Archive for August, 2006

Stealth polls by spam…

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006
  • By default most Mail tools download images embedded in HTML mail. Apple’s Mail tool does, and Leopard’s new Mail templates can only increase this tendency.
  • By embedding images with unique URLs into spam, spammers can discover which email addresses are used.
  • By sending emails that are clearly spam and emails that are unlikely to be spam, a spammer can determine whether you have a spam filter.
  • By sending emails that could be spam, but also could match terms in your email, a spammer can determine what other email is in your mailbox, thus for instance what your political opinions are.

This could provide an alternative explanation for the recent rash of weird spam not selling anything.

Universal frees its music library

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Universal, which has the largest music library in the world, has made a deal with Spiral Frog to provide its music for free downloading starting in December. The service will be supported by contextually relevant advertising targeted at 13 to 34 year olds… the demographic that was brought up on computers, and which isn’t listening to the radio anymore.

Super Duper not dead

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Despite the inclusion of Time Machine in Leopard, the folks who make Super Duper aren’t throwing in the towel: Time Machine won’t be as good at full system recovery as Super Duper.

Gdb Tip: Associating a command with a breakpoint

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Gdb can associate commands with a breakpoint!

For instance (lifted wholesale from Louis’ page):


(gdb) b myFunc
Breakpoint 1 at 0×900107a8
(gdb) commands 1
Type commands for when breakpoint 1 is hit, one per line.
End with a line saying just “end”.
>bt
>c
>end
(gdb)

The biggest problem with the web is, as Arthur C Clarke said: “Why should I go to the Niagara Falls when all I want is a glass of water?”. The same can be true of overly feature rich tools. Having spend a few fruitless hours googling for this, I have been resorting to piping python scripts into gdb.

What is going on in our skies?

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

The last 10 days have been like a bad B-movie! What was it that Bruce Schneier said about giving in to fear being what the terrorists want?

People are going to stop flying if they keep this up. Even Ryan’s air requirement that passengers board naked won’t save the airline industry.

More indications of new Macs in September

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

FreeMacBlog tried to order a large number of Mac Minis, but was told by his reseller that a new Mac Mini is due in September and therefore they can’t supply large orders. The last time the reseller delayed his order, the Intel Mini appeared. This news correlates with reports of high security massive air freight shipments from the Far East arriving on September 5th, and with the DigiTimes report that Merom based MacBooks would be shipping in that timeframe. Are we going to see a refresh of the whole line?

I’m game: my dream app!

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Just for fun, I wrote up some of my own ideas that I would like, but do not have the time to code myself.

After considering the developer’s view, it’s interesting being on the user’s side of the equation: I can leave the worrying about how it could be done to someone else and focus on the core idea. But on the other hand, I’m concerned that if the idea does win, the programmer might screw it up (see it differently).

I hope one of my ideas gets chosen. It could be quite an interesting experience. And I could use a MacBook myself :-)

My dream app or my nightmare app?

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Like other independent software developers I’ve been following My Dream App with interest. It’s a purple cow: remarkable because it is different, allowing users to define the application they would like.

While the competition is a purple cow, I’m not sure that the offspring will also be purple: the final choice of the application resides with the participants rather than with the developers. Seth points out that remarkable products don’t survive focus-groups or committees. So, what’s in it for the developers? Writing a great application takes time, dedication and passion, which only occur if the developer is truly sold on its idea. If the result is lackluster, it will not compensate the developers for their time…

However the experiment is definitely worth watching: it goes against the received wisdom that users define the functionality they need but not the form the solution will take. For instance, Steve Jobs said “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. Joel (on Software) said ” Customers Don’t Know What They Want. Stop Expecting Customers to Know What They Want”. Steve McConnell says in Rapid Development that users don’t know what they want. Will the developers implement what the winners say they want? or change the ideas to be their own?

The only other comment I’d make is that I’ve had many of the ideas presented on the Dream App forum. Unsurprising I guess, given how many of them turn out to have already been implemented. Perhaps I need to come up with a “cool winning idea” of my own: I need an Intel Mac Book on which to test Find It Keep It ! :-)

Nokia’s move to webkit impacts Opera

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Heise is reporting that Opera has lost 70% of its revenues, mainly as a result of Nokia reducing its licensing. (Robotic English version here). Nokia is switching to a WebKit based browser, which they have already released under a BSD license. It’s interesting to see how the KHTML toolkit originally started by the KDE project was adopted by Apple and now Nokia despite the existence of Gecko. Opera is reacting by extending its support to Sony’s Mylo (which runs linux), and Nintendo’s Wii and DS consoles.

Mac Tip: Adobe PDF plugin and Google

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Google now adds a fragment to URLs to PDFs it finds:
#search=%22 search-terms-seperated-by-spaces %22

For example:

http://www.biozentrum.unibas.ch/~schwede/Teaching/BixII-SS05/Semantic_Networks.pdf#search=%22Rappaport%20sneps%22

The Adobe PDF plugin seems to use this fragment to find every occurrence of any of the search terms. I hadn’t seen that before.
Because the PDF plugin only works in Safari, this is currently only supported in Safari.