Tue, 12 Apr 2016

New MacBook Pro

apple logoI’m probably the last Mac owner in the world to switch to a Retina MBP. My problem has been that Macs stay useful for so long — my previous machine was over 5 years old, and quite honestly, still works fine. It really only had one real limtation — it maxed out at 8GB of RAM, which made it uncomfortably tight when I needed to run virtual machines on it.

I was really getting frustrated with it at the end of 2014, but then I replaced the spinning rust with an SSD and got another 18 useful months out of it.

Compute-wise, I went from
dexter
to
nsno

It’s enough of an improvement to feel during everyday use, especially when I’m doing a lot of things at the same time (I gained 2 compute cores and a lot of cache, and the built-in SSD is much faster than the third-party one I installed in the old machine.)

Honestly, though, the biggest difference is the screen. The gorgeous, gorgeous screen. Combined with subpixel anti-aliasing, I’ve never seen a sharper display.

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Tue, 29 Dec 2015

Autodesk Graphic

Autodesk Graphic header image

Treated myself to this as a late Christmas gift. Just playing around with it I’m pretty happy so far. Between 1990-1999 I used to support a small company’s worth of artists, illustrators, and layout people. I’ve never claimed to be any sort of artist, but out necessity I picked up some facility with the applications those folks used (primarily the Adobe suite.)

If you’d told me that I’d one day be able to buy an application that had essentially all of the functionality of Illustrator (at least the parts I used) for 1/20th of the price I’d have said you were nuts.

Apparently there’s a pretty feature-comparable iPad version that reads and writes the same files. I’ll try that out later.

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Sat, 08 Mar 2014

That Is One Chilly Yak

Biggest hassle was extracting disk images in the right format. I didn’t realize Apple kept around so much of the old stuff here

VMac WriteNow 4

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Sun, 20 Oct 2013

Linkblogging Aid: Frontmost Safari Tab's URL and Title Formatted For Markdown

This AppleScript snippet is probably useful to no one except me, but if it saves even one other Mac-based Markdown-using linkblogger a few seconds, why not?

I have it attached to an Alfred hotkey. (download)

tell application "Safari"
	set myTitle to name of document 1 as string
	set myURL to URL of document 1 as string
	set mdstring to "[" & myTitle & "]" & "(" & myURL & ")"
	set myResponse to (display dialog "Selectable Markdown Link Text" default answer mdstring)
	if myResponse's button returned is "OK" then set the clipboard to myResponse's text returned
  end tell

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Fri, 25 Apr 2008

Ten Things Apple Could Do To Fix iTunes

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.


Slashdot’s CmdrTaco
, upon the introduction of the iPod, October 23, 2001

Apple’s iPod platform is a monster in the portable music space. Tens of millions have been sold, and the application that interfaces with the device,iTunes, runs on tens of millions of computers.

I have a love/hate relationship with the iTunes application. I use it to manage my digital collection, which it does handily, but I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that it has limitations and inconsistencies that I bump into every day.

Continued @ moodmat.

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Mon, 21 Apr 2008

iCal Through A Proxy Now Officially Somebody Else's Problem

My little LazyWeb mewl from a few weeks ago didn’t really generate much in the way of attention, though one poster, Matan Ninio, was apparently able to get things working with a manually specified proxy:

The problem seem to be that iCal does not know how to work with a proxy.pac file, but does know how to work via a proxy. Just enter the proxy address and port directly, and suddenly all is well again. (at least thats the case with our 10.5.2 machines)

My employer now supports Juniper’s SSL proxy, though, which means “free” split routing, which means my iCal traffic doesn’t need to negotiate a proxy at all.

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Mon, 17 Mar 2008

OS X iCal Pet Peeve

iCal in DockiCal sure isn't perfect (far from it, actually), though its current incarnation is far more useful than it was at 1.0. I use it because it integrates well with the rest of the OS (e.g. Mail, Address Book, i$ShinyDevices, etc.) and since, unlike a certain other calendaring product from a large corporation that I Won't Name, it acknowledges that the rest of the world exists and that integrating with things Not Invented Here is OK...

There is one thing about it, though, that drives me batty. Unlike just about every other tool Apple ships, it doesn’t work through an HTTP proxy. They managed to fix the icon so it displays the correct date when the application isn’t running (which has to be hacky as hell behind the scenes), but they couldn’t do something as basic as reusing the same URL retrieval logic as almost everything else on the platform.

In practice, this means that if I log into my employer’s VPN, my calendar subscriptions are broken (i.e. non-refreshing) until I disconnect, rendering them useless during the most important part of the work day.

If anyone has managed to hack around this problem, I’d appreciate hearing about it in the comments.

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Tue, 26 Feb 2008

Bonjour Does The Right Thing When VPNed

I’m working from home today, which means I’m connected into work via the corporate PPTP VPN. To drastically oversimplify things, when you’re connected via a VPN, your local network basically “goes away”, for all intents and purposes, unless you manually set up split routing, which is, to be frank, a complete and utter pain in the ass.

What I noticed today, though, is that Bonjour apparently takes care of split-routing .local addresses automagically. Connecting via ssh and afp worked fine to my local, non-VPN machines, and they even showed up in the Finder’s sidebar and iTunes.

I know this isn’t a huge thing, but it’s nice that “the right thing” happens by default.

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Sun, 04 Nov 2007

Nice Kitty

No detailed upgrade journal, you really ought to read John Siracusa’s latest novel for that. The only thing that was immediately broken was the URL for this blog, because Leopard switched things over to Apache HTTP Server 2.x and doesn’t move your old configs over.

sudo cp /etc/httpd/users/* /etc/apache2/users

If I have anything to say that you haven’t already read 167 other places, I’ll post it.

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Fri, 16 Mar 2007

Switcher.

A white MacBookGuess what — I’m a switcher! I mean, I’ve been using Macs since 1985, so I probably don’t meet the usual definition, but for the last 2½ years I’ve been using a Dell laptop (warning—embedded java) for work. And boy, did it suck. I managed to make it suck a little less by running a Linux distro as my primary OS on it, but that had its own way of sucking, too. It seems weird that, having used Macs since The Dawn of Time™, I’ve never had a portable one as my primary work machine — it always made sense when it was time for an upgrade for me to update my desktop machine. I’ve had many desktop Macs, of course — consistently at home and, when the fates smile upon me, at work as well.

To be fair, the Dell was designed to work with Windows, and for all I know it would have probably been OK in that environment, but frankly the majority of my work life consists of email and scripting, neither of which has a Win32 dependency, and I was not about to add one. I ran SuSE Linux in preference over Windows because, in the course of my work day, it was more useful to me to have a laptop for which the truly necessary tools of my trade (ssh, nfs, perl, python, a decent shell environment) are native rather than crude bolt-ons. Besides, I’d rather make sweet love to a cheese grater than spend my working life in Windows. :)

Dell Inspiron 5160Getting away from Windows and back to Dell, the machine was heavy, noisy, ran (very) hot, and had all the design elegance of a “Soviet tractor built on a Monday” ( thank you Jens Alfke). SuSE had no support for the Broadcom wireless NIC, so WiFi was always a kludge, and the ACPI support was so bad that the thing would regularly shut itself off to keep from overheating for the first several weeks I had it, until I tracked down the magic incantations. Overall, I could get work done with it but it always felt that I was fighting with the thing.

I ended up with a MacBook — I considered the MacBook Pro but I actually prefer the 13-inch form-factor, and the only thing I really miss from the MBP is the nicer video hardware. Traveling with a MacBook is so dramatically a more pleasant experience that I kick myself for not making it happen sooner. The wireless support is truly peerless — the engineers behind OS X’s 802.11x support really deserve kudos for taking something that’s really pretty complicated technically (smoothly moving between disparate networks) and making it truly as simple as I think it could possibly be. Neither Windows nor and Linux distro I’ve used comes anywhere near the Mac wireless experience. Even interacting with my employer’s VPN has been, dare I say, a pleasant experience. The suspend and resume support is first rate, and it even weighs about 20% less than the machine it replaced (a big deal when you’re schlepping the thing around constantly), and I get about an hour more in battery life in typical use. The reduced weight, better battery life, and more versatile wireless support make it a much more mobile machine than the one it replaced. Parallels under OS X is far nicer from a usability perspective than VMWare under Linux for running the occasional Windows app.

So for now I’m still in the honeymoon phase — I haven’t run into any significant hardware or software annoyances (or, more accurately, all of the annoyances are the general Mac ones I’ve been aware of and worked around for years…) Watch this space.

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Tue, 28 Mar 2006

Now That's a Widget!

I was tooling around on HBO’s site, looking for Sopranos stuff, when I came across the HBO dashboard widget (requires OS X 10.4.) Wow. Schedule grid, slick Quicktime integration, and loads of graphical polish. The only negative is that it takes up a fair bit of screen real estate, but it’s maybe the most impressive widget I’ve seen yet.

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Thu, 16 Feb 2006

Small, But Useful

detail of 'paste escaped'
menuI don’t know when exactly this was added to the OS X terminal (running Mac OS X 10.4.5 (8H14)), but it looks useful.

click the image on the right to expand

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Fri, 06 Jan 2006

Handy(?) Script for OS X del.icio.us Users

I threw together this script and I thought one or two others of you out there might find it useful. It takes a single del.icio.us tag as a parameter, and, assuming you’re backing up your del.icio.us bookmarks locally (as you should be doing, using Ian Henderson’s delimport), it will return all your delicious links that match that tag.

tagquery

It requires 10.4 (as does delimport), as it uses Spotlight to find stuff.

Disclaimers: I whipped this up in about 30 seconds (and it shows). There are doubtlessly more efficient ways of grabbing the relevant info from Spotlight than running mdls 3 times in succession… It does no real error checking, and may very well turn your shiny quad-core G5 into a shiny aluminum puddle. Patches / complete rewrites welcome.

Known bugs: if you've renamed bookmark files with spaces, you'll get some ugly.

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Sun, 03 Jul 2005

Back up your tunes, suck in that gut, etc.

In a recent podcast, a guy complained (damn non-internally-permalinkable things — fix that!) that a big problem with the iTMS is that the files are locked to a given computer and that, if that computer takes a dump, you’re screwed. He complained that Apple makes it too hard to back your songs up.

For all the complaints one might have about Apple selling DRM’ed music (and I have some myself), the idea that the songs are “too hard” to backup isn’t a valid one, IMO, since all the tools necessary to do the backups are built into the application, and they’re not hidden, either.

Really, there are only 2 steps to backing up your music —

  1. Creating a smart playlist

    iTunes smart playlist creation window

  2. Burning it to a disc disc burning button. You probably want to make sure iTunes is set to make a data CD/DVDthe relevant app text, rather than an audio CD.

You now have an ISO-formatted CD or DVD that you can place in a media safe, a safe-deposit box, mailed to your nephew, or whatever. None of this is hard.

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Mon, 06 Jun 2005

Those Who Can't Remember History Are Doomed To Pass Rumors on About It

I can’t wait to go all Nelson Muntz on this one on Monday.

edit, 2005-06-06 14:45: They're really going to do it. Hork.

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Mon, 23 May 2005

Poo Casting

Steve Jobs apparently demonstrated support for downloading podcasts and syncing them to an iPod in the next version of iTunes. I imagine they'll use a UI similar to the current one for radio streams. Now that I actually have a commute again I listen to a couple of podcasts a week (though I still prefer music, thank you very much), so I imagine I might find it useful.

I haven't actually seen this confirmed, but there apparently have been talks at some level between Apple and Sony towards some level of integration between iTunes and the PSP and PS3, and the iPod and the PS3. What I would love to see is support for syncing photos and video to the PSP from iTunes and iPhoto, as the current manual process is a major PITA and Sony doesn't have any Mac syncing software anyway.

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Tue, 10 May 2005

OS X Backup

Lazyweb, I invoke thee.

You would think this would be a simple request, but you would be wrong. I've been having a devil of a time finding an OS X backup utility that meets my needs. I'm not asking for much. My requirements:

  1. Allows me to do a full system backup, spanned over multiple DVD-R's
  2. Allows me to do interim incremental/differential backups, spanned if necessary
  3. Does the above, predictably, reliably, and without a lot of hand-holding

Yes, I know about .Mac backup, and it fails number 3 spectacularly. Retrospect still feels like a Classic app, frankly, and it's rather expensive. Most of the existing backup apps I've looked at are oriented towards duping to another mounted volume, which, though useful, is not what I need. I'm not averse to picking up a reasonably priced tape drive if I have to, but DVD-R media costs are such that I'd really like to stay with optical discs over tape if possible.

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Thu, 05 May 2005

Eye Candy

If you’ve got access to Quicktime 7 and a G5, you owe it to yourself to check out the Quicktime HD Gallery. Lots of crispy HD video. The BBC Motion Gallery Reel and the NASA Space Shuttle footage are particularly pretty.

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The English country gentleman galloping after a fox — the unspeakable
in full pursuit of the uneatable.
— Oscar Wilde, “A Woman of No Importance”