Forwarding Address: OS X

Saturday, July 20, 2002

I've concluded that I can live without virtual desktops if I have some way to switch apps from the keyboard. Quickeys is the canonical way to do that on Apple systems, and they have a nice MacOS X port these days. Eighty dollars for yet another basic OS extension is a bit beyond my budget though. The shareware app Keyboard Maestro does much of what I need, and has stuff like a Windows-style Alt-Tab selector (by app, not document window, sorry) and multiple-clipboard handler in the licensed version. The lite version of it (what you get if you don't pay the measly $20) does pretty much everything I need, so I'm sticking with that.

Monday, July 15, 2002

More on bluetooth, mobile phones, and iBooks:

Although the D-Link bluetooth/USB adapter remains vapourware, there's an alternative available from Mitsumi, the WIF-0402C. This is a USB/Bluetooth adapter, and I've seen multiple reports that it works fine with MacOS X 10.1.5 and the Apple bluetooth drivers. The sole distributor in the UK is Flint electronics, who sell them for 75 +VAT (and delivery at 6.00). They don't have an online shopping system at their website, but the email enquiry form will get a prompt response and they're happy to take credit card orders.

I haven't bought one; the reason is that I already have a serial data cable for my Ericsson T39m. So I bought myself a Keyspan high-speed USB to serial adapter.USA-19QW. This beast is reported to work with Linux using the usb-serial driver, and with Keyspan's own drivers for MacOS X 10.1.3+ it works fine. The serial device shows up as /dev/tty.KeyUSA19QW11.1, and Network setup is happy to talk to the T39m over it and configure it as an internet connection device.

(Now to try out the pilot-link tools, which can be coerced into building on MacOS X by changing a single line, and see if I can get my iBook to talk to my Palm m505 over a serial connection -- allowing me to write scripted Palm backup sessions. More on this when I get some results ...)

(Thanks to Dr Quentin Stafford-Fraser for the tip.)

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Logitech Mouseman Traveler

Speaking of mice, the Logitech Mouseman Traveler looks really nice with a Powerbook G4, and is a convenient compact size for cramming into even a small laptop case.

I mean, what would be the point of having such a nice looking computer and then plugging in a plastic mouse?

To chime in on the virtual desktop debate: I was a heavy virtual desktop user on linux for 8 years. I usually had between 10 and 15 workspaces. My only real criteria for using a window manager was how well I liked it's virtual desktop management style. On those rare times where I had to use Windows, I would get out the old copy of Amish Desktop for Windows 3.0 (that's right) and get my precious, precious workspaces back.

But after spending a few days using the Dock, I stopped craving workspaces at all. Since then, I've preferred the dock over the virtual desktop.

I'm not preaching here, different styles work for different work habits and I've found life with the dock pretty enjoyable.

Bill Bumgarner:
Andrew Stone has put together a bunch of notes on programming Cocoa. Andrew has more experience with these APIs than just about anyone on the planet. He is also likely the only person that can claim that he has shipped his primary product-- Create!-- on every commercial version of NeXTSTEP, OpenStep, Rhapsody, or OS X (including the Sun implementation of OpenStep).

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

A minor discovery: generic PC USB mice work with OS X, at leat on my iBook. The $4.29 mouse I bought from Cyberguys worked just fine with no drivers. (Most Mac USB mice cost over $20 for some unknown reason.) Now if I could find a cheap USB keyboard to keep in my backup stash...

I just came across the Internet Developer site at Apple, a great resource for figuring out how all the critical web tools work and how to get them to work under OS X. If you're a developer, or you just want to add a ton of power to your Mac's software capabilities, be sure to check out the Web Development and Mac OS X section. It covers installing and using such things as perl, php, mod_ssl, CVS, and has a great article on open-source databases.

(Reminder to Apple: MySQL by default, right?)

