By John Gruber
Kolide ensures only secure devices can access your cloud apps.
It’s Zero Trust for Okta.
Open source System Prefs pane by Quicksilver author “Alcor” that gives you a GUI for tweaking secret preferences, both for software that ships with Mac OS X and for third-party apps, with the information about the secret prefs coming from a publicly accessible database. Even if you don’t install the prefs panel, the database is a terrific resource. (Via Chris Messina.)
First in a three-part ADC series on Rails. (Via Ernest Prabhakar.)
Remember my criticism last year regarding SXSW’s panel-heavy session line-ups? This year I’m putting my mouth where my mouth is, and delivering a co-presention with Michael Lopp. We’re going to pack a day’s worth of advice and strong opinions into a one-hour session. 3:30 Saturday March 8, room B.
Hillary asked a serious question in her latest campaign spot. We thought it deserved an equally serious response.
Best campaign commercial I’ve ever seen.
Incredible Mobile OS X project from Jay Freeman: a port of Debian’s APT with a complete, working BSD and GNU Unix userspace tool set. And a brand new GUI app to manage it, Cydia. And, unlike Installer, the whole thing is open source. Gerd Kamp points out that Freeman also ported PyObjC to Mobile OS X, allowing native iPhone apps to be written in Python. My vaguely informed hunch is that the official SDK from Apple won’t even support that.
We’ve been fiddling with Time Capsule since it arrived this AM, and so far it works as billed, clean and easy.
Makes me wish I was fake-there, too.
I’m not sure what’s more appalling; the purported battery drain Blu-ray drives have on laptops, or the photo of the Blu-ray mascot accompanying the article. And what’s with this quip:
“If you bought an iPhone and you couldn’t watch a two-hour movie, which you barely can now, that would be a huge problem,” [Yankee Group analyst Josh] Martin continued.
A fully-charged iPhone gets way more than two hours of video playback. Walt Mossberg got “just under Apple’s claim of seven hours, enough to watch four average-length movies.”
My thanks to Global Moxie for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. The cleverly-named Big Medium is a web site content management system built for designers. It’s designed to be easy to install, configure, and customize with no additional programming. Features includes both WYSIWYG and Markdown support for content editing, scheduled publication, comments, and more.
Check out the gallery of sites based on Big Medium to see what it’s capable of. Through March 31, save $35 with coupon code: “DARINGFIREBALL”.
New episode of the only podcast featuring Dan Benjamin and yours truly; topics include Apple’s latest MacBooks, Lost (sans spoilers), and the genius of Caddyshack.
It’s pieces like this one — written by a non-nerd, brand-new Apple customer — that make me think the growth in Mac sales over the past two years is just the beginning of an enormous trend.
Nice interactive feature from Condé Nast Portfolio on the new U.S. five-dollar bill, including previous designs back to 1861.
Bob Fernandez, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Comcast Corp. admitted yesterday that it paid people to attend a government hearing. Company critics say the freelance attendees were there to crowd them out; Comcast says they were merely saving seats for employees.
Happy birthday to everyone out there with — let’s face it — the worst birthday possible.
Demo video and interview with the author of Trism, a very cool looking puzzle game for Mobile OS X that makes great use of the accelerometer — you tilt the hardware to control which direction the tiles will fall. (Via Andy Baio.)
Interesting post from Vladimir Vukićević on the private-to-Apple system APIs that Safari uses, along with a two-line plist change Vukićević used to dramatically improve scrolling performance in Firefox 3 on Mac OS X. Don’t miss Dave Hyatt’s response in the comments. (Thanks to Nick Matsakis.)
Bug fixes and performance improvements to The Iconfactory’s excellent Mac client for Twitter.
Glad someone is doing important research like this. (No sarcasm intended.)
Dave Dribin has launched a very important project: Daring Fireball translated into LOLspeak.
Think about any other online community system ever created — from Usenet to The WELL, IRC to Slashdot to Digg. All of them have had to deal with the core problem of idiots on the Internet. [...] Twitter, however, has almost a million members, a thriving community, lots of discussions and yet doesn’t have spam or troll issues. If you step back for a second and think about it, that’s pretty amazing.
New desktop Flickr client for Mac OS X.
Interesting move for Sony:
PlayTV, the PlayStation 3’s DVR/PVR (that’s not coming to the States yet), will record television to MPEG2 files that can be easily copied off the system to any storage medium you’d like. That’s right, no DRM.
The review in Maxim’s March issue gives the Crowes’ “Warpaint” a rating of two-and-a-half stars out of five. The band posted an exasperated statement on its Web site last week saying the Maxim writer hadn’t heard the entire album because advance copies weren’t available. The Crowes’ manager, Pete Angelus, said the magazine explained that its review was an “educated guess.”
Where by “hadn’t heard the entire album” they mean “heard one song”. My four-year-old boy offers more sincere apologies than this. That said, here’s my review of the March issue of Maxim, which I haven’t read: shitty. (Thanks to the wife.)
New viral web site “dictionary” from Paddy Donnelly and Lee Munroe, two students in Northern Ireland. The gimmick is simple: pick any word you want, pay $1 per letter, and you get to “define” that word as a link to your web site. I bought two.
Formerly known as iPhoneDrive (or as developer Glen Aspeslagh put it: “iPhoneDrive is now known a MegaPhone and features 100% less trademark infringement”), MegaPhone is a $20 utility that lets you use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a disk, access your iTunes media on the device, read/edit/add notes, view and export call history and SMS messages, and more. The notes integration requires an iPhone restart on every edit or addition, but it’s still better than what Apple provides.
Apple’s holding a media event next Thursday “about the iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features.” My guess on the “enterprise features” is Exchange support of some sort, perhaps just for email.
Some of these are hilarious:
Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?
Mac OS X comes with the ability to localise displayed application names. While that seems like a great feature at first, it is an essentially flawed idea. Flawed because it makes things inconsistent. And thus makes it harder to communicate with people or the machine about those items.
