Forwarding Address: OS X

Thursday, September 30, 2004

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

John Gruber notes in his Linked List that "a rare BBEdit update containing just one change: a fix for a bug when saving files via the built-in 'Open From FTP/SFTP Server' command."

What's slightly annoying is that every BBEdit update requires you download the entire .app package, a compressed 11+ MB disk image. Now, while broadband makes that somewhat irrelevant, for me at least, I'm sure it adds up on Bare Bones bandwidth bill. I thought this was a problem that had been solved already. Or did the solution get lost during the transition to OS X?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel

Fraser Speirs has updated his iPhoto Flickr Export Plug-in. The biggest change is that EXIF data is not nuked in the export process anymore! Other big news is that it's now open source.

The license is BSD, and my hope is that it will be a good working reference for people wanting to write other iPhoto plugins in the future.

This is really great news. I went on a little search for documentation on how to develop iPhoto plug-ins and came up with nothing. This should be a great starting point for people, even if it's just code and not documentation.

Update: 0.9! Features and bug fixes. Apply to All, that should save some time!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Fixed bug in which Tidy Reflow and Tidy Cleanup would rewrite the document's charset as "utf-16be", without affecting the document's actual encoding on disk. Much wacky boing did ensue.

I'm not sure if I really approve of a release that takes away my daily dose of wacky boing, but there it is. BBEdit 8.0.1: 177 bug fixes, 5 "changes" and 6 "additions." That's a spicy meatball! Download it now.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software is to be commended for the 2.0 (beta) version of NetNewsWire. Not only has he refined this great app (and its freeware sibling, NNW Lite), but he has a clear desire to fight application bloat. The big news is that he's broken out the weblog editing functions into a separate app, MarsEdit. And before you accuse him of trying to multiply his revenue streams, note that paid users of NNW 1.x will get free upgrades to all NNW 2.x and MarsEdit 1.x versions. Even cheapskate NNW Lite users like me get some cool new stuff, like selectable preview styles and Rendezvous sharing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Over at 43Folders, Merlin has been soliciting tips for command-line beginners. I started to post something in the MT comments box, but why not post it here instead? With that, my random tips:

Learn about command-completion and history features. These save a tremendous amount of typing, prevent all kinds of stupid errors, and generally make you feel like a whiz. For example, to list the contents of the Applications folder, type ls /A[tab][return]. Cool, yes? History keeps track of the commands you've already run, so you can call up the last thing you typed and edit it for example. History is generally browsed via the up and down arrrows.

Play with things that cross the GUI-CLI divide, such as typing open . in the shell to open a Finder window showing the current directory; or the "Open Terminal Here," "Run Terminal Command Here," or "Run Terminal Command With" commands in LaunchBar; or their analogues in QuickSilver.

Explore fun hidden stuff in the shell like the /usr/share/calendar files or the cal command.

Get a feeling for how grep works with experiments like grep '^foo' /usr/share/dict/words or grep 'a.*b.*c.*d.*e' /usr/share/dict/words

Type >console in the username field at the login screen and you'll go directly to the shell.

Copy some text to the clipboard and type pbpaste | say

Read manpages, but also Google the name of the command plus the word "examples". Unix manpages often suck when it comes to providing examples.

Have fun. Take small bites. Don't worry about learning it all. Nobody learns it all.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Does anyone know how to get OS X to report failed login attempts?

I need to find a way that someone can have OS X report to her when someone tries to login to her machine. Is there a setting or a script that will send mail to her account or otherwise notify her when failed attempts have happened? I know it shows up in Console, but she's not technically savvy and I don't want to force her that close the metal.

In the pretty-old-but-new-to-me department: the Sherlock URL schema. (I'm trying to do some benign Googlebombing here, because Apple has buried this info in a section on using AppleScript with Safari). Here's a quick example: sherlock:// Putting aside the question of whether Sherlock has been made obsolete by web services and competing tools, this is a neat interface. Good for LaunchBar search templates or Mozilla custom keyword searches or even additions to my old lazysearch proxy script. (Thanks to Joe on the launchbar-talk list for the tip!)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Oh my. Today I discovered the Flickr iPhoto plug-in and Flickr just got 103x more interesting. I'm so excited that I'm skipping my new fixation with goofy quotes at the top of my posts. I know Cory has given up on iPhoto and is trying to use Flickr exclusively, but I'm not even close to that point. Being able to export my photos directly from iPhoto is wonderful. Off to play some more...

Update: Currently the plugin with strip off EXIF data. I'm sure this will be a show stopper for some people. The author is aware of the problem and is looking for a fix. The flickr group discussion is here and the RSS 2.0 is here (atom too).

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Incremental Search in apps that use NSTextView

Incremental Search rocks, as we all know. Incremental Search in any OS X app that uses the NSTextView widget would rock even more: cos that means incremental search in, say, SubEthaEdit, doesn't it? Yes, yes, it does. Slaps on the back and much kudos to Michael McCracken, then, for the iSearch Plugin. Drop it into Input Managers, and proceed to lose bladder control. I'm writing really big documents in SubEthaEdit right now, and this just about takes the gateau.

Here's a migration question -- I just came across a bunch of old 11-year-old files created in Microsoft Word 5.1 (side comment: this was Word's apogee, before it descended into terminal featuritis). I've tried opening them in TextEdit, AbiWord, AppleWorks, and OpenOffice. AppleWorks says "the translator could not read this file" (though the MacLink translators work passably for other, newer files). The other three open it up as if it were raw text, with lots of Word file format cruft all over the place. Adding ".doc" to the filenames doesn't noticeably change things.

Assuming the files aren't actually corrupted, what other options do I have? I know I can just copy the text out of there, but that just seems so... crude.

Keyboard shortcuts

A niggling wrist means excessive mousing is in danger of giving me RSI. Being as I spend most of my day, and all of my job, working on my machine, RSI would be a disaster: so I'm trying to train myself to use the keyboard a lot more. Quicksilver is a growing obsession, and is proving very useful. But also newly found is the Full Keyboard Access option hidden away in System Preferences. You can flip the function keys to act as function keys primarily, and the volume/brightness stuff only when you push fn. Turn on Full Keyboard Access as well, and cntl-f3 allows you to keyboard through the dock, cntl-f2 gives keyboard access to the menu bar, and so on. I'm figuring that a few weeks of using this, and I'll probably never touch the mouse again, and be faster too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Basil Fawlty : Madam, I don't mean to pry, but do you by any chance have a hearing aid?
Mrs. Richards : A what?
Basil Fawlty : A HEARING AID.
Mrs. Richards : Yes, of course.
Basil Fawlty : Would you like me to get it mended?
Mrs. Richards : Mended? It's working perfectly all right.
Basil Fawlty : No, it isn't.
Mrs. Richards : I haven't got it switched on at the moment.
Basil Fawlty : Why not?
Mrs. Richards : The battery runs down.

This is the situation I was in with my 10gb iPod. But via the iPod Lounge I learn that I can aquire any number of nice replacement batteries in the $30-$40 range.

I'm certainly not afraid to crack an iPod open. The worst that can happen is I have to finally buy a new one ;-)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Merlin Mann is on fire with his 43 Folders weblog on productivity - heavy on the OSX. Today he's talking about Keyboard commands in Safari, which continues my journey in the land of mouse-free computing. The beardy ones may well have a point: it is easier to use complicated keyboard shortcuts after a while. My fave so far is shift-apple-left/right arrow, for moving between tabs in Safari. The other thing that is starting to rock my world is type-ahead-find in the browser. It's standard in Firefox, but you can get it in Safari with the really-rather-tremendous Saft extension. Now I don't have to use the mouse at all with the browser, which is working out to be a lot quicker. It also scares the crap out of on-lookers, which can only be a good thing. (Crossposted)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

And this one comes from Adam himself.

I've been beta testing Delicious Monster's Library. It's the first application that has had me foaming at the mouth in a long time. Follow me on this one...

An application that would let you keep a list of all your DVDs would be very useful. Clearly. A quick search on MacUpdate turns up at least half a dozen of them.

It would be even cooler if it would let you catalogue CDs, games, and books as well.

It would be perfect if it would allow you to enter in the name and do a lookup on Amazon and then download all the info and pictures automagically.

But why stop there? Library uses your iSight camera to... get this... read the barcodes. So cataloguing my 500 DVDs consisted of holding them up to my iSight one by one and letting the application do all the heavy lifting.

A while back I coined Adam's Law of Good Software: "User Effort < User Benefit". Too much software requires you to learn and do a lot just to get some tiny little advantage out of it - frequently less benefit than the effort required to get there. This is one of those apps that turns that equation totally on its ear. If you can muster the energy to lift your arm, the application does everything else.

Of course it also allows you to create "borrowers" and places reminders into iCal, etc, etc. The app is not perfect, but it will create quite a splash when it is officially released. I'm under NDA at the moment, but I can point you to this posting on ThinkSecret that pretty much sums it all up...

This one comes via Adam and he's been using Macs for even longer than I have so maybe, just maybe, it falls into the Obscure category:
I suspect this work in other places too , like iCal, but open up Address Book and start editing someone's card. Select the Birthdate field and type "today" then hit Return.

Next try "tomorrow", "next week", "last month", "next tuesday".

Unfortunately it doesn't work for "39 years ago".

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Did you know that Command-clicking the menu bar window title bar in a Safari window gives a pop-up menu breaking down the entire path to the document you're currently looking at?

Just incase you have Software Update set to check weekly...

Security Update 2004-09-07 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

  • CoreFoundation
  • IPSec
  • Kerberos
  • libpcap
  • lukemftpd
  • NetworkConfig
  • OpenLDAP
  • OpenSSH
  • PPPDialer
  • rsync
  • Safari
  • tcpdump

For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website:

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

As an adjunct to Patrick's post: it has often struck me, from time to time and rather like a shovel to the head, that there's now a generation of internet users for whom the web has always existed, for it is older than they are. And there's a legion of users for whom the web is their primary use of the internet and may not even be aware that the web is but one use of said internet, eclipsing all others, save perhaps for email, but by no means making them any less relevant.

To them that aren't familiar with Usenet I give you: The History of Usenet. It changed your life and you didn't even know it.

Usenet was born approximately 3 decades ago, in 1979. It all began as a small communication network between a few universities in the United States used to trade information, news, and research results. It has grown from a simple design without an official structure, to a logical network linking millions of people and computers to over 100,000 different newsgroups and millions of bytes of articles. What began as two or three sites on a single network in 1979, expanded to 15 in 1980, to 150 in 1981, to 400 in 1982, to millions in 2003

(I know this isn't directly related to OS X but you gotta know your history.)

"Words are cheap and vitriol flows like water down the crumbling, mossy mountainsides of prose. Megabytes of gibberish grind forth like glaciers from the keyboards of the thirty million guinea pigs participating in the largest clinical trial ever: the testing of a new reality completely devoid of common sense."

-- Charlie Stross, commenting on Usenet

I think people often forget about USENET, except of course for the people who still use it. Then of course there is Google Groups, which many people may not even equate with USENET, even though right on the front page sits, "Post and read comments in Usenet discussion forums." Anyway, the key to USENET is finding the information needle the proverbial haystack that is USENET.

In comes Unison from Panic. Released in 1.0 form back in January is now up to 1.5.1, with the latest coming today and containing a long list of bug fixes. Now Unison is not free, but nobody said we could only talk about F/free here. It's $24.95 and you need your own access to a nntp server. If you don't have access, they sell access. Although I would check with your service provider, as you probably have access already.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Post #2 in which I explore things that I suspect are patently obvious to everyone else but not to me: only recently have I started using Project Builder again after a long hiatus (remember XCode?). When you create a new class file PB automagically sticks the following into the top of the file:
     Copyright 2004 __MyCompanyName__. All rights reserved.
But where to change __MyCompanyName__ from? I Googled, I read the PB docs, I couldn't find it. Finally I just resorted to clicking through every file created in the PB project and lo! there it is in InfoPlist.strings which, in hindsight, makes total sense.

So for the sake of Googling generations to come I record that here for posterity that they might be spared a fruitless hunt.

Update: I just created a new class file and there it is: __MyCompanyName__ so I'm totally wrong in the post above. If you have any idea where this gets set, kindly post to the comments.

Update 2:Scott posted the necessary link to the comments, thanks! Here for simplicity, type this into the Terminal:

defaults write PBXCustomTemplateMacroDefinitions '{ "ORGANIZATIONNAME" = "CompanyName";  }'

Surprise, surprise: If, while in the Printer Setup Utility, you hold down the Option key and click the "Add" toolbar button it provides access to the "Avanced" pop-up menu option in the resulting dialog sheet (you get me? No? Give it a try). That "Advanced" bit can be really quite useful when your Mac absolutely refuses to recognize your printer.

Maybe this is stupendously obvious to everyone else but I had no idea. That's the kind of hidden, non-obvious, power-usery shenanigans that makes me want to maniacally click every toolbar button everywhere with the Option key held down just to see what else is lurking in the Option-enabled alter-verse.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Unlimited technology from the whole universe, and we cruise 'round in a CRT P.O.S.

The last bit of Paul's post on the G5 iMac caught my eye.

Now I'm just waiting for the day when the older iMac tech trickles down to the eMac and we can declare the CRT officially dead -- in Apple land, at least.

I remember when the first iMac came out and there was no floppy drive. There were cheers of joy and screams of horror. I mean really, how do you expect to install Debian with no floppy drive? Also keep in mind that this was way before iPods littered the mac landscape as handy boot devices.

But will CRT be mourned? By anyone? As far as I know you don't need it to install Debian...

I mean, really, what's the point? I'm not a Quark user. I don't plan on being a Quark user. So who cares if they're socialists?

I mention this only because I've heard from reliable mac manager sources that Quark is a big deal. Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog we learn that something called "Quark Publishing System 3 Classic Edition (QPS Classic 3)" is now out for OS X. I honestly have no idea what that means...but I'm sure a very small population of OS X users are very happy about this. Or not...who knows.

In case you missed it, the iMac G5 is out. Very nice. It's a tidy, rectangular white pizza box on a brushed metal stand, in 17" and 20" flavors. The marketing is interesting -- they're positioning it as a soulmate to the iPod. I guess that means you're supposed to buy one of each. From a technical angle, though, it's not a giant iPod, it's an iBook on a stick. The iMac isn't, and will never be, a new-technology showcase, those glories being reserved for the "Pro" line machines, i.e. PowerBook and Power Mac. So when a new iMac comes out, the biggest news is the shape of the case. This leaves the brilliant Jonathan Ive without much to say in the promotional videos. Which is not to say that this isn't a great little computer, because it sure seems to be. Now I'm just waiting for the day when the older iMac tech trickles down to the eMac and we can declare the CRT officially dead -- in Apple land, at least.