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September 2002 Archives


September 30, 2002 9:13 AM


  • What does iSynch matter to a non dot mac user who has no Bluetooth phone or iPod? I suppose it's time to buy that SonyErricson phone.
  • extremetech.com talks about BSD and it's impact on the world. Mac OSX users should find this interesting since that OS is heavily based on BSD technologies. [ via arstechnica.com ]
  • Apple apparently has one of the worst executive boards on the face of the earth. Heh. My Mac seems to work ok for building web apps with Perl hackers and CVS repositories and graphics deliverables. As long as the Apple board continues to suck the way we are told they are sucking, then I think I'll be a Mac user for good long time.
  • Even though the time to sign up for a dot mac subscription has been extended, I still don't think I'll sign up. I just haven't seen anything that I can't live without. If they released iBlog that published thru dot mac, then I'd prolly go for it (because InMyExperience.com is costing me $30/month to run, and a dot mac subscription would be $50 for a year)


  • September 30, 2002 8:28 AM


    It shocks me how bassakwards 'the recording industry' is when it comes to battling online swapping of MP3 of copyrighted material. As noted by CNN...
    Congress is considering expanded legal protection for record labels who resort to sabotage in their ongoing battle with "peer to peer" networks that allow users to freely trade music, movies and other copyrighted material.
    This is at the behest of Record Labels who want action like this to occur...
    a technique called "interdiction," which closes off a user's hard drive to others on the network
    Never mind that the American economy has been based on competition in the marketplace. Forget trying to bring out better products that better meet the expectations and desires of the consumer. No, just keep doing what you are doing, release over priced CD's, and make sure the consumer only consumes in ways you prefer (because they produce higher margins).

    I've worked at an independent record label before, and the deals with artists were heavily weighted in favor of the label (artist gives up ownership and only gets their music released when the label so desires it). It's worse at major labels. IMHO, the recording industry needed a kick in head, but I fear they might simply retaliate instead of waking up and smelling the global distribution medium.

    September 27, 2002 9:51 AM


    In a nut shell, the template mentioned yesterday is good, works well in the one aggregator I really care about (NetNewsWire) and does what I wanted to do anyway. I had planned to rewrite my RSS/RDF MT template to put the full post in the RSS (HTML and all) so that aggregator users could read my site as they wish (via a web browsers or an aggregator like the aforementioned). Dive into Mark made it easy for me. Thanks.

    Now, consider for a moment the implications of this action. I'm lowering my potential page views and won't be able to foist my I337 UI hax0ring on passers by. But, this is a user centric blog, and aggregators have been quickly moving up the hit counts in recent weeks, so enjoy it folks. In the mean time, I'm going to count requests to my syndication feed as 'page views.'

    September 26, 2002 7:39 AM


    dive into mark has been kind enough to make a pre-packaged RSS 2.0 template for MovableType users. He asserts...

    this template is designed to be backward-compatible with all existing aggregators, news readers, and RSS parsers, ranging from the super-smart XML parser built into .NET to the dumb, minimal, regular-expression-based parser that your downstairs neighbor banged out on a Friday night.
    I'm hoping that covers NetNewsWire (which has been climbing the referrer charts here recently) and will do a little testing before I give up my nice RDF based RSS file. :^p

    September 25, 2002 7:48 AM


    Hey you, learn Mason. MasonHQI'm going to fail in doing justice to Mason here today. It's that great, really. However, it's not for everyone (sane people) and requires some knowledge of Perl. So, are you insane, and know some Perl? After all, one begets the other.

    Why is Mason so great? First, if you do know some Perl, Mason can make your web application (or web site) development a lot easier by abstracting out the interface to arbitrary amounts of components. The Perl logic and database advantages should be obvious to anyone reading this here bit rag. The true value (imho, because I am a UI designer/developer) is the UI abstraction. But it's not complete abstraction, and I think that's a good thing.

    Here's the description from the developer site...

    Mason is a powerful Perl-based web site development and delivery engine. With Mason you can embed Perl code in your HTML and construct pages from shared, reusable components.
    It's true! And like I said, not full abstraction is a good thing. Most of the components I work with have Perl at the bottom of the file declaring stuff, referencing a database and making nice and tidy objects for me to reference. We load up an object called "$user" which has all sorts of goodies inside of it such as phone numbers, addresses and titles. Being a JavaScript writer (another job for insane people) I'm used to object hierarchies and extracting values from them to do sleight-of-hand UI tricks. No new concepts to learn!

    Another Mason nicety: We have a suite of form element components with other UI elements wrapped around them for formatting in a standardized way. Those components can have data passed into them from other components to populate up the form elements. As in, we pass in the "name" of the element, it's "value" and any onclick/onsubmit handlers. The component that passes in these variables is written in pure Perl/Mason. So, if I have done my job as a Mason and UI developer, I can prevent the Perl coders them from writing ANY UI code. That's good.

    I've only scratched the surface here so I'll mention one of the other great things, "dhandlers". The documentation says...

    What happens when a user requests a component that doesn't exist? In this case Mason scans backward through the URI, checking each directory for a component named dhandler (``default handler''). If found, the dhandler is invoked and is expected to use $m->dhandler_arg as the parameter to some access function, perhaps a database look up or location in another file system.
    The part I really like is the recursion, using the URI, to figure things out. This allows you to create URLs that don't actually exist, but are bookmarkable and will cause Mason to use the dhandler to execute whatever Perl code you want to return whatever you want (be it HTML< XML or even CSV). Bookmarkable resources = web services. mmmmmmmmmmmm, web services...

    September 24, 2002 9:32 AM


    Perhaps the core Mozilla group is taking a cue from the Chimera guy (who now works at Apple by the way), because there is a 'lean browser initiative' tasked to create a browser, called Phoenix, that is based on "Speed, Speed, and Speed." It's about time, but I'm still bullish on the rumor of Apple creating their own version of a Gecko based browser (often name dropped as "iBrowse"). The reasons are many...
    • I prefer OS native widgets, and thus think XUL sucks (even though it's a cool idea)
    • Apple has an interest in making a kickass browser.
    • Apple has the Chimera guy working for them, and Chimera is great, but needs work.
    • Reliance on MSFT to provide browsing technology is silly.
    • Apple would likely make a user centric browser that wouldn't turn off the popup blocking tech that AOL stifled in Netscape 7.0
    • The Mac zealot in me just wants an Apple branded browser.
    Be sure to read David Hyatt's weblog to get more perspective and educated opinions on what is going on with all of this.

    September 24, 2002 9:12 AM


    It's refreshing to see Dilbert explaining to everyone one else in the world that death by UI-designed-by-software-engineers is possible.

    September 23, 2002 9:39 AM


    And apparently sucks at it.

    September 23, 2002 9:11 AM


    This is meme-y to the core but I like how it's based on interpersonal relationships and connecting people. It's FOAF and it uses RDF, so it can't be half bad. You can even make your own FOAF and publish it, on your own site. How long do you think it will be before a dot com comes along to aggregate and propagate this meme? Someone is already squatting the foaf.com domain name.

    [ via diveintomark ]

    September 22, 2002 12:53 PM


    We interrupt this blog to bring you the method for fixing a misfire in the 1996 Volkswagen Passat. Little did I know when I bought said car that annoying, expensive and consistent problems would arise. Finding explanations and fixes for the problems I've had have come few and far between.

    In an effort to Google bomb this explanation for fixing the misfire in the 1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6, I am posting this blog entry, complete with keywords, such as...

    • Volkswagen
    • Passat
    • GLX VR6
    • ignition coil
    • coil pack
    • misfire
    • misfiring
    • engine sputtering
    • $350 part
    • repair costs
    • outrageous labor costs
    • do it yourself
    • $3 epoxy
    • i hate my car
    • thank god i live only 4 miles from work
    It took me several hours to find this article about the coil pack. Hopefully other unfortunate 1996 Passat owners will now find it more easily. Also, I recently found another relevant page about fixing your coil pack with epoxy. This page has more discussion on the suggestions made at the guide linked above.

    Please post a comment below if this information has been useful to you. Also, if anyone is interested, I have the old cracked coil pack left over from my recent repairs. If anyone would like to buy it, just make me an offer (I mean, someone might want it, right?).

    [edited Oct 3, 2002]

    September 20, 2002 11:17 AM


    Record labels have stooped to a new level of stupidity by sending promo copies of CDs to reviewers with portable CD players wrapped around them. Glued shut cd players, so the CD can't be ripped to MP3 format. Glue.

    Now, unless they made these players out of titanium, or steel, or some other material requiring torches to open, getting the disk out will be easy. It seems to me that this is a challenge that begs to be taken, and I'm sure someone will, or just sell the player/disk on eBay. There is kitch value after all.

    September 19, 2002 11:16 AM


    Names changed to protect the innocent. Profanity not removed.

    
    him: redhat sucks ass
    
     me: sweet
    
    him: fucking microsoft of linux
    
    him: they deliberately broke compatability with sys V init scripts in their distro
    
     me: heh, there's only one Apple of Macintosh
    
    him: then they get 3rd parties to write shit for them
    
    him: then you try to install the stuff on any other distro
    
    him: and all the init scripts break
    
    him: because they refuse to follow fucking standards.
    
     me: that's the nature of The Unseen Hand of Commerce
    
     me: heh
    
     me: play bombing run in ut2003
    
     me: very cool game
    
     me: in general tho, i am disapointed in ut2003
    
     me: it's basically no different
    
     me: looks way better
    
     me: but the weapons are 90% the same
    
    him: yeah
    
    him: its very quake 3 feeling to me
    
     me: the game play, 90% the same
    
    him: I'm going to buy 1942
    
     me: the maps are cool tho
    
    him: and the game is awesome
    
    him: its worth the money
    
     me: heh
    
     me: costco is selling warcraft for $39
    
    him: hehe
    
    him: damn I forgot I had costco is selling warcraft 3
    
    him: been too busy with gta3, hehe
    
     me: junkies tend to do that
    
    him: i blew up like a whole block in gta3 last night
    
    him: stole an armored car
    
    him: police finally cut me off
    
    him: got in a huge shootout and killed like 8 or 9 cops
    
    him: swat showed up and started shooting
    
    him: i hit behind a cop car, swat shot it all up
    
    him: cop car blew up
    
    him: the explosion from it blew up 3 more cars
    
    him: when they blew up they killed like 20 or 25 people walking around on the sidewalk
    
     me: hehehe
    
    him: I was running away and looked back and all you could see
    
    him: was fire, and burned out pieces of car
    
    him: and bodies all over the place and smoke
    
    him: hahaha
    
    


    September 19, 2002 4:48 AM


    Apple has been keeping an x86 (read: Intel) version of OSX up to date for a while now. eWeek says this has been going on since the early days of OSX and adds...
    Build numbers keep pace with those of their pre-release PowerPC counterparts; for example, Apple is internally running a complete, x86-compatible version of Jaguar, a k a Mac OS X 10.2, which shipped last week.
    Imagine what chaos would ensue if a copy of this was leaked to the public. Would Apple be able to prevent users from buying non Apple hardware? What would the driver compatability scene look like? Would product manufacturers develop drivers for x86 OSX? Imagine the chaos.

    September 17, 2002 10:28 AM


    Here's a good example of instructional design for building your own Powered Model Aircraft. It's equally well illustrated as it is twisted.

    September 16, 2002 11:31 AM


    Two recent developments in the OSX software world make me believe lots of good stuff is on the way. The first is Camel Bones "is a framework that allows many types of Cocoa programs to be written entirely in Perl". So, you don't have to write your app in Objective C (or Java); you can write all the logic in Perl and wrap it up in sheep's clothing. If you are a Ruby coder, you can look like a sheep too.

    The salient language agnosticism of OSX makes me hopeful that more and more applications written by individuals or small teams of people will emerge. Why would I be hopeful of that? Well, IMHO, small groups of people make the most innovative, timely and bloat free software, instead of 38 meg application binaries. This was true of Quicktime which was originally written by five developers. NetNewsWire is written by one guy.

    September 16, 2002 2:34 AM


    It's not exactly easy, and there are many required tools to do this, but...

    Using this tutorial, we will cover the basics of burning working ISO images with toast titanium and Mac os X, we will cover extracting and packing ISO files using xboxisomaker, and we will cover connecting to the XBOX using FlashFXP and evolution X.
    I don't have a modded Xbox, and I'm guessing that some DMCA implications come into play when following the instructions. However, I love the hax0r entrepreneurialism in the tutorial and can't resist linking to it.

    September 13, 2002 11:06 AM


    Transmit 2 IconI was a lucky Mac user today and got in on the private beta test of the next version of Transmit. Back in the day, I bought Transmit when it's name was Transit (no "m") because I liked it so much (I was a reformed Fetch user). The short story for this new version is that it's cocoa native, has a much improved tool bar, and can show unix file permissions inline. That's great stuff, and so far, no crashes. Here's a few more vital features in the new version...
    • The icon is cool (ok, this isn't vital, but it's cool)
    • native long filename support
    • significantly more flexible interface
    • supports fully secure and encrypted FTP connections to via SFTP/SSH
    • You can queue downloads
    • There's a built in text editor, but BBEdit it ain't (but it's still nice to have)
    There's a lot more in there, but who knows how long the beta test will last, so you may have to wait a while to get the goodies.

    September 12, 2002 10:12 AM


    No doubt that you, my three or four readers, have heard about Zeldman's Neilsonian like decree that 99.9 percent of web sites are obsolete. I'm guessing that in Zeldman's view of the world, this is true (and that view may be clouded by efforts to sell books), but that's not my view. If it was, this site would be obsolete with it's tables based layout and gratuitous use of spacer.gif's.

    The folks I work with often write their own little screen scrapers when data isn't exposed to them in any other way. Is the horribly coded website that they are scraping obsolete? Anything but. But, don't get me wrong, I like code that validates against it's DTD, and I love standards (because I hate double coding) because it all becomes more reusable and portable as requirements inevitably change. But this doesn't make old crappy code obselete, it just makes it more expensive to work with, and that is what's important in the real world, MONEY/COST. Don't forget that.

    September 12, 2002 2:25 AM


    [Note: Dec 30, 2003; This relatively old post has been seeing more traffic now that Wireless tech and the Xbox have become cheaper and more popular. Read the comments left by the people below to get some good info on how to set up your Xbox on a wireless network. I have it working at my house.]

    I've said before that I think wireless is the last mile solution that is desperately needed in these here United States. But, this won't work out for Xbox users who want to subscribe to Xbox Live (or so says this guy on slashdot) and this is too bad.

    I'm expecting Adelphia to finally get cable modem access out to my area sometime before the end of the year and I was planning on doing the following...

    1. Bring connection into house.
    2. Patch it thru to the second floor (for full 1st and 3rd floor coverage).
    3. Attach it to a Linksys wireless access point.
    4. Bridge that with the Linksys WET bridge.
    5. Attach my Xbox (on the 1st floor) to that bridge.
    6. Make all my other machines (a tiBook running OSX and a Wintel box) talk to the access point.
    7. Go sterile from all the radiation.
    Sounds like a plan, right? Well, maybe not.

    Update: Nate notes below that there is a fix for this issue. Thanks Nate.

    September 9, 2002 8:56 AM


    Nokia will be introducing a video phone that seems to be getting a less than enthusiastic welcome from analysts (but what do they know anyway?). A video phone is all new and futuristic, but the real fun will be the bashing the circular number pad will get in the usability and HCI communities.

    I remember, back in the when I was a kid, there were commercials on TV showing the masses how to use the grid number pad on the touch tone telephones. There was this guy wearing pilot/barnstorming duds dialing the touch tone pad way faster than the old crappy looking rotary dialer. It was a help manual in 30 seconds of video and was used to sell the concept. I wonder if Nokia will try to sell the circle pad as something 'better' or as something 'cooler' or if they will even bother and rely on the wow factor of a Dick Tracy phone. At any rate, it will be something requiring time to get used to and become proficient with. Is that what we want from our devices of convenience?



    September 7, 2002 11:47 AM


    I poke thru my logs everyday like it's the morning paper, and saw an intersting referrer domain show up today...

    labs.google.com
    "labs.google.com" was too interesting to pass up, so I visitied the URL tha was the referrer and found that Google is working on keyboard shortcuts. As you use those shortcuts, you get visual feedback and they even scroll the page for you. Check it out.

    September 6, 2002 10:21 AM


    Seriously, why not?

    September 6, 2002 10:12 AM


    So, <br> has been deprecated in the proposed XHTML 2.0 spec in favor of the <line> element. And while I can appreciate the tendency to lean toward logical rather than physical styles, the deprecation of <br> for <line> leads to an inflexibility...
    The line element represents a sub-paragraph. It is intended as a structured replacement for the br element. It contains a piece of text that when visually represented should start on a new line, and have a line break at the end.
    Um, I use <br> because I want ONE break, not two. If I wanted two, I'd use a block level element, like a <div>. I must be missing something here.

    September 6, 2002 4:47 AM


    Well, Cam did, but I did predict that this would happen soon and warned people about it.

    September 5, 2002 11:38 AM


    They make a good point about the potential pitfalls of Audioblogging over at Acts of Volition (AoV), so go have a read, and then come back, because I have a few thoughts too.

    In terms of wide spread adoption, I think the points made at AoV are incontrovertible, but I do imagine that audio formatted weblogs will be useful to those who can't read (for one reason or another). However, this might be a poor solution for providing access to those who need sound?

    The current blog entry audio clips don't help you navigate the blog, and how would you know where to click to begin the audio if you can't read (due to reasons of blindness or academic depravity)?

    Also, think a bit about the usability of a computer generated voice reading a weblog entry. Stunted and jilted voices reading stunted and jilted entries would make for a horrible listening experience. The writing style would have to change (read: become more professional), and be spoken by excellent voice synthesis software. Otherwise, bloggers should just rant into a microphone and post the mp3.

    How would Audioblogging change memepool? It's incomprehensible as is.

    September 4, 2002 9:08 AM


    Apple releases TechNotes pretty much everyday about their hardware and software. This tech note covers a boat load of info about OSX and it's most recent incarnation, Jaguar. Apple says there are 150 new features in Jaguar, but I'd argue that a lot of the items below are more compelling features than new fonts. Here's the top 20 (my comments are in parenthesis)...

    • The Ruby scripting language is now installed with Mac OS X.
    • Python 2.1.1 is now installed with Mac OS X. (install your DevTools folks)
    • The bash command shell is now installed with Mac OS X (version 2.05a.0(1)-release)
    • With Mac OS X 10.2, when one process opens a file with write access, it will have exclusive write access. If another application tries to open the same file with write access it will fail. (isn't this a really basic thing to do?)
    • Help Tags are the primary method for providing context sensitive help in Mac OS X. They are the Mac OS X replacement for the older Balloon Help technology.
    • Removed the limit of 5 hierarchical menus on-screen at once. (finally)
    • In some circumstances, clicking on a window with an active sheet brought the window to the front, but didn't activate it (clicking on the sheet would activate the window). We now activate the window regardless of where the window was clicked.
    • Users can now use cmd-shift-` to send keyboard focus to a drawer. Previously, it was only possible to do so by clicking on a drawer.
    • Supplemented the "disktool" command line tool (which was always intended as a test tool) with a more user-oriented "diskutil" command line tool.
    • A number of performance and stability enhancements have been incorporated into the implementation of NFS provided with Mac OS X 10.2
    • SMB browsing is only supported on the local subnet. (um, ok)
    • Problems with DNS lookups via Airport have been corrected.
    • True Type font files with the extension '.ttf' are now recognized in Mac OS X. (is this to say that PC formatted ttf works on OSX?)
    • Added hooks for 3rd party font activation. (This is important because Adobe Type Manager does not yet exist for OSX).
    • The TWAIN consortium's libraries have been added to the system in the form of a framework and may be accessed from applications. (Sweet, get on it Adobe)
    • Added horizontal scroll wheel support. (heh, weird)
    • Uninterruptible power supplies are now supported.
    • Previous 1K restriction to the length of URLs that can be passed to Launch Services have been removed. Now URLs can be of any size. (Is this good or bad?)
    • It is now possible to configure the DHCP server (via properties in the "/config/dhcp" NetInfo node) to hand out addresses only to clients with known MAC addresses.
    • SNMP support has been added to Mac OS X 10.2.


    September 4, 2002 8:00 AM


    Mp3 Preview in JaguarOk, here's the last OSX related post for the week. I don't know if this is a Jaguar thing, but file previews are pretty robust in Column View. To the right is the preview for an MP3, and it doesn't just play the first 5 seconds, it plays the whole track, or you can instantly fast forward to a part of the track. None of this requires an application to load, the preview shows up almost instantly. Awesome.

    You'd have to guess that lots and lots of QuickTime junk is loaded up to have the audio preview be available so quickly, and is that why this OS requires I have 256 megs to run smoothly? Thank goodness I have half a gig.

    September 3, 2002 3:37 AM


    The new version of Mac OSX has a zero config networking technology called Rendezvous. I won't both to describe it at all since there's plenty of info about it on the web, and this is old news, so I'll try to say something insightful (in a half-assed way). Here's what C|net reported...

    The technology, which is built into the new version 10.2 of Mac OS X, can be used to simplify network printing, file sharing and other communications tasks. Apple uses Rendezvous in its iChat program to allow people to see a list of other people on their local computer network who they might want to chat with. It has also pledged to add the technology by early next year to iTunes, which will allow Mac owners to stream music files stored on other Macs on the same network.
    There is really nothing different about this than gnutella networks (as fart as RIAA is concerned). the fact that Apple wants to make it easy for anyone to share their playlist has got to get RIAA's lawyers salivating, and Apple is not that stupid to walk into a lawsuit. So, what's the business plan here?

    Consider for a moment that iTunes+Rendezvous is set up to allow streaming of data and not copying of data (like the Real One format). So, if I'm using iTunes on my corporate network and other Rendezvous enabled users are on the network, they could 'tune me in.' That's cool, but do I now own RIAA and ASCAP funds for being a broadcaster?

    Ok, never mind that, because it's not the really scary part of the equation. What's nuts is that open sourced (or shared sourced) Rendezvous technology will lead to a new Napster. What I really mean to say is, Napster was EASY to use, and an Apple derivative technology based on easy of use (remember it's zero config tech) will get adopted.

    September 1, 2002 11:22 AM


    I've seen the conversation about the next gen user interface ebb and flow for years. I think most of it is bullshit, including the argument saying the 'windows, menus and pointing' paradigm is over drawn, past its prime and about to die. The other end of the spectrum is cognitive and relational bliss, and is revolutionary, but what we need is evolutionary (imho).

    Why do we need evolutionary progress instead of some bright new tomorrow? simple, millions of us use mice, type on keyboards, open windows and file things in folders. Millions of us are used to that, understand that and are productive with that. Throw it out? Boooolshit.

    In spite of all that, Spring looks cool.

    [via blackbeltjones]

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