2 October 2006

@apple@

I knew it was going to be funny. John Gruber:

Bottom line: Not a single shred of evidence has been revealed indicating that Apple has misstated a single fact about this entire saga.

Seriously? So we’re supposed to understand that Apple just suddenly and unrelatedly decided to start “working with” SecureWorks, that company whose most prominent representative publicly accused them of lying and bullying and whatnot — all that just a few days before the same representative and his friend said they would demonstrate all their claims. Yeah, Apple was just dying to work with them. And that doesn’t mean, at all, that they just threw some money at them to get them to shut up. And that’s not at all why they decline to comment any further on what that collaboration actually is, either. Right.

I’m not surprised, per se, that Gruber would fail to see that point of view. But I’m still disappointed.

 

@apple@

Hurray for Google Blog Search. I’ve finally been able to fix my Cocoalicious, which had stopped functioning because del.icio.us moved its API to https, just as I was beginning to use it as preparation for the podcast that has no name yet but will definitely not be called a podcast. (And I entered my links in it for a week before I realized it very discreetly said it was working in offline mode.)

Turns out you have to dig into Keychain Access and change some stuff. It looks to me like Cocoalicious stores your password in the keychain for http://api.del.icio.us and then somehow tries to use it on https://api.del.icio.us — I have no idea how come it reportedly still works for some people, but at least it’s an easy enough manual fix.

 

@apple@

Import del.icio.us bookmarks to Yojimbo. Anyone brave enough to wrap this all in pretty AppleScript? I’d love to be able to import my del.icio.us bookmarks at the end of my podcast pre-production workflow. (Displaying the pages in Cocoalicious is too slow.)

3 October

@web@

Firefox JavaScript security “a complete mess”?

According to the pair, [Firefox’s JavaScript] implementation is home to at least 30 possible exploits, all of which they plan to keep to themselves. […]

Mozilla’s head of security, Window Snyder, indicated that Mozilla believes the exploit to be real. She has also said that the presentation given at the conference contained enough information that other hackers may be able to reproduce the exploit before it can be patched.

I can’t find any evidence of this being a satirical joke mocking the whole Apple/SecureWorks affair. At least those ones aren’t calling themselves “security experts,” though, they seem content to be hackers.

[…] Spiegelmock, who in everyday life works at blog company SixApart. He detailed the flaw, showing a slide that displayed key parts of the attack code needed to exploit it.

Anyone else see a problem with the idea that a hacker who publicizes a Firefox security flaw, and refuses to provide any assistance whatsoever in fixing it, works for the biggest commercial blogging platform?

5 October

@apple@

In the “Apple fanbois pissing me off” department: the consensus on the iPod side of the blogosphere (which is even larger than the Mac side) is that the Zune’s screen size is irrelevant because it has exactly as many pixels as the iPod.

This is a screen for viewing video, not for surfing the web; size is more important than resolution. There are still 42-inch 480p TV sets selling for a thousand dollars. Would you argue that a 17-inch widescreen TV is just as good as 42-incher because it displays as many pixels?

 

@apple@

I didn’t originally link Perian, because I have VLC and couldn’t care less what formats QuickTime Player can read.

But it’s true that, if you’ve got Front Row, you might be happy to be able to play AVI, FLV or DivX files. Plus, QuickTime somehow feels a bit more “right” than VLC (even though VLC’s interface has made tremendous progress in OS X integration lately).

 

@apple@

DeskTunes [via] displays current track information on your desktop. There are lots of programs doing that, and this one is as useless as any other, but it’s prettier.

I don’t mind that it doesn’t have an icon, but I hope a later update will allow you to place the display wherever you want, because I already have stuff on my lower left corner.

 

@web@

Firefox flaw story may be a hoax, or a joke, or whatever. In any case, I wasn’t off-base when I wrote that it sounded like a parody of the Apple/SecureWorks thing.

 

@web@

Ooh, Google Groups has changed. And it’s blue! And it’s almost pretty!

6 October

@apple@

Google Blog Search Pinging Service [via] (gee, their service names are getting as friendly as the Windows Live galaxy).

