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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for 2007

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Customize your iPhone

Monday, September 10th, 2007

I’ve been enamored with my iPhone since standing in line for it back on June 29th. It’s the only thing I’ve ever waited in line for (not even concert tickets or an Xbox360) and so far I’ve been thrilled with it—it’s the single coolest item I’ve ever owned.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t dive into hacking and customizing it the minute various 3rd-party options became available, and now with Nullriver Software’s excellent AppTapp/Installer.app (currently an unsupported beta for OS X and XP/Vista), there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t start playing (well, other than the possibility of somehow ruining your iPhone and maybe voiding the warranty in the process—standard disclaimers apply from this point on; you have been warned).

Tutorials in this series

If you already have the required software installed (see below), you can jump directly to each article as it becomes available (this list may expand as more options become available):

What you’ll need

To play along at home, you’ll need a few things before we begin:

Each tutorial will also list any other software needed to complete the steps, but you’ll need the items above no matter what.

Do you like to “do it yourself”?

I’m not really describing anything groundbreaking in these how-to’s, so if you want to just dive in and learn everything there is to know, the iPhoneAtlas list of native applications is a great place to start.

Add your suggestions

As always, if you have any tips, tricks or links that will add to the experience, post a comment on the appropriate tutorial (or this entry if it’s more general info).

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Interviewed by Adii

Monday, September 10th, 2007

It’s always nice when someone shows interest in your background, and I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Adii a few weeks ago, and the result is now online.

Superfluous Bantering with Dan Rubin is brief, but includes some good questions and hopefully good answers. Adii (a designer and WordPress “rockstar” from South Africa) has a series of interviews with some talented folks, so while you’re at it, check out the entire list.

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Setting up IMAP in Apple Mail

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Note: These instructions still work under Mac OS X Leopard (10.5)

It has been brought to my attention that a surprisingly large number of people don’t know all the steps involved in properly configuring an IMAP account in Apple’s Mail.app. Though this has been covered elsewhere I’m sure, I thought I’d share the steps in a quick-start way to help reduce the frustration that results from assuming some things are done by default (know the basics already? skip to the last step »).

The Basics

Most of the IMAP setup process is identical to creating a POP account. Within Mail.app:

  1. Go to Preferences (Mail → Preferences)
  2. On the Accounts tab, click the [+] at the bottom left to start the account setup process
  3. Change the Account Type to IMAP and fill in your details
  4. Set the Incoming Mail Server and Outgoing Mail Server details

Many people stop at this point and assume they are finished. This is where problems arise, and why I’m writing this little tidbit.

IMAP Folders

IMAP allows all mail (including your Sent, Drafts, Spam and Trash folders, as well as custom folders) to live on the server. This is one of the main benefits of IMAP, since your account is identical whether accessing your mail from any workstation or webmail. The problem is that hosts create different sets of default folders when you create a new account, and that Mail.app doesn’t automatically connect the folders on the server to its local functions (most importantly, Sent mail and Drafts).

For example, MediaTemple only creates your Inbox and Spam folders; Dreamhost creates your Inbox, Sent, Drafts and Trash folders, but since Mail.app doesn’t automatically assign those functions to the folders on the server, it doesn’t actually matter in this case. This means if you don’t follow these next steps, you won’t have any sent mail or drafts saved anywhere; this can be an annoyance or a major problem, depending on your specific needs.

Creating IMAP Folders

Creating new folders is simple:

  1. Control-click (or right-click if you have a multi-button mouse) on the Inbox for your account (if you have multiple accounts within Mail.app, you’ll see sub-Inboxes in the left sidebar that have the names you’ve assigned each account), and select “New Mailbox…”
  2. In the resulting dialog, make sure that the correct account is selected in the drop-down menu, and enter a name for the mailbox (e.g. “Sent” if you’re on MediaTemple).

The mailbox is created on the server, and Mail.app updates its folder list for that account. Do this as many times as you want, whenever you need a new folder to help organize your messages (for our purposes, make sure your create whatever function-related folders are missing).

Setting Mail.app Straight

Now that you’ve made sure the folders exist, in order for Mail.app to save your drafts or copies of your sent messages it needs to know where to put them, so this final step is the most important:

  1. Click the folder name that matches the function you want to assign (e.g. “Sent”) so it is highlighted in the list
  2. Go to Mailbox → Use This Mailbox For → [function name] (e.g. “Sent” again)

That’s all there is to it—your folder will disappear from the list, and reappear as a sub-folder beneath the function you specified, with the same name as the account it’s connected to. So, if your account name is “My IMAP Account”, the “Sent” folder will now be located under “Sent → My IMAP Account” in the Mail.app sidebar.

Hopefully this will ease some of the frustration of setting up an IMAP account for the first time. After you’ve gone through the steps once, you’ll remember them for the future and never be without your drafts and sent messages again.

Update: Check out the comments below for some extra tips and tricks.

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Web 2.0 Cultists

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Lately I’ve found myself having the following “discussion” (I prefer “heated debate” myself) regarding ‘Web 2.0’, usually with someone who has consumed a certain amount of Web 2.0 Kool-aid:

cultist: “I want to make sure we have enough Web 2.0 features in our application.”

me: “‘Web 2.0’ is just a term, and doesn’t signify anything important in and of itself. Sure, it’s a way of easily defining things like improved usability, user-centric design, friendly applications, and other tangible concepts that developers and designers can and should take to heart, but it only refers to those practices because we’ve decided it should, as a community.”

cultist: “But ‘Web 2.0’ is such a simple way of saying all those things! It makes it much easier for people to understand what they should be doing!”

me: “Just like ‘AJAX’ makes it easier for people to lump ‘superfluous JavaScript visual effects’ under the same terminology as ‘communicating with the server without a reload’? ‘AJAX’ is not synonymous with ‘animation’, people! It’s important to know the difference as web developers and designers; it’s up to us to be the responsible party.”

cultist: “But people don’t understand those things if there isn’t a simple term to describe them!”

me: “Then perhaps they shouldn’t be using something they don’t understand.”

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OMG I’m Naked!

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

So, I had this dream last night, and I was standing in front of the entire internet totally naked, and when I woke up, I realized it wasn’t a dream!

Today marks the 2nd Annual CSS Naked Day, Dustin Diaz’s lame inspired attempt to increase awareness of… oh crap, I’ll just let Dustin explain in his own words:

“The idea behind this event is to promote Web Standards. Plain and simple. This includes proper use of (x)html, semantic markup, a good hierarchy structure, and of course, a good ‘ol play on words. It’s time to show off your <body>.”

So join us as we strip down, take it all off, and skinny dip today. You’ll be glad you did.

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