey Friedl here — this just means “regular expression” has taken on a new meaning, not that we should abandon the non-regular syntax.
(Thanks to Jim Correia.)
I’m back for another guest spot on Dan Benjamin’s Hivelogic Radio Show podcast. Topics range from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to the iPhone and the idea of an embedded version of OS X. My guess is you’ll like it. Update: Now with comments enabled — Dan just added comments as a feature to his custom CMS.
(Dan’s previous episode, an interview with James Duncan Davidson, was really good, too.)
To be announced by mid-March, on sale some time in May. So they say.
Even though Vista Home’s end user license agreement forbids it, Christopher Breen reports that it runs just fine under Parallels on Mac OS X.
Interesting (but unsurprising) Mac-vs-PC price comparison:
Short version: equivalent, professional-level desktop systems made by Apple, HP, and built from parts cost within $50 of one another.
Bruce Schneier, writing for Forbes:
Microsoft put all those functionality-crippling features into Vista because it wants to own the entertainment industry. This isn’t how Microsoft spins it, of course. It maintains that it has no choice, that it’s Hollywood that is demanding DRM in Windows in order to allow “premium content” — meaning, new movies that are still earning revenue — onto your computer. If Microsoft didn’t play along, it’d be relegated to second-class status as Hollywood pulled its support for the platform.
It’s all complete nonsense.
Demo video of advanced large-display touchscreen UIs from Jeff Han’s Perspective Pixel.
Jesper’s donationware system-wide menu bar Internet search utility. Sort of like the Spotlight menu but for querying any web-based search engine.
Mike Arrington, on Barack Obama’s new community web site:
All I really want to know is, who built this for them? It launched basically feature-complete and bug free, which would be very hard to do without an extended beta.
We’ve now gotten to the point where Mike Arrington thinks it’s weird to release software to the public only after it is finished. I’m guessing they did have a beta — a real one, not a public one. I’d be appalled if a presidential candidate launched a half-assed beta web site.
Update: DF reader Jeffrey Durland points out that if you poke around MyBarackObama.com, you can see that it was built by Blue State Digital.
There is no booboo that wouldn’t feel at least somewhat better with one of these.
(Thanks to Mrs. DF, Amy Gruber.)
Ian Hobson notes that Jon Lech Johansen is far from an unbiased observer regarding Apple’s use of FairPlay DRM — his startup, DoubleTwist, is specifically building a business around the idea of allowing other companies to use FairPlay DRM without Apple’s authorization.
Very cool paintings of Star Wars characters by artists at Blue Sky Studios; some more from Rockstar here. (Thanks to Dan Benjamin.)
Warner Music Group Corp., the world’s fourth-largest record firm, said a plea by Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs to let songs be sold on the Web without copy protection software lacks “logic or merit.”
Wrong and wrong.
Warner Music chief executive Edgar Bronfman said Jobs’s proposal that firms drop digital rights management coding on songs sold online would leave music vulnerable to piracy.
Because there is no music piracy right now.
He disputed Jobs’s claim that so-called DRM software prevents consumers from playing music purchased from rival services on different devices.
I’ll just quote Blech from 2lmc Spool:
I will give Bronfman five zillion dollars if he can show me either an iPod playing protected WMA, or a Zune playing protected AAC. (Note that I don’t actually have five zillion dollars. That’s OK, though. Bronfman doesn’t have either of those things.)
Totally made up, but yet rings totally true:
The recording industry’s Jack Valenti quickly followed suit, issuing his own statement to consumers of digital music.
“Hey, here’s an idea. Why don’t you imagine a world where you shut your cake-hole and buy this crap the way we tell you to, huh? Can you imagine that? Huh? Can you? You frickin’ better imagine it or I’m gonna hit you in the head with a frickin’ Zune.”
Tempting. (Thanks to Brad Choate.)
Music label EMI Group is in talks to release a large portion of its music catalog for Web sales without technological protections against piracy that are included in most music bought over the Internet now, sources said on Thursday.
Neat idea from Yahoo — sounds sort of like Automator for web services.
Absolutely 100 percent not safe for work. But also 100 percent hilarious.
