Tag Archives: OS X

Features I’d Like to See in iPhone OS 4.0

So here’s the day: WWDC 2009 keynote, and we’re discussing iPhone OS 3.0.  But there are still some major things I think are missing from the iPhone.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Wireless Sync
Apple is the king of “no wires.”  They did everything wireless first.  But the iPhone still needs a wire to sync.  They have the perfect syncing technology already: Bluetooth.  Why not permit syncing over Bluetooth? I don’t any limitations on why you can’t sync over wifi, let alone Bluetooth.  This seems like a no-brainer.
New Springboard
How we’ve made it to 3.0 without a better way to manage our apps, without even folders, is a mystery. It’s imperative, especially as iPhone owners install more and more apps, that there is a better way to manage and access apps. It’s time for a re-thought Springboard.
File Management
Seems awfully odd that I carry 8GB of disk space on my hip but can’t carry a single document without emailing it to myself.  It’s time to permit some storage of files on the device.  Older iPods allowed “disk use,” why can’t the iPhone? And if not, at least a manner of loading the files through iTunes would be appreciated.
Background Apps
The chants have been loud and plentiful. We want to run apps in the background. It’s not fair to say it will chip into battery life: we understand that. Let us run down our own devices as we wish, okay?
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Install From Time Machine

I got my new iMac in late last week – the 24″ 3.06 Ghz aluminum one with 4GB RAM – and it *is* sweet.  I’ve set up a Mac fresh, I’ve set up a machine using the Migration Assistant, and I’ve used target disk mode, but I’ve not yet had the chance to rebuild from a time machine backup.  Did it work?

Suffice it to say it was incredible.  Using just my external hard drive, it read my backup, asked me what I wanted to restore (it found 4 things: Users, Network Settings, Applications, and “Files and Folders”).  I checked them all.  After a few simple questions, it told me that it would take just shy of 4 hours to complete.   Surprisingly, it was done a scant 150 minutes later.  When I booted up, I was amazed. Not only did everything come over, it was almost as if it was my exact machine.  Barely a noticeable difference, save speed and size.  

A few things slipped by, for example, I had changed /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg to a custom image, which it did not preserve.  I had changed some system icons, and those new icons did not preseve, but, for example, my external time machine drive had a custom icon, and it did remain.  The new install also required many updates I had already applied to my old OS X installation. 


Time Machine Restore: Incroyable!

Time Machine Restore: Incroyable!

All in all, though, I’ve never seen a smoother or faster migration.  The power of UNIX – everything living in predictable directories and segregated into “Library” folders, means that both backing up and restoring have a power that the Windows Registry simply can’t match.  In fact, in wading through all of this, it has a severe handicap when it comes to system migration due to the fact that data is mashed into so many inconsistent places.  

Apple has pissed me off quite a bit recently.  But – oh boy! – did they re-energize me with this one!

Update: worth noting, here is a great article on restoring from a time machine backup.

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Overdue Thoughts on Apple

It’s been a long time comin’. Apple has engaged in plenty of really lame behaviors lately, and it’s time I sound off on them. Let’s take it section by section, shall we?

I’ll break this down into the following parts: OS X, iPhone, App Store.


Apple’s operating system, OS X, is still the best OS on the market today. I’ve heard several claims that Apple is proprietary and closed and doesn’t contribute to the open source ecosystem, but here is OS X. It’s built on an open source core, which is good, if nothing else, for auditing code flaws.

OS X is still the most beautiful experience out there, and still gets in my way the least when I’m trying to do work. Webkit still sits as the default browser in the form of step-brother Safari, and Webkit is not only open source, it’s also the available on Windows, super compliant, super fast, and it’s the core of Google’s Chrome browser.

OS X also uses open formats for mail storage, standard XML for most configuration files (yes, some plists are not plain text, but they are trivial to open as well), their backup software produces a browsable volume. Their native office suite produces clean XML file formats. The server system uses Open Directory, RSS, Apache, Ruby on Rails, iCal, WebDAV, Wiki software, Tomcat, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and more. SnowLeopard will implement CardDAV and ZFS. In fact, Apple has been pretty decent about using open source technologies. While they haven’t always given back in this form, certainly basing your apps and system around open formats is better than basing it on closed, proprietary systems, no?

