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Sad Mac · I got a new uni­body MacBook to­day, and for the first time ev­er, get­ting a new Mac hasn’t left me hap­py. Dear Ap­ple: Please bring back ei­ther FireWire tar­get mode or a re­place­ment that, you know, work­s ...
Apple Owes Me $99 · I’ve al­ready whined about the Ap­ple Time Cap­sule we bought ear­li­er this year; it’s a rare in­stance of an Ap­ple Prod­uct that Just Doesn’t Work. There are two prob­lem­s: First, if I get on­line while Lau­ren is, this locks up her WhiteBook so bad­ly she has to re­boot; we can’t share WiFi. Se­cond, I have to run the Time Ma­chine back­ups by hand and I al­so have to con­nect by wire for big ones, be­cause the de­fault set­up leaves my Black­Book in an end­less “Preparing Backup” cy­cle. So I went and bought an­oth­er WiFi router for $99, and now at least we can both be on the Net. I’d ad­vise cau­tion with the Time Cap­sule prod­uct un­til Apple’s done a cou­ple more re­leas­es of the hard­ware and OS X too. Pfui.
Time Machine Blues · We have a ter­abyte Time Cap­sule which backs up Lauren’s MacBook and mine, and ba­si­cal­ly, it work­s; I’ve al­ready re­cov­ered from one nasty disk blow-up and a cou­ple of “error be­tween key­board and chair” da­ta loss events. But the cost is be­com­ing very high; it seems like when­ev­er I’m on the home net­work, it’s end­less­ly ei­ther “Preparing Backup” or “Finishing Backup”, to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of pump­ing fan­s. And it makes sus­pend/re­sume prob­lem­at­ic, too; there seem sev­er­al points in the Time Ma­chine work cy­cle where, if you sus­pend, and if you have password-to-wakeup on (as ev­ery­one should), you’re look­ing at the end­less beach­bal­l. I think I’m not the on­ly one, based on the on­line rum­bles.
On Keyboards · There’s a de­sign flaw in Apple’s cur­rent line­up of Mac key­board­s; eas­i­ly fixed though. Ob­vi­ous­ly, some­one like me has a long his­to­ry and an in­tense re­la­tion­ship with key­board­s ...
Time Capsule Pain · I ran out and bought a 1TB Ap­ple Time Cap­sule, break­ing a self-imposed rule: Nev­er buy re­lease 1.0 of any­thing from Ap­ple. Now I’m be­ing pun­ished ...
Hate Apple Day · Black Beau­ty, my nice lit­tle MacBook, had a disk melt­down and I dropped it off at the shop eleven days ago. I switched back to the N-1 Pow­erBook, and have been too busy run­ning around and prepar­ing for one thing or an­oth­er to think about set­ting up a new com­put­er, so I didn’t pester them. So to­day I called in and they said “Apple doesn’t have any 120G disks in stock, and there’s no ETA for the part, and we can’t call and ask them to ex­pe­dite un­til ten busi­ness days have passed.” I said “So how about a dif­fer­ent disk then?” and they said “Well, pro­ce­dures are we have to do it this way, but if you want­ed to pur­chase a third-party disk...” Is it just me, or is this fair­ly out­ra­geous?
[Dear LazyWe­b: The com­menters have ad­vised me to slap in a new disk, so I will. Ques­tion is, where in Van­cou­ver is a good place to buy one? Thanks in ad­vance.]
[The LazyWeb sug­gests NCIX. Any­thing on this list leap out at the eye of the Mac-savvy?]

Leopard, Ouch · So, I in­stalled Leop­ard, tak­ing all the de­fault­s. Then I in­stalled all the Soft­ware Up­dates. Then it cor­rupt­ed my FileVault, I’ve lost my en­tire home di­rec­to­ry and I can’t log in. Hey, I have a very re­cent back­up and don’t think I will have lost any­thing much. But I do face hours of ir­ri­tat­ing gym­nas­tics to get back to where I was. Am I hap­py? No. I’m typ­ing this on the Ubun­tu box, and it feels kind of nice and safe here. [Up­date: Wel­l, while I was restor­ing, ev­ery­thing went “fweep” and died, Disk Util­i­ty can’t even see my hard drive. Sigh, off to the shop.]
Crashy Mac · I still re­al­ly like my com­pact, power-stingy, WiFi-sensitive black MacBook but you know, it’s crash­ing a cou­ple of times a week. Symp­tom: frozen screen, no re­sponse to key­board or mouse. This is not what I pay the Mac pre­mi­um for, and I’m grouchy. In par­tic­u­lar since it some­times crash­es hard enough to de­stroy things; Apple’s lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude to­wards file preser­va­tion (see here and here) has cost me my Li­brary/Pref­er­ences fold­er once (ouch!) and lit­tle bits and pieces on oth­er oc­ca­sion­s. I won­der if it’s the hard­ware or this par­tic­u­lar ver­sion of Tiger?
Apple App Attrition · Yes, it’s an­oth­er an­guished chap­ter in my re­la­tion­ship with OS X and its pos­se. Baubles al­ready hang­ing on this chain in­clude Back to the Mac, Time to Switch?, and Un­switch. Weird­ly, un­less my log­files are ly­ing, peo­ple like read­ing them. Any­how, I had a hard crash this af­ter­noon when I un­plugged my ex­ter­nal screen, and af­ter OS X came back, both Mail.app and NetNewsWire had lost their mem­o­ry. It turns out NetNewsWire takes a dai­ly back­up of your sub­scrip­tions (that Brent Sim­mon­s, he da man!) so that on­ly took a cou­ple of min­utes to re­cov­er. But Mail.ap­p, like iCal, seems to think a crash is a good enough rea­son to dis­card us­er da­ta; all my pref­er­ences and pro­files were gonzo, I had to start from scratch. It still had my old POP mail with­out the ac­count they be­longed to, but it’d for­got­ten about my Sun IMAP world. I got it work­ing again, but then there were some fold­ers I didn’t rec­og­nize, so I delet­ed them, and now it’s borked again; says “Synchronizing with server” and nev­er comes back. So I said the hell with it and now I’m run­ning Thun­der­bird, which ain’t as pret­ty but seems to work. I’m still OK with OS X, but the num­ber of its apps I use is down to Ad­dress Book, iTunes, iMovie, and (un­til the mi­crosec­ond I find an al­ter­na­tive) iCal. Ap­ple makes nice com­put­ers and a good op­er­at­ing sys­tem. Aside from movies or mu­sic, I’d stay away from the rest of the app­s. OK, let’s try to be fair: I use com­put­ers and ap­pli­ca­tions way hard­er than most, and plen­ty of peo­ple are un­like­ly to push these apps in­to break­age. And Apple’s mail and cal­en­dar and brows­er and so on are pol­ished and easy to use. But I just can’t re­ly on them any longer. [Up­date: The Mac is go­ing to win be­cause its com­mu­ni­ty is smart and en­gaged. For ev­i­dence, check the com­ments. Ex­cel­lent stuff.]
iCal Sucks Hugely · I’ve been us­ing iCal for a cou­ple of years now; nev­er re­al­ly loved it but it’s OK. To­day for some rea­son my Pow­erBook locked up (no big gripe, this hard­ly ev­er hap­pen­s) and when it came back up, iCal showed a lit­tle red splodge next to my cal­en­dar which when clicked said “iCal was un­able to load the cal­en­dar. The file might be cor­rupt­ed or tem­po­rar­ly (sic) un­read­able. you can try again lat­er or re­set this cal­en­dar. Re­set­ting the cal­en­dar will re­move all cal­en­dar content.” There are not words to ex­press how much this suck­s. A pro­gram­mer work­ing for me who left this kind of hole in a personal-productivity ap­pli­ca­tion would be sub­ject to dis­missal. Any­how, I got my life back; read on to find out how, along with some oth­er ad­vice to iCal users and to Ap­ple ...
Routing Around Spotlight · Here­with two hideous­ly ug­ly lit­tle shell scripts for use when Spot­light re­fus­es to search your mail. Spot­light is a flawed v1.0 im­ple­men­ta­tion of a re­al­ly good idea and will, I’m sure, be de­bugged in a near-future re­lease. [Up­date: The LazyWeb is ed­u­cat­ing me... these are mov­ing tar­get­s.] ...
