Monday, December 30, 2002
and what's the latest news, you ask? Apple has released previews of a completely new Script Editor application for Mac OS X, and new System Events technology that allows AppleScript to control the GUI (again, only on Mac OS X). As they say, this gives scripters the ability to manipulate apps that don't directly support AppleScript:
Scripters have often requested the ability to control, via AppleScript, applications which either do not have AppleScript support or are only partially scriptable. The December 2002 Developer Tools release contains a beta version of the System Events application with support for controlling the GUI (Graphic User Interface) of applications with scripts.
Friday, December 27, 2002
The Humane Environment (THE) is as easy to learn as a GUI (or easier) yet as fast to use (or faster) than the command-line systems we struggle to learn but love to use. It is easier to add new software to than any previous interface-based system.Link Discuss (Thanks, John!)
Important observation: You cannot make an interface better without making it different (that's obvious). If it's a lot better, it will be a lot different. This means that it will feel unfamiliar to anybody familiar with present interfaces. Therefore, it has to be used for a while (after you read the manual) before you unlearn your present habits and can begin to appreciate it. You are in a worse position for learning it than a novice who has only to acquire new habits and has nothing to unlearn!
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Monday, December 23, 2002
I tried logging in as another user and successfully imported the iSync.vcf file. Then I tried exporting it, logging back in as me, and re-importing. Address Book hung.
I tried deleting ~/Library/Addresses/ and ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.AddressBook.plist, and tried importing either the iSync.vcf file or the other, new file. In the case of the file from my iPod, it zipped through, but did not create a new ~/Library/Addresses folder or any new contacts. In the case of my imported-then-exported file, Address Book hung again. I'm stumped. I need this data on my effing Mac. What do I do? Discuss
P.S.: Perhaps it's worth noting that over the weekend, I suddenly became unable to save any files. Every attempt to save a file returned a Disk Full warning (3+ GB available on my disk). I rebooted, and the problem was solved, but all my Mozilla cookies, bookmarks, and stored passwords were gone, as were all my Mail.app preferences. Perhaps this is related?
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Well, just in case you haven't already heard it, Mac OS X 10.2.3 is out.
The 10.2.3 Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for the following applications, utilities, and technologies: AppleScript, Classic compatibility, Disk Copy, Disk Utility, Image Capture, Mail, OpenGL, Print Center, and Rendezvous. It provides audio, disc recording, graphics, printing improvements, as well as AFP and WebDAV networking improvements. The update also provides updated security services and includes the latest Security Updates.
For detailed information on this Update, please visit http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n107263
Monday, December 16, 2002
Friday, December 13, 2002
Does anyone know how to do one-armed routing under OS X on Airport? This could be incredibly useful in situations where, for some reason (having paid a subscription fee, having an authenticated MAC address, having a superior antenna) one user has access to a WiFi network but others don't -- you could republish the network around your machine and share it with others. Right now, I usually accomplish this trick by connecting my Airport base-station to my iBook with an Ethernet cable and bridging whatever connection I can get onto down to the AP. It would be handy to pull this off without the Airport AP. Any ideas? Discuss
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Monday, December 09, 2002
Sunday, December 08, 2002
It's been a while since I posted about spam filtering. For many months I've been happily using mailfilter by Andreas Bauer, and I even put up some instructions to help other people use it. It has killed over 20,000 pieces of spam for me. However, with 300+ rules I have hit the point of diminishing returns -- it's hard to add individual rules that make much of an improvement in the overall accuracy, and the whole shebang is higher-maintenance than I want it to be. And, while in general I love mailfilter's kill-it-on-the-server method, it's a real bummer when you get that rare false positive, because you have to 1) notice that it happened 2) dig the sender's e-mail address out of the log, and 3) beg for a re-send.
Lots of people use and love SpamAssassin. It's great. However, it can be complex to set up and maintain, and you've got to keep it up to date as spammers learn to game its rules.
What if you had software that, instead of using tons of rules by clever humans, simply learned by example what spam is, and kept learning?
That's the hot thing in spam fighting now -- Bayesian filtering. I'll leave the details to smarter people, but it is essentially a statistical method in which individual tokens (words) are mapped to probabilities. For example, a quick look at my spam log of 700+ recent spams shows that my last name shows up in 4 spams and 254 "good" messages, making it a strong (but not absolute) indicator of non-spam. Conversely, the term "hcode" shows up in 304 spam messages and no legitimate messages, making it a very good indicator of spam. What's "hcode"? I have no idea -- something that shows up in spammers' HTML a lot, I'd guess. It's obviously incredibly predictive, yet I never would have created a rule to look for it.
That's the beauty of this approach. Instead of trying to cleverly create individual rules that identify spam, you simply feed your Bayesian engine a pile of spam, and a pile of good mail, and it learns the difference. (It does weighting like SpamAssassin, but instead of weighting rules, it individually weights every unique word.) Read Paul Graham's highly influential "A Plan for Spam" essay for more on this. Really, read it. It's excellent.
Actual usable software using these techniques includes Eric S. Raymond's (yes, that Eric S. Raymond) bogofilter, various applications of the ifile utility, and (finally, here we are) the product I'm trying out right now: SpamSieve.
SpamSieve works with Eudora (which is what I use), Entourage Mailsmith, Powermail, and Emailer. (What about Mail.app, you ask? Well, reportedly, Mail.app's built-in spam killer is actually a Bayesian filter, and works great. So if you are a Mail.app user, I guess you're all set...)
You train SpamSieve with a batch of good messages and a batch of bad, then correct it whenever it screws up. It learns fast.
People who are wrapped up in making clever rules for complex filtering systems can't believe how effective Bayesian filtering is. After just a few days of training, SpamSieve has exceeded the accuracy of my mailfilter setup (about 95%) and is still climbing -- even messages that it correctly identifies as spam are used to improve its accuracy. People have reported accuracy of up to 99.5% with Bayesian filtering.
I am fully convinced that this is the future of spam-killing. (Well, actually, I think there's also a place for Brightmail-type honeypots, but that's another story.) Check it out. Discuss
Friday, December 06, 2002
On the subject of media players, Faisal Jawdat writes
The best player I've seen in terms of range of formats is mplayer. On the downside, the GUI doesn't really work, which means you have to use it from the command line and navigation takes the form of random keystrokes.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
VideoLAN on OS X seems to be able to open and play more Windows Media formats than the Mac version of Windows Media Player. It handles many other formats as well.
After looking at Anonymous for a minute, I thought Moniz might have a point. After all, David Lamkins was involved in its design, and he's an old Mac/Lisp hacker. And yet a side by side comparison (L: monaco, R: Anonymous) in what was presumably Lamkins' favorite editor left me feeling that Anonymous looks a little cluttered or unfinished at smaller sizes (it looks pretty good at 48pt, I will admit) compared to Monaco.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Monday, December 02, 2002
it's called uControl, and you can swap modifier keys (i.e. capslock-> control, etc), allows *book users to hold down the function key to make their trackpad function like a mouse wheel. and perhaps the most *sounds like a weird thing to do, but i use it alot,* ability, if you hold down the spacebar, the keyboard mirrors, so you can type one-handed (i.e. spacebar-f -> j, spacebar-s -> l, etc). very handy if you have two machines on the same desk.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Scripting Cocoa with F-Script
Browsing Cocoa with F-Script
With Bill Bumgarner's excellent work, a lot of this (if not all) is possible with Python now but hey, new languages are fun.