Sounds like a real mess. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)
Me, back in 2005:
My only actual complaint about the PowerBook keyboard is the Enter key next to the right-side Command key; I would much prefer to have a second Option key there. Yes, yes, Enter is a different key than Return on a Mac, but if you really need Enter while using the PowerBook keyboard, you can use Fn + Return. I’ve been baffled by this key arrangement for years — who uses the Enter key so much that it deserves such a prominent spot on the keyboard?
Today’s new MacBooks and MacBook Pros do just that. I’ve had my fingers crossed ever since I noticed that the Air keyboard had a right-side Option key instead of an Enter key. Update: Apparently the regular MacBooks — but not the Pros — have had this key arrangement since November. Have the MacBook Pros, too?
Update 2: Other MacBook Pro keyboard changes today: no more Num Lock; the volume and brightness keys have moved; and it now has iTunes fast-forward/play-pause/rewind keys.
They’re very sorry, and promise to do a better job in Photoshop next time.
Apple’s entire description of what’s new: “bug fixes”.
Jason Fried, regarding Wired’s profile of 37signals:
What about the backlash part of the story? Well, Andy Warhol once said, “Don’t read what they write about you, just measure it in inches.” True words those. Nonetheless, let’s set the record straight on a few myths mentioned in the story…
Second only to Wal-Mart.
Tim Altman, QA lead for Opera Mail, on Gmail’s IMAP support:
Gmail’s labeling system could integrate marvelously with IMAP clients if only it used IMAP keywords. Instead, IMAP mailboxes are used to represent labels. All messages (sent and received) are always available in the “Gmail/[All Mail]” mailbox, so any time a message is labeled, a duplicate message is added to the label’s IMAP mailbox. IMAP clients then receive several copies of the same message, none of which integrate with the client-side labeling system. If Gmail had instead used IMAP keywords, only one message would be needed and integration would be seamless.
Speed-bump updates for the MacBook and MacBook Pro, larger hard drives for both, and an Air-style multi-touch trackpad for the Pro.
The Macalope on the bogus math behind the claim that unlocked iPhones will cost Apple “$1 billion” by the end of the year. (It’s the same sort of math the music industry uses to estimate how much money bootlegging costs them — based on the assumption that every single bootlegged track would otherwise have been purchased for the full retail price.)
My stance on “Repairing Permissions” is not complicated. If you have a permissions-related problem (or suspect one) it might solve it. It is not something you should worry about if you’re not having any problems. There is no good reason to run it periodically, nor any reason to run it before or after software installations or upgrades. If it were a good idea, Apple would configure Mac OS X to do it for you. It’s like taking antibiotics — a good idea if you have an infection, but a bad idea to take every day “just for good measure”. (My thanks to “Floggy”, whoever you are, for making the same point in the comments on TUAW.)
Purveyor of super-cheap A/V equipment and cables. I’d never heard of MonoPrice until yesterday, when a slew of people on Twitter suggested them after I tweeted about the fact that the cheapest HDMI cable at Best Buy (where by “best” they mean “worst”) costs $60.
Long profile by Andrew Park in the March issue. Pretty good overall, but there’s an awful lot of ginned-up conflict. E.g. the last paragraph contains the sentence: “Call it arrogance or idealism, but they would rather fail than adapt,” and suggests they’re somehow losing customers due to their emphasis on simplicity above all else. But the article also states that they doubled revenue in 2007 without increasing the company’s head count — that doesn’t sound like the path to failure to me.
Congratulations to Josh Marshall and TPM Media for being the first weblog to win a George Polk Award — sort of a Golden Globe for journalism.
“I think of us as journalists; the medium we work in is blogging,” [Marshall] said. “We have kind of broken free of the model of discrete articles that have a beginning and end. Instead, there are an ongoing series of dispatches.”
Dan Hughes on the industrial design of the Asus Nova P22:
To me, it initially looked like a pen holder. Bizarrely enough though, it turns that it is indeed a pen holder. Are you kidding me? What computer user has ever said, gee, the one thing this machine really needs is a pen holder hanging off the side of its case?
What an amazing computer: slower, bigger, and more expensive than a Mac Mini — but where do you put a pen in a Mac Mini?
Sebastiaan de With: “While I was doing some research for one of my upcoming projects today, I found the very first Photoshop icon.”
Hard to believe that this is an actual quote:
Anne Sweeney, the president of the Disney-ABC television group, claims: “You don’t need TiVo if you have fast-forward-disabled video on demand. It gives you the same opportunity to catch up to your favorite shows.”
Interesting infographic from The New York Times showing box office receipts over time.
Guy English on a nifty trick in the latest version of Airfoil:
So when you’re streaming to an Apple TV via Airfoil running on Leopard, we send along the image of your Mac and overlay your desktop on it. Put simply, it’s damn cool to see.
David Allen, in an interview with Bob Walsh at Web Worker Daily:
One of the problems that’s endemic with the younger generation people who have grown up with computers and with email they make the assumption that email is a fine medium for communicating anything and everything.
The iPhone’s software developer’s kit (SDK) was supposed to be the answer to the device’s many shortcomings: no corporate e-mail support, no cut-and-paste, no native games, etc.
Games, sure. But how does Elmer-DeWitt think the SDK is going to help the other issues? To add third-party support for “corporate” email — by which he means Microsoft Exchange — you’d have to write your own entire email client. Possible, perhaps, but an enormous undertaking. And copy-and-paste? No way will that be something that a third-party developer can provide. The whole point of copy-and-paste is that it’s a service provided by the system, shared between all apps. To be clear, just like everyone else, I hope Apple does add copy-and-paste — but if it doesn’t come from Apple, it isn’t coming.
“But don’t talk back to Darth Vader. He’ll getcha.”
Amazing optical illusion; tricks your brain into “seeing” a grayscale photograph in full color. (Thanks to John Siracusa.)
Rainer Brockerhoff on the bizarre complaints from Japanese engineers that the MacBook Air uses too many screws to hold the keyboard in place:
So, this article betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Apple’s design strengths and intentions. Their definition of “workmanship and... cost reduction” is very different. From what I can tell, the Air was designed from the outset to be extremely thin and rugged, while maintaining adequate battery life and performance. These considerations snowball to the extent that the battery uses up 2/3 of the space, and seems to be (along with the keyboard) itself a structural element.
Now, I’ve got nothing against 19-year-old developers. Hell, I’m one of them. But I do know all-too-well the demon that’s plagued me for years: Application-ADD.
Former CNN producer Chez Pazienza:
When I asked, just out of curiosity, who came across my blog and/or the columns in the Huffington Post, the woman from HR answered, “We have people within the company whose job is specifically to research this kind of thing in regard to employees.”
Jesus, we have a Gestapo?
I’m hearing from one source that its going to be late. I’m not yet hearing any reasons why, and it’s sounding like the official release date could slide by anywhere from one to three weeks.
My thanks to Eastgate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their app Tinderbox is a “personal content assistant that helps you to visualize, analyze, and share your notes”. Features include a wiki, an outliner, and mapping tools to connect and describe the relationship between notes. Top-notch XML and HTML export make it a terrific publishing tool, too. They’ve set up a page full of deals for DF readers — you’ll save at least $35 if you order this week.
Our results show that an attacker can cut power to the computer, then power it back up and boot a malicious operating system (from, say, a thumb drive) that copies the contents of memory. Having done that, the attacker can search through the captured memory contents, find any crypto keys that might be there, and use them to start decrypting hard disk contents.
I’ve seen a few reviews of these applications, but the reviews mostly concentrate on user interface concerns. I’d like to do something different here; Instead of simply looking at their UI, I’d like to look at how these applications handle tasks I typically do.
(He reviewed Acorn 1.0.3, not the 1.1 public beta, which is totally fair — but in my experience Acorn 1.1b1’s performance is dramatically improved. Not sure if it’d help in these tests, though.)
Aayush Arya on a new iTunes movie rental deal: “Every Thursday to Monday, a library title will be available for rental at the steeply discounted price of $0.99, but with the same privileges as normal rented movies.”
I thought it was pretty funny. I mean, the Betamax adopters at least had a few years to nag their VHS friends about the better picture quality, before the format died a slow death. But HD-DVD — they just took it out back and shot it! I think that’s what’s so striking about this. I can’t remember a standards war where the winner was crowned so definitively.
Web site dedicated to “hand-written signs with letters in all-caps, except for the letter L”. (Via Jonathan Rentzsch.)
Joel Spolsky on another error-ridden article yesterday by Ben Charny.
New open source Twitter API library for Cocoa by Matt Gemmell.
More on Barack Obama’s use of H&FJ’s Gotham, from Helvetica director Gary Hustwit:
I think it’s interesting that the design of Gotham was influenced by early Modernism, another movement that was about change and social idealism. And I like that the design aesthetic that may help move Obama into the White House was inspired by the humble NY Port Authority Bus Terminal sign.
If you’re going to cast your vote based on the candidates’ choice of fonts, it’s Obama all the way.
Terrific piece from The Macalope regarding Seeking Alpha’s Todd Sullivan, who calculated that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T is somehow bad for Apple:
Todd, the Macalope just doesn’t know how many other ways to say this but that is simply one busted-ass 2007 Nissan Premise you’re driving there. Exclusivity is a condition for the revenue sharing agreement. That’s how Apple gets the revenue sharing. You can’t say Apple’s somehow foregoing $1 billion in revenue sharing that it could never possibly get.
More from Pixish honcho Derek Powazek on the spec work issue.
Nifty tip from Sam Stephenson that lets you still have iPhoto launch when you plug in your regular digital camera, but not when you plug in your iPhone.
Suggested reading in advance of today’s upcoming fireball: this piece I wrote in August 2006 regarding keyboard selection in lists.
A typographic neologism from David Friedman.
New version of the excellent open source DVD ripper. Now Leopard-only.
The New York Times:
Microsoft has begun to make preparations to proceed with a proxy fight against Yahoo as it seeks to gain control of the Internet company, people briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.
Guess who’s heading up Microsoft’s recently-acquired Danger division? Former MacBU honcho and keynote enthusiasm drain Roz Ho. Unlike Matt Rosoff, I don’t think this makes it any more likely at all that Microsoft will turn Danger into some sort of serious iPhone competitor.
James Duncan Davidson on a meeting he had with the Aperture team at Apple after he switched to Lightroom:
The one detail I will share is that, at one point, I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of “I don’t really care how it is implemented under the covers, but what I need is to be able to zip through several hundred photos quickly and rank them. Boom. Boom. Boom. And while I’m doing that, I don’t want to be waiting on the system to render up the images. Those little delays add up.”
XKCD with the funny.
Changes, Ian Baird’s sweet new $40 file comparison and folder differencing app, has shipped. Think of it as a pro version of FileMerge. My favorite feature is the optional view that condenses the text to just the lines that have changed along with a few surrounding ones for context. It integrates smoothly with BBEdit and TextWrangler (using menu scripts that override the built-in diff commands) and TextMate (with its own bundle). Ian sent me a discount code for DF readers: enter “DARINGFIREBALL” through March 8 and you’ll save $10.
Backpack brings the promise of the intranet back and delivers real value by keeping things simple. Now you can easily share information, files, and a calendar across your company.
The Xserve RAID product page now encourages you to purchase the Promise VTrak E-Class RAID. (You can purchase it from the Apple Store.)
Education news from Florida:
The teaching standards for Florida schools include the word “evolution” for the first time, under a decision Tuesday by the state school board.
“Limited edition developer action figures” promoting Microsoft developer tools. Hard to believe there are people who think Microsoft isn’t totally rad. Perhaps they can battle against the Dell Tech Force.
And a new 2 GB Shuffle for $69.
Toshiba gives up, Blu-ray wins. Nice revenge for Sony, whose Betamax lost the videotape format war in the 1980s.
The web site is still up, but only accessible by IP address. (Via Boing Boing.)
Now that Think Secret is gone, let’s enjoy some schadenfreude from April last year, the day after Apple announced that Leopard was behind schedule and wouldn’t ship until October.
Douglas A. McIntyre’s advice on how Apple could raise its stock price back to $200:
The next thing the company needs to do is set the date for a release of the 3G version of the iPhone. Citigroup’s research analyst covering Apple says to look for that announcement in the next two quarters. But, Apple almost certainly already knows the timetable. If the iPhone has an Achilles heel it is that it runs on a slow data network which handicaps users. A 3G version which would run on AT&T’s high-speed network would almost certainly lift iPhone sales and get people who currently own the handset to upgrade.
Sure, a 3G-capable iPhone with significantly faster data transfer would be good for sales: when it goes on fucking sale. What exactly does McIntyre think will happen to sales of current iPhones today in the wake of such an announcement? Apple has done really, really well for the past ten years with a general strategy of not talking about products until they’re ready to sell. The pre-announcement of the original iPhone is an obvious exception, but that didn’t eat into the sales of Apple’s own phones because they weren’t selling phones yet. Jiminy.
Cartoon characters have it so much easier than we do. Laws of cartoon physics say that if you run out of space on your hard drive, you can just jam a funnel into the top, dump in a few more drive mechanisms from a big metal bucket, and then you’re right back in business. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present the Drobo storage system. This $499 USB storage device is made by Data Robotics, Inc. (Drobo.com), but I’m pretty sure that DRI is actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ACME Corporation.
Thoughtful interview with yours truly, mostly about the thinking behind Daring Fireball and writing in general. I enjoyed the interview, and I enjoyed re-reading it just now.
David Barboza, reporting from Shanghai:
Factories here churn out iPhones that are exported to the United States and Europe. Then thousands of them are smuggled right back into China. [...] An iPhone purchased in Shanghai or Beijing typically costs about $555. To unlock the phone and add Chinese language software costs an additional $25.
My friend Jason Perkins — one of the coders behind the just-launched Pixish — is looking for a crackerjack web designer for a small new project.
Wil Shipley on his MacBook Air:
I love how the port door on the right opens and closes; it’s a very solid-feeling mechanism, and very natural. Also, I feel like I’m in Star Trek (the new one).
Microsoft plans to end most sales of Windows XP on June 30, despite a deep reluctance by many business and individuals about moving to Vista. InfoWorld believes such an expensive, time-consuming shift with problematic benefits should not be forced on Windows users, so we have decided to rally XP users to demand that XP be kept available.
I can see two possible explanations for the backlash against Vista: (a) Vista really does suck; and/or (b) the mainstream PC industry has gotten so conservative that anything new and different from XP was bound to be rejected.
Here it is: I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.
Bill Bumgarner on the G4 Cube:
Near the end of the cube’s manufacturing lifecycle, Cubes were on closeout and my company picked up 10 or so to use as general purpose workstations. None of them had noticeable cracking or mold lines.
However, the very design of the cube was fatally flawed.
Symbian : Windows Mobile :: Frying Pan : Fire
David Heinemeier Hansson, who’s using an Air as his main computer:
But what I continue to be impressed with the most on the Air is simply the build quality. The MacBook Pro has OK build quality, but the regular MacBook frankly blows in this department in my mind. The plastic feels too cheap, it creaks and bends, and the black surface gets permanently smudged way too quickly. It just doesn’t feel tight in the same way the Air does.
From an article by Deborah Gage in the San Francisco Chronicle:
An insidious computer virus recently discovered on digital photo frames has been identified as a powerful new Trojan Horse from China that collects passwords for online games - and its designers might have larger targets in mind.
Deborah Hale at SANS suggested that PC users find friends with Macintosh or Linux machines and have them check for malware before plugging any device into a PC.
I love how it’s called a “computer virus”, not a “Windows virus”, but the advice they offer is to test the thing on a Mac or Linux machine.
My thanks to Adaptive Path for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. MX San Francisco: Managing Experience is a two-day conference in April for VP’s, directors, and managers involved in product design and development. Speakers include leaders from IDEO, Google, The Mayo Clinic, Cisco, and many others. If you manage or lead designers, this conference is for you.
I was asked “Why didn’t you patent this yourself, if you developed it first?” My reply was “It only took me an hour to build; if I went down to the patent office after every hour of programming, I wouldn’t get very much done.”
Gus Mueller on what’s new in Acorn 1.1:
A web export window, polygon selection tool, “trim to edges” menu command, vector tool improvements, a new crop widget, menu commands to move layers around, a drop shadow filter for bitmap layers, Levels and Auto Levels (yay!), drag images out of the layers list, [...] resize an image via a percentage, option-drag bitmap layers in the canvas and the layers list to duplicate them, a grid, and lots of bug fixes.
If true, one out of every ten iPhones sold to date is in use, unlocked, in China.
Cathy Shive, on “computer administrative debris”:
The iPhone and Apple TV-type applications have it easy in this sense, because their users are mostly browsing content. The developers don’t often need to provide them with a context to adjust or create the content. Most desktop apps, on the other hand, are all about providing that context. Still, there are some things that desktop application developers can do to trim the amount of debris on their interfaces.
Amazon’s S3 Web-storage-on-demand service has won a lot of mindshare in the Web 2.0/startup world. Which means when the service breaks down, as it did this morning, you’re going to hear a lot about it. Users are complaining that parts of Twitter and Tumblr — graphics, for example — are down.
