inessential by Brent Simmons

June 2006

NetNewsWire Lite 2.1

I’m so glad to get NetNewsWire Lite 2.1 out the door!

It might be interesting to get a little peek behind the scenes...

Before the NewsGator acquisition, it was pretty easy to have a Lite version. It didn’t cost much more—yes, some support, some extra work, and of course the issue of competing with myself—but it was easily worth it. (Mainly because it made me feel good to have a freeware version. A silly reason, perhaps—questionable from a business standpoint—but if the software business didn’t make me feel good, well, there are other professions.)

But then with the NewsGator acquisition came the issue of sync. Should the Lite version include it? If so, the equation is different—the cost of the Lite version is higher, because each person who syncs is using server resources.

The decision we made was, I think, a very generous decision—and it makes me proud of my company. The Lite version includes sync, and it works with a free NewsGator account. This means you can sync multiple copies of NetNewsWire Lite and it means you can use the online reader when you’re away from your normal computer(s). (Depending on what software and what account you have, you can also sync with InBox, FeedDemon, and other aggregators.)

What we also did—the responsible thing to do—was wait to release NetNewsWire Lite until we’d done some upgrades and added a bunch of capacity.

Right now the NewsGator syncing in the Lite and full versions is the same—but the full version will be getting new features, starting with synced clippings. (Both already sync subscriptions and read/unread status.) So there will be different levels in the future—but still, this level of syncing is what lots of people have been asking for.

And it makes me feel good to be able to put this feature in NetNewsWire Lite and give it to Mac users.

Now, of course, I hope folks will check out the full version—because it really does have tons of features the Lite version doesn’t have. (Searching, browsing, flagged items, widescreen view, scriptability, attention sorting, and so on.)

But still, it pleases me to be able to say that my company has done the generous thing and included such a cool feature in the Lite version.

Huevos, Big Cat Universal

Huevos and Big Cat are now universal too.

The Weird Little Free (wilfie) apps are now universal. It’s easy when they’re small and simple—these were definitely just check-the-box cases.

TigerLaunch Universal

TigerLaunch Icon

I had figured by now that I was the only person still using TigerLaunch—and I do use it, I like its simplicity, the flat alphabetical list of apps.

Were I writing it today, I’d do a number of things differently—but not everything. I still dig the non-hierarchical menu, I like that the list is alphabetical. Those things I wouldn’t change.

I also wouldn’t change the Projects menu, which I use more often than the apps menu. It’s how I open and switch between Xcode projects.

Even though I figured I was the only person still using it, it turns out I was wrong—we kept getting requests for a universal binary. And now here it is. (Also fixed a few bugs—see the change notes.)

Trinity Rubicon: The jig is up...

So those Leopard screenshots are faked. Trinity Rubicon: The jig is up....

This part almost made me spit out my coffee—or, at least, nod knowingly: “Then, I went back into Photoshop and cleared the black area Fun House creates from the distortion and put a fake second desktop underneath it. Sure, it looks cheesy, but if Apple made it, something tells me you would like it.” (Emphasis mine.)


It’s funny because it’s true. I was all getting into it, thinking it was cool, and then I found out it was fake, and then I thought it looked cheesy. Is there no hope for us Mac users?

Debugging Safari + Ajax?

A co-worker at NewsGator asked me if I knew what people use for debugging Safari when developing Ajax stuff.

I don’t know, actually—but maybe you do? (Are people using Dashcode for this? If so, has it been officially released?)

Zen comment spam

I’ve been getting a ton of random-letter comment spam lately. Does anybody know what the purpose of this is? Or have any theories?

The comments are weird because they’re apparently useless. No links, no words. They’re not selling anything or trying to get a better Google rank. They’re Zen comments.

What’s the point of them?

Here’s a screen shot:

Screen shot of comment spam

Okay, I don’t believe in the anti-Christ

People are asking me if I really believe in the anti-Christ. I don’t. (Okay?) It would have been nice not to have to say that explicitly, because it takes the fun out of it, but I feel I have to before people start saying I’m one of those scary apocalyptarians.

I grew up during the ’70s, the era of In Search Of... and The Late Great Planet Earth and The Omen and all that. This stuff is good corny fun, and it’s 6/6/06, so why not? (I always watch this kind of stuff on the History channel, because it’s funny, because I get a kick out of it. I call them the “Jesus’-older-brother-is-from-space” shows.)

But—again, being hyper-explicit—here’s the subtext of my previous post:

1. Most people imagine an anti-Christ who’s really pretty weak. Easy to spot. It wouldn’t be like that—if you want to him to be really, really evil (because it makes a better morality story) then you have to imagine that’s he’s wickedly hard to spot, and that calling him out would take a great and righteous act of courage that would cost you everything in this world.

Most people will just about think he’s Christ, not the opposite. To make this a great story, you’ve got to up the ante all the way, make it super-difficult for the good guys. The good guys have to be the ultimate underdogs in the ultimate battle.

2. Quite often, evil looks like good—plus compromises made necessary by circumstances. (At least at the beginning.) Unfortunately, here on Earth, that’s what good looks like too.

3. There have been and will be charismatic, beloved leaders who are evil.

4. We are manipulated in small ways every day by people and companies and organizations who we think get it but who are perfectly indifferent to our best interests. Everyone (almost) will say of the (fictional) anti-Christ: “I like him, he gets it.”

Anti-Christ to be nice guy?

Whenever I imagine the anti-Christ, I imagine a super nice guy, universally beloved. Well-dressed, clean-shaven—he won’t look like he’s from Hell.

He’ll be charismatic. Philanthropic. It will seem like he cares about you, personally. He’ll have an air of quiet moral earnestness, like Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck.

If he makes something (movies, software, soft drinks, shoes) people will love his products. If he’s a politician he will be loved by left and right.

You won’t know he’s the anti-Christ. In fact, he would be the last guy you suspect.

He’ll have a wonderful speaking voice, and you’ll just love to listen to him talk. Everybody will.