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If one of your credit card numbers was stolen, do you know how to deal with it? Adam shares his first-hand experience and offers suggestions for minimizing your risk and annoyance. Also this week, Matt Neuburg paints a favorable picture of Purgatory Design's Intaglio drawing software. In the news, we cover the release of BBEdit 8.1 and an iPod photo software update, note Apple's settlement with a guy who leaked Tiger seeds, and pass on a DealBITS discount for TARI's GoodPage HTML editor.
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Apple Settles with One Tiger Leaker -- Apple Computer has settled out of court with Doug Steigerwald, a recent graduate of North Carolina State University and an Apple Developer Connection member who admitted to sharing seeds of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on the Internet. Steigerwald will pay Apple an unspecified amount, but News.com quoted Apple as saying, "It is not our desire to send students to jail." Legal action remains pending against two other men in the case, which was filed in December and is separate from other lawsuits Apple has filed against Macintosh rumor sites. Steigerwald also still faces a criminal investigation. [ACE]
DealBITS Drawing: GoodPage Winners -- Congratulations to Dana Ostrow of columbia.edu, whose entry was chosen randomly in last week's DealBITS drawing and who received a copy of TARI's GoodPage graphical HTML authoring tool, worth $149. Dana was referred to this week's DealBITS drawing by Seth Theriault of sdf.lonestar.org, and as such, Seth will also be receiving a copy of GoodPage. Even if you didn't win, you can save $75 off the list price of GoodPage through 04-Apr-05 using the coupon code DEALBITS when purchasing from within the 30-day trial version of the application; this offer is exclusive to TidBITS readers. Thanks to the 945 people who entered, extra thanks to the 87 people who entered after being referred to DealBITS, and for those of you who subscribed after entering DealBITS, welcome to TidBITS! Keep an eye out for future DealBITS drawings, and remember that telling your friends, family, and colleagues about new drawings is a great way to increase your chances of receiving a prize; nearly 10 percent of our entries this time came from people who learned about DealBITS from a friend, and I'd like to see that increase. [ACE]
BBEdit 8.1 Adds Source Control Support -- Bare Bones Software has released BBEdit 8.1, adding support for the Subversion source control management application to the powerful text editor. The update also enhances the Text Factory feature by adding new menus and palettes, and incorporates numerous other fixes (including the "triumphant return" of Command-Option-double-click for Find Selection). BBEdit 8.1 is a free update for registered users of BBEdit 8, and is an 11.8 MB download; it requires Mac OS X 10.3.5 or later. [JLC]
iPod Updater 2005-03-23 Released -- Apple last week released an update for iPod photo owners. The hefty 28.9 MB iPod Updater 2005-03-23 brings the iPod software to version 1.1 and adds support for Apple's forthcoming $30 iPod Camera Connector (announced in February, and now available for order from Apple's online store). It also improves slideshow transitions. The updater is available via Software Update or as a separate download. Although this update offers nothing new for owners of other iPod product lines, it does include the most recent software versions for each model (hence the huge download). [JLC]
by Matt Neuburg <email@example.com>
Remember the magical feeling you had when you first used a Macintosh, and played with those early bundled applications, MacPaint and MacDraw? The magic - though you may not have been conscious of this at the time - lay in the fact that these tiny applications were essentially just showcases for the Mac's underlying technology. You could draw a square or an oval, with a thick or thin line, filled solid or with a pattern, because those were all basic QuickDraw primitives; in effect, you were accessing the very same code that gave the Mac itself its distinctive look, allowing it to draw windows and buttons in the first place.
You can still recapture some of that first careless rapture by playing a little with the Paint and Draw modules of AppleWorks, if you have it; these are intended to emulate (and may, in a sense, be direct descendants of) MacPaint and MacDraw, though naturally with some modern touches. SuperPaint, the subject of one my earliest TidBITS reviews, was another MacPaint/MacDraw knock-off; it's no longer available, but if you have a copy lying around, you'll find it still runs pretty well under Classic.
In Mac OS X, QuickDraw is no longer the system's native windowing and screen-painting technology; that honor goes to Quartz. The look of Mac OS X comes in large part from the fact that Quartz provides native support for Bezier paths and coordinate transforms (for rotation, skewing, and scaling), along with sophisticated effects such as transparency, shadows, and gradients.
Intaglio, from Purgatory Design, aims to put Quartz's capabilities at your fingertips much as MacDraw did for QuickDraw. And, to a remarkable degree, I think it succeeds.
Draw, Pardner -- Intaglio is a drawing program. The palette of tools is straightforward. Some tools create vector objects: line, rectangle, round rectangle, polygon, oval, and arc; freehand pencil and Bezier curve pen; text; dimensioned line. Click any of these, then click and drag in a document, and you're drawing. Other tools work with existing objects or help you with the document as a whole: selection (and point selection, for working with Bezier curves), gradient, eyedropper, measure, and zoom.
You have to learn a few "click tricks," which for the most part are standard and are probably second nature to most users of drawing programs. While creating a geometric shape, Shift-drag to make a circle or a square, and Option-drag to create the shape starting at its center. Option-drag an arc's center point to change its radius. Option-drag an object to duplicate it. Shift-drag an object to constrain motion to horizontal or vertical. Option-drag a Bezier point to drag out new Bezier handles. Option-drag a Bezier handle to move it independently of the other handle.
A full panoply of toolbars and inspector windows lets you set various attributes of the selected object: the color and transparency of its fill; the color and transparency, thickness, arrows, dash pattern, and join and end-cap types of its stroke (outline). There is also a standard set of devices to help you draw, such as snap to grid, guidelines, alignment of multiple objects, and object grouping and locking.
The fun really begins when you start applying some characteristically Quartzian transformations and attributes to an object. An object can be resized; it can be rotated or sheared, around its center or any other point. Bezier paths can be combined and separated. In a group of objects, the topmost object can act as a mask for the rest of the group; similarly, a bitmap image object can be cropped by grouping a vector object with it, giving the group a mask attribute, and converting back to a bitmap image. An object's fill can be a pattern, meaning a tiled repetition of any rectangular drawing. An object's fill can be a gradient. Transparency is an attribute of every color (a gradient with different transparency for different colors looks really cool). You can even apply a convolution, such as Blur, Sharpen, or Drop Shadow, to an individual object. And when you're working with text, you have the entire native Cocoa palette of text tools at your disposal, including margins, indents, tabs, justification, fonts, kerning, and so forth. Text can have graphic transformations applied to it and can be bound to a path (and remains editable), or can be converted to a graphic for still more transformation.
Which End Is Up? As a simple drawing program, I think Intaglio succeeds admirably. Apart from the "click tricks," the learning curve required in order for you to draw happily is essentially non-existent: you start up Intaglio, you experiment for a while, you get gorgeous-looking results, and all is right with the world. It also succeeds in giving you the feeling that your toolbox is really Quartz itself, that behind your simple clicking and dragging, the power of Mac OS X is bursting out to provide your drawing with color, transparency, gradients, rotated and skewed shapes, and snazzy text effects. I can't put my finger on it any better than to say that Intaglio really does seem to evoke the same sense of fun and wonder and play in the world of graphics as MacPaint and MacDraw once did.
If this were all, Intaglio would be a fine low-end drawing program: pleasant as a toy, helpful as a utility, and more than enough drawing power for most users. Yet Intaglio also has some slightly higher-end features. I'm not saying that it could (or should) be compared with Canvas, CorelDRAW, or Adobe Illustrator; but some thought has clearly gone into making Intaglio considerably more than a toy.
For example, Intaglio is remarkably good at importing and exporting files; you can import images in various formats, including EPS, vector PICT, native ClarisDraw, and PDF, while maintaining editability, and when you export to a bitmap format (by way of QuickTime), the resolution is up to you. Intaglio is ColorSync-savvy, and can associate a different color profile with each of a document's color spaces (RGB, CMYK, and Grayscale). Documents can have pages and layers. You can set document properties (such as filling in an "author" or "keyword" field), making Intaglio Spotlight-ready when you upgrade to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Anything you can do manually to an object you can also do numerically through a dialog. Most remarkable of all, Intaglio is both scriptable and recordable with AppleScript; recordability, a rare thing on Mac OS X, means that you can draw in the normal way and have your actions translated into AppleScript commands, as an easy aid to learning how to write those same commands yourself.
Perhaps for this very reason, there is something unsettling about Intaglio's feature holes and shortcomings. There is no find feature, for example. A pop-up menu at the bottom of the window lets you select one attribute of the currently selected object to be displayed in the window's status bar - such as its type, index, name, ID, or style - but surely it is obvious that users would prefer a way of seeing all of that information at once. The program had no contextual menus at all until very recently. The manual is poor: it's a Help Viewer document in which it's hard to find one's way about.
Particularly disappointing is Intaglio's stubborn refusal to follow prior art, even when it is tried-and-true, familiar, and universal. Take, for example, the eyedropper tool. In every other program I use that has an eyedropper tool, it "picks up" features of the object you click with it, such as its color, into the corresponding settings palettes, so that all subsequent drawing you do will have those features, or so that you can modify that feature (e.g. you might capture this object's yellow into the Fill palette in order to create a harmoniously paler yellow for the next object). In Intaglio, clicking with the eyedropper affects only the currently selected objects (and if no object is selected, Intaglio beeps). That's silly: it's unnecessary, since Intaglio can already copy and paste colors between objects, and it leaves no way to capture colors into the palettes and work with them there. Intaglio's implementation of styles is similarly poor. Having styles in a drawing program is definitely a good thing, because if you're to do more than merely play tediously with one or two objects at a time, the chances are high that you're going to want to apply and maintain similar characteristics for multiple objects as you go along. But the implementation of styles in Intaglio is clumsy and wrong-headed, when all it had to do was to imitate AppleWorks, which implements drawing styles simply and brilliantly.
Inconclusive Conclusions -- As so often happens, therefore, Intaglio ends up being a program I'd love to love and can't quite. If Intaglio were merely a toy, it would be a great toy. But it costs $90, which is a substantial investment, and invites the user to think of the program as endowed with some serious higher-end qualities. The lack of find, the bewildering manual, and the behavior of styles, however, goes some way towards cancelling that invitation. Add to this the fact that, for every new version of Intaglio that I've downloaded since the start of January, I've been able to find at least one drawing misbehavior and at least one crashing bug within an hour of starting to test. Bugs are no crime - they are proverbially inevitable - but my overall experience with Intaglio has not filled me with confidence.
Fortunately, it's easy to make up your own mind. A demo version of Intaglio (you can't save, and printed and exported documents have a watermark) is available as a 3 MB download. The program requires Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther needed for some features.
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Credit card number theft is one of those events that seems to happen only to other people... until it hits you. That just happened to me, and the repercussions proved a bit more instructive and far-reaching that I would have initially anticipated.
Awkward Dating -- The first hint that something was wrong came when Tonya was reviewing the charges on the MasterCard we use solely for business purchases. There was a $19.95 charge to something related to Yahoo, but it wasn't possible to tell exactly what service from the limited information on the credit card statement. Tonya knew she hadn't ordered anything online that could have generated such a charge, and when she asked me, I couldn't remember anything either. To verify that I wasn't simply losing my memory, I searched all my received email around the date in question, and even went so far as to search my OmniWeb history for Yahoo URLs around the date.