Apple TV 2.0 can now receive and play audio transmitted from iTunes.
Terrific questions and answers regarding EveryBlock.
New $89 graphics app, with specialized features for creating resolution-independent images and icons — more or less a specialized app for creating user-interface graphics. There’s a nice in-app tutorial that comes up during the first launch. Beta-tester Peter Hosey has more to say about Opacity here.
The Financial Times:
Google on Wednesday said it had seen 50 times more searches on Apple’s iPhone than any other mobile handset, adding weight to the group’s confidence at being able to generate significant revenues from the mobile internet.
“We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again,” Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations told the Financial Times at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Just bought by Sun, apparently works well on Mac OS X.
Glenn Fleishman on where Apple fits in with the new AT&T/Starbucks partnership.
Vara’s new extremely impressive $100 screencast recording app for Leopard. Allows you to record both your screen and video from a DV camera simultaneously, and includes its own built-in video editing interface.
Miguel Helft reporting for The New York Times:
The letter is not likely to hold many surprises for investors who follow Yahoo closely, as it largely repeats points the company’s executives have made in recent months. And it sheds no light into what next steps Yahoo might pursue, following Monday’s rejection of Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft has vowed to press forward with its bid.
Yang did, however, use capital letters this time.
Henry Blodget on the rumored talks between Yahoo and News Corp.
The verdict is exactly what you’d expect: Apple TV video and audio quality is better than HD Cable or upscaled DVD, but not as good as Blu-ray.
10.5.2 has a new defaults preference that prevents Spaces from jumping you to a different space when you, say, Command-Tab. I’ve been trying it today, and while it’s better in some ways, it makes things worse in others. My core criticism remains: that Spaces is intended for partitioning apps, not tasks.
Advice and perspective based on his experience hacking on a jailbroken iPhone. My hunch is that writing sanctioned apps via the upcoming SDK is going to be pretty damn similar.
Craigslist ad for $1 cement blocks: “You want the blocks? Come get the fucking blocks and give me one dollar for every block you take. How fucking hard is that? You don’t have to tell me what you’re building. I don’t give a fuck.”
You know it’s bad when you place below Motorola. Let’s share another laugh at Palm CEO Ed Colligan’s November 2006 remarks regarding Apple’s prospects in the phone market: “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
Owen Thomas at Valleywag reports:
Helio has hired Goldman Sachs, we hear. Signing up a banker is usually a sign that a company is putting itself up for sale.
I wonder why Microsoft bought Danger — whose Hiptop mobile software architecture is based on Java — rather than Helio, whose phones appeal to the same target audience as Danger’s
but which (the phones) are based on Windows Mobile. I really can’t see what Microsoft plans to do with Danger. What are they going to do with a Java platform?
Update: I was wrong. Apparently Helio’s system is Java-based, too. Not sure why I thought it was based on Windows Mobile. Sure is ugly, though.
Since 9/11, approximately three things have potentially improved airline security: reinforcing the cockpit doors, passengers realizing they have to fight back and — possibly — sky marshals. Everything else — all the security measures that affect privacy — is just security theater and a waste of effort.
Way at the bottom of his Aperture 2 overview, David Schloss writes:
Apple has added the ability to create editing plug-ins for Aperture, which will, over time, revolutionize the program. Having an edit plug-in interface means that Aperture users will be able to do just about anything to their images. It’ll be possible to create plug-ins that replicate film effects, add borders, allow for selective edits like dodging and burning—the possibilities are pretty endless.
This is huge, but I can’t find any mention of it from Apple itself. Perhaps they’re waiting until they have plugin developers on board to promote it. It’s a big deal because if it takes off, it will obviate the need to use Photoshop for many purposes — and that’s something Adobe may not be willing to do, feature-politics-wise, with Lightroom.
Christopher Breen on the new Apple TV.
The speed argument is over. Perhaps, though, I should say that it has just begun. Nobody argued that Aperture 1.5 struggled for performance whilst Lightroom does not. Aperture 2 certainly now appears to bear serious comparison with Lightroom 1.3 on performance.
Apple TV 2.0 update ships.
Peter Burrows, reporting for BusinessWeek on the iPhone gray market:
The boom is being fueled not just by short supply of a hot product, but also by scant evidence of interference from Apple or its partners. Apple-authorized partners — AT&T, O2, Orange, and Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) T-Mobile — lose hundreds of dollars in monthly fees when subscribers forgo a two-year contract in favor of unlocking. But the bulk of the unlocking seems to be occurring in places where customers have no authorized carrier to choose from.
Pixish is getting some pushback on the grounds that it amounts to a forum for spec work.
Update: Derek Powazek addresses the spec work issue.
Peter Cohen, reporting for Macworld:
“The theme of this release is performance, simplicity and imaging,” said Kirk Paulsen, Apple’s senior director, application Product Marketing.
I’ll be interested to see how things stand in the Aperture-Lightroom rivalry now.
Streamlined (read: “better”) interface, significant performance improvements (read: “Aperture 1 was slow”), and much more. $199, upgrades $99.
Seems to me the change makes sense, but it breaks the shadow rendering on a couple of the Dashboard widgets I use.
Monday’s release of the Mac OS X 10.5.2 Update shows that sometimes Apple does listen, and occasionally even reverses design decisions because of user feedback.
The changes to the way the Dock handles folder contents are excellent. And, yes, our long national translucent menu bar nightmare is over. I’ll also note that when you disable menu bar translucency in 10.5.2, you get proper sub-pixel antialiasing for menu titles (obviating this gripe).
Unless I’m missing something, 10.5.2 addresses all of the top “WTF?” UI complaints about Leopard.
Services menu items now work better in Apple Mail editing windows.
Shorter version: We can do this the easy way, or do it the hard way, but we’re going to try to buy you, and we’re not going to offer any more money than we already have.
Apple ships Mac OS X 10.5.2 update (with actual release notes!), Security Update 2008-001, and something called Leopard Graphics Update, which is only available for 10.5.2.
Astounding: Guy buys $1800 Dell notebook loaded with Vista, screwed up the machine so bad with Norton Anti-Virus that it wouldn’t work at all, spends $800 for a consultant to fix it, and he’s so glad to have the machine back in working order that he’s happy as a clam about the whole thing.
Good-bye HD-DVD. (Via Engadget.)
New community web site from Derek Powazek, aims to connect visual artists and publishers. Writes Derek on the Pixish weblog:
On Pixish, you can post an Assignment that asks for exactly the kind of imagery you need. The Pixish creative community can then submit their work, and review each other’s submissions. Then all you have to do is pick the winners and send the rewards.
Traffic information service built on top of Twitter.
Says something about their confidence in Windows Mobile. Worth noting: Google Android platform is from the original Danger team, and is apparently pretty similiar API-wise.
Sounds like you’ll be able to get two hours of free service with any purchase.
Insightful — but as always, abrasive — analysis from Philip Greenspun.
Matthew Karnitschnig, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:
Yahoo’s board believes that Microsoft’s is trying to take advantage of the recent weakness in the company’s share price to “steal” the company. The decision to reject the offer signals that Yahoo’s board is digging in its heels for what could be a long takeover battle. The company is unlikely to consider any offer below $40 per share, the person said.
David Pogue on the shoddy design quality of many consumer electronic products:
But you don’t have to have an M.B.A. to understand that refusing to compromise on design, for any reason, can lead to fantastic commercial success. Look at Apple, Google, Sonos, R.I.M. (makers of the BlackBerry), or (in its glory days) Palm. So what goes through the minds of executives who don’t sweat the small stuff? Don’t they realize that critics and bloggers will find and publicize the limitations? Don’t they realize that customers nowadays can compare notes, can warn each other away?
I think a lot of these MBA-type executives have no idea what good design really is.
One of the best sessions of the conference.
Veerle Pieters is holding a “What Is Graphic Design?” poster competition. Great prizes, and some great entries already in the pool.
Cringely on the Microsoft-Yahoo saga. I like his comparison of Microsoft to General Electric.
My thanks to Yellow Mug for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. FileChute is an $18 utility that makes it easier to exchange large files. Here’s how it works: after you configure it with your .Mac credentials, you drop files onto FileChute and it uploads them to your .Mac iDisk and gives you URL to send to the recipient to download the file. FileChute can automatically wrap the files in a zip archive, and also works via FTP and WebDAV.
Biz Stone from Twitter:
We know about and are currently investigating an issue some people are having regarding updates not getting delivered consistently.
Aaron Cannon, after attempting and failing to use Adobe’s supposedly accessible Flex web apps using the Jaws screen reader:
I find this situation to be quite disappointing, as Adobe has done a lot for accessibility in the past. However, as it stands now, the claim that Adobe Flex is accessible seems to be nothing more than marketing hype.
Terrific open source QuickTime component that enables playback for a slew of video formats, including AVI and DivX. I just chipped in a donation.
Bruce Schneier in Wired:
Your iPhone comes with a complicated list of rules about what you can and can’t do with it. You can’t install unapproved third-party applications on it. You can’t unlock it and use it with the cellphone carrier of your choice.
That doesn’t sound very complicated to me.
AnandTech runs battery life tests against the MacBook Air:
Apple’s 5 hour claim is laughable but not as much as I expected. If I wanted to I suspect I could hit 5 hours by making the web browsing test less stressful, but my focus was on real world usage scenarios, not proving Apple correct. Regardless, 4 hours and 16 minutes doing what I consider to be the intended usage model of the Air is respectable.
The 4:16 result came from a test with web pages being frequently loaded while iTunes plays music — a pretty reasonable test. I’m curious how this jibes with Jacqui Cheng’s inability to coax more than 2.5 hours out of it.
Alas, after accumulating the 5,000th response, the survey I set up yesterday with Google’s new spreadsheet forms feature crapped out and began generating errors when you attempt to submit the form. (Looks like 5,000 rows is the limit?) My thanks to everyone who participated, and my apologies to everyone who attempted to submit their response after the 5,000-row limit was reached. I’ll publish the results in some form tomorrow.
Jack Schofield raises a stink in The Guardian because the chart Steve Jobs used in his Macworld keynote to depict current U.S. smartphone market share was in pseudo-3D perspective, which made Apple’s 19.5 percent slice look bigger than the 21.2 percent slice for “Other”:
Apple boss Steve Jobs is the king of snakeoil salesmen, and his Macworld Expo keynote included a great example of manipulation.
It’s a shame Jobs seems to be a fan of pseudo-3D anti-Tufteian chartjunk, but this is pretty weak sauce. What’s next? A complaint that the MacBook Air doesn’t look quite as cool in real life as it does in Apple’s promotional photographs?
Schofield also complains:
Another great piece of deception is deciding to illustrate market share by brand. Anybody who wanted an honest appraisal of the market would look at it by operating system, because there are several operating sytems used by many different smartphone suppliers.
Exactly as with its computer business, Apple, unlike Microsoft, is not in the business of licensing an operating system. Apple is in the business of selling phones.
I can’t get enough gloating in regarding the Patriots’ epic Super Bowl collapse. Here’s more from Gawker on The Boston Globe’s ill-advised “19-0: New England’s Unbeatable Patriots” book:
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought...
- Give ’em Hell, Thomas: The Memoirs of President Dewey
- Mission Accomplished: Iraq’s WMD Arsenal, and How We Found It
From The Onion: “The utter lack of humility they displayed alongside an equal lack of any joy in the game, that toad of a coach, and that cologne-ad quarterback… If they have to act that badly while playing that well, you really want to see them fail in the biggest way possible. Thank God almighty, that’s what we got.”
