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.

:: 08:43
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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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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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:: /tech/computers/os/osx/apple | [+]
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Spotlight For Shell Scripters

Even if you happened to be a Unix geek who never touched the GUI, you could get some use out of Spotlight — if you’re shell scripting on Tiger, you’re in for a treat. Since the underlying indexing is tied in at the filesystem level, the indexes get updated whenever files are created on disk. Imagine rsyncing, say, a bunch of PNG files from another server somewhere. As soon as they are written through to your local HFS+ volume, their metadata is categorized on your OS X system, and immediately available to your scripts.

You can then use something like:

mdls dave-sp.png

which will return all of this.

dave-sp.png -------------
kMDItemAttributeChangeDate     = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemBitsPerSample           = 32
kMDItemColorSpace              = "RGB"
kMDItemContentCreationDate     = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemContentModificationDate = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemContentType             = "public.png"
kMDItemContentTypeTree         = ("public.png", "public.image", "public.data", "public.item", "public.content")
kMDItemDisplayName             = "dave-sp.png"
kMDItemFSContentChangeDate     = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemFSCreationDate          = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemFSCreatorCode           = 0
kMDItemFSFinderFlags           = 0
kMDItemFSInvisible             = 0
kMDItemFSLabel                 = 0
kMDItemFSName                  = "dave-sp.png"
kMDItemFSNodeCount             = 0
kMDItemFSOwnerGroupID          = 501
kMDItemFSOwnerUserID           = 501
kMDItemFSSize                  = 7550
kMDItemFSTypeCode              = 0
kMDItemHasAlphaChannel         = 0
kMDItemID                      = 4854899
kMDItemKind                    = "Portable Network Graphics Image"
kMDItemLastUsedDate            = 2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400
kMDItemPixelHeight             = 128
kMDItemPixelWidth              = 128
kMDItemProfileName             = "Calibrated RGB Colorspace"
kMDItemUsedDates               = (2005-05-05 21:13:44 -0400)

It’s like ls and file and pnginfo all in one, and then some. I’m sure it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out how to awk and sed and grep your way to glory with all of this.

Check out the manpages for mdfind, mdls, and mdimport, and have a ball...

:: 21:32
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Sun, 01 May 2005

Burning Bright

I brought my copy of Tiger home Friday night. The CompUSA a mile or so from the office had a little 6PM event. It was nothing fancy, just an Apple rep with a few Spotlight penlights to give away. There was an iPod shuffle raffle, too. I thought about heading over to the nearby Apple Store, but the thought of navigating westbound Big Beaver Rd. during a Friday rush hour didn’t appeal.

There are far better places you should be visiting to get an in-depth review. I’ve been enjoying playing around with the new release quite a bit. The convenient overlap of the Tiger release with an apparent meltdown in the Windows universe has provided the requisite bit of schadenfreude to make the whole experience even sweeter.

As is my lazy way, I’ll just throw out a few bullet points and get back to playing WoW.

  • The drumbeat going into the release was all “SpotlightSpotlightSpotlight”, but I think CoreImage is the real sleeper hit. Playing around with the complete eyecandy OpenGL-infused RSS screensaver was fun, finding out that it was completely created with Quartz Composer was mindblowing.
  • Wow, Mail’s gotten ugly.
  • I did an update install, by the way. I always do update installs.
  • Already a ton of community activity as far as things like Automator workflows and Dashboard widgets are concerned.

:: 21:23
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Tue, 11 Jan 2005

Um, Wow

the new Mac MiniPretty much the perfect home server box, I reckon. Let’s get MythTV running on it. I bet the aftermarket guys are already coming with a small matching RAID box to sit on a table underneath it. They’re going to sell a lot of these.

More Pics at Gizmodo.

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Thu, 14 Oct 2004

My Menubar

My OS X menubar (right hand side)

Gummi started it, Sven piled on, and now I’ll play too:

Left to right:

  • iScrobbler, which keeps my AudioScrabbler profile up-to-date.
  • Meteorologist, a truly cool little tool that provides me with current weather conditions and forecasts for my own city and several others (friends and relatives).
  • Applescript Script Menu, being exactly what it sounds like
  • The stock OS X menubar volume control
  • iChat presence icon
  • Input menu (switch keyboard layouts, open input palettes, that sort of thing)
  • Clock
  • Fast User Switch Menu with Winswitch: very handy when one of us is already logged in and the other wants to quickly check email or look in his/her addressbook or iCal. The WinSwitch menu saves a lot of space over the standard one

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:: /tech/computers/os/osx/apple | [+]
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Sat, 24 Jan 2004

20 Years Old

Noted: the Macintosh turns 20 years old today. I actually saw the 1984 ad broadcast during the Super Bowl the first (and only) time it actually aired, though at that point, of course, I wasn't sure what it was advertising. About a week later, one of my best friends at school (and one of the first people I ever knew with an Apple II at home) mentioned playing with one at a computer store (it was more than likely at a Computerland or Inacomp, both of which used to be huge in the 80's but are all but nonexisitent today.) He was struck by how sharp the screen was, though it was small and monochrome. It wasn't Apple II compatible though, oddly enough, so, at that time, we weren't really interested, and went back to talking about Wizardry, Atari 800s and Commodore 64s. A few weeks later I went into an Inacomp while my mom was off in another part of the strip mall doing something productive and grabbed up a bunch of brochures, including the one I think Steve Jobs was showing off the other day during his keynote. I do remember reading the spread on the new apps Microsoft was developing for the new computer. They were showing off Multiplan, Word, and Chart, as I recall, though at the time what I was most interested in seeing was Microsoft BASIC. Heh, 1984. They had a Mac and a Lisa side by side at Inacomp, if I recall correctly. I think I played with the Lisa.

It wasn't until later that year, during the summer, that I actually sat down at a Mac for an appreciable period of time, but that's a different Grampa Simpson story for another day...

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Sun, 09 Nov 2003

Panther Remainders

One to skip if you don't care about Macs.

random unrelated aside: don't you love those Pale Saints songs where they do all that kooky tempo-shifting shit? Shoegazing -- a criminally underappreciated era of pop.

Since I'm about the last Mac geek in the 'hood to get around to installing Panther, I'll skip quickly over the things I've been reading everywhere else (Exposé is really cool, the Finder's still fairly ass, fast-user switching will really be useful at my house...) and touch on some other things I haven't seen mentioned as much.

I installed the Mac OS X Public Beta on this machine the day I bought it. When 10.0 shipped, I wiped the drive and reinstalled from scratch. That was the last time I did a clean install. Everything since (10.0.1-10.0.4, 10.1.0-10.1.6, 10.2.0-10.2.8) has been an upgrade install. I'm happy to say I've kept my streak alive. :) I had to tweak a few things, but I'd say that's pretty impressive. The only thing that was truly broken this time around was my Java installation, and I'll explain my fix for that in another entry (for Google's sake)

I've never really been one of those people who bitches about the metal appearance, but it's really annoying with the Finder. The combination of the iTunes-style left sidebar arrangement and the metal styling means I'm constantly confusing Finder windows with the iTunes window at first glance. Irritating, especially when I'm using the Finder to work with a directory of MP3s, in which case the confusing effect is magnified. I find it particularly goofy that, as the standard Aqua appearance continues to improve, they're de-emphasizing it. I think the current iteration of Aqua, with the (further) de-emphasized pinstripes, the return of menu separator lines, and the subtly rounded and shaded titlebars is really clean and effective. The metallic appearance just isn't as polished. The Finder's incremental file-find functionality is actually useful now, though.

Continuing on the theme of visuals, it looks like some minor tweaks were made to font rendering/hinting/metrics. Some of the default system fonts have been slightly altered -- both Lucida Grande and Cochin seem noticably narrower, for example, and slightly more readable at small sizes. Even Times New Roman seems less ugly [probably still too ugly for Sven, though ;) ] Font rendering is an area where OS X is still far beyond its competitors, IMO. (no, ClearType isn't even in the ballpark)

Under the hood, it looks like they've been playing around with the way the VM subsystem allocates new swapfiles. Previous OS X versions would create new 80 megabyte swapfiles as memory use increased. This was fine in most cases, however a machine that temporarily needed to create new swap space could create many of these files at the same time. If the machine's root drive was low on disk space, this could have catastrophic effects. (OS X has an unfortunate tendency to completely shit itself when low on disk space, and all those caches the OS uses to keep things speedy get corrupted, with nasty results.) Check man dynamic_pager for the geeky details, but the new allocation scheme is much less likely to steal the last few bytes on your hard drive than the old one, which will be a comfort for us running the OS on small drives.

I suppose the switch from Sendmail to Postfix is a good thing, though it caused me some extra work. :) MacOSX Hints set me straight, as usual. (if there were an MVP award for Mac websites, they'd get my vote.) I went ahead and set up SpamAssassin, as well, for the hell of it, to stress test the Perl 5.81 installation and to see if the Panther team had made dealing with Perl modules any better. They have.

