Archive for January 10, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Gone Indie

Longtime Apple employee Jens Alfke has gone indie:

But I’m fascinated with social software. Apple isn’t. Despite some promising starts, the most I’ve been able to get accomplished in that vein at Apple was iChat [the IM part; I’m really not interested in videoconferencing], Safari RSS, and the “PubSub” [which turned out to be “RSS and Atom”] framework. There were some very promising prototypes of sexier things, but I really can’t talk about those, other than to say that they were canceled.…I looked around after Leopard was finished, and didn’t see any place in the company where I could pursue my ideas.

I can’t wait to see what he develops.

DTerm 1.0

DTerm, from Decimus Software, sounds like a good way to get quick access to the command-line:

No matter what application you’re in, no matter what document you’re working with, just hit DTerm’s hotkey and it’ll be there for you, already set to the working directory of your current document. When you’re done, hit escape or just go on about your work, and it’ll automatically fade out, leaving your screen clutter-free.

I’ve long used scripts to do this type of thing, but DTerm works in any application. It appears to use Mac OS X’s accessibility features, rather than hacks, to determine the current context.

RuntimeFS

Bill Bumgarner uses the new, ultra-simple Objective-C API for MacFUSE to create a filesystem for browsing Objective-C class hierarchies.

NetNewsWire 3.1

At long last, NetNewsWire 3.1 is available, and it’s free. NetNewsWire is one of my favorite applications, and it’s great that more people will have access to a quality desktop feed reader. Unfortunately, this move will probably have negative consequences for smaller but innovative competitors like Cyndicate and NewsLife. Paul Kafasis has a thoughtful post about this, saying:

If competing with a popular, well-designed product is tough, competing with a popular, well-designed product that happens to be free (while remaining fully-funded) is damned near impossible. And that’s unfortunate, because ultimately, it’s likely to lead to stagnation. The developers at NewsGator have done great work, but the more minds there are attacking a problem in different ways, the more great solutions we see. Look no further than the late nineties, when IE effectively killed Netscape. Web browsers stagnated shortly thereafter—Microsoft, with browser share at or above 90%, had little incentive to innovate, and smaller players just couldn’t break in.

The bigger picture is that, like e-mail and the Web, feeds are becoming essential and the software for accessing them is becoming free. If you check your Mint, you’ve probably seen that Google Reader is hugely popular. The numbers for “AppleSyndication” are also climbing, as Leopard’s Mail includes much nicer RSS features than Safari RSS in Tiger. Ultimately, NewsGator itself was (or would be) getting squeezed, and (like Netscape) decided to concentrate on its server business. Long term, I don’t think it’s a good sign for fans of desktop applications that the money is now coming from servers and ads.

Lastly, if you use NewsGator syncing (I don’t) and wish to avoid telling them which posts you’re reading, go to NetNewsWire’s preferences and uncheck “Include attention data when syncing” on the Account tab of the Syncing pane.