g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, April 20, 2003
23:27 - Weird Bugs and Poisonous Reptiles

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I saw Bulletproof Monk today, after Lance and Drew and David and I (but mostly Lance) finished hanging and shimming the new door leading from my bedroom to the main upstairs bathroom. (Upon which the house is officially converted to a 2-bed, 1-and-a-half-and-a-half-bath, and probably divested of 1/3 its market value.)

Before I saw the movie, I'd thought: Great, it's Chow Yun Fat does The Matrix. And now that I've seen it, it's Great, Chow Yun Fat does The Matrix. And Fight Club, and Rush Hour.

Which isn't to say that it wasn't fun. It was dreadfully fun, and awesomely silly. I felt like giggling at the premise all the way through; this movie is to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon what XXX is to every James Bond movie. And I mean that in the best possible way. It seemed as though Chow's perpetual smirk throughout the movie meant that he was having a hell of a time keeping from laughing through every shot.

Obligatory Macs-On-Screen observation: when Kar breaks into Jade's palace and finds her tables full of treasures and exotic animals and such, he finds an iBook running the built-in OS X "Forest" screensaver. It fits in perfectly with the surroundings, and it looks gorgeous. I'm sure it was donated by some crew member who stuck his laptop in front of the director and said, "Hey, wouldn't this look good in there?" And it's awfully hard to say no to a smiling iBook.

Nice, crisp, fun feel-good action/adventure/kung-fu movie. I approve a lot.

Side note: From the look of the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom has officially been inhabited by the unquiet shade of Cary Elwes.

Friday, April 18, 2003
01:01 - Unfrozen Funds
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/inside/la-iraq-a041803cash_lat,1,126038

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Oh, this is nice and crunchy.

The Army decided to poke around in some suspicious-looking Baghdad houses that had been barricaded up; and what should they find, but $650 million in cash, in dozens of little metal boxes.

(Thus far.)

Real cash, too; evidently it's been vetted and found to be genuine. That's a lotta money. It'd go a long way toward any of the reconstruction projects we've got planned.

Officials did not immediately confirm that the currency was legal tender, but an Army private here who said he had worked for an armored car company examined the bills and called them genuine.

Taylor Griffin, a U.S. Treasury spokesman, offered assurances that any cash retreived from Hussein's regime would be held aside for the people of Iraq. "If we find money and it's not counterfeit, any assets belonging to Saddam Hussein and his cronies will be returned to the Iraqis," Griffin said.

Soldiers of the division's 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment were ordered to stop searching the area shortly before midnight after commanders discovered $600,000 missing from an opened box. Officers said the cash was recovered in a tree and three soldiers were questioned.

Oh, look-- we're demonstrating our evil colonial intentions by giving it back to the Iraqis. Think how easy it could have been for us to keep it, to declare it as spoils of war, the property of a deposed government-- or even to just hush it up. (And we lay the smack down on our own guys who try to make off with some of the loot. No tontine for you bozos!) Instead, it's going into the trust fund with the oil money.

If, that is, the UN can be persuaded that lifting the sanctions against Iraq is permissible. Which shouldn't be too hard, right? After all, they wanted to lift the sanctions, all up until the start of the war, remember?

Oh yeah. The Americans are in charge now, so the sanctions must stay. I understand.


16:34 - Europe's Predicament
http://www.thebuggyprofessor.org/archives/00000074.php

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The Buggy Professor has pulled together a few of the more incisive articles from the past months which help to explain the political situation in France and other EU countries (particularly Germany and Russia)-- what makes them tick, what ticks them off, and how they resemble ticks. It's rather creepy stuff. One of the featured articles is Dalrymple's "Barbarians at the Gates" from a few months ago-- full of florid hyperbole, I'm sure, but dozens of other articles lend it grim credence.

The post is long, but it's worth a read.