Megnut and Beanology. Neither of which is really quite the same as Happy Cog’s, though.
Michael Tsai has added a bunch of new features to his free auto-completion utility for BBEdit (and any other scriptable text editor/word processor), but the one I like best is that it now optionally lets you use the system-wide spelling checker as a source for completions. I’d been thinking about writing a hack to do this myself; procrastination wins again.
I think it’s safe to say that Happy Cog is one of, if not the, best web design agencies in the world. This redesign of their own site shows why. Jeffrey Zeldman’s write-up captures the essence of the thinking behind it. The most clever and original idea is that the site’s primary navigation interface is a sentence; i.e. the description of what Happy Cog does is itself the top-level interface to the site.
David Weiss looks back at the creation of Microsoft’s MacBU:
From a industry level, when MacBU was created, everyone was saying, “Write once, deploy everywhere.” and in a way, there’s some of that still with the “web as a platform” being push today. The creation of the MacBU flew in the face of all that and said, if you want to be excellent on the platform, you’ve got to treat it seprately, not as an afterthought.
Well-done; the app icons looks great.
Steve Jobs had the right idea when he announced the iTunes Store in 2003: Apple was not there to eradicate piracy, but to compete with it. Jobs realized the fundamental truth that some people, enamored of what they could get for free, would never come around to buying music legitimately. But he also realized that this was a minority of the people who consume music and media, and that most people, given a reliable, easy-to-use, and—most of all—legal way to buy music would do the right thing.
Interesting speculation from iLounge’s Jeremy Horwitz that this week’s deal with The Beatles allows Apple to start bundling music with iPods. Their previous legal arrangement with The Beatles prevented that (which is why the U2 iPods haven’t shipped with U2’s music on them), but now that they’ve taken undisputed ownership of the “Apple” trademark, they’re free to sell music on physical media.
June 11-15, 2007, at the Moscone.
Steve Jobs has published a 2,000-word essay on Apple.com titled “Thoughts on Music”. A more apt title would have been “Thoughts on DRM”. The nut of it:
The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.
Russian school principal buys computers, which, apparently unbeknownst to him, were loaded with bootleg copies of Windows. He now faces jail time in Siberia. Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks it’s bullshit; Mikhail Gorbachev went so far as to write an open letter to Bill Gates asking him to intervene. Microsoft’s response, more or less? That the principal should enjoy his time in Siberia.
Fake Steve writes:
And you guys at Microsoft still wonder why the entire world hates you? Man oh man. You’ve got more money than God and yet you’re gonna toss some poor broke-ass Russian in prison? Evil.
Via Fake Steve’s “favorite stories of all time” file comes this gem from Michael S. Malone, written for Forbes in October 2000, titled “Apple R.I.P.”:
Steve Jobs can’t run companies, but he has proven that he is a genius at motivating teams of people to produce extraordinary products. In fact, he may be the greatest project team leader in the history of high tech. That is no small achievement. But it does not translate to being the CEO of a giant corporation.
There’s one aspect of URL design that is often ignored. Good URLs should be unambiguous. By that, I mean that any logical piece of content should have one and only one definitive URL, with any alternatives acting as a permanent redirect.
Good advice. I’ve been redirecting www.daringfireball.net to daringfireball.net since at least 2003.
Interesting article from a Songbird developer on the travails of debugging DRM playback APIs on Mac OS X and Windows.
Free new utility from Freeverse, uses a dark translucent background to help you focus on just one application at a time. Yet another potential alternative to apps written specifically for full screen use. I’m not convinced Think is any better than the Hide Others command, but it’s an interesting take on the idea. (Thanks to Daniel Bogan.)
I bet Bill Gates is going to love this one.
Vista uses the flash memory as a cache for parts of the virtual memory swap file, and this is apparently a big win for small page-ins. It routes bulk page-ins to the hard disk, even if the pages are on the flash, because with large transfers the disk will be faster. Flash drives wear out after a comparatively small number of writes, so apparently there’s also some kind of lazy writeback from the hard disk to the flash, reducing the number of writes so that the flash’s life will be extended to 10 years. All in all, I think this is pretty clever.
