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Brandan Lennox's

Articles (Page 4)

TextMate-style Commenting in BBEdit

Update on : As of BBEdit 10.1.1, this has been fixed.

Since July, I’ve been moving from my beloved-but-abandoned TextMate to BBEdit. It’s good. I like BBEdit. I like the feel, I like knowing that bugs will be fixed and new OS X APIs will be implemented…

But I miss the way TextMate comments out the current line when there’s no selection. Seems trivial, but I use it all the time. Kerri wrote a script to do this, but it wouldn’t block comment a selection, so I needed to remember two separate keystrokes: one when there was a selection and one when there wasn’t.

Instead, I changed the original script to act as a Menu Script and attached it to the “Text > Un/Comment Selection” menu item. If there’s a selection, it passes control back to BBEdit. If there’s not, it works its magic.1

The menu script is on Gist. Save that file as ~/Library/Application Support/BBEdit/Menu Scripts/Text•Un/Comment Selection2, and you’re off to the races.

Update on : Looks like Allan really is still working on TextMate 2. I’m excited to see what he’s done, but I doubt I’ll go back. Who’s to say it won’t be another five years until the next major update?


  1. It’s not exactly the same. TextMate places the comment delimiter in front of the first non-whitespace character on the line. This script places it at the beginning of the line.
  2. Finder will allow you to save a file with a slash in the name. Thanks to Patrick at Bare Bones for helping me figure that out.


I created this video one night last year as an homage to some of my favorite music and musicians. I originally uploaded it to Facebook, but I feel like it belongs here (now that I pay so little mind to Facebook).

Thoughts on Copyright

I felt a strong visceral reaction when I first read Andy Baio’s Kind of Screwed. That was several weeks ago, but reading today about the Thomas Hawk fiasco got me riled up again.

Not being a copyright holder of any sort, I side with Baio, even after several IP lawyers opined that the album art would’ve almost certainly been deemed derivative in court. It’s entirely possible that Baio was in violation of copyright law. My problem is with the law itself.

My Two Complaints

First and most concretely, it seems impossible that Baio inflicted $150,000 in damages to Maisel. Kind of Bloop sells for $5. If Maisel were to receive $0.50 for each sold copy — which seems high; is the cover art one-tenth the value of the entire album? — that means Baio would’ve sold 300,000 copies. I simply can’t imagine such an obscure, experimental project selling anywhere near that well. Hell, Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album in history, and it just cleared 4 million copies after selling for forty-nine years. And how many sales did Kind of Blue forfeit to its lo-fi counterpart? Not many, I’ll wager.

But I’ll put my speculations aside. This is really what galls me: Jay Maisel took that photograph in 1959, and he’s been receiving royalties as the copyright holder ever since. Maisel is still being paid, litigiously or otherwise, for a piece of work that he created over five decades ago.

Maybe this irks me so much because I’m a developer. Software just doesn’t age well. My work from five years ago is essentially valueless. Windows XP? That’s ten years old! Its installation discs should be in museums! Can you imagine using any piece of current software in 2060? Ludicrous.

I’m not discounting the artistic value of Maisel’s photograph. It’s iconic, historic. I don’t believe, though, that it’s worth $32,500 in 2011.

My Solution

Oh, don’t be silly! I don’t have a solution. It’s clear that we as a society don’t know how to apply current copyright and patent law to new technology. There’s no way we can continue awarding software patents with lifetimes measured in decades (cf. Lodsys). We’ll bury innovation in the very system that means to foster it.

Given that, why does it make any more sense to grant rights on a photograph for so obscenely long? To promote creativity? Maybe Andy Baio could have or should have designed a different cover for Kind of Bloop. But why? The design was pitch-perfect: a bit tongue-in-cheek but still artful, just like all the music on the album.

At any rate, I purchased a copy for myself. It’s weird.

All art is theft.

Post-PC Marketing

I noticed an omission in iPad 2 announcement. Jobs talked about the dual-core A5 processor in the new hardware, but he didn’t even bother mentioning the clock speed — only how fast it is (in theory) compared to the A4. And other than storage capacity, that’s really the only tech spec he discussed in the whole keynote. You can find the specs on the iPad web page, but they’re inconspicuous, not a primary selling point. I firmly doubt any Apple Genius will talk to you about the iPad’s L1 cache or 802.11n card, and you’d have to conduct your own research to figure out how much memory it sports.

Josh Topolsky wrote today about this new “post-PC” era, and Jason Fried recently wrote about the disconnect between engineers and customers:

They thought they were arming us with facts that would impress the customers. But, it turned out, none of that stuff mattered. In fact, it had a negative effect. When you describe things in terms people don’t understand, they tend not to trust you as much….

Once I stopped slinging the technical terms, I realized that when customers shop for shoes, they do three things. They consider the look and style. They try them on to see if they’re comfortable. And they consider the price. Endorsements by famous athletes help a lot, too. But the technology, the features, the special-testing labs—I can’t remember a single customer who cared….

Understanding what people really want to know — and how that differs from what you want to tell them — is a fundamental tenet of sales.

Storage is the last remnant of the gimmicky PC marketing tactics I grew up with: RAM, disk space, processor speed, graphics memory, turbo buttons, that sort of thing. Storage space still matters, especially in monolithic devices like the iPad — once it’s full, it’s full. But tech marketing needs to start focusing on experience. The silicon matters less every day.

Who buys iPads

I know two people who will be purchasing iPads in the next few weeks. They both came to me with questions about whether they were making the right decision. Some of their questions:

  • Can I watch movies on it?
  • Can I look at PDFs on it?
  • Does it really get ten hours of battery life?
  • Can I use it on my wi-fi?
  • Can I use it not on my wi-fi?
  • Which color cover should I get?

They don’t care about GHz or MB RAM. They’ve gone to the Apple Store and played with it and felt it respond to their touch and found apps they love. Why should they care about the specs? The comments on Topolsky’s article only reinforce how out-of-touch we nerds are with the majority of the tech-consuming public.

Apple has a deep connection with their customers. When will other companies make that connection?

Branches: A New EP from The Dear Hunter

Okay, it’s not new, but I just discovered it.

Last year, Casey Crescenzo’s masterpiece of a band, The Dear Hunter, released a limited-edition super-cool-fan package featuring an exclusive EP entitled Branches. Since I totally would’ve bought that package had I known about it (totally), I felt justified in downloading a copy of the EP. It’s only three songs, but they’re all of utmost TDH quality and the first two cuts are titled B. Linus and Isabella. LOST references! Yesssssss…

Here’s B. Linus:

Branches will have to hold me over until they release all nine of the Colors EPs to hold me over until they release Act IV.