People Living Worldwide

Twitter started as an experiment to strip away all the complexity of social networking sites. At its core, it’s a micro-blog: a tiny line of text updated as often as every few minutes with the thoughts and goings-on of ordinary people worldwide.

Today, a new mashup combining Google Maps and Twitter was released. Twittervision is like a birds-eye view on the mundane. You can watch people going to bed, shopping at the supermarket, holding twittersations with people on the other side of the world, and more.

I wonder what would happen if somebody launched a mashup of journaling and Twittervision. Could it be a new way to share insights from devotions? A new way to stay accountable?

Removing Duplicate Dictionaries from Script Editor

For a few months, I’ve had a number of duplicate dictionaries listed in the Open Dictionary dialog box of Apple’s Script Editor. (This application is used to write and debug AppleScript code — the Mac equivalent to batch files or shell scripts.) While this wasn’t really hurting anything, it was kind of annoying to have the same program show up five or six times, typically after I upgraded the offending apps to newer versions. Since I had trouble with a Google search for "Script Editor" "duplicate dictionaries", I thought I’d share the solution I eventually found.

The solution turns out to be forcing Launch Services to rebuild its database. The database maps file types to applications that are supposed to open them, but sometimes it gets confused and can hang on to old versions of the same program. The magic incantation, according to, is:

-kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Thanks to this post at Apple Discussions for pointing me in the right direction.

Holding the Keys

Web 2.0 start page Netvibes released a developer preview of its new Universal Widget Architecture (UWA) today. The system combines a new widget format with small amounts of glue code that help the widget run in Google IG, Apple Dashboard, and soon Opera and standard web pages. The new universal widgets were compelling enough that I signed up for a Netvibes account after playing with it anonymously for about a year.

There is still a barrier to overcome, however, and it’s not Netvibes’ fault. Continue reading

Permit & Proceed

In sharp contrast to the thousands upon thousands of cease and desist letters sent by angry lawyers, Second Life owner Linden Labs took a slightly unorthodox approach to – they sent a permit and proceed letter.

As a result, they’re going to get so much positive publicity that it’ll make Microsoft’s collective heads spin.

Also, see “Blogger Gets ‘Un-Cease-And-Desist’ Note.”

Tracking truth

As I mentioned in my previous post, organization on today’s computers is getting harder and harder, given rapidly increasing disk space and more stuff we want to store.

One of the more important techniques I’ve developed to combat this problem is something I’m calling “designating the truth.” It’s a simple concept with strong real-world parallels, but it often gets neglected in the computer realm.

“Truth” is based on terminology used by Apple’s Sync Services API. The concept of Sync Services is invisible: Mac OS X keeps a variety of data, including calendar events, contacts, and tasks in internal databases that users can’t get to. This data is used to synchronize any software, web sites, and portable devices that want to make use of. Software that the everyday user thinks of as the place for their information – iCal, Address Book, and so forth – are just pretty Sync Services clients.

Once everything has its place, the trick to staying organized is to designate which copy of a given piece of information is authoritative. This copy has a variety of different names. For example, “truth” is Apple’s moniker, while “golden master” is used in software manufacturing.

Here’s where I keep my designated truth for different types of information:

Type Location of “truth” Additional copies
Appointments OS X Sync Services (iCal) Palm PDA
Contacts OS X Sync Services (Address Book) Palm PDA
School work Subversion Working copies on a shell server and my Mac
Music FLAC files on a home server iTunes, Palm PDA, Creative Rio, and more

The beauty of this approach is that I can backup to my heart’s desire, and I no longer lose track of which version is which. This is particularly important for my school work – now, if I want to do an assignment at school, it travels to me in a Subversion working copy on a USB key. When I get home, I check in changes to my server, and no longer have to worry about which copy is more recent.

I also can add new gadgets (the iPod is tempting), and since I know what my truth copy is, I’ll never overwrite it, knock wood.