By Collin Allen

TV Tracker

May 4, 2005

TV Tracker is a Dashboard widget which pulls down Yahoo TV listings and displays them in a clean, glossy, very Mac-like interface. Immediately after opening and playing with TV Tracker, you’ll notice how responsive the interface is, as well as little details such as the progress dots on the back and custom scroll bar on the front. Like all widgets should be, it was idiot-proof to set up and use. TV Tracker is a prime example of a well polished third-party widget.

This Week In Tech

May 3, 2005

The gang from The Screen Savers (Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, and Robert Heron) have started a Podcast called “This Week In Tech.” I’m glad to finally have a consistent stream of tech related content, be it audio or video. The newest “This Week In Tech” Podcast is an hour long, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Audio is a nice medium for this because you can listen to it on the way to or during work, whereas video takes more attention and bandwidth. However, I’m also looking forward to Kevin Rose’s new video project, Systm (no ‘e’). Keep up the awesome work, guys! Glad to have you back.

Here is a link to Leo’s This Week In Tech web page with torrents for bookmarkable AAC files, which will play on iPods, iTunes, and QuickTime Player. Bookmarkable AAC files are my choice for audio content of this sort because you can pause it, and the playhead position is saved so you can come back to it later and pick up right where you left off. Better living through audio formats. Enjoy!

Recent Tunes Update

April 30, 2005

I’ve been working on separating and cleaning up the code I use to run the Recent Tunes area of my sidebar so that it may be made into an easily installable sidebar item for any weblog via a PHP include() statement, but have run into a slight snag. The Recent Tunes application doesn’t work in Tiger and has been sold to someone, so I have no “easy” way of getting the iTunes track data to my webserver with no foreseeable hope of it being updated. It looks like I’ll have to come up with my own solution involving AppleScript. However, AppleScript is just not a language I can work with (I can’t live without {‘s!). If anyone could suggest a simple AppleScript that would grab important data from the current iTunes track and make it available to some other scripting language (PHP would be nice), that would be fantastic. I’ll probably end up putting that AppleScript into a shell script using osascript, then formatting and uploading that data with PHP, all run via cron on my local machine. I’m open to other suggestions, though. The only thing I need is the iTunes track data in a computer-readable format uploaded onto a FTP server. The rest I can change the code to fit. When this does turn into a useable project, you’ll surely get due credit.

I’ve also got a name picked out which has no (yes, zero) results on Google right now, so it will be distinguishable from other projects out there. More on that when I have things working again. For now, I’ve disabled that section of my sidebar.

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

April 30, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4 is officially in the wild now, and the veritable flood of new tips and tricks is well under way. Let me begin with another plug for, which has seen a number of great new additions in the last few days. Keep it up! is now open for Tiger hints, and there are already some great tips posted, such as the ability to separate Dashboard widgets from the “Dashboard layer” and use them right on top of your desktop. Speaking of Dashboard widgets, Apple’s own widgets site is open now, and features some cool little utilities, and so does Now, for something really impressive, check out Apple’s QuickTime HD gallery, featuring several videos and movie trailers (Kingdom of Heaven!) in ridiculously high quality H.264 video. I’m sure there’s plenty other great tidbits about 10.4 on the web that I missed, so feel free to add your finds to the comments.

So far, Tiger has been running smoothly and most of the applications I use daily work out of the box or already have a free “Tiger upgrade” available. A big thanks goes out to the Mac OS X developer community for continually supporting its users with each OS release. I really believe the Mac has some of the best software in the world, and it wouldn’t amount to anything without the effort of all the devoted developers out there.

If you have time to spare and are interested knowing more than you ever wanted to know about all the new technologies in Tiger, ArsTechnica has a fantastic article on all the changes in this revision of Mac OS X. It’s really incredible to see all the under-the-hood details that have been updated by Apple. Mac OS X has gone from a dog slow public beta of an operating system to a fast, stable, and powerful system in four years. I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold for the Mac, as Apple has laid rock solid groundwork for a truly next generation computing platform.


April 27, 2005

Jon Maddox and I started a wiki to help document all the cool new features of Mac OS X 10.4. It already has some preliminary content, but there’s plenty more new items in Tiger other than the big-name features, and it’s all welcome. If you find a useful change made in Tiger or would like to read up on things that have been updated, head on over to TigerWiki and help out by adding new content. Anyone can register to make changes or add new items.