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 · · · · Gripes (23 fragments)

After Mac? · So, there are new MacBooks and many peo­ple are un­hap­py. Tl;­dr: Ap­ple thinks thin-and-light is more im­por­tant than well-equipped-and-powerful ...
 
Highlife Rocks, iTunes Sucks · I have the good for­tune to live near a good record store, where I shop of­ten. One of my best scores this year was High­life on the Move: “Selected Nige­ri­an & Ghana­ian Record­ings from Lon­don & La­gos  —  1954-66” ...
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Reviving my Mac Pro · We’ve had this “Early 2008” Mac Pro since, well, ear­ly 2008. It’d been show­ing its age but I fixed that ...
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Mac + Android = Screencast · If you want to show off your An­droid good­ies and you have a Mac, it’s ab­surd­ly easy to make a decent-quality screen­cast; the tool­ing will cost you $29.99 ...
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Computer Love · I haven’t al­ways been Apple’s friend in this space, but this is just a note to say that my cur­rent MacBook Pro is by a wide mar­gin my best com­put­er ev­er. Al­so, tug­boat pic­tures ...
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MacBook Pro + Samsung U28D590D · When I got 10.9.3, dis­play on the an­cient Dell 30" I’d had plugged in­to var­i­ous Macs went south; It would on­ly do 1080x1920, which looked like a bad car­toon. So I end­ed up with a Sam­my U28D590D which is ad­ver­tised as “UHD” which I think is the of­fi­cial term for 4K. It works re­al­ly well, al­beit at 30Hz, but that doesn’t seem to be a prob­lem ...
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New Mac Setup · In prepa­ra­tion for leav­ing Google, I want­ed a new com­put­er in time to make sure I could get all the non-Google stuff (pic­tures, blog­ging soft­ware, mu­sic) moved off my Googlemac. I got a maxed-out MacBook Pro 15" (16G RAM, 1T SSD) thus dump­ing an es­ti­mat­ed $1,000 prof­it in­to Apple’s cash hoard. What did I get for it and how did I set it up? ...
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Better OS X Control · If you use Emac­s, you can stop read­ing now. If you don’t, there’s a pos­si­bil­i­ty that you may not be aware of an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful productivity-boosting tool that works in al­most ev­ery OS X ap­p. Read on ...
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The Wrath of Heaven · May it af­flict Dupuytren's con­trac­ture, hang­nail­s, and oth­er painful patholo­gies of the hand on ev­ery de­vel­op­er who screws with Control-A, -E, -F, -B, -N, or -P in any OS X app any­where you can ed­it tex­t. Fire­fox, I’m look­ing at you (but on­ly when there’s a search box open at the bot­tom of the browser). Stack­Over­flow, I’m look­ing at you. Se­ri­ous­ly, you guys are pee­ing on sa­cred ground.
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Maxed Book · My Google-issue Mac is pret­ty nice, but I de­cid­ed to im­prove it by swap­ping ob­so­lete op­ti­cal stor­age for not-obsolete-yet spin­ning rust. With bench­marks for the disk geeks in the crowd ...
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Hating iMovie · I took a movie of my son read­ing a sto­ry he’d writ­ten, as part of a mul­ti­me­dia pre­sen­ta­tion for school. I shot it with my Pen­tax K-5 and the 50-135 F2.8, by can­dle­light (y­ou can do things with mod­ern SLRs that Kubrick had to have lens­es custom-built for at huge ex­pense). Wel­l, and “by candlelight” I mean twen­ty or so tea-lights. When I pulled the AVIs in­to iMovie, the qual­i­ty was rav­ish­ing, the fire­light flick­er­ing on his creamy 12-year-old skin. When I ex­port­ed the fin­ished pro­duc­t, no mat­ter how many times I twid­dled the Quick­Time and oth­er ex­port set­tings, it looked rather pret­ty, but omit­ted all the sub­tle­ty of tone and thus most of the beau­ty in what the cam­era had cap­tured. So I went search­ing around the Net and yep, ev­ery­one agrees that iMovie ex­port qual­i­ty is the shitz. I guess it’s Fi­nal Cut Ex­press and its thousand-page man­u­al (y­ou think I jest?) for any fu­ture video pro­ject­s.
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MBP vs MBA · I just up­grad­ed to a re­cent 15" MacBook Pro (about to be su­per­seded, if the Web ru­mor mill is cor­rec­t), with an SSD of course. All the hip peo­ple, no­tably in­clud­ing my wife, are tot­ing MacBook Airs these days; and yep, those sure are some slick lit­tle sex-bombs. But here are some rea­sons I’d have se­ri­ous trou­ble switch­ing from MBP to MBA ...
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Better Quotes Redux · Last week I as­sert­ed that prop­er left­/right quo­ta­tion marks are es­sen­tial, rec­om­mend­ed KeyRemap4MacBook to fix the prob­lem, and sug­gest­ed option-S, -D, and -F as map­pings for “, ”, and ’. Read­ers ob­ject­ed to all three and in­deed, I was wrong about two of them ...
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Better Quotes · If you are pub­lish­ing text for peo­ple to read and you want it to look even halfway pro­fes­sion­al, you ab­so­lute­ly must use re­al ac­tu­al left and right quo­ta­tion mark­s: “quotes” not "quotes". Al­so right-single apos­tro­phe: as in don’t use “don't”. [Up­date: Please go check the com­ments, which are opin­ion­at­ed and full of use­ful al­ter­na­tives. I’ll re­port back af­ter fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.] ...
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Keynote ProTip: Two Start Slides · Here’s a re­al­ly small hyper-detailed rec­om­men­da­tion: If you’re us­ing Apple’s Keynote for pre­sen­ta­tion­s, make two copies of your open­ing ti­tle slide ...
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How I Use OS X · Al­most six years ago, I pub­lished How To Use Mac OS X, and it was pret­ty pop­u­lar at the time. My ideas have changed slight­ly since then, so I thought I’d out­line how I work these days. This might be help­ful for oth­ers and, even bet­ter, I might learn some oth­er heavy-user se­tup­s ...
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Migration About Done · This is a re­port from the tail-end of the pro­cess of bring­ing our thousand-or-so CDs on­line; pre­vi­ous in­stal­ments have in­clud­ed Mass Mu­sic Mi­gra­tion and More Mu­sic Mi­gra­tion ...
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Dual-Link DVI Adapter Problem · Sun just got me a 2009-vintage MacBook, and I al­so asked for a DVI adapter; when it ar­rived it was a Mi­ni Dis­playPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter, which is what you need for a 30-inch dis­play (drool). It has lots of neg­a­tive re­views and in­deed I had prob­lems with it, so I should pub­lish the so­lu­tion for oth­ers to find ...
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New MacBook · Be­ing a quick write-up on a day’s ex­pe­ri­ence with a cur­rent 13-inch MacBook. Sum­ma­ry: I like how it feels but not how it look­s ...
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More Music Migration · A cou­ple of weeks ago, in Mass Mu­sic Mi­gra­tion, I wrote about the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of mov­ing my thousand-or-so CDs on­line. I’m well along on the job now; this is an up­date ...
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Mass Music Migration · In the liv­ing room are just un­der a thou­sand com­pact disks, as­sem­bled lov­ing­ly over the course of twenty-five years. My CD play­er, an ex­cel­lent but 15-year-old Linn Karik, is get­ting er­rat­ic. At this point in his­to­ry, buy­ing a new CD play­er doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s time to move it all on­line ...
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Fast Sleep · Mike DePetrillo’s Wake Up Your Mac Faster is the best Mac hint I’ve seen in month­s. I re­mem­ber like yes­ter­day, some­time in ear­ly 2002, watch­ing Ro­hit Khare at a con­fer­ence, pop­ping open his Mac ev­ery lit­tle while to take a note, then shut­ting it again. I was still a Win­dows vic­tim at that point, and I was flab­ber­gast­ed; that was the sin­gle fea­ture that weighed most heav­i­ly in my de­ci­sion to switch. The trou­ble is, at some point be­tween then and Leop­ard, that fea­ture kind of went away. It wakes up fast enough, but if your ma­chine is heav­i­ly load­ed, it takes a long time to go to sleep, be­cause it’s sav­ing ev­ery­thing to disk just in case your bat­tery runs down or some­thing else bad hap­pen­s. Which is a nice fea­ture if you want it, but I don’t; the pain of very oc­ca­sion­al­ly los­ing my state is way less than the pain of not be­ing able to wake up my mac for the best part of a minute af­ter I’ve told it to sleep. Par­ty like it’s 2002!
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How I Use My Mac · I switched in 2002 and have writ­ten prob­a­bly way too much on my re­la­tion­ship with Ap­ple com­put­er­s, in­clud­ing one piece grandiose­ly en­ti­tled How To Use Mac OS X. Wel­l, I use one for sev­er­al hours a day al­most ev­ery day and while I feel a lit­tle hum­bler now, I still thought it would be worth­while writ­ing down the prac­tices that serve this par­tic­u­lar ex­pe­ri­enced and in­tense us­er well. It cross­es my mind that there might be a use­ful mi­nor meme in this if a few oth­ers did too ...
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Missing-Font Messages in Keynote · There are a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions in which, when you start iWork tool­s, for ex­am­ple Keynote, you get a bunch of whin­ing about miss­ing fonts. This can be fixed by hand ...
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Score One for Apple · What hap­pened was, my Black Mac frapped out last De­cem­ber and I had to re­build it from scratch, with no help from Ap­ple. The new disk I’d put in on­ly last­ed sev­en month­s; it died about ten min­utes af­ter I got off the stage at OSCON (I bow in the di­rec­tion of blind good luck­) ...
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Apache httpd Won’t Start After Time Capsule Restore · This is just a bug re­port post­ed here to make it find­able for any­one who has the same prob­lem; guar­an­teed not of gen­er­al in­ter­est ...
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Hack My Mac? · I’m se­ri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing hack­ing a Mac, and I’d like your opin­ion. No, I’m not talk­ing about soft­ware, I mean with a hack­saw.
[Up­date: Prob­lem solved. Mac not hacked.]
 ...
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Virtual Indiana · I got the net­work­ing work­ing on yesterday’s In­di­ana + Vir­tu­alBox + Mac in­stal­l, but not well. I think that driv­er needs some work, it seems to lock up on big da­ta trans­fer­s. Any­how, just for fun, I brought over a 22-meg 5782×3946 JPG (a slide scan, the first pic­ture here), and opened it up with the Gimp un­der In­di­ana un­der Vir­tu­alBox un­der OS X. And it worked. It sure ain’t as fast as Light­room, but then noth­ing is as fast as Light­room. I pulled out the Levels tool and and black­ened the shad­ows a bit and twid­dled the white bal­ance. You could live with it if you had to. That Vir­tu­alBox is more than a lit­tle OK ...
 
26 Days, No Air Yet · Let’s be re­al­ly un­prece­dent­ed and say nice things about OS X twice in a sin­gle mon­th. Wel­l, and diss the Air a bit ...
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Leopard Love · You know, I spend quite a bit of time in this space diss­ing OS X, but I’d have to say that Leop­ard has been one of the more pleas­ant in­fras­truc­ture sur­pris­es in re­cent years ...
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NeoOffice · I just made my an­nu­al do­na­tion to NeoOf­fice. If you want to deal with MS Of­fice and OpenOf­fice.org and ODF doc­u­ments on the Mac and you don’t want to buy any over­priced opaque bi­na­ries, it’s your best bet. The new news is that that the lat­est NeoOf­fice (2.2.2) start­up is ir­ri­tat­ing­ly slow on my 2GHz MacBook. Which, you see, is good news, be­cause pre­vi­ous com­bi­na­tions of old­er NeoOf­fices and old­er Macs start­ed up painful­ly, ag­o­niz­ing­ly, slow. For those of us who live on the We­b, at this point in his­to­ry it’s hard to feel much love for office-doc pro­cess­ing soft­ware; but of its kind, Neo is re­al­ly not bad.
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Leopard Notes · Here­with notes on the Leop­ard ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s been re­viewed to death but here are a cou­ple of things I haven’t seen not­ed else­where; per­haps help­ful to peo­ple won­der­ing whether to jump. [Up­date: A cou­ple of pleas­ant sur­pris­es, plus I’m as­sem­bling the bugs I ob­serve here.] ...
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Rebuilding the World · Here­with the un­ex­pur­gat­ed di­ary of my si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly re­build­ing my Mac en­vi­ron­ment from scratch, and mov­ing to Leop­ard. This is part­ly just for my own ben­e­fit, so I don’t for­get the im­por­tant step­s, but may be of mild in­ter­est to oth­ers who car­ry a heavy OSS load on their Mac­s, and may prove a mild­ly use­ful in someone’s search re­sults down the line ...
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No Leopard · Not for me, for a while any­how. It turns out that Light­room has dif­fi­cul­ties, and not on­ly is Ja­va 6 miss­ing, ap­par­ent­ly Ja­va 5 is dam­aged. The two highest-value pro­grams I run on this pup­py are NetBeans and Light­room, so this kind of hits me where I live. As it stands now, the Mac is gen­er­al­ly speak­ing a su­perb server-side developers’ plat­for­m, be­cause it’s Unix un­der the cov­ers and be­cause all the UI and house­keep­ing is de­cent and Just Work­s, not sub­tract­ing time from what mat­ter­s. But you know, the largest sin­gle group of server-side soft­ware de­vel­op­ers still lives in the Ja­va world, and they won’t be go­ing to Leop­ard un­til Leop­ard comes to them. Not, per­hap­s, a big de­mo­graph­ic. But an in­flu­en­tial one I think. [Up­date: I’ve seen sev­er­al con­tri­bu­tion­s, for ex­am­ple this from Adri­an Sut­ton, say­ing that Ja­va 5 on Leop­ard is just fine, thank you. That’s a re­lief.]
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Unprofessional in Black · I’m talk­ing about my com­put­er, which is a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro, and a love­ly flat black colour. It’s by a long shot the best Mac I’ve ev­er had. I gath­er the Pro line is due for a re­fresh soon; it bet­ter be good, be­cause at this point any­one who buys a sil­ver Mac is mak­ing a big mis­take ...
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What an iPhone Looks Like · I no­ticed a bit of traf­fic, start­ing with David Ber­lind, about peo­ple look­ing for vis­its from iPhones in their web-server log­files. I looked in mine, and found a cou­ple. I thought I’d re­pro­duce the ac­tu­al Apache log­file en­try, which is kind of in­ter­est­ing; do your own in­ter­pre­ta­tion ...
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Tab Sweep · Most­ly technology-centric, this time ...
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Black Beauty Follow-Up · I’ve now been us­ing the new MacBook for a week. I think I can con­clude that, for my pur­pos­es at least, it’s a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive than the Pro would have been ...
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Black Beauty · So I went ahead and or­dered a maxed-out black MacBook, not a Pro, ig­nor­ing the ad­vice of the ma­jor­i­ty of peo­ple who com­ment­ed on my ear­li­er con­sid­er­a­tion of the choice. I’m blog­ging from it ...
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Which Mac? · My Pow­erBook (the last Pow­erPC mod­el) still serves me pret­ty well, but I need to do some So­laris stuff, so one of the new In­tel Macs is in my fu­ture. Not quite ready to unSwitch for day-to-day work yet; it seems the lat­est Lin­ux­es still have is­sues with out­board dis­plays and pow­er man­age­ment [now 37 peo­ple are go­ing to write me to tell me how you can make that work, each pro­vid­ing their own multi-step recipe]. So the ques­tion is, MacBook or MacBook Pro? The an­swer isn’t ob­vi­ous. [Up­date: So far, 12 com­menters rec­om­mend the Pro, 10 the MacBook; three say to wait for the next prod­uct re­fresh.] ...
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Tab Sweep · I guess there’s no harm in an oc­ca­sion­al links+­com­men­tary dump; af­ter al­l, ev­ery­body does it. Item: Bits at the Edge is the blog of Mo­toro­la CTO Pad­mas­ree War­rior. The en­tries are too long and dip in­to marketing-speak, but there’s good writ­ing and orig­i­nal thought in there too and I’ve sub­scribed. How could any­one in com­put­ing not need to know what Motorola’s CTO is think­ing? Item: Via Joe Gre­go­rio, PDF slide­ware on The EBay Ar­chi­tec­ture. This ought to be re­quired read­ing for ev­ery­one in this busi­ness whose ti­tle con­tains the words “Web” or “Architect”. I won­der if this sort of wis­dom is be­ing taught in uni­ver­si­ties? Item: Ad­vanced Mes­sage Queu­ing Pro­to­col (AMQP) Spec­i­fi­ca­tions has crossed my radar a few times re­cent­ly. If you re­al­ly be­lieve in loose cou­pling and asyn­chronous mes­sag­ing (as we all claim to), then you be­lieve in some­thing like this. Item: How to find out which font has which char­ac­ters; some­thing I’ve nev­er known how to do on OS X. Item: Ugan­dans grab ‘pig-for-name’ deal; it’s hard not to have com­pli­cat­ed feel­ings about this one.
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Incoming · My com­put­er, like most, is nor­mal­ly con­nect­ed to the In­ter­net, and since I’m on quite a few mail­ing lists and sub­scribe to quite a few feed­s, I get a lot of traf­fic. In gen­er­al, we re­al­ly haven’t fig­ured out how to man­age traf­fic in such a way that we know what’s go­ing on and still get work done ...
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Microsoft XML, the Mac Angle · There’s been a lot of noise these last few days about the Mi­crosoft Of­fice XML file for­mat­s; the world doesn’t need my opin­ion again. I’d vague­ly not­ed that Mac Of­fice would be a lit­tle be­hind on the new XML, then Si­mon Phipps shot me links to a cou­ple of clos­er look­s, which shed an in­struc­tive light ...
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Making Presos · When I do talks for Sun events and where the ma­te­ri­al needs to be re-usable, I al­ways use the NeoOf­fice ver­sion of OpenOf­fice.org, be­cause then I can give peo­ple ODF (or PPT, or PDF, or just about any­thing else you can imag­ine). When I’m do­ing an outward-facing pre­sen­ta­tion and ei­ther I re­al­ly re­al­ly care about try­ing to move the nee­dle with the au­di­ence, or I have my back to the wall time-wise, I use Keynote. It’s been a few busy travel-packed week­s, and I had speech­es to make at JAX.de and the In­ter­na­tion­al PHP Con­fer­ence, both au­di­ences im­por­tan­t, I thought, so they got Keynote pre­sen­ta­tion­s. Any­how, my re­al pur­pose here is just to say that the Keynote au­thor­ing in­ter­face is just to­tal­ly ex­cel­len­t, amaz­ing­ly good; and I speak as a pret­ty ex­pert us­er of both Pow­erPoint and OpenOf­fice.org. For my mon­ey, maybe the best app Ap­ple ship­s.
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Back to the Mac · It took near­ly two weeks to get the Pow­erBook fixed, but for now I’m a Macboy again. On bal­ance, the Mac ex­pe­ri­ence is bet­ter. But Ubun­tu is not that far be­hind, and it’s catch­ing up. I’m think­ing about the endgame ...
 
More Ubuntu · Just a scratch­pad for my fur­ther Ubuntu-experience notes. So far: “locate”, Emac­s, Thun­der­bird, Fire­fox, func­tion keys, win­dows vs. app­s, menu place­men­t, hi­ber­nate, and X key­board map­pings ...
 
Involuntary Ubuntu · This morn­ing I got a con­tract in the email from a lawyer and clicked on it, and MS Word start­ed open­ing. Sigh. Then, my Mac locked up. After I cy­cled the pow­er a cou­ple of times, it was es­sen­tial­ly a brick. Can I blame Mi­crosoft? It’s off at the Mac doc­tor now, no prog­no­sis, no ETA. [Up­date: Fried log­ic board, new one on or­der, they can’t say when it’ll be here.] I’m learn­ing how to ac­tu­al­ly work full time on Ubun­tu re­al­ly fast (that was the cur­rent most up-to-date in­stall on the Ul­tra 20, and I re­al­ly did not want to in­vest any OS-install time). If you’re read­ing this, I’m mov­ing along OK; this is the first-ever on­go­ing post not au­thored on and post­ed from a Mac­in­tosh ...
 
woof! is My Hero · I have of­ten griped about Mail.app’s completely-braindead se­lec­tion be­hav­ior (for ex­am­ple here), and in John Gruber’s ex­cel­lent Stand­ing in Line With Mr. Jim­my, he agreed. John al­so ar­gued that the way to fix this kind of prob­lem is not, as I pro­posed, for Ap­ple to open-source its app­s, it’s for them to be suf­fi­cient­ly script­able that you can just put a ban­dage over this kind of bleed­ing neck wound. Wel­l, some­one has. The blog’s called woof! and it’s at “end.com/speth”. While its au­thor­ship is care­ful­ly un­claimed, my awe­some pow­ers of de­tec­tion aid­ed by fif­teen sec­onds at the near­est search en­gine sug­gest that one Jim Speth is da man, or maybe da dog. I in­stalled the patch and it work­s. Hey Ap­ple, get a clue and just stop this pain. Mr. Speth, next time we’re in the same town, beers are on me. Does this mean John Gruber’s right? May­be; but Ap­ple would still come out ahead by open-sourcing its app­s.
 
Open-Sourcing Apple Apps · John Gru­ber, in Why Ap­ple Won’t Open Source Its Apps, re­sponds at length to my Time to Switch piece, but re­al­ly most­ly to a 2004 piece, Ap­ple Should Go Open Source. I al­ways en­joy and usu­al­ly agree with John’s writ­ing (for ex­am­ple, his piece to­day on DRM); but I think he’s near­ly 100% wrong about how Open Source and busi­ness fit to­geth­er ...
 
Time to Switch? · Ear­ly this mon­th, Mark Pil­grim made waves when he went shop­ping for a new Mac, but de­cid­ed not to buy one, and, in When the bough breaks, wrote at length about switch­ing to Ubun­tu. I’ve been think­ing about this a lot re­cent­ly, and now John Gruber’s writ­ten And Oranges, a fine ex­cur­sus on Mark’s piece. I’m pon­der­ing the switch away my­self, too, and maybe shar­ing my thoughts will be help­ful. [Up­date: Lots of feed­back on the state of the Ubun­tu art.] [Up­date: More from Mark. I feel sick, phys­i­cal­ly nau­se­at­ed, that Ap­ple has hid­den my email—the record of my life—away in a pro­pri­etary un­doc­u­ment­ed for­mat. I’ve had this hap­pen once be­fore (the cul­prit was Eu­do­ra); fool me twice, shame on me. Hear a fun­ny sound? That’s a camel’s back, break­ing.]  ...
 
Getting From HD to the Screen · As of mid-2006, iMovie HD doesn’t ex­port HD video to Quick­Time in a us­able for­m; it comes out in 4:3 rather than 16:9, the dis­play is marred by scan lines, and even at a mod­est width (say 800) reasonably-powerful com­put­ers can’t ren­der it smooth­ly. Here’s the recipe for fix­ing the prob­lem. [Up­date: For­got the ac­knowl­edg­ments! Thanks for good ad­vice to Jef­frey Cz­er­ni­ak, Mike Cur­tis, Tony Coates, and Charles Wit­gen.] [Up­date: Mike Cur­tis has sug­gest­ed a sub­stan­tial im­prove­men­t, and it work­s.] ...
 
New Neo · I’ve been kind of qui­et, and that’s be­cause the Ja­va One peo­ple low­ered the boom on me, told me that if I didn’t get the slides for my ses­sion in they were go­ing to can­cel it. So I’ve been spend­ing qual­i­ty time with Open Of­fice, in par­tic­u­lar the NeoOf­fice fla­vor. They’ve got an al­pha of their ver­sion of OO.o 2 up, and it’s a vast im­prove­ment over 1.2, with a bunch of use­ful side­bar nav­i­ga­tors and bet­ter view-switching. Al­so, it’s all-ODF. There’s some in­ter­est­ing busi­ness mod­el in­no­va­tion; al­though Neo is GPL’ed, you have to sign up and pay to join the Ear­ly Ac­cess pro­gram if you want to use the 2.0 al­pha pre-release. I didn’t hit a sin­gle bug with the al­pha in two days of hard edit­ing; I as­sume the Neo boys are slav­ing away over per­for­mance, be­cause it’s pret­ty slow at the mo­men­t.
 
Camino · Camino 1.0 is out. I just switched it in as my de­fault browser. It’s ba­si­cal­ly the lat­est Fire­fox code with a slight­ly bet­ter Mac wrap­per than Firefox’s own. I’ve left Sa­fari be­hind, then gone back to it, sev­er­al times now, but its lat­est sin is ran­dom un­pre­dictable spinning-beachball slow­downs (I have the im­pres­sion that vis­it­ing any page at msnbc.­com tends to start this, but that’s just anec­do­tal). Camino is re­al­ly very very good in­deed. I’ll let you know how this goes. [Up­date: I ran across an ob­scure lit­tle zoom­ing bu­glet and sent a note to the feed­back ad­dress; got email back with­in a few hours say­ing “Yeah, known is­sue, work­ing on it.” Is that cool or what?]
 
Nexenta/NetBeans/OS X Notes · I’m run­ning NetBeans 5 on my Ul­tra 20, us­ing Nex­en­ta GNU/So­laris as the OS. This buys a lot of per­for­mance, but I on­ly want to have one screen/key­board, so I’m rout­ing the UI through my Mac via X11. I don’t know how com­mon a sce­nario this is go­ing to be, but ear­ly in­di­ca­tions are it’s a damn pro­duc­tive work­ing en­vi­ron­men­t. I’m dis­cov­er­ing some things, so I’ll post them here as I go along in case oth­er peo­ple run across some of the same is­sues. [Up­date: Keymap­ping pro­gress, whines, and bugs] ...
 
Protecting Your Data · I was watch­ing a mailing-list dis­cus­sion of back­up soft­ware, and how of­ten you should back up, and based on some decades’ ex­pe­ri­ence, found some of the think­ing slop­py. Here are my life lessons on keep­ing your da­ta safe while as­sum­ing that The Worst Will Hap­pen. Some of it is Macintosh-specific, but there may be use­ful take-aways even from those part­s, even for non-Mac-hacks ...
 
NeoOffice 1.2 · I see Si­mon Phipps held forth on the good­ness of NeoOf­fice; prob­a­bly not by co­in­ci­dence, re­lease 1.2 showed up to­day. On top of all its oth­er virtues, Neo has re­al­ly slick & quick up­date pack­ages, all per OS X stan­dard­s. I’ve been sling­ing them a few bucks now and then, and if you’re on the Mac you should give the soft­ware a try too. Re­mem­ber, C-$2MS.
 
Mac + HDTV · We have an HDTV, not a great one, a ba­sic Autumn-2004 Hi­tachi 42", works great for watch­ing high-def sport­s, al­though plain old (non-high-def) TV still looks lousy. Ever since I’ve got it, I’ve want­ed to plug it in­to my lap­top, but nev­er could get the video driv­er to do much more than park a fuzzy 640×480 postage stamp in the mid­dle of the 16×9. We’ve got fam­i­ly vis­it­ing for Christ­mas, and I re­al­ly, re­al­ly want­ed to have a slide show, like we used to in the old days with the pro­jec­tor and the rick­ety roll-up screen and ev­ery­one sit­ting around crack­ing jokes about the pic­tures. I have a new 15" October-2005-vintage Pow­erBook, so I sal­lied forth in­to the breach and gave switchResX an­oth­er try and it worked this time! It doesn’t have the world’s most in­tu­itive UI, and I for­get the ex­act tin­ker­ing se­quence that got me there, but now the Mac sees the the HDTV as an 848x480 out­board screen which isn’t ex­act­ly 16×9, but there’s no vis­i­ble stretch­ing. That res­o­lu­tion isn’t great, but is OK for look­ing at pic­tures. One more trick was re­quired to get the slide-show work­ing: use the “Arrange” tab on the Dis­plays pref­er­ences to make the out­board HDTV in­to the pri­ma­ry dis­play by drag­ging the menu-bar on­to it. Then I sus­pect that any of OS X’s slide-show op­tions (iPho­to, Fin­der, Graph­ic Con­vert­er) will work; I’m us­ing Graph­ic Con­vert­er. Tonight, the fam­i­ly will be gath­er­ing around the big screen to look at 124 pic­tures telling the sto­ry of the year. Seems to me that if you want your com­put­er to serve as a “home me­dia center” or what­ev­er the mar­ket­ing buz­zword is, driv­ing the HDTV is a pret­ty ba­sic re­quire­men­t, so Ap­ple needs to ei­ther hire the switchResX folks or repli­cate the func­tion­al­i­ty. Let me know how Win­dows & Lin­ux do in this de­part­ment and I’ll post a point­er.
 
Adium is the Future · The peo­ple I work most close­ly with are lo­cat­ed in New Jersey, Southamp­ton (U.K.), San­ta Cruz, North Caroli­na, Prague, and Ham­burg. In­stant mes­sag­ing is an es­sen­tial busi­ness tool. I use Adi­um, which re­lies on the Gaim multi-protocol IM soft­ware. There are a lot of things about it that pre­fig­ure the fu­ture of soft­ware. [Up­date: Wow! Check out Eric Meyer’s follow-up.] ...
 
Sidetrack’s Back · Any­one who bought one of the new since-October Pow­erBooks and who us­es SideTrack will have no­ticed that it stopped work­ing. They’ve fixed that; which gives me an ex­cuse to rec­om­mend it again to ev­ery­one. Macs now of­fer two-finger scrolling as op­posed to Sidetrack’s side-of-the-pad scrolling; strict­ly a mat­ter of taste. But SideTrack lets you remap the track­pad but­ton. If you use tap-to-click and tap-and-hold-to-drag, which I rec­om­mend, then with SideTrack you can remap the but­ton to be right-click, and in ef­fect the track­pad is now a three-button mouse.
 
NetBeans Tip · I tried out Joshua Marinacci’s re­cent Net­beans on Mac Tip (d­if­fer­ent GC set­ting) and it worked like a char­m. I sus­pect that this ought to be the de­fault set­ting for NetBeans on most sys­tem­s. I talked to a NetBeans in­sid­er in Prague and he mum­bled about hard-to-reproduce weird­ness with this set­ting on pre­vi­ous NetBeans & Ja­va re­leas­es, but I haven’t seen a sin­gle hic­cup. It turns out that on the AMD64 sys­tem­s, lots of peo­ple are run­ning more or less ev­ery­thing Ja­va in -server mod­e. Hm­m­m.
 
Aquamacs · To use their tagline, Aqua­macs is an easy-to-use, Mac-style Emacs for Mac OS X and they add “An Edi­tor for Tex­t, HTML, LaTeX, C++, Java, Python, Perl and more...”, fool­ish­ly leav­ing out blogs. As of the 0.9.7 be­ta, which ap­peared this week­end, this is now my day-to-day pro­duc­tion Emac­s. As far as I can tel­l, it does all the things all those oth­er Mac OS X Emac­ses do, and a few ex­tra nice things. Emacs wee­nies read on for in­struc­tions on how to give Aqua­macs a sub­tle but im­por­tant per­son­al­i­ty trans­plan­t ...
 
Emacs OS Xplosion · OS X has been with us for a few years now, and Emacs has been com­ing along slow­ly and sure­ly. We must have hit some sort of a tip­ping point, and there are a whole lot of peo­ple work­ing on the prob­lem; the re­sult is that life is get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter for the Emacs tribe. This piece opens with a brief ser­mon on why, if you’re not al­ready us­ing Emac­s, you might want to check it out; and then sur­veys the state of play and the mul­ti­ple in­ter­est­ing emac­ses that are out there ...
 
New Mac · Two years, one mon­th, and twenty-three days ago I got a new Pow­erBook. Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon I got an­oth­er, which I’m now us­ing to type this. (The ship­ping route was Shang­hai to An­chor­age to Mem­phis to Van­cou­ver. What­ev­er.) Here­with news, both very bad and very good, on Apple’s prod­uct line, plus some mis­cel­la­neous low-grade prob­lem­s ...
 
How To Use Your Ultra · So, I’ve got this meat-grinder that runs NetBeans just in­sane­ly faster than my Pow­erBook, and I’d like to use it. The trou­ble is, I’ve al­ready got 3,397,120 pixels’ worth of screen real-estate and if I add more I won’t be able to see out my win­dow; and one key­board & mouse are enough. So­lu­tion: run the Ul­tra head­less and talk to it via the Mac, us­ing X11. It’s not problem-free but it work­s. Il­lus­trat­ed with pic­tures of de­li­cious­ly smooth, stream­lined ac­tu­al work­ing code. [Up­date: There is hope.] ...
 