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

OK, it is probably safe and good to upgrade to IE 5.2 for OSX. Microsoft released it last week, and there were many screams from users because it changed the home page to MSN for some people. I did the install on two different systems just now, and it changed the homepage to MSN on one of them. I attribute this to lameness, not maliciousness, but it is still dumb on their part. "Oh, gee, now I see the light and I want to use MSN as my home page." Yeah, right.

Anyhow, the new browser is more stable than the old one for displaying some "tricky" pages, at least for me. I can almost hear Cory screaming now, so let me emphasize that YMMV.

Well, it's day four of messing around with Loaner - Cory's old 466 ibook he lent me on Independence Day. I was keen to poke around with the development side of MacOS X, so I bought me a copy of Garfinkel and Mahoney's Building Cocoa Applications on Saturday, and got to work. Inconclusive conclusions so far:

Things I like

  • That the development tools and docs are gratis these days. Yay!
  • The old Project Builder/Interface Builder stuff is great, in a weird mid-nineties timewarp kind of way. What all the NeXT addicts endlessly go on about is true: it's a breeze to get up to speed. I managed to get my first dumb application up and running by Sunday afternoon, and that's with no knowledge of Objective C, precious little remembrance of C, no clue about AppKit - and not too much blind clicking on buttons. Gads, I'm almost looking forward to grokking AppleScript.
  • The built-in WebDAV support (in Finder's "Connect to Server") is cool. I can already see some applications for that.
  • the fact I can run all this on a 466 256KB iBook without strain.
  • Fink. Natch. What can I say? I'm a Debian boy at heart.

Things I'd do differently (given I'm such a darn free software wonk):

  • I think there should be an officially supported "Source" folder in the app bundle. Apple's talked about encouraging open source, and having this as an option would make sharing source on the MacOS a breeze. You could stash the code for GPL'd or BSD'd software inside, and still be able to hand people a single application file. It'd turn app binaries into little Kinder Eggs of source. And somebody could sell a shareware utility called SuperAppCompressorDeluxe which deleted that directory from all your apps, and charge $14.95 for it.
  • It's a damn shame that the NIB format is a proprietary binary affair. Having non-text bits of a development project is nasty - it makes archiving and oversight much harder, ties you down to one development environment, and scares the horses.

Things that, after all these years, remind me I'm back in Macland

  • Dozens of open applications, before I remember command-Q
  • Dreaming of a keyboard shortcut for "Hide Others"
  • Took me five days, but I still found myself messing around with File and Creator Types. Thank goodness Quick Change kept up with the times.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

If you still haven't made the switch to Mozilla, you might be interested to know that MSFT has updated Explorer for OS X to version 5.2.1, with new "security enhancements." (via MacFixit)

Anyone seen one of the much-ballyhooed Bluetooth/USB dongles yet?

According to MacUser (a UK magazine) D-Link are having major production difficulties caused by a component shortage and quality control issues, and Apple have indefinitely postponed production. If true, this is a real downer -- I've got a Bluetooth phone with GPRS -- an Ericsson T29m -- and I'm really looking forward to having wireless access everywhere from my iBook. But I haven't seen any confirmation of this rumour from elsewhere -- does anyone know the truth of the matter?

And are there any other Bluetooth solutions suitable for a dual-USB iBook out there?

(In the meantime, Ericsson do a serial data cable that works with the T29m, and I'm going to do some serious experimenting with a USB to serial adapter as soon as it arrives. It's kludgy, but for the time being it may be the only workable solution to long-range wireless on an iBook.)

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Here's a bit of hard-learned advice: no matter how rarely you use OS 9, don't throw out your "Extensions (Disabled)" folder, you may need it some day.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

News.com reports that OS X.2/Jaguar is ahead of schedule and may ship in early August. I've heard that current beta testers are overjoyed with current builds. My iBook 700 just arrived, and it's noticeably faster than the 600Mhz machine I used to have (no, it's not for sale), but it's supposed to get even faster once Jaguar comes out.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Did anyone else find themselves shocked upon finding out that Apple acquired Emagic (makers of Logic Audio) today? I know I did.