Forwarding Address: OS X

Friday, January 31, 2003

Well, iLife is here -- in other words, iMovie 3.0.1 (84.5M) and iPhoto 2.0 (33.3M) showed up in Software Update today.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Sometimes it's fun to install stuff just because you can. I found WakkaWiki in my quest for a lightweight PHP-based Wiki implementation. I already had MySQL installed, so I got the whole thing running in short order. It's still under development but version 0.1.1 functions well now. It's got some nice refinements like access control, simple formatting codes, and hideable page comments. Plus its output doesn't look like browser-default ass. I still haven't really found a situation where a Wiki was the perfect solution, but they sure are fun to play with. Discuss

Monday, January 27, 2003

Remember when Mac folk used to taunt PC people about IDE drives? I certainly do. Now I see this InfoWorld article (courtesy of Apple's Hot News RSS feed) about XServer. The Hot News feed highlighted this quote:

"After reviewing numerous platforms, Ott said Terayon went with the Mac platform for its ease of use and price performance, especially in the area of storage where Mac supports less costly IDE drives rather than SCSI which is typical of 1U rack mounted servers."

The one thing that I did like in the article was that some people used the GUI tools, and other people used the command line tools. I feel this is one of the great strengths of OS X. Choice is a good thing, don't you think? Discuss

iCommune, the iTunes sharing/streaming plugin that Apple nastygrammed out of existence a couple weeks ago is back, though it's not clear if the author is doing this in defiance of Apple or not. The new version has Rendezvous sharing, too! Link Discuss

Friday, January 24, 2003

Rael has released version 1.0 1.1 of blosxom, the blogware power-to-weight-ratio champion. I write web-content apps for a living, and yet it was blosxom that finally got me to launch a blog of my own. It was just too easy to resist.

I was thinking today that blosxom would be a great centerpiece in a beginner tutorial on dynamic web content. It does something nontrivial, interesting, and useful, but is not too complex to be comprehended. And its elegant use of the filesystem is a nice design lesson.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

So, here is my hypothesis on this whole mess. Apple put that in their SDK because this is a feature, streaming playlists via Rendezvous, that they have stated that they are rolling into iTunes. They haven't rolled the feature out yet because they got a big enough threat from the RIAA. So the promised killer iTunes feature goes MIA. Is any of this true? I don't know, like I said it's just my hypothesis. But when I first heard Jobs talk about it the first thing that popped into my mind was the impending lawsuit to be filed by the RIAA nanoseconds after the first download of iTunes with streaming finished.

Does it suck that Apple is possibly using it's SDK to keep out competitors and innovators? Certainly, it goes against the very idea of a SDK. It reeks of Microsoft. Is there more going on behind the scenes? You bet. It's just a matter of time until we find out what it is though.

As far as iHam on Rye, it's more of a remote control. You can control iTunes from a remote computer, but you can't get the music from that computer. Now, it is the perfect "office jukebox" app to install on a mac that is hooked up to the office stereo. But then we all know what happens to companies that have office mp3 servers.

More on iCommune: Since it seems that Apple is unwilling to allow innovation, James Speth has decided to change iCommune into a stand-alone app. Here's the rest of his wishlist for the upcoming version:
  • a stand-alone application that manages network accessible music libraries
  • able to generate and manage playlists for your favorite mp3 player
  • able to communicate with and control your mp3 player using AppleEvents
  • Rendezvous-enabled
  • built with a robust indexer and XML format that properly handles non-ASCII characters
  • completely free of any Apple proprietary code or interface use
  • completely open source under the GPL

Is there anybody who can explain to me why it's not in Apple's best interest to have left applications like iCommune alone? Why does the iTunes Device SDK license disallow network use? Is it fear of the DMCA?

Should we continue to develop for a vendor that bullies it's developers? Certainly Apple has the right to put whatever clause into any license they see fit just as we have the right to 'Switch Back' to Linux, *BSD, or any of the other platforms where we won't get harassed. Please pardon my rant but it really does bother me.

iHam on iRye seems very similar to iCommune. I wonder how long it'll be before they get a nasty letter from the jerks at Apple. Update: Pat points out that this doesn't stream. Stupid me, I thought it did.

Monday, January 20, 2003

And speaking of Chimera, Safari, tabs, etc., if you want to see proof positive (as Stan Lee used to say) that Slashdot is now a complete cesspool, just read this thread on all those subjects and more. Jesus H. User Interface Guidelines Christ.

