Rectangular text selections in OS X

i just found a nice OS X feature by accident. Hold down command and option (you’ll see the cursor change to a crosshair) then drag-select some text in a web textarea. It will select a rectangular area, just like a cmd-opt-4 screen grab, but for text. Not sure if this works in any other contexts.

Another neat feature I read about recently is very cute: place your mouse over a word (in pretty much any app), then hit command-control-d, and it will pop-up a neat little word definition panel.

Php.ini not loading?

I beat my head against this one for hours. A recompiled version of PHP 5.1.6 on OS X was simply not loading my php.ini, even though a valid file existed in the place specified by the –with-config-file-path configure setting (/etc), and no other php.ini files existed on the system.
Eventually, after many rebuilds, I downloaded a clean copy of the source, rebuilt from scratch and voila – it worked. however, changing it and recompiling prodiced the broken results again. make distclean and a rebuild made it ork again. So, if you’re seeing this problem, a clean recompile (don’t forget to use config.nice) should make it all work again.
I’m not sure if this is a PHP bug or not – is it meant to work?

MS has a big spanner

Microsoft are, yet again, releasing a feature that’s probably going to be pushed as some kind of improvement, but will be to the detriment of 99% of its users: In Outlook 2007 they are removing the IE-based HTML renderer and substituting Word’s HTML renderer instead, you know, the one that makes Netscape 2 look good. Admittedly, IE in Outlook has historically been the vector for the vast majority of viruses (hence the ‘Outbreak’ nickname), but that’s mostly untrue in recent versions. Microsoft are touting IE7 as the most secure version ever, yet it seems to be too insecure for Outlook? They might come up with some kind of lame antitrust-compliance excuse, but they could instead simply open their internal protocols and use pluggable renderers, just like Linux and OS X do. I suspect it will have zero effect on spammers, most of whom don’t use HTML significantly any more, and they don’t care anyway. Erstwhile competitor CampaignMonitor has an excellent take on the situation.

So what does this mean? Probably the end of HTML email marketing as we know it. It will cost the industry millions in lost revenue – not that MS costing industries millions is anything new. OTOH, it might just usher in a new age where marketeers have to remember how to write decent copy.

If they wanted to make a real difference, they could perhaps fix their SenderID spec to talk to SPF correctly, or perhaps get Exchange to send bounce messages that actually contain useful information, like (and I don’t think I’m asking too much) the address the message was originally sent to.