Forwarding Address: OS X

Friday, June 28, 2002

I just wanted to mention I've had no trouble with the Applescript 1.83 update, and haven't seen any reports of trouble on Macintouch or MacFixIt. Hopefully Cory's problems were a relatively isolated incident (which I'm sure doesn't help him feel any better about it).

I've played with the CodeTek virtual desktop a little bit, and it does answer one of Charlie Stross' specific complaints about It allows a single application to have different windows in different workspaces.

Some crazy folks called the MacWarriors over at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created 3DOSX, an OpenGL-based file browser. This thing is tons of fun to play with and, a few graphical glitches notwithstanding, looks terrific. I'm not too sure how useful it is though (it reminds me of TurboGopher, which was also loads of fun to play with and almost impossible to use for actually navigating gopher-space).

Note: the download says its 516k but its actually 1.5 megs (fyi for the modem-bound).


Wednesday, June 26, 2002

CodeTek studios seem to be working on a [commercial] virtual desktop for OS X. Looks likely to be much more powerful than There's a beta available for download.

Link (Thanks, Rick Ochoa!) Discuss

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Argh! I just installed the Applescript 1.83 update through Software Updater on my iBook Dual USB 600, and now my machine won't boot -- it gets all the way to starting to load the Finder, puts up a blue screen and a spinning beach-ball and just spins and spins and spins. I'm on the phone with Apple Support now. Pray for me.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Here's a film of Mac OS X booting on a Palm IIIc. These seem to come around every couple months, and always turn out to be fakes, but this is better than any of the others I've seen. If the video is being matted in, they've done a damned fine job of distorting to match perspective as the screen is wobbled and jiggled and tilted. You'll need to download QuickTime 6 to get the video to play, but if you're into vaporware porn, it's worth it. Link Discuss (Thanks, Thor!)

I broke down last night and ordered the new iBook 700 MHz with a 40GB drive. I want to wring every last iota of performance out of the machine that I can, so I'm thinking about creating a dedicated swap partition for the box when I set it up. It looks like this was a good idea about a year ago for the performance-hungry and the cash-strapped, but is that still true today? Will it be true under Jaguar (OS 10.2)? If I've got 640MB of physical RAM, how big should my swap-partition be? Your feedback is appreciated. Discuss

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Speaking as a die-hard Linux geek myself, I'm having fun adapting to MacOS X. (I'll be putting my initial experiences writeup on the web soon.)

One of the vital tools any UNIX desktop comes with is a virtual desktop pager. has made huge progress lately, and does the job reasonably well. But there's one problem with it; an application's windows all seem to want to occupy the same workspace. Go to a fresh workspace in Space and click on an app in the dock and all its windows decide to relocate into the current workspace. This is less than useful if, like me, you like to have lots of terminal windows open and work with programs UNIX-style, launching them from the command line.

Here's another annoyance with the dock: if you're running one copy of an application, there doesn't seem to be any way to fire up another -- because the dock merges two distinct jobs (tracking processes and providing a launcher for programs), clicking on an app just brings the running instance to the front.

However, you can get round this and run multiple copies of Terminal, or Mozilla, or the OS/X port of Vim quite easily by remembering that an application is actually a directory tree. If you run the binary buried inside it in ./Contents/MacOS/ using the shell, it launches a fresh copy of the program. For example, if you've installed Vim in /Applications/Utilities/vim/, you can run multiple fresh copies of it by typing /Applications/Utilities/vim/ And each copy has an independent existence as far as the dock -- and -- are concerned.

(Next step: a simple perl script to search below "/Applications" for each named program, and add their enclosing directory to your PATH environment variable. Or an applescript to emulate the Alt-F2 functionality of KDE -- pop up a mini-shell window in which to type a command, then remove after you hit return.)

Thursday, June 20, 2002

>Anyone else experiencing this?

Not me. In fact, I find IE 5.1 to be quite stable. But this goes to show that experiences vary widely. Cory sez that Mozilla is wonderfully fast for him and he never wants to see IE again; I find Mozilla 1.0 noticibly slow both in starting and in displaying long pages, which is why I stay with IE. I suspect that this difference in speed and stability we are all finding must be due to something else, although I haven't the faintest idea what it might be.

Internet Explorer (5.1 and now 5.2) appears to have become rather unstable since my upgrade to 10.1.5. Closing an IE5 window every so often -- and this doesn't appear related in any way to Window contents, number of windows, or whatnot -- blows up the whole app. This isn't localized to only one machine; both my iMac and iBook have suffered the same bug since upgrading. Anyone else experiencing this?

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Damon Wright and Curt Siffert are "a die-hard WinGeek and a tech-head LinFreak" documenting their migration to OS X.

Monday, June 17, 2002

Meg's written an excellent tutorial on migrating mail from Outlook for Windows to Entourage or other OS X mailers. Link Discuss

Microsoft just released the 5.2 updater for Internet Explorer for OS X -- weirdly, there hasn't been any fanfare about this release, and there're precious few notes on it, other than:
This latest version version 5.2 provides all the latest security and performance enhancements for Internet Explorer 5 for Mac OS X and a new home page for Internet Explorer. It also provides support for the new Quartz text smoothing feature provided in Mac OS X version 10.1.5 and later, so text on your screen is easier to read.
Update: Just ran the installer. It makes you quit out of all your other apps before it'll run. Hellooooo? This is Unix! Jesus. The installer overwrites your preset homepage with MSN. Argh. The actual app is not visibly faster or more stable than 5.1 was and the Quartz support is no better than I'm getting with Silk.