UnTiger · I try to stay with the cur­rent up­date of Mac OS X, but the lat­est, “Tiger” AKA 10.4, is pret­ty lame. The two big new things in Tiger were Spot­light (find any­thing on your com­put­er, right now) and Dash­board (hit F12 and there’s a uni­verse of help­ful lit­tle wid­get­s). Ex­cept for, both are too bro­ken to use much. Where I re­al­ly need search is in my email uni­verse; tens of thou­sands of mes­sages oc­cu­py­ing gi­ga­bytes of stor­age stretch­ing back decades, con­sti­tut­ing my aug­ment­ed elec­tron­ic mind. The search in­ter­face in Spot­light is egre­gious­ly stupid; it starts search­ing as you start typ­ing, re­tain­ing all the set­tings from your last search which (in my case at least) are al­most cer­tain­ly wrong, forc­ing you to stab fran­ti­cal­ly at the con­trol but­tons (which don’t ap­pear un­til you’ve start­ed) to point it in the right di­rec­tion. But the worst thing is, it just can’t find emails that I know are there when I search for words that I know are in them. (There is a so­lu­tion: Open a Ter­mi­nal, drill down to the di­rec­to­ry where the mes­sages live, then use grep). And as for Dash­board­... there’s not ac­tu­al­ly much there that’s in­ter­est­ing. The two wid­gets I’ve tried to use are lo­cal weath­er and the air­line flight track­er. On­ly prob­lem is, they give ridicu­lous­ly, id­i­ot­i­cal­ly wrong an­swer­s. And while they’re sit­ting there in the back­ground wait­ing to give the wrong an­swer, they grow steadi­ly, burn­ing mem­o­ry and mak­ing your Mac run slow­er. (There is a so­lu­tion: Open Dash­board, and one by one re­move all the wid­get­s; your Mac will run faster and be no less use­ful.) For­tu­nate­ly, the OS X val­ue proposition—a de­cent Unix with a de­cent UI—remains solid. I’m as­sum­ing that the next big cat will ac­tu­al­ly in­clude some­thing in­ter­est­ing.
Unswitch? · This morn­ing, I switched my de­fault brows­er from Sa­fari to Fire­fox. Nex­t, I think I’ll look at mov­ing from Mail.app to Thun­der­bird. Maybe I’ll go back, but I’m in­creas­ing­ly start­ing to feel un­com­fort­able in Apple-land. [Up­date: lots of peo­ple wrote me about good stuff in­clud­ing good Gnome ty­pog­ra­phy, Camino, Om­niWe­b, and var­i­ous Sa­fari en­hance­ments. Thanks. Will up­date.] ...
Jeremy and Keystrokes · I see that Jere­my Za­wod­ny has switched away from Mac, at least par­tial­ly. One of his rea­sons is al­so my #1 gripe with OS X, the prim­i­tive key­board ac­cess to ap­pli­ca­tion func­tion­s. Win­dows and mod­ern Lin­ux­es both do a much bet­ter job of this than OS X. Ap­ple re­fus­es to wor­ry about this be­cause, they say, we’ve done the re­search and it shows that you piti­ful peas­ants just think key­board­ing is faster, mous­ing is faster and we can prove it. I per­son­al­ly don’t be­lieve it. When I, for ex­am­ple, want to flip a pho­to 90° right (or left­), it is quick­er in Pain­tShop Pro to hit CTL-R, R (or L), En­ter (and if I’m flip­ping it the same way as last time, I can skip the R/L) than it is in Pho­toShop to grab the mouse and go through two lev­els of cas­cad­ing menus. Since I per­sist in be­liev­ing this, am I a jungle-drumming anti-scientific prim­i­tive? Wel­l, once I tried to track down the ex­per­i­men­tal ev­i­dence, on­ly it doesn’t seem to be on­line, and the one time I found an ab­stract (this morn­ing I looked again and couldn’t find even that), it said some­thing about mea­sur­ing the re­spons­es of “a va­ri­ety of users across a va­ri­ety of operations”. Wel­l, I don’t give a fly­ing flap­doo­dle about a va­ri­ety of users and a va­ri­ety of op­er­a­tions; I care about the things that I do all the time, and by def­i­ni­tion, I am an ex­pert at the things I do all the time, and ev­ery time Ap­ple makes me reach for the mouse, I swear. I work for a com­pa­ny that would re­al­ly like me to switch to an­oth­er desk­top [Up­date: or maybe this], and if I do, this per­sis­tent stu­pid­i­ty about keystrokes will prob­a­bly be the #1 cause. [To all the help­ful peo­ple who’ve writ­ten me about OS X’s “Full Key­board Access”, thank you, I know about it, com­pared to the state of the art on Win­dows and Lin­ux it’s a toy.]
