Archive for December 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Evidence for Weak Sapir-Whorf

BBC News (via Lambda):

Report co-author Aubrey Gilbert said: “Previous studies addressing the possible influence of language on perception have tended to look for a simple yes or no answer to the question. Our findings suggest a more complex picture, based on the functional organisation of the brain.”

Bill Gates’ Speech Recognition Predictions

Matthew Thomas has a great list. In fairness, Gates isn’t the only one to get this wrong. I remember the late Michael Dertouzos giving a talk, in 1997 I think, about what his lab was doing with speech recognition and how the technology was ready for the public. Around 2000 he gave almost the exact same talk. Gates also predicted about two years ago that we wouldn’t have spam today. (And his book originally suggested that there would be a way to factor large prime numbers, but I won’t hold him to that.)

I was horribly wrong about the iPod, and I wasn’t too impressed by the original iMac. Neither was Donald Norman, who ridiculed it as being the same machine as before under the colored shell. He’d mime the extension loading process and say that it still did that when it booted, so you knew it would still crash. Norman’s new book is something of an about face, making the case that the iMac’s fun styling actually makes it easier to use, because of the emotional state it puts the user in.

The Macs We Use

Giles Turnbull did some interviews with people about their Macs. Did you know that Jonathan Rentzsch still uses Emailer and Andy Ihnakto numbers his PowerBooks?

Sorry Giles, I would have said more if I hadn’t thought there were 20+ other people participating. And, for the record, I’m not the creator of ATPM.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WordPress 2

WordPress 2 is out. There doesn’t seem to be an official change list yet, but I found this.

FastScripts Lite 2.2.7

Daniel Jalkut has released FastScripts Lite, a free version of his excellent FastScripts utility. The main difference is that the $15 version isn’t limited to assigning 10 keyboard shortcuts.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Flying Meat

Gus Mueller writes about how he became an “independent programmer in just 1068 days”:

When I started writing software on the side for fun, it never really crossed my mind that I would be able to to support myself and do it full time. Of course, the dream was there in the back of my head, but I didn’t think it was actually attainable. I figured my best bet was to become a good enough programmer to work for a decent mac company some day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Service Scrubber 1.0

Peter Maurer’s Service Scrubber provides a unified interface for hiding services from the menu (thus removing clutter), changing their keyboard shortcuts, and moving them to the top level. Behind the scenes, it modifies the applications’ Info.plist files and keeps backups of themthe modified keys so that you can revert if necessary.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Signals and Slots

Scott Collins has written a good introduction to signals and slots in C++ (via Jonathan Rentzsch):

Signals and slots are a refinement of the Observer Pattern, a powerful metaphor, and a great tool for assembling software from components.

Info-Mac Retires

Adam Engst:

To all good things there must come an end, and it is with some sadness that I officially retire the Info-Mac Network. Nominally, I’ve been president of the non-profit volunteer organization since incorporating it in 2000, but in reality I’ve been only one of many volunteers who have helped keep Info-Mac running over the years. But over the past year or so, it’s become clear both that Info-Mac has outlived most of its utility and that it’s not worth investing yet more time, effort, and money in keeping it going longer.

This will probably affect most people about as much as the official end of Mac IE, which is to say not very much. But let’s remember how great Info-Mac, like IE 5, was in its day. In 1992, Alex Reed introduced me to MacTCP, Fetch, and the archive, that’s how I really discovered the world of Mac software.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mac Internet Explorer

In January, Mac IE will no longer be available from Microsoft. If you need it to view a site, you can get it from your Jaguar CD or Jimmy Grewal:

Four years of my life were dedicated to this product and others based on it. Those four years in the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft were incredible, and I learned many important lessons and made some great lifelong friends.…Along the way, I gained an appreciation for Microsoft which not enough people have. It’s a truly remarkable company that treats its employees well, develops some incredible technology, and deserves all the success it has. As with any large collection of people, Microsoft has made mistakes along the way, but that does not diminish the impact it has had on billions of people’s lives and the way it has helped technology progress.

Jorg Brown:

Almost immediately after 5.0 was released, the MacIE team was redeployed to work on a set-top DVR box. The notion at the time was that the team would continue to do MacIE work in their spare time, since IE 5 was the leader among Mac browsers and no longer needed a full-time team.…3 or 4 years went by before enough people in the Mac division wanted to resume work on IE, and when it looked like we might actually need the technology, as a base for MSN-for-Mac, the IE 6 team was formed. It got a firm OS X-only foundation, a new even more complient browser base, and then suddenly it became apparent that Apple was doing their own browser.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Reality and Digital Pictures

Charles Maurer:

In this article I shall explain what digital technology can do that conventional photography cannot—how computers can produce more naturalistic pictures, not how they can produce special effects. To do this I’m going to start with perception, pass through art, and enter computers by the back door. Although this is an unusual route, it approximates the way I think when taking a photograph and it provides the only way I know for negotiating the maze of manipulations offered by photo editors.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Always Call Twice

Christopher Biagini:

Maybe this is standard knowledge, but I think I’ve finally confirmed my Grand Unified Theory of Calling Tech Support. It’s simple: always call twice. My PowerBook’s AC adapter has finally bit the big one (as you might expect from looking at the reviews on Apple’s product page), and I’ve got AppleCare, so I gave the fine folks a call to see what they could do for me. The first rep I talked to was, I swear, Orlando Jones’s character in Office Space before he revealed he was an out-of-work programmer. The dialog went something like this…

Sunday, December 11, 2005

iPhoto 5 Annoyances

I didn’t like early versions of iPhoto at all, but iPhoto 5, was, I think a big improvement. Now it does most of what I want, and it mostly stays out of my way. There are, however, a few things that consistently bother me and that I hope will be addressed in version 6:

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Throttling NSSlider

Daniel Jalkut:

Instead of limiting the frequency of the “send” action, just nip it in the bud. Whenever the cell for your control ultimately decides it’s ready to send an action, it goes through the sendAction:to: method. By subclassing the control and placing a date throttle on the method, you can achieve whatever throttling you feel is appropriate. Here are the guts of my “Slow NSSlider” subclass…

White Balance

Ron Bigelow (via Erik Barzeski):

To create an image that accurately depicts what the photographer intended, the photographer must be aware of the color of light and must make adjustments when necessary. The subject of the color of light, and the techniques of dealing with it, are referred to as white balance—the subject of this article. The tools and techniques that photographers use to deal with white balance will be covered at the conceptual level. The actual implementation of these tools and techniques vary from camera to camera and are beyond the scope of this article. It is left up to the photographer to look up the instructions in his camera manual.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

ATPM 11.12

The December issue of ATPM is out:

Making Backups Useful

Daniel Jalkut:

What’s really sad is that the small percentage of people who do make the heroic effort of backing up are kidding themselves if they think they’re much better protected. There are many, many ways a person can lose data. Too many to count, yet the backup strategies typically employed by “plain folks” protect against only two: hard drive failure and careless erasure. In a world where hard drive reliability is at an all time high, and most data sits in the “Trash Can” or “Recycle Bin” for some time before being permanently deleted, these particular dangers may be much less probable than other risks that are obliviously under-addressed.

One of these days, I should set up a script that copies my latest backups to the Web server in California.