The HIG is Dead; Long Live the HIG

Michael Tsai:

Custom UI makes sense when you have a problem that the standard controls and conventions doné─˘t solve, but too often there doesné─˘t seem to be any design benefit from the deviations.

Exactly. This is why Gruber is wrong -- as is Apple's iTunes, to name just one particularly egregious example -- and Read the Fucking HIG and Tim Morgan are so right.

posted on 07 January 2011 at 12400 commentstrackback

The Internet Death Penalty

If you are one of those people who adds every single e-mail address that passes through your inbox to your address book, and then sends out totally irrelevant forwards and pleas for charity assistance to every single address in your address book, you deserve the Internet Death Penalty. No e-mail, no Facebook, no MySpace, no sports scores, no stock quotes, no YouTube, no Farmville, no NOTHING for five years. If you so much as see the Internet in use, you owe $100 to the continent of Africa.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the Free and United Champions of Keeping E-mail Respectable and Safe. We now return to your irregular and unscheduled blogging.

posted on 13 October 2010 at 20320 commentstrackback

Useless Error Message of the Day

My mom was trying to send a .zip file of photos to my aunt and my cousin tonight. Easier than e-mailing a folder, especially since my aunt uses Hotmail and my cousin doesn't have a Mac. Gmail's SMTP server threw up this ever-so-helpful error in Eudora (which is not addressed at all in Gmail Help):

Couldn't send message; server says "552 5.7.0 review our attachment guidelines. f6sm13922652anb.16".

The same attachment sends just fine if you change the extension from .zip to .txt.

The ultimate solution? There isn't one. Gmail, for whatever reason, does not like this file, which was created by Control-clicking a folder of a few JPEG images (all with the ".jpg" extension) in Finder and choosing "Compress". Hey, Google, a folder full of JPEGs created on a Mac is not a security risk.

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass)

posted on 23 May 2010 at 22330 commentstrackback

Bad UI Experience of the Week

Signing up for online access to Consumer Reports...

passwords are case-sensitive, but must be in all lower-case

Why bother telling people passwords are case-sensitive if you only allow them to use all-lower-case letters in the passwords? Besides decreasing security (it cuts the number of characters required to guess the password roughly in half), it's pointless -- there's no technical reason for forcing passwords to be all lower-case while simultaneously using case-sensitive comparison routines when checking them for accuracy.

OK, so I fixed that...and was promptly greeted with this:

your chosen username is already taken

Aside from the idiocy of telling the user the password is invalid before telling them the username is also invalid, it's bad UI to present errors piecemeal like this. If there are multiple invalid parts of a submission, you should be telling your users all at once, so they can fix it all at once, rather than making them click multiple times and becoming increasingly frustrated each time. (I believe my exact exclamation after I was presented with this was "You dumb motherf*ckers!")

posted on 06 December 2009 at 14150 commentstrackback

"Secure" Fail

Adobe's public bug-tracking database URL (emphasis added):

http://bugs.adobe.com/jira/secure/Dashboard.jspa

Bonus security fail: the confirmation e-mail contains your password in plaintext.

posted on 19 September 2009 at 16340 commentstrackback

Memo to MySpace

CC: Bike Nashbar, Twitter

If you can implement a multiple-confirmations-to-cancel process, you can bloody well implement a signup process that requires confirmation from the e-mail account owner. This way, I would not be getting friend requests to an e-mail address that has never been anywhere NEAR MySpace (Official Motto: "A Place for Molesters"). No unsubscribe/cancellation process should ever take more steps than it did to sign up in the first place.

posted on 24 March 2009 at 11590 commentstrackback

Schadenmonday

So much for Apple Bug Friday (and the related Schadenfriday). No sooner did I finish writing up yesterday's Fun Apple Bug of the Week post than I noticed a similar bug in Camino. The Camino bug is less of a pain, however, because

a) most people who hide the search field probably don't use it often, if at all; and
b) it doesn't create a situation where the app is basically unusable (you could still get the search field in a sheet with Command-Option-F, for instance).

Now if only I could figure out the circumstances that cause ExtendedSplitView to save a width property in the plist in the first place, I could figure out how this is happening and put a stop to it.

posted on 23 February 2009 at 17330 commentstrackback

Fun Apple Bug of the Week

Just filed this as rdar://6612125 . Back up your Stickies database (in ~/Library/) and com.apple.Stickies.plist (in ~/Library/Preferences/) before attempting to reproduce this fun one.

1) Launch Stickies.app.
2) Close all open notes. (If you start with no StickiesDatabase file, there will be two by default.) When prompted to save, don't.
3) Choose "Use as Default" from the Note menu.
4) Try to create a new sticky note.

To fix the damage you just did, quit Stickies and throw out the new com.apple.Stickies.plist file as well as the new StickiesDatabase file. Restore your old files (I told you to make a backup!) and you're back in business.

This is a great example of two key mistakes often made by developers: failure to validate UI items (enabling/disabling them as appropriate), and failure to validate input.

The "Use as Default" menu item should never have been enabled in the first place if there wasn't anything to use as a template. It's very easy to enable or disable a menu item programmatically, so there's not really a good excuse for failing to do so. Well-behaved Mac OS X applications -- at least, those written by developers who sweat the details -- almost always do a very good job of this, and it's probably a simple oversight on Apple's part (and maybe Jens Alfke's, though I don't have a Classic Mac OS version of Stickies around to test).

Even assuming there was a good reason to have "Use as Default" enabled with no notes open, there's no excuse for allowing dimensions of a window to be set to zero or negative values. A window is an on-screen analog of a physical object and, like its physical counterpart, cannot have zero or negative dimensions. On-screen objects are defined in pixels, and a pixel is the smallest entity that can be displayed on a screen. Fractions of a pixel, for these purposes, have no meaning. The application should check that the dimensions in the property list are integers greater than zero and, if they aren't, should replace the obviously bad data. The most logical thing to do is probably to replace zero and negative values with the app defaults (in this case, 200 by 300 pixels), and to replace non-integer values with an integer, as would be achieved by the use of a floor() function or by casting the float (or other non-integer numeric data type) to an int.

Here endeth the week's lesson.

posted on 23 February 2009 at 02440 commentstrackback

Get Off the Intertubes

New Year's resolution for the guy who modified his 20-year-old washing machine to Twitter him when the laundry is done: unplug the Intertubes and move out of the parents' basement.

posted on 02 January 2009 at 19550 commentstrackback

Abstract Poetry Spam

Spam is getting less and less comprehensible by the day:

Subject: hitherto royce bracken assessor childbirth

dyadic buzzer agnes? stain, swedish deportation.
deportation eyelet apropos maudlin henrietta bracken, swedish
leningrad coralline ford henrietta wilcox.

graphite bracken dirty

vulcan munificent eyelet? wolff, forwent dyadic.
sam isolate vulcan rebutting eyelet propos, deportation
radioastronomy alchemy stonecrop childbirth alchemy.

alchemy childbirth cornbread

apropos fricative vulcan? wolff, joyful rasa.

hitherto royce.

What's the point of spam that isn't selling something? Is this supposed to be some kind of modern performance art?

posted on 11 August 2008 at 16590 commentstrackback

Event Tester

I've written a small test app for examining NSEvent modifier flags, called Event Tester (34K ZIP file). I've been meaning to get this done ever since March 2006, when a subtle bug in Kensington's MouseWorks software bit me in the rear while working on a Camino bug. I reported it to Kensington at the time along with an explanation of what I suspected was happening, but never heard anything back from them. They've since released version 3.0 of their MouseWorks software, and it still has the same bug. Now that I have a test app, maybe they'll listen.

The general public probably won't find it useful, but anyone writing drivers for multi-button mice probably will.

UPDATE: After pulling several teeth, I have official word from Kensington that the MouseWorks software has been end-of-lifed and will no longer be updated. I'm going to try to convince them to open-source it, or at least give me the source code, but I have to wonder what this means for future Mac products from the company. It can't be good news.

posted on 12 July 2008 at 14540 commentstrackback

Bugs are Crunchy

And full of protein. Smokey's recent post inspired me to take a look at the bugs I'd filed or fixed in Bugzilla as well.

I've filed 122 bugs so far, of which I've personally fixed 12. It's always good to clean up your own mess ;) Of the 45 still open, five are still UNCONFIRMED and four are assigned to me. Of the 77 filed bugs that have been resolved, I've filed six INVALID, 11 WONTFIX, three WORKSFORME, and 11 duplicates, making a total of 86 valid bugs out of the 122 filed so far (conservatively assuming the five UNCOs don't ever get confirmed). That's a .705 batting average, which is a lot better than most of our users but not as high as it probably ought to be considering I'm on the triage and development teams.

The good news is that a total of 51 bugs assigned to me have been fixed (although I think a couple were fixed by someone else without the assignee changing), giving me about a 2.4:1 filed-to-ASSIGNED/FIXED ratio, and that's something I'm much happier with. Ideally it'd be something like 1:1, but the only people I can think of who might come close to that figure are doing this sort of thing as a full-time job. We don't have any paid developers on the Camino team at all.

posted on 07 September 2007 at 19450 commentstrackback

"Eudora" 8.0b1

John Gruber, on the new Eudora beta:

I hope ité─˘s awesome. I suspect ité─˘s going to blow.

Let me save everyone the suspense: it blows.

Exhibit A: the import dialog you get upon first launch.

Eudora's first-run import dialog, which must be seen to be believed

Note the choices of mail clients from which mail and preferences can be imported.

Note that the number of previous versions of Eudora listed in this dialog is zero.

Remember that every single previous version of Eudora was backwards compatible with previous settings files and mail storage, at least enough that simply launching the new version made things Just Work™, which is of course the Mac Way™.

Ponder the number of people who will try this beta release who are not either die-hard Eudora users or Thunderbird users (also conspicuously absent from the import dialog). Hint: that number is somewhat south of both "significant" and "able to be counted on two hands".

