Archive for September 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006 [Tweets]

Synk 6.0

Decimus’ Synk has gotten a major update and now comes in three versions. It can now make encrypted backups (each file individually) and compress archived files. The new ZeroScan feature makes it much faster at determining which files have changed. Instead of scanning the source and destination directories, it observes file system activity in the background, keeping a running list of the changes so that when it’s time to sync it already knows what needs to be done. This is a great idea, although personally I prefer the safety of the slower compare-at-backup-time method.

Right now, I’m using DropDMG for DVD backups, SuperDuper! to maintain a clone, and rsync for syncing with my PowerBook. But, assuming the memory use is now reasonable when syncing lots of files (as was promised for 6.0), I’ll probably find a use for Synk, too.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 [Tweets]

We Need a (Cocoa Scripting) Hero

Daniel Jalkut:

In the case of scripting, you’re going to want a good “scripting definition” file, consisting of all the standard Cocoa-supplied handlers, and any custom goodies you add on yourself. So that “standard handlers” stuff should be easy to copy and paste, right? If you look for such a starting point, you’ll find several options. And they all seem to be buggy.

While in general I do like sdef, it seems like a step backwards to have to paste in the standard terminology, which was automatically imported by reference when using the old .scriptSuite format.

Sunday, September 24, 2006 [Tweets]

SuperDuper, the Intel DiskWarrior?

When I first switched to an Intel-based iMac, I put my home directory on an external drive formatted as APM, since DiskWarrior can’t repair GPT drives (even if you boot from a PowerPC-based Mac). After a while, I started having problems with that drive, and its fan was bothering me anyway, so I moved the home directory to the internal boot drive. This was more convenient in a number of ways, especially when syncing with my PowerBook where the home directory is also on the internal drive. I made regular backups and hoped that I wouldn’t need to use DiskWarrior or that Alsoft would finish the Intel version soon.

The iMac gradually got slower. Since 10.4 or so, my Mac has always seems to get slower if I leave it running for more than a day without a reboot, but now even rebooting didn’t help much. At one point it was taking more than five seconds to download a single message in Mailsmith or to switch between news items in NetNewsWire. Saving a small OmniOutliner Pro document took a few seconds. Compiling is always too slow, but it was even slower than normal. Raw processing was still fast, but everything to do with the disk was slow. It didn’t dawn on me how much slower everything had gotten until I spent a day using the PowerBook as my main machine—it shouldn’t seem faster than the Core Duo, but it did.

My Mac creates and deletes a lot of files. I used to run DiskWarrior every few weeks to optimize the directory. Since moving my home directory to the GPT drive a few months ago, I hadn’t been able to run it once. I suspected that a slow directory was the problem (since the OS is now supposed to manage file fragmentation automatically), and the only solution I could think of was to rebuild it the old-fashioned way. I created two clones using SuperDuper, then erased the internal drive and copied everything back to it. Many hours of copying later, the iMac is now fast again.


Wincent Colaiuta:

Turns out that the contrast of black text on yellow background is much sharper and more agreeable to the human eye than that of black text on pure white, which tends to be much harsher and more irritating. Works for me, at least.

I’ve long used a very unsaturated shade of yellow (kind of like parchment) as the background color in BBEdit.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 [Tweets]

What Happened to the Menu Bars?

Shell Blog (via Dan Crevier):

One of the first things people notice when they start using Vista is the absence of menu bars.  Explorer, photo gallery, media player, and IE all don’t show menus by default and just use the so-called “command module.”  What is up with that?  Do we hate menu bars?  And more importantly—what is the guidance that third-party developers are supposed to follow?  Let me break it down for you.

Update: John Gruber adds:

This trend is dangerous for Adobe, methinks—it’s getting less and less tenable for them to continue shipping Mac and Windows apps that are so similar in design. They’re either going to ship Mac versions that don’t feel Mac-like, Windows versions that don’t feels Windows-like, or, both.

I was going to write something about how his first option is already happening, but then this post from Derek K. Miller popped into NetNewsWire, saving me the trouble.

Sunday, September 17, 2006 [Tweets]

Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Google

John Maeda on Web error pages. DreamHost has some information about how to do better (which I should).

Wikipedia vs. the Web

Tim Bray:

There’s an old saying in business: if you want to get credit, the first thing you have to do is show up. Let me rephrase that: if you want to have authority on the Web, you have to show up on the Web. And those who ought to enjoy more authority than Wikipedia aren’t. Let me make the point by example.

EFF on Zune DRM

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports (emphasis theirs):

Microsoft’s Zune will not play protected Windows Media Audio and Video purchased or “rented” from Napster 2.0, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Unlimited, Movielink, Cinemanow, or any other online media service. That’s right—the media that Microsoft promised would Play For Sure doesn’t even play on Microsoft’s own device.

Apple’s DRM is much more reasonable, but I still don’t find the music or video at the iTunes Store tempting with the current prices, quality, restrictions, and omissions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 [Tweets]

The Road Less Traveled

Two great posts from Daniel Jalkut and Paul Kafasis on getting started as a Mac ISV.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 [Tweets]

Design Patterns of 1972

Mark Dominus:

If the Design Patterns movement had been popular in the 1980’s, we wouldn’t even have C++ or Java; we would still be implementing Object-Oriented Classes in C with structs, and the argument would go that since programmers were forced to use C anyway, we should at least help them as much as possible. But the way to provide as much help as possible was not to train people to habitually implement Object-Oriented Classes when necessary; it was to develop languages like C++ and Java that had this pattern built in, so that programmers could concentrate on using OOP style instead of on implementing it.


