Forwarding Address: OS X

Friday, August 30, 2002

Could it be that Internet Explorer is not entirely stable under 10.2? I'd heard the stories of IE crashes since the 10.0 days and I never really had any empirical evidence of my own. IE under 10.1.x crashed on me once. In less than two weeks of using 10.2 IE has crashed on me three times already. It's not Java related and I can't replicate it. It seems to happen randomly, although deep down I know it's not random, it's just that I haven't figured out how to narrow it down properly yet. Hopefully this will be one of the things addressed in the much talked about 10.2 point-release, or maybe even an IE update.

Now, before the chants and cries of "Use Mozilla you fool!" arise from the crowd, let me just say that I'm a web developer and I have to look at everything I do in every browser I can get my hands on. It's just part of my job, it's not a product endorsement ;-)

So, have you noticed more IE crashes than usual (with "than usual" being how often it crashed on you pre-10.2)? Discuss

Thursday, August 29, 2002

It was allegedly a bit of an oversight on Apple's behalf, but they forgot to include the latest verison of Perl with Jaguar. Top chap Morbus Iff has a guide to putting Perl 5.8 on Mac OSX.2 up on the Apple Developer Site. Which is nice.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Matt Webb has an evil, evil script for changing your smtp server for every Location. As he says,
"Can I just point out that I would never be able to do anything like this on Windows or Mac OS Classic. But because Mac OS X and the unix underpinnings are so tightly bolted together, I can use Perl (which is easy, and I know from making websites) to bolt together all the bits I only slightly know, and still make my day-to-day gui existence easier. This is what an OS should be like. "

The "?" invisible character issue with URLs has been around for a while - its annoying that its still there. Even more annoying is the %23 for # issue: if you command-click on a URL that has a # in it, the # gets sent to the browser as %23 which almost always returns a 404 error from the server (I assume this means that the server isn't configured to parse %23 as # in a URL?) At any rate I'd love to see Apple fix it so that # gets passed through as # and not converted. Discuss

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Gabe's come up with the solution to my screen-capture woes. By holding down the controlkey while hitting shift-cmd-4, you get the screen capture on your clipboard. ToyViewer has a shortcut, shift-cmd-v, that makes a new window with the clipboard contents on it. Shift-cmd-j saves the foremost window as a JPEG. That's one step fewer than I've had to take to date -- w00t!

Cory's string copying from is true - I always get an ? added to the start of a string. It's annoying, to say the least. I'm also having issues burning CD-RWs from finder. What exactly is Error Code 6? Hmmm

The new has a lot to recommend it, but I've got two annoyances, one major, one minor:

Major: The Junk Mail filter does not work for me at all. After training it on circa 2,000 pieces of spam, it only snags about one message in three hundred and about 90 percent of those are false positives.

Minor: If you copy a string from an email message to your clipboard and paste it into a text editor, you get a mystery nonprinting character at the start of the string. This is especially annoying when copying an URL, since the nonprinting character before the http:// breaks the URL if you paste it into the location bar of a browser or use it with wget or curl -- you have to paste the string into a text-editor and remove the special character before proceeding.

Like Steve, below, I've also upgraded to Jaguar, but unlike Steve, my upgrade didn't break anything. In fact, it's altogether much faster, better looking, and generally more scrumptious than before. (Which is somewhat upsetting: as every day was like Christmas anyway, but finding all the new little details in Jaguar makes me worry for my sanity.) My current obsession: finding thumbnail pictures of everyone in my address book: the way they appear in messages is very cool. My friends are rapidly becoming Topps cards - anyone want to swap a 1999 Cory for a colour Danny O'Brien?

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Being somebody who's both 1) stupid and 2) fearless, I upgraded to Jaguar today.
  • My kensington mouse drivers produced kernel panics upon startup. unplugging the mouse fixed that.
  • bash2.0.5(a), which I had built from off the gnu site, crashed on me when starting Terminal, luckily Jaguar has it's own version of bash, located in /bin/bash (in case you need to change things in NetInfo to get your Terminals to start again). this new bash doesn't understand dircolors.
  • Mail still hates my Cyrus imap server. strange..
  • Apple System Profiler now features crash logs. If that was there before, I must be blind. It's a nice touch.
  • Rendezous is pretty neat. Stacy and I have been playing with it. iChat in general is pretty pleasant and much nicer than the aol aim client. (no more ads!)
  • The orinoco wireless drivers for powerbook g3's no longer works, as many of you know. There are some rumors that they can be made to work. We'll keep you updated.
  • The Dev tools for 10.2 come on a cd with Jaguar. Sofar, my old projects all build with it.
  • gcc is now 3.1 which fixed a strange error in a compiler I've been workig on where a char* array returned from NSString (with lossy ASCII conversion turned on) no longer had \0 as the last element.
  • Emacs (Carbon) 20.7 no longer works. Emacs (Cocoa) 20.7 doesn't work, either.
Basically, unless you enjoy misery, wait a few weeks to a month to make sure all of your existing OS X apps work with 10.2. I'm not unhappy I upgraded, though. It's very speedy.

Friday, August 23, 2002

A call for help: I've searched everywhere I can think of for info on creating menu extras in Project Builder. If anyone knows where I can find such info, and maybe an example, please tell me. Discuss

Paul: Speed Disk is available for X as part of the Norton Utilities suite.

Question for Chris: Does that advice go for OS X, or just System 9? I'm surprized to see Speed Disk listed as something to run on OS X systems.

Note for Steve: the BEFW11S4 is a router, not a bridge, so it is likely that it does *very* different things with packets. Given that the WAP11 passed some packets just fine and only showed problems on some TCP streams, I can easily believe that adding router functionality would change things. Also note that Cory uses a WAP11 with OS X just fine, which indicates that the problem I'm having (and that he is not having) could be network-related, although that is incredibly hard to diagnose. The packet dumps I did showed that WAP11 wasn't receiving some TCP packets in a stream, FWIW.

(Just to pick on Paul. ;-) I don't know specifically about the WAP11, but I use the Linksys BEFW11S4 that I picked up on amazon for $135. As far as I can tell, it's just a souped up WAP11. I use it with a windows machine and an orinoco gold, my tibook and a g4 with added airport card and I never have problems.

In response to my earlier post about kernel panic woes John Oswald wrote:
Do yourself a favor: get Norton's SystemWorks 2 and Disk Warrior. First install Disk Warrior on a drive and make a copy of the application itself. Take the Norton CD to a Mac with Toast and CD burner. Make a Toast image of Norton. Now double-lick the image and select mount. Open the mounted image and toss Spring Cleaning and Retrospect onto it (you'll still have them on the original disk). Next, copy Disk Warrior onto the disk and put Disk First Aid 8.6.1 on there as well. Drag the mounted disk to the Trash, double-click the icon again and burn. I know this sounds like a little bit of trouble, but after what you just did this is a can of corn. I work on Macs every day and have only had one not function after using a combo of:
  1. Disk Warrior
  2. Disk First Aid
  3. Norton Disk Doctor
  4. Speed Disk
Use them in that order. In fact run them once a month and you probably won't ever see a major on your mac for a long time. One thing: I never install Norton on any of my drives. I only run it from the CD.
There you have it. A complete regime for keeping your Mac happy.Discuss

There is plenty to be said about Jaguar and its 150 new features, most of it positive. One very nice touch that made me smile is that the venerable Calculator has been updated for the first time since, oh, about 1984. It now has: an "advanced" mode with scientific functions, a paper tape, all sorts of unit conversions, and currency conversions with network-updatable exchange rates.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

I have seriously revised my earlier posting about the Linksys WAP11. In short, if you use OS X and/or an AirPort card, you should probably stay away from it. (Yes, I'll edit this posting too if someone says that one or both of those work with the WAP11.)

