Forwarding Address: OS X

Friday, February 28, 2003

I released a packaging of some DJB tools and some custom code to give you Rendezvous email, a local DNS cache to futher speed name translations, a POP server, and a secure, simple, local SMTP server that you can use everywhere instead of switching everytime you change your network environment. You can find it here:

As this is an alpha, I'm looking for feedback, mainly in how the UI should behave. Perhaps moving the whole thing to a preference pane. Also looking for general usability comments on sending email via Rendezvous. Pick a name and append "" to email me.

If you've managed to get InnoDB working with MySQL under X, I'd very much like to talk to you. I've created a my.cnf file in /usr/local/mysql/data/ with the following:
# mysqld configuration file for InnoDB tables
and that looks correct to me but either it isn't or MySQL is ignoring the file completely or I've missed a step in getting InnoDB installed properly. I'm stumped so if you've got any ideas, I'd really like to hear them. Discuss

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Fun with Perl, DBI and mysql
I just spent a nice afternoon reinstalling perl (who knew that the multithreaded version of 5.8 didn't work with DBI? Ok, a lot of people but not me), installing DBI and the MySQL DBD driver. "Great", think I, "now I'm ready to go." I grab "Programming the Perl DBI" and dive in... to a bone-dry pool. No connection to my database, no idea why.

Turns out that the connection for mysql is subtly different than that for msql (I don't know why I thought they might be similar; a whimsical moment of hopefulness I suppose). In "PtPDBI" they describe the msql connect as:

but for mysql it must be:
Took me almost an hour of googling to hunt that little tidbit down, buried deep in someone else's question on some mailing list somewhere. So as a public service I now archive it here for you. Discuss

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I have a question about weird powerbook behaviour: it's making strange noises. Like, really strange. Every keyboard or mouse event seems to generate a very, very quiet click from inside the machine; moving your finger around the trackpad sounds like a geiger counter.

It's not the audio system -- turning the speaker off doesn't stop it happening. I don't think it's software-related, either (certainly my iBook didn't make these noises, and neither does the desktop G4 in the next room). It doesn't sound like the drive seeking. It might be some kind of electrical interference directly tweaking the speakers, but I don't particularly want to start opening up the laptop and snipping wires to find out. Anyone got any ideas? It's driving me nuts -- I get paranoid when computers do things I can't explain ...

Update: I found other Powerbook owners complaining of the same thing at Powerbook Zone, so it's not just my imagination. Weirdly, the noises stop when the machine is running on battery juice and the CPU is throttled back. So it appears to be something related to the CPU cooling system ...


Hmm -- it looks as if OS X 10.2.4 supports journaling, and not just on the Server edition. There's no "enable journal" button in the Info pane of Disk Utility, but when I opened a terminal window and typed:

sudo /usr/sbin/diskutil enableJournal /

... It created a journal file and enabled journaling on my new Powerbook G4.

(See this AppleCare article for details.)


Monday, February 24, 2003

Norse hackers have released Desktop Poems for OS X, magnetic fridge-poetry for your Mac. Link Discuss (Thanks, Ben!)

Friday, February 21, 2003

VoiceBox is a little OS X app that converts text files to AIFF files of computer-generated speech, and supports turning the output of your RSS aggregator into an audio file that is automatically synched to your iPod. Link Discuss (Thanks, James!)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

We all like to know about what software is good, and what software is new. But what about what software is bad, and possibly newly bad? PerversionTracker locates the very worst of Mac software, so you don't have to.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

This MacCentral story will be of interest to migrators from Windows who still have some strings tying them to their old OS: Microsoft Acquires VirtualPC from Connectix. I wonder if this is a way for MS to cut development costs and increase revenues on the Mac side -- selling VPC bundled with their Wintel-only apps (e.g. Access) rather than creating Mac versions. Discuss

At long last, Quark has posted a teaser page about XPress 6, the Carbonized, coming-sometime version of their page layout app. Sigh.

I used to be a graphic designer. I lived in Quark XPress. Thousands of hours, thousands of pages. I still remember the keyboard shortcut for "decrease tracking by 1/200th of an em," though I would rather not. It's not my bread and butter anymore, but I've been following the app's creep toward OS X, and like most have been boggled by the slow pace. In many cases this is the only thing binding design pros to OS 9. They want to migrate to OS X, but they can't.

As of this moment the page says almost nothing about the new version, only noting "enhanced undo functionality, full-resolution previews, and an intriguing way to manage complex projects." Strikingly uninformative -- and the screen shot promises little new other than Aqua trim on XPress's well-worn, spartan interface. Of course, we shouldn't judge print apps by web time. The task of publishing a magazine is substantially the same now as it was ten years ago, and most large publishing workgroups are slow to upgrade because of myriad software dependencies (I wonder how far they're gotten with updating QPS?). The important thing is that they get this thing out the frickin' door.

Though Quark is widely criticized in the industry for an unresponsive attitude toward customers, I really would like them to survive, because I believe that an Adobe monopoly -- which is what we are heading for -- would ultimately be bad for the industry. Discuss

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Barebones has released an update to BBEdit with the usual batch of bug fixes and new features that we've come to expect. This one sounds very cool:

You can now use scripts written in any Unix scripting language that can be run from the Shebang (#!) menu with BBEdit's include file mechanism. (Appendix C covers the use of include files.)

Friday, February 14, 2003

If you have PHP installed and you've loaded up 10.2.4 you've probably noticed that PHP no longer works. By editing httpd.conf in the following way I was able to get PHP back and running. Disclaimer: I don't really know what I'm doing here, I'm just a guy armed with BBEdit and some vague notions. Follow my lead at your peril. That said:
  1. Open httpd.conf in the text editor of your choice.
  2. Find the following lines and uncomment them:
    #LoadModule php4_module libexec/httpd/
    #AddModule mod_php4.c
  3. Find this line:
    Include /private/etc/httpd/users
  4. And add this line right after it:
    AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
  5. Save.
  6. Open your System Preferences, go to Sharing and restart your web server.
PHP should be running again. At least, it is for me ;-) Discuss

While not directly related to OS X, I just had to point out that Pixelgirl has a collection of some of the sexiest desktop pictures I've ever seen (safe for work, not that kind of sexy). One of them coupled with Terence Welsh's Helios screensaver and you'll spend a lot more time just staring at your Mac.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Brent Simmons of NetNewsWire fame has defined a couple of new clipboard formats specifically for handling RSS feed data: RSSi ("RSS Item") and RSSs ("RSS Source"). As far as I know NetNewsWire is the only app currently using these formats so... I've whipped up a free REALbasic class module to make getting and setting RSSi and RSSs clipboard datatype easy in any REALbasic app. (If you're building a Cocoa app, check out Brent's freely-available classes). If you're creating an RSS-using app, I urge you to consider supporting these formats - the more the merrier.

OS X 10.2.4 (40M) showed up in Software Update today. No troubles evident after an hour of heavy use. Lots of minor fixes and enhancements listed in the notes. My favorite "glad I never encountered that one" bugfix:
  • Dragging an alias from the preview column to the Trash no longer deletes the original item.

Installing Ximian's Evolution can be done. I used Apple's X11 Server and fink unstable to do it. The results were anti-climactic to say the least. The cubic butt-ton of things that need to be installed for Evolution to run is daunting and even when you get it running it feels so out of place in the OS X environment. Even a gtk Aqua theme can't do enough damage control on the interface to make it usable unless you have come from another platform where you were comfortable with Evolution.

An example of what you can expect with a fink install...

The following package will be installed or updated:
The following 42 additional packages will be installed:
 bonobo bonobo-conf bonobo-conf-shlibs bonobo-shlibs freetype2-hinting
 freetype2-hinting-shlibs gal21-shlibs gconf gconf-shlibs gdk-pixbuf
 gdk-pixbuf-shlibs gnome-libs gnome-libs-shlibs gnome-mime-data gnome-print
 gnome-print-shlibs gnome-vfs-ssl gnome-vfs-ssl-shlibs gtk+ gtk+-data
 gtk+-shlibs gtkhtml1.1-shlibs guile guile-shlibs imlib imlib-shlibs libglade
 libglade-shlibs libpng libpng-shlibs libpng3-shlibs libtiff-bin
 libtiff-shlibs mozilla-shlibs netpbm-bin oaf oaf-shlibs orbit orbit-dev
 orbit-shlibs scrollkeeper soup-shlibs

I had the bright idea of installing some packages from stable, since there were binary packages and I didn't want to be compiling stuff for a week. This is a bad idea. The library/package conflicts that resulted were a dependancy nightmare. I ended up just letting fink compile/install everything from unstable.

Installing Evolution is a lot like climbing a mountain. Once you get back down, people will question why you climbed it in the first place. "Because it was there," may be the only real answer.

A new app called Earphoria allows you to share your iTunes library over Rendezvous. It automatically discovers all the Earphoria users on your network and allows you to stream their MP3 collections. Link Discuss (Thanks, Jim!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I bounce back and forth between those two candy-coloured operating systems, OS X and Windows XP, every day with the greatest of ease except for one serious annoyance: the difference in mouse acceleration. It was bad enough in the days of mice with balls, and now that my mice are all optical castrati, it's even more maddening.

Thankfully, my accordion-playing hobby exposes me to a lot of Mac-using raver kids (really). These pups -- some of whom have never known a world without the Macintosh -- are complete speed addicts (in many senses of the phrase, no less) and also find the Mac's maximum mouse speed a tad too languid for their liking. I don't know how it came up in conversation, but one of them pointed me to MouseZoom, an extra control pane that can be added to your Preferences window.

The interface is raver-attention-span-friendly: it has just a single slider that lets you adjust the mouse speed on a continuous scale of 0 through 10. As you move the slider, a comment appears above it, giving you raver-friendly descriptions of the mouse speed: "Ok fast", "Nice and fast", "Uber fast!", "Ridiculously fast!" and "OS X crazy fast!!!" to name a few. The application tells you that standard maximum mouse speed is a pokey 1.7; I'm rather happy with mine set to a nice 3.2112674, the perfect speed for Python or PHP coding with some trippin' breakbeats in the background. Since it's just a preference pane, installation is simple: just put it in your /Library/PreferencePanes directory.

Thanks to Ben Hines for writing MouseZoom, and to the raver kid who told me about it: PLUR!

Microsoft has announced that Exchange support will be rolled into Entourage this summer via a free download. Yay! Why is this a big deal? This is a big deal because it will help Mac folks in an Exchange environment (and there are lots of Exchange environments out there, trust me). Right now the Mac e-mail offerings from Microsoft include Outlook Express, Entourage, and Outlook for Mac. Outlook Express is exactly what you would think it is, a simple e-mail client with POP/IMAP. Entourage is OE plus PIM functionality. Outlook for Mac is only for talking to an Exchange server. Outlook for Mac also only runs under Classic, and poorly I might add. Having at least a Carbon Exchange client that can also talk POP/IMAP is going to a huge relief for a lot of corp type Mac people I know. It's too bad they have to wait for "summer 2003" before they can get it.

Outlook for Mac was always an odd beast. It wasn't written by the Mac Business Unit, so it never fit in well with the other Microsoft Mac offerings. It was free, but Entourage wasn't. People who need to talk to Exchange will obviously need Office.

It always seemed odd to have three e-mail programs going when you only needed to have two, just like on Windows where there is only Outlook and Outlook Express. [Note: I'm only talking about Microsoft offerings. I know there are many other e-mail clients for POP/IMAP on Windows.] It was an odd mistake for Microsoft to make, since they are typically a very efficient company. Anyway, it's good to see this consolidation of features.

Soon I'll post my adventures in getting Evolution, from Ximian, running on OS X ;-)

Monday, February 10, 2003

Apple has posted X11 for Mac OS X beta 0.2. Changes include

  • Support for Copy & Paste working with other window managers.
  • Menu in the Dock now shows a list of X11 windows.
  • Application windows now cascade instead of piling on top of each if they do not have an explicit placement policy.
  • No-click-to-focus option.

And, of course, much more.

I just came across two new books aimed at people migrating from Windows to OS X: If anybody knows more about these books, please do share.

the hottest-looking RISC rack-mounts have gotten an upgrade, and now they've got an equally attractive storage sibling.

have you ever wanted to hang around the server room more?

Konfabulator is an OS X control-panel for desktop widgets, web-services and a lot of other junk, besides, with a beautiful UI. It's like Watson or Sherlock, but it's free and it's got a wide-open API so developers can add their own widgets to the panel. I've only played with it for five minutes, but I'm hooked. I wish there was a way to float the widgets in the foreground, set their transparency and resize them, though... Link Discuss (Thanks, Matt!)

Sunday, February 09, 2003

If you're a REALbasic developer then this might be of interest to you. I've created a suite of classes that wrap Dan Vanderkam's excellent httpSocket class which make adding managed HTTP downloading to your application dead easy. For more info check out the HTTPDownload Suite here. Its free and open to boot.

NOOOOOOooooooo!!!!: Fink homepage:
"The Virex 7.2 package, currently being distributed free to all .Mac members, has a serious conflict with Fink. Fink users should not install Virex 7.2 under any circumstances. Installing it after Fink is installed will damage your Fink installation; installing it prior to Fink will make it impossible to install Fink without damaging Virex.
Alas, my poor Fink.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

A request to the Safari development team: if I type a "," in the domain name of a URL then have it seamlessly convert the comma to a period for me before attempting to connect to the site. I can't be the only one who periodically types the likes of www, instead of I know its a small thing but it'd make me happy.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Following up on my earlier posting about, there's a short article posted on the O'Reilly site that may be helpful to those who haven't taken the plunge yet. I've been using OOo for a few weeks now and it's quite serviceable as a light-duty Office replacement (I think the interface quirks would drive me mad if I were using it heavily). Prints faster than any OS X app, too!

Thursday, February 06, 2003

AaronSw has figured out the easy way to enable IPv6 under OS X. (Via Hack the Planet)

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Youpi Key is a keyboard macro and task automation tool by developer Philippe Hupe. I'm a big fan of keyboard macro programs, they allow me to optimize some of the eccentricities I can't seem to shake, like manually typing in "http://" into every browser's location field. Youpi Key version 1.7.5 includes a number of bug fixes, as well as some new features for OS X 10.2 like window manipulation. And best of all: it's freeware.

As of 2003-03-03, Apple has posted its Java 1.4.1 Developer Preview 10 packages to Apple Developer Connection. There's one package for the JDK, one for the API Reference, and one for the accompanying Developer Tools (presumably integrated into Project Builder & Interface Builder? One wonders). It would be nice if Apple could get the 1.4 JDK out the door, I know a lot of people have been waiting for it.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Also: Somewhat tab-like functionality in Safari with Pith.

For those of you who live inside BBEdit: manage your files and folders in the disk browser window with this suite of scripts.