#FF00AA

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

 

Twitter Work Contact

1 March 2007

You are unable to log in to the user account *** at this time

@apple@

My brand new MacBook finally returned from AppleCare today, almost a month after it stopped working (I’m not entirely sure the delay is Apple’s fault, actually — in retrospect I have trouble trusting an affiliate who has a $60 “express” option to get your computer checked within the week). It’s back with a new motherboard (sorry, I meant logic board) and, for some reason, a nice message at the login window: “You are unable to log in to the user account ‘admin’ at this time.

So, what to do then? Put the OS X install CD in the drive, restart the computer while pressing’ C’, and go to Utilities / Reset Password to reset the password for your FileVault account. I have no idea what went wrong, not to mention how a logic board exchange caused that, but all it took was resetting the password to what it already was supposed to be. (It took a bit of trial and error for me, though, because the install CD booted in Qwerty and I typed my password in Azerty, assuming that an Apple install was intelligent enough to figure what layout my keyboard has.)

 

Moral of the story: enabling FileVault for the admin account is a bad idea.

2 March

@apple@

A nice Automator workflow to backup your most important files:

Finder: Get Specified Finder Items

Finder: Create Archive

Finder: Rename Finder Items

Finder: Move Finder Items

I’ve got to do that, and expand it with a Transmit upload to store the files on a server somewhere.

 

@apple@

Maynor demos MacBook Wi-Fi hijack, admits mistakes [via]. Don’t ask me, I don’t know or care anymore.

 

@web@

Adobe Photoshop Online. Weird idea — I still think that’s a pretty useless novelty market, and I don’t see what Adobe’s involvement can change about that (except for killing of all the competition).

 

@computer@

One-half PC, one-half autonomous Aibo-like cat. Awesome. (But just a concept.)

4 March

Speed up Apple Mail

@apple@

A little AppleScript or a couple Terminal commands to compact Mail’s internal database and make your mailboxes display much faster. You definitely need to run this every once in a while.

I’m surprised — I assumed Mail basically only used Spotlight, not Spotlight plus SQLite. (And, yes, maybe that was stupid of me.)

5 March

Microsoft has actually copied Exposé

@windows@

I agree that Flip 3D can’t adequately be called a copy of Exposé; it’s more of an evolution of Alt-Tab, certainly inspired by Exposé but rather different functionally, and adapted to the keyboard-centric usage of Windows. (And, in that respect — and in the opinion of someone who hasn’t seen a Vista install in person yet — it’s a pretty good evolution of an ages-old feature.)

However, it turns out there is actually an Exposé clone in the latest IntelliPoint software for Microsoft’s mice and trackballs. Oh, and it looks weird.

iPhone on Windows Mobile

@apple@

A nice iPhone skin video [via]. While it’s the usual “pretty buttons launching the regular apps” there’s a nice attention to detail not only in the “slide to unlock” thing but also the organic scrolling (watch the video until the end for that).

6 March

iTunes 7.1

@apple@

iTunes 7.1 has full-screen Cover Flow (at last — maybe there’s hope for the next Front Row after all, or even the Apple TV). And funky resource images (in anticipation of resolution independence, no doubt).

It also has some unspecified “improved sorting options” that I assume to be the daunting amount of checkboxes in the View Options window (oops, no, not even that), but still no support for average album rating in smart playlists, meaning I’ll still need my old and trusty CoverFlow.app.

Oh, yeah, and iTunes 7.1 does Apple TVs, obviously.

 

Doesn’t the Preferences window look different? I can’t check, I updated all three computers at the same time (which, yeah, is stupid).

9 March

Ping

@apple@

If you’re wondering why I’m posting so little and whether I’m dead (answer: I’m not, I’m writing several posts a day on Beware The Frog), all you have to do is check out the number of blog posts about how Steve Jobs would have been spotted using an iPhone, and you’ll know there’s really not a single bit of news worthy of discussing these days in the fields #FF00AA deals with (which is not just the Mac, mind you).

OF COURSE HE’S GOT AN IPHONE! He’s obviously had an iPhone for months and hid it and he’s finally able to use it publicly and display it and make everyone around him jealous! Is that kind of information really worthy of everyone publishing the same picture of him WHERE YOU CAN’T SEE THE FRACKING IPHONE?!

iTunes 7.1 bugfixes

@apple@

Hey, just noticed — pausing full-screen video podcasts doesn’t exit full screen anymore, and I can finally watch zefrank’s videos full-screen, too (whereas they used to launch in the little artwork window for no reason). Yay!

10 March

Apple Refurbs

@apple@

Ungenius praises Apple refurbs (as a former AppleCare guy and Apple Store Genius, he should know). Now that I’m using a MacBook that went through AppleCare and got a logic board exchange, I guess I can just as well start considering the possibility of buying my next Mac as a refurb. New is overrated.

Photoshop CS3 Extended

@computer@

Adobe pre-announces (?) Photoshop CS3 Extended with support for 3D and motion video.

I don’t quite get it. I mean, painting across video frames is a very welcome addition, but… integrating 3D graphics? They can’t expect to integrate a production-grade 3D renderer into Photoshop, so that rules out any kind of graphics-intensive works; are architects and medical professionals an important enough market to add that kind of bloat to Photoshop? More importantly, exactly what will that really add to the users’ workflows that they couldn’t do before using Photoshop together with a CAD program?

11 March

Google Reader

@web@

I don’t know how long Google Reader’s new interface has been online (I don’t use it, I’ve got too many subscriptions for anything short of NetNewsWire) but the way articles are marked read as you scroll past them — rather than just when they’re loaded, or, conversely, clicked — is awesome.

Here’s hoping Brent Simmons totally rips that feature in NNW 3.0’s combined view (I know I could test the beta and try for myself, but I don’t want to mess around with my feeds).

MacBook and Teleport

@apple@

When my brand-new MacBook, and very first laptop, went away to Ireland for repairs — and stayed there for a full month — I rediscovered my great IceKey desktop keyboard, and I figured I’d see the error of my way and grow out of the ridiculous novelty of controlling my iMac from my MacBook’s keyboard through Teleport. Maybe when the laptop came back from AppleCare I’d find a place to put it by the iMac’s side, and run Adium and Mail on it and teleport to it from the iMac.

Well, not so. I tried that for a couple hours, and went back to my previous setup. Sure, the MacBook’s keyboard doesn’t have a numeric keypad, or right-hand modifier keys, and while it does have a pretty nice feel it isn’t as great as the IceKey (on the other hand, it’s far less noisy), but it just makes more sense that way. And there’s the trackpad. I’m in love with my trackpad and two-finger scrolling.

 

I’d love to just shelve my iMac’s keyboard, but I need to keep it: I cant click the tablet (which has to be connected directly to it) while pressing Shift, Ctrl or Cmd on the MacBook keyboard — I assume modifier keys are processed at too low a level for Teleport to intervene. And that’s very annoying in Photoshop.

 

Ah, the stain that’s forming left of the trackpad starts to show on photograph. The weird thing is, it’s reddish/pinkish. As if the MacBook were absorbing my blood through my pores.

A good MacBook sleeve/case?

@computer@

Speaking of MacBook, I’ve been looking for a good case for it but didn’t find anything interesting. Ideally it would just be a sleeve (rather than a complete bag with zipper and all) that I would just place in my bag — but I’d like it to be much more padded than anything I saw, and also a little rigid if possible. Anything that isn’t tailor-made for 13-inch MacBooks needn’t apply. Right now I’m using a sleeve custom-made from padded envelopes and velvet-like covering, but the damn thing is shedding all over my laptop.

And don’t get me started on the Speck SeeThru, I didn’t buy a MacBook to encase it in such a hideous shell.

12 March

QuartzClocks

@apple@

QuartzClocks [via] is a nice little freeware desktop clock that reminds me a lot of Ghrone, only much better: you get a choice of either a digital clock (with customizable font and color) or several clock faces (with a few quite original — yet pretty — ones), all of which are completely vectorized and hence scale very nicely as big as you like.

It seems to have everything you might need (plus a screensaver) except for the option to stick on the desktop against Exposé.

Heating up AirPort

@apple@

Should I be worried that my MacBook is the hottest to the touch at the AirPort card’s level? I know I’m using it all the time for Teleport (yeah, I’ve finally decided to go wireless for sheer convenience — but only keystrokes go through and they are encrypted), but still, getting so hot…

Sonicum Speakers

@music@

I don’t know how they sound, but I like the design.

The Gorb

@web@

TechCrunch, about The Gorb:

Online reputation online (sic) is a fascinating area, partially because eBay, through their feedback score, is the only company to have reached scale. […]

Gorb allows, even insists on, anonymous comments and ratings about an individual. Like someone? Hate them? Tell Gorb all about it, using their handy Ajax slider to rate them from 1 - 10 in their professional and personal lives, and leave written comments as well. […]

With Gorb, there’s absolutely nothing to lose by telling someone how bad they smell, or how much you dislike the tone of their voice. Libel away.