OpenOffice Mac Sanity · A week ago, in my OpenOf­fice.org con­fer­ence re­port, I wrote that the X11 Mac Port was be­ing aban­doned in fa­vor of a Co­coa ver­sion. Every bloody Mac site in the world picked this up as though it were a ma­jor news sto­ry, and now I hear from Pa­trick Luby, chief main­tain­er of NeoOf­fice/J, that as a re­sult, the peo­ple who’ve been sup­port­ing his work are threat­en­ing to cut him loose. This is mad­ness; at the mo­men­t, Neo/J is the on­ly ac­tu­al ship­ping ver­sion of OpenOf­fice that you can run on a Mac with the menus in the right place, with drag-&-drop and fonts that Just Work, and so on. This is go­ing to re­main the case for some time, be­cause the task of switch­ing over the cur­rent X11 ver­sion is go­ing to be huge, slow, and high-risk. (Pa­trick was al­so mad be­cause I said Neo/J was “behind”, and, with­out go­ing in­to de­tails of Ja­va and OO.o ver­sion­s, he’s got a point). So for the time be­ing, I’m go­ing to go on us­ing and sup­port­ing and prob­a­bly blog­ging about Neo/J, be­cause that’s all there is. And I still think that Ap­ple should take an in­ter­est in this work.
 
Some OO.oCon Lessons · Yeah, at the con­fer­ence there were speech­es and press brief­in­gs and so on, but the main thing was all the good stuff there to be learned, some of which is re­lat­ed here. Plus a rare live pho­to of a slash­dot­ting ex­pe­ri­ence from the in­sid­e. [Up­date: They fixed the video.] ...
 
GAIM & Adium, Good Stuff · I suc­cumbed to peer-group pres­sure and gave Adi­um a try; it’s a Mac instant-messaging clien­t, wrapped around the Gaim code, that sup­ports more or less ev­ery IM sys­tem on the plan­et. I’m very im­pressed, it’s good stuff. Gaim is very solid, and as for the OS X wrap­ping... well, iChat makes na­tive AOL look klunky and prim­i­tive, and Adi­um makes iChat look slop­py and space-inefficient; it gets the job done and gets out of the way. Al­so, if you want to whis­per se­cret­s, it sup­ports OTR en­cryp­tion. I can’t push pic­tures through it or do video chat, so iChat will still get used some­times. But, as of now, you can talk to me on AIM, Jab­ber, Ya­hoo!, and prob­a­bly even MSN pret­ty soon. [Up­date: MSN too, tim dot bray at sun dot com (uh, do I know any­one on MSN?); I’m now su­pe­rul­tra­mega­con­nect­ed.] Adi­um: high­ly rec­om­mend­ed. [Up­date: There’s an ir­ri­tat­ing bug, Adi­um from time to time makes it look like I’ve dropped off AIM even though I’m still there. I’ll have to go poke around and see if the de­vel­op­ers know about this.]
 
Apple File Formats · The whole world has been giv­ing Mi­crosoft a hard time over their Of­fice XML file for­mat­s; it turns out that there are far worse sin­ner­s. Ap­ple, for one. Derek Beat­ty here at Sun ran across this write-up on their iWork (Keynote, Pages, and so on) file for­mat­s, which are XML-based. Item: there’s no at­tempt to con­form to OpenDoc­u­ment or any oth­er stan­dard. Item: they change them at will: “With the in­tro­duc­tion of Keynote 2.x, this schema file is out of date.” Item: They don’t ex­act­ly en­cour­age us­ing their specs to build soft­ware: “Although the in­for­ma­tion in this tech­ni­cal note may ap­pear use­ful, you should not re­ly on it for de­vel­op­ing or mod­i­fy­ing your own products.” And, to cap it al­l: “This doc­u­ment does not de­scribe the com­plete XML schema for ei­ther Pages 1.x or Keynote 2.x. The com­plete XML schema for both ap­pli­ca­tions is not avail­able and will not be made public.” [Em­pha­sis Apple’s.] Charm­ing stuff. [Up­date: Apple’s Ernie Prab­hakar push­es back pas­sion­ate­ly. I still don’t think any­one should store in­for­ma­tion that mat­ters in a da­ta for­mat that’s not open and doc­u­ment­ed, but Ernie makes some good points.] [Up­date: Oo­h! My own gen­uine Ap­ple Leak, on how the iWork XML got that way. Read on.]  ...
 
Apple-Futures Roundtable · This is a new kind of gig. Next week, I’ll be par­tic­i­pat­ing in an on­line roundtable called Apple—The Next Gen­er­a­tion over at Sil­i­conVal­ley.­com. Al­so on board will be Nathan Brook­wood, Dawn Ch­mielews­ki, Michael Garten­berg, Peter Glaskowsky, Mark Gon­za­les, John Gru­ber, Andy Hertzfeld, Le­an­der Kah­ney, Keven Krewell, Brent Sim­mons, and Dean Taka­hashi. Check it out, should be fun.
 
Mac Mini for Mom · My Mom’s old EMachines Win98 box wasn’t ac­tu­al­ly bro­ken, but it was tough to sup­port re­mote­ly and the camera-company soft­ware that came with her digi­cam was re­al­ly lame. So I or­dered her a Mac mi­ni and now it’s up and run­ning. This gave me a (rare) chance to watch the OS X ex­pe­ri­ence through a novice’s eye­s ...
 
Google Talk · Yep, it works with iChat. Yep, I’m signed on (my gmail ad­dress should not be hard to de­duce). Yep, XMPP as a pro­to­col prob­a­bly has the legs to beat any oth­er sin­gle can­di­date. Yep, it’s dumb that the chat ser­vices don’t in­ter­op­er­ate. Nope, I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly trust G’s benevolance, but yep, it’s good not to have all my eggs in an AOL bas­ket. [Up­date: fur­ther thought­s.]. Item: Uh, any­one can run a Jab­ber server, is this news sto­ry no more than “Google runs one too?” Item: Ars Tech­ni­ca is dis­mis­sive. Item: Hey, Ap­ple; why do I have to have two bud­dy list­s, one for “classic” iChat and one for Jab­ber? Item: All these names I don’t know are ping­ing me, want­ing to add me as bud­dies. For the first few, I ac­cept­ed, then sent a mes­sage “Do I know you?” So far, nobody’s an­swered, so I re­moved them. [Up­date again: In­ter­op­er­a­tion be­tween iChat and any non-Mac GoogleJab­ber client is shaky-to-absent. I tried to use Nitro, a na­tive Jab­ber clien­t, and it went­up in smoke.]
 
Good One, Apple · Hey, all this good open-source kar­ma (much in ev­i­dence last week at Ja­va One) seems to be catch­ing; I hear that at WWDC, Ap­ple an­nounced the We­bKit Open Source Pro­ject, to make the KHTML/OS X com­bo a re­al two-way part of the com­mu­ni­ty. Good on ’em, and let’s hope this is just a first step. (Mild Ap­ple gripe; in re­cent months I’ve had three friends—one by ac­qui­si­tion, one by em­ploy­men­t, one by contract—start do­ing work for Ap­ple, and all of a sud­den we can talk about my job but not theirs. Hm­ph.)
 
NeoOffice/J · This is an X-windows-free ver­sion of OpenOf­fice for Mac OS X. They just re­leased 1.1 fi­nal, the first ver­sion that hasn’t had a Be­ta stick­er on it. In ex­change, I sent them a few bucks, since I’ve been us­ing this as my ev­ery­day of­fice suite for over a year now. (Con­fes­sion: I still do dip in­to Ex­cel now and again, but even­tu­al­ly the OpenOf­fice spread­sheet will catch up with that too.) It’s not as pret­ty as a re­al native-bred OS X ap­p, but for what I need, it pret­ty well Just Work­s. Rec­om­mend­ed for OS X user­s, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who like C-$2MS.
 