If your mind hasn't boggled yet, you're probably a lost cause.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen's most famous line: I knew Eudora. I used Eudora. Eudora was a friend of mine, and you, sir, are no Eudora.

posted on 03 September 2007 at 0256trackback

Here's a Neat Idea

Anyone remember PointCast, the screensaver of news that turned your Internet-connected computer's idle time into a CNN-cum-CNBC ticker of information?

Now that Google has released the Google Objective-C APIs, can someone reproduce that using Google Reader RSS feeds? I would find that tremendously useful.

posted on 16 April 2007 at 21510 commentstrackback

Daily Moment of Zen

Actual, legitimate e-mail in my inbox not five minutes ago:

From: [name redacted to protect the guilty]
Subject: what is my user name and password.

Camino is asking for my user name and password. How can i get this information.

I swear I am not making this up.

posted on 13 December 2006 at 23450 commentstrackback

For Sale: Pithy Sayings?

Everybody hates spam, even the spammers. I don't tolerate it well in general, but at least when I get spam attempting to sell me "Ultra Allure Pheromones" or "A blonde screaming hard after a orgasm" or "BUY WINDOWS XP FOR $49.95!", I can understand the motivation behind it. That sort of spam is like the nerdy kid everyone picked on in school who finally snaps and starts picking people off from the clock tower. You don't agree with what he did, but you can understand where he's coming from.

Then there's the Hitler spam. Like Hitler's irrational hatred of anything not Aryan, nobody understands what the hell the purpose of it is. Case in point:

Subject: you sample is augment

Possible Interpretation: Finishing a task quickly is not about rushing. That I have no time for A beer a day keeps the germs away. Money is honey and the richman jocks is always funny The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Honesty is the best policy. Possible interpretation: forbidden things are the most tempting (Biblical origin) Practice does not make perfect but a perfect practice makes perfect.

There's no time like the present. Waste not, want not. When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Possible Interpretation: fancy way of saying that we should play as a team and not as individual players

What, pray tell, is the purpose in sending that message? It isn't trying to sell me software, penis pills, or Asian shemale donkey porn. It's not trying to infect my computer with a virus and replicate itself across the Internet. It's just wasting bandwidth, which accomplishes...nothing. It doesn't really add substantially to the cost of Internet service (the amount of bandwidth wasted transmitting that message was negligible), it doesn't tie up my connection, and it doesn't burden my ISP's servers any more than a commercial spam would.

If you're going to be a cancer on the Internet, at least try to make yourself a buck in the process. Being a cancer just to be a cancer is a good reason for people to hang you from tall buildings by your toenails and slowly gouge out your vital organs with a wooden spoon. Just sayin'.

posted on 15 November 2006 at 20160 commentstrackback

Dumbass of the Day

I don't normally blatantly make fun of bug-filers here because, well, it's not nice. I couldn't pass this one up, though. It's just too funny.

Bug 360402: Browser will not display ad images when "Block Web Advertising" is selected in Web Features preferences.

At the risk of sounding silly, what, exactly, did you expect would be blocked when the "Block Web Advertising" box was checked? And if, as it seems from the actual bug report, that isn't exactly what was meant, why wouldn't you proofread the summary you're submitting to ensure that it doesn't make you sound like a complete moron?

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass)

posted on 11 November 2006 at 19570 commentstrackback

No. Just...No.

From a recent comment:

PLEASE READ

Yo Ok so I Have Just Got A Website And am Now looking For Visiters Ok I Will Make A Deal With You I Own 4 blogs i will add Your Name {Name Of Your Blog} if You Just Add My Website URL to your Blog Ok The Blogs i Own In Witch I Will Add Your Blog URL To are Switchhate i will promise to keep adding Your Blog URL into everywhere it will make sence in//My Website Will Also Have Your URL in it With nice Little Comments. Thank You For Your Time
The Website You Should Add Will Be Sent To You Through Your E-mail Like Yahoo or something

No.

No.

Uhm, no.

And just for good measure...

No.

Idiot.

posted on 28 July 2006 at 00051 commentstrackback

Defining Irony

From feedback:

I just downloaded Camino after reading about it today in the WSJ...

Right hand, allow me to introduce you to left hand. Talk amongst yourselves. Discuss each other's actions.

posted on 20 July 2006 at 23071 commentstrackback

WTF of the Week

This week's award goes to Apple's Mail.app for generally sucking at life.

More specifically, it took 12K worth of HTML in order for a correspondent to say this:

Hi,

I am looking for a way to bring in my passwords for websites that I have been using in Firefox.

Aloha,

[name withheld]

__________________________________________________________

[contact info in sig removed]

Highlights from the 11.5K of extraneous HTML code in the message:

SPAN class="Apple-style-span" style="border-collapse: separate; border-spacing: 0px 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 12px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; text-align: auto; -khtml-text-decorations-in-effect: none; text-indent: 0px; -apple-text-size-adjust: auto; text-transform: none; orphans: 2; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; "

along with

P style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px"

Note the multiple "0px" values. CSS specifies that 0 requires no units, so that's two wasted characters (at minimum) every single time it occurs. In the second case, Mail's HTML generator has wasted 22 characters (and that string occurs several times in the message). Furthermore, good programming practise dictates that you don't generate output for empty attributes. Since a SPAN tag is an inline element, it will never render with a border unless you specify one in CSS, so you should never have to set its border to 0.

Which segues nicely into point two -- namely, since Mail isn't including a stylesheet anywhere in the message, 2a) why is it giving a named class attribute to all these spans, and 2b) why is it necessary to manually specify default settings in their style property?

Here's another great WTF:

SPAN class="Apple-style-span" style="border-collapse: separate; border-spacing: 0px 0px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 12px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: normal; text-align: auto; -khtml-text-decorations-in-effect: none; text-indent: 0px; -apple-text-size-adjust: auto; text-transform: none; orphans: 2; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; "

The above is the very first SPAN tag in the document. HTML parent elements pass their properties on to their children, and "Cascading" is part of the name of CSS, fer Chrissakes. So why the hell is Mail including the exact same (manually specified default) values in the next six (!) SPAN tags?

That brings us to WTF #4 -- why have seven nested SPAN tags all containing the same attributes? Is Mail trying really really hard to make sure that style gets followed or something? Nesting seven <em> tags in HTML doesn't give the tagged text seven times as much emphasis. It just wastes 54 characters! This takes that waste to a whole new level.

Finally, since this HTML/CSS code is never going to be seen by a human (in theory), and is being used strictly to make an e-mail message look like a goddamn glossy brochure (that's another rant entirely), there's no need for spaces after colons or semicolons in the style attribute, and there's certainly no need for a trailing semicolon and space at the end of a style attribute.

Not that it's an excuse for sending HTML mail, but if Mail would bother remotely optimising its HTML/CSS, that message would have been about 3K. Still a waste of 2.5K, but that's at least 75% less wasteful than it was before.

posted on 20 July 2006 at 22240 commentstrackback

Paging Captain Obvious

From the gosh-we-never-realised-this-before file: Slashdot has just discovered that John Dvorak is a troll. Not that anyone else has ever said this before, mind you.

posted on 10 June 2006 at 14090 commentstrackback

My New Favourite Web Site

Fight back against phishers at PhishFighting.com, a site that allows you to input a phishing scam URL and then pollutes the database with 500 fake username/password entries.

Brilliant!

posted on 30 March 2006 at 17100 commentstrackback

Why We Do It

People like this and this sometimes make me wonder why I bother answering feedback e-mails at all, and then people like Warren Jones restore my faith in humanity:

Dear Chris,

I'd just like to say thanks for all of your help. Even though you were unable to fix the problem, I greatly appreciate all of the time and thought that you spent on the problem. If you worked for a software company, I'd certainly go through their catalog looking for things to buy. Now I'm going to call Earthlink. After that, if they can't help, I'll look again for someway to contact Fox News to see if they are aware of a problem with their website. Thanks again for all of your help. Oh, yes, I'll certainly be recommending Camino in the future. I just wonder why I had never heard of it before I went on a search through Google for Browsers that were designed for Macintosh computers.

Sincerely,

Warren Jones

posted on 28 March 2006 at 22260 commentstrackback

Dumbass of the Day

Names withheld to protect the guilty. From e-mail:

Windows will not permit the opening and installation of the application:

Camino-1.0-MultiLang.dmg

It will not recognize the extension.


Ideas....work around

My reply:

http://www.caminobrowser.org/

Look at the page title.
Look at the header graphic.
Look at the system requirements.

Not trying to be rude, just pointing it out...

His response, irony included free of charge:

Now, I know one thing, never ask a Linux person anything.

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass)

posted on 23 February 2006 at 22461 commentstrackback

Camino 1.0

Before I run off to work, I need to share this. Camino 1.0 has been released after lots of last-minute work. Go download it now.

RSS, spell-check, and a few other oft-requested features will make it into version 1.1. Hey, we had to release 1.0 sometime.

posted on 14 February 2006 at 10340 comments

Apple Bug Friday: OS X Spell Checker

Lee came up with this entry for Apple Bug Friday, with my help: Mac OS X spell-checker doesn't check spelling on focus change. It's pretty annoying if you think about it.

posted on 10 February 2006 at 17452 commentstrackback

Dancing King

The folks over at Memention, in combination with Nitrozac and Snaggy's well-known geek comic Joy of Tech, have introduced what has to be the best iTunes plug-in ever:

Jumping Steve, an animated Steve Jobs who dances around like those old-fashioned paper dolls in music boxes. The download includes Real Steve and iPod Silhouette Dancer Steve.

(via MacMinute)

posted on 30 January 2006 at 15480 commentstrackback

Curse You, Steve Jobs

MacBook Pro?

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Also, you nuked the internal modem, the PC card slot, and the FireWire 800. The first two wouldn't be such a huge deal individually, but right now, there are no ExpressCard wireless modems (and a quick Froogle search turned up zero ExpressCard wired modems, too). How the **** are mobile professionals supposed to connect to the Internet when they're not near a wireless connection? Even Podunkville Island has analogue fone lines!

I will not be buying another Mac laptop until the internal modem returns to the product line, or the robber-baron cell fone providers lower their data prices (and Apple includes a wireless modem in the product line).

posted on 10 January 2006 at 19151 commentstrackback

I'm Famous!

