“Sometimes there just isn’t a side to cheer for, something progressives fail to get because they think history is sentient and has favorites.”

— Sarah Hoyt

Will debug for food...


Fun little blog entry documenting the life and death of a bug in Microsoft Word for Mac. A nice reminder of how difficult it can be to predict how your shiny new feature will interact with old code, and, more importantly, why it can take so darn long to fix an “obvious” bug. I’d love to see a similar explanation of Apple’s “can’t use capital U in firmware password” bug.

One thing this story doesn’t touch on is the importance of clear, unique error messages. If Word had actually reported “too many open files” instead of “disk full,” the problem might have been fixed a lot sooner. In one of my own favorite debugging stories, our discovery of the message “oh shit: fState != kParseError” led us directly to one line out of 16,000. It wasn’t clear, but it was at least unique.

"Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's make it scriptable!"


This Mac security hole has been all over the web recently. The thing that makes it dangerous is that it’s ridiculously easy to exploit. The thing that makes it annoying is that anyone on the development team should have seen it coming a mile away, especially given the many well-publicized scripting exploits in Windows software.

How did it happen? WebCore. In an effort to produce a common HTML/HTTP library for all applications, functionality that used to be restricted to the Help tool was suddenly embedded in everything that retrieved or displayed web pages. Apple’s pervasive AppleScript support completes the circle.

Ask not what you can do with scriptable applications; ask rather what scriptable applications can do to you…

Update: The official fix is available via Software Update.

Update: You still need to turn off the Open “safe” files after downloading option in Safari, because disk: URLs still work, and mounted disk images can include auto-execute programs. Yes, there are two stupid features in the previous sentence.

Muslim extremists get some tongue


I’m not a big fan of Gene Simmons as a person, but then I only see him when he’s surrounded by groupies, and our only personal interaction consisted of him leaning over my shoulder making faces at one of my models. My interest in KISS is limited to Destroyer and the original Marvel graphic novel.

But the guy definitely isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Oversimplifies the issues a tad, like most celebrities, but at least he knows which side he’s on.

"In the past week..."


“​…how many times have you accessed the Internet, other than for email?”

Yup, another phone survey, this time asking me about local newspapers, radio, television stations, restaurants, and shopping malls, and use of the Internet for shopping and information. I racked up a pretty impressive string of “no” answers for old media, along with a few “they have a shopping district there?”.

My answer to the title question? “Two, maybe three hundred.” Her stunned silence lasted so long that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my answer would have been much higher if I’d used the definition of “accessed” they probably intended.

Page 3: less real than RealDoll


Some people just don’t get it. Beverley Goodway got it. Alan Strutt? Doesn’t get it. (link NSFW in countries where women cover their breasts…)

I’m sure this woman is quite attractive. I’m sure that another photographer could show her in a flattering light. But I don’t think even Gen Nishino on his worst day could make her look any more like a department-store mannequin! That pose! That shiny skin! That cast-in-plastic expression! All that’s missing is a price tag on her thong.

Will the editors of The Sun please take away this man’s camera before someone gets hurt?

[local copy of NSFW image follows…]

more...

GarageBand 1.1


Mostly bugfixes and minor tweaks. Still need third-party freeware for many import/export tasks.

Update: It’s being reported that 1.1 silently fixed a bug that prevented use of free third-party instruments.

Organic minerals


Okay, the food-faddists have hit a new low: Certified Organic salt.

There are apparently three different (European) agencies willing to certify that table salt has been produced in a manner consistent with traditional methods and modern marketing.

Coming soon to a parking lot near you...


2005 BMW F650CS

After much thought, tire-kicking, and riding, I’ve settled on a 2005 BMW F650CS as my first motorcycle. I’m sure this will disappoint a certain Ducati-loving Lion, but that’s the way it goes.

Why the CS? Comfortable riding position, good balance, some interesting features, terrific mileage, and the friendly sales support of California BMW. Lots of pictures to come, as soon as the bike finishes its cross-country trek to the dealership.

Why not a bigger bike, something I was seriously considering? Because I decided that I’d rather have two very different bikes than one compromise. That and I decided that while you can learn to shoot with a .45, you’ll be able to practice longer and more effectively with a .38 (just don’t take either one out on the highway…). I could carry that analogy farther, but I spent two days riding a 250cc mini-cruiser for the MSF class, and it just doesn’t have the continuing appeal of a good .22. :-)

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”