Part 26 of elf's Apple PowerBook G4 Journal
Security Update 2007-004
The 2007 Webby Awards:
- Activism: “Green My Apple” campaign by Greenpeace.
- Banking: Zopa
- Best Practices: Flickr
- Political Blog: Truthdig
- Cultural Blog: We Make Money Not Art
- Broadband: Blip.tv
- Charitable non-profit: I Spy With My Little Eye (child poverty campaign based in the Netherlands— Google can't find it so I assume it must be in Dutch)
- Music: Last.fm
- Personal website: JonathanYuen.com (needs Flash, I remember being mesmerised by this site when it was featured on netdiver.net).
A Funny Thing Happened...
crypto aacs hd-dvd digg
My guess is that the attacks will extract keys
from the new software within about three weeks of its
Last night, when I visited Digg (via slashdigg.com) I noticed a funny (strange) thing; I captured the front page for posterity (using Paparazzi). Update Thu May 03 07:32:29 2007: This number is no longer in service: HD-DVDs released after April 23 will have new keys. The old key was revoked.
OS X Is Safe Once More
Apple released a patch (in the form of QT 7.1.6) for the recent Quicktime/Java remote exploit. There is also a 2007-004 v.1.1 patch which fixes the recent security update.
Native Open Office on Mac
software open office
Sun has announced that it is officially supporting the OS X port of Open Office from X11 to native Carbon. I assume that NeoOffice will be the starting point.
Update Thu May 03 23:58:53 2007: Jonathan Chan writes:
I don't believe Sun will work together with the NeoOffice dev (Edward Peterlin), at least at first. I recall Peterlin saying that the Sun efforts were separate - I think they've talked before, and Sun was on and off repeatedly about a native Mac port (sorry, I can't seem to find a reference at the moment), so NeoOffice continued its path.
From the looks of various blog posting and articles, it looks as if they haven't talked about it yet, and Sun is indeed doing their own development, supporting a different project.
I was hoping this open letter would provide some insight, but....
Installed Photoshop Elements 4
software "photoshop elements 4"
Note that Photoshop Elements 4 for Mac is PPC only. I had to use a PKG Installer from the installation CD; it wasn't a typical drag to the Applications folder, installation. Everything went smoothly and took about 5 minutes. After the installation, I had to re-boot (WHY?). First thing after the reboot, I deleted Adobe Bridge (the photo file browser/keyword tagger).
There Once was a Program Called Chandler
Joel Spolsky's review of Scott Rosenber's book Dreaming in Code about the development of Mitch Kapor's calendaring software called Chandler (which has yet to be released).
Installed Firefox 2.0.3
Installed Firefox 2.0.3. All my plugins were compatible except for TargetAlert. I've deleted Firefox 1.5 which will no longer be supported (security patches, etc.) beginning in mid-May.
One thing I just noticed is that the icons in the download manager are representative of the item downloaded (i.e. a DMG has an icon of a disk, a ZIP has the icon of a zip file).
Update Sun May 06 20:45:27 2007: AARGH! my search engines (especially Amazon.ca was replaced by Amazon.com) were over-written when I updated. Bastards!
And the award for the most improved program goes to...
If you've recently downloaded a Google or Youtube video and found that it no longer plays in Mplayer (corrupt RIFF header), it's because the videos have been deliberately corrupted. However, VLC plays them with no problem.
The latest version of VLC (available for all platforms) has evolved into a fantastically slick application, from the earlier bug-ridden version I had tried two years ago. I heartily recommend installing VLC and making it the player of choice.
"Microsoft is Dead"
elegy "paul graham"
Paul Graham's elegy for Microsoft should really be titled "Microsoft doesn't matter any more" because it still has shareholders who hope to profit from the sale of broken software to ignorant buyers.
"The last nail in the coffin came, of all places, from Apple. Thanks to OS X, Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology. Their victory is so complete that I'm now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows. Nearly all the people we fund at Y Combinator use Apple laptops."
He shouldn't be surprised when he sees a Windows computer because HP, Dell, Acer and Toshiba are still profiting from selling laptops with Microsoft operating systems (although you can now get a Dell with Ubuntu); Apple is in 9th place. During last week's Open House here in the department, I saw 3 Macs (one Macbook and two Macbook Pros) out of 60 Microsoft-running laptops; there is one faculty member that uses a Mac out of a total of 45, who use mostly Dells, and there is one staff member (me) that uses a Mac out of a total of 8. Here at least, I'm still surprised when I see a Mac, in a sea of Windows.
Update Thu May 10 08:26:13 2007: comment by <offby1>: re pg and "M$ is dead": selection bias. Who you hang out with determines what OS you see on laptops. That's very true— I switched after David bought a 17 in. Powerbook.
hardware design phone
David also sent a link to Christian Lindholm's (worked on UI design at Nokia) blog where he shares his thoughts on the future of mobile phones. Until recently, he was a VP of Global Mobile Products at Yahoo!.
The rumoured Google Phone can't be too far behind if Yahoo has a Global Mobile Products division.
Three New Get-A-Mac Ads
Yesterday, Apple released 3 more Get A Mac ads. These are funnier than the previous batch of three ads (which I didn't even bother mentioning). My (laugh-out-loud) favourite of the three is the "Spinning Pizza of Vista"; the line that generates the biggest laugh is when PC says, in response to there only being a single version of OS X (technially not true as there is a Server and Client version os OS X), "That's so boring; this is more fun," and proceeds to spin the pizza.
Air Farce: Get-A-Mac Ad Parodies
Starting with the Dec. 31st, 2006 episode, The Royal Canadian Air Farce (a comedy troupe) began a series of parodies of the Apple Get-A-Mac Ads where "PC" represents a member of the Progressive Conservative party; the Apple is played by a Liberal. The humour is rather dry and if you're not Canadian, it may not even sound funny. There are also a few ads in March 16, 2007 (search for "Mac Ad" in each page); I found the "Upgrade" ad with the environmentalist, the funniest of the lot.
Nocturne brings a tinted night-vision mode, similar to the high-contrast mode built-in to OS X for visually impaired users.
Apple Shareholders Meeting
Jobs met with Apple shareholders yesterday. Macworld has a report as does Roughly Drafted blog. After reading the reports I wondered whether Greenpeace ever showed-up at an HP (largest seller of computers) shareholders meeting and protested. I wonder why they're picking on Apple.
New Fonts from Redhat
Redhat has released three new fonts: a serif, a sans-serif and a mono-spaced font; the font family is called Liberation.
Update Fri May 11 12:33:08 2007: I won't be using the mono-spaced font because one cannot easily distinguish between the letter "o" and the number "0"— something that is very important in a terminal and when viewing code.
Death of the Desktop
To the user, the interface is the product.
The guy who develops Quicksilver is sitting....right... there.
Aza Raskin recently did a Google TechTalk titled, "Away with the Applications: Death of the Desktop". Many fantanstic insights on how users interact with applications. I loved his slide that shows the evolution of the computer interface from 1977 (Xerox Star) to 2007 (OS X); his "Shovel Analogy" also made his point succinctly, as did comparison of the user-manual for the Timex analog watch and the digital watch. This is only 13 minutes into a 1h:26m presentation.
I would have to disagree with his Swiss Army knife metaphor however, because Emacs (the quintessential monolith application) is the perfect counter-example. Rather than using a tool specific to its need, Emacs fills the niche of being every tool for every need. (Having said that, I acknowledge that a "normal user" would be incapable of using Emacs to fulfill his every need; only "programmers" are capable of using it effectively.)
Enso is remarkably similar to Spotlight and Quicksilver; the advantage is that it has a nicer syntax (for the examples illustrated). The ability to embed web pages into your document and the ability to translate languages on-the-fly is impressive.
Raskin's Rules of Interfaces
- An interface shall not harm your content or, through inaction, allow your content to come to harm (saving a document should not be explicitly required).
- An interface shall not waste your time or require you to do more work than is strictly necessary (dialog boxes that ask unnecessary questions at inopportune moments, and requiring an "OK" response).
- An interface shall not allow itself to get into a state where it cannot manipulate content (changing text to white foregound and background making it unreadable and the application unuseable).
There was an interesting observation made by a Googler that noted that people begin to forget the syntax of a language if it keeps growing and if the interface lacks hints that help the user along. This very thing happened to me just a few days ago when I was trying to convert (unsuccessfully, as I had indeed forgotten the syntax, and I gave up in frustration) Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars.
I love the "Zoom" metaphor— Exposť taken to the next level. The infinite depth of the fractal desktop make virtual desktops seem pedestrian in comparison.
telephony hardware software iphone javafx
Javaís not worth building in [to the
iPhone]. Nobody uses Java anymore. Itís this big heavyweight ball and
Java is deployed on more than 1.83 billion phones
and 8 out of 10 new mobile phone devices being sold in
the marketplace today are Java based.
Less than four months after Jobs dismissed the importance of Java as an explanation for the iPhone's lack of Java support, Sun made an announcement at JavaOne that they acquired SavaJe Technologies and indicated that it was entering into the mobile telephony field with JavaFX, a framework for building Java-based applications for mobile devices, and demo'ed a phone running Java.
Mobile Phones in Africa
Usability is not that important [in the third
world] unless you want to be published in CHI.
Yesterday, I also watched another Google TechTalk by Gary Marsden, who does HCI research in South Africa and Zambia, titled Mobile in Africa: Doing HCI Differently in the Developing World. In a country where electricity is non-existent and where computers are unheard of, the cell-phone has risen to such importance in people's lives that they will skip a meal so they can buy phone airtime and where goods and services are bought by selling airtime as currency.
I didn't understand why the phone with the torch (flashlight) on the top was the most popular; it can only mean that, in order to reduce manufacturing cost, most phones sold there do not have backlit displays.
NASA World Wind Java API
software "world wind" java
NASA has released a Java API to their World Wind geospatial touring software (which until now was Windows-only), so it can be embedded into any Java application. You can easily write (using Netbeans) a stand-alone World Wind browser. Ken Russell blogged about the history of the project's migration to Java.
"What if Apple is Bad for Design?"
What distinguishes your iPod from your brand-x
MP-3 player is not design: that brand x machine also is distinguished
by design. By bad design. What is unique to Apple is more accurately
—Thomas de Monchaux
An essay by Thomas de Monchaux titled, What if Apple is Bad for Design? offers a critique of Apple design, equating the iPhone to, "a 1996 Ford Taurus." (I guess I was right when I joked that the Taurus should have had an oval steering wheel).
Unfortunately, we will never know why certain design decisions were made because Jonathan Ive could not possibly comment. Certainly we should at least consider manufacturing constraints.
"Shaping the Future"
One of my favourite SF authors, Charlie Stross, has a transcript of a recent talk about the future, on his blog.
His idea of using a memory diamond as a permanent archival method of storing information is far better (as implementation goes) than my idea of storing information by modulating the light of one or more suns and just beaming the datastream into outer space.
Scratch: A Programming Language for Children
Scratch is a new programming language for children, developed at the Lifelong Kindergarten lab at MIT. Available for Mac and Windows and soon for Linux (OLPC). Their main server crashed due to high volume of traffic after the language was featured on the BBC.
Update Sun May 20 15:54:03 2007: David sent an email with the origins of Scratch:
Just noticed that MIT's Scratch is based on Squeak. Squeak is a Smalltalk variant which Alan Kay created for his Croquet project.
I ran across it a little while ago and found Squeak and Croquet Demo. Some interesting stuff at the following time points:
32:30-34:00 rocket creation
34:00-35:00 car creation
38:00 croquet brought up
40:00 croquet starts
47:00 create a new fish
50:30 high texture
Another video, Croquet: A Collaboration Architecture, has interesting content at 8:00, "start world demo".
Hendrix: Firefox Feedback
A few days ago, I sent the following feedback about a Firefox annoyance, to the Mozilla Foundation, via Hendrix, the Mozilla feedback mechanism:
When I have Google News (which refreshes periodically) in a tab and I go offline, Firefox 2 tries to contact news.google.com and when that fails it pops-up the "I can't connect to news.google.com" dialog with an "OK" button.
It's true that this is not the default Firefox 2 behaviour, which is to replace the Google News page with a warning page (yellow-triangle-with-! icon) rather than leaving the page alone (in case I was to read it later)-- I changed the behaviour to pop-up the dialog. But now I have to deal with "OK" dialogs and bouncing icons (on OS X, when an application that is obscured pops-up a dialog box, the icon bounces annoyingly in the dock until the dialog is acknowledged).
This behaviour breaks Raskin's 2nd Rule of Interfaces: An interface shall not waste your time or require you to do more work than is strictly necessary.
I would like an alternative to the Warning page that leaves the web-page available (even if I could use the "Back" button to return from the warning page to the web page would be acceptable)-- maybe putting a yellow bar along the top of the browser similar to the blocked site message would also be acceptable.
Photo Drop Widget
software "photo drop"
Photodrop is a widget that can be used to generate eight different types of thumbnails of a given image: toy camera (?), VTR (interlaced video), 1-bit (dithered bitmap), pushpin (photo pinned with a blue push-pin), tape (photo taped with Scotch-tape), rounded (photo with rounded corners), shadow (simple photo with shadow) and reflection (photo with a reflection).
Google unveiled 4 new "effects" to help with searches: timeline and map views, keyboard shortcuts (they steal '/' and use vi keybindings!), search navigation and contextual search.
Geocaching Circa 1977
On November 5, 1976, after hours spent threading our way through this
primeval forest, we found Bigfoot's feeding ground, buried the case
of C.C. and quickly returned to civilization.
—Canadian Club advert in April 1977, New Yorker
While browsing the 1977 issues from my collection of the Complete New Yorker, I found an ad which claims to have hidden a case of Canadian Club Whiskey in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot's stomping grounds, with directions to the place, based on landmark sightings. I suppose this is an example of geocaching circa 1977 (aka. a treasure hunt). I wonder if this case of whiskey was found.
"Human Consequences of the Exploration of Space"
excerpt "freeman dyson" "from eros to gaia"
An excerpt from an essay, "Human Consequences of the Exploration of Space", by Freeman Dyson, written in 1968 and collected in “From Eros to Gaia”:
It seems plausible that the best recipe for human cultural progress would read roughly as follows: take a hundred city-states, each with a population between ten thousand and a hundred thousand; let each one hate its neighbours sufficiently to prevent substantial interbreeding; encourage a priestly and aristocratic caste system to reduce still further the size of breeding units; introducs an occasional major war or plague to keep the populations small; let the mixture simmer for a thoiusand years; and one of your hundred cities will be the new Florence, the new Athens or the new Jesuralem.
For twenty-four years the nuclear physicsts have been saying "One World or None," and there is no reason to doubt that in the long run they are right. The earth has grown too small for the bickering tribes and city-states to exist on it. Our bombs are too big, our machines are too complicated, our smog and garbage is too pervasive, to be left much longer in the hands of tribal authorities... How can we expect to go on living forever on this exposed planetary surface, armed with deadly weapons which year by year grow more numerous and more widely dispersed?... The emigration into distant parts of the solar system of a substantial number of people would make our species as a whole invulnerable...If we succeed in colonizing Mars, it will soon resemble Earth, complete with parking lots, income tax forms and all the rest...
The real future of man in space lies far away from planets, in isolated city states floating in the void, perhaps attached to an inconspicuous asteroid or perhaps to a comet. Comets are especially important. It is believed that between a billion and ten billion comets exist on the outer fringes of the Solar System, loosely attached to the Sun and only rarely passing close to it. Each of these comets is a mine of biologically useful materials— carbon, notrogen and water. togerther they provie a thousand times as much living space as the plnets.. Above all they provide an open frontier, a place to hide and to dissappear without trace, beyond the reach of snooping policemen and bureaucrats...
Space is huge enough so that somewhere in its vastness there will always be a place for rebels and outlaws. Near the sun, space will belong to big governments and computerized industries. Outside, the open frontier will beckon as it has beckoned before, to persecuted minorities escaping from oppression, to religions fanatics escaping from their neighbours, to recalcitrant teenagers escaping from their parents, to lovers of solitude escaping from crowds...
And when the angry young men and rebels and racists have again a frontier to which they can go, perhaps we timid law-abiding citizens who choose to stay quietly down here on Earth, will find it easier to live together in peace.
I spent most of today renovating my “2001” Shrine (CSS and new screen-caps). The most trouble I had, was matching the font that Kubrick chose for the titles (I think he used Futura (URW++ foundry), designed in 1927; the closest font I had was Century Gothic, Apple's Futura doesn't look the same). Identifont suggested 30 possible fonts; without looking at all of them, I found a clone called John Sans White, designed by Frantisek Storm and published in 2001.
Update Mon May 21 10:29:12 2007: Added seven screencaps suitable for desktop wallpaper. Removed the note on typography as Windows/XP does indeed ship with Century Gothic and the page looks good enough. Only users browsing from Unices will not get the proper rendering of the page.
Ive Wins National Design Award
Jonathan Ive won the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in the Product Design category for his design work at Apple.
"Language was the companion of empire"
Just a moment ago, <bpalmer> posted an excerpt from an ABC News blog:
Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.
That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces.
It reminded me of notes I made when I was reading Empire of Words:
When I consider well, most illustrious Queen, and set before my eyes the antiquity of all the things which remain written down for our record and memory, one thing I find and draw as a most certain conclusion, that always language was the companion of empire and followed it in such a way that jointly they began, grew, flourished and afterwards joint was the fall of both.
—Antionio de Nebrija, 1492
Later, the author, Nicholas Ostler, comments on the passage:
A common language is a practical necessity in a territory brought under common, external control, and this necessity tends to foster language spread if the domination persists over time, with recruitment of local people to represent, and interface with the foreign power in later generations.
Zeitgeist is now Hot Trends
Google Hot Trends is the new Zeitgeist. I'm not sure what to make of the disclaimer, "Google Trends aims to provide insights into broad search patterns. Several approximations are used when computing your results. Please keep this in mind when using it." Of course, it won't be long before people start abusing Hot Trends for their own personal gain.
Amazon.ca Search gives Poor Results
When I searched for "body of secrets" on Amazon.ca (using the built-in Mozilla search engine), the first three hits were:
- Reiki Ultimate Guide Learn Sacred Symbols & Attunements Plus Reiki Secrets You Should Know (Paperback)
- The Ancient Secrets of the Kama Sutra - The Classic Art of Lovemaking (DVD)
- Secrets of a Great Body Upper Body Workout (VHS)
The book I was looking for, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, was 12th.
Google Site-local Searches are Grouped
When I used the search-box on this page to locate a previous entry on rotating the display in OS X, I noticed that the search-results page grouped the results by directory locality. Previously, the results would appear for the entire domain (www.ee.ryerson.ca) in some random order. Now, the results for www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/ are grouped together and appear first.
Subtitles, War and Peace
[Woody Allen] always mentions that the reason his
films are so successful in France is thanks to the person who does
Maybe that epigraph also explains Jerry Lewis' succes with the French.
I came across a great Time magazine article about how films are subtitled (the final step involves a green laser that etches the same words on each and every frame, for about 30 frames— 1.5 seconds per subtitle, no more than 45 characters per line).
The Future of Google
The short story, A Logic Named Joe, written in 1946 by Murray Leinster, looks scarily prescient. Fortunately for us, the First Law of Google is ,"Do No Evil".
VirtualBox is free virtualization software for OS X. If the screenshots are to be believed, I am shocked (because it obsoletes the payware).
Software Updates: Security Update 2007-005, iTunes 7.2
The latest security update 2007-005 was released May 24 for both Panther and Tiger. iTunes 7.2 supports DRM-free tracks from the iTunes store.
Update Wed May 30 14:09:17 2007: A new Quicktime security path was also released today. I will wait the customary few days before install these patches.
Interview with Errol Morris
I stumbled upon an interview with Errol Morris on Adobe's website of all places.
If the name is not familiar, then perhaps the following may mean something— Thin Blue Line... nothing yet? ...how about Fog of War... no?... then how about Apple's "Switch" campaign?
The United Airlines campaign led you to secure other commercial work?
Yes. The producer of the Academy Awards in 2002 was Laura Ziskin. And Laura Ziskin saw the United Airlines spots and hired me to do that movie that opens the Academy Awards. And that's also on my web site. It has, among other people, Gorbachev, Laura Bush, Iggy Pop, Walter Cronkite.
Steve Jobs, who was in the audience that year at the Academy Awards, saw my film. He liked the white background, he liked the style, and said, ?Let's get that guy.? And that was why I was hired by Apple. It's as simple as that. And away we went, and filmed hundreds of people for Apple. Not all of them got on the air, but there were a lot of really, really great ones.
"The First World War", by John Keegan
If the war of 1914 was not a war which the armies of Europe were ready to fight, that was not so with Europe's great navies. The armies, as the opening campaigns had proved, were technically equipped to solve certain easily perceived problems, in particular how to overcome the defences of modern fortresses, how to move vast numbers of men from home bases to the frontiers and how to create impassable storms of rifle and field-artillery fire when those masses came into contact with each other. They were quite unequipped to deal with the unperceived and much more critical problems of how to protect soldiers from such fire storms, how to move them, under protection, about the battlefield, indeed how to move them at all beyond railhead unless on their feet, and how to signal quickly and unambiguously betwen headquarters and units, between unit and unit, between infantry and artillery, between ground and the aircraft and with which, almost fortuitously, the armies had so recently provided themselves.
The failure of the generals of 1914 had largely been a pre-war failure. They had the wit to adapt the technologies ready to hand, particularily that of Europe's many-branched rail network, to their purposes. They had lacked the wit to preceive the importance or potentialities of new technologies, among which the internal combustion engine and wireless-telegraphy, as radio was then called, would prove the most important; they had, indeed, lacked altogether the wit to perceive the problems to which such new technologies would be the solution. No such charge could be laid against the admirals of the years before 1914. With foresight they had divined the significance of the developing technologies likely to affect theit service and had applied them to it with exactitude...
Nineteenth-century admirals are commonly thought to have opposed transition from sail to steam as fiercely as general opposed to the abolition of scarlet coats. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the admirals of the Royal Navy were persuaded that sail had had its day, they displayed a ruthless lack of sentimentality for the beauty of the pyramids of canvas. The sailing navy was abolished almost overnight after the Crimean War, in which steam gunboats had devastated wooden walls. Warrior, the Royal Navy's first steam ironclad of 1861, was not an experimental but a revolutionary ship, which surpassed several intermediate stages of naval design in a single leap...
Naval design changed with almost bewildering rapidity between 1860 and 1914, from broadside to central battery to turret arrangement of guns, from all-round to "citadel" to "armoured deck" arrangements of protection, from wrought-iron to case-hardened to composite quality of armour, from piston to turbine engine power, from coal propulsion to oil.
The changes came faster and faster, as admirals accepted the significance of the new technologies civilian industry was creating and took stock of the evidence presented by the clash of such technologies in engangements between navies in non-European waters...