Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

1 July 2006

@apple@

WriteRoom [via]: free, no-frills full-screen text editor for OS X. I just love writing this way; there were already a bunch of professional writing tools with such functionality, but nothing on the free side.

I’m not a fan of auto-save (“Your text is auto-saved whenever you stop typing for a few seconds”), and the fact that WriteRoom saves text in its own data store (Command-S exports to a new text file) is both the second coolest feature and a hindrance: it doesn’t matter for writing blog posts, but if I were going to write a novel (yeah, as if) I would be mindful to trust my text to hidden files (yeah, I could Command-S regularly to new backup files, but it just doesn’t feel the same — what it needs, really, is a keyboard shortcut to immediately save to a new timestamped file on the desktop, without asking for a filename).

Still, the icon is now a resident on my dock. I’m just not quite sure what I’ll be using it for, yet.

 

(Oh, by the way, the initial colors are a bit surprising — well, not so much when you know the history of computers — but they’re customizable.)

5 July

@web@

The existing netscape.com community (why, yes, there is such a thing) hates the new Digg-like homepage with a passion. That’s just hilarious — way to go, lifting off a whole site’s concept, with no regard whatsoever for what actually works for your audience. But then, what would Netscape be if it weren’t for that kind of organizational blunders?

I have been using Netscape for 10 years because it WAS the superior browser — now it is as INFERIOR as any other choice!

Gotta feel for the poor guy who’s going back to Internet Explorer so he can have msn.com as a homepage rather than netscape.com.

 

(Incidentally, there seems to be some Javascript at netscape.com slowing down Safari — yeah, I know, what Javascript doesn’t slow down Safari?)

 

@web@

I finally could connect to GéoPortail (with Firefox; it doesn’t seem to like Safari, despite claims of the contrary). Damn, that’s crappy. Well, the photos of Paris are crappy — much less detailed than the recently updated Google Earth ones, and washed out and un appealing — but IGN wins, quite expectedly, on the rest of the country, where Google’s pictures have much poorer resolution.

And, unlike Google, they also have complete maps of the country. Scanned maps. Seriously. Bitmap, scanned maps. Utterly unreadable maps. Freaking clueless morons. So, as I recall, the French administration is working on its own Google and Google Books now, right? That’ll be fun.

 

@apple@

Megazoomer [via] makes windows full-screen. Just press Command-Enter, and the front-most window grows to fill your entire monitor. Press the same keys, and it shrinks again.

Yay. It’s a SIMBL plugin that modifies existing applications, so it’s bound not to work well with everything and wreak havoc every now and then, but it’s still very cool, and seems to work just as advertised. Very smooth, perfect to zoom in on a web page, show something to someone on your computer, or focus on your work.

 

@apple@

DeskBrowse [via] has two modes: a regular browsing mode and Websposé, which places you in a password-protectable ‘kiosk-mode’ web environment ideal for allowing other users or guests to browse the web safely without any harm coming to your system.

If you don’t mind your guests having access to your Gmail account and whatnot if you haven’t logged out from within Safari. Other than that, it’s just yet another application using WebKit, only it appears and disappears with a hotkey. Must be nothing short of revolutionary.

 

@apple@

Apple Phones Home, Too. Seems like OS X 10.4.7 regularly contacts apple.com to ascertain that your widgets are up to date or legit or something. It’s amazing that in 2006 a major OS maker could still naively ignore user paranoia… a few months only after being burned on the exact same issue with the iTunes ministore. Some people never learn.

Anyway: instructions to disable the Widget Advisory (not that I’m among the paranoid crowd — I couldn’t care less — but it may be of interest to someone).

 

@apple@

Ungenius – How QA Really Works. I’m sorry, but you won’t convince me that Steve Jobs isn’t rushing new products to release before appropriate testing. You don’t release a pocket music player without noticing that pocketing it will scratch it beyond recognition. You don’t use a new plastic to manufacture your notebooks without finding out that it won’t withstand the heat, or the sweat, or something. All it would take is a dozen people trying out the products for two weeks in real-world conditions before they were released.

Oh, wait, it’s not just that Apple hardware is rushed out — it’s that they’re so afraid their upcoming products might be leaked, they’d rather release them insufficiently tested than let a couple units out out of the campus’s gates. Yeah, that is now “one of the (many) ways that Apple’s legendary secrecy hurts the company.” Big time. That’s not how business is done. And that’s definitely not how Quality Assurance is done.

