Archive for February 7, 2023

Tuesday, February 7, 2023


Mark Alldritt (Mastodon):

MastodonLib is a library that allows you to query Mastodon timelines and post to a Mastodon account from AppleScript. This library is far from a complete implementation of the Mastodon API.


wordexp() Shells Out

Steve Klabnik:

you: “c is nice because there’s no hidden costs, you see every malloc and free, and know that the standard library doesn’t do shenanigans behind your back”

Steve Troughton-Smith:

libc does what 😟

Apparently I forgot to link to this back when the story broke in 2015 and 2016. For many years, Apple implemented the wordexp() function by starting a separate process for a Perl interpreter. Later, this was changed to use /usr/lib/system/wordexp-helper, which may be based on Bash, and so perhaps the code can only be called that way because of the GPL.


macOS Isn’t As Small As You Think

Matt Birchler (Mastodon):

I think Apple should add touch to Macs, and I think that this will allow them to not only make current form factors better, but it will allow them to create Macs that are more flexible, more powerful, and more accessible than any Macs before them.

That said, there are people in the Mac community who disagree with me here, and their number one concern is that macOS has a UI that is simply unusable with touch.


Again, all of these comparisons are being done at the default UI scaling mode. If you have less than perfect vision and boost the UI size at all, by all accounts, the UI on a Mac is as big, if not bigger than the same UI elements on an iPad mini.


There’s a narrative out there that touch is just so incompatible with macOS and that in order to make it work, the macOS UI would have to get blown up to comical proportions, but I don’t think that’s the case.

I think that’s right, but I would argue that it shows that macOS is not properly optimized for its form factor. Information density has gotten worse on the Mac over the last decade or so, as both Apple and developers have brought their iOS designs “back to the Mac.” It’s also happened with some iOS apps such as Music. Configurable font sizes are good thing, as they improve accessibility. But bulky designs and increased spacing everywhere reduce the amount of stuff you can see at once. In some cases, this just means a bit more scrolling, but it can also cause serious frustration and feel like part of your display has been stolen. Getting rid of title bars has negative consequences and doesn’t make up for the space lost elsewhere.


From iTunes to Everywhere

Louie Mantia (via John Gruber):

As part of this same release, I also redrew iTunes controls, like the playback buttons, LCD, and volume slider. I suggested making the “stoplight” window controls vertical, to eliminate the titlebar since that entire toolbar was grabbable. (Not everyone loved it, but Panic adopted this style for Coda!)

One day during the development of this release, Steve requested to remove all the icons from the [iTunes] sidebar because it was getting too busy. My heart sank. Icons are my life. How were were going to navigate such a long list without icons that hint at the type of list item? In a last-ditch effort to save icons in the sidebar, I created shaded monochrome icons for the source list, and Steve approved them. This style of icon inadvertently became the de facto style of sidebar icons on a system level for the next decade.

A book could probably be written about the influence of iTunes on the design of Mac apps from Apple and third-party developers.