The best part is, you can rate people even if they haven’t registered, as long as you know their email address — it’s like a Wikipedia for egos. Yeah, it’s ugly, but it’s also awesome. And it seems too be pretty well thought-out through and through, and made pretty seriously.

14 March

A Zune keyboard

@music@

The funny part isn’t that a company deemed it necessary to release a keyboard with a Zune dock to complement their existing iPod model; it’s that it’s coming from a definitely, utterly independent company who just happens to be partners with Microsoft over the production of gaming mice and keyboards.

But I’m sure they’re only launching that new keyboard because the market demands it.

15 March

Samsung Q1 Ultra

@computer@

As pointless as Origami (a.k.a. UMPC) devices are, at least the Samsung Q1 was sexy — enough so that I wouldn’t have minded getting one in my manpurse if it’d been dropped on my doorstep for free without me asking`.

Well, that’s fixed. Even without the newly added split keyboard (which uses a comparable layout to the software keyboard, only with tiny, impractical keys — wonder how screwed-up the software keyboard must be for Samsung to need to add that kind of unusable stuff), the new design would still be ugly.

16 March

Safely updating OS X

@apple@

Unsanity [via]:

When you see the “Optimizing System Performance” phase of a software update, Mac OS X is really updating prebinding. Updating prebinding has a very, very nasty bug in it. If multiple processes are updating prebinding at the same time, then it is possible for a system file to be completely zero’d out. […] Most of the real “random” failures reported on various Mac OS X “troubleshooting” sites after a user has installed an Apple software update are actually manifestations of this bug. […]

In order to prevent yourself from being smacked in the face by this bug, follow this simple rule: When “Optimize System Performance” appears during the update process do not touch your computer and definitely do not launch any applications. Just back away from your computer box as if it were a swarm of bees.

I always keep doing some stuff while updating my system; guess I’ve been lucky so far. Phew.

17 March

Samsung F700

@phone@

Until the Q1 Ultra I posted yesterday, I’d been thinking for a while that Samsung was the consumer electronics company with the best design these days — without being a complete Apple copycat. (Software is another matter, I’ve been rather disappointed when I got to use it.)

And today I see the latest phone porn. Could this look any more like an iPhone with a sliding keyboard?

One password to all your accounts

@web@

This is not very new, and I might even have heard about it but not investigated further, but SuperGenPass [via] is a fantastically simple and clever idea: whenever you need to register to a new website, you just click a simple bookmarklet, input your master password (which isn’t stored anywhere), and the script takes combines that master password and the website’s domain name to compute (and fill in) a undecipherable password unique to that website. The same combination of master password and domain name will always output the same password, so you don’t need to remember or even know it at all, but a rogue website admin can not reverse-engineer the password you registered with to access your other accounts (well, not trivially, anyway). And phishing scams don’t work, because if a site pretends to be someone else they won’t have the right domain name.

Okay, so you’re in trouble if a website changes domain names after you registered (better save a copy of the backup version so that you can manually figure out your password for any domain — or you can use the algorithm for anything other than a website, actually). And, since SuperGenPass uses JavaScript to display in the current page, I suppose someone could theoretically craft a page that would detect SuperGenPass and steal your master password, but the risk of that is infinitesimal.

Come to think of it, I might just delete the bookmarklet but just save a copy of that backup version (which uses JavaScript locally, works offline, etc. — well, I haven’t checked the code, but I assume as much) to create my account passwords. I don’t need to type them in anyway (I have Safari and the Keychain for that); all I want is a way to retrieve my passwords if my saved passwords database ever gets lost.

(If you ever get to use it, you absolutely have to save a copy of that backup script in case you lose the bookmarklet: the algorithm might change down the line — it has apparently changed before — or the site could go under, and you would be sorry for your loss.)

Wondering why Twitter doesn’t nudge me anymore

Dynamic compression on iTunes

@apple@

Listen to podcasts much? Unless you’re very lucky and only listen to professionally done podcasts, you probably have to jump on your volume settings from podcast to podcast, and when you listen to the most poorly produced Skype conversations you probably have to choose between hearing some hosts shouting into your ears or not being able to discern anything their guests say.

Enter Volume Logic, a real-time dynamic range compressor plugin for iTunes that will boost the fainter voices (and the noise from their $2 microphones) and tone down the louder THX-like intros, giving you a nice, homogenous conversation that won’t unexpectedly jump at you. (You could also use it on music, but then that would be criminal.) It’s sixteen euros, comes with a 30-day demo, and, unless it crashes my computer or someone contributes a freeware alternative, I’m going to have to buy it.

