go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

February, 2006

  • go ahead, mac my day

    OOPSLA 2006 submissions are open

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    We have opened the first group of submissions for OOPSLA 2006. Early submissions are as follows:

    • research papers
    • Onward! papers
    • essays
    • practitioner reports
    • educators' symposium
    • tutorials
    • panels
    • workshops

    'What's OOPSLA?' I hear you say. It's the premiere North American conference for object-oriented programming. The whole acronymn is Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications. OOPSLA 2006 is our 21st conference. State-of-the-art software engineering is born here: design patterns, reflection, refactoring, UML, ...

    The deadline for these early submissions is 18 March. The deadline for the second group of submissions is 30 June 2006, which includes the submissions for posters, demos, and the doctoral symposium (amongst others). For those of my readers who are students, I'll open applications for the student volunteer programme sometime in the next few months.

    I'm really excited about OOPSLA this year. We're working hard on putting together a strong programme, and I'm looking forward to what we've got on tap. But we can't do it alone -- a large part of the conference is the submissions that we receive, which means you guys (yes! you!) have to submit something. There's lots of room at OOPSLA for all things Macintosh, and I'd personally like to see more Mac-ly stuff in the program. So go submit! I've already posted a slew of ideas about potential Mac content for OOPSLA, but I bet you guys can come up with more than that.

    And if anyone has any questions about OOPSLA (or anything else), feel free to use that 'contact me' link over on the right side of the page.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    book review - 'Leonardo's Laptop' by Ben Schneiderman

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    Book title: Leonardo's Laptop : Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies
    Author: Ben Schneiderman
    ISBN: 0262692996


    Schneiderman's Leonardo's Laptop is singularly disappointing. Promising to raise our expectation of what we should get from technology, he instead uses a forced extended metaphor in the form of Leonardo da Vinci. What would Leonardo do?, we are repeatedly asked. Schneiderman attempts to answer the question. Sadly, his answers are neither new nor groundbreaking. I cannot believe that da Vinci would simply recount solutions that are already available and attempt to make such solutions sound visionary and forward-thinking.

    The chapters in the book discuss the issues with usability today, activites and relationships, and attempt to discuss future directions in several fields: government, healthcare, business, and education. In these chapters, Schneiderman uses feel-good buzzwords like 'empowering' and 'enabling', but never moves beyond the feel-good buzzwords to suggest real solutions. In most cases, he suggests solutions that are already implemented; in others, he simply waves his hands at the problem and says that there has to be a solution.

    Each chapter concludes with a skeptic's corner. This section could easily be re-labelled the strawman's corner. In that section, he constructs arguments that skeptics might use, but he must assume that skeptics are uniformly moronic. The so-called skeptical arguments are drawn with exceptionally rough strokes, which he dispenses of with little regard to very real concerns that can and should be discussed.

    I had high hopes for this book. I wanted something that pushed the boundaries. I wanted something visionary. Instead, I got a repetitive book that somehow didn't say anything. I can only hope that future works give us something better than this.


    Related links:
    Ben Schneiderman's website
    Amazon's page about this book

  • go ahead, mac my day

    a virus in the wild, part two

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    More information is available about the first Mac OS worm in the wild. The best summary, including a detailed discussion of what the virus does and how to delete if it you were infected, is available from Symantec.

    Another worm has surfaced. This time it appears to be a proof-of-concept worm that spreads via BlueTooth. Symantec has a good write-up of this one, too. I have to admit a bit of amusement at a worm that creates a Preferences file with 'pwned' in the name, as this one does.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    case mods and car mods come together

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    Someone out there is working on getting a Mac working in their Toyota Prius. It's a work-in-progress, but so far, they've got a touch screen working with Front Row to play music and videos. The webpage here describes everything that's been done so far, and notes about what's to come.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    limericks and authenticity

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    Aside from developers, designers, technical writers, and (one hopes) a usability girl or two, Apple's got a poet on staff:

    There once was a user that whined
    his existing OS was so blind
    he'd do better to pirate
    an OS that ran great
    but found his hardware declined.
    Well, maybe one who writes limericks shouldn't be labelled a poet, but that's a philosophical discussion that I'm not going to get into. Regardless of what you call the person who wrote it, the limerick is buried in the new MacTels, and someone found it this week.

    One thing that Apple has a fundamental understanding of is building hardware and software that's authentic. They don't try to always be ultra-professional, because they know that ultra-professional comes across as ultra-stuffy. So Apple puts in little touches like this, and people feel like Apple is more real when they find it. It doesn't take away from the polish that Apple puts into their products, it just makes them a bit easier to love.

    This is a lesson that many companies need to learn. People want to know that there's really someone behind the curtain. Easter eggs and little hidden messages like this make people smile. It makes your users feel more connected to what they're using. How is that not a good thing?

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Yahoo!'s design patterns library

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    I just stumbled across Yahoo!'s Design Patterns Library today. They're early in it, so it's nowhere near complete, but it looks like a reasonable collection of web design patterns. Some of the patterns are linked to their UI library. All in all, it looks like the beginning of useful goodies for web developers.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    a virus in the wild

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    It's finally come to pass: a Mac virus has made it out into the wild. The folks over at MacRumors got pwned. Someone posted a message to their forums that claimed to have screenshots of Leopard, and some number of folks fell all over themselves to download and open the file.

    If someone were to have downloaded and tried to run the file, it opened up a Terminal.app window and tried to do its business. The user would have to enter their administrator password for the virus (well, it's more correct to call it a Trojan horse) to do anything. But if someone were to have done this, then it takes screenshots from the user's computer and attempts to use Fire.app to send them to someone (one presumes the author). Additionally, it tries to replicate itself to all of the computers on your Bonjour network. There are some other reports, including that it tries to include a code stub into all executables. It's not fully clear yet all of what's going on; I'm sure that there will be more information as time passes. There is a disassembly of the executable, but it's incomplete.

    I have to admit that I have a difficult time feeling much sympathy for people who download some random thing off of a forum and they get fried. This is doubly true when the poster from the forum has never posted anything before this. It's just asking for trouble. You should always be careful when downloading, regardless of what platform you're on. No platform is immune, and there's always going to be some wanker out there who's going to want to do something like this.

    (Of course, I need to have a piece of humble pie myself, since I just told someone a couple of days ago that there are no Mac viruses.)

  • go ahead, mac my day

    cosmic binaries

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    The list of universal binaries is growing. For gamers, World of Warcraft and Unreal have made it to universal. The latest Mathematica update (released yesterday!) has brought it to universal. Quicksilver has been there since build 43. Delicious Library is there (and I really like that app). There's lots more, of course; those are just some of the apps that caught my eye. For a more complete listing, you can check out the MacRumors list of universal binaries, which covers many commercial applications plus some of the more popular freeware/shareware apps. The list from MacObserver is pretty good, too. The MacUpdate list and the VersionTracker list are better for shareware/freeware apps, and they're showing a couple of dozen updates a day.

    It's good to see these updates. I'd love to know if/when Aspyr is going to issue a patch for The Sims 2 or if the upcoming Civilisation 4 is going to be universal. I'm sorely tempted by the MacBook Pro, if only because my personal laptop (a TiBook 1-GHz) is a bit long in the tooth.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    oh noes!

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    I just got email saying that my university degree has expired. Oh no!

    This is the thing that I don't get about spam. Who can really get caught by something like this? Nigerian 'please let me use your bank account' scams, make money fast scams, and all of the university ones offering you a PhD for a couple hundred bucks. Spam of the ultra-cheap software sort is somewhat more understandable, although I especially like getting spam at my @microsoft.com email address that's telling me that I can buy Windows for less than the street price.  I understand porn or Viagra or remote-controlled car spam, because I'm sure that people buy stuff from that.

    But, really, do people think that their university degree has expired? And if they do think that it's expired, shouldn't it be confiscated anyway?

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Your Senator needs an iPod

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    iPac, a political action committee that is 'dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced intellectual property policy', is running a campaign to buy video iPods for legislators who work on technology-related technology. Lawrence Lessig has signed on to record a message for these iPods, and they're also loading other content on them that's in the public domain or is available via the Creative Commons license.

    So far, they've sent video iPods to the following folks in Congress:

    I kinda like the idea. Technology is complicated, and legislators often don't have an understanding of the technology from any standpoint. An iPod is a nice entry into technology: it's easy-to-use, it's a handy little device (mine gets most of its use on airplanes), and I wouldn't mind seeing a Senator get upset when they want to rip a CD onto their iPod and discover that they can't do it because of the DRM on the CD.

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