Webkit is beginning to be deeply integrated into the OS. Both the new versions of Mail and the Help Viewer use it, for example. Webkit has improvements both major and minor. One trivial but fun example can be seen by selecting the "light" layout for this weblog (currently only in Safari 1.1 and later) -- support for soft shadows a la CSS3. Useless, but cool. Interestingly, a subset of XUL is being implemented in Webkit.

Preview knows how to deal with PostScript now (yay!) Do you know how many little old ladies we would have gladly run over back in the early 90's for transparent Postscript rendering in the old Mac OS? A whole Bill Knapp's worth. That makes cool things like the following script (jacked from macosxhints.com) possible:

#!/bin/sh
man -t $1 > /tmp/$1.ps
open /tmp/$1.ps
Yum.

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Fri, 17 Oct 2003

iTunes 4.1

Sven already covered a lot of the relevant bits in his review. I have a few observations for the "Mac at home, Windows at work" crowd.

It's probably just my biases showing, but I never really found a Windows music player I really liked. They were either butt-ugly (WinAmp) or resource hogs (Sonique) or retarded (Windows Media Player) or expensive (most of the others), and none of them had the seamless library handling I was used to. I now have a Windows audio player I'm comfortable with.

I downloaded it at work, and then copied a few of my purchased tracks from home (Mac) to test. After "authorizing" the PC, they worked fine. The interface is pretty much identical. One really nice thing is that it supports Rendezvous, so other iTunes users on your local network segment (Mac or PC) can share their libraries and playlists.

I've been manually syncing my libraries using the doohickey. I'm thinking that you could do some amusing things with rsync over ssh that would make the process even simpler, at least for the microscopic subset of folks who like to pretend anything involving cron jobs and shell scripts is ever really simple.

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Mon, 07 Jul 2003

The Promise of Webkit

Over the past few days, I've been playing with some of the early fruit of the delivery of Apple's Webkit (which shipped along with Safari (or Ghetto Safari, as userinfoKent prefers.) I'm sure there are others, but the first couple of WebKit-enabled apps I've played with are Steven Frank's WebDesktop 2.0 and YetAnotherAggregator, Shrook.

read more after the break...

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Mon, 23 Jun 2003

WWDC 2003

The new Apple announcements. (341 words)

read more after the break...

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Sun, 19 Jan 2003

I'm torn

Steven Frank makes some good points about competing with Apple on its home turf. On one hand, I'm a registered Audion user, because I really like the product. But I have to admit that I use iTunes far more often, thanks to two features: the Library management (mandatory, really, once you go past a few thousand MP3s), and the superior iPod integration, which, of course, something where the platform vendor will always have an inherent advantage.


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Tue, 07 Jan 2003

Keynote update

A few folks on the Fink mailing list have already installed Apple's X11. With a few minor tweaks (which the Fink guys will be documenting on their site) it works well. Also, wise Teep points out that the new Powerbook ad is online here (requires Quicktime).

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MacWorld Keynote 1st Impressions

  • New powerbooks
    • The 12" is teensy! The question is, how small is too small (i.e. how easy to use are the keyboard and trackpad?) The battery life, is, of course, excellent.
    • The 17" is droolworthy, of course, but a little rich for my blood. That auto-sensing/self-backliting keyboard is pretty scifi, and I dig the profusion of ports on the thing.
    • The new ad is hilarious. I don't think it's on the site yet. I won't spoil it for you... you'll know it when you see it.
  • The software
    • I'm posting this entry with Safari right now. It's blazingly fast, but I'm severly missing tabs. I wonder why they went with KHTML instead of Gecko? All I can figure is that the project must have been well underway before they hired Hyatt.
    • Don't have much to say about Keynote, as I'm not the target market, but the Quartz-enhanced effects look nice.
    • I'm curious about the X11 server -- namely, will I have to recompile my Fink-installed stuff for it to work?

Overall not a bad keynote. Faster desktops would have been nice, or course, and we're still waiting for Apple's next handheld move, but the new Powerbooks and software seem pretty good.

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Fri, 04 Oct 2002

Cool as Hal.

If you're running Jaguar, hit command-option-asterisk. Then hit command-option-plus and command-option-minus. Sweet, isn't it?

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Thu, 03 Oct 2002

More switching

Apple's decided to bust out the celeb switchers, it seems. DJ Qbert (yes!), Tony Hawk, and Kelly Slater.

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I call them as I see them. If I can’t see them, I make them up.
— Biff Barf