Archive for January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

Winning a Technical Argument

I don’t usually like lists, but this one’s pretty good.

Python’s Complex Number Type

What good is Python’s complex type if you don’t need to solve problems involving imaginary numbers? Bob Ippolito shows how you can use it to represent vectors and solve linear equations.

Friday, January 28, 2005

How to Make a Life Poster

Mike Matas:

After posting photos of my apartment a couple weeks ago I got tons of people asking how I made my “Life Poster” seen in this photo. Here are my instructions to create one in about 20-30 min for about $29. Good Luck!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Patent Funnies

Tim Bray:

To give an idea of the whimsical fluffery that constitutes the U.S. Patent process, I’ve enclosed a couple of more figures from that Google patent. The “Systems and methods for highlighting search results” are designed to work on something called a “computer.”

Monday, January 24, 2005

Pages Review (iWork ’05)


Pages, instead of a “word processing” application, could more appropriately be called a “page layout” application. A very simplistic, very basic, very user-friendly page layout app. It depends on drag and drop, and the templates included make it a perfect program for doing something a Windows user would typically turn to Microsoft Publisher for.

It sounds like a useful application to have available, but it won’t be going in my toolbox. I don’t create any one-off layout-heavy documents that AppleWorks or OmniGraffle can’t handle. For everything else, I need better editing (BBEdit) and better support for structure and exporting (FrameMaker+SGML, ReST, LaTeX).

DropDMG 2.5.2

DropDMG Icon This minor update to DropDMG fixes a regression and improves the localizations.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The iLife ’05 Bundle

If I’m reading things right, people who bought iLife ’04 will have to pay $80 to get iLife ’05. There’s no upgrade option, and no way to purchase individual ’05 applications. I only really use iTunes and iPhoto, and I bought ’04 almost solely for the iPhoto speed improvements. I like some of the new features in iPhoto 5, but I’ll likely stick with version 4. As a developer, I like that Apple is no longer dumping the iApps on people for free, but I don’t like that everything’s all bundled together.

I wonder if the average savvy Mac user upgrades his OS and buys the new iLife at each opportunity. Maybe he also stays current with Quicken. If he’s going to buy that software anyway, for just $220 more he could get a Mac mini, plus the other bundled software. Who knows, maybe next year iWork will be included with the Mac mini, making its included software worth even more. (Right now the mini includes AppleWorks, which most such users already have.) Put another way: for this particular user, the marginal cost of buying a Mac is less than that of buying an iPod mini.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tiger Mail

Erik Barzeski:

For those who’ve missed it, Tiger Mail now features the ugliest toolbar buttons ever seen.

On the plus side, the Spotlight widget in the menu bar looks much better than the last time Apple demonstrated it.

TextWrangler 2.0

MacCentral is reporting that TextWrangler 2.0 has lots of new features drawn from BBEdit 8 and that it’s now free. Wow.

DropDMG 2.5.1

DropDMG IconDropDMG 2.5.1 includes the usual round of refinements and bug fixes, and adds Czech and Italian localizations.

Retrospect Driver Update 6.1.102

The new driver update adds support for several different SuperDrives that Apple has been shipping over the past six months or so. For some models, Retrospect only supports DVD-writing; for others, it only supports CD-writing.

Monday, January 10, 2005

BBAutoComplete 1.4

bbautocomplete-iconBBAutoComplete 1.4 adds support for Smile and fixes a bug.

Microsoft AntiSpyware

Omar Shahine:

I started beta testing the GIANT AntiSpyware software. I admit, my expectations were low having used some of the other stuff our there. However, I was BLOWN away by how nice a piece of software this is. Not only does it protect you from AntiSypware but it tells me what the heck is going on with my computer. I love knowing when applications are adding themselves to the Startup process, adding Contextual menus, modifying x, y or z. It just leaves me feeling like I'm in control of my PC when installing programs.

Continuation-based Server in Python

Georg Bauer shows how continuations faked with Greenlets can be enough to run a Web server without back-button support.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Spam and Quiet Disks

Michael Alderete just e-mailed to let me know that he’s written a personal survey of the anti-spam tools he’s used. Reading through some of the old posts, I found that he’s the only person I know of besides myself who purposely bought a slow disk.

Aqua Margins

Going against the guidelines, the new public beta of NetNewsWire drops the margins in its main window. Jonathan Rentzsch:

The controls have been pushed to the absolute bottom. The lists abut the left and right sides of the window. Not a pixel of margin. The new UI looks simpler but actually does more.

I agree. It’s a simple change, with a dramatic (positive) effect.


Jonathan Rentzsch:

When I need to do some calculations, I used to use up to four different tools, depending on the task at hand.…Lately, I’ve been using Longhand, which has mostly replaced everything except the spreadsheet.

I mostly use an interactive Python session or an HP 48.

“Not Spyware” Classification for Sale

Chris Lawson:

This raises a disturbing issue: at what price can the “this software is safe” label be bought? How many lawyers does it take to designate a rank, festering spyware application “perfectly-safe-to-run-this-on-your-grandma’s-computer”-ware? I realise that the vast majority of true problem apps are written by shady organisations without crack legal teams, but this sets a disturbing precedent. Why, now, should anyone trust any spyware removal tool from a large corporation? Who’s to say it isn’t intentionally overlooking its own spyware, or its partners’ spyware?

Thursday, January 6, 2005

OmniWeb 5.1

I really like most aspects of OmniWeb 5.1. It’s not metal. The rendering is good. The speed is good. It has the only implementation of tabbed browsing that I like. And, of course, there are lots of nifty features that go beyond what Safari can do.

But for a Pro browser, it has some rather odd limitations. First, why is it so hard to view source in an external editor? Unlike in iCab, you can’t just pick the external editor in the preferences. Unlike Safari, you can't use AppleScript to retrieve the source of the frontmost window. As far as I know, the best that can be done is:

tell application "OmniWeb"
    set theURL to the address of browser 1
    set theTitle to name of browser 1
end tell

set pipe to "bbedit --clean --pipe-title " & theTitle's quoted form & " --view-top"
do shell script "curl " & theURL's quoted form & "| " & pipe

This is usually OK, but it requires downloading the page again (slow), and it won’t always work when forms, cookies, etc. are involved.

Second, when anti-aliasing is off, OmniWeb can’t properly space text. It runs the letters together or puts too much space between them. Applications that use WebKit rather than WebCore get this right, as do Carbon browsers like iCab and IE.

Lastly, there’s no way to make the download manager remove entries immediately after they’re complete. I don’t like the window to be cluttered.

Six Apart Acquires LiveJournal

Mena Trott:

I believe that LiveJournal has, unfortunately, received a bum rap because many have considered the postings on LiveJournal to be trivial. It’s sort of like a vicious circle: Journalists make fun of webloggers saying that they only post about their cats, webloggers make fun of LiveJournalers saying that they only post about high school angst and LiveJournalers make fun of webloggers saying that they are SUV-driving yuppies who think they have something important to say (and I’m generalizing). The fact is, webloggers and LiveJournalers are in essence doing the same thing: they are posting their thoughts to people who are important to them.

Apple Sues Think Secret

John Gruber:

This suit is not about stemming the rampant speculation regarding these specific rumors in the remaining days before the Expo. Cat’s out of the bag, the train has left the station, don’t cry over spilled milk, etc.

Apple wants two things here. First, they want the identities of Think Secret’s sources.…the second thing Apple wants: to discourage future leaks. They’ll do this by pursuing legal recourse against the leakers in public view, making it clear that loose lips sink careers.

Monday, January 3, 2005

Top-Down P2P


In reality, the number of files on the Net ripped from store-bought CDs, DVDs, and videogames is statistically negligible. People don’t share what they buy; they share what is already being shared—the countless descendants of a single “Adam and Eve” file. Even this is probably stolen; pirates have infiltrated the entertainment industry and usually obtain and rip content long before the public ever has a chance to buy it.

MailDrop 2.0b7

The upcoming version of MailDrop cleverly lets you write e-mail templates in PHP, so that you can programmatically customize its sent e-mails based on their merge field values.

NetNewsWire 2.0b10

After originally hoping to ship NetNewsWire 2.0 by WWDC 2004, six months later there’s a second public beta with lots of new features and bug fixes. It looks like it’s going to be well worth the wait. I’m not too sure about the iTunes-style source list selection color, though.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

ATPM 11.01

The January issue of ATPM is out: