215 Articles


12 years Ago

Pie-in-the-Sky Ideas

Published by marco on

The world is full of ideas, some of them good. There are some ideas that sound so damned good that they keep coming back, no matter how many times they’ve been stabbed through the heart with a wooden stake. They are ideas about products not enough people want (pet supplies online), products offered under impractical conditions (DRM music) or products that would never work (hovercars). And then there are the all-encompassing theories-of-everything (TOEs) of the IT world that haunt the R&D... [More]

Vista, the Final Days

Published by marco on

This article was originally published on the Encodo Blogs. Browse on over to see more!

Vista under the Christmas tree

If you’re planning to buy a computer this holiday season—and you don’t opt for the shiny goodness of an iMac or iBook—then you’ll probably be getting Windows Vista. Windows Vista is very shiny and pretty and probably sounds like a great alternative to its predecessor, Windows XP. However, the minor improvements to the file explorer and organization (and major ones to... [More]

CSS Animations & Transforms in Safari 3.1

Published by marco on

Webkit, the rendering engine on which the Safari browser is based has been quite aggresive in its support for advanced CSS3 features. Since the engine is used in many Apple applications and on all of their platforms (e.g. the iPhone and iTouch), the need for slickness there drives innovation everywhere.


The trend lately has been to move to flashy effects done with JavaScript libraries that can manipulate the DOM and address elements using CSS selectors. There are many top... [More]

Using Miro

Published by marco on

So you’d like to watch TV shows whenever you like, but you’re too lazy to Tivo them yourself? Or maybe you live in a foreign country and would like to stay up-to-date on American culture? Let the magic of newsfeeds maintained by Tivo-using obsessives and the Miro Player do your work for you. It works like this:

Get Miro
Download and install the Miro Player. This player can check video newsfeeds, showing what’s available and letting you download a show from one or more sources. Once you’ve... [More]

Undersea Cables

Published by marco on

 Here’s a great diagram of the Fibre-optic Submarine Cable Systems (The Guardian) encircling the globe. In addition to an map of the cable systems throughout the world, it provides some statistics about the recent shipping accident that severed four of those cable lines, killing the internet and business traffic for almost 80 million users. The government of Egypt was exhorting its citizens to lay off downloading movies and songs for a day or two so that “more important” business could use the bandwidth. If... [More]

MacBook Air

Published by marco on

 Apple recently announced a new laptop that weighs only 3 pounds and is less than an inch thick at its thickest and only a quarter of an inch thick at its slender foward edge.[1] It’s a nice step forward, combining a large, excellent screen with a full-size, back-lit keyboard to provide a very comfortable mobile experience. It’s got an iSight camera, plenty of RAM and all the wireless goodies you’d expect. The drive is a bit small (only 80GB) and might also be a bit slow, there aren’t many ports... [More]

Linux Audio (in 39 Easy Steps)

Published by marco on

Audio in Linux is awesome (darkness) document’s one man’s journey to being able to edit an MP3 file under Linux. Included are the following gems:

  • Look at the Ardour interface. Decide that (1) it’s not what I want, and (2) dear god that is ugly. Is that Tk? Motif? Holy hell. Run away.
  • Read “The simplest, and least-secure way to provide real-time privileges is running jackd as root. This has the disadvantage of also requiring all of JACK clients to run as root.” Yeah, no.

One... [More]

13 years Ago

Trillian vs. Pidgin

Published by marco on

This article was originally published on the Encodo Blogs. Browse on over to see more!

Trillian is a multi-protocol chat client that’s been around for a quite a while, with both a free version and a professional version, which includes extra features and support. Their version has stagnated quite significantly, offering a grand total of one update over the last three years or so. The feature set is robust and it does pretty much everything you need from a chat client, but its look and feel... [More]

OS X Quartz vs. Windows ClearType

Published by marco on

The release of Safari for Windows seems to be the only issue worth discussing for most of the technology world. Whether it’s the horrific zero-day exploits (already patched, but still a rocky start), the crashing bookmarks for non-US English-speaking users or the ridiculous amount of effort put into making Safari exactly the same on Windows as it is on OS X—including all controls (scrollbars, buttons, etc.), behavior (can only resize from the bottom-left) and, last but not least, the... [More]

CableCom Now Requires Authentication for SMTP Relay

Published by marco on

This article addresses a very specific problem involving people matching the following criteria:

  1. You live in Switzerland.
  2. You are a Cablecom customer.
  3. You send mail using their SMTP relay.

If any of the conditions above fails to apply to you, there is really very little need for you to read further, unless you wish to be bedazzled by scintillating prose unlike any you have likely ever seen. If so, by all means, read on.


If you do match all of the conditions above, you have... [More]

Sony Ericsson K750i

Published by marco on

This marvel of technology is only about a year and half old, so it had at least a decade of cell phone software to build on when it came out. Still there are enough usability problems in the software—which, honestly, doesn’t have to do very much other than send bits of text to peopel—to frustrate even the calmest person. Some say that the iPhone has nothing to offer a market already saturated with hundreds of models; that the big touch screen and other hardware doodads aren’t enough to... [More]

Safe Sleep Mode and Dead Batteries

Published by marco on

According to MacBook Battery Is Toast After Being Fully Drained by Dan Benjamin (HiveLogic), Apple brings a whole new meaning to the term “dead battery”. According to the article, OS X can sometimes drain a battery so irrevocably that it can never be charged again. It’s a hardware problem that affects a small percentage of users. What’s interesting is the reaction to the problem by Benjamin, one of the Apple faithful. Instead of tearing Apple a new one for not addressing this clear software/BIOS/whatever issue, he lamely... [More]

Free Software/Open Source

Published by marco on

The problem with the free software/open source (hereafter referred to as FS/OS) is, as with most other movements, its fanatics. And, as with other movements, it’s not the belligerent—who are relatively easy to disregard—but the self-righteous—who constantly demand attention with arguments that are almost convincing—that really put you off. Case in point: the recent announcement that Apple will be carrying EMI’s entire music catalog with digital rights management (DRM) at double the... [More]

You’re Free to Go

Published by marco on

So that’s that; the big brouhaha over Steve Jobs’s stock options has finally, officially blown over. It seems the 6th generation iPod and 1st generation iPhone are both safe for now. Disney Board Clears Current Pixar Execs (Yahoo News) has more information, but it basically boils down to:

“Although the manipulation itself isn’t necessarily illegal, securities laws require that companies properly disclose the practice in their accounting and settle any resulting charges.”

That’s it? Just a little... [More]

First Days with Microsoft Vista, Part II

Published by marco on

This article was originally published on the Encodo Blogs. Browse on over to see more!

In part one of this article, we discussed improvements to the user interface and basic applications like Windows Explorer. In this second part, we take a quick look at some usability issues associated with installation, networking and security.

Accessing known networks is snappy and pretty easy, taking advantage of an explorer that actually seems to use threads (shocking!) One down side is... [More]

First Days with Microsoft Vista, Part I

Published by marco on

This article was originally published on the Encodo Blogs. Browse on over to see more!

Past experience has shown that, while the initial reaction to the initial release of a Microsoft product can be very good, that curve degrades with time. With early versions, replace the verb “degrades” with “plummets”. Early on, the superficial glitz has the most power to distract from the deficiencies. Vista is far from an early version, coming as it does at the end of a long line of predecessors of... [More]

Outlook 2007. Secured.

Published by marco on

A perrenial hole in Office security has been plugged in the upcoming 2007 release: IE has been replaced by Word as the HTML renderer for mails. It’s not that Word doesn’t have security problems of its own, but that most email worms are written to take advantage of the holes in IE instead. It should be hours before spammers adjust their content to this new development. Because of this, as noted in Outlook 2007 change sends HTML email back… (Ars Technica), “e-mails that use certain advanced HTML and CSS... [More]”

Shutting Down OS X

Published by marco on

Following closely on the heels of the self-outing of the programmer of the Windows Vista shutdown menu is The Design of the Mac OS X Shutdown Feature by Arno, by one of the designers of the same feature in OS X (which hasn’t changed in 5 years now).

 OS X Shutdown menu

After first sympathizing with Microsoft that managing a product as big as an operating system is incredibly difficult—and mentioning that Copland’s problems were in large part “due to an inability to manage this complexity”—he concludes by saying that,... [More]

Like a Brick Wall

Published by marco on

The Sales pitch is low and away (Macalope) tells us that Steve Ballmer is all agog over Vista. Hardly surprising considering the source, who’s widely known as “monkey boy” throughout developer circles for his excitable antics. Drinking your own kool-aid is almost never pretty, but Steve takes a big ‘ol swig for us:

“Asked about the timeline for Vista service packs, Ballmer quipped that as it is the highest-quality, most secure and reliable Windows operating system ever, there should be no need for a... [More]”

Storage Boom

Published by marco on

As of today, there are new rules in effect governing storage of electronic data for companies doing business in the United States. Though the title of this article is a bit misleading, New rules compel firms to track e-mails (Yahoo), it’s more or less true. More accurately, companies will have to keep track of every scrap of digital detritus that may be needed in possible future lawsuits.

“The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal... [More]”

Finding a domain name

Published by marco on

 Lookup for earthliThese days, it’s incredibly hard to find a domain name that hasn’t already been taken. This odious process usually involves going to a domain name provider and typing in a desired name, hitting submit and hitting back when the ensuing page shows that the desired name is taken. PC Names has found a perfect use for Ajax, testing the domain name you’ve typed as you type it and showing the results for .com, .net, .org, info, .biz and .us below.

There are other tools as well, for searching all... [More]

Spolsky’s Choices

Published by marco on

The article, Choices = Headaches by Joel Spolsky, starts with the following screenshot of Microsoft Windows Vista:

 Vista 'Off' Choices

From there, he launches into a diatribe on a surfeit of choice. It’s pretty well-written, as usual from Mr. Spolsky, but somewhat poorly aimed, also as usual from Mr. Spolsky. The basic premise is a good one: don’t provide more choice than your customers know how to deal with. Provide just enough and no more. Extra functionality should be available to those who need it and no one else.

His... [More]

14 years Ago


Published by marco on

 The ZuneDo you hear that sound? That’s what Apple shaking in its boots sounds like. With the Zune, Microsoft enters the personal music player fray, diversifying further into the hardward market. It’s like an iPod, but it’s not from Apple; it’s from a company you can trust.

It was accidentally released a tad earlier than expected, but that alone can’t explain the way it’s stumbled from the starting blocks, tripped over its own shoelaces and face-planted into the tarmac. The trouble started with the... [More]

Fun with Windows Display Drivers

Published by marco on

In order to enhance the learning process, the lessons learned will come first:

  1. Using the “Hibernate” feature will eventually bite you in the ass
  2. Hibernating while using an external monitor as the primary display is a bad idea if that display will not be around when Windows re-animates
  3. Doing step (2) while attached to a display that is rotated 90 degrees is a sure-fire way to see things in Windows XP you haven’t seen since Windows 3.1.

In order to begin a rip-roaring rollercoaster of an... [More]

Visor − Quake Console for your Mac

Published by marco on

 Visor on YmirVisor is a plugin for the Terminal from the same people that brought you Quicksilver, the navigation and search tool many people swear by. Basically, you install it along with another extension, SIMBA. Though the installer puts everything in the System/Library folder, moving them to ~/Library as indicated in the instructions works fine. You can configure the terminal window displayed by Visor with special settings; note that the screenshot has a semi-transparent window, even though the standard... [More]

Graphing Web Sites

Published by marco on tag graphThe article Websites as graphs introduces an online tool for creating art out of HTML code. The online version of the grapher accepts a URL and then retrieves and processes the page, tag by tag, building a graph, which displays the connections and nesting. The graph is built in real-time, but deliberately slowly[1], so that it starts with a few large nodes, then seems to zoom out as more nodes are added. As new branches lead to more and more clusters of nodes, the branches “wave” around to get out... [More]

Office 2007 Innovations

Published by marco on

The next version of Microsoft Office looks to be quite a bit different from the last several releases, which were, on the whole, rather disappointing evolutions of the base products. Each version introduced more features without giving users any way of coping with “featuritis”—a term coined to describe Office. At one point, the menus started hiding unused features in an effort to appear smaller, but commands were still hidden in menus and the notorious nested dialog chains that hampered... [More]

Boot Camp for Mac OS X

Published by marco on

 Boot Camp is the newest product recently released with the OS X 10.4.6 update. With it, Mac users can resize their hard drive, create a new partition and install Windows XP on it. It burns a CD with all the necessary drivers prior to Windows installation. Windows XP is not included.

In order for Boot Camp to do what it does, Apple adjusted its EFI-only firmware to be able to emulate an old-style BIOS so that Windows recognizes it. They also built an initial set of Windows drivers for their... [More]

Windows Vista Build 5342

Published by marco on

Microsoft recently released another build of Windows Vista to members of their developers network. A flurry of screenshots ensued. The system appearance, if not its feature set, is starting to stabilize and shows signs of having had input from graphic designers for this go-round. Windows Vista Screenshots (Only4Gurus) provides the latest batch in what they show to be a long line of screenshots from the various Blackcomb/Longhorn/Vista incarnations from over the years.

Initial Impression

The basic... [More]

Hasta La Vista, Baby

Published by marco on

 Following close on the heels of their delay announcement last week, Microsoft finally dropped all pretenses and cancelled the next version of Windows entirely in a press release early this morning.

Vista was plagued throughout its many-monikered existence by delays, feature withdrawals and a heavy amount of FUD[1]. Windows Vista slips…out of sight (The Register) has a full history of the troubled software:

“Harking back to the days of the XP beta “Whistler”, which was regarded as a code cleanup and facelift... [More]”