Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Introducing TheAppleBlog

A few friends and I have just started a new blog: theappleblog.com.

Beyond offering News about Apple, it seeks to adopt a pragmatic approach to informing users from all walks of computing life, by periodically focusing on very specific compelling aspects of  the Mac platform.

My first post on this new blog seeks to draw interest from mobile business users by comparing the state of managing contact and calendaring information across disparate applications, mobile devices and networked systems on both Windows and OS X.

update: as pointed out by many bloggers, TheAppleBlog is in no way affiliated with Apple. Josh Pigford's baby is simply harnessing the energy of a few enthusiasts.

Turkey-Day Round-Up

I had a fantastic time with my Sister visiting us a week before Thanksgiving. She's finally relaxing. Her little project is still looking strong. She's working on formalizing experiments and drafting articles for later publication in Science and/or Nature. I've gotten her excited about starting a blog about alternative energies and various environmental issues. We need to follow-up now. heh. Brandy and I had a most productive Thanksgiving week-end, I bought a vacuum-cleaner. It rocks. And it's caught on tape. More on that later. I'm flying to France next Monday which will kick-off a 3-weeks vacation visiting the Fam' in Paris and enjoying home-cooked food. I'm expecting to resume regular blogging.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Developers: Report Browser Bugs

Peter-Paul Koch has generously set-up a forum to review and report issues various browsers have with their CSS and JavaScript implementations. He's even got a very handy RSS feed. Be sure to subscribe to that.

via JavaScript Weblog [RSS] and CSS Weblog [RSS].

In light of this, I've just set-up my rusty old browserbugs.com to 302 redirect to Peter-Paul's site. Be sure to bookmark his URL though.

I'm pretty sure I've got some issues to contribute to this database.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Dave Massy Shares DHTML Resources

Dave Massy, from the Internet Explorer team, shares some of his favourite DHTML resources. Many readers (including this one) have, and continue to chime-in.

A reader has also educated me on the fact that the Gecko browsers also do support client-side XSLT processing. Dave Hyatt had made mention of XSLT in his blog a while ago, and appears to be making good progress. Here's to XSLT in Safari :) He's looking for test cases and it would appear people have hooked-him up quite nicely in comments. Dave, if you're still looking for more test cases, gmail me at frenchy.

Oh the possibilities of cross-platform, cross-browser, rich, accessible, web application development. Can you see me drool? <:D~~~

Banks: Protect Privacy: Disable Autocomplete with Valid HTML

Here's a little tip that might help out banks who wish to disable that pesky privacy-compromising "autocomplete" feature many browsers have on text input boxes, and may reveal people's sensitive informations on publicly used machines.

First-off, i'll point out that a public place should be the last place on earth anybody should ever do their online banking. But apparently, people do.

Kenn Christ rounds-up the controversy around using the autcomplete="off" attribute on <input ... /> elements: this attribute is not part of the HTML specification. Inserting this attribute in your HTML code makes your document an invalid HTML document.

I'm offering a fairly obvious unobtrusive JavaScript way of setting this attribute:
  1. to disable autocomplete on one or several text input boxes add the following CSS class attribute value to each one: class="disableAutoComplete" so such input tag might look like: <input type="text" class="disableAutoComplete" name="mySocialSecurityNumber" value="111-11-1111"/>
  2. add the following script block at the bottom of your document, say, right before the </body> tag, inline, or in a separate .js file:
    <script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
    if (document.getElementsByTagName) {
    var inputElements = document.getElementsByTagName("input");
    for (i=0; inputElements[i]; i++) {
    if (inputElements[i].className && (inputElements[i].className.indexOf("disableAutoComplete") != -1)) {
    }//if current input element has the disableAutoComplete class set.
    }//loop thru input elements
    }//basic DOM-happiness-check
  3. ...
  4. let me know if it works ;]
This should ensure your HTML remains valid while still enabling the feature. Now ... if users have JavaScript disabled ... well, they shouldn't be using online banking anyway. Good online banking sites (such as Bank of America's) also use JavaScript to automatically log-out a user after a set period of inactivity on any given page.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Philly Kisses Muni WiFi Goodbye, Subsidizes Telcos

Philly citizens are about to unwittingly foot the bill for higher-priced broadband while jeopardizing their Municipal WiFi project, courtesy of telco-lobby-sponsored Pennsylvania House Bill 30. Om Malik is rounding-up analysis from Esme Vos and Harold Feld.

update: The WSJ also offers a similar perspective.

update update: Slashdot also picked-up this story from Macworld.

Google New Feature: The Froogle Wishlist

Jason Shellen from Google is blogging about Froogle's new feature: The Froogle Wishlist:
We release a lot of stuff here at Google, but this one I'm particularly excited about. Every year near the holidays my Mom starts asking me to tell her what I would like for Christmas. I'm usually bad at getting her a list, and more than once I've received argyle socks, but now I'll be happy to point her to my Froogle Wish List.

EarthLink Members: Updating Outgoing Mail Settings

It would appear EarthLink is instructing us members to update our outgoing mail settings to the more secure and flexible Authenticated Mail Server which uses MD5 Challenge-Response.

This nice feature has actually been around for years and I'm glad to see it advocated: it should ensure you're able to send e-mail regardless of what network you're in, which will come-in especially handy to mobile users.

They have wizards available at the above URL for Windows, Mac OS X and Mac Classic.

Impressive DHTML Text Editor by Frederico Knabben

Frederico Caldeira Knabben, you rock :)

Only just gave him $10 for now. I'll do better after Xmas blows over.

via IEBlog.

Best. T-Shirt. Ever. Xmas Gift for Scoble :)

Kill Bill

(via Jeremy Zawodny's link Blog)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

My Sister Rocks

Before I get lynched i'll start by proclaiming I have 3 sisters, they all rock. ;]

Alex just called me to share an exciting news. I'm not supposed to get into details right now. Fine. But there's no way in hell i'm just guna shut up.

Starting in her early teenage years, Alex has been a staunch, passionate protector of the environment. Back when we both lived in France, much of her teenage angst was spent with activists protesting the dangerous rise of nuclear waste. I could see her boil with anger and rage at each report of an oil spill disaster off of our Atlantic Coast. She was on a mission.

Upon completing her Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from Berkeley, she reluctantly turned-down a full scholarship from MIT to accept one from the University of Washington in Seattle: She was looking to work closely with a prominent professor on some bacteria they shared an interested in.

I hear about that damned bacteria every time I see her! It's like a cliff-hanging soap opera. She's been working very hard on her research, stressed-out, painstakingly overcoming roadblocks, obsessing. I almost had to coerce her into flying down to see me this weekend so she could unwind and relax. That's just the way she is.

Tonight, she tells me she feels every choice she's made, her entire existence have been validated.

We'll see how things do pan-out. I'll post updates when she's had a chance to finally sleep over it and things are more certain. Regardless of the outcome, I'm very excited for her, and always will be proud of her.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Firefox Advocator

I've already blogged about this and made feeble attempts at plugging it elsewhere, but over the weekend, I just thought of a cool name for it: behold, the Firefox Advocator. SPREAD THE WORD! If you do use it, let me know at my gmail account, the username is frenchy, I'll try and add your URL to the list of sites that use it!

Censorship by the Tyranny of the Few - by Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis investigates one of the latest FCC fines:
And on the basis of that, the FCC decided to bring down the heavy hammer of government censorship and fine Fox an incredible $1.2 million for suggesting -- not depicting but merely suggesting -- sex on a show that had already been canceled because the marketplace didn't like it anyway.
I'm sensing a lucrative angle in there ... somewhere ... can't quite pinpoint it yet:
  1. Watch TV
  2. Write Bogus Letters
  3. ...?
  4. Profit!
It'd be nice if certain people spent more time having sex than complain about what little there isn't on TV to the FCC.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

What's a Good PC Laptop?

update 12/16/2007: A few months after this post was originally written, Brandy's parents ended-up getting an iMac at home, and getting her Dad a PowerBook to take on his assignment to Canada.
Brandy and I are trying to help her Dad find a good laptop. His budget is $1500-ish. He'll very likely use the Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel. There are also good chances he's looking to get into digital photography and digital video, for family stuff. He's also very much a PC guy, and chances are he might require some PC-specific enterprise applications for his work, at some point, but I need to get more details.

We'll be trying to obtain a more refined set of requirements:
- 12" screen / 14" screen ?
- Bluetooth ?
- Microsoft Office ?
- DVD Burning ?

I really could use suggestions/advice on good PC laptops, let's start with two main parameters:

- $1500-ish
- durable

And let's see what features/software/horsepower remain available.

Om Malik had covered one of the Averatec laptops on his blog: The $999 3250.

Virtual Bartender

  • beer
  • lay down
  • jump
  • push-ups
  • dance
  • macarena
  • strip
  • man
  • and more ...

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Thank You.

Best ... Resume ... Evaaahhrh

Alexandre "Al" Guéniot is looking for an internship leading to a full-time position starting in 2005. He just started a blog.

I you drop a quarter, he'll sing you his life :)

He's also made some cool movies and games.

Zyva Alex!

Good Things from Microsoft

With my usual Mac OS X, Firefox advocacy and numerous criticisms of security in Windows (see blog archives), one would think I'd be mostly blind to any Good Microsoft may have brought to this world.

As Robert Scoble is visiting the beleaguered mavericks from the Microsoft Mac Business Unit, I feel compelled to remind myself of the cool stuff Microsoft's produced.

Microsoft Office for Mac OS X made my switch from Windows 2000 to Mac OS X possible in 2001. Entourage remains a very strong mail application. Back on an old 400Mhz Titanium Powerbook, it chugged through gigabytes of e-mail I had imported from various other sources, browsing, viewing, sorting e-mail was, and remains, fast. One of the many things I liked about it was its ability to put "tags" on e-mails. Instead of solely relying on folders to organize mail, I could create "virtual folders" based on search rules and tag combinations. A concept more recently advocated on GMail. But Entourage had that back in 2001. Entourage's speed and responsiveness were, I believe, partly due to its saving everything in one big database stored as a binary file. Regardless of how many mail boxes and accounts you had, it all was stored in this big database. This bit me hard one day after a sector got corrupted on my hard drive, which caused the operating system to delete my Entourage database upon a routine reboot file system health check, following a system upgrade. I had an older back-up but lost months of mail. Nowadays, Panther has a "journaled file system" so these types of corruption should no-longer be occurring and I still highly recommend Entourage to e-mail power users. I have however since then switched to Mail.app due to its nice integration with iCal, iChat, and Address Book.

As a Reservoir Engineer, my Girlfriend is quite an expert at Excel. She'd work on documents on her work PC during the day, and often spend extra hours tweaking numbers and charts on the iBook back home. While mainly a PC user, she felt right at home in Mac OS X Excel. She recently made a flier in Word on Windows for the office holiday party and wanted to "put it on the web". Since I'm lazy, I had her e-mail me the Word document, which I opened in Word on Mac OS X. I went "File --> Print ... " clicked the "Save as PDF" button ( in OS X, if you can print it, you can PDF it ). The end-result mirrored exactly like what she had on the PC. I uploaded the PDF file to one of her 8 EarthLink web accounts.

Microsoft Office for OS X enables us Mac users to remain productive in a Microsoft-dominated business world.

Internet Explorer has also carried us Mac users for a long time. While some web developers (including this one) at times decry odd compatibility issues on today's more advanced features, it stacked up quite nicely against all other browsers back in 2001, regardless of platform.

Do the MBU guys have blogs?

On the Windows front, I've gotta say Internet Explorer 5.0, released back in 1999, was an amazing web browser. Heck, if you dug deeper into its support for XML, XmlHttpRequest, XSLT, DOM, CSS and JavaScript, you had a fairly comprehensive networked software platform at your fingertips. Since 1999, XSLT, DOM, and CSS have matured as standards that are now supported by most major browser code bases. Actually XSLT is, i believe, still only supported in Windows IE, as far as browsers go. Safari and Mozilla variants, are now all able to request an XML document over HTTP and store it in memory for further processing. A couple of years ago, when the Mozilla dudes were starting to implement this feature, they'd often link directly to documentation on the Microsoft Site. Back at XTech 2000, a conference "about XML", I remember attending an XSLT tutorial session where we all used IE5.0 to test our code. All this still lives in IE 6.0 ... I'm pretty sure. We're now living in pretty exciting times where it's realistic to build fairly advanced cross-platform applications powered by web standards.

Microsoft's got good dudes working for them. Regardless, one day I will get Scoble to switch (back to?) to Mac and blog about it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Developers: Apple Spotlight In-Depth

As covered (interesting thread) on Slashdot, Apple is strongly encouraging developers to build plug-ins for Spotlight. This great in-depth developer article is yet another nudge.

I still fail to put into words how insanely great this Tiger feature will be, and to some lucky developers, already is. Here's yet another feeble attempt.

Apple's Spotlight technology will revolutionize the way we interact with data on our computers. No-longer will be required to scour our hard drives for some obscure file deeply nested in a clumsy folder hierarchy, or perform lengthy "file search" operations in a brute-force approach. No-longer will be forced to constantly reevaluate our folder hierarchies to "keep things organized" and "easy to find".

Apple will be allowing users to type what they're looking for in a box and watch results appear instantly, at each keystroke. In other words, you are now offered the ability to access information on your computer, based on what little you already know about it:
Search All Your Stuff

Conveniently appearing in Tiger’s menu bar, a powerful new search field called Spotlight gives lightning-fast search results encompassing not only files, folders and documents but also messages in Mail, contacts in Address Book and iCal calendars. It’s as easy as searching for songs in iTunes, but Spotlight searches your entire personal computer
Upon initial installation, Spotlight will index the data on the entire hard drive. Once this initial lengthy process has been performed, any new piece of information that gets subsequently stored on the computer is automatically indexed in real-time, and instantly available via Spotlight. No-longer are we "searching". We're accessing. Right-away.

Apple will be shipping Spotlight with support for many existing file types (bottom of the page). Apple seeded Tiger to developers this summer at WWDC, exhorting them to write their own Spotlight plug-ins for their applications to dramatically improve user experience. By the time Tiger ships to the public in "the first half of 2005", I would expect many application developers to release their own Spotlight plug-ins at roughly the same time.

Does your Application offer a Spotlight plug-in? Rumor has it that Quicksilver, one of a few pioneers in this "instant" access field, will require Tiger in its final version. Tiger and Spotlight should allow these products to no-longer perform their own background indexing and focus on presenting and correlating information in compelling user-interfaces. They're also a boon to those of us who don't yet run Tiger.

While I attended SIGGRAPH, I saw at least one software vendor that offered a similar third-party solution for Windows, it created a custom Windows "drive" with a custom highly-optimized file system where things would get re-indexed in real time upon saving new files. I can't for the life of me remember their name, I need to look back through the fliers I got. Hopefully the Scobleizer, can point me in the right direction. There's X1.com. There's the Desktop Google Search. While awesome solutions, just like Quicksilver, they still need to somewhat rely on periodic background indexing since they can't yet be integrated with the Windows file system at a low-level. From what little I can tell, results can never be as "fresh" or "instantaneous" as what Spotlight offers through its integration with Apple's file system.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Michael Moore Lost the Election

Jeff Jarvis, who voted for Kerry, believes Moore lost the election.

A couple of days earlier, Brett Rogers, a Republican and Bush voter open to many of the Democratic ideals, made the same point in his blog.

This post was brought to you by Spiderman.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Browser Market Share

A VC's post about Browser Market Share prompted me to take a snapshot of my current browser/operating system statistics from blogpatroll.com. I'm unhappy with their browser breakdown, but, after all, it's free. This should be interpreted as "Internet Explorer" vs "Not Internet Explorer":
Chris Holland - site statistics - operating systems and browsers

Related Blog Posts:

Green Book - Kevin Sites

What's in your Green Book? - RSS.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Dennis Quaid - Good Times in Beverly Hills

Wednesday night, Brandy and I had a succulent dinner at Xian, in Beverly Hills. Very reasonably priced too.

We then headed over to Level One, on wilshire for a private concert from "Dennis Quaid and the Sharks". It was very, very fun. The guy really is a Wild One.

Good Times 8)

Thursday, November 04, 2004


20 Reasons Why ...

Episode 3.


Elections FrogBack

Kerry thanks.

BoingBoing and readers try to cope.

A blog-buddy tries to cope.

Hulk taunts.

CNN oops.

Evil Internets blogs influence stock market.

Jeff Jarvis elevates spirits with an open letter.

Layla Dances.


originally uploaded by chrisholland.
Aggravating Simon soothes me. Yet, believe it or not, he was purring.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Kevin Sites: Things They Carry

Kevin Sites reports from Iraq about the things our Soldiers "Carry for Comfort or Luck in the War Zone?".

NO on Prop 66 - A Perspective

Update: Mike points me to the official analysis (not opinionated) of this proposition.

My Friend Laura is a State Prosecutor and she and her fiancé are offering their perspective on this proposition: They're urging people to vote No on Prop 66:
All right- usually you do not see me sending messages like this, but there is an issue that Laura (being a state prosecutor) and I know a lot about, and have strong feelings for, on the ballot most of you will see Tuesday.  This is an issue that will affect us all here in CA much more than who becomes president.

There is a proposition (66) on the ballot that, if it passes, would effectively repeal California's "Three Strikes" law.  For those of you not familiar with this law, it has been in effect for about ten years and gives prosecutors and judges the discretion to seek extended jail sentences to repeat offenders who are career criminals.  One year after its passage the crime rate in California dropped substantially.  In L.A. we now have the lowest crime rate since the late 1960's.

Prop 66 was created, and funded, by an Orange County millionaire who wants to help his son get out of jail.  Several advertisements for this Proposition have given the public the misleading impression that the Three Strikes law has been responsible for sending a few minor offenders to jail for life.  In addition, proponents make the proposed changes to the law sound fair and harmless, when in reality they are drastic.  Read the document at this link http://www.keep3strikes.org/facts.asp to see what the changes really mean, and see profiles of some of the actual individuals who would be released.

If this Prop passes (as seems likely to happen looking at the current polls) an estimated 26000 repeat offenders will be immediately released from prison, with a much larger number receiving shortened sentences.  We are talking people convicted of crimes such as rape and murder here, not junkies, pizza theives, or shoplifters.  If any of you have doubts about the seriousness of this,  Laura has informed me that her office has already created an emergency group to handle all the cases (likely resulting in releases or reduced sentences) that will immediately arise should Prop 66 pass. 

The Three Strikes law has been very effective, and judges have the discretion to apply it only where it is warranted.  The idea is that it allows the justice system to look at a criminal's past history, not just the current crime, allowing the courts to keep career criminals off the streets rather than letting them cycle in and out of jail while continuing to victimize people.  This is why the current governor, former governors, the LAPD, sherriff's office, attorney general, and district attorney all oppose this Proposition.

Please do not be fooled into gutting this law as it will have a huge effect on crime here in Los Angeles.  Look at the issue carefully before voting on this one.