It doesn’t change the files themselves, so it won’t do anything if you’re listening to podcasts on your iPod, though.

 

Corollary: if you’re publishing a podcast and you’re not compressing dynamic range in some way (either by checking the compression checkbox in GarageBand, or running your finished sound file in The Levelator, which is free — how fucking hard can that be?) then, no matter who you are and how interesting your podcast is, you’re goddamn moronic asshole.

19 March

USB webcams and OS X

@apple@

When the latest Tiger update announced added compatibility of USB webcams with iChat, I wondered what that meant exactly: was it just iChat? was it just some cameras? My antique Logitech certainly didn’t work any more than it used to (I need to install macam to use it, I have to disconnect and reconnect it every time I want it to work, and it doesn’t work in iChat without iChatUSBCam).

Well, it turns out that 10.4.9 will recognize any webcam that sports a Vista logo (yeah, don’t you love the irony of that). I haven’t tested yet, and I’m not sure whether I’ll buy the Xbox Live cam or a Logitech (well, since I own an Xbox, I guess it would be a little stupid not to buy the webcam I could use with it to moon my Uno opponents), but it seems to make sense (if you don’t want to read the forum thread, the idea is that Vista certification includes compatibility with some new universal USB webcam standard, which 10.4.9 can now handle — and those cams will work in iChat, PhotoBooth, etc., system-wide that is.)

 

P.S. That means the next cameras Apple releases, whether it be a stand-alone USB iSight or Cinema Displays with integrated webcams, will be 100% compatible with Windows, no driver needed. A point to remember for the next round of speculations.

20 March

Sort Fields in iTunes 7.1

@apple@

An explanation of iTunes 7.1’s infamous new sort options [via]: in a nutshell, the iTunes interface engineers have really outdone themselves on this one.

Turns out there’s a new “Sorting” tab in the track info window, which lets you manually specify how the track title, the artist, etc., will be alphabetized — for instance, if you want your John Lennon tracks to show up at “L” when you sort your library by artist, you’ll enter “Lennon, John” in the “Sort Artist” box. That’s kinda stupid, because if you’re anal enough to edit this field you probably already renamed all your Lennon tracks to “Lennon, John” anyway, but nevermind.

The kicker is, you can’t edit the sorting options of multiple tracks at once — the multiple track info window doesn’t handle those fields at all, because it would certainly have been too complex to add a tab there as well. And this is where that mysterious new “Apply Sort Field” contextual menu item comes in: in the previous example, what you’re supposed to do is, first edit sorting options for only one Lennon song, then select all his other songs, right-click and select “Apply Sort Field” and “Same Artist” so they inherit the “sort artist” from that other song by the same artist — and you’ll be treated to one of the awesomest confirmation popups in recent years.

As far as I can tell, there’s absolutely no other way to change the sorting options of multiple tracks — and that includes the absolute requirement to access the contextual menu, which is a big no-no in Apple interface guidelines. And it obviously isn’t documented anywhere. I’ve known for a while, and already blogged, that the iTunes project leaders have been contaminated by Windows, but this is more brain-dead than anything Microsoft would inflict on its users in 2007. (Okay, maybe not.)

Google discovers graphics

@web@

Well, okay, they already had their custom logos for holidays and anniversaires, but this is a whole other story: complete visual themes, with large images (which change depending on time and local weather), both intensely graphical and simple and zen. For Google, that’s a real revolution.

Too bad the themes don’t apply to search results page (for now?), because I never ever use the homepage.

21 March

Filled back my Yojimbo database, and it’s back to sluggish on the G5 iMac

@web@

O’Reilly Radar [via]:

One of my favorite business model suggestions for entrepreneurs is, find an old UNIX command that hasn’t yet been implemented on the web, and fix that. talk and finger became ICQ, LISTSERV became Yahoo! Groups, ls became (the original) Yahoo!, find and grep became Google, rn became Bloglines, pine became Gmail, mount is becoming S3, and bash is becoming Yahoo! Pipes. I didn’t get until tonight that Twitter is wall for the web. I love that.

@music@

Zune users angry over lack of firmware update.

You bought a Zune, people. You’ve got no business clogging the internet pipes with your complaints now.