I do too. Makes me think that they ought to start including 1 or 2 GB of flash as a standard component for most PCs.
Michael Tsai’s MacBook Pro had a bad hard drive; because he uses SuperDuper to maintain multiple complete clones of his whole drive, he doesn’t think he lost any data at all.
Fascinating — and in a weird way, beautiful — visual comparison graphing the system calls involved in serving a single HTML page and image using Apache on Linux versus IIS on Windows Server. (Thanks to DF reader Rob Dodson.)
Charlie Brooker in The Guardian:
I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don’t use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.
The voice of reason.
Regarding this morning’s favorable write-up of the Times Online redesign, a bunch of DF readers sent in some rather horrible screenshots of how the site renders for them. Here’s what I see when I view it using a recent nightly build of WebKit. I see something similar using the latest versions of Firefox and Camino. I have no idea why it is — or was — rendering so poorly for some of you.
Update: Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what some people were seeing (ugly) and what everyone now seems to be seeing (nice).
A common rule of thumb I tell people is to target their performance goals in application design and coding so that their infrastructure (not including people) is ≤ 10% of an application’s revenue.
Meaning if you’re making $1.2 million dollars a year off of an online application, then you should be in area of spending $120,000/year or $10,000/month on servers, storage and bandwidth.
Programmers don’t like coding, they like problem solving.
Steven Levy, regarding my criticism that he should have pressed Bill Gates on his claims regarding Mac OS X security:
I have found that when one has limited time in an interview with someone like Bill Gates (not that there’s many like him), one’s time is better spent drawing out the genuinely interesting things that person has to say as opposed to engaging in lengthy debates on technical issues that almost certainly won’t be resolved on the spot. (That doesn’t mean I won’t repeat a question or push a point when I want to hear more on a certain issue, or I feel that persisting will be beneficial to the interview.) The interview was to focus on Vista, and I had some specific areas involving Gates’s thoughts and involvement in that OS (and the next!) that I hoped to cover.
It did occur to me that Gates’s swipe at Mac OS X security was tangential to the main thrust of the interview, which was regarding Vista’s launch. I still wish he would have at least asked Gates for the source of these “daily” exploits.
Gruber professes to worry about “the typical Newsweek reader” being misled by Gates’s claims. Spare me. I think that Newsweek’s online readers are smart enough to understand that Bill Gates is a passionate partisan of Microsoft, and to assess his comments on the competition in that spirit.
Grant Rosenberg, writing for Time, on Cocksucker Blues, Robert Frank’s 1972 backstage look at The Rolling Stones:
Although the movie was originally commissioned by the Stones themselves, they blocked its release when they saw the scenes of drug use and graphic groupie sex. After years of legal headaches, the band and Frank agreed to a sort-of compromise: the film can be shown only a few times a year, and Frank himself decides where and when, so that he may be present to ensure the screening meets his approval. In the age of YouTube (on whose servers several choice moments reside), ubiquitous, low-priced DVDs and Video-on-Demand, a film that is only permitted to be seen a limited times per year in one city in its director’s presence is nearly inconceivable.
Nice layout, good on-screen typography, and some interesting use of color. The Times’s own coverage of their redesign includes this interview with the graphic designers, Tomaso Capuano and Jon Warden (including the question as to whether the site uses Times New Roman; it doesn’t) and Melissa Fleck, the information architect.
Apple Inc. PR:
Apple Inc. and The Beatles’ company Apple Corps Ltd. are pleased to announce the parties have entered into a new agreement concerning the use of the name “Apple” and apple logos which replaces their 1991 Agreement. Under this new agreement, Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. In addition, the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies will end, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The terms of settlement are confidential.
Seems like a deal to publish their music on iTunes would be the next logical step.
Sorry Jim, but other than the first 12 seconds of the game, the Bears pretty much stunk. Has there ever been a Super Bowl winner that played as bad as the Colts that still won the game so easily?
Best commercial: Letterman’s promo with Oprah.
David Maynor on Bill Gates’s interview with Steven Levy in Newsweek:
The Mac community is up in arms. Bill Gates gave an interview where his fights back against some Apple’s misleading and deceptive marketing. …
Take a seat, hold your hats because I am about to make a declaration: Windows Vista is more secure than OSX 10.4.8. Anybody that tells you anything different should immediately be treated with the same disdain as finding a parking ticket on your car.
This may well be true. The problem is that Gates didn’t merely claim that Vista is more secure than Mac OS X. What Gates claimed is “Every single day, [security guys] come out with a total exploit, your [Mac] can be taken over totally.” And that’s just bullshit.
The outrage over Gates’s Newsweek interview has nothing to do with a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that Vista is more secure than Mac OS X.
Jeremy Keith on why those inane Snap previews suck:
This is the perfect example of something that should have been implemented like a Greasemonkey script: give users the choice and the power to activate this flashy feature. But don’t foist it on us and then claim it’s our responsibility to disable it.
iTunes 7.0.2 may work with Windows Vista on many typical PCs. Apple recommends, however, that customers wait to upgrade Windows until after the next release of iTunes which will be available in the next few weeks.
(Via Fake Steve.)
(Thanks to DF reader Mark Rosal.)
I wonder how much work this is going to entail for YouTube?
A ton of new features.
Jeff Smykil interviews Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of third-party software opportunities the Apple TV will open up.
Sony’s first “Made for iPod” product?
Update to Dan Benjamin’s definitive guide to installing up-to-date versions of these tools on Mac OS X.
No wonder I like it so much.
Alan Graham looks at Cisco’s use of the “iPhone” trademark, and concludes that all they’ve done with it to date is Photoshop it onto a few product shots in mid-December. (Via The Macalope.)
The problem with Dell’s business model — which is to make more money by being more efficient — is that it is eminently copyable. What’s Dell going to do to come back? Make PCs cheaper than the Chinese do?
Bill Bumgarner puts it well:
Given the choice of saying “no comment” or making fun of the media for persisting to ask questions that they know can’t be answered, I am damned happy to see someone stand up and indirectly point out the utter and completely inane stupidity of the reporters on the scene.
Lev Grossman in Time:
To sum up: Vista is a perfectly respectable new iteration of Windows. They’ve even, finally, come up with a decent way to make laptops sleep and wake up again, which XP was never very good at. The fact that it took Microsoft over five years and $6 billion dollars to create Vista is — and I mean this quite seriously — an embarrassment to the good name of American innovation, but it’s perfectly fine.
A couple of DF readers have emailed to recommend this:
iConcertCal is a free iTunes plug-in that monitors your music library and generates a personalized calendar of upcoming concerts in your city. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
Clever idea, that’s for sure. Rafe Coburn digs it.
Leander Kahney, writing about running Vista on a Mac with Boot Camp:
There’s a bunch of interface features I wish Apple would copy. …
I like the way Windows Explorer file browser has a “back” button, web browser style.
I wonder what these buttons in the Finder do?
TJ has a good rundown of each of MOAB’s 30 bugs. And The Macalope has more.
Miguel Helft, reporting for The New York Times:
Google is also showing fewer ads on each search, but those ads are more relevant to users, are clicked on more frequently, and hence, generate a better return for both Google and for advertisers, he said.
This is a powerful combination, because it makes everyone involved happy: users (who see fewer ads per page and who are more interested in the ads they do see), advertisers (whose ads are more likely to be clicked), and Google (who’s making money hand over fist).
Simple XML config file hack. (Thanks to DF reader David Scott.)
I love it:
In a news conference, Rich told reporters he had advised his clients not to discuss the incident. Stevens and Berdovsky took the podium and said they were taking questions only about haircuts in the 1970s.
When a reporter accused them of not taking the situation seriously, Stevens responded, “We’re taking it very seriously.” Asked another question about the case, Stevens reiterated they were answering questions only about hair and accused the reporter of not taking him and Berdovsky seriously.
Reporters did not relent and as they continued, Berdovsky disregarded their queries, saying, “That’s not a hair question. I’m sorry.”
Update: Video here.
El Jobso is back.
“Friggin’ lawyers” threat was fake.
Show him the money.