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<link />ing things up

It’s been a good week for trying new things here at decaf HQ; the first of which being Mozilla 1.5 Release Candidate 2. Nothing really exciting, given that I’m a Camino man, but it has prompted me to investigate the wealth of options available to web developers using the <link rel="foo" title="bar" href="" /> markup in the page <head>. As you may well know, Mozilla and Opera offer a little thing they like to call the ‘Site Navigation Bar’, a row of buttons set in the browser’s UI that take advantage of the aforementioned <link /> tags and offer a convenient means to navigate a web site.

As part of the ongoing experiment in web development that this site claims to be, I have begun implementing the necessary <link /> tags to make a friendlier (and more accessible) place to navigate.Try the individual entry archives, you can step forward and backward through individual entries chronologically, you can go right back to the start, or forward to the most recent entry. You can come back to the front page, or go ‘up’ (in the URL hierarchy, at least) to the ‘daily’ archives. It’s fun, fun, fun. Expect further implementation every time I get bored.


Adobe Reader seems to be one of those software programs everybody knows but doesn’t necessarily love. Is it going to get better in areas like loading times?
Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen
One of the challenges we’ve had with the Adobe Reader is that we’ve tried to accommodate more and more capabilities—the ability to handle more dynamic content such as moving images, still images and slide shows and to incorporate XML data—and we haven’t been as efficient as we probably could have been and would like to be. You’ll see that addressed in the next release of Acrobat and Adobe Reader. The goal right now is to significantly reduce the launch time.
Any concerns about competition from Macromedia’s FlashPaper format?
When I look at what Macromedia has done with FlashPaper, it’s very similar to the approach we took with PDF 10 years ago. It’s about reliable viewing and reliable printing.
And documents loading in a second or two.
Yeah, you can ding us for that. But I also believe that people want more than just reliable viewing and printing. We learned that from 10 years of experience. They want an intelligent document. They want a document that can be displayed on any device and interacted with on any device. They want a document that can handle the XML data. While we need to continue to be efficient in the way we do viewing and printing—and you’ve pointed out an area where we intend to improve—I do believe that customers expect more from the documents.

So… Adobe’s CEO willfully admits that Acrobat is bloated, slow and unwieldy; though the bloat is justified because they have ten years of experience with this shit, they know what the people want. He knows that PDF is the de–facto standard for document transfer on the ‘net. He knows that every member of the Mac OS X installed user base is furthering Adobe’s cause, though they probably don’t use Acrobat at all, it’s the PDF that matters. Most of all, he knows his tower will be very difficult to topple. It makes me wish I were a CEO; after all, I have twenty years experience in being a smug, arrogant bastard.

What’s on your dock?

Giles Turnbull gives us all a glancing insight into the minds of some of our favorite fellow Mac users by examining what’s on their dock. Jumping on the bandwagon (and in the interests of egomaniacry, of course), here’s what’s on my dock.

15 running applications, 5 other applications, an URL, and the trash

Like Jason’s, my dock is positioned along the bottom edge of the screen. I have to share his sentiments that as a Windows refugee, the bottom edge makes sense; anywhere else seems foreign. The bottom edge becomes even more favorable when you consider the greater space available; most screens are wider than they are tall, meaning the icons don’t suffer from ‘too–damn–small–itis’ when you have a lot of them. My dock is also transparent, thanks to the good folks at Unsanity, but that’s just an aesthetic preference.

At any and all times, I’m running 15 applications (up two applications from just a couple of weeks ago): Finder, Camino, Mail, Proteus, iTunes, iCal, Address Book, System Preferences, Kung–Log, NetNewsWire, Transmit, Speed Download 2, Terminal, Sherlock, and SubEthaEdit. While several of those are probably unnecessary (Address Book, for instance, doesn’t see much use. Likewise, Sherlock is only ever invoked because it saves me from using a browser to visit or Google’s language tools), it keeps me warm at night to think they’re there whenever I need them; at the ready.

The other apps —Project Builder, Interface Builder, iMovie, iPhoto, and Photoshop Elements 2.0— are my ‘occasional use’ applications. They’re also kinda heavy on the memory usage, so they’re not left running indefinitely. Finally, there’s an URL pointing to the latest Camino nightly build, and then there’s the Trash.

Simple as that.

David Jones

Although it’s been interstate for many years now (I dare say decades), David Jones has only recently come to Western Australia having cannibalized the local Aherns stores. The only reason I mention them now is because they’ve become the first department store in the country to carry Apple products.

Apple doesn’t advertise on TV here, and the only print advertisements I’ve seen outside of Mac–centric magazines have been the occasional poster on a bus shelter; so David Jones, whose target demographic is a perfect fit for Apple, could dramatically increase Apple’s product visibility. Without huge, glitzy Apple Stores in heavily–trafficked, highly–visible areas, most consumers would never even see a Mac. Let’s hope David Jones is in a position to change that.

Thank God for Slava Karpenko

Despite my enthusiasm for Panther’s smoother, ‘toned down’ UI of late, there has been one thing bugging me: the new Finder. Hey, I dig the ‘places’ sidebar as much as the next guy —user–centricity is what gets me out of bed in the morning— but the brushed metal is a point of contention.

Slava and the good folks at Unsanity are working on a solution, God bless ’em. There’s the usual swag of problems working around Apple’s frivolous use of custom interface elements (you can lead a multinational corporation to the HIG, but you can’t make them think), but I have faith. This is Unsanity, after all.


Generally speaking, weekends are what we like to call ‘quiet time’ for this domain —things like work (yeah, the kind that pays), a social life, a family life, and uh… alcohol… get in the way of any constructive internet time— and this weekend was no exception. Let’s suffice to say that I worked like a goddamned trojan, partied like a goddamned trojan (no ‘XML in da club’ like last week, though), celebrated my mother’s birthday, and spent far too little time sleeping.

The time I did spend seated at my desk was occupied digitizing my music library. Yeah, I know; what kind of geek hasn’t already ripped every CD he owns to MP3? I’ve been a little slow on that one. But finally, after neglecting too many CDs for far too long, they’ve found a home on my hard drive; all tagged to my satisfaction, all cover art present and accounted for, all ripe for random playback. Unfortunately not all the CDs have made the transition; a weird compilation of Garbage songs that I already owned (you know, from real and legitimate albums), a weird copy of Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (read: I swear to Christ my parents must walk into CD stores and say to the clerk “hey, what’s popular with the young people nowadays?”), and several local–scene CDs that don’t have cover art available online. For now these CDs will occupy a space on my desk as a reminder of their absence from the hard drive, but until cover art is available they aren’t allowed inside.

Sure, I could scan the album covers myself, but my ancient scanner is currently in storage. It ain’t hooked up because it ain’t USB, and given that Apple deprecated the serial port circa the dawn of time, it won’t find its way out of storage because I can’t be bothered fooling with the PC right now. A wholly–unreasonable excuse, I know, but it’s one I’m willing to run with.

I’m sure I’ll be very popular with the ladies at the registration center

I’m considering changing my middle name to Cunnilingus. Then my initials would be CCC, or C3, if you prefer. It would mean I could confidently state that cunnilingus is my middle name, which is probably a great step above “Russell is my middle name”. As it stands, Russell doesn’t inspire me all too much; the initials CRC remind me of failed installations; which is never good.

Plus, Christopher Cunnilingus Clark sounds pretty smooth. It kinda rolls off the tongue.


K10K today linked to Candy Labs’ first public beta of AppRocket (“The most useful application, ever!”), while commenting that it’s a pity that it’s only available for Windows XP. What’s really a pity is that Candy Labs, founded in 2002, is quite blatantly ripping the idea from Norbert C. Heger & Co. — that is, the good folks at Objective Development.

The similarities between AppRocket and LaunchBar are uncanny

Objective Development’s LaunchBar, which you might say, uh… ‘inspired’ the development of AppRocket, was first released in 1996 for the NeXTSTEP OS and sports the same interface, same functionality, same concatenated, mid–capitalized name, and same goddamned keyboard shortcut as this ‘new’ and ‘original’ application from Candy Labs. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic, particularly when their about page goes on to say:

When Candy Labs creates a product, we slave to ensure that every part of that product is justified and coherent. This process can be very tedious and usually requires that we review every piece of a product countless times, stripping it or redesigning areas until it meets our standards.

…something I believe is PR bullshit–speak for “we examined a successful and original product in a niche market and redressed it for Windows XP.”

Congratulations, Candy Labs. You’ve made my day.


I’ve received word from Dustin Mierau, one half of Candy Labs, that AppRocket is indeed (and quite intentionally) a LaunchBar ripoff. In his own words:

We were sad that there was nothing like it on Windows (because it's so darn useful) so we decided to create it. We will be contacting Objective Development soon with the final release and hopefully we can work something out (us linking to their site for mac users)

I’m speechless. And while I’m not sure ‘faux pas’ is a strong enough phrase for the situation, I’m going to use it anyway.

Update Deux

Given the amount of mail I’ve received on the AppRocket topic (thanks largely to the linkage from John Gruber), I can tell there are a lot of incensed Mac users out there… some out for blood. I can only imagine the fallout Candy Labs is receiving, so I’ll save you the time of writing to them and asking ‘what the fuck?’ and save them the time of dealing with a bunch of pissed–off zealots (no offense, of course) by providing a few answers here.

For your interest and for posterity, I present to you the extent of my communications with Candy Labs’ Dustin Mierau. Though by my recollection, it was Joseph Addison who said “We are always doing, says he, something for posterity, but I would fain see posterity do something for us.”

Hi Chris!

We are very much aware of AppRocket’s similarities to LaunchBar (we are avid LaunchBar users ourselves). We were sad that there was nothing like it on Windows (because it’s so darn useful) so we decided to create it. We will be contacting Objective Development soon with the final release and hopefully we can work something out (us linking to their site for mac users).

Anyway, I am very sorry we obviously did not get this across as we haven’t tried to yet.

Have a good day (or night?),
–Dustin Mierau
Candy Labs

I didn’t reply to this email, instead opting to post the above update to the site. A day later, Dustin wrote again.

Hello again Chris!

Happy to see you posted a revised statement on AppRocket, I understand you were not obligated at all to do so. Again, we are really sorry for the confusion. We have updated our website a little for mac users (of course this does not totally do Objective Development justice, but it is something for now). I'll keep you updated on this, if you at all care ;)

We are a small company and we really intend on releasing some great products in the future. We thought LaunchBar was so great though that we wanted to bring this idea to our PCs as we are addicted to it (I think I’ve completely forgot how to use the finder since I paid for it back in Jan. 2002). We are mac developers as well! We have some apps in the pipeline that should surface soon (original ideas – for honest and for true!).

Anyway, I’m rambling here.

Thanks again,
–Dustin Mierau
Candy Labs

P.S. Love your site + style! I actually read it every so often, which is how I came upon the story. I hope this tiff does not hurt how you look upon us as a software company and our future apps.

To this, I replied. I was a little tempted to call bullshit on that post–script, given that it’s more likely he came upon the story from his referrer logs, but flattery goes a long way… so I let it slide.

Hi Dustin,

I appreciate that you’re just a business trying to make its way in the world, and I can see that you and Marek are both talented developers, but doesn’t it strike you as a little dangerous to be undertaking an application such as AppRocket? I doubt I need to slug you with the “ideas are the currency of the new economy” bullshit, but doesn’t AppRocket (in its unabashed mimicry [of both form and function] of LaunchBar) constitute some kind of intellectual property infringement?

Clearly I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have a clue as to whether you’re culpable to any kind of offense, but it just seems that you should’ve approached ObDev first; maybe worked out an agreement for you to make an ‘official port’ of LaunchBar to Windows XP. That way, not only would you likely have a solid flow of traffic from ObDev’s website to your own, but you couldn’t be criticized in any way for your work. There are too many soapbox–riding assholes out there (such as myself) to get away with passing somebody else’s ideas off as your own. I’ll be interested to see what ObDev says about all of it, so yeah; do keep me updated.

You’ve got the ability, you’ve got the style, and you tell me you’ve got the ideas, so I look forward to seeing more products emerge from Candy Labs in the future… even though it does mean I have to dust off the ol’ PC to try them out.

Good luck.


A day later…

Hey Chris,

Sorry about the delayed response.

We are very interested in working with Objective Development if they are interested at all. LaunchBar has been around for a long time NeXT and then MacOS X, there was no talk of a Windows version during this time, so we decided to develop something. You are perhaps right though, approaching them initially would have been wise. The smoke is clearing though and hopefully Mac users are a little more convinced that we are not out to rip ObjDev out of anything.

The next few weeks will be interesting nonetheless!

Thanks for the email. We love talking about this stuff, it is important to us that we hear what users have to say or we simply can not better ourselves as a company.

Have a good day,
–Dustin Mierau
Candy Labs


The release of iCal 1.5.1 finally addresses the ‘impervious midnight’ issue, and goes so far as to make it easy to create events that continue into the wee hours of the next day… a party for instance. The reviewed ‘event info’ drawer is a massive improvement over the panel it replaces, mimicking Address Book’s ‘Edit Card’ function.

Of course, Panther has a ship date now… so I should really forget about iCal and start pining furiously for October 24; only 15 days, 00 hours, 28 minutes left.

Chris to Virgin: I’m back, but I’m not happy

So I caved on the whole Virgin Records can go fuck itself thing… the new A Perfect Circle album just couldn’t be passed up. The copy control mechanism is still a crock of shit (though they’ve added Mac support to their ridiculous software–based CD player and resolved whatever issues my MP3CD player was having with the discs), but I can’t do without this album in my collection, so I won’t be returning it.

The solution to my woes, I’ve found, is to just download the fucking tracks. I’ve paid for them, I have the CD and the receipt right here, so if they want to sue me for using a P2P network to acquire useful copies of my music they can go right ahead. Something I strongly believe the record labels should do, though, is work closely with Apple for a new feature to the iTunes Music Store: download vouchers.

With a voucher system in place, not unlike the KMart gift certificates your aunt keeps giving you for your birthday, record labels could ‘give’ (read: sell, included in the price of the CD you just paid for anyway) digital copies of their music. I picture it working a little like this: the labels stick a slip of paper inside every copy–controlled CD’s jewel case; a piece of paper with a unique, single–use–only code on it; a piece of paper that allows you to mosey on over to the iTMS and download a digital copy of that CD… complete with Apple’s FairPlay DRM. The end user still can’t share the music, but it does give them the ability to play the music on their computer and their iPod. The record labels are already chummy enough with Apple, why can’t we make this work?

You might ask “why wouldn’t they just download the album from the iTMS in the first place?”, and you’d probably be making a very good point. My answer to this, of course, is that I prefer to be able to flip through the booklet that comes with the CD and appreciate the artwork; whatever digital artwork is provided along with an iTMS track is a poor substitute. My other answer is that the iTMS is currently not available outside the US… but that doesn’t wash with my voucher idea so we’ll gloss over it for now and get back to downloading ‘illegal’ copies of A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step.


One particularly accommodating OpenFT user (note: Poisoned rocks) has enabled me to enjoy Thirteenth Step, in high–fidelity, no–crackling, beautifully–captured audio in record time. To that anonymous user, I tip my hat. Thanks for the bandwidth.

Colin Devroe was quick to suggest something to me that is even better than a voucher system. It’s roughly the same principle; but instead of a paper–and–entry–code system, iTunes identifies discs that can’t be played or ripped in the conventional fashion (i.e. identifies copy–controlled discs) and automagically (according to user preference, of course… and subject to iTMS availability) downloads the tracks. Beautiful.


My long–time roommate (and friend) Garth will be realizing his life–long dream this week by purchasing a 1998 Toyota Celica SX–R. A white 1998 Toyota Celica SX–R, if you want to be specific

I’m tempted to say that this doesn’t bother me… but that would be lying. It’s only been my dream car since forever, and now he’s beating me to the punch; the luscious and sensual shaping, the recessed headlights, the modest (read: non–ridiculous) use of a back spoiler, it all combines to make one very attractive piece of machine. Sure, it’s not a muscle car, it’s barely a sports car, and I know that your Subaru WR–X turbo could whoop its ass in a drag race… but you know what? Your WR–X is ugly.

Admittedly, my affections for this particular model (the newest model Celicas are damned ugly) are purely aesthetic, and I’m openly preferring style over substance, but it’s just a car. I’m not really a car guy, so I’m entitled to make flaky choices as to my ‘favorite car of all time’.

I suppose the only way to one–up Garth now is to go and buy a Supra… that shit is sexy.


iTunes for Windows is, of course, the subject du jour and everybody is giving it their two cents… so I figure I’ll skip over it and quickly point out something that gave me a laugh over at New Scientist.

Apple’s successful music download service iTunes faces a new threat of misuse now that it has been extended to include users of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, say experts.

The threat comes from the combination of the relatively light copy protection iTunes uses and the big increase of potential hackers that comes with opening up to the world’s most common operating system.

The world’s most common operating system. Not the most popular, not the world’s favorite, nor the most revered, respected, or acclaimed. Just the most common. Reminds me of the ages–old question; why do Mac owners love their computers while Windows users barely tolerate theirs?


I really have no idea what’s up with #corporate.issue.01, since Visual Disorder is apparently no longer, but I’m intrigued and flattered nonetheless. By comparison, my site design looks positively bleak.

We all have our reasons

As the ‘night of the Panther’ steadily approaches, it’s obvious that we’re all getting a little excited about the improvements and features; a little Exposé here, a little Fast User Switching there. Tonight, though, I’ve suddenly found myself excited less by the big–ticket items and more by the Pixlet codec.

See, I film stuff… a lot. It’s an embarrassing thread of synchronicity between myself and one of my movie–star alter–egos, but yeah, I’ve been filming elements of my life for nigh on four years now.

At first, I filmed every little thing I did; convinced that I’d return after a year to edit it all and produce some kind of me–and–my–friends reality show. Of course, that idea went down the shitter when I realized how much tape I was going through, and how much I hate reality shows. There’s only so much “we’re driving somewhere!” and “we’re sitting on the couch!” footage you can endure before you feel like poking an eye out, so the filming frequency slowed to a trickle. Today, the video camera doesn’t watch me sitting down to breakfast; it comes out for barbecues, birthdays, parties, birthday parties, and road trips… like any normal camera. The plan to edit the whole lot is still in sight, though —in fact, it was one of the driving forces behind my purchase of a Mac (that’s a story for another day)— but the scale is much larger now. It’s a collection of years now, of important events in all of our lives as we grew from fresh–out–of–high–school delinquents into the respectable social deviants that we are today.

Of course, this mean that I have a very, very large backlog of footage from the last few years. It’s all stored on VHS, which means that digitizing the lot of it (for editing purposes, of course) is a massive chore. The chore becomes next–to–impossible, though, when you discover that a single hour of uncompressed footage occupies 13Gb of hard disk space… and my disk just ain’t big enough to accommodate the piles of video cassettes sitting in my closet.

Just recently I started considering DivX as the solution to my problems… an awesome codec by any man’s standards. In preliminary tests, it helped my full–size copy of the Rose video (sized at 720 x 400… the raw product being over 400 megabytes’ worth) down to a very–appreciable 21Mb; roughly 10Mb/min at fairly decent quality. I was about to jump on the bandwagon and get freaky with my video backlog when I remembered Pixlet. Panther is a meager 3 days away… and Pixlet is supposed to be damnably impressive; doing the math, it should (conceivably) compress the Rose vid (which has become my own little benchmark for compression/quality) to a 16Mb file. Yep, 8Mb/min at better–than–fairly–decent quality. And when you’re considering hours, nay, days of footage, this makes me very happy. For that, I am willing to wait.

Sooner or later those cassettes will have to be digitized, sooner or later I’ll have to start editing that shit, and sooner or later there’ll be some half–decent video memories of [cue Bryan Adams’ Summer of ‘69] the best days of our lives.

tha Pizzenny–kizzade

Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (aka Tycho Brahe and Jonathan Gabriel) have always had a rather amusing enmity for all things Apple, and it’s perfectly respectable given their line of work. They make a living out of gaming, and as a gaming platform the Mac OS has always… shall we say… licked balls. Developers (with the possible exception of Blizzard) have never been too rushed to bring their games to the Mac, and consequently there is a routine lag of about a year between the release of a big–name title on Windows and its port to Mac OS.

That’s not to say anything derisive of Mac OS’ ability to handle games, or even the hardware; it’s just apathy. Who can blame a studio for caring naught when it comes to spending such a great deal of resources on supporting a minority OS? That lack of (timely) delivery on the game front, and the fact that Apple hardware is always premium–priced, keeps Apple in the proverbial hard core’s proverbial bad books… but it’s little things like iTunes may just sway that popular opinion. The fact that I haven’t touched my PS2 since finishing Vice City, nor played any games on PC or Mac since Warcraft 3, is testament to the fact that I’m not really a gamer — and while I’m certainly not predicting that any serious gamer will go out and buy a Mac because iTunes r0X0Rs their S0x0rZ (or whatever they’re saying these days) it’s worth noting that seachange. Favorable popular opinion does any brand a world of good.

To err is human

After, oh, how long has it been… a goddamned year, I’ve finally implemented custom error documents for the site. Not that Apache’s defaults aren’t resplendent enough… they just needed a little pizzazz.

I’m not advocating errors, by any means; I hope you never have to see a single one of those nasty errors on this site. But if you happened to visit one morning in the hope of stumbling upon my secret stash, the rebuttal is a little friendlier now.

Damn you Apple… making me go back on my word

As I have mentioned on many an occasion before now, I use Proteus to handle my (many and varied) IM needs. Some have told me it sucks, some have told me it is broken, some have branded me a hypocrite for supporting something that “sounds like a ‘blatant rip-off’ of Trillian”… but it serves my purpose. It lets me connect to all of the networks with whom I have an account in a single, unified interface. Some of those networks I use constantly, others I barely touch; the fact remains that I am constantly connected to those networks without running five different clients, and with the NSToolbars collapsed (and various other preferences tweaked) Proteus sports a clean and simple layout… that’s all I ask for. MSN is a serious contender for ‘worst interface ever’, and the rest provide clunkiness in spades… something that undoubtedly comes from second–thought ports to the Mac.

Today, though, I gave iChat (in both the original and AV flavors) a proper test–drive and found it delightful. Neat, attractive (once demetallifized… and once you tweak a nib or two the minimize the window chrome) and fully–functional, now it sits right next to Proteus… whose job has been reduced to handling the other four IM networks. Those dastardly, bastardly Apple people… damn them.

A side note, on the definition of “blatant rip–off” and implicit badness: Cerulean Studios did not invent the idea of multi–protocol communications software, and Objective Development did not invent the idea of productivity enhancement software… the confusion a result of a lack of distinction between application ‘classes’ and application ‘IDs’ (to put it in terms of CSS selectors). In the AppRocket vs LaunchBar case, we’re talking about a company intentionally and explicitly reproducing another company’s application down to the most miniscule of details. Look at the screen shots from the developers’ web sites (or better yet, try the two of them side by side)… I’m not pulling this shit out of my ass. As Xian said… “If you’re going to copy something for a different platform don’t pretend you thought it up.” Good advice.

In the case of Trillian vs any other multi–protocol IM client out there, we’re not talking about the reproduction of a singular function (in a single–function application) or a carbon–copy interface design… we’re talking about software that performs a generalized task. Each tackles the task differently, each looks and functions completely differently. No two are alike… that’s what gives us choice and competition. I’m not advocating weird and dystopic ‘idea–monopolies’ —hey, companies competing with each other and improving upon foreign ideas is what keeps us moving forward— but unimaginative and uninspired piracy just isn’t funny. Innovate, for chrissakes. If I release a book, don’t tell me it’s ethically valid for you to re–title my work and release it as an eBook, come up with your own plot.


Before you read this…

This tutorial was written way back when Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar was current. Things have changed. Good news is, there’s an updated version for 10.3 Panther available.

I learned more today about DMG files than I ever wanted to know. But now that I know what I know, I’m sure I could find a thousand uses for it; it’s a solution looking for a problem. I speak, of course, about the über–nifty DMGs that mount to a fully–customized volume… the kind that software developers everywhere are using to distribute their applications now that stuffit, tarball, zip and gzip are officially passé. I wanted to do that kind of crap… so I set out to figure out how. This is my story.

The first step is simple: decorate a folder on my desktop with a fancy background image, independently resize a few of the icons contained within the folder with IconSizeEnabler, arrange to taste, run the Disk Copy utility, create new image from folder. Bam.


The DMG it produces, once mounted, has none of those nifty customizations applied. It’s a big, dumb, white–background, all–icons–the–default–size–and–position, crapfest. To put it succinctly, it’s default. Surf the web a little… particularly when googling “disk image background” and you’ll probably hear about FileStorm. Hell, Apple even recommends it, but if you have even the slightest technical aptitude and any patience, put that $20 back in your goddamn wallet. You wanna be a hotshot software developer? Then act like one, fool. This ain’t no place for WYSIWYG.

  1. Fire up the Disk Copy utility. Yeah, again.
  2. Create a new blank image. No, I didn’t realize you could do that either. Any size will do for now (as long as it’s going to fit whatever you’re cramming into it), later on it’ll shrink–to–fit… so don’t worry about the 10Mb DMG you’re throwing a couple of photos into.
  3. Give it a name, a girl’s name. Charlene. This is what it’ll be called when it’s mounted; the name you type into ‘Save as’ is what the DMG file will be called on your desktop. Disk Copy will create the DMG file for you and mount it, too. Open up the mounted volume… that’s your folder, do what you will to it. Customize, arrange, resize, go nuts.
  4. Are you applying a custom background picture (isn’t that what we came here for? Isn’t that why people fork out twenty bucks for FileStorm? Isn’t buying FileStorm precisely what I told you not to do?) If you are, you must put that picture file (notice I’m avoiding the word ‘image’ right now) into the volume. Must. If you’re sending this shit to your Aunt Flo, how is the volume going to display a custom background picture if that picture is in your Pictures folder? It must be in the volume. That said, we don’t want no stinkin’ picture cluttering up our neat ol’ volume… so how do we conceal it? You got two options, both of them require the Terminal.
    • Before you get all fancy with applying your custom background image, make it a dot file. If you’re unaware of this tenet of Unix file handling… dot files are invisible. It’s just the thing in this situation, but you need to know a little about using Terminal. If your command–line–hymen is still intact, get your virgin ass over to the first three installations of TidBITS Mac User’s Guide to the Unix Command Line and read up. Ready? Great. Using cp, copy (and, by extension, rename) the picture file so there’s a dot at the front of it. Like so: cp /Volumes/YOUR_VOLUME/picture.jpg /Volumes/YOUR_VOLUME/.picture.jpg …Now there’s an invisible copy of the picture in that volume, ls -a that sucker if you don’t believe me. Delete the original, it’s cramping my style. Now you can safely set the background picture without cluttering up the volume! When you go to set it though, instead of trying to navigate around for the file (it’s invisible, silly) just type /Volumes/YOUR_VOLUME’S_NAME_HERE/.picture.jpg in the ‘Go to’ box.
    • Of course, if you don’t like dot files, there’s always the handy SetFile utility included in Apple’s Developer Tools. This time customize your volume’s background before making the picture file invisible (it’s easier that way and you know it), then (in the Terminal once again) type /Developer/Tools/SetFile -a V /Volumes/YOUR_VOLUME/picture.jpg …simple as that. It sets the ‘invisible bit’ on the file… hiding it from the Finder. Voilà.
  5. By now, you have a DMG file, a mounted volume filled with nicely–organized files (some invisible, some not–so–invisible), a custom background image, and (if you’re fond of IconSizeEnabler) different–sized file icons. What next? Well, throw out that DMG file… it’s useless; but don’t eject the volume. Go back to Disk Copy (you didn’t quit it, did you?) and go for the ol’ ‘New Image from Volume or Folder’. Bingo. Select the volume you’ve just spent so long customizing and create a volume from the volume; don’t try to save the new DMG in the mounted volume though, that would suck. Save it to your desktop or any other arbitrary folder and you’re all set. There you are, left with a DMG, what you wanted all along.

The new DMG is the combined size of its contents (no more of that scabby 10Mb shit for you, eh?), is fully customized to your specifications, and is ready to roll. Knock yourself out. So… why did I spend all that time learning this junk from disparate, unhelpful sources? Why have I spent all this time documenting the process so that other lost souls have a place to go? Well, I did a little Disk Imaging of my own today… that’s why.

I saw that Gabe (over at PA, that’s twice this week I’ve mentioned them) created a Penny Arcade icon suitable for use on StarDock’s ObjectDock. While it’s all well and good that the PNG he created works perfectly with ObjectDock, what about us Mac users on the real dock? Well, I spent a little time duffing the PNG into a proper Mac OS X icon resource, then went to all the trouble of packaging it up in a nice neat DMG, which you can download now. I’m such a nice guy sometimes.


As reported by the Pinko, bookmark management has been completely rewritten for Camino’s latest night builds… it’s good stuff. New features like a Top 10 bookmark list, Address Book bookmarks, Rendezvous bookmarks, broken bookmark checking (brilliant idea), and (finally) bookmark searching… it’s damnably impressive.

My complaint (there’s always a complaint) is that it’s killed my favorite part of Camino… one of the few things that was keeping me attached to Camino (instead of switching to Safari)… the dock menu. As I’ve said before, I love dock menus —I can’t live without them— and while this update doesn’t really break the dock menu functionality, it changes it… dramatically. Now instead of having one–click access to my favorite bookmarks and tab groups, I have access to the Top 10 list. Top 10? The only reason those bookmarks are even in the Top 10 is because they’re part of my Comics et al tab group… which I used to be able to access from the dock menu!

On the upside, it’s good to see active development happening on Camino again. It’s been stagnating for far too long… let’s get some shit rolling.


I almost wet myself when Dave Haas emailed me, letting me know that my beloved dock menu certainly wasn’t dead, it’s more customizable than ever!


The dock menu is not dead!

  1. Open up the bookmark manager (open apple–B)
  2. Right–button click (Ctrl–click if you prefer) on “Bookmark Menu”
  3. Notice the context menu has an option “Use for Dock Menu”. Select it.
  4. Go check you dock menu. Express amazement and delight.
  5. Eagerly start right–button clicking on other bookmark collections/bookmark folders/tab groups. Notice presence of “Use for Dock Menu” on all of them.


I’ll tell you now, amazement and delight aren’t the only things I’m expressing. This is great.

WWW? We don’t need no stinkin Ws

Sysadmins, please: the WWW prefix on URLs is a luxury, not a necessity. Yeah, it makes the URL a little more symmetrical; yeah, it helps your average technophobe identify an URL on a billboard without fuss (try throwing out there and see how far it gets you with the local geriatric community); but I’ll be damned if you’ll force me to use it.

Why the hell does contain no data? Does it really need to be And you,, why can’t you be found? I just wanna wire some money to my roommate, do you really need those Ws to function?


It’s an odd word, coincidence. It makes perfect sense, linguistically… but it’s not very often we think about the words we’re using when they fall out of our mouths, slipshod, frightened and butt naked. Co–incidence; several things happening… together… appearing to be connected. I’m rambling.

In what appears to be an odd coincidence, images of a Panther and a Longhorn appear side by side on the preview page for Kate England’s yet–to–be–released Wild West Vol. 2 icon set. I assume the prickly pear and the six shooter to be unrelated.

I just can’t help myself

OK, OK, everybody in the world has already said their two bits on the Proteron app–switcher subject, many more eloquently and more informed than I, so I shall offer a simple thought for all y’all.

If Mac OS X started shipping with a manual, would David Pogue write a New York Times article about how Apple has stolen his livelihood?

“Damnit Steve, the manual was supposed to be missing! What in the hell am I going to do now? I can’t believe you just stole my idea like that… without even crediting me.”

Well I thought it was funny.


Thanks to Dan’s QuickBits, I’m swimming in 114 new (and delicious) desktop backgrounds… awesome. Change picture: check. Frequency: every minute. Random order: check.