Forwarding Address: OS X

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Browser-based presentation slides: S5

I just got back from leading an all-day software training where I made some use of Eric Meyer's S5 (that's "Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System"). It's not only a great demo of the power of JavaScript and CSS, but an elegant piece of design and a useful thing in its own right. A bonus is that it has print as well as screen styles, so you can print take-away notes from your slide file -- and these notes can include text not visible on your slides. If I were using it regularly I'd use some sort of templating system so I didn't have to look at HTML tags while I was composing my thoughts, but that's about it for criticism.

I'm going to be teaching HTML classes regularly starting in January, and I'm thinking it would be cool to use S5 in the dual role of lecture tool and technology demonstration.

(If you use Safari, does that make it S6?)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The latest iCal update: 1.5.4

I just noticed on Apple's site that they've updated iCal to fix a potential security vulnerability: iCal 1.5.4: What's an "unsafe" alarm?
iCal 1.5.4 displays an "unsafe" alarm alert when you try to import a calendar that contains existing alarms that open documents or other applications.
So I clicked on Software Update... lo and behold, there it was. So take a few seconds, fire up Software Update and patch your iCal.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Source code search

This one's for the programmers. Apologies to the non-programmers.

You know that feeling you get when you've been mulling over a really cool idea for a product or a service, something that you, and lots of people like you, would surely use all the time -- and, after getting psyched about this brilliant idea of yours, you discover somebody has already done it?

Part of you (the part with the desire to use the thing) says "Cool!"

Another part (the part with the desire to make the thing) says, "Aaargh!"

I just had one of those coooolaarrrrrrgh moments upon discovering, a source code search engine. Search millions of lines of code in thousands of open source projects. Narrow your search by language and even by license.

Pretty damn cool. The bastards.

(I already suggested to them that they add Objective C to the language list, but don't let that stop you from doing the same if you're so inclined.)

Apple store coming to Toronto

Oh baby, there goes my paycheque:
Apple Computer is taking its retail act north of the border.

The Mac maker confirmed to CNET on Friday that it plans to open a store in Toronto in mid-2005.

Apple started notifying Canadian retailers of its plans earlier Friday, according to Mac enthusiast site

The company currently sells its gear at 450 independent retail locations in Canada. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's Canadian retail plans beyond the Toronto location.

Apple plans Toronto retail store

Sunday, November 21, 2004


I reflexively take a skeptical view of third party widgets, haxies, and the like. So if Apple had seen fit to allow one to display both the time and the day of the month in the menu bar, I probably wouldn't have even looked at MenuCalendarClock; but they didn't, so I did, and I dig it. Unobtrusive, well designed, and every-day-useful. It also has a nice two-tier licensing scheme: a subset of the features can be used for free, with more advanced stuff available to registered users. My only gripe is that the type looks a little crufty compared to the rest of the text in my menubar, though perhaps this is due to its slightly smaller size. I've tried several other apps of this type in the past, but this is my favorite yet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004 helps phishers

One of the "smart" things does with addresses is to display your name in the To: line of messages sent to you -- even when the sender used only your address. The image here shows the top of a phishing mail I got this morning. The real headers (View > Message > Raw Source) don't contain my name, but the displayed ones do. Consider the PayPal "Protect Yourself" guidelines, which note that "emails from PayPal will address you by your first and last name." They're talking about the salutation, but that's a pretty fine point for a novice user, who might see the message I got and say, "Well, they addressed me by name..." Automatic association of names with email addresses is nice generally. But in this context Apple should turn it off. Sez me.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Xserve RAID question.

David Jacobs asked me to point to his Ask.Mefi post where he requests information on the Xserve's RAID bridge. I don't know anything about Xserve's so I'm really curious to see the answer. Thanks!


You wouldn't know it from looking at this site but we actually do have an RSS feed for it:

I don't know why its not on the site anywhere but there you go.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


At the Jenson/Wong household, we're purchasers and fans of Panic Software so with mixed emotions I read on Steven Frank's site that they would no longer be developing Audion, Panic's MP3 player, and that they would now give it away for free. To mark the occassion, Cabel Sasser wrote a wonderful history of Audion.