I always say: “If you don’t want your open source work used in commercial derivatives, then don’t use a permissive license.” There’s no clause that says you have to give back when using the BSD license.

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The Quest for PN on OS X, Part II

Success! Unfortunately, I was not able to get PN2 running on ReactOS. However, I’m pretty impressed with ReactOS and will probably keep abreast of the development. If, on day, it’s more stable via Parallels, I’ll be all over it.

In the meantime, I fired up a copy of Windows XP inside Parallels and it installed quickly, easily, and painlessly, actually, and kind of surprisingly, a lot easier than it ever was to install Windows FOR REAL. It took about 40 minutes, and I never had to interact with it even once – Paralles installed XP, configured and entered the CD Key, and even added Parallels native drivers. I am impressed.

I installed PN2 as well as AVG antivirus and AVG anti-spyware (new app? Never used it before!). Then I tried out coherence mode. Beautiful. Absolutely beautfiul. Did I mention that Parallels put XP on my Mac network and I easily opened files on my Mac from my new Windows installation? Gorgeous.

So, here is the finished product: XP running on my Mac. Note that PN2 is sandwiched *between* Mac windows. Cleartype is on and works. The apps feels great. The whole thing is just … awesome. This is an amazing feat.


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The Quest for PN on OS X

As many of my readers know, my favorite application on Windows is called Programmer’s Notepad. I’ve been using it for about 6 years or so (since at least early 2000) and I am really comfortable in it. This is my story – still in progress – of getting this thing to run on OS X. It covers the first part of the quest – including SciTE, ReactOS, Q, and Parallels. Read on for more.
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NeXTSTEP: 11 Years Ago

So, I was recently pointed to Steve Jobs’ NeXTSTEP Release 3 demo. It’s pretty amazing to watch what would eventually become OS X in its first incarnation. What’s more amazing is how much of that framework still exists today. In fact, it almost makes you wonder what they have been doing with OS X since so much of it was obviously functional in the early 90s.

NeXTSTEP’s code is still seen today in OS X – if you poke around in the code or even some little hacks from the command like, you’ll still see objects referred to with their original “NS_” prefixes.

Anyway, check out the video. It’s long, but it’s really interesting.

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My Dream App More Like A Nightmare

So, awhile back, someone came up with this idea – invite users to dream up an application, then hold a contest and actually develop the best ones. I mean – how cool is that, right? ANYTHING you can think of! What a great opportunity to see some incredible ideas come to life.

Let me cut to the chase: it appears the vote has been hacked. Clearly, something fishy is going on here!

The winners are – get this – a cookbook, a sync manager, and a thing that makes your desktop look like the weather. I cannot believe it. I’m stunned. THIS is what Mac users wanted? THIS is the best we could come up with?

One guy dreamt big: you hum into your computer and it pitch corrects and allows you to create a song. Whoa! Cool!

One girl had an interesting idea: you take pictures of your clothes and then can keep a “virtual closet” where you can look at your clothes together and design outfits.” Holy crap – NOTHING I know of does this, even if I don’t have much of a need for it.

But you see, these are REAL apps that are the first of their kind. Who needs a new sync manager? And who but chefs will really use Cookbook? And I couldn’t care less about my desktop wallpaper matching the weather, being as though I can LOOK OUTSIDE if I want to know!

What a letdown.

Read More | Digg Story

received via the firsttube.com API

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Stoplight Hosed Me

I saw a post on digg.com recently about an application called Stoplight, featured on Lifehacker. It looked cool – it allows you to set up application specific behaviors, such as certain apps being full screen and certain apps closing (Cmd+Q) when the last window is closed.

I got a new Core 2 Duo iMac recently, and I’ve been having problems with it for the last few days. Finder kept crashing, even after I removed ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Finder.plist and ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.systemuiserver.plist, as I found might help onthe internet. It would crash during a slideshow, it would crash when I opened the “About this Mac” window and then just closed it, it would crash all the time.

Eventually, I traced it back not to Uno, which was the original suspect, but rather Stoplight, which is a SIMBL bundle, and that was the problem. That application crashed my system reliably. Thank God I don’t have to rebuild it again.

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New, Delicious 20" iMac and Bringing it Back to Life

So, it arrived. My new Core 2 Duo 20″ iMac. I upgraded to 2GB of RAM and the 256MB video card, making this machine a real whopper. I may post a short review here later.

What I really want to talk about is rebuilding a Mac from zero. When I moved from the iBook to the MacBook Pro, I used the Migration Assistant, which is an amazing tool. Unmatched by anything in Windows, you literally plug it in and let it transfer everything – apps, settings, files, etc – to the new Mac. You log in, and – boom! – OS X feels like the same thing you just left behind, from your desktop wallpaper to your keychain to your browser bookmarks.

But this time, I sold the MBP weeks before the new iMac arrived, so I had no migration assistant to work with. What I did have was

1) an external Firewire drive, but the data was two weeks old.
2) an external USB2 drive with a current exact copy of the drive (via CarbonCopyCloner).
3) A copy of my home directory on a USB2 drive.

So, I booted up and set myself up as a user. Nice to know that a Mac wil detect Bluetooth mouse and keyboard as part of the setup process. Windows never did that before!

First things first: I copied all of the apps I wanted over from the external USB2 imaged drive. Step 2, I copied over the contents of the “Application Support” folder in ~/Library. Then a few more library folders, such as ~/Library/Mail and ~/Library/Application Enhancers.

The next step was restoring my keychain. This was done via a simple replace. I simply overwrote ~/Library/Keychains/login.keychain with the copy from my external and it was restored.

iTunes was a bit more complex – but only a bit. First I copied over my music library, which I do NOT keep in the default location of ~/Music/iTunes Library. I changed the preference in iTunes to point to my prefered location and then quit iTunes. Then I copied over two critical files: ~/Music/iTunes Library/iTunes Library.xml and ~/Music/iTunes Library/iTunes Library. Relaunching iTunes had everything there in one shot: playlists and all of my music. Now, since I had backed up on iTunes 6 and this Mac came with iTunes 7, it had to update my library data AND determine gapless playback for over 5000 songs, which took some time. The nI fetch cover art, which took some time too. After that, I got a very odd error: “Cannot launch iTunes. There is not enough free memory.” Hmm… that’s odd. I have 2GB of memory, of which I’m using less than 300MB, but iTunes can’t open.

Long story short – after some internet searches, I had to download and reinstall iTunes, which is more complex than you’d think, because if you don’t remove iTunes.app AND the iTunes components from /System/Library/Reciepts/, it won’t install at all. That fixed the problem, which was odd. One site suggested it was because of a haxie I use called UNO.

Anyway, after that, I launched iPhoto and guess what – it worked perfectly on the first shot. How satisfying.

All in all, it took about 2 hours of actual work time to get myself back up and running and that was with fooling around in the middle. I’m extremely happy with how quickly one can rebuild a Mac without using the included tools.

In truth, at its core, if you just back up your home directly and your /Applications folder, you will have everything you need for the most part. Having done a rebuild of Windows machines more times than I’d care to remember, this is just cake. Absolute cake.

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60 Minutes With A Mac

A friend of mine is considering a new computer. I have suggested a Mac Mini or an iMac. He actually bought a Mac back in the Jaguar days and then returned it because he couldn’t figure it out. But he’s agreed to give me one hour to prove a Mac is the way to go.

So, what should I show him? I’ve decided to highlight application installation/removal, moving/managing open files, iLife integration, keyboard shortcuts, incredible apps such as iPhoto, the file system structure (backup your home dir, all your crucial data is there), and of course, Spotlight.

Am I forgetting anything important?

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