This is old content! The graveyard is a snapshot of content created from 2002-2005. For new stuff, visit Maniacal Rage.
 

Tiger Internet Tip

7 comments (closed), posted on may 4, 2005, tags: software

If you've noticed that your internet connection is slow since you installed Tiger, you're not alone. On both of my machines, OS X 10.4 effectively killed my internet connection. I was averaging 100kpbs download, which is very slow compared to normal. I also couldn't do video chats with anyone on iChat unless I tried over and over, and the quality was always awful. Today I found the issue:

Open System Preferences » Network. Go into the properties for your connection and click on the TCP/IP tab. Then click the Configure IPv6 button and set the menu to Off. Click OK and then Apply Now.

TCP/IP Settings

In about 10 seconds, your network will hopefully be speedy again. I went from 100kpbs to 700kpbs and I was able to do a 4-way video chat. IPv6 was definitely my issue, and it might just be yours if you've been having internet speed issues.

Alerting Alert

2 comments (closed), posted on july 14, 2004, tags: software

Even Apple makes mistakes. Every now and then I'll come across a small bug in OS X that makes me laugh (or pisses me off), and this morning when shutting down my G5 before work I noticed a funny alert sheet.

If you have more than one user logged in (via fast user switching) and attempt to shut down, you're prompted for an administrative username and password. Normally I just enter this and hit shutdown without thinking, but this morning I accidentally clicked the shutdown button before entering any text and received the following alert sheet:

Whoops!

This was especially funny to me because it reminded me of my first few days creating a Cocoa app, when I would use alert sheets to check if things were working. In this case, the Finder icon hasn't been placed, so you see the lovely default app icon, and they've taken great care to properly provide a good error message, "Alert." Made me laugh.

Testing Gmail's Advertisements

no comments (closed), posted on june 14, 2004, tags: software

As Mathew mentioned on his site, today he and I were playing around with Gmail, seeing how accurate the AdSense ads were and how easily you could change them by writing specific things in your messages. What follows is a transcript of a few messages with notes about how the advertisements faired.

» Continue reading Testing Gmail's Advertisements

Annoying Mail Bug

14 comments (closed), posted on march 19, 2004, tags: software

Update: This bug is fixed as of May 26, 2004, with the release of OS X version 10.3.4.

I reported this Mail bug to apple about five days after installing Panther. It's subsequently been marked as a duplicate and seemingly on track to get fixed, but in the mean time it's been 5 months and this bug drives me crazy on a daily basis. Since the last bug I reported with an Apple product managed to get some attention, I figured I might as well post about this one too—maybe it will help it get fixed faster.

It's really a little thing. The bug is as follows: Mail creates a blank menu item in the drawer contextual menu each time a new viewer window is created. Let me demonstrate:

Mail Contextual Menu

That's what the Mail contextual menu looks like normally. This is what it looks like the first time you control- or right-click in the drawer after Mail has launched. Great. Now let's say you close the window (not the app) or create a new viewer window (Option+Command+N) and then you bring up the contextual menu again:

Mail Contextual Menu Two

Oh, great—Mail has added an empty item to the top of the menu. It doesn't do anything, but it's there. Not such a big deal, though, since it's only moved the real items down a notch.

Well, that's the problem. It's not only going to happen once. I leave Mail open 24 hours a day. When I get new mail, I click on Mail and read it, then I close the window and leave the app running the background. I would assume everyone else in the free world does this as well.

That means that every time we check our mail, close the window, and open it again later, we're creating another blank item. Eventually, using the contextual menu is very difficult. Here's what it looks like after eight or so of these events:

Mail Contextual Menu Three

Now to use the menu you have to control- or right-click and then find the menu items at the bottom. This isn't even the worst—a few times I've had so many blanks that the menu became truncated and I had to scroll past the blanks just to get to the read items.

Understandably, this contextual menu is not used very frequently. It contains items that most people wouldn't use on a day-to-day basis. But that makes it all the more frustrating because when you actually do have to use it, it's usually already full of blank items and has rendered itself a pain in the ass.

I was hoping this would be fixed in 10.3.2, but it wasn't. When I saw Mail was affected by the changes in 10.3.3, I thought that would certainly include fixing this bug. But it didn't. Will I have to wait until 10.4 or Mail 3.0 to see a fix?

iChat AV 2.1 Offers Almost Nothing

9 comments (closed), posted on february 8, 2004, tags: software

As mentioned in my post over at xlab, Apple released iChat AV 2.1 "Public Beta" a few days ago. It's major feature addition is the ability to have a video chat with a Windows user (who is using the newest version of AIM and has a video camera, obviously). While that's great and all, I'll probably never use the feature because none of my PC-using friends have video cameras. What I'm disappointed about, however, is that there are seemingly no other new features in iChat AV 2.1.

By now, you'd think Apple would have added at least one new feature that affects the way you use iChat. After all, since it's incarnation, the only real change has been the ability to audio- and video-chat, but that doesn't really change things for most people, since I doubt most people are using those features on a regular basis. What Apple needs to address are the following:

Why can't I set a cusom away message from the menu bar? I can do it from the buddy list, but I can't do it from the iChat menu. See this image—all of my away messages are there, but I can't add a new one. That means that if I want a custom away message, I have to open the buddy list, click the 'Available' menu, select 'Custom...' and then create my message. And my habit is to then close the buddy list again, meaning that because I can't set a custom message from the iChat menu, I have to do a lot more work.

Groups in iChat are a joke. Almost everyone knows what groups look like in AOL Instant Messenger for windows (and all other platforms, actually). If you don't, see this screenshot. AIM uses a very simple groups system that allows you to visually separate your buddies into groups and either minimize or show each group. How does iChat handle this? It uses an absolutely ridiculous drawer that contains a list of your groups which you can toggle on or off, hiding buddies in an unchecked group completely (see screenshot). This is not groups, this is filters. They are two very different things, and this implementation is completely useless to me (not to mention it taking up far more screen space than it needs to).

Tabbed chat windows. AIM proper doesn't do it, iChat doesn't do it—but nearly all third-party AIM clients do. There's a reason for that, and it's time iChat implement tabbed chat windows. Adium in particular handles this well (even if it has the most annoying sounds ever). Here's a shot of a tabbed window in Adium:

Adium chat window

Having one window for multiple conversations saves screen space and adds a bit of order to what is usually an annoyance if you have more than 3 chats going. I don't know why AIM has never had this feature, and I see absolutely no reason iChat shouldn't, especially since it would look a lot like Safari and users would already know how to use the feature.

I've been using iChat as my AIM client since the release of 2.0 (AV). The reason for that was not because I liked iChat better than other clients, but because it was the only one able to use video chat so simply. I still use video chat frequently, and for that reason I'm going to continue using iChat. I just wish Apple would start adding a few features that will affect me on a day-to-day basis and make my experience better.

Pinkerton Complains, Safari Continues Lead

5 comments (closed), posted on february 4, 2004, tags: software

In this latest entry, Mike Pinkerton complains that Apple is spreading "propaganda" with it's most recent performance comparison on the Safari page. He writes:

[The chart] compares it to Camino 0.7 and Netscape 7.0.2. Both of these products are more than a year old and are based off of Mozilla 1.0. Why not compare to Netscape 7.1? Because those numbers don't look as good.

I'd just like to point out a few things. One, Camino 0.7 is still the latest official release of Camino. Yes, it's more than a year old. Doesn't that say more about the development of Camino than about Apple spreading propaganda? Two, is Apple supposed to release comparisons based on nightlies? That's preposterous, and it will never happen. Three, stop fucking complaining about Apple and Safari. Please. We're all begging you. We get it—you're still pissed off about Safari. That's fine. But spend less time complaining and more time working if you want Camino to be on par with Safari. Or, maybe, just release more frequently than every 365 days.

I will admit, however, that listing Netscape 7.02 is strange. Netscape 7.1 was released quite a while ago and should definitely have been used for the product comparison. But the Camino version used was accurate. If you want them to test against 0.8—release it.

As far as Safari goes—1.2 is fantastic. The browser is getting better and better with each release, comparison chart or not. I used to use Camino as my primary browser, but I changed to Safari a long while back due to the slow progress of Camino. Don't get me wrong—I am still interested in using the browser. I'm not interested, however, in painfully slow development cycles and bitching and moaning.

Update: Pink has since updated his entry to clarify that he's mostly concerned with Apple testing against NS 7.0.2, which renders most of my complaint here moot. None the less, for archival purposes it will remain unedited.

Safari & xlab

posted on february 3, 2004, tags: software

Today I became number three in a group of three people who post to the Mac OS X weblog over at xlab. I'm thrilled to be a part of the team and I look forward to posting a lot of great stuff to the site for both a new audience and for readers of this site to enjoy.

» Continue reading Full Keyboard Access in Safari 1.2 at xlab.

SpamSieve 2.1.2

posted on january 26, 2004, tags: software

It's a coincidence that today, the day I was going to post an entry about how I recently installed SpamSieve and complain that the only bad thing about the app was that it couldn't move messages to a spam folder in Apple's Mail app (therefore rendering it a bit useless to me since I don't want to see the junk mail at all, regardless of whether or not it's properly flagged), happens to be the day a new version is released that completely removes this shortcoming.

SpamSieve version 2.1.2 is now completely compatible with Apple's Mail application and is therefore finally exactly what I've been looking for to get rid of the thousands of junkmail messages I get monthly. It's a good thing I've been training SS for the past few days so that now that it's actually capable of getting rid of the messages for me, it's already quite well trained (yes, that's right—only a few days and SpamSieve is already kicking 98.9% of my spam's ass).

On a side note—if you're wondering why I don't just use Mail's built-in junk mail filter, I'll quickly explain: I did. For a full year. Up until two months ago when my filter got corrupted and Mail would quit every time I flagged something as junk (or vice-versa). The only fix was to delete my filter and start over, losing a full year of training. Since then I tried retraining it, but for some reason it just wouldn't learn so I gave up.

I'm willing to pay $25 to rid my life of spam, and that's exactly what SpamSieve is doing for me.

Lots of Good Stuff

5 comments (closed), posted on january 20, 2004, tags: software

Plenty of Apple-related stuff has been happening lately. I've been meaning to write several little entries about various things, but time has been against me lately what with xPad, work and Zelda needing constant attention. Here's a collection of short bits for your consumption.

iLife '04

iLife arrived on Friday (pre-ordered it), and it's fantastic. GarageBand is exactly what I wanted a few months ago, and I'm thrilled with the application. This is going to spark a huge movement of regular people making music that actually sounds good. It's so easy to use. If you can click a mouse you can make music with GB in minutes. If you can actually play an instrument as well, the possibilities are endless. Very cool.

iPhoto 4 (what happened to 3?) is much faster on my G5 and is now a usable application. After moving all 600 pictures I've had floating around my harddrive into iPhoto I did some initial sorting and was pleased with how quick the app responds now. The only thing keeping me from using it before was speed. The addition of smart albums and ratings is great too. Strangely, I think this upgrade might actually cause me to take more pictures.

iMovie 4 has a lot of the things I wished version 3 had, which makes it even more solid. For consumers or "regular people," iMovie 4 offers just about everything you could want in a low-level digital video editor. Especially now that you can record directly from your iSight and modify clips in the timeline.

iTunes + iPod = Spinning Beach Ball

If you've got an iPod and you've recently upgraded to iTunes 4.2 (via the web prior to the release of iLife '04, or via iLife itself), you might be experiencing a problem where you cannot move music to your iPod without getting an I/O beachball and eventual iTunes hang and death. If you're anything like me, this pisses you off because not being able to move newly purchased iTMS music to your iPod renders said purchases nearly useless since we don't listen to music in our office nearly as much as we do away from home. Even if you're not like me, this is frustrating.

There have been several suggested fixes, all with mixed results. Works for one person, not another, etcetera. I can tell you that for me, unplugging my iSight fixes the problem. This apparently doesn't work for everyone (and, frankly, it's strange that it works at all), and obviously won't help you if you've suffering from the problem and don't have an iSight. I would suggest checking in on this discussions thread from time to time for updates. Apparently Apple knows about the problem, but it's surprising something like this could go on for so long without a fix when the iPod/iTunes is at the forefront of Apple's marketing campaign right now.

Speed-Up OS X 10.3.2 Start-Up

Many users (me included) have complained that the 10.3.2 update to OS X caused start-up times to increase noticeably. On my Dual 2GHz G5, my start-up time (measured with a stopwatch manually from the moment I hear the chime until the login window finished loading) with build 10.3.1 was 38 seconds. After updating to 10.3.2, the time changed to 1:05, which is nearly twice as long and quite noticeable. Luckily, this delay is caused by OS X looking for a directory in the wrong location during start-up, which hangs the process and adds unnecessary time. You can fix this by copying the directory from its actual location to the location in which OS X looks or, better yet, create a link to the proper location. Open Terminal and type the following (no line-breaks):

sudo ln -s /System/Library/Extensions/BootCache.kext/Contents/Resources/BootCacheControl /usr/sbin/BootCacheControl

Enter your password and restart twice. You should see a noticeable speed increase in start-up time. My G5 now starts up in 40 seconds (only two seconds shy of the speed of 10.3.1). It should be noted that my start-up time would be faster if I didn't have Unsanity haxies, MySQL and Apache installed. [Originally read about this fix on Mac OS X Hints, further information (including using link rather than copying directory) from this Apple Discussion.]

OmniWeb 5 Preview
If OmniWeb 5 is anywhere near as cool as I think it's going to be, it might be the first web browser I will ever pay for in my life. There are some really fantastic features and ideas there, and I can't wait to try it out. Since it's based on WebCore now, it's like using Safari but with additional features which might just be worth paying for.

Qo' je Apple De'wI'? SoH Hegh batlhHa'!

9 comments (closed), posted on december 11, 2003, tags: software

On Apple's website, in the Panther section, there's a link to a video that shows some of Panther's new features. It's been around for a long while, but I just got a chance to watch it today. Let me just say that I'm impressed. Apple manages to innovate on every level, even in their informative/advertising campaigns. I mean, to use a Klingon to scare me into buying Panther is just brilliant.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to mention this, but the Klingon in question is Omar, the narrator/host/scary-looking-bastard. He has some of the most fantastically frightening facial expressions, and to make it even better: none of them relate to emotion. He seems to just randomly grimace in the middle of a regular sentence. He even makes angry faces when he gets happy. Here are a few shots from the video:

Omar's Face
Click the image for more!

It's truly amazing to watch his face as he talks. Sometimes I'm scared, sometimes I'm laughing, sometimes I'm crying—but I'm always considering purchasing Panther immediately, which is exactly the goal. Granted, I've already bought a copy and the only reason I'm considering buying another is that I feel if I don't purchase it Omar might fly his Bird of Prey into my apartment building or cut me with one of those curved blade sword things, but the reasons don't matter.

The best part of the video is when you get to watch Omar transform from a semi-normal looking Klingon to a fucking scary Klingon when Humanoid BT tells Omar he's had his PowerBook stolen once in the past:

Omar's Transformation

The whole video is a gem. I can't wait for the video for OS X 10.4, in which I've heard they plan to have Omar battle Patrick Stewart and then eat raw meat. Until then, watch the Panther Video.

* The title of this entry is Klingon for "No buy Apple computer? You die dishonorably!" Yeah, and it took me 45 minutes to find those words. It was worth it, though—that's funny shit!

People Sure to Buy? Charge a Lot!

10 comments (closed), posted on november 18, 2003, tags: software

I use three 'haxies' because they change things in OS X that bother me. I use them because they're seamless and work correctly and do what I need them to do. I use them because, at $10 each, they're worth the amount of use I get out of them.

I use WindowShade X because I can't live without being able to shade windows in OS X (double-click the window's top bar and the window shades up to just the top bar). Why Apple removed this in OS X (it was in OS 9), I don't understand at all, but WSX does it for me now.

I use FruitMenu because Apple's default Apple Menu in OS X is a waste. There's nothing in there, and I like to be able to customize what I see with things I'll use most. I put quick-links to apps I launch all the time but don't want in the dock (like Disk Utility for making disc images when sending out xPad betas and Remote Desktop Connection for controlling my PC), and I reorder system functions (like Log Out, Sleep, etc) to make more sense. Without FruitMenu I would probably never touch the Apple Menu at all, and that would be a waste.

I used to use Menu Master, and will use it again soon when it is compatible with Panther, because Cocoa has this really great ability to have shortcut-keys changed on the fly—and a lot of applications have shortcut-keys I don't like or lack what I consider to be important shortcuts. For instance, in Transmit, I assigned CMD+S to Upload, because when I'm working on a website, it plays really well with what my brain is thinking already (in BBEdit, save changes with CMD+S, Exposé to Transmit, upload with CMD+S). I also assigned things like CMD+Z to zoom in iTunes, so I can zoom open and closed the window quickly (since I like to play music with iTunes in 'tiny' mode). Any day now, Menu Master will be compatible with Panther and I'll get to use it again.