In case you need a definition, a ping service is a website that your blogging software automatically calls (“pings”) whenever you post to your blog, so that the world knows which blogs have been updated last. Which is, obviously, of the utmost importance for the welfare of humanity. Uh, no, I meant: Which is, obviously, an awful lot of data nowadays, and most existing ping services have outages and performance issues every once in a while. Now who better than Google to make a reliable service?

I love that their API documentation is the simplest, most straightforward I have ever seen. When I implemented pings in my homebrew blogging software, I had to spend a while sifting through information I never quite managed to make sense of; Google’s version, however, is really intended to make it easy for software developers to implement the functionality quickly and with no fuss.

13 October

@misc@

No, this blog isn’t closed, nor even on official vacation. There’s just been a shortage of interesting news to comment on — although I’m not sure whether it’s coming from the news or from me.

 

@apple@

VoodooPad checks for updates without an internet connection. I love the developer’s explaination — that’s so… Apple of the past century.

 

@apple@

John Siracusa: cool companies like Apple don’t need to have Scobles (look at the Google blogs: they’re rewritten press releases, not real blogs), but Apple could definitely use someone reading blogs and reporting to the higher-ups.

Good point, and it’s actually kind of appalling that any important company at all would neglect all that feedback, but this sentence is so unrealistic: “The addition of just one high-profile, officially sanctioned Apple blogger who has the ear of Steve Jobs could prevent [things like the MacBook thermal paste fiasco] from happening.” A blogger having the ear of Steve Jobs? In what parallel dimension?

 

@web@

The return of Iceweasel: Mozilla passive-aggressively pushes Debian into forking Firefox, in order to, and by way of protecting their trademark.

No matter what their motivations are (they look both understandable and unrealistic), hearing of trademark protection from the most popular open source software project just doesn’t sound right.

 

@web@

I just can’t bring myself to care about Google buying out YouTube.

14 October

@windows@

Vista license only transferrable once to a new computer before you’re forced to buy it again. I’m waiting for official confirmation on this, because I can’t make any sense of it at all.

Oh wait — actually, it does make a little sense in that most users don’t upgrade their computers and have to reauthorize Vista: they just buy a new computer, coming itself with a new Vista license. So the motivation could be to reduce the number of computers sold sans Windows license, and probably fighting occasional privacy by restricting the possibility of installing the same license on a couple computers in a small office or family.

Nevermind that it’s borderline extortion. And nevermind the nightmare of Windows Product Activation failures.

 

@games@

Idea: The Wii Workout. Heh.

 

@games@

Ambilite 5.1. I like the idea, just as I like the basic Ambilite concept, but I’m not sure how interesting this variation is. And I’m not sure about the fans, either.

@windows@

A reader points me to Paul Thurrott’s clarification of the Vista license meme, which makes two.

First, it’s all true, you can transfer your Vista license from a computer to another only once (and changing the motherboard plus hard drive counts as a new computer, well, maybe, maybe not, let us surprise you), but it’s not a restriction — it’s a favor! Because, you see, nobody ever realized it, but XP’s license was even more restrictive, in that you weren’t actually supposed to transfer it at all. So, you see, no reason to complain. (Isn’t it cool how they’re only telling you now that you’ve been illegally using your five-year-old XP copy on your new computer for a couple of years?) Plus, just like I wrote yesterday, it’ll only affect a very small minority who upgrade their computers or buy them without an OS (or switch to the Mac), i.e. computer enthusiasts, i.e. people that Microsoft doesnt’ really care about alienating (I’m not being ironic: Microsoft doesn’t quite need them now). I mean, it’s just like when they, uh, discouraged OEM vendors from selling computers without Windows — who cares, really?

Second, a little bonus: the Home Basic and Home Premium licenses specifically forbid installation under VMWare, Parallels and other virtualization environments. Why? Paul Thurrott asks, and then he answers: “very few people can ever come up with a legitimate reason to run, say, Vista Home Basic in a VM.” And they laugh at Mac apologists. Anyway… last funny detail, even if you do buy Business or Ultimate, you can’t activate the same license both as a regular system install and as a virtual machine, even though they’re all running on the same computer — i.e., you can’t legally have Vista both on Boot Camp and Parallels (yes, I’m always coming back to the Mac, but then that is the main reason for a regular user to need virtualized Windows) unless you buy two licenses of Business or Ultimate. Not that it’s surprising, especially in the context of those other restrictions, but… oh well.

16 October

@apple@

smcFanControl [via] lets you raise your MacBook or MacBook Pro’s minimum fan speed. Sounds like a good idea.

 

@apple@

EagleFiler [via] is a new competitor to Yojimbo, with similar functionality and equivalent price. (Funny I always label those as “Yojimbo competitors” even though there existed a bunch of equivalent — and more powerful — applications before.)

Good points: the simplicity of hitting “F1” in Safari, NetNewsWire or Mail, and having the contents copied to EagleFiler (I never liked Yojimbo’s “Quick Input Panel”, which is anything but quick); multiple customizable tags rather than single labels; the ability to create custom import scripts.

Bad points: hitting “F1” in Mail imports a mailbox, rather than an individual message; no custom smart folders (but at least there’s one smart folder per tag); the unpolished user interface and icon (yes, that matters a lot in a GTD-ish app); you can create and type rich text notes, but if you want to edit them afterwards you have to open them into TextEdit (this is the most annoying, but it should be simple enough to fix in an upcoming release).

Since Yojimbo and has more functionality (drop dock, password management, encryption, and of course the ability to edit notes) and looks and feels better, I see no reason to switch.

 

@web@

US political race gets dirty via YouTube:

Some campaigns have even dispatched young staffers known as “trackers” armed with video cameras. Their sole job is to track a rival candidate’s every move and make sure their cameras are rolling in case the politician makes a gaffe — and uploading them to YouTube.

 

@misc@

The Device Patented Process Indicating Apparatus [via]. Awesome.

18 October

@web@

The 9th Incarnation of ShaunInman.com [via]:

Greater attention to typographic details like line-length, leading and baseline relationships.

A professional-looking baseline that remains consistent on the page, from top to bottom. Wow. I never thought I’d see that on a website — and I can’t imagine it could even work on Internet Explorer.

Thirty-three thousand, three hundred and six 1 KB CSS files. One for each day of the year…for the next ninety-one years. Each post, link and comment exists in its own little era distinguished by color.

Hues change with each season, and contrast fades when you move back in time — I love the idea. I think I’ll most definitely need to steal the idea for my personal blog.

(And, since I piss on standards, if I get around to it I won’t be making thousands of CSS files but embedding <style> in my HTML.)

 

@misc@

Lenovoblogs.com readers dislike glossy screen — 300 to 30. Unfortunately that’s anything but a representative sample.

 

@misc@

The Optimus keyboards have a blog. Man, these people sure know how to build buzz.

 

@apple@

Straight Dope on the IPod’s Birth:

The iPod name came from an earlier Apple project to build an internet kiosk, which never saw the light of day. On July 24, 2000, Apple registered the iPod name for “a public internet kiosk enclosure containing computer equipment,” according to the filing. […]

It is simple, memorable and, crucially, it doesn’t describe the device, so it can still be used as the technology evolves, even if the device’s function changes.

It’s funny how Apple oscillates between completely random names like Macintosh, iPod or Safari (well, the above paragraphe kinda takes iPod out of that list) and simple, descriptive monikers like Mail, iWeb or… iPhone?

 

@apple@

I guess I’m supposed to write something about iPods shipping with a Windows virus, and also their “oh, fuck that Windows crap we have to support” line of defense.

Well, as I’ve already written, I recently decided I couldn’t care less whatever Apple PR says from now on. As for the virus, I don’t know how these things happen (and neither does Apple seem to care, or at least they don’t care to elaborate), and I also wonder how a virus carried by an MP3 player can ever contaminate anything, but the baseline is, since I’m on a Mac I can’t get interested in whatever security problems Windows users have.

So here’s the real important iPod-related news of the week: iPod nano on MySpace [via].

 

@apple@

Disco burns CDs [via].

Very cute (you’ve got to watch the video). Talk about superfluous visual effects now — but that’s how Leopard is going anyway, isn’t it?

