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Monday, 26 November 2007

Gobble Gobble

This is a major security vulnerability with Apple's Mail.app in Leopard. The upshot is that attachments opened in Mail.app will execute arbitrary code without warning. (via)

The really shameful part of this bug is not that it resembles vulnerabilities in another major software vendor's email program (think: largest software company in the world). The real shame is that Apple fixed this problem in a previous version of Mac OS. Cupertino seems bent on delivering lots of fresh turkeys and eating heaps of prime crow.

Caw. end of article

Tuesday, 06 November 2007

Adventures in Paper Print

My disaffection for paper print and manuscript has been building, I suppose, from the very first time I ever tried to start a journal. In my second year of Junior High, I tried to start a journal using one of those boxy cassette tape recorders that resembled an oversized tricorder. It had one of those "condenser" microphones, and my brother and I nearly peed our pants banging on that mic and howling neither quite in tune nor exactly on time.

At the end of my graduate work, I spent a bit of time getting better acquainted with UNIX and tag sets and PERL. Many of the skills I acquired at the Electronic Text Center help me on a daily basis. Without question, digital print is much more malleable than paper print. I also think my reading speed in digital print is close to my reading speed for paper texts. I have long ago jettisoned the sentimental notions surrounding the codex book form as "cozy," "comforting," and "beautiful." I think of paper books as enormous wastes of resources—environmentally destructive, informationally inert, and transportationally cumbersome.

Even worse are the popular texts, such as any play by Shakespeare, that are reproduced literally billions of times in many millions of locations. Just how many copies of James Joyce's Ulysses need to be extant?

Given my rejection of paper as a medium, I am not one bit surprised to find it creeping back into my life. I am not surprised by my wanting to finish William Gibson's Spook Country by turning a series of paper leaves.

I even found something that made me smile:

"Meet Archie," said Alberto.

Ten feet above the orange tape outline, the glossy, grayish-white form of a giant squid appeared, about ninety feet in total length, its tentacles undulating gracefully. "Architeuthis," Bobby said. Its one visible eye was the size of an SUV tire. "Skins," Bobby said.

The squid's every surface flooded with light, subcutaneous pixels sliding past in distorted video imagery, stylized kanji, wide eyes of anime characters. It was gorgeous, ridiculous. She laughed, delighted. (55)

I'm enjoying reading this book, this toxically produced print artifact. end of article

Works Cited
Gibson, William. Spook Country. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007.

Friday, 02 November 2007

A Leopard Ringtone for iPhone

John Siracusa has an in-depth review of Mac OS X 10.5.1 I was holding off upgrading to Leopard until I read that 10.5 significantly improves the performance of older machines.

Apple is legendary for OS rollouts that are faster than their predecessors. This phenomenon is known as "teh snappy" The upgrade from 10.3 (Panther) to 10.4 (Tiger) didn't provide much more by way of teh snappy, but Leopard does. Where YouTube videos on my 1.33 GHz 12" iBook G4 (1 GB RAM) would stutter and jerk, Leopard renders them smoothly on the same machine, not to mention Spotlight's newfound alacrity and the Finder's continued responsiveness (even in the face of unavailable network volumes).

Leopard's improvements to Mac OS X are too many to mention here. This is not to say Leopard is all good news. For one, it is impossible to unmount remote and local drives once they've been used.2

About a month ago, I went to the Apple Store in Columbus, Ohio and purchased an iPod Touch. After using that device for two days I returned it and purchased an iPhone in its place. Since then, I've been telling anyone who cares to listen (and some who don't) that iPhone is the first practical step toward truly ubiquitous mobile computing. The applications and services which are going to be developed for iPhone and (coming) devices with comparable functionality will significantly evolve computing. In my opinion, truly mobile computing is going the be the next big thing whose effect on computing will be comparable to the effect of the debut of Macintosh in 1984.

Among the things Leopard updates is Setup Assistant's welcome movie (which I poached from the bottom of the "Background" section of Siracusa's review.)

As a bonus: those of you who have an iPhone and who know how to add custom ringtones can download the ringtone I made from the first fifteen seconds of Leopard's intro movie.3

Happy upgrading. end of article

1 Yes, I am aware that it's either "Mac OS X" or "Mac OS 10.x", but my usage captures the "Mac OS X" as a distinctive brand different, for example, than "Mac OS 9".
2 This is an issue that has existed in all versions of Mac OS X, though was workaroundable in Tiger.
3 If you don't have an iPhone, you can download the file and convert it to a format compatible with the phone you do own.

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