Archive for October 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dear Customer

I just received this e-mail:

We've noticed that customers who have purchased "How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food" by Mark Bittman also purchased books by Not Available. For this reason, you might like to know that Not Available's "Cooking New American : How to Cook the Food We Really Love to Eat" is now available .

StuffIt 9 “Choose Method by Analysis”

Beware of using this setting in DropStuff (a.k.a. --compression_method=6 with the stuff command). I found several folders that this would compress very tightly, but that couldn’t be unstuffed because StuffIt aborted with error 17999. Allume support confirmed that this compression method is “not working” and will be fixed in an upcoming maintenance update.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

EMC Purchases Dantz

John C. Welch contacted EMC and Dantz and ended up “open-minded, but cautious.”

EMC’s position on this is that the Mac market was one reason they bought Dantz. They realize that in the SMB world, there is a strong Apple presence, and that they have even less experience with the Mac market than they do with the SMB market. So they view Dantz as their best path to success in the SMB market.
Dantz’s point of view on this is that they’re getting access to more resources for Retrospect, which will allow them to concentrate those resources on their products, in particular, the Mac server product, which Larry Zulch admitted was as patched as it could be, and that they were working on, (no dates given, sorry) the replacement for the Mac server which will be, as he puts it, “a product done the right way.”

I upgraded to Retrospect 6, after all, because I missed its snapshots and good utilization of storage space. For regular backups to a local FireWire disk, it works great. However, it still doesn’t support optical drives that Apple itself is shipping, and the Duplicate feature, which I used to use for synchronization over the network, is useless as it messes up file ownership and permissions. These days, the only synchronization software that I’ve been able to use successfully is Synk. The current version uses hundreds of MB of RAM and is very slow, but apparently that will be fixed in 5.1.

Steve Jobs vs. Subscriptions

Gary Robinson, who recently released Goombah 0.501, thinks that Apple doesn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) believe its “people want to own their music” rhetoric:

Overall there’s really no contest. Apple should get on the ball here if they want to maintain their lead. I love my iPod, but I found myself today considering getting a non-Apple portable player so that I could benefit from the advantages of a subscription service.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Virtual PC 7

Omar Shahine:

One of the first things we did when Microsoft acquired Virtual PC was some substantial user research and usability testing. We sat in customers homes, brought them into our usability lab and really dug into what people wanted to use this product for, and what they were having problems with.

Templates vs. Generics

Bruce Eckel (via Lambda):

A number of readers have pointed out that they would benefit from seeing an example of what I’ve been trying to say about the limitations that erasure has imposed on Java Generics in relation to other parameterized type systems, especially the most widely-known and used system: C++ templates. In this article I shall show a sequence of examples that demonstrate the issues, as well as a technique to compensate for the lack of latent typing in Java Generics.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

TextMate 1.0

TextMate is hyped as a BBEdit-killer for $39 ($49 starting in November). While it incorporates some undeniably clever ideas, my first reaction is that it feels all wrong. The first paragraph of TextMate’s Web page says:

It’s time to turn envy into pride and end your desire for Windows- and Unix-based editors once and for all. TextMate is The Missing Editor that has puzzled switchers by its absence and kept veterans longing. With a wealth of exclusive features like tabs, foldings, and macros, TextMate is well ahead of other native, graphical editor on OS X—and you don’t have to sell your bones to afford it.

This doesn’t speak to me because I’ve never desired a Windows- or Unix-based editor, though I do think that Emacs has some features worth transplanting to the Mac world. The last clause is clearly a jab at BBEdit, but MacroMates should first worry about competing with the similarly priced SubEthaEdit and TextWrangler.

Some random thoughts, from two minutes of use, in order of discovery:

The end of the TextMate page says:

But in the end it’s all about the touch and feel. We’ve given you a taste of the amazing and frequently exclusively [sic] features of TextMate, but in the end it’s all about the tactile experience. An editor needs to have a good fit. By going with Apple’s Cocoa framework, but avoiding the basic NSTextView that most other Cocoa-editors on OS X uses [sic], we’ve done our outmost [sic] to make TextMate feel good without compromising on the features.

I think this sentiment is exactly right. TextMate doesn’t feel like BBEdit, CodeWarrior, Alpha, QUED/M, or Symantec’s IDE. It also doesn’t feel like ProjectBuilder, Project Builder, Xcode, or third-party NSTextView-based editors such as SubEthaEdit and TeXShop. As a result, I think it feels all wrong, but TextMate wasn’t designed for old Mac hands like me. It was designed for switchers. I would have a hard time switching to another platform if it lacked an editor that felt right, so I can certainly understand MacroMates’ motivation here. I’m rooting for their success in making switchers feel at home on the Mac.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Subversion 1.1

Subversion 1.1 is now final, and Martin Ott has a Mac OS X build.

MarsEdit User Interface Notes

Brent Simmons:

The more we thought about it, the more it was obvious that the weblog editor had to be a separate application. In order to improve both NetNewsWire and the weblog editor, we needed to induce mitosis.

Monday, October 4, 2004

PreFab UI Actions 1.0

PreFab and Bill Cheeseman have completed the first version of UI Actions, which lets you bind AppleScripts to be triggered by user interface events in accessible applications. This sounds incredibly useful, but at the moment I have few ideas for how to use it. Perhaps it could be used to add BBEdit-style backup functionality to other applications. (Each time you save a document, BBEdit saves a dated copy of it, providing a kind of transient version control.)

Also released today is version 1.3 of PreFab’s excellent UI Browser. The mechanics of purchasing from PreFab haven’t always been easy. Buying Player entailed filling out a text-based form and submitting it via e-mail. PreFab now has an eSellerate store, which should make buying much easier.

py2app 0.1

Bob Ippolito:

Even at this early stage, it’s probably the most advanced python packaging utility out there with regard to dependency analysis. It’s at a “works for me and the two other people that have tried it” stage. It’s not particularly documented, and I don’t have time to document it today, but you should be able to get along given the examples.

__FILE__ and __LINE__ in Python

Ned Batchelder shows how to use sys._getframe() to get the current (or calling) filename, line, and function in Python. In C, this happens at compile-time. Practically everything in Python happens at runtime, so this is slower, but you can also do things like inspect the local variables in the stack frames.

Friday, October 1, 2004

ATPM 10.10

The October issue of ATPM includes Ted Goranson’s thorough look at Tinderbox.