 

@apple@

The Cult of Mac Blog – New Case Rumored for Mac Pro: “Think Secret, often reliable in their prognosticating…” Excuse me now?

There’s been a fair amount of… shall we say, controversial material on this blog, lately, but now it just looks like they’re begging you to unsubscribe to their feed.

8 July

@apple@

What the hell do I have to do to make OS X remember my custom keyboard shortcuts when I log in or switch users? What’s the point of letting me change Exposé shortcuts if they’re going to overwrite them every time?

 

@apple@

I’m checking out podcasts and videoblogs these days, to see the state of affairs, and boy is iTunes crappy at playing video podcasts. If you double-click a subscribed podcast, instead of an individual entry, the audio will play but the video won’t, and it will disappear again if you click on anything else in iTunes while playing. And, once I get the video, it’s still slow and occasionally chopped, and the playback controls themselves are buggy, too. Going to have to switch to a specialized web-TV client (I know there are a couple, can’t remember the names right now, but I’ll probably blog about them later on).

 

@apple@

Put your Mac to sleep in two seconds: “Just press Command-Option and then hold the Eject button for about 2 seconds and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Too bad my Macally keyboard’s Eject button doesn’t work (unless I install the drivers, which make the computer hang/crash), but then I have Quicksilver.

 

@apple@

VoodooPad 3.0 is out and I hate the updated interface — I couldn’t even find an option to open each page in a window like I used to do with the previous version (before I switched to OmniOutliner Pro). I like using Exposé, goddamnit!

 

@web@

Free wifi in Paris, and just in time for the next mayor elections, too. Hey, I already anticipated not being able to resist the DS lite once Opera is available, so I’m all for it.

I’m also quite curious to see how much time it’ll take to actually work (or be cancelled) — this kind of thing, there’s no way it’s going to be on schedule and scalable and reliable and everything.

 

@web@

Web-based barcode reader (uses your webcam — via Flash — to read barcodes, like Delicious Library). I won’t be bothered to restart Safari so my USB webcam’s driver can be reinitialized, and I’m a bit puzzled as to what use this thing can actually have, but it’s cool tech nonetheless.

 

@web@

If Wikipedia won’t list you, just create your page on WikiBios. That’s a pretty interesting concept, but I find it rather poorly implemented: you have to register in order to create or edit a page; the registration form asks you for your friend’s e-mail addresses to they can be invited (that’s so 2004); there’s no popularity rating, no tags, no way at all to navigate the database except for searching by name. I could set up a more interesting version of this concept in 24 hours — and why don’t I, really? Mhh, I’m totally keeping the idea in mind.

 

@web@

Friendster patents social networks. Riiight.

 

@web@

LiveJournal-integrated Jabber. I’ve been thinking for a while of doing something like this for gayattitude, but I’m absolutely not the person to work on it. Still, good to know that it is actually, realistically feasible.

13 July

@apple@

Yahoo! Messenger for Mac 3.0 beta 1 [via]. Very sleek interface, does webcams, avatars and all. I have nobody to test it with, but they announce upcoming MSN compatibility (now if only that also worked with the webcam, that would be fantastic).

Ooh, what do you know… by the time I got to actually publish this article, it seems that the MSN gateway is now operational — but they only mention IMs, not webcam conferencing. More about that later.

 

@apple@

I use this [via]: a Digg-like OS X application tracker. That is, a website that lists (or it will, when it’s out of beta and the databases are full) all applications and their updates, and allows users to vote and review software. It’s not fundamentally different from VersionTracker, but when it’s all done the Digg inspiration might make it much more convenient.

 

@misc@

The first flash mob?

@apple@

Productivity apps are so crude. I’ve tried doing a roundup of all the Yojimbo / StickyBrain / WhatEver crowd again, like all those GTD addicts tend to do every once in a while, in order to try and solve this little problem that’s getting more and more evident: my notes and thoughts and whatnot are scattered.

