The Blog of Maxim Porges

Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

  • Eulogizing the Insanely Late Steve Jobs

    I came to be a Mac owner by happy accident about nine years ago when I needed a computer for my project studio. It was a Quicksilver 2002 G4 tower. After two weeks of using OS X, using Windows at work felt like going back to the Stone Age.

    Some months later, I arrived to work just in time for a meeting to start. We all sat there for ten minutes waiting for my standard-issue work laptop to wake from sleep so we could begin. That same laptop had pulled a similar trick on stage at a conference I was speaking at earlier in the year.

    It was the last act in a long history of abuse I’d endured from Windows PCs. I handed that shitty Dell contraption back in to the IT department and shelled out over $2K of my own money for a sleek new PowerBook G4, just so I could finally get some work done without wanting to constantly punch myself in the face.

    I’ve never used a PC since.

    I’ve been called an Apple fanboy, but the truth is far simpler: I’m impatient and I like well-made things. Things like Japanese cars. German synthesizers. Modern furniture. The Ritz-Carlton pens I steal when I stay at their hotels. I value efficiency and aesthetics enough to pay extra for items that are a pleasure to use, do what they’re supposed to, and last long enough to deliver value for my money.

    Put simply, our time on this Earth is finite and there’s no point in wasting it putting up with schlock.

    Steve Jobs understood this principle so intrinsically that he built an entire corporate culture around it.

    I believe there’s a widespread misconception about Apple. They’re not innovators: they’re exceptional Monday-morning quarterbacks. With every invention that’s shown up in the last ten years, the team at Apple watched, waited, secretly refined, and weren’t afraid to throw away everything they had done until their product represented the essence of an idea’s simplicity in functional form. Then they rolled it out in high style and crushed the competition.

    They didn’t get it all right. MobileMe was kind of a flop, AppleTV never really took off, and they still haven’t fixed the Finder. But their successes far outweigh their failures.

    Apple became masters of showing up late to nearly every party and stealing the spotlight.

    First, they took a stable, cryptic, 30-year-old operating system and made it so amazingly simple that my mum can use it, while leaving in all the power-tools goodness that so many techies such as myself have come to rely on for their livelihoods.

    Then they remade the music player. In the same act, they achieved the seemingly-impossible by pulling the music industry’s head out of its own ass and introducing it to the Internet.

    The iPhone was such an incredible step forward in mobile computing that it might as well have been delivered to us by an advanced civilization. Do you remember what cell phones were like before that thing came along?

    And most recently, tablet computing. I once used a WiFi-enabled Windows CE tablet. It was a touchscreen slate running what looked liked Windows NT for the desktop, which was totally inappropriate for the form factor. In fact, it was so bad of a product that it took those genius bastards at Apple another ten years to do it right with the iPad. The tablet industry had already collapsed upon itself, but Apple recycled the whole thing with the Big Bang of the iPad.

    And then there’s the technologies and standards Apple had to invent and/or heavily embrace to get the rest of the universe into a state where it was ready to receive their Next Big Thing (TM). Things like WiFi, Firewire, Thunderbolt, and an entire cloud-based app store.

    You could say that these are just products – technological idols fawned over by a Western civilization that’s lost touch with real issues like poverty, war, and world hunger. And you’d be right.

    But that doesn’t mean that Apple products haven’t had a meaningful impact on people’s lives. I no longer fight with my computer when I’m at work, so I get more done and come home happier. I get more done when I get home, whether it’s scanning and archiving years of family photos, making music, editing videos, or programming. I can carry 1,000 photo albums, my entire music library, and nearly every book I’ve ever owned on a device smaller than a single paper notepad. I can stream a movie, catch up on news, or just goof off and play GeoDefense Swarm while waiting in line. When wandering unfamiliar streets on trips far away from home, everything the city has to offer is right there under my fingertips.

    In short: I get more enjoyment out of the things I enjoy, and I get to enjoy those things wherever I may be.

    As he makes his way up to the iCloud in the sky, I’d like to thank Steve Jobs for everything he’s done to advance technology & entertainment, and for the positive impact his company’s products have had on my life and the lives of so many family, friends, and colleagues. But greater than this, I’d like to thank him for showing us just how great we can be as a species when we come together with a common purpose, an unwavering vision, and a solid commitment to not give up until we’ve found the perfect solution. The way things are in the world right now, a little more world-changing could go a very long way.

    2011.10.06 / 1 response / Category: Uncategorized

  • Farewell, Cable

    Back in 2005 I made a prediction about Apple’s plans with the iMac/iTV, which was completely wrong. Today, I plan on building on this solid track record by offering my thoughts for what’s next.

    Apple’s done a pretty impressive job of being the first successful entrant in to the mobile computing market. If you ask me, their lead at this time is so far ahead that it’s almost not worth anybody else trying, because the rest of them have already missed the endgame. Allow me to explain.

    Looking back, we now know that that the iPod was the Trojan horse that got us to buy iPhones and Macs. The iPhone may end up being the Trojan horse that gets us to buy iPads. So, what nefarious plan is tucked inside the shiny exterior of the iPad?

    None of other than the death of cable TV.

    Pricey Products
    For years, people have criticized Apple for making products that are too expensive. But guess what? They’ve still sold the crap out of them using a simple formula. First, they price their products between the boundaries of more than you want to spend and less than you refuse to. Then, their sexy product implementations wear down your resistance and seal the deal. Finally, their top-of-the-line user experience draws you back for the next product release, and the cycle repeats itself.

    Now clearly, if you can’t afford their products, no amount of slickness will transcend that physical barrier. However, for Apple, this is still a plus. I’ll explain why in a second, after I talk about how much cable TV sucks.

    I Hate Cable
    Cable is awful. It’s expensive. I get 7,000 channels. I only watch 10 of them. I follow maybe 5 or 10 TV shows. I have to watch the programs on the cable company’s schedule, or DVR them and endlessly fast-forward through ads. Many of these ads hold no interest for me; they suck (”TYLENOL IS BETTER!”; “NO, ADVIL IS BETTER!”), and they aren’t targeted at me in any way.

    What would I like instead? A subscription-based TV model, where I pay, oh, I don’t know – $0.49 to $0.99 per episode? Or maybe even something like the $8/month I pay NetFlix to get all my content on-demand in streamed form. In doing so, I could save myself about $80 a month in cable subscriptions and get out of watching crappy ads. Unfortunately, this is exactly why I’ll never be able to just buy all of my shows. The cost of creating quality television and film content is so high that the only way to offset the production costs is the subsidies from advertising revenues. This is why NetFlix’s streaming service mostly streams shows and movies from the last decade.

    Enter Apple
    So, there’s this new device now called the iPad. And it’s just big enough for me to entertain myself using nothing else besides a pair of headphones and my fingers. I can get all my music, all my movies, my NetFlix, some games, Internet browsing, and apps related to things I’m interested in. And I can get all of this whenever I want, wherever I want (once the 3G version comes out). And all I have to do is pay AT&T $30/month for the wireless service.

    And what’s this? Apple has released a platform called iAd. This allows app developers and content providers to embed advertising in their content. Not only are these ads basically mini apps, but my device knows exactly who I am and can tell the ad server all about it. I might decide in the future that I’m willing to trade personal info about my interests in exchange for free content, and put up with a little advertising in return. At least it would be targeted.

    And you know what else? The advertisers know I can’t be a complete scumbag, because if I was, I wouldn’t have been able to afford an Apple product in the first place. Being an Apple product owner by itself likely says a few things about me, namely: I’ve got some loose cash, I like shiny things, and if you can give me a high-quality experience I’ll take a look at your product. That might be worth more to the advertiser than a random cable TV ad which can only be hit-or-miss at best.

    In Closing
    I think this is it. Apple may have finally figured out how to provide advertisers a viable alternative to the dying medium of wall-mount TVs, cable company nonsense, and banner-based Internet advertising in one fell swoop. It seems likely to me now that Apple didn’t introduce multitasking until OS 4 because iAd wasn’t ready yet. Multitasking became a necessity so that you wouldn’t be afraid to lose your place in your free app/movie/TV show when you clicked the ad that popped up.

    Now of course, Apple is not big enough to offer sufficient advertising eyeballs to replace the cable TV industry by themselves. But if Apple’s model is successful then others will follow suit. And if nothing else, there might be enough eyeballs in the iDevice platform to make it attractive to advertisers, and if that’s the case then it becomes worth the network’s while to give their content away for free in exchange for a little ad space.

    The real goldmine that was touched on during Apple’s demo was when Steve showed how a fan could buy a Toy Story 3 game right in the iAd for the movie. Imagine if, as you are watching TV, an ad pops up to let you seamlessly pause the show and buy a pair of sneakers one of the characters is wearing. Or order a copy of a game that you see them playing in the show. That’s real bacon. I don’t even want to guess how much more money is going to be wasted on items purchased from QVC once the online purchasing experience is integrated into the programming.

    I surely hope this is the case; I’ll be happy to kiss cable goodbye forever. Yay for free/cheap, on-demand, ad-driven mobile content!

    2010.04.10 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • ePub Converters for iPad

    The iPad uses ePub format, but many eBooks come in non-ePub format. Here’s an article I found on various ePub converters (many of them free).

    2010.04.03 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Booooong!

    And you all thought there was no reason for that seemingly stupid noise your Mac makes when it starts up.

    2010.04.03 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • iPad, You Pad, We All Pad For iPad

    The name’s pretty awful. But besides that, I kind of like this new device.

    Kicking about the house, I like to go on the Internet to read RSS feeds, watch YouTube, play a game, etc. while cooking or half-watching a TV show. A laptop is too clumsy and fragile for these tasks (I’m always scared to spill liquids on the keyboard when reading recipes off the web). So, I’ve been doing these things a lot recently on my iPhone. But the iPhone’s a bit small and the battery dies pretty fast under intense use. So the iPad’s a perfect replacement for around-the-house computing.

    When we travel, there’s a few things for which I like to bring a laptop along: music, movies, occasional Internet use (to find a hotel, restaurant, attraction, or map to somewhere), and to offload photos and video from the digital camera/camcorder. But taking a laptop on a trip along with its case and charger is a pain in the ass, and then you have to either have an air card for Internet access, find a wireless hotspot, or pay for in-hotel service. Sure, the iPhone can get the job done for most of these needs – but it’s not ideal. So if you gave me a big iPhone and threw in a nice e-reader, a mobile bookstore, and a reasonable data plan, then I’d say the travel computer problem is solved. And compared to my 7-lb laptop, it’s a lot less to carry if I want to take it with me.

    I spend a fair amount of time presenting stuff at work to execs/peers/users, running to meetings to take notes, and checking email/surfing the web between these activities. Unplugging my laptop from my workstation and running around with it is painful; especially between office suites since I don’t want to shut the lid and put it to sleep, but I can’t sling it under my arm if the lid’s open. So once again, the iPhone has been doing double-duty as a note taker and email browser. But again, it’s a bit small – especially for taking notes and presenting diagrams and Keynote presentations. So there’s another fit for the iPad: a secondary device on my work desktop, acting as a digital picture frame and music player until I’m ready to whip it up of its dock to take around the office for some brief mobile chore.

    There’s a few things I don’t like about the iPad. It doesn’t appear to have the ability to annotate documents (at least not yet). Like the iPhone, it seems to be similarly crippled in to having no arbitrary local storage. A camera on the front would have been nice for video conferencing or sending video postcards. A smart media card slot would make a lot of sense. Charging $130 extra for 3G seems like a bit much.

    But then I have to put things in perspective. Most of the things I’d store on the iPad have apps that do the storage for me. I almost never video-conference on the other three computers that I own, all of which have video cameras. And is it really that pricey in the big scheme of things? The entry-level iPad with 3G service is $629, which is about $30 more than an out-of-contract iPhone 3GS – and you get a lot more computer for $30 than you do with an iPhone.

    So pretty much the only thing it’s lacking is document annotation, which is a software thing. I’d really like to see Apple add this, and if not, there’s an app that does it for me. And if Apple fulfills some rumors out there to store my iTunes library in the cloud for me, then the small amount of flash storage in the entry-level model becomes no problem at all.

    So while I won’t be rushing out to buy an iPad, I can definitely see one somewhere in my future.

    2010.01.27 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Blackberry’s Days as the Fruitiest Phone Are Numbered

    As Tyler Durden once said, on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. He was talking about the Blackberry.

    If these numbers are to be believed, Apple is totally killing it in gaining smartphone market share. In a few short years they have reached 30% of the smartphone market compared to BB’s 40%. You know the Blackberry is going down over the long term.

    Having owned both phones, I must say I really liked the Blackberry when I had one, but the iPhone is simply awesome (although in fairness I haven’t touched an updated BB model – the last time I touched one was two years ago). It’s the apps, baby. One thing I can say in positive terms about the BB is that although I’ve gotten used to the iPhone’s touch-only keyboard and can blast out an email in short order, I think I was still slightly faster on the BB.

    AAPL just took a massive hit today, so it’s going to be time to get back in soon before they unleash the iPhone in China.

    2009.10.28 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • JDK 1.7.0 on Snow Leopard

    I wanted to try out the DirectoryStream class in nio.2, but unfortunately it’s in Java’s 1.7.0 JDK and Apple hasn’t seen fit to get that out yet.

    The obvious solution is to use OpenJDK, and there are some great articles out there (here and here) about installing it on OS X versions earlier than Snow Leopard.

    I was able to get most of the way through the build process described, and hit a roadblock.

    Compiling /Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/runtime/arguments.cpp
    rm -f arguments.o
    g++ -D_ALLBSD_SOURCE -D_GNU_SOURCE -DIA32 -DPRODUCT -I. -I../generated/adfiles -I../generated/jvmtifiles -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/asm -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/c1 -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/ci -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/classfile -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/code -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/compiler -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation/concurrentMarkSweep -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation/g1 -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation/parallelScavenge -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation/parNew -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_implementation/shared -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/gc_interface -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/interpreter -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/libadt -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/memory -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/oops -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/opto -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/prims -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/runtime -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/services -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/utilities -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/cpu/x86/vm -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/os/bsd/vm -I/Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/os_cpu/bsd_x86/vm -I../generated -DHOTSPOT_RELEASE_VERSION="\"16.0-b08\"" -DHOTSPOT_BUILD_TARGET="\"product\"" -DHOTSPOT_BUILD_USER="\"mporges\"" -DHOTSPOT_LIB_ARCH=\"i386\" -DJRE_RELEASE_VERSION="\"1.7.0-internal-mporges_2009_09_23_22_44-b00\"" -DHOTSPOT_VM_DISTRO="\"OpenJDK\"" -DCOMPILER2 -DCOMPILER1 -fPIC -fno-rtti -fno-exceptions -pthread -fcheck-new -m32 -march=i586 -mstackrealign -pipe -O3 -fno-strict-aliasing -DVM_LITTLE_ENDIAN -Werror -Wpointer-arith -Wconversion -Wsign-compare    -D_XOPEN_SOURCE -D_DARWIN_C_SOURCE -c -o arguments.o /Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/runtime/arguments.cpp 
    cc1plus: warnings being treated as errors
    /Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/runtime/arguments.cpp: In static member function 'static void Arguments::set_aggressive_opts_flags()':
    /Users/mporges/bsd-port/hotspot/src/share/vm/runtime/arguments.cpp:1398: warning: format '%d' expects type 'int', but argument 3 has type 'intx'
    make[6]: *** [arguments.o] Error 1
    make[5]: *** [the_vm] Error 2
    make[4]: *** [product] Error 2
    make[3]: *** [generic_build2] Error 2
    make[2]: *** [product] Error 2
    make[1]: *** [hotspot-build] Error 2
    make: *** [build_product_image] Error 2

    A little Googling led to this thread on the OpenJDK mailing lists. Apparently there are some issues installing 1.7.0 on Snow Leopard, although one of the guys got it working by using gcc-4.0 and g++-4.0 rather than the 4.2.x versions installed on Snow Leopard.

    I don’t really feel like installing older gcc and g++ versions on to my Mac and modifying the build to use them, so I’m hoping they can get this addressed soon so that OpenJDK will build on the mostly-vanilla Snow Leopard distribution.

    2009.09.24 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Snow Leopard Upgrade

    I just got finished upgrading my work computer to Snow Leopard and configuring everything. Here are my thoughts.

    Typical painless Apple installation. It took somewhere between 30 mins and an hour; I’m not exactly sure since I was messing around with my synthesizers while it was running. Xcode has to be upgraded separately, and takes about ten minutes. After you install, Time Machine will re-backup all the differences between your old OS and your new one, and Spotlight will re-index various bits as you set them up (such as your email) – both these tasks happen in the background as usual.

    Mail will upgrade all your email databases when you start it. I have a buttload of email, and it only took about a minute to convert all my databases (both work and personal email).

    After I was done, I set up my Exchange account, which was previously accessed through IMAP. I put in a few basic details (email address, password, etc.) and Mail figured out the rest, including who our Exchange provider is – pretty impressive. It also auto-configured iCal and Address Book. The only hiccup I ran in to is that during auto-config of the Exchange account, since our email addresses differ from our usernames at Highwinds, Mail prompted me for my username.

    After that, all my email got downloaded in to the new account. I reconfigured my Smart Mailbox filters to use the new account folders, and that was that.

    When I opened iCal, I had two new calendars already set up for my Exchange calendar and tasks. Something that they fixed in the new iCal is that you can move an event from a Mac-local calendar to a shared calendar; I was not able to do this with the previous version of iCal when we used to use the Kerio server at Highwinds (an Exchange knock-off with Mac compatibility).

    Moving tasks is mostly painless. Exchange doesn’t have a priority of “none” so I changed all my tasks to be Medium priority to avoid iCal putting a little note in the task indicating that the priority could not be set. Exchange also doesn’t support URLs like iCal does, so anything unsupported just gets moved in to the Notes area on the task. I also downloaded IMLite from the App Store, which lets me view my tasks (since Apple hasn’t put that feature in the iPhone yet for some reason).

    One thing I absolutely hate about the new iCal is the window that pops up to edit events and todos. In previous iCal versions, this was almost as bad, but at least workable. In the new version, the window always pops up to the top left corner of the screen, and does not act as an inspector – meaning that when you select new items, the window does not update to show the details of the new items; what happens instead is that each item gets its own pop-up window. If you move the window, it doesn’t respect your new location, and continues to pop up in the top left, and multiple windows lay themselves out.

    Seriously, WTF? With all Apple’s UI expertise, they still can’t get this right?

    Apple, here is how iCal should let you edit events: put a pinnable inspector window somewhere in the app, just like the Tasks view or the mini-months calendar or anything else. As I select objects in the calendar, auto-save changes to the previous object and change the inspector’s binding to show the settings for the newly selected object. Put up/down or previous/next arrows in it so I can scroll through all my to-dos or calendar events in sequence and set their properties. Allow me to select multiple items and make the inspector reduce its scope of editable items to only the common elements (i.e. associated calendar, date, etc.). Basically, what you did in iTunes with the song inspector, just with a pinnable window instead of a pop-up.

    UPDATE: Either I am a douchebag, or Apple fixed this super-fast, or both. Guess what you can find in iCal’s Edit menu? Nothing other than a “Show Inspector” option. And it’s a nice one, too – always on top and stays where you put it. Damn you fruity bastards at Apple – you are good. :)

    Address Book
    Unsurprisingly, all my Exchange contacts showed up in my Address Book under a new heading. My Exchange directory was still there from before. Nothing fancy here, but nice that it all worked as expected and was auto-configured for me by the OS.

    32-bit vs. 64-bit and Rosetta
    Leopard will install by default in a 32-bit compatible mode, and run apps in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode automatically based on what the app supports. All the Apple core apps have been rewritten in 64-bit from what I understand, including Finder, Mail, iCal, Safari, System Preferences, and the other staples.

    Device drivers must be 64-bit. Some drivers will not work in Snow Leopard due to the 64-bit requirement. The only two drivers I have personally had issues with are my open-source USB rocket launcher driver (don’t really need that to be honest) and the drivers for my Access Virus TI synth. Access is working on updating the drivers, so I’m just going to wait on upgrading my personal Mac until they have that sorted out since I like the “total integration” features that TI stands for.

    The 32-bit support is really smart. If I try to open 32-bit preference panes in System Preferences (such as the MySQL or LockTight panes), System Preferences warns you that it needs to restart, and does so in 32-bit mode. You can explicitly tell an app to always start in 32-bit mode by selecting a checkbox in Finder’s Get Info pane for that application.

    Rosetta is not installed by default. I fired up Quicken 2002 Deluxe and Snow Leopard asked me if it should install Rosetta, which it did by downloading the software from the web. Rosetta is also on your Snow Leopard installation disk if you want to include it by default. Quicken ran just as well in Rosetta on Snow Leopard as it did in previous versions of OS X.

    I had mixed results on two OS plugins that I use regularly: MenuMeters didn’t work (although a fix is in the works as of the August 17th blog post ), and Quicksilver runs just fine. Keyboard shortcuts in TextMate for jumping to the beginning and end of the line using Apple-[left/right] arrow stopped working, but somebody published a patch and this will be fixed in the next minor release according to the ticket.

    Is It Faster? Better?
    Yeah, in different ways. Safari has finally hit its stride with blazing performance, and I like the Google Suggest integrated in to the search widget. Finder is a lot snappier in certain operations, like opening a stack full of downloads. Expose is so fast it seems to twitch in to view compared to before, and I really like the even sizing of the windows – much easier to read (and now I understand at least one reason why they wanted resolution-independent graphics technology in OS X). Expose also allows you to zoom in on Expose’d windows by hovering with your mouse and hitting space bar, giving you a Quick View-style pop-up – a nice touch. The new Dock menus are smoky-black like the stacks are in Leopard, so that is more consistent. Windows are now apparently spring-loaded for dragging files between them, which I am sure I will use since I have been known to love me some spring-load.

    There are some other cool features in it that I haven’t touched yet. I haven’t tried the new QuickTime X, but I can see myself taking little video notes with it now that it supports basic web cam capture and editing features; no need to fire up iMovie any more. I cursed Preview just yesterday for is lack of column-based PDF text selection, and that is in there now. And if you use any of your computers as a file server, Snow Leopard lets you put them to sleep and still advertise their files if you have a compatible Time Capsule or Airport Extreme base station – when you want the files from a remote computer, it wakes the computer with the files up, and then puts it back to sleep. Unfortunately, my main file server is an old G4 tower that is too long in the sabre tooth (hah!) for Snow Leopard, but I house my iTunes library on my personal laptop so I can see myself using this feature there.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t say you should rush out and buy Snow Leopard if you’re on Leopard already, but I think it’s definitely worth $29 (or $49 for the family pack, which I bought). The speed difference is evident, but besides that it’s much the same as Leopard. The main thing I bought Snow Leopard for was Exchange support, and I got far more than my money’s worth out of that feature alone.

    2009.08.29 / 1 response / Category: Uncategorized

  • Saving OmniGraffle Documents in Subversion

    I ran in to an issue today. We’ve been making a lot of wireframes for application user interfaces in OmniGraffle, and I wanted to get these in to version control along with everything else. Unfortunately, OmniGraffle typically stores files as bundles (special directories), and these bundles use OS X resource files for certain bits of the file format, which are fine for native OS X documents. However, these resource files have names like “Icon/r” (where /r is an escape sequence for a newline character), and that totally pisses off Subversion when committing resources.

    Luckily, OmniGraffle offers the ability to save files as flat files rather than bundles. The files can end up being fatter on disk, but that’s not really a problem considering how cheap disk space is today. You can go in to the Inspector for the document, and look in the Canvas accordion pane under the Document Settings tab. There, you will find a heading for “File format options”, which by default seems to be set to “Automatic.” You can change this to “Save as flat file”, and save the document, and you are now ready to commit the file to Subversion.

    However, I wanted to change the default file format to flat file so I don’t have to go through this process every time. I Google’d a bit and found some suggestions for setting default preferences for the OmniGraffle app using “defaults write” from Terminal. Unfortunately, that option no longer seems to work for OmniGraffle 4.2 and up. I was, however, able to figure out the solution.

    The problem seems to be that even with the defaults for the OmniGraffle app set to save to flat files, OmniGraffle always defers to the file format preference specified in the template that is used to create new documents. There are a set of document templates in the OmniGraffle application bundle that hold this setting, so you need to go in to each of these files and change the file format preference. You can find the location of these template files in the OmniGraffle preference pane under “Templates.”

    Once you have done changed the file format preference on the document templates, you are in business for all future documents created from those templates. This is how you do it.

    1) Go to the OmniGraffle application bundle, right-click, and select “Show Package Contents.”
    2) Finder will show you the inside of application bundle. Navigate within the application bundle to Contents => Resources => Templates. In here, you will find a set of OmniGraffle documents that are used as your default document templates.
    3) Open the document template that you want to modify. OmniGraffle launches and shows you the document.
    4) Open the Inspector for the document, go to Document Settings under Canvas, and set the document template file’s File Format option to “Save as flat file.”
    5) Save the document template.

    Now, all new OmniGraffle documents created from that document template will also have their default preference set to “Save as flat file” since the template’s preference has been set to that setting.

    I hope this helps any other OmniGrafflers out there using Subversion!

    2009.08.19 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized

  • Bluetooth Connectivity/Pairing Problems on Late 2008 MacBook Pro

    I’ve noticed that my late 2008 MacBook Pro seems to have trouble pairing with my Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Mighty Mouse occasionally.

    At home, I have a 22″ flat panel connected with two video inputs: an HDMI input from my old QuickSilver G4 tower, and a DVI cable that I attach to either my work or personal laptops (the work laptop is an early 2008 MacBook Pro, while the personal one is a late 2008). As I switch between laptops, I get semi-wireless KVM since the Bluetooth simply re-pairs with whichever laptop is turned on, and I manually re-plug the DVI cable.

    I never seem to have issues reconnecting the work laptop, but my personal one has been having issues recently. Anecdotally, this started happening after I installed Vista on Boot Camp, during which time I had a hell of a time getting Vista to connect to the Bluetooth devices (it would say it was paired but then never be able to connect). After uninstalling/reinstalling the Boot Camp drivers that came on the installation disk for my MacBook Pro, the Bluetooth on Vista started working again. I don’t know if the Vista issues spawned the issues in OS X, but there it is as the only thing related to Bluetooth that has changed.

    Anyway… I noticed I was getting these messages in Console.

    3/20/09 10:42:25 PM Bluetooth Setup Assistant[1753] connection went invalid while waiting for a reply 3/20/09 10:44:31 PM Bluetooth Setup Assistant[1771] 3:Pairing failed with 'Mighty Mouse': error 0xe00002bc 3/20/09 10:45:54 PM Bluetooth Setup Assistant[1771] 3:Pairing failed with 'Mighty Mouse': error 0xe00002bc 3/20/09 10:51:04 PM kernel IOBluetoothBNEPDriver: Ethernet address 00:23:6c:a2:5e:56 

    I went ahead and reset the PRAM and everything started working again – in fact, the laptop paired to the devices before the login screen loaded, and I was able to type in my password from my Bluetooth keyboard. Woot.

    This is the second time I have had to reset the PRAM on my personal laptop since I got it in December 2008, the last issue being related toExpressCard hardware. I’m hoping the issue was just related to me Boot Camp Bluetooth woes, but who knows.

    2009.03.20 / no responses / Category: Uncategorized