The situation was becoming more curious, so Tonya called the phone number on the credit card statement, and waited on hold for a while. As she waited, she realized that what she had called was Yahoo Personals - Yahoo's online dating service. She immediately yelled for me to get on the phone, figuring that the whole situation was just going to generate snickers for the customer service people if they heard a wife calling to find out about a dating service charge on her husband's credit card. I was good and refrained from making jokes about how I didn't even get any dates from Yahoo Personals once the customer service people came on the line.
It took a little back and forth with Yahoo's customer service people, since we weren't willing to give them much more personal information, some of which they claimed they needed to look up the account that had made the charges. Eventually we got them to tell us that the Yahoo Personals account did indeed have the same user name as my My Yahoo account (I immediately changed that account's password, just for good measure), but that the birth date listed with the Yahoo Personals account did not match either of our birth dates. That was sufficient for them to cancel the account and refund our money.
Cleaning Up from Cancellation -- The Yahoo Personals customer service rep recommended that we cancel the credit card used, which we were already planning as the next call. Our credit card issuer was totally on top of it, cancelling the card and issuing us another one before we'd even had a chance to explain the full situation. Tonya keeps records of merchants that are automatically withdrawing from that credit card, so next she reset all of those accounts. The morning was shot, but it seemed that we were out of the woods. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be.
A few days later, Tristan and I were out driving when I remembered that our other car likely had a flat tire due to a slow leak I'd been monitoring. That normally wouldn't have been an issue, but Tonya had an appointment before we would be home, and I wanted to alert her to blow up the tire and to remember her cell phone in case she needed me to come change the tire while she was out. In New York State, it's illegal to drive while talking on a cell phone unless you're using a hands-free system, so I pressed the speed-dial number for home and handed Tristan the phone so he could give her the message. A few seconds later he gave me back the phone, saying "It's being weird." I pulled over and listened, and indeed, I'd somehow ended up with Verizon Wireless customer service. I hung up and tried again, and got them again. This time I waited until I could talk to a person, who promptly informed me that they had disabled our service because the monthly bill had been rejected by our credit card - apparently one auto-withdrawal had slipped past Tonya's record keeping. Luckily, I was able to use another phone later to walk Tonya through inflating the tire, but the credit card fraud was increasing in annoyance.
The next week Tonya managed to get the account reinstated, and protested sufficiently vehemently when Verizon Wireless tried to charge a $15 fee for doing so that they waived the charge. She pointed out that it would have been trivial for them to notify us via voicemail or text messaging that our auto-withdrawal had failed, but needless to say, the customer service drone couldn't do anything but forward the feedback (if even that).
That wasn't the end of the bother, though the next one was purely my fault. I'd set up a Google AdWords account for Take Control that also withdrew money from that MasterCard, and I'd forgotten to inform Tonya that it needed to be added to the list of auto-withdrawal services. As you'd expect, the next time Google tried to charge money to the card, it was rejected, too.
But here's the difference between Verizon Wireless and Google. Where Verizon Wireless didn't bother to inform us that they'd disabled our service and thus caused us unnecessary trouble, Google sent me a nice email message, informing me of the problem, telling me that they'd temporarily disabled our ads, and giving me a link to my account so I could enter a new credit card number. The entire process took only a couple of minutes, and most of that was exclaiming to Tonya about how Google had a clue in comparison to Verizon Wireless.
Following Up on the Credit Report -- We were relating this story to a friend over dinner the other day, who said she'd had a similar thing happen. In her case, though, the fraud had included the perpetrator changing the billing address related to the card, so she hadn't even received a tip-off statement. She recommended that we run a credit report as well, just to make sure any additional hanky-panky wasn't going on with our finances.
A bit of investigation revealed that recent U.S. legislation requires the three major credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - to provide anyone who asked with a free credit report once every 12 months (so you can get one credit report from each company all at once, or you can request a report from one of the companies every four months to be on the lookout for problems). Unfortunately, the credit reporting companies were given quite some time to roll out the service to the entire country, so although people in western and midwest states can request their free credit reports right now, people in the south must wait until 01-Jun-05, and those of us in the eastern states must wait until 01-Sep-05. (Some states - Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont - also require that residents be allowed to request one or two free credit reports each year.)