You just don't know it. ;)

Camino 1.0b1 has been released, and the release notes document a huge list of changes. Amusingly, the top two "General" bugfixes are my work (as is one of the bookmarks fixes), which means two of the three "major changes" listed in the TUAW entry about the release are mine.

I definitely did NOT contribute anywhere near 2/3 of the work on this release. That credit goes to Mike Pinkerton and Simon Fraser, along with the rest of the Camino team and the other hobbyist developers who have contributed patches.

But, uh, thanks, Dave. :)

posted on 09 November 2005 at 17530 commentstrackback

Sleep is a Good Thing

This is why you should always put your laptop to sleep rather than shutting it down.

Especially if you're going to go study in the University of Michigan's Law Library.

posted on 21 October 2005 at 01080 commentstrackback

Caminian Philosophy

Eric has published a very interesting interview with lead Camino developer Mike Pinkerton. Thanks to Mike for the interview, and congrats to Eric for scoring time with one of the Mac software world's busiest open-source developers.

posted on 31 August 2005 at 10050 commentstrackback

Resetting Activity Logs in MT 3.16

Those of you who, like me, are besieged with constant comment spam have probably switched to Brad Choate's wonderful SpamLookup plug-in for Movable Type. I've discussed it before.

The problem with SpamLookup is that it uses the MT Activity Log for its log entries. This wouldn't really be a problem except for the fact that three or four weeks' worth of blocked spam log entries bloat the log enough that the server chokes trying to display it.

Under previous versions of Movable Type, you could simply go to

http://www.yourblogurl.tld/path/to/yourblog/mt.cgi?__mode=reset_log

and the log would be reset. MT 3.16 introduces some security features that prevent this from working any longer. Thanks to The Girlie Matters (via Google), we have a new method to reset the log.

Brad Choate is aware of the issue it presents and is working on a fix. Until then, at least the log can be reset again.

posted on 28 May 2005 at 20070 commentstrackback

Stop Doing That!

Attention, RSS Feed Publishers:

Stop making every single article in your feeds show up as "new" when the only thing you changed was the text (or presence) of an advertisement in the feed.

I'm looking squarely at you, MacMerc, and everyone at Weblogs, Inc., all of whom are about *thisclose* to getting tossed out of NetNewsWire Lite for good, because I'm really damn tired of having to read the same 15 articles every day when you decide to do a manual ad rotation and call them "new."

We now return to your irregular and entirely unscheduled blogging.

posted on 19 May 2005 at 23500 commentstrackback

Problems with Eudora 6 on Tiger

The upgrade to Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" has been mostly flawless, but there's one huge annoying problem with Eudora.

Under 10.3, you could type the first couple characters of a menu item and the OS would select that menu item. It worked wonderfully, and was a very logical extension of the ancient (System 7.5-era) behaviour of the OS in a dialog box.

Being a keyboard type, I prefer to avoid the mouse where possible, so when moving messages around in Eudora, I would click the Transfer menu, then type the first couple letters of the mailbox where I wanted to move the message(s), and then press return. Boom goes the dynamite! -- my messages would go where I wanted them.

The problem, as the other five Eudora users left in the world may have noticed, is that Eudora uses the "-> " (dash-greater-than-space) prefix for mailbox names in the Transfer menu, ostensibly to signify to the user that something is going to happen to that message. This is all well and good, and I didn't mind it at all until Tiger came along.

Tiger's menu selection via the keyboard now respects (for better or for worse) non-alphanumeric characters in menu items. This means whenever I type some letters, every single mailbox is ignored and the menu selection jumps straight to "New..." or "Other...", which is something I want approximately once out of every thousand or so transfer operations.

This wouldn't be a big deal at all except for the fact that <x-eudora-setting:7411> refuses to allow me to set an empty prefix string. To be honest, I don't care whether or not I can change that string or not. Qualcomm needs to fix it so a little graphical arrow displays there, lets the power user turn it on or off via setting 7411, and dispense with this nonsense of putting typable characters in the menu item ahead of the mailbox name.

Rumour has it the entire Eudora application is being re-written in Cocoa (hopefully for version 7), so perhaps this problem will go away by then. There is nothing that would make me happier right now.

posted on 15 May 2005 at 12520 commentstrackback

Transparent Docks in Tiger

Having noticed this evening that TransparentDock has not (yet) been updated for Tiger, and not wanting to install haxies (such as Cleardock), I discovered that the old hack at ResExcellence for doing transparent docks manually no longer works (rather unsurprisingly, really).

Unfortunately, after thorough perusal of the contents of Dock.app and lengthy consultation with Google, I've been unable to find any solution to this problem. Perhaps some of my readers are smarter than myself and could give everyone a few pointers.

I'd really like to see someone write up a thorough description of the various transparency features of TransparentDock. It's written in AppleScript, but the scripts are run-only and I can't get at them. (On a side note, I'd also be very interested if someone knew a way to read run-only AppleScripts.) It seems like this ought to be fairly simple to implement, but I must be missing something really obvious.

posted on 12 May 2005 at 23510 commentstrackback

Damn You, Spammers

I was updating my spam filters tonight and took a quick look through my accumulated spam through 30 March 2005.

Eudora says I've received about 6000 messages so far this year.

By my calculation, just under 4200 of them have been spam, malware, or blog spam notifications.

That means spam and malware is directly responsible for SEVENTY PERCENT of my e-mail traffic, and probably a comparable percentage of my time spent in Eudora. Right now Eudora says I've used it for 44 hours this year. That means I've wasted just over 30 full hours dealing with spam and malware. At this rate, I will have wasted THREE FULL WORK WEEKS by the end of the year. That's more time than the average American gets in annual vacation!

Scott Richter, be glad bankruptcy is the worst you've seen so far. I want to put you on personal notice: if I ever meet you or your ilk in person, I will kill you.

That's not a threat. That's a fact. I'll kill you.

posted on 31 March 2005 at 02082 commentstrackback

Utah to Force Content Blocking?

A bill has been sent to the governor of Utah that would require ISPs and content providers to block "objectionable" material, mainly targeted at pr0n. As Techdirt points out, Pennsylvania had a similar law in place for a few years that was thrown out for all the obvious reasons.

What the Utah state legislature, Cnet, and Techdirt all fail to notice is that we already have a system in place to deal with this. It's called the Platform for Internet Content Selection, or PICS for short. While participation is voluntary, the standard is well-established and Internet pr0nographers seem to have accepted it as a fair and reasonable means of keeping their material out of the hands of minors. There are a fairly well-known handful of developers that publish software for Internet filtering based on PICS (and other) ratings. This software is widely available and fairly inexpensive. So why must we rely on government to censor the Internet?

The government isn't responsible for raising your children. You, the parents, are. So stop shirking the responsibility and buy some filtering software. Let your state lawmakers deal with more important things, like declaring Ken Jennings the patron saint of Utah.

posted on 03 March 2005 at 22290 commentstrackback

Why Apple Doesn't Make a Smartfone

In case anyone had forgotten, Steve Jobs is vehemently against Apple's competing in the cell fone/PDA market. And for good reason, it would seem. MobileTracker has a very in-depth review of the PalmOne Treo 650 today, in which reviewer Larry Becker says:

One last observation in the negative column is that the device needs to be reset often. To be fair, as handhelds have become more powerful and PC-like over the years, their capabilities have increased and the need for a reset has also increased. Every new handheld I've used over the years has required more resetting than its predecessor and as a power user who accesses e-mail and web daily and uses the Treo 650 with a Bluetooth headset numerous times every day, I find that resetting the device daily makes things run quite smoothly. I don't even use the reset button, I just remove and replace the battery and it resets. And because of the Flash memory, all my data magically comes back too. The whole process take about a minute.

Is it any wonder Steve Jobs has no desire to deal with the usability nightmare that is having to entirely reboot a fugging cell fone once a day? What is this, Windows 98?

Having to reboot a computer once a day is absolutely unacceptable. Having to reboot a cell fone once a day because it contains a piss-poor operating system designed by the same people who think rebooting a computer once a day is acceptable is also absolutely unacceptable. Added complexity and capability should not mean added instability. Unfortunately, the "Microsoft Mentality" has infected PalmOne as well. Is it any surprise PalmOne is struggling mightily except with the Treo smartfones, where users are forced into a choice of three or four devices (if they're lucky!) that utterly reek of mediocrity or cost as much as black-market kidneys? No wonder no one wants standalone PDAs any more -- they've become as useless as Windows 95 machines!

Even Microsoft's latest OS offerings are more stable than this. Get your act together, PalmOne.

posted on 03 March 2005 at 13540 commentstrackback

And the Immunity Goes to...

Quick! Someone call Jeff Probst! The Survivor immunity idol has been stolen and turned into a USB drive.

(via approximately every Mac news site in existence)

posted on 24 February 2005 at 13340 commentstrackback

They Forgot One Important Feature

The MP-02-OTG media player book thing is a pretty cool device in its own right. However, I'm absolutely shocked that they didn't build it in dark green with the title "Simulacra and Simulation" in gold leaf on its cover.

(via Gizmodo)

posted on 24 February 2005 at 13260 commentstrackback

It's Here

Expect normal publication to resume within 24 hours.

I gotta hand it to Apple; I was only PowerBook-less for six days. If FedEx hadn't screwed up on the outgoing shipment, it probably would have been four.

Now to migrate everything over to the new 'Book...

posted on 17 February 2005 at 12121 commentstrackback

w000000000000000000000000t!

That is all.

Oh, and entry #500.

posted on 17 February 2005 at 01570 commentstrackback

Two-For-Two, Sort Of

Asanté has given me an RMA number, and the router is going back. Unfortunately, they didn't pick up the tab for shipping, so getting them to honour their warranty is going to cost me about $10. It doesn't sound so bad on the surface, but remember, the darn thing was only $28 to begin with! Back on the plus side, though, it's been working fine most of the day, with only one reset since I got up this morning. If it keeps behaving this well, I just might not bother.

posted on 09 February 2005 at 18020 commentstrackback

E-mail as a Platform

Techdirt explains why I use Eudora:

People simply store information in their email, from contact information that was emailed to them to schedule information to purchase tracking from emailed receipts. Lots of people email messages to themselves, realizing that email is basically the best "permanent" filing system they have. That's part of the reason why good email search is so important.

Though I don't e-mail messages to myself -- that's what Stickies is for! -- I cannot understate the importance of a good search feature in any e-mail client I use. I have about ten years' worth of e-mail archives, and I search the last four to five years fairly regularly. I have yet to find a client other than Eudora that can handle the large archive volume and my searching needs. Eudora is ugly, it's antiquated, it's arcane, and I feel like I'm back on System 6 every time I use it...but damned if it isn't the best mail client for people who use e-mail as a platform.

posted on 09 February 2005 at 17590 commentstrackback

One Down, One to Go

After an hour and a half on the fone with Apple this morning, I now know some interesting bits of information.

First and foremost, one of these is in my very near future, courtesy of Apple and AppleCare.

Second, it seems that there is a "magic threshold" that initiates this process. If you have X repairs in Y months, your case automatically gets escalated to the Product Support Specialists, who are authorised to issue you an equivalent brand-new retail machine as a replacement. I suspect X to be either four or five and Y to be 12 based on the discussions I had with two different specialists. This may vary by product; I've been told that X for the logic board problems in iBooks is three.

Third, and I can't stress this enough: Get AppleCare! This goes double for any product containing an LCD, as LCDs are extremely expensive to repair or replace, and it's much more difficult to do the work yourself. I have more than recouped my $300 investment in AppleCare; essentially, I got a $2000 laptop, four new hard drives, a new fan, a new LCD backlight, and free shipping on all of it for $300. Problems like this, especially one after another, are very rare, but any one of those six major issues would have been more than $300 to have repaired on my own. Extended warranties from your credit card company and the like are wonderful, and in some cases much cheaper than AppleCare, but if you get a lemon that's constantly in for repairs as Ti Cobb has been over the last three months, your credit card company (probably) isn't going to buy you a new computer.

Fourth: the AppleCare that you get with a new Mac is great, but in my experience, nearly worthless. I can count on one hand the number of problems I and friends of mine have had with Mac hardware in the first year of ownership that were not eventually covered by a massive REA program. (Side note: never buy the first revision of anything, from anybody.) Of course, you don't pay for it, either. The point here is that the argument "But Macs are really reliable, so I don't need AppleCare past what Apple gives me" is specious at best. See "Third," above. Problems crop up after that first year runs out, and they get more and more likely the closer you get to the three-year limit.

Finally, it absolutely sucks to live in the state of Florida, where AppleCare is illegal thanks to a boneheaded law intended to protect Granny's savings from unscrupulous extended-warranty salesdroids. If you live in Florida, I feel very sorry for you.

Now, off to call Asanté. Let's see if I can go two-for-two.

posted on 09 February 2005 at 14073 commentstrackback

The Place Where Electronics Go to Die™

I would have posted this at 0530, when it actually happened, but I couldn't (see below).

It's official. My house has become the Place Where Electronics Come to Die™.

I was awakened at the unholy hour of 0527 this morning by a sound that resembled the dying gasps of my rather loud, and of late very ineffective, alarm clock choking on a lifetime pack-a-day habit and a couple old gym socks.

Fortunately, it wasn't my alarm clock, which I shortly remembered was still set for 0900. (Yes, I need a job. If you know anyone hiring pilots/flight instructors, please get in touch with me.)

Unfortunately, it was my hard drive. In my PowerBook. The fifth such device to grace^H^H^H^H^Hdefile the innards of Ti Cobb since he was new, and the fourth such device to fail just since last June.

Ti Cobb's trackpad died very suddenly Monday night, and I was putting off getting anything done about it until I had time to be without my computer for another week, but the fifth -- I want to emphasise this for the benefit of anyone from Apple who might be reading -- hard disk failure, and fourth in three months, is going to force the date up a bit. To, say, today. Well, tomorrow, really, because Apple doesn't let AppleCare policyholders request a repair box on-line. Instead, we're required to wait until everyone on the California coast can drag themselves out of bed, which by my figuring is another...3 hours and 18 minutes. So perhaps Airborne can get the box today after all.

Now, I alluded to why I couldn't post this when it actually happened.

Ah yes, the router. I reviewed what was, at the time, a fairly wonderful little router from Asanté for the February issue of ATPM, and I stand by everything I said in that review. Except for this:

A word of advice: make sure to check for a firmware update on Asanté's support page right away. There are a lot of routers in the retail channel with the older G1.0 firmware, and AppleTalk support (according to Asanté) requires G1.1 or later. Use the cross-platform Web-based installer to upgrade to G1.2; the Mac-based installer only goes up to G1.1 at this time.

I would like to officially revise that paragraph to read as follows:

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, EVEN SO MUCH AS LOOK AT THE FIRMWARE UPGRADE PAGE IN THE UPDATER ONCE YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY UPGRADED TO VERSION 1.1 OF THE FIRMWARE. There are multiple and numerous reports on Asanté's support forums of the version 1.2 firmware update causing a horrible, horrible freezing problem, whereby the router requires its power supply be unceremoniously yanked and left to think about what it's done for 30 seconds or so. This wouldn't be so bad, except this godawful firmware requires this be done every 30 minutes or less in normal usage! There have been no -- zero, zip, zilch, nada, none, or, in the immortal words of Jack Miller, "Captain Goose Egg and his trusty sidekick Nothing Boy" -- reports of anyone solving the problem by reverting to an earlier firmware revision (yep, tried, that, didn't work for me either), so FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, WHATEVER YOU DO, ONCE YOU HAVE A SATISFACTORY INSTALL OF G1.1, LEAVE IT THE HECK ALONE!

The good news is that Asanté is perfectly willing to give me a new router, as this one is under warranty and their Official Forum Guy™ has already declared it dead. The bad news, of course, is this will likely require I do without a working wireless connection for a few days. Not a big deal, but it also means I'm going to have to drag the busted Netgear out of storage so that there will be an Internet connection here in the interim.

Where Electronics Go to Die™.

Thank God for backups. And OWC's rock-solid-reliable FireWire hard drives. (Furiously knocking on wood lest this long-out-of-warranty backup drive go next...)

posted on 09 February 2005 at 06540 commentstrackback

iPod is to Music as Mac mini is to ________?

Think back to the first time you heard someone say, "Yeah, but that won't work with my iPod" about an online music service, like Napster, or BuyMusic, or Rhapsody. Think about how important iPod compatibility is for a music store right now, with 10 million iPods out there in the world, and with the iPod commanding some 75 percent of market share.

Now, insert "Mac mini" for "iPod" and fast-forward yourself to May 2007.

Makes for a rather tantalising thought experiment, doesn't it?

posted on 05 February 2005 at 02100 commentstrackback

Uncool HTML Trick

To go along with the last entry, I give you a typical news story on WOOD-TV.

View the HTML source.

Note the horrifying beauty of six -- yes, six -- nested P tags. Immerse yourself in the appalling grandeur of four nested tables.

Then ask yourself one question:

Why?

posted on 04 February 2005 at 14310 commentstrackback

Cool HTML/CSS Trick

What Douglas Bowman has done with his photoblog navigation is simply amazing. Mouse over the main image to see a really cool trick, executed entirely with some very creative CSS.

(via the Retrophisch)

posted on 04 February 2005 at 03170 commentstrackback

My PowerBook Has a Theme Song

It's "A Laptop Like You," by Jonathan Coulton.

He also has several other songs that are not entirely geeky, and I highly recommend them.

(via MacMinute via CNET via Chris Holland via The Apple Blog. Whew!)

posted on 01 February 2005 at 20211 commentstrackback

Another Cool Google Trick

Searching Google by File Extension:

Ever want to search the web for an Excel spreadsheet checkbook? Easy. Type filetype:xls checkbook into the search box at Google.

Oh, the nefarious purposes this could be put to.

posted on 01 February 2005 at 01160 commentstrackback

Microsoft to Re-Name New Windows Edition

Microsoft has agreed to obey the EU's request not to ship a product called "Microsoft Windows Reduced Media Edition."

Other rejected names for the new software:

  • Microsoft Windows Crippled Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows XPOS Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows We Hate Europe Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows Antitrust Solution™
  • Microsoft Windows-But-No-Media Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows Is Now Really Nowhere Near As Good As Mac OS For Anything Not Involving Office Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows QuickTime and RealPlayer Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows Lost a War to France Edition™
  • Microsoft Windows Not-Quite-Full-Featured Edition™

And the number one rejected name for the new non-monopoly version of Windows...

  • Mac OS
posted on 30 January 2005 at 16480 commentstrackback

Speaking of Shark-Jumping

"1337" has officially jumped the shark.

Why?

Because there is absolutely no way anything could possibly be more 1337 than reading the flash ROM of an iPod using the piezoelectric element that makes the clicking sounds when you scroll.

This is at least 42 times 1337er than the rotary cell fone. It's all downhill from here, folks.

posted on 29 January 2005 at 18170 commentstrackback

Cool Apple Link of the Day

Heck, probably of the week, month, and maybe the coolest Mac-related thing you'll see this year.

The Apple Commercial Archive

(via John)

posted on 29 January 2005 at 03370 commentstrackback

Mac Genius, Your Appointment is Waiting

There's a fascinating article in today's NYT about Apple Stores and the Genius Bar.

posted on 26 January 2005 at 17490 commentstrackback

Another Web Page that Sucks

Continuing with the proud tradition of Southwest Michigan governmental Web sites sucking is the official site of the Charter Township of Oshtemo. It comes complete with Gratuitous Use of Java™, Unnecessarily Super-sized Fonts™, and Very Little Actual Useful Information™.

The City of Kalamazoo was one of Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck back in July 2003, just for the record, when it was completely infected with Wide Page Disease™ as well as Random Blocks of Ugly Colours™.

Now, from the "you've-won-the-award,-now-do-something-about-it" department: The City of Kalamazoo's site has been drastically improved since then, and Vincent has a guide to the biggest Web design mistakes of 2004.

posted on 24 January 2005 at 19050 commentstrackback

A Wireless Wilderness

The great outdoors is about to become wireless.

"But I thought the outdoors was wireless by its very nature," you protest.

And that's where you'd be wrong. California (Official State Motto: "Trying to Have our Cake and Eat it Too Since 1849") has cut a deal with SBC to provide wireless Internet access in 85 state parks. You know, for the always-connected techno-geek who likes to unwind on El Capitàn with his laptop.

Call me dense, but I always thought the point of going camping was to get away from all that.

posted on 23 January 2005 at 23060 commentstrackback

Fun Computer Term of the Day

posted on 23 January 2005 at 20370 commentstrackback

Quicksilver

If you're running OS X, you owe it to yourself to check out Quicksilver, which is the most amazing application launcher I've ever seen.

It sits in the background, doing nothing until you summon the power of this mighty genie with a simple user-configurable keystroke. You can then type a few characters and it will guess what you're trying to find. It's usually accurate, though this depends largely on how much you "feed" it. For instance, if I want to launch Meteorologist (which in itself is a great app, but tends to break often and require re-launching), I can just call up Quicksilver (Ctrl-Z) and then type "M-E-T-E" and boom! it picks Meteorologist as its first choice. I can then hit return to launch it.

Go download it and try it. It will change the way you work with your Mac. The OS X Finder has made great progress since the Public Beta, but as an application launcher, it can't hold a candle to this amazing software.

posted on 21 January 2005 at 23550 commentstrackback

Finally, a Use For the PocketPC

It's a VNC client for your Mac.

Gosh, that picture looks so wrong.

posted on 21 January 2005 at 14310 commentstrackback

You Want Me to Pay How Much for What?

Many people have predicted that the introduction of the Mac mini would wreak havoc on the prices of used Macs.

Apparently not.

ExperCom thinks that you're willing to sacrifice nearly 60% of your CPU speed, a good deal of graphics capability, DVD playback capability, a free copy of AppleWorks and iLife '05, and Apple warranty coverage and AppleCare eligibility for a $50 savings and an Iomega "Yes, three people really still use those overgrown floppies when they aren't Clicking of Death" Zip drive.

Can I just be the first to say, "Yeah, right?"

posted on 21 January 2005 at 11310 commentstrackback

I Wanna Go Back (Go Back) / And Do It All Over

Every time Ti Cobb has to go back for another repair, I'm going to dig up another song lyric to use as a blog entry title. My challenge to you, dear readers, is to figure out what song lent its voice to this one.

Meanwhile, Ti Cobb will be getting a fourth hard drive. It seems Hitachi's skill with the Travelstar line leaves something to be desired, as the current drive has lasted the least of any of the three thus far. The first drive lasted 26 months. The second drive lasted five. The third drive lasted less than one. At this rate, either they'll fix the problem completely, or Ti Cobb is going to get stuck in an infinite loop of ever-more-quickly failing drives in Houston, and I won't get it back until Apple finally gives in and gives me a PowerBook G5.

Which should be any day now.

See you all on Wednesday or Thursday, hopefully. While Ti Cobb is off to Texas, I'm off to Mankato for a job interview. *fingers crossed*

posted on 16 January 2005 at 03390 commentstrackback

Microsoft Tells Victims of DRM Security Hole to Shove It

Techdirt's article summarising the problem pretty much says it all.

posted on 14 January 2005 at 15340 commentstrackback

MWSF05: The Sour Grapes Department

Jason O'Grady wins the Macworld '05 Sour Grapes Award with this gem:

Folks, face it. The new Apple hardware is butt ugly. Was Jonthan Ive involved in these designs? Curiously, Ive was noticably absent from the promotional videos usually played during the keynote.

I know that both products have their market and that they'll sell lots of them, but it doesn't mean that I have to like them. Frankly, I expect more from Apple's design team and I am extremely underwhelmed and disappointed.

Don't be an Apple apologist! Steve has no clothes.

Gee, could this possibly have anything to do with the fact that Jason is being sued by Apple?

(From Leander Kahney's Cult of Mac)

posted on 13 January 2005 at 16210 commentstrackback

MWSF05: In Other News

In a related story, Paul Kedrosky was informed by his editors that he'll be fired if he doesn't get his Web page views up this month.

So, of course, instead of writing something intelligent, Paul took the easy way out.

posted on 13 January 2005 at 15400 commentstrackback

T-Mobile Sidekick Database Hacked

Techdirt is running a very interesting article claiming a computer hacker under investigation by the Secret Service hacked T-Mobile's Sidekick database so that he could track the Secret Service's movements and plans.

Scary stuff, especially if you're a T-Mobile Sidekick user.

posted on 12 January 2005 at 08320 commentstrackback

MWSF News: Get a Free iPod Shuffle!

From someone who must be a confessed Apple Hater:

All you need is an iPod and a Post-It™ note!

Apple Lovers can check their flames at the door. It's a freakin' joke, people.

(All from Gizmodo)

posted on 11 January 2005 at 23340 commentstrackback

MWSF Coverage

Leading off the morning's MWSF coverage (Surprise! You didn't know we were covering it, did you?) is this entry, from the now-i-can-store-all-my-klingon-battle-dildos-in-style department:

The TrestleHub by PressureDrop

(From Gizmodo)

posted on 11 January 2005 at 10450 commentstrackback

“Not Spyware” Classification For Sale

Lee Bennett writes:

My dear AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc. friends, it is you who are mistaken. Unless you've grown a conscience for the more recent versions, I know people who've actively tracked WeatherBug sending unnecessary data to remote servers.

His blog entry was inspired by the eWeek story "WeatherBug Miffed at Microsofté─˘s Spyware Classification", which details a company (that happens to have a lot of lawyers) that now has a beef with Microsoft, whose recent beta release of its upcoming anti-spyware application (which Microsoft, in turn, acquired with the rest of Giant) labels WeatherBug as "adware."

Which is true.

But WeatherBug's parent company, AWS, has taken issue with this, as you might expect. The twist here is that AWS has AOL on their side, since WeatherBug ships with the PC version of AOL Instant Messenger. AWS — and AOL — are now pressuring Microsoft to change their anti-spyware software so as not to flag WeatherBug. An AOL official is even quoted as saying, "The vast majority of anti-spyware providers do not consider WeatherBug to be spyware, including Aluria, our own anti-spyware provider."

Uh, duh. Of course AOL's anti-spyware product isn't going to flag another AOL product (or in this case, sort of a "brand partner") as spyware.

And pretty soon, it appears, neither will Microsoft's.

This raises a disturbing issue: at what price can the "this software is safe" label be bought? How many lawyers does it take to designate a rank, festering spyware application "perfectly-safe-to-run-this-on-your-grandma's-computer"-ware? I realise that the vast majority of true problem apps are written by shady organisations without crack legal teams, but this sets a disturbing precedent. Why, now, should anyone trust any spyware removal tool from a large corporation? Who's to say it isn't intentionally overlooking its own spyware, or its partners' spyware?

Furthermore, in light of various recent and not-so-recent high-profile hacks of various consumer databases, I don't trust anyone, whether they're "legitimately" collecting the data or not, to keep personal information about me secure. And by God, I will do everything I can to prevent any entity that doesn't need data about me — this includes you, AMS — from getting it.

This whole mess also makes me very glad that, for the sake of my PC-using friends out there, there are reasonably independent third-party vendors of software for finding and removing spyware.

posted on 07 January 2005 at 22560 commentstrackback

Dumbass of the Day

First, a bit of background.

Since 17 November, I've received over 150 copies of various Windows viruses, via e-mail, from users at Mount Saint Mary's University. On 03 December, after 75 copies, I had had enough, and I e-mailed the administrators.

I heard nothing.

I got Ti Cobb back a couple days ago, and after downloading nearly 2000 e-mails that had accumulated since it went in for repair, I found ANOTHER 75 from Mt. St. Mary's users. That was the proverbial last straw.

I e-mailed the administrators again.

This time I cc'd every single spoofed @msmary.edu e-mail address, telling them to inform their friends that they were probably infected, and to remove my e-mail address from their address books.

That got the attention of the "Network Manager," who was somewhat less than clueful:

Chris,

I am opening your address just long enough to send this message.
You are experiencing the frustration a lot of people have with being
spammed.

Since you wrote your first message there has NO email traffic to you
from this institution. Your address was blocked from any traffic coming
from our exchange server.
[Emphasis added. -cl]

If you need further assistance please call me. I will not be able to
respond via email.

Best regards,
["Network Manager"]

Note the emphasised sentence: "Your address was blocked from any traffic coming from our exchange server."

So now legitimate users can't send me e-mail, but all these Windows viruses, which include their own SMTP engines and don't use a server to send copies of themselves, are free to continue doing so.

<sarcasm>Gee, that gives me a LOT of faith in the network reliability at Mt. St. Mary's.</sarcasm>

In the immortal words of The Donald, Network Manager, "You're Fired!"

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass) Kelso (Dumbass)

posted on 21 December 2004 at 22540 commentstrackback

SBC SMTP Problem Finally Solved

My mom has been having intermittent problems sending e-mail for, well, ever since we got DSL last January. The problem was something related to SBC's SMTP server(s), which for some reason would occasionally decide not to accept her authentication from Eudora. Complicating the issue was the fact that SBC has utterly no idea how to set up Eudora to do it properly, and won't support anything but Outkook over the fone. (All three pages of Eudora info are on the Web site.)

So I wrestled with the problem off and on for about six months, and Mom dealt with it, though she was rather annoyed by the random e-mail outages. It didn't help matters that my dad, on his ancient work-provided Win95 laptop upstairs, was having no issues whatsoever.

Well, I finally got tired of it and happened to be here to do something about it at the same time. For the record, the solution can be found in these two discussions on DSL Reports' forums: use one of the legacy ameritech.net SMTP servers, which does authentication based on IP address, not user/pass.

If anyone has a clue why Eudora Pro 4.x, 5.x, and 6.x on Mac OS 9 all failed to work, when Eudora 6 on Win95 and Mac OS X worked fine, please tell SBC, and instruct them to fix their worthless support pages.

posted on 13 December 2004 at 04350 commentstrackback

More OS 9 Browser Observations

IE renders most of the MT interface wonderfully, and — shockingly enough — renders the blog properly. (Actually, I think I knew that. Now if I could just figure out why iCab doesn't.)

But IE doesn't work with MT-Blacklist. Specifically, it can't pass any comments to de-spam to the plugin from the comment interface, probably because IE uses a horrid, broken Javascript implementation. Fortunately, iCab can deal with MT-Blacklist quite nicely, if you can find your way around the scattered (stupid broken CSS in iCab!) interface.

I can't believe I never noticed this about iCab's history feature before, and I think something must have changed, because its behaviour now annoys me to no end. The way iCab does its type-ahead/predictive history thing defies explanation, so you'll have to grab a copy and try it for yourself after using it to browse for a day. The way IE (and Camino, incidentally, and, IIRC, Safari) handle this is about a thousand times more useful.

Boy, I sure love iCab's tabs and ability to block popups, though. IE certainly fails miserably at providing both those features.

Both of them have pretty atrocious support for putting the window focus back where it was when you leave the window. For example — and this is one of the things I absolutely adore about Camino, though I didn't even realise it was different until now — when I'm editing a blog entry and I want to copy-n-paste a URL from another tab/window/application into the entry, Camino is smart enough to bring the focus back to the text field where I'm doing my editing when I switch back to the tab/the window/Camino.

Neither iCab nor IE does this (well, OK, IE does it when switching back to IE from another application), which ends up making my editing terribly inefficient. I have to move my right hand off the keyboard, pick up the mouse, click in the text field to bring the focus there, and then move my hand back to the keyboard, where I can continue typing. If I'm pasting in more than one or two URLs, this gets very tiresome.

A general observation: with as much complaining as people do (or did; I haven't heard this one in a while) about how OS X wastes screen space, I have to say that these thick window borders on OS 9 are really driving me crazy. See, not only am I stuck with the ass-end of the Macintosh browser spectrum, but I'm doing it on an Apple Multiple Scan 15, which works (barely) at 1024x768. I have the browser windows on both IE and iCab expanded to nearly full screen and they're still too small. And yes, that extra 10-20 pixels I could get from taking away those bloody borders would help me. So would the extra 40-50 pixels of height I could gain if IE's toolbars could be customised as much as Camino's. iCab is better in this department, and the built-in Google search is great (though, for the record, I still prefer Camino's ability to type 'g [search string]' in the URL field). I'm stuck relying on a now-kludgy-feeling JavaScript-based bookmark in IE.

posted on 13 December 2004 at 04241 commentstrackback

iBook Becomes iTablet

A photographer, who apparently feels pretty darn comfortable futzing with electronics, has turned a Dual USB iBook into an "iTablet" (original link). Slashdot, of course, has picked up the story. Interestingly, comments seem to be leaning more toward "Apple should build one of these!"

posted on 12 December 2004 at 14410 commentstrackback

Penn State Ditches IE

Penn State University has told its 80,000 students, faculty, and staff to ditch Internet Explorer in favour of alternatives, primarily Firefox and Safari.

Here at CLN headquarters, Camino continues to be the browser of choice for its superior Macintosh experience as compared to Firefox.

And one more nail is put into the coffin of an abomination on the Internet. Hopefully, other major universities will follow suit. This could be the beginning of the end for IE, and to that I say, "Good riddance!"

(From Slashdot)

posted on 11 December 2004 at 18020 commentstrackback

Still Waiting

Ti Cobb arrived in Texas on Thursday morning, so here's hoping the screen got replaced today and he'll be back on a DHL truck on Monday.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck on Mac OS 9, which leaves me with two choices for browsers:

iCab

or

Internet Exploder.

I want to like iCab. I really, really do. In fact, I once declared it the best browser for the Classic Mac OS.

Now, I'm not sure what's happened in the last two years, but iCab can't render sites worth beans any more. I suspect the Web is slowly but surely migrating to more standards-based design (good!), which is beginning to show off the glaring inadequacies of iCab's CSS engine (baaaaad!). Movable Type's back end is hideously difficult to use, and whilst the front page of this site looks decent, the entire blog — along with every other Movable Type installation I've visited in the past three days — looks absolutely awful.

Wikipedia, an eminently useful site for reading up on obscure topics when one can't sleep at 0200 (as per the current situation), is entirely unusable from within iCab.

Please, Alexander, hurry that iCab 3.0 release out the door as soon as you can. A new CSS engine is promised, and the world sorely needs a browser for OS 9 that Doesn't Suck™.

MSIE isn't it.

posted on 11 December 2004 at 02260 commentstrackback

Goin, Goin / Back, Back / to Cali, Cali

Ti Cobb is headed back to Apple again.

I was typing away on it last night and all of a sudden BOOM! the backlight died.

If you want to simulate what my computing experience is like right now and you have a laptop, turn the brightness on the display all the way down and then try using it.

Expect me to be MIA for the rest of the week.

posted on 06 December 2004 at 12000 commentstrackback

Fun With Censorship

From BoingBoing comes this gem about MSN's censorship of hosted blog titles:

MSN Spaces: seven dirty blogs

posted on 04 December 2004 at 14280 commentstrackback

More Fun E-Mail Stats

According to Eudora, I have...

Read only 20 percent of my messages this year. This probably means about 80 percent of my incoming mail is spam.

Received just over 10,000 messages so far this year. Coupled with the above, this means I've gotten some 2000 real messages, and about 8000 spams/viruses/other junk. Sadly, that sounds about right.

Sent somewhat more than 1500 messages so far this year.

Kept all sent (non-list) mail and some 6000 incoming messages, for a total of 7631 archived messages this year. Of these, 2703 are not spam, viruses, or other junk. That's just over one-third.

Replied to 786 of those 2000 real messages. Assuming about half of the messages necessitated no reply in the first place — I subscribe to a few low-volume mailing lists and the like — I'm doing pretty well on getting back to people; you have about an 80 percent chance of getting a reply if you e-mail me.


Received 481 (and counting!) spams in languages (Chinese and Russian) whose alphabets I don't even understand, much less read. Of these, only 37 have been to an address other than my ATPM address.

Received 1249 spams to addresses at this domain, including Movable Type e-mail notifications of comment spams on this blog. Discounting those 1173 e-mails, that leaves 72. Fifty of these went to two addresses that are fairly heavily distributed. The other 22 went to info@ or sales@, two addresses that were listed on the site until a major revision in June. Interestingly enough, spam to these two addresses stopped completely after July. This proves two things: first, that spammers use scraperbots to great effect, and second, spammers seem to rely on the results of the scraperbots, rather than the success or failure of sending an e-mail, to determine if the address is valid. Mail sent to either address will still go through, but since neither has been listed on the site, the spam has stopped completely. Fascinating!

Most disturbing virus e-mail of the year: one from Commission Junction, to an address given out only for CJ's internal use. This means someone in that company had a virus infection on a computer that was used to distribute e-mails to their entire client base. Which makes me wonder how safe their other information is.

Microsoft is directly to blame for 1234 e-mails to my ATPM account, 48 to my Reidsrow account, 34 to various accounts at this domain, and 749 to my Binhost account. That's 2065 e-mails, representing over 60 megabytes of garbage, that could have been prevented if Microsoft knew a hill of beans about security. I don't have any good way of telling how many unique IPs those e-mails originated from, but I do know this: a handful of individual IPs accounted for at least half of that junk.

E-mail is an incredibly useful tool, but looking at the last 330-odd days' worth of e-mail really makes me question whether the 80 hours — that's the equivalent of two full work weeks! — I've spent in Eudora this year were worth it.

Spam sucks.

posted on 04 December 2004 at 03130 commentstrackback

Shameful Stat of the Month

This is mostly for the month of November. I highly doubt I will be lacking for a Shameful Statistic of the Month come 31 December.

I have received 74 copies of various Windows viruses to my ATPM e-mail account in 16 days from a user (or users, though a majority of the e-mails have come from a single IP address) at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland.

That's nearly five per day.

Stop opening your e-mail, you dipshit. And fix your damn computer already. Your network admins have been notified.

posted on 04 December 2004 at 02260 commentstrackback

I Like Chinese

Just as long as it's in the form of food or beautiful women.

I don't like Chinese spam.

Which isn't food. (That's why this entry is in the Computing category, duh.)

I used to get piles upon piles of spam in Chinese.

Let it be stated for the record that I neither read nor speak Chinese.

The tide of Chinese spam stopped a few months back, but now a new scourge is plaguing my inbox:

Russian spam.

Yeah, for the record, I don't speak or read Cyrillic either...

posted on 06 November 2004 at 21230 commentstrackback

CSS Meets PowerPoint

Super-cool: Eric Meyer has developed a standards-based (read: XHTML, CSS, JavaScript) slide show system that allows for PowerPoint-like presentations to be run in any standards-compliant Web browser.

(From Slashdot)

posted on 04 November 2004 at 21150 commentstrackback

OS X on a...Centris?

Dana has gotten OS X running on a Centris 650.

And before you ask, this falls into the paraphrasing-Sir-Edmund-Hillary category: Because it's possible.

posted on 25 October 2004 at 20530 commentstrackback

! 4m 50 1337, d00d

In case you use Adium, which is only the bestest IM client in the history of the world and the universe, and you find occasional bouts of leetspeekiness amusing, you might want to check out the Adium Xtra I just wrote yesterday:

13375p33k

It will make all your conversations sound more, uh, "intelligent." And AOL kiddies will bow to your power and leetness.

posted on 01 October 2004 at 16080 commentstrackback

For the Guy (or Girl) Who Has Everything...

...except an expensive designer case for the nearly-ubiquitous iPod, there is now a solution. Seven of them, in fact. New York's CITY magazine has reviewed seven designer iPod cases at prices ranging from a fairly reasonable $55 to an absolutely outlandish $265. This pundit's opinion: straight guys will love the "value" (Hah. Value. Right.) and style of the Coach and Dunhill cases. Girls — and "metrosexuals" with a very open mind — will fawn over the Paul Smith and Kate Spade designs. And those with just way too much money on their hands, well, get the Dior Homme case. It looks like a leather Halliburton for your iPod.

Speaking of which, when is Halliburton getting into this act?

(Oh, and don't tell anyone, but the Dior Homme case is almost a perfect ripoff of e-pac's LeatherPod, sold by Dr. Bott. I'll sell you mine for $100, and you can pretend it's by Dior Homme. Deal?)

posted on 12 August 2004 at 17100 commentstrackback

New Bagle Worm Variant

As I suspected, there's a new variant of the Bagle worm working its way through the Internet. I've gotten pounded with probably 50 copies in the last 12 hours.

Here's what I don't get: these worms and viruses have been around in one form or another for the last three years. HOW MANY TIMES DO PEOPLE NEED TO GET INFECTED TO REALISE THAT THESE THINGS CAUSE HUGE PROBLEMS? Seriously, people. How is it that several of my "correspondents" — who, I might add, appear to be of the "add every single e-mail address on the Internet to my addressbook" philosophy, because I've never actually corresponded with them — have managed to send me at least five copies of each variant of the last five or six major Windows e-mail worms? You'd think these folks would get the idea after the first two or three.

In case any of them are reading this, let me give them some advice:

STOP OPENING ATTACHMENTS. STOP USING OUTLOOK. STOP USING MICROSOFT OPERATING SYSTEMS. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TAKE MY E-MAIL ADDRESS OUT OF YOUR ADDRESS BOOK. I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Eric (Dumbass) Eric (Dumbass) Eric (Dumbass) Eric (Dumbass)

posted on 09 August 2004 at 20050 commentstrackback

Katie.com Saga Ended by Penguin

Penguin Books has renamed Katie.com to A Girl's Life Online. In related news, Katie Jones was interviewed by Greplaw. Jones, as you recall, is the owner of katie.com, the Web site after which the book was inconsiderately named.

The angle I haven't seen played up nearly enough in this whole mess is the relationship between Katie Tarbox (the author of the book) and Parry Aftab, the lawyer who was threatening Jones, supposedly on behalf of Tarbox. Jones has reportedly claimed in an informal interview that Parry Aftab "is not [her] lawyer and never has been."

So who the heck is Aftab working for, and why? It's like the little kid says in Billy Madison: "Either you'relying, or he's lying. Which is it?"

posted on 06 August 2004 at 20461 commentstrackback

Katie vs. Katie and Penguin

Slashdot is running an interesting story on a saga that's been going on for four years now. The Register has a fairly good summary of the situation, which basically involves two women named Katie and the Penguin publishing company. Katie Jones, owner of the katie.com domain since 1996, is being sued by Penguin, the publisher of the book "Katie.com," which is named for Katie Jones's Web site but written by Katie Tarbox, who was raped by an Internet predator. Penguin wants Jones to give up her domain name which she has had since before the book was even written.

Yeah. Real nice folks, these lawyers.

Head over to Amazon.com and review Katie.com: My Story, telling Penguin exactly what you think of these tactics. If you'd rather not review, vote using the "Was this review helpful?" buttons to show your support for other reviews.

posted on 05 August 2004 at 12200 commentstrackback

Blog-Spamming Scum

I have a theory, but I need some folks to verify it.

I suspect the scum who spam Movable Type blogs have a large distributed network of pwn3d zombie Windoze boxen that they use for the task. I've seen runs of as many as 20 or 30 straight MT-Blacklist entries in the activity log that are all denying the same string, maybe two seconds apart, all from different IP addresses (or at least very little IP duplication). I can't imagine there are this many people who have nothing better to do with their time and are smart enough to organise such a high level of coordination.

Can anyone back up this theory? I suppose I could investigate the Web server logs for more information in the interim, but if anyone has any ideas, let me know below.

posted on 05 August 2004 at 00081 commentstrackback

Down With Online News Registration

Wired is running a very interesting piece about the increasing registration requirements for online news. Give it a read, and keep in mind that we here at CLN will do our best to circumvent or avoid registration-required news links.

posted on 04 August 2004 at 14200 commentstrackback

Rockin' Google Trick

Thanks a bunch to "theluckyleper" on Slashdot for pointing this out (link):

Placing something impossible (like 8 Qs) in the "without the words" field on the Advanced Search [google.com] page combined with entering a site in the "Domain" field will get you a listing of ALL of the pages on that website!

Very cool.

posted on 29 July 2004 at 20450 commentstrackback

Wikipedia Founder Interviewed

Jimmy Wales, founder and manager of Wikipedia, has been interviewed by Slashdot readers. The interview is fascinating.

Wikipedia rules!

posted on 28 July 2004 at 14560 commentstrackback

Gadget Envy

I've been wanting a SonyEricsson P900 for months now, but I'm not about to spend $800 on one and not get any benefits of a new cell fone plan. T-Mobile, which I otherwise love dearly, doesn't offer the fone with a service plan, and has no plans to do so in the near future, according to service reps.

But with the HP iPAQ 6315 on the way this fall, why would they?

I detest Windows CE...I mean, PocketPC...I mean, Windows Mobile.

I really really detest it.

But the ability to get a cell fone/PDA combo with Bluetooth, 802.11b, and GSM/GPRS capability for $500 is extremely compelling.

The question now becomes — and I think it's funny that I'm saying this, because I'm not what anyone would call a Linux geek — "Will it run Linux?"

Let's hope so.

posted on 26 July 2004 at 14441 commentstrackback

Paging Google News

Feature request for Google News, please...

I would greatly appreciate it if, when the text-only version of Google News is selected, the redirect software was also smart enough to redirect you to a text-only version of the selected article, if available.

The reasoning behind this is simple: people select the text-only version for a reason, probably (like me) because they're bandwidth-limited. Do you have any idea how long it takes to read three stories on a 9600 bps dialup connection? Well, my browsing would be greatly expedited if Google could automatically select a text-only version of the news story I click, rather than forcing me to wait for the entire graphics-laden version to load and then locate a text-only link on my own.

Am I the only one who thinks this would be a useful and desirable feature?

posted on 19 July 2004 at 21390 commentstrackback

Kudos to Apple Service

As you regular readers probably know, Ti Cobb had to get a new hard disk and a new right-side cooling fan a couple weeks back. Thanks to my AppleCare plan, it didn't cost anything, and Apple is to be commended for the rapidity of their repair service. DHL/Airborne Express picked up the laptop on the afternoon of 08 June and it was back in my hands, fully repaired, on 10 June. Assuming it took about a day to travel from Jacksonville to Houston and back, that's less than 24 hours turnaround time. Very impressive.

But why, oh why, did the folks at the repair facility load Mac OS X 10.2.8 on it? It didn't really matter, as I reformatted immediately and cloned my backup to the internal hard disk anyway, but I thought it was rather odd.

posted on 27 June 2004 at 15160 commentstrackback

Adium Goodies

For those of you using Adium X as your main instant messaging client — and if you're not reliant on iChat's A/V features, you have no excuse — there are lots of fun goodies at Adium Xtras. Current favourites include the Ben Wallace 'Fear the Fro', Calvin, and Matrix Duck Dock Icons. Hop on over there are spruce up Adium just a little bit more with a new Dock icon, message style, or buddy list style.

posted on 27 June 2004 at 15120 commentstrackback

TiBook AirPort Reception Tip

Ti Cobb has been suffering from a dead hard disk, as mentioned earlier, for the last couple of weeks.

Yesterday, in a fit of frustration, I took off the bottom of the case so I could remove the defective hard disk and get some work done without listening to the Click of Death for hours on end. Whilst I was in there, I pressed all the AirPort antenna connections back together, and made sure everything appeared to be in place.

My AirPort signal strength at my desk has literally doubled, both in the menu bar indicator and in Internet Connect's 15-segment bar graph. This is amazing. Where I was getting two bars in the menu bar, and four to six segments in Internet Connect a week ago, I'm now getting a consisten 3-4 bars in the menu bar and 10-12 segments in Internet Connect.

I highly recommend the 10-minute procedure if you already have a Torx T-9 or T-8 screwdriver around the house.

On a related note, Ti Cobb will be on his way to Texas to get a new hard disk and new right-side fan (the original fan has been making a horrid buzzing sound on low speed for nearly two years now) this weekend. Don't expect any updates until at least the middle or end of next week.

posted on 03 June 2004 at 02350 commentstrackback

E-mail Harvesting by PalmOne

For those of you who want the latest English version of Palm Desktop for the Mac, and don't want Palm to have your e-mail address, you can get the file from Conxion (11.8MB, SIT format).

I'll also take this opportunity to note that there's a great service called Mailinator that allows you to hand out temporary addresses for this sort of thing.

Note to companies: STOP HARVESTING OUR E-MAILS SO WE CAN DOWNLOAD YOUR SOFTWARE. WE DON'T WANT YOUR CRAP FILLING OUR INBOXES, OK?

Thank you. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

posted on 28 April 2004 at 15480 commentstrackback

Woodn't You Like a New Mouse

Excuse the terrible pun, but these wooden mice, amongst other wooden accessories, are very classy-looking.

It isn't exactly a new idea — the Apple I prototypes were built with wooden cases way back in 1976 — but these are very professional, stylish pieces.

For readers in the US, there's also WoodBin, though I must say a brief glance through both sites shows the Swedx pieces to be nicer.

posted on 23 March 2004 at 01340 commentstrackback

Insert Witty Headline Here

Reason number 381 not to use a software firewall: firewall software isn't free from worms either. I mean, it makes sense not to use Outlook/Outlook Express or Internet Explorer, because everyone knows they're terrible. But it's not a good idea to blindly trust your firewall software, either, and hardware firewalls (present in most SOHO-class routers, from vendors such as Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, etc.) don't have several gigs of sensitive data on them that can get hosed if an exploit takes them down.

In case you missed the other 380 reasons not to use software firewalls, SamSpade lists a few.

posted on 22 March 2004 at 20030 commentstrackback

iPod micro?

Give Apple 12 months and they'll have a 4 GB iPod micro based on these 0.85" Toshiba hard disks.

Mark my words: this is next January's big MWSF introduction.

posted on 16 March 2004 at 23040 commentstrackback

Dumbass of the Day, Runner-Up

Barely missing the title today is the person(s) responsible for this amazing piece of irony (from Macintouch):

The US Department of the Interior, with repeated "F" grades in computer security, and repeated Internet cutoffs by court order for poor computer security, now requires everyone to take Web-based computer security training. The training works only with Windows, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player. [Emphasis mine. -cl]

Let's see...teach people computer security on the least secure platform in the world. Smart. Really.

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Red FormanRed Forman Dumbass Rating: Hyde (Dumbass) Hyde (Dumbass)

posted on 11 March 2004 at 20040 commentstrackback

Easy IE Fix?

UPDATE, 12 March: due to being Slashdotted, Dean has taken the site down for the time being while he searches for another willing victim...er, host. Give it 24 hours or so. Oh, and nyah nyah nyah! I scooped Slashdot by three days!

Everybody who knows jack about Web design realises that IE is a scourge on the landscape of the Web. Most of us would probably rather see IE shrivel up and die a slow, lingering death than continue on as a browser.

Those people unlucky enough to pay their bills via Web design, however, might sleep a bit easier tonight knowing that Dean Edwards has developed a DHTML patch for IE 5.5 and 6.0 that brings full W3C compatibility to IE's CSS rendering engine.

The delightful irony of this little gem is that it patches IE by using W3C-standard CSS.

Keep an eye on this site for a possible beta-test. I need some time to digest what Dean has done before I start messing with code again.

On a related note, I really really really REALLY appreciate the effort that went into something like this, and I think it will probably be welcomed with open arms by most of the Web design community.

But there's a big problem with something like this, just as there is with user-agent spoofing:

It does nothing to encourage the developers behind the stupidity to FIX THEIR BROKEN PRODUCT. In fact, not only does it not encourage developers to fix the shortcomings, it may discourage them from doing so. Why put forth the effort to fix a problem when someone else has already done so?

An honest, forward-thinking developer would fix the code because it's the right thing to do, but if honest, forward-thinking developers and managers worked for Microsoft, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.

Something to think about.

posted on 09 March 2004 at 02161 commentstrackback

I'll See Your Cheating Pepsi...

...and raise you one Cheating the Customer Too.

See, it's been all over the Web that you could tilt the iTunes-Pepsi promo bottles to see whether or not the cap is a winner.

But what you didn't know is that on at least some of the bottles, you can read the entire promo code right through the bottle, thereby not only cheating Pepsi out of one song, but cheating the person who buys the bottle out of a song as well.

Your humble reporter Mister Ethics did not actually write down or memorise said promo code, but I have to echo Jack Miller's sentiments here. "Memo to Pepsi: DUH!"

posted on 26 February 2004 at 00003 commentstrackback

/m3 0wNz 58C!

Whew. My crack^H^H^H^H^Hbroadband connection is back up.

Some tips for hooking up a third-party router to SBC DSL with the Speedstream 5100 modem...

Change the IP address of your router to 10.0.0.1. It probably came from the factory with a 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 address, and the Speedstream 5100 ships with this IP address by default. Also, the Speedstream's internal router sets itself to mask out the entire 192.168.xxx.xxx address space. Setting your router to something outside this address space will avoid any potential conflicts.

You do not need the software they provide on CD-ROM, but I haven't found any way to set up a user name/password without it. Best advice at this point is to go through the install once — it's fairly innocuous, if very patronising — and then go ahead and delete the new configuration it adds to the Network prefs pane.

SBC uses PPPoE. This isn't immediately obvious, but it's true.

Don't try to connect to the Internet through the router yet, and don't even connect the router to the DSL modem. Instead, hook the DSL modem directly to your computer's Ethernet port, set the computer to use Ethernet for Internet access, and log into the modem at http://192.168.0.1/. Go into the Advanced options and tell it to let the computer handle the PPPoE business. Once you do this, the "Internet" status LED on the front will no longer light up, but it will still connect just fine.

Now you can connect the router and the DSL modem. Go into the router's config menu (now found at http://10.0.0.1/, since you changed it) and set it up to do PPPoE with the proper user name and password. Save the config and give the router a minute or two to make the PPPoE connection and you should be good to go.

If not, you might have a DNS problem like I did. My Netgear MR314 wasn't picking up DNS from SBC through the modem, so I had to manually enter two DNS server addresses as well. After that, no problems at all.

posted on 18 February 2004 at 15081 commentstrackback

SunMac?

The Register has an interesting piece on Jonathan Schwartz's comment that practically every Sun employee has a Mac at home. My favourite quote from that piece is this one:

Horizontal capitalism is a scam, a blame-game in which no one ever takes the responsibility for the damn thing not working. There's a mini-industry of PC magazines and agony columns devoted to repairing computer problems that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.

Ain't that the truth. After God-only-knows-how-many hours doing what basically amounted to free tech support, I can't argue with that statement one bit.

posted on 07 August 2003 at 20070 commentstrackback

No, Really. I'm Pissed!

I'm sitting here struggling along on a 9600 bps Bluetooth connection to my fone, just trying to check my e-mail, and STUPID FUCKING MORONS HAVE TO GO GET INFECTED WITH FUCKING VIRUSES AND SEND ME 500 FUCKING KILOBYTE ATTACHMENTS THAT I HAVE TO FUCKING DOWNLOAD FIVE FUCKING TIMES BECAUSE GETTING INFECTED THE FIRST FUCKING TIME WASN'T ENOUGH FUCKING FUN.

The worst part is the braindead "anti-virus" e-mail gateways that think it's a really fucking smart idea to send messages like "Your message failed to get through" with the attachment STILL ATTACHED to the e-mail address FAKED IN THE HEADERS OF THE VIRUS-LADEN E-MAIL. Yeah, got one of those too. Doesn't it seem a little stupid to you that a so-called "anti-virus" product would actually participate in SPREADING THE VIRUS? Gee, not that doing such a thing would increase sales of anti-virus software or anything...

Someone's head is going to roll. Hoo, boy. Wait until I get back to Michigan...

posted on 03 July 2003 at 00250 commentstrackback

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam...

There's an excellent piece in the current edition of MIT's Technology Review that discusses the problem of spam, some strategies for combating it, and the big picture of what direction e-mail is being forced to take as a result.

Go read it, and then sign up as a member of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE).

posted on 19 June 2003 at 21190 commentstrackback

Lego My Eggo...I Mean Mac

The BBC has picked up a story about this eBay item, a rather well-done Lego-cased PowerBook 5300 (with the CD-ROM unit from a 3400). Its creator has put up a site dealing with its history here.

The real reason I think this is so funny, though, is because of this. Note the third paragraph from the bottom. Yes, he got a nastygram for trademark infringement from Lego's legal department. Now that the BBC has gotten on the bandwagon, methinks mebbe the sharks will have to back the hell off.

Stupid lawyers.

posted on 17 May 2003 at 19560 commentstrackback

Head Shaking News

It's bad enough that Microsoft is getting off with virtually no punishment for their illegal monopolistic practises. And it's even worse that they haven't changed their behaviour at all. But the most amazing thing is that some of their MSN customers didn't even sign up for the service and are being billed anyway.

I could probably write a rather lengthy discourse on why M$ is evil and should be dissolved as a company, but let's just give them enough rope to hang themselves for now and see what happens.

posted on 08 May 2003 at 18450 commentstrackback

AquaMon

This is just too cool. Let's see if I can get a screen shot of my desktop right now...awwwww yeah!

Here, have a look (click for a full-size image):

desktop screen shot

What's running on there? Let's see...

Top left corner is AquaMon. Across the menu bar you'll notice Sony Ericsson Clicker (which I've been meaning to remove, actually, since I never use it), Apple's modem status menu, a CPU cache controller menu whose name I've completely forgotten, Apple's Keychain Access menu, Unsanity's Cee Pee You, the battery status menu, iSync's menu, the AirPort menu, and PTHClock. Hard disk icons down the right side are enhanced with DriveGauge, which puts a little thermometer-like gauge on the icon to show you how much of the drive is used. The Moon is MoonDock X, the Earth is EarthGlobe X, and the background is actually a live screen saver (IX Xirtam, from the IX Screen Effects package) put on the desktop via DeskEffects (145K disk image).

And thanks to Benet Leong and ResExcellence for pointing out the transparent goodness that is AquaMon to me.

posted on 17 April 2003 at 17050 commentstrackback

Humane Text

The Humane Text Project looks sort of interesting...

posted on 14 April 2003 at 18190 commentstrackback

Whoa.

I just discovered a wicked cool feature in Camino: it supports Rendezvous, Apple's name for the Zeroconf spec.

Sounds pretty boring, right?

It is, until you realise that under the Go menu is a little submenu called "Local Network Services." In this menu, you'll find all the local HTTP and FTP servers that are Rendezvous-compliant. Since I'm on a LAN with my WWW server, the various sites hosted there are all visible in the menu for an instant jump-to.

OK, so I'm a computer geek. But it's still wicked cool.

posted on 12 April 2003 at 12020 commentstrackback

Finder, O Finder, Where Art Thou?

John Siracusa, in my opinion one of the most talented technical writers in the computer industry, has weighed in with a new article dedicated to the Mac OS X Finder, incorporating and expounding upon ideas that went rather undeveloped in previous columns.

posted on 03 April 2003 at 19310 commentstrackback

PowerBook G4 12" Review

There's a great review of the 12" PowerBook G4 at The Register today.

posted on 01 April 2003 at 18280 commentstrackback

Mac News of the Day

There's a new iPod firmware updater out, and Al Gore just got appointed to Apple's board of directors. Maybe now he'll get to claim he invented the iMac too. ;)

posted on 19 March 2003 at 22250 commentstrackback