FileVault + iMovie = Trouble · I was try­ing to im­port some video I shot at the beach in­to iMovie and it just wouldn’t go; the pic­ture would lurch and stut­ter and then the im­port would just halt, no di­ag­nos­tic­s. I was puz­zled be­cause I used to im­port all the time on my much-slower pre­vi­ous Pow­erBook. Then I re­mem­bered that I’d turned on FileVault, i.e. ev­ery­thing in my home di­rec­to­ry is en­crypt­ed. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if soak­ing up da­ta at FireWire rates, plus en­crypt­ing it, might be a bit much; so I logged in­to another—unencrypted—account on this com­put­er and it im­port­ed fine. So I may be jump­ing to con­clu­sion­s, but this looks like a bad com­bi­na­tion.
Keynote vs. the Web · I see that Sam Ru­by has post­ed his ex­cel­lent slide set from the Sey­bold show; they are about as thor­ough and con­cen­trat­ed an in­tro­duc­tion to the syn­di­ca­tion uni­verse as any­thing I’ve seen any­where. I won’t be post­ing ei­ther my slides or those by Bill Humphries, be­cause Keynote won’t let me. That’s kind of a pity; Bill had a storyboard-style ses­sion show­ing how you ac­tu­al­ly do this stuff, with tons of screen­shots of get­ting the job done in Ra­dio, Move­able Type, Blog­ger, and so on. I had pro­vid­ed a ser­mon on Why You Should Care about RSS with lots of cute pic­tures, and a his­tor­i­cal overview of the road from the roots of syn­di­ca­tion through to the Atom pro­jec­t. But as near as I can tel­l, there’s no way to ex­port from Keynote to HTML. It’ll do PDF but there is just no way I am gonna post a 6.7MB chunk of dumb elec­tron­ic pa­per. Hrumph.
iCal Still Sucks · I don’t know why I keep beat­ing my head against this wal­l... my ini­tial ex­pe­ri­ences with iCal were com­pre­hen­sive­ly grue­some, but I took an­oth­er whack at it, on­ly to get what I de­served ...
Airport Extreme, Knowledge Bases · If you're get­ting ready to get in­to the won­der­ful world of WiFi (and it is won­der­ful), you might want to avoid pulling the trig­ger on one of those new Air­port Ex­treme base sta­tion­s, huge num­bers of peo­ple are re­port­ing prob­lems. But ac­tu­al­ly, this gripe is about the Ap­ple “Knowledge Base” and about such things in gen­er­al ...
Don't We Have Threading and Multitasking Dammit? · Mozil­la on Mac OS X just does not lis­ten to me dammit. When I have a big slow-loading page up, and I hit a link and in­stant­ly re­al­ize I didn't want to, I can click on the "stop loading" but­ton all I want but Mozil­la just isn't lis­ten­ing. I've ob­served this with oth­er browsers too, is Mac OS X just bro­ken on this?
The Window on Top · When you nuke or min­i­mize a win­dow, or when you do a command-Tab, or a bunch of oth­er things in OS X, the re­sult is of­ten that you have a new win­dow on top. When you start typ­ing, the keystrokes should go to that new win­dow. Often, they don't and you have to click in it first. This is wrong.
Q and 1 are Too Close Together · In many Mac ap­pli­ca­tion­s, Command-1 switch­es win­dows. In Mozil­la, it brings up the brows­er (as op­posed to Mail or IRC) win­dows. It gets used a lot. In al­most ev­ery Mac ap­pli­ca­tion, Command-Q shuts it down. "Q" and "1" are way too close to­geth­er on the key­board, sigh.
Damn, is the UI Ever Slow · I'm do­ing some work here (e­mail in Mozil­la, read­ing some web con­tent) and the sys­tem is just dog­ging it, I'm typ­ing ahead of the re­spons­es which is re­al­ly ir­ri­tat­ing. It turns out that I've got a unix job (on an­oth­er com­put­er) spew­ing out lots of ex­cep­tion mes­sages in­to a Ter­mi­nal.app win­dow, and that's suck­ing up like 40% of the CPU ...
iCal Sucks · iCal, Apple's highly-touted cal­en­dar pro­gram for OS X, is a piece of crap wrapped in a silky cov­er. It is un­be­liev­ably, un­rea­son­ably, id­i­ot­i­cal­ly slow (70 CPU sec­onds to load a few years of cal­en­dar file). And it's un­re­li­able; to­day I crashed my Mac by mak­ing a mis­take chang­ing the bat­tery, and it just silent­ly lost all my cal­en­dars go­ing back to day one ...
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