You might say that $30 for that functionality isn't worth it, but I would disagree. For a mere $30, I have added missing functionality that makes using my computer easier and more enjoyable. Can you put a price on something like that? Well, you can, but it's hard. After all, when choosing $10 as the price for each of these haxies, Unsanity surely had a lot to consider. Will the price of this application seem justified in comparison to the features? Does this application provide something people are looking for/need? Hell, I just went through this when coming up with the price of xPad.

In most cases, Unsanity is right on the mark with its prices. When they released FontCard, they priced the haxie at $17—due to its features, the community it was aimed at, and the prices of other competing applications—and I thought that was fair. I didn't buy it, because I don't have that much use for it, but I understood the price point.

Today, Unsanity released ShapeShifter, a "revolutionary new product that lets you change the overall appearance of your Mac using 'themes'." I'm not sure that it's "revolutionary," since many other applications have been changing OS X themes for a few years now, but ignoring that I will conceed that it handles theme changing in a new way that is inherently safer for the system and user, and that's a good thing. The only problem is, ShapeShifter is $20.

Why is that a problem? It's a problem because the release of ShapeShifter didn't only involve Unsanity, it also involved several of the Mac community's top theme designers. And, from the looks of it, these theme designers will now be designing themes only for SS (I could be wrong about this, but even if I am, other people will surely devote all their effort to only SS formatted themes in the future). This means that for people to use these themes, they'll need to pay $20 to Unsanity. So what? Well, ThemeChanger, the application everyone used to change themes until yesterday, was free.

Knowing this, it feels to me like Unsanity set the price at $20 just because they knew people would buy it, not because of what it does. I understand it's a leap in theming technology for OS X (how big that leap is I do not yet know), but I feel as though Unsanity had an opportunity to help the community more than profit from it to this extent. Don't get me wrong—I'm not saying it should have been free—it's just that I always get angry when someone attempts to corner the market.

Would I have reacted like this if the price were $10? No. I probably wouldn't even have reacted this way if the price were the same as FontCard ($17). I think something about it being the most expensive Unsanity product ever (by more than 15%) strikes a nerve with me. It feels much more about making money than about revolutionizing anything.

Updated to add:

I think pricing would pricing be more accurate if ShapeShifter were only $5, but each theme you used cost 99¢. The price breakdown could be something like the iTMS, in that Unsanity would get a percentage of the buck, and the theme design would get the rest.

Maybe that's another thing that's holding me back from paying $20 for the app. While I understand that ThemeChanger could cause problems, it never did for me. Not once. And the app is free. I would be much happier paying for the themes themselves than for the means to apply them. After all, in the long run, it's the theme designers who are doing all the real work on the front-lines. Imagine if SS came out, but no themes had been created... no one would buy the software. For that matter, there is no purpose for the software at all without excellent and continuous theme design and release.

If Unsanity wishes to revolutionize the theme community, I think they should lower the price of ShapeShifter, and encourage theme designers to create a new community in which they are paid for their hard work. Even if it's only a dollar at a time.

Not coicidentally, themes are the topic of Erik's QotD.

The "Gruber" Easter Egg

2 comments (closed), posted on november 16, 2003, tags: software

It had been driving me nuts until tonight. John Gruber mentioned that there was an easter egg in BBEdit's about box, and I wanted to find it. I tried, over and over, to find this egg—but I couldn't.

Then, he posted a hint—that it was a menu—and I found it. I think I never would have found this had I not spent the last few months writing an OS X app, and getting to know all the little things OS X can do. I was very pleased with myself when I found it, not only because I felt smarter than the average person, but because the egg is actually quite good.

If you still haven't found it, here's how:

Open the BBEdit about panel, and then hold down Command (the Apple key), and click the BBEdit icon or the words About BBEdit in the window's top bar. You'll get a menu with a list of people who worked on BBEdit, and if you click them some of them will open web pages with different things on them.

Gruber's page is nice, and my favorite is Gypsy, the "office dog."

I know, I know—it's no fun to give it all away. But, at the same time, I feel I should share this with others who might not find it. All apologies to John (and maybe Gypsy too).

Safari/MT Bug Workarounds

4 comments (closed), posted on october 31, 2003, tags: software

Here are a few things you can do to save yourself from the Safari/MT bug I wrote about the other day:

Download Safari Enhancer, which allows you to turn off Safari's caching. The app also allows change some other hidden settings (like removing link underlines and dis/enabling the debug menu) and is Panther compatible.

Or, Replace the Safari cache folder with a null file, so that Safari doesn't actually cache anything. You can do that by opening Terminal (Utilities) and typing the following (all one line, no breaks): touch ~/Library/caches/safari (via macosxhints). Note that using the Safari menu item "Empty Cache..." will remove what you've just done, so after doing this don't use that menu item (you won't need to, there's no cache being created).

Of course, the simple solution is to only delete MT comments via the Edit Entry page (by checking them and then hitting delete).

Hopefully, even if this issue isn't solved in Safari any time soon, Movable Type itself could be changed to circumvent this bug. As far as I can tell, simply changing the Edit Comment's textarea name from "text" (which matches the Edit Entry content textarea) to something different would eliminate this problem.

Apologies to Anil for trackbacking this to his non-MT website, but I just thought he should be aware of the bug.

Safari/MT Bug Reduction

18 comments (closed), posted on october 29, 2003, tags: software

As promised, I looked into the Safari/MT bug I reported earlier, and I think I've found the problem. It seems to be due to Safari's over-caching, which several people have complained about in the recent past.

Here's what happens:

Movable Type uses the same name for its textarea on both the Edit Comment page and the Edit Entry page. Both are named "text." When you view the Edit Comment page to delete a comment, Safari caches the text inside that textarea. Then, immediately after clicking the Delete button, MT forwards you to the comment's related entry.

This is where the problem starts. Safari loads the cached comment text into the "text" textarea on the Edit Entry page. How do I know this? Here's a visual example:

Safari Bug

You'll notice that the text in that box does not match the text from the same page's source. That's because the cached text appears in the box, even though Safari clearly gets the correct text (I mean, it's in the source for god's sake!). But even though it's in the source, if you hit save, you'll post the text in the actual box to your server, and overwrite your entry.

So the problem is Safari. And it's a cache problem. I've reported a bug to Apple, posted about this on the MT support forums, and trackbacked this (and the last) entry to Dave Hyatt, so hopefully at least someone will fix this in the long run. In the meantime, just be careful if you're a Safari/MT user.

Update: You can find some workarounds for this bug in another entry, Safari/MT Bug Workarounds.

Safari/MT Bug

posted on october 29, 2003, tags: software

A long time ago I noticed a bug in Safari when using Movable Type. Today, Todd Dominey was a victim of the bug, so I figured I would write up a quick description so you can avoid it.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am away from home right now, I cannot do reduction in Safari (on a PC here). I will do this later tonight to see if I can pin down exactly what's causing it:

After deleting a comment from Movable Type, MT redirects you to the Edit Entry page for the entry associated with said comment.

In Safari (1.0/1.1), this often causes comment text to replace the Entry Body textarea of the edit page. If you then accidentally or intentionally hit the Save button, your entry will be replaced with that comment text.

To avoid this, do not hit Save. Instead, use the Rebuild Site link on the left side of the page.

I'm not sure if this is specifically a Safari bug, but I would assume it is because this does not happen in any other browser. Expect reduction this evening.

Weird Safari Bug

2 comments (closed), posted on october 7, 2003, tags: software

While working today I found a very strange Safari bug. On an order form I was creating, a user must keep a checkbox checked, otherwise they can't submit the order. To facilitate this, I used a simple line of JavaScript. In the onclick attribute of the checkbox, I call a JS function called ableButton() that looks like this:

function ableButton() {
     if (document.order.go_order.checked==true) {
          document.order.submit.disabled = false;
     } else {
          document.order.submit.disabled = true;
     }
}

Now, that works fine (in all modern browsers), and, if the browser supports it (most do), grays out the submit button. This works just fine in Safari. The bug is something else: if you click on the disabled submit button, it does nothing. As it should. But! If you double-click the button, it submits!

It's almost as if Safari believes disabling means, "don't let them use it, unless they seem like they really want to." I tested this in all the other browsers I have, and Safari was the only one that it worked in. Strange.

Why I Will Keep My $200

5 comments (closed), posted on october 3, 2003, tags: software

I've been a Dreamweaver user since the release of Dreamweaver MX. I used UltraDev occasionally before then when I worked at a company who refused to let its coders use anything else, but for the most part, up until the release of MX, DW stunk.

Version 3 and version 4 were full of poor interface design issues, they were clunky and slow, and worst of all—they wrote terrible code. When DW MX came out, I was expecting to see a slightly less clunky version of Dreamweaver, but was surprised to find that Macromedia had actually done something right with the program. Better interface, faster, and it actually wrote decent code. Granted, I still only let DW write a very little amount of code for me anyway, but that little bit was actually usable without a lot of changes.

Since then, I've used a combination of Dreamweaver MX and EditPlus on my PC, and Dreamweaver MX and BBEdit on my Mac. Over time, I've generally phased out BBEdit due to it's extremely limited syntax-highlighting and lack of features. And, since I do just about 100% of my development on my PowerBook now, it's basically been DW MX for the last year.

It's comfortable (a bit slow) and it works. Now here comes Dreamweaver MX 2004, all raring to go, promising to make my life even easier. Well, it hasn't. In fact, I'm far more comfortable with good ol' MX. I'll tell you why.

» Continue reading Why I Will Keep My $200

My Dock

1 comment (closed), posted on october 1, 2003, tags: software

As usual, I'm hopping on the latest-craze-bandwagon and posting a picture of my OS X dock as of current. This on my 12" PowerBook, and contains (from left to right):

Finder, Safari, Camino, Mozilla, Mozilla Firebird, Mail, Kung-Log, BBEdit, Dreamweaver MX, Dreamweaver MX 2004 (demo, trying to decide whether or not to buy the upgrade... so far, I've decided no (read more)), Flash MX, Photoshop, Illustrator, Transmit, Address Book, iCal, Proteus (used to use this all the time as my IM app), iChat (now use this all the time because I got an iSight (more later)), MSN Messenger, Final Draft, Word, iTunes, Kung-Tunes, iPhoto, Project Builder, Interface Builder, Terminal, Toast, Airport Admin Utility, Mount.

Then after the separator there's an alias to my home directory and of course the trash can. Click the image to see all of it.

My OS X Dock

Blog Change Bot Scares Me

7 comments (closed), posted on july 30, 2003, tags: software

I have a group of about 15 weblogs I check twice a day. Once in the morning when I get to work, once at about 8PM after I eat dinner. It's a daily routine, and it's nice. Often at work, I'll randomly check a few of the 15 weblogs to see if they've been updated since I last checked. This is bad. It leads to further checking, and very frequently I end up having looked at the same sights 10 times in one day—none of them having changed. If you suffer from the same problem, you might want to check out Blog Change Bot (via WDIK):

Blog Change Bot (blogchangebot on AIM) is a blog monitoring service which updates you via AOL Instant Messanger when a blog you are interested [in] is updated. Subscribe via AIM or iChat to be automatically notified when the blog is updated.

Now you don't even have to type a URL! Or click a mouse button! This scares me. Terrifies me, really. It's one step closer to the inevitable point where I will wake up in the morning, and while still lying there I will shit and be showered, followed by having eggs and toast crammed into my mouth. Then, a robot will pick me up (my legs and arms won't work at this point, and I'll always drool) and put me in a chair. It will wheel me to a large white wall on which tons of visual information will flash and animate and get right in my pale face. Then I'll have all the contents of millions of websites screamed at me in thousands of languages. I'll probably shit again at that point.

It's all terrifying. Blog Change Bot is the beginning!

Update: I'll have you know that I tested BCB with this update (subscribed to codebucket.com), and it didn't work. Whew! I can still use my legs!

Second Update: It did work... it just took 4 minutes to come through. I just shit in my bed!

The End of Netscape

9 comments (closed), posted on july 16, 2003, tags: software

Wow. I honestly thought it would never happen, but AOL has finally destroyed Netscape. Yesterday they laid off remaining Mozilla workers, and got rid of the rest of Netscape (I love how "they've even pulled the logos off the buildings"). As of July 15, 2003, Netscape is dead.

This is a huge disappointment to me, even though I've not been a fan of the Netscape browser for a long time. We all have our stories, of using Netscape 1.0 or 2.0 or whatever, 'back in the day,' when the Internet was fresh and Netscape was one of the few companies serving it to regular people. I remember building my first web page ever with Netscape's composer. But, somewhere along the line, things just ended up going the wrong way. After years of "Browser Wars," in 1998 Netscape's Communicator finally lost advantage to a growing Microsoft Internet Explorer. In November of 1998 they were purchased by AOL.

All the while, however, something else was growing in the background: Mozilla. In a letter written by Jamie Zawinski entitled "Fear and Loathing on the Merger Trail," just after the announcement of AOL's purchase of Netscape, Jamie wrote the following which I find to be appropriate to reread today:

So, assuming that they [AOL] still want to have a Netscape Navigator, it is not unreasonable to assume that they will adopt the same attitude that Netscape has: that open source works, and that the best way to have a top-of-the-line web browser is to keep it open.

But let's think about some worst-case scenarios. Let's think about the nightmares. What if AOL hates "open source"? What if they want to undo everything we've done, and make Mozilla be evil and proprietary again? What if they just think that browsers are a waste of time, and that they should just use MSIE forevermore?

Well, they simply cannot undo what has been done. The Mozilla code is out there, and it cannot be recalled. It has been distributed under an open source license, and nobody can ever take that away from you. Ever.

It's unfortunate that AOL did end up deciding to use Internet Explorer 'forevermore,' and even more unfortunate that the decision will hurt the Internet more than closing Netscape ever could. Regardless, the point of Jamie's article is more important: Mozilla cannot be destroyed by AOL. It cannot be destroyed by anyone. It's open, it's free, and it belongs to everyone.

Does it matter now that Netscape was pushed out by Internet Explorer in the 90s? Does it matter that Internet Explorer kept pushing, and pushing hard, and made it's way to the ridiculous 90-something-percent market-share? Yes, of course it does. But does it matter than Netscape is dead? Not at all. Netscape was a means—a means to Mozilla.

Frankly, I'm glad Netscape is gone. I'm glad because eventually people will stop using Netscape 4x now (hopefully). That's a good thing—it gets more people using standards-compliant browsers. Now the point is to make sure the market for standards-compliant browsers contains options, not Internet Explorer and Mozilla. Camino, Safari, OmniWeb, Opera—they're all important to the future of the Internet. Never again should there be a 'war' between two browsers. Never again should the victor of that war be able to effectively control the market and it's future and it's direction.

Mozilla will live on. A newly formed Mozilla Foundation, a [soon to be] non-profit corporation will now manage the Mozilla project. They've released a new version of their website, and continue to work on all of their projects. The good news is, though, that they don't have AOL looking over their shoulders. Obviously it's never good when a bunch of people* lose their jobs, but I say good riddance to Netscape. Let's move on.

* If you're interested, you can visit Ex-Mozilla to read posts from Netscape employees who have left the company over the years (including yesterday).

Competing With Linux

5 comments (closed), posted on july 15, 2003, tags: software

Right, so I somehow ended up over at the Microsoft Partners website the other day (not sure exactly how), and stumbled upon their Resources for Competing with Linux section. How disgusting. I love one of the sentences on the front page:

It's becoming ever clearer that the Windows platform offers better total cost of operation (TCO) than Linux. Use these resources to make the case that Windows will save your customers' time, frustration, and money.

What is this based on? I've set up plenty of Windows web servers, and plenty of Linux web servers. It takes, on average, about 30 minutes to have Linux up and running with Apache, PHP, MySQL, and FTP access. It takes about 45 minutes to install Windows.

And what is this nonsense about TCO? A simple price comparison proves this wrong from the get-go. For instance, as of the time this entry was written, here are the costs (from Buy.com) to build both a Linux web server and a Windows web server of equal proportion (not including hardware, as they both run on the same boxes):

Linux

  • Red Hat Linux 9.0 Professional - $133.99
  • Apache Web Server - Free
  • PHP - Free
  • MySQL - Free
  • FTP/Mail Servers - Free
  • Total: $133.99*

* It should be noted that you don't have to buy an expensive distro of Linux to run a web server, so the total price here is actually more than it would cost you if you went with a free distro. This is not an option using Windows.

Windows

  • Windows XP Professional - $270.99
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services - Free (bundled)
  • ASP - Free (bundled)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (Developer edition) - $439.98
  • FTP/Mail Servers - Free (bundled)
  • Total: $710.97

Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems that the Windows box would cost $576.98 more just to set up. So far I'm not seeing this better TCO that Microsoft is claiming. Now I know MS would claim that maintenance of Windows is easier, therefore lowering the long-term cost of server up-keep. I've found that not to be true, however.

Every day something goes wrong with one of our servers here at work. Every day. If it's not Exchange (something I didn't include above because of the free SMTP server bundled with the OS, but Exchange is $1245.99 for 5 users), it's IIS or permissions are screwed up or the server crashes because of load. The last Linux web server I set up crashed twice in 6 months, both times due to the T-1's router going down. I also never had to modify permissions once they were initially set. Also, not a single file made itself read-only whenever it felt like it.

It's crazy to say that Windows is cheaper to use than Linux. It's just not. But that's how Microsoft likes to present information—falsely. The rest of that developer page is littered with ridiculous news headlines, features, and articles all about how to sell Microsoft products in spite of the rising success of Linux. There's even a "news" headline about how there was a security flaw found in MySQL... that's funny, I just downloaded Service Pack 3a (that's the fourth since release) to fix more of the hundreds of security problems in SQL Server 2000.

These kinds of things are the reason people don't like Microsoft. It's the constant Nazi-esque feeling you get when reading their press releases or visiting their website. Everything feels so fake and so anti-open source and so anti-competition. I used to be a huge Microsoft fan, but over the past year or two I have really started to dislike their business practice (and some of their products). I just don't understand why they need to do business this way. If Microsoft is better than Linux, why do they need to have a whole section to prove that? I can't find that kind of section on Red Hat's site.

Before Safari is Truly #1

6 comments (closed), posted on june 30, 2003, tags: software

Ever since the WWDC keynote, I've been using Safari as my default browser on my G4 at work. This wasn't initially by choice. For some reason, after installing Safari 1.0 on that machine, I can no longer get Camino to work. I tried everything—reinstalled, installed a fresh build, clean install of a nightly—but it just won't work any longer on that machine. It's weird, because Mozilla proper runs, just not Camino. Anyway, since all other OS X browsers are a bit sluggish, I decided to give Safari a shot. That was over a week ago.

Today I made Safari my default browser at home. I didn't think it would happen so soon (I love Camino), but it has. And I'm somewhat happy with it. There are some things, however, that Safari must have/change before it can truly become my only browser.

» Continue reading Before Safari is Truly #1

Depressing Confession

6 comments (closed), posted on april 29, 2003, tags: software

For the last few months, I've been lying to you. All of you. Worst of all, I've been lying to myself. Well, no, I haven't been lying to myself. Just you. Maybe a little to myself. No. No. Just you. Yeah, just you.

Each and every time you've seen information in my "currently hearing" section (over there on the right), you've assumed that information was coming from my Winamp 2 plugin, CurrentlyHearing. It was not.

You see, I've been using my PowerBook at home, and my G4 at work to listen to music. I haven't used my PC at home for music since January. And since my plugin doesn't work in OS X (obviously), I've been using something else. The sick part is, I've been using this other program's ability to display output however I want to trick my site into thinking it's getting information from CurrentlyHearing. I am a sick, sick bastard.

I've been using Kung-Tunes. So now you know. Hate me if you must, but also know that I'm going to continue lying to people. You can't stop me!

A few more confessions: I like Mountain Dew, sushi, Jackie Chan, cheesecake with those fake cherries on top, Double-Quarter-Pounders with Cheese from McDonalds, and this confession list makes me seem like a fatass. I am not. I also talk to myself a lot. That makes me sound crazy. I am not.

And Suddenly

8 comments (closed), posted on march 25, 2003, tags: software

The browser war between Camino and Safari is getting really great. The latest leak of Safari, build 67, contains an updated pref pane with tab settings and a functioning auto-complete feature that utilizes the keychain properly (including a new toolbar button that will fill out forms automatically (just like IE for the Mac) that's still a little buggy but getting there). Safari also seems to be faster at both starting and rendering. That's never a bad thing.

The surprising part, however, is that Camino now feels faster. One of Apple's largest argued benefits to Safari was that it started, rendering and handled Javascript faster than any other browser on the Mac platform. I agreed with this until today, when I downloaded the nightly build of Camino (2003032408). The new builds are now based on the Mozilla trunk (1.41 I believe), rather than the stable 1.2 branch, so the new speed increases in both rendering and startup that I've been seeing on my PC are now even more apparent on my Mac. It's fucking fast. Amazingly so.

Also, Camino has a new bookmark manager that mimics Safari's. This is a bold move on Camino's part, since everyone has been comparing the two as enemies. That's not to say that Safari hasn't been using Mozilla code, because it has. Licensing allows for this, and I think it's a benefit. The unfortunate thing is, with the screwy Mozilla licensing scheme, Mozilla can't use Safari code. Maybe in the future this will be fixed (I believe they're trying to relicense right now).

The great thing about these two browsers is that the principles of their development each have a weblog (Mike Pinkerton (Camino) and Dave Hyatt (Safari)), and development has been rather quick over the past few weeks. I'm really looking forward to more.

Enter Camino

8 comments (closed), posted on march 6, 2003, tags: software

Finally, after much waiting and legal name-changing trouble, Camino 0.7 (formerly Chimera) was released today. There are plenty of needed changes and additions (namely a better download manager and much faster history functionality), but since I usually download nightly builds every few days at work, there was nothing new for me (except a new splash screen featuring everyone's favorite font, Myriad).

Regardless, it is a step in the right direction, as well as toward that ever waiting one-point-oh. Recently, I had a conversation about browsers with Shawn—mostly about Safari's promise and future possibilities—in which I mentioned that Camino's development is something to look forward to, but for the most part only because of improved stability. I say this because Camino is based on Mozilla and incorporates most of its features already. Therefore, unless they branch out and begin creating new features for Camino separate from the Mozilla center, the browser is limited by Mozilla's development. Basically, if you use Mozilla on your PC, you're using the PC version of Camino (albeit not as pretty or smooth feeling). So, the future for Camino doesn't seem all that bright in terms of fantastic new features.

The nice thing is, there are some Camino only features in action right now. One example: if you right-click (or command click (or just click and hold)) on Camino's dock icon when the program is running, you'll see a list of your toolbar bookmarks ready for the clicking (see image). A great addition to this feature is that you can actually tell Camino which group of bookmarks to use for this popup list*. These little additions are nice, but only go so far.

Safari, of course, is inherently different because it's being developed by Apple. They've got first-hand and inside knowledge of OS X and it's future, enabling them to actually create new features from the ground up if they wish. That's a power Camino will never have. It's unfortunate, but doesn't make Safari a better browser by default.

Aside from radical new features, though, there are a few things I would like to see Camino implement before hitting gold. I'm sure I'm not the first person to point some of these items out, but I've been thinking the past few days about what I would really like this browser to have that it's missing.

  • Ability to enable "Check Spelling as You Type" feature. This is built-in functionality for Cocoa applications, and I'm not sure why Camino hasn't used it yet. You'd be surprised how nice it is to have your spelling checked as you type into textareas (like when you comment on this site, for instance).
  • Reload Tab / Reload All Tabs options in tab contextual menus. This already works in Mozilla proper, and probably isn't in Camino only because it's using the older Mozilla milestone. It's a nice feature, though, when you have four weblogs open for a few hours in the background and you want to refresh them all. Sure, it only saves a few seconds, but none the less.
  • Preload in background abillity. Mozilla for Windows allows you to enable an option that loads Mozilla upon startup into memory, making for a faster first launch time. I know I can specify Camino to be launched at startup via OS X, but I don't want to do that. I don't because I don't want to load the whole program at startup. Something that would load a majority of the code would be nice, though, so if I never actually use Camino in a session it doesn't waste as much time, but if I do the first load would be faster.
  • Form auto-completion. Mozilla for Windows allows you to save common form entry (like your name, address, etcetera) for reuse later. This is obviously useful.
  • Option to remove the splash screen.
  • Give me all of Mozilla's options and functionality. The preferences dialog for Camino is so slight and bare compared to Mozilla proper. Put at least some of the more important stuff in (like the Helper Applications and Popup Window Exceptions).
  • Flash. Handle. It. Better.
  • Allow me to view my history in different ways (order visited, alphabetically, time spent, etc).
  • I really love the Safari activity window (shows errors, loading information and more). Something like this would be nice (or at least show me javascript errors).
  • Allow me to right-click an image and get its properties (again, this is built into Mozilla). Sometimes this is very useful.

From time to time I might add to this list. I apologize to everyone who reads this and doesn't have an Apple computer. I'm not trying to waste your time, I just wanted to get these thoughts down. If you do have an Apple machine, and you use Camino, feel free to post your ideas. I'd be interested to see what others think this browser is lacking.

* To change which group of bookmarks is used for this contextual menu, simply choose any bookmark folder, Get Info, and check the box that says "Use for Dock Menu."

Where's the Cork?

posted on february 25, 2003, tags: software

Yesterday I posted an entry about Safari's new tab feature as well as a screenshot of said tabs. I took that screenshot of the leaked build of Safari I got from some random web link after taking a few minutes to scour through some common OS X weblogs and sites. I thought I had done something spectacular—as if I were one of the few non-NDA-beta-testers to have this build of the program—and prided myself on having found something kept so secret and protected.

In reality, links to this build of Safari are everywhere—What Do I Know, Spymac, even David Hyatt's weblog for chrissakes—and Apple has done nothing to stop any of it. You would think at least Hyatt would delete the links to the leaked build in his comments.

This says two things to me: one, Apple wants the publicity of this build. They like the idea of everyone wanting this so badly that people are willing to break an NDA and release it, or two, Apple is do damned oblivious they don't know it's happening. I can't believe the latter, though—it doesn't seem possible they could miss all of this. I'm leaning more toward the publicity point. I think this is doing nothing but good things for Safari.

It's one thing to have a public beta, it's another to not mind when the public beta internal betas are leaked, but at which point do they just finally open up completely and start offering nightly builds. And, would this be a bad thing?

Granted, if Apple allowed anyone and everyone to download nightly builds of Safari, there would be problems for people who don't understand that the process includes bug reporting and troubleshooting and crashing, etcetera. But if Apple opened up their beta test program to the web/software development crowd, and offered nightly builds and a better bug reporting system (see Mozilla's Bugzilla), don't you think Safari would progress faster and become an overall better product?

Tabular

31 comments (closed), posted on february 24, 2003, tags: software

Could this be the beginning of the end for Camino? Apple's browser, Safari, will feature tabs that function much like Mozilla's, and Keychain access as well. Once Hyatt gets the CSS bugs worked out, Safari could become a Camino killer for even the hardcore Mozilla fans.

Safari has tabs...

See Also

View the archive

Original iPod Introduction
How far we've come in just a few short years. Here's where it all started.

Front Row on Non-iMacs
Going to try this tonight!

WriAShorStorWe!
DY starts a one-week short story writing event for people to lazy to enty NaNoWriMo. VerCooIdea.

Lost Rhapsody
Funny Flash movie using Weird Al music and Lost stuff. Lyrics make a surprising amount of sense!

Jed's Other Poem
Unsolicited music video made on an Apple ][. Fantastic!

Printers Output Secret Barcode
The government is keeping tabs on what you print, with the help of major printer companies.

Dreamhost Promo Codes
DH already has very cheap, very good hosting—this just sweetens the deal.

Photos of the new iPod
Just received my new iPod and I put a few photos up.

PEZ MP3 Player
Funny idea that actually looks kind of neat. I like that it comes pre-loaded with "indie" music.

HD Easter Egg
"My Name is Earl" on NBC gives viewers with HD TVs a little easter egg. Cute, but weird.