1 September 2007

iPhone Dock 2.0 [via]

I’ve been waiting for an interface to look like this on the Mac for half a decade — ever since watching Lain — and I just can’t understand that nobody’s done it yet.

Camcorder manufacturers don’t seem to be paying much attention to the fact that users might want to shoot themselves.

4 September


The Tao of Mac:

Three quarters of RAZR users would not buy another Motorola handset because they are difficult to use.

They learn! They can learn!

Maybe someday they’ll even manage to ditch Windows.

5 September

$1.98 for a song + ringtone? Pathetic. But Apple has never been too adverse to nickel and diming its customers (see Quicktime Pro).

Some people in Europe imported a $600 iPhone just to have it, and never used it because of the lock. Heh. Suckers.

Stevenote 2007.08


Well, so much for not making the iPod line more confusing than it already was. As the pre-event rumors heated up, I’d eventually warmed up to the realization that there was, indeed, a place for an iPod touch: it had to be bigger and thicker than the iPhone, with a huge hard drive, to justify its existence — 160GB alright, with Cover Flow and wi-fi and the whole shebang. It wouldn’t be competing with the iPod nano for obvious reasons, and it wouldn’t be competing too much with the iPhone because it would be thicker and heavier — not something you carry in your back pocket like a phone, but something you always have in your bag. The ultimate internet tablet plus the ultimate portable media player.

And what do you get instead? A slightly thinner iPhone stuck in airplane mode (with, unexplicably, more flash memory, but I’m sure the phone will catch up). What’s the point? What the fuck is the point? It was either going to be too expensive to be a viable alternative to the iPhone, or so cheap it would steal a fair share of the handset’s market — turns out they chose the former (no surprise there — and a nice thought for the suckers who bought the iPhone at its original price). Is that a sign that carrier negotiations abroad aren’t going as well as Steve would like? Short of pathological allergy to AT&T, I can hardly see any reason for an American to buy a phone-less iPhone for almost the same price. So, there you go, dear European or Asian or whateverans friends, you can play with an iPod while waiting for our nice, exclusive phone.

Yeah, sure, of course I’d want an iPod touch for myself, right now, in my paws — but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be paying for it (by the way, I seem to recall that Apple France has discovered bloggers and wants to start a relationship with them?). I’m saving my non-existent money to buy an iPhone when it finally comes out, and most people will do the same — who really wants just an iPod touch?

One thing’s for sure, though, if it were ever in any doubt: Apple doesn’t give a damn whether customer unlock their iPhones or not. They’re obviously quite fine with selling just the hardware.


As for the rest: I can’t believe it’ll cost $1.98 to download a song then make a ringtone out of it (but then, Apple doesn’t really mind nickel and diming its customers that much — never forget QuickTime Pro); the fat nano still looks wrong; and if you want a piece of advice, don’t ever launch the iTunes mobile application on your iPod or iPhone. You shouldn’t trust wifi with anything that can cost you money.


P.S. The new mode dock (which I guess will come to an iPhone update very soon) is much nicer:

…but it only works if they always leave the final row of icons free, as a separation. Which, uh, they won’t, since they’re launching the iTunes store on the phone, too.

6 September


Hadn’t noticed that in all the kinda-not-excitement: the iPod touch doesn’t include Mail. I do understand the rationale for that — you open Safari when you know you’ve got wifi, whereas the mail client keeps pinging the servers, so the user will be confused beyond reason if they have a client that never gets new mail, because they don’t manually join every wifi network they encounter. (Same goes with widgets.)

But, still. The thing has contacts, but no e-mail client. Here’s hoping Gmail looks good on mobile Safari. Oh, and the iPhone touch doesn’t have Notes, either, which is even weirder. (I checked: the keyboard is there in Safari.)


I guess John Gruber may be right:

In short, don’t get trapped over-thinking Apple’s fundamental strategy. It’s simple: Make the best products they can and sell them.

In other words: no, it doesn’t have to make sense, and it doesn’t have to have a market. The bottomline is, Apple fans wanted it, the technology was there, and Steve Jobs thought it would be cool (unlike the iTablet that said fans are waiting for), so they just went ahead and did it.

Is there a point where Steve Jobs could be too much of himself for Apple’s sake? I mean, could an alternate Steve Jobs exist, without the idiosyncrasies, and still be as good as him?


In other news, I’m wondering how hard it can be to hack iTunes into generating ringtones from your own MP3s, for free. I’m not sure Apple will actually want it to be that difficult.


And a last note: “The old iPhone.” One could easily imagine that the early adopters are not only getting screwed by the price cut, but also by the fact that it’s not a cut but a clearance sale to make way for iPhone 2.0. Apple is funny that way.

7 September


To all iPhone customers:

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple’s website next week. Stay tuned.

It’s weird seeing Steve Jobs backtrack and give in to the customers’ complaints so soon — and in such an improvised fashion. Did they really not expect the $600 customers to make a fuss? Or was the price cut itself a last-minute decision?

I didn’t think twice about it at the time of its announcement (because the iPhone was overpriced to begin with, so it made sense to make it more affordable) but now I wonder how the decision process took place and what the motivations really were. On the one hand, you can’t really have a $300 8GB iPod touch while keeping the 8GB iPhone at $600 (and you can’t sell the iPod touch for $500, either); on the other, after the iPhone was launched there was no definite need for a touch-screen flash-based iPod anymore. You do have to consider the possibility that the iPhone hasn’t been selling as well as Apple expected (or hoped). And that they need an iPod touch to leverage the whole touch-screen interface, give the platform more weight, and recoup the few years of research and development.


Nicholas Jitkoff presentation [via].

Have you always wondered what the author of Quicksilver looked like? I did. Turns out he’s very much like I imagined. Even more so than I thought.

Creating tables in phpMyAdmin with Safari’s fucked-up form autocomplete is so damn painful.

8 September


I wondered how long it would take for iTunes to be hacked into creating iPhone ringtones from MP3s; turns out iTunes 7.4.0 makes it easier than anyone could imagine to add custom ringtones to your iPhone: just create an AAC file, change its extension from m4a to m4r, and drop it onto iTunes. All done.

It’s so simple there’s no way it could be accidental — at the very least, the programmers planted that functionality without their bosses’ knowledge (and I don’t often have good things to say about iTunes’s programmers). Now the question is, how eager is Apple Inc. to fix this? I’d say “not much,” but the truth of the matter is that all bets are off.


[+9h] That was inordinately fast. You’d think Apple actually cares.

If I had an iPhone or an iPod touch I could walk around with it, looking for open wifi, then whip out my MacBook. Or I wouldn’t need to.

10 September

Manually deleting 600 posts one by one from a test blog that contains 80 posts. Jesus god I hate WordPress.



According to support discussions and their own description pages, Apple has removed the ability to add events in the iPod touch’s calendar.

After apparently pulling Bluetooth functionality at the last second, it seems like Apple is trying to further create distinctions between the two devices, positioning the iPhone as a productivity platform and Touch as an entertainment device.

That’s what you get when your product lineup doesn’t make sense. The really weird part, though, is that the updated description still mentions “adding new contacts,” and when you’re trying to differentiate a device from a phone it seems that the contacts application is a much better candidate for feature removal than the calendar. But, hey, that’s just me, and I wouldn’t have launched the iPod touch at all anyway, so what do I know.

11 September


Oh, I missed that one: ShoveBox is a lightweight Yojimbo clonish that sits in your menubar, waiting for you to drop anything onto the icon (that’s a pretty small drop target there, but on the other hand you’ve got keyboard shortcut alternatives). I like the interface, the simplicity and the nice little “QuickJot” bezel.

I don’t know how it would handle my 900+ items Yojimbo library, but the only thing standing between me and checking that out is the absence of smart folders making labels useless. It’s only version 1.0.1 though, and judging from the attention to detail and functionality I’m pretty sure that will be fixed soon — I love that you can define rules that will automatically sort and label your entries when you add them based on their contents, or that it can use your iSight (whatever that may be useful for).

15 September

I’m using Shift-4 to crop perfect square album covers and hating myself for it.

19 September

Friendster in your blogroll


XFN - XHTML Friends Network [via]:

XFN puts a human face on linking. As more people have come online and begun to form social networks, services such as Technorati and Feedster have arisen in an attempt to show how the various nodes are connected. Such services are useful for discovering the mechanical connections between nodes, but they do not uncover the human relationships between the people responsible for the nodes. […]

The links in Joe’s blogroll would look something like this:

<a href=”http://jane-blog.example.org/”
rel=”sweetheart date met”>Jane</a>

<a href=”http://dave-blog.example.org/”
rel=”friend met”>Dave</a>

<a href=”http://darryl-blog.example.org/”
rel=”friend met”>Darryl</a>

<a href=”http://www.metafilter.com/”

<a href=”http://james-blog.example.com/”
rel=”met”>James Expert</a>

This is so simple, I can’t imagine any reason not to use it.

It is also possible to use advanced CSS2 to insert content before or after elements. This can be used to recreate the practice of “starring” links to people physically met as follows:

a[rel~=”met”]:after {content: ” *”;}


Tools, Sites, Spiders etc. that use or support XFN will be added to this page.

Yeah, that’s an empty list right there. But, once again, it’s so simple — why not be one of the first to use it? Here’s the list of possible values (which can all be combined) :

  • met

  • contact / acquaintance / friend

  • co-worker / colleague

  • co-resident / neighbor

  • child / parent / sibling / spouse / kin

  • muse / crush / date / sweetheart

  • me

Notes: the difference between “co-worker” and “colleague” (which may be obvious to the English-speaking, but not to me) is that a colleague is someone who works in the same field as you do (shouldn’t there be something for students in the same class, by the way?); “me” denotes your own web presence, obviously; and there is no mention of accepting “neighbour.”

21 September

Liking Leopard much more than I thought I would. Guess I had my expectations lowered by all the grief Apple got from bloggers.

22 September

Of big spotted cats


I’d been hearing bad things about the Leopard betas for so long now, I never expected the current build to be usable. Yet it is, very much. It’s not a spectacular upgrade, but it’s quite snappy on my MacBook; despite all its flaws I like the new Dock, even displayed vertically; the new Leopard theme works better than installing UNO (although the new stoplight bubbles are definitely, inexplicably horrendous); and, as expected, I love having Cover Flow in the Finder, along with automatic icon previews.

Speaking of the Finder, there’s a little thing, however, that’s going to irritate a lot of people: by default, folders don’t remember what view mode you used last. In Tiger, if you open a folder and switch to List view, the folder will still be in List view the next time you open it; in the current Leopard build, a folder window will open in the last view mode you switched to in any folder — even though window dimensions, on the other hand, are retained. So you can set a folder to display in list view in a small window, then browse another folder using Cover Flow, and when you reopen the original folder it will be in a tiny window sporting a huge Cover Flow pane. I know this is going to infuriate me time and again, and I can’t believe I didn’t see anyone mention it. (Oh, wait… those pesky things called NDAs, maybe.) You can force a folder to remember which view you want to use, but that requires opening the View Options every time you arrange a new folder:

The transparent menubar, on the other hand, is ugly but actually bearable (especially with the toned-down Apple and Spotlight icons) — and it works particularly well with the default space-warp background, where it simply comes out as mostly grey. I guess Steve uses this particular background and hasn’t realized how wrong the menubar can look with more vivid colors.

Incidentally, when Think Secret released screenshots showing one of the background’s stars shining through the menubar, I thought to myself that OS X should pull a page out of the Vista book and apply gaussian blur to what’s below; turns out it already does:

All that’s missing now is toning down contrast and saturation a bit, too. But maybe they’re actually on the right track on that one.


I’m not going to talk about — or even try — all the features, because everybody knows how most of it works; the bottomline is, do I want to upgrade? I can’t wait to switch my main machine to Leopard for Cover Flow and Spaces, but I’ll wait until it’s stable and officially released (it’s my production machine, no playing with that); I wouldn’t mind installing it on the mini I use as a jukebox, but it wouldn’t change much to my daily use and that’s not worth the risk of using a beta on the machine that stores all my multimedia files on external drives; that leaves us with the MacBook I use to chat and email and teleport to the other computers (teleport works fine, just like most of everything else — for some reason Quicksilver’s Dock icon won’t hide, but that’s pretty much the only trouble I had so far), and I would love to have Leopard in there. Trouble is, the new Mail.app is incompatible with extensions for the previous versions, and I just don’t want to live without Mail Act-On, Mail.appetizer and Mail Badger. As unreliable as it’s generally getting, e-mail is still the most essential part of my professional workflow, so I’ll have to wait until all those plug-ins are updated.

Or maybe I could change my workflow. I like this new Dock. It makes my iMac feel old.


Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria: all five major manufacturers agree to a standard plug for cellphone chargers (yeah, Apple obviously isn’t one of them, but that’s not the point).

Now how long before one of them finds some good reason to release a new phone with a proprietary charger? I’d give it eighteen months.

24 September

iStat pro


I guess I never imagined that a widget called “iStat pro” would actually be free. Apart from the misnomer, it’s a pretty well-designed and useful thing.

I’m reactivating the Dashboard and removing iStat menus because I’m getting tired of the clutter in my menubar. Also, there’s apparently no way to get iStat menus to list the top processes, which the iStat widgets do (I just like to know why my computer gets unresponsive when it does). And the Dashboard feels more responsive in Leopard — I haven’t actually upgraded yet, but I’m preparing my setup.

Of big spotted cats that turn out to be pretty sexy


Speaking of getting ready to switch to Leopard: I’m this close to upgrading my MacBook, even though it’s a beta and it shouldn’t be trusted and I don’t even know if it’ll expire at some point — I wouldn’t install it on my production iMac yet (tempting as it may be), but I can afford to lose all the data on my laptop and reformat the drive if something goes wrong.

Random list of what I like in 10.5: The new Dock. Spaces (although I have no use for them on a MacBook with 512MB of RAM). Cover Flow. Network machines listed in the sidebar, with transparent connection to their individual share points (I did read the description, but had no idea how cool it was until I used it). The UNO look without the bugs (with UNO, windows without toolbars lack the one-pixel black border below the titlebar). Pressing Space for Quick Look. Automatic icon previews. Multi-threaded Finder (I crashed a big Copy operation by setting the computer to sleep; the progress window was stuck, but I could still use the other Finder windows! Fancy that!). Placing important RSS feeds in my inbox. An activity pane right in the Mail.app window instead of the old palette. Safari 3 (didn’t check to see if the old bug with HTML in textareas had been fixed, though — I don’t type posts on my MacBook) and the way inline search results pop up. Themed, tabbed, semi-transparent Terminal windows. Interactive size display on Shift-Cmd-4 screen captures (so very convenient to get 450-pixel images right away instead of resizing them for this blog). Alex’s voice. Help Viewer no longer being a separate application (although I wish it were a regular window rather than a palette), and searchable help and menus.

Random list of what I dislike: The semi-transparent menubar (and its square corners). The new titlebar stoplights (I hoped they were temporary, but according to the latest screenshots they haven’t been fixed in the following build). Finder windows not remembering view modes. And… and… well, that’s all I can think of so far. Yeah, I really can’t wait to have the final version to install on my other Macs.