As a test of the aforelinked Google Spreadsheet form feature, I put together a brief four-question survey regarding the Daring Fireball RSS feed. I’ll keep it up for a day or two, and will publish the results. Everyone is free to participate.
Update: Very cool. Using Firefox, if I keep the spreadsheet document open, I can watch the results come in live.
Update 2: Sadly, at some point overnight, the form started generating errors upon submission. No idea what went wrong, but it doesn’t seem to work any more.
Google Docs Blog:
Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone with an email address. They won’t need to sign in, and they can respond directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. Creating the form is easy: start with a spreadsheet to get the form, or start by creating the form and you’ll get the spreadsheet automatically. Responses are automatically added to your spreadsheet.
I just gave it a shot, and it’s amazingly simple. I’m not sure it could be any easier than this to create surveys or signups. This sort of collaborative feature simply isn’t possible with desktop spreadsheets like Excel and Numbers. (Via Ian Betteridge.)
Another important security update for QuickTime (both Mac and Windows).
New $18 utility by Daniel Sandler reverses the effects of image persistence on LCD displays. Interesting.
Too bad the two machines had different CPUs — it sort of defeats the purpose of trying to determine the value of the solid state drive if the machine also has a faster CPU.
Twitter traffic graphed against highlights from the game.
New open-source PHP/MySQL “lightweight” weblog engine by Alex Suraci. Love the design of the project site. Cameron Hunt has switched to Chryp from Tumblr for his splendid cameron.io.
James Duncan Davidson on online mass storage backup options.
Web-based Flash word processor from Adobe (which acquired the original developers, Virtual Ubiquity). Best web app word processor I’ve ever seen. It even does things like let you use Mac-standard shortcuts such as Command-F (Find), Command-S (Save), etc.
Adobe Edge has a story by Virtual Ubiquity CEO Rick Treitman with details on Buzzword’s development and history.
Freeware utility that lets you create your own “site specific browser”:
Using Fluid, you can create SSBs to run each of your favorite webapps as a separate desktop application. Fluid gives any webapp a home on your Mac OS X desktop complete with Dock icon, standard menu bar, and logical separation from your other web browsing activity.
(Via David Heinemeier Hansson at 37signals; they’ve got icons you can use for Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire, and Highrise.)
B&H has a used Canon 1200 mm f/5.6L USM lens for sale for $99,000:
The Canon 1200/5.6L USM has been built on a special-order basis since 1993, and the ‘official word’ is there are “more than twelve, less than twenty” of them in existence.
Gus Mueller on the fact that Leopard’s Help app no longer has a menu bar of its own, which means you can’t choose Edit → Copy to copy text from a help book. Ends up you can still use Command-C, though.
Prices stay the same on existing models:
The revolutionary iPhone now comes in a new 16 GB model for $499, joining the 8 GB model for $399. iPod touch now comes in a 32 GB model for $499, joining the 16 GB model for $399 and the 8 GB model for $299.
Now fully compatible with Leopard; makes a great companion to Time Machine. One of the best Mac utilities ever made.
I missed this last week: a detailed piece by Jason Snell specifically on the MacBook Air’s over-the-network Migration Assistant. He used Ethernet, though, not Wi-Fi, which is what Jacqui Cheng reported doesn’t actually work.
What a great computer. The industrial design holds up remarkably well for a 20-year-old machine.
The team from CulturedCode reveals the thinking behind the UI design of Things’s new recurring task dialog. I love looking at the assortment of rejected designs they went through on the way to their solution.
So I’m going to try an experiment this year: publish something original on Waxy.org, every weekday. Not my opinions about news (opinions are cheap) and not just glorified linkblogging, but something new: original research, investigative journalism, information visualization, digitizing dead media, live reporting, or interviews. I’ll also be releasing new applications, interactive web toys, and social software throughout the year, because as much as I love journalism, I love coding just as much.
It’s hard for me to express how much I’m enjoying Waxy.org again now that Andy’s writing it full-time.
So the good news from Jacqui Cheng’s MacBook Air review: even without FireWire, you can still use Apple’s Migration Assistant to move data from your old Mac. How? Via the network, using Wi-Fi or a USB Ethernet adaptor. The bad news: Migration Assistant via Wi-Fi doesn’t actually work.
Well, Flickr users certainly seem to have some strong opinions about Microsoft’s Yahoo takeover bid.
Noteworthy for those of you in “Super Tuesday” primary states:
The Polling Place Photo Project is a nationwide experiment in citizen journalism that encourages voters to capture, post and share photographs of this year’s primaries, caucuses and general election.
Originally a joint effort of AIGA and Design Observer, now with a home at The New York Times.
The production of Lego bricks is so accurate that only 18 out of 1 million Lego elements produced is considered defective. It’s an astonishing number, considering that 15 billion Lego components are made every year.
Ryan Block recalls that during the iPhone’s Macworld introduction a year ago, the demo showed a two-pane mode for MobileMail, and wishes Apple would bring it back.
MobileMail is a good enough 1.0, but clearly needs a lot of work, especially for users who deal with a significant amount of email. Two-pane mode, though, isn’t it. My guess is that Apple ditched this mode because they tried it and concluded it wasn’t a good idea within the overall UI of Mobile OS X. It just doesn’t fit from a scrolling perspective alone.
Presentation advice from Rands:
There is one unforgivable mistake when giving a presentation. You’ve heard it before: “Don’t read from your slides.” As you’ll see, my approach for presentation development is designed around avoiding this cardinal mistake, and it starts with picking the right tool.
Microsoft has historically been renowned for its huge cash holdings, and its ability to avoid going into debt, but the company will probably need to borrow for the first time to help cover the cash portion of its giant Yahoo bid. [...] The move underscores the magnitude of the Yahoo bid and the risk the company is apparently willing to take in its effort to make the deal happen. Microsoft is still generating cash at a considerable rate, reporting more than $5.8 billion in net cash from operations in its last quarter alone
Paperback from The Boston Globe: 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England’s Unbeatable Patriots. What makes this so beautiful, so heart-warming, is their decision to use the word “unbeatable” rather than “undefeated”. (Via Ryan Naraine.)
