Linkdump for April 27th through May 17th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 27th and May 17th.

Sometime between April 27th and May 17th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Case of the Stolen Source Code: Last week, for about three days, the macOS video transcoding app HandBrake was compromised. One of the two download servers for HandBrake was serving up a special malware-infested version of the app, that, when launched, would essentially give hackers remote control of your computer. // In a case of extraordinarily bad luck, even for a guy that has a lot of bad computer luck, I happened to download HandBrake in that three day window, and my work Mac got pwned. // Long story short, somebody, somewhere, now has quite a bit of source code to several of our apps.
  • JSON Feed: Announcing JSON Feed: We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs. So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.
  • Let’s discuss the Linguistic & Pragmatic use of the [“N-word”]: No matter what your intentions, the word WILL mean something different depending on your relative status. Language is circumstancial.
  • The neural network writes the episode list for next season’s Dr. Who: I’ve trained this open-source neural network framework on a variety of datasets, including recipes, Pokemon, knock-knock jokes, pick up lines, and D&D spells. Now I give you: training a neural network on the complete list of Dr. Who episodes.
  • What we really need is an adaptation of the original 1740 The Beauty and the Beast: So were you aware that the The Beauty and the Beast story we all know is a heavily abridged and rewritten version of a much longer novella by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve?  And that a lot of the plot holes existing in the current versions exist because the 1756 rewrite cut out the second half of the novella, which consisted entirely of the elaborate backstory that explains all the weird shit that happened before?  And that the elaborate backstory is presented in a way that’s kind of boring because the novel had only just been invented in 1740 and no one knew how they worked yet, but contains a bazillion awesome ideas that beg for a modern retelling?  And that you are probably not aware that the modern world needs this story like air but the modern world absolutely needs this story like air?

Flare

A fun new piece of photo editing/post-processing software was just released yesterday evening. All in all, I’m really impressed with Flare, and had a lot of fun playing with it and exploring different filters and combinations of effects.

A fun new piece of photo editing/post-processing software was just released yesterday evening. One of the features that’s become very popular in many of the iPhone photo apps like Camera+ or Instamatic is the easy ability to apply post-processing filters and special effects. Often designed to mimic the analog effects of toy plastic cameras, old film, faded prints, and other imperfections, these filters have become a popular way to add an artistic touch to digital photos.

However, such effects haven’t been that easy to mimic in desktop apps — not impossible, but not one-click simple, and that’s where Flare comes in.

Satyr Dance

Flare makes adding these kinds of retro effects to any photo incredibly simple: just drag a photo into the window, choose a filter to apply, and export the finished photo to email, a new file, or Flickr. Flare comes with 24 filter presets, and has a small selection (which will apparently be expanded over time) of extra presets that can be downloaded and added to the lineup.

i love you (again)

Not content with that, though, each preset is completely editable. The presets are created by mixing together and adjusting combinations of color, texture, border, and effect, and each preset can be adjusted to tweak the final output, or new combinations can be built from scratch. Once the final look is chosen, the settings can be saved as new presets for use on other photos later on. Presets can even be exported from Flare and shared with others (here’s a sample of that effect).

Swimming

This is a 1.0 release, and while I’ve been enjoying playing with Flare and haven’t run across any bugs, there are some things that I’d love to see in future releases. At the top of my list is image importing: At the moment, the only way to bring an image in to Flare is either a standard “open file” dialog or by drag-and-drop. While this is great for initial simplicity, I tend not to have image files lying around in directories. Rather, they’re all stored in iPhoto or Aperture libraries. While dragging from another program is easy enough, that requires me to have both applications open and taking up screen space. Integrating the standard Mac OS iPhoto/Aperture image browser would make selecting photos to work with much easier.

Update: Thanks to @talosman for pointing out that Mac OS X already has image library support built directly into the “open file” dialog. Just select “Media” from the left hand sidebar, and your iPhoto and Aperture libraries pop right up. Slick! Funny how features like this can easily go overlooked, I’d never stumbled across that before.

I’d also love it if Flare could be more tightly integrated into Aperture. Right now, Flare doesn’t work as an external editor for Aperture (when saving a file after making adjustments, Flare writes to a new file rather than to the file that Aperture created, so the changes don’t get pushed back to Aperture) — and even if it did, I prefer having Aperture tied to the more full-featured Photoshop as an external editor. As Flare is essentially a one-trick pony (admittedly, a very well-trained pony), I’d love to see it available as an Aperture plugin. Happily, there are hints that this is something that may be coming in the future.