Our friend said she'd used another service called FreeCreditReport.com, which gives you a free credit report, but requires that you sign up for a slew of fee-based credit reporting and monitoring services that could be useful, particularly if you wanted to be informed about changes to your credit report over time. You can (and I did) cancel the membership without paying anything - hence the "free" aspect of the credit report, and of course, you can pay about $10 for a credit report if you don't want to play the "cancel my membership" game. Luckily, my credit report showed nothing of significant concern, though they apparently think I'm a year younger than I am. I'll have to fix that at some point. It's entirely likely that other problems haven't shown up yet, and I plan to start running regular credit reports in September.
Lessons Learned -- In this day and age, shopping on the Internet is simply a fact of life for many people. I don't believe that using a credit card on the Internet is any more or less likely to result in credit card number theft than using it over the phone or in person, but the more you use credit cards, the more likely it is some miscreant will obtain your number and abuse it. It's mostly an annoyance with credit cards (though not necessarily with debit cards!), since your liability is limited to $50 in the United States, and I've never heard of anyone ever being charged even that. But the hassle factor can be large, as our experience proved, and credit card fraud could be the first step in a more complete identity theft. So, I recommend the following precautions.
Review your credit card statements every month, and make sure you made every purchase. Thieves often charge a small amount, like our $19.95 fee for Yahoo Personals, to see if you're paying attention (and if you're not, the purchases will increase).
Always keep email receipts for online purchases for reference purposes, and if you anticipate wanting to look back to what you've done in the past on the Web, use a browser like OmniWeb or a utility like St. Clair Software's HistoryHound to record your tracks.
Although we still have no idea how our credit card number was stolen, wallet thefts are a common way for this to happen. To simplify canceling credit cards and other accounts in the event of such a theft, photocopy the contents of your wallet and store those pages in a safe location.
Keep a list of all automatic withdrawals from your credit card in the event you have to cancel the card. Also remember to write down merchants (like the iTunes Music Store) that might have your credit card number stored for sporadic use.
If you're in the U.S. (other countries may have similar practices), be sure to take advantage of the free credit reports to make sure all the information is correct, and if you find incorrect information, make sure to fix it promptly. Visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site for additional suggestions and links to useful resources:
Many instances of credit card number theft may not be within your sphere of influence. The Register has an article listing a number of stories of large businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations losing control of sensitive personal information in this month alone. There's nothing you can do about such situations (apart from checking data security practices when possible), but some common sense and effort on your part can reduce the impact of credit card number theft if it does happen to you. I got off easy this time, and I hope this is the end of the story (for a much more exciting story of credit card number theft, read the page at the second link below).
by TidBITS Staff <email@example.com>
The second URL below each thread description points to the discussion on our Web Crossing server, which will be faster.
Address Book utilities -- After using the old Address Book 4.2.6 under Mac OS 9, a reader is looking for something similar that will run under Mac OS X. (2 messages)
Other options for playing MP3s in your car -- The iPod's popularity has sparked many new solutions for playing music in the car, including in-dash receivers that include AUX inputs on the front. (4 messages)
Campaign to make iPods greener -- A conservation group is trying to get the word out that the materials that go into an iPod could be created in a more environmentally friendly manner (although Apple has a strong environmental stance). But this begs the question: why single out iPods, when flashlight batteries and other disposables are similarly harmful? (7 messages)
DVD Jon vs Apple -- An article about one developer's ongoing efforts to circumvent Apple's digital rights management (DRM) scheme for iTunes prompts discussion of DRM and free markets. (4 messages)
How Might Smart Folders Change the Way We Work? Could the Smart Folder feature in the upcoming Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger be a revolution in how people interact with their Macs and their data? (4 messages)
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
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