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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Friday, January 26, 2007
11:31 - I'm trying to give you cancer with my mind... cancer of the head

(top)
Don't you just love it when an urban legend actually turns out to be true?

Seems that cell phones actually do cause brain tumors.

Or maybe only to Brits. Danes are apparently immune. I wonder if they just have genetically thicker skulls, or a natural foil lining in their inner surfaces, or if they use those special Scandinavian cell phones that run on magic.

I guess the question is whether the iPhone will ship with some kind of radiation-blocking helmet you can wear—tastefully designed by Jonathan Ive, of course.


11:14 - Shut up, Brian

(top)
So I have this software testcase tracking database system that I've been developing for several years now as part of my job in my past two companies. It aims to track manual and automated tests in a variety of software components over many sequential releases of a given product/project, keeping track of historical testing data and presenting the QA manager with a means to quickly define a class of tests to be executed for a given release based on each testcase's characteristics. I'm growing increasingly pleased with its capabilities, and I'm thinking of taking it open-source.

Historically I've called it TestCenter, but I'd have to come up with a name for it that's more generalized and not tied to previous implementations done within my companies' auspices. Since its focus is no making the process of software testing straightforward and simple, I'd like the new name to reflect that.

How about "Test-Eze"?

UPDATE: It's good for capturing a QA process's low-hanging fruit...

Thursday, January 25, 2007
09:31 - 550 Humor Message Found

(top)
Best bounce message ever:

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mailin-02.mx.aol.com.:
RCPT To:<(user)@aol.com>
<< 550 We would love to have gotten this email to (user)@aim.com. But, your recipient never logged onto their free AIM Mail account. Please contact them and let them know that they're missing out on all the super features offered by AIM Mail. And by the way, they're also missing out on your email. Thanks.
550 5.1.1 <(user)@aol.com>... User unknown
... while talking to mx2.hotmail.com.:

Thanks for the chuckle, AOL.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
15:15 - I Am So Smart! I Am So Smart!
http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2007/01/spotlight-file-system-for-macfuse.html

(top)
That sure didn't take long. It's only been a week since the Google guys came up with MacFUSE, the Mac OS X extension that gives you the flexibility to swap in custom filesystems right in user space, independent of any system-destabilizing kernel hackery beyond the core extension itself.

Anyone who's unsure of just how useful this might be to the casual user hasn't had to wait: John Gruber has pointed to SpotlightFS, a MacFUSE filesystem plugin that implements Spotlight the way we all hoped (and assumed, really) Apple was going to do it in Tiger. Specifically, it makes Smart Folders that are real folders, with Spotlight search criteria and dynamically updated contents—fully functional in every way that regular folders are. So you can now stick a Smart Folder into your Dock, right-click on it, and have the contents pop up in a list, just like we hoped Spotlight would help reinvigorate the concept of the old Pop-Up Folders of Mac OS 9. You can drop to the Terminal and "ls" the folder's dynamically associated files. You can even embed the contents of "real" Smart Folders, which I guess from this point on will have to be renamed S-M-R-T Folders or something. This really does sort of knock Apple's own Hey-a-little-interface-inconsistency-is-a-small-price-to-pay-for-the-joy-of-mds-grinding-away-at-your-disk implementation into a cocked hat.

As I mentioned once before:

... Don't you hate it when some company puts out some amazing new piece of technology (Google Earth, Aperture, Spotlight, etc) that nobody had ever imagined was possible the week before-- and then, days later, the blogs and message boards are full of people complaining about how this great new product is full of gaps in functionality and poorly implemented features? This in a technology that had been completely missing from their lives up until just a few days before?

The sharp-tongued will also take this as an opportunity to point out the value of third-party app development on an otherwise closed platform, as a rebuke to the closed iPhone. After all, if this illustrates anything it's that Apple isn't perfect at implementing even its own ideas properly, and that third-party developers will step up to the challenge if only given the chance. While I agree in principle, and I guess in practice too, there will always be a counterargument that points out that all you'd do here is fragment the market into users with enhanced functionality and users who don't, which rather goes against the demonstrable benefit of being able to move from computer to computer (or phone to phone) and always be sure that the interface will work the same way, that the same apps will be available, and so on. Yeah, it's a spurious argument, but sometimes I play devil's advocate. It's what I do.

In the meantime, this also just goes to show how much fun those geeks at Google will have if given the opportunity. As dispiriting an experience as Google Desktop for Windows must have been—writing what amounts to Spotlight except on a system without Unique File IDs, that can only locate files by path, so if you move them your database indexes suddenly become invalid and Google Desktop becomes useless for tracking down files you might have moved since you last indexed—being able to roam free in an environment like OS X must be like going to Disneyland.

Monday, January 22, 2007
12:18 - Cat-wrangling is a thankless job
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/110653.asp

(top)
Don't miss the 2003-era Jim Allchin e-mails—correspondence from the head of Windows design at Microsoft—regarding the iPod and how competitors like the Creative Zen and the late Dell one stacked up (hint: they didn't).

What's rather eye-opening is just how flat-footed Microsoft appeared to have been caught—even in 2003, two years after its introduction (and shortly after iTunes for Windows appeared), they were flabbergasted that anybody would be buying iPods, or that the PlaysForSure partners (like Creative) would not be producing stuff every bit as good. Microsoft clearly didn't want to do the Zune—they pretty much had to, because Creative wasn't going to.

Second fiddle is a galling part to suddenly find yourself playing, when your whole world is based on the assumption that you're the Man; and when you're not accustomed to it, getting back on top is not an easy task. Sometimes just acknowledging the reality of the problem is what takes all the effort.

But if there's one lesson to take from all this, it's that at least for the digital music world, the whole-widget model beats the symbiotic-partnership model like a rented mule.

And as John Gruber notes, Allchin managed to come up with a capitalization of "iPOD" that I hadn't even seen before.

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© Brian Tiemann