Update: Amazon pulled the book. Anyone have a screenshot or web archive? Update 2: Here’s one.
For anyone who still has data stored in HyperCard stacks, Danny Goodman has released as freeware his HyperPort universal export utility for HyperCard. HyperCard requires Classic, and Classic no longer works with either Leopard or Intel-based Macs.
And between them, the two companies operate the two most heavily trafficked portals on the Internet. Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ email, IM, and web-based services?
So, either Google really sees this as a troubling development, or, they think it’d be a disaster for Microsoft, and are taking a “Oh no, please don’t buy Yahoo!” stance just to encourage Microsoft to go through with it.
Eli Manning and the entire Giants offense played like heroes in the fourth quarter. That shake-off-the-sack-and-throw-for-32-yards play was one of the best in Super Bowl history. True and worthy champions, and the Lombardi trophy stays where it belongs, in the NFC East.
To the Patriots and their fans: suck it. Most overrated team in NFL history.
John Siracusa on the Microsoft/Yahoo deal:
So which is worse? Is it more depressing to think that Microsoft, seemingly alone among industry observers, truly believes that there’s some legitimate “synergy” (ugh) here, or that it is consciously leveraging its bank account to crush a competitor? In one case, Microsoft looks hopelessly out of touch, or perhaps just so desperate that denial has set in. The other evokes the “evil” Microsoft from the bad-old days of the 1990s.
Sen. Arlen Specter — lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan — considers Senate hearings to investigate the NFL’s “you’ll just have to take our word regarding the Patriots’ illegal videotapes because we destroyed the evidence” decision.
I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation for this:
Matt Walsh, a former employee of the team’s video department and now a golf professional in Hawaii, said last week that he had never been contacted by the Patriots or the N.F.L. about his knowledge of the Patriots’ videotaping, although he has indicated he knows more than has been made public.
“If I ever got brought in for a deposition or something, then I would just face the whole gauntlet of questions,” Walsh said last week. “There would be things I’d be forced to answer that some people haven’t taken responsibility for.”
Another thoughtful review from Shawn Blanc.
My best argument for using MarsEdit (or any desktop weblog editor) instead of a web-based interface is that it’s like using a desktop email client instead of webmail.
My thanks to FontShop for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed.
If you love fonts, you should love FontShop. (If you don’t love fonts, what is wrong with you?) FontShop sells more than just terrific type (like, say, thee brand-new FF Meta Serif), though — they also sell resources like FontBook, “the largest type reference in the world”. Their special deal for DF readers: call or email them and tell them I sent you, and you get 10 percent off any order.
Scroll down to read the full story from owner Mike Beauchamp in the comments. (Thanks to Jesper.)
Nice update to Freeverse’s nifty $80 illustration and design app. (Via Michael Rose.)
Typical new consumer PCs still stuck on VGA and PS/2? Jiminy.
In short, the key is for everyone to record their own audio locally, and then join the separate tracks together in post-production. Dan Benjamin and I do this for The Talk Show and the end result is a podcast that sounds like we were together in the same room while recording. Dan and I use Sound Studio to record (Haughey uses Call Recorder for Skype), but the point is the same: just use the call (Skype, iChat audio, phone) to hear each other, not for recording.
Presentations from Wolf Rentzsch’s excellent indie Mac developer conference. Here’s my “C4 in a Nut” summary from this year. Doesn’t look like the footage from Drunkenbatman’s controversial panel discussion is scheduled to appear.
But as time passes, as sites fade away, as Moltz’s blood alcohol level plummets to around 0.36, CARS shall not fade from the Mac consciousness for a single two-word reason: Artie MacStrawman.
For a company that is busy building its own cellphone operating system, Google shared a lot of love for the iPhone on its earnings-related conference call today. The most heartwarming story came from Sergey Brin, the company’s co-president, who said that he uses an iPhone himself.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Tim Cook and Steve Jobs to sing the praises of Android.
I keep imagining a 2001 Help Wanted Ad that goes something like this: “Most popular and promising internet company looking for a new CEO to come and re-direct the company into a giant shithole. Compensation includes a permanent suite at the Fairmont and $500 million.”
That’s basically the role Terry Semel stepped into at Yahoo.
Real-time Twitter search; very well done. Weird that Twitter itself doesn’t offer this. (Via Andy Baio.)
Kara Swisher on how Microsoft plays ball:
Sources at Yahoo tell me that Microsoft made its most recent overtures right after Yahoo announced its earnings Tuesday and then told Yahoo execs they had two days to respond or Microsoft would go public with the offer.
When Yahoo balked at the heavy-handed tactic, guess what? Microsoft went public.
BBC business editor Tim Weber:
If Yahoo agrees to the deal with Microsoft, it will be a shotgun marriage, but it will be Google holding the shotgun.
If Yahoo’s management says “yes, I do”, it will be an admission that its attempts to turn around the company have failed. [...] For Microsoft, however, this is the deal that could break it. Making the offer is an admission that Microsoft’s management has been scared by the success of Google.
Good analysis from Tristan Louis on the repercussions for the rest of the industry if Microsoft succeeds in acquiring Yahoo. (Also worth noting: Louis is looking for a new job.)
Rick LePage, from this week’s PMA conference:
What’s most interesting to me is the shift in attitudes and usage. People aren’t actually excited about an Aperture update; it’s more of a “will it be significantly better” type of vibe. And photographers aren’t saying that the Adobe competitor, Photoshop Lightroom, is a better product. No, what I’m hearing is that neither Aperture nor Lightroom has taken hold with this crowd. At least three photographers I spoke with said that they bought both products, and that they aren’t really using either one.