Basically, it turned out that my old AirPort base station *did* have the "capacitor of death" problem, but it was actually the "capacitors of death" (meaning both capacitors blew). I hadn't looked carefully enough. Fortunately, my good friend Joel Snyder at Opus One had given me two replacement capacitors when he heard I had an AirPort, so I didn't have to go out looking for them when I replaced them. (Although, I have misplaced my soldering iron, so I had to go visit a friend for that!) The instructions on how to replace them were pretty clear. It's not for the faint of heart, but it sure beats paying $300 for a new AirPort.

The WAP11 goes back for a refund, and the AirPort base station is working fine again.

How to Go From Kernel Panic to Clean Install in 14 Long Hours

Yesterday morning I booted my laptop only to have it kernel panic in the middle of loading networking. "No big deal", I thought as I did the three-finger salute and started it up again. Was I ever wrong: the machine had flat-lined. The happy Mac would appear, the spinning beachball would appear, and then both would sit for a very, very long time with nary a hint of activity from the screen, machine or hard-drive. My Mac was dead in the water and, much to my horror, my last comprehensive back-up had been almost a month ago (don't call me Dantz, I'm already calling you) so I definitely needed to be able to get the data off of it - a clean wipe and reinstall at this stage was just not an option.

After panicking for a bit, here's what I did to get up and running once again:

First, I read Tech Note 106464: Mac OS X: Troubleshooting a Startup Issue a few times through and then did everything it said, in the order it said it. fsck found a number of problems the first time through and repaired them (a second run of fsck went without issue) but that still didn't rectify the situation. Nor did anything else in this tech note but I did learn a lot about single-user mode and was at least able to see that my data was still all there on the drive. Some consolation, that.

Second, I called up my friend Bones and grilled him for any ideas he might have about how to tackle this issue. He had one, and it was a great one: I would bring my dead laptop over to his place, mount mine in Target mode onto his (see Tech Note 58583: Macintosh: How to Use FireWire Target Disk Mode for details), copy the data off and then be free to do whatever I wanted to my machine.

We tried it and it worked like a charm: a few hours later all my data was backed up to CD and I was breathing a sigh of relief. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank whichever people inside Apple came up with the idea and implementation of Target mode: you're all farkin' brilliant!

From there I clean-installed the OS starting with 10.1 and working my way all the way up to a nice, shiny, super-fast loading 10.1.5. I also took this opportunity to not install OS 9 on the machine. Its time to walk without the safety-net (and I can't actually remember the last time I used 9 anyhow).

Finally, I called up my neighbourhood computer products co-op and bought a 60 Gig Firewire drive to act as a backup source for all my machines. Soon I'll be installing X onto it so I can use it as a boot drive if necessary; for the time being I've contented myself with backing up the contents of my current system to it in its entirety.

At last, 14 hours later, all is well with the world again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

The OpenSSL update is at least responding to this advisory since we're getting the version mentioned as being "safe". But that advisory is already three weeks old and I'm running a newer version than 0.9.6e on my other unix machines. Three weeks isn't horribly slow turnaround time but I still wouldn't be very happy if I were running an os x server box.

Popcorn! Peanuts! Security updates! Get yer security updates!

Check out AppleCare Document: 120141 which will tell you that OpenSSL and "Security" will be updated and then go fire up Software Update and get secure. Reboot required.

The doc doesn't go into any detail on which, if any, vulnerability this update fixes. It would be nice to know so we could get a good measure of how quickly Apple is responding to alerts. Discuss

Monday, August 19, 2002

A little birdie tells me that in Jaguar, screenshots are saved in PDF instead of TIFF. This is a pain in the ass for me, as I'm all the time taking selective screenshots of bits of webpages that I want to include on Boing Boing, then resizing them and converting them to JPEG with ToyViewer, the excellent free NextStep lightweight image-editor. However, ToyViewer can't resize PDFs, and what's more, if I set the default app for opening PDFs to ToyViewer, I won't be able to view actual PDFs properly (and if I don't, I'll have to drag-and-drop every screenshot file onto ToyViewer).

I need a lightweight image-editor (resize, crop, convert to JPG or PNG) that can read PDFs. The GIMP is definitely overkill, and Photoslop is hundreds of dollars. Anyone got a reccomendation for a magic image-editor that suits my needs? Discuss

If, like me, you wish that new URLs sent to Mozilla would open in new tabs rather than new windows, you're not alone. There's an open Request for Enhancement in Bugzilla, the Mozilla bug-tracker. Anyone can create a Bugzilla account and vote for bugs -- bugs with lots of votes get fixed sooner. Head on over and create an account today if you want to cast a vote for this. Link Discuss (Thanks, Gillo!)

Is Apple shipping an iPhone soon? The NYT thinks so. I would so dig a phone/PDA from Apple, running Darwin (OS X's Unix) underneath, based on the iPod: 20GB of MP3s, a phone, a DOM-compliant browser, a mini email client all tied by Firewire to OS X.
Sherlock in particular has been repositioned in a way that would make it a perfect counterpart for a portable phone. Its original purpose, which was finding files and content on the computer's local disk, has been transformed into a more general "find" utility program. Now, Sherlock is being extended to search for types of information like airline and movie schedules and restaurant locations. The software can display maps and driving directions.
Link Discuss (via /.)

Ben Hammersley has an OS X epiphany.
Geek Alert: I've got Gnome running on top of OS X/Aqua, and I'm using Gimp right now. Hands up all who love Open Source...

UPDATE: Hang on, if I can now run any Xwindows app, as well as command line stuff, and hence can use any Open Source Linux application as well as any native OS-X application, and use the Fink package manager to stay up to date...all for free...why the hell didn't I switch earlier?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Does anyone know how to get Mozilla for OSX to default to opening links from email or other applications in new tabs instead of new windows? Discuss

"If you are turning on WEP (which anyone with any sense does)..."

Erm, I beg to differ, Paul. I leave WEP off on all four of my access points, for a number of reasons:

  • Having no WEP makes it easier and faster for you to connect to your network
  • WEP doesn't provide any security from malefactors, who have ready access to tools that can trivially derive even 128-bit WEP keys, using well-understood exploits
  • Protocol security (i.e., ssh, scp and ssl) are good data hygeine in general. I connect to lots of networks (as, I suspect, do many wireless users) -- hotels, cafes, etc. Anyone not employing these measures should assume that his data is being sniffed on the wire
  • Leaving WEP off facilitates the use of your networks by both friends and strangers. If you pick an ISP that allows you to share your connection, you can legally contribute to a climate of cooperativism and you can do a mitzvah for your neighbors and for your community
  • Providing anonymous access to the Internet upholds the First Amendment right to anonymous speech; a tradition that benefits many citizens of a thriving democracy, such as whistle-blowers, dissidents, and embarrassed teens who want to research VD
  • Providing access to the Internet via a wireless access point arguably makes your into an ISP for the purposes of the safe-harbor provisions in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which means that you don't carry liability for threats, pr0n, infringement, etc, trasnmitted through your AP. You'll be in the same safe-harbor that protects libraries, Internet cafes, Internet kiosks, smart payphones, and other anonymous access points.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

[[ This post originally discussed me replacing my dead Airport base station with a Linksys WAP11 that cost $135. After using it for a while and finding some weird network problems, I probed further. I'm now pretty sure that the WAP11 does not work reliable with Airport cards, with the TCP/IP stack in OS X, or both. The easy-to-reproduce syptom was that I could send very short mail (where the message all fit into one TCP packet) but could not send longer messages. Using tcpdump, I could see that the second packet of the message was simply not going through. When I switched to Ethernet, it worked fine. And, after I fixed my Airport, that worked fine.

