Mac OS X

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

Phantom directory services and home directory sync

I’ve been toying with the idea of using network home directories on my personal systems. I want to have the same home directory on every computer, but I don’t want to have to mount it entirely over my network. So, a mobile home directory, with home directory sync to my Infrant ReadyNAS NV+, sounds like an interesting solution.

Unfortunately, I lack a directory service that I could use as a data source for the right attributes. I simply don’t have an Active Directory or Open Directory at home. Nor, really, do I want to run one — especially since I’d have to explain to my lovely and far-too-understanding wife why I can’t recycle an old computer that she would love for me to get rid of. Grin.

On the other hand, I do have the ReadyNAS, so I do have storage for my home directories. Even if the ReadyNAS’ AFP support is not the fastest, it’s still there and running all the time. Actually, given the performance of AFP on it, home directory sync probably is a better solution than an all-out network home directory setup.

So, the idle thought hit me the other day: why not create a phantom directory service, using DirectoryService’s ability to handle static mappings? I’d just need to define a directory that has no directory server, create static mappings for the right attributes, and use the relatively new variable substitution feature for static mappings to get the home directory attribute set up correctly for each local user account on the system. The main trick, as I can see it, is that the UID and GID for my local accounts is not necessarily consistent between computers.

I haven’t tried it, but it suuure sounds promising when the idea is rattling in my head. Hm.

Bullstorm Keyword Manager plugin for iPhoto

Bullstorm’s Keyword Manager, a shareware iPhoto plugin, looks like a great addition to Apple’s consumer photo management application.

I’ve tried both alternatives — the built-in keywording UI, and the freeware Keyword Assistant — and neither has been entirely satisfactory. Of course, I now have those experiences to compare against the much more effortless tagging in the current Del.icio.us interface, which is one of the most fluid keywording interfaces I’ve used yet. I don’t know if Keyword Manager will be an improvement (especially one that is almost half my cost for the iLife suite), but it has promise that it could be.

Thoughts on Mac OS X 10.4.9 from the MacEnterprise extended KB article

Based on my reading of the MacEnterprise.org extended knowledgebase article on Mac OS X 10.4.9, some interesting changes have been made. Here are some of my comments on items listed in that article:

  • “Includes iChat support for USB Video Class webcams,” which seems to mean that UVC webcams will work without additional drivers on this version of the OS … so I doubt we’ll see a replacement for the standalone Apple iSight and I wouldn’t doubt we’ll just have to make do with the third-party opportunities this presents.
  • “Resolves an issue when using Kerberos authentication with Active Directory if the user is a member of many groups,” which may mean that my problem with binding to Active Directory over UDP using an account with a large TokenGroups attribute is resolved … presumably, if it is fixed, the kpasswd utility now supports TCP as well (although I do not see a change to /usr/bin/kpasswd in a Radmind transcript, the Kerberos framework did change).
  • “Adds support for WPA2 encryption in Network Diagnostics,” which is an option that is coming at just the right time for me.
  • “Includes updated security certificates,” which should mean that the root SSL certificates database has been updated (I note in a Radmind transcript that both X509Anchors and X509Certificates has changed with this update).
  • I’m not exactly hip with whatever change happened in /private/var/db/sudo. Based on what I’m seeing, a subdirectory for each sudo user will appear; so far, I’ve only seen this on Radmind model systems, and so I see one subdirectory with a blank “ttyp1” file inside. I think I might want to put this new directory in a negative transcript for Radmind.

[Via Philip Rinehart on the MacEnterprise.org list.]

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.]

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