 

@apple@

Clip Show [via] is a very sexy QuickTime Player replacement. I don’t care much for single-window interface, though, so I’ll be staying with QuickTime.

 

@misc@

Project Blackbox: Sun datacenter in a shipping container.

The… I… Uh, excuse me? They really want to drop a big metal box on your office building’s roof where you’ll store all your company’s most sensitive data? It’s… No, I mean… That isn’t a joke?

(I do get that it’s a viable option for a portable datacenter. But then, who needs a portable datacenter? More to the point, do that many people need it that a company needs to design a standard, out-of-the-box — as it were — offer?)

20 October

@misc@

Engadget: Here comes the Upravlator!

As far as I can tell from the (few) pictures, each key/screen seems to register clicks separately on each of its sides, so you get 48 buttons for 12 screens, with functions logically grouped four by four.

Until now I was doubtful as to how a member of the Optimus line could be as beneficial to graphics designers as Lebedev said it would be, but if it works the way it seems to it should actually be a very interesting interface. The only problem is, I wonder how its price will compare to that of a similarly-sized touchscreen: sure, tactile feedback is much better and more productive, but will it actually be worth the price?

Oh well, I guess they’re positioning themselves as a luxury brand anyway.

 

@apple@

Screenshots from the latest Leopard build. (Will probably be off the web by the time I publish this post, of course.)

This webpage is fraudulent. You should close it immediately.

Google has identified this webpage as fraudulent. Do not enter any personal information on this page.

Okay, they can blindly trust an external source’s address blacklist all they want; no matter what, I take issue with Safari giving me an order regarding what I should do on a web page.

(I expect it might be temporary, beta wording, though.)

 

@apple@

Howstuffworks: How can a Windows virus end up on an iPod?

Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak explains in a CIO Tech Informer article: “As you’re probably aware, the majority of iPod sales are made to Windows users, so we have some Windows terminals on our production line. We discovered that one of these computers was propagating this virus.

Yeah, those Apple guys totally aren’t clueless about security at all.

(Nah, I’m kidding — the production line is far away where the sun rises and Apple only supervises it from afar.)

21 October

@misc@

The Optimus Upravlator is up on the Art. Lebedev Studio website, confirming that, as I wrote, button clicks are registered seperately for each side (plus all four sides at once, for a fifth function). Much more unexpected, though, is that the device is a single 10-inch 800x600 screen with buttons overlaid onto it — keeping production costs in check. It should really be a great product, for graphics designers, or gamers, or just about anyone.

Not available before the second half of 2007 (at best). Damn.

 

@misc@

Nvidia to create x86 CPUs (I don’t know how to capitalize that name — I think it used to be nVidia, but now it’s all-caps, and I don’t do all-caps).

This is a very weird idea. I see where the decision — or rumor — is coming from: with AMD and ATI merging (and Intel making GPUs too), the market for integrated CPU+GPU chips is going to get bigger by the minute, and Nvidia is right to be afraid of being left out. But starting a new x86-compatible chip from scratch? Considering how strong the competition is, and how much development that entails, I have big doubts that would be a winning strategy.

 

@windows@

Word is that Internet Explorer 7 is finally out. I have no idea how my various websites look with it — I suppose #FF00AA should look better than it used to, but I don’t dare hope that it would work perfectly.

Quick Tabs (Exposé for MSIE tabs) is associated with Ctrl-Q. What the hell?

 

@apple@

I always wondered why iTunes couldn’t determine a track’s BPM (beats per minute) and use it in playlist creation and whatnot — particularly for Party Shuffle. Enter Tangerine: it analyzes your iTunes library, detects BPM and beat intensity for each track, and then create playlists to your specification — e.g. a workout playlist with a progressively accelerating beat, or a regular party track with smooth rhythm variations.

I don’t think I’m going to test it much before I post this (as explained by the screenshot below), but it should be awesome if it works correctly, and I can’t see any reason for it not to. I still wish the functionality was integrated directly into iTunes, though — I’d love to be able to click a button at any time during Party Shuffle to ask it to progressively increase BPM by 20 over the next six songs, for instance. Here’s hoping the iTunes team buys this technology, too.

24 October

@web@

I hear that Firefox 2.0 is about to be released. And you’re supposed to care a lot, if you’re a Windows user.

 

@misc@

Google Calendar clock (prototype).

 

@misc@

Razor-thin OLED-LCD screens. I don’t know how a screen can be hybrid OLED-LCD, but this looks quite cool.

 

@apple@

Know how you have to wait one second for the cursor to change into an arrow when you want to drag your text selection in OS X? Well, you can configure the delay. I personally haven’t minded since I found out the cursor changes to indicate what’s happening, but some people can’t get used to it.

25 October

@apple@

New Leopard screenshots. Either Apple is bluffing, or we still won’t get a brand-new Finder. Damn.

 

@apple@

The MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo is out. Apple better hurry to upgrade the MacBook, too, because I’m totally waiting for that update to buy one. (Okay, and for some money, too.) And others will, too.

 

@apple@

Leopard Technology Series for Developers: resolution independence is official now (summarized for developers to: “you shouldn’t be required to do anything, except make bigger icons”); also, in those iPhone-rumor days, you might want to speculate that iChat integration is a bit more prominently listed than it would intrinsically warrant.

But, all in all, the surprises are lacking.

 

@web@

Firefox 2 is officially out now. It’s fast, and it has “Undo Close Tab” (although I can’t seem to find the option in the application menus, but only the tab bar’s right-click menu) which even restores whatever you had typed into a form. And that, obviously, is huge for any blogger.

Not switching yet, though. Although… it’s really displaying #FF00AA much faster than Safari is.

 

@web@

It’s three in the morning and ten days of eating only whatever pasta I find on my back shelves has kinda eroded my morale and intellect, so I can’t quite figure what to make of Google Co-op right now. But it’s my understanding that people should be able to make some money out of it.

Well, from the look of it, though, it seems to be in the “Google improves a product they already offered and changes the name in order to get a new round of blogosphere buzz” category but, considering how primitive sponsored search was until now, the change is rather welcome.

28 October

@apple@

My Dream App results are up, and boy are they boring.

A recipe database (wow, groundbreaking); a Time Machine-inspired Mac-to-Mac sync utility (might be useful, but the mockups don’t strike me as a must-have); and the winner is… a weather-dependent desktop background. I think I’m going to yawn to death.

Hurray for design by committee.

 

@web@

Quark Interactive Designer [via]: a new Flash animation maker with no programming or timeline — intended to make “banners, interactive tours, plus on-line and off-line Web presentations.

Actually, if Quark had any kind of pull whatsoever, this could be a very interesting concept, and could actually do a lot for the Flash format: a simple, cheap ($99 introductory price) application that allows you to make pages and sites that will look exactly the same way on every browser — if it’s done correctly, easily accessible and thoroughly layout-oriented, it’s exactly what Macromedia should have done (and Adobe should be planning) to make Flash really ubiquitous on the web (it makes no sense that the most basic version of Flash is $399 now). There’s a real market for helping people make simple, basic web pages (and elements) with Flash.

 

@windows@

Windows Vista to allow 10 activations. If only the could as easily fix software quality to calm public outcries. (Well, they tried. And they ended up with Vista. But they did try.)

 

@music@

Enhance your podcast audio with The Levelator. There should be a law against publishing podcasts without normalizing sound levels (but, if you have iLife’06, you’re better off using GarageBand with iChat to normalize each track separately).

 

@apple@

Take instant Photo Booth snapshots: eliminate the annoying countdown by pressing Option.

 

@apple@

A new junk drawer app: Nifty Box 1.0 [via]. The interface, with a small preview and nice tag support, is fine, but I’m not sure how useful this really is.

 

@web@

Vox has launched. Got to test it some more, but the post edit page doesn’t like Safari and, more importantly, the whole site doesn’t feel very welcoming.

29 October

@apple@

New MacBook Pros feature stealth iSight indicator. Who other than Apple would devote engineering resources to making a LED disappear behind aluminium?

 

@web@

IE7 is going to kill ems and relative font sizes. Hallelujah, that’s always been awkward.

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