Friday Aug 24, 2007

Latest Links and commentary

I haven't been bookmarking things in del.icio.us quite as often as I used to, for a variety of reasons, but I still do about 2-3 links per day. So I setup my FeedPoster to post my latest links to my blog each day as a draft post, which I can edit and post later if I want. So here are my edited links from the past week with some added commentary to make them a little more interesting (hat tip to Rafe Colburn).

Atom protocol "features" extension

I try to follow the Atom community pretty closely, but sometimes I fall out of the loop. For example, I missed the discussion on James "Mr. Atom" Snell's important new extension proposal for Atom protocol features, which will enable blog servers to declare what features they support. For example, Roller could inform blog clients that you can enable/disable comments for each post, limit comments to N days on, "pin" a blog entry to to site's main page (if you are an admin) and more. Hopefully, we can get blog server developers to agree on a common set of features and blog client developers to support that set.

Publishing critical info with Atom

And I had to bookmark James Snell's excellent and important article Publish critical public warnings on the Web, with the sub-title "Atom publishing can provide a powerful and flexible way to distribute critical, life-saving information."

Sun Portal's blog porlet, powered by Atom protocol

This next Atom link comes from docs.sun.com. It's some documentation for the Sun Portal Server 7.1 - Blog Portlet. I did not realize that the Sun Portal blog portlet uses Atom protocol to enable publishing to Roller. It was developed and tested against Roller 3.1, so it probably does not conform to the final Atom protocol.

What to call Atom protocol?

And finally, folks are wondering what to call Atom Publishing Protocol. Is it APP or Atompub or Atom protocol? Ian Bicking says I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to call it Atompub from now on." I don't have a strong opinion, but I do think APP is to vague to be useful.

Lightweight image editors for Mac

I've got a copy of Photoshop Elements for the Mac, but I really hate to have to start it up when I want to crop or resize an image. So I twittered about it. Ryan Irelan pointed out ImageWell "the Free and Lean Image Editor". Rich Sharples recommended Skitch, a Web 2.0-ish desktop app that makes it easy to snap, draw and share images from your desktop. I'm on the waiting list for an invite. On my own, I found Seashore, which is a Gimp based open source image editor Mac, one that does not need X11, and it's pretty light-weight. I'm not ashamed to admit, I love the Gimp.

Whew! I've got a couple more links but my lunch break is over so there you go.

Thursday Nov 23, 2006

Firefox 2.0 crashy on MacBooks?

I used Firefox 2.0 for a while on my Powerbook without any major problems, but since I switched over to my MacBook last week, Firefox 2.0 been just as crashy as hell -- locking up multiple times each day. From this looks of this thread on MozillaZine, I'm not alone. I took some advice from a comment on this post at creativebits.org and uninstalled the Google Toolbar extension. So far so good.

Sunday Nov 19, 2006

Easy upgrade #1: Powerbook to MacBook

I was tempted to switch away from Apple, but in the end I decided to take the easy route and buy another Mac laptop. When Apple updated the MacBook Pros a couple of weeks ago, I ordered one.

And I'm not kidding about the easy route. Transitioning from my old Powerbook to my new MacBook was amazingly easy, especially when you consider the fact that I moved from a PowerPC processor to an Intel. It was this easy: start up new Mac and when prompted hook old Mac to new Mac via Firewire cable, wait 2 hours and boom... all applications, settings, mail... everything... is perfectly duplicated and ready to on my new laptop. And yes, it's fast. As long as my battery doesn't explode and I don't get hit by random shutdown syndrome -- fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that -- I think I'll be a happy with my new Mac for very long time.

Thursday Sep 28, 2006

Apple repair turn-around time

The Apple support guy told me that mail-in repairs typically have a five to seven day turnaround time, but increased "back-to-school" load could mean ten days. I'm not sure if that's good or bad compared to other companies, but it's a long time to go without the trusty laptop, that's for sure. In case you're googling around for info on Apple repair turn-around time, as I was last week, here's my experience. [Read More]

Monday Sep 18, 2006

Sick Mac

My two year old Powerbook G4 has been behaving badly for a couple of months now. Startups slowed to 20 minutes and some applications take forever to startup. I called Apple about it several times, but they were unable to help because the diagnostics showed nothing was wrong. So I was actually kind of happy when I started up the Mac OS Disk Utility and saw the message:

"This drive has reported a fatal hardware error to Disk Utility. If the drive has not failed completely then backup as much as you can and replace it with a working drive."

Apple is sending a "dispatch" box so I can send my Powerbook in for service. They told me that the turnaround time is normally 5-7 days, but may take 10 due to back-to-school work load.

So now, I'm laptopless, living full-time in GNOME on Solaris/X64 and thinking that now would be a real nice time for Apple to rev those Mac Book Pros. According to the rumor mongers over on Apple Insider, new Mac Book Pros may be coming out next week.

Tuesday Jan 10, 2006

MacBook Pro


MacBookI didn't believe it would happen so soon. Apple has released an Intel based laptop and is accepting orders now for deliveries in February. I really want one, but I'm going to wait and see how Raible and Dion like theirs before I buy one for myself. 

Monday Jan 02, 2006

Day 2: Tigers!

It took a bit longer than I'd expected, but I made it through the Tigers upgrade. I'm now working with J2SE 5.0 Tiger on my Solaris x64 box, my Powerbook and as of a couple of minutes ago, this site is running on  5.0 as well.

I also upgraded my Powerbook from Panther to Mac OS X 10.4.3 Tiger. Along the way I learned that you shouldn't try to use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone to a network mounted drive (it will work, but it's extremely slow) and that I didn't really need to buy iLife (the old versions of iMovie, iDVD and iPhoto continue to work). Migrating to the new Mail.app took all morning, so I'm only now getting to my overflowing mailbox.

Sunday Jan 01, 2006

Day 1

After wrapping up writing last night, I took a break from the book for most of the day with some shopping and some time with our neighbors. Our neighbors across the street, invited us over for some candle lighting, latkas and dreidling -- a very nice way to wrap up the holidays.

One of my non-health related resolutions for 2006 is to switch over to Tiger, by which I mean Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and Java 5.0 Tiger. So I dragged the boys over to CompUSA and bought a LinkSys NSLU2 Network Storage Link and a Maxtor 200GB external USB drive. They didn't have Mac OS X, so I drove over to the Apple store in Durham. I bought both Mac OS Tiger and iLife, because I was warned Tiger doesn't include the Apple software goodies I've been digging recently (iMovie, iDVD and iPhoto, grumble grumble). All and alll, a way too expensive day. Once I use my Carbon Copy Cloner to back up my Powerbook (hmm, is that gonna work with a network mounted drive?), I'll feel comfortable installing the new Mac OS.

Another resolution on my list is to do some 'casting. I'll be making the first non-snapshot release of Blogapps this week, so I'd like to make a couple of screencasts. I've got two ideas in mind. One screencast will walk you through the installation and setup of the Blogapps server (i.e. my Roller/JSPWiki bundle). The other will explain Atom protocol (as it stands today) using the Blogapps server and some command-line utillities I wrote for the Atom protocol chapter. I was quite impressed with what Brian McAllister did with Snapz Pro X in his ApacheCon talk, so I'm thinking that is the package to buy for Mac screencasting. Please pipe-up if you know better.

Wednesday Aug 03, 2005

Can't trust Trusted Computing

Cory Doctorow: It means that the price of being a Mac user will be eternal vigilance: you'll need to know that your apps not only write to exportable formats, but that they also allow those exported files to be read by competing apps.
Cory can't trust Apple anymore and he's got a point. But no matter what OS you use, you still have to be vigilant. Even without DRM and so called Trusted Computing built into the OS, app developers can screw you over and lock you down. Look at Intuit's CDilla spyware/DRM fiasco for example. I'm prepared to be vigilant, so this news alone won't stop me from buying a new Mac.

Wednesday Apr 27, 2005

Switch from Mail.app to Thunderbird

What's the downside of switching to Thunderbird on Mac OS X? Am I going to miss out on some "to die for" feature in Tiger's new Mail.app? I sure would like to be using the same mail client on all four platforms in the house.

Wednesday Jan 12, 2005

Andi's next computer

She doesn't know it yet, but Andi's getting a Mac mini. The kids can have the old Windows box, but we'll have to disconnect it from the net so they can use it safely ;-)

Friday Dec 24, 2004

Made the switch to Firefox on Mac OS X

Thanks to Microsoft, I finally made the switch to Firefox on my Powerbook. I'm totally addicted to clicking links with the wheel-mouse button to open them in new tabs. Firefox does that by default on my platforms (Solaris x86, Linux, and Windows XP), but for some odd reason, on Mac you have to map the wheel button to be a "Control Click" rather than just a click. I couldn't do that until I downloaded the appropriate Microsoft Intellipoint mouse drivers.

Thursday Nov 11, 2004

Firefox on Solaris x86 and Mac OS X

Like the good little open source lemming that I am, I upgraded to Firefox 1.0 today on both my Mac and Sun boxes. Some kind folks from Sun built both GTK and Motif linked versions of the new browser for Solaris x86 and you can get them at the FTP server at GetFirefox.com site.

Firefox for Solaris x86 looks great and, unlike the version I had previously downloaded from Blastwave.org, it is able to pick up the JDS theme so it looks twice as cool as before. Be sure to grab the GTK2 version, unless you are stuck with Motif.

I was not so impressed with Firefox on the Mac. As much as I'd like to be using the same browser on all platforms, Firefox doesn't look quite right on the Mac, plus I'm addicted to clicking links with the middle mouse button to open them up in new tabs. Old habits like that are very hard to break. Is there an easy work-around for this problem or a plugin that fixes it?

Saturday Sep 11, 2004

Open Office 1.1.2 on Mac OS X is snappy

I've been converting some slides over to Open Office format using the "experimental" X11 build of Open Office 1.1.2 for the Mac. Like most X11 apps under Mac OS X, Open Office doesn't look quite right and is a little, shall we say, quirky. But, after using it for a while I can testify that it is stable and very snappy. The Powerpoint import is very nice too, much improved over 1.0.

How long will we have to wait for a true native app? The Open Office team is working towards native Quartz and Aqua versions for release in late 2005.

Monday Jun 28, 2004

Apple to bundle Blojsom.

Lots of good news concerning David and Mark today as Apple announces that they will be bundling the Blojsom blog software with Apple OS X Server.

Tuesday May 25, 2004

PostgreSQL startup items for MacOS X

I followed the PostgreSQL installation instructions on Apple's site and got PostgreSQL up and running in no time. To make PostgreSQL start when MacOS starts, I had to do a little more work. I added a startup item as described in James Duncan Davidson's Running Mac OS X Panther. First, I created a startup item directory and used vi to create a parameters file:

root# mkdir -p /Library/StartupItems/PostgreSQL
root# cd /Library/StartupItems/PostgresSQL
root# vi StartupParameters.plist

Next, I guessed that PostgreSQL requires Directory Services and uses Disks and came up with this StartupParameters.plist file:

{
   Description = "PostgreSQL Server";
   Provides = ("PostgreSQL");
   Requires = ("DirectoryServices");
   Uses = ("Disks");
   OrderPreference = "None";
}

Finally, I wrote a startup script to start, restart, and stop PostgreSQL:

#!/bin/sh
. /etc/rc.common
StartService() {
   echo "Starting PostgreSQL"
   sudo -u postgres /usr/local/pgsql/bin/postmaster -i -D /var/postgres/rollerdb &
}
RestartService() {
   echo "Restarting PostgreSQL"
   sudo -u postgres /usr/local/pgsql/bin/pg_ctl -D /var/postgres/rollerdb stop
   sudo -u postgres /usr/local/pgsql/bin/postmaster -i -D /var/postgres/rollerdb &
}
StopService() {
   echo "Stopping PostgreSQL"
   sudo -u postgres /usr/local/pgsql/bin/pg_ctl -D /var/postgres/rollerdb stop
}
RunService "$1"

Once I was done with that I tested starting, restarting, and stopping PostgreSQL using the SystemStarter command. Once the script worked, I rebooted and found that PostgreSQL did indeed start on startup. It works, but I wonder, is this the best way to configure service for Mac OS X? Davidson's book menioned xinetd and mach bootstrap servers, but says that the SystemStarter is the way to go for now.

Wednesday May 19, 2004

Powerbook vs. Windows desktop performance

After reading Matt's post, I was a little concerned about Powerbook performance. I'm not concerned anymore. On my Powerbook (1.5GHz, 1.25GB RAM) a full Roller build takes 53 seconds. On my Windows XP desktop box (2.4GHz, 1GB RAM), a full Roller build takes 45 seconds. I don't even notice the difference.

I have to retract the bad things that I said about Eclipse and Fire. I've been using Eclipse 3.0 M8 on MacOS for a couple of weeks now and, while it is not pretty or as snappy as the Windows version, it is definitely usable. Kudos to the Eclipse and SWT developers. I stuck with Fire and it has really grown on me. I use it for IRC, AIM, and YahooIM and I enjoy it as much as I do Trillian on Windows. I'd like to see more IRC features, but that's my only complaint.

Saturday May 01, 2004

Powerbook second impressions.

I've had my Powerbook for over a week now and I'm starting to get settled in. Overall, I've been very pleased with the Powerbook itself, the software that came with MacOS, and the software I've downloaded. I'm still trying to figure out what works best and I find it very useful to read what other Mac users are using and why, so here I'll document the software I've started to use.

Before I started using the Powerbook, I had assumed that I would be using the same browser and mail programs that I use on Windows, Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird. When I got the Powerbook, I installed Firefox and Mozilla and found that they work well and look almost exactly as the do on Windows. Generally speaking that is a good thing, but I'm in the mood to try something new and I prefer applications that get the native look-and-feel perfectly right, so I switched over to the built-in default browser and mail programs, Safari and Mail.App. I've been using them for about a week now and they both look great and work great. I'll stick with them for now.

I've been experimenting with iMovie. I imported a bunch of video clips from my digital camcorder and found it very easy to compose a video, edit out the bad spots, incude transitions between clip, and add titles and text. iMovie works very well and, at this point, I don't think I'll be needing any other video editing software. I've also been using the OmniOutliner and the OmniGraffle drawing programs. I was surprised to find these applications included with Mac OSX and very pleased with both of them. I downloaded Voodoo Pad Lite the other day and found it so useful that within hours I was paying the the $19.95 registration fee for the full version.

There are some bad points, of course. For example, I have't found any chat software nearly as good as Trillian. Fire may eventially rival Trillian, but right now it's GUI is clunky and nowhere near as full-featured. Eclipse is usable, but the fonts are so big and the new Eclipse 3.0 M8 look-and-feel is a real put-off.

Saturday Apr 24, 2004

Eclipse and Netbeans on MacOS

I'm not exactly pleased with the open source Java IDE situation on MacOS. Eclipse 3.0 M8 works and connects to SourceForge CVS/SSH just fine, but it is slow, looks obnoxious, and it just crashed while I was editing a Java source file. I hope that, by the 3.0 release, Eclipse will be usable on MacOS. Next, I tried Netbeans.

Netbeans 3.6 seems fast, fits in with the MacOS GUI, and even recognized the SourceForge CVS/SSH configuration that Eclipse left behind, but... when I attemped to login to CVS, Netbeans showed me a stack-trace. I decided to try using a real cvs client instead of Netbeans built-in implementation. I used Fink to download the cvs command-line client, configured it, and confirmed that it works with SourceForge CVS/SSH by doing an update on the Roller CVS. I configured Netbeans to use the command-line cvs client, but no luck. Netbeans says "Permission denied (publickey,password,keyboard-interactive)." I have CVS_RSH set in my .bash_profile and in Netbeans CVS environment variables... is there some other trick?

Anybody had any luck connecting to SourceForge CVS/SSH with Netbeans on Mac OSX?

Friday Apr 23, 2004

PowerBook first impressions.

I picked up my new PowerBook on Wednesday. I bought one of the new 15" models with 1.5Ghz processor, 1.25GB RAM, and Apple Care. Apple provides a great out-of-box experience - everything is attractive, even the packaging, and well designed and everything just works - right off the bat. I was happy to find lots of cool software pre-installed, including, to my surprise, both vim and JDK 1.4.2. The system comes loaded up with cool Apple software including iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, and GarageBand as well as 3rd party programs like the OmniWriter outliner and the Visio-like Omni Graffle diagrammer. Within an hour I had established a WIFI connection, mounted shared folders from my Windows box, and ssh'ed into my Gentoo Linux server. Very cool! I'm gushing now. Sorry about that. I haven't bought an off-the-shelf computer in about ten years and I've never bought a laptop. Normally, I build my own machines from el cheapo components, crappy cases, and noisy fans. This is a very different experience than that.

After getting comfortable with the UI and some of the pre-installed software, I started to download some of the same software that I use on Windows: Firefox 0.8, Thunderbird 0.3, Eclipse 3.0M8, Microsoft's Remote Desktop client, and Palm Desktop. I spent a short time with each of these applications; here are some nutshell reviews. Firefox seems functional, but I prefer the built-in browser Safari. Thunderbird also seems to work, but I could not figure out how to import my existing Thunderbird mail files from my Windows-box, so I guess I'm stuck with the built-in Mail.App. Eclipse 3.0 works, but the new M8 look-and-feel looks especially crummy on Mac OSX. Remove Desktop works well. Palm Desktop works well, but I only downloaded it so that I can get the Conduit Manager necessary to iSync my PalmOS-based PDA. Perhaps I need to try using IDEA instead of Eclipse and Microsoft Office/Entourage instead of Mail.App, but I'm not in the mood to spend more money right now. Plus, I missed the $249 IDEA sale by one day.

Last night, I tried some of the multi-media software. I plugged my digital camera into the USB port and iPhoto popped up. It imported my photos and I tried doing some rotations, cropping, and enhancements. It seems to provide more than adequate thumbnailing and photo management/organization features. I hooked up my digital camcorder and imported some video footage with iMovie but I haven't tried to compose a video yet or burn a DVD. iPhoto is no Photoshop and iMovie seems pretty rudimentary, but I didn't have to set any preferences or install any drivers to get my camera and camcoder hooked up. That has not been my experience with my home-built Windows and Linux machines.

That's all for now. I'll be blogging my Mac experiences as I go and I've sarted a new category just for that: /Main/General/MacOS.

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