Mac OS X

The Macintosh operating system “for the next twenty years.”

Reunion 9 looks and feels new

I’ve been taking a semi-serious look at Reunion 9, since I have a passing interest in genealogy. (I’m not using tracking family relationships to the extent that Philip is, either personally or professionally.)

Reunion 9 was just released this month. It debuted a few days before I visited Leister Productions’ site, which was somewhat fortuitous for me.

The main drawback with Reunion on Mac OS X in the past, to my eye, was its dated Classic-style interface. It just didn’t feel like a Mac OS X application — a trap that many applications that came from those days share. (I live in Entourage, which feels old in some spots. And so many of the graphic design applications I once used have felt that way, leading me to look at other options.) I can appreciate that this is something software developers will often want to change, but that software development simply takes time. Besides that, as Apple adds new functionality to the OS frameworks, developers must decide whether to use those features (locking you more and more into Mac OS X, and specific versions of it) and perhaps remove their own code, which it may have replaced.

So this new version is invigorating to me. It seems like the developer has invested int the future. The application itself looks fresh and feels much more like a program that has both feet firmly planted in Mac OS X. I’m going to take the demo for a spin and see what it can do, but it may be one I end up registering.

Inform and interactive fiction for training

Philip got me thinking about Inform again today when he sent me an interactive fiction story-in-progress, The Land of Noo. (He tells me, “There's no such thing as failure in the Land of Noo. Merely a lack of succeeding.”)

This got me thinking about whether you could use interactive fiction, of the sort created in Inform, for training purposes. (“There is a Mac OS X installation DVD here.”) Hm.

No books

I’ve just done a quick search on zsh at Amazon. I think I’ve finally hit the final frontier — or is it just rock bottom? I’m obsessed with a technology without any books specifically devoted to it. Ha!

The closest is “From Bash to Z Shell,” as far I can tell.

MarsEdit locks up when selecting last category item

I do need to submit this as a bug report or support request, but I’m noticing all the hits I’m getting for talking about MarsEdit and Drupal … so I’m just going to mention this here, first. I’m getting lockups in MarsEdit — both the last Newsgator edition and the new version just released by Red Sweater Software — when I select the last category item in the drawer for a blog post.

Initially, I get a spinning beach ball cursor. Then, MarsEdit stops responding to many kinds of input. I can still bring the application to the front, and for a few moments, I may be able to bring the “MarsEdit” window to the foreground, but eventually, all I can do is drag that window. The blog post editing window I was working on disappears; I can’t even see it when using Exposé’s all-window mode.

If I attempt to quit MarsEdit — which I have to do from its Dock icon — I do get prompted to save the new/modified post. However, the Save sheet drops down from an invisible window, which is very odd. If I click the mouse cursor in the screen area around that sheet, I do get to see the window. I can click in the buttons in the dialog sheet but nothing happens.

After a Force Quit, I have been prompted that an auto-save version of the post is available. I can resume from that point.

This lockup happens for me specifically in my Drupal stories blog in MarsEdit (which is configured as a Movable Type API blog). I have quite a few categories (30ish?) listed there from my Drupal taxonomy. I haven’t tried adding a term that is alphabetically later than the current one, to see if it’s something about the category/term, or the position, or what.

For what it’s worth, some of those taxonomy terms are duplicated in the list in MarsEdit.

I wonder if anyone else is seeing this kind of behavior.

Initial thoughts on RapidWeaver

I picked up RealMac Software’s RapidWeaver as part of the MacHeist bundle, and had a quick project I thought I might use it for. I’ve briefly used iWeb and liked it’s very WYSIWYG editing. I thought that RapidWeaver would be the same, but better. After all, it’s got great reviews, has most of the same platform advantages, and is from an independent developer — which means someone has more time to focus on getting new features out than is probably given to a typical project at Apple or other large corporation.

(I tend to find that Apple updates even its flagship software infrequently, and such software suffers from a short attentions span syndrome after it has been out for a while. This is not a knock against Apple software, just an observation. I mean, when was the last time you saw a significant update to iCal?)

Although I’m sure that RapidWeaver is a great application — and I want to stress that I have no ill will towards it or its developers, who seem to be great — I just found that for WYSIWYG editing, it is nothing like iWeb. I made a page and it took me a while to realize I’d be editing it in form fields on a separate tab from the live Web preview. Wow, after my iWeb experience, that just seemed so much less exciting.

Anyway, I’d love to try out RapidWeaver more — especially because my brother likes it so much. However, since it seems like it is much less fun to use — lacking the same kind of direct manipulation you get in iWeb — I’m not sure when I’ll find the time to dabble. For most projects, I’d prefer a Web CMS tool with “edit this page” functionality, since that’s where I started so many years ago with Userland’s Frontier and Manila. For a quick “let me post a few pages with a defined template and include pictures,” I find iWeb attractive.

Amir's Exchange Clients Blog

If you don’t get enough Microsoft Entourage information from the usual sources, I count that as a personal failing on my part. Just kidding. But still … you’ll probably want to check out Amir's Exchange Clients Blog. There, Amir “is focussed [sic] on Entourage only in the role of being a client to Exchange Server and Outlook Anywhere (RPC over HTTP) Feature.”

[Via Richard.]

Pondering the switch to zsh

Geoff got me thinking about zsh last fall, and it’s on my mind again. I’m pondering a switch to it.

I’m still stuck on tcsh because it’s what I started with for my heavy interactive shell use. All my shell config files and knowledge reside in tcsh, because that’s what you used by default in Mac OS X 10.0. But, I dislike that the tcsh syntax is different than what I’m used to when it comes to shell scripting with bash. Bash is what I learned when I first took up scripting. Well, more to the point, I learned sh, and have grown a bit into using some bash-isms.

So I’m reading more about zsh, which means I’ll probably be firmly rooted in analysis paralysis for a while. But it looks good, and my chances in converting will improve if I can get my .tcshrc custom-tailoring moved over with reasonable ease.

In the meantime, here’s a search for zsh on

Mac OS X, Java JRE, and Energy Policy Act of 2005

As Ian Ward Comfort notes on the MacEnterprise list, “it looks like a lot of people are going to have a problem” with Apple’s current Java runtime environment during the daylight savings time switch in March.

The most up-to-date shipping version of the JRE on Mac OS X Tiger responds the same way it did for Ian on my test system when running Sun’s tzupdater.jar tool:

$ date
Fri Feb 2 07:27:08 EST 2007
$ java -jar ./tzupdater.jar -t -v
java.home: /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home
java.vendor: Apple Computer, Inc.
java.version: 1.5.0_06
JRE time zone data version: tzdata2005m
There's no tzdata available for this Java runtime.

The tool from Sun will not update Apple’s JVM, unfortunately, even though it will tell you what version of the time zone data is installed. (For more info on Java and the 2007 changes, see Sun’s “US Daylight Savings Time Changes and the Java SE Platform” FAQ.)

What implications there might be for an out-of-date time zone file in the Java JVM…that, I don’t know. The sky is not necessarily falling.

But, the Apple JVM as of this moment evidently doesn’t include the daylight saving time changes first encoded in the Olson 2005n database—the JVM is older than 5.0_7, the first one Sun lists as including it, anyway—which means it apparently doesn’t incorporate the shift introduced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Of course, there is the possibility that the Apple JRE is different; it may tie into system time rather than rely on the JVM’s own facilities, and if you’re on Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later, that might mean everything is fine.


Update 03/15/2007: Apple did patch this before DST 2007. However, I have heard of a subsequent last-minute Sun JRE update that I’m not sure is incorporated in Apple’s patch. However, it should be noted that after Apple’s Java patch, I do get the following output from Sun’s tool, indicating that the time zone data does exceed the problematic “tzdata2005r” version:

$ java -jar ./tzupdater.jar -t -v
java.home: /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Versions/1.5.0/Home
java.vendor: Apple Computer, Inc.
java.version: 1.5.0_07
JRE time zone data version: tzdata2007a
There's no tzdata available for this Java runtime.

Thoughts on the new AirPort Extreme base station and Time Machine

In listening to MacBreak Weekly 25, it hit me that the new 802.11n AirPort Extreme base station could very well be the first Apple home server. In some sense, it could compete against Windows Home Server (see a preview here), which was announced at CES.

Let’s think about backup, which is one of the neat features announced with WHS. We know that Mac OS X Leopard is supposed to include Time Machine. Time Machine is going to eat drive space; to keep your current data plus historical data—so you can go back and forth in time—you’ll need more storage than you have internal in most single-drive Macs. You can do this with a local drive or a network drive, although I’ve seen no public information on the requirements for network access. (Apple coyly says only, “Or back up to a Mac OS X server computer,” on the Leopard preview pages.) It could be a shared AFP volume or it could be a disk image on a network share—that information simply isn’t public yet so let’s not speculate.

We know that the AirPort Extreme base station has a USB 2.0 port for attaching a drive. The attached drive can be shared for Mac and Windows, according to Apple, which implies AFP and SMB/CIFS support. You can set up accounts and access controls. (Oh, by the way, it still offers printer sharing.)

It’s in providing the share points that AirPort Extreme could enable over-the-network Time Machine backups for one or more computers. That would compete with WHS.

There is suspicion that the base station could be running a similar embedded “OS X” to the iPhone. This could account for the file sharing, print sharing, accounts, and access controls features; these are already part of Mac OS X today.

Now, I’m going to extrapolate. Let’s assume one could hook up a USB 2.0 hub to the base station. That implies that you could connect several devices, possibly even multiple drives—whereas right now, Apple advertises only a single “USB 2.0 port for connecting a USB printer or USB external hard drive.” [My emphasis.] This might not be ideal if you don’t have a good, consumer-friendly way to manage that storage.

Enter a new volume format. What if ZFS ever comes to the “OS X” platform, as many hope it will in Leopard? Wouldn’t it make sense to connect multiple drives, bundle them into a ZFS storage pool to provide scaling and redundancy, and then share them out?

It’s at that completely hypothetical wishful-thinking point that the AirPort Extreme base station competes more capably as a home server against WHS and my new Infrant ReadyNAS NV+. The others both have on-the-fly expansion capabilities that are not advertised for the AirPort Extreme. Assuming you just need AFP or the ability to store a disk image—a big but reasonable “if” at this point—then a multi-drive ZFS-based AirPort Extreme network storage solution would be a grow-with you home server.

Note that Microsoft itself mentions WHS as being a good host for Time Machine backups in the preview I linked to above.

It’s too bad the LAN Ethernet ports on the AirPort Extreme are only 100 Mbit.

Hm, only time will tell how this will play out.

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