I hope no one followed my earlier message about using the WAP11. If so, I apologize. I'll leave in my previous note about using WEP passwords from OS X with non-Airport base stations.]]

You will find a horrible gotcha in OS X that is unrelated to the Linksys box. In the Network system pref, to enter an ASCII password for a non-Airport base station, you have to surround it with quotation marks even though you don't use them for Airport base stations. This is incredibly confusing, and caused me to waste a lot of time. It also caused me to call Linksys and discover that their tech support is incredibly lame (although it was toll-free in the US).

For more information on how to use OS X with non-Airport base stations, see AppleCare document 106250, which also shows the magic you need to use to enter a hex password.

Monday, August 12, 2002


AOL subscribers using AOL's new MacOS X client will see the Web through Mozilla's rendering engine, Gecko. I'm guessing that's a smallish subset of the current switching population right now, but it's perhaps a sign that the Net is moving towards more diversity - in operating systems and browsers.

Here's a way to add a pale shadow of Mozilla's excellent search capability to MSIE 5.2 for OS X:
  • quit Explorer
  • download this patch
  • open a Terminal
  • type "cd [whatever directory you downloaded the patch to, leave off the square-brackets]" and hit return
  • type "gunzip Localized.rsrc.patch" and hit return
  • type "cd /Applications/Internet\" and hit return
  • type "sudo patch -b < [download directory]/Localized.rsrc.patch"
  • launch Explorer
  • to search Google, click in the location bar (or type command-L) and type a ?, then your query
Of course, Moz does all of this without having to screw around with patches... Link Discuss (Thanks, Michael!)

Saturday, August 10, 2002

By default, Windows Media Player encodes your music collection using your machine's unique key, so that you can't share, loan or give away the tracks you rip to your machine. What that means is, if you have some file-system or OS corruption and reinstall from scratch, then restore your music collection, it will be unusable. You won't be able to play the files. There's a backup utility that'll preserve your license keys, but if you fail to employ it, you're SOL -- MSFT's position is that you need to start over from scratch at that point, re-ripping all the CDs in your collection. Speaking as someone with 30GB of MP3s, ripped from over 1,000 CDs in a process that took days, I gotta say, I'm glad I'm an OSX user. Link Discuss (via On Lisa Rein's Radar)

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I'm not sure what your circumstances are but I order from using IE 5.1 on the Mac all the time.

So, I figured that with Webvan's biz being reinvigorated by Safeway, that I'd be able to buy some groceries online and eat something besides take-out burritos. No dice, though!
From: "Home Shopping"
Date: Tue Aug 06, 2002 09:25:37 PM US/Pacific
Subject: [#265651]

Dear Mr. Doctorow,

I am writing in response to an e-mail I received regarding your technical problems. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Unfortunately, our website is currently not compatible with Mac computers. This is already under research by our Web Development department and hopefully they will have this issue resolved in the very near future.

If I can be of any further service to you please feel free to contact me again or call us toll free at 1-877-505-4040.

Thank you for your time and thank you for shopping with


Trent Gurney
Customer Service Representative Link Discuss

Monday, August 05, 2002

Incoming toy:

Apple and D-link have finally got it together and released their bluetooth/usb widget. (My order is being quoted an 8-10 day delivery time -- expect updates if this doesn't come through.)

Friday, August 02, 2002

If you are a security geek, you might be interested in the Mac OS X & BSD Security Symposium that is happening in a few weeks. It seems a bit short notice, and the stuff they say they are covering is all over the map, but some OS X folks need to know a lot about system security, and this looks like a good place to do it.

Finally, Real has shipped a version of RealOne for OS X. I'm listening to CBC Toronto Radio One's RealAudio stream now, and lovin' it. (Thanks, Matt!)

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Unfortunately, while I was on vacation, the machine hosting this blog decided to stop listening to the network. It's back now, for the time being.