I don’t mind that iTunes 7 is inconsistent with other applications, because I assume that everything will look like this in Leopard. What I do mind is that it’s so internally inconsistent and ugly. I don’t like the reflections (especially on the capacity gauge). The iPod configurator is a bunch of controls on a scrolling white background (with awful tabs); it feels like a Web page. Elsewhere, the swaths of gradient in the background remind me of Windows. More on the new interface style from Daniel Sandler and Andy Matuschak.

Update: Sven-S. Porst comments.

Update 2: More from Rory Prior, Omar Shahine, and Kirk McElhearn.

Update 3: More from Lee Bennett and Dan Crevier. According to Mac OS X Hints, the multiple libraries feature is simply that you can hold down Option at launch to choose a library. Perhaps I had accidentally done that when I reported, above, that iTunes 7 had forgotten where my library was.

Update 4: Chris Clark and Scot Hacker say that album art downloaded by iTunes isn’t stored in the MP3 files. Also, when I select a single track and choose Get Album Art, iTunes starts getting art for my entire library. I don’t want that, because of the reports that it will mess up existing art that I’ve hand-chosen. Kirk McElhearn writes about gapless playback. John Gruber covers the big picture.

Update 5: Mac OS X Hints shows how to change the capital letters in the source list. Michael Alderete has some interesting comments on the new Nanos. Rainer Brockerhoff and Adam Knight discuss the cross-platform iTunes 7 interface. Jason Fried says that reflections are the new drop shadows.

Update 6: John Gruber examines the new iPods and provides a link to pre-release screenshot of iTunes 7 with an even more Windowsy interface. Daniel Wilson has more iTunes 7 analysis.

Update 7: I just imported a CD, and iTunes 7 wouldn’t let me paste or drag cover art onto a selection of multiple tracks. It only worked if I set the cover art one track at a time. Also, Mac User reports that iTunes 7 hides and shows the Chapters menu based on what kind of track is playing (via John Gruber).

Subversion 1.4

Subversion 1.4 provides faster and smaller working copies (using a new non-XML format) and smaller repositories (using a new diff format, if you dump and reload).

Update: Bill Bumgarner on the Mac OS X keychain support.

QuarkXPress 7.0.1

Galen Gruman on the strange performance characteristics of the new Universal version of XPress on PowerPC Macs and compared to the PowerPC-only version 6.5 and InDesign CS2:

The Universal QuarkXPress 7.01 makes up for much of the slowdown in version 7.0 on Intel Macs. The speedup on the Mac Pro is much higher than on the Mac mini, so users of the latest Macs will see the best performance. Compared to non-native XPress 6.5, XPress 7.01 is 19 percent faster on the Mac Pro but 38 percent slower on the Mac mini. On the two Intel Macs, XPress 7.01 is slower than InDesign CS2, by about 30 to 40 percent. XPress 7.01 is about 30 percent slower than version 7.0 on PowerPC Macs. As a percentage, the slowdown is slightly higher on a Power Mac G4 (32 percent) compared to a Power Mac G5 (30 percent). In all tests, XPress 7.01 is slower than XPress 6.5 and InDesign CS2—running at just a fifth to a half the speed of the others.

Thursday, September 7, 2006 [Tweets]

BBEdit 8.5

Fantastic update to the app I live in. Despite the only 0.24 jump in the version number, this seems to me to be a bigger update than either 7.0 or 8.0 was. 6.0 probably had more changes under the hood, but they weren’t as evident at the user level.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 [Tweets]

Aperture vs. Lightroom

James Duncan Davidson:

Aperture as it stands now is leaps and bounds above it’s beta-quality 1.0 release. It still has performance issues that you have to overlook, knowing full well that the acceleration in total productivity is there. And that acceleration is there. I’m working much faster through my shoots with Aperture than I ever did with the tools I had before. And, I’ve got over a quarter of a TeraByte of images in it and it’s doing pretty OK at handling it. Performance wise, Aperture runs about the same when handling hundreds of gigs of images as it is with hundreds of megabytes.

Saturday, September 2, 2006 [Tweets]


Cabel Sasser:

I recently had a small epiphany. I’ve found myself totally enraptured by a new kind of online gaming experience, one that’s got excitement, thrilling rivalries, stats and achievements, mind-blowing graphics, and seriously perfect music. And sweat. Ridiculous amounts of sweat.

Flash of Unstyled Content

Dave Hyatt:

The ideal technical solution to this problem involves a mixture of the two approaches, and that is on-demand stalling. In this approach the engine still parallelizes loads and doesn’t stall parsing. However if a layout or style property is accessed, the JavaScript engine suspends itself and awaits the load of any pending stylesheets. Once all the stylesheets have loaded, the script picks up where it left off.

Friday, September 1, 2006 [Tweets]

ATPM 12.09

The September issue of ATPM is out: