Linked List: May 2007

Pixelmator Screencast 

Layer-based editing in action.

While I’m at it, a friendly reminder about what I mean by “vaporware”.

Slides and Video From May 25 LLVM Developers’ Meeting 

Including Steve Naroff’s talk about “clang” (PDF), a new C-language LLVM-based compiler Apple is working on. (Via Wes Felter.)

Interview With Kubrick Assistant Leon Vitali 

Terrific interview by Jamie Stuart with Leon Vitali, who acted for and worked with Stanley Kubrick for over 20 years.

He never used storyboards. Never used storyboards. That’s a wonderful feeling of freedom you have as an actor, and I’ve said several times that Stanley was the closest to a theater director that I ever worked with. […] Because the way he found his first shot, he used to walk around the set with an Arriflex tube and just change lenses, look around, down, up, move away, move around. Once he found his first shot, he knew he could build the scene from that point.

Regarding My Complaint About Upgrading Old Tracks to iTunes Plus 

I complained yesterday that iTunes wasn’t identifying the tracks I’d previously purchased which should have been eligible to upgrade to iTunes Plus. Ends up it was my fault: I have two iTunes Store accounts, and all my eligible tracks were purchased using my older account. After I logged in using that account, the upgrade worked as expected.

1986 Mac Plus vs. 2007 AMD DualCore 

Boot time for a Mac Plus running System 6.0.8: 11 seconds.

Google Gears for WebKit 

Only for nightly builds of WebKit, and requires an input manager hack to inspect each URL request.

Twitter Replies 

Great new Twitter feature — a single page that shows all replies addressed with “@yourusername”.

Palm Foleo 

They’re calling it a “mobile companion”, but it’s really just a $499 Linux-based compact notebook. The UI is screen-based rather than window-based — the apps are all full-screen. Not shipping until sometime this summer.

It seems to me Palm is trying to reverse the typical relationship, where your phone/PDA is a peripheral to your PC, and instead create a PC that is a peripheral to your phone.

Video Highlights of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Joint Interview 

Highlights from last night’s joint interview at the D: All Things Digital conference.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Gates and Jobs Joint Interview 

More live coverage from the D: All Things Digital conference.

Bill Gates’s opening remark: “First, I want to clarify, I’m not Fake Steve Jobs.”

What’s funny about all these references to Fake Steve at this conference is how ruthless he’s been regarding Walt Mossberg.


Vaporware image-editing app with HUD-crazy UI, based on the image manipulating mojo of Mac OS X’s Core Image APIs. Supposedly available in “late July” for $59.

Update: I don’t want to read too much into it, but it’s amusing that Pixelmator’s downloadable “press images” were created using Photoshop CS3.

Google Gears 

Open source browser extension from Google that provides a JavaScript API for persistent local database storage for web apps. No Safari support, yet.

Once Beleaguered, Now Big League 

Valleywag on Apple’s market cap passing the $100 billion threshold:

If you haven’t already, it’s time to reevaluate the strength and power of the company that nearly went out of business ten years ago… as well as the power of consumer technology in an industry once dominated by the enterprise.

iTunes Store Terms of Service Disallow Use of Purchased Music as Ring Tones 

From the iTunes Store Terms of Service, section 9:

(viii) You may not use Products as a musical “ringer” in connection with phone calls.

There’s no way to enforce this restriction with DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks, of course. Anyone know if this EULA restriction is new?

Update: It’s new. Here’s Google’s cache of the previous iTunes Store terms, which contain no mention of phone ringers.

Fission Loves iTunes Plus 

Because the iTunes Store’s new “Plus” tracks are DRM-free AAC files, Rogue Amoeba’s Fission can edit them losslessly.

Apple Announces YouTube Integration, 160 GB Capacity for Apple TV 


Thousands of the most current and popular YouTube videos will be available on Apple TV at launch in mid-June, with YouTube adding thousands more each week until the full YouTube catalog is available this fall.

Apple also announced a second Apple TV configuration with a 160 GB hard drive, available tomorrow for $399. (The standard Apple TV has a 40 GB drive and costs $299.)

Steve Jobs at D: All Things Digital, Live Coverage 

Macworld’s Peter Cohen and Jason Snell are providing live coverage of Walt Mossberg’s interview with Steve Jobs at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, California. Among the highlights:

  • YouTube integration in Apple TV, as a free update in “mid-June”.
  • Jobs on the enthusiastic reception to iTunes for Windows: “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.”
  • Asked about the Fake Steve weblog, RSJ admits he’s read it and finds it funny.

More coverage, including photos, here, from John Paczkowski on the official D weblog.

The Strange Allure (and False Hope) of Email Bankruptcy 

Merlin Mann:

Email is such a funny thing. People hand you these single little messages that are no heavier than a river pebble. But it doesn’t take long until you have acquired a pile of pebbles that’s taller than you and heavier than you could ever hope to move, even if you wanted to do it over a few dozen trips. But for the person who took the time to hand you their pebble, it seems outrageous that you can’t handle that one tiny thing. “What ‘pile’? It’s just a fucking pebble!”

I know the feeling. Current unread count for my inboxes: 5,548.

Apple Launches iTunes Plus 


Apple today launched iTunes Plus — DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings — for just $1.29 per song.

Not coincidentally, iTunes 7.2 is out, too.

My brief experience: I bought a new iTunes Plus album, and it worked perfectly. Unsurprisingly, the Plus tracks contain embedded metadata with the name and email address from your Apple ID/iTunes account. The upgrade feature seems broken, though: I own a bunch of tracks that should be eligible to upgrade, but when I click the “Upgrade to iTunes Plus” link, iTunes says none of my tracks are eligible. Update: My fault. Ends up all my eligible tracks were purchased using a second iTunes Store account; after I logged in using that ID, I upgraded successfully. Acquired by CBS 

Announcement from founder Richard Jones. According to CBS, the deal was for $280 million.

Security Update (QuickTime 7.1.6) 

QuickTime-specific security update, for both Mac OS X and Windows. Closes security holes that potentially allow malicious web sites to execute arbitrary code or read your web browser’s memory, both via QuickTime for Java.

The Strokes’ ‘You Only Live Once’ Video 

Nice homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Warren Fu. Pretty good song, too. (Thanks to reader Dave Miller.)

ChangeShortName 1.3 

Freeware (donations encouraged) utility by James Bucanek and Dan Frakes that allows you to change the short username associated with a user account on Mac OS X.

92-Year-Old Daring Fireball Fan 

Richard Wanderman:

Tomorrow my mother will be 92 and one of the things she wanted for her birthday was a new “uber-geek” t-shirt. What better t-shirt for a die-hard Mac user than a DF classic.

Happy birthday, Mrs. Wanderman.

Microsoft’s Zune: Still Shy of One Million Sales 

I don’t think it’s worth making a big deal over whether they’ve already sold one million Zunes or whether they will by the end of June. My question is, if they’ve sold even close to one million of them, how come I’ve never seen one person using one? Seriously, I’ve never seen a single Zune in the wild.

Google Maps Usability 

Good idea. I hope someone on the Google Maps teams sees this.

Typogrify Examples 

SmartyPants + Widon’t combination for Django.

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Sneak Peek 

Trailer for new animated TV series.

Every Good Domain Is Taken. Here’s Why. 

Niall Kennedy on the apparently lucrative business of domain name squatting.

Desktop Tower of Money 

Wagner James Au interview with Desktop Tower Defense creator Paul Preece:

So here’s a couple ways to a create successful game online: a), Find an investor who’s crazy enough to give you millions of dollars, or b), Put it on a distribution network and hope you get enough customers willing to buy it as a download.

Then there’s c), Make a Flash mini-game, let people play it for free, and watch the ad revenue pour in when the site gets 20 million pageviews a month.

Interview With Ze Frank on Creativity 

Ze Frank, in an interview with Cecil Vortex:

I make something every day — I think that’s really the only habit that I’ve fallen into over the last few years. No matter what, I make something.

The Hamburdog 

I hope this innovative idea hasn’t come too late for your Memorial Day weekend.

The Morning News 2007 Editors’ Awards for Online Excellence 

Prepare to expand your bookmarks list.

Security Update 2007-005 

Usual roundup of potential security issues.

Update: I had a scary first reboot after installation — the machine just spun at a blank blue screen. I gave it 20 minutes before force-rebooting the machine, after which all seems well. (I do a full SuperDuper clone of my startup drive each night, so it wasn’t that scary.)

Silverlight 1.1: No Love for PPC Macs 

Microsoft’s Flash rival is Intel-only.

Fake Steve: Apple’s Market Cap Will Exceed IBM’s 

The punchline is too good to spoil.

An Assault on Hawaii. On Grammar Too. 

Janet Maslin on Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen’s new novel, Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th:

This is not a matter of isolated typographical errors. It is a serious case for the comma police, since the book’s war on punctuation is almost as heated as the air assaults it describes. “One would have to be dead, very stupid Fuchida thought,” the book says about the fighter pilot Mitsuo Fuchida, “not to realize they were sallying forth to war.” Evidence notwithstanding, the authors do not mean to insult the fighter pilot’s intelligence — or, presumably, the reader’s.

(Thanks to Nat Irons.)

Scoble on Engadget: ‘Ryan’s Post Raised His Stock Way Up in My Eyes’ 

Robert Scoble:

If anything went wrong here, it’s the pressure on everyone (bloggers and journalists) to be first.

This pressure is self-imposed. It’s Engadget’s own decision to value getting things first more than getting things right.

Stupid Mac::Glue Tricks: Saving Safari URLs With Tabs 

Nice solution in Perl from Chris Nandor for getting the URLs out of Safari’s tabs. (You have to use GUI Scripting, because Safari still offers no proper scripting access to tabs.)

Why a Book? 

Michael Bierut, on his new book, 79 Essays on Design:

So why a book? No matter how much I write, I’m still a working designer. Designers make things.

Want to Write for Engadget? 

Peter Rojas:

If you live and breathe gadgets, this is your chance to get paid to write about them (seriously, this is a paying gig!). Professional writing experience isn’t necessary (though it doesn’t hurt); all we really care about is that you can write about gadgets with wit, concision, and authority.

Accuracy not important!

Markdown.cgi: Markdown in Apache httpd 

Chris Pepper:

Since I couldn’t find an Apache handler (plug-in) or a CGI for Markdown, I wrote a very simple wrapper for Gruber’s Conceptually, my wrapper spits out an HTML header, uses to render the requested page as (X)HTML, and then appends an (X)HTML footer. The reality is slightly more complicated, due to the vagaries of figuring out the document’s title, and conditionally inserting it back into the output as an <H1> tag. Even so, the whole thing is under 60 lines, mostly whitespace and comments.

Very simple way to serve .text files as HTML.

Markdown Wiki 

Worth a re-link: the Markdown Wiki. Contains links to over a dozen implementations of Markdown, in languages ranging from Python to Lua to Haskell.

VoodooPad’s File Format 

Gus Mueller:

In fact, VoodooPad can create and store its pages as plain text. I added this feature in 3.0 specifically because folks wanted to be able to check their documents into subversion, do diffs, and also edit them from the command line. You can also have individual pages in a document be plain text, and others rich text (via the Format → Make Plain Text menu).

I don’t worry about the format data is stored in on-disk, so long as the app in question can export everything to an open format.

‘Small Is Essential’ — Time Magazine Profiles 37signals 

Nice write-up in Time magazine on 37signals. Weirdest thing I noticed is that the article doesn’t contain a single URL — they mention a couple of their apps and their Signal vs. Noise weblog, but don’t give the URLs for any of them.

Video Developer Note: Video Product-Specific Details 

I’m getting lots of email from people saying this whole issue of 6-bit notebook displays is bullshit, because all notebook displays from all vendors are in fact 6-bit, and that they all simulate millions of colors using “temporal dithering”. If so, fine by me, so long as the results look good.

But that’s not what this tech note from Apple says. For example, regarding the 17-inch iMac, it says:

The graphics card temporally dithers the 6 bits per component to show up to millions of colors.

But regarding the MacBook Pro, it says:

The display supports 3D acceleration and display depths up to 24 bits per pixel at all supported screen resolutions.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro supports an LCD display size of 1680 × 1050 pixels at 116 dpi and shows up to millions of colors.

Emphasis added.

(Thanks to readers Markus Hänchen and Chris Thompson.)

EveryBlock — New Startup Founded by Adrian Holovaty 

Adrian Holovaty, the genius behind and several other sites pioneering the concept of programmer-as-journalist:

I’m thrilled to announce some huge news: I’ve been awarded a grant by the Knight Foundation, as part of the Knight News Challenge program.

I’ll be founding a Web startup, EveryBlock, that focuses on making local news and information useful. I’ve been feeling the entrepreneurial itch for a while and can’t wait to start hacking on this with a crack team of Web developers. Expect to hear much more about this from me, including job ads.

Nick Denton Thinks Leander Kahney Is Fake Steve 

No proof, just circumstantial evidence. I noticed all the Britishisms long ago, but I think Valleywag is wrong: Fake Steve is far funnier than Kahney. I don’t recall Kahney ever having written a single funny sentence under his own byline.

Update: Kahney denies it, and Denton retracts.

Valleywag: Amazon to buy iLounge? 

Speaking of acquisition rumors.

Arrington: Google to Buy Feedburner for $100 Million 

Interesting implications for the future of advertising in feeds.


New open source project from Apple to provide a language-agnostic foundation for scripting language bridges to Cocoa; already used in PyObjC and RubyCocoa.

RubyCocoa 0.11.0 

Laurent Sansonetti:

After 5 intensive months of development, RubyCocoa 0.11.0 is out. It’s a very big release, as you can see from the release notes. We also feature a completely new website (which is actually a Wiki, easy to maintain for us programmers).

Kevin Cornell’s Limited-Edition Bearskinrug Sketchbook Nearly Sold-Out 

My copy arrived last week, and it’s simply delightful. Makes me want to hire Cornell to design something for Daring Fireball. Oh, wait, I already did.

Lineform Discount for FreeHand Refugees 

Through the end of May, save $30 when purchasing a license for Freeverse’s excellent Lineform illustration app, using the coupon code “freehand”. (Via MacUser.)

24- and 18-bit Color Test Images 

Easy test to see if your display can properly render 24-bit color. On my last-of-the-line 1.67 GHz PowerBook G4 display, the 24-bit image shows no signs of dithering.

Lightroom vs. Aperture 

Michael Clark, Lightroom user, compares Lightroom and Aperture.

Aperture vs. Lightroom 

Micah Walker, Aperture user, compares Aperture and Lightroom.

Chris Pepper: ‘Adobe Lies, Badly’ 

Chris Pepper on the CS3 installer’s disabling of the Mac OS X firewall:

Stopping the firewall temporarily is opening customers to unnecessary risk. It’s bad, but Adobe’s in good company here. On the other hand, saying this is necessary is either a lie about security (never a good idea) or gross technical incompetence (not a real improvement).

Technorati Update 

The new is actually very fast — not an adjective that usually applies to Technorati.

Emulex Hoax 

False press release in 2000 forged by former employee and issued via a wire service the company had never before used. The hoax PR caused Emulex to lose 62 percent of its market cap in 16 minutes of trading. (Thanks to reader Charlie Loyd.)

Michael Arrington, Proud to Be a Jackass, Too 

Michael Arrington on last week’s Engadget fiasco:

I have to say that I, too, would have posted this news based on the source. The email was in fact sent from Apple’s email server to Apple employees and was then forwarded to Engadget from a trusted source. Ryan says “For a reporter, this kind of thing — an internal memo to a company’s employees — is solid gold” and I agree. This was almost as good as a formally issued press release.

Email: Easy to spoof.

Formal press releases from a major corporation: Difficult to spoof. (Can anyone think of an example of a fraudulent official press release from a major corporation?)

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Read All Week 

Chris Barr of speculates that the bogus iPhone/Leopard delay email last week was part of a deliberate plan by Apple executives. I’m at a loss to describe how stupid this idea is.

I mean, yeah, sure, who wouldn’t risk going to prison for securities fraud to get a link on Engadget?

Breen on the Media’s Perception of Apple 

Christopher Breen on the sea change in mainstream media coverage of Apple:

What was unusual about that coverage was that — for once — it didn’t portray Apple’s products as pretty but overpriced and Apple’s customers as artsy-fartsy kooks. Rather, the press seemed willing to entertain the notion that Mac users might be savvy consumers seeking quality and ease of use in an attractive wrapper.

Markzware Files Patent Lawsuit for Preflight Software 

Markzware, makers of FlightCheck, have filed a lawsuit against the makers of a competing preflight document-checking app, on the grounds that it violates a patent for a “Device and method for examining, verifying, correcting and approving electronic documents prior to printing, transmission or recording.”

It sounds like they’re claiming to own a patent covering the entire concept of preflight software. For shame.

Microsoft Threatens Patent War Against Open Source Software 

From a feature in Fortune last week, by Roger Parloff:

So if Microsoft ever sued Linux distributor Red Hat for patent infringement, for instance, OIN might sue Microsoft in retaliation, trying to enjoin distribution of Windows. It’s a cold war, and what keeps the peace is the threat of mutually assured destruction: patent Armageddon — an unending series of suits and countersuits that would hobble the industry and its customers.

Or, as Tim Bray says, “Litigate or shut up.”

Bogus iPhone Delay Email Was an Inside Job? 

Chuq Von Rospach, on the question of whether it was easy to send a bogus email through Apple’s internal announcement mailing list:

Well, I wrote the listserver used to distribute groups internal to Apple, so I can comment on this (a bit). The easy answer is “hell, no, Apple’s not an idiot”. But that doesn’t mean the server can’t be spoofed; any email system can be spoofed if you understand email and study the system. Someone here clearly did. It’s even somewhat possible that the message originated offsite (depending on how the list was configured), but one thing I can guarantee — wherever it originated, there was someone on the inside of the company who put time and energy into understanding how to spoof the system to make this work.

The Onion — Fake News or Oracle? 

Yesterday in the L.A. Times:

With CD sales tumbling, record companies and musicians are looking at a new potential pot of money: royalties from broadcast radio stations.

The Onion, October 2002: “RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music”.

(Via Reddit.)

‘Time Is Going by Really Really Really Really Slow’ 

Police officer in Michigan confiscates marijuana from suspects, bakes it into brownies; then he and his wife eat them and get really high. The fun starts when he thinks he’s dying and calls 911.

(Via Dooce.)

Adobe CS3 Installer Turns Off Mac OS X Firewall 

Astoundingly bad form.

Hello, Residuals 

John August:

When the Apple iPhone commercial began airing, my first thought was that I wanted one. My second thought: How much will I get in residuals for the one-second clip from the first Charlie’s Angels?

iTrip Pocket 

Griffin’s new teensy FM transmitter for iPods.

R.I.P. FreeHand 

Andy Finnell’s eulogy for FreeHand:

The somewhat odd thing was that the team knew FreeHand MX was going to be their last release. I remember a certain FreeHand engineer’s response to the question “why are you trying to cram so many features into this release?” as being “Because they’re not going to let us do another.”

(Via Michael Tsai.)


Freeware contextual menu plugin by Nick Zitzmann that lets you create symbolic links (Unix-style aliases) from the Finder.


Interesting new self-configuring multi-disk storage device.


Product review aggregator with a very clever sparkline-like system for summarizing the reviews. The graph for the Wii is almost unbelievably green. (Via Kottke.)

Night Drive 

Beautiful 90-second commercial for Volkswagen, more like a short film than an advertisement. (Via Coudal.)

Update: Thanks to reader David Magda, here’s a link to a higher-quality QuickTime version of the ad, complete with credits.

EMI Accepts $4.7 Billion Bid From Private Equity Group 

Not a done deal yet, though:

The song isn’t necessarily over, however: EMI’s shares rose Monday to 271 pence, above the 265 pence per share that Terra Firma has offered. That suggests investors hope another bidder will step up or that the takeover price will be raised.

Sim Daltonism 

Another color blindness simulator for Mac OS X, this one by Michel Fortin (author of the excellent PHP Markdown).

Conan O’Brien Visits Intel Headquarters 

Conan O’Brien, touring Intel’s massive gray cubicle farm:

“That’s good. It makes people feel that they’re all basically the same. There is no individuality, there’s no hope, no sense that life has possibilities.”

Color Oracle 1.1 

Freeware utility (with versions available for Windows and Linux, too) that allows you to simulate in real time what people with common forms of color blindness will see. (Via Cameron Moll.)

Al Gore’s Mac Setup 

Part of a photo essay accompanying this profile in Time, which quotes Steve Jobs as saying, regarding the idea of Gore running for president in 2008, “We have dug ourselves into a 20-foot hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al’s the guy. Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck.”

Class Action Lawsuit Regarding 6-Bit MacBook Displays 

Charles Jade:

Nonetheless, it’s not really possible to get past the idea of “millions” as a few hundred thousand plus a trick of the eye. The question then becomes whether Apple will try to do just that or settle out of court.

Apple Selling Notebooks With 6-Bit Displays? 

Apparently some MacBooks and MacBooks Pros are equipped with displays that are only capable of 6-bit color depth, despite the fact that they’d advertised as 8-bit displays. (6-bit displays are only capable of displaying 262,144 simultaneous colors; 8-bit displays can display 16,777,216.) Jesper has one of these MacBooks, and he’s pissed about it — and rightfully so.

EMI to Release Entire Catalog DRM-Free on 

Coming “later this year”.

Fortuitous and Icon Buffet Join The Deck 

It was only a matter of time until Matt Haughey had a site in The Deck network. (Also note that ad spots are open for June through August.)

Derek Powazek: ‘The Real Story of JPG Magazine’ 

This is sad: co-founders Derek Powazek and Heather Champ are out of JPG Magazine.

Jackasses of the Week: Engadget 

The stock sell-off after Engadget’s report on the bogus announcement of iPhone and Leopard delays knocked $4 billion off Apple’s market cap.

There is some intrigue, though: the bogus email was sent through Apple’s internal email-to-every-employee system. Just a prank, or part of a scheme to profit from the false news?

(Apple) Stock Hacking and the Power of Disinformaton 

Kevin Kelleher on the bogus rumor that the iPhone had been delayed until October and Leopard until next January:

In the volatile 23 minutes of turmoil between the minute the disinformation hit the stock market at 8:55 PST and Apple’s announcement that the initial email “is fake and did not come from Apple,” nearly 15 million shares changed hands. That’s 60% of Apple’s normal volume in well under a half hour. That’s also an awful lot money lost for some investors — and gained for others — all of it because of a lie.

FreeHand Officially Dead 

Maybe the greatest Mac app ever killed.

Paying More for a Printer, but Less for Ink 

David Pogue reviews Kodak’s new inkjet printers.

Gizmodo: Horrifying Cuckoo Clock Design From ‘The Shining’ 

This would drive you insane. But in a good way.

DragThing 5.8; Upgrade for Drop Drawers Users 

From the PR:

Sig Software and TLA Systems are also both pleased to announce that DragThing is now the official upgrade path for all existing users of Sig Software’s Drop Drawers. In a rare collaboration between independent developers, TLA Systems and Sig Software have worked closely together for the past few months to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Transition guide for Drop Drawers users is here.

DrunkenBlog Returns 

DB is back, guns blazing.


Mark Pilgrim:

My name is on a software patent. It happened during my brief tenure at IBM. The patent is not yet issued (as I understand it, issuance may take years) and does not show up in USPTO or Google Patent Search. But it will, someday.

Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 

Geoff Price of Microsoft’s Mac BU:

This is a stand-alone Macintosh application that converts .docx documents — that is, documents saved by Word 2007 for Windows in the Office Open XML file format — into rich text format (RTF) documents so that they can be automatically opened in either Word 2004 or Word v.X for Mac OS X.

It’s a free app for anyone, not just licensed users of Office 2004.

Cheap RAM for Intel Macs 

After a $20 mail-in rebate, these 1 GB chips are just $27. Even if you’re like me and never get around to redeeming most rebates, $47 isn’t bad. For comparison, upgrading a MacBook to 2 GB of RAM from Apple still costs $175 — and you really do want 2 GB of RAM in a MacBook, given the way the video card leeches memory from the main system.

