Archive for May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 [Tweets]

Comment Spam and nofollow

Dylan F. Tweney (via Jeremy Zawodny):

Since its enthusiastic adoption a year and a half ago, by Google, Six Apart, WordPress, and of course the eminent Dave Winer, I think we can all agree that nofollow has done…nothing. Comment spam? Thicker than ever. It’s had absolutely no effect on the volume of spam. That’s probably because comment spammers don’t give a crap, because the marginal cost of spamming is so low. Also, nofollow-tagged links are still links, which means that humans can still click on them–and if humans can click, there’s a chance somebody might visit the linked sites after all. Heck, if we really wanted to eliminate comment spam, why don’t we just get rid of hyperlinks altogether?

Sunday, May 28, 2006 [Tweets]

Own Your Data

Ned Batchelder:

This may sound heretical in these days of standards for everything, but I’ve had the best successes by designing my own ad-hoc data formats. Rather than adopting (or worse, adapting) a standard to fit your purposes, you should create your own data representation. It will give you the best fit for the problem at hand.

Friday, May 19, 2006 [Tweets]

New Backup Strategy

Jan Erik Moström is backing up to DVD and to his Linux machine, via DropDMG, Interarchy, and some scripts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 [Tweets]

OS Speed

Peter Ammon:

Now, when allocating memory, malloc can either manage the memory blocks on the application heap, or it can go to the kernel’s virtual memory system for fresh pages. The application heap is faster because it does not require a round trip to the kernel, but some allocation patterns can cause "holes" in the heap, which waste memory and ultimately hurt performance. If the allocation is performed by the kernel, then the kernel can defragment the pages and avoid wasting memory.

Because most programmers understand that large allocations are expensive, and larger allocations produce more fragmentation, Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X will all switch over from heap-managed allocations to VM-managed allocations at a certain size. That size is determined by the malloc implementation.

Dastardly Dialogs

I ran into this dialog on Sunday and assumed it was referring to a PowerPC pref pane. But the only third-party pref pane I had was Growl, and it was already Universal. Nevertheless, I re-installed the exact same version, and it proceeded to work.

Now, On Intel

With NetNewsWire now Universal and PyObjC working more reliably on Intel, I finally switched over to the iMac as my main machine. As expected, it screams, especially for compiling.

I was using two Dell 2005FPWs with the G5, so now I have one attached to the iMac. So far, I haven’t quite been able to get the colors on the Dell and the internal display to match. The internal display is actually brighter than the Dell, which is amazing since last year the Dell was significantly brighter than any LCD I’d ever seen. The Dell case is hideous, of course, but I find its picture slightly easier on the eyes. Oddly, the iMac, contra the G5, can’t seem to put the Dell to sleep. Instead of turning it off, it puts it into a self-test feature check mode, showing some RGBW color bars floating around on a black background.

I reiterate my opinion that the iMac Core Duo is one of Apple’s best-ever machines. At this point, I mainly wish that its optical driver were faster and that it had two headphone ports like the original iMac.

CDFinder 4.6

CDFinder, my favorite disk cataloger is now Universal and has a slightly more Aqua appearance and more powerful searching.


Given Apple’s recent hardware updates, the MacBook is pretty much what you’d expect. MagSafe. Front Row. The base model costs $100 more than the iBook. Core Duo. AirPort and Bluetooth are built-in, but the modem is optional and external. Dual-display support with DVI out, but integrated video. The 1280x800 display is wider (and brighter), and the computer itself is wider and thinner.

What I didn’t expect: There’s no Core Solo model for $999. It’s 0.3 pounds heavier than the 12-inch iBook and 0.6 pounds heaver than the 12-inch PowerBook. When configured identically, it costs $150 extra to get the black. [Update: And, apparently, there’s no microphone. Weird. Update 2: Unlike the G4 iBook and PowerBook, the MacBook and MacBook Pro have power adapters with different wattages.] Some people are grumbling that at about 1.6 inches wider than the iBook it’s too large (even though the other two dimensions are smaller), but I think it’s a reasonable trade for the additional pixels. Overall, a great machine, especially for students. I would’t be surprised if Apple can’t meet demand for these things.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 [Tweets]

Life Inside Apple and AppleCare

Adam Knight describes the job he recently quit as an agent in in Austin’s AppleCare center (via John Gruber).

