The One Remaining Use of the Word “Macintosh”: “Some weeks ago, I was struck by the thought that Apple had almost entirely managed to scrub its corporate communications of the word ‘Macintosh.’ It’s not surprising, of course, but I was curious if the company had slipped up anywhere.”
Defining the decade: ten years of Apple on one page: “Apple had to graduate through the passing of its founder, juggle relationships with an ever-expanding list of consumer and professional market segments, and adapt to the public attention and scrunity that only comes along as a consequence of being the biggest company in the world.”
2019 Mac Pro isn’t the most expensive Mac ever. Not even close.: “There has been much handwaving over the $5,999 price tag on the 2019 Mac Pro. It’s often been criticized for being Apple’s expensive computer ever. But it’s not. And it’s not even close, if you factor in inflation. Many of the early Macs cost much more than $6,000 in today’s dollars.”
Sometime between January 27th and October 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Retroactive: Run Aperture, iPhoto, or iTunes on macOS Catalina.: Saving this for myself, in case I want or need iTunes when I get around to upgrading to Catalina.
- Inside the sexy Halloween costume industrial complex: Their costumes are often horrible, and oft-derided each year (including by me). But I thought this peek into the “sexy everything company” was an interesting one.
- The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight: "On the western flank of the Hoover Dam stands a little-understood monument, commissioned by the US Bureau of Reclamation when construction of the dam began in 01931. The most noticeable parts of this corner of the dam, now known as Monument Plaza, are the massive winged bronze sculptures and central flagpole which are often photographed by visitors. The most amazing feature of this plaza, however, is under their feet as they take those pictures."
- Queen Elizabeth II makes New Zealand woman who fought to decriminalize prostitution a ‘dame’: “Catherine Healy, 62, a founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, was instrumental in helping her country become the first to decriminalize prostitution in 2003. After 30 years of activism, the queen recognized her Monday as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit ‘for services to the rights of sex workers.’”
- Keira Knightley is obviously right: there’s a sexist double standard in how we treat period dramas: “The great irony is that in being dismissed as feminine fluff, the period drama has somewhat avoided the controlling male gaze. Women are allowed complexity and agency. They can be the heroes – not the wives and girlfriends of the heroes. Ignore the negativity, and the corset can actually be quite freeing.”
Sometime between November 12th and December 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Toxic Masculinity Is the True Villain of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: SPOILERS: “Poe's character, while not one of the main protagonists, has even more to do in The Last Jedi. However, while he may be filling the role of the dashing pilot that Han did in the Original Trilogy, director Rian Johnson is using the archetype to say something completely different about heroism, leadership, and—perhaps most importantly—masculinity.”
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi Offers the Harsh Condemnation of Mansplaining We Need in 2017: SPOILERS: “Any female boss in 2017 or American still nursing the hangover of the 2016 presidential election can tell you that even nice guys often have trouble taking orders from women.”
- Star Wars, the Generations: SPOILERS: “Great movies reflect an era through the eyes of artists who embody that era. George Lucas embodied the era of Baby Boom ‘destiny’ and self-conceit. Rian Johnson embodies our era of diminished heroism, cynicism and near despair– tempered by the hope, if we can but learn from our heroes’ mistakes, that somehow, some way, some day, we may yet restore balance to the Force.”
- Rian Johnson Confirms The Dorkiest Reference In ‘The Last Jedi’: SPOILERS: “There is a dorky reference in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that even director Rian Johnson admits that you may have to be of a certain age to get – thanks to a narrow window where you might have been watching premium cable in the very early ‘80s when this bizarre little short film would air in-between feature-length films.”
- Rian Johnson Says There Are No Twists, Only Honest Choices: SPOILERS: “It seemed completely honest to me. It seems like the most dramatic version of that. And that’s what you’re supposed to do. Find what the honest moment would be, and then find the most dramatic version of it. So, in terms of the big ‘twists’ in the movie, they sprung from a process of trying to follow where these characters would go as honestly as possible.”
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi humanizes the Force: SPOILERS: This was one of my favorite things about The Last Jedi. To my mind, a very smart direction to take things.
- Did You Catch the Brazil Reference in Star Wars: The Last Jedi?:
- ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Redeems the Prequels: SPOILERS: “One of the many reasons I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that it redeems the prequels. … It recontextualizes the prequels and reinforces what I loved about them.”
- Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II: Interesting argument that the likely change to ISP regulations — the 'net neutrality' debate — may not be quite the horrid thing it appears to be. Worth thinking over. "The question at hand, though, is what is the best way to achieve net neutrality? To believe that Chairman Pai is right is not to be against net neutrality; rather, it is to believe that the FCC’s 2015 approach was mistaken."
- Keyboard Maestro 8.0.4: Work Faster with Macros for macOS: Saving for me to remember and look into when I have more time.
- The Amazons’ New Clothes: “The Wonder Woman designs received acclaim from fans and costume fanatics alike. They were clearly inspired by the Amazon’s origins in the Mediterranean and were feminine but very functional. Why mess with perfection? Oh, right. The all-male team of directors and executive directors wanted women to fight in bikinis.”
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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
HTML5 Audio Safari extension currently replaces the default Tumblr audio player (with or without Flash) and WordPress Audio Player (without Flash).
Comes in very handy when combined with John Gruber’s suggestions for running your Mac Flash-free.
(Also, and somewhat unrelated: I’ve finally gotten tired of the many errors the Delicious-to-weblog plugin was throwing, so I’m going to experiment with moving away from using Delicious as a link aggregator, and just post when I find something interesting. Old-school blogging. Imagine that!)
I’ve been attempting to troubleshoot some issues with sending Excel files back and forth between my Mac at home and a professor who uses a Mac at home and a Windows PC at school. Even though we’re both using current versions of Excel, and though the files opened fine on her Mac, she was having consistent problems on the Windows machine.
After a few days of back-and-forth and trying to narrow things down, here’s what I’ve come up with.
For some reason, though Excel:mac2008 (hey, that’s how the ‘About’ screen writes the product name, don’t blame me) uses the new XML-based file structure, when saving files, it uses the old standard
.xls file extension. Oddly, at least on my machine, it is behaving like this even though Preferences… > Compatibility > Transition > Save files in this format: is set to “Excel Workbook (.xlsx)”.
(And as an aside, why must there be an open workbook to access Excel’s preferences dialog box?)
Current versions of Excel on the Windows side of the fence, however, use (and expect) the
.xlsx extension. Same file types, but different extensions, and this causes confusion. When Excel (Windows) sees the
.xls extension, it expects a different type of data than it does when opening a document with the
.xlsx extension, and it chokes when attempting to open the file.
The solution? Manually change the extension to
.xlsx before e-mailing the file.
Just a quick little tip for OS X users. Nothing fancy, and others may have figured this out already, but a quick Google search didn’t come up with answers, just questions…so here we are.
For the uninitiated, one of the default screensavers in OS X is the RSS Visualizer, which shows a slick ‘floating text’ presentation of the text from any RSS feed against a cloudy blue background.
I wanted to put my Twitter timeline in, so that even when my ‘puter’s not doing anything, and I’m across the room reading on the couch, I can keep an eye out for updates. Seems simple, but on first blush, it didn’t seem to work, as I just got the background, and no tweets.
That’s an easy fix, though. Twitter password protects your RSS feed, so that other people can’t ‘hack’ into your feed and see updates from those of your contacts who have protected their feed from public view — and the screensaver options don’t give a way to enter your Twitter username/password combination.
Twitter does, however, respect RSS-embedded passwords. So, in order to get the screensaver to work correctly, change the RSS feed from the default
to a customized
format, and you’re off and running.
Note that I’ve changed the protocol from
https to avoid transmiting my Twitter username and password in cleartext. With the standard
http protocol, in theory, if someone was really determined, there’s a chance that they could intercept the TCP stream between your computer and Twitter and see your Twitter login credentials. Using
https (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’), the information between your computer and Twitter is encrypted, so that packet sniffers wouldn’t get anything.
And that’s it! One Twitter-enabled RSS screensaver.