I've gone back to Mozilla, which is not without its failings (I hate the download manager, and the inability to specify that links from other apps should open in new tabs, not new windows is a pain), but which is far more stable and far faster than Explorer. Link Discuss (via MacSlash)

Thanks for clarifying the MySQL/OS X distribution issue from Sleepycat's perspective Keith. So there you have it, now we just need Apple to agree. So I'm asking you: if you'd like to see MySQL installed with OS X by default, head on over to Apple'sFeedback page and let 'em know. Discuss

OpenOffice, the free software/open source successor to Sun's Star Office, has shipped for Mac OS X. It's just a developer build, and you need to install XFree86 to get it to run, but it is a free-as-in-speech/free-as-in-beer alternative to MSFT Office. OpenOffice reads and writes Microsoft Office files, including most of the complex ones (you can use OpenOffice to exchange revision-marked documents with Word users, for example).

It's butt-ugly and a pain in the ass to install, but both of those are temporary conditions. The OpenOffice Mac OS X hackers are promising to build an Aqua version of the software for 1.0, which'll increase the ease of installation and the aesthetic pain considerably. Can't wait.

Meantime, Open Office 1.0 is available for most Linuxes and other Unix flavors -- enjoy the freedom! Link Discuss (Thanks, Charlie!)

Sunday, June 16, 2002

From Keith Bostic at Sleepycat via Paul Hoffman.

"Berkeley DB licensing requires that the application using it be freely redistributable. In this case, MySQL, and since MySQL is covered by the GPL, OS X would be welcome to drop MySQL + DB on their distribution."

Saturday, June 15, 2002

MySQL happens to wrap Sleepycat BerkeleyDB files now, and I don't think Apple can't distribute that in OS X (since it's a commercial OS) without paying the $25,000 commercial distribution fee. Maybe they could get away with it if they packaged it in Darwin.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Once, a long time ago, I wrote about Mark Liyanage's MySQL installation tutorial. Fantastic for getting the stuff installed on your machine. Today I came across this Beginner MySQL Tutorial from PHP Beginner. Fantastic for actually figuring out how to use MySQL once its installed. Like chocolate and peanut butter.

(Request for Apple: install MySQL by default in 10.2 for all us app developers who'd love to have guaranteed database access on user's machines. Please?)

Got a new 700MHz iBook? Turns out you can overclock it to 800MHz in software -- no messy opening up of your machine, no setting of jumpers, just a little clicking around and bif-bam, you're running 14 percent faster (oh, and potentially melting your computer down into slag). Link Discuss (via Oblomovka)

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I've been using SpamAssassin for a week or so, ever since the WELL switched it on on their mail-servers. It is fantastic. I get in excess of 1,000 emails every day, and more than half are spam, and SpamAssassin just nails 'em. I get one or two false-positives a day, tops, and only two or three false negs. It's made my life livable again.

But what do you do if you don't run your own mailserver? Well, if you're running OS X, you can install SpamAssassin locally and have it prune your mail on your own computer. Ben "Movable Type" Trott has written an excellent tutorial on running SpamAssassin under OS X. Link Discuss (Thanks, Merlin!)

Friday, June 07, 2002

To my mind, one the best little features of Windows is the customizable "Send To" contextual menu. The freeware Big Cat brings that to OS X.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

If you've got a dodgy Office.X serial number and you're thinking about running the Office Update, think again. MSFT's latest updater has a blacklist of Internet-circulated serialz and running it will kill your copy. While I understand why MSFT is doing this, I have to wonder if they understand the potential downside, which ReplayTV recently experienced, namely, if your software has a means of using an updater to shut down itself, some court may some day order you to make use of such a facility take down your legit customers. Also, knowing that this facility exists makes me leery of updating my copy -- I'm on the road in London, and my copy is serialized with a number that I got when I reviewed Office for Wired. If I get shut down, I'm screwed till I get back to San Francisco. (Thanks, Tobias!)

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Moreover, with 10.1.5, you can install Silk (free from Unsanity), and get Quartz text rendering in Mozilla, MSIE, and various other Carbon apps. Very nice.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

OS X 10.1.5 is now out. It's been a while since the last release and yesterdays MS Office v. X update press release clued us in that 10.1.5 was on it's way very soon.

Monday, June 03, 2002

David Hyatt, lead developer on the Chimera web browser project, has posted an interesting explanation on the complexity of marrying the gecko rendering engine (the guts that power Mozilla, Netscape, and now Chimera) to the Cocoa UI that makes it look so incredible. He also explains why the name Chimera was chosen. Slightly technical but very interesting if you're into this sort of thing.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

You can lock files in OS X like you can in OS 9 and before. The "trick" here is that OS X uses the uchgflag to do this. The upshot of this is that the file might look like a regular file in the Terminal window, but you (even as root) can't delete it. You can, of course, use the Finder's Get Info command, or if you want to stay in the Terminal, use thechflags command. To see if any files have any of those special flags turned on, use ls -o. (Thank you Patrik for the answer on this one for me!)