Linked List: September 2009

Dan Moren on the Tweetie 2.0 Pricing Fuss 

The two key facts to keep in mind:

  1. The App Store does not support upgrade pricing.
  2. Many people are really dumb and/or really cheap.
New Fonts: A Graphic Designer’s Perspective 

“Most graphic designers choose the fonts that best fit their projects. Brian Hennings does the opposite: he chooses the projects that best fit the fonts.” Great piece by in-house H&FJ graphic designer Brian Hennings on working with their newest family, Tungsten (which, by the way, I love — strikes me as the first great alternative to Compacta).

The Billion Dollar Gram 

Splendid infographic by David McCandless at Information Is Beautiful comparing the relative sizes of various multi-billion-dollar budgets/entities.

Instant Magazine: ‘Strange Light’ 

Belinda Luscombe writes for Time on “Strange Light”, a magazine of compelling photos from last week’s dust storms in Sydney Australia, assembled by Derek Powazek in just 48 hours.

Jeremy Bernstein’s Interview With Stanley Kubrick 

75 minutes of audio gold. (Via Jim Coudal, of course.)

Textorize: Sub-Pixel Font Rendering for the Web 

Mac-only Ruby script by Thomas Fuchs that leverages Mac OS X’s sub-pixel anti-aliasing to create bitmap headline graphics for the web from the command line. Here’s a case where Photoshop — which still can’t produce sub-pixel anti-aliased text — has been beaten by 114 lines of open source Ruby code.

There’s nothing wrong at all with the new one, but there’s nothing magic about it either. The Rand one was magic. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Bento 3 

Funny that this would ship this week. It occurs to me that Bento is a great example of the sort of thing I wish Adobe would do. FileMaker — the product, not the company — is old and big and cross-platform and there are tons of professionals who depend upon it. Bento isn’t a replacement for FileMaker; it’s a do-over alternative. FileMaker’s forte is in approachable visual database software. Bento is their answer to the question, “What would we do if we were starting over from scratch for the Mac today?”

Adobe shouldn’t scrap its existing software any more than FileMaker Inc. should scrap FileMaker. But where’s Adobe’s “Bento” for bitmap and vector image editing for the Mac? The Bentos in this space are coming from indie developers with apps like Acorn, Pixelmator, Lineform, and Opacity.

Fascinating trends from another non-Mac site that shows tremendous recent growth in Mac users. Also worth looking at the browser trends, where Safari and Chrome are gaining fast — another year like this one and Kottke will have more WebKit users than Gecko ones.

In a footnote, Kottke mentions search engine traffic:

Google is ruling the search space more than ever. 93.2% of the incoming search traffic to comes from Google. That’s up from 91.2% a year ago and 83.7% two years ago (!!).

For DF it’s far more pronounced. For the month of September to date, Google accounts for 98.1 percent of my search traffic (and 16.8 percent of my total page views). No other search engine breaks the 1 percent mark.

Ben Galbraith on Palm and Jamie Zawinski 

Ben Galbraith, newly-named director of developer relations at Palm, acknowledges Jamie Zawinski’s problems attempting to publish free WebOS apps.

John Lloyd Inventories the Invisible 

Smart, funny talk from TED.

Dropbox iPhone App Now Available 

Requires OS 3.1, alas, so it won’t install if, say, you’re hanging on to OS 3.0.1 so as to keep using samizdat AT&T tethering.

App Store Rejection of the Week: iSinglePayer 

From the app’s developer:

iSinglePayer, an iPhone application that advocates for single- payer health care reform was rejected from the App Store by Apple because it is “politically charged.” The application displays charts and bullet points about single-payer health care systems, and it allows users to call members of congress. iSinglePayer even calculates your local congressperson using GPS, and displays the amount of money donated to each congressperson from the health sector.

It’s the blatant inconsistency that grates — there are far more “politically charged” apps already in the App Store.

Gizmodo Has Purported Photos of Upcoming Microsoft ‘Pink’ Phones 

Two phones, both sliders with hardware keyboards. One looks a bit like the Pre, the other like every other horizontal slider on the market. The software is from the team Microsoft assembled when they acquired Danger. Who knows, maybe the software is great. (I hope it is.) But how many different mobile OS platforms does Microsoft need? Their mobile strategy is a convoluted mess already with Windows Mobile and Zune, and they’re going to add another?

Cleversimon Summarizes Charlie Brooker 

Cleversimon on this curious piece by Charlie Brooker:

Charlie Brooker’s thesis is “I hate Windows, but I hate strawmen Mac evangelists more, so I’m going to marinate in my misery just to stick it to these imaginary fanboys. I’m unhappy and unproductive, and I’m going to stay unhappy and unproductive — that’ll show ’em.”

(Via the Macalope.)

Update: Clearly, yes, Brooker is not entirely serious, and I’m aware that his schtick is that of the angry contrarian who hates everything. But that doesn’t negate the truth of Cleversimon’s summary.

Speaking of Adobe’s Problems 

There have been some classics at Adobe UI Gripes lately. Think about the fact that someone wrote and approved this dialog box.

So You Think You Can Tell Arial From Helvetica? Quiz 

An important quiz from David Friedman at Ironic Sans. I got Toyota wrong, so, shamefully, only scored a 19/20.

Update: Consolation for my fellow got-them-all-except-Toyota-ers: It’s debatable whether Toyota’s logo counts as Helvetica. Look at those crazy round O’s.

BusyCal 1.0 

BusyMac’s alternative to iCal has shipped. Built-in calendar sharing (BusySync compatible), Google Calendar syncing, superior handling of to-do items, way better UI for creating new events — BusyCal is simply better than iCal in every imaginable way. $40 per computer, with a 20 percent discount for multiple copies and, best of all, a $10 upgrade price for registered users of BusySync.

Update: Here’s BusyMac’s list of top five reasons to use BusyCal instead of iCal.


Jeff LaMarche has a sharp response to this goofy rant by Patrick Jordan complaining that the upcoming Tweetie 2, which costs just $3, is not a free upgrade for existing users.

Two thoughts:

  • If you don’t think it’s worth $3, don’t buy it.
  • Keep in mind we’re talking about $3 for an app that only runs on handheld devices that cost at least $200, most of which come with a $70/month service.
Zipcar’s iPhone App Launches 

This is one of those things that, from the perspective of my childhood, feels like The Future. A great idea well-done, from the clever gang at Small Society.

Scott Stevenson Is Writing a Cocoa Book for O’Reilly 

I’m looking forward to this one. Sounds like he’s given a lot of thought to one of the toughest problems facing anyone writing a Cocoa book: how much C do you assume the reader knows?

I decided to teach a core set of C concepts that apply directly to Mac and iPhone programming, leaving out the archaic C conventions that Cocoa has better answers for. So this book has only two chapters on C. They focus on just the parts that you need to be a productive Cocoa programmer.

There’s already a web site dedicated to the book, and it’s available as an O’Reilly “Rough Cut”.

Merlin Mann on Adobe 

Merlin Mann:

Each release of the Adobe apps I use (and used to so depend on) feels less stable, more bloated, and — easy as this was to overlook for a REALLY long time — increasingly less Mac-like. Or at least less OS X-like. They feel like sketches of OS X applications, drawn from memory.

I’ve written before about how “non-Mac-like” is often a non-specific insult, that it really just means “I don’t like that”. But in a way, that’s exactly what’s wrong with the modern Adobe CS suite. It does all sorts of things Mac users don’t like.

Jamie Zawinski: ‘My Ongoing Kafka-Esque Nightmare of Dealing With Palm and Their App Catalog Submission Process’ 

Still might be better than trying to accomplish the same thing in Apple’s App Store.

Apple and the Environment 

Comprehensive reporting of the total environmental impact of Apple’s operations and products.

BusinessWeek has more:

Apple’s real goal is to change the terms of the debate. Company executives say that most existing green rankings are flawed in several respects. They count the promises companies make about green plans rather than actual achievements. And most focus on the environmental impact of a company’s operations, but exclude that of its products.

WebOS 1.2 Does Not Restore iTunes Syncing 

I hope for Palm’s sake that they’ve given up on this.

Loren Brichter on Tweetie 2.0 for iPhone 

Loren Brichter on the imminent Tweetie 2.0 for iPhone:

It contains a metric ton of new stuff. There is full persistence — not just caching tweets for offline reading, but remembering where you are in the app. You could be viewing a conversation of a tweet of a recent mention of one of your followers, quit the app (or get a phone call), and when you come back, the entire UI stack is restored.

I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and there’s a ton of new stuff (all of it copiously detailed by Brichter), but the persistence is the one that means the most to me. The effect is that you can leave Tweetie at any point, use another app, then go back to Tweetie, and it’s almost as though you never left. Feels like switching, rather than quitting/relaunching.

Maximum PC on Thermaltake’s Level 10 PC Chassis 

This is the first interesting PC design in recent memory that isn’t even vaguely an Apple rip. And it’s a true design — a rethinking of how things work, not just a layer of decoration.

Hacking Snow Leopard’s Weather Widget to Show the Last Time It Was Updated 

Back in 2005, I published a piece explaining in detail how to hack the then-current version of Apple’s Dashboard Weather widget to show a time stamp indicating when the data had last been updated. Unsurprisingly, those instructions broke in a subsequent revision to the Weather widget. I never bothered to do it again because, starting with Leopard, the Weather widget’s refresh latency reached a point where it no longer seemed necessary.

However, I know some people — especially those on high-latency network connections — still enjoy this hack. For them, TJ Luoma has kindly posted updated instructions for hacking the Weather widget on Snow Leopard. There’s even a shell script that applies all the necessary patches in one fell swoop.

Peter Cohen: ‘Home Sharing Is iPod Touch’s Killer App for Families’ 

It’s been the case all along that iPhone apps have the same sharing policy as DRM-protected music and video from the iTunes Store: you can share them between up to five computers registered with the same iTunes account credentials. What’s new now is that iTunes 9 makes it easy and obvious how to do so, right within iTunes itself.

Update: Server was fireballed for a bit, but is back up now.

William Safire’s Favorite New Yorker Cartoon 

Great choice.

Yankees Win A.L. East Title 

In the sweetest way: completing a three-game sweep of the wildcard-bound Red Sox.

William Safire Dies at 79 

From The Times’s obituary:

Then, from 1973 to 2005, Mr. Safire wrote his twice weekly “Essay” for the Op-Ed Page of The Times, a forceful conservative voice in the liberal chorus. Unlike most Washington columnists who offer judgments with Olympian detachment, Mr. Safire was a pugnacious contrarian who did much of his own reporting, called people liars in print and laced his opinions with outrageous wordplay.

Without question, one of my favorite writers and biggest inspirations. Safire was the columnist’s columnist, a master of the form.

Roman Polanski Arrested in Switzerland 


After more than 30 years as a fugitive from U.S. justice, Roman Polanski, the director of legendary films including “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” was arrested in Switzerland on an international warrant as he arrived in Zurich for a film festival featuring a retrospective of his work, the Swiss authorities said Sunday.

Palm Pre for $79.99 at Walmart 

That’s the price with a two-year contract, and after a $100 mail-in rebate. But, still, that’s cheap.

Briefs: A Cocoa Touch Framework for Live Wireframes 

Impressive new UI design toolkit for the iPhone, by Rob Rhyne. Debuted last night here at C4[3]. It strikes me as hitting the sweet spot between simplicity and usefulness.

Microsoft’s Response to Google Chrome Frame 

Microsoft spokesperson:

“Given the security issues with plugins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plugin has doubled the attach area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take.”

But do install Silverlight, right?

Other World Computing 

My thanks to Other World Computing for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. OWC has been selling Apple related upgrades and accessories — for the Mac, iPod, and iPhone — since 1988. Over the years, I’ve bought more stuff from them than I can count. The single best upgrade you can buy for any Mac is more memory, and OWC has memory upgrades for all of them. They’ve also got just about any sort of storage device you could want.

Great prices, great customer support, great selection of products, and a great reputation.

Noted for Future Claim Chowder: Scott Moritz Reports That Verizon Is Passing on the Palm Pre 

No surprise given Moritz’s horrendous track record, but analysts are skeptical about this report.

Visitor OS Share at Talking Points Memo 

Just under 30 percent of the visitors to TPM are using a Mac, up from about 20 percent just 30 months ago.

Indie Software Security: A 12 Step Program 

I wouldn’t hesitate to call this the best presentation from last year’s C4 conference. Really good.

Delivery Status 5.0.1 

Nice update from Junecloud to one of my very favorite Dashboard widgets, Delivery Status, which tracks package deliveries from all the major companies. It’s free, but donations are accepted — don’t be cheap, let’s reward Junecloud for their generosity.

Jackass of the Week: U.S. District Court Judge James Ware 

This is absurd:

  1. Rocky Mountain Bank emailed confidential financial information to the wrong Gmail address.

  2. The bank attempts to force Google to release the name of the owner of the email address. Google refuses without court order.

  3. Federal judge James Ware orders Google to disable the email account — which belongs to someone who did nothing wrong and was sent the email message by mistake.

(Via TechDirt.)

NetNewsWire 2.0 for iPhone 

I never had a good experience with syncing between my Mac and iPhone with the previous versions of NetNewsWire. The new versions, though, which now sync through Google Reader, are another story.

I’ve been beta testing the new 2.0 iPhone version of NetNewsWire, and the experience has been wonderful. Huge, huge “it just works” rating — which, for anything regarding the word syncing, is high praise. What IMAP clients are for email, NetNewsWire now is for feeds. I love this app.

Metadata Madness 

If you have any interest at all in the debate and discussion regarding Snow Leopard’s abandonment of creator code metadata, this piece by John Siracusa is a must-read. It’s not about what should be done so much as it is about establishing the fundamental facts.

Jim Ray on Google Chrome Frame 

Jim Ray on Chrome Frame, a new IE plugin from Google which swaps out IE’s entire HTML/CSS/JavaScript engine and replaces it with Chrome’s version of WebKit:

As I’m in love, and a huge nerd, the first thing I did was start stalking my new affection.


The irony here, as I see it, is that an old, insecure feature Microsoft built to try to beat Netscape is now being used by Microsoft’s biggest current rival to patch IE. The upside for developers is that Microsoft is going to have a hard time killing Chrome Frame because it actually does the right thing — it’s not hacking IE via undocumented APIs or unscrupulous haxie-like code injection. They used Microsoft’s own well-documented and fully supported platform to do this. Bravo indeed, Google.

Alexander Limi: Firefox Mac Installation Experience, Revisited 

Sounds like a great solution to me.

Cabel Sasser’s Windows 7 Party 
  1. Microsoft releases painfully-awkward, cringe-inducing video with tips for how you can host your own Windows 7 “launch party”.
  2. Cabel Sasser makes it dirty.
  3. I can’t stop watching.
The Ultimate Productivity Blog 

I have to say, this is a pretty well-thought-out system. (Via Sippey.)

OS Breakdown of Technologizer Readers  

Interesting numbers from a general-purpose technology site: 66 percent on Windows, 24 on Mac.

Snow Leopard Adoption by Macworld Readers 

Pretty similar to DF’s.

I Always Knew That Some Day I’d Make an Impression on Justine Bateman 

My wife calls down a few hours ago, and says, “Well, Justine Bateman says you’re a shithead.”

Yankees First to Clinch Playoff Berth 

Looking good for 27.

Ten Days to Go on the VRF ‘Masters’ Project at Kickstarter 

Speaking of photography, my friends at the Vanderbilt Republic Foundation are making remarkable progress in their Kickstarter fundraising for their “Masters” project. They’re about three-quarters of the way to their goal, with 10 days remaining. They’ve already raised more money than any other Kickstarter project to date, but they’re not there yet, and Kickstarter’s gimmick is that it’s all-or-nothing.

This is a grand, ambitious, emotional project. If you’ve been waiting to help out, now’s the time. The best part: the VRF has received a $20,000 “challenge grant”:

If the VRF hits (or breaks) the $50,000 mark within the next 15 days, they’ll pledge 20K towards our cause. This also means that between right now and October 3rd, every dollar pledged to the VRF is doubled.

Pledge today and your donation will be doubled. Any amount will help; any amount will be doubled.

Chase Jarvis: The Best Camera 

Remember Chase Jarvis? I linked up his excellent iPhone photography back in April. His mantra was, and remains, that the best camera is the one that’s with you.

He’s taken it to the next step and released his own $3 iPhone app, The Best Camera, which lets you apply various useful filters to the photos you take on your iPhone.The app also lets you upload to various web sites (but, alas, not Flickr). And, if that’s not enough, Jarvis has released a book of his iPhone photography.

iTunes 9.0.1 

Restores the old behavior to the title bar zoom button — clicking it now switches to the mini player mode, rather than maximizing the window. Bunch of bug fixes, too.

USB Standards Group Rules Against Palm 

From Palm’s weeks-ago letter to the USB-IF asking for a ruling against Apple in the iTunes/WebOS cat-and-mouse game:

Palm will shortly issue an update of its WebOS operating system that uses Apple’s Vendor ID number for the sole purpose of restoring the Palm media sync functionality.

From the USB-IF’s response, after the part where they dismissed Palm’s argument that Apple was in the wrong:

I attach for your information the USB-IF’s adopted and published policy regarding Vendor Identification Numbers (VIDs). Under the Policy, Palm may only use the single Vendor ID issued to Palm for Palm’s usage. Usage of any other company’s Vendor ID is specifically precluded. Palm’s expressed intent to use Apple’s VID appears to violate the attached policy.

Please clarify Palm’s intent and respond to this potential violation within seven days.

Arial Versus Helvetica 

How to spot the difference. In short, if the terminals aren’t perpendicular, it’s Arial.

Opacity 1.4 

New version of Like Thought’s vector drawing app includes a mind-blowing new feature: you can export as source code — Cocoa, Cocoa Touch, or JavaScript/Canvas.

Keith Lang’s ‘Stand Up Dock’ Proposal 

Nice idea.

Update: His blog (running WordPress, naturally) is fireballed, so I’ve switched the link to point directly to the video at Vimeo.

Jim Dalrymple: Microsoft Poaching Apple Store Managers and Sales Staff 

Jim Dalrymple reports:

People that have spoken to The Loop on condition of anonymity confirm that Microsoft has contacted a number of Apple’s retail store managers to work in their stores. In addition to “significant raises,” the managers have also been offered moving expenses in some cases.

Makes sense, given how blatantly they’ve copied Apple’s stores so far. Where else would they go to hire Apple Store-like employees?

Adium Software Update Statistics 

They’ve got Snow Leopard at about 24 percent.

Omni Software Update Statistics 

The Omni Group’s software update statistics offer a broader view of Mac OS X usage. Right now, they’ve got:

  • 10.4 Tiger: 36.4%
  • 10.5 Leopard: 40.0%
  • 10.6 Snow Leopard: 23.5%

(Click “Major Version” in their sidebar to get all three charted at once.)

Lightroom vs. Aperture 

InfoTrends survey of over 1,000 professional photographers shows Lightroom pulling further ahead of Aperture in popularity — even just among Mac users.

Kurt Vonnegut Reads ‘Breakfast of Champions’ Three Years Before Publication 

Merlin Mann:

I can’t believe I’ve made it this long without ever hearing this audio, described as Vonnegut’s “first public reading of the classic Breakfast of Champions, three years before it was published, on May 4, 1970 at the 92nd Street Y.”

As Merlin says, it sounds just terrific.

Ross Carter on Snow Leopard’s Abandonment of Creator Codes 

Ross Carter nails exactly what’s wrong with Snow Leopard’s abandonment of creator codes:

“For documents that are recognized by multiple apps, the user has the power to bind a particular document to any app they wish, using the file inspector in Finder. So at least for this purpose the creator code is not needed.”

Two words come to mind: puh leez. In what universe do people create a file and immediately, whistling with merriment, go to Finder and change the application binding for that document?

Snow Leopard Snubs Document Creator Codes 

Speaking of TidBITs, Matt Neuburg had a great piece earlier this month on one of the few changes in Snow Leopard that I consider a turn for the worse: Snow Leopard now disregards creator codes when determining which app should open a particular file by default.

To be clear, the reason this change is problematic is not because the specific technology of type and creator codes has been abandoned, but rather that the functionality they provided is no longer available. If Apple wants to use UTIs or some other new metadata stash in place of 4-byte type and creator codes, that’s fine. The problem is they’ve abandoned them in Snow Leopard and replaced them with a system that doesn’t allow users to have, say, some text files open by default in BBEdit and others open in TextEdit, or some JPEGs to open by default in Preview and others in Acorn. The new system only “works” if you want all files of any particular type to open by default in the same app.

More Subtle Refinements in Snow Leopard 

More Snow Leopard details from TidBITs.

How 1Password Injects Code Into 64-Bit Safari on Snow Leopard 

Nice detective work by Kevin Ballard:

One of the big changes in Snow Leopard is the move to 64-bit applications system-wide. This includes Safari. Unfortunately, this change breaks all of the Safari plugins out there, including mine. There’s two reasons for this. The first is simply that these plugins are all 32-bit binaries, and a 64-bit app cannot load a 32-bit binary. The second, and significantly harder obstacle, is that the entire Input Manager mechanism has been eliminated in 64-bit apps.

The answer? They’re injecting code via a scripting addition — scripting additions being one of the few remaining plugin types that still load in 64-bit apps.

Larva Labs’s Concept Design for a New Android Home Screen 

Interesting. More info here. (But they’re cheating a little by using Helvetica rather than Droid Sans.)

CNet Video of Jobs Introducing the Motorola Rokr ‘iTunes Phone’ 

Hard to believe this was just four years ago. The demo starts around 2m:45s; the look of utter contempt comes about a minute later.

Update 25 February 2022: CNet’s video is now a 404, and required Flash Player anyway. Here’s a version of the event video on YouTube, with the Rokr introduction starting at 17m:24s.

Cult of Mac has a good story about the Rokr, including a different video of the introduction shot by someone in the audience.

Apple as Media Distributor 

Tristan Louis on where iTunes LP suggests Apple is heading:

The components all seem to be there and it seems to me that it won’t be long before Apple starts pushing the idea that we are all content producers (an old idea at Apple, which was at the source of their creating the iLife suite) and we can all make some money at producing that content.

Boggle for iPhone and iPod Touch 

My thanks to EA Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Boggle, their classic word search game for iPhone and iPod Touch. Shake to mix the dice, touch-and-drag to trace out the words you find, and beat the clock to spell as many as you can. And then curse your feeble mind regarding the ones you missed when the list of all possible words appears at the end.

Trust me, if you like word games, Boggle is addictive. Just $2.99 at the App Store.

Apps That Move Themselves to the Applications Folder 

Regarding yesterday’s piece on how Mac apps should be distributed to users, a bunch of readers emailed or tweeted to point out two exemplary apps: Delicious Library and Potion Factory’s The Hit List.

Delicious Library ships on a disk image, and if you try to launch the app directly from the image, the app detects what you’ve done and asks if you’d like it to install itself in your Applications folder. The Hit List ships in a zip archive, and does the same thing if it detects that it’s been launched from a folder other than Applications.

Potion Factory’s Andy Kim has a good write-up here regarding how he came to this clever design.

Update: JNSoftware’s Dialectic does something similar.

Martin Pilkington’s M3InstallController 

Open source from Martin Pilkington:

M3InstallController is a class that will warn users if they are running your application from a disk image and offer to install the application in their Applications folder.

See Hidden Files in Snow Leopard’s Open and Save Dialogs 

Great Snow Leopard detail from Rob Griffiths:

In any Open or Save dialog in Snow Leopard, simply press Shift-Command-Period to display hidden files and folders. This command is a toggle; hidden files will be displayed as you navigate various directories in the Open or Save dialog.

Google Un-Redacts Its FCC Filing Regarding Google Voice and the App Store 

I don’t really see why they asked for any of this to be redacted in the first place. Clearly, though, Google doesn’t see the difference between “not accepted” and “rejected” that Apple claims to see.

MG Siegler on the Importance of Enthusiasm 

MG Siegler, on the “Incredible, Amazing, Awesome Apple” supercut video that made the rounds this week:

While certainly there is some element of hearing something so many times that you start to believe it, that’s nothing new, any good salesman will do the same thing. But why I think the tactic works so well with Apple is because they actually believe what they’re saying. Just watch Steve Jobs in that video. It sure seems like he’s damn sure that what he’s talking about is amazing. He’s excited about it. So is Phil Schiller and the others on the Apple team. And that excitement translates on a level unseen.

Agreed. And on the flip side, it’s always obvious when Jobs is not enthused about what he’s talking about on stage. E.g. this piece I wrote three years ago:

Jobs’s extraordinary marketing savvy and famed reality distortion field leave some people with the impression that he’s a talented fabulist. That’s wrong, though — Jobs, in my opinion, is a terrible liar and a poor actor. When he’s able to convince people of things that aren’t true, or that are exaggerations of the truth, it’s because he believes what he’s saying. The reality distortion field isn’t something he projects willfully; it’s an extension of his own certainty. Remember his onstage demo last year of the Motorola Rokr iTunes- compatible phone? His contempt for the device was palpable; when he failed to successfully switch from song playback to accept a call, he seemed poised to just toss the thing off-stage and cry out that it was a piece of garbage.

Jason Fried on Mint’s Sale to Intuit 

With a title like “The Next Generation Bends Over”, you know it’s good.

Music Publishers Want Apple to Pay for iTunes Store’s 30-Second Previews 

This is about one step away from demanding money for when you have a song stuck in your head.

Philadelphia Avoids Massive Layoffs With State Senate Vote 

I think this means we get to keep our libraries.

Finer Things in Mac 

From their about page:

This is not the place to find news or even analysis. We like to celebrate the surprise features and UI gems that developers slave to add to the software and websites we use every day. We are obsessed with productivity and polish.

Chock full of Snow Leopard details. Instant bookmark.

Rare Centuple Play Ends Mets’ Season 

The Mets were officially eliminated from playoff contention this week by the world champion Phillies, but those of us who follow the sport closely knew their season was over a few weeks ago.

Craigslist Re-Imagined 

Khoi Vinh, Anh Dang, and Paul Lau redesign Craigslist for Wired. I understand why Craigslist sticks with the design they have — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a powerful mantra, and Craigslist, as-is, clearly isn’t broken. But this proposed redesign isn’t just nice in the abstract, it’s nice and yet still very Craigslist-y.

Incredible, Amazing, Awesome Apple 

Incredible, amazing, awesome supercut of the onstage superlatives in last week’s Apple event. (Via Jesper.)

Andy Ihnatko: ‘Zune HD Is a Nifty Media Player’ 

He likes it:

Inevitably, you have to set the Zune next to the iPod Touch — no, let’s set it on the table between the Touch and the iPod Nano — and ponder its place in the grand scheme of things. And that alone is a hell of a compliment, considering the Zune’s horrible pedigree. Previously, a Zune would at best be wedged underneath this table’s short leg to keep it from wobbling.

Zune HD Apps Launch With Commercials 

Nate Anderson on the Zune HD’s apps, which are free downloads but show ads:

The ads show up during app launch, which takes an astonishingly long time. Booting Chess took 30 seconds. [...] Launching the weather app takes about 8 seconds, the calculator about 9. Goo Splat, which has been showing a static ad this morning for the Soul, launches in about 17 seconds.

Update: To be clear, these ads aren’t just little banner ads or something like that. We’re talking full-screen videos, like TV commercials. Here’s a video from Ars showing what happens when you launch the chess app.

Monetizing the Hate 

Brilliant idea: Heather Armstrong is publishing her hate mail.

What’s New in Android 1.6 

Official video from Google showing what’s new in the latest release of Android.

Reports of Trackball Trouble With the BlackBerry Tour 

Sounds like the scrollball in the Mighty Mouse:

In a research note, Hallaren writes that RIMM is “having a big trackball problem,” especially with the Tour. He reports that RIMM “needs customers to clean the track ball frequently, and preferably with compressed air.” He adds that, “not surprisingly, most customers prefer not to.”

TownHall reports that return rates on the Tour at Sprint “have been climbing toward 50%.” He adds that Sprint perceives “RIM overall quality control is a huge problem.”

The Tour is the new flagship BlackBerry model.

Kottke on the iPhone as the Universal Pocket Device 

Crackerjack piece by Kottke on how the iPhone — and, to a lesser extent, other mobile platforms like BlackBerry, Android, and WebOS — isn’t just competing against phones, but against dozens of different types of pocketable gadgetry: cameras, music players, game players, e-book readers, etc.

In a footnote, he speculates that Apple might soon change the iPhone’s name:

You’ve got to wonder when Apple is going to change the name of the iPhone. The phone part of the device increasingly seems like an afterthought, not the main attraction. The main benefit of the device is that it does everything. How do you choose a name for the device that has everything? Hell if I know.

If Apple were worried about the applicability of the noun in iNoun formations, they’d have changed the name of iTunes, of which tunes are now just a part of it, years ago. If this platform is here for the long run, the general purpose name that best works for a general purpose device is already here: iPod. In fact, iPod, semantically, is a better name for the iPod Touch than it ever was for the original focused-on-music models. As I see it, the phone in iPhone isn’t about telephony, but about the necessary contract with a mobile carrier.

Michael Tsai on the Precedence of ‘or’ in AppleScript 

I’ve gone back and tested it on 10.5, and Tsai is correct that my original script, although it ran without error, wasn’t doing what I thought it was doing. And I concur with his suggestion that this is the most AppleScript-y way to do it:

if _browser is not in {"Safari", "WebKit"} then

This syntax also has the advantage of scaling better if you’re comparing against more than just two strings. I’ve edited my previous entries on this technique accordingly.


Is this a joke?


Great find by Jim Coudal: cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki on working with Terrence Malick. So good.

Matt Rosoff on the Zune HD Web Browser 

That keyboard looks terrible.

Caching Apple’s Signature Server 

If you ignore the “Luke Skywalker fights against the evil Apple Empire” aspects, there’s some fascinating technical information about the iPhone OS in this piece by Jay Freeman.

Adobe to Buy Omniture for $1.8 Billion 

Ina Fried reporting for CNet:

“Adobe customers are looking to us for solutions to deliver engaging experiences and more effectively monetize their content and applications online,” Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said in the press release announcing the deal.

We are?

Apple’s Video Demo of the iPhone 3GS’s Accessibility Features 

This is truly remarkable. Watch how the visually impaired, and even the fully blind, can use the 3GS.

The Top One Essay by Paul Graham I’ve Read Today 

Paul Graham:

The list of n things is in that respect the cheeseburger of essay forms. If you’re eating at a restaurant you suspect is bad, your best bet is to order the cheeseburger. Even a bad cook can make a decent cheeseburger. And there are pretty strict conventions about what a cheeseburger should look like. You can assume the cook isn’t going to try something weird and artistic. The list of n things similarly limits the damage that can be done by a bad writer. You know it’s going to be about whatever the title says, and the format prevents the writer from indulging in any flights of fancy.

When Shortening ‘Synchronize’, Best Leave Off the ‘h’ 

I standardized on “sync” a few years ago, on the basis that it was shorter, and, to my eyes looks better. But Maeve Maddox has a good point — it’s less confusing for non-native English speakers as well. (Via ThatWhichMatter.)

Adobe Technote: Optimize Performance in Photoshop CS4 on Mac OS X 

A lot more detailed but a lot less fun than the aforelinked Make Photoshop Faster. (Via Simon Iannelli.)

Apple Hires Intel’s Top Lawyer 

The AP:

Apple Inc. said Tuesday it hired Intel Corp.’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, a day after the chip maker announced his departure. Apple said Sewell will report to CEO Steve Jobs as the company’s general counsel and senior vice president for legal and government affairs. [...]

[Sewell] had been heading up the company’s effort to fend off antitrust claims, including the appeal of a $1.45 billion antitrust fine from the European Union.

Make Photoshop Faster 

Single-serving two-tip site from Dan Rubin.

Translation From PR-Speak to English of Zune Marketing Manager Brian Seitz’s Response to the Question of Whether the Zune Will ‘Open Up for Third-Party App Developers’ 

Zune marketing manager Brian Seitz:

It’s hard to say right now. If you look around the company at other places where things like this are important, Windows Mobile rises to the top. They have devices which are always connected, which make applications like maps really cool and important.

On a sometimes-connected device, what people are using them for are games. So what we didn’t want to do was build two parallel app store experiences that didn’t work together.

Right now our product roadmaps didn’t line up perfectly for us to snap to what they’re doing or vice versa. That being said, we know people want things like this on their devices so we’re going to build them ourselves, they’re going to be super high-quality, and they’re going to be free.

Down the road if there’s a way we can work with Windows Mobile or another group inside the company that’s building an app store and take advantage of that, that’s something we’ll look into.


No, because our mobile strategy is a convoluted mess.

Accessibility Improvements in iPhone OS 3.1 

A slew of improvements, not just to accessibility, but usability in general. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Snow Leopard Details: Use Image Capture to Set Which App Opens for Each Camera You Plug In 

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s such a handy tip it’s worth repeating. Delivered Malware Through Rogue Ad Server 

Ashlee Vance of the Times reports:

The creator of the malicious ads posed as Vonage, the Internet telephone company, and persuaded to run ads that initially appeared as real ads for Vonage. At some point, possibly late Friday, the campaign switched to displaying the virus warnings.

Because The Times thought the campaign came straight from Vonage, which has advertised on the site before, it allowed the advertiser to use an outside vendor that it had not vetted to actually deliver the ads, Ms. McNulty said. That allowed the switch to take place. “In the future, we will not allow any advertiser to use unfamiliar third-party vendors,” she said.


Intuit Acquires for $170 Million 

Intuit — the company so inept at shipping Mac software that they were apparently caught unaware that the Java bridge had been deprecated years ago and removed from Snow Leopard, rendering QuickBooks unable to be activated — has acquired the personal finance management web site

If you’re a user, you can delete your account at the bottom of the Profile → About You page. (Thanks to Blake Seely.) Good luck, you may need it.

Acorn 2.0 

Great update to Flying Meat’s $50 image editor. Adds 64-bit support, JSTalk scripting (so you can write Acorn plugins using either JavaScript or Python now), layer groups, and a way cool feature for screenshots:

It’s a new preference, and it’s turned off by default since it’ll make some pretty big images — but you can now take screenshots where every window gets its own layer, and the layers are organized by applications in layer groups.

Full release notes here. And even if you don’t buy the full version, you can use it for free in a very useful light mode after the 14-day demo period.

Book Titles, If They Were Written Today 

Scott Simpson:

Then: The Gospel of Matthew
Now:  40 Days and a Mule: How One Man Quit His Job and Became the Boss

(Kottke’s got a comment thread where you can post your own.)

First and 20 

Fun idea for a web site: “a collection of iPhone home screens”, including mine.

Shawn Blanc on Yojimbo 2.0 

A splendid review of one of my very favorite apps. I found myself nodding my head in complete agreement.

Apple Drops Price of 160 GB Apple TV to $229 

$100 price drop, and they eliminated the 40 GB model.

Philadelphia Set to Close Its Public Libraries 

Not a proud day here. Heartbreaking.

Speaking of Michael Jordan 

Here’s Jordan’s acceptance speech as he entered the Hall of Fame this past weekend. And here’s ESPN’s video list of the 23 top moments from Jordan’s career.

Sprint CEO Calls the iPhone the ‘Michael Jordan’ of Phones 

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, in an interview with Charlie Rose:

Rose: Is the Palm Pre making a dent into the iPhone market?

Hesse: Aaah... It’s doing well, but you can almost put the iPhone, to be fair, in a separate category. The Apple brand and that device have done so well, it’s almost not... it’s like comparing someone to Michael Jordan.

This is one of the worst answers he could have given. Even just plain “No” would have been better than comparing the iPhone to Jordan, which suggests that Hesse doesn’t believe they can compete. He could have simply said that the iPhone has a two-year head start, and Sprint is happy with how the Pre is doing three months in.

iFixit Takes Apart a New 32 GB iPod Touch 

From the second page:

It appears that Apple left in room for a camera in the top of the device. There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th generation iPod nano.

Also interesting: the wi-fi chipset supports 802.11n.

Notational Velocity 2.0 Public Beta 

Notational Velocity is a hidden gem of an app for the Mac, by Zachary Schneirov. It’s a lean, mean, and truly minimal note app, with an interface that emphasizes minimizing friction. Easy to search, easy to create new notes. It sounds odd when you hear just how minimal the UI is, but in actual use, it works well. (I mentioned Notation Velocity in my “Untitled Document Syndrome” piece earlier this year.)

Version 2 has been a long time in the works and adds quite a few new features. And, the app is now open source (with a liberal BSD-style license), with a project page on GitHub.

Sebastiaan de With’s Snow Leopard UI Roundup 

Another detailed look from Sebastiaan de With at the UI changes in a major Mac OS X update.