Brendan Dawes’s ‘2001’ Cinema Redux Poster at the CP Swap Meat 

Brendan Dawes:

A specially written piece of software takes a tiny snapshot of the film every second. Each row contains sixty of these frames, representing one minute of film time. This process continues for the whole movie resulting in an image that becomes greater than the sum of its parts, in effect creating a unique visual fingerprint of the film.

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Free iPod Cable Promotion? 

You send them your mailing address and $5 for shipping, they send you a retractable USB iPod cable. If anyone’s actually gotten a cable from this offer, let me know. (Thanks to Nat Irons.)

Roughly Drafted Coverage of Apple Shareholder Meeting 

Nice summary by Daniel Eran.

Learning a New Programming Language by Writing Tests 

Mike Clark’s idea for teaching himself a new programming language (in this case, Ruby) — write a unit test for everything you learn along the way.

Twitter Identity Transference Syndrome 

Iconfactory’s Gedeon Maheux:

Over the past several months I’ve witnessed a strange kind of identity transference occurring within the Twitter community. Many people have come to associate the Blue Bird mascot of Twitterrific as representing Twitter itself.

Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken Returns to PC World 

PC World:

In a surprise announcement, Robert Carrigan, president of IDG Communications, told PC World’s staff today that “Harry McCracken has decided to remain with PC World as vice-president, editor in chief.”

Colin Crawford moves to a new position in IDG, and they’re now searching for a new CEO to lead Macworld and PC World magazines.

Sheldon on Helvetica 

Dave Kellett celebrates Helvetica’s 50th anniversary in his Sheldon comic strip.

Zenith Space Command: Unboxing a Mystery 

One man’s search for the world’s first TV remote control. One model had just two buttons:

Push the Channel button to go lower one channel. Want to go higher? Sorry, you have to go lower until you go all the way round the circle. Similar for Volume, three settings for Low, Medium, High, Off.

Interesting Quote From Nokia Executive Regarding iPhone 

Asked about the iPhone during an interview with McKinsey Quarterly (registration required, but it’s free), Nokia’s Keith Pardy said:

The iPhone will definitely shake up the North American market; $500 to $600 per device will help establish a new pricing paradigm. Consumers will now start to equate price with the physical handset. That’s good. I personally think the iPhone will be very good for the industry because competition is good and always stimulates new ideas. But we should also remember the scale of the ambition Apple has set itself: they are talking about getting one share point of a billion devices per year. Nokia is focused on winning 40 percent of this market.”

This strikes me as honest and savvy. Just keep in mind, though, that the top one percent of the market is very, very profitable.

(Thanks to Henning Grote.)

UserFriendly on Version Naming 

“What used to be beta is now a release version. What used to be alpha is now beta. Some scratches on a napkin is now alpha.”

(Thanks to Chris Pepper.)

Helvetica at 50 

BBC News article on the 50th anniversary of Helvetica. (Thanks to Tom Ackland.)

MacFusion — GUI for MacFUSE 

Easier, more convenient interface for MacFUSE.

IT Conversations Podcast Interview With Amit Singh 

Hour-long interview with Amit Singh, Manager of Macintosh Engineering for Google, discussing his book, Mac OS X Internals, and MacFUSE.

(Thanks to Nick Matsakis.)

Nocturne 1.0 

Simple screen color inversion app by Quicksilver author Nicholas Jitkoff.

Nine-Minute Ratatouille Preview 

I’m skipping it, because I know I’m going to see the movie.

Fix Your Mom’s Computer for Mother’s Day 

Clever promotion: Fog Creek Copilot is free for everyone to use on Mother’s Day.

Playlist: Ripping Episodic DVDs 

Christopher Breen explains how to use HandBrake to rip episodic DVDs (e.g. compilations of TV shows) for playback on Apple TV.

Jeff Veen Reveals New Google Analytics 

Unveiled today, but not available to users for a few more weeks. Correction: New accounts get the updated Google Analytics interface now — it’s just the current users who have to wait a few weeks.

Adobe Lightroom Still Available for $199 From Amazon 

The standard price went to $299 on May 1, but still has retail copies selling for the introductory price of $199 “while supplies last”. I’ve been using Lightroom for a week and love it.

DTrace for Ruby Is Available 

A good fundamental rule for software development is to avoid premature optimization. Don’t guess what code ought to be optimized to make the whole system faster. Get it working first, then measure to identify where the bottlenecks really are.

Joyent’s DTrace-enabling patches for Ruby give Rails developers much better tools for measuring exactly where the bottlenecks are in a live web app.

More New Get a Mac Commercials 

All three are pretty good. I like that they’re making fun of how many versions of Vista there are.

Wanted: Apple Mail Mini Player 

Derek Powazek:

This Mini Player view is notable because iTunes is the only iApp that has such a state. Ostensibly this is because you may need quick access to your music controls when in other apps. But I think some other apps could use a mini state. Specifically, Apple’s Mail.

My initial reaction is that it’s more of an argument that Apple should allow Dashboard widgets to live in the regular window layers. There are some widget-sized status windows that’d be convenient to keep visible all the time.

MySpace Built on .Net 

In my Microsoft ♥ Yahoo piece on Saturday, I wrote:

When was the last time you saw a new hit web site developed using Microsoft’s web stack?

A slew of readers wrote in to point out that MySpace now runs on .Net. It was originally written using ColdFusion (!) and was ported over to .Net last year.

According to this post from Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie, MySpace does 1.5 billion page views a day. That’s impressive. But it still doesn’t count as a hit new site developed using Microsoft’s web stack — clearly their switch to .Net was a success, but it happened after they became a billion-dollar subsidiary of News Corp.

My point isn’t really whether Microsoft’s web development kit is good or bad, but simply that all of the grassroots-level developer enthusiasm is for open source tools (and Flash).

Growth of Twitter vs. Blogger 

Jason Kottke compares the early growth of Blogger to Twitter, in terms of messages posted. Twitter is now growing much faster, and growing in sudden tremendous bursts.

Update: Uh-oh, looks like the data Kottke used — Twitter post IDs — weren’t actually sequential and therefore aren’t a valid way to measure this.