Flying High

All in all, I’m really impressed with Flare, and had a lot of fun playing with it and exploring different filters and combinations of effects. Flare is $20, and is on sale for half off ($10) for its first week (until March 18th) if bought through the Mac App Store. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button Suspicion

I just got an invite to a Facebook group titled ‘DISLIKE BUTTON is here – ADD it now!’. After looking this group over, I have _very_ strong suspicious about it, and my first impulse is to recommend that everyone ignore it.

I just got an invite to a Facebook group titled “DISLIKE BUTTON is here – ADD it now!”. After looking this group over, I have very strong suspicious about it, and my first impulse is to recommend that everyone ignore it.

First: Facebook still isn’t adding a ‘dislike’ button. This is a third-party software hack, and has nothing to do with Facebook. Admittedly, the group does admit this on their info tab — but placed so far down the page that most people will never see it. This is shady.

Second: The instructions on how to add the dislike button have very little to do with adding a dislike button, and everything to do with getting as many people as possible to look at the group. Out of five ‘installation’ steps, only one — the last one — has anything to do with installing the button. The other four are just about spamming the group out to everyone on your friends list. This is shady.

Third: The dislike button itself is a Firefox browser add-on, and will not work for anyone using Internet Explorer, Safari, or any other browser. This is not mentioned anywhere on the dislike button group page. This is shady. Also, because they stress that you have to invite all your friends to the group before adding the button, many people will not realize that the button will not work for them until after they’ve already spammed all their friends. This is doubly shady.

Now, I don’t know what the dislike button Firefox add-on actually does or does not do once it’s installed on someone’s computer. However, given that they’re being sneaky about the entire process, and seem more concerned with getting their software on as many computers as possible, this doesn’t look good to me.

If you get an invite to the dislike button group, I strongly suggest ignoring it. if you use Firefox and have already installed the Firefox addon, I strongly suggest removing it. I don’t know that it’s bad, but from what I can see, I strongly doubt that it’s good.

iPhone/iPod Touch Application Recommendations

Recommendations based purely on my own personal needs, wants, and desires. These are the applications I’ve installed on my iPod Touch that have managed to stick around for more than a few days of experimenting…

Recommendations based purely on my own personal needs, wants, and desires. These are the applications I’ve installed on my iPod Touch that have managed to stick around for more than a few days of experimenting…

**Applications:**

***Utilities***

* [WeatherBug][1]: More information than the standard Weather app. I’ve put this on the home screen and moved Weather to a later page.

* [Wordpress][7]: I’ve hardly used it, as I’m usually close enough to my main ‘puter to blog from here, but it could come in quite handy the next time I travel.

* [Kiwi][9]: A nice simple Wikipedia interface.

* [Google Mobile App][26]: A one-stop shop for Google’s major offerings. Mostly just a launcher into their iPhone-optimized websites, but handy for using only one spot on the iTouch screen.

* [Google Earth][27]: A little slow, but lots of fun to play with. Nice use of the accelerometer for moving your view around also. Plus, it’s free and makes a good “wow!” tech demo. ;)

* [Amazon Mobile][31]: Because I really, _really_ need a way to make spending more money even easier!

***Media/Entertainment***

* [Remote][5]: I’m not using it much right now, but it’s fun to play with. It does make it tempting to put an Airport Express in the living room to pipe iTunes into the stereo there, though….

* [Rowmote][32]: Slick little companion piece/replacement for Remote that acts as a remote control over WiFi for a whole _host_ of applications on the Mac. I’ve been using this to control the QuickTime player while Prairie and I watch TV episodes we’ve downloaded from Bittorrent, and it works great. Very handy!

* [Pocketpedia][6]: “I wonder if there’s a way for me to easily catalog my DVD collection and sync it with my iPod?” I said one day. A few minutes later, I had Pocketpedia on my iPod and [DVDpedia][6.1] (which generates [this list][6.2]) and [Bookpedia][6.3] on my Mac. Perfect!

* [Now Playing][8] (formerly Box Office): Movie listings at local theaters, reviews, even trailers, all in one slick little app.

* [Stanza][10]: An e-book reader that ties directly into [Feedbooks][10.1], allowing you to download tons of free texts. I read H.G. Wells’ _The Time Machine_ over the past week on lunch, Cory Doctorow’s _Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom_, and a number of others. There’s also a [desktop client][10.2], but I don’t think I’ll use that nearly as often, this is more for easy entertainment when I’ve got a few minutes to kill.

* [Kindle for iPhone][25]: I wouldn’t spend the money for an actual Kindle, but I’ve ended up spending enough time using Stanza for eBooks that I figured I’d give this a try as well. All I’ve picked up so far is the Stephen King short story ‘Ur’, and I haven’t even read it yet, but a few minutes of poking around leads me to believe that Kindle isn’t bad either.

***Photography***

* [Darkslide][2]: A beautiful interface to Flickr from the creator of the [iPhoto][2.1] and [Aperture][2.2] [FlickrExport][2.3] plugins. Free with ads, also available in an ad-free [premium version][2.4]

***Social Networking***

* [Tweetie][30]: I tried a few, and this is by _far_ the best Twitter app I’ve found. Multiple accounts, saved searches, trend watching, and ping.fm integration. This is my #1 most-used 3rd party app.

* [Facebook][3]: I don’t really use it that often, but often enough that it’s stuck around. I’ve been using Facebook more often recently, and along with that, the Facebook app. Pretty slick, actually.

* [Myspace Mobile][28]: I still hate Myspace, but I have to admit, if their actual website worked half as well as their iPhone app, I might not hate them quite as much. Not bug-free, but so much more bug-free and pleasant to look at than the actual website that this is my preferred method of checking in on those friends who I can’t talk out of the MySpace ghetto.

* [LinkedIn][29]: I don’t stop by here as much, but if I need to, I’ve got the app to do it.

***News***

* [Mobile News][4]: AP’s news browser. When I just want a quick browse of major news stories, this is the way to do it. I especially like the localization options.

***Games***

* [Boom!][11]: Minesweeper. ‘Nuff said.

* [Enigmo][12]: I’m not entirely sold on this one. Neat and all, but the screen’s so small on the iPod/iTouch that I lose track of what objects have been placed where. I think I’d like this as a desktop game rather than in its mobile version.

* [Quordy][13]: A _great_ little word game. Prairie and I have both had a lot of fun with this one — since the default is to start a game by shaking the iPod as if you were shaking a Yahtzee dice cup, if we’ve got a few minutes to kill somewhere, Prairie will just say “Shake it! Shake it!” and (rather than breaking into a dance, which I’m sure would be amusing as well) out comes Quordy.

* [Aurora Feint][14]: While I’m not putting a ton of time into the RPG aspect of the game, the Tetris-like game itself is fun enough to keep me engrossed.

* [Jirbo Break][15]: I’ve always liked Breakout clones, and this one works fine for me. I’d made it through all the levels, but they just released an update giving it 99 total levels. Guess I better get back to work!

* [Cube Runner][16]: Marvelously simple, engrossing, and a great demonstration of the accelerometer. Still one of my favorite games.

**iPhone/iTouch Optimized Sites:**

* [Ping.fm][17]: The dashboard interface to the Ping.fm one-update-does-all website. Now that Tweetie ties into ping.fm directly, I’ve removed this.

* [Twitter][18]: Since I use Ping.fm to update, I’m fine with using the Twitter mobile client to check updates. I do at times wish I could easily check @ replies, but not often enough to install Twitteriffic (which has just never quite felt “right” for me, in either its desktop or mobile incarnations) or another dedicated client. Tweetie to the rescue again!

* [NewsGator][19]: Even though there’s a well-regarded NetNewsWire app for the iPhone/iTouch, I still just use the NewsGator mobile site. It’s faster and easier to use than NNW mobile, and while I keep poking at NNW mobile, it still hasn’t been able to win me over. I’ve actually been pulled away from the NewsGator family, and now use the [Google Reader mobile interface][23].

* [CNN Moble][20]: Not actually iPhone/iTouch optimized, and not terribly pretty, but works if I just want a quick look at “what’s happening now”.

* [Metafilter][21]: Read-only as far as I can tell, but a slick way to browse MeFi.

* [IMDB Mobile][22]: Again, just a nice way to dig through the IMDB. A little slow sometimes is about my only complaint, but since it’s not actually affiliated with IMDB, I can’t complain too much.

* [Google Reader][23]: Though I’m a long time NetNewsWire (and therefore NewsGator) user, I’m experimenting with Google Reader. Their iPhone/iTouch interface is as slick as their web interface, and definitely gives the Newsgator juggernaut some strong competition. Now if I could only sync Google Reader to NetNewsWire….

* [Tricorder][24]: Pure Star Trek silliness. Could really use being recreated as a standalone app so that it doesn’t have the annoying advertising at the bottom. Perhaps using the accelerometer to affect the displays?

And that’s it for me. Any other recommendations from all of you?

[1]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=281940292&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: WeatherBug”
[2]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284919489&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Darkslide”
[2.1]: http://connectedflow.com/flickrexport/iphoto “FlickrExport for iPhoto”
[2.2]: http://connectedflow.com/flickrexport/aperture “FlickrExport for Aperture”
[2.3]: http://connectedflow.com/flickrexport/ “FlickrExport”
[2.4]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284920890&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Darkslide Premium”
[3]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284882215&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Facebook”
[4]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284901416&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: AP Mobile News Network”
[5]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284417350&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Remote”
[6]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284595421&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Pocketpedia”
[6.1]: http://www.bruji.com/dvdpedia/ “DVDpedia”
[6.2]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/dvds/ “My DVD Library”
[6.3]: http://www.bruji.com/bookpedia/ “Bookpedia”
[7]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=285073074&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: WordPress”
[8]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284939567&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Now Playing”
[9]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=289300792&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Kiwi”
[10]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284956128&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Stanza”
[10.1]: http://www.feedbooks.com/ “Feedbooks”
[10.2]: http://www.lexcycle.com/ “Lexcycle: Stanza”
[11]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=285286023&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Boom!”
[12]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=281736535&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Enigmo”
[13]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284572328&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Quordy”
[14]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284975727&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Aurora Feint”
[15]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=283563150&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Jirbo Break”
[16]: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284596345&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Cube Runner”
[17]: http://ping.fm/iphone/ “Ping.fm”
[18]: http://m.twitter.com/home “Twitter”
[19]: http://m.newsgator.com/iPhone.aspx “NewsGator”
[20]: http://m.cnn.com/ “CNN”
[21]: http://mobile.metafilter.com/ “MetaFilter”
[22]: http://nolanbrown.org/imdb/ “IMDb Mobile”
[23]: http://www.google.com/reader/i/ “Google Reader”
[24]: http://38i.biz/tricorder/ “Tricorder”
[25]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=302584613&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Kindle for iPhone”
[26]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284815942&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Google Mobile App”
[27]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=293622097&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Google Earth”
[28]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=284792653&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: MySpace Mobile”
[29]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=288429040&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: LinkedIn”
[30]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=296415944&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Tweetie”
[31]: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=297606951&mt=8 “iTunes App Store: Amazon Mobile”
[32]: http://rowmote.com/Rowmote.html “Rowmote”

Website Tweaks

One of the projects I’d like to tackle over the summer is redesigning my weblog. However, as the major project over the next few weeks here at home needs to be packing things up and preparing for a move, I’ve settled for doing a bit of minor tweaking here and there to streamline things where I can.

One of the projects I’d like to tackle over the summer is redesigning my weblog. I’ve been using this design for a couple years now, and I’ve been thinking that I’m about ready for a change to something a bit cleaner and sparse.

However, as the major project over the next few weeks here at home needs to be packing things up and preparing for a move, I’ve settled for doing a bit of minor tweaking here and there to streamline things where I can.

To that end, here’s a quick rundown of the changes I’ve implemented:

* Upgraded to the most current version of WordPress. Admittedly, a behind-the-scenes change that won’t really make a difference to visitors, but it was time.

* The [About page][1] has been cleaned up a bit, removing the incomplete bulleted list of other places on the ‘net to find me with a simple in-paragraph listing that’s far more complete. I belong to _far_ too many different networking websites.

* Rather than listing my [tweets][2] in a sidebar box, [Twitter Tools][3] and [AsideShop][5] will now be displaying them inline with weblog posts using their own lightweight display style. In order to keep my RSS feeds from getting too cluttered up, [Advanced Category Excluder][4] prevents tweets from showing up in syndication feeds.

* [iWPhone][6] has been installed so that iPhone/iPod Touch users will automatically get an optimized, lightweight layout.

* [LiveJournal Crossposter][7] has been upgraded, which should (I hope) fix the odd problem I was having with crossposts not appearing in LJ Friends pages. It’s also configured _not_ to crosspost tweets, as they’re already crossposted by [Ping.fm][8].

* [Postalicious][9] will be automatically posting my [del.icio.us][10] bookmarks daily around midnight, as long as there are five or more unposted and ready to go, otherwise it will wait until the next day. This allowed me to drop the (huge) ‘eclinkticism’ box out of the sidebar.

* In another behind-the-scenes change, the [WPhone Admin Plugin][11] gives me an iPhone/iPod Touch optimized administration interface, in case I ever need to do any posting or tweaking while on the go.

[1]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/about/ “eclecticism: About the Author”
[2]: http://twitter.com/djwudi “Twitter: djwudi”
[3]: http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress “alexking.org: WordPress Plugins”
[4]: http://advanced-category-excluder.dev.rain.hu/ “Advanced Category Excluder”
[5]: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/asideshop/ “WordPress Plugins: AsideShop”
[6]: http://iwphone.contentrobot.com/ “iWPhone”
[7]: http://code.google.com/p/ljxp/ “LJXP”
[8]: http://ping.fm/ “Ping.fm”
[9]: http://neop.gbtopia.com/?p=108 “Shifting Mind: Postalicious”
[10]: http://del.icio.us/djwudi “del.icio.us: djwudi”
[11]: http://wphoneplugin.org/ “WPhone Admin Plugin”

Photography Workflow

I just had someone ask me through my Flickr account about my photography workflow and sales experience, and I figured I might as well put my response up here for…um…posterity? Ego-stroking? ;)

I just had someone ask me through my Flickr account about my photography workflow and sales experience, and I figured I might as well put my response up here for…um…posterity? Ego-stroking? ;)

I’ve not yet started to actually try to shoot for a living (though it’s a nice dream), as school and work take up enough time that I can’t devote myself to my hobby. Still, for what it’s worth, here’s what I can tell you….

> What is your photography work flow?

These days, I shoot pretty much everything RAW. I haven’t had the money to upgrade to Apple’s Aperture or Adobe’s Lightroom yet, so I use iPhoto for organization and sorting, Adobe Photoshop for RAW conversion and touchups, and then the [Flickr Export plugin for iPhoto][1] to upload everything to Flickr.

The basic process is this:

1. Shoot (lots!) in RAW (with my camera set to the Adobe RGB color space).
2. Import into iPhoto.
3. Name and tag everything (I’m using [Bullstorm’s Keyword Manager][2] to help with tag organization and editing, as iPhoto’s built-in keyword management is one of the least useful aspects of an otherwise excellent program).
4. Do a first run through the shots, tossing what’s probably worth uploading into an album.
5. Do a second run through the shots. Most of this run is converting the RAW files and doing any touch-ups (which I keep to a minimum, generally little more than exposure and white balance tweaking, occasional cropping, sharpening, and setting the color space to sRGB), but I’ll also make some last decisions on which photos will or won’t be uploaded.
6. Upload to Flickr, assigning shots to sets or sending to one group during upload. Later set management or submitting photos to more groups is done online through Flickr when I get around to it.
7. Do a third cull through the shots, selecting the best of the bunch to be printed out.

[1]: http://connectedflow.com/flickrexport/iphoto/ “Connected Flow: Flickr Export for iPhoto”
[2]: http://www.bullstorm.se/KeywordManager.php “Bullstorm: Keyword Manager”

> [Where] or how do you market or promote your work?

I’ve never really actively done much promotion other than uploading things to Flickr and then telling people about it. When I can, I’ll let people involved in an event know about any event photos I’ve taken (sometimes by e-mail, other times through making posts in online communities focusing on an event or artist), or if I can identify and contact the subjects of shots, I’ll try to let them know directly. Other than that, I don’t do a whole lot.

> Have you had any success with online promotion or selling your work through a website, if so which ones are you using?

Nothing major here, really. I’ve experimented with some of the services that have popped up online for helping people sell their work, but as I’ve never really taken the time to actively pursue anything, I can’t really report any great sucesses (or failures, really — I may not be selling much, but I don’t see that as failure when I’m not really _trying_ to sell anything).