The impression one is left with is quite frankly that France and the EU flatly refuse to do anything "the American way"-- including adopting the typical American solutions to the very problems created by their refusal to resemble America, such as multiculturalism rather than our "melting pot". Their social mores forbid them to cast any but a blind eye upon the religiously-defined anti-Semitism in their street protests or the Wild West lawlessness of the North African immigrants in the cités, lest they appear to be as culturally insensitive as the Nazis or-- worse-- the Americans.

Some EU countries are starting to push back, though. I heard on the radio a little while ago that the Netherlands is making efforts (in the wake of Pim Fortuyn's assassination, whose motivation is only now being fully digested, though it was fairly clear before now to anybody who's been paying attention) to reassert the Dutch national identity. They're teaching Dutch language and Dutch culture classes to immigrants, supported with economic incentives, intended to encourage the non-native-born populace to miscegenate, to become-- if not Dutch, then at least hyphenated, just like the Americans. Such an initiative is dreadfully gauche and retrograde in the face of transnational progressivism, and I'm sure it horrifies Europeans for whom the preservation of all cultural purity except their own is paramount, but those are exactly the attitudes that ensured we had an unprotected left flank when 9/11 came along-- and even Europe's left recognizes that the cités aren't just a quaint tourist attraction whose problems a few more social assistance programs will solve. Europe's grown soft-- wilfully-- and soft is a perilous thing to be these days.

Old Europe seems to have learned the lesson of Nazi Germany all too well-- and in shying away from such a phenomenon ever arising again from among its own elite, has only succeeded in fostering it among those downtrodden populations it steadfastly refuses to interfere with. I'm not insensible to the moral teachings of West Side Story, but sometimes the world just stubbornly refuses to play like a stage production, and sometimes there is no moral.

Overcorrection always has unintended consequences.

UPDATE: Den Beste has the goods on France. Or, I guess, the bads.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
17:43 - Hindsight is 20/20
http://europundits.blogspot.com/

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Where were these guys a month ago, I'd like to know?

Friendship gave way to overt hostility, despite the diplomatic smiles and the denials which functioned as confessions: "The Americans aren't our enemies"...By its intransigence and its promise of a veto "regardless of the circumstances," our country divided Europe, paralyzed NATO and the UN, destroying the possibility of avoiding a military confrontation through a precise, joint ultimatum that would have forced out the Iraqi dictator. Far from avoiding a war, the "camp of peace" precipitated one by playing Asterix against Uncle Sam. A ridiculed France has now removed itself from the game. You don't run a great country by getting high on media successes and rhetorical jousts. In this regard, Tony Blair, who took the risk of confronting his electorate while remaining faithful to his convictions, revealed himself to be a true head of state.

The President's conduct reflected public opinion. In the future, we will talk about the hysteria, the collective intoxication that shook France for months on end, the anguish of the Apocalypse that seized our better halves, the almost Soviet ambiance that welded together 90% of the population in a triumph of monolithic thought, allergic to the slightest dissent. In the future, we will have to study the media's partisan coverage of the war?with few exceptions, this coverage was more activist than objective, minimizing the horrors of the Baathist tyranny in order to better reproach the Anglo-American expedition, guilty of all crimes, all problems, all misfortunes in the region.

For weeks, Television Baghdad invaded our brains and our television screens to the point where the very few Iraqi dissident guests had to apologize for existing?to the point where a French singer, in an act of remarkable obscenity, left the stage of a variety show on France 3 upon the arrival of Saad Salam, a film-maker and Iraqi opponent. We will have to explain why the Kurdish minority was, during this period, forbidden from protesting when Saddam's hatchet men paraded on our boulevards, brandishing Saddam's portraits, screaming slogans to his glory, going so far as to lynch the poet-in-exile, Salah Al-Hamdani. We will have to analyze the alarming proportion of French (33%) who, not wanting a coalition victory, pronounced themselves, de facto, in favor of Hussein's victory.

Durn tootin'. Why do you suppose it's taken until after the war for voices like this to make themselves heard, though?

Think what could have been saved, if only they'd spoken up beforehand. Instead, there's now a political gash that will take years, if not decades, to heal.

If this is intended as a get-it-off-your-chest-whew-that-feels-good á la the CNN/Eason Jordan thing, it's ringing just about as hollow with me. Glad to see you've found your moral centers, guys. How's about finding it in time for it to count, next time?


11:11 - Random Thought

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So I got to thinking...

There's a concept called a trusted opponent-- or if there isn't, there should be, and I'm coining the term right now. It's someone who, even though his position on some issue disagrees with yours, is logically and ethically consistent in his reasoning; it's not a raving lunatic, but neither is it someone who will waffle and espouse varying stances depending on circumstance or mood or audience, or use sneaky sucker-punches by way of argument. It's someone whom you wouldn't be ashamed to be convinced by.

So-- who would be a more credible opponent: a liberal who expresses respect for Bush? Or a liberal who loudly repudiates Stalinism?

In other words, does it give a member of a given group more moral authority to claim solidarity with that group's ideological opposition on certain issues, or to denounce the more extreme incarnations of his own group's ideology?

I'm leaning toward the latter. I know that during high school, when I was tending to the liberal side on more issues than I do today, I would have been a lot more reassured by a Republican who loathes Pat Robertson than by a Republican who supports environmental controls. There's just something more soothing about seeing someone's eyebrows aimed at the slippery slope behind him than seeing his hands held out supplicatingly towards me. It makes me feel like there's less to worry about.

And it would have been an excellent spur for me to think "Hey, maybe these guys aren't all nuts; maybe they have a point after all." If they repudiate their extremists, it tells me they're willing to sacrifice some solidarity with the members of their group that only they would support, in favor of coming to the table with their opponents on issues that all or most people should be able to agree (or at least compromise) upon. Seems reasonable to me. After all, is this about group loyalty, or about the relevant issues?

That's the kind of predicament Islam is finding itself in, it seems to me. While it's well and good to hear of Muslims in support of our troops and the War on Terror, somehow it just doesn't do as much as would hearing of Muslims denouncing al Qaeda and the Palestinian suicide bombers and the like. Not just denouncing them either-- but also denouncing those among their own leaders and respected figures who fail to denounce such things. These would include folks like Altaf Ali, Florida director of CAIR, who steals his opponent's notes to avoid having to answer hard questions; and Kevin James, New York director of government relations for (yep) CAIR, who despite being featured in December's PBS special Legacy of a Prophet as Exhibit A on the list of patriotic American Muslims (a FDNY hero, no less), now has a severely hostile Arab News article vilifying Bush and the War on Terror. These guys don't exactly reflect well upon the faith, and nor will a lack of widespread condemnation of them.

On the other hand, things like this really encourage me: an honest self-examination that isn't afraid to point out areas in which Islam might be lacking, or in which it could stand to benefit from the examples of other religions, if the goal is truly to aid ordinary humans in their everyday lives. I don't know how many people would subscribe to this fellow's viewpoint, but little would make me happier than to discover that "it's a lot".

Links all via LGF, which has the odd property that although Charles Johnson's own text borders on bile-spewing generalist invective, the much more expansive pieces to which he links-- in major news sources like Yahoo News and Arab News and the BBC-- tend to justify his words, sad though it is.

UPDATE: Speaking of LGF, this comment thread has turned somehow into Ex-Lefty Anonymous-- seems just about every reader is a former liberal who underwent a political shift with age, money, responsibility, and 9/11, while yet hanging on to many core liberal values. Lots of interesting personal stories, not one of them irrational (rationality and a willingness to agree to disagree on certain divisive issues is a hallmark there).

Interesting moniker they've (we've?) adopted, too: Eagles.


10:42 - Oh, that's perfect
http://www.instapundit.com/archives/008992.php#008992

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One of Glenn Reynolds' readers has the perfect name for those concrete bombs the RAF has been dropping on tanks in Iraq:

It's Ironic that with the early buzz about "Shock & Awe" and the MOAB bomb, that the real big military technological advancement shown in this war is not the bomb with a bigger bang, but a bomb with no bang at all, the "Concrete Bomb", a GPS guided bomb meant to smash into things, but not explode.

Or as I prefer to call it the ACME Guided Anvil.

<clap clap clap> Very good, sir. You get a prize.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
22:52 - There's nothing good on

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The past couple of nights, I've been up way too late performing unnatural operations on my backup server. What should have been a simple addition-of-a-disk turned into a protracted odyssey whose details are too stupid and boring to even mention here.

(Not like that's ever stopped me before.)

I noticed that my offsite backup server, which does a nightly CVSup mirror of my main server, and whose single 40GB disk is clearly inadequate to serve the main machine's pair of disks at 80GB and 20GB respectively, was full. Yeah, yeah. I knew I shoulda seen it coming. More to the point, I should have done something about it back in February, at which point the disk stopped having enough space for the system to generate an e-mail to tell me it was out of space.

Ahem. So I went to Fry's and got me a nice modest 60GB disk, which I planned to add to the 40GB disk already in the machine. I'd partition it for /home or something-- it'd be easy. I'd done it a hundred times before. So then I went to the co-lo facility (e.g. a friend's garage), dug the 1U machine out from the slot in the cabinet in which it had been buried, peeled off the top, blew away about three epochs' worth of compacted dust and shale deposits with a can of compressed fluorine or whatever it is, and discovered... that the machine only supports one disk.

Razzam frazzam! Well, that's what I get for using a cheapo $600 1U server from one of our more economical lab rigs. Okay, so let's see...

Back to Fry's to trade in the 60 for a bigger disk to make the new single, hitting 95 on the freeway so as to get there before closing time, reaching the doors at 9:55-- only to discover that they close at 9:00. Bah!

So no 120GB disk for me. I guess I'll make do with replacing the 40GB with the 60GB; it doesn't buy me that much time, but it's still the cheapest solution I have to hand. And until my home equity line of credit checks get here, I don't have much in the way of disposable income to blow on unneeded gigabytes.

Thus began the trudge through putting a fresh clean install of the OS on the new drive, partitioning it the way it should be (like maybe with a / partition big enough to hold two kernels, and a /var big enough to hold a log file or two), and transfusing the 38GB of /usr sludge from one IDE chain to the other. This took two days. Well, actually it took about four hours, but I had to do it twice. (No, Brian, you can't create a bootable installation of FreeBSD just by copying the files over and hoping the BIOS recognizes that useless "Make Bootable" flag in fdisk.) And I wasn't exactly keen on becoming a fixture at said friend's house, or a lurking grue in their garage, hunched on a ratty old office chair squinting at a sidelong-mounted scratched-up cabinet monitor.

And once it was all copied over, the old config files moved to temporary directories, and the machine buttoned up and slotted back into the cabinet, it was still an image of the server as it was in late February-- so it was time for a day's worth of CVSupping to sync that last few gigabytes. By the time I had that running to my satisfaction, it was almost 5:00AM last night.

But it's all happy now. But I'd rather not write anything tonight; I'd rather sleep.

Wait. I guess I did write stuff. Damn.

And that war show has really gone downhill since the episode with the statues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
16:50 - As long as it takes
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/15/sprj.irq.abbas.arrested/index.html

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1985 isn't so long ago. But regardless, when it comes to incidents like the Achille Lauro, the memories stay fresh.

I think it's all to the good that one of the first (of what may be a good many) terrorist nabs we've made in Iraq is of someone whose notoriety is from an incident nearly twenty years ago. It'll send the message that when we go after terrorists, it doesn't matter how many years we have to search or what protective governments we have to overthrow-- we'll do the Mountie thing and always get our man.

This, along with the Ron Jeremy arrest last month, should at the very least give a lot of people the cold heebie-jeebies: commit an act of terrorism that gets the Americans involved, and you'll be running for the rest of your life. And even if that sounds like fun, we will get you.

From the comments at LGF:

It should also be publicized that as "senior emeritus terrorist," he freely attended those Hamas/Fatah/Is. Jihad hate-fests in Egypt over the last two years and that Egypt laughed at our demands for his arrest.

And the fact that he was turned back at the Syrian border is a good sign too-- seems maybe some people are starting to listen. The dominoes are beginning to fall...


15:34 - Raising the bar
http://www.nationalpost.ca/world/story.html?id=ECE98D7D-B287-47A5-90FB-A76063AD1B4E

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It's now a war crime to use any weapon on the battlefield that is less technologically advanced than the most insanely modern and precise wizard weapons in our arsenal. Anything that can kill a civilian as well as it can a military target is hereby deemed evil.

People who had volunteered as Saddam's "human shields" will be among those contributing testimony. "Any evidence we can get hold of, we will present," Mr. Shiner said. "The [ICC] prosecutor would have a duty to investigate if there was credible evidence."

Mr. Shiner said the activists' case will probe the coalition's use, or suspected use, of cluster bombs, depleted uranium ammunition and fuel-air explosives.

These weapons are unauthorized, he claimed, because they "can't distinguish between civilian or military" targets.

Mark my words-- the moment we develop "morality bombs", which can kill those with evil thoughts but bounce right off the pure of heart, it will become a crime against humanity to use any weapon other than those during a war.

Regardless of, you know, intent. In all this war-crimes folderol, why is it that nobody is even approaching the most obvious of all factors involved in the deaths of civilians-- whether the party doing the killing intended civilians to die or not?

Without that crucial bit of testimony, which in the non-military world has given us such distinctions as "manslaughter" and degrees of murder, it becomes morally equivalent for us to accidentally wound a kid while firing on an advancing T-72 or while defending a checkpoint against cars accelerating through the cordon, and for Saddam's thugs to torture that same kid in a children's prison or to drop mustard gas on his house or to hide weapons in his school.

The guys crying "war crimes!" either are deliberately ignoring this distinction, or are too dense and blinded by their own hatred to understand it.

(Via Bill Herbert.)


10:55 - Karl Marx Dances by the Pond
http://www.airside.co.uk/business/movingimage/ljducksvidmov.html

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Aarrgh! Another bizarre retro-silly song with hypnotic 60s animation to try to get out of my brain.

Not... working... All the ducks are swimming in the water! Nooo! Make it stop!

Damn you Chris!

(I love this video, though. It's like, what if the Beatles had CG?)


09:48 - Australians kick ass
http://heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,6278827%255E25717,00.html

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Andrew Bolt in Australia's Herald Sun deals out some savage swipes against those journalists and politicians who warned direly against the war, laden with quotes from before the fact-- while at the same time wagging a warning finger at those who are now "moving the goalposts", claiming that what they were really warning against all this time was that post-war reconstruction would be difficult.

Rather than, for instance, that the assault on Baghdad would be a civilian-slaughtering bloodbath from which the Americans would shrink in horror and defeat.

Now he oughtta take on Janeane Garofalo.

Monday, April 14, 2003
14:22 - Apple vs. DRM?
http://www.oscast.com/stories/storyReader$291

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Judson has found an interesting take on the "Apple's New Music-Purchasing Service" story that's been slowly materializing of late.

Since AAC has no built-in DRM technology, Apple's service is going to have to compete against Microsoft's closed, DRM-laden offerings. How can they do this without losing the buy-in of the record labels? Don't the labels require DRM in order for any such service to have legitimacy?

Well, apparently not. Here's how the argument goes...

Knowing that Apple has managed to get a blessing from each of the major record labels to allow it to move forward with its music purchasing software, the question that many people are asking is, "Why would Apple need to buy Universal's music division in the first place?"

The answer? It wouldn't.

A buyout of Universal's music division offers Apple a strategic advantage against Microsoft's digital rights management. If DRM gains widespread adoption, it could effectively push Apple out of one of one of its major computing strongholds: content creation.

. . .

Apple inevitably feared a future in which new music and video files couldn't play on computers not running Windows. If all the major music companies sign on to this DRM strategy, consumers may feel forced to stay "inside the lines" and use only Microsoft-created solutions

However, if an Apple-owned Universal Music didn't sign on to such a scenario, being the largest recording company could create the necessary leverage to keep other record companies from doing the same.

. . .

Additionally, if Apple established a business model that encouraged ripping mixing and burning all while making a profit for both itself AND the recording industries, it would be a win-win-win situation for consumers, Apple, and the recording industry.

Win-win-win for everybody except Microsoft, that is.

The article goes on to suggest that Microsoft is also now trying to bid on Universal, in an attempt to derail Apple's plans; but that this is driven by pure anticompetition rather than by similar goals.

I'm sure most of the recording industry is well aware of the importance of Apple-- more so than the market at large is, in fact, because of the prevalence of Macs in the content-creation field, particularly in video. Macs are everywhere in the studios. Doubtless numerous execs found themselves wondering whether if they bought into some proprietary Microsoft-managed DRM technology, they themselves wouldn't be able to use their own music service on their own Macs. Presumably they understand enough about technology to realize something of the nature of computing; presumably they've undergone an education in recent years as to the meaning of the phrase "information wants to be free". Maybe, just maybe, they've taken to heart the idea that their entire business model has to change in a radical way in order to survive in the Internet age, and that they won't be able to compete with the KaZaAs and Napsters of the world if their alternative is proprietary and restrictive. Thus far the value equation hasn't been able to come out with for-pay, device-bound assured DRM content on top of haphazard, variable-quality, totally free MP3s.

So Apple might have a winning formula here. What's good for Apple, it seems, is good for openness in technology in general-- because as long as there are one or more viable non-Microsoft alternative platforms, the economics work out in favor of making the tech open to all rather than making it proprietary to those individual vendors. If Apple's goal is truly to revolutionize the music industry with a DRM-free alternative market path, fighting for open versus proprietary technologies (while at the same time turning a tidy exclusive profit), then I don't see much of a downside for anybody but Microsoft stockholders.


14:09 - Weekend Wars

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An update on the house is in order, I suppose...

Let's see: so far we've had the roof redone, had a plumbing flush-out done, bought that new couch and chair for the new master suite, torn out the wall between the two bedrooms, replaced all the electrical outlets and switches (three-way switches suck ass), installed a new stove and dishwasher and microwave (the latter two arriving today), installed new ceiling fans and light fixtures, broke up a corner of the concrete pad out back and dug a square for the new hot tub foundation, dug a trench for the conduit to the hot tub, got the front picture window replaced, and removed all the hideous blue kitchen cabinet doors and drawers so we can strip the paint and redo them in black with gold trim. We've also been pricing stone-slab countertops, stone tilework for the fireplace, carpeting, more lighting, and picking paint colors.

All it looks like we've done so far is piled sheetrock shards on the floor and propped up big pieces of wood with nails sticking out of them against the walls. We don't even have a real garbage can yet.

Ah well-- the electrical work is now all done, so at the very least we can work at night now. Now comes the fun stuff, the part that actually makes a visual difference. Up till now it's been tedious and unglamorous (and, as James will attest, shocking) until now, but here's where the fun begins.

Time to build a wall.


14:01 - Tabbed browsing for real
http://www.apple.com/safari/

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Software Update-hounds will already have been all over this, but Safari Public Beta 2 is out. Its internal version is v73.

Tabbed browsing is very slick now-- much nicer than in v62. There's now a nicely controllable AutoFill function for forms, and bookmark importers for Netscape/Mozilla-- conveniently right after MacAddict published a tip sheet on how to work around Beta 1's lack of support for such things. (Those guys just can't seem to keep abreast of the news, can they? Poor fellas.)

There are still some dumb things left to fix, but it's definitely getting better.

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© Brian Tiemann