I currently write my to-do items in OmniOutliner Pro, classified by project, using named styles with keyboard shortcuts to highlight the most important and urgent items (which, to GTD aficionados, would be “next actions”, but I’m not working in that structured a way yet, and doubt I’ll ever be). Trouble is, that’s a big file, with lots of items per category, and there’s no way to display, at a glance, all the stuff I need to work on first, all my highlighted items. No smart folders or anything. (I know I could use Kinkless, but it just feels… I don’t know, awkward. Slapped on. Unnatural. And why the hell wouldn’t OOP have native smart folders?)

At the same time, I’m using Yojimbo to store web clippings — information, hints and tips of all kinds, graphical inspiration, technical and administrative reference, etc. — but there’s another problem here: I file stuff into Yojimbo, never to look back at it again. Because my notes and to-do items are in OmniOutliner, I just about never open the Yojimbo main window. Links go into the drop dock, nothing ever comes out.

What I need is to store everything in the one place, and that place to have smart folders and be able to handle web archives as well as quick notes. Even if OmniOutliner ever grew smart folders, it would necessarily remain inadequate for web archives (even if it ever grew smart folders). Yojimbo, on the other hand, isn’t quite great at managing one-line to-do items, but my biggest issue is actually that smart collections are terribly limited. You can flag and label items in your library, but the only smart collection you’re allowed to have displays flagged items — that’s not enough for me; how come they never thought we might need to search for specific labels? The most puzzling thing is, SOHOsomething and DEVONwhatever have the same limitation: little or no smart folder support. In these Tiger/Spotlight times, when Apple’s native apps support them extensively, that’s insane.

The only note-management package I could find that would support my smart collection needs is Mori, but it’s lagging on the other aspects: I find it weaker than Yojimbo at one-liner management (though I couldn’t quite pinpoint why) and, more importantly, it doesn’t do web archives, but simply creates a hyperlink when you drop a web shortcut onto it. That’s no good — you can’t trust the internet to store the information you need forever (and forever in the same place).

I’m not quite sure what the ideal program would be — designing the same interface conveniently list web archives and short to-do items wouldn’t be an easy task — but I know what would be already be a good start: Yojimbo, with the extensive, customizable smart collections it should never have shipped without (and folder hierarchy, too, to unclutter the drop dock once I create one folder per project). Isn’t that simple enough?

And there’s another thing I can’t believe is nowhere to be found: tag support. Hello? Have you looked at the web lately? Or, for that matter, do you have any idea what GTD is? You know, that might help, if you’re going to make productivity software.

 

[+19h] DEVONthink does have some smart folder support — but that requires the Professional version, and you have to manually link a folder to an AppleScript file… I can believe Merlin Mann calls that “drop-dead easy to use.

14 July

@apple@

So the Yahoo/MSN IM interoperability is operational, with a twist: if you’ve downloaded 3.0 beta 1 (for OS X, don’t know or care about Windows, as you should know by now) before they activated it, you have to download it again, even though it’s still called 3.0 beta 1. Okay, sure, whatever.

Anyway, I’m a bit puzzled as to why you have to declare, using a tiny, inconvenient select thingy, whether you’re adding an MSN or Yahoo contact (MSN contacts have @’s and Yahoo contacts don’t, right?), and… well, I couldn’t get it to work. Neither Adium nor Mercury received authorization requests, and both users appear offline from Yahoo! Messenger. From what I’ve read, it’s quite possible that it wouldn’t even work with MSN Messenger for Windows, but only the latest version of Windows Live Messenger. That’s too bad, because Yahoo! Messenger for Mac really seems like a pleasant piece of software.

 

@apple@

Pimp Your Quicksilver.

20 July

@web@

You’d think that free (as in beer) web-2.0-era services would refrain from using the lame marketing techniques of the previous century (Dell just announced they’d ditch their rebate system, didn’t they?), but you might be wrong.

Gizmo Project, the wannabe Skype killer, launches a great promotion, its home page announcing: “Free Calls to 60 Countries - over 2 Billion Phones!” You might take that to mean you’d get free VoIP calls from your Gizmo account to any of the 2 billion landlines in 60 countries. Because, well, that does seem to be what it says. And pretty much all tech blogs have announced it that way (because their editors are paid to release, not verify or analyze, the news).