I know they've already been super-generous to not simply pull Audion from their site forever but I really hope they decide to open source it. iTunes may be eating it's lunch but I bet some crazy kids would take this and run like the wind with it. The Panic dudes could put it up at sourceforge, help teach some kids about it's internals, and eventually not be embarassed by the notes littering the source tree "TODO: fix this hack!" (Remember guys, all our software has those notes). Imagine, a whole generation of hackers cutting their teeth on Audion. I think that'd be pretty awesome.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Apple mailing lists via RSS

Via Daring Fireball: Apple Mailing Lists via RSS. Oh, and Search. Can't forget the search, it's going to be big some day.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Developer's view of 10.4's Spotlight

Apple has put up a pretty nice high-level overview of Spotlight that developers and power users will find very interesting in: Working with Spotlight. This bit excites me:
But more than a collection of individual technologies that work together, Spotlight gives you the ability to plug your application into the operating system and work with files in a totally new way. For example, if you were building an asset management application you could use Spotlight to find all of the files that match certain criteria rather than trying to slog through the file system yourself. Or, if your application specialized in supporting various kinds of workflows, you could use Spotlight to find all of the files that needed to be marked with a particular keyword. Once you get used to working with files in this new way, you'll never want to go back.

Obsessive Catalogers Rejoice

The Delicious Library is now available and should not be confused with the also amazing bookmark service. It's $40 a crack and to really make it as cool as possible you will need some sort of device, be it digital video or hand-held bluetooth scanner, to read the barcodes on your books, CDs, DVDs or video games. Even with that caveat, this looks to be a killer app.

Friday, November 05, 2004

OS X 10.3.6

10.3.6 is out. Check your software update.
The 10.3.6 Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for 
Mac OS X v10.3 "Panther" and is recommended for all users.

Key enhancements include:
- improved file sharing for Mac (AFP), UNIX (NFS) and PC (SMB/CIFS) networks
- more reliable network automounts and launch of network applications
- improved OpenGL technology and updated ATI and NVIDIA graphic drivers
- additional FireWire audio and USB device compatibility
- updated Calculator, DVD Player, Image Capture, and Safari applications
- improved compatibility for third party applications
- previous standalone security updates

For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website: 
For detailed information on Security Updates, please visit this website:

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Word completion in Cocoa apps

It's always cool to stumble across a nifty feature in the Cocoa text editing engine, because its niftiness is multiplied across multiple applications. Did you know that option-esc calls up a word completion dialog? I didn't, though a little post-discovery Googling shows that this made the rounds of the tip sites about a year ago. Anyway, take a peek at the Edit menu in TextEdit. See the entry called "Complete"? This facility, which arrived with 10.3, uses the system spelling dictionary. So if you can't remember how to spell "pusillanimous," just type "pusi" and hit option-esc (or F5).

Now doesn't that make you feel better? No?

(If any Cocoa gurus know of a way to use this feature with a custom wordlist -- replacing, not augmenting, the built-in list -- let me know!)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Multiple clipboards in BBEdit

A while back I asked about clipboard stack utilities and was pointed to JumpCut, which I have been using happily since. However, today I discovered that BBEdit has multiple clipboard support too, and has in fact had it since version 6.0. Hence those "Next Clipboard" and "Previous Clipboard" options in the Edit menu. How did I miss that all these years? This won't obsolete JumpCut for me, because I like having a clipboard stack systemwide; but if you use BBEdit and don't have a clipboard stack utility, check it out. (Side note: I'm hoping to add a clipboard stack feature to the post-Smultron text editor project, which is coming along nicely. I'll be posting an update in the next few weeks.)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Obj-C and string concatenation: a question

In my quest to learn Obj-C I was playing around with it and SQLite on the weekend and of course wanted to execute an SQL query against the database:
INSERT INTO tableName ( colA, colB, colC ) VALUES ( 'valA', 'valB', 'valC' );
where valA, valB, and valC are the values of properties extracted from an object. In other languages I'd just concatenate the string (pseudo-code):
sqlStr = "INSERT INTO tableName ( colA, colB, colC ) VALUES ( '" . myObj.ValA . "', '" . myObj.ValB ."'..." 
and so on but in Obj-C I was reduced to using a ton of stringByAppendingString() calls to make this happen, one for each chunk, which becomes very unwieldy very quickly and requires a lot of typing, esp. for large inserts. So my question: is there a better way to concatenate SQL queries in Obj-C? Any suggestions?