Walt Mossberg Profile in This Week’s New Yorker 

5,000-word profile of The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, by Ken Auletta:

Some journalists, such as Thomas L. Friedman, of the Times, earn more if one factors in speeches and books, but when, recently, Mossberg signed a four-year contract, two Journal sources told me, his annual compensation approached a million dollars. Mossberg refuses to discuss his pay; a friend with knowledge of the negotiations says that “pay has always been an issue at the Journal,” and that Mossberg doesn’t want to be viewed as a “prima donna.”

I’m sure this jackass from PC World thinks the headline should have been “Ten Things We Love About Walt Mossberg”.

New Zune on Monday? 

Jeremy Horwitz:

We’re hearing that Microsoft’s holding an event in Redmond on Monday to preview/announce a new Zune — most likely the flash-based one the company’s been hinting at for a while.

PC World’s ‘Hate’ and ‘Love’ Apple Stories 

PC World has published the “10 Things We Hate/Love About Apple Stories” that led to editor Harry McCracken’s resignation last week. They also published a short introduction to the two pieces that mentions the dispute, but explains nothing.

The articles are exactly what you think they are: insipid crap. (E.g. #2 on the hate list is that Apple is too secretive about upcoming plans, and #8 is the 1998 round hockey puck mouse.) I’m more convinced than ever that the dispute between McCracken and Colin Crawford was about editorial authority, not anything specific to these articles.

Interview With Aaron Swartz 

Philipp Lenssen’s thoughtful interview with Aaron Swartz:

Before Y Combinator, I was a student at Stanford. Then I worked at Reddit for a while — the four of us packed into a small 3-bedroom apartment in Somerville, MA (I slept in the cupboard). Then we got bought by Condé Nast (the publishers of Wired, Elle, The New Yorker, Details, GQ, etc.) and they moved us out to San Francisco to work at the Wired offices and then they fired me. On the plus side, I did get this nifty shirt.

Perl to Slip in Alongside Ruby and Python for Cocoa Scripting Language Development? 

Sherm Pendley, creator and maintainer of CamelBones, on why Apple announced support in Leopard for writing Cocoa apps using Ruby and Python but not Perl:

They asked around internally for “sponsor” engineers to accept the job of reviewing a scripting bridge for code quality, running compatibility tests, etc. They found volunteers for Python and Ruby early on — but not for Perl.

The good news is, there’s a volunteer for Perl now too, and the pushed-back release date for Leopard has bought us a little breathing room. So there’s still a chance for Perl to be a first class citizen. The bad news is, we arrived late to the party and there’s a lot of catching up to do.

(By the way, if you’re looking for a freelance programmer, Pendley is looking for work.)

37signals’s Redesigned Forums 

The “standard” template for web-based forum design is just awful — just dozens and dozens of boxes for something that shouldn’t be boxy at all. 37signals’s new forum design is a good rethinking of the form. It’s just lists: a list of forums, a list of topics within each forum, and a list of posts within each topic.

It’s an apt pairing of form and function. These things are lists, and now that’s what they look like. This simple list-based visual style is the default for Beast, the new Rails-based forum software 37signals started using back in March for Highrise.

It’s a little funny, in that Beast’s own forums look more like 37signals’s signature style.

WWDC Bash Moved Off-Campus 

This year’s Apple-sponsored WWDC Bash isn’t on campus in Cupertino — it’s in San Francisco. Some people treat it as a pilgrimage, but it always struck me as a waste of time to move all those people all the way from Moscone to Cupertino.

Andy Budd Proposes CSS 2.2 

It’s embarassing how little progress the W3C has made since the CSS 2 spec came out in 1998.

Interarchy Quicksilver Plugin 


The Interarchy Quicksilver plugin provides access to Interarchy Bookmarks and Net Disks. You can open Bookmarks; upload files and folder to Bookmarks; and mount, unmount, and sync Net Disks.

Full Metal Jacket for Wii 

I really have to get a Wii. (Thanks to David Chartier.)


$30 alternative to QuickTime Pro for simple video editing and conversion. Its big advantage is direct support for formats like AVI and MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. (Via TUAW.)

Nina Reiser Couldn’t Win 

The Nina Reiser murder case just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

Roger Clemens Is Returning to the Yankees 

Roger Clemens:

Make no mistake about it. I’ve come back to do what they only know how to do here with the Yankees, and that’s win a championship. Anything else is a failure.

Clemens turns 45 in August, and is the highest-paid player in baseball.

Regarding Open Development for iPhone 

Tom Yager:

But iPhone will be open, or else, because all of its competitors’ platforms support user-developed applications. Why do they all support custom apps? Because. Sometimes, somebody other than Apple gets to say, “because”. Open is just how phones are done, and not just smart phones.

But there are all sorts of rules regarding “just how phones are done” that iPhone breaks. (E.g. A physical keypad for text and number input is just how phones are done.) I certainly hope Apple announces something at this year’s WWDC regarding third-party iPhone development. But the iPhone could launch completely closed and still be a huge hit. I almost hope it does just to prove people who say otherwise wrong.

And, if Apple were to launch the iPhone completely closed but start opening developer APIs, say, a year from now at WWDC 2008, then by 2010 the API-less iPhones would be as forgotten as the FireWire-only, Mac-only early iPods.

Monolith Scene From ‘2001’ Rendered on an Etch-a-Sketch 

Impossible for me not to link to this. (Thanks to Timothy Hellum.)

Uncle Jens’s Coding Tips 

Jens Alfke:

It’s been said many times that “the main person you’re writing comments for is yourself, six months in the future.” It’s always a good idea to keep that shadowy figure in mind while you code. Here are some other techniques I’ve found invaluable.

The Perils of Coincidence 

Good advice for budding fiction writers from John August:

At every juncture where a reader could ask “Why did that happen?”, try to have an answer that isn’t, “just because.”

I can tell just from the minor spoilers in August’s post that I’m not going to like Spiderman 3.


Twitter plug-in for Firefox. (Via Matt Haughey.)

iPhoto: How to Change the ‘Open Automatically’ Preference 

If you want to tell iPhoto to stop launching automatically when you connect a camera or mount a memory card, you can’t do it within iPhoto itself. You do it in Image Capture. (You can also use Image Capture to specify another app to launch automatically to handle image capturing.)