On Apple and Intel · A zil­lion words have been writ­ten on this, but a few more won’t hurt. First of­f, I’m amused by the few brave souls writ­ing about the pric­ing, whether or not Ap­ple will spend less per In­tel chip than they were with IBM. You can safe­ly ig­nore them, be­cause it’s like this: there are a few Real­ly Big Se­crets that very few peo­ple and no jour­nal­ists know: one of them is how much box-builders like Ap­ple, HP, Del­l, and Sun pay chip-builders like In­tel, IBM, and AMD. I bet that when who­ev­er at Ap­ple sat down across the ta­ble from who­ev­er at In­tel the ne­go­ti­a­tion was com­pli­cat­ed and in­volved lots more than the per-chip cost. You know what I, per­son­al­ly and self­ish­ly, hope Steve asked for? First cut at those In­tel “Yonah” chips that ev­ery­one thinks are go­ing to be just the great­est thing, so I can get a faster lap­top than any­one. Se­cond point: I bet that some Ap­ple VIP has, as of to­day, got reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled meet­ings with an AMD VIP, be­cause the x86 com­pa­nies are now com­pet­ing for Apple’s busi­ness on a pret­ty lev­el play­ing field. Fi­nal­ly, I can’t leave this ter­ri­to­ry with­out a point­er to Paul Mur­phy, who as usu­al is point­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion from ev­ery­one else, but who (al­so as usu­al) is worth read­ing.
 
Mac - Power + x86? · CNET has set the In­ter­net abuzz by re­port­ing that Ap­ple is go­ing to jump from Pow­er to x86 sil­i­con. I think it’s be­liev­able, port­ing the soft­ware doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Here’s a per­son­al side­light: Last year I was chat­ting with a very se­nior IBM per­son that I’d just met, who smirked at my Pow­erBook and said “You know, we make more mon­ey on ev­ery one of those than Ap­ple does.” Re­mem­ber, he was re­al se­nior and we’d just met. Those kinds of sto­ries are for sure go­ing to get back to Ap­ple and they’re go­ing to be re­al ir­ri­tat­ing. Look at it this way: once Ap­ple makes the first big step away from Pow­er, if they don’t like Intel’s at­ti­tude or Intel’s per­for­mance or Intel’s pric­ing, they can walk across the street to AMD. Or for that mat­ter back to IBM, who might have be­come a lit­tle more hum­ble and hun­gry. [Up­date: Sev­er­al peo­ple have writ­ten to point out that the IBM per­son was prob­a­bly wrong, since the G4 in the Pow­erBooks is made by Mo­toro­la/Freescale, not IBM. But I think the point about at­ti­tude stand­s.]
 
An Evening With Bonnie · Like al­most ev­ery­one, I have a long list of things that I re­gret not hav­ing done, and mine in­cludes writ­ing a Unix filesys­tem. So in­stead, I mea­sure ’em, with the help of my old friend Bon­nie. I just spent some time ad­dress­ing the ques­tion: “How much does FileVault slow down a Macintosh?” And turned up a cou­ple oth­er in­ter­est­ing re­sult­s, too, in­clud­ing a fair­ly startling three-way OS X/Lin­ux/So­laris com­par­ison. [Up­date: Many read­ers write on the sub­ject of Lin­ux and hd­par­m(8).] ...
 
The Mouse BT · I was in the drug­store pick­ing up a pre­scrip­tion and wan­dered in­to the com­put­er sec­tion, where I found my­self impulse-buying The Mouse BT from some out­fit I’ve nev­er heard of called DVForge. It’s Blue­tooth and looks like an Ap­ple mouse, on­ly it’s got two but­tons (the way this is ac­com­plished seems to re­ly on bend­ing acrylic in a re­al­ly clever way) plus a scroll­wheel. It’s slick, slick, slick; and looks neat. I bought the Alu­minum mod­el but now that I re­alise there’s a white ver­sion too I think that would look bet­ter. On top of look­ing nice, the scroll­wheel is the smoothest I’ve used. I’m kind of wor­ried how fast it’ll go through bat­ter­ies; I’ll re­port back when I know. [Up­date: It turns out that the com­pa­ny be­hind this pro­duc­t, is, uh, con­tro­ver­sial.] [Up­date: As of mid-April, the mouse has sud­den­ly and silent­ly stopped work­ing. Sam­ple size of one, but stil­l...]
 
Hyatt on a Roll · Just last mon­th, I was grip­ing about Apple’s com­plete lack of trans­paren­cy. As if to prove me wrong, Dave Hy­at­t, the main Sa­fari man, has re­cent­ly re­viv­i­fied his blog with a se­ries of ex­cel­lent pieces about plow­ing his way through the Web Stan­dards Project’s Acid2 com­pli­ance test. He’s push­ing back where parts of the test seem ques­tion­able, which is to­tal­ly ap­pro­pri­ate. Then, yes­ter­day, he did a just-the-facts post about Sa­fari 1.3, which you get with OS X 10.3.9. I’ve been hap­pi­ly al­ter­nat­ing be­tween Camino and Fire­fox, but will def­i­nite­ly give Sa­fari an­oth­er try.
 
Check Out Gruber · John Gru­ber, that is, who dis­agrees at length with my unswitch piece. He’s got one good new argument—I hadn’t ac­tu­al­ly read the judg­ment in the Apple-vs-the-leakers case—and while the judge is aware of the risk­i­ness of the ter­ri­to­ry, I’m still wor­ried; per­haps I’ve had a lit­tle too much ex­po­sure to the pro­found sleazi­ness of cer­tain mem­bers of the financial-engineering com­mu­ni­ty. Our dis­agree­ment about information-management style is most­ly aes­thet­ic; I find Apple’s control-freakery of­fen­sive and ster­ile, he doesn’t. He points out that Apple’s share price is do­ing bet­ter than Sun’s or Microsoft’s, and who knows, maybe that’s rel­e­van­t. As for my diss­ing the hard­ware, de­spite what John says, I have friends who are car­ry­ing Sonys and Thinkpads around and they’re faster than my Pow­erBook, and the screens are brighter and have more pix­el­s, and that suck­s. I’ve sub­scribed to John for ages, he’s a Mac bigot’s Mac big­ot, a de­cent writer, and I’ve long ad­mired his sub­tle white-on-grey styling. I hadn’t re­al­ized how much pull he has, there’ve been thou­sands and thou­sands of peo­ple drop by on­go­ing via his piece. So if you’re one of the three Mac en­thu­si­asts in the world who don’t al­ready read John, you might want to start.
 
Mac Browser Roundup · I wrote yes­ter­day about switch­ing away Sa­fari and maybe even­tu­al­ly from Ap­ple, and got a ton of in­ter­est­ing feed­back; in par­tic­u­lar about brows­er choic­es ...
 
MySQL4 Upgrade Problem with Perl · For those of you out there who up­date your Macs with fink (or its apt-get), if you up­grade to MySQL4, and you’re us­ing a Per­l+MySQL ap­p, Fink may in­stall the DBD::Mysql (Perl database glue) pack­age for Perl 5.6, not 5.8. The so­lu­tion:
su­do apt-get in­stall dbd-mysql-pm581

 
Things That Just Work: SubEthaEdit · Last week Si­mon Phipps and I were work­ing on some­thing that had to be done by the end of that day, and he pinged me “Got SubEthaEdit?”. I do, and I’ve used it oc­ca­sion­al­ly when sit­ting around a ta­ble with some peo­ple, but he said “Point it at my server.” I hadn’t re­al­ized how smooth­ly this worked across the In­ter­net, but we both got our hands on the doc­u­ment at the same time (he in Southamp­ton, I in Van­cou­ver) and we worked out the prob­lems and got the job done, no fuss no muss. Is there any­thing sim­i­lar on Win­dows or Lin­ux/Unix, or even bet­ter cross-platform? Be­cause it’s pret­ty se­ri­ous mag­ic. [Up­date: Robert Chas­sell writes to say that Emacs has been able to do this for years, al­though the func­tions hav­ing names like talk-connect and make-frame-on-display has prob­a­bly not helped the up­take.] [Hsui-Fan Wang and one oth­er per­son whose email I lost wrote to point out MoonEdit].
 
Memory Criminal · Here­with ad­vice on where to buy mem­o­ry if you’re in Sil­ly Val­ley, and how to stay out of trou­ble with the Cana­di­an gov­ern­men­t ...
 
Mini for Mom? · So is the Mi­ni a game-changer? That ques­tion is too big. But here’s an eas­i­er one: is it a good com­put­er to buy for my Mom? [Up­dat­ed: Lots of feed­back on what’s good for Mom, and on ap­pro­pri­ate­ness.] ...
 
Podcasting · I may not en­tire­ly get it, but I can’t ig­nore it, so here­with some thoughts and pre­dic­tions on the sub­jec­t, plus ob­vi­ous­ly, a tee­ny lit­tle pod­cast ...
 
Another Mac Hint · Here­with an­oth­er Mac­in­tosh us­abil­i­ty hin­t, plus an am­pli­fi­ca­tion of some pre­vi­ous ad­vice ...
 
SideTrack and eSellerate · At An­tip­ix­el I saw a point­er to a nice-looking lit­tle piece of Mac share­ware called SideTrack so I down­load­ed and tried it and it’s won­der­ful. Any­one run­ning OS X who us­es the mouse a lot, fol­low that point­er and give it a try. Ap­ple will prob­a­bly in­ter­vene, be­cause this gives a stan­dard Mac lap­top in ef­fect a two-button mouse with du­al scroll-wheel, which Ap­ple doesn’t think Mac users should wan­t. So I said “that’s worth $15” and hit the Buy but­ton, and it popped me off to eSeller­ate and boy, is that a slick op­er­a­tion. First of al­l, it no­ticed I was in Cana­da and charged me in C$. Then, when I filled in the for­m, it redi­rect­ed over to a page from my own bank that asked a cou­ple of oth­er ques­tions to make sure I was who I said I was, then gave me a nice print­able re­ceip­t. This is what all the dot-com cra­zies claimed e-shopping would be like, at the height of the bub­ble. They were right... but it took an­oth­er five years to get there.
 
Hardwear · I bought my cur­rent lap­top four­teen months ago. At the time I wrote “I sure hope it holds up better,” and in­deed it’s do­ing bet­ter than the flim­sy, frag­ile, TiBook did, but it’s not that great. Here­with some sug­ges­tions for how Mac­in­tosh lap­tops could be made bet­ter ...
 
Neo/J Patch3 Cowabunga! · Please come on in­side and check out the screen shot. It shows OpenOf­fice, on the Mac­in­tosh, run­ning with na­tive Aqua menus. This is big news. [Up­date: Oop­s, I point­ed to the wrong patch.] ...
 
OS X Rot · The OS X on my Pow­erBook has Soft­ware Rot. It keeps los­ing lit­tle bits of my pref­er­ences, when it’s been sleep­ing for a while it of­ten de­cides it needs to re­boot, it los­es fonts that are in ~/Li­brary/Fonts. This isn’t sup­posed to hap­pen, OS X has been rock-solid for me since the spring of 2002 through two lap­tops and many OS re­leas­es, and I don’t like it. I won­der how many years it’ll take to get to a state where this just doesn’t hap­pen any more. [Up­date: The 10.3.4 up­date seems to have fixed the prob­lem.]
 
Margin Breakage · The re­cent OS X up­date 1.3.4 in­clud­ed Sa­fari ver­sion 1.2.2, which has a bu­glet whose symp­toms may be ob­served, if you’re read­ing this at on­go­ing rather than in an ag­gre­ga­tor, just to your right, where the drop shad­ow on the lit­tle pic­ture is borked. This tech­nique is straight from Vil­lare­al as writ­ten up re­cent­ly in A List Apart, so I sus­pect it’ll bite a few peo­ple here and there. Re­pro­ducible on the dev builds in­side Ap­ple, thus soon to be fixed I’m sure.
 
Welcome Mail.app to the Party · I have on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions dissed the Mac OS X email client “Mail.app” fair­ly heav­i­ly in this space. I fi­nal­ly got my­self smooth­ly in­te­grat­ed with the Sun VPN, and I must re­port that the lat­est re­lease of Mail.app is now han­dling both my email lives (Sun and Tex­tu­al­i­ty) smooth­ly, ef­fi­cient­ly, and with no fuss. The spam fil­ter­ing is fail­ing a bit un­der the pres­sure, but is still pret­ty darn good; and the fil­ter­ing and styling and thread­ing and so on is re­al­ly about all you could wish for. Another rea­son to think about mi­grat­ing to OS X.
 
Apple Should Go Open Source · I’m talk­ing about the ba­sic apps like Mail and iChat and Fin­der and Sa­fari (al­ready part­ly there) and the iLife suit­e. It would be good for the com­mu­ni­ty and good for Ap­ple ...
 
NeoOffice/J · I got an email with an at­tach­ment I want­ed to read whose name end­ed in .sxw. Click­ing on it baf­fled OS X, so I asked around and some­one point­ed me at NeoOf­fice/J, which is part of NeoOf­fice. I got a hur­ried and en­tire­ly opaque ex­pla­na­tion of how this is us­ing Java/Co­coa mag­ic to sweep the Open Of­fice X11 un­der the car­pet, but hey, it seems to work, de­spite lots of “This is a Beta!” warn­ings. It han­dled the .sxw, and then I point­ed it at a .doc and a .xls and it was fine with those, too. The on­ly down­side so far is it doesn’t have the re­al Aqua look.
 
uControl Love · I’ve be­come very con­ser­va­tive about us­ing all the lit­tle OS X add-ons and tweaks and en­hance­ments. But this note, for geeks on­ly, is here to plug uCon­trol and of­fer some re­lat­ed hints from Emacs-land ...
 
Today’s Macintosh Hints · Do: If your screen has the dread­ed “white spots,” stop wait­ing and take it in to get it fixed. The fix is stick­ing (for me, any­how) and what I hadn’t no­ticed was that in be­tween the white spot­s, the screen was fad­ing and look­ing gen­er­al­ly lousy; it’s like a ma­jor up­grade. Do: If you have a new 15” Alu­minum Pow­erBook, go and buy a re­place­ment bat­tery. I haven’t done the mea­sure­ments yet, but the re­place­ment lasts sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer than the one that came with the com­put­er. Don’t: Visit Si­mon Haertel’s site and pick up Quinn (i.e. Tetris) even if you want to just check out the Co­coa pro­gram­ming chop­s; not on­ly is it very like­ly to cost you sev­er­al wast­ed hours but there’s just no good way to ex­plain when a col­league or loved one comes in­to the room and catch­es you us­ing your ex­pen­sive shiny high-powered com­put­er to play Tetris.
 
Computer Stores and Ikea · Scoble ex­plains why Dave Winer’s hav­ing trou­ble buy­ing a com­put­er; the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence needs to be more like Ikea. As Dave would say, “It’s even worse than it appears,” buy­ing a lap­top on­line is a pain in the ass too. Some­thing is clear­ly wrong with this pic­ture. I hes­i­tate to say this—religious feel­ings may be involved—but the Ap­ple stores feel quite a bit like Ikea, these days, and they’ve got ’em in Pa­lo Al­to and Burlingame. On­ly you spend more than in Ikea.
 
Panther · I’ve been run­ning this suck­er for a few weeks now, about time for some experience-sharing; I’ll even try to touch a few bases that oth­ers haven’t. [Up­dat­ed: maybe I was wrong about find­er nav­i­ga­tion.] [Up­dat­ed again: Key­board short­cut­s/screen cap­ture.] [And again: FileVault.] ...
 
OS X Wireless Airport Breakage? · Yes­ter­day I spent some qual­i­ty time in the Min­neapo­lis and Den­ver air­port­s. Both ad­ver­tised wire­less (Cen­tri­no ban­ner­ware in Den­ver), and in both my Mac could see the net­work. The way it usu­al­ly works is you point your brows­er at any web­site and the wire­less ser­vice jumps in front and says some­thing like “$6.95/day, please” and you de­cide whether you want to sign up. In both air­port­s, though, when I did this the brows­er said it couldn’t find the site (i.e. DNS fail­ure) and gave up. I tried point­ing the DNS at a well-known DNS server’s IP ad­dress, and that didn’t help. There were peo­ple with Win­dows box­es around ap­par­ent­ly get­ting on the air. Same sto­ry with Sa­far­i, Mozil­la and IE. Bil­l, who was trav­el­ing with me and al­so has a Mac, had the ex­act same ex­pe­ri­ence. Any­one know what’s go­ing on?
 