So what if I don’t have Mail Act-On?


I cringed when I first launched Leopard’s Mail.app and it warned me that the four plug-ins from my Tiger install weren’t compatible and had to be disabled. I can do without Mail Badger or Mail.appetizer, but I’ve already written several times about how essential Mail Act-On is for me.

I was ready to give up on Leopard for several months because of that, and wait until the extensions were upgraded, until I realized that I wasn’t really leveraging much of the power of Mail Act-On, and there were definitely other ways to go around: all I do is press Ctrl-< to move read/actioned messages from my inbox to a yearly archive folder. And it’s not like I don’t have a choice of programs that can register shortcuts and execute AppleScript.

So here I am, documenting the little snippet that will allow me to adjust my workflow to Leopard when I install it on the MacBook (along with setting up my inbox rules to display Growl notifications when I get new mail — but there are lots of walkthroughs about that on the web). I’m posting this here as an inspiration — a beacon of hope and efficiency — for you to consider: here’s how to keep your inbox tidy by archiving everything you don’t need with a simple hotkey.

Open the Quicksilver preferences (if you’re not using Quicksilver I’m not even talking to you — even though, as I said, there are lots of other options to associate AppleScript code to hotkeys); go to the Triggers pane; create a hotkey trigger with the following code in the first box and the “Run as AppleScript” action in the second box:

set i to 0

tell application “Mail”

  set s to selection

  repeat with m in s

    set i to i + 1

    set read status of m to true

    move m to mailbox “2007”

  end repeat

end tell

tell application “GrowlHelperApp”

  register as application “GarooActOn” all notifications {“GarooActOn”} default notifications {“GarooActOn”} icon of application “Mail”

  notify with name “GarooActOn” title “Mail” description (“” & i & ” message(s) archived.”) application name “GarooActOn”

end tell

And… you’re done. Well, I am, anyway.

I don’t suppose mixing AppendChild calls with InsertHTML is considered best practices. (Like I care.)

25 September

It’s like my iMac’s CPU frequency has been chopped in half. Is it jealous it didn’t get a taste of Leopard?



360desktop is another company launching at DEMO today. It’s essentially a new way to organize and experience your Windows Desktop. What it does is give you a panoramic view of your desktop, which scrolls around in a circular manner.

I’m surprised Apple didn’t think of this when designing Spaces: instead of the dated separate virtual desktops, why not have the whole desktop reside on top of a globe that you can spin at will? Now that would have looked cool and worthy of Core Animation.


Dear Lazyweb:
Do you have any idea why my MacBook’s Tiger install keeps forgetting which applications I want opening which file formats? I’ve got Xee and The Unarchiver installed, and I’ve set them up several times (both through their own Preferences window and through the Finder’s Get Info) to open all graphics and archive files respectively, yet the system keeps opening those damn Preview and BomArchiveHelper instead. That doesn’t happen on the iMac and mini, only the MacBook, and it’s been making me insane for a few months. What gives?

26 September

Six hours and my iMac is about 55% through backing up. No wonder I don’t do it more often.

Leopard 9A559


Think Secret gallery:

I’m not sure whether the window controls have been very slightly improved, or I’m just getting used to them (or maybe it’s just JPEG compression), but they look kinda tolerable now.

And that’s… all there is, apparently.

27 September

Apple expo 2007


Quand je suis allé à l’Apple expo d’il y a deux ans, c’était inintéressant comme tout et il n’y en avait que pour l’iPod — Apple venait de lancer le nano, et le reste du salon était occupé aux deux-tiers par les vendeurs d’accessoires. Cette année, il semblerait que j’aie été mauvaise langue en parlant d’iPod expo : la majorité des exposants sont en rapport avec le Mac, et Apple présente iWork, iLife et je ne sais plus quoi, avec seulement une demi-douzaine de démonstrateurs iPod, donc trois iPod touch (pas d’iPhone, comme vous le savez sans doute déjà, et pas de Leopard non plus).

Je ne vais pas me plaindre que l’univers Apple se réintéresse au Mac, mais ne montrer que trois iPod touch l’année de lancement de l’iPhone, c’est un peu du vice (à moins que Steve ait juste décidé de ne pas lancer du tout le téléphone en France cette année).

Je n’ai pas eu le courage de faire la queue pendant une heure (forcément, trois iPod touch, ça fait un peu un attroupement — c’était peut-être le but secondaire, du marketing façon Wii, d’ailleurs ?), j’attendrai que l’iPhone soit disponible, ou que je sois riche, ou une combinaison d’autres facteurs plus hypothétiques les uns que les autres.

Bref, ça ne valait pas franchement les trois euros de métro. Sans surprise.


Orange et Apple au bord de la rupture [via]. Je ne comprends pas bien la logique selon laquelle, le téléphone devant être disponible débloqué pour obéir à la loi française, Orange devrait payer plus à Apple en redevance sur les abonnements (et donc augmenter ses tarifs, être d’autant moins compétitif face aux concurrents, et donc signer moins d’abonnements). Mais ça ne veut pas forcément dire que la rumeur soit fausse, vu comme Jobs semble apprécier la France en général et les réglementations sur la consommation de certains pays européens en particulier.

C’est bien ce que je disais, il est parti pour ne pas sortir du tout en France.

29 September

A workaround for MacBook wifi connection woes


For a while I’d thought that my MacBook’s wifi connection problems were linked to moving the computer, and the antenna, around (for those who are lucky enough not to know, an AirPort update borked wifi a few months ago, with MacBooks getting consistently disconnected when operating from the battery; subsequent Airport Express Update 2007-004 was supposed to fix the problem, but it did a half-assed job of that, the main difference being that it reconnected automatically after the connection had timed out — which meant that you’d still regularly get network errors in Safari, but at least they’d fix themselves with a simple reload).

Does it sound like a stupid theory? Well, that’s because it was. Confusing causes and consequences or something: it took some listless messageboard browsing today for me to realize that the problem didn’t occur when I moved the computer, but when the connection was idle. Yeah, if the problem only appears when you’re operating on battery, it kinda makes sense that it’s just the system powering down AirPort to save power, doesn’t it? It’s not putting the computer on the sink when I wipe my ass that makes it lose the network; it’s just that I’m not throwing http requests around while the laptop is on the sink. So let’s say I’ve been so upset with this problem that I wasn’t thinking rationally anymore, shall we?

Anyway… the point is, it hit me when I read those board posts: what if I kept the connection alive? Clearly, neither ICQ, nor my web chat’s Ajax calls every 40 seconds, nor even Remote Desktop is enough, so what about a ping? Open Terminal, type “ping ed.local” (where Ed is the name of another computer on my network; the router’s IP address shoulddo the trick as well) and… wow, it works! Wherever I go, whatever I do, I can still browse the web!

Now I’ve got to find the optimal way to keep my connection alive — I’m sure there’s something more elegant than a Terminal window. But the bottomline is, there’s a workaround, an apparently sure way to deal with an issue that should never have been in the first place — if quality control had a meaning at Apple HQ. Who cares about users losing their network when you can boast improved battery life with the latest software update?


P.S. Let’s keep it simple with one line of AppleScript [via]:

do shell script “ping -i 10”

(Where is my router’s address. If the problem occurs in the wild, I’ll make a version that pings my server or something, but I’m mostly at home so I don’t see the need to harass another machine.) Save as an application, keep it in the Dock with a nice icon, launch it when I’m away from AC power, force quit it when I get back. I’m going to love wireless again.

Keeping the connection alive feels so much like it’s 1997. Thanks, Apple.

I don’t like Leopard’s new intro music.

30 September


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