In the middle of all the posturing, one comment from an "anonymous coward" stands out:

The big reason tabs rock? It gets rid of waiting for the network. You're reading along and then just command click on what you are interested in. You mess around on the page a little bit and then switch over. It turns a click-wait-read-click-wait-read experience into click-click-read-read.

Here's a notion that might help keep Chimera alive. Like a lot of people, I grabbed Safari and started using it right away. I love the speed and the uncluttered interface. But (you knew this was coming) I really miss tabs. Trouble is, I've added tons of bookmarks and done some major re-organizing since going over to Safari. The prospect of having to manually redo all of that, if I went back to Chimera, keeps me from making the jump back.

Thing is, the Safari bookmarks are just an ASCII file, as are Chimera's. It ought to be possible for someone who knows what they're doing to write a tool for converting Safari bookmarks to Chimera's format, or any other. It's beyond me, but it's obvious that it's possible. If such a tool existed, I'd go back to Chimera in a hot minute, and I doubt I'm unique in this.

Are there any OS X Python people out there who could give a quick hand to the delightful Mnet project? They're having some issues with linking bsddb for a distribution package and have decided to move on without an OS X distribution for the time being. I'm sure any help would be very appreciated.

Chimera developer Mike Pinkerton has posted a somewhat despondent blog entry about the future of that project: "...I'm torn about what to do with Chimera. It's obvious it will only ever be a marginal product on a even more marginal platform..." MacSlash has an active thread on the subject. It would be disappointing to see Chimera stall out, as it's already a great browser and the nightly builds have continued to add features and stability. It would be especially bad to see Safari starve out its best competition, because there's no guarantee that Apple's won't just drop the ball at some point in the future. (Meanwhile, the developers of Omniweb are considering replacing their renderer with Apple's WebCore, which powers Safari).

Can anyone tell me why it is that when I http-upload files with Mozilla, it appends nonsenical file-extensions, i.e., uploading an "foo.mp3" creates a file on the server called "foo.mp3.mp2," "foo.mpg" comes out "foo.mpg.mpeg," and so on? Discuss

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Jim Speth, iCommune's author, has posted the letter he received from Apple's legal department on Slashdot. Here's the key paragraph:
It has come to our attention that you are distributing a software program called iCommune that violates the terms of the Apple Computer, Inc. iTunes Device Plug-In SDK Agreement you executed. The iTunes SDK materials are licensed only for the purpose of enabling the Licensee's hardware device identified in the agreement to interoperate with iTunes. The iTunes SDK is not licensed for use in a software program for sharing of music over a network. Your distribution of this program is a violation of the license agreement and of Apple's intellectual property rights.
Speth's license allows him to develop a "component system mp3 player console" plug-in. He explains that he's honouring that agreement:
Now, my description of the device might be a little vague, but it does describe an application for which I use iCommune. I have a Mac G4 Cube set up as the media center of my living room. It's hooked into my stereo and television. I use iTunes and iCommune on the Cube to turn it into the mp3 player console I was envisioning when I started work on it. I use iCommune on my laptop to control that system. Unlike your typical device which is directly connected to the computer running iTunes, these systems talk over the network to each other.

I think I'm in compliance with the agreement, but they don't. Hopefully we'll be able to work something out. Otherwise, I'm thinking of ways to do this without the Device Plug-in API, so the project might survive.

IANAL, but I think the description of iCommune that Speth gave when signing up for the SDK license might have been a little too vague. I'd be flexible enough to accept iCommune's streaming capabilities under the "console" umbrella -- iCommune could be considered a remote control with awesome range, letting you listen to your music library from anywhere in the wired world. I think that the file-sharing capability might fall beyond the accepted definition of "console".

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The author of iCommune, a music sharing plugin for iTunes, has received a "Notice of Breach and Termination of License" letter from Apple, stating that he violated the license to the Device Plug-in API which iCommune uses. For the time being, he's making the download unavailable, while he tries to sort things out with Apple. Any good lawyers in the house? [via macmegasite]
At first glance, this doesn't appear to bode well for Apple's stewardship of their developer community. If I could find the license in question, I'd look over it and give a more informed opinion but several google queries and search queries against have turned up zilch.

