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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.


What's in my menubar?

Seems like every time another Mac user looks over my shoulder, they freak out over the number of little icons I have up in my menubar. And -- like all Mac geeks -- we have to immediately start trading information, learning tricks, and sharing tips. I'm sure you know the drill by now.

If you were looking over my shoulder right now (and I hope that you are not) here's the stuff you'd see in my menubar.

I'm out of control

The larger version on the Flickr will, where appropriate, let you mouseover for the name and a link, but I'll save you the trouble of a click by repeating the links below.

Microsoft to boldly go where Apple is already going...eventually

Microsoft changes tune on selling DRM-free songs

Exciting news on the digital music front. Microsoft plans to follow Apple's plan to sell DRM-free tracks from EMI to its extant army of Zune enthusiasts. Welcome to the social:

"The EMI announcement on Monday was not exclusive to Apple," said Katy Asher, a Microsoft spokeswoman on the Zune team, in an e-mail to the IDG News Service today. She said Microsoft has been talking with EMI and other record labels "for some time now" about offering unprotected music on its Zune players in an effort to meet the needs of its customers.

Way to innovate, Redmond. Once the period of EMI's exclusive deal with Apple has ended, this should make both Zune owners very happy.

[via: Boing Boing: Microsoft dropping DRM from Zune Music Store]

MacBreak Weekly Special: the iTunes & EMI deal

MacBreak Weekly Special Edition: Fixing A Hole

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Alex Lindsay, and John Gruber

A special edition discussing the Apple EMI announcement. Look for our regular weekly MBW on Tuesday as usual.

Direct Download MP3 file

Here's a few links related to this very cool story:

read more »

Roughly Drafted: 5.1 audio on Apple TV

Ten Myths of the Apple TV: 5.1 Audio

Via my internet puppetmaster, Brian Hogg, comes another very good (and very long) piece from Daniel Eran on the Apple TV that runs down some of the details on 5.1 audio and attempts to clear up some ongoing confusion about what works, what doesn't, and why.

So really, the Apple TV doesn't need to decode 5.1 audio, it only needs to hand the surround audio stream to a receiver than can decode those formats. Can it do this...?

In addition to stereo cables, Apple TV also features a Toslink digital optical port. Since we can send raw digital audio data over the Apple TV's optical output, can't we send DTS digitally encoded 5.1 as well?

Of course we can. Download a DTS sample file in WAV format, drop it into iTunes, and Apple TV will happily sync it and play it. Unlike Pro Logic audio, it will sound like static over regular stereo speakers, but hooked up to a DTS receiver, it is decoded into 5.1 channels of sound and played back in real DTS 5.1 surround.

I don't personally have a 5.1 setup so I have no way of verifying this, but I'm curious what you audiophiles are discovering -- especially given that some of the Scott Bournes out there have cited lack of 5.1 audio as one reason for holding out on an TV purchase.

Any luck getting 5.1 working satisfactorily with your Apple TV? Is the lack of 5.1 content on iTS a dealbreaker for you?

Vox Pop: What's your "Mac Whine?"

We've started a new feature over on MacBreak Weekly that I really hope becomes a regular thing: "_Mac Whines_!"

Yeah, sure, I'm an unapologetic Apple fanboy (I, mean duh), but some stuff about my Mac experience makes me crazy. Have you got a beef with your Mac or OS X you want to shout from the shiny counter of the "Genius" Bar? Yeah, me too.

I'll open with:

  • inexplicable iCal "snooze" options (per MBW 30 -- which, incidentally, may also be my favorite MacBreak Weekly to date)
  • near-hangs whenever a mounted network volume is no longer available
  • no way to (temporarily) enable password-free user switching
  • The Finder. The goddamned Finder.

What's your Mac Whine?

Fix for securityd hogging RAM when reauthorizing apps' Keychain access

Unsanity.org: Love Tropicana: The Fix for securityd Eatings Gobs of Ram When Updating Keychain Entries

For the past few months, I've suffered the most vexing and stubborn OS X problem I've ever had to confront. Detailed in this Apple.com forum thread, the short version is that something with my Keychain went haywire somewhere, and any time I had to reauthorize an application's access to the Keychain, the securityd process would spin off into the stratosphere, grabbing an enormous amount of RAM, virtually freezing my Mac, and never letting go until I did a full-on, old-school restart (CONTROL-COMMAND-POWER). This was frustrating.

In addition to leaving me without NetNewsWire, OmniWeb, and several other of my Top 20 apps, I lost reliable access to Transmit, which for me is like losing a fingertip or something.

I'll save you the ridiculous amount of rubber chicken waving (and Keychain item decimation) that ensued, and will just cut to the solution, which was provided by Unsanity's Rosyna.

In order to fix this problem if you are having it, just open the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and type:

sudo mv /var/db/CodeEquivalenceDatabase /var/db/CodeEquivalenceDatabase.old


open /var/db (and then manually move CodeEquivalenceDatabase to the trash, if you can).

I don't know precisely how or why this works (short answer: "file corruption bad"), and I cannot assure you that it will not, in your own usage, cause Big Problems™. But it worked for me, I have my apps back, and now I'm the happiest boy in the world. May Google bring others to the solution as well.

Many thanks to Rosyna, who is so going to get a present for this.

Merlin & MacBreak @ Macworld: Cocoalicious, Yojimbo, BBEdit, MacUser's Dan Moren, Entourage, MemoryMiner, Pen-it, and Luiza the

Here are the final 5 episodes of MacBreak I reported from the Macworld Expo floor this week:

Here are the previous 4 segments and here's a pointer to all of MacBreak's Macworld coverage.

Thanks to everybody at Pixel Corps who put this together, and most special thanks to everyone who talked with us, came to the meetups, or just said hi on the show floor. It was a really fun week for me.

You can ensure you never miss an episode of MacBreak by subscribing for free.


Merlin & MacBreak @ Macworld: Omni Group, MailTank, AppZapper, Pzizz, Cha-Ching and Flip4Mac

A few more of my MacBreak segments from the Macworld Expo floor are now available for download:

More episodes coming later today. Never miss an episode of MacBreak by subscribing for free.


NYT: Final word for now, no third-party apps on the iPhone

Two recent articles in the New York Times would seem to put to rest -- at least for the foreseeable future -- any hopes or speculation that the new iPhone will be allowed (nb: I did not say able) to run third-party OS X applications (previously: 43F Podcast: Snell & Gruber on iPhone applications and Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please.)

Regrettably, the word on this one comes directly from the Steve's mouth (2007-01-12):

“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

The iPhone model, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.

“These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

David Pogue's seemingly exhaustive iPhone FAQ also underscores what we'd been hearing via these drams of dolor (2007-01-11):

Can it run Mac OS X programs? –No.

Can I add new programs to it? –No. Apple wants to control the look and feel and behavior of every aspect of the phone.

Well, there you go. Apple appears to be on the path to providing its iPhone customers with a pantry full of excruciatingly beautiful crockery and flatware that may never be set down for chow. (But you can bet we'll always know it's there -- even while we're eating takeout with our assigned spoons).

read more »



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

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This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »