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‘therrific

I was a little late on the Panther bandwagon (where by ‘late’ I mean I installed it a full five days after release… instead of the industry–standard same–day installation), but that certainly won’t stop me from going on and on about the exciting new everythings held within. Was it worth the $130? I’m gonna say no. $60 would’ve been a good price; but hey, it’s Apple’s ball.

Most of the other features, things like Fast User Switching, Secure Empty Trash and FileVault, won’t find a great deal of use on my one–user–only deskbound Mac… but I’m sure they’re welcome in other homes and any business. Fast User Switching, incidentally, is probably a fantastic way for Joe Blow to work with virtual desktops; just set up a bunch of accounts for yourself (sans password, if you want really fast user switching [making sure they’re not admin accounts, of course]) and switch between them at will.

It’s not all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens though… I have the usual laundry–list of complaints, too. This just wouldn’t be decaffeinated dot org if there weren’t complaints about software, so here goes:

OK… that list wasn’t so long. Panther rocks my socks. Goodnight.


The race that stops a nation

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of November, and Australians everywhere know what that means… it means it’s time to gamble.

Since primary school I can recall that day; the day where everything, everything, stops for the couple of minutes it takes for the horses of the Melbourne Cup to run the length of Flemington race track. The teachers would just stop teaching as they tuned in the radio to listen in. It’s nothing short of bizarre, this obsession we have; horse racing isn’t what you’d call a national pastime, but while those horses are running you ain’t doin’ nothin’.

Tomorrow I’ll be working, which isn’t out of the ordinary since plenty of people will be at work as they listen eagerly for the results; hell, I’ve never heard of anyone’s boss getting angry because you took a couple of minutes out of your day to stop working, go down to the break room, and watch the Cup being run. But hey, I work behind a bar most days of the week, a sports bar, so I can tell you now it’ll be pure fucking chaos. Big screen TV’s and decorations are already set up, and I gather we’re expected to wear colorful silk shirts instead of our usual black and white garb, but from eight o’clock tomorrow morning I’ll be pouring more beer and champagne than I’ve ever poured in my short career as a peddler of life’s guilty pleasures.

Then, I’ll get drunk.


‘therrible

I know you like Panther, you know I like Panther, and you already know my (relatively short) list of gripes with Panther, but I must now add a few more woes to the list after a couple days of working “as normal” and putting Panther through its paces.

  1. The “crufty Home partition” seems to be more trouble than it’s worth and a hell of a lot more confusing than it seems. After toying with other users’ accounts (creating new users and NetInfoing their Home directory to new locations, for example) I’ve proven to myself that there is no harm in having your Home directory in a non–standard location (where standard == the /Users directory). Therefore, by elimination, the root of my problems is cruft. Library cruft and, perhaps, other unidentified cruft. Cruft is now considered to be the cause of two separate woes that I shall define… now.
    1. The missing zoom effect, chronicled earlier. Not really a deal breaker, but a missing nicety.
    2. An inability to play CDs through iTunes, nor import the contents of said CDs. This is a problem given that I bought four new CDs just the other day. A big problem. Downloading Audion, I know that it’s not a system problem (Audion is perfectly capable of dealing with CDs) but rather an iTunes problem. Trashing my iTunes prefs, all Library items with the word “iTunes” in it, and the iTunes music library files from the /Music/iTunes directory has no bearing on the matter.
    Since I’ve already tried deleting all iTunes–related cruft from my hard drive (including trashing and reinstalling iTunes) I’m left utterly baffled. Stuck. Fubar. I’m left with two choices:
    1. Back up my important Library items (Address Book database, Stickies database, keychain, things like that) then throw away my Library… moving my crap back once it’s safe.
    2. Back up my personal files (including important library files as above) and format the Home partition… moving my crap back once it’s safe.
    It’s not much of a choice, really, and it’s obvious I’m going to try the first option before the second, but what can I say? It’s a real bummer.
  2. Pixlet just isn’t as great as advertised. Using my personal benchmark, “the Rose video”, Pixlet proved to be six times faster than DivX… but the resulting video was of poorer quality and eight times the file size. I’m sure it has professional applications, and there may be a number of options unavailable to iMovie users when exporting with the Pixlet codec (deinterlacing, for instance), but for my “home movie from a firewire MiniDV camcorder, edited in iMovie” purposes, it doesn’t do the job. DivX does the job admirably, though it’s much slower. I guess we all need to make sacrifices.
  3. Exposé is great… that much is certain, and though the use of screen corners for activation is a wonderful application of Fitts’ Law it often proves to be counterproductive for that very reason. According to Fitts’ Law, screen corners are one of the easiest places on the screen to hit with your mouse; and while that’s awesome when you want to use Exposé it’s a pain in the ass when you hit a corner by accident. And you will hit a corner by accident from time to time; going for the Apple menu in the top left, going for the Fast User Switching menu in the top right, or (if your dock occupies 100% of the bottom edge of your screen as mine used to) going for the Finder or Trash. Makes me wish I had a multi–button mouse, though making my dock slightly smaller has mostly solved the bottom–corner crisis.

So now I plan to back some shit up, delete my Library folder, and hope for the best. Let’s see what comes of it.

Update

Well, that was actually relatively painless. Remarkable.

Backed up the important Library items, trashed the Library. Received notices that certain things couldn’t be deleted because they were in use. Logged out, logged back in holding Shift to disable Haxies, trashed the remaining Library items. Logged out and logged back in again to be safe.

Restored important library items, added my favorite apps back to the dock (should’ve backed up my dock plist, I know), fiddled my system prefs back to where they should be, fiddled my app prefs back to how they should be, and voilà. Admittedly, I should never have needed to put up with shit like that in the first place, but what’s done is done. It’s nice to know that the cruft of plists from a thousand trialled applications is gone, though. Very reassuring… at least until 10.4


Freaky

When you use the CDDB to find the track names for CDs you’re ripping (as iTunes does, for instance), you sometimes have to expect mistakes. Some albums are poorly tagged in the database, which means they’ll be poorly tagged on your computer if you’re not careful. Sometimes during a lookup, you have to expect multiple results for the same album… results from which you must choose at random and hope for the best.

Of course, what you wouldn’t normally expect is an album to be poorly tagged on purpose by the very people who created it. The first available CDDB listing for Lamb’s Between Darkness and Wonder, which I bought just the other day, is as follows.

  1. Hey All
  2. Hope You Like Our Album
  3. If You Do
  4. Please Play It To Your Freinds [sic]
  5. And Buy A Copy
  6. Quality Music Needs Investment
  7. Love
  8. Andy And
  9. Lou
  10. Lamb
  11. Xxx

Y’know… since I put the CD in to get the track names, I thought it’d be pretty damned obvious that I’d already bought a copy. Not that I didn’t find it amusing. Mayhap the pirates of the world are a stupid bunch, and searching for the album on Kazaa will yield that very track listing. That’d actually be kinda cool.


Blarg

A few days ago I was really looking forward to my weekend. And by my weekend, I don’t mean your weekend (you know… the one at the end of the week) I mean the couple of days off I get between an avalanche of work. Well… I was looking forward to it; it was supposed to be yesterday and today, after all.

Somehow this week turned into another six seven–day workathon; an eleven hour day here, a fifteen hour day there. Until last night, I’d run out of food completely and started eating burgers three meals a day. It was then that I discovered the wonders of the 24–hour supermarket. God bless ‘em. They may be a good 25–minute drive from home, they may be extortionists, and they may have a damnably limited range; but when I need pasta sauce I really need pasta sauce.

As for work, my wallet certainly appreciates the padding but my sleep cycles are a little angry at me. I’d better get back to it, my lunch break is almost up.


Mothra trashes densely populated city

In unrelated news, my main man Colin is looking for the perfect coffee mug. It’s a competition, and given that it’ll take you all of 80 seconds to snap a photo of your mug and email it off to him, I think it’d be worth entering. Drop him a line.

Unfortunately for yours truly, the prize (assuming it really is a bag of ground coffee) would never make it through customs if I were to win. Damned Australian customs officers…


DeskShade Plus

One of my favorite OS X apps was finally updated for 10.3 today… DeskShade Plus. The fact that it’s only a very simple app has nothing to do with its value, and the fact that I use only a fraction of its actual functionality has even less to do with my liking it; for me, it’s a rug for things to be swept under.

Generally speaking, I’m a tidy guy. You wouldn’t guess it if you were to look at my bedroom floor right now, but I like to be organized. Of course, there are times where I just need a temporary dumping ground, somewhere to throw a pile of crap before it’s sorted into something/somewhere more appropriate… on my computer that place is the desktop. DeskShade Plus is the rug that covers the crap until the crap finds a new home, and it does it admirably. The update for Panther (that is, version 1.2) isn’t so different from its predecessor, but it plays nicely with Exposé… and that’s important.


Number portability

Every few months I read complaints from the US telecommunications industry over the number portability issue, and I’m yet to comprehend what the problem is. Every telecom seems to be paranoid that they’ll lose their customer base as soon as it comes into play… as if they know how shitty their service is, and it serves them right. But number portability has been available for several years here in Australia and I didn’t hear a peep out of our telcos until it was actually in place. Some people still don’t know they can “take their number with them” when they’re switching carriers; it just comes as a pleasant surprise when they switch (which, no doubt, they were planning to do anyway).

Telstra (the mobile carrier with whom I am currently under contract) offered $100 call credit to my phone bill and one month unlimited data just for switching. It’s incentive. I used to be on Vodafone’s ‘No Plans’ (which is awesome) but I wanted a new phone. ‘No Plans’ requires that you already own a phone, and they don’t offer contract–purchases, so I switched to Telstra for the T68i. No big deal. It was only a couple of years earlier that I switched from Telstra to Vodafone to take advantage of ‘No Plans’. People will play the field, and they do it already despite the fears and problems generated by a change of phone number; in that regard, number portability won’t change a thing.

If it does have a massive impact in the US, it’ll be simple Darwinian succession. I don’t know a great deal about the US telecommunications market (read: I don’t know whether it’s crowded or relatively sparse. We only have five or six telcos to choose from here in AU), but it’s safe to assume that shitty telecoms will either go out of business or realize that they will go out of business if they don’t get off their asses and become competitive again. Number portability is a wake–up call, whether consumers know about it or not.


Steaming

Ninety years ago, the weather bureau recorded a record–high temperature (I’m glad they recorded it, otherwise it wouldn’t be a record high) of 40.3º C in Perth. Today, Perth matched it. Tomorrow, we might beat it.

To clarify, it’s fucking hot.

In case you never saw Here Comes the Metric System, 40.3º C is 104.5º F. Yeah, hot.


Me? Nothing

I hate, and I mean hate, the “I’m not doing anything interesting” ‘blogging about how I have nothing to blog’ culture that spawns on the damp floor of LiveJournal’s bathroom… but I have something to tell you.

I’m not doing anything interesting.

Working six to seven days a week in a variety of jobs, while economically inviting and exciting in a “finally! my credit card shall be purged of its sins” kinda way, makes for a boring, boring social life. Toss in a little “all my friends are studying for final exams” and a little “Paris Hilton’s sexcapades is the most interesting news item this week” and it makes for some disinteresting shit.


Developing

Saying “I’m not doing anything” is, of course, patently untrue; it’s just that this week has brought very little worth comment. On the boring hand, I’ve been spending a my spare time toying with AppleScript and PHP again. AppleScript is nice, but I get the feeling I’ll have to spend a little more time on it before it becomes really useful to me. I’ve built a simple (read: raw) little application that launches the contents of my ‘Comics et al’ tab group in separate windows. Exposé has rendered tabbed browsing (and other such MDI) useless to me, and I wish to embrace it. For those sad few RSS–free sites I must check manually for updates, this is my solution.

I’ve also started a new project in PHP… the details of which I shall shroud in mystery until I launch it. You might find it useful, you might not. Time will tell. Mysterious, aren’t I? I bet you’re wetting yourself with the suspense.


Preview with WebKit

Jonathan Rentzsch hits on an annoying characteristic of BBEdit’s web preview feature: updating the preview resets the scroll position. While I personally don’t use BBEdit (I do find it quite wondrous, but find it hard to justify the expense since I use only a limited part of its feature set), I must say that I strike upon the same problem with Kung–Log’s preview almost every day.

Well, not every day, since my web–logging has been a little lean these last few weeks, but whenever I write something.

With that in mind, it would appear that the scroll–reset is not indicative of the Carbon WebKit API, but of the WebKit API in general. It’s hard to tell on this one whether it’s a bug or a feature, and whether a developer can easily override it, but it looks as though creating useful tools with WebKit isn’t as cut and dry as indicated. Let’s hope developers everywhere take note and make sure their software plays nicely with the user’s expectations.


For good, or for awesome

I’m not working tomorrow. Nor am I working Saturday. This, I consider to be a weekend. This, I actually had to fight for. Two consecutive days off, during the busiest part of the week. I’m practically fucking hysterical.

Not by coincidence, one of my best friends’ birthdays falls during that elusive ‘tomorrow and the next day’ time period, and it is my full intention to party hearty. Our original plan was to drink heavily and barbecue at his house… but plans change. Now we’re planning to drink heavily and barbecue in Dunsborough, a little country town three hours south of here. If you live in Western Australia, or know anything about what happens here this weekend, I can probably already hear you groaning with disdain at the prospect of myself and my buddies travelling to Dunsborough to get drunk. To you I say “Shut the hell up. You can judge me when you stop masturbating to the Paris Hilton Sex Tape.”

See, aside from being Mike’s birthday (his twentieth birthday, yes), tomorrow also marks the first day of what we in the W of A call Leavers’. It’s the day that every twelfth–grade high school student in the state has officially finished their high school career… the day that the last TEE is sat. In the eastern states they call this Schoolies’, and they probably call it something different in your neck of the woods, but it’s special nonetheless. When you’re a Leaver for the first time, “Leavers’ Week” (as it’s officially known) is an eye–opening experience; you’re surrounded by hundreds of like–minded, drunken, half–naked humans in a setting completely foreign to your everyday life. You might go to Dunsborough (south), you might go to Margaret River (even further south), or you might go to Rottnest Island (my personal favorite), but the sentiment remains the same. It’s summer, everybody is relaxed, and it’s guaranteed that nobody will never not not have a good time. Of course, I am not a high school student anymore, and I have already enjoyed more than my fair share of Leavers’ weeks (I went to my own Leavers’, obviously, and again the following year for good measure); but when Scotty suggested we enjoy one last round before we’re officially too old for Leavers’, it was hard to pass up.

Back on the beach, beer in hand, wearing board shorts and a wifebeater, taking in the scenery? How could any human being turn that down? We’re not too old to get drunk and play strip poker with seventeen year olds, and it isn’t the slightest bit creepy or sleazy, either. We’re not too old to vomit in public, or stencil fake tattoos onto willing passersby. We’re not too old to buy a watermelon and carve it into a huge ‘wear it on your head’ jack–o–lantern, and we’re certainly not too old to sleep on the floor of a cheap youth hostel… because that’s the Leavers’ spirit! We’re young at heart, and in the grand scheme of things we’re goddamned young in body too. Young, fun–loving–perverts. That’s us. And I’ll be damned if I don’t have an awesome time this weekend. Now where the hell did I put my K–Y Jelly?


Nobody never doesn’t not like accessibility

For reasons that currently escape me (though ignorance surely springs to mind), I’d never read Dive into Accessibility until today. I haven’t quite finished reading it, given that I started only twenty minutes ago, but the ride so far has been enjoyable. In terms of being informative it’s fantastic, and it’s a pleasure to read t’boot, but you already knew that. You’ve been reading Señor Pilgrim’s work for years, right?

For the most part I consider decaffeinated dot org to be fairly accessible (WAI double–A and all that jazz), but one of the simplest things, right there on day eight, I’d never bothered to implement. Meaningful page titles. Eight seconds later (OK… rebuilding in MT takes a little longer than eight seconds, so I exaggerate) I’ve jiggered the appropriate templates and PHP and I’m one step closer to the ultimate in accessibility. Monthly archives now tell you what month you’re looking at right there in the title, daily archives tell you the date right there in the title, and individual archives tell you the title of that individual post (you’ll never guess…) right there in the title!

Don’t mind me, I’m havin’ a blast.


Remnants of an age passed

Remember how I dislike WWW’s? Yeah? Well, thanks to Veer, I’m now aware of the grassroots movements that is only known as No WWW. Thank god for geeks.


Cyclic

Tom Coates, everybody’s favorite hazard to small children ( …what’s the difference between Michael Jackson and a plastic bag?), hits the nail on the head. Lately I’ve been feeling like the only thing I could write about if I did post here would be work. Work, or some largely–unentertaining facet of my personal life.

The silence is for your protection, and has absolutely no correlation to my laziness at this current juncture.


Arrrr Esss Esssss

For quite some time now I’ve been hiding in shame while my RDF and XML syndicates have gone to hell in a handbasket. If you’ve been subscribed to the RSS 1.0 feed and haven’t been receiving updates… welcome back; if you’ve been silently steaming at the fact that my RSS 2.0 feed wasn’t even valid… you can settle down. With an encouraging where–the–hell–did–your–feed–go? nudge from Makiko Itoh, all has been resolved.

To put it succinctly, the whole damn lot has been fucked up because I did something stupid nigh on a month ago and never went back to fix it. Amazing how that happens, isn’t it? A quick trip to Mark and Sam’s template resource brought me some fresh, valid, templates; and a little tweaking put everything back the way it should be. Read it, validate it, live it, love it.


The sanctity of the brand

Guinness, poured from an aluminum can into a glass, is an abomination. I have never drunk anything so horrible.

OK– I exaggerate; I’ve actually drunk a few things that I consider far more vile than this (Chartreuse, for instance), but this just doesn’t compare to genuine Guinness poured from a keg to a pint. I love Guinness; I drink it practically every day after work (my employer offers a free drink to its staff after each shift, one of the many perks of being a bartender) and consider it to be part of a complete breakfast… but this canned abomination makes me want to wretch.

I guess Guinness from a can is just one of those things, like marijuana or Ricki Lake, that I try from time to time and dislike immensely. After a year or two the sense of revulsion has dimmed a little and I think “hey, I should give that another try” only to be terribly disappointed. I just don’t learn.