The availability of Apple's new X11 beta (mentioned by Patrick below) means that it's now a hell of a lot easier to get (yes, the .org is part of the product name, don't ask) running on your Mac, though the downloads are gargantuan. So for all you mortals like me who never could quite muster up the courage to install XFree86 before, the routine is, roughly:
  • Download and install Apple's X11 beta (about 40M)
  • Download the latest installer (about 200M)
  • Run the installer (you can leave out Ghostscript)
  • Launch X11
  • Add an entry to the X11 Applications menu -- path should be something like "/Applications/OpenOffice.org1.0.1/program/soffice"
  • Launch the app by selecting it from that menu (ignore the "Start" script for now, because it doesn't yet work with Apple's X11).
It's weird having a Windows-clone UI running via XWindows on a Macintosh, but eventually those interface wrinkles will get smoothed out. The key bullet point here is: the shit works. In terms of speed, compatability, and stability, it's better than any of the Office alternatives I've tried. It's only going to improve. And it's free! Discuss

Saturday, January 11, 2003

iCommune: the iTunes plugin I've been waiting for all my life. Now, all it needs to do is collaboratively filter my playlists and iTunes ratings with the pals on my network.
iCommune is a plug-in which extends Apple's iTunes software to share music over the network. Your friends' music libraries appear in the iTunes source list. You can browse their collections, and choose to download or stream their music. It also allows you to make your own music library available to others.
Link Discuss (via Wasted Bits)

Having some people over to stay this Christmas, we've been trying to get Rendezvous to work within my home wifi network. No joy so far. Both Safari and Chimera can *see* the mod_rendezvous'd web servers, but it can't actually get to the page. iChat can't see anything. The network is just a plain ordinary DHCP'd 192.168.1.x on the other side of a Smoothwall2.0b2 firewall. I know Rendezvous works on my machine at least, because I've used it elsewhere, but at home it's not seeing anything. Any ideas?

Friday, January 10, 2003

Thanks to The Jenson, I'm now running OS X 10.2.3 with journaling on my PowerBook. Ah, glorious new software. One weird thing I've noticed thus far is that when I switch tracks on CDs, iTunes spins the disc down and then spins it back up again, with obvious dead air, lag time, and the sound of the drive oscillating. One potentially useful tip: if you're using a laptop, tweak the font smoothing to the "Medium - best for Flat Panel" setting in General in System Preferences. Made things less fuzzy yet noticeably better than no font smoothing (if you like font smoothing) on my laptop display.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Assorted notes on Macworld Expo:
  • It is very likely that Apple is doing well with Mac users. The show was fairly crowded on Thursday, which is a good sign. Usually, Thursday is starting to drag. The mood was upbeat.
  • It is really hard to pin a label on the majority of Mac users. It is clear to me that I'm not in that majority, at least from the products I saw exhibited. I'm not a graphics designer or a music creator or a video producer. It seemed like over half the show was catering to people in those businesses.
  • There are a lot of Switchers. Apple nailed this one pretty well. My fond hope is that Apple does to Word what it just did to Internet Explorer, and make it OSX-specific. A reasonable business model would be like QuickTime: free for low-end, $30 for the more advanced model (advanced features could be Word import/export and style sheets).
  • The 17-inch PowerBook is heavy and long. Prediction: a zillion of them need to be fixed even before their 1-year warranty is up due to issues arising from torque. Nice screen, though.
  • Lots of people talking about Safari. Almost no one talking about the new iApps.
  • I bought a really comfortable mouse called the Contour UniMouse. This is the first mouse I have bought for daily use, ever. $25 show price. So, where are all the low-cost USB keyboards? PS2-based keyboards are under $5, but you can't find a USB keyboard for under $40.
  • Sadly, only a few BMUG t-shirts seen. </era>

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

mod_rondezvous is a sweet little Apache module that turns webservers into Rondezvous servers. See it in action with the Rondezvous-enabled Chimera or the new Safari browser at Rael's site.

You can use Safari with a modified WebCore and JavaScriptCore according to this article [via David Hyatt's blog]

RE: Blogger Pro not working with Safari. The problem isn't with Blogger but with Safari; it crashes when making a post using Blogger Pro. We've sent in bug reports to Apple and they'll likely fix the issues sometime soon.

A huge security problem in Safari is that there is no control over the trusted certificates, or for user certificates. Well, there probably is some control, but it certainly isn't in the Safari UI.

Chris is not alone. Problems with Mac OS X's dynamic linker, dyld, are legion when building software written for other Unix platforms. In the specific case of MySQL, check out this article direct from Apple's developer site. For more technical background when developing your own apps, read up on two-level namespace executables

Hmm, my MySQL install seemed to have gotten messed up somehow. If you know what:
dyld: ./bin/mysql Undefined symbols:                                            
./bin/mysql undefined reference to _BC expected to be defined in /usr/lib/libSys
./bin/mysql undefined reference to _PC expected to be defined in /usr/lib/libSys
./bin/mysql undefined reference to _UP expected to be defined in /usr/lib/libSys
Trace/BPT trap
means, please email me or post to the discussion. Thank-you kindly. Discuss

One of the cool things to come out of yesterday is Apple's adoption of KHTML and KJS for use in Safari and thus the resources of Apple being directed towards improving these two technologies, now called WebCore and JavaScriptCore by Apple.

Interestingly, JavaScripeCore makes use of the PCRE regex library which will hopefully (or does?) make it generally accessible to other applications.

And finally, check out this email from Don Melton , an Apple engineer on Safari describing Apple's commitment to KHTML and KJS (thanks George!) loosely describing their integration process and future plans. This ought to be interesting.

Getting your bookmarks into Safari is relatively easy once you figure out that the first time Safari runs it imports your Internet Explorer bookmarks. If MSIE was where your primary bookmark file lived, you're done. If not, first export your primary bookmarks into MSIE. Then you just need to convince Safari that it's running for the "first time", which as far as I can tell is done by deleting its prefs file from ~/Library/Preferences, and deleting the folder ~/Library/Safari as well.

Initial impressions of Safari: Wow, it sure is fast. Even on this pokey 500mhz iBook. Give us back our tabs! Sure is fast, though. [INTERIOR: cups banging on prison cafeteria table] Tabs! Tabs! Tabs! Seems to render CSS layouts okay, a few nonfatal glitches. No provision for bookmark-menu separator spaces, that's annoying. Tabs! The people demand tabs! Did I mention how fa--

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Okay, I'll chime in. Coolest thing not talked about at the keynote: Apple's X11 beta. Now Cory can finally run gimp. The buzz on the show flow was good. I was working the EFF booth, which is in the 4100 section of the North Hall by the way, and people seemed very jazzed.

Cory and I were chatting about Apple taking on Microsoft with Safari and Keynote. Good luck Apple, you're going to need it. But I have to say, it's good to see Microsoft getting some prodding once in a while.

I'm still impressed that Apple can fill both sides of the Moscone Center. Linux World Expo didn't come close, even when Linux was the "It Girl" on the block.

I'm glad the rumors of a video iPod were bogus. When I read, "who wants to watch LotR on a 2 inch screen," I hoped it was false. Sure enough...I'm sure Jobs is still laughing his hiney off at all the rumor sites.

Firewire 800? Oh yeah! Bring it on! So long USB 2.0, nice knowing you...

Geez, we're a bunch of wankers. It's 5:30 in the afternoon, and no one has posted about all the new announcements. (I kinda have an excuse in that I'm not going to the show until Thursday.)

I downloaded Safari, the new web browser. Looks like the iTools, yup yup. Brushed nickel is your friend. But there was a bad start: there is no way to import bookmarks from programs like URL Manager. I played with Safari a bit, and it is certainly zippy.The position of newly-opened windows is completely lame and pretty unpredictable for large windows. I tried the "block pop-up" feature by going to a few random pr0n sites, and it does seem to work well. It's a spiffy product, but I'm not changing yet.

OK, the rest of you with post privs should start chiming in...

Friday, January 03, 2003

Encrypted Disk HOWTO [via Nukleos]

DivX -- the highly compressed video format used on many file-sharing nets and websites -- is notoriously hard to get running under OS X. Thankfully, the folks at the Bay Area Anime club (which uses DivX files to circulate "fansubs," foriegn DVD captures with fan-generated subtitles) have produced an excellent primer on getting the format to play on Mac OS X. Link Discuss (via MacSlash)

Thursday, January 02, 2003

It looks like Apple is in pre-MacWorld full swing mode. iCal gets a point upgrade and iSync finally gets out of beta. The speed improvements in iCal 1.0.1 are dramatic and were badly needed. In case you don't do README files, do a sync before you install the new iSync and when your Palm doesn't show up, go back into the Conduit Settings and reset the iSync conduit. The first sync is going to be funky (lots of changed records), but the docs claim that is normal. I just did a sync with my Palm Vx and my data is okay, ymmv though ;-)

Oh, and speaking of MacWorld...if you are are going to be at the expo, drop by the EFF booth and say hi.