Panther vs. Open Source · I load­ed up Pan­ther AKA Mac OS 10.3. They charged me full price for it, even though the computer’s ex­act­ly one month old (bad). Con­sid­er­able vi­su­al im­prove­ment and some nice app bells & whistles, and this new Exposé thing is drop-dead cool (good). Emacs wouldn’t run (bad), re­built per the in­struc­tions of the OS X Emacs guy, worked fine (good). The on­go­ing soft­ware blew up be­cause XML::Pars­er wasn’t there (bad). I shud­dered with mem­o­ry of pre­vi­ous bash­ings of the head against the OSS wall. Hey, Ap­ple is now ship­ping with Perl 5.8.1 (good). Hey, there’s a cpan com­mand that seems to be es­sen­tial­ly a tool for fir­ing sin­gle com­mands at perl -MCPAN -e shell. (Thanks to Iain Trus­kett for some syn­tax help). cpan in­stall XML::Pars­er works (good). on­go­ing still won’t proof be­cause DBI isn’t there (bad). cpan in­stall DBI works (good). on­go­ing won’t proof be­cause DBD::mysql isn’t there (bad). cpan in­stall DBD::mysql al­most work­s, but blows up on the last step with a gnarly ld er­ror (bad). apt-get thinks my mysql is up to date. So for now I can’t proof and I can’t do pic­tures here (very bad). And DBD::mysql is a pret­ty damn im­por­tant piece of in­fras­truc­ture, so I’m not go­ing to be on­ly one feel­ing the pain. [Up­date: It’s fixed! Read on for de­tail­s, thanks, and a bit more on the up- and down-sides of Open Source.] ...
 
Foomacs · I’m at the FOO (Friends Of O’Reilly) camp in Se­bastopol, with a bunch of very stim­u­lat­ing peo­ple, I’m sit­ting next to Bri­an Inger­son of YAML fame (and why, I ask, would we not get along?) fame as I type this. What’s weird is, this is the first time in my life where I’ve been to a sub­stan­tial gath­er­ing and more or less ev­ery­one is us­ing a Mac­in­tosh.
 
How To Use Mac OS X · I’m now a year and a half in­to my new life as a Mac­in­tosh user, and I have the UI shak­en down pret­ty well the way I like it; the re­cent change of ma­chines al­lowed me to leave be­hind some soft­ware rot. Here­with a rec­om­men­da­tion of how to set up your Mac UI, of in­ter­est gen­er­al­ly on­ly to Mac-heads and specif­i­cal­ly to those who like me are fair­ly new in­to this game ...
 
New Mac · I picked up my new Power­book this af­ter­noon af­ter work; here­with some ini­tial notes, a cou­ple of pic­tures, and a help­ful il­lus­trat­ed Mac OS X hin­t ...
 
Nuke The Past · I have a mere 20G drive on my early-vintage Pow­erBook and it’s get­ting a lit­tle bit ful­l. I want­ed to in­stall Keynote (which I had to buy in a box, couldn’t down­load, how twentieth-century) and it’s a hog. So I just fin­ished nuk­ing Vir­tu­al PC and the OS 9 Ap­pli­ca­tions fold­er. Got me back a ton of disk space, and felt good too. For some rea­son it won’t let me re­move the OS 9 sys­tem fold­er.
 
Apple Rah Rah · The news was full to­day of Ap­ple chest-pounding about the next re­lease of OS X, and the new box­es built around the G5 AKA PPC 970, which does look to be one hot ma­ma of a chip. But I just want­ed to give (in one case iron­ic) thanks to Ap­ple for two spe­cif­ic re­cent moves ...
 
iYear · It was about a year ago that, af­ter a decade or so of Win­dows on my client and Unix/Lin­ux on my server­s, I bought a TiBook and got in­to OS X. I am on­ly rarely tempt­ed to go back. It's worth it, I think, to look back over the past year and see what the take-aways are ...
 
On Apple's Music Store · Business-wise, it seems pret­ty sound. I'll pay 99¢ a pop for tunes if they stay out of my face about how I use them. This has to be seen as good news, and ev­i­dence that Ap­ple is a lit­tle smarter than your av­er­age com­put­er com­pa­ny. Here­with some pros and cons of this (I think) im­por­tant new of­fer­ing. (Up­dat­ed 4/29 with com­ments on pric­ing and Web Ar­chi­tec­ture.) ...
 
Paintshop for Mac? · Since Antarc­ti­ca is very graphics-oriented com­pa­ny, I'm of­ten do­ing graph­i­cal twid­dling or fix­up of one kind or an­oth­er when the job isn't se­ri­ous enough to call the re­al pros in. Back when I was on Win­dows, I most­ly used Paint Shop Pro, which does a whole bunch of use­ful things in a straight­for­ward way at a fair price. There doesn't seem to be any­thing equiv­a­lent on the Mac ...
 
The Mac Needs One More Key · As I've writ­ten be­fore, Win­dows is im­mense­ly bet­ter than OS X at key­board nav­i­ga­tion. This makes a re­al dif­fer­ence in the qual­i­ty of the ex­pe­ri­ence and es­pe­cial­ly the speed with which you can get work done. I've been think­ing about how to work around this, and the on­ly an­swer is an­oth­er key on the key­board, named Menu ...
 
Path Finder · Those of you in Mac-land should go have a look at “Path Finder” from Co­coat­e­ch, OS X spe­cial­ists from LA. It's ad­ver­tised as a file browser, a bet­ter re­place­ment for Fin­der. And in­deed, it is bet­ter; ab­so­lute­ly, com­pre­hen­sive­ly, mas­sive­ly bet­ter. But I can't use it ...
 
Old Game, Old (Online) Community · Go is a very old board game, called Wei Ch'i in Chi­ne­se, Igo in Ja­pan, and Baduk in Kore­an, and is played most heav­i­ly where those lan­guages are spo­ken. I used to dab­ble in it, and re­cent­ly in the grip of in­som­nia dis­cov­ered that one of the old­est of games is sup­port­ing one of the old­est of on­line com­mu­ni­ties (and some drop-dead-cool Mac soft­ware) ...
 
Unicode Font Tool · From Lord Pix­el (whose site doesn't ren­der in Sa­far­i, bah!) comes the OS X on­ly Uni­code Font In­spec­tion tool. There's some­thing like this that comes with Win­dows, on­ly nowhere near as slick. Among oth­er things, this is the quick­est way I know of to look up the code­point for some odd char­ac­ter whose name I might not know ...
 
Why Plug This Thing In? · As many oth­ers have point­ed out, wire­less Net ac­cess is pret­ty damn ad­dic­tive; one of the rea­sons is few­er dan­gling, tan­gling, trail­ing wires. So if this lap­top came with two bat­ter­ies, and an ex­ter­nal bat­tery charg­er that charged faster than the com­put­er ran the bat­ter­ies down, I could rou­tine­ly work with­out hav­ing any­thing plugged in. Al­so, the lap­top wouldn't have to in­clude the battery-charge cir­cuit, which might al­low it to be sim­pler and lighter ...
 
Emacs on Mac OS X · Emacs on Mac OS X It turns out that there is a per­fect­ly good ver­sion of GNU Emacs for the Mac OS X. When I first climbed on board OS X, I was fright­ened of down­load­ing and build­ing soft­ware, so I cast about and found a place to grab a bi­na­ry ver­sion. It turns out to be not too bad. I'd put in point­ers for the cen­tral GNU Emacs page and the cur­rent page of the guy who's co-ordinating the OS X work, but the GNU peo­ple are pret­ty slack about their Web pres­ence, and the OS X stuff page cur­rent­ly starts with http://mem­ber­s.shaw.­ca/, so it's prob­a­bly bet­ter to track the right place down with a de­cent search en­gine ...
 
Mac OS X for the Olde Unix Hack · Back Sto­ry I am a cer­ti­fi­able Olde Unixe Hacke - I did re­al work on a PDP-11/44 run­ning V6 back in 1979 or so, was a full-time sysad­min in the days of 4.1b­sd (and the earth-shaking ar­rival of 4.2) on 11/780s, re­port­ed emacs V12 bugs to RMS in 1985 or so, wrote code for a gen­uine com­mer­cial ship­ping Mo­tif ap­pli­ca­tion (lots of it XLib), wrote a filesys­tem bench­mark named Bon­nie in 1990, an im­proved ver­sion of which ap­pears in a cou­ple of Lin­ux dis­tros, and most re­cent­ly ground out a fair­ly big & hairy C-language Apache mod­ule ...
 
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