1 May 2005

The Pint-Sized Tiger:

I decided to dig my Mac mini out of the server closet and see what it would be like to run Tiger on 256MB RAM. […]

Dashboard? widgets don’t have that neat “liquid drop” effect on the mini. They zoom in zippily enough, but I guess I’ll only have the full experience on my iMac. […]

Nevertheless, an unexpanded mini is, in fact, usable under Tiger (provided you don’t try running a gazillion apps at once). It even feels slightly snappier than Panther.

Like I said yesterday. However, I don’t understand this part at all:

Screen rotation works […], but you can’t fall back to a safe display mode. When I chose the rotation, the mini switched resolution and rotated the display without any warning, and my battered old monitor failed to keep up. No warning, no fallback by pressing Return or Escape. I had to power cycle the mini, unplug the monitor and have it revert to 800x600.

Huh? Why would the OS-managed screen rotation need the monitor to keep up? What does the monitor have to do with anything there? Shouldn’t the drivers just rotate the picture without changing the resolution? Otherwise, what’s the point?

Tiger Details: “Notes, comments, and observations regarding Mac OS X 10.4on Daring Fireball.

2 May

The Miranda plug-in for Google Desktop is very nice — until you reach “Google Desktop Search has reached its maximum size. New items will no longer be indexed. You can still search for old items”… and have to reinstall without the plug-in. So I’ll wait for Spotlight instead (it does index iChat logs, doesn’t it?).

7 May

Google Web Accelerator 666

Google Web Accelerator’s Obnoxious Pre-Fetching:

Google [Web Accelerator] is essentially clicking every link on the page — including links like “delete this” or “cancel that.” And to make matters worse, Google ignores the Javascript confirmations. So, if you have a “Are you sure you want to delete this?” Javascript confirmation behind that “delete” link, Google ignores it and performs the action anyway.

As a web developer, I never liked the idea of prefetching, but I just can’t imagine Google making such a stupid mistake — even on a beta version, knowing it’ll be immediately linked by thousands of bloggers all over the world. Google, for crying out loud, the makers of Gmail! They should know about web applications!

According to some, Google would even be caching, on its universal proxy, your private pages, those you access with personal cookies — giving access to them to anyone browsing the same site after you. But now that’s so unthinkable I just prefer to assume those guys have a very broken system.

Anyway, if they haven’t pulled the plug on this by Monday, Google’s popularity (and, more importantly, trust) rating will have to be seriously reconsidered. Well, it won’t have to — it will be, instantly.

P.S.: GWA is the new net SUV.

Blueprint for a widget of mass destruction [via] (in short: Tiger users must uncheck the “Open safe files after downloading” option in Safari’s preferences):

Welcome to zaptastic. If you are using Safari on Tiger, thanks to the magic of widget autoinstall, combined with the tag, a slightly evil widget has been installed in your dashboard. It could be a lot worse.

The average user, who can’t find their Library folder with two mice and a spotlight, is stuck. It would take all of thirty seconds for me to pick out a nice porn image, make it the icon of a widget, drop it in your dashboard, and you’re stuck with it. It doesn’t even need any Javascript. Oh, hell, why not? Click on this: goatse.cx.wdgt.zip.

With one more line of code, the more evil version that I promised earlier takes you to GreenZap every time the widget is shown. This means that once you install zaptastic evil, every time you launch Dashboard, your web browser goes to the GreenZap site. Which has the side effect of immediately dropping you out of Dashboard, preventing you from closing the offending widget.

Even without root, though, there are some pretty interesting things you could do. A widget, for example, could use time when it is hidden to add <meta> tags to every .html page stored in the users home directory. If the user happens to be running a web server - or even uploading files to one — this could propagate a widget to other machines.

8 May

And when you think you’ve seen it all… now a wave of posts are blaming web developers for blaming Google for their websites being broken, because, don’t you know, it’s bad to use GET (that is, links) to trigger actions, and you should only POST (that is, forms — yes, I’m simplifying here, I know).

Damnit, those standardists have no lack of imagination when it comes to annoying people. I’d slam my head to the wall, but luckily I’m already too sleepy for that.

(Expecting me to explain and argue? No point in doing that, I’ve already tried, and those people never listen anyway. — It’s bad because it’s bad. — Why? — Because it’s bad, the RFC says so. — So what. — So that’s the way it is, now shut up, you stupid kid. Yeah, right. Sorry, really, all my apologies for having a brain and using it for my own, personal decision-making.)