Mac Anti-Zealotry

Jesper is starting a list of things he really hates about Apple products. I think he’s right about QuickTime Pro and its support for other formats. I still don’t find two-button mice comfortable, though, and the one-button trackpads are a good incentive for developers not to rely on contextual menus. The Mighty Mouse works great in one-button mode, but every time I boot from an installer DVD I have a momentary confusion when the mouse doesn’t seem to be working. It’s defaulted to two-button mode, and there’s no feedback when I accidentally right-click instead of click.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 [Tweets]

Hard Disk Reliability

James Wiebe analyzes the relative reliabilities of different hard drive configurations (via Dave Nanian). The short summary is what you’d expect—RAID is good, mirroring is better, and non-redundant multi-drive enclosures are bad—but Wiebe’s white paper will give some insight into how good and bad. These are relative reliabilities because Wiebe based them on a 2%/year Hard Drive Failure Rate, which he made up based on his experience because, as he notes, published MTBF figures don’t take into account a variety of real-world problems that can cause drive failure.

The Nature of Lisp

defmacro uses newer mainstream technologies such as Java, XML, Ant, and C preprocessor macros to sneak up on Lisp’s key idea, that code and data are interchangeable (via Jonathan Rentzsch).

Saturday, May 6, 2006 [Tweets]

What Do You Believe?

Lambda examines its own Edge Question: “What do you believe about Programming Languages (that you can’t prove (yet))?”

Friday, May 5, 2006 [Tweets]

NSCFBoolean Hashes Incorrectly

Nat! reports that [NSNumber numberWithInt:1] and [NSNumber numberWithBool:YES] are equal but have different hash codes because NSCFBoolean doesn’t override -[NSObject hash].

Arial and Helvetica

And, speaking of rip-offs: The Sourge of Arial and How to Spot Arial (via Guy Kawasaki).

Panic Rip-Offs

Sites have ripped off their Transmit icon, their office photo, and more, but Panic has a sense of humor about it (via Steven Frank).

Thursday, May 4, 2006 [Tweets]

Hints Wiki

Christopher Clark makes a good case that MacOSXHints would work better as a wiki.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 [Tweets]


John Gruber:

If Goodin wanted to be reasonable or accurate, he could have written a story titled “Some Guy Double-Clicked a Trojan Horse Virus for Mac OS X but It Didn’t Actually Spread to Anyone Else”, but what kind of story would that be? OK, it’d be a true story, but it wouldn’t be a good story.

Google’s Double Standard

Jeremy Zawodny and David Young call Google on its recent browser search field lameness.

Get a Mac

It’s nice to see Apple advertising the Mac again, but I’m not thrilled with the TV ads. Sure, they’re fun for people who already have Macs, but I don’t see them doing much convincing. The humor is mean-spirited, and they reinforce the old stereotypes: PC guys are uncool suits who do real work, and Mac guys are unshaven youths who play with digital media. (And, once again, the Mac spokesman was previously on the big screen using his computer to fend off aliens, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Windows and PCs have all sorts of problems, but I don’t think that, for most users, frequent restarting and trouble talking to digital cameras are among them. How is this supposed to appeal to the millions of PC users who already work with digital photos? By insulting them? I’d rather the ads showed what people can do with Macs.

I like the Web site much better, except for this part:

Of course, should you happen to experience the occasional hiccup with your Mac, you won’t get the runaround. Because Apple makes the whole enchilada, one phone call—or better yet, one visit to the friendly Genius Bar at your local Apple Store—can solve both hardware and software problems in one fell swoop.

Based on my limited experience, this is a bad joke.

4 PM update: John Siracusa gets at something else that was bothering me:

It’s like an airline advertising that it has fewer fatal crashes than its competitors. This just isn’t done—and for good reasons. Putting aside the moral and ethical aspects, which arguably don’t apply to Apple, there are important practical considerations as well. The new “Viruses” TV ad pulls back a slingshot and holds it to Apple’s face. The backlash is inevitable.

Monday, May 1, 2006 [Tweets]

Ask For Photos

Alas, Apple doesn’t provide an API for its iLife applications, but MacOSXHints points out that iPhoto has an Automator action for choosing photos, so it should be possible to do this programmatically without completely rolling your own (via Matthew Binkowski).

Virtualization as an Antivirus

Jonathan Rentzsch’s antivirus utility of choice is Virtual PC:

Only the disposable images are allowed to play on the Net. Even if/when they get compromised, they don’t last long — I shutdown the image and use Undo Disks to throw away whatever changes they’ve made. Thus pretty much every time I use IE6, I’m using it from a “fresh”, untainted XP install, regardless of what malware snuck in the last session.

ATPM 12.05

The May issue of ATPM is out: