1. O'Reilly: Soothsayer or Condemner

    brian on 2009.11.18 at 12:15 am

    Tim O’Reilly is getting a lot of links to his “War For the Web” piece. For the most part it’s worth a read. However, I wonder what goes through a “guru”‘s mind sometimes when they write lofty pieces like this. Do they just run it off all in one blast, (like I will on this post) or do they let it sit a couple days, edit, rethink and then post?

    I ask because in the middle of his piece, where he names those who “threaten” the future of the open web, he goes after Apple’s App Store policy, exposé-style:

    The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

    There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits – there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

    So, because Apple limits what apps can be on the phone, they’re closing down the web? Um… wha? The iPhone is a bit more than just a web-access device, by the way.

    He says “one glaring loophole” as if Apple mistakenly forgot to lock down Safari to only approved websites. Name the last time Apple forgot to lock something down in error. The iPhone is not the web. iPhone Apps don’t alone give access to the web. The device, although popular with geeks, doesn’t have the marketshare it’s influence might lead you to believe.

    Secondly, there’s nothing in HTML5 that is available in the iPhone that Apple only allows access to by an App. No, a web app doesn’t have access to various APIs available in the iPhone, but those functions aren’t part of the (actually still incomplete) HTML5 specs. In other words, Apple hasn’t broken anything web related. In fact, they should be given credit for a) bringing HTML5 to the mobile world b) being a forebearer of HTML 5 in the first place… hello? WebKit? You know, free, open-source and the same thing Chrome and a number of mobile browsers are based on? C) bringing the real web of any kind to a phone.

    I’m all for a transparent App Store review process, and I’d love to see Google Voice natively on the iPhone. But this passage simply lacks logic. It’s more as if Mr O’Reilly needed more big names to bash in his piece.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  2. SimplePie Shutting Down.

    jake on 2009.09.28 at 11:59 am

    Hopefully the open source project will live on in some form. Along with my personal site I just used SimplePie (along with Yahoo! Pipes) to add photos to a blog I keep with some old friends.

    So effective immediately, we are ceasing development of SimplePie and shutting down the project. We will shortly be pushing all code to GitHub. The mailing list will continue to serve users for the time being, but my sincerest hope is that someone will take up the charge to fork SimplePie, fix all of its issues, and continue on with this project that’s been such a huge part of my life for the past 5 years.

    SimplePie is ceasing development

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  3. The Big Snow Leopard Review

    brian on 2009.09.12 at 01:36 am

    Since most people who read this blog think of me as an “Apple guy” (I take offense to “fanboy”) I will provide you with my two-week review of Snow Leopard. It will be many, many words (and thus I’m not going to edit this heavily. If you catch a typo, let me know).

    Firstly, do you need to run out and buy Snow Leopard? No. There’s no rush. Should you buy it at some point? Definitely. I mean for the cost of a week of lattes you get back a bunch of space on your hard drive (reduction in print drivers and the introduced use of code compression), can use the machine almost instantly after waking it from sleep, and get useful new integration between the dock and Exposé. That’s totally worth $30.

    There’s a lot more to my review…

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  4. On the Acceptance of Reality

    brian on 2009.09.02 at 10:38 am

    Do you like Merlin Mann? I sure do. But something he wrote last night irks me, and I’m going to tell you about it, at length. That’s what blogs are for. I hope that you the reader can learn some valuable lessons from his recent situation.

    Let’s recap said situation. Merlin, Mac user since January 1987™, is writing a book on a deadline. He owns 5 Macs, uses things like Quicksilver, TextMate and Photoshop and considers himself to be a “power user.” I think it’s clear form those three apps that he qualifies.

    Regardless of the fact that he’s on a deadline and the fact that it’s widely known that when you install a new operating system (you know, something critical to the running the machine and all its software) there will be incompatibilities with old software, he decides to hold everything and install Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard) on all of his Macs. Not just one to see if it’ll work for him, he runs out and installs it on all his Macs.

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology

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  5. Why Event Box (Cosmic Machine) lost my business: bait and switch.

    brian on 2009.04.02 at 03:18 pm

    EventBox is an innovative Mac app, made by a company called Cosmic Machine that I downloaded for free from the MacHeist website. I purchased the MacHeist bundle, but EventBox was not part of the bundle, rather a “free gift” simply for visiting the MacHeist website.

    I downloaded the app, loved that it allowed my to get my Twitter updates and my Facebook updates in one place, and allowed me to add RSS feeds so I could include feeds of Twitter searches that would notify me of my company’s name on Twitter. I also put in a feed for my Delicious Inbox so I was notified when people send me links. I loved the functionality, and told all my Twitter-loving friends.

    EventBox was certainly a flawed app. It’s interface is clunky, and in parts they’ve created custom interfaces where standard Mac UI would have been much preferred. There are awkward keyboard shortcuts (CMD+Shift+K to mark as read, when “CMD-K” a short cut known to many thousands of users as “mark as read” goes unused? No shortcuts to bring up the main window when it’s closed?) and the visual design is a bit amateur. I would not have paid list price, $15, for this app. But it was in beta still and it held a lot of potential. I would certainly invest (maybe even $15-20) in a final version if these inconsistencies were addressed. I really valued the functionality. I could put up with the clunkiness when it was free. And free for a beta is a great advertisement. I thought they were really suave for hooking up to have hundreds of thousands of Mac users seeing and possibly trying their product.

    Now, when getting a Mac app from MacHeist, you know there will be limitations.

    Read on for the full story…

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  6. Hot Tip: Things

    brian on 2009.02.09 at 01:06 pm

    If you’re a user of Cultured Code’s Things, the GTD-like organization software for the Mac (with companion iPhone app) you’re really going to like this tip I just found:

    • Open one of your to-dos so that notes section is exposed.
    • Drag a file that’s related to that to-do to the notes column.
    • See a really helpful hyperlink (alias) to the file appear in the notes area.
    • Optional: rejoice.

    Very happy about this. Something I had missed from when I used OmniOutliner for my to-do lists.

    If you’re using and syncing with the iPhone version of the application, the file name will come up as just text in the notes field. Also, if you go to edit the notes field on the iPhone, the title of the file will simply become “LINK 1” so you have reference that it was a file name, not just text.

    Posted in: Software

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  7. Rebuilding the inauguration with Photosynth

    jake on 2009.01.28 at 06:17 pm

    This week’s TWiT references an experiment CNN is doing with Microsoft Photosynth. They are piecing together inauguration photos from the crowd. You can now peer through the many eyes on hand for Obama’s swearing in ceremony1.

    Photosynth creates a panorama on steroids. The software pieces together many photos to make an approximate 3D representation. Pretty nifty technology.

    1 Requires Microsoft Silverlight.

    Posted in: Politics · Software · Web

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  8. Big News: SMC is Live!

    brian on 2008.10.19 at 09:22 pm

    Big news! The other day my good friend Howard Rheingold flipped the switch and the public web site for our project, the Social Media Classroom went live to the world!

    Logo of the Social Media Classroom

    The free (open source, no cost) software is combination of social media tools for use in education. It is designed to install right on top of Drupal, a popular open-source content management system.

    I did a good deal of research and wireframing of many of the interfaces and interactions that happen in the software. It was a valuable educational experience for me design wise.

    We got wrote up on Read Write Web.

    I did not have as much time as I would have liked to donate to the project. My day job, grad school and my new baby boy all made my time scarce. I feel there’s a lot more I could do for the project, design wise, if I can find a little time… oh, time.

    Special thanks to Sam Rose for all his hard work!

    Posted in: Design · Software · Web

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  9. GarageBand now makes iPhone ringtones

    brian on 2007.12.14 at 10:02 pm

    Great news. The 4.1.1 update to GarageBand now allows you to save your work (40 seconds or less!) as a ringtone which GarageBand will save to your Ringtones in iTunes, from which you’ll sync next time you connect your iPhone.

    Official instructions here:

    Apple Knowledgebase: How to create custom ringtones in GarageBand 4.1.1

    Christopher Penn’s Illustrated instructions here.

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Software

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  10. Leopard Desktop Under Stress

    brian on 2007.12.03 at 12:37 am

    Instead of working on my final project for my Introduction to Instructional Design grad class, due tomorrow, I decided now would be an appropriate time to update the blog.

    This is my first post here from Leopard, and I’m happy to report things are going swimmingly. If I’m not editing podcasts with it at work, I’m writing papers and designing presentations with it from school. No issues yet, and many positives (much better network disk access, Back to My Mac, Screen Sharing, QuickLook, free upgrade to 802.11N, Safari 3, more robust

    I thought I’d take a picture for posterity of what my desktop looks like at full speed when I’m chugging away. I’d love to see what other people in my position were using on there Macs, so here’s my submission.

    My Leopard Desktop displaying various applications I'm using to write grad school papers

    Here’s a large image hosted at Flickr, along with a link to the Full Sized shot

    Here’s what’s going on: is in the foreground, I’m assembling pieces of the project that I’ve assembled previously in Pages is simply a fine application with which to layout a large project. I’m quite fond of it.

    To the right we see with a pair of PDFs… one is the instructions from the professor on what to write about in that section of the project, the other is a flow chart I’ve built which will be in an appendix at some point. It is a major piece of the project. The most time consuming, in fact. It was built in OmniGraffle, but I’m viewing the PDF I made to upload to WebCT.

    The whole project will be converted to a PDF tomorrow for uploading. The PDF of the flow chart will be added as one appendix, as will some Keynote slides, also converted to PDF. They comprise some sample learning material.

    Most of my classmates upload Word docs, which are a pain to review on the web. A handful of thoughtful classmates upload PDFs. Including the guy who works for Microsoft. He gets the web. No offense to them, but most of my classmates are not technical nor understand the difference. Otherwise they’re good people.

    My advice is if you have an online course, upload PDFs unless someone needs to edit your work within Microsoft Word. Otherwise, Word docs effectively break the web. PDFs cling to web legitimacy by a thread, thanks to the near ubiquitous PDF browser plugins. If you don’t have the software to convert to PDF (if you have a Mac, there’s the option to save as PDF in every print dialog), check out Google Docs, which can save any document save therein as a PDF. Free.
    PDF viewers are available on every platform, for free. Viewing a Word doc requires paying an unnecessary Microsoft tax, plus you can’t view them in most browsers.

    Happy learning.

    Posted in: Apple · Design · Software

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  11. Apple News - Leopard Release

    brian on 2007.10.31 at 02:31 am

    Perhaps I should write more about Apple news here. I think now that I’ve been gone from Apple for one full year, I think the kabash on Apple-writing is finally worn off.

    Here’s some stuff that may interest you:

    Leopard – I’m getting my copy tomorrow, but likely won’t install it on my production MacBook Pro until after our conference next week concludes. Last thing I need is some rare bug taking me offline for a half a day or longer… despite how unlikely that is.

    300 New (or improved) Things

    I’m looking forward to QuickLook, Better Spotlight, no Finder network hangs (crosses fingers), Safari 3, unified window styling (goodbye brushed metal) iChatAV updates (recording, sound quality), Back to my Mac, and Screen Sharing. Being friends and family’s tech support just became a lot easier. (actually, I had set up VNC for my Dad when he got DSL, which was awesome for setting some stuff up remotely, I hope the OS version is faster)

    I’ll keep you posted. For now, you should read two things:

    Andy Ihnatko’s What’s Leopard Really Worth is an interesting take on is it worth your money to upgrade to Leopard. What if each component’s upgrade were a stand alone product? Would you buy it?

    Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: the Ars Technica review is your once-an-upgrade über review of the new operating system by John Siracusa. There is absolutely no more in depth review from just about every standpoint imaginable. If you can get through all 17 pages (some rather lengthy, see “Finder,” John’s pet project) in one sitting, I salute you. I’ve read three pages, the Intro, Conclusion and the Finder… and I’ll probably have the rest read sometime before December.

    I imagine TWiT’s MacBreak Weekly will be chocked full of Leopard news… I’ll hear it tomorrow morning on the way into work.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  12. Three Tips for New Podcasters

    brian on 2007.09.25 at 09:46 pm

    This October will be my first anniversary in podcasting. I’ve learned a lot in that time, and still have plenty to learn I’m sure. Podcasting is still a young endeavor, but I’m happy find more and more quality podcasts daily. I’m happy to see so many new faces in the game. But, there’s a learning curve in podcasting. I offer this post as assistance to those who are just getting started. These are the things I’ve found most valuable about getting good audio fidelity, which is so important, in my opinion, to keeping listeners.

    Bonus Tip #–1 – If there’s a PodCamp near you, regardless of your experience, go to it! They’re phenomenally useful! What a great place to start.

    Bonus Tip #0 – buy a Mac. Don’t think you like Macs? Hear me out. The software the comes inside makes podcasting significantly easier. GarageBand is a great piece of entry-level software that no other piece of podcasting software matches when it comes to ease of use, and cheap power. If you use a PC, Audacity will probably be your free weapon of choice, and it’s powerful, but damn hard to use. However, Mac or PC, if you need a application to split stereo tracks into two separate files, Audacity is the only app I know which does this. Apple’s cheapest Mac is the Mac mini which is plenty powerful enough to do everything you need. As with any type of editing (video, audio, photo) more RAM is always better. An iMac or MacBook would also make awesome podcast rigs. Plug a USB mic in, like the Blue Snowball, or the dreamy Røde Podcaster, and you’re set for instant one-track recording.

    Tip #1 – learn how to speak into a microphone. Sounds stupid, but what you may not realize is that there’s technique here, that varies from mic to mic! Many microphones need to be address from only a couple inches away. Your mic should include documentation on how to “address” it, and there is a sweet spot. Also not all mics make all voices sound great. You may have to experiment. May I suggested not speaking directly into the mic, straight on, Instead, address it at a 30-45 degree angle. This is to reduce “plosives” the big bangs and pops of various consonants like “B” and “P.” If you’re blowing your air past the mic instead of directly into it, you can greatly reduce these without buying mic accessories. Oh, and don’t tap or bump the table your mic is on!

    Many more tips after the jump, read more!

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Media · Podcasting · Software · Technology · Web

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  13. Early Report on iWork '08

    brian on 2007.08.11 at 03:25 am

    I ordered the office a round of copies for iWork ’08, due to arrive from Amazon early next week, but I couldn’t resist downloading the 30-day free trial copy anyhow, just to play with it for a while. (It has no restrictions on usage during the period. Only downside: nearly 500MB download)

    My Intial reactions to Keynote, Pages and Numbers follows after the read more link…

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  14. Google Documents API Released

    brian on 2007.08.09 at 12:33 am

    Google Documents API Released

    This new API, which re-uses the Google Data API (GData) framework, can be used to upload documents or to grab a list of existing documents. Full text search for grabbing particular documents is supported too…

    Couple questions. One: how long until I have an app that allows me to sync to Google Docs certain docs I have in, say a specific folder? Two: considering this was publicly announced one day before iWork ’08 shipped, and said productivity suite offers support for tons of document formats, and Pages now sports a (Word-compatible) “track changes” option, why is there not an option to export/import or preferably sync with Google Docs?

    Imagine the backup options alone! Forget about the collaboration, even!

    So much potential… iWork’08 sync with Google Docs and Spreadsheets! Now!

    I’d rather do this than put Google AdSense in my iWeb pages.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology

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  15. The Next NetNewsWire Loves Twitter

    brian on 2007.05.15 at 12:56 am

    The next revision of NetNewsWire will sport a feature to send a link to Twitterific.

    It will also support text resizing (long a complaint of mine) and microformats! Hooray for old-school usability and new school web2point0hishness.

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Web

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  16. FontExplorer X released for PC.

    jake on 2007.03.30 at 09:57 pm

    FontExplorer XFor a long while I’ve been relying on FontExplorer X for free font handling on my Powerbook. There was always a promise that a Windows version would be released because not everyone can be blessed with a Mac. That day is finally here and I can now use the same wonderful software on my desktops at home and at work. Just remember that currently it’s in beta.

    Download FontExplorer X for PC (from Typophile)

    Posted in: Design · Software

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  17. Keychain Access: The Most Underused App on Mac OS X

    brian on 2007.03.11 at 07:29 pm

    Hey, if you have a Mac, especially with 10.4 (Tiger) you’re really missing out if you’re not using Keychain Access.

    Boring it sounds, I’m sure, but it’s terribly useful, and I’ve been using it since Tiger came out. There are a number of websites for which you would want to store your (many) usernames and (many) passwords but you don’t want these passwords stored in your browser’s autofill, and there are some situations where the web browser won’t recognize what you’re typing as a username and password and autofill isn’t even an option. For you there is Keychain Access.

    Read on for a detailed walk-through of simple, secure computing practices with Keychain Access.

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  18. PicLens Plugin for Safari

    brian on 2006.12.17 at 10:09 pm

    PicLens Plugin for Safari = Awesome.

    Fullscreen image of Piclens in action.

    Essentially brings the iPhoto 6 Full Screen mode (sans editing, of course) to Safari. For certain sites, listed on the plugin’s webpage, you can click a link that appears when you hover over an image and be instantly in full screen, image-only mode. If you put the mouse towards the center, the top and bottom bar glide off screen and you can navigate entirely with the arrow keys.

    Recommended. Apparently free. Apparently responds to Apple Remote input (I didn’t test this). In beta (of course.) A version for Firefox is apparently in the works.

    Posted in: Software

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  19. Photoshop and FlickrBooth

    brian on 2006.12.16 at 10:45 am

    FlickrBooth Disk ImageFlickrBooth is cool. Yup. That about sums it up.

    PhotoShop CS 3 BrandingAdobe Photoshop CS 3 is now in public beta, and if you didn’t hear about that, you can head over to Adobe Labs and enter your CS 2 serial number to download a free copy of the beta to use until it goes gold. They’re also visually branding PhotoShop as “Ps,” and it comes with Adobe Bridge, which is likewise labeled “Br.”

    I’d suggest watching this MacWorld video about the Ps beta. The first half is a little slow but the Ps product manager does give a good run down of the new features. The second half is an actual screen cast showing off a few of the new features, which are pretty impressive.

    Posted in: Software

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  20. More Features are the Only Way Forward?

    brian on 2006.12.12 at 07:45 pm

    Joel Spolsky says:

    With six years of experience running my own software company I can tell you that nothing we have ever done at Fog Creek has increased our revenue more than releasing a new version with more features. Nothing.

    Joel, have you ever released a new version of software without adding new features? Perhaps concentrating on speed increases? Interface optimizations? Bug fixes. Reduction of steps in a wizard, even? How about less junk on my plate, and just junk that works better? Makes me more efficient, allows me to go home an hour early to see my wife and puppy?

    I have a feeling you don’t have a control group to test your hypothesis on. How can you say it can’t work? Of course, it is your company.

    Get me home earlier and I’ll spend my IT budget on your software. Well if it wasn’t Windows-only.

    [ hat tip: Josh. ]

    Posted in: Software

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  21. Use Boolean Operators in Search

    brian on 2006.10.07 at 07:16 pm

    Macworld: Secrets: Get more from Mail

    To indicate an AND search in Mail—in other words, both search terms must be present in the message—use an ampersand (&). For example, you might type jack & jill in Mail’s Spotlight field to find messages containing both jack and jill. To specify an OR search—meaning that either, but not necessarily both, of the terms must be present—use a pipe character (|). For example, type jack | jill to find either of those names in a message. To specify a NOT search, use an exclamation point (!). For example, type jack & (jill | hill) ! water to find messages containing jack and either jill or hill but not water (see “Find It”). The parentheses group terms together so that a single AND, OR, or NOT applies to all of them. Be sure to include spaces between the terms whenever you type your search because if you don’t, the search (for example, jack|jill ) may not work.

    Awesome. I’ve wanted this for so long and it was there the whole time. I wish is was in the documentation!

    Here’s more than what’s in the article: since Mail’s Spotlight powers the Smart Mailbox functions… you can use Boolean searches to bolster the quality of your Smart Mailbox sorting! But the sad thing is that this appears not to function in the system-wide spotlight… when using the pipe operator, it pulls up documents that actually have the pipe character typed within them.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  22. Google Talk and MSN via Jabber together in iChat

    brian on 2006.09.27 at 09:55 pm – Google Talk and MSN via Jabber together in iChat

    Wow, awesome hint from about how to chat with MSN users via iChat. I’m marking it here for later use. Author also seems to allude to the fact that you may be able to use a similar technique to chat with Yahoo! chatters, as well.

    If you’ve already established a Google Talk account and have it set up in iChat, you can add non-Google Talk users to your contact list… You can also add an MSN gateway to your Google Talk account, but you’ll need the help of a more complete Jabber client such as PSI.

    Posted in: Software

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  23. XCast is slick

    brian on 2006.09.01 at 01:18 am

    Even if you’re not interested in a new Podcasting client XCast logo(downloader) for your Mac, you should at least watch this screencast of XCast. It’s an attractive, well-designed and seemingly intelligent app yes, but the screencast is simply one of the best I’ve seen a developer give of his own app. Bonus points for the foreign accent!

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  24. BumpTop 3D interface

    brian on 2006.06.24 at 05:31 pm

    A lot of people are talking about an interface experiment called BumpTop

    I viewed the YouTube video (after the QuickTime torrent and standard QuickTime download both proved broken) and was thouroughly impressed. Some great ideas here.

    However, I must also add that I won’t give my GUI up for it anytime soon. It simply doesn’t have enough context. The little icons only have file types… who cares if I can actually pick up and throw files… if I don’t know what they are. Given some context, this would be really cool.

    Downfall number two: this would have to be used in a situation where you don’t need to type much, since it’s pen-driven. I could see how it could be adapted to a mouse/trackpad, however.

    last comment: my computer is much more thoroughly organized than my physical life, and this is because of the 2D restraints placed upon my actions there. Why would I want to go 3D and be able to make a mess? Of course, every day I see many people who make a mess in the 2D world too, so perhaps this is an arbitrary note.

    You can find more info at their website.

    Posted in: Software · Technology

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  25. Blogging from Flock 0.7

    brian on 2006.06.15 at 03:06 am

    Flock Logo

    I read a blog entry today, Introducing Flock Beta 1 which, oddly, translates to Flock 0.7.

    Flock was unveiled last year to much fanfare, finally a browser that got the “Web 2.0.”

    That was all well and good, until the beta showed there was much work to be done, much promise to be fulfilled.

    See how Brian fared with Flock beta 1 by reading on… (this post was written from within Flock)

    Read More

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  26. Ode to NNW 2.1

    brian on 2006.03.03 at 12:01 am

    I just wanted to give a shout out to the one application I probably could no longer live happily without… NetNewsWire.

    I don’t know much about other news readers, since NewsFire stopped being free, and about a day with the Google News reader (eh) I haven’t touched another reader. What’s more, I have zero desire for another reader. I liked it so much I bought it. At the time I was only using the lite version, which is still free, but i wanted to send some money to Brent to encourage his development efforts. I took the pro app, and come version 2, I was sure glad I had it… the syncing of news is invaluable. And version 2 was free for purchasers of version 1. That impressed me.

    But then, today I read this…

    (version 2.1 is) a free upgrade. In fact, existing NetNewsWire users will get two years of free upgrades plus a free subscription to NewsGator.

    Damn. Thanks Brent. Again.

    He says it’s mainly going to be a maintenance release, plus NewsGator syncing… but he claims the speed is increasing. This is great, because my only qualms came from the crankiness of the syncing… and the lack of speed. I figured it was due to my over-use of the program… over 300 feeds, lots of tabs… but he’s testing with a private tester’s 634 tabs. Alright!

    Posted in: Software

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  27. Search Folder for flagged in Thunderbird

    jake on 2006.01.26 at 01:48 pm


    I should preface this short tutorial explaining that this is for older versions of Mozilla Thunderbird. Think of it as an alternative to the abilities added in version 1.5.

    Some background.

    I’ve been using Thunderbird at work for a long while now. I grabbed Thunderbird way back when it was in beta.

    I also have a problem with keeping my email organized. I get various messages on a weekly basis asking me to update minor things on various web sites. And if I’m currently busy with an unrelated project they quickly move off the screen and disappear from sight and from memory.

    There are two methods for highlighting messages in Thunderbird called labels and flags. Labels give color in the message window and their titles can be customized. They are easily applied using the keys 1-5. Flags can be inserted as a column and clicked to turn them on and off. There are of course other methods for applying the two.

    Read More

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  28. He said it.

    brian on 2005.12.24 at 01:33 am

    These two blog entries make me nearly tear my hair out.

    {Minor update: I agree with Kottke, there is still good in him…}

    Winer: The user interface on iTunes is awful. It’s the worst piece of crap I’ve ever used…I buy the CDs and scan em in… [explains he lost some music] What did I do wrong? I swear, I have no idea, and I’m a professional software designer. What about the poor schnook who is just a user?

    Take a quick look at his blog, then look around the web for screen shots of Frontier or his OPML… and he thinks iTunes has bad interface? I’d say their interfaces are from the stone age, but that would be an insult to the tools developed then. But wait it gets better…

    What’s better than iTunes/iPod? Why, his Archos.

    Winer: Let’s say I bought an audiobook, it comes on eight CDs, I rip it into eight folders, write a script to name the files 001.mp3, 002.mp3, 003.mp3, etc. From there, if I copy the files to the Archos, it does the right thing when I start playing the first file, it goes to the second, then to the third.

    But the iPod can’t be made to care what the filename is, so it plays them in the order of the ID3 info, which is almost completely random because the ripper has no idea that the eight CDs are actually one big document… So the Archos wins (emph. mine)

    Oh. My. God. I cannot barely refrain from profanity. This expert in software development thinks writing a goddamn script is easier than using iTunes? Are you f*n kidding me? OMFG. It’s simple. You rip it in iTunes, Select all the tracks your ripped, you click Get Info, you give them all the same title (album name) and author (artist). Then close the window, deselect all, then click Get Info on each and make a track number. 1, 2, 3. Move the music to your iPod. Now simply select the album on the iPod and press play… it magically plays in track order. Call it a miracle.

    But, no the Archos is better. That’s why the sweet, seventy year old grandmother today I spoke with today came in with her Archos explaining she takes that ten pound brick with her every where. And when she’s home she listens to it in her Archos speaker system. Yup, that’s right. Oh wait, that was an iPod. The same one “professional software designer” Dave Winer cannot operate. But forgive her. She may have been sweet, but she’s just “poor schnook who is just a user”

    Minor update #2: I might have gone off the deep end in retrospect, but, damn that was cathartic.

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Software · Technology

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  29. Playing with Footnotes and Javascript

    jake on 2005.12.05 at 12:23 am

    A while ago lots of people were talking about footnotes and subsequently sidenotes on the web. There were lots of different opinions.

    John Gruber and Richard Rutter defended the idea that using built in HTML anchors is a perfectly acceptable method of creating footnotes. Joe Clark responded that not only are they not actually footnotes and that nothing exists to represent footnotes. Joe also was frustrated that John was getting heaps of praise for pointing out a fairly obvious solution to the problem. I’d say it wasn’t exactly obvious, it felt more like a brain teaser where when you see the solution you smack yourself on the forehead and go, “ohhhhhh, now I get it.”

    I had a little experience with the sidenote idea back when I was in college. I had a project in English where I created pop-ups with Javascript to show off the explanations my partner created for the project. It was a little messy and not semantic at all but it got the job done for 1999.

    I decided to play with the idea a little bit. I came up with a couple variations in my head to use Javascript to snazzy up the end result. The first variation uses a script to sift through the footnotes at the bottom of the page and when you mouseover the superscripted numbers you get a tooltip with the footnote. And it degrades nicely into a list similar to Gruber’s. Just try turning off Javascript.

    I’ve tested it in many browsers and the only problem I’ve found is that in Opera the tooltip can fall off the edge of the screen. I plan on cleaning it up, but let me know if you see anything I can do to fix it up but still keep it as simple as possible. I also hope to turn it into a full on Behavioral style script.

    So for now you’ll just have to live with the thrown together code. ;)

    Playing with Footnotes

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  30. Aardvark'd DVD

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 03:33 pm

    Watched Joel Spolsky’s documentary trailer today on Google Video. Looks like an outstanding film I’d very much like to see. However, I will not be buying the $20 DVD.

    To me, to see a film once is not worth $20. I have no desire to keep a copy of this potentially interesting film, and even if I loved it, I would never watch it again, and thus have no need for hard copy.

    I might go to a movie theater once or twice a year, and own no DVD movies I bought myself. I put my money where my mouth is. I do watch movies when they come to the small screen, but would watch more if I were allowed more control of where and when I could watch them. I would call this an untapped market.

    I’m certainly not saying everyone (or anyone) shares my views, but I feel Joel, as a leading software business mind, is missing on a big opportunity. Funny that its lacking considering his last entry on digital media distribution!

    I would have, in his shoes, chosen an H.264 download (with BitTorrent ) option alongside the DVD purchase option. There will be folk who want to keep a high-quality hardcopy, and they should get to have that. $20 is reasonable for that.

    However, I would like to download a copy for a more digestible $5. I think the sheer volume of downloads would offset any cannibalization of the DVD sales, in addition to the saved costs due to no packaging, two rounds of shipping, manufacturing… and BitTorrent would make the bandwidth very reasonable (ask Cringely ). Sounds lucrative.

    Afraid of piracy? Well, the tools to buy that DVD and change it into the format I described above exist in abundance. People will invite friends over to watch the movie, even! Gasp!

    If anything, a legal download provides a reasonable and easy alternative to piracy. It’s working for Apple right now. I don’t think FairPlay will be the end all of digital media rights management, but its a solid, first reasonable and reasonably successful attempt. The only thing I’d add to a download like Joel’s would be the downloader’s email address, which the downloader would a) know was attached, b) have to enter into the purchasing webpage to get emailed a link to the torrent file.

    Yes there are easy ways around these small features, but that’s the point. They keep honest people honest… if you share this on P2P nets and we see it, we’ll know you put it here. You can’t worry about those who will just strip it out, because of the DVD ripping issue I mentioned above.

    Piracy will be a given, but you can’t criminalize all your customers because of it. Give reasonable people reasonable options to stay above board, and this will put the piracy percentage to its minimum. That will net you all the profit you deserve.

    I cannot believe that digital delivery was not strongly considered by Joel. He’s a sharp mind. So even if we don’t get a downloadable option, I’d hope he’d post his thoughts on what made him go traditional in this case on his blog.

    Joel, I look forward to seeing your film, if you give me the opportunity to!

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Software · Technology · Web

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  31. Explorer Destroyer

    brian on 2005.11.10 at 08:03 pm

    The authors of this blog wish to bring to your attention:

    Explorer Destroyer

    Heehee. And don’t miss its sister site, Kill Bill’s Browser. which is a checklist of the best reasons (in their opinion) to leave IE. I laughed out loud at reason number eight.

    We will not be employing any draconian devices to entice our readers to not use Internet Explorer. We support the use of any web standards compliant browsers, especially ones derived from open source projects.

    Personally I spend most of my time in Safari, with the rest of my time split between Camino (for you Windows users, that’s a Mac-only derivative of Firefox) and Firefox. I usually use the original Firefox when viewing image-intesive websites so i can use its Linky extension. I also use the Web Developer’s Extension toolbar for design and development.

    So if you haven’t got the gist yet, and you use Internet Explorer… get a clue.

    And tabs!!

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology · Web

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  32. Free Opera (not music) Today only.

    brian on 2005.08.30 at 12:35 pm

    Happy Birthday to the folks at Opera, the Norwegian web browser company. As thier present to us, we can register the full, ad-free version of the Opera web browser at no cost. (It’s usually $30)

    Go here to get more information and download Opera for free.

    This offer is valid from 12 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 to 12 a.m. Wednesday, August 31 2005 (PDT).

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  33. Somatic

    brian on 2005.08.17 at 09:10 pm

    Soma FM out of San Francisco is one of my favorite internet radio outfits. Secret Agent may be my all time favorite stream. They offer a ton of different types of feeds (mp3, aacPlus, 3GP, and the format which won’t be named) over their many channel selections. Additionally, I listen to Groove Salad and Indie Pop Rocks! occasionally, as well.

    I mention this because someone has produced a widget for Tiger’s Dashboard for Soma FM fans. Check it out. (via.)

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Software

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  34. Summer Mac Projects

    brian on 2005.06.12 at 06:15 pm

    It’s summer time and that means summer projects! So grab your favorite Mac and head over to this swell collection of Mac OS X how-to’s for cool things to do on your Mac when the the sun is out and you should really be outside enjoying it.

    Or I suppose you could take your PowerBook outside with you… may I suggest a sun umbrella and or Universal Access’ Switch to Black on White mode for outdoor viewing.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  35. Dashboard Tray Shortcut Found!

    brian on 2005.05.03 at 02:17 pm

    For all of you who have made the jump to Tiger, here’s the epiphany I had today: there is a keyboard shortcut to open the Dashboard Widget Tray when dashboard is envoked: it is Cmd-= (semantically it’s cmd-+ but that’d actually be cmd-shift-+, right?) Additionally, it toggles the tray: you can both open and close it with the same combo.


    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  36. Why isn't MTV hip anymore?

    jake on 2005.04.06 at 12:15 pm

    I used to watch MTV when I was a kid. It was cool and showed music videos. The handful of regular shows revolved around music or were things like Beavis and Butthead that no one else would show. Hell, Beavis and Butthead got MTV blocked in my house.

    Everyone knows that now the channel is just a bunch of generic television like all the other channels. Occasionally you’ll laugh at Punk’d or see a new video that’s good, but mostly you’re just getting TRL crap and lots of filler that’s pretty boring.

    Now just to prove how old and stodgy they’ve become, MTV is releasing music videos and other “short-form” content on a “service” called Overdrive. They are touting the amazing features of watching it all the way through (like normal TV) or jumping to various parts (like a DVD). Of course we all know that most streamed video can do this if constructed right. It’s not new.

    Plus they’re using Windows DRM to screw up distribution. Music videos have been free forever. They’re not for making money, they’re a form of advertising to sell more CD’s. And the news? Why does that need to be locked up? All their doing is acruing more load on their servers by trying to force people to download directly from them. I assume they’ll have banner adds all over the place, so maybe they are just looking for traffic.

    And of course, because they’re using good old Monopoly Microsoft exclusively it’s locking out both Macs and web browsers outside of Internet Explorer. That’s a good method of driving traffic to your web site, lock out a whole bunch of people for no reason.

    From: Boing Boing

    Posted in: Music · Software

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  37. Should I Stay or…

    brian on 2005.03.15 at 12:56 pm

    A while back I posted about the history of the Graphing Calculator that resides in Apple’s operating systems.

    The story has made it into “This American Life” and you can start listening at the 26minute mark if you’d like to hear the audio version of the tale. (Real Audio) [link via DaringFireball]

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  38. Well-Formed iPhoto Export

    brian on 2005.03.15 at 11:47 am

    I love iPhoto. However, there are times I wish I could use it to produce photo galleries that I could style on my own, using CSS.

    Now I can, introducing Well-Formed , from All That is Solid. And, not only does it produce xHTML and styles in CSS, but it can also produce XML and SQL. Excellent. Additionally, there is an “extras” section which includes a simple Flash gallery, to boot.

    Unfortunately, right now, the javascript-powered pop-ups in the simple xHTML gallery are crashing Safari, and in Firefox, they don’t pop, but do forward you to larger pic in the same window at least. Also, it seems the Flash gallery is broken as well. (This last part may be me, I’ve sent both bug reports to the author).

    At very least I have something that’ll export the thumbs, web-sized pics and a bare bones gallery for me to style on top of. That’s outstanding.

    Posted in: Photography · Software · Standards · Web

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  39. G5 No Audio Fix

    brian on 2005.02.14 at 12:05 am

    A friend of mine and I both run G5s (he a dual 2.5, me, a single 1.8) and we both run a lot of media. We both mysteriously lost all audio on our systems. We had a strong suspicion that it was a software issue. Our systems would chime at start up, so we knew the hardware was working.

    After digging through Apple’s Discussions Boards (the proper second place, after searching Apple’s Knowledge Base , to start all your diagnostic journeys) I found a hint… that there was a bug in VideoLan Client 0.8.1 causing a simliar issue on G5s

    After some digging my friend and I both found the cure in this tweak of VLC

    1) advanced options->modules->audio output->coreaudio – set to audio output value to 1. 2) Quit VLC (important). 3) Open Apple system prefs > sound > output section. 4) Physically unplug stereo line out cable from back of G5. 5) Plug stereo line out back in to G5. Note ‘Line out’ appears in device list as it is automatically detected by g5. 6) Click to select Line out with mouse. 7) Quit sys prefs and launch VLC, sound should be working now.

    Hopefully, if you’re having this glitch, this post will help the findablility of the fix. Whether this bug will be squashed by the hardy devs at VLC is in question, by the sounds of it, there are no OS X VLC devs with G5s to test it.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  40. Holiday Update

    brian on 2004.12.28 at 03:33 pm

    Of course, posting traditionally lapses during the holidays. Mine thus far are going well, aside from having to sprint to southern New Jersey for a 24 hour visit before rushing back to work to deal with the 26th of December mobs. My back hasn’t yet recovered, and that’s partially due to the foot of snow dropped on us on the 27th.

    Recently, I’ve been playing with a few new acquisitions. I picked up an iSight camera , which I’ve temporarily deployed as a webcam in my front window. It’s running EvoCam from Amanda’s iBook, so when she returns from Connecticut after her extended stay, I imagine she’ll want to use it again. So be it noted, this link will break , rather it will still be there, but not updated as it is currently, starting by probably tomorrow. I’ll find another solution. BTW – you must refresh that image manually, since I’ve written no code for auto-refresh. It gets a new image every five minutes. They’re hardly ever anything interesting, and I apologize for the screen.

    Elsewhere, I have a new base-model G5 tower for our home server, and this is the first post from the new machine. I set it up just today, and I first wiped the drive and reinstalled the OS to make sure I have the bare minimum install (no extraneous foreign languages I’ll never use, for example) taking up the least space.

    I am currently backing up my life from my main PowerBook, via Target Disk Mode which is a fabulous invention. Recently, my PowerBook has been chirping and occasionally a clack can be heard as well. This worries me, thus, I have started the tower’s first purpose: backup vehicle. Soon, I will be adding a second SATA drive to the unit to improve upon the base storage (80GB), and some extra RAM as well. These will help me accomodate the second purpose of the tower: home media server, which will begin with hosting all of our iTunes and iPhoto needs. The third planned purpose is as in-house web server, and that’ll be the last thing I set up. I’ll likely start simple by adding controls for PHP, a little MySQL, and then probably in simple implementation of Instiki and lastly an install of TextPattern .

    More updates when time permits, but for now I’m off to work.

    Posted in: Apple · Cool Info · Hardware · Software · Technology · Web

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    brian on 2004.12.22 at 01:37 am

    BTW, if you're not playing with "": yet, you should sign up. I think this going somewhere, although I'm not quite sure where yet.

    Somewhere similar to where "Flickr": is going, I'm sure.

    And if you want an open source OS X GUI for, then you're looking for "Cocoalicous": , of course.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  42. It's an OS X Planet

    brian on 2004.12.22 at 12:37 am

    Today I was turned on to a wonderful application called OS X Planet, thanks to a MacUpdate search looking in to EarthBrowser. I was considering dropping some cash for EarthBrowser (I believe paying for shareware beings good karma, and more shareware, and new economic models), but, damn, although certainly less feature-rich that EB, OS X Planet does everything I wanted, for free. Impressive.

    Note to EB developers, I probably wouldn't have even looked for another app if their app didn't cripple the demo mode with low res pictures.

    And to everyone else, happy planet browsing.

    Posted in: Software

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  43. So Long Audion

    brian on 2004.11.12 at 12:17 am

    So Panic, one of my favorite software companies have posted the life story of their ground-breaking MP3 player Audio for the Mac in honor of its retirement.

    Sad for me a little, since Audion was the first piece of Mac shareware I ever bought. I more paid for the software to support Panic, a great company. When I had a question, the owner wrote me back directly. That's when I decided to pay up for something I could have used for free. Soon after, I also invested in Transmit, which is a staple of our web development.

    Read the story, if not just to hear the funny, interesting stories, and to see what type of company we here look forward to being one day.

    Posted in: Software

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  44. Happy Birthday

    brian on 2004.11.09 at 01:55 pm

    You can trust FireFox (as opposed to IE)Happy Birthday to FireFox 1.0, which goes live today. Of course, their site is an absolute mob scene right now, so good luck downloading it today. BitTorrent anyone?

    Coincidentally, this coincides with my 26th. I feel special.

    What am I doing on my birthday? Working. A closing shift.

    A Red-White-Red Courrier BagWhat am I getting for my birthday? Amanda is getting me a new Timbuk2 courier bag. For those of you who don't personally know me, I like cycling bags, so I am all smiles over this.

    The G5 PowerMacAdditionally, I'm considering getting a G5 tower to act as my home server and a central backup solution. All my drives are full. I can get a good price on a single processor 1.8, and I am debating making the plunge. This could be fun.

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology

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  45. Good Stuff for your Mac

    brian on 2004.11.07 at 05:08 pm

    NewFire is a cool, lite newsfeed reader for Mac OS XNeed a simple XML/RSS news feed reader? Check out NewsFire. Very pretty. Small and light. I'm never going to leave NetNewsWire for it, but its fun for light usage. And super-pretty.

    I've been usage sideTrack to enable scrolling on my touchpad and crtl-clicking, very cool, a little jumpy, but hey, its a hack. Also note, that conceptually, since its a kernel extention, it could cause issues w/ your system, or break when system updates come. Heads up, you've been warned.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  46. Alternative Browsers

    jake on 2004.07.16 at 05:54 pm

    I've been trying to wrap my head around this all day. Wired has an article touting the changing of your browser. With all of the security problems out there for Internet Explorer it makes sense not to use it. There are other reasons, since I'm a designer (and not a writer) I'll touch on those aspects in a second but let me start with security.

    The article lists off five alternatives. Two of these recommendations are flawed. iRider and Deepnet Explorer are shells that wrap around Internet Explorer. They add a bunch of functionality and with things like pop-up blocking are arguably more secure. But they are still running IE under the hood and therefore are still perceptible to not all, but some, if not many vulnerabilities. The real kicker is that iRider has a walkthrough to make browsing with their software more secure. But all the settings you are changing while going through the process are actually Internet Explorer settings. You are actually making Internet Explorer more secure, which is a good thing, but things they mention, like running Windows Update, should be happening anyway.

    Both of these browsers (yes I downloaded them) add a lot to the browsing experience and iRider has a tabbed interface similar and beyond Omniweb's (for Mac), which I love. But if you want to actually be more secure I'd go with one of the other offerings mentioned, like the Mozilla Suite, Opera, or Safari (only for Mac).

    The other big gripe I have with IE wrapping browsers is their inherent lack of standards support because of IE's crappy standards support. In not updating IE since 2001 (besides security issues) Microsoft has left what was once the king of standards to stagnate. Now many of the hacks and workarounds that web developers used to have to do with Netscape 4 we have to do for IE.

    It also can not display PNG image files correctly. So many of the nice things like million colored icons with full transparency, something many WindowsXP and OS X users take for granted now on their desktops, can not be translated to the web.

    Many end users don't really care about making developers like us happier just because we would have an easier time with making web sites. But I implore you to think about the other things. If all you want to do is make your browser a little more secure and get some nice new features then go get one of the two wrapper programs mentioned above. They'll give you some nice new features and if you follow that security page you'll be a little safer from jerks out there. Just don't forget they're wrapped around an unsafe browser to begin with. If you want something completely different go get Mozilla or Opera and browse away to your hearts content.

    Remember it's basically impossible to actually remove IE from your system so if you come across a page that says it's IE only then open up IE and just go to that page. Just don't use it for everything.

    Posted in: Service Announcement · Software · Standards

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  47. Irish Language to be added to Microsoft Products

    jake on 2004.06.18 at 05:40 pm

    Irish is one of two languages I hope to learn some day, the other is French. Microsoft is working with a couple universities from Ireland to translate Windows XP and the Office Suite over to Irish. I doubt that I will ever be able to run my OS in anything other than English but I'm glad to see this happen.

    Posted in: Software · Technology

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  48. Friday Tab Scrubbing

    jake on 2004.05.29 at 01:51 am

    Good night.

    Posted in: Design · Science · Software · Technology

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  49. The Anti-Bush Game

    jake on 2004.05.28 at 01:31 am

    Bushgame ScreenshotI came across this game at Jeff's site. It's an educational video game based on the Bush Administration. It turns into an ad for Kerry by the end but I enjoyed the antics. And you even get to battle as Howard Dean, a personally more appealing Democrat. Stupid bipartisan crap.

    Posted in: Politics · Software

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  50. New Zelda game shown at E3

    jake on 2004.05.12 at 06:13 pm

    Link from Zelda gamesI'm defintely getting too old for this, I hardly ever play games any more. But I just can't help but link to a trailer from a new Zelda game. Unlike the first Wind Waker, where everything was cel-shaded and looked like a cartoon, Link is looking more mature. Too bad this won't be out for a while.

    Posted in: Software

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  51. RSS Readers ruining it for the rest?

    jake on 2004.04.30 at 01:27 pm has an article about how RSS could overwhelm the Internet's pipes. At frist I was frustrated cause it sounded one sided but they touched on the problems by the end.

    Mark Fletcher, chief executive of Bloglines, said he agrees that many desktop readers are broken.

    "Several clients default to polling every half hour, which on a per-user basis ends up generating a lot more traffic than if the user was just going to the website himself," he said. "A user generally doesn't go to the same website every 30 minutes looking for changes."

    That's exactly what I did at work. My boss noticed my reader was polling regulalry (even though it really wasn't that much) so he had me change it to every 2 hours for every feed I subscribe to. And as far as I know the 2 apps that I can't decide between only download if there are changes. (At home I use NetNewsWire).

    If everyone followed rules of etiquette and the readers were forced to not allow anything less than an hour between checks then it would help a lot with these problems. Mostly I think it's the check for changes thing though. Not the frequency of checks (within reason).

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  52. Tips to help your wireless

    jake on 2004.04.14 at 01:16 am

    PCWorld ran an article to help troubleshoot and improve wireless performance.

    Posted in: Hardware · Software

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  53. OmniWeb 5 beta review

    jake on 2004.02.04 at 01:51 pm

    John Gruber of Daring Fireball has a comprehensive review of the new version of OmniWeb. He points out some great new features. Along with the intersting take on "tabs" the best feature has to be workspaces.

    Thus, even if you never use multiple workspaces, you can still love the feature. If you’ve got multiple windows and dozens of tabs open, you can quit OmniWeb, and when you relaunch it, the windows and tabs will be restored, exactly how they were when you quit.

    Besides a couple extensions for Mozilla/Firebird the only other browser that does this is Opera. Something along these lines should have been priority one with tabbed interfaces.

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  54. Mozilla Mechandise Coming Soon!

    brian on 2003.10.21 at 04:08 am

    Support la resistance starting 23 October by buying Mozilla merchandise! I'll certainly be there, will you? 'Zilla branded-trucker hats, anyone?

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  55. They Can't See the Big Picture

    brian on 2003.08.16 at 12:52 am

    Large organizations make poor decisions due to layers of people who can't see the big picture. Or who look out for themselves first, the organization second. Along these lines I present an article from Robert X. Cringely (a pen name, I believe), which talks about why IT departments avoid Macintosh (job security) and why large software companies are outsourcing coding to India (short-sighted cost calculations). Beancounters are rarely visionaries.

    Posted in: Software

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  56. Diablo 3 Item Generator

    jake on 2003.07.25 at 06:01 pm

    In the vain of the Castlevania Name Generator there is a Diablo item generator. Some of the names are amusing.

    Posted in: Software

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  57. More expensive Free software beats less expensive Microsoft bid?

    brian on 2003.07.18 at 01:11 am

    When does a free product cost more than one that's not free? Well, here's a fascinating account of the city of Munich's search for a new IT vendor. It basically spun down to this: Microsoft made an expensive bid, $36.6 million. IBM/SuSE (Linux) came in a with a more affordable bid of $35.7 million. None other than Steve Ballmer comes to town, and slashes Microsoft's bid an astonishing 35%, to $23.7 million, instantly. City council picks the IBM/Suse (Linux) option, although it cost more. Why?

    Though Microsoft underbid IBM and SuSE by $11.9 million in Munich, city officials were concerned about the unpredictable long-run cost of Microsoft upgrades, says Munich council member Christine Strobl, who championed the switch to Linux. And the more Microsoft discounted, the more it underscored the notion that as a sole supplier, Microsoft could -- and has been -- naming its own price, she says.

    ''Microsoft's philosophy is to change our software every five years,'' Strobl says. ''With open-source, it is possible for us to make our own decision as to when to change our software.''

    ...the offer from IBM-SuSE better met ''strategic'' criteria set forth by the Munich council

    Posted in: Linux · Politics · Software

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  58. Microsoft Punishment Continues

    brian on 2003.07.18 at 12:50 am

    (A bit belated, but that's this week's theme) Microsoft has been awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to provide the software for servers and desktop computers. Microsoft software, besides seeming ubiquity, is known for one thing: security, or lack there of. It's also known to be convicted by this same government, for being in violation of federal statues. Some punishment.

    Posted in: Politics · Software

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  59. Apple Music, part 2

    brian on 2003.05.03 at 12:18 am

    I guess you can say it's been a successful launch for the first week of Apple's iTunes Music Store and the new line of iPods

    At the Apple Store "LIVE!" launch party Friday night, fans were lined up hundreds deep to get their hands on the new iPods. At least four registers were non-stop iPod customers for two straight hours after the store re-opened at 6pm. Many bought more than one. Also available was this hot new accessory from Timbuk2 which I'll be picking up tomorrow.

    In other news, Billboard is reporting...

    The service, which went live Monday, sold an estimated 275,000 tracks at 99 cents apiece in its first 18 hours, according to major-label sources.

    Our friends at As the Apple Turns (who have magically resurfaced this week) are ciphering that...

    Figure first of all that the iTunes Music Store was maybe ten times more active at its launch... an average day...27,500 songs sold in 18 hours, or 36,667 a day... conservatively estimate that Windows support will increase Apple's customer base, say, eightfold, and international support will double it. That comes out to roughly 586,000 songs sold per day (@ 99¢ each)

    While Crazy Apple Rumors is reporting on the rumored iTunes for Windows...

    ...based on strict adherence to Windows interface guidelines it will be required to suck 43.5% more than the Macintosh version.

    Posted in: Music · Software · Technology

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  60. Reasons to switch to Mozilla Firebird

    jake on 2003.04.30 at 07:11 pm

    Blogzilla provides a link to an article describing many of the nifty features the browser provides. Of course with the name change and waiting for a new version to be released, Blogzilla points out, it might not be the right time to send this article off to Grandma.

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  61. Apple Music!

    brian on 2003.04.29 at 01:34 am

    Well, could I not write up my impressions of the new Apple announcements (1, 2) today?

    First comes the Apple iTunes Music Store. I played with this on and off today, and I'm very impressed. Very visually appealing, pretty usable. Best feature: every song has a 30 sec. full-quality (AAC) preview. Other points: there's a lot of great music. 200,000 tracks as of today, thousands more weekly. However, there are some notable absences. Most glaring to me was Dave Matthews Band. Word is that some music is missing because it simply hasn't been ripped yet. Others, Apple is actually going back to the master recordings to get the best possible quality out of classic recordings. Lastly, some are holding out due to contractual issues, where they are individually negotiating with artists who control the digital rights personally. Some big artists notable for that have already signed on, like The Eagles. Some artists, like U2, have given exclusive rights to sell some rare tracks. U2's Bono also appeared in the promotional video, speaking from the heart about the importance of the iPod and the new service.

    iTunes 4 is new, and the only way to access the iTunes Music Store. Yes, that means no Windows. Yet. Steve has promised that by year's end. I played with iTunes today as well. Notable features: AAC encoding is optimized for the G4. I saw a CD track ripping to AAC at 16x speed. Awesome. The buttons have been redesigned slightly. Rendezvous sharing works amazingly well. Super simple.

    Question of the week: Does iTunes 4/Music Store use WebCore??

    iPods: new, and due in stores Friday. New dock allows you to hook up to computers, yes. But it's most understated feature is that it has audio out as well, which means you can use it to interface with your home stereo. Buy an extra to put anywhere you want to drop in your iPod. They're sold separately (and don't ship with the entry 10GB). Also, the iPod's interface: how long until other companies allow you to drop an iPod into their machine for interface?

    Slimmer, smoother shape. Backlighting, cool. New extra games, cool. Customizable menus, awesome. On the fly playlists... finally!!! USB 2.0: unimpressed. Same crappy belt clip. It can't all be roses, I suppose.

    Question of the day: how did Apple make the same iPod work for both Windows and Macs? Is it a pick-one deal, or may you forever go back and forth?

    All in all, a very happy day in Apple land. Check out the event, Friday night!

    Posted in: Music · Software · Technology

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  62. Doom III article

    jake on 2003.04.16 at 06:27 pm

    I've been waiting to post this since I got my issue of Wired a couple weeks ago. They have an interesting article on the development of Doom III and the man in charge John Carmack. It's actually more about Carmack, and they discuss Doom III.

    Since then[releasing Commander Keen], Carmack has written a new graphics engine for almost every product he's developed. In an essentially visual medium, the graphics engine - the core code that determines how images are displayed on the screen - is the brain of any game. And with each new engine, Carmack's achieved a higher level of immersion and realism. He's a hero among coders for particularly elegant programming that pushes the limits of hardware.

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  63. Build your own TiVo

    jake on 2003.04.16 at 02:32 pm

    Gizmodo has a link to an article at ExtremeTech anout building a media PC with linux. It's part one of a three part series. I will post when those go up too. It describes with detail building a small PC to broadcast; mp3's, pictures, and movies. It also includes a TiVo style interface which allows you to record live TV.

    I have been interested in building a machine like this for a couple months now. I don't have the dispensable cash to do it, but I plan on using a Shuttle SN41G2 to make mine. It'll run me a little more in the cost department, but would be smaller and has many integrated features.

    The software being used in the article is Freevo. Upon reading through the discussionwww.shuttle forums base on the article, I came across some more information. MythTV is an alternative to Freevo. Also TitanTV stores free program guides.

    Posted in: Hardware · Linux · Software · Technology

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  64. Phoenix and Minotaur have new names.

    jake on 2003.04.15 at 06:05 pm

    Blogzilla posted that Phoenix and Minotaur have new names. (from mozillaZine)

    They are Firebird and Thunderbird respectively. I'm not sure where they got these. Personally I really liked Minotaur. I wish they went along the same line of naming. Even just renaming Phoenix to Mozilla would have been fine by me.

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  65. Mac using IAs rejoice!

    brian on 2003.04.15 at 02:00 pm

    Yes, folks, the number one requested feature for Mac-using IAs has arrived: the new OmniGraffle 3.0 Pro released today, imports Visio: "Import and export Microsoft Visio® XML files seamlessly with OmniGraffle Professional."


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  66. Safari's All New

    brian on 2003.04.15 at 03:35 am

    Apple Safari 1.0 (Beta 2) is out today, which is great for this weblog. Why? Because it makes our website pleasant on the eyes once again. For the longest time, Safari botched our standards-compliant layout, due to a bug in its KHTML layout engine, dubbed "WebCore" by Apple. Now, it's mostly fixed. Safari also rolled out the much awaited tabbed browsing feature. Now if only Safari implements tabbed page controls like Camino, where URLs send from other applications are opened in new tabs in one window, I will be in browser heaven.

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  67. MySQL progressing towards powerhouse

    jake on 2003.04.11 at 07:45 pm

    CNET has an article about the first ever users conference for MySQL. It highlighted the road plan for the future. Including version 5 which will be aimed towards the buisiness sector.

    The company also is promising a concerted push into the enterprise market with MySQL 5.0, which will build on some of the features in 4.1.

    This site is run on MySQL and I'm glad to see they're trying to take on the Oracle's of the world. I was also tickled by the reference to the projects mascot.

    And it wouldn't be an open-source gathering without a mascot. Sakila the dolphin was plastered on T-shirts, bags and notepads throughout the conference hall. MySQL's Axmark said the company chose the dolphin because it's fast, clever and good looking. "They also group up to kill sharks," he said.

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  68. Adobe Acrobat 6

    jake on 2003.04.11 at 05:27 pm

    creativepro has a look at some of the new things in Adobe Acrobat 6. The article was written by Planet PDF. If your curious about it's significance...

    In our opinion, Adobe's new flagship product Acrobat 6 is the most significant release since version 1.0 came out almost 10 years ago. Whilst at the time of writing this piece there are still a few loose ends left to take care of, for the most part we view this release as being truly groundbreaking. Unlike the release of Acrobat 5.0, which in comparison with 6.0 was a fairly minor update, we are much more bullish about the benefits that Acrobat 6.0 is going to bring to its potential customers and users.

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  69. Mozilla gets a trim.

    jake on 2003.04.03 at 02:11 pm

    The Mozilla Group has announced that Mozilla will now be based on Pheonix, a stand alone browser and Minotaur, a stand alone email app. This is mostly to reduce the bloated, slow current Mozilla with a fast and small version.

    Isn't that what they said they were doing in the beginning? Gecko is small and fast, what they put around it is slow and clunky. Hopefully Pheonix won't become the same way. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

    At least this is aimed towards providing a group of apps. I never liked how the Browser, Mail, Composer, etc. were all hooked together. Sure they are right there for use, but I don't want a crash in Mail to bring down the browser.

    Notes from Blogzilla
    mozillaZine Article
    CNET Response

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  70. MySQL making money

    brian on 2003.03.16 at 11:51 pm

    Perhaps you knew that MySQL is a free, open source database. But did you know that it is made by a Swedish, for-profit company? Interesting, yes, but how's this: they're making money off of it, too. CNN has a story on how their free product is both a) taking market share from the big boys, and b) making the company profitable. Like the TIAA-CREF billboards say in Boston, "Money isn't evil. It just needs proper guidance." FYI, MySQL guides this very weblog.

    Posted in: Technology · Software

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  71. Links for today

    brian on 2003.03.11 at 08:07 pm

    Sony CEO on Apple:

    We have the exact type of guy like Steve within Sony. His name is Ken Kutaragi. They respect each other. So maybe if we can get them both together then they could figure out how the PlayStation and the Mac can work together.


    X v XP for the creative pro. Seems pretty balanced. The lone forum post I read was a throwback to the "evanglelist" days of system flamewars which have mostly fanned out. Of course, it's hard to dispute the facts.

    Posted in: Technology · Software

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