I was surprised, but didn’t originally check for myself, because I couldn’t care less about VoIP (or telephone at all), and because it’s too hot in here, until I found out on TechCrunch (who also got it wrong the first time, and was corrected by a reader) that there’s an asterisk on the details page. You have to scroll way, way down and read the very fine print to find out that it’s only free when you’re calling a landline number registered to an active Gizmo user — that is, as a Gizmo user, you say your landline number is such-and-such, and then you can get calls for free on this number. Which… uh, if that’s your regular, registered number, changes are your internet connection, computer, Gizmo and headset are right next to it and you might as well use them to answer incoming calls.

So you don’t get free calls to 2 billion landlines, but to a few thousand “active” Gizmo users — i.e., people who use Gizmo regularly enough to earn the right to get free incoming landline calls. Oh, and, while they’re at it, they reserve the right to limit call length, too.

 

Yeah. In short: bullshit. Loads of bullshit. I say, vote with your wallet (since VoIP is free anyway, it won’t matter much to you), and stick to Skype. Which I have no vested interest in since, as explained before, I couldn’t care less about Skype, Gizmo or whatever. It only pisses me off to see that kind of marketing crap — even more so when it’s validated out of sheer laziness by most blogs.

22 July

@windows@

Engadget, about Microsoft’s iPod (wannabe) killer that was finally confirmed:

The service and device will not be PlaysForSure compliant, meaning you will not be able to use your Zune player with Napster or Vongo, for example. This will be an entirely new system. Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two entirely separate division that will not have any crossover.

 

@windows@

GigaOM:

The real and perhaps the only story in the news is that Microsoft’s partners – from device makers to music services – just got double crossed by the company they choose to believe in. […]

Let me break this down: Zune will compete with […] anyone dumb enough to buy into Microsoft’s visions of Urge, Media Player, PlayForSure etc.

Not that it’s much different worse than what Steve Jobs did to Motorola — although Motorola knew beforehand that the iPod existed, and should have pulled back when Apple set a limit to the number of iTunes track, whereas Microsoft’s partners… eh, where did they think they were going, trusting Microsoft?

 

@apple@

Now the real question is, when is Apple going to release their wireless iPod / iPhone / iTablet? A few months before Microsoft releases the Zune, with the risk of its announcement being later eclipsed by Microsoft’s (and of rushing to market a product that might not be completely ready — not that they would mind), or a few months after, when they might be called followers? I guess the deciding factor, here, is how much better they think their product will be: if they can expect the iTablet to wipe out everything else, they can afford to give Microsoft a few months on the stage. We all know how modest Steve Jobs can be, and we know how Microsoft understands user expectations when it comes to hardware devices (just look at the Origami… or the Xbox, even — they needed all of Microsoft’s clout and selling at loss and Windows / DirectX compatibility to get the original box any kind of adoption, and the 360’s success can mostly be attributed to Sony going bonkers), so I wouldn’t expect Apple’s retaliation to come before spring of 2007. (Well, if it’s only about adding wifi to the iPod, they can very well do it by summer’s end, though.)

I guess the DS Lite + Opera combo is getting more interesting by the minute. Although I can’t say I found the video particularly enticing.

 

@windows@

Oh, and that one puzzles me. Gizmodo:

That scenario is to provide ubiquitous access to digital media from a wide range of Windows-powered devices in what ultimately aspires to be one part MySpace, one part iTunes and one part Xbox Live.

MySpace? Are they just throwing buzzwords around, or are they serious? Is Zune going to integrate with MSN Spaces (and only MSN Spaces) and let your update your crappy excuse for a blog from any wifi access point? You know, you don’t need a $400 device for that; you might as well use SMS/MMS.

By the way, why isn’t anyone mentioning an embedded web browser?

 

@windows@

[+3h] Rough Type:

Early last year, Bill Gates commented on Apple’s success with its “closed” iTunes/iPod system and laid out Microsoft’s very different, “open” strategy for the music-player market.

Heh.

It was already funny, in itself, hearing Microsoft tout “openness,” but it gets even better in retrospect.

25 July

@web@

coComment gets a clue, and now tracks all comments on blog posts you have flagged. I still find the interface for flagging posts too cumbersome and, more importantly, it doesn’t auto-detect comments and only works with a number of recognized blog engines, so it won’t ever track comments on my own blogs, for instance — unlike co.mments .

 

@web@

Opera DS Browser movie & impressions. You know what? I wasn’t impressed with the promotional videos; in those videos I just find it obnoxiously slow (nevermind the missing functionalities) and not too pratical to use. Forget it, we’ll just have to wait for Apple to discontinue the Macintosh line and release an OS X version for UMPCs.

 

@apple@

Bah, my post mentioning the wireless Mighty Mouse more-than-rumor didn’t even have time to get out of draft status before Apple released it.

 

@apple@

And while we’re at seeing rumors instantaneously come true, the latest one about a “none-touch” iPod interface are pretty cool — a touch-screen that detects your finger hovering near it to trigger the virtual scroll-wheel’s display and operate it. Nice way to solve the finger smudges problem.

26 July

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

@apple@

He’s only spent a couple hours on my desk, and I’ll miss him (true that those things boot fast, and seeing it instantaneously open a .dmg or launch an application is a bit frustrating), but that’s nothing compared to what I’ll have to deal with on Monday.

I can’t believe they’re reserving three function keys — the same keys that should be allocated to that dear Exposé — to control keyboard backlight. Are those really the same designers who decline to integrate a memory card reader because that would confuse users?

Thank god you can set the system up so function keys will be accessible without pressing Fn, but I can’t quite understand why that’s not the default setting.

 

[+20min.] Oh, by the way: no noticeable whine (not that I would have heard it over my room’s fan blowing full-speed).

27 July

@apple@

I’ve often cursed the inability to select and copy some text from a text clipping; turns out you can. It works just as you’d expect it, only that… the selection is invisible. How stupid is that?

 

@apple@

Winners announced for the Fake Leopard Screenshot Contest. I agree that the winner should be immediately hired by Apple; I’m not much impressed by the others, though.

 

@music@

Daring Fireball has a nice writeup of the Zune news, with a few interesting points:

And so now that Microsoft is abandoning the licensing model (or at least deprecating it) in favor of a closed model that they completely control, will all those pundits who’ve been predicting doom for the iPod for the last four years declare that Microsoft, like Apple, is now making the same mistake with Zune that Apple made with the Macintosh in the 1980s? […]

Sure, there are all sorts of innovative new features supposedly slated for the Zune, but if people look at it and their initial reaction is “Oh, it’s an iPod rip-off,” that’s a pretty crummy first impression. Does anyone at Microsoft realize that rip-offs aren’t considered cool?

On that last matter, I think Microsoft’s perspective is skewed by how much they’ve been able to get away with Windows, and particularly Vista previews: the thing is, Windows users couldn’t care less how much Vista is “inspired” by OS X; that might not be true at all when it comes to a consumer electronics device — especially as cool and iconic as the iPod is.

29 July

@misc@

The DADVSI law (the French DMCA) is revised by the Conseil constitutionnel, and we’re fucked (because, beside being hostile, it was also poorly written).

Now I’m waiting for the Ministère de la culture to declare that, since their law wasn’t written right, they’ll rework it to make sure the no-jail policy is enforced. Yeah, any minute now, I’m sure.

On the other hand, maybe that last straw could motivate people to organize and sustain a complete boycott of all CDs and DVDs? One can dream.

 

@music@

Microsoft to use Xbox tactic on Zune, unapologetically selling the device (and, presumably, the music, too, if the rumors about swapping iTunes tracks for free is to be believed) at a loss for the first five years. The decision was quite expected; the coming clean about it wasn’t as much, but isn’t surprising; bear in mind, however, that this strategy has merely managed to get the Xbox to survive for five years, not kill the PlayStation — at all.

 

@photo@

Helicon Focus [via] creates a picture with infinite depth of field from several photographs of the same subject (kind of the focusing equivalent of HDR — and the ideal companion to the plenoptic camera). The examples are pretty impressive, and certainly clearer than my description.

 

@apple@

Google Earth Mac facelift.

 

@web@

Using Google Images as a visual translator.

  • The DADVSI law (the French DMCA) is revised by the Conseil constitutionnel, and we’re fucked (because, beside being hostile, it was also poorly written).
    Now I’m waiting for the Ministère de la culture to declare that, since their law wasn’t written right, they’ll rework it to make sure the no-jail policy is enforced. Yeah, any minute now, I’m sure.
    On the other hand, maybe that last straw could motivate people to organize and sustain a complete boycott of all CDs and DVDs? One can dream.

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