Archive for October 2003

Thursday, October 30, 2003


Brent Simmons:

I prefer to think that Transmit and Photoshop Elements are, purely and simply, software. Software these days is often distributed online and has an evaluation period built in. Try before you buy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Jeff Carlson:

FileVault isn’t a bad idea, but it scares me (and everyone else at TidBITS) silly; I can’t imagine entrusting all my data to that single file, much less screwing up my backup strategy to accommodate it.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Problems with NSController

Aaron Hillegass, EOF veteran and author of an excellent introductory Cocoa book, says that Panther’s NSController is poorly designed.


Sam Caughron at Proteron wrote a memo to Apple complaining that Apple didn’t credit Proteron’s LiteSwitch X when it developed Panther’s Command-Tab application switcher. By Proteron’s own words:

LiteSwitch has been called by some a Mac OS implementation of the Alt-Tab feature found in another unmentionable operating system, but LiteSwitch X offers a whole host of other features like drag and drop support, application exclusion, application termination and window layering control.

Thus, Proteron implicitly acknowledges that LiteSwitch was inspired by a Windows feature. Why doesn’t Caughron want Apple to credit Microsoft? Why does Proteron only credit Microsoft obliquely? Like Erik Barzeski says, I think Proteron should stop whining and instead tell us how much better LiteSwitch X is than Apple’s implementation.

By the way, I don’t see Proteron crediting Now Software’s NowMenus for the slick way that MaxMenus lets you assign keyboard shortcuts.

Caughron draws a comparison to Karelia’s Watson, which must now compete with Apple’s inferior but free Sherlock III. Apple has said that Sherlock III was in development before Watson, and Erik Barzeski corroborates this:

I saw Sherlock III before Dan Wood even began work on Watson, and [it] looked pretty much just as it ended up.

It’s not clear how Barzeski came by this information; was he working for Apple at the time?

In related news, Buzz Andersen expertly debunked a bizarre post, and somehow this got turned into a debate over his indie cred. You see, Andersen was a cool indie developer who wrote PodWorks, but now he’s sold out, joined the Borg collective, and can no longer be trusted. Or something like that.

The constructive part of the debate is the discussion of Apple’s tying practices. The iApps have always made me uncomfortable because, unlike Safari, I don’t think their functionality belongs in the OS. The iApps encroach on third-party turf. Robb Beal is probably the most vocal critic along these lines. The opposing position is that Apple thinks these are important apps that will sell Macs, thus aiding the platform and us all. As Andersen says:

What Microsoft did with Internet Explorer was clearly aimed at undermining a rival: Netscape. What Apple has done with the iApps is very different. They’re all about making absolutely sure that people have lots of reasons to buy a Mac. Apple did not create the iApps to “cut off some developer’s air.” What logical reason would Apple have to intentionally and single-mindedly undermine people creating apps for it’s [sic] platform? To spite them?

This is a complex issue, and I don’t have the answers. It’s certainly possible that the “free” iApps “saved” Apple and the Mac platform when the hardware was iffy. But perhaps it would have been better if Apple had pursued a middle-of-the-road strategy, whereby they developed the iApps but didn’t tie them to the OS. They could have been sold individually, or as an iLife Plus Pack. Would that have pleased the critics and encouraged competition? It’s hard to say. There were, and continue to be, many products that compete with .Mac Backup, but I have yet to see anyone take on the $99 Keynote.

Sunday, October 26, 2003


Here are four new Cortland cartoons from Matt Johnson.

Friday, October 24, 2003

iVCD 1.1

Unlike all the other VCD utilities I’ve tried, iVCD:

  1. is easy to use
  2. works

My only complaint is that it can’t burn to my SuperDrive directly. I have to use Toast. On OS 9, QuickTime Player could play VCDs, but this feature was dropped in the OS X version. Luckily, there is EyeTV.


