Peter Coffee’s 25 Killer Apps of All Time

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Peter Coffee’s list seems about right, though Mac OS X is an OS and a GUI shell, not an app. Throw that away and there’s room for one more.

The only mistake here is the inclusion of Internet Explorer 1.0. That was a horrid product no one used. That should be replaced by Mosaic 1.0, which was far more significant to the development of the Web, and likely had many more users to boot. In fact, few versions of IE had any real significance. Mostly they just copied other browsers and got bundled with Windows. Just maybe you could count IE 5 as a killer app, since that’s the one that introduced XMLHttpRequest, which would become the basis for AJAX and Web 2.0. That’s probably the only significant innovation Microsoft’s ever made in the browser space. But IE 1.0 simply does not belong in this list.

Thunderbird Security Hole: Wrong E-Mail Quoted

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I’m not sure how widespread this problem is. However in the last week or two I vaguely noticed extra text at the bottom of some messages I was replying to. At first I thought it was more of that annoying top posting where my correspondents kept adding their comments to the top of a message and not bothering to delete what had gone before. However, when I took a closer look at some it I was shocked. It was coming out of my Inbox. Somehow Thunderbird was appending text from other unrelated messages in my Inbox to the replies I was sending to different correspondents!
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Lost Day

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I spent yesterday rebuilding and repairing my main desktop Mac. Fingers crossed. It may be fixed now. It seems to have had some pretty serious volume structure problems on the main disk. The Finder kept hanging, and every time I did something that touched every file on the disk (like backing up) the process would hang. I had to boot off another disk to fix it, which meant I had to find my Tiger DVD and remember some old passwords. And then there was lot of time waiting around while files copied, Tiger installed, and TechTool tried to repair things. In any case it was quite boring and not very productive. I did catch up on my comic books though.
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Retrospect Discontinued? (Not)

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Amazon is listing Retrospect 6.0 for the Mac as discontinued by the manufacturer, though they still have some in stock. Hmm, looks like maybe they just don’t have the new 6.1 version yet, because I do see that on EMC’s web site. Furthermore, I notice that “Customers with Retrospect 6.0 can use their existing license code and download Retrospect 6.1 for free from our Updates section.” No need to push the panic button just yet.
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Not Substring Regular Expressions

Monday, February 19th, 2007

I’m trying to devise a regular expression that will find all or most img tags that don’t have alt attributes. <img[^>]*/> will find all the img elements (or at least most of them). And I can easily find those that do contain an alt attribute. However, I’m stumped when it comes to finding those that do not contain the substring alt. Any ideas?
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Why Did JetBlue Fail?

Monday, February 19th, 2007

In all the brouhaha over JetBlue stranding passengers on airplanes for hours last Wednesday, one thing I haven’t seen explained until now is why this specifically happened to JetBlue. Usually when we hear a story like this, it’s at a major hub airport like Detroit that’s primarily served by one airline. JFK is a hub for JetBlue, but unlike Detroit or Atlanta, JetBlue is hardly the only airline with a lot of planes there. What did JetBlue do wrong that other airlines at JFK didn’t? The New York Times seems to have figured that out. In brief:

  • Other airlines canceled more flights sooner due to the weather.
  • Communications within the company broke down. Pilots and flight attendants were not able to get assignments.
  • The reservation system was overloaded so passengers could not get through to humans.

A lot of this is blamed on both the rapid growth and low cost structure of JetBlue. They hadn’t built enough slack into their systems to handle an event like this.