22 March

Trying out Yahoo! Widgets 4.0, which is pretty cool

@computer@

Yahoo! Widgets reaches version 4 [via] and now integrates the best of OS X and Vista widgets: in addition to the desktop widgets it already provided, you now get a widget dock that you can auto-hide, and which displays live mini versions of all your widgets (if they’ve been updated for version 4).

It’s pretty stupid that you can’t reorder your widgets in the dock (yet), but if you’re using widgets at all, and you can find the functionality you need in their library, then Yahoo! Widgets is definitely the way to go, whether you use Windows or OS X.

Thinking Twitterific would be nicer to keep on my desktop if I could hide the mugshots :)

23 March

Playing on my Intel mini an HD WMV that my iMac G5 chokes on — depressing

Trying to explain why I’m using Twitter and having a hard time finding good reasons :)

24 March

#ff00aa — version 3.0

@web@

I’ve found the 2.0 layout rather unreadable for a while now (and a little outdated, too) — and what really made it work was the post thumbnails and colors, which I don’t do anymore. So here’s a new layout, which probably doesn’t look better than the old one, but is definitely more legible and more Helvetica.

 

Before:

 

After:

 

There you go, you can tell me how dull it is.

25 March

@apple@

It took even less time than expected to get XviD playback on an Apple TV: just take its hard drive out, plug it into a Mac, and drag the Perian codec where they’re supposed to go on an OS X machine. Getting Front Row to list the videos is a little more complicated, though, as you’ll have to create QuickTime files referencing each of your XviDs (which someone will probably automate soon enough).

I’m wondering, though: has anyone tried plugging a somehow bootable USB key into it, rather than take the drive out? Since the USB port is reported to be for support only, wouldn’t it make sense that they’d have a simple bootable key that makes it start in server mode or something? (Sure, they could also just have a special program or file that the Apple TV detects on mount. In which case you’d have to wait until it’s leaked out of AppleCare.)

 

P.S. Bingo [via]. You’ve got to press the remote’s ‘menu’ and ‘minus’ keys to boot on the USB drive. There you go, a $300 Mac nano without even having to get your screwdriver.

#ff00aa — version 3.1

@web@

If you blinked, you missed version 3.0; this blog is one of my business cards, so even if I want it to be relatively light on graphics it has to show some effort. (Next step, add some decorations to my personal blog.)

 

Before: see yesterday’s announcement.

 

After:

That’s not very web 2.0, but at least it’s a little original, and it shows I spent a little time on my Photoshop and HTML. (With imbricated tables. And even a rowspan, which I hardly ever use in memory of the time when Netscape 4 choked on it.) And it’s thematic.

26 March

Twitterific 2.0: Nice. Still wish I could have a white window rather than black, though

@apple@

When I first downloaded and ran it, I got an AppleScript error for some reason, and it wouldn’t run; either they fixed it, or rebooting my iMac in the meantime solved the problem, but in any case UNO 1.5 is out and works fine, fixing a couple long-standing blemishes such as QuickTime Player window corners and changing toolbar icons for such applications as Mail (yay for Safari-like buttons).

My recommendation: set Aqua windows to “UNO” (makes all regular windows look Tiger-unified); brushed windows to “UNO shade” (a darker shade of unified; I want to keep a separation because brushed windows generally have other differences, such as thick borders); Dashboard dock to “Default Aqua” (don’t see any reason to change that); and Preview to “Default Aqua” as well (the original icons are great — unlike the capsules in Leopard screenshots — so why would you want to change them?).

27 March

Ah, Twitter automatically uses tinyurl? That’s cool. (And weird - it’s not like they couldn’t code that into Twitter itself.)

29 March

@web@

Sugiero [via]:

A Human Resources consultancy company […] asked for a person with ample experience in using the internet (navigation, searches, formats…). They received 50 candidacies, from which 30 came from Hotmail-directions, all of them erased as they entered.

The reason: You can’t pretend being an internet expert and use a Hotmail account at the same time.

I’d do the same. (In my wet dreams of hiring people for my web agency, I did.) Giving a Hotmail address to a prospective employer is like giving them the phone number of the deli down the street that has instructions to come and get you if someone important calls.

30 March

@web@

Google Gone AWOL (lost the [via], apologies to whomever).

I think it’s pretty credible — it makes sense that, when a particular blog entry is dugg, or you website gets a sudden spike in traffic for whatever other reason, Google would interpret that as possible fraud and decide to ignore AdSense clicks and not pay for them.

Well, it makes sense, but at the same time it ignores the most fundamental dynamics of today’s blogosphere. And, at any rate, it sucks. Plus, they deny it.

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