(Fucking lot of dumbasses.)

10 May

Tiger Details:

In just about any web page form field, you can use Command-Return to have Safari display the results in a new tab.

And why doesn’t it already work that way in Firefox? Huh, why?

Debugging Dashboard Widgets:

To minimize the number of times you show and hide Dashboard, you can place Dashboard in Development Mode. This allows you to keep a widget on screen at all times — even when Dashboard is not shown.


Bloglines has been screwing up for a few days now. It’s about to be time to look for the best aggregator on OS X (although I’m afraid there isn’t much of a controversy about that).

P.S. And, as if that weren’t enough, no aggregator will accept to import Bloglines’ OPML export file. Grr.

P.S. Managed (I think — haven’t got the courage to check that every one of my 400 feeds is there) to salvage the Bloglines OPML export file by replacing <?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”utf-8”?> with <?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”ISO-8859-1”?>. Guess that one only bites people reading blogs with accents.

Lektora: a very well designed RSS aggregator for Firefox, recommended to anyone who doesn’t need to subscribe to hundreds of feeds (every time you launch it, every post from the previous session is marked as read, which doesn’t work for me — I keep certain feed groups for certain times of day, depending on my mood). And it even seems to be available in French (which I don’t care for, and you don’t either, but I just wrote this sentence in the French version of this post, and started translating it without thinking.)

13 May

Tiger for Panther-users suffering from Triskaidekaphobia:

The Roman numeral X represents the number 10, and since Panther is the third iteration of OS X, ten plus three equals 13! Also, a Panther is a black cat! It’s bad luck. Get rid of it. Get 10.4 Tiger, and move on to a luckier life.

If you make the switch today, perhaps you can successfully cancel out the bad luck of the day, you superstitious weirdo.

14 May

Garoo elsewhere:

As a reader I like the idea of having a comment feed per post, but as a blogger, and developer of my own CMS, I can’t get used to the idea that each reader would load a dozen (or thousands if they’re greedy) of feeds every hour (or ten minutes).

I’d rather not imagine the load a Wordpress site has to endure if you activate that functionality :)


In fact, I’d rather blogs published one comment feed, with a specific tag attaching each comment to its specific blog post, and let RSS aggregators do the math. Makes more sense to me.

My point being, you know that some aggregators will be poorly programmed, and will fetch your feeds every ten minutes and ignore the cache or http headers; and the more opportunities to abuse your site you give them, the more they’ll take. Whereas making one and only comment feed is not rocket science — and it degrades nicely: it’s pretty usable even if the aggregator doesn’t explicitly support it.

I’m unfortunately a little burned in regard to the particular category of bloggers who’re liable to weigh on the evolution of standards, so we’ll have to wait until someone more respectable has the same thought.

16 May

Nothing happens when I try and open Image Capture Scripting’s AppleScript dictionary and my script returns an odd error message, even though all I did was copy and paste a straightforward command to determine the width of an image. Is there a connection? (Considering that width is displayed in the color of variables rather than recognized words, I’d suppose it is.) And, if so, is there a way to get and install the correct dictionary? I’m going to spend time in front of this Mac (euphemism alert), so I need the blog thumbnail system to work.

17 May

Dear Stevie:
Maybe you’ve been told before, but I never read it on the blogs, so I’ll tell you: iTunes is a super music library management tool, but as the OS’s default media player it sucks. Am I the only one annoyed that, every time you want to play a file in iTunes, it’s added to the library, and you have to remove it manually if you only wanted to listen to it once? That’s counter intuitive to the max, and it’s unacceptable from a system component that offers to install itself as default handler of all sound files.

So, there it goes, Stevie: by the time iTunes 4.9 is released, I’d like you to play nice (as if) and add a “Temporary Files” source where files would automatically land unless they were explicitly added to the library, and have it be (optionally) purged on every launch, or every n days. There. Sounds simple, right?

While we’re at it, you could also consider the switchers’ interest and make sure they can easily transfer their iTunes library from Windows when they fork over 2000€ in order to enter the select G5 club. But it’d be too late for me anyway.

Oh, and I almost forgot… is it a Tiger functionality to have iTunes relaunch every other time I quit it? (It’s an exact figure, not an estimate or an exaggeration.) It’s a bit… disconcerting. Oh, wait, scratch that, it was a widget’s doing.

P.S. A quick search-and-replace in the Library.xml export file, and my library is on the Mac, complete with ratings and playlists. There are 11 songs missing out of 4,500… so I guess we’ll just assume they have a pretty good reason not to be there, and leave it at that. Some day I might try and do a diff on song lists — when I can be bothered to check out how that works.

Am I dreaming or doesn’t Mail.app have an option not to automatically mark messages as read? It’s really sad to make a mail client whose inner workings would allow it to better Opera, and completely miss the mark by refusing to add an option — and such an elementary one.

Let me remind you how the best mail client in the world works: there’s no proper inbox like in the others, and the user never needs to move a message from one folder to another. There’s a special “Unread” folder (a magical folder, à la Spotlight), in which all unread messages arrive, and they stay there until they’ve been marked as read. Then, they’re no longer there — but they’re everywhere else: in the “Received” folder, in the sender’s folder, in the free-form searches. No tedious drag and dropping the messages to sort them, no unsorted 10,000-message inbox, all you have to do is click a button (or press ‘K’) once you’ve read / responded / processed a message — that is, when you don’t need it in your inbox anymore. And Mail.app could do the exact same thing, if only it didn’t insist on marking messages as read without asking me what I want.

Not sure that was quite clear, but it’s very hard to explain, and all you can do is try. I already converted my stepfather, so why wouldn’t you follow?

So, in the end, maybe it won’t matter a bit that it doesn’t manage to import my mail from Opera. Anyway, considering how some experts have criticized Mail.app, I’m probably not missing much. I can only hope Opera will work well on OS X.

P.S. There it is, all transferred in a few seconds (well, more like ten minutes to compress my gigabyte of archived mail, and one minute to copy the zip file) from Opera to Opera. And they were kind enough to use the native OS X theme as a default — although nobody uses those kinds of tabs, so I’ll have to check their site for a better, more modern skin.

P.S. Multiply the migration time by two, because it’s substantially better if I import the right mail archive, the one that’s up to date. Go figure why Opera 8 ended up storing my mail in the Opera754 folder.

18 May

The joy of Spotlight: importing my gigabyte of archives mail (from my Eudora mailboxes, which I kept up to date all this time because I feared Opera would hold my data hostage), the computer lags, CPU load is 100%, iPulse indicates it’s all in the system layer (which means it isn’t Mail.app per se hogging the CPU, but Spotlight running behind), the CPU temperature is 77°C (that’s 170°F according to Dashboard — exactly when is the fan supposed to start spinning like crazy and sounding like a jet taking off?). Accidentally quitting Mail.app (which doesn’t bother to ask me if I really wanted to, and I should be glad it wasn’t while it was importing one of the biggest mailboxes), putting the computer to sleep, and as soon as I wake it up the CPU is at 100% again, and it’s still Spotlight, catching up.

Of course, it isn’t such a big deal for me, as it’ll only happen once, but I wonder how Spotlight must make your computer crawl if you have subscribed to one of those big, chatty mailing lists.

P.S. Spotlight a Stoplight for Video Pros:

Both 10.4 and 10.4.1 are causing problems for video work, and a vast majority of these problems are caused by Spotlight’s insistence upon indexing hard drives. As the post notes, “You can manually tell each drive to not be indexed, but that’s EACH TIME you mount them or reboot. That’s no good.”

19 May

Okay, enough playing around. In Opera, I have to press a key to make an email disappear from the active view, and I only have to type in the little box below in order to send a quick reply, in Mail.app I have to… click everywhere, all the time. I like Mail.app, I like my Apple mouse (like I expected, I don’t miss the right button all that much — unlike the scroll wheel), and it annoys me that Opera doesn’t support AppleScript and doesn’t display a mail count in the Dock, but all that is far from enough reason to justify enduring Mail.app. So, yeah, I spent almost a full day importing my old messages, sorting them, removing spam (because I was importing the Eudora copy, the backup, the one I don’t bother to remove spam from), all for nothing — so what? Besides it’s not actually for nothing: I’m going to keep the Mail.app setup and make it download a copy of my mail every so often, so that Spotlight indexes them. Until Mail 5.0 becomes a real, worthy mail client.

The indispensable plug-in that makes my rant against Mail.app obsolete (well, except for the lack of a Quick Reply box, but that I can live without — after all, I did consider it evil until I got used to it with Opera): Mail Act-On [via].

Forget about flags and Spotlight folders: Mail Act-On is an add-on designed for just my kind of people — geeks who like their software to obey them by the keypress, and want to manage their information and organization flows in the most efficient possible way — by allowing them to assign any kind of actions to an elementary shortcut (and as I describe it I realize I might have thought of looking for something like this before ranting). As a bonus, it’s configurable directly from within Mail.app, just by adding personalized rules.

A simple rule to send my personal mail to an “Incoming” folder as soon as it arrives, followed for instance by another simple rule to archive messages when I press ‘<’ and ‘W’ (I changed the default Act-On key to French keyboards better), and there you go. Message organization at your fingertips. It’s one keypress more than in Opera, but it’s very much worth it this time (and this way it’s less prone to accidental triggering, too). Yippee!

You can’t not install this. (Together, of course, with Mail Fixer Cage Fighter in order to get rid of the horrible Mail 2.0 toolbar.)

P.S. The drawback is that it’s an interface-less plug-in that doesn’t even install any example rules, which means that, if you didn’t already know you needed it, nothing will tell you. Unlike Opera, Mail Act-On doesn’t create reveal the need. But, believe me, you do need it — a little like with Quicksilver, but QS starts working right out of the box.

P.S. Thanks for everyone who’s linking to me as an example of Mail Act-On usage. Considering how useful essential this plug-in is, I can’t believe there aren’t more link-worthy detailed blog posts about it.

Oh, and the overlay from the screenshot above (which appears when you press the Act-On activation key, as a reminder of all available shortcuts — and is also clickable, of course) got prettier since.

Synergy: a configuration text file to edit, and you can control all your computers from the same keyboard and mouse. It’s completely free and open source, runs on Windows, OS X and Unix, and, more importantly, it just-works, immediately, no trouble at all, in the background, not even preventing you from using each computer’s keyboard and mouse when you need to.

Except, of course, it’s not so pleasant having to control a Windows system with a Mac keyboard (and vice versa, presumably), and I’d rather the control could be reciprocal rather than having to define a client and server, but it’s still impressive and useful.

Probably not advisable for university dorms and some cable networks, however, since there isn’t even the most basic password system.

21 May

Why doesn’t any of the iTunes menu bar programs I tried offer a real volume control? I’m not asking for much, just a slider like the system volume’s — I can’t possibly be the only one wanting that, and it can’t be so hard to do.

24 May

Write down your passwords:

A Microsoft security expert said banning users from writing down passwords compromises security because it results in rarely-changed weak passwords used across multiple systems.

For once, a Microsoft expert says something smart.

25 May

I don’t know if it’s an addition that nobody noticed yet, or an older functionality I didn’t know about, but the way Safari 2.0 intelligently shortens page titles to fit them into tabs totally fascinates me. (And not only when it’s four in the morning.)

Morse coders faster than SMSers:

In a competition on the Leno show, a pair of Morse coders kicked the asses of two SMSers for speed.

So how about telephone or PDA keyboards using morse code? You learn Graffiti to use a Palm, so why not morse?

Pick a good password, part III:

One system that I read about years ago was to customize passwords for every site in the same way. So, for example, if your name is George W. Bush and your favorite number is 43, simply incorporate that into every password. Also use a certain number of letters from the site. I use 5. Want to login to Yahoo? Maybe your password is gwb43yahoo. How about Hotmail? gwb43hotma. Lifehacker? gwb43lifeh. It’s worked for me for years.

Oh, that’s all fine if you trust every site you subscribe to. I wouldn’t ever think of using the same, easily figurable, password convention on every gay chatroom, where gay webmasters and sub-webmasters and their friends are liable to know me and hence have a reason to take advantage of it (even the paranoid have real enemies — and Im not even paranoid, only pragmatic). And even the bigger sites… do you really want the whole technical staff at Yahoo, and anyone they know, to get your password to every other site you have subscribed to?*

Not to mention I would even less think of bragging in public.

* : but then, you already do use the exact same password on every site, so… forget I even talked about it (for a change).

26 May

27 May

If I were Steve Jobs, I’d be upset to death about this. Actually, I’m not Steve Jobs, and I have an iMac, and yet I am pissed off. Why do the dumbasses who design (which isn’t quite the word, considering how much work it mustn’t be) USB hubs for the Mac mini make sure they copy the form factor, the style and the material (and with mixed success at that), and then add LEDs and logos everywhere? How stupid do you have to be to think your customers will want a hub that’s assorted their mini, only without the subtlety and sobriety that characterize Apple’s, and particularly the mini’s, design?

Please, don’t tell me people actually buy this crap, I don’t wanna know…


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