(One comment from yours truly: I very much like Snow Leopard’s new Exposé window tiling, where windows are aligned to a strict grid. You can make the case that the old 10.5 tiling algorithm looked better and made better use of screen space when tiling just a handful of windows (such as in de With’s example screenshots, which show just three windows), but the new Snow Leopard tiling looks and works way better with many windows. And it’s with many windows that I most use Exposé, particularly Safari.)

Some Notes on iTunes LP 

Jay Robinson pokes into the details of the iTunes LP format.

Christopher Breen Reviews the Fifth-Generation iPod Nano 

Comprehensive review.

The Sims 3 for iPhone and iPod Touch 

My thanks to EA Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote The Sims 3 for iPhone and iPod Touch. My wife and son are both nuts for this game. It’s a great port: lots of fun with a good touch interface. It’s now on sale for just $6.99, a 30 percent discount off the regular price.

Cheeky Oracle Ad 

The typesetting could use some work, but I love the attitude.

Lance Ulanoff on Motorola’s Introduction of the Cliq 

Lance Ulanoff:

Motorola Co-CEO Dr. Sanjay K. Jha commanded the stage well. He was reading, obviously, but it came off fairly naturally. So it’s hard to account for the disconnect that followed. Jha began the announcement part of his speech by talking about MotoBlur. To be precise, he talked about what MotoBlur could do, but never specifically said exactly what it was. He called it a “solution” but that could still easily be a phone. In fact, he showed an image of a phone no one had seen before on a big screen behind him and explained how MotoBlur manages all your contacts and even aggregates them all into a master contact database. He said MotoBlur can also handle your social interactions and give you a customizable, widget-based interface so you could have instant access to the things most important to you.

For a full 5 minutes, I thought the name of the new phone was the MotoBlur. Wrong.

Beware conceptual fuzziness.

‘The Golden Glow That Older Brothers Have, on Their Bikes and Skateboards, With Their Strength and Jokes and Cars’ 

John Moe did not read Infinite Jest this summer, but he did write a splendid, moving essay.

More on Apple’s Open Sourcing of Grand Central 

Drew McCormack:

The open sourcing of Grand Central comes as something of a surprise, because it is a core technology in Snow Leopard, and could be seen to give Apple a competitive edge in the new world of multi-core. So why did they do it?


Apple has released the source code to Snow Leopard’s new Grand Central Dispatch.

iFixit Takes Apart a New iPod Nano 

So much tech in so little space.

From the DF Archive: The $64,000 Question 

A brief refresher from April 2008 on how Mac OS X got to where it is with regard to support for 64-bit apps:

When Leopard was first announced at WWDC 2006 nine months prior, it included full 64-bit support for both Carbon and Cocoa.

64-bit Carbon wasn’t promised to be coming “sometime”, like with, say, resolution independence. It was promised for 10.5.0. And it existed — developer seeds of Leopard up through WWDC 2007 had in-progress 64-bit Carbon libraries, and Adobe engineers were developing against them. Several sources have confirmed to me that Adobe found out that Apple was dropping support for 64-bit Carbon at the same time everyone else outside Apple did: on the first day of WWDC 2007.

If Apple had shipped Leopard with the 64-bit Carbon support promised at WWDC 2006, Photoshop CS4 would run in 64-bit mode on the Mac.

Garrett Murray’s Side-by-Side Comparison of iTunes 8 Versus 9 User Interface 

Technically, a rollover comparison, not a side-by-side one. But you know what I mean. And it’s a way to spot some of the subtle changes, like the lighter shade of blue in the sidebar, and the new icons.

Mac OS X 10.6.1 Is Out 

Includes the latest version of Flash. Hard to believe we survived without it.

Motorola Unveils Cliq 

Their first Android phone, running MotoBlur, their customized version of Android. It’ll be on T-Mobile “later this year”, no pricing yet.

More Logical File System Organization With iTunes 9 

Nice catch by Zach Holman:

iTunes now lets you organize everything into an upper level “iTunes Media” folder structure, which then breaks out neatly into logical groupings: movies, apps, shows, and so on.

Rene Ritchie on What’s New in iPhone OS 3.1 

Not a ton of new features, but some nice improvements.

Mac Dev Center: What’s New in Mac OS X v10.6 

Developer-level documentation from Apple on what’s new in Snow Leopard.

Exploded Store 

I’m a sucker for these t-shirts.

New App Store Chart for ‘Top Grossing’ Applications 

Stuart Dredge:

Apple has introduced a new chart on its App Store, and developers are sure to be pleased. Alongside Top Paid and Top Free apps will be Top Grossing apps.

In other words, applications will be ranked on that chart by the amount of revenue they have generated, which should ensure more expensive apps aren’t buried beneath the dozens of popular 99-cent apps, as they are on the current paid chart.

Not sure why they have the story marked as “Exclusive”, though.

iTunes 9 Breaks Palm’s WebOS Syncing Again 

Cat and mouse.

David Pogue Interviews Steve Jobs 

Pretty brutal on Amazon’s Kindle:

I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing. But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device. You notice Amazon never says how much they sell; usually if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.

More on iTunes 9’s Use of WebKit 

Will Norris does some packet sniffing and figures out how to get results from the iTunes Store in the new HTML format.

For all previous version of iTunes, the store was displayed by a custom rendering engine and was marked up using a completely proprietary XML format that was definitely not even close to HTML. The new store for iTunes 9 is HTML (but, for now at least, the App Store section is still using the old XML format, even on iTunes 9).

Update: To be clear, though, iTunes 9 is still a 32-bit Carbon app.

Claim Chowder for Yours Truly 

I got the iPod Touch camera wrong, and had the low-end $199 Touch at 16 GB instead of the actual 8.

Steve Jobs’s Return to Stage and Opening Remarks 

Video from The Wall Street Journal.

Does iTunes 9 Use WebKit? 

Looks like it.

Nano Gets Video Camera 

Like the Flip, it apparently is just a video camera, no stills.

But — contrary to rumors, my own sources, and common sense — the iPod Touch does not have a camera. Interesting to note how the Touch is now billed: “a great iPod, a great pocket computer, a great portable game player”.

The new FM tuner in the Nano has a TiVo-esque live pause feature, and lets you “tag” songs you hear for identification in iTunes when you’re back at your computer.

Macworld’s Live Event Coverage 

Jobs is on stage.

Blogs and Baked Goods 

John August nails it:

Over the weekend, there was a lot of uproar about a worm attack on WordPress installations that wrecked some notable blogs. Amid the sometimes-smug observations by the unaffected, I found one point that needs to be elevated to basic principle:

Most people shouldn’t be running their own blogging software.

Apple Cuts Prices on Existing iPod Lineup 

I’d wait to hear about the new ones first.

Engadget on the Upcoming Palm Pixi 

Smaller and slower.

Andy Ihnatko on The Beatles and iTunes 

Andy Ihnatko:

Therefore (so my logic goes): there’s no upside to putting these tracks on iTunes on the 9th. All you’re doing is giving consumers the option of buying only the “White Album” tracks they like, instead of making them spring for the whole uneven pile.

My thoughts exactly. I say they debut the remasters on physical media now, reap the profits, then release download versions six months or so from now.

But maybe that’s just because I’m not attending this event and I’ll shit myself if I miss out on Paul and Ringo appearing and playing together.

Financial Times: No Beatles/iTunes Announcement Tomorrow 

Joseph Menn, reporting for The Financial Times on tomorrow’s Apple music event:

The San Francisco event will come the same day as the release of the remastered  Beatles catalog, although that material itself won’t be available via Apple’s online store iTunes.

“Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” Ernesto Schmitt, EMI’s global catalog  president, told the FT’s Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

Sprint Pulls $99 Palm Pre Special Offer Six Hours After It Started 

John Paczkowski on a very odd special offer from Sprint.

Leonard Lin on Two Months With the Palm Pre 

I love reviews like this — ones written after the novelty has faded and the experience has settled in. Even better, Lin has experience with the iPhone and an Android phone to compare against.

Flickr iPhone App 

New official iPhone Flickr client (iTunes link). I love the home screen interface; it’s a really nice design. You open it up and it shows you Ken-Burns-style zoom-and-pan animations of your friends’ photos. But man, is this app crashy for me. Crashed when I tried to upload an image. (Then it worked.) Crashed when I tried to snap a new photo from within the app. Tried twice again, crashed twice again. Three strikes and it’s out.

And for browsing pictures from friends, it’s not as good as the iPhone-optimized web site. For the social aspects of Flickr, this app just doesn’t feel very Flickr-y.

Creating a ‘Make Title Case’ Service in Snow Leopard 

I made one just like this the day I installed the WWDC Snow Leopard seed. (My personal shortcut for this service: Command-Shift-T.)

Before Apple Introduced the iPhone 

Nice piece by Kontra at Counternotions, putting the current Apple/iPhone criticism in context:

So for a more reasoned perspective, let us take a breath and remember what the world was like before Apple introduced the iPhone:

  1. Carriers ruled the industry with an iron fist
  2. To access carriers’ networks handset makers capitulated everything
  3. Carriers dictated phone designs, features, apps, prices, marketing, advertising and branding
  4. Phones were reduced to cheap, disposable lures for carriers’ service contracts
How to Not Get Your Blog Hacked 

Maciej Ceglowski:

If you listen to me, the answer is much simpler. Do not run this kind of software on a public server. Either host your blog with a competent centralized site (like LiveJournal or Blogger) that takes the burden of upgrading, backing up and patching off your hands, or use whatever personal publishing software you like (WordPress, Movable Type, and so on), but keep it on a local machine.

This is how a lot of early blogging software worked. The software generated static files and uploaded them to the publicly available server, which meant the software was not publicly available. This is very secure, especially if you’re using SFTP, but the downside is that you can’t post from multiple machines.

Update: Maciej has added a new post with a basic outline of how such a setup would work.

John Nack on Snow Leopard’s New Default Gamma Setting 

Good explanation of the historical reason for Mac OS using a gamma setting of 1.8.

Commodore 64 Emulator for iPhone Approved by Apple 

Remember the Commodore 64 emulator app that was initially rejected from the App Store? With changes, it’s now accepted and available for $5. (One of the changes was to hide the BASIC interpreter, alas.) Aron Allen has a nice interview with the app’s lead developer.

Update: Rene Ritchie details how to access the hidden BASIC interpreter.

Update 2: Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away. The C64 app is no longer available from the store. Methinks Apple took none too kindly to the wink-wink-nudge-nudge “hiding”, rather than removal, of the BASIC interpreter.

Spotify Mobile App Released for Both iPhone and Android 

Tom Insam’s first thoughts on the just-released Spotify mobile client for the iPhone and Android. (It’s worth mentioning again that Spotify isn’t yet available in the U.S.)

Colin Percival: ‘Complexity Is Insecurity’ 

Colin Percival:

Complexity can be thought of as a type of code smell: It doesn’t necessarily imply that there is a problem, but the presence of complexity is very strongly correlated with the presence of security vulnerabilities. In the design and construction of secure systems, it is important to not only consider mistakes which are guaranteed to cause problems, but to also consider factors which make it more likely that problems will arise — or, put another way, factors which make it harder to get things right.

(Via Alex Payne.)

Things Removed in Snow Leopard 

Good list from Jesper.

Andy Ihnatko, Hit by the WordPress Attack 

Andy Ihnatko, posting on his Posterous weblog, on being hit by the WordPress attack:

Why didn’t I update Wordpress? Because it was going to be a whole Thing. My version of WP came before the “auto-update” feature was installed. The whole procedure would have been like shampooing a wall-to-wall rug. I want to clean the rug, sure, but do I really want to move out ALL of the furniture? And all of the stuff piled up ON the furniture? Etc.

Matt Mullenweg on How to Keep WordPress Secure 

Matt Mullenweg on WordPress security:

Where worms of old would do childish things like defacing your site, the new ones are silent and invisible, so you only notice them when they screw up (as this one did) or your site gets removed from Google for having spam and malware on it. I’m talking about this not to scare you, but to highlight that this is something that has happened before, and that will more than likely happen again.


There is only one real solution. The only thing that I can promise will keep your blog secure today and in the future is upgrading.

Scoble on WordPress Security 

Robert Scoble:

A few weeks ago some hackers broke into my blog here (this was before 2.8.4 was released). At first I thought they just left some porn sites in a couple of blog entries. So we upgraded Wordpress (I was on 2.7× back then). Deleted a fake admin account. Deleted the porn sites. And thought we had solved the problem. We didn’t.

They broke back in, but this time they did a lot more damage. They deleted about two months of my blog.

Large Scale Attack Against WordPress Installations Under Way 

All versions other than the very latest are apparently susceptible. I have to wonder when WordPress users will start switching to some other platform.

Amazon Returns Deleted Kindle Books 


Yesterday Amazon emailed customers affected by the mass deletion and offered them a free, and no doubt properly licensed, copy of any book they lost, or the option of a check for $30.

This is why I like Amazon.

In Praise of the Sci-Fi Corridor 

Martin Anderson:

Corridors make science-fiction believable, because they’re so utilitarian by nature - really they’re just a conduit to get from one (often overblown) set to another. So if any thought or love is put into one, if the production designer is smart enough to realise that corridors are the foundation on which larger sets are ‘sold’ to viewers, movie magic is close at hand.

(Via Andy Baio.)

Trivia Wars 

My thanks to Zephyr Creative for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Trivia Wars, their $1 iPhone trivia game. It has a nice interface, tough questions, and, best of all, supports multiplayer gameplay over Bluetooth.

PMC Charity Fund Raising: Bundle Builder 

Seth Dillingham is selling bundles of great Mac and iPhone apps, with the proceeds going directly to a great charity.

TidBITS: More Hidden Refinements in Snow Leopard 

Nice list of Snow Leopard details from Jeff Carlson.

Loopt Now Optionally Updates Your Location Continually 

This is interesting. Via a deal with AT&T, Loopt — a location-based social networking service — can now track and update the location of your iPhone even when the Loopt app isn’t running.

To be clear, this does not — repeat, not — mean that the Loopt iPhone app is able to run in the background on your iPhone. Headlines like this one at Silicon Alley Insider are bound to confuse people. This is a server-to-server system between Loopt and AT&T.

Update: It’s worth pointing out that the service is not free. You get a 14-day trial, and after that, it’s a $4 per month addition to your AT&T bill.

iPhone Owners Aren’t New Year’s Resolution Gym Members 

Love this analogy from Michael Mulvey, regarding AT&T’s inability to handle the traffic from iPhone owners:

AT&T was happy to sign up as many iPhone customers as they could. Their mentality was probably very similar to gyms who sign up as many people as they can in January when everyone makes their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Gym are packed the first few months after January but then there’s a drop-off in attendance, because people tend to slack off, so even though the gym might ‘overbook’ their spaces, it’s only being used by a fraction of the members.

Kottke on the Unthrill of Upgrading Apple Kit 

Jason Kottke on upgrading to a new MacBook Pro and iPhone 3GS:

Which is where the potential difficulty for Apple comes in. From a superficial perspective, my old MBP and new MBP felt exactly the same… same OS, same desktop wallpaper, same Dock, all my same files in their same folders, etc. Same deal with the iPhone except moreso… the iPhone is almost entirely software and that was nearly identical. And re: Snow Leopard, I haven’t noticed any changes at all aside from the aforementioned absent plug-ins.

So, just having paid thousands of dollars for new hardware and software, I have what feels like my same old stuff.

AT&T: MMS for iPhone Coming September 25 

Still not a word regarding tethering.

Update: No word about it on AT&T’s web site, but several outlets do have a statement on tethering from an AT&T spokesperson. And the word is not good:

As for tethering, by its nature, this function could exponentially increase traffic on the network, and we need to ensure that some of our current upgrades are in place before we can deliver the expanded functionality with the excellent performance that customers expect. We expect to offer tethering in the future.

NYT Story on AT&T’s Inability to Handle the iPhone 

The headline is “iPhone Users Love the Device, but Hate Its Slowness”, but where by “slowness” they mean “network”. They charge a premium for crummy service, still don’t offer tethering or MMS, and the problems are getting worse, not better.

Update 3pm: They’ve changed the headline to “Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T”, which is, in a way, more accurate, but to me seems to be casting the blame for the problems on iPhone users rather than AT&T. It’s a pro-AT&T spin on the situation that makes no sense. The only thing iPhone users are doing is using the service for which they pay.

HTML 5 Drag and Drop in Firefox 3.5 

Another good piece on the new drag and drop APIs in HTML 5, this one by L.M. Orchard.

iPhone 3GS Is Top-Selling Phone in Japan  

Certainly one reason for the aforelinked piece on Sony Walkmen overtaking iPods in Japan.

Sony Walkman Outsells iPod in Japan for First Time in Four Years 

Just Japan, but still, interesting.

Francisco Tolmasky on HTML 5 Drag and Drop 

Great write-up on the shortcomings of the new drag-and-drop APIs in HTML 5 from one of the developers of Cappuccino and 280 Slides. A must-read for anyone hoping to see web apps with desktop-quality user experiences.

One More on Ikea’s Typeface Switch 

Nice piece (with a nice graphic) from Jamie Latendresse.

Time Magazine Story on the Ikea Futura/Verdana Situation 

Currently the tenth-most-popular story at Time. Yesterday it was as high as sixth.

Speculation That Palm Pre Sales Are Below Expectations 

Anecdotally, I haven’t seen a single Pre in use in real life.

I’ll Show You Fickle 

Michael Hickins argues, among other asinine things, that Apple is screwing AT&T by courting relationships with Verizon and perhaps other U.S. carriers. So AT&T fucks up with poor coverage, poor customer service, tons of dropped calls in major metro areas, no MMS, no tethering — and Apple is doing them wrong by looking elsewhere?

Jim Dalrymple: No New Apple TV Next Week 

Jim Dalrymple:

The Loop has learned through very reliable sources that an updated Apple TV will definitely not be introduced at next week’s event in San Francisco. Apple’s invitation states, “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it,” solidifying the theme for the event will be music.

(My hunch is that the event title, being a Stones song, means no Beatles news.)

Petabytes on a Budget: How to Build Cheap Cloud Storage 

Backblaze’s Tim Nufire on how they built out their storage infrastructure:

The result is a 4U rack-mounted Linux-based server that contains 67 terabytes at a material cost of $7,867, the bulk of which goes to purchase the drives themselves. This translates to just three-tenths of one penny per gigabyte per month over the course of three years. Even including the surrounding costs — such as electricity, bandwidth, space rental, and IT administrators’ salaries — Backblaze spends one-tenth of the price in comparison to using Amazon S3, Dell Servers, NetApp Filers, or an EMC SAN.

Abandon Ship 

The WSJ:

With less than three weeks before Microsoft launches another salvo in digital music players, the marketing executive overseeing the company’s Zune device is headed for the exit.

Monoscope Smells a Conspiracy Regarding the Ikea Futura/Verdana Situation 

Makes more sense than the idea that anyone at Ikea thinks this is actually a good move.

Super Friends Guide to HTML 5 Hiccups 

Thoughtful criticism, suggestions, and praise regarding the current HTML 5 draft spec from Jeffrey Zeldman and friends.

Harry McCracken on the One-Year Anniversary of Chrome 

In one year they’ve expanded the scope from just a web browser to an entire PC OS, but still no official Mac version.

Google on Yesterday’s Gmail Outage 

There aren’t too many web apps where a 100-minute outage is major news. Gmail is one of them. (It was just the web interface that went down, but that is Gmail for most users.)

MacHeist, From the Perspective of Participating Developers 

This one’s been on my to-link-to list for a while: Simone Manganelli, who has been a somewhat vocal critic of MacHeist, decided to conduct extensive interviews with a bunch of developers who have included their apps in the MacHeist bundle. Fascinating look at the indie Mac developer market and the experience of participating in a promotion like MacHeist.

While They Last 

Paul Thurrott:

I met with the Zune folks today and one bit of information than I can discuss immediately is that the Zune HD will be the only device type going forward: The current Zune models, the Zune 8, 16, 80, and 120, have all been discontinued. So if you want a classic Zune device, buy it now, as they’ll only be around while supplies last. The Zune HD goes on sale September 15 in 16 GB and 32 GB variants.

Guess I’d better get in line.

Yojimbo 2.0 

Terrific update to one of my very favorite apps. Among the numerous new features and improvements are a new tag browser, new tag management features, and a bunch of improvements that make it even easier to add new items even when you’re currently using another app. Highly recommended.

App Store Rejection of the Week: Chess Wars 

Joe Stump, developer of Chess Wars, on waiting six weeks to get an explanation why an important bug-fix update to their already-accepted app wasn’t accepted:

Secondly, we did hear back from Apple. They said they were rejecting the application because our in-game chat looked too much like Apple’s SMS application. I’ve asked if we changed our chat bubbles to look like Facebook’s if we’d be allowed in. Our contact at Apple is going to be getting back to me soon.

Microsoft on the Upcoming New Windows Mobile Phones 

Microsoft’s Stephanie Ferguson:

Interestingly enough, we discovered that most people who carry a Windows phone don’t realize it’s running Windows Mobile.

This is an odd thing to admit. First, it’d be odd if Microsoft actually never noticed that Windows Mobile phone makers almost never advertise that the phones are running Windows Mobile. Second, why aren’t they embarrassed by this?

One thing that was very clear after all these conversations about phones is that there is no “one size fits all” in this market. On Oct. 6th, you’ll see new Windows phones designed for a variety of tastes, needs and price points — with or without keyboards, with or without touch screens, as well as your choice of GPS, accelerometer and high resolution camera.

Sounds like a wonderful confusion of options for developers, that’s for sure.

Om Malik Excoriates eBay Management Over Botched Skype Acquisition 

Om Malik on the news that eBay is selling Skype for a loss:

So back in 2005, eBay paid billions for Skype but didn’t get the crown jewels, a.k.a. the technology. I reported this oversight back in 2005. How then-CEO Meg Whitman signed off on the deal, I still can’t understand. I mean, even a lemonade stand owner who can’t tie his shoelaces wouldn’t overlook something as simple as that. And what about the eBay executives who were shepherding that deal?