Mark Pilgrim has extensive coverage of what’s new in Panther.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

My My


Elliott Smith, who wrote about love, loss, addiction, and the precise point at which the three intersect, died Tuesday, Oct. 21, of a single, self-inflicted stab-wound to the chest. Like so many rock deaths, his was a long time in the making, but no less sad or shocking for all the warnings that preceded it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Kids on Classic Games

EGM (via Raena):

Would today’s tykes tolerate the classic games you grew up with? Kids do say the darndest things.

Crazy 8

Antoine Walker is a talented player and seemed like a decent guy, but I think the Celtics are closer to #17 with him in Dallas. And the Mavericks are closer to #1.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


Chris Hanson:

Apple has released plenty of Windows software over the years. iTunes is only the latest.

Friday, October 17, 2003


Dave Fester at Microsoft (via Matt Deatherage):

iTunes captured some early media interest with their store on the Mac, but I think the Windows platform will be a significant challenge for them. Unless Apple decides to make radical changes to their service model, a Windows-based version of iTunes will still remain a closed system, where iPod owners cannot access content from other services. Additionally, users of iTunes are limited to music from Apple’s Music Store. As I mentioned earlier, this is a drawback for Windows users, who expect choice in music services, choice in devices, and choice in music from a wide-variety of music services to burn to a CD or put on a portable device. Lastly, if you use Apple’s music store along with iTunes, you don’t have the ability of using the over 40 different Windows Media-compatible portable music devices. When I’m paying for music, I want to know that I have choices today and in the future.

Windows Media DRM offers customers choice?

iTMS 2

Bill Bumgarner notes that you can now drag tracks out of the store to get URLs to them. I’d still like the store to support higher bitrate downloads, more selection, and user reviews and lists. There are so many partial albums, and albums that just plain aren’t there. Case in point: Bill says that Tori Amos is “well represented in the store,” though it stocks complete versions of less than half of her albums (albeit including the better ones). Scarlet’s Walk is $13.99 at both iTMS and Amazon, but with Amazon I would get higher quality, an actual CD, and liner notes. (Buying Scarlet’s Walk and Little Earthquakes costs $23.98 at iTMS and $24.98 at Amazon, but I already have Little Earthquakes.) I really want to like iTMS, but I don’t think it’s there yet.

Read-Only iPods

Andy Ihnatko:

It’s the only PDA that’s never let me down, but it’s also the only PDA I’ve owned where I fish it out of your [sic] pocket, do some clicking and scrolling, tell my dentist that I am indeed free that day and time…and then write the particulars down on a Post-It stuck to the back of the device.

And, for the record, I think the Belkin Media Reader sounds great.

iSeek 1.0

No, it’s not the new version of QuickTime; Ambrosia’s iSeek lets you search a variety of sites right from the menu bar. This makes it more convenient than typing the query into a browser, or a separate application like Huevos. However, I don’t think I will end up using iSeek, because of the way it handles the shortcuts for choosing sites. Each site can be assigned a keyboard shortcut, but these are apparently global, and many of the ones I assigned simply didn’t work. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. In any case, I found the shortcuts in Huevos to work more reliably, and the ones in OmniWeb to work more smoothly. (In OmniWeb, you can type things like “g ambrosia” to search Google for “ambrosia.”) I think what I really want is the OmniWeb functionality in Safari.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

DropDMG 2.2

DropDMG IconDropDMG 2.2, my utility for making Mac OS X disk images, adds more features, including a dropdmg command-line tool, direct imaging of files, authentication for copying protected files, BinHex encoding, non-Roman license agreements, and more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Here are three new Cortland cartoons from Matt Johnson.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Panther Beta Program

Brian Wilson (ADC Premier Member):

We would like to have our products ready for the release date. We would like to ensure, to the best of our ability, that they work with the version consumers will install. But in the current scenario we don't get that option and it annoys me to no end.

Digital Rebel

Jimmy Grewal shows a striking photo from his Canon EOS 300D, a new camera that’s not (yet?) supported by iPhoto/Image Capture.

Yahoo News RSS

Jeremy Zawodny shows how to get Yahoo to generate custom RSS feeds for different news subjects.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Burning iPhoto Libraries to CD

Apple says:

Now, thanks to iPhoto 2, you can replace that shoebox with a CD or DVD that can hold hundreds—even thousands—of photos and keep them safe for years. What’s more, your photos will be organized by date, album, film roll or keyword, just as they are on your Mac’s hard drive.

Is that bit about films rolls a lie, or am I too stupid to figure out how to preserve the rolls when burning CDs from within iPhoto?

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

iCal 1.5.1

The iCal update brings some welcome improvements, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003


Buzz Andersen:

All of this sarcasm may sound a bit snotty, considering I’m picking on targets as easy as Bill Gates and the notoriously wooden Microsoft marketing machine, but it gets at an annoyance I’ve had for a long time: the tendency of average people to think of Bill Gates as some sort of all-knowing technological oracle whose every utterance is a glimpse into the future.

Saturday, October 4, 2003

Unicode AppleScript String Literals

This bit of Python translates Unicode strings into AppleScript literals. It’s also useful for escaping any special characters.

def unicodeToAppleScriptLiteral(s):
    from binascii import hexlify
    data = hexlify(s.encode('utf-16-be'))
    return u"(%sdata utxt%s%s as Unicode text)" % (left, data, right)

>>> unicodeToAppleScriptLiteral(u"hello")
(«data utxt00680065006c006c006f» as Unicode text)

Friday, October 3, 2003

Lambda Tutorial

Chris Barker presents an interactive tutorial on the lambda calculus (via LtU).

iTunes Tips

Pierre Igot reports that you can make iTunes stop showing playlist durations in decimal hours by clicking on the time display. That one’s been bugging me for a long time.

My tip: you can open a second (albeit read-only) library window by making a smart playlist that matches every track.

Daring Dell

John Gruber makes the case that there is an essential difference between the computer and consumer electronics businesses, which will prevent Dell’s knock-off from threatening the iPod. The difference apparently is in who makes the purchasing decisions.

Dell, as much as any PC maker, exemplified this corporate focus. The Dell brand stands for computers that are just like the other guys’, except a little cheaper. This brand message was and is hugely popular with corporate bean counters.

But this doesn’t do Dell a bit of good in the consumer electronics market. Corporations buy computers for their employees, but they don’t buy MP3 players. The iPod’s brand—and Apple’s—is strongest with individuals. Which is exactly the sort of brand that’s needed to sell portable music players.

But by this logic, one would expect Macs to outsell PCs in the home. Gruber makes an interesting argument about the iPod as a relatively inexpensive status item, but it doesn’t convince me. $500 is still a lot of money, and my guess is that Dell’s product will be significantly cheaper and “good enough.” The iPod will still be Coke, but I don’t see what’s stopping the Dell DJ from being Pepsi. Perhaps I’m naive in thinking that for most people an MP3 player is about the music.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

ATPM 9.10

The October issue of ATPM is out.

What’s Up

Giles Turnbull had the bright idea of getting pictures of different people’s Docks, and others such as Erik Barzeski and Judi Sohn have joined in. Here’s my Dock, as it was when I read Turnbull’s article:

My Dock

Finder, Path Finder, Mailsmith, BBEdit, Internet Explorer, iCab (no longer my primary browser, but good to keep a second group of documents open), NetNewsWire, Super Get Info, Safari, Apple Mail, Preview, File Adopter, OmniOutliner, Terminal, CVL, Watson, Console, Project Builder, Mesh (in-house Web tool), Script Debugger, Disk Copy, DropDMG, BBAutoComplete, SpamSieve, iTunes, FrameMaker+SGML, Photoshop Elements, Trash (full, as it should be).

Need a Mirror?

ATPM has some extra bandwidth again, so we’re restarting our software mirrors page. If you write cool Mac software and need help hosting your download, contact us.

SpamSieve 2.0.2

SpamSieve IconSpamSieve 2.0.2 makes support for Apple Mail official and includes a bunch of fixes and improvements.