Archive for November 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Log Out

Arno Gourdol (via John Gruber):

Our dear Senior VP insisted that it should have a keyboard shortcut, and that shortcut should be Command + Q, the same keyboard shortcut you use to quit applications. I mean, how often do you logout that you need a keyboard shorctut for it? But if you’re going to pick a shortcut, Command + Q is a terrible shortcut, because it’s way too easy to get the context wrong, not realize that the Finder is the frontmost application, instead of, say, Safari and logout when you meant to Quit. For a while, we had some internal builds implemented that way. I tried to argue we should not have a keyboard shortcut for Logout, but since NextStep had one, it was a very difficult argument to win. So instead, I convinced our dear Sr VP that it would be even better if we picked a keyboard shortcut so that from any application, without having to switch to the Finder first, you could log out.

Friday, November 24, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Hex Fiend 1.1.1

Peter Ammon’s Hex Fiend is now open-source.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Truth About Digital Cameras

David Pogue is right that a 5 megapixel image will print well, but wrong about the implications this has for choosing a camera. First, generating a 5 megapixel test image by downsampling a higher resolution image will produce a smaller image with artificially high quality—unless you’re careful to use a really bad downsampling algorithm. Second, camera sensors and lenses matter. If you set a 13 megapixel camera to shoot at 5 megapixels, it will produce a better image than a 5 megapixel camera shooting at its maximum resolution. A more carefully designed test would show whether today’s printers are bad enough make up for these two factors.

Saturday, November 18, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]


Ian Bicking’s written a beautiful little Python mock object library that leverages doctest.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Convert an NSImage to CIImage

Scott Stevenson and commenters discuss how to convert between different OS X image representations.

Java Now Open Source

Bill Bumgarner:

So, by going GPL, Sun has vastly reduced their licensing administrative costs, effectively hired an effective license enforcement army, and ensured that if anyone actually does something interesting with the technology it’ll either be given away for free or Sun will be paid to keep quiet about it.

He’s also written a follow-up post.

Monday, November 13, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Greg Maletic on OpenDoc

Greg Maletic (via John Gruber):

Unless you have application groups who want to create functionality to run on your OS, it’s one hundred times harder to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing with your OS. Without those application groups telling us they needed–or didn’t need–OpenDoc, we were flying blind.

Saturday, November 11, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Cocoa’s Broken Proxy Icons

Erik Barzeski:

Apple is abundantly clear on how a proxy icon should behave. In a Carbon dev doc titled “Handling Carbon Windows and Controls: Basic Window Manipulation,” Apple says in a section called “Adding Window Proxy Icons”:

If you create a document window, you should add a proxy icon to the title bar. This icon, which appears next to the window’s title, serves as a proxy for the document’s icon in the Finder. This proxy icon should appear and behave the way the document’s icon does in the Finder.


In Cocoa applications, aliases are created at the drop locations—even across disks where a copy occurs in the Finder. When dragging proxy icons to the trash, nothing at all is done in Cocoa apps.

Resolution Independent Fever

Daniel Jalkut:

What the heck, I thought, why not do this programatically from Cocoa? I can use NSBezierPath to draw vector scaleable graphics on-the-fly at any resolution. I discovered, with Paul Kim’s help, that NSCustomImageRep would allow me to both do all the drawing on the fly, and take advantage of the conveniences of NSImage, such as being able to “setImage” on a table header cell.

Sven-S. Porst replies:

And even with all the new technology we have, the basic facts about low-pixel count situations remain true: Graphics in which those few pixels are carefully and consciously placed will look better than those created from generic vector graphics. Only in a few lucky situations we will be able to get equivalent results from cool vector graphics tricks.

Ulysses Review

Kirk McElhearn:

All this adds up to a uniquely powerful tool for writers who don’t work in a linear fashion. It is sometimes useful to work not from the beginning to the end of a document but to move around and explore different ideas as they come. Ulysses lets you do that, but in a radically different manner than other programs, such as outliners. While you could do the same with a folder full of files, Ulysses gives you document management tools that pull all the related files together.

Monday, November 6, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Logo Recognition Quiz

This quiz shows variants of popular logos and times how long it takes you to pick out the real ones (via Boing Boing). I found it surprisingly difficult. I remember that Amazon’s curved arrow is below the text, but I didn’t remember which letters it connected. I remember Google’s colors, and that the G is blue and the repeating O is yellow, but not which O repeats or which other colors went with which letters.

Desktop Icon Screenshots

Erik Barzeski:

I didn’t know that desktop icons could be captured with the spacebar trick after hitting cmd-shift-4. They’re not only captured, they’re captured with full transparency.

I didn’t know that, either.

Saturday, November 4, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Microsoft Office Stats

Brad Post says that the Mac version of Office has 30 million lines of code (428,000 per developer), with an average age of about 12 years, and that the development team has had 50% turnover over the last two years. So they’re working hard, but it’s a lot of work.

Disco, FlexTime, and the HIG

Rory Prior comments on the usability of a new HIG-violating app, and Daniel Jalkut illustrates the process of developing the “snazzy” new interface for FlexTime 1.1. It’s a nice illustration of the domino effect that making a few changes can have. I’d like to see what his new layout look like using standard controls.

Update: Paul Kafasis and Erik Barzeski discuss “The Delicious Generation.”

I do agree that there’s a need for streamlined disc burning, which is why you can Shift-drag a file or folder onto DropDMG (Shift because a regular drag creates an image), insert a disc, and click Burn. Disco lets you add a bunch of files to its window before burning them, but if you want to collect files from different places, I think Finder burn folders work pretty well, and the Finder window doesn’t constrict you. The Finder and DropDMG will also let you burn multiple discs at once. Disco’s Finder-format Spandex feature is a good idea, and I’ll probably add something similar to DropDMG, but it’s not as amazing as it sounds. It simply divides the files so that they’ll fit on multiple discs. This doesn’t make efficient use of your disk space, and if a file or subfolder is too large to fit on a single disc, it won’t work at all. With DropDMG and Toast you can span arbitrary items across multiple discs. DropDMG does this in two steps: first create a segmented .dmg file, then burn the segments. Toast does it in one step—you just feed in discs one after another—but the data is stored in its proprietary format.

I have mixed feelings about Delicious Library. The sizzle doesn’t bother me because I do think it looks good, and it does this while being quite functional. What I don’t like is that the iSight scanning was over-sold. First, contrary to popular belief, this appeared in Booxter first. And second, it just doesn’t work very well with built-in iSights, taking much longer than entering the items manually, in my experience. The other problem is that it gets really slow when the library contains a few thousand items. The friendly support person showed me how to run a regex on the XML file to remove the “related” items that it was storing, and this made a big difference as they outnumbered my real items by several times, but an otherwise friendly consumer app shouldn’t make me do that.

Thursday, November 2, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Interarchy File Converters

Peter N Lewis:

File Converters are set like any other preference, and just like any preference in Interarchy, it can be set (using AppleScript or /usr/bin/defaults) on a per protocol, server, user and path basis. So for example, you can set Interarchy to use the gzip file converter on everything in your /path/compressed/ folder on your SFTP site like this…

One of the built-in converters is for Interarchy Backup Format, a souped-up AppleSingle that tries to preserve everything.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 [Tweets] [Favorites]

LuaCore 0.2

A small framework from Gus Mueller for embedding Lua in a Cooca app.

ATPM 12.11

The November issue of ATPM is out:

QuickBooks Pro 2007

I figured that after three major versions it was finally time to update my QuickBooks. There are some things I like about the new version, such as the ability to remove clutter from the account list by making accounts inactive. I also like that my data is now stored in a SQLite database, rather than locked up in a completely proprietary binary format. But on the whole, it’s a disappointment. The interface is largely unchanged except for the use of smooth fonts (in most windows) and the major reorganization of the menus (which is fine, but after a few weeks I still haven’t adjusted to it). The new Accounts window takes up a huge amount of screen space, with unreasonably wide and unconfigurable column widths. Reference numbers are still limited to too few characters. And it’s slow. One of the reasons I wanted to upgrade is that the old version took a long time to launch in Rosetta. The universal version launches quicker but actually feels slower. I’m guessing this is related to the new file format.