By Collin Allen


June 6, 2005

Inquisitor is a Safari plugin which adds predicting capabilities to Safari’s search field, complete with star ratings. Possible search matches visibly sort as you type, making for a great interface. I would expect nothing less from it’s creator, David Watanabe, who is best known for NewsFire and Acquisition. All his applications have fantastic easy-to-use interfaces with a distinct Aqua sparkle that I look forward to every time I launch them.

While not mentioned anywhere that I can find, a quick peek at TCP traffic with Eavesdrop revealed that Inquisitor is powered by Google Suggest. I think this is it’s most important feature; Google’s wealth of information is based on what’s available on the web, and this is what is searched when you type, not a predefined list of words. This helps keep plugin size to a minimum and information updated. Still in beta, Inquisitor already feels as if it’s ready for full time use. Check it out.

Widget Development FAQ

June 3, 2005

For those interested in creating Dashboard widgets, a great development FAQ has been posted over at Check it out. Apple also has documentation, which can be found here.

I’m working on two widgets of my own, and you can be sure I’ll post them here soon!

iSight Inside

May 30, 2005

Just out of geeky curiousity (and since I hadn’t seen anyone do it yet), I carefully disassembled my iSight and took pictures along the way.

The first step in cracking open the camera is to remove the two tiny screws in the bottom of the iSight, at the front and back of the white oval surrounding the pivoting base. To remove that white oval, use a sharp knife or nylon pry tool to gently pull the top and bottom away from the holes where the screws were. There are four tabs on it, but popping off the top and bottom ones is far easier than unhooking the sides first. It unclips and comes free.

isight opening

Grab the iSight mesh housing and the camera piece in front (the part you twist to open and close the iris), and pull the two away from each other. The housing slides almost all the way off the camera, but gets hung up at the very end. What holds it up is the small translucent piece of plastic used to funnel the small green LED light up to the tip of the camera. Sliding the housing halfway back down the iSight exposes a little window, showing a side view of white plastic back of the iSight. From this point, you can slide the pry tool right between the iSight and the white backing – it pops right off. The mesh iSight housing then slides off easily.

isight microphones

With the cover completely off the iSight, any further disassembly is easy. A thin screen is taped on the black plastic cage around the electronics to stop dust and dirt from getting inside. It peels off easily to expose the microphones and other guts of the iSight. The rest comes apart after removing the obvious screws. If you are doing this disassembly, do be careful with the thin ribbon cables which connect the boards inside, as they tear easily. The connectors require that you pull out the front half before the ribbon will disconnect.

isight boards

There is also a mysterious ribbon connector at the back of the iSight which isn’t connected. My guess is that Apple uses it to restore the firmware or run diagnostics on hosed iSights. If anyone has some insight into its use, I’d love to know what it’s really for.

isight connectors

How Podcasting Works

May 30, 2005

For those who haven’t looked into it yet, podcasting is a relatively new form of broadcasting in which anyone can record and transmit audio, distributed over the internet. It is automated by RSS, allowing listeners to subscribe to a web address and receive updates as they are published. Podcasting is not live, however this can be an advantage as the audio files can be stored on an iPod (or other media player) and be enjoyed at a convenient time. Most podcast-enabled applications, such as iPodderX and NetNewsWire, easily integrate with iTunes to support iPod synchronization. If you’re interested but unsure of how it all fits together, Peter Rukavina has a great illustrated tutorial showing how to subscribe to a podcast using NetNewsWire and iTunes. [via]

While podcasting may not seem like a big deal yet, Apple picked up on it and will be adding support for it in the next update to iTunes. It appears that Apple will be hand picking podcasts to feature in iTunes 4.9, and I’m hopeful that they won’t be too heavy handed about it. You can be sure that major news outlets featuring podcasts will be there, but I’d like to see some of my picks as well. A fan of podcasts myself, I subscribe to This Week in Tech, The Wizards of Technology, Make Audio Blog, and the occasional Dawn and Drew. With the release of iTunes 4.9, podcasting should see a huge boost, and I look forward to what Apple can bring to the table – hopefully more people, at the very least.


May 25, 2005

My good friend and fellow Mac User Group member Dave Warker developed a new iTunes controller called hotTunes. It’s just a small application which has almost no interface, but controls iTunes via key commands. While others have pointed out that there are other options out there, I happen to prefer this one above the others. For instance, I’ve used SizzlingKeys for a long time, but it takes a little while to respond if the computer is busy processing something else. I’ve also tried Synergy, but I don’t really need yet another menu bar item. However, hotTunes just sits in your Dock and waits for a key command to pause, play, rate, or show information. I helped design the hotTunes icon, too, so part of me likes seeing my own work in my Dock. Regardless, hotTunes is a great little key command based iTunes controller, and I highly recommend it.