What few shots I have sold or had used elsewhere have happened more or less through blind luck — people stumbling on a shot through photo searches, deciding I had something that would work for a project, and asking permission to use it.

I have started getting a few people asking me to shoot events, but it’s not something I’ve started charging for yet (while it’s very flattering to have someone ask, I’m not entirely convinced I’m “pro” enough to ask for money…though I’m certainly not going to refuse if any is offered, either!). Right now, I pretty much just chalk it up to learning experiences, with possibilities for future benefit.

> And if you can think of any other ideas for a photographer that is ready to start selling his work full time (my goal). I would greatly appreciate it.

Nothing much comes to mind, mostly because I’m not quite heading that direction yet. Good luck on your quest, though!

Bruce the Wonder Yak

I think it’s a hilarious little random screed — and my guess is that they just took every little ‘in-joke’ from the FCP programming team and tossed them all semi-randomly into a single text file.

Someone [discovered a fun easter egg][1] in Apple’s [Final Cut Pro 5][2]:

[1]: http://highschoolblows.blogspot.com/2006/02/easter-egg-found-in-apples_113946667818510758.html “Random Tech: Easter Egg Found in Apple’s Final Cut Pro HD”
[2]: http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/finalcutpro/ “Apple – Final Cut Studio – Final Cut Pro 5”

> Open up “Final Cut Pro.rsrc” (`/Applications/Final Cut Pro HD/Contents/Resources/Final Cut Pro.rsrc`) in any text editor and you will stumble upon this hidden message:
>
> > If we can’t ship this puppy by then, we might as well be herding yaks. I’m glad it’s getting weird again. I didn’t understand it when it wasn’t weird. The C switch statement: Mmmmmm! Chock full of nooses! That would be like crossing the streams or something. Mmmm… Chicago style pizza! I’ve got my blankie, I’m good to go. A lot of this job is mental. “Mostly clockwise, sometimes reverses…” What’s the sound of one luma clamping? I just wanna be in the app! Oh, rough and woeful music which we have! Cause it to sound! The Yak is a delightful creature… rather like a visit with a bovine Confucious…

There’s a _lot_ more there, I’ve snipped it for the sake of brevity. I think it’s a hilarious little random screed — and my guess is that they just took every little “in-joke” from the FCP programming team and tossed them all semi-randomly into a single text file. That’s what it reads like to me, at least — with the recurring Yak theme and the general random silliness of what’s in there, reading it reminded me a _lot_ of some of my old brainstorming sessions with friends.

Thanks, Six Apart

What it boils down to is that over the years, time and time again, I’ve gotten incredibly friendly and personal service from the crew at Six Apart. I can’t think of a better way to build and maintain customer loyalty than that.

As might have been implied by my last post detailing an evening’s work tweaking templates and installing plugins, I’ve decided to stay with [Movable Type][1] for my weblog. There are a few reasons for this, but it boils down primarily to two things: familiarity and loyalty.

[1]: http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/ “Movable Type”

This isn’t at all a slight against [WordPress][2] (which I was actively poking at), [Expression Engine][3], or any other weblogging system, for that matter. I’m actually quite impressed with WordPress, and if I were starting a project from the ground up, I’d definitely include it in the list of strong contenders to run the back end. For this site, though, I decided that it was better to stick with what I knew and spend some time tweaking things than to jump ship entirely.

[2]: http://www.wordpress.org/ “WordPress”
[3]: http://www.pmachine.com/expressionengine/ “Expression Engine”

Right now I have a little over three years worth of experience with Movable Type (I switched over to MT from a similar but far simpler package called [NewsPro][4] on [Dec. 21, 2001][5]). While I certainly wouldn’t rate myself terribly high in the pantheon of expert MT users out there, after this much time fiddling and tweaking, I don’t think I’m any slouch, either. While I’m sure I _could_ learn the ins and outs of a new system easily enough, in this case I’d rather use and build upon the knowledge I have rather than starting over from scratch.

[4]: http://www.elektrik-sheep.com/newspro/ “NewsPro”
[5]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2001/12/new_blog_softwa.html “Eclecticism: New blog software – MovableType”

Besides, in the time I’ve been using MT, the software itself has worked quite well for me. My battles over the past weeks have been with the comment spammers and their abuse of the limited resources of my server, not MT. Moving to another system might have worked temporarily, but it would only be a matter of time (and likely not very much time, at that) before the attacks started hitting that system — and I’m still not convinced that a PHP solution is the best choice for my webserver. Better for me to make a few concessions (disabling comments after 30 days, for instance) than put my server through the effort of serving up an entirely dynamically-generated website.

There’s one more big reason why I wanted to stay with MT, though — and that’s [Six Apart][6].

[6]: http://www.sixapart.com/ “Six Apart”

As I mentioned above, I started using MT back in its version 1.something days, back when there was no Six Apart, just [Ben][7] and [Mena][8] in their apartment. Back then, I was one of many people occasionally popping up on the [Movable Type Support Forums][9], and as often as not, it would be either Ben or Mena personally answering the pleas for help when one stumbling block or another was found. It’s things like that that add a more personal touch to software — and one of the reasons I’m fond of shareware programs like [NetNewsWire][10], [ecto][11], or many other programs where the developers are still personally involved with their user base — there’s the feeling of a real, breathing person behind the software, rather than a faceless corporation.

[7]: http://ben.stupidfool.org/ “Stupidfool.org”
[8]: http://www.sixapart.com/about/corner/ “Mena’s Corner”
[9]: http://www.movabletype.org/support/ “movabletype.org: Community Forum”
[10]: http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/ “Ranchero Software: NetNewsWire”
[11]: http://ecto.kung-foo.tv/ “ecto blog”

Obviously, as Six Apart has grown, Ben and Mena aren’t always as personally involved with their user base as they used to be. However, in my experience, Six Apart has yet to lose that personal, “real person” feeling, and that’s in no small part due to the excellent people they’ve been hiring, many of whom have been loyal users of MT for longer than I have.

When I [got Slashdotted][12] after news of my departure from Microsoft broke across the ‘net, I was using Six Apart’s [TypePad][13] service. As it turns out, I had the unenviable position of being their first Slashdotting, and those next few days became something of an experience (for both myself and Six Apart, I believe) in how to handle such an event. I’d already spent much of the day waging a losing battle with my inbox as comments, TrackBack pings, and e-mail missives deluged me, when suddenly iChat popped up with a friendly hello from Mena herself. I was a bit taken aback — it’s not every day I get an IM from the President of a software company, after all — but again, it’s things like that that impress me. Rather than assigning my case to one of the tech support crew, she and I spent the next few minutes working out ways for me to tweak the code on my pages to ease the load on the TypePad servers.

[12]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/10/yikes_1.html “Eclecticism: Yikes!”
[13]: http://www.typepad.com/ “TypePad”

A few weeks ago, I realized that due to my own absentmindedness, I’d accidentally paid for a year of TypePad that I wasn’t going to be using, as I’d moved back onto my own server. It was a little frustrating, but I had noone to blame but myself, and said as much when I [grumbled about it here][14]. Imagine my surprise, then, when I got an e-mail from [Brad Choate][15], who’d come across my post, pointed it out to someone at Six Apart, and had made arrangements with Brenna to refund me that yearly fee. I hadn’t asked for this, and there was absolutely no reason for Six Apart to do this for me — but they decided that it would be a nice thing to do.

[14]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2005/01/i_hate_it_when.html “Eclecticism: I hate it when I’m stupid”
[15]: http://bradchoate.com/ “Brad Choate”

Then, just a few days ago, [Anil Dash][16] noticed that with my battles against the spammers I’d started looking at WordPress, and he sent me a friendly little note asking if there was anything they could do to help me with my MT installation. I let him know that my limitations weren’t with MT, but with my webserver (and was barely able to keep from mentioning how nice it would be to find an Xserve PowerMac Mac mini on my doorstep one day — it wouldn’t have been at all serious, but I don’t know if Anil stops by my page often enough to catch my sense of humor), and thanked him for his note. Again, this is the kind of thing that impresses me — sure, on the one hand, he’s “just another blogger”, but he’s also the Vice President of the [Six Apart Professional Network][17].

[16]: http://www.dashes.com/anil/ “Anil Dash”
[17]: http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/ “Six Apart Professional Network”

What it boils down to is that over the years, time and time again, I’ve gotten incredibly friendly and personal service from the crew at Six Apart. I can’t think of a better way to build and maintain customer loyalty than that.

So, to Ben, Mena, Brad, Brenna, Anil, and all the rest of the crew at Six Apart — thanks, folks. Keep on rockin’. :)

Descent 2 for Mac OS X: FREE!

I’m not much of a gamer. Never have been, likely never will be. Generally, if I get into a game, it’s for a few minutes at a time, and either brainless but fun point-and-shoot or brainless drive-around-in-circles racing games.

This rocks.

I’m not much of a gamer. Never have been, likely never will be. Most computer games bore me, requiring far too much time and mental effort to bother with (any strategy based game — StarCraft, WarCraft, WoodCraft), or just being so pointless I can’t envision devoting time to them (EverCrack). Generally, if I get into a game, it’s for a few minutes at a time, and either brainless but fun point-and-shoot (Doom) or brainless drive-around-in-circles racing games (Star Wars Pod Racer, Wipeout for Playstation).

One of the few games that ever really got my attention was Descent. At the time it came out, it was a groundbreaking game — taking the then-typical pesudo-3D first-person-shooter approach of Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, and so on, and putting it into a true three dimensional world.

Where previous “3D” games were actually two-dimensional (your only real choices of movement were on a plane — forward, backwards, left, and right turns, etc.), Descent put you in control of a small spacecraft flying through tunnels within planets and asteroids, adding the final third dimension, allowing you to pilot your craft through all three axis of movement. You could dive, barrel roll, loop-de-loop, swoop down on targets, anything.

We had some great multi-player Descent games at The Pit (my old apartment in Anchorage), and for once, I had the advantage. While I would occasionally play games, I wasn’t enough of a gamer to have very many old habits built in, so when I started playing with the controls of Descent, it didn’t take me long to get the hang of moving through a fully three-dimensional world. My roommate Jason wasn’t able to adjust as quickly, due to the ingrained habit of only thinking along two axis of movement. Many was the time when he’d end up behind me, blasting away, when suddenly I’d go round a bend in the tunnel just out of his sight, fly into a large open room, and immediately shoot straight up to hover just above the entrance. Jason would come screaming into the cavern and start trying to find me — panning left and right. Meanwhile, I’d be targeting him from above, suddenly unleashing a blistering stream of laser fire onto the top of his ship, and sending him off into blissful digital oblivion.

Of course, Jason being the jobless obsessive-compulsive that he was, he soon spent far too many hours doing nothing but play Descent, so it was only a matter of a week or two before he was flying circles around everyone else in the apartment. Still, my little reign of terror was fun while it lasted.

What got all this started running through my brain, though, was Phil tipping me off to some wonderful news — Descent 2 has been ported to run on Mac OS X, and is freely downloadable!

Schweeeeet.

It’s downloaded, just waiting for me to install it. I think I better wait ’till the weekend to do that, though, otherwise I’m likely to get nothing done from here on out.

Ecto for Windows

Earlier this week, Alex, Adrian Tjissling, and Joi Ito jointly announced that they have joined forces, and TypeWriter has now become Ecto for Windows.

A few months ago [Alex Hung][1], one of the regulars in the [TypePad User Group][2], [announced][3] that he was working on a Windows-based application for posting to [TypePad][4] and [MovableType][5]-based weblogs that he was calling TypeWriter. Not being a Windows user I didn’t have a lot of use for this, but I watched his progress as he posted updates on his project in the forums.

[1]: http://www.mineblogging.com/ “Mineblogging”
[2]: http://blog.liquidvolt.com/typepad/ “TypePad User Group”
[3]: http://blog.liquidvolt.com/typepad/viewtopic.php?t=660 “TypeWriter”
[4]: http://www.typepad.com/ “TypePad”
[5]: http://www.movabletype.org/ “MovableType”

Earlier this week, Alex, [Adriaan Tijsseling][6], and [Joi Ito][7] [jointly announced][8] that they have joined forces, and TypeWriter has now become [Ecto for Windows][9].

[6]: http://www.kung-foo.tv/blog/ “chaotic intransient prose bursts”
[7]: http://joi.ito.com/ “Joi Ito’s Web”
[8]: http://www.kung-foo.tv/blog/archives/000864.php “ecto for Windows”
[9]: http://ecto.mineblogging.com/2004/04/from_typewriter.html “ecto – dev blog”

Congrats to all involved!

(via [Boing Boing][10])

[10]: http://www.boingboing.net/2004/04/13/ecto_for_windows_lau.html “Ecto for Windows launches, BoingBoing now a 100% Ecto blog!”