Twitter Launches Mobile Interface 

Web-based alternative to SMS for using Twitter from your phone.

WSJ Reports Microsoft-Yahoo Merger Talk ‘No Longer Active’ 

Robert A. Guth and Kevin J. Delaney, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft and Yahoo in recent months discussed a possible merger of the two companies or some kind of match-up that would pair their respective strengths, say people familiar with the situation. But the merger discussions are no longer active, these people say. The two companies may still explore other ways of cooperating.

Interesting sidenote to the story: It was The New York Post that originally broke the Microsoft-Yahoo-in-talks story. The Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which just made an unsolicited $5 billion bid to buy the Journal.

AppleInsider on Roxio Crunch 

$50 utility from the maker of Toast; aims to simplify converting video to different formats for playback on various devices. Set to ship on Monday.

Fake Steve: ‘God I Hope Murdoch Buys the Journal’ 

Fake Steve:

Suddenly these bigshot free-market reporters who always talk tough about layoffs when it’s GM or IBM now are running scared. Of course they say they’re wringing their hands about the “quality of the paper” and “editorial integrity” but come on — they’re worried because they know the place is 30% overstaffed and the Bancrofts don’t have the stomach for cuts. Murdoch, on the other hand, could squeeze a quarter between his butt cheeks and produce two dimes and a nickel plus a penny for his trouble.

Another PC World Staffer Comments on McCracken’s Departure 

In a comment on Kim Zetter’s article on the McCracken-Crawford conflict, a PC World staffer, defending McCracken, writes:

It’s worth noting that these pieces were produced for the web site only. We’re under a lot of pressure to attract more traffic, and these list stories can be blockbusters. We do view them as an opportunity to be less serious — fluff is as good a word as any — but why that should be such a problem is beyond me. If the New Yorker ran the headline, nobody would flinch.

So in other words, the killed piece was sensational “less serious” fluff intended to generate hits to the web site. It’s hard to believe this person has ever even seen an issue of The New Yorker, the most literate and least sensational magazine I know of.

Paul Thurrott on Microsoft’s Platform Centricism 

Good observation from Paul Thurrott:

But Microsoft thinks in terms of platforms, not great products. Apple does it the reverse way: Ship something drool-worthy and watch people snatch it up. Do it again. And again. Suddenly, there’s a platform sitting there. Microsoft spends so much time plotting platforms that by the time the vision is complete, the world has already moved on. The old way of doing things doesn’t work any more.

R.I.P. Sudan’s Married Goat 

BBC News:

The goat, known as Rose to close friends, became a web phenomenon when it was reported that she had been “married” to Sudanese man Charles Tombe. The wedding was enforced by elders after a drunken Tombe was found taking advantage of the poor animal. He was also made to pay a dowry to Rose’s original owner.

Microsoft Rekindles Its Pursuit of Yahoo 

The New York Times:

Microsoft has made a preliminary overture to Internet giant Yahoo, and the two companies are in very early discussions about a possible merger, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Oh now this is interesting. And it feels more like the old, combative Microsoft. If it happens, it’d be a $50 billion dollar deal.

David Lynch on Shooting Digital Video 

David Lynch:

Once you start working in that world of DV with small, lightweight equipment and automatic focus, working with film seems so cumbersome. These 35mm film cameras are starting to look like dinosaurs to me. They’re huge; they weigh tons. And you’ve got to move them around. There are so many things that have to be done, and it’s all so slow. It kills a lot of possibilities. With DV everything is lighter; you’re more mobile. It’s far more fluid. You can think on your feet and catch things.

(Via James Wolcott.)

The Great HD Shoot-Out 

David Kender and John Neely compare four consumer HD video cameras: Canon HV20, Sony HDR-HC7, Panasonic HDC-SD1, and JVC GZ-HD7. The Canon wins. (Thanks to Was Felter.)

Mike Davidson: Building a Better Conference Badge 

Nice design for conference name badges, placing the emphasis on people’s names. Good nit-picking debate in the comments, too.

Why the iPhone Will Be a Flop 

Noted for future reference: Matt Maroon is an iPhone doubter.

Tony Smith Reviews the Nokia N95 

Another very expensive smartphone: £549 (about US$1100). I’m impressed by the photo quality in Smith’s examples (at least by the standards of cell phone cameras). (Thanks to Chris Pepper.)

A Tale of Two Tools 

James Duncan Davidson on why he switched from Aperture to Lightroom. Now that I’m using Lightroom, I’ve found O’Reilly’s Inside Lightroom weblog to be a terrific resource — even better now that Duncan is going to be writing for them.

MacTech VBA to AppleScript Transition Guide 

Microsoft’s upcoming Office 2008 for Mac no longer supports VBA scripting. MacTech is offering a free version of their VBA to AppleScript transition guide on the web; a PDF version is available for $10.

Rands in Repose: How to Not Throw Up 

Good public speaking tips:

Use silence as punctuation. My favorite trick in the book, especially since I’m a fast talker. When you hear yourself gaining verbal momentum, stop. Count backwards from 5. Walk across the stage. Resume. These breaks are going to give both you and your audience a chance to mentally regroup.

Jackass of the Week: Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo 

Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo on the iPod Shuffle, back in January 2005:

So I think the whole industry will just laugh at it, because the flash people — it’s worse than the cheapest Chinese player. Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and has FM.

Creative’s newest player? The display-less, FM-less, 1 GB clip-sized Zen Stone. Play/pause button in the middle, up/down for volume, left/right for previous/next track.

(Via Jussi Hagman.)

David Pogue: ‘Your Life, in a Movie of Top Quality’ 

David Pogue reviews new hard-drive-based high-def video cameras from Sony and JVC. The Sony seems like a non-starter for most Mac users, as it records in AVCHD, a video format that works in neither iMovie nor Final Cut.

Now on DVD: Fletch (The ‘Jane Doe’ Edition) 

1985 comedy masterpiece starring Chevy Chase, now digitally remastered. It really is all ball bearings nowadays.

BlackBerry Curve 

New consumer-oriented smartphone from BlackBerry. The biggest difference from the Pearl is that the Curve has a full QWERTY keyboard. The site is chock full of really corny copywriting; e.g. on the page describing the web browser:

Check the latest fashion, or even automotive trends online. Then send links to friends so they can see what’s hot… and what’s not.

PC World Editor Quits, Reportedly Over Story Titled ‘Ten Things We Hate About Apple’ 

Kim Zetter:

Colleagues at my former outlet, PC World magazine, have told me that Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken quit abruptly today because the company’s new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs.

The piece, a whimsical article titled “Ten Things We Hate About Apple,” was still in draft form when Crawford killed it. McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise.

Business 2.0 Loses Entire Issue of Magazine, Had No Working Backups 


Until the night of the crash, the magazine had never had to rely on its backup server, Quittner said, so no one had noticed that its programming was either obsolete or dysfunctional, or both. Just last November, the magazine had listed off-site backup as being among “the usual precautions.”

Good reminder: test your backups regularly. (Via Y Combinator.)

Scripting With RubyOSA 

Justin Williams on using Ruby instead of AppleScript for OSA scripting.

Dell to Offer Ubuntu 

I’m sure Microsoft is pleased. “The more the merrier” has always been their slogan.


Matt Haughey’s new web site with advice for indie web publishers. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt quite so perfectly centered in the target audience for a publication.

Coda 1.0.1 

Highlights include new language modes (ActionScript, JSP-HTML, Smarty) and the ability to set a local URL for sites so you can use the preview feature for sites that need to run through an HTTP server (as opposed to plain old static HTML).

Flickr Uploadr 2.3 

Universal binary update to Flickr’s free image uploading app.

Silly Season 

Mark Pilgrim on Adobe’s Apollo and Microsoft’s Silverlight.

Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Steve Jobs’s ‘A Greener Apple’ Article 

Jesper is right that part of Jobs’s message is a “fuck you” to Greenpeace, which has been ranking companies based on their plans, rather than their records.

Motorola Razr Debut Price 

Carl Howe:

A note to everyone who believes that $499 is too much to pay for Apple’s iPhone: The Motorola RAZR was originally introduced at that price. It went on to become the best selling phone in the world before RAZR marketer Geoffrey Frost died and Motorola went on its “We will not be undersold” price-cutting binge.

To Wrap It Up, I’ll Take It 

Khoi Vinh, on the subtle grid pattern Hallmark now prints on the back of their wrapping paper:

That’s the key, so let me repeat it: the company saw a common problem that no one was addressing.

Steve Jobs: A Greener Apple 

Another open letter from Steve Jobs, this one addressing complaints about Apple’s environmental policies. Lots of very specific information about the toxic chemicals contained in Apple products, with comparisons to other companies like HP, Dell, and Lenovo.

There’s also some specific information about upcoming new Macs, including plans to introduce Macs with LCD displays that use LEDs instead of fluorescent lamps.

Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 

Digg founder Kevin Rose:

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

Digg Revolt Over Posts Regarding Cracked HD-DVD Key 

So there’s this hexadecimal string that was leaked a few months ago — the secret decryption key for HD-DVDs. Web sites that post this string of hexadecimal digits — a number — have started getting takedown notices from whoever the jackasses are who own this so-called “intellectual property”. Digg started removing posts that contain it; as of this writing (1:20am ET), Digg users are revolting, and the entire front page of is chock full of highly-dugg submissions all containing the hexadecimal string in question.

I love the way that these MPAA fools think they can turn this key back into a secret using lawyers.

Details on the QuickTime for Java Advisory (With Code Snippet) 

Now that Apple has updated QuickTime, 3Com has released additional details regarding Dino Dai Zovi’s exploit discovery. Thomas Ptacek has a nice overview of the bug — 5 lines of Java that can crash any browser with Java and QuickTime installed.

QuickTime 7.1.6 — Fixes Contest-Winning Exploit in QuickTime for Java 

Good turnaround time from Apple on a fix for this — just 10 days.

Palm Treos at Amazon 

With plans from Verizon, the Treo 700w costs $400, and the Treo 700p costs $460. Tell me again how the iPhone is ridiculously overpriced.

Software Update Updating Software It Shouldn’t Be Updating 

Mac OS X’s Software Update will assume that any application named “Backup” in your Applications folder is Apple’s own Backup, and will overwrite it if you allow it to “update”. As Paul Kafasis says:

In short, this is why you should always use bundle IDs instead of names to search for an application in code.

New Amazon S3 Pricing in June 

Lower bandwidth pricing, but they’re going to start charging separately for the requests themselves. 75 percent of existing S3 customers will save money with the new pricing; it seems the ones who’ll pay more are those who send a large number of requests for small bits of data.

Information Weak 

The Macalope looks at an insipid Information Week article on Apple.

Cap’n Crunch’s Full Name Revealed 

Still no explanation regarding how he does that thing with his eyebrows.

Handful of DF Limited Edition Swap Meat Tees Back on Sale 

We held back a dozen or so of the limited-edition DF t-shirts at the Coudal Partners Swap Meat to cover any shirts lost or damaged in shipping. All the original orders have been accounted for, so the remainders are now back on sale.

If you missed out during the original offer, jump quick — there are only a handful of each size left. (Each comes with a new one-year DF membership or extension.)

Update: Sold out.

Slingshot Public Release 

Joyent’s new framework for turning Ruby on Rails web apps into hybrid desktop apps, with synching between offline and online storage. Source code to be released next month under the GPL. (Great icon by Bryan Bell, too.)

News Corp. Makes a Bid for Dow Jones 

Jeremy M. Peters, reporting for The New York Times:

After news of the offer was reported this morning on CNBC, shares of Dow Jones leaped 58 percent. News Corp. offered $60 a share in cash for all outstanding stock in Dow Jones — a whopping premium over the $36.33 closing price on Monday. Trading was briefly halted on the New York stock exchange, and the shares were selling above $57 at midday.

A $60/share offer for a stock trading at $36 is quite an audacious move.

Ethan Schoonover’s OmniFocus Overview Video 

25-minute (!) screencast by Ethan Schoonover — author of the Kinkless GTD kit for